West Vale Catholics - Covering the areas of Llantwit Major and Cowbridge in South Wales.
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The Reformation brought many changes to the Vale. The churches remained but now the service was said in English from the Book of Common Prayer, and the churches were stripped of their ornaments, statues and vestments. In later times, with the upsurge of the reforming puritans, churches were whitewashed to remove the offense of the "idolatrous" wall paintings, holy water stoups were smashed, and stone altars replaced with wooden tables.

It is not known how local people responded to these actions, but there is little evidence of opposition, and those who remained faithful to the Roman Faith, as far as we know, were few indeed. A notable exception was Sir Thomas Stradling of St.Donats. The Stradling family had a long tradition of active piety.

In the 14th century Edward Stradling had been one of the chief patrons of the establishment of Neath Abbey. His son became a knight of the Sepulchre and later descendants like William and Harry undertook pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Rome.

Three generations later, Thomas, much in favour with Queen Mary, and appointed by her in 1557 to a commission to inquire into heresies and seditious books, refused to submit to Elizabeth's new laws despite a spell in the Tower of London. Mass continued to be celebrated at St.Donat until his death. It was he who had built the Lady Chapel and possibly worshipped there after the main part was used for "reformed" services. Sadly his son Edward changed his allegiance, and turned the Lady Chapel into a burial place for his ancestors.

A centre for "recusants", those who continued to adhere to the old Faith despite massive penalties, was Penlline. The manor and castle was owned by the Turbervilles who both protected those of the old faith and sheltered priests at the castle. One such was Morgan Clynnog, a missionary priest in Wales between 1582 and 1619. He was living with Jenkyn Turberville when in 1596 the house was searched and twelve recusants were subsequently convicted.

The family stayed loyal to the Roman church for two centuries, despite such consequences as when in 1650 Anthony Turberville had two-thirds of his land sequestered to the Crown for recusancy. It was here that the martyr priest John Lloyd was arrested, to be followed by his execution in Cardiff in 1679.

The Turberville family's stand on religion made it possible for locals to maintain the old Faith. In the 17th century, William Rees, the older son of Rees David, a substantial yeoman farmer, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in France. He was possibly the first priest to be ordained from the area of our Parish since the Reformation.
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