What follows here is offered as a mark of affection
and respect for those who have passed ‘beyond the veil’ in recent years.
The breaking of
the links between families and the places where they were born has continued
apace since the land enclosures and the advent of the industrial
revolution. Today, in Penallt,
“incomers” appear to be as numerous as the families who have lived here for generations. (Incidentally, it is surprising how
frequently the “old families” of Penallt moved house within the parish during
the 19th and 20th centuries.) A striking variety of skills, backgrounds and
experience has been brought to Penallt to enrich those already here, as we can
see by recalling some of the neighbours lost to us in the last decade or so. More important is the reminder that, to a
greater or lesser degree, we all feel the need to include the dead among the
living and of the benefit this brings.
ANTHONY FOSTER COLLETT D.S.C. (1911-1991) born in Gloucestershire, educated
and a fearless submariner. He came to
live in Lydart in 1968, having retired after a distinguished career in the
Royal Navy and having then farmed in Gloucestershire and established himself as
an expert on orchids and a long serving Committee member of the Royal
Horticultural Society. During his naval
career, he served in all five oceans and the Mediterranean. He was awarded the D.S.C. and bar and,
unusually, was appointed a Commander of the U.S. Legion of Merit by Franklin
Roosevelt for rescuing an American airman under fire from the Japanese off Sumatra. His life
in Penallt was devoted to gardening and fishing; he was a knowledgeable
countryman who delighted in sharing his knowledge and experience. Above all, he
was a churchman of the old school in the Anglican tradition, devoted to the Old Church
to which he was a generous donor (we owe to him the parking area and the path
from the Lychgate). To hear his fine
voice read the lesson (always from the Authorised Version) was to receive
cultured instruction and an echo of past
GOLDER (died 1991) was born into a
Penallt family which came from the Continent three generations back to operate
paper-works in Whitebrook. Jack worked
in Redbrook, walking there and back each
day – one of the strong men of those days – but he is best remembered for his
cricketing prowess. He played for
Penallt before the second World War, in the 30’s as No.4 or 5 batsman and
occasional bowler, invariably shown to be the right man in the right spot. In the 1980’s he became official scorer and
President of the club for 1986.
Moreover, he one of the village stalwarts from his early days, on whom
his neighbours relied whenever there was need for help with virtually any
unexpected or difficult problem.
CARD (1909 – 1994) was born in Lime
Kilns Farm, one of seven children of John and Blanche Gunter and the last of
eight generations of Gunters in the parish.
While her husband John Henry was
abroad during war-time, Rene found life a struggle but she emerged the mother
of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – a loving enthusiast and
support for the family, a brave widow when her life-long companion died, who
continued to delight in the success of others.
DOLLY DAVIES who
died in 1994 was the youngest of the Gunter family who at one time farmed the
Argoed; she lived virtually all her life in Penallt, farming at the Glyn with
husband Cyril and retiring to Frostlands. Dolly was a founder member of the
W.I. and a member of the Parochial Church Council, Treasurer and Secretary of
Penallt United Charities and a member of the Pelham Hall Committee. She was a fund of information about early
days in the village which went into the Miscellany. Dolly was known for her warmth and kindness,
undiminished by untimely family losses.
SAUNDERS (nee Hall) who died in 1994, was typical of those neighbours who
lead quiet but exceedingly active lives, whose absence cannot be imagined. Her devotion to the Church was equalled only
by her care for her family. Olive served
on the Church Council, was a W.I. President and a member of the Meals on Wheels
Service and the Pelham Hall Committee.
Wherever there was work to be done, there Olive was to be found, her
special attachment being to St. Mary’s for which she employed her embroidering
skill. Her passing was indeed a major
break with the past for the village.
WILLIAM LESLIE SPENCER (1913-1995) was born at Llananant where his parents
farmed. He served in a “reserved
occupation” with the Great Western Railway through the second World War and was
a member of the Home Guard and a crack shot. Married to Evelyn in 1941, they
bought Llananant in 1947 and later
returned to farming. For many years
Leslie was a valued member of the Parochial Church Council and local government
councils and a manager of Monmouth
Comprehensive School. He is remembered as a pleasant upright man,
strong in his faith in spite of great sadness towards the end of his life.
(FREDA) PARKER (1908-1995), younger
child of Tom and Kathleen Roach, attended Monmouth School
for Girls. Her mother taught at Penallt School and played the church organ. Her father ran the Sub-Post Office in the
village which Freda took over on his retirement and ran for 46 years. She drove ambulances in the Monmouth area
during World War II and resumed work in
the village acting as Election Returning Officer, census-taker, animal welfare
activist and during the 1950’s and 60’s playing the accordion in the local
dance band. Freda is remembered in the
village and beyond as a life-long and faithful supporter of the parish church,
her vigour and humour and in her later stricken years for her prodigious if
sometimes erratic memory of the many joys and sadnesses of her long life in
JEAN CROOKS who
died in 1996 trained as a nurse at St.
married into the Army and raised four sons.
