St Mary the Virgin Church, Nash, Newport

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The medieval tower and spire of this church are visible from afar because the landscape here is flat. The land, part of the extensive Gwent Levels, was marshy and flooded by each high tide until Roman legionaries from Caerleon created a sea wall and drainage ditches.

A freak tidal surge in January 1607 flooded c.520sq km (200 square miles) of land on both sides of the Bristol Channel. Soon afterwards, a plaque was installed inside St Mary the Virgin Church to record the level the water reached. The plaque remains in situ. Some historians and scientists believe the flood was caused by a large storm surge – when a hurricane coincided with an unusually high tide – or by a tsunami resulting from an undersea earthquake.

It’s thought that the church was established by Normans in the 12th century. Part of the chancel’s north wall was probably built then, and incorporated into the new chancel in 1861. Another surviving early feature is a leper squint, a hole through the wall which divides the chancel from the room at the base of the tower. This enabled people with infectious diseases to watch the priest conduct services without entering the main part of the church.

The church has a remarkable set of 18th-century internal furnishings, unspoilt by the Victorian church rebuilding programme. The six bells in the tower date mainly from the 18th century.

Today the church is one of several in the benefice of Magor.

Postcode: NP18 2DD    View Location Map

Website of Netherwent benefice

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