Near to Llanfrechfa Grange, in the village of Llanfrechfa, stands All Saints Church which has many connections to the families who once lived at the Grange and which also played an active role in the lives of the residents during its time as a learning disabilities hospital .
The Reverend Alan Silverthorne, who was the priest at All Saints from 1983, was also appointed chaplain to The Grange. On Sundays, “clients” (not patients) would be taken in a minibus from the Grange to All Saints to take part in the service. In addition, once a month, Alan, his wife Mary and John Challenger would go to The Grange to lead a service on one of the wards. Occasionally there were services in the main hall where more people could be accommodated. There would be tea and refreshments and Liz Kitson from Tram Lane would play on the guitar or piano to accompany the singing. Three of the clients were confirmed so Noel Challenger would pick them up by car and take them to church for the 11am communion service.
Some parishioners such as Joan Challenger, John’s wife, would work at The Grange in the shop/café. A goody bag would be produced once a week from the shop after checking what individuals liked.
Mary Challenger, Noel’s wife and Joan’s sister , worked in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU). Many items were sent to the Grange from the Royal Gwent Hospital in large packages e.g. bandages. They would be packed into more usable sized packages and be returned to the hospital for sterilising. The clients would assemble biros from separate pieces and at Christmas time a Scandinavian design from Newport would arrive in huge boxes to be assembled and wrapped into bags. Clients would then receive small amounts of money for the work done.
Another church group who supported the hospital was ‘The Young Wives’. Once a year they would produce a harvest supper for the ladies at The Grange and arrange for them to be transported by bus to the supper held in the church hall at the end of Church Road (since demolished).
I have also been told that it was Mrs Mitchell who started the Mothers Union at All Saints Church.
To find out more about the Church or to arrange a visit, please contact the Church Wardens: Myfanwy Bowen: 01633 866385 and Angela O’Brien: 01633 422074
With thanks to Carol Carpenter for the local history information.
Photographs by Sarah Goodey 2018