Good to see this significant anniversary being celebrated. ... See MoreSee Less

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STOP PRESS: TODAY'S VIRTUAL PILGRIMAGE. An online version has been prepared, with video clips and some stunning photos. Visit: ... See MoreSee Less

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This year's Pilgrimage -- due to have taken place this coming Saturday -- is being conducted "virtually". Copies of the programme have been sent to all on our mailing list; for any who have missed out they can be sent by email on application to the Hon Secretary ( ... See MoreSee Less

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A journey to the Vale of Ewyas.Newman Hall: Sunday 9th August.Though I should be in bed sleeping, the truth is that here in the chaplaincy it is too hot and humid to even hope for sleep at the moment. So, before continuing with prayers, I would like to share the joy of the last few days - joy that is the fruit of pilgrimage.Up until recently our movements have been curtailed, and here in Wales pandemic precautions have lasted longer than on the other side of Offa’s Dyke and pilgrim journeys have been on hold.For many years it has been our tradition to honour St David with a March pilgrimage to Llanthony Priory in the Black Mountains, where the ruins of an Augustinian house occupy the site of a Celtic foundation, linked to the monastic settlements founded by St David.Regrettably, the uncertainty of the situation in March this year made it impossible, and so we looked forward to making a pilgrimage in the summer months.Unexpectedly, Friday became the day for that pilgrimage, and it was wonderful to journey to Llanthony under summer skies, with the last few miles from Llanfihangel Crucorney to the priory so different to our usual March experience.Rather than passing along the Vale of Ewyas through bare hedges, and under leafless trees, dappled shade covered our slow progress as we wound our way along the hedge-bound lanes and followed the shallow, stony river to the priory ruins, nestled in a curve of the steep-sided valley, with the Black Mountains around us and Herefordshire just beyond the ridge.Roadside flowers, now dusty in the late summer brightened the hedgerows, the blackberries and sloes ripening, and rain-washed wool caught among the branches. The bleating of sheep surrounded us, close by in the meadows beside the river and high on the sides of the valley.Despite the walkers and visitors, there was a great sense of peace and little noise in the ruins, so that attention could be held by the swallows swooping between the arches and the robin who had the good sense to know that every visitor held the possibility of food.The pink hued masonry of the ruins was baked in the sun, and stones in local walls and buildings attested to the use of the priory as a quarry as locals who, robbed of monasteries and the saints by the reformation, quickly forgot the spiritual meaning of the priory ruins and the holiness of the place.Although the ruins are diminutive in comparison to the likes of Glastonbury, it is hard to imagine how the house was sustained by four Augustinian canons echoing around the church and cloister on the eve of the dissolution.The monastic life and services vanished from the valley for four and a half centuries, returning with the eccentric and romantic Father Ignatius of Llanthony, who established his neo-Gothic abbey nearby at Capel-y-ffin, the last Welsh-speaking community in that part of Wales, and struggled to return Benedictine monasticism and catholic tradition to the Church of Wales. After Fr Ignatius’s death, the few remaining monks joined the Caldey community and the abbey buildings eventually passed into the hands of Eric Gill, the sculptor and typographer.Finding the parish church on the site of the first priory locked, we headed to Capel-y-ffin, knowing it’s tiny church would be open, as always. As we continued our journey along the very narrow lanes, the tops of the trees flanking the lane touched each other in many places, creating a tunnel of green for those heading up the valley.There, in its small churchyard, with its slanting old grave stones, behind the seven old yew trees, the doll’s house church squats, as the diarist Francis Kilvert described as ‘the old chapel, short, stout and boxy, with its little bell turret, squatting like a stout grey owl among its seven great yews’.Through the clear-glass panes of the east-window, beyond the etched words of Psalm of Psalm 21 – ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help’ – the green hills are the altar-piece for the simple sanctuary.In the unadorned, 18th century interior, the icon over the votive candlestand was a reminder that in 1880 local children claimed to have seen the Mother of God in the meadow below the monastic church. The intense peace and tranquillity was a call to prayer, and we responded with a moleben to the Mother of God, chanting our prayers before the icon -‘Stretch forth thy hands, with which thou didst receive the Master of all as a babe. In thy goodness forsake not us who ever put our trust in thee. In thy prayerful vigilance and boundless forgiveness have pity on us. Grant our souls thy loving-kindness that floweth throughout the ages. For we sinners have thee as our defender against evils and adversities. As thou possessest bounteous compassion hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplication, O thou who dost ever help them that honour thee, O Mother of God.’After our prayers, we crossed the shallow river to the 18th century Baptist Chapel, and climbed along a stream-bank to the ruins of the abbey church, where the mortal remains of Fr Ignatius rest in the choir.Long before the events following the coming of Fr Ignatius and his raggle-taggle band of monks and followers, Capel-y-ffin, ‘the chapel on the boundary’, had been at the centre of spiritual life for those living at this end of the valley.When we left the hamlet, the wonderful peace of the place seemed to go with us, with the blessing of the Mother of God, who continues to be loved and called upon by pilgrims in the isolated church among among the yew trees and beside the ruins of the 19th century abbey church.Most Holy Mother of God, Our lady of Capel-y-ffin, save us and preserve us beneath thy most pure veil! ... 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Good to see something happening just across the border. I'm sure nearby Welsh visitors would be welcome. ... See MoreSee Less

