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Goldcliff, Newport

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Goldcliff, Newport

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Goldcliff (Welsh: Allteuryn) is a small hamlet and community (parish) to the east of the city of Newport. It is bounded to the South by the sea wall, which protects the surrounding landscape from the River Severn.

The name is said to have originated from the silicious limestone cliff, about 60 feet high, at Hill Farm, rising over a great bed of yellow mica which breaks the level at the shore and has a glittering appearance in sunshine, especially to ships passing in the Bristol Channel.

Together with the neighbouring parishes of Nash and Whitson, it is one of the "Three Parishes" which have long been a unit - geographical, socially, economically and ecclesiastically.

It is home to part of the extensive Newport Wetlands Reserve, opened in March 2000 as a mitigation for the loss of mudflats caused by the building of the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

At high-tide much of the land in the village is below sea-level. A main drainage ditch, with an origin near Llanwern, known as "Monksditch" or "Goldcliff Pill" passes through the village on its way to the sea. Local folklore maintains that the sides of the Monksditch are laced with smuggler's brandy. Hidden in the laminated silts of the Severn estuary foreshore at Goldcliff are 8,000-year-old (mesolithic) human footprints

Hill Farm, situated on the prominent knoll of high ground next to the sea, stands on the site of a Benedictine priory founded in 1113, by Robert de Chandos. Outlines of earlier buildings, probably part of the ancient Priory, may be seen in grass patterns at certain times of the year.

Goldcliff has long been associated with the tidal fishing of salmon, which may well have had its origins with the Priory or even in Roman times. The technique uses the so-called "putcher" basket traditionally made from hazel rods and withy (willow) plait, set out against the ebb tide in huge wooden "ranks". The last exponent of the art of wooden putcher-making at Goldcliff was the late Mr. Wyndham Howells of Saltmarsh Farm.

The higher coastal parts of the area were certainly reclaimed by the late eleventh and early twelfth century when Goldcliff and Nash were granted to Goldcliff Priory. Lower-lying areas inland were enclosed and drained by the thirteenth and fourteenth century.

Evidence of Roman occupation was found when ash pits were dug at Nash during construction of the Uskmouth Power Station and around Goldcliff Point. A Roman inscription, the "Goldcliff Stone", records the work of legionaries on a linear earthwork, presumably a sea wall.

A series of charters exist for Goldcliff Priory as do thirteenth century accounts of how the drainage system worked. Local farmers widely attribute the reclamation of this area to the monks. After the Dissolution, ownership of the parish, together with the valuable salmon fishing rights, passed to Eton College. The Provost and Fellows of Eton were still the lords of the manor and the largest landowners in 1901.

The church of St. Mary Magdelene has a well maintained churchyard with a beautiful tree arch canopy and many old gravestones. It is an ancient stone building in the Early English style and is located directly behind "The Farmers Arms" public house. At the front of the churchyard are the remains of an ancient mounded cross. The church itself has a small brass plaque, on the North wall near the altar, commemorating the Great Flood of 1607 when a tidal wave (possibly tsunami) swept along the Bristol Channel killing 2,000 people. The plate, about three feet above ground level, marks the height of the flood waters. The former vicarge for the Three Parishes, located in Whitson, is now a private dwelling. The minister for the Rectoral Benefice of Magor, which includes Magor, Nash, Undy and Redwick is based in Magor. Following recent interior re-decoration, including the removal of the old pews and pulpit, a service of re-dedication was held on 4th February 2007 with the Bishop of Monmouth. The interior is now tastefully decorated with individually dedicated chairs and matching carpet.

A small enclosure on Chapel Lane, to the North of the church, is thought to hold the remains of an ancient chapel, probably connected with the Priory. Accessed from Chapel Lane, the farmhouse and barn at Great Newra Farm are Grade II Listed buildings.

The quaint Congregational (later United Reformed) chapel near the junction of the Sea Wall road, built in 1840 and later restored, is now also a private dwelling, but was still active as late as the 1980s.

The village still has use of a communal parish room located in the Old School at the side of the Monksditch which here forms the border with Whitson.

The village enjoys a regular public bus service provided by Newport Bus.


 Pubs/Bars in Goldcliff:
 The Farmers Arms
       Goldcliff
       Newport
       Gwent
       NP18 2AU
 01633 272670



 

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