St Michael's Church

Some snippets from history

Memorial to Julia Roberts

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Many people will have seen the memorial plaque to Julia Roberts in St Michael’s Church in Tintern, but I really wonder how many would have understood her story.
Her husband, John Roberts was born in 1805. He was brought up in Fair Oak Farm in Chapel Hill. He became a Maltster, Merchant and Ship Owner. Judging by the memorial in the church, he was quite a wealthy man.
Julia was born in 1808 and she married John on 6 July 1826 in St Paul’s Church, Bristol, where they both resided. Their first child, William Hughes was born in 1828. He was followed by John in 1832, Charles Edwin in 1834, Nehemiah George in 1835, Elvina in 1837 and finally Frederick Samuel in 1839 when she was 31 years old. Six children in 11 years.
However, Frederick Samuel died on 2n​ d​ August 1839, only seven week after he was born. His birth must have been very traumatic as just 13 days later on 15t​ h​ August 1839 his mother Julia died.
One must wonder how John coped with this double tragedy. But this was not to be the end as John loses three more children during the next ten years, only two of his children survived him.
Elvina died on 12t​ h​ July 1840, less than a year after her mother and younger brother had died, aged only 3 years. Julia and John’s son John died 19t​ h​ June 1845 at the age of 13, and William Hughes died 30t​ h​ January 1849 aged 21 years. John, himself, died 19t​ h​ May 1875 aged 70, which was a good age for that era, but his two remaining sons did not live for as long as John. Charles Edwin died 8 Sept 1877, just over two years after his father, aged 43. Nehemiah George lived on for quite a few years longer dying on 9t​ h​ November 1890, though he was still only 55 years old.
To our 21s​ t​ Century eyes this reads as a very tragic family story. Yet was it as tragic to the family, or was this simply life as it could, and often did, happen? Families had ways of dealing with these circumstances as I know from my own family history. My Great Great Grandparents lost their first and third born children at a very young age, even giving the name of their third child, then deceased, to their fourth child.
However, that is not the end of John’s story. In 1840 he married Mary Lloyd in Abergavenny. In 1841 John, who was a Timber Merchant, and Mary were living in Tintern Parva, when their first child was born. They named him Frederick Samuel and tragically this second Frederick Samuel died in 1843. Their second son Joseph was born in 1847. By 1851 they had moved to Dudley in Staffordshire, then to Edgbaston and finally to Yardley in Worcestershire. In all that time their son Joseph is not recorded, and can only be presumed to have died.
As can be seen, this is the tragic story of John Roberts, who during his lifetime lost a wife and most of his children, and those that survived moved quite a way away from him.

Alan Hillard, November 2020

Historic silverware at St Michael's Church

For a small and rather unprepossessing Church, St Michael’s is blessed with a nice collection of silver pieces. Four Chalices or goblets for the wine and one Paten or plate for the wafers together with a container for the wafers.
The most recent acquisition is a Chalice embossed with the badge of the Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade, courtesy of Alan Carter who runs the Tintern Brigade. We use this chalice, which is hallmarked 1913, on Family/Brigade Sundays.
The oldest Chalice is a beautiful piece of hammered silver with a hallmark that dates it to 1655, during the Commonwealth. In fact, this was the year that Oliver Cromwell banned Anglican services. Possibly this chalice was given in response to this action.
The three of the pieces are hallmarked to 1813 and were presented to St Michael’s by the Rev’d T Tireman who was the Rector at that time. Two of the pieces are a pair of matching Chalices, the third being a Paten. The Paten is inscribed on the reverse: ‘Presented by the Rev’d T Tireman to the Parish of Tintern Parva’. There are two inscriptions on the front: ‘The Bread which We Break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ’; ‘Do This in Remembrance of Me’. What is really intriguing is the provision of two Chalices. Currently, St Michael's can seat about one hundred people. When Rev’d Tireman was Rector, it is unlikely the St Michael’s could have seated fifty people and one wonders why two Chalices were needed.
Finally, we have a box that is used to hold the wafers before they are put on the Paten. The hallmark is 1979 and is inscribed ‘In Loving Memory of my Dear Mother MAUD EMILY DEXTER
When not in use, all these pieces are locked away in the parish chest or strong box. Interestingly this box has the date 1813 embossed on it. Presumably, Rev’d Tireman was concerned for their safety!
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