Priory Church of St Mary

Abergavenny, United Kingdom

The Priory Church of St Mary, Abergavenny, has been called 'the Westminster Abbey of Wales' because of its large size, and the numerous high status tomb monuments and medieval effigies surviving within it.

It was originally the church of the Benedictine Priory, established under Hamelin de Balun the first Norman holder of the title Lord Abergavenny, which in the 1090s became Baron Bergavenny. At this time it was a cell of the Abbey of Saint Vincent at Le Mans in France. Recent archaeological surveys have revealed significant finds of Roman Samian ware pottery, suggesting that the church may have been built on the site of a previous place of Romano-British and possibly Celtic worship.

In 1320 John Hastings, 2nd Baron Hastings, called on the Pope to set up an investigation into the Priory, in which the monks were accused of failing to maintain the Benedictine Rule. The prior, Fulk Gaston, absconded to the mother Abbey with the church silver.

By the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Priory had only the prior and four monks. Due to the close connections between the Lords of Abergavenny and the Tudor dynasty the priory was spared and became the parish church.

The church is cruciform in layout and impressively large with a chancel and nave 52 m in length. The central tower has ten bells.

The church is mainly in the Decorated and Perpendicular Period architectural styles and was, like many churches, subjected to Victorian period refurbishment in the 19th century, with sadly little trace of the original Norman architecture surviving. The Norman baptismal font was rediscovered in the churchyard in the 19th century; it had been removed from the church in the 17th century by a local Baptist minister, John Abbot, on the grounds that he did not believe in infant baptism.

The oaken choir stalls with carved misericords and carved lattice work backs, however, are 15th-century survivals. They bear the name of the prior at that time Wynchestre and his own stall remains, slightly raised and surmounted by a mitre.

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Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Richard Thomas (17 months ago)
Very nice
nigel butterfield (18 months ago)
Lovely Church. Lots of history. A warm welcome
Keith Jones (19 months ago)
The Barn was our business meeting venue for the day. Perfect in these covid times.
Linda Pugh (20 months ago)
It was lovely to visit this historic church again to view the ancient Jesse tree and medieval monuments. So peaceful. A one way system is in place now for Covid precautions.
Jon Smith (22 months ago)
What a fantastic place...... if you are ever in Abergavenny spare since time for this place. You won't be disappointed....
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