Goldcliff, Newport

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Goldcliff
Welsh: Allteuryn
Goldcliff.jpg
A reen in Goldcliff with
The Farmers Arms beyond
Goldcliff is located in Newport, Wales
Goldcliff
Goldcliff
 Goldcliff shown within Newport
Population 233  (2001 census[1])
Principal area Newport
Ceremonial county Gwent
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town NEWPORT
Postcode district NP18 2
Dialling code 01633
Maindee exchange
Police Gwent
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Newport East
List of places
UK
Wales
Newport

Coordinates: 51°32′35″N 2°54′53″W / 51.5431°N 2.9146°W / 51.5431; -2.9146

Groynes at Goldcliff Point

1606
ON THE XX DAY OF JANVARY EVEN AS IT CAME TO
PAS IT PLEASED GOD THE FLVD DID FLOW TO THE
EDGE OF THIS SAME BRAS - AND IN THIS PARISH
THERE WAS LOST 5000 AND ODD POWNDS BESIDES
XXII PEOPLE WAS IN THIS PARRISH DROWN'D
GOLDCLIF JOHN WILKINS OF PILREW AND
                   WILLIAM TAP CHURCHWARDENS
1609

from the 1607 plaque in St Mary's Church

Goldcliff (Welsh: Allteuryn) is a village and community parish to the south east of the city of Newport in Wales. It lies within the Newport city boundaries in the historic county of Monmouthshire and the preserved county of Gwent.

Origin of the English name[edit]

The name is said to have originated from the silicious limestone cliff, standing about 60 feet high, at Hill Farm, rising over a great bed of yellow mica which breaks the level at the shore and has a glittering appearance in sunshine, especially to ships passing in the Bristol Channel. Giraldus Cambrensis, who toured Wales in 1188 refers to it as "Gouldclyffe" and describes it in Latin as "...glittering with a wonderful brightness".[2]

Character[edit]

Together with the neighbouring parishes of Nash and Whitson, it is one of "The Three Parishes" which have long been a unit - geographical, socially, economically and ecclesiastically. All three parishes are typical of the Caldicot Levels. At the highest tides the village lies below sea-level. The entire area is drained by a vast network of inter-linking ditches or 'reens'.[3] A main drainage ditch, with an origin near Llanwern, known as "Monksditch" or "Goldcliff Pill" [4] passes through the village on its way to the sea. Local folklore maintains that the sides of the Monksditch are laced with smuggler's brandy.

Fields are drained by low depressions running the width of the fields, known locally as grips. The field area between grips is termed a span or spain. The grips drain into the reens which are slow-moving and in Summer months are often stagnant. Reens run towards the sea where they empty between tides at a gout. The level of reens is controlled by means of a series of sluices or stanks; separate boards in which may be raised or lowered to keep water levels high enough for livestock to drink. The faster flowing Monksditch carries water from more distant higher ground, above the level of the reens, some of which pass underneath the ditch by means of culverts.[citation needed]

The south of the village is bounded by the foreshore of the Severn Estuary, which lies behind a tall concrete-faced sea wall. A number of groynes can be seen at low tide.

History[edit]

Prehistoric, Roman and Medieval[edit]

Hidden in the laminated silts of the Severn estuary foreshore at Goldcliff are 8,000-year-old (mesolithic) human footprints [5] and the intertidal region of the coast near Goldcliff has attracted considerable archaeological interest (see Archaeology below). Goldcliff has notable evidence of occupation by the Silures.[6]

A connection with Roman activity was firmly established with the discovery near Goldcliff Point in 1878 of the inscribed "Goldcliff Stone" recording the work of legionaries on a linear earthwork, presumably a sea wall.[7] Further evidence of occupation was found when ash pits were dug at Nash during construction of the Uskmouth Power Station.

Goldcliff was originally owned by the native princes of Wales, but was taken from Owain Wan, son of the last king of Gwent, Caradawg ap Gruffydd, by the Norman nobleman Robert de Chandos who, shortly before 1113, founded a priory there.[2]

The higher coastal parts of the area were certainly reclaimed by the late 11th century and early 12th century when Goldcliff and Nash were granted to the Benedictine priory. Lower-lying areas inland were enclosed and drained [3] by the 13th century and 14th century.

