Parish Pages

BRECON – ST JOHN


 

Priory Church of St John the Evangelist

The Priory Church of St John the Evangelist, overlooking the western part of Brecon
[Photography by John Ball, March 2007]

The ancient parish of Brecon, St John the Evangelist is situated in the Hundred of Merthyr Cynog. It encompasses most of the old town of Brecon as well as a quadrant of rural land to the west, north and east of the town. The parish is divided into two parts: Venny-Fach (Fenni-fach), and St John the Evangelist. The parish shares its northern borders with Aberyscir, Battle, Llandyfaelog-fach, and Llanddew, and its southern borders with Brecon St Mary, Brecon St David (Llanfaes), and Llanspyddid. The parish church is the former priory church of St John the Evangelist. Brecon priory was founded by Bernard of Neufmarché, the Norman magnate who conquered and settled in the Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog. He built a motte-and-bailey castle a little above the confluence of the Usk and its tributary, the Honddu. Nearby, on the same bank of the Honddu, he established a church dedicated to St John the Evangelist, while on the opposite (east) bank of the Honddu there grew up the small borough of Brecon. Bernard gave the church of St John to the Benedictine monks of Battle Abbey, and for over 400 years Brecon priory was a dependent cell of that house.
[Brecon Priory in the Middle Ages, by David Walker, in 'Links With the Past: Swansea & Brecon Historical Essays', by Owain W. Jones and David Walker, Christopher Davies (Publishers) Ltd, Llandybie, 1974]

The division of Venny-Fach (Fenni-fach) includes the site of the Roman Fort Y Gaer, built around AD 75 and sitting on a crossroads of Roman roads in the valley of the River Usk at a strategic point in Roman Wales, linking South Wales and Mid Wales. It was part of a chain of similar forts, such as Gobannium at Abergavenny, a days march away down the Usk valley, and larger bases, such as Moridunum (Carmarthen) via Alabum (Llandovery), Cardiff Roman Fort to the south and Isca Augusta, Caerleon, the main base for the Roman legion locally. The site was excavated in the 1920s by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, a prominent archaeologist of his day.
[Source: Wikipedia online encyclopaedia]

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