About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

St Cadoc's Church, Llancarfan

I can't say I've wanted to see the mediaeval wall paintings in Llancarfan Church for aaaaaages because they were only discovered in 2008, when a thin line of red paint was discovered under more than twenty coats of limewash. 

I heard about them in 2012, which is quite long ago enough, when I went to hear the lovely Michael Wood speak at Bristol University. And on Wednesday, I finally got a chance to go there. Hooray!

Apparently, the name Llancarfan derives from Nantcarfan, the valley or stream of the stags. Here's the stream ...  

... and here's a stag. 

And here's a scratch sundial.

Even before the uncovering of the paintings, St Cadog's Church would have been worth visiting for all its other mediaeval survivals, but they do rather steal the show. 

Here's a few of the highlights ... like the magnificent St George on his 'orse, vanquishing a depleted but still impressive dragon.

Death, dressed in a shroud, wrapped around by a worm and with a toad clinging to his chest, leads the Gallant in the Dance of Death.

Rather than the more usual sinners-being-sucked-down-into-Hell, here the Seven Deadlies emanate from the sinner's body rather like heads of the Hydra. Except you can't see much of him, apart from his bent knees.

Lust reminds me - in design, if not execution - of the similar warning in the nave of St Winifred's in Branscombe, which is on the cover of my first collection, Communion.
I love how both sets of lovers are oblivious to their diabolical tormentors.
Here's a detail of Gluttony ... 

... and of the Acts of Mercy.

The south aisle

I especially like the glimpses you get of the paintings as you wander around the church ...

... and in juxtaposition with other parts of the decoration like this stone carving.

In fact, there's a fair bit of stone and wood carving but information about it is harder to come by than it is about the paintings.

Fourteenth century capital 

This fragment of a shaft of a pillar cross is the only surviving part of the late 9th/early 10th century Celtic church.

The fifteenth century Perpencidular screen and cradle roof of the Raglan chapel

The parish chest

The 12th century stoop
The also-recently-rediscovered-and-restored-canopied reredos screen

Apparently, Llancarfan once had a chancel window that was a masterpiece of stained glass, but during the Civil Wars, a local man called Whitton Bush destroyed it while shouting 'Down with the whore of Babylon!'

Rather less contentious glass here now. 


  1. Lovely photos. I'm doing a lecture on Llancarfan next week - I was supposed to be taking a group round the church but we are going to have to do it on Zoom. I have photos of the wall paintings but not many of the architecture - may I use a couple of your photos, suitably acknowledged?
    Maddy Gray maddy@heritagetortoise.co.uk, madeleine.gray@southwales.ac.uk