Cosmeston Revisited

A muggy morning. I went down to Cosmeston again, looking for orchids and I found them! A great many early purple orchids were standing upright like soldiers in the south-east part of the East Paddock.

Early purple orchid

A few pyramidal orchids in bud and lots of pale flax:

Pale Flax

And common field speedwell:

Common Field Speedwell

Not to mention the tiny cut-leaved cranebill:

Cut-leaved Cranesbill

And the subtly scented dog rose:

Dog Rose

Plus a member of the pea family, dyer’s greenweed:

Dyer’s Greenweed

And plenty of ox-eye daisies:

Ox-eye Daisy

And dogwood in the hedgerow:


In the East Paddock I met a lively Welsh Border Collie and his master who had just thrown him a ball:

Welsh Border Collie

And on the way back to the 91 bus:

Up tails

And a white (Pekin?) duck:

Pekin Duck?

Day trip to Tewkesbury

My friend Mike drove me to Tewkesbury on a cloudy, drizzly day; what an interesting little town. And the Abbey is such a delight: a huge Romanesque tower, massive Norman columns in the nave, roofs with simple Early English vaulting, and the roof in the quire displaying gilded suns (the ‘Sun in Splendour’ was the badge of the House of York and Edward 1v had these suns set here after his victory in the Wars of the Roses). There are three chantry chapels, built so that masses could be said for the soul of the late person who had provided it. You may not want to know about the Wakeman Cenotaph which displays a decaying corpse being devoured by a worm, a frog, a mouse and a snail; the idea was to show how hollow is earthly pomp and position when the grim reality before us all is physical death. The Chapel of St Catherine and St John the Baptist has two magnificent modern windows designed and made by Tom Denny for the 900th anniversary in 2002 of the coming of the Benedictine monks to Tewksbury. Their theme is the Benedictine motto ‘Laborare est Orare’ (to work is to pray). We came upon a craftsman working on the brass eagle lectern – he was lacqeuring it, I believe.

Tewkesbury Abbey gives you a tremendous sense of the divine presence and of prayers and psalms and hymns offered up over the centuries – much as we find at St Lawrence but on a larger scale, of course.

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Marconi Open Day

Hello again. Well, what a day we had at St Lawrence on Saturday, May 20th! The moment 10 am struck visitors started to pour into the little former church. We had arrived earlier – members of the Barry Amateur Radio and the Vintage Radio Societies at about 8.30 am; they were setting up an aerial in the churchyard and running an electricity cable from the neighbouring Church House’s garage to St Lawrence. That was to provide juice to the BARS radio desk set up in the former chancel; we used three 2.5 litre Thermos Pots for visitors’ hot drinks…which soon emptied themselves, so Michael Lawrence popped up to Pat Jerome’s Garage for replenishment, and later in the day, to Rob and Madeline next door in Church House. The biscuits were welcome, too.

One very obvious feature of Saturday morning was the nearly incessant rain, but – alleluia! – it didn’t seem to deter the many hardy souls who turned up. As for those of us who manned (and womanned?) the church, Helen Joy was with Michael and me for most of the day, supplemented from time to time by Elizabeth Wreford, Pete Bird and Sheerine Davies, other members of the Working Group that set up most of the artefacts, the timeline and the kite corner, as well as organising the day. Trustees Maureen Kelly Owen and Julian Owen and Secretary Carole Alexander came around lunch time. Ken, Phil, Gordon, Bernie and other members of BARS stayed all day, as did Merfyn of the VRS, chatting away almost continuously with the many (200+?) visitors.

Ken Eaton’s NASA onesy and mission operations jacket were too tempting for Helen and Sheerine who donned them and entertained us with their antics. Ken’s NASA Visitor’s Pass was admired, too. Messages were sent via short wave radio and distances demonstrated on computer (wi-fi supplied through a dongle).

To everyone’s delight the sun broke through the cloud in the afternoon and brightened and warmed us up. The AA were summoned to attend to Mary Ponting’s car which had sadly blown a gasket (or something similar) in getting to us from Cowbridge. Her father and Dr Joan Andrew were obliged to revisit our display more than once as they awaited the AA mechanic; but eventually they were able to sail (sorry, motor) off into the sunset.

That’s enough from me, I think, until the next inspiration I get. My thanks go to everyone who gathered at the former church on Saturday and made such a success of the day, especially in terms of rejoicing in Marconi’s legacy and that of the other brilliant engineering pioneers we highlighted in our timeline.

For a detailed account of what we had on offer in the old church, please click on News & Events and, for photos, the Gallery page.

