Mathern, St Tewdric

 

THE CHURCH OF ST. TEWDRIC, MATHERN

Burial place of Tewdric, sometime king of the Celtic kingdom of Morgannwg, roughly corresponding to present-day Glamorganshire and southern Monmouthshire, this is a legend with considerable substance.

Called from retirement in his hermit’s cell by his son Meurig (the hamlet of Pwllmeyric – Meurig’s pool – straddles the nearby A48) to repel the invading Saxons, Tewdric won the ensuing battle at Tintern but received a mortal axe-blow to the skull. As his wounds were washed in a well on his last journey, he asked his son to build a church at whatever place he should meet his death. Tewdric’s Well can still be found on the road to the church. They carried him a few hundred yards more and Meurig kept his promise.

A tablet in the chancel records details of a skeleton found by archaeologists under the chancel floor during the 19th century restoration.  The skull had apparently been split by the blow of an axe. The remains were re-interred in their original location. Unfortunately, no carbon-dating was available at that time.

The carved reredos, installed in the sanctuary in 1914, depicts:
St. Tewdric, holding a sword and shield
Bishop Marshall, holding a model of his tower
Bishop Morgan (resident of Mathern Palace), holding the Bible which he translated into Welsh
Bishop Hughes, Bishop of Llandaff at the time

The organ is a much acclaimed ‘Baby Hill’. Bishop Marshall’s elegant 15th century tower houses a ring of six bells cast by William Evans in 1765, still rung regularly for Sunday services and to train new ringers.

On the far side of the churchyard wall is Mathern Palace, the only residence of the Bishops of Llandaff within their diocese from 1383 until the early 18th Century.

Tewdric, Saint and warrior king, is represented in the Grouped Parish Logo by a sword.

with thanks to Monnica Williams for the potted history