September News Update
It was with great sadness the news that the Rev. Jonathon Ormrod, our Priest in Charge, has decided to leave the parishes of Wenvoe with St. Lythan’s and Sully to take up a similar position at St. Martin’s church in Worle near Weston super Mare.
During his 7 years here he had endued himself as a wonderfully caring priest and a friend to all and we wish him and his family every blessing in his new post. Jon’s last service here will be on the 31st October.
We were able to be back in church on Sunday 1st August after a mammoth task of cleaning, and placing back things where they should be. We consider the church has never looked as good as it does at the present moment. The painting and plaster repairs have been most professionally carried out, and the standard of work from our craftsman, Mr Mike Mather, is to be commended. We opened the church on Saturday afternoons during August to let church members see for themselves, and this brought others in from the community to see how well cared for the church has been. The Saturday afternoon openings will continue in September to harvest time when the church will be decorated for the Festival.
The glass doors to the tower vestry have been taken away for re-glazing with hardened glass and the glass sculpture above is being investigated as to how we can illuminate it so that the colours in the glass features of the vine leaves and bunches of grapes, together with the Madonna and child, can be more clearly seen. This sculpture and doors, designed by the Penarth artist, Frank Roper, installed in 1981, deserves to be cherished, as his work is gaining the respect it deserves, and we have an excellent example of the “lost wax casting in aluminium” as a major feature in the church and one of our “treasures”
Recent research into listing of the church as grade 2* listing, made the church officers aware of the inclusion in J.Newman’s book “ The Buildings of South Wales”of our church building. In his opinion, “the wall monuments in the church are what makes the church worth visiting, three hanging monuments, outstanding in the county” He is referring to the two Thomas family monuments in the nave and the Peter Birt/ Jenner monument near the altar. The William Thomas monument of 1636 is almost of metropolitan quality and strongly influenced by Nicholas Stone (1587-1647). He was an English sculptor and architect. In 1619 he was appointed master mason to James 1 and in 1626 to Charles 1 He was responsible for many notable public buildings, including the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London
We have continued with the patterns of worship set under the guidelines of the Welsh Government and the Bench of Bishops. Recent discussions have taken place with the result that as from Sunday 21 August there was no need to book your seat in the church, and you can now sit in any pew, allowing for sensible spacing between worshippers. Masks are still required to be worn, and hand sanitising will continue. It is hoped that our “Pebbles” group will be able to meet from the 5th September in the Church Hall. Also at the same time a member of the congregation will be able to read the O.T. lesson and epistle from the Lectern. Hymn singing will also be introduced wearing masks. The celebration of the Harvest Festival will be on the 26th September at 9.30 am. and will be as in pre-Covid times, that is an All Age Service with the children taking part.
The Tower Appeal is being responded to in a number of ways. We need to raise £60,000 for the work required on the tower at St. Mary’s. You can donate in a number of ways, on line at http//StMappeal.com or alternatively drop a donation in the letter box in the church porch. Or donating your old IT equipment where Electric Amnesty will strip it down and we get 50% of the value of the raw materials recovered. For the youngsters join the “Everest Climb”, or support the Tucker family in their “Stones for the Tower” appeal. Thank you to those who have already donated to the appeal and to the continued support of the St. Mary’s 200 club. The work on the tower has been delayed until next Spring, while we raise the necessary funds and also the pointing of the stonework with lime mortar can only be applied in frost free conditions.
We continue to support the Vale Foodbank in Barry with deliveries made every Thursday from the collecting points in the churches at Sully and Wenvoe. This has been a difficult time for families during the school holidays so a special plea for support. Items currently in short supply include tinned potatoes, coffee, peanut butter, bars of soap and treats for children would be welcome.
