Thursday, November 09, 2006

Museum piece inspiration

Just as I was leaving church one Saturday recently I was accosted by a young man who was asking what the words : "Welcome in Christ" were in Welsh - easy - "Croeso yng Nghrist", I told him, and we parted company. A week later I received an email from a name I didn't recognise. Dave Lewis introduced himself as this passing enquirer, and told me how he had needed the phrase in Welsh to complete a poem he had been writing, inspired by a visit to one of the two church buildings preserved at the National History Museum at St Fagans outside Cardiff. (Have a look at:-

One Museum flagship project is the re-building of the mediaeval church of Llandeilo Tal y Bont rescued from a churchyard on the flood plain outside Pontarddulais on the West Glamorgan border with Dyfed. The thirteenth century Parish Church is dedicated to Teilo, a local South Walian fifth century saint. It has been carefully demolished and re-built exactly as it was in its original site. Frescos were discovered under the whitewash on the walls, adding to the interest. It is being restored to appear as it would have done on the eve of the Reformation, in the fifteen twenties. Craftsmen have been engaged to build a rood screen in the mediaeval style and to paint it also. Eventually, copies of the frescoes will adorn the walls. As a conservation measure, the building has a geothermal heating plant, to minimise long term running costs, and keep restored fabric at a stable temperature. Staff and local visitors alike are immensely proud of this building. It will be used occasionally by ecumenical and denominational groups for acts of worship, though it is mainly an superb piece of educational history hardware, a must for visiting schools. (More at:

Anyway, his visit to this church inspired Dave to write a poem about it. He told me poetry writing was something he was committed do, without making any grand claims for his output, and included a copy of the poem with his message. With his permission, told the story in the next Parish Magazine (since we also have a St Teilo church), and here it is as well. Dave is also a blogging poet and you can find him at : Can't find his poem on the blog. I'll have to ask him if he'll let me publish it here.

It's good to know that a visitor from outside Wales can find a bit of very local Welsh history as inspirational as many of us do. Pete, one of my church-wardens, a Lancastrian who came to Cardiff from Cheltenham often says how taken he was with the discovery of just how many Celtic saints there were all over Wales who were unknown the other side Offa's Dyke, and for him how immediate and almost personal this made the continuity of Christian history over more than fifteen centuries. He's right - but how easily we take that for granted, once we can pronounce their sometimes difficult names.

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