The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, has visited a number of Anglican churches as part of his annual summer tour of the country. The Prince of Wales is a title traditionally – but not always – given to the eldest son and heir of the British Monarch. It is largely ceremonial and carries no constitutional authority. In his tour this year Prince Charles visited two churches in St Davids Diocese and one in St Asaph, which has within its churchyard a Yew Tree thought to be 5000 years old.
In St David’s Diocese, he visited St Jerome’s Church in Llangwm, near Haverfordwest. Here he saw an award-winning tapestry depicting Llangwm’s links with its historic Flemish past and, along with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, presented an award to parishioner Pam Hunt, whose vision gave rise to the project, in recognise of its imaginative use of digital technology.
Later, he visited another church with Belgian links – St Gwenog’s Church in Llanwenog, Ceredigion. Here he saw some rare carvings by the sculptor Joseph Reubens, who fled Belgium and found refuge in the village during World War One. The church is home to the carvings.
Accompanied by Canon Suzy Bale, the Prince toured the church and met local parishioners and pupils from the local school, Ysgol Dyffryn Cledlyn.
In St Asaph, Prince Charles visited St Digain’s Church in Llangernyw near Conwy, on the north Wales coast, where he was met by the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, and local vicar Gwenda Cooper. The ancient yew tree is said to be the oldest living thing in the UK. Toby Hindson, co-founder of the Ancient Yew Group, briefed the Prince about the science behind the aging of the tree. Prince Charles then examined the sixth century crossed stones in the churchyard before heading inside the church to meet members of the local community.
“Christian worship has taken place on this site at Llangernyw since the fifth century, yet this Yew Tree seems to pre-dates those early Christians by several thousand years,” Bishop Gregory said. “This Yew Tree is an important feature and landmark on the 130-mile North Wales Pilgrim’s Way, which links the ruin of Basingwerk Abbey near Holywell with Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula.”
The vicar of Llangernyw, Gwenda Cooper, said: “It was an honour to welcome Prince Charles to our village, show him our treasured Yew Tree and introduce him to the many people who run so many organisations and groups which keeps our community thriving.
“The Yew Tree in our churchyard is a very visual reminder that we, as the church, are custodians of our nation’s history and heritage. We take our responsibilities very seriously and encourage as many people as possible, be they pilgrims or tourists, to visit our church and reflect on the many people who have passed through this place over the centuries.”