Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little Church!

Driving back from Durban to Johannesburg can be a long and tiring trip (about 6 hours) especially when you have little or no company, apart from some gentle breathing and the odd snore!  YUP!  Poor P!  Within seconds of hitting the highway, Stacey and I were fast asleep, leaving him with no-one to talk to!  Half way through our journay (which took us to the top of Van Reenen's Pass) he decided to wake us up for lunch - such a thoughtful man!  We stopped off at a little tea room called "The Littlest Church".  What a sweet place!

Sleeping in a car is very thirsty work!  My mouth was parched, and looking at the menu I couldn't wait for that Twinings Earl Grey tea - I knew it would do the trick.  I was so impressed with the old silver tea set, and can I tell you?  I had THREE lovely cups of tea out of that!  We had home-made chicken pies and salad for lunch, and Stacey had a spinach Quiche - very tasty indeed!
After we had enjoyed our time around the table, we decided to go and have a look at the Little Church which was situated at the end of the garden, round about where the Cosmos were blooming!
In 1925, a young man called Llandaff Matthew was killed in a rock fall at a mine near Dundee in Natal, where he worked.  He died a hero, saving trapped miners.  The fact that this little church only seats 8 is no accident - this is the number of lives that Llandaff saved.  His grief-stricken, widowed father wanted to have his son's life and heroice death commemorated with a plaque in the Catholic Church in Ladysmith.  He was denied this, so he decided to build his own little church to his son's memory, modelling it on a wing of the Cardiff Cathedral in Wales.  A year after his son's death, he joined the priesthood.  This little church is a fully consecrated Catholic church and is the only privately owned Catholic church in the world.  A regular service is held there once a month!
The Alter
A shrine to the memory of Mary, Jesus' mother
A stained glass window
The garden is surrounded by oak trees and there are some old graves at the bottom of the yard.  I did not see the grave of Llandaff, as I don't think he was buried there, but there were some with the surname Matthews.  One grave in particular did not have a date on it, but I found it quite beautiful in it's "oldness" and I wonder who, or what this soldier was doing up there.  He might have fought in the Anglo-Boer war, but the church was built after that so I am not sure.  It fascinated me though ...
We left the Little Church feeling refreshed and ready to continue our journey.  My last look at the garden, were these huge old oak trees and I couldn't help wondering what tales they could tell!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually Llandaff Matthews body was never found as he died in a rockfall in the colliery. To add to the info about the church, it is so small that in 2 paces you go from the front door to the alter. Many weddings are held here because it is so central being halfway between Durban and Jhb. There is a quaint hotel across the highway called the Green Lantern which hosts the reception and has a pub that has quenched the thirst of many a traveller.It is also worth a visit with all the memorabilia of countless Comrades and Duzi competitors. Mr P

Firefly said...

What an interesting place. I like to explore places like that.

Jeanette said...

I've always wanted to stop there on the way down, but Lance never wants to

pam said...

What a perfect place to stop for a break. I love it, thanks for sharing. I love to hear the history behind it.

Avril said...

I'm with Jeanette on this one - I have also always wanted to stop here as I have read about it when I was looking for info when doing that Sunday Times Treasure Hunt competition years ago! Hubby just whizzes by!!! What an interesting quaint church! Your photos are super!!

Hayley said...

So beautiful.... have been dying to go there.

Judith said...

what a facinating place and story -so glad you shared it with us. Judith

Pam said...

WOW! That is such a quaint little church and a great history to go along with it. How nice of Philip of wake you ladies at such a fantastic spot for lunch.

Judith said...

i Janet - I'm back :) I have an award for you on my site. Judith