St Illtud’s, Llantwit Major

November 25, 2012

A horrible wet Sunday, so we went for a pub lunch at the Swan, Llantwit Major, a little village not far from Cardiff, and the site of a beautiful but not very well known church, St Illtud’s.  Inside are a group of stunning celtic crosses, dating from the ninth century, and several eerie effigies, one of a medieval priest, another of a woman in Jacobean dress. Incredibly, wall paintings  from the middle ages were found during renovation of the church – they are really extraordinary.  But my favourite item is a cheery little Madonna and Child, who survived the trashing of the church during the Reformation.  Unfortunately baby Jesus’ head has been knocked off, but she herself still looks perky.













I lit a candle for a friend who died ten years ago, another who died two weeks ago, and one for  the living, particularly someone I know who is seriously ill. Then I went outside and looked at the gravestones, which brought the sadness and finality of it home to me, but I also found these carvings comforting.

I’m pretty sure St Iltydd’s will feature in the novel I’m writing at the moment, Mirror Twin.  It’s just too atmospheric not to use, and despite its grace and elegance, it has a scary feel.



November 25, 2012

There are three strands to this blog, all connected to research for my new series of books featuring psychotherapist Jessica Mayhew.  First strand: places I visit in and around Wales. Second strand: arts and cultural events. Third strand: gardening for the lazy gardener.  Most of what you’ll find here is stuff I do in the course of research for the books. some of it is just what interests me. I’m going to try to update once a week, and post up photos where relevant.  I hope you’ll join me.