The last eighteen months have been a very difficult time for everyone with the threat of Covid-19, and especially for places of worship. We have been fortunate that our faithful congregation has held firm in these troubled times, and despite many experiencing personal losses of loved ones during this time, the fellowship and caring qualities of the church has been wonderful to see and experience. Now we need to reassure everyone that a welcome awaits you at St. Mary’s, things are not quite as normal, as in pre Covid times but we are getting there
Sadly we have to announce the passing of two members of the congregation. Mr Gareth Davies and Mrs Muriel Andrews; both will be sadly missed and our prayers are with their families at this time.
Thank you for reading the church news. God Bless
I hope you are enjoying this summer. Thinking ahead to the wind, rain, snow, hail, storms and dark evenings – I understand there is enthusiasm again for the Advent Windows!!
Last year we launched Advent Windows during strict Covid lockdown. We asked participants to decorate a window on a specified date in Advent. This provided a really good excuse for us all to take a walk around the village and enjoy what people had created. We have now had people contact us to say they would like to do it again.
This is an advance notice to let you know that ‘yes’ we are about to set plans in motion again and will give you more details next month.
ST MARY’S CHURCH TOWER APPEAL
SPONSOR A STONE
You may be aware that urgent, extensive restoration work is needed to restore the tower and porch of St Mary’s church to a safe and structurally sound condition. We are so lucky to have this beautiful, Grade ll* listed building in Wenvoe. Most people would agree that it is a wonderful focal point of our lovely village but the cost of restoration is in the region of £60,000 – a substantial sum of money by any standards. To help raise some of this amount, we have produced Sponsor a Stone certificates which are printed on good quality A5 card and can be purchased for £10 (there is, of course, no limit to the amount of money anyone can donate). The donor’s name will be handwritten onto the certificate; each one will be numbered and will be signed by Rev Jon Ormrod. If you would like to Sponsor a Stone and help preserve our church for generations to come please contact Mike and Glenys Tucker at 29 Vennwood Close or telephone 079 2210 9721.
August News Update
The church has not reopened as the decoration and repairs to the wall plaster has taken longer than anticipated. However, we can report that the work is of a very high standard and the interior will look amazing when all is restored to its rightful state. The organ has been removed to the back of the church and the large speaker cabinets re-sited high on the West wall of the nave. The sound quality is superb, and when we can get back to singing the congregation will notice the difference. The previous position of the speaker cabinets on the chancel arch wall was disfiguring in a medieval church so heavily restored in the late 19th century. Do please come and see and hear for yourself. You are all very welcome as this is the parish church for the community, not just for the regulars who attend St. Mary’s.
During this period of upheaval we have hosted a funeral and a wedding, which meant interrupting the work of painting, to get the church back into some semblance of order and cleaning the furniture and floors. Thanks to the hard working team who set to present the church as well as we possible could under very difficult circumstances. When we do reopen we still have to comply with the 2m. distancing, the wearing of face masks, sanitising the hands and booking a place in the week preceding the Sunday services.
The times of services have been slightly altered from the previous pattern. The Bishop had already told Jon to reduce the number of services he was taking on a Sunday morning. The pattern for a trial period of 3 months will be:
8.30 am Said Eucharist at St. Bleddian’s Church
9.30am Said/Sung Eucharist at St Mary’s Church
On the 1st Sunday of the month, Evening prayer at 6.00pm and on the 3rd Sunday a service of Said Eucharist.
On Wednesday morning Said Eucharist at 10.00am
St. Mary’s has been the focal point in the community for many hundreds of years. We will continue to be that focus for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals for all in the community and being one of nine churches in the new Ministry Area of De Morgannwg, will not make any difference. We have a wish list for St. Mary’s to open our doors to visitors at a set time, with volunteers to be on hand to greet people. More of that later, so watch this space.
Preparations for setting up the decree to merge the parishes of St Andrews Major, Michaelston Le Pit, Sully, Wenvoe, St. Lythan’s together with Porthkerry, Rhoose and Penmark are going ahead, now that most of the contentious issues have been settled. Financially all churches will continue to control their own affairs, but will come under the overall guidance and control of the Ministry Area Council. At a recent meeting of the Wenvoe PCC such agreement was voted on. In all the discussions that have been taking place, we have made sure that the Ministry Area will work in ways that are suitable for the differing range of churches in the group. Some are large, some are small, but each will have an equal voice, with representatives appointed by each church to bring to the council the concerns and aspirations of their individual congregations.
