St Pierre, Monmouthshire, Wales
St Pierre is a former parish and hamlet in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, 3 miles (4.8 km) south west of Chepstow and adjacent to the Severn Estuary. It is now the site of a large golf and country club, the Marriott St Pierre Hotel & Country Club, which was previously a large manor house and deer park belonging to the Lewis family.
The manor of St Pierre was originally part of the parish of Runston, now a deserted village, and was later amalgamated for civil purposes with the neighbouring parish of Mathern. It is uncertain whether the name originates from a Welsh family, Pŷr, or is of Norman origin.
Around 1380, St Pierre was owned by Sir David ap Philip, who served under King Henry V in France, and the name of his son, Lewis, was later adopted by his family and descendants as their surname. The manor continued to be held by the Lewis family until about 1910. One descendant of the family – General Lewis still lives in the mansion. Thomas Lewis, Esq., married the daughter of Sir Richard Levett, Lord Mayor of London, and other Lewis family members also made propitious marriages. Several members of the family became High Sheriffs of Monmouthshire. Others became Members of Parliament, including Thomas Lewis who was MP for Monmouth, Newport and Usk between 1713 and 1752. His family took over and developed the “New Passage” ferry service across the Severn from Black Rock, in competition with the “Old Passage” service run from Beachley by the Duke of Beaufort. In 1925, the mansion and deer park were sold to Daniel Lysaght.
The former manor house includes a 16th-century gatehouse, but the remainder of the building was largely built in the 19th century. Major extensions have been added since the house became a hotel in the 1960s. It was bought by Tintern Abbey Hotels in 1961, and a golf course (now “the Old Course”) was opened in 1962 with a second course in 1975.
Church of St Peter
The church of St Peter is a Grade II listed building. It has Normanorigins, with the first mention of it in 1254, but any remaining 13th-century fabric has been much rebuilt. The original church was the nave, with the chancel being added in the 14th-century. The church was partly rewindowed and refitted in the early 16th-century and it had a full Victorian restoration in 1873-75, by A. W. Maberly, architect of Gloucester and again by Eric Francis, in the early 20th-century. The altar top, font and screen, which had all been removed during the Commonwealth, were returned in 1873.
It has been suggested that the church may be of Saxon origin. It has a Norman doorway and windows, but was largely rebuilt in later centuries. In the chancel are two ancient stone coffin lids, each bearing an inscription in Norman French, one to Urien de St Pierre, lord of the manor, who died in 1239 and the other to a contemporary cleric of the church, Rector Benet. There are also numerous wall-mounted monuments to members of the Lewis family.
The church is adjacent to the main house, now the country club, and is in the parish of Mathern. There are weekly Sunday morning services.
St Pierre Golf & Country Club was the venue for the Curtis Cup in 1980, the Solheim Cup in 1996, and the PGA Welsh Masters in 2000. The club has also hosted many European Tour events including the Epson Grand Prix of Europe from 1986 to 1991 (match play until 1989 and then stroke play), and the British Masters on eight occasions between 1971 and 1983. The Old Course boasts a championship length of over 6,000 yards, par 72. It hosted the 2010 Fightmaster Cup.
St Pierre Pill
St Pierre Pill, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the golf club on the Wales Coast Path, is an anchorage for small boats on the Severn Estuary. It is the base of the Chepstow and District Yacht Club. There is a small lighthouse known as Redcliffe Lights, on Red Cliff overlooking the harbour, which is operated by the Gloucester Harbour Trustees.
The harbour originally covered a much larger area, later silted up, and is believed to be the site of an important post-Roman harbour, associated with legends of St Tewdric. A ninth-century source which refers to the harbour as Porth-is-Coed – a name later used for the nearby village of Portskewett – also provides the first description of the tidal cycle in Britain. According to Fred Hando, as recently as 1860, the harbour was navigable by 70-ton barges as far upstream as the present golf club. Hando reports also that the Welsh Triadsdescribed it as “one of the three great ports of Britain.”