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St. Mary's News and Update

Summer 2013

Dear Friends and Supporters

St. Mary's Taskforce

The "Taskforce" (TF), set up last November by Dave Horton of ACE (Action Ely and Caerau) to take care of St. Mary's and its environs, has been a great success and could be the life-line St. Mary's needs to continue survival of the remains preserved from demolition at the turn of this century by the Friends and SPAB (Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings).

TF involves local people coming together to make a difference to their community, joined by council workers/ professionals and community policemen and women, and others with a connection to the area (like me, who once lived in Caerau) who want to be involved in preserving the idyllic nature of the site for future generations.

TF meets on the first Tuesday of each month -- whatever the weather! -- to complete a variety of tasks in and around the church. For example, we have collected hundreds of stones pulled by vandals from the church walls to make 'fire grates'. A whole lorry load was collected in one session, and these stones have been stored by council workers ready for future repairs. Other tasks include removing vegetation from the church walls as far as we can safely reach, and clearing and weeding the paths in the graveyard to preserve appearance and access for people who still visit their loved ones buried there. Future tasks will include replanting gaps in the hedgerow around the church, and lowering the hedge to improve visibility of the gravestones and church when viewed from the ringwork, recreating how it looked in the 1960/70's following its rebuilding by the late Rev. Victor (Father) Jones.

Taskforce barbeque.
TF also brings people together socially. Last December we enjoyed Christmas lunch at a local pub, and in August this year one of the group hosted a BBQ, which was great. If you have a couple of hours to spare on the first Tuesday of the month 11am -1pm, please do join us at the site, and you will be most welcome. Some equipment and rubbish bags are provided, but please feel free to bring your own gloves, hand tools, secateurs, etc. Refreshments provided.

Repairs to St. Mary's

The report of necessary repairs noted on our March 2013 St. David's Day inspection was sent to Martin Birch of the Bereavement Department, and we have recently heard that these essential repairs are to be carried out shortly. Our thanks to Martin and Wayne and their teams for organising quotes for the work, and also to our local councillor, Peter Bradbury, for his continuing support in getting approval for the repairs to go ahead. We look forward to reporting later in the year when we expect the repairs to have been completed.

Dig Caerau.

Dig Caerau!

This year, CAER (Caerau And Ely Rediscovering) Heritage Group has been very busy and has extended the excavations of the Caerau Hill Fort (Ely, Cardiff) from where Time Team left off. Throughout July, "Dig Caerau", led by Dr. Oliver (Olly) Davis of Cardiff University Archaeological Department, encouraged students, local people and schools in the area to take an active part in this continuing search for evidence of the ancients who occupied the Hillfort in the Iron Age and Roman times. Paul Kemble's blog gives a flavour of the event, and much more about the Dig and its finds may be found on CAER's website and also on Facebook and Twitter. The finds from the dig will be on display locally, and subsequently in the Museum of Welsh Life at St. Fagan's, and further excavations are planned for coming years.

In addition to all this, hundreds attended a Dig Caerau 'pig roast' fun day, which was enjoyed by all ages.

Dig Caerau.
Reading Paul's excellent blog reminded me of that 'rainy night' when a few of us gathered in a meeting room in Ely Library (I am sad to hear it is to be moved from its long-familiar spot on Grand Avenue) and discussed the possibility of excavating Caerau Hillfort and linking it to other famous archaeological sites in and around Cardiff. What has since occurred is beyond our wildest dreams, and thanks must go to Olly for leading the way with this, also of course to his many colleagues and students of the Cardiff University Archaeology Department who have brought it all to pass.

Visitors' Centre for Caerau and Ely (?)

Following the successful display of St. Mary's information at the Welsh Forum Event last year held in Oakdale Hall at St. Fagan's, a loyal and valued supporter from overseas, Mike Cridland, discovered that the Gospel Hall building in Church Road at the bottom of Caerau Hill is no longer used. In our emails, we became rather carried away with the thought of using the Gospel Hall to display the history of the area, i.e. St. Mary's and the archaeological history and discoveries of the hillfort, for the benefit of local people and visitors, and linking the recently suggested Cardiff 'heritage trails' to our very own Caerau 'Visitors Centre'. As well as having somewhere to display the history of the site, the Hall's toilet facilities would come in useful, and a small cafe was envisaged as a resting place for visitors on the heritage trails.

This idea for now remains in the air, together with the idea of setting up a financial Trust specifically to provide for the on-going repair and maintenance of St. Mary's Church, but it is not impossible that such 'pipe dreams' may one day become reality. This lovely little building could thus be put to good use for the benefit of the people of Caerau and Ely and perhaps give a small boost to the local economy.

The Gospel Hall.

St. Mary's Memories Page

Ending on a high note, we have two new memories on our web page. Michael Pulvermacher wrote to us with his memories of the time he stood in for the Diocesan Registrar and witnessed the reconciliation of St. Mary's in April 1961, after its rebuilding. See the photo of Mr. Pulvermacher together with Father Jones and other church dignitaries, and his account of the occasion.

Our other new entry is that of Dr. Les Phillips, OBE who now lives in South Africa. He remembers moving to Caerau in the 1950's with his parents when his father bought the Hill Dip shop, which is still there today, near the Highfields Public House. (I remember running from my grandmother's house in Caerau Park Place to buy my sweets in the Hill Dip). Les also recalls assisting Father Jones to build the Vestry and was sad to see it no longer exists.

Please continue to send us your memories, we love receiving them.

Our grateful thanks as usual to all our supporters, wherever you are.

Delia Jay
Founder, The Friends of St. Mary's.