The return of the native
by Colin Mansley
The notes written in the visitor’s book in Tremeirchion Church frequently tell of people who are returning to the village or the church after moving away. Often too, messages are recorded from visitors who are staying at St Beuno’s retreat house. Just recently a really ancient native returned having made the short journey from St Beuno’s back to the church from whence he originally came.
No one knows his name. We cannot be sure of his occupation. Pevsner’s Architectural Guide to the Buildings of Wales asserts that he was a priest, others think he might have been a crusader. There are already of course a priest: Dafydd Ddu Hiraddug and a knight: possibly Sir Robert Pounderling. Both of these date from the 14th century and so does the returnee.
The fragmented and much mutilated stone effigy had been residing at St Beuno’s since it was moved there at the same time as the churchyard cross in 1862. The churchwardens of the time sold the cross to raise money for new lamps. That cross only returned to the churchyard in 2004 – a generous ecumenical gesture by St Beuno’s. Now, thanks to the work of Sr Anne Morris in particular, they have encouraged the unknown crusader/priest to also make the return journey to Corpus Christ Church. So on a wet Monday in July, as children from Ysgol Tremeirchion returned up the hill to school after their summer trip to Greenwood Forrest Park, he rode home on the back of Martin Baxter’s mini tractor with churchwarden Brian and the vicar in attendance.
He now lies in the churchyard by the porch, to the left of the doorway. We can only guess at who he was in life and what tales he could tell us. If a knight, we could speculate, as Philip Larkin did beside another 14th-century memorial to an earl and his lady (An Arundel Tomb), that what will survive of us is love. Or, if he was a priest, we might echo R S Thomas’ poem about the country clergy that:
They left no books
Memorial to their lonely thought
In grey parishes; rather they wrote
On men’s hearts and in the minds
Of young children sublime words
Too soon forgotten. God in his time
Or out of time will correct this.
Either way we welcome a fellow pilgrim back home and say thank you to St Beuno’s for allowing him to return once again to his final resting place.
Vicar of Corpus Christi Church, Tremeirchion.