The Parish Church of St Basil the Great, Bassaleg

A Brief History

The most likely explanation for the origin of the word 'Bassaleg' is that it is a corruption of the Latin word 'basilica', a word usually used for a religious building erected on the site of a shrine of a saint or martyr. 

If this is the case, then the identity of the original saint remains a mystery. In the 5th century, according to a local story, Gwladys, wife of Gwynllyw (Woolos) gave birth to one of the most important Welsh saints, Cadoc. Later she was persuaded to live separately from her husband and she moved to Bassaleg. Here she spent the rest of her life serving God.Later the church and manor of Bassaleg came to prominance under Robert de Haia, the first Norman Lord of Bassaleg. He owed his allegiance to Robert Fitzhammon, the conqueror of Newport. In 1079 the church was completed on its present site, it was re-built between 1101-1126. Bassaleg church, together with six daughter churches, were made over to the Abbey of St Mary at Glastonbury in 1101.

During the rest of the 12th century and the first quarter of the13th century a Norman Priory of Black Monks of the Benedictine Order were established at Bassaleg. The order were given fishing, pasture and wood rights on the de Haia lands free of charge. The community flourished but were gone by the second quarter of the 13th century when the Priory Church was leased to the Bishop of Llandaff. It is thought that the Priory Church was located in woodland about a mile from the present church building. 

At the Reformation the church and manor were given to the Bishop of Llandaff who then leased it to the powerful Tredegar family.

Until the Middle of the 18th century, the majority of the local population were farmers. Later, small forges opened, smelting iron with charcoal and later with coal. Canals and railways came later as mining of tin, iron and coal increased. By the mid-19th century the area was prosperous and theparish population grew. The old industries are gone, but Bassaleg is part of the busy and thriving city of Newport

 The Church Building and Monuments

The church is made of stone and during its long life many alterations have taken place so that only the tower and chancel remain of the original building. Major renovations took place in the late 18th century (when many of the memorial stones lining the aisles were laid) and again in the late 19th century (when the organ was removed from a wooden gallery and that gallery was removed, and new pews were installed).

The tower contains a peal of eight bells recast and installed in 1999 to celebrate the second millennium since our Lord's birth. An arcade of pillars separates the nave from the south aisle. A carved oak pulpit stands adjacent to the north wall. To the left of the nave altar and the old chancel is the Tredegar Chapel and the former mausoleum of the Tredegar family. In 1917 the family vault was moved outside the north wall of the church. In the chapel today a votive candle burns before an icon of St. Basil. Bright painted windows in the chapel depict St. John the Baptist baptising Jesus and also the Crucifixion of our Lord.

There are many interesting and ornate marble and wooden memorial slabs and tablets in the walls of the nave, chancel and Tredegar Chapel.

There are too many features of this beautiful and peaceful church to mention here and a visit to explore the building for yourself is recommended.