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History Illustration: Pilgrimage

William Crach is taken to Hereford Cathedral

As soon as Crach recovered Lord and Lady de Braose insisted on taking him on pilgrimage to Thomas de Cantilupe’s tomb in Hereford Cathedral. Their son went with them. The Lord and Lady and their son rode on horses, but as a commoner, Crach had to walk. We don’t know what attendants accompanied the party and whether they rode or walked, but Crach did, and in bare feet. It took three days.

Pilgrimage Swansea MiracleCrach wore the noose with the broken rope around his neck and presented it at the tomb. When they arrived in Hereford, Lord William paid for a wax model to be made of a gallows with a hanged man to also present at the tomb.

Hereford Cathedral

Hereford Cathedral

At Hereford Cathedral the canons were informed and came to hear the story. The bells were rung and the Te Deum, a hymn that begins Te Deum laudamus ‘We praise Thee, Oh God’, was sung in praise and thanks for the miracle. This was one of many miracles by Thomas de Cantilupe that were reported, and the cathedral authorities were collecting them in order to make a case for sainthood. So in addition to the record of the testimony of the witnesses to the Papal Commission, we also have a record that was made by the canons at Hereford Cathedral when the miracle was reported.

Following the pilgrimage, Crach promised to visit the Holy Land and parted from the group. William Junior testified to the Commission that Crach didn’t go, and had returned to Gower. However, he also testified that he had since died. It must have been a shock when he turned up later as a witness! You can read the full story in Swansea Miracle.

The hanging of Crach and Trahaearn and the pilgrimage to Hereford were some of the last things Lord William did in his life. He died only five weeks later, on 6 January 1291, at one of his other estates, Findon in Sussex. On 12 January the king ordered Robert de Tibetot, Justiciar of South Wales, to take the Lordship of Gower into the king’s hands. On 2 March he commanded him to hand it to William junior as the new Lord of Gower.

Head shot Ann Marie ThomasAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Intruders, Alien Secrets and Crisis of Conscience are out now. Follow her at