Raglan Church, Katharine Elliott, 1986

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Horatia Durrant History Essay Contest

Katharine Elliott 31st June, 1986

RAGLAN CHURCH

The first Church in Raglan was in the 6th Century. It would have been a log hut with a thatched roof, or made with sods, wattle and mud. There was a brook behind the Church which would have been useful for baptisms and possibly beside the brook there was a hermit’s cell. Most of the Church we see today was built by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and his son ……? Was also William. Herbert inherited Raglan Castle from his father, Sir William ap Thomas, and on July 16th 1469 he made a Will. He made this Will just before he was taken away and beheaded at the Battle of  ? In this Will it said “I bequeath all the salt that I have  ? as much as will make the Body and Aisles of the Church at Raglan as it is proposed now by me. The Chancel to be at the pleasure of God.” His son the first Earl of Huntingdon, made a further bequest for the building in his Will dated 1483. He lived until 1491. In the Civil War the Church records were destroyed (which were kept in the Castle Library) by the Roundheads, they also destroyed part of the Church. We cannot tell what damage was done to the fabric as well as the interior.

A stone plaque has recently been discovered on the North Wall by Canon Blake and Mr Jeremy Knight. The writing can be deciphered – it says “God ye Church will mend.” And it is dated 1698, with possibly the initials of the Church Wardens at that time. This was the year in which the Duke of Beaufort’s heir, The Marquess of Worcester, was badly injured in a coach accident between Monmouth and Raglan. He was the fourth of the Beauforts’ children to be buried in the vault so that the Duke would readily have done his part in God’s “mending of the Church”.

At the entrance of the Church there is a battered Holy Water stoup in its correct place on the right of the original stone doorway.

Inside the entrance on the left there is a freestone font and close to it an important relic of the 18th century. In 1928 Rev.Thomas Wright, the Vicar of Raglan, thought he found a large portion of a 15th century font in his garden. On it there were heraldic shields and angels with very large wings and very small crosses on their foreheads. In 1959 Mr A.W.F. Carol suggested the bit of the font may have been a well head or the finial on a small ornamental turret, a finial being Gothic carved work representing foliage. Mr Knight agreed.

Mr Jeremy Knight reported the pulpit to be of Victorian construction but incorporated are four carved panels of a much earlier date, probably 15th century. The entry is through an archway and the staircase once led to the roof loft.

The Beaufort Chapel is situated on the north of the Chancel, and was greatly restored by the 8th Duke of Beaufort about 1868. There are two windows in the Beaufort Chapel one of them is a memorial of the first Lord Raglan who died in the Crimea in 1855 ?? and the other commemorates the marriage of Lord Henry Somerset, the Duke’s son and Lady Isabel Somerset.

In the vault are the remains of three of the most illustrious noblemen in their generations. William Somerset 3rd Earl of Worcester, Edward Somerset 4th Earl of Worcester, and Edward Somerset 2nd Marquess of Worcester.

The present organ was built in 1908 by Sweetland of Bristol in the same place as the previous one and some of the same pipes were used. The vault was then opened and Mr Hubert Morris saw lead coffins in niches in the walls. The organ was completely restored by 1962.

The tower is a typical battlemented tower of the period. During the last century pinnacles were added. Miss Anna Maria Bosanquet gave a peal of bells in 1860 but she decided they were too loud so she gave them to Llandenny. All that is kept are the six holes and the Vicar’s Bell which told the ringers in the belfry when the service was about to begin. She also presented a Church clock in 1863 but the railway opened three years earlier, and she had an argument with the station master and she decided they should be punished so she did not put a clock facing the station.

On April 2nd 1974 Mr Jeremy Knight examined the Preaching Cross. Due to weathering the design has faded but the date is early 15th century. On the left of the path to the Church there is a little tombstone of considerable interest. Eighteen inches high and eighteen inches wide, it has small floral decorations in surprisingly good condition. It is the grave of Harriet May who died February 6th 1856 aged 35, and George May of Raglan Castle who died June 3rd 1857 aged 48. This proves that the castle was inhabited at that date.


THE VICARS OF RAGLAN SINCE 1560

  • 1560 - John Gavin
  • 1635 - William Rogers
  • 1640 - William Davies
  • 1661 - John Davies
  • 1678 - Rice Morris
  • 1682 - William Hopkins
  • 1709 - Richard Tyler
  • 1715 - David Price
  • 1746 - John Leach
  • 1796 - Charles Phillips
  • 1818 - William Powell
  • 1866 - Arthur Montague Wyatt
  • 1874 - Henry Plantaganet Somerset
  • 1893 - Charles Mathew Perkins
  • 1903 - Robert Shelly Plant
  • 1924 - David James Sproule
  • 1928 - Thomas Wright
  • 1939 - Charles Duck
  • 1952 - William Joseph Price
  • 1958 - Arthur Vernon Blake
  • 1975 - Peter Charles Gwynne Gower

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