She and her husband Lt.Col. R. Crooks moved into the Generals in
Tregagle and later into Ty Cefn. Jean
followed her husband as church warden during an unassuming but wholly effective
life supporting the Church and village activities. She was a skilled artist, and a wise and
PARKER (1909-1996) was London-born
and bred, who married Frank before the Second World War, beginning a life of
movement with two children, which continued when Frank remained in the army
after the war. In 1975, after running a
shop in Sussex,
they came to live in Penallt. Gladys was
widowed only two years later but continued as a very active Church member and
W.I. worker – remembered for her air of calm certainty valued by her many
PROBERT M.C. (1897-1997) was known
principally to his neighbours in Penallt as the soldier-farmer who bought the
Argoed estate after the Second World War, a property originally built and owned
by his family for generations. He
remained there with his first wife Patience, restoring the house and gardens
until his move to the Bowles nearby. Finally he moved with his second wife Ruth
to live in Portugal
where he celebrated his 100th birthday as the oldest living Etonian
and the oldest British artillery officer. He was a keen researcher into family
and local history and his work informs much of the Penallt Parish Guides and
other local publications. He was one of
the prime movers in the restoration of the Old Church in the 1960’s showing his
skills as a craftsman alongside his neighbours who over the years helped to
give us today’s beautiful interior, enhanced by his gift of the great west
window with St. Christopher and St.
James of Compostela. Major Probert’s
long and interesting life is described in the national press of 1997. His determined personality, which saw him
through horrific experiences in the First World War, never left him and perfectly
exemplified the self-confident and dutiful generation into which he was
MEREDITH (1911-1999); born at Penygarn into the Morgan family whose parish
roots went back several generations. Her
childhood – with four brothers – was spent in Abertillery (1911-1930); on
return, Nora lived with her parents who had a shop opposite the old vicarage;
Nora and her husband Fred Meredith eventually took over (Fred’s family had
lived in Penallt since 1824). Both were
much involved in village activities, Committee members of Pelham Hall and
involved in the dances, whist drives, fetes and concerts. A move to Croes Vaen
saw them open a shop and filling station which they sold so that Nora could
look after Fred when he was confined to a wheelchair. His death in 1974 hit her hard but her
enjoyment of village activities continued unabated: it will long be remembered
as will her infectious laughter and thoughtfulness for others.
who died in October 2000 only a few
days short of her 100th birthday.
She was born in Barberry, daughter of Oliver and Matilda Jones who farmed Hillside.
Her long life was one of service – in a military hospital at Weston Super Mare
during the First World War and in domestic service in Surrey, as housekeeper at
Moorcroft and finally at Monmouth School.
Dorothy moved to Box Bungalow, a few yards from Barberry in1960 and
became organist and Sunday School teacher at the Old Church,
the Baptist and the Methodist chapels.
Her independence and determination was undoubted – who else would begin
driving lessons at the age of 80? Her
many relations and wide circle of friends lost a valuable link with Penallt as
it used to be when Dorothy went to her rest.
ARTHUR GLEED (1934-2002) The eldest son of Gertie and George Gleed,
“Tom” was born at Pen-y-Garn in a snowstorm, and had to live on condensed milk
for his first ten days, giving him a sweet tooth for life! He was a kind and
loving husband and father to two daughters, and a good neighbour. He often helped Commander Collett when his
buggy broke down (once carrying him home on the front loader of the tractor)
and he rescued Dorothy Lloyd three times when she put her car into places where
no car should be.
He was a knowledgeable
and caring countryman working the soil on the farm and in his garden (producing
enormous parsnips of local fame). He
nurtured his wild birds and pheasants, and his goldfish. All who knew him miss his kindness,
generosity and love of life and his great sense of fun.
MATILDA LLOYD (1912-2002) lived at Barberry for forty years, just down the
hill from the Old
Church, around which her
life revolved. She regarded it as “a witness to centuries of Christian
faithfulness” which it was her duty and delight to celebrate and foster. She
was variously a long time member of the Parochial Church Council and its
sometime Secretary, editor and contributor to the parish magazine, a member of
W.I., an early supporter of the Wye Valley Preservation Society, and a major
contributor to the Miscellany. Dorothy loved good conversation and hosted many
gatherings of friends who together represented the wide range of her interests
– from music and literature to bridge and pictures. Her pilgrimage to Compostela was a high point for her which
she celebrated with the gift of a roof-boss in the south aisle of the Old Church
featuring the pilgrim’s Scallop Shell.
STRATTON (1929-2002) David came with his wife Anne to retirement in Penallt
from a career in motor manufacture in the Midlands. After looking to the well-being of his
family, much of his time was devoted to the interests of Penallt, the Monmouth
Action Group and his neighbours in Penallt.
He was a Community Councillor and an active member of the Pelham Hall
Committee. He supported the parish churches
with equal commitment and was a member of Probus and a custodian of the Regimental Museum in Monmouth. (His National Service as an Army officer saw
him on active service in Malaya.) Local and family history was another of his
interests but his forte was in supplying help often by stealth, being the first
to spot the need.
