Archive

21 October 2020

Paul Barrett –
THE MULBERRY HARBOURS



A new ceramic plaque is to be installed by the Chepstow Society to mark the site of a forgotten medieval Priory.

The plaque will commemorate the Augustinian Priory of St Kingsmark – originally a Welsh prince and local saint named Cynfarch or Kynemark, whose 7th century church was in the area.  This was some 400 years before the Normans built Chepstow Castle and the Priory that became St Mary’s Church.

The plaque has been designed by local artist Keith Underwood, and made by ceramicist Ned Heywood.  It will be installed at the top (north-west) end of the footpath leading from Kingsmark Lane down to St Kingsmark Avenue.  

Old maps show that the path roughly follows the southern edge of the old parish of St Kynemark, which centred on the Priory and extended from Crossway Green to the site of The Mount on Welsh Street.

St Kynemark’s Priory itself was founded before 1270, and functioned until Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1534. 

The Priory’s stones were used in later farm buildings, and there is now nothing to be seen of it above ground.  Excavations in the early 1960s – before the modern houses on Kingsmark Lane were built – uncovered evidence of three monastic ranges, but no church.

The work to install the plaque and its small plinth will be carried out between now and Christmas, and it is hoped that there will be a formal unveiling in due course.   Monmouthshire County Council has agreed that the installation work be carried out. 

New publication by Keith Underwood

9 Mar 2018 by david

Keith Underwood – Artist, Historian and a Life member of the Chepstow Society – has designed and produced a booklet about William FitzOsbern to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the founding of Chepstow Castle. It is for sale at £5.99, obtainable from Chepstow Bookshop.

It is a limited edition of 100 booklet. It is all hand written in Keith’s calligraphy script and with his excellent illustrations. Keith has used extensive historical research, and translated the text into English to enable the reader understand the context.

Chepstow Society Photographic Competition

Aim:
To select 13 photographs for inclusion in a 2019 Calendar depicting seasonal scenes in and around Chepstow

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW BEEN CANCELLED.

Christmas Party 2017

The Society held its Christmas Party on Saturday 2nd December at the Drill Hall.

Our hosts for the evening were Sallie and Keith James, who were ably assisted by Angela and Harry Middleditch.   Thanks must also be given to members of the Executive who provided vital help on the day, and to chairman Geoffrey Sumner, playing the role of Santa Claus.

The evening started with an act showing how you could change through the various stages to become a pantomime dame, and the dame then led those present through the pantomime and ended up with a number of songs, sung with gusto and much enthusiasm.

A cold buffet followed, with the Christmas trapping of crackers, hats and horrible jokes, and a visit from Father Christmas.

The evening concluded with the Chepstow Community Big Band, playing from 9.30pm to 11.30pm. They were as always excellent, playing easy listening music, singing by two members of the band, solo acts and dance music, allowing guests to show off their dance prowess.

A vote of thanks was given by David Barber to Sallie and Keith, with mention of the others who made the evening such a success.

First World War

The Chepstow Society produced an interim publication of the effects of the war on Chepstow.     Much of this was subsequently incorporated into the Society’s 2017 publication, “Shipyards, Scandal and Pigstyes”.

A Tribute to Linda Mercedes Waters

by david

Linda Mercedes Waters 1955 – 2013

Photograph by kind permission of Forest Review

 I should like to pay tribute to a remarkable young women, to many of us still young at heart, taken from us before she had had time to develop fully her extraordinary artistic talent.

The daughter of  Ivor Waters, teacher,writer,poet and historian – founder of the Chepstow Museum and the Chepstow Society, and Mercedes Waters, herself a gifted artist, Linda had a formidable mind often seemed entirely omniscient. A fine miniaturist and draftswoman, her attention to detail was astonishing and it is no wonder that the Medici Society sought her out. She also exhibited with the Hillard Society and in Cardiff and Bristol.

She followed her parents in her keen interest in a knowledge of local history and she will be missed for her seemingly bottomless well of information. A void has opened up for all of us, her students, her friends and above all her mother and her brother John.