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Unfortunately the 2020 pilgrimage had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, we were able to invite our supporters to join us in a ‘spiritual pilgrimage’ to Llanthony and Capel-y-ffin on August 22nd 2020, details of which are available here. In addition, our Newsletter Editor made a video version, available here and on YouTube. The intended date for next year’s Pilgrimage is Saturday 21st August 2021.

The new plaque carved by sculptor Philip Chatfield is now in place on the wall of the Abbey Church, just to the left of the entrance gate, and describes Ignatius’s mission in this remote part of the Black Mountains. 

In addition, visitors to the Abbey Church will notice there is now a slate sign (carved by Trust Secretary Peter Davies) in place on the north cloister wall of the Monastery by the steps leading up from the forecourt.

If you are not on our mailing list and would like to receive a copy of the latest Trust Newsletter, please contact the Trust Secretary (see the Contact page).

The 2019 Trust Pilgrimage took place in fair weather on August 17th, with Canon Simon Griffiths of Truro Cathedral the guest preacher at Evensong in the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Capel-y-ffin. See the Trust Facebook page (link opposite) for photographs taken on the day. 

See the Trust Facebook page (link opposite) for photographs and details of the 2018 Trust Pilgrimage. The text of Abbot Cuthbert Brogan’s sermon at the Pilgrimage Evensong in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Capel-y-ffin can be seen on the on the Documents page of this website.

A summary of the Father Ignatius Trust Privacy (Data Protection) Policy can be seen here.

The 2017 Trust Pilgrimage took place in fine weather on Saturday 19th August, starting with a sung Eucharist at St David’s Church, Llanthony, celebrated by Fr Richard Williams of Hay, with an address by Fr Philip Wyn Davies, Vicar of Tregaron. Following a picnic lunch next to the Priory car park, some pilgrims drove to Capel-y-ffin while others set off on foot along the eastern side of the valley, arriving in time for Evensong at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, with Fr Martin Williams presiding. The packed congregation were addressed by the Right Reverend Dominic Walker, former Bishop of Monmouth, whose sermon may be viewed here. Evensong was followed by a procession up the lane to the ruins of Ignatius’ Abbey Church, with stations at the memorial Calvary and the statue of Our Lady on the monastery forecourt. Tea and cake were served afterwards on the Monastery lawn by the kind courtesy of Mr & Mrs Knill. See the link to our Facebook page opposite for further details and photographs.

The entrance to the Wayside Calvary at the side of the lane leading up to the Monastery at Capel-y-ffin has been repaired by stonemason John Barber of Llanigon. Mr Barber was able to conserve the original inscription on one of the entrance pillars, which reads: ‘The Burning Bush Opposite’, a reference to the site of the apparitions of Our Lady reported in 1880 in the meadow below the Monastery. A photograph of John Barber and his assistant at work on the Calvary steps is included in the 2017 edition of the Trust Newsletter, and our thanks go to Jessica Griffiths for taking the photo. Jessica helps her mother Mary run the Grange pony trekking centre near the Monastery.

Further reviews of Hugh Allen’s book ‘New Llanthony Abbey’ can be found in New Directions magazine (Dec. 2016/Jan. 2017 issue) – see here, in the latest issue of the Kilvert Society’s Journal (see link to our Facebook page opposite) and here in an extract from the Anglo-Catholic History Society Autumn 2016 Newsletter. 

