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Whitson, Newport


Whitson, Newport




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Whitson is a village in the outskirts of the City of Newport, South Wales.

Sir Joseph Bradney, who published his "History of Monmouthshire" in 1932, was undecided on the derivation of the name of the manor and surrounding village, but notes early spellings such as Witston, Widson and Wyttston. In 1358 it was held by John de Saint Maur of Penhow of Peter de Cusance by knight service, as of his manor of Langstone. In the 18th and 19th centuries a family named Phillips owned a large estate in the parish and lived at what was then called Whitson House.

Together with the neighbouring larger parishes of Nash and Goldcliff it is one of the so-called "Three Parishes" which have long been treated as a unit - geographically, socially, economically and ecclesiastically.

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.

The main part of the village has the houses and farmsteads set back from the road in long strips of pasture reflecting a medieval land allocation pattern.

The tiny Parish church of St. Mary, with its distinctive "thimble tower", is situated to the East of the village in the hamlet of Porton. It is thought to have originally been a chapellage of the Benedictine Priory at Goldcliff. The church is now closed but the churchyard may still be accessed by means of a public footpath though private land. The real outpost of the village is the remote Lower Porton House which, situated right next to the sea, is accessible only via the seawall.

The vlllage was the home for the Post Office for the three parishes for many years but this has now long since closed. The village hall, now sadly unused, was with its adjoining parish field, for many years the site of an annual village fair at Whitsun tide which traditionally included a road-race around the three parishes.

The village has never been known to have had its own Public House.

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

Whitson Court
Whitson Court is a Welsh example of a classically inspired family house. It is claimed that the house was the work of the architect John Nash, but as the house was almost complete in 1795, having been built for MP William Phillips, this is hard to believe. Monumental inscriptions at Whitson Church indicate that the house was called Whitson House from at least 1789 and for most of the 19th century, but was known as Whitson Court by 1903.

After the death of St. John Knox Rickards Phillips in 1901, the house went to a distant relative, the Rev. Oliver Rodie Vassall-Phillips. In consequence of the persecution of religious congregations in France, the Sacramentines of Bernay of the Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament at the time of the expulsion in July 1903, were compelled to close their boarding-school and go into exile. Thirteen of the sisters retired to Belgium, and founded a house at Hal, while the rest of their community settled in Wales at Whitson Court - thanks to the generosity of Rev Oliver Rodie Vassall-Phillips.

This order of nuns existence is precarious, for they are not permitted to open a school. Their days are spent in prayer, adoration, and the making of altar-breads, vestments, and church ornaments. In March, 1911, the Sacramentines were permitted by Archbishop Farley to open a house in Holy Trinity parish, Yonkers, New York. When Sir Joseph Bradney's published his "History of Monmouthshire" in 1932, the house stood empty - it is likely therefore that all of the nuns had left the house for America.

During World War II, the court housed Jewish refugees, as well as providing work for German Prisoners of War. The house was also used as a reference point by German bomber crews, aiming for runs at Newport Docks.

During the 1970s, in the ownership of the Maybury family, the house was briefly the home of a private zoo.

The house is currently abandoned, and on Newport City Council's "Buildings at Risk" register.

Whitehall Farm/Redbrick House
Although situated in the neighbouring parish of Redwick, the earliest Church records show that there has been a house on the site since 1450, then called Whitehall Farm.

The main Georgian façade was built around 1795, by MP William Phillips. Phillips, built the Brick House ready for his son's return to Britain from the American Colonies. However the son (also named William) never returned, as the ship carrying him home was wrecked in a storm before reaching Britain and William was drowned.

The house is now a Guest House


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