HODGKINSON (1927-2003) A stalwart of the W.R.V.S. (from which she gained a
national award) not least as organiser of the Monmouth Meals on Wheels Service
and renowned tennis player. Yvonne was
active in the parish church, another unobtrusive hard worker, where and when
needed. Remembered for her gardening and cooking, Yvonne was a shrewd observer
of those around her, invariably to their profit.
ELSIE LOUVAIN KIMBER (1918-2004)
was born into a South Wales farming family
which like many another was dealt hard blows by the Depression in the
1920’s. But the good education given by
Welsh grammar schools in those days saw her ready to join the Civil Service in London where, at the end
of the war, she met and married her husband whose career took them to the Midlands, to Scotland and to North
America. Her experience and
her understanding was of inestimable help at home and abroad, where she proved
a popular hostess in government circles and a source of good sense and comfort
for staff members a long way from home. On retirement, Elsie chose Penallt for
its echoes of childhood and after more travelling settled happily into village
life becoming a faithful member of the Old Church
congregation, a knowledgeable gardener and an enthusiastic worker behind the
scenes in village activities. Her
literary interests, her humour and strong sense of rectitude commended her to
her many friends, with some of whom scattered around the world she kept in
touch as an inveterate letter-writer.
This was also a lady of great courage who faced serious illness more
than once, survived cancer and accepted blindness in her last years without
(1910-2005) was known to us in Penallt chiefly as Major Probert’s second
wife who looked after him devotedly at the end of his life. Yet she deserves fame in her own right as a
professional opera singer and teacher of the highest rank. The Second World War saw her undertaking
gruelling touring schedules with her equally famous husband, the tenor Tudor
Davies. Ruth retired from the stage when
he died in 1958 and became a teacher at the Royal College of Music. A great
gardener, a cultured lady with a happy sense of humour, she ignored the passing
of time and continued into her nineties to visit Penallt from her home in Portugal where she made the
Pilgrim tapestry for the Old Church. Her
fascinating life is detailed in the national press of March, 2005.
GOLDER (1920-2005) Born in Devon, Margaret
visited Penallt during World War II when she worked on aircraft plotting
tables. She returned to marry in 1947
and lived first in Yew Tree Cottage in Lone Lane and then in Woodbine Cottage. A daughter Susan and a son Robert completed
the family while Margaret became one of the busiest and hardest-working members
of the community. Margaret played the
organ in St. Mary’s and the Old
Church, was a member of
the Parochial Council for many years and churchwarden 1955-2001. Her work was valued in the early days by the
organisers of village dances, whist drives, flower shows, the W.I. and of
activities in Pelham Hall. Only when her
health began to fail in 1989 did Margaret cut down her good works, receiving
the certificate from the Royal Society of Church Music for 25 years continuous
service as organist. Margaret was “Queen
of Tombola” at Church fetes and bazaars, often leading other stalls in her
“takings.” She was also a popular
“baby-sitter” in the village and, indeed, it is difficult to image how she
managed to do so much for so many.
LT. COLONEL ADRIAN ROBERTS (TIM) EVILL (1920-2006)
Born at Pwllmeyric, Chepstow where his father Charles was a
well-known local solicitor.
school he started training as a Land Agent but the 2nd World War changed
the course of his life when he enlisted into the Territorial Army and in 1940
volunteered for the Special Forces (the Commandos). He was in involved in Commando raids on the
coast of Europe and N.Africa until 1944 when his Commando was sent to Burma and
Malaya where he became very actively involved in fighting the Japanese and
ended his time in Hong Kong where he became one of the youngest Lt. Colonels in
the Army and responsible for disbanding 1/5 Commando.
After a brief
return to his Regiment (the South Wales Borderers) he joined the K.A.R. and
spent 5 years fighting alongside his African soldiers in Kenya and Malaya where he was twice mentioned in dispatches. He later became an instructor at Sandhurst and commanded his Regiment. He ended his military career in 1975 but
continued for the next 10 years as Regimental Secretary in Cardiff.
Tim was always a
countryman at heart and in 1968 his dream of returning to Monmouthshire was
fulfilled when he bought the Brook. Here
he and his family spent many happy days clearing the land and establishing a garden
and small-holding. He loved walking with
his dogs round the local woodland and created a productive vegetable
garden. He was passionate about trees
and surrounded the Brook with many beautiful and some rare specimens. Tim was a very modest and retiring man known
for his humour, courtesy and kindness.
He was an outstanding athlete and excelled in rugby, cricket, tennis,
squash, hockey, swimming and golf. He
enjoyed helping run local sports for Penallt on festive occasions and was a
founder member of the Lower Wye Valley Preservation Society.
will wonder why their best-remembered ones are not included here. We hope that
they will understand the impossibility of producing more than a selection as
examples of the high degrees of commitment to the community and the wide range
of talents which have flourished in recent years in Penallt.
[from: Penallt Revisited]