CHRISTIAN AID 2001
Together we STOP this Climate Crisis
Making Steps Matter!
Well done everyone. That includes those stepping out, those sponsoring the walkers, those donating and those who helped with the counting.
I am writing this just a couple of hours after our final count and checking the money brought in via Christian Aid Appeal.
This was the first year we undertook a project (the sponsored walking) rather than a street collection. There were 11 sponsorships with lots of interest throughout the month, as to how they were progressing. There were representatives from the three churches, with different combinations and methods people took to succeed in their walking. One couple took up the challenge in competing against each other, two people joined forces to combine their miles, one continued with an injured foot, another combined walking with steps while playing golf. Dog walking featured and everyone took care to include each step during everyday activities at work or at home. I included every step up and down stairs, each time not grumbling that I had forgotten anything, as I usually do!
The most steps an individual did was made by Steve Robbins who recorded 440,445 steps. Most made over the 300,000 target recommended by Christian Aid. However, I was pleased to reach 243,104 which exceeded my personal target of 200,000.
The total of sponsorship income was £1,760 (with an additional gift aid sum of £397.80). Further donations came to £558 (gift aid adding £86.25), and Gwenfo School raised £279 with their Big Brekkie and non-uniform day. This made a grand total of £3,081.27, including gift aid. Indeed, this was our best year!!! Well done everyone.
It now gives me the pleasure of sending this off to Christian Aid to help in this year’s challenge to address climate change and to support those women waiting for an earth dam to stop them walking six hours a day to collect water. Many thanks and well done all.
A final word – please support the Wenvoe Tower Appeal (see page 4). Many thanks to all who have already donated.
God bless and continue to keep safe.
THE CHURCH TOWER AT WENVOE
In 1699, the church tower was moved from the north side of the church to its pre-sent position at the west end of the church. In the absence of any documentary evidence for this re-building of the church tower in the late 17th century, we have to look at the national and local situation that the village of Wenvoe found itself in.
In 1688 King James II had fled the country. While in exile he was still king and the succession was confused because his son Charles (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was in France. Meanwhile, William of Orange had been invited to the throne of England with Mary, the eldest daughter of James to “ Protect the Protestant Religion and the Glorious Revolution and the liberties of the people”. They were crowned in 1689 as William III and Mary II. Mary died in 1694, and William died in 1702 upon which Queen Anne succeeded. How much these events affected life in Wenvoe is a matter of supposition. Were these momentous events in the national life announced from the steps of the Church Cross in the churchyard or did the fact that the prayers in church for the Royal Family bring home the changes in national life?
The earlier generations of the Thomas family at Wenvoe Castle, had supported Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth, at the end of the 17th century. The 1st baronet Sir John Thomas had strong royalist feelings having been advanced to the dignity of a Baronet, by William and Mary on 24th December 1694. The family held the advowson* of the living of Wenvoe Church and made the appointments of a priest to the church. At the time we are concerned with, the Rector of Wenvoe was Philip Hawkins who had been appointed in 1681 on the death of Samuel Hughes. The Rector and two churchwardens appointed at the vestry meeting, held each year, looked after the fabric of the buildings by use of the Church Rate. This was money raised from every house and portion of land within the parish boundary, for keeping the fabric of the church in good order. The amount they wished to raise was decided by them and the people meeting together each year.
The church rate was not a popular means of taxation, and non-payment saw the parishioner hauled up before the Justices of the Peace. In later years with the growth of Non-conformity, this payment to the established church was a source of discontent as the church received payment from the Government of the day towards their running costs, while the non-conformists had to pay their own way in building their meeting houses and chapels.
