The Parish and Priory Church of St. Mary was founded around 1072 as a Benedictine priory by William FitzOsbern and his son Roger de Breteuil. By the early 12th century, the monastic establishment had the status of an alien priory in its own right, though it probably never held more than about 12 monks. It superseded an earlier Augustinian priory located about 2 km away.
As Chepstow developed as a market town and port around the castle and priory during the medieval period, the nave became used as the parish church. Accommodation was built on the south side of the church, in the 13th century. The priory had extensive grounds, probably including most of the land south of the church enclosed by Chepstow's 13th-century town wall or Port Wall. The priory was eventually suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 during the English Reformation, at which time there were still three monks in residence. Most of the priory buildings, including the choir part of the church, the cloister, chapter house, lodgings and kitchens, were demolished at that time, and the foundations are buried beneath a car park beside the current church. Remains of a large barn and well were also found during excavations in the 1970s.
Part of the Norman church remains, but it has been greatly modified over later centuries. The original Priory Church was built in local yellow Triassic sandstone, with a long vaulted nave, massive piers, and a notably ornamented west entrance doorway with zigzag and lozenge patterns, dating from the early 12th century.
The main central tower of the original church collapsed in a storm in 1701, destroying the transepts. A new wall was then built at the eastern end of the nave, and its western end built up to form a new tower.
The church contains two fonts, one of Norman origin and the other from the 15th century. There are several notable tombs and memorials, including that of Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester, and the Jacobean tomb of local benefactor Margaret Cleyton with her two husbands and 12 children.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.