Finally, Helen Joy interviewed me about Marconi, etc. on Monday, 22nd on her Radio Cardiff Show ‘Cardiff at One’ at 1.05 pm. Here is a link if you are brave enough:

Marconi Open Day

Wow! What a day we had at St Lawrence yesterday (May 20th). Visitors poured into the former church for our Open Day on Marconi and the Development of Communication. They turned up in a steady stream, especially in the morning when there was a great deal of rain to deter them. Phil, Ken, Gordon, Bernie and other Barry Amateur Radio Society guys set up an aerial outside so that they could broadcast on short wave from their spot inside the church building; Mervyn from the Vintage Radio Society brought several old transmitters dating back to WW2 and Bletchley Park days. They all answered questions and chatted all day, as did some of us from the SALt working party. We had set up a Timeline along the north wall to illustrate, with dates and other information and artefacts, what had gone on since Marconi’s first wireless message over open water from Flat Holm to Lavernock beach on 13th May, 1897. The developments we pin-pointed related to radio, of course, but also telephone, tv, computer and cinema. We even had on display a huge pre-electronic megaphone and a 1940s Remington Remette typewriter. Courtesy of three big Thermos Jugs which we replenished twice, we dispensed tea and coffee to many, plus cold drinks and biscuits. The St Lawrence at Lavernock Trust (SALt) are very grateful to everyone who participated, including those who took photographs of the event (see Gallery page). For more information about Guglielmo Marconi click on our Marconi page.

Cosmeston Country Park

Hello, friends of the former St Lawrence Church. Here begins what is intended to be an occasional enthusiastic outburst about wild flowers, birds etc. and anything else that takes my fancy. It will have a spiritual touch to it as the appreciation of God’s creative work in nature and generally is important for the growth of our souls. By the way, the drawing above (by Helen Joy) is supposed to be me; I am flattered.

Cosmeston Country Park is not far away, so I went down there this morning on the 94 bus with my camera, hoping to see some things of interest and beauty. The weather was showery with sunny periods. Keeping to the east of the Eastern Lake, I went into a gated area and found self-heal and some late cowslips and, quite a surprise, a broadbean plant that had seeded itself! Back out on the main path, there was hawthorn and common vetch. Walking through the East Paddock I found lots of bird’s foot trefoil (in bud it is such a lovely dark red) and occasional hawkbit, ribwort plantain, ground ivy and wild strawberry flowers and very occasionally, lady’s smock. Coming out at the top of the Paddock, I joined the path that bisects the Lakes and has woodland on either side. There I saw hartstongue ferns and common forgetmenot. Walking round the Western Lake there were signs of wilting wild arum in the wooded parts and pretty lichens on some of the trees and birds-eye speedwell at the side of the path.

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If you aren’t bored now, you may find some more of my ramblings, physical and metaphorical, in the weeks to come.

Spring Newsletter

Newsletter No.3                                                                                                Spring 2017


Hello, everyone. Here is our third occasional newsletter about the former St Lawrence Church, Lavernock and what is happenening there.

Bringing you up to date

Some disappointing news first; the bid made by the Representative Body of the Church in Wales for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was not successful. The Trust received the news in early March. The HLF’s explanation was that we were competing with churches across Wales that, unlike St Lawrence, were open every Sunday and there was massive demand for grants; their priority was to give money to open churches in use as regular places of worship. To have given money to us would have set a precedent, thus possibly opening the floodgates to more and more applications from closed churches like ours. The HLF were also concerned that we didn’t have a formal lease arrangement with the Church in Wales which would have demonstrated greater commitment on our part, and also that we weren’t applying as a community group. They advised against any further application.

There has since been a meeting of Trustees who agreed that the way ahead was to take a more phased approach; the Trust would seek to deal with the various repairs etc. separately and look for funds in smaller amounts from other grant-giving bodies. The possibility of asking the Representative Body for a leasehold or freehold interest in the former church would be considered.

Peter Leech (1924-2017)

We are sorry to have to tell you of the death on 3rd March of our much loved friend and Trustee, Peter Leech; he was 93. Peter was well known in Penarth as the former Head of English at Stanwell School and as an excellent and popular teacher. He wrote a seminal work on the local sculptor, Frank Roper, and was a longstanding member of the Diocesan Advisory Council.  Peter was an artist himself and was always full of ideas; as well as his great learning he had a sense of mischief and often a twinkle in his eye. His passing is a great loss to many and especially to us at St Lawrence.

Open Day on 20th May


Do call in and have a look round; we are planning to illustrate the development of many types of communication through the 120 years since Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless message over open water from Flat Holm to Lavernock Point on 13th May 1897.

Admission will be free, knowledgeable people will be on hand to provide information, and hot and cold drinks will be available.

Services in 2017

Sea Sunday (July 9th), St Lawrence (August 13th), Harvest (September 24th), Remembrance Sunday (November 12th), Christmas Lessons & Carols (December 3rd); all at 3 pm.

 If you wish to contact us

   Carole Alexander (Secretary to Trustees)

   Revd Margaret Stark (Hon.Trustee and Chaplain)
  029 20701303

   Registered Charity No: 1138257