Monday, 8 October 2012

ST DAVID LEWIS AND THE POT AND PINEAPPLE (PART 2)

 
 This is Part 2 of a two part post about 'The Pot and Pineapple', the Gunters and St David Lewis. Please click here to read Part 1.
 
RENOVATIONS AND DISCOVERY      
The Adoration of the Magi, found in the Gunter Chapel and now on display in Abergavenny Museum
Over the years, the Gunter Mansion was divided into four smaller houses. The location of Thomas Gunter’s Chapel faded from memory.  In 1908 Mr and Mrs Foster, the owners of the end house, were carrying out alterations when an amazing discovery was made.  When the workmen began to demolish the partitions dividing the rooms in the attic, they discovered a secret room behind another room.  On the steeply sloping ceiling was a beautiful fresco depicting the “Adoration of the Magi”.   Mrs Foster had the good sense to realize that they had stumbled upon something of importance.  After consultation with several local historians, it was confirmed that they had found Thomas Gunter’s seventeenth century chapel.  As well as the “Adoration of the Magi”, believed to be the altar piece under which the altar was positioned, other paintings and markings were discovered.  Above the window overlooking Cross St, there was the “mark of the Jesuits”, the letters I H S within rays and surmounted by a cross.   On another wall, a strange drawing of a man and a woman with a heart placed at the feet of the woman and the inscription “T G his mark” were clearly visible.  Mrs Foster engaged the services of the Photographer, Mr Bailey of High St, Abergavenny, to take pictures of the ceiling and other paintings and drawings which adorned the walls of the little room.  In an attempt to preserve the fresco of the Magi, Mrs Foster had the painting carefully removed and placed under glass in an oak frame.  For many years this treasure was in private hands but, fortunately, it is now on display at Abergavenny Museum where it can be viewed and appreciated by all. 
 
The remains of the entrance to
Thomas Gunter's  attic chapel
At the time of the renovations, the remains of an outside staircase leading from the garden to the chapel were also discovered.  The addition of an adjoining cottage had blocked this entrance.  From the back of the house, it is still possible to see in the pine end of “The Pot and Pineapple” part of the lintel of the door to the attic chapel.
 
HISTORY COLLIDES
Thomas Gunter's Chapel as it is today
Today history collides at 37 Cross Street!  Downstairs, “The Pot and Pineapple” caters for the discerning sweet tooth while upstairs Thomas Gunter’s chapel languishes almost forgotten.  Previous occupiers of the shop probably used it as a storeroom so now it bears little resemblance to a chapel.   However, one can still see the wall on which Thomas Gunter left his initials.  I said “almost” forgotten because Amanda, the young proprietor of “The Pot and Pineapple”, although not the owner of the building, is very aware of its place in Abergavenny's long history.
The wall on which Thomas Gunter wrote his initials

Amanda kindly allowed us access to the former chapel.  It was an amazing experience just to stand quietly in that room and remember Thomas Gunter, St David Lewis, St Philip Evans, and the brave and faithful people who so long ago risked all for their Catholic Faith. Many words could describe my feelings. Humbled, overawed and overjoyed are just three of them. 
 
Cautiously we descended the narrow stairway that brought us back to the twenty-first century where Amanda and her son were tending to some customers.  Amanda chatted with us for a short while and, as well as a pleasure, it was enlightening because she is very knowledgeable about the historic location her shop occupies.   

THANK YOU AMANDA

The Pot and Pineapple, 37 Cross St.
Thomas Gunter's Chapel was located
behind the little window in the gable.
We are extremely grateful to Amanda for her kindness to us in the midst of her busy day.  We came away with some interesting facts about the Gunters.  Oh yes, and with some very tasty Liquorice Allsorts and Liquorice Torpedoes!  On my next visit to “The Pot and Pineapple” I think I will try Chocolate, or perhaps Chewing Nuts, or Pontefract Cakes, or Humbugs, or ?????

4 comments:

  1. Thank you Breadgirl, makes me determined to make a foray to Abergavenny.

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  2. Hello Richard
    A trip to Abergavenny is always fruitful & a visit to the Pot and Pineapple will certainly make it a sweet one! God bless you, my friend.

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  3. Very interesting series. It must be exciting to visit such an historic place and to feel such a part of history. And the candy, etc. doesn't sound bad either!

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  4. Dear Sr Ann Marie

    Thank you Sister. There is so much history all around us here & yes, it is exciting, & humbling too, to visit the places where such holy men & women actually lived, prayed & risked their very lives to keep the Faith. We are blessed indeed.

    Of course, the selection of candy to be found at the Pot and Pineapple is just amazing & is very hard to resist. (As if I would want to resist!)

    God bless you Sister.

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