If you plan to walk the local lanes to take in the scenery, you might like to trace the routes Arthur Machen suggested his friend John Gawsworth (real name Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong) should take:-

Oct.28,  1930

Dear Armstrong

               ...    Now as to your tour in Monmouthshire. The best train for Newport leaves Paddington about ten to nine a.m. arriving at 11.30 or thereabouts. Three miles away (train or bus) is Caerleon. Four miles from Caerleon is Llanthewy Vach Rectory: no bus. But unless I know how long you propose to stay, and whether you intend to hire a car, it is difficult to guide you about the country. However, we will suppose that you put up at the Hanbury Arms, Caerleon, and have no car.

      You first of all go to the Vicarage, and inspect the Register for March 1863: name Arthur Llewelyn Jones1.   I do not know anything about registers: the particulars may include the name of the house where I was born2: if so you will be able to find it - unless pulled down.  This done; set out to walk to Llanthewy; passing through Ponthir and keeping to the right. You will climb up and up, and the top of the hill is Common Cefn Llwyn. There is no common: somewhere to the left is imagined to be the Roman Fort in
The Hill of Dreams. Down the hill to the level where I used to await the postman with my Heptameron copy: up again: Llanthewy Church to the right, grave of my father and mother in the churchyard - approach by lane. Back to main road, up hill: Llanthewy Rectory on right. You return to Caerleon. The head of the Faun was in the hall of what is now the doctor's house. Hardby is the Roman amphitheatre but this is now excavated; in my time it was all green.

       Next day: go over Caerleon bridge, and passing through Caerleon-ultra-Pontem, take the old Usk road. Kemeys (
A Fragment of Life).... on right. Newbridge (5 miles from Caerleon). Turn up to right, and pass Bertholly (1st Chapter Great God Pan  ... summer residence of Professor Gregg), and if you will get into Wentwood, and if you go to the top, I think you will see the Grey Hills where the Professor was taken by the fairies. But these you should look out for in the train, after you have come out of Severn Tunnel on the right ....

N.B. Returning from Llanthewy (1st day), ask at Common Cefn Llwyn for the lane to Llanfrechfa (
f sounds v),.... the ruin was on the left; and if you like to go on, you will come out of the 'turnpike' road, and can get to Caerleon that way.

    3rd day. Take train from Caerleon to Llantarnam, and there ask the way to Twyn Barlwm: 3 or 4 miles, but a steep climb at the end. Mynydd Maen (pronounced Munnith Mayne) is of the same range, to the north. When you get back to Caerleon, ask for Pont Sadwrn (Pons Saturni) and you will see the Soar Brook fall into the Usk.

    4th day. Take train from Caerleon to Abergavenny (see
Chronicle of Clemendy) and returning, get out, if you will, at Pontypool Road Station. You can wait for the next train, or walk back to Caerleon ....

Yours sincerely,

Arthur Machen


1 Llewelyn was Machen's second name and his family name was Jones. They had taken his mother's maiden name of Machen in order to benefit from a small inheritance, calling themselves firstly Jones-Machen. The writer finally settled on Machen .

2 Machen was born at the home of his grandmother, herself the widow of the former Vicar of St Cadoc's, namely the Reverend Daniel Jones. The house, 33 High Street - once known as Bridge Street - still stands, next door to the Priory Hotel, and carries a plaque to commemorate Machen's birth there.

And a final note from Arculus:

Machen and Gawsworth were close, but in the fashion of the day appeared never to reach first name terms. Now, double glazing salesmen make unsolicited phone-calls and address me by my Christian name
I hang up on them anyhow. So it's all the same to me!


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