At the end of the 17th century, Wenvoe Church was in need of repair. The church tower on the north side of the church must have been in a dilapidated condition, and the radical decision to move and rebuild at the west end was taken. At this time, the church building consisted of a nave and chancel, separated within by a low archway. The roof was much lower than to-day’s roof and burials were taking place within the church itself, for the local gentry and other persons of note. The Rector, with the encouragement of the Thomas family and his churchwardens, must have used the Church Rate to fund the demolition and re-building of the tower, and perhaps with some financial support from the Castle.
The poor and dangerous state of the tower could be attributed to the after effects of the Battle of St Fagans in 1648. When the village war memorial was being built in the 1920s a cannon ball was found, indicating that the effects of the war had spread far and wide in the villages surrounding St Fagans. Church towers were often places where the local muskets, rifles and pikes etc. were stored for use by the local militia, when called upon in defence of the realm, and were places of defence and so targets to be attacked during the fighting.
During the construction phase, the church building must have been out of use for some time, and from the parish registers, the following has been extracted over three years 1698, 1699 and 1700.
In 1698 there were 8 Baptisms between June to Dec.
In 1699 there were 6 Baptisms between May and Jan.
In 1700 there were 11 Baptisms between June and March
In 1698 there was 1 marriage in Sept.
In 1699 there were 3 marriages between Dec. and Feb..
During this time the year ran from on March 25th to March 24th.
Baptisms and Marriage services would have needed the use of the church to perform these, but there are lengthy gaps in time between these events.
The only firm evidence we have is the plaque on the west face of the tower recording the rebuilding. This plaque is a replacement for the original, and was placed there, gratis, in 1935, by Mr Sid Llewellyn.
The original plaque sets out the account of removal and rebuilding
“THE TOWER OF THIS CHURCH WAS REMOVED FROM THE FARTHEST PART OF THE NORTH SIDE OF THE BODY OF THE CHURCH TO THE EAST AND WAS REBUILT IN THIS PLACE IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1699. Wil Morgan, Wil Wade Churchwardens.
However, in 1890 Mr Frank Bright wrote an account in a publication called St Peter’s Chair (a copy of which is in the G.R.O. in Cardiff) of a visit he made to Wenvoe Church and recorded that there was a Latin inscription as follows, which was not inscribed on the replacement tablet. “Procol O Procol este Profani” a translation is “Keep away, O Keep away you profane ones”.
Why this was not included could be down to the fact that the lettering was by this time deeply eroded and could not be read.
The purpose of writing this account marks the present on-going work to repoint all four faces of the tower due to frost damage loosening the mortar infill around the masonry. Not only is this a danger to the general public, but the work will restore the tower, making it fit for purpose for future generations.
Parry Edwards, May 2021
(* Advowson or patronage is the right in English law of a patron to present to the diocesan bishop a nominee for appointment to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation.)
News for July
St. Mary’s Church remains closed while the repairs and redecoration is taking place, and all services have been transferred to the Church Hall, on Sunday and for the midweek service on Wednesday. The work which is being done to a very high standard, is taking longer than was anticipated, and we are unlikely to be back in church until July. This has been a good exercise for the congregation, as so often the church is associated with a building, rather than thinking of the church as the people of God meeting together for worship. During the recent fine weather church gatherings have been taking place outdoors. The ministry area treasurers met in the shade on the north side of the church, and a family baptism took place around the churchyard cross. The current thinking is that when COVID-19 is finally kept under control with vaccinations, a new way of worship will be necessary, harking back to the Biblical days when Jesus taught the people wherever he found them. It is refreshing and a new way of thinking, perhaps the old ways were not the best way, and that God’s clean fresh air really does blow away the cobwebs.
The setting up of the Ministry Area is one way in which this can be done, with nine churches coming together, to pool ideas, share finances, and work towards the greater good. The smaller parishes will have as much say in matters to maintain the regular round of worship in each church as the larger ones. Jon wrote in one of the weekly newsletters an explanation of what the Ministry Area of De Morgannwg will mean to each one when we are brought together in 2022.
