Brecon.

19th September 2012. Visited an old friend of mine, who lives near Brecon, in south-east Wales. We paid a visit to Brecon Cathedral. Again, this was a Priory Church, which became a Parish Church at the Reformation. It was founded in 1093 (i.e. a Norman foundation), but is very likely on the site of an earlier church, as is very often the case. It became a cathedral as late as 1923, when the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon came into existence.

Nevertheless, it possesses a remarkable Norman font, incorporating a ‘Green Man’: a head from which tree-branches and vegetation emerge. This is essentially a Pagan image, and so perhaps not the sort of thing one expects to find in a church. This is not the place to go into this complex and often controversial subject. Which I am not competent to do anyway! We prefer to think that, as a universal symbol of regeneration and renewal with the rotation of the seasons, it would have been encouraging to the simple, illiterate (but literal-minded) parishioners whose babies were baptized in it nearly a thousand years ago. In other words, it was ‘non-controversial’ at the time. The fact that this ‘imagery’ did not fit in with much later Christian concepts, may well be a conceit of those who sanctimoniously – indeed often arrogantly – evolved them. As we all know, ‘pagan’ imagery is very common indeed in older English churches. At any rate, the ‘Green Man’ is still going strong…

We visited Tretower, a 12th century castle and Manor House which belonged to the Picards and then to the Vaughans, powerful families for many centuries in this region of Wales. For more details, see http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/tretowercourtandcastle/?lang=en One of the features in the house is the Hall done out as for a Banquet set circa 1470. Since there were no attendants around, my pal sat in one of the principal places, while I put the camera on a handy support, and fired it up for a 10-second delay. Then I rushed over to join him – hence our smiles. I can assure the management of Tretower that no harm was done to their elaborate and most excellent décor! Indeed, should anyone ever read this stuff, it might even induce them to call in at Tretower. They will certainly find it a place well visiting… (Note added 27th December 2019. An email received this morning, told me that my friend died last night. My revision of this web-page and his démise are purely coincidental. I include it not to be morbid, but as a reminder to myself, and anybody else, that when you get old, every year, every month, every week, every day you live, is a blessing.)