St Crispin Day (25th October) Connections in the Brecon Beacons

 

Here’s a great blog about a very unique subject in the Brecon Beacons – a subject that most people might never have known about had it not been for this excellent history lesson courtesy of Elizabeth Jeffreys.

The Battle of Agincourt took place on this day in 1415.

Brecon Cathedral Heritage Centre has a Plaque with the list of the Breconshire Archers who fought at the Battle of Agincourt and the stone on which they sharpened their arrows

Brecon Cathedral Heritage Centre

The Cathedral’s St Keynes Chapel was dedicated to St Crispin, the patron saint of shoe-makers. Just outside the chapel is the Games Monument. This recumbent effigy of a female figure dating from 1555, she was originally part of a three-tier tomb of the Games family on the south side of the chancel. The powerful and wealthy family is famous for its association with Agincourt, where, as Shakespeare mentioned in `Henry V’, Davy ( Dafydd) Gam Esquire was one of the few British casualties  and historically, he was leader of the King’s bodyguard and legend has it that he was knighted by the King on the battlefield just before his death and reputed to be Shakespeare’s Fluellin.

Games Monument, Brecon Cathedral. ©

Shakespeare’s Henry V gave his St Crispin Day Speech on this day

Davy Gam’s daughter Gwladys was married to Sir Roger Vaughan of Tretower Court who also fought and was killed with Davy Gam at Agincourt The Vaughans were a rich influential Welsh family; the movers and shakers of their time. They needed a place to impress. And the sumptuous accommodation they created at Tretower Court reflected their high status as Welsh gentry. Now, in the 21st Century CADW have recreated a suite of rooms as they may have been in 1470. Discover a sophisticated way of life: from the wall hangings that depict the Battle of Agincourt and intricately carved furniture right down to the pots and pans of a working kitchen.

Tretower Court ©

Gwladys subsequently married Sir William ap Thomas he chose the name Herbert and lived at Raglan Castle. Their magnificent alabaster tomb and effigies can be seen in St Mary’s Priory Church in Abergavenny. Gwladys was named “the star of Abergavenny  —”Gwladys the happy and the faultless” by Welsh poet Lewis Glyn Cothi. He describes the lady of Raglan Castle, which she became upon her second marriage, as a brilliant being, “like the sun—the pavilion of light.” She has been compared to the legendary Queen Marcia for her discretion and influence

Brecon Cathedral ©

St Mary’s houses an outstanding collection of beautiful tombs and monuments, considered to be the finest gathering of medieval sculptures in any parish church in Britain. The most outstanding of which is the ‘Jesse’ an elaborate, very large 15th century wooden carving, which would have once been part of an even larger carving forming a Jesse Tree. It is unique in Britain and described by Tate Britain as one of the finest medieval sculptures in the world.

Tomb of Sir William ap Thomas and Gwladys “The Start of Abergavenny” in St Mary’s Priory Church Abergavenny.

 

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