‘New Llanthony Abbey’ by Hugh Allen (Peterscourt Press 2016)

Hugh Allen’s book ‘New Llanthony Abbey: Father Ignatius’s Monastery at Capel-y-ffin’ has now been published, and is available direct from the author (see contact details below). A review of the book published in the Church Times may be viewed here, and a review posted on the Society of the Faith website is available here. In addition, a review by Fr Martin Williams is included in the latest edition of the Trust Newsletter.

Hugh Allen tells the story of Ignatius’s community from its origins in early 1860s East Anglia to its migration to Wales in 1870, its history through the following four decades (including the reported Apparitions in 1880), and its demise after the founder’s death in 1908. He also describes the later history of the former monastery, home in the 1920s to the sculptor and typographer Eric Gill, and for many years to the family of his eldest daughter, and brings the story up to date with information about the Father Ignatius Memorial Trust and the continuing appeal of New Llanthony as a place of pilgrimage.

The author is a former clergyman of the Church in Wales, and now an Orthodox layman. He is a longstanding member of the Father Ignatius Memorial Trust. To obtain a copy of the book, please telephone him on 01884 258031 for BACS transfer details, or send a cheque for £20 (payable to R.W.H. Allen) to Hugh Allen, 9 Park Close, Tiverton, Devon EX16 6AX (price includes postage and packing).

2016 Trust Newsletter


The 2016 Trust Newsletter remains available. It includes sculptor Philip Chatfield’s account of his commission to carve a statue of St Aeldred for the Caldey Island community, a gift from the Benedictines of Pluscarden and Prinknash to mark the 1913 conversion. The cover photograph shows Ignatius preaching at the National Eisteddfod held in Newport in 1897.

To obtain a copy of this newsletter, please contact the Trust Secretary – see the Contact page.

Fr Roger Shambrook

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Fr Roger Shambrook on May 6th, 2016. Fr Shambrook had been a long-standing Trustee, with many years of faithful service to the Trust. An appreciation will be included in the next edition of the Trust Newsletter.

Trustee retirement

Following the recent retirement of Debbie Lyne as a Trustee, we are delighted that Debbie has agreed to become an Emeritus Trustee, and so will continue her long association with the Trust.

2016 Pilgrimage

The 2016 Pilgrimage took place on Saturday 20th August, with a sung Eucharist service at St David’s Church, Llanthony at which Fr Martin Williams officiated. The preacher was Fr Mark Soady of St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny. Pilgrims then made their way, some on foot, to St Mary’s Church, Capel-y-ffin for Evensong, conducted by Fr Roderick Hingley, with an address given by Fr Julian Gray, Vicar of Llantilio Pertholey. This was followed by a procession to the Monastery with stations at the Wayside Calvary and the newly refurbished statue of Our Lady on the monastery forecourt. Tea and cakes were served on the monastery lawn courtesy of Mr and Mrs Andrew Knill. See our Facebook page (link above) for photographs taken on the day.

2016 National Eisteddfod

The National Eisteddfod of Wales took place in Abergavenny from 29th July to 6th August 2016, and the Trust was represented on the Maes within the Lle Hanes (Local History Pavilion). The Eisteddfod was returning to Abergavenny for the first time since 1913, and was held on the Castle Meadows not far from Abergavenny Castle and Museum. Those familiar with the story of Ignatius will know that that he held the Welsh language dear, and that he was created a Bard at the National Eisteddfod held at Brecon in 1889, taking the bardic name ‘Dewi Honddu’. A photograph of Ignatius preaching at a later National Eisteddfod in Newport is held in the Trust Archive at Abergavenny Museum, and is reproduced on the front page of the 2016 Trust newsletter (see above).

2015 Pilgrimage

See our Facebook page (link opposite) for Michael Woodward’s photographs from the 2015 pilgrimage, as well as a short video.

2015 Newsletter

2015 Newsletter cover

A few copies of the 2015 Newsletter remain available. As well as details of the Pilgrimage and other news, the 2015 Trust Newsletter includes an article by Hugh Allen entitled ‘Two Diaries’, kept respectively by Fr Ignatius in the early months of 1908 and by Fr Joseph Woodford of Caldey when he lived at Capel-y-ffin between 1923 and 1928.  The photo on the cover of the newsletter (above) shows the Abbot with his adopted son ‘Brother David’ and family at Maes-y-ffin in 1907, the year before he died. An extract from the newsletter is available on the Documents page and gives Ignatius’ description of the final Apparition of Our Lady of Llanthony on 15 September 1880, the only one of the four reported apparitions which he witnessed himself.

To obtain a copy of this newsletter, please contact the Trust Secretary – see the Contact page.

Links to other websites of interest: