Destruction & Decline

Earlier, brief mention was made of Goldcliff Priory, a religious house run by the. Benedictines. Archival records show that the Benedictine monks also administered to other chapels and churches which were then attached to the Priory. Two such places were the chapels of St Julius and St Aaron.

About 1424 a very severe tempest completely destroyed Goldcliff Priory and everything in the immediate neighbourhood. This may well have hin~ dered the ministerial work the monks rendered to these attached chapels at Christchurch, Caerleon and at the site where the St Julians Mansion once stood. There is no evidence. however, that these churches had to dose. It is much more likely that the churches continued to revere the memory of these local martyrs at least until 1547, when Henry the Eighth entered into the shameful destruction of many churches and monastic buildngs through- out the land. Many churches in Wales suffered the Cromwellian destruc- tion, on the orders of the King, including Tintern, Margam and Uanthony. TOday many of these destroyed relics are visited by thousands of pilgrims I visitors every year. The Chapel of Julius and that of Aaron, both suffered the fate of destruction and for the next three hundred years the religious needs of the St Julians district were met by the Parish Church of Christ- church, and the memory of our local martyrs was not observed by any church dedicated to them until the present Parish Church of St Julians was built and dedicated to these local saints in 1926.

St Julians Manor

The ruins of the old monastic chapel of St Julius were finally destroyed sometime in the fifteenth century, when Sir George Herbert built a Manor on the site and gave the manor the name of “St Gillian’s” a corruption of “St Julian’s”. Another old corruption of the name is “St Jelian’s”, and yet another is” St lelian’s”, thus the names of our local saints were preserved in the district.

At the end of the eighteenth century the population of Newport was less than one thousand souls and the religious needs of the whole town could easily be served by two churchs, Holy Trinity, Christchurch, and St Woolos. By 1840 the population had grown to 40,000. It was then decided to form a new parish on the east side of Newport with a large new church build- ing. It was this new parish, St John the Evangelist, which was to play such a big part in the formation and very early life of the present Parish of St Julians.

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