Images of Wales
Where's that?? - locate Brecon on a map of South Wales.
Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist
Photography by John Ball - 25 September 2002
(scanned from colour prints taken with a Sigma SA-300 35mm single lens reflex camera)
|Above: Church of St John the Evangelist in the 19th century- viewed from the northwest.
(19th century print from a steel engraving by W. Radclyffe after an original drawing by D. Cox)
The priory church of St John the Evangelist stands on the high ground above the River Honddu. The priory was founded, very probably on the site of an earlier church, by Bernard de Neufmarché (Bernard Newmarch) shortly after his defeat of Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of Brycheiniog, at Brecon in AD 1093 (but see note ** below).1
The above historical and architectural information was extracted from:
He gave "the church of St John the Evangelist near his castle of Brecon", together with "a certain property called the Old Town" to the newly founded Benedictine abbey of Battle in Sussex, England, at the request of one of his followers, a monk of Battle named Roger. Roger undertook the rebuilding of the church "from the foundations". Brecon remained a dependent cell of Battle Abbey until its suppression by Henry VIII in 1538.
Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) was archdeacon of Brecon circa 1172, but little remains of the early church of this Norman period other than parts of the nave walls immediately west of the crossing.2 The choir and the transepts were rebuilt in the 13th century and the tower was added. In the 14th century the nave, and north and south aisles were rebuilt. The chancel was restored by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1862-1865, and in 1923 the church became the cathedral for the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon. The priory's domestic buildings which survived the Dissolution were restored in 1927 and now form the cathedral chapter offices.
An Architectural Study - The Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist, Brecon by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and The Dean and Chapter of Brecon Cathedral; published by the Friends of Brecon Cathedral in 1994; ISBN 0-9523110-0-3
A Tour of the Abbeys, Priories & Cathedrals of Wales - An Itinerant's Exhibition by David S. Yerburgh, published by the author in 1999, Salisbury, Wiltshire; ISBN 0-9535635-0-2
Other historical sources state that in the late 11th century, the ruler of Brycheiniog was Bleddyn ap Maenyrch, and not Rhys ap Tewdwr. The latter figure was ruler of Deheubarth (southwest Wales) at this time. Both men died in the battle of 1093. Further details on this topic are available in chapter 5 (pages 80 to 93) of The Normans in South Wales 1070-1171 by Lynn Nelson.
Many thanks to Alun Chesterfield of Glynneath, Glamorgan, for drawing my attention to this historical anomaly.
John Ball, 11 December 2002
French Prisoner of War in Churchyard
There are a number of notable people buried in the churchyard on the north side of the cathedral, but none is more interesting than Captain François Husson, a French prisoner of war from the Napoleonic wars of 1799 to 1815.
The tombstone (right), situated near the path leading to the Pendre exit from the churchyard, was erected by the townspeople of Brecon in 1810 in memory of Capt Husson. The inscription states:
Ci git François Husson
Prisonnier de guerre
François Capne an 4me Reg
D'artilliere de Marine Deced
le 27 Avril 1810, age de 48 Ans.
'By foreign Hands his Humble grave Adorned.
By strangers Honour'd and by strangers Mourn'd'.
Capt Husson was one of a detachment of marines on board the French frigate Le President when it was captured by HMS Canopus and HMS Dispatch in 1806. In October 1806, Husson and his fellow officers were sent to Brecon where they were 'paroled'. It is believed the prisoners lodged in some of the older buildings in the town.Tombstone photograph by John Ball, 16 August 2013.
For further details, see Mair Ford's paper published on page 93 et seq. of Brycheiniog Volume 25, 1992-93, accessible on the National Library of Wales website.
The colour images which follow are selected from a commissioned portfolio of 132 photographs taken by John Ball in and around Brecon in September 2002 for a client in the USA.
Exterior of Brecon Cathedral
Above: Tower, and north wall of Havard Chapel, viewed from the northeast.
Above: North porch and entrance viewed from the northwest (compare this view with the 19th century engraving, above).
Above: West wall and west window.
Above: South wall and tower, viewed from the southeast.
Above: Tower and east window of the cathedral, viewed from the northeast.
|Above: East end of the cathedral (right and centre). In the distance are the canonry (left of centre) and deanery (left).