Church Guide

WHO WAS ST. CADOC?

Cadoc also known as Cadog, Cattwg, Caradog or Cadfael lived in the mid sixth century. He was one of the foremost religious leaders of the time and a contemporary with Dewi Sant, (David, patron saint of Wales), St Patrick of Ireland and Columba of Iona. He was a strong contender for patron saint of Wales. His ‘Life’ was composed by Lifris, early in the twelfth century and revised a little later by Caradog of Llancarfan.

Cadoc was the son of Gwynllyw, a Gwent chieftain, and Gwaldys, a daughter of Brychan, King of Brycheiniog (Brecon). He was born at Gelligaer around 497 A.D.

Legend tells us that Cadoc was baptized by Tathan of Caerwent. It also tells us that when Cadoc was seven he was sent to Tathan to be educated, After twelve years of study he sought a suitable place where he could pursue a monastic life. This he found at Llancarfan, in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Lifris tells us that from Llancarfan he visited Ireland to continue his studies returning after three years with a large number of followers. He then spend time in Brycheiniog, where his work impressed his grandfather, Brychan, who gave him a field in which he could build a monastery. The monastery of St Cadoc with that of St. Illtyd became a stronghold of the Christian faith during the times known as the ‘Dark Ages’.

His journeys next took him west to Neath, then Scotland and Cornwall. These journeys seem to be substantiated by the number of churches dedicated to him in these areas. It seems that he may also have visited Brittany, as many churches are also dedicated to his name in this area.

Cadoc was famed as a teacher and he and his brother monks gained a reputation for devoting their lives to the communities in which they lived.

It is probable that in his later years he returned to Gwent and the area around Abergavenny. Legend says that he was the first builder of the church at Trevethin (see later entry ‘Legends of St. Cadoc’s’). There is also a line of thought that St. Cadoc’s Church may be built on the site of a monastic outpost established by Cadoc during the sixth century.

He died in 570 A.D. We are told that he was celebrating Mass when his monastery was attacked and he was killed. In 1022 we are told that his remains were moved because of the threat of attack from the Danes. Legend suggests that the final resting place was Mamhilad but it is possible that it could have been Trevethin!

 

Outside St. Cadoc’s Church

The Lychgate

 

The Lychgate is a roofed gateway to the churchyard. St, Cadoc’s has two lychgates, a large one at the main entrance and a smaller one at the side. The word ‘Lych’ is the old English word for ‘corpse’ or ‘body’ so a Lych gate is really a ‘corpse gate’. In the past coffins were rested on a table inside the Lychgate to await the arrival of the clergyman who was to take the funeral service. The first part of the service took part between the Lychgate and the church. The clergyman then led the procession into church.

Gravestones & Headstones

 

Looking at the inscriptions on tombstones and headstones help give a social history to the church. Often headstones are of stone but they are sometimes of marble or granite. Some graves are raised above the ground and quite monumental in size. These are sometimes ‘Table Tombs’ and sometimes in the shape of an ‘obelisk.’ In St. Cadoc’s churchyard there are 22 military graves. We also boast the grave of a soldier who fought at the famous battle of Rorke’s Drift which took place during the Zulu War.

 

Preaching Cross

 

 

Inside the Church

Inside the church there are significant pieces of furniture that are going to be found in all Anglican churches.

Beginning near the door we have the font.

The Font

 

 

In old churches the Font was always found near the entrance of the church. This was to symbolize that as you passed through the door to enter the church building, you passed through the sacrament of Baptism to pass into the family of the church. We have two fonts in St. Cadoc’s. A stone one near the main door which is quite old and a modern pottery one placed on a wooden stand at the front of the church. We also have a Baptismal Pool at the back of the church which is quite unusual for an Anglican church. This was used for baptizing adults into the faith and was last used in 1922.

Although, it is infants and young children that are baptized, this sacrament can be given at any time of life.

The Font at the back of the church is beautifully carved. It also has a canopy (cover). Early fonts did not have a cover but in 1236 the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered for fonts to be covered and locked so that superstitious people would not steal the Holy Water.

 

The Altar

A view of the high Altar and Nave altar before restoration and reordering of 2018

 

 

 

View of the Military Chapel Altar

 

 

The altar is the most sacred part of the church and it is here that the congregation receive communion. It stands in a railed off part of the church called the ‘Sanctuary’ In St. Cadoc’s we have a number of altars, two of which are found in the Sanctuary. Here we find a Nave Altar and a High Altar.

