Saturday, 6 July 2013


A recent visit to pretty little Grosmont provided us with an unexpected discovery.  
Gravestone of Charles William/s and Joan Baker
Details of the Gravestone, displayed to the left of the stone. 
 Is this where the Gabb branch of the family originated?

Grosmont is a village located near the Welsh/English border.  Not far from Abergavenny, Grosmont is a small village but, as well as pretty, it is full of history.   As we explored the ancient parish church we came upon a memorial of particular interest to  this blog.  The Church of St Nicholas was built around the 13th century but it was restored in the mid 19th century.  We spent a good hour or more exploring its many interesting features.  We were saddened to learn that part of a medieval crucifix which had been displayed in the church was stolen recently. 
St David Lewis, to whom this blog is dedicated, was born in Abergavenny into a large and prominent family.  Like families today, his family was a mixture of Catholic and Protestant members.    Descended from Lewys Wallis, a Protestant Vicar of St Mary's Priory Church, Abergavenny, David was brought up in the Established Church by his Anglican father, Morgan Lewis.  However, David's mother, Margaret Pritchard, was a Catholic and she brought his eight siblings up in the Catholic faith.
When he was about sixteen years of age, David spent some time in Paris and, while there, he converted to Catholicism.  After the death of his parents in 1638 David entered the English College in Rome where he commenced studies for the priesthood.  Several years after his ordination, Fr Lewis joined the Jesuits.  He was eventually assigned to the English Mission.   Because of the Penal Laws against Catholics, which were in force at that time, he worked under the alias of Charles Baker.  After more than thirty years of serving the Catholics of South Wales, Fr David Lewis was arrested at Llantarnam on 17th  November 1678.  He was imprisoned first in Monmouth Gaol then later transferred to Usk Gaol.  Found guilty of being a Catholic Priest and saying Mass, which was considered High Treason, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.  On 27th August 1679, Fr David Lewis S J was taken from his cell in Usk Gaol, tied head down to a hurdle and dragged along the River Path to his execution.  He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's Priory Church, Usk.  In October 1970, he was canonised as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.  
We are always interested in any connection to St David Lewis and it was in the Church of St Nicholas at Grosmont that we found a lovely connection, a monument to a cousin of St David Lewis!  The old gravestone of Charles William/s and his wife Joan Baker is mounted on the wall at the rear of the church and details are given on a display to the left of the stone.  I was surprised and delighted to find that Joan Baker was a cousin of St David Lewis.  I have done a rough chart to show the relationship of the two.
This chart shows the relationship between
Joan Baker and St David Lewis
If you are interested in St David Lewis, you would find a trip to Grosmont rewarding.  If you aren't interested in St David Lewis, you would still find a trip to Grosmont rewarding!  As well as the ancient church you can explore the equally ancient castle and  the pretty, well kept village. You can then relax in the friendly atmosphere of  Gentle Jane's with a delicious cake and a steaming drink.  All in all, a visit to Grosmont is a pleasure not to be missed.


  1. What an exciting find! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  2. Good Morning Grace

    I'm glad you enjoyed this. We were so excited to find it & very happy to share it. You never know what you will discover when you roam around the countryside & spend time in those gorgeous little ancient churches. Always enjoyable & frequently educational!

    Thanks for looking in & for your comment. Take care.

  3. Hello Breadgirl,

    Thank you for this interesting post. It is hard for me to believe how brutal the English government was to Catholic priests. You would think that hanging would have been enough.

    I want to say that I enjoy your blog, it is very interesting. Although these stories take place long ago, it is not THAT long ago. The Church is now going through a subtle persecution, let us pray that persecutions, such as Fr. David Lewis endured, will never come to pass again.

    God bless you!

    Deacon Brian

  4. Hello Deacon Brian

    I am glad that you found the post interesting. It is hard for us today to comprehend how such evil acts could be carried out. They were turbulent times when your religious beliefs could mean life or death, depending on who was in power at the time. Catholics got the worst of it but Protestants also suffered persecution. God help us, Brian, and teach us to be tolerant.

    Thanks for visiting & for taking the time to comment. I welcome your input.


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