Saturday, 12 July 2014

Three Churches and a Mansion

My next few blog posts were inspired on a warm Easter Bank Holiday Monday this April,  when we combined a leisurely riverside picnic at Pant-y-Goitre with a mini churches tour. The tour was ‘mini’ in distance (the churches are all within a radius of 2-3 miles) and number, three, but also ‘mini’ in the size of the tiny country churches visited. I have said it before when writing, I’m not someone who goes to church very regularly, or feels that you have to be inside a designated building to demonstrate your moral values or experience a sense of spirituality. However, I do think there is something very special about the small country churches of Monmouthshire, there are so many of these beautiful, ancient buildings located in stunning scenery. It’s a sad fact that many churches today are kept locked for fear of theft or vandalism, but in most, key holder details are displayed so you can contact them to gain access outside service times. Visiting them at any time of the year is a delight, but in spring with fresh leaves unfurling, blossom, wildflowers and nesting birds, bees and butterflies abounding in their graveyards and surrounding fields and hedgerows, I think they are extra special, peaceful places for quiet contemplation both inside and out, but judge for yourself over my next few posts and better still, if you like what you see, visit!

The Mansion - Pant-y-Goitre House

The first of my series of Three Churches and a Mansion posts features Pant-y-Goitre, a well-preserved 18th-century Georgian house with landscape park situated on a  slight rise above the River Usk, just off the B4598 between Usk and Abergavenny. Pant-y-Goitre house was constructed in two main phases. First, a red-brick Queen Anne residence built in 1726 on the foundations of a 16th-century house. This was bought in l770 by Thomas Hooper who extended the house and built the large 3-storey N block in l776 in plain Georgian style. The curving orangery on the NW corner of the house was added in the l830s and has recently undergone renovation. Thomas Hooper also probably did  the landscaping of the park after 1770.

Pant-y-Goitre is privately owned and not open to the public but you can stay there as part of a luxury fly fishing tuition package on the River Usk.

Although Pant-y-Goitre House isn't open to the public, you can enjoy seeing the house and parkland from the stunning walks along the public foot paths along the banks on either side of the River Usk here from the stiles on either side of Pant-y-Goitre Bridge. Keep dogs under control - there are usually cattle and sheep in the fields. 

                                                                       Decorative iron gates at Pant-yGoitre

Pant-y-Goitre Bridge which spans the river Usk, near the entrance to Pant-y-Goitre House has a strange look because of holes in the spandrel (the triangular space between two arches). These holes are meant to reduce water pressure on the bridge during flooding.The bridge was designed by John Upton and was built around 1821. 

Having fun picnicking by the river!

This is the first in a series of four blog posts - the next three posts will feature the tiny country churches we visited on the same day as this riverside picnic. St Mary's Church Llanfair Kilgeddin, All Saint's Church Kemys Commander and St David's Church Trostrey.

Look out for these over the next few weeks they have some really fascinating history and hidden secrets to reveal!!

Finding Pant-y-Goitre

Pant-y-Goitre, Llanvair Kilgeddin, Abergavenny, NP7 9BB
Limited parking is on the roadside near the old gates (don't block them), or in lay bys in the adjacent lanes.

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