Cwmyoy, on the slope of Hatterrall Hill
|Cwmyoy shown within Monmouthshire|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Cwmyoy is an extensive rural parish in Monmouthshire, Wales (Welsh: Cwm Iou) for the valley and parish, (Welsh: Cwm-iou) for the village. The standard Welsh name is Cwm Iau / Cwm-iau. In the Gwentian dialect of Welsh that was spoken here until the late 1800s, the name was pronounced as Cwm Iou ('ou', also spelt informally 'oi', for standard 'au' is a common feature of South Wales Welsh). The 'English' name is in fact this local dialect form in a more English spelling. Although there is a Welsh word 'iau' meaning 'plough', the name of the valley is hardly likely to be, for various reasons, "valley of the yoke" as is sometimes suggested.
The village of Cwmyoy is located 7 miles north of Abergavenny and 4 miles south of Llanthony in the Vale of Ewyas in the Black Mountains. It is within the Brecon Beacons National Park, in an upland location just below the broad ridge of Hatterrall Hill, which carries the Wales-England border along which runs Offa's Dyke Path.
The parish is nearly 8 miles long and 1 mile broad, and includes Llanthony as well as Cwmyoy itself. In 1893, an area in the neighbouring valley of the Grwyne Fawr, known in Welsh as Ffwddog and in English as the Fothock, which had been an exclave of Herefordshire, was transferred into the parish.
St Martin's Church
Cwmyoy is best known for St Martin's Church which has been called the "most crooked church in Great Britain." St Martin's Church is a stone parish church standing on a steep hillside on the east side of the valley and subject to slippage. The church chancel has been described as a remarkable example of a "weeping chancel", where the nave represents Christ's body and the deflected chancel his head fallen sideways in death. At Cwmyoy not only the axis but the whole chancel slews sideways. Hando calls it "the Church below the Landslide".
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