Henry Vaughan, Poet and Physician
Heritage at Llansantffraed, Brecknockshire
The Society has a longstanding association with the Brecknockshire poet Henry Vaughan. We look after his grave in Llansantffraed churchyard and help to keep his memory alive, including through events at Llansantffraed Church. In doing this, we work with other bodies, in particular Llansantffraed Church Committee and The Vaughan Association. The Llansantffraed site is an important part of the cultural heritage of Brecknockshire and an interesting place to visit.
Henry Vaughan was born in Llansantffraed near Talybont-on-Usk, Brecknockshire in 1621. He studied and travelled outside Wales but chose to live most of his life in the rural Usk valley where he practiced medicine and developed his poetic skills. He died in 1695 and is buried in Llansantffraed Churchyard.
As a poet, he drew inspiration from the power and mystery of the universe and his rural environment. Many of his poems reflect the love he felt towards the distinctive landscape around Llansantffraed - now in the Brecon Beacons National Park. His literary work is recognised internationally as effective, visionary and influential.
The site of Henry Vaughan's Grave
The recently published book on Henry Vaughan and the Usk Valley provides a good description of Henry Vaughan's life and work, including descriptions and pictures of the locality and a selection of his poems with commentaries.
The Grave of Henry Vaughan is at the highest point of the churchyard where it can overlook the River Usk. The simple inscribed slab of local stone is supported on a low masonry plinth under the shadow of an ancient yew tree. The grave is classified in its own right as a Grade II nationally important monument.
The site is recognised both for its historical significance and its setting above Llansantffraed Church and the Usk valley. Siegfried Sassoon immortalised this place in his poem - At the Grave of Henry Vaughan. The site is about one mile from Talybont on Usk and the popular Henry Vaughan Walk. Car parking is available in the A40 lay-by nearby.
Memorial Event for Henry Vaughan in 2015
Events at Llansantffraed Church in 2017 linked to Henry Vaughan
Sunday 5 March, 4.30pm - Celebration service with Unicorn Singers
Saturday 11 March, 7.00pm - Potpourri of Music and Words concert
Sunday 23 April, 3.00pm - Annual Henry Vaughan Memorial Event (ticketed)
Saturday 15 July, 7.30pm - A Summer Concert with The Gwent Chamber Orchestra
Visiting Llansantffraed The Churchyard is always open. The Church is open to visitors from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm on the second Saturday, and the fourth Saturday and Sunday of the month during May to September. Click here for 2017 details.
Visitor Area Project The Church Committee and Friends started a project in September 2016 to create a 'Henry Vaughan Visitor Area' at the back of the church. This will open in May 2017. The Brecon Beacons Trust is the main funder with the Brecknock Society and Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship also supporting.
Friends of Llansantffraed Church Anyone who wants to help the Church Committee to keep the church building in good repair and in use, but is not a member of the congregation, should consider becoming a Friend. Click here for details.
Restoration and Access Project In 2014/15, the Society led a project to restore the Henry Vaughan grave and repair its cracked inscribed slab. No identifiable organisation or person was legally responsible for the grave. Specialist stone conservators - Elliot Ryder Conservation of Tregaron carried out the restoration. Their conservation report is available here. The area adjacent to the grave was repaved and a new gravel path laid up to it with an information board at the site.
Cracked inscribed slab before repair.
The £10,600 cost was raised through a grant from the Brecon Beacons Trust, plus donations from the Brecknock Society & Museum Friends, the Vaughan Association, Brecon Medical Group Practice, the Gibbs Trust, and private individuals from near and far including several in North America. JL Stephens Ltd Contractors contributed the Welsh flagstone. We thank everyone for their generosity.