Mathern Welsh: Merthyr Tewdrig
Mathern parish church
Mathern shown within Monmouthshire
OS grid reference Principal area Monmouthshire Ceremonial county Gwent Country Wales Sovereign state United Kingdom Post town CHEPSTOW Postcode district NP16 Dialling code 01291 Police Gwent Fire South Wales Ambulance Welsh EU Parliament Wales UK Parliament Monmouth List of places: UK • Wales • Monmouthshire
Mathern (Welsh: Matharn; older form: Merthyr Tewdrig) is a historic village in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, about 5 km south west of the town of Chepstow, close to the Severn estuary, the Bristol Channel and the M48 motorway. The village is designated as a Conservation Area. It is now bisected by the motorway, which passes over the road through the village, with the original village located to the south and the more recent development, known as Newton Green, to the north.
Origins of the village
An authoritative local history suggests that the settlement originates from a time when the St. Pierre Pill, an inlet off the Severn Estuary, was larger and much more important than now, and met an ancient ridgeway which passed through Shirenewton towards Monmouth. The inlet was originally known as Porthiscoed ("harbour below the woods"), which, as Portskewett, later became the name of a nearby village.
Mathern was originally known as Merthyr-Tewdrig ("burial-place of Tewdrig"), after the martyrdom of St. Tewdrig, king of Gwent and Glywysing. According to the Book of Llandaff, Tewdrig (or Tewdric) was wounded at Tintern around the year 630, after fighting the invading Saxons with his son Meurig ap Tewdrig. His wounds were washed at a spring, where he died. A church was erected on the site of his burial at Mathern, and he was later revered as a martyr and saint. In his memory, Meurig gave the surrounding land, extending for several miles, to the Bishops of Llandaff. During the 12th century, the shorter name Mateyrn, meaning "place of a king", came into common use for the village; Meurig's name is perpetuated in the neighbouring village of Pwllmeyric.
St. Tewdric's Church
The existing parish church of St. Tewdric dates largely from the late 15th century, when it was rebuilt on an earlier foundation by John Marshall, Bishop of Llandaff, in the Perpendicular architectural style . However, parts dating from the 12th and 13th centuries are still visible. The church is the supposed resting place of St. Tewdric; on the north wall of the chancel is a tablet installed in the 17th century by Francis Godwin, Bishop of Llandaff 1601-1617, who claimed to have found the saint's stone coffin while repairing the church. The church also possesses several monuments to Bishops of Llandaff, up to the end of the 17th century. The building was heavily restored in the 1880s. Hando recounts the story told to him by an old lady who had lived in Mathern and who claimed to have seen for herself, in 1881, the stone coffin bearing the remains of St. Tewdrig with his mortal wound (a hole in the skull made by a spear-point) still visible. The medieval font was recovered from beneath the porch by Canon E.T. Davies in 1943. Close to the church is the ancient St. Tewdric's Well, mentioned by the historian Nennius in the 8th or 9th century.
The Mathern estate was traditionally given to the Bishops of Llandaff by King Meurig. It is known that, by 1333, Mathern was one of three medieval palaces belonging to Llandaff; and, after Owain Glyndwr's rebellion in the early 15th century, it was the only one kept habitable. Part of the existing building is dated to 1419. In his 1882 publication, local historian Octavius Morgan provides a description of three carved stones, showing symbols of the Holy Trinity, which once formed part of a grand gateway to the palace, but by then deposited by Lord Tredegar at the museum at Caerleon, dating from the time of Bishop John de la Zouch who held the See between 1408 and 1423. Most of the remaining buildings, however, date from the 16th century. The property fell out of use around 1700, became a farm, and was partly demolished around 1770. In 1894 the buildings were sold to architect and garden designer Henry Avray Tipping (1855–1933), who restored some of the buildings and developed a new garden in the Arts and Crafts style.
Sport in Mathern
Mathern currently have a football side who play in East Gwent Division 1. In 2005/06 Mathern Wanderers won the Fishwick Cup defeating Monmouth Town F.C.. The following season, 2006/2007 sparked a new dawn for the Wanderers as for the first time they were able to field two sides. The next season Mathern finished the league in 3rd place and also reached two cup finals and a Semi Final. James Barnes finished both the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 season as top scorer with tallies of 34 and 42 respectively.
- ^ Adopted Unitary Development Plan
- ^ a b c E. T. Davies, A history of the Parish of Mathern, 1990
- ^ Kelly's Directory for Monmouthshire, 1901
- ^ Wales
- ^ a b John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, 2000, ISBN 0-14-071053-1
- ^ Hando, F.J., (1958) "Out and About in Monmouthshire", R. H. Johns, Newport.
- ^ Spirit Of The Community (from Monmouthshire County Life)
- ^ Morgan, Octavius (1882), "Goldcliff and the Ancient Roman Inscribed Stone Found There 1878", Monmouthshire & Caerleon Antiquarian Association
- C.J.O.Evans, Monmouthshire:Its History and Topography
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