Thursday, 9 November 2017

Hay History Group - Cistercians and Graveyards

So it was up to Cusop Village Hall for the Hay History Group meeting and talk last week - held in Cusop because they couldn't find anywhere in Hay after the Three Tuns closed! It was a small meeting, and the audience was entirely female!
The first part of the evening was taken up with the group meeting - reporting back on things that have happened recently, and events that are coming up.
Alan Nicholls talked about Hay Graveyard, which has got sadly overgrown. He's been helping a lady track down the graves of her ancestors, one of whom ran the chemists' shop at the time of the Armstrong murders! He'd also had a chat with a lady who was recording gravestones for the Powys Family History Society. There is a book, by Bryn Like, but it appears to be incomplete. Alan has had a word with the churchwardens, and he's started clearing the brambles, and unearthing some flat grave slabs which were completely invisible under moss and earth. He reckons the job will take him all winter, doing it a bit at a time. Of course, he'd welcome assistance, if anyone is interested.
Coming up soon is a trip out - on 29th November - to the Thomas Shop and Abbeycwmhir Hall, which will be all decked out for Christmas then. The Hall has 52 rooms, and each one is decorated in a different style. Abbeycwmhir Hall was partly built with the stone from Abbey Cwm-hir, a Cistercian monastery nearby. It's a Victorian house, and one of the pictures on the website, of their collection of vintage children's books with pictorial binding, made my mouth water in anticipation of seeing the real thing. Their website is at
The Thomas Shop is a museum, with tea shop, of a traditional village shop, at Penybont. I've wanted to go there for a while because of the Wool Emporium which is also attached to the museum. Their website is

And so on to the talk, about the spread of the Cistercian Order across Europe in the Middle Ages, with particular reference to St Bernard of Clairvaux, who was related to some of the most important families in France, and preached in favour of the Crusades. The Order was at the forefront of agricultural innovation, which they could spread quickly across Europe through the meetings of the abbots of the different Houses that were held regularly. The lady giving the talk, Gil McHattie, had gone on holiday to some of the sites in France, and had excellent pictures of abbey buildings and the granges, or farms that supported the abbeys, to show.
The Cistercians were an important order in Wales - Abbey Cwm-Hir, Strata Florida, and others were under the patronage of Welsh princes. The farm just beside Clyro petrol station was originally a grange, and the barn there (now holiday accommodation) is medieval.

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