I myself personally feel that she is now in a state of grace, free from the dire trauma she has undergone. Above all she must be regarding us all with a critical eye, wondering what the fuss is all about. We shall remember her with great fondness for her hitherto cheerfulness, quick wit and active mind.

An illustration of Linda’s remarkable talent is best illustrated in Memoirs of Monmouthshire by Nathan Rogers, privately printed by Ivor Waters in 1978, and to whom we acknowledge our great thanks to the family

Mercedes Waters

by david

Before the 1939-45 war, cheap package holidays were a thing of the future and ownership of a car and foreign travel were the province of the wealthy, or people who had been in a reasonably well-paid job for 15-20years. Thus it would seem unlikely that Mercedes Trilla-Gracia, the daughter of a pharmacist in Barcelona would meet Ivor Waters, starting off life in a poorly paid job as a teacher in Chepstow

However, Ivor determined to travel, sought the cheapest ways of getting to chosen destinations. Amongst those were Spain in 1930 and Italy in 1932. His 1934 trip to Barcelona required a visit to a pharmacy where he had a conversation with the pharmacist who was impressed by his Spanish and invited him to meet his family, which included daughter Mercedes Trilla-Gracia.  Correspondence and future visits strengthened the friendship but the Spanish Civil War 1936-39 and the 1939-45 war intervened.  After service in the army Ivor was eventually demobbed. He immediately applied for a Spanish visa but was refused because he was believed to be anti-Franco.

The Spanish Government relented in 1951 and his visa was granted. Ivor took no time in heading for Barcelona and to marry Mercedes in the British Embassy, Madrid. So started the life of "Mercedes Waters" in Chepstow.

Now Mercedes Waters, she joined the Chepstow Society of which Ivor was the founding father, and soon enthusiatically joined in the monthly debates. It was only the births of daughter Linda and later son John which interrupted her active participation in the affairs of the Society. She became very interested in the Arts & Crafts Section of the Society, eventually becoming its Secretary, helping in the Annual Exhibitions of both Arts and Crafts which sometimes were held separately and sometimes combined and displayed outdoors or in suitable buildings

In 1970 the Chepstow Society published Number 6 in the Chepstow Society Pamphlet Series consisting of 28 pages of Mercedes drawings of "Changing Chepstow. In 1973 she filled 14 pages in the series with "Chepstow Sketches", whilst in 1978 Ivor printed on his Moss Rose press 26 pages of Mercedes "Conte Pencil Drawings of Humble Landmarks" of the recent past in "Vanishing Chepstow". She also illustrated some of Ivor's pamphlets. IN 1981 Mercedes and Elvira Heredia printed on the left pages of a pamphlet the words of 14 traditional Catalan songs with the English translations opposite

Her remarkable drawings took considerable time and though family bonds were very strong Mercedes felt guilty and offered Linda and John her sincere apologies for clutter up their living space with her improvised artists easel. For Linda and John this was to be their stepping stone to become in Linda a very find miniaturist, and John no mean painter, but now using IT to pursue it

Mercedes considerable energies joined with Ivor to participate in a great many other activities by the Chepstow Society, including walking, playing in the band, and away day trips

Following the death of Ivor, Mercedes continued to support the Chepstow Society, and it gave her great pride and pleasure to see Linda become Chairman of the Society. Over recent years glaucoma had reduced her sight to a shadowy existence, but nevertheless she bravely coped with this, even helping Linda, in her home stays between operations

Rest in peace you lovely lady. It is sad your interesting life should have ended as it did.

Trevor Evans MBE – Society President Honoured

4 Jan 2012
The Society congratulates its President Trevor Evans on being awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours.  Trevor, a founding member of the Society, still attends our monthly meeting  as our Natural History Officer and gives a report each month on matters of interest.  Trevor received his MBE for services to conservation and wildlife in Monmouthshire.  His 40 years plus activity saw the publication in 2007 of his mammoth work in the book “Flora of Monmouthshire”, and the Society were proud to be one of the sponsors of the publication.