The altar is usually found at the east end of the church. Until the Reformation the altar was generally made of stone and sometimes contained relics of a saint inserted in the ‘mensa’ or top. After the Reformation it was replaced by a wooden table. Many churches have brought this out into the church (as in St. Cadoc’s) to bring it closer to the congregation.

Reredos Screen  This is found around some altars. It may be made of wood, stone or alabaster and is often beautifully carved. We have a fine example in the Military side Chapel.

 

The Lectern

 

 

The Lectern is the desk on which rests the Bible. It is often in the shape of an eagle and usually made of brass or wood. In St. Cadoc’s we have a lectern of brass and one of wood. The wooden lectern was carved by a parishioner and donated to the church. The brass lectern was brought to St. Cadoc’s from the closed church of St. Luke's Pontnewynydd in 199.

The eagle usually has outstretched wings and is placed on a globe. The outstretched wings symbolise the Gospel being carried to all the corners of the world. The globe represents the world.

Litany Desks  This is a Prayer Desk. Here the priest says the ‘Litany’ – an asking prayer in which the people take part. It is often placed in the Nave of the church, where the people sit, it reminds us that priest and people join together in prayers for the needs of the world.

 

The Pulpit

 

 

The pulpit is a raised enclosed platform from which the preacher gives the sermon. In olden times there were no pulpits, the sermons were preached outside or in front of the altar, and later from the Chancel. In 1603 it was ordered that pulpits be placed in all churches.

Today you will find pulpits made of either wood or stone, most of the early ones are constructed of oak. Early pulpits were moveable and it was the custom to move it to the least draughty part of the church, as there were no pews in those days it was quite an easy task to manage.

Some pulpits have canopies erected over them to act as sounding boards so that the preacher’s voice would carry to the far end of the church. Today most churches have a sound system.

 

Screens


 

In medieval times the nave and the chancel was divided by a screen. The chancel was used by the clergy and their assistants while the main congregation (and their dogs) worshipped in the nave. Early screens were made of stone, but from the 14th &15th centuries wood was used. A number of screens carried a ‘Rood beam’ over which was fixed the figure of Christ on the cross, called the Rood. Usually figures of Mary and St. John were on either side of Christ.

The Rood was the most important part of the church in medieval times and candles were erected on a candle beam in front of the Rood. When these were lit, people’s eyes were drawn to the Rood as soon as they entered church, in this way they were reminded of Christ and his sacrifice. In St. Cadoc’s we have a large Rood hanging from the chancel arch, showing Christ Triumphant (Christus Rex or Christ the King). We have a beautiful screen dividing the main church from the military chapel. On this screen you will find the names of the fallen of the two twentieth century World wars.

 

 

Stained Glass Windows

 

Stained glass has been used for hundreds of years to add to the beauty and colour churches. The windows often contain  Biblical scenes that act as teaching aids, and these helped to teach the people about the Bible in a time when most people couldn’t read.

The separate pieces of glass each have their own colour and are set into strips of lead.

In St. Cadoc’s we have a number of beautiful windows. However, you might like to take a special look at the East Window (above the High Altar). This was erected in 1921 by the firemen of Pontypool as a memorial to the people who died in the mining disasters at the Llanerch and Glynpit Collieries at the end of the 19th century. A list of those who died can be found near the choir stalls. (You will find further information on separate leaflets dedicated to this theme)

As you enter the Military Chapel the window on your right hand side is the oldest in the church and dates from the late 15th century. It was the east window until the memorial window for the mining disasters replaced it above the altar.

 

Detail of the window in the Military Chapel

 

 

The Military Chapel and the Hanbury Pew

The Court of Arms of the Hanbury 

 

 

The Transepts of the church - south side and the north side of the church, that form the arms of the cross each side of the Nave, are dedicated to particular things.

The North Transept forms the Hanbury Pew. The Hanbury Family were the Iron Masters of Pontypool and lived at Pontypool Park.

The family have a crypt under the pew where members of the family are interred and memorial plagues are on the walls of the chapel.

These plagues  tell us of the importance of the family to Pontypool both industrially and politically.

The windows of the pew are also memorials to female members of the family.

 

The Military Chapel

the Military Chapel was created in 1926 as a memorial to the fallen of the 2nd Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment of the Great War, there was added later the memorial boards for the fallen of the Second World War.

The screen separating the chapel from the nave is the community cenotaph commemorating those who died of the parish of Trevethin.

There are now also the memorial boards from St. Luke's Church which was closed in 1991.

 

View of the Memorial Boards in the Military Chapel