Goldcliff Priory[edit]

Main article: Goldcliff Priory

On the site of Hill Farm, situated on a prominent knoll of high ground, south of the village and next to the sea, stood Goldcliff Priory. Founded in 1113 as a subject house of the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, it passed during the fifteenth century into the control of Tewkesbury Abbey and then of Eton College.

Historic sites[edit]

Former Congregational Chapel

A small enclosure on Chapel Lane to the north of the present parish church, is thought to hold the remains of an ancient chapel, probably connected with the Priory. Also located off Chapel Lane, the farmhouse and barn at Great Newra Farm has Grade II listed buildings.[8]

The quaint Congregational (later United Reformed Church) chapel [9] near the junction of the Sea Wall Road, built in 1840 and restored in 1900-01, is now also a private dwelling, but was still active as late as the 1980s.

Local Industry and education[edit]

Clifton Common, Goldcliff

Goldcliff has long been associated with the tidal putcher fishing of salmon, which may well have had its origins with the Priory or even in Roman times. The technique used the so-called "putcher" basket traditionally made from hazel rods and withy (willow) plait, set out against the tides in huge wooden "ranks". The last main exponent of the art of wooden putcher-making at Goldcliff was George Whittaker, although a working knowledge of the technique was also kept into the 1970s by Wyndham Howells of Saltmarsh Farm, the last full-time fisherman at Goldcliff. Deeds for Saltmarsh Farm for 1867–1918 are held by Gwent Record Office [10]

The mixed school for the parishes of Goldcliff and Whitson was erected in 1872 for 60 children and in 1901 had an average attendance of 46, with a Miss Mary Edith Tomlinson as the mistress.[11] Until it closed in July 1954, the school received an annual gift of £2 from Eton College[12]

Kelly's 1901 Directory lists the only private residence in the village as "The Moorlands", but has no fewer than 27 commercial concerns, mostly farmers, but also including a haulier, two fishermen, a female publican, a farm bailiff, a hay dealer, a mason and a shoe maker. The Directory also lists a Mrs Annie Louise Taylor as hotellier at "The Temperance Hotel".[11] The hotel, situated at the end of the Sea Wall Road, was a well-known landmark as late as the 1950s.

The Moorlands, a Victorian house built in 1870 for the Waters family, has a garden which includes acacia, American oak and Christmas strawberry.[13]

The Church[edit]

The church of Saint Mary Magdelene, Goldcliff

The parish church of Saint Mary Magdelene[14] has a well maintained churchyard with a beautiful tree arch canopy and many old gravestones.[15] It is an ancient stone building in the Early English style and is located directly behind The Farmer's Arms public house. At the front of the churchyard are the remains of an ancient mounded cross. The first vicar was Roger de Holbrook in 1349 and church records are available from 1724.[13]

The church itself has a small brass plaque on the north wall near the altar, commemorating the Great Flood of 1607 when a tidal wave (possibly s tsunami) swept along the Bristol Channel drowning 2,000 people. The plate, about three feet above ground level today at this point, marks the height of the flood waters. The estimate of financial loss is given as approximately £5,000 (£940,000 in 2014).[16] [17]

The tower contains one bell, recast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1969.[18]

The former vicarage for the three parishes, located in Whitson, is now a private dwelling. The minister for the Rectoral Benefice of Magor, which includes Magor, Nash, Undy, Llanwern, Wilcrick, Bishton, Llanmartin, Langstone and Redwick is based in Magor.[19]

Following interior re-decoration in 2006, including the removal of the old pews and pulpit, a service of re-dedication was held on 4 February 2007 with the Bishop of Monmouth. The interior is now decorated with individually dedicated chairs and matching carpet.[20]

1607 Flood plaque, in St Mary's Church. The plaque records the year as 1606 because, under the Julian calendar in use at that time, the new year did not start until Lady Day, 25 March.

Archaeology[edit]

A considerable amount of archaeology has centred on Goldcliff. A useful report, published jointly by CBA and Cadw, has been produced by Martin Bell and colleagues.[21] Bell was instrumental in the discovery of the mesolithic human footprints and in 2004 his work at Goldcliff featured on Channel 4's archaeological television programme Time Team.[22] Further archaeological excavation has also been carried out by Martin Locock and colleagues prior to the introduction of the Newport Wetlands reserve, for example at Hill Farm.[23]

Amenities[edit]

Interior of St Mary's Church
Former School House and parish room

Goldcliff is home to part of the extensive Newport Wetlands,[24] opened in March 2000 as a mitigation for the loss of mudflats caused by the building of the Cardiff Bay Barrage.[25] Parts of Goldcliff and Whitson together are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI.[26]

The village pub is The Farmer's Arms,[27] located close to the church. The village still has use of a communal parish room located in the Old School at the side of the Monksditch, which there forms the border with Whitson.

