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Friends of St Mary's Church at Caerau

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Annual Inspection 2006

On Thursday, 2nd March 2006, a small group of us visited St Mary's Church. As usual we parked our vehicles at the bottom of the hill. To our right, on a patch of land adjacent to the last house a lot of rubbish had been dumped and partially burned. In front of us was the barrier to stop vehicles being taken up to the top of the hill fort. This had been daubed with black paint. We managed to manoeuvre around the mess and mud. Debris consisting of iron bars, old carpet, burnt rubbish etc lay to our right. The fire must have been quite ferocious because the fence and the hedgerow beyond it were badly burned. Beyond this lay an abandoned bicycle and some other rubbish.

We continued up the lane. Snow still lay upon the ground where the sun had not penetrated. We reached the top and entered the churchyard. There was evidence of fly tipping and horse manure just inside the gate.

Unfortunately, we have to report that since our last visit a lot of damage has occurred to the church as follows:-

The window to the right of the porch on the south wall of the nave has still not been repaired. The stones lay strewn around.

The porch has suffered damaged since our last visit. The flat slabs on either of the porch had lumps chipped off them and bore graffiti.

The lovely white archway between the nave and the chancel has been sprayed with black paint and include the words "Smokey BONE 2005"!

Both the north and south walls of the tower have been damaged and stones scattered around the floor of the nave. The inside of the west wall of the church has also sustained damage.

In the chancel, on the south side, there is a quantity of building stone scattered around plus rubbish.

Brambles cover most of the graveyard and one gravestone has been damaged. However, the brambles may actually protect the graves.

As previously reported, last year we were invited to see the film "Hillfort. The Lost World of Ely" at Trelai Primary School. The children had worked really hard to produce a very interesting film on the history of the Caerau hill fort which included St Mary's Church. It is sad to think that the children have to witness the damage that is occurring.

On refection, we think it is possible that some of the damage to the Tower could have been caused by wind and rain, the mortar used in the repairs not being sufficiently robust to withstand natural erosion. We will be contacting the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings ("SPAB"), CADW and Cardiff Council, as action needs to be taken now to prevent further damage and decay. It would be a great sadness if, after nearly eight centuries of standing proud at the top of Caerau Hill, what remains of the magnificent West Tower, with its small cross, was finally lost from view. If you have any comments or suggestions to make we would like to hear from you. Please continue to support the work of 'The Friends' by visiting the church and Hill Fort and urging local councillors to support the preservation of the Site.

Look out for our short history of St. Mary's, which we hope to submit shortly.

Rosemary Lewis and Delia Jay
Founders of Friends of St Mary's