“As you are probably aware, the new Ministry Area of De Morgannwg will come into being by Bishop’s Decree on January 1st 2022. On this date, the nine churches of Dinas Powis, Michealston le Pit, Penmarc, Porthkerry, Rhoose, St Andrews Major, St. Lythans, Sully and Wenvoe will become one Ministry Area which will be called the Ministry Area of De Morgannwg. Each church will remain with its own identity, so these three churches will become
St Bleddians Church, St Lythans, in the Ministry Area of De Morgannwg
St John the Baptist Church, Sully, in the Ministry Area of De Morgannwg
St Mary’s Church, Wenvoe in the Ministry Area of De Morgannwg.
Each of these three churches will continue with their own Devolved Church Council which will be making decisions on a local level. The PCC will become the Ministry Area Council, each of the nine churches will have a representative on the Ministry Area Council. Each church will have an equal voice so that the views of all congregations can be aired.
There have been several meetings to discuss how our Ministry Area will operate within the Diocesan plan. There are two meetings this week, the first with each of the Treasurers and the second with
those who are serving on the communications Team. Your representatives from the churches are working very hard in order to come up with the best operating structure.
I will inform you of developments as they arise, but the important thing to remember is that your church remains your church, whilst also being able to enjoy time, fellowship and prayer with parishioners from other churches.”
The Christian Aid appeal “MAKING STEPS MATTER” had a number of people being sponsored with the number of steps they took during May. The final results are not yet available, awaiting for the monies to be brought together.
During the time the church has been closed for repairs to the plastering on the walls and repainting, the decision was made to re-site the organ console and speakers from the front of the nave near the chancel screen to the rear behind the font. The present two pews, will be placed in the transept and the space created around the font will be, filled with chairs from the transept. This decision was not taken lightly, but will allow for a better welcoming area when entering the church from the south porch, and the sound from the organ will be much improved coming from the back of the church, forward into the nave and chancel.
During the work around the font, the pews had to be removed to plaster in the gaps left by pews, this has revealed a decorative slate plaque, thought to be part of an early memorial on the wall which had been plastered over for many years. The decoration is of a vase of stylised flowers with a decorative border.
This is in the position where the Wenvoe Castle Family Pew was sited in the days when the church had box pews. These were replaced in 1887 by the pine pews we have at present, this little piece of history from the past will be preserved and left for all to see.
St Mary’s Tower Appeal
£60,000 needed to restore the tower!
In the early part of the year, we received a shocking report from our architect. The tower needs repointing. The restoration work has been costed; tenders accepted but we need to raise £60,000 before the work can begin.
The background to this sad story? In February 2021, an architectural inspection of the tower was undertaken following the discovery of fallen mortar and masonry at the base of the tower and to a lesser degree, the porch. Subsequently, a detailed rope access inspection was undertaken by steeplejacks to all four elevations of the tower. The steeplejacks reported that the pointing and masonry on all elevations was in poor condition with it either loose, falling out or hollow behind which in time will also become loose. Small amounts of plant growth were seen on all elevations with loose lead flashing on the North Elevation over the outbuilding. Imminently falling pointing and masonry was removed at the time, but it is expected that more will become loose, especially when winter frosts set in. The base around the tower has therefore been cordoned off as a safety precaution. We hope to undertake restoration this year as another winter would see more falling mortar and masonry which would compromise the watertight integrity of the building. Therefore, the PCC has resolved to launch an appeal for funds. Please consider donating either to our ‘Donate’ page as shown or if you wish by cheque sent directly to our church treasurer: made payable to St. Mary’s Church Wenvoe
Ray Harris, Orchard House, Port Road Wenvoe, CF5 6DF.
If you are a UK taxpayer we can claim an extra 20% from HMRC on top of your donation as Gift Aid. Please write your address on the back of your cheque.
If you would like to make an on-line donation, our bank details are: St Mary’s Wenvoe 08-90-03 50192159. Please include the reference TOWER
Once the restoration is completed, the community will be able to continue using the church and churchyard as they have done for centuries passed.
Thank you for reading this. God Bless and continue to keep safe.