The village enjoys a regular public bus service (Route 63, seven a day, six days a week) provided by Veolia Transport Cymru. The local newspaper is the South Wales Argus which is published in Newport.

Goldcliff Community Council is a member of the Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM) Alliance formed in 2006 by the Friends of the Earth Cymru [28]

Goldcliff is a popular venue for sea fishing [29] and for ornithology.[30] Bird species sighted include little egret, cormorant, chaffinch, magpie, woodpigeon, wren, greenfinch, moorhen, dunlin, ringed plover, lapwing, shelduck, avocets, common redshank, Canada goose, oystercatcher, shoveler, teal, spotted redshank, black-winged stilt, common buzzard, grey heron, tufted ducks, mallard, swallow, black-tailed godwit, skylark, raven, gadwall, common pochar, kestrel, sedge warbler and peregrine.[31]

Government[edit]

The area is governed by the Newport City Council and the Goldcliff, Newport community council.

References[edit]

This article contains public domain material from J. A. Bradney's History of Monmouthshire (1904).

  1. ^ Office for National Statistics Parish Headcounts: Goldcliff Community (Whitson combined)
  2. ^ a b Bradney, Sir Joseph, A History of Monmouthshire, Vol 4 part 2: The Hundred of Caldicot (Part 2). pub 1914, reprinted 1994, Merton Priory Press.
  3. ^ a b Drainage Ditch by Chapel Road, Goldcliff:: OS grid ST3683 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland - photograph every grid square!
  4. ^ Goldcliff Pill:: OS grid ST3682 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland - photograph every grid square!
  5. ^ Timeteam webpage 2004
  6. ^ Miranda Aldhouse-Green and Ray Howell (eds.), Gwent In Prehistory and Early History: The Gwent County History Vol.1, 2004, ISBN 0-7083-1826-6
  7. ^ Morgan, Octavius (1882), "Goldcliff and the Ancient Roman Inscribed Stone Found There 1878", Monmouthshire & Caerleon Antiquarian Association
  8. ^ Barn at Great Newra, Goldcliff britishlistedbuildings.co.uk
  9. ^ Congregational Chapel, Goldcliff
  10. ^ Saltmarsh Farm, Gwent Record Office
  11. ^ a b Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire (1901)
  12. ^ Hando, F.J., (1958) "Out and About in Monmouthshire", R. H. Johns, Newport.
  13. ^ a b Goldcliff & Whitson at visitoruk.com From: The Gwent Village Book, Gwent Federation of Women's Institutes, published by Countryside Books.
  14. ^ St Mary Magdalene Church, Goldcliff, Gwent Levels at geograph.org
  15. ^ Monmouthshire: Goldcliff: St. Mary Magdalene's Church
  16. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  17. ^ Flood plaque, Goldcliff Parish Church:: OS grid ST3683 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland - photograph every grid square!
  18. ^ St.Mary's Goldcliff at Rectorial Benefice of Magor
  19. ^ Rectorial Benefice of Magor
  20. ^ Interior of Goldcliff Parish Church at geograph.org
  21. ^ Maritime and Intertidal Archaeology agenda
  22. ^ "Goldcliff Severn Estuary, 22 February 2004" at channel4.com
  23. ^ "Gwent Levels Wetland Reserve, Hill Farm, Goldcliff: excavations 1997" at heritagemp.com
  24. ^ Wetlands, Goldcliff, Monmouthshire:: OS grid ST3583 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland - photograph every grid square!
  25. ^ RSPB Newport Wetlands Reserve
  26. ^ City of Newport Countryside and Parks
  27. ^ Farmers Arms, Goldcliff, Monmouthshire:: OS grid ST3683 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland - photograph every grid square!
  28. ^ Friends of the Earth: Protest to greet new M4 exhibition
  29. ^ Goldcliff beach sea fishing mark at gofishing.co.uk
  30. ^ Dawn at Goldcliff lagoons, Newport Wetlands at thebirdwatcher.co.uk
  31. ^ "Black Winger Stilts, Apr 26th 2013, Golkdcliff". ecologycymru.co.uk/. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 

External links[edit]