St. Cybi's Church at Llangybi
Llangybi shown within Monmouthshire
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Llangybi (also spelled Llangibby) is a village in Monmouthshire, in south east Wales, United Kingdom. It is located 3 miles south of the town of Usk and 5 miles north of Caerleon, in the valley of the River Usk.
History and buildings
The village was traditionally founded by the 6th century Cornish Saint Cybi. According to legend, he is supposed to have crossed the Bristol Channel with ten followers. The life of St. Cybi, written much later and therefore including some questionable material, records that the local king, Edelig, threatened to evict them from his land, but as he approached them he fell from his horse, which died, and he and his men became blind. Edelig then prostrated himself and gave his body and soul to God, and he and his attendants were immediately cured and the horse restored to life. Edelig then, in thanks, gave Cybi land for two churches, including the one which became known as Llangybi, and another at an unspecified location (possibly Llandegveth, a neighbouring village) where he is reported to have left a handbell.
Church of St. Cybi
The existing church, dedicated to St. Cybi (or Cuby), has been described as "one of the most interesting in the Usk valley" and "a delight". The tower, nave and chancel all date from the 13th or 14th century, and the church has 17th century internal fittings, including the pulpit, font, and monuments to the local Williams family. There are also wall paintings dating from the late medieval period and the 17th century. One which is of particular interest is a "Christ of the trades", or more correctly a Sunday Christ, of which there are very few in the UK. Outside is the site of a traditional well, also named for St. Cybi.
Llangibby or Tregrug Castle
The site of Llangibby Castle, alternatively sometimes known as Tregrug Castle, is located almost a mile outside the village. The estate, including an existing motte and bailey castle, came into the ownership of the de Clare family in 1245. A new large, ambitious and heavily fortified stone castle was started in the early 14th century possibly by Bogo de Clare, uncle of Gilbert de Clare who was killed at Bannockburn in 1314. For a while it was within the dispensation of the Despenser family and it may have been Hugh Despenser the Younger who began to build what remains of the late medieval construction. It was attacked during the revolt of Llywelyn Bren in 1316. After coming into Crown ownership it was sold to the Williams family of Usk in 1554. During the English Civil War the run-down castle was re-fortified and held by Sir Trevor Williams, 1st Baronet, an influential local man whose loyalties to his locality, community and family remained firm even though his loyalties to his King, patrons and the establishment were severely tested by events during that turbulent time. The castle was slighted as a result. Its ruins still remain, surrounded by dense woodland. They include a huge rectangular walled enclosure on the top of the hillside, surrounded by ditches, and including the remains of a large stone tower, known as the Lord's Tower, and a gatehouse. The Williams family built a new house nearby later in the 17th century; it was demolished in 1951.
In 2010, the old castle remains at Tregrug (or Tregruk) were investigated by the Channel 4 series Time Team. The programme concluded that the ditches surrounding the walls were Civil War defences, and that the castle had been substantially remodelled in the 17th century to provide a new main entrance and to landscape the area inside the walls to form a "pleasance" containing gardens and fountains.
The White Hart
The White Hart inn, a grade II listed building, was first built in the early 16th century and was to become the property of Henry VIII as part of Jane Seymour's wedding dowry. A century later Oliver Cromwell is reputed to have used it as his headquarters in Monmouthshire during the English Civil War. The interior still retains no fewer than 11 fireplaces from the 17th century, a wealth of exposed beams, original Tudor period plasterwork and even a priest hole. The Catholic martyr David Lewis preached in the inn when the church was closed to him; he was executed in Usk in 1679. In 2003, The Guardian reported that T. S. Eliot made cryptic reference to this pub in his poem "Usk". Refurbishment of the inn ended in April 2007 and now provides a social and gastronomic centre for the surrounding area.
Multiple family murder
In 1878 Spanish sailor Josef Garcia was convicted, at the Sessions House, Usk, of the murder in the village of William and Elizabeth Watkins and their three youngest children (Charlotte, 8 years, Alice, 5 years and Frederick, 4 years).
Llangybi is home to approximately 600 residents. There is a village shop and a community or village hall where all the residents can discuss things about the future of Llangybi, and where many social events are held. In the past it has doubled as a cinema; more frequently these days it is likely to host private functions or one of the many and varied musical groups. The church is still in constant and popular use and is now part of a parish grouping with Llanbadoc, Tredunnock and Coed-y-paen. It also has a bell ringing club. The "The Devils Drop" is a steep hill which many people enjoy riding down on their bikes and which is popular with sledges in the snow. There are many public footpaths where one can walk and also a direct route to Usk, the nearest town. There is an annual "Hog Roast" which is an evening of music and a hog roasted on the spit.
- Vita Sancti Kebii
- John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, 2000, ISBN 0-14-071053-1
- Monmouthshire Wellsites
- Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales: Llangibby Castle
- Channel 4 Time Team: Tregruk, 10 October 2010
- The White Hart
- Ezard, John (2003-08-06). "TS Eliot scholar finds answer to pub poet's riddle". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
- Roger Williams (2004), Their Deadly Trade: Murders in Monmouthshire, Gomer Press. ISBN 1-84323-389-4