If you are looking for a pleasant medieval weekend away you could do worse than staying at the manor house of St Pierre, near Chepstow in Wales. The deerpark may be a golf course now but there are still acres to walk, an ancient church, and a handsome twin-towered gatehouse surrounded by a courtyard.
The church of St Peter retains some Saxon stonework but also Norman work, including a memorial slab in Norman French to one of the founding early members of the St Pierre family, Urien de SaInt Pierre, who died in 1239.
Sometimes around 1380, the manor came into the possession of Sir David Ap Phillip, who served under both Henry IV and Henry V. Henry must have trusted Sir David well, for not only did he make him governor of Calais, it is said he hid the crown jewels at the manor house of St Pierre during his absence from England. Sir David had a son called Lewis, and the family decided from then on to adopt the name ‘Lewis’ as their surname.
Lewis, David Ap Phillip’s son, had a son called Thomas Lewis, who was a supporter of the Yorkist cause. Unfortunately he was killed at the Battle of Edgecote in 1469.
A pleasant walk from the manor house will take you to another interesting historical village called Mathern. It has a holy well sacred to the early king (and saint) Tewdric, who was supposed to have washed his battle wounds there before dying, as well as a fine church where the king was buried in 630 (the present building is 15th c.). His stone coffin was apparently still visible in 1881, and local reported you could look in it and see his skull, complete with spear-wound.
Mathern also has the lived in (private) remains of a palace belonging to the Bishops of Llandaff. Some of the extant remains date to around 1419. There is also another ancient house, Moynes Court, which is occasionally open to the public. The present building is mostly from the 1600’s but has subsumed and earlier house and there are earthwork remains from what may have been a moated manor.
St Pierre and church