The artist John Piper was enchanted by the Welsh landscape - the coast, the craggy hills, ruined castles, ancient churches.

Piper was a founding member of the Friends. And whilst he travelled and painted throughout the UK, he had a very special love for Pembrokeshire.

John and his wife, Myfanwy, first discovered Pembrokeshire in the 1930s. In 1962, they bought a ruined cottage at Garn Fawr. The following year, John contributed photographs to the South-West Wales Shell Guide.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, he found great inspiration in Pembrokeshire's churches.

In 1985, he made this gouache and ink sketch of the interior of our church, St David's, Manordeifi.

Last summer, while rummaging through the church file in the office, this photo fell out. Turning it over, we learned that it was taken by John Piper.

Could that be Myfanwy signing the visitors' book? Could this photo have been taken when Piper was painting the interior? ...

Without a date, we may never know... but as we continue to catalogue our archive, we may find more clues...


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More from @friendschurches

20 Feb
We’re busy repairing the windows at St Mary’s, Long Crichel, Dorset.

In the plain-glazed leaded lights, the lead cames, which hold the glass in place had perished and distorted, meaning that, in some places the glass was loose and in others, it was under great stress.

Our glazier has removed the entire windows to his workshop, and is carefully renewing all the leadwork in this beautiful rippling lead pattern. He is also replacing broken quarries (sections of glass) – some are plain, others are painted with a simple trefoil motif.

The stained-glass windows at the church are all in good condition, but one panel featuring a heraldic lion needs some repair. Out of the window and up close, it’s astonishing to see the detail on the lion up close – usually it’s tucked up high in the transept tracery.

Read 4 tweets
19 Feb
Yesterday we shared the story of how we came to care for the solitary tower of Old St Matthew's in Lightcliffe, West Yorkshire.

Although the rest of the church has gone forever, stories of the people who gathered there remain. And one of those is a love story ...

#thread Image
St Matthew's church and tower was still new when the Walker family of Lightcliffe baptised Ann Walker there in 1803. 25 yrs later, after her brother's sudden death on his honeymoon, Ann and her sister inherited the family's estate, Crow Nest (less than a mile from St Matthew's). Image
At around the same time, in nearby Halifax, another heiress, Anne Lister, known locally as 'Captain Tom Lister' (and later 'Gentleman Jack'), took charge of her family home, Shibden Hall.

Ann and Anne had known each other as neighbours for some time ...
Read 7 tweets
18 Feb
Our story began on a roadside outside Halifax.

By the 1960s, Old St Matthew’s was elegant, forlorn and empty. Its days were numbered.

The Bishop of Wakefield called for its demolition. We knew it had to be saved. And we would fight for it tooth and nail.

#thread Image
Built in 1775, Old St Matthew’s was a neo-classical preaching box. In 1875, a new church was built a few hundred yards away. No longer needed, it slowly slipped into decay. A serious storm damaged the vulnerable building. After that, it was prey to thieves and vandals.

2/ Image
A blot on the landscape. Surplus to requirements. A dangerous structure. The Bishop of Wakefield pressed for the demolition of the church.

We fought for years. Realising the Bishop would not back down, we implored that the tower alone be saved for posterity.

3/ Image
Read 9 tweets
16 Feb
Can you hear the PANCAKE BELL?

Church bells have traditionally been rung on Shrove Tuesday at around 11 am to call people to church, where they could be shriven before the start of Lent. But by the 16th C, this shriving bell was already associated with ...
... the delicious sights, smells and tastes of pancakes hissing and sizzling on a griddle over the fire, as people used up the last of their eggs and fats before 40 days of fasting.
In 1620, popular poet and waterman John Taylor wrote about the powerful Pavlovian effects of the pancake bell:
Read 5 tweets
14 Feb
Brithdir has powers of transportation.

Behind a thicket of fleshy, fuchsia rhododendrons, a rugged granite church hides. Inside, the stippled plaster walls are daubed in burnt sienna, the ceiling soars in royal azure. But the Mediterranean vibe doesn’t end there...

St Mark’s, Brithdir was built in the 1890s. Louisa Richards commissioned Henry Wilson to design the church in memory of her husband, the Rev’d Charles Tooth, founder of St Mark’s church in Florence. He had died within a few months of their marriage.

Wilson was inspired by Tooth’s legacy in Florence, but also by “those delightfully simple churches just south of the Alps”.

Read 8 tweets
13 Feb
On the evening of 13 February 1923, wireless owners in Cymru (there were just 200 with *official* receiving licenses) could tune in to hear the BBC's first ever Welsh broadcast, transmitted from one room in an old Cardiff cinema.

At 9.30 pm, their homes would have been filled with the haunting sound of 'Dafydd y Garreg Wen' ('David of the White Rock'), performed live by baritone Mostyn Thomas. It was the first Welsh language song to play on the air.

👇Programme announced in Western Mail 10 Feb 1923
In the 1970s, Mostyn Thomas recalled his nerves that night dealing with the rudimentary technology:

"I hardly had any time to practice, which made me extremely nervous, as in those days microphones weren't simple things to use.”
But they made it “by the skin of our teeth."
Read 8 tweets

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