The name or dedication of the church.
This identifies the church type. Most churches are parish churches which means they serve a specific parish or area. Other types such as chapel, daughter and mission are mostly historic designations as many are now also parish churches. Please note that former churches are no longer used for worhsip and may be in private ownership.
A unique identification number given to every church.
The name of the diocese in which the church is located.
The name of the archdeaconry in which the church is located.
This is the legal name of the parish as given by the Church Commissioners.
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There are 3 levels of listing: Grade I, II* & II. The majority of buildings which are of special interest are Grade II. A much smaller number of particularly important buildings are listed as Grade II*. Buildings of exceptional interest (approx 2% of the total number of listed buildings) are Grade I.
Ancient monuments and archaeological remains of national importance are protected by law. Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service is responsible for compiling a schedule (list) of these ancient monuments, some of which can be found in churches and churchyards. Examples can include churchyard crosses and the archaeological remains of previous churches or buildings on the site.
There are three National Parks in Wales: Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons. These protect 20 percent of the land in Wales, including precious landscapes, habitats, villages and heritage sites.
There are over 500 conservation areas in Wales. They are designated by local planning authorities for their special architectural and historic interest.
The Buildings at Risk register is managed by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service) in order to identify the number and type of listed buildings at risk in Wales.
It is often extremely difficult to determine a precise date of construction for a church as many have been extensively altered over time. Church Heritage Cymru therefore shows a date range within which a church is believed to have been constructed. The dates are as follows: Early Medieval (pre 1066), Medieval (post 1066 to 1540), Post Medieval (1540 to 1837), Victorian/Pre WWI (1837 to 1914) and Modern (post 1914).
This is a very brief summary of the church's main features. More detailed nformation can be found in the other fields and pages (tabs) in this database.
Useful information is displayed here for people wishing to visit the church. This may include things like opening hours, catering & toilet facilities, parking, etc.
If the church has its own website the details will be displayed here.
Any further sources of information for the church will be listed here (eg. links to other historic databases).
This is the Ordnance Survey (OS) reference for the location of the church. Some locations will be approximate as this data is continuously being refined and updated.
This is the name of the Local Authoirity within which the church is located.
This describes how the church relates to its immediate and wider environment, sometimes called its setting. It describes how the church contributes to its landscape or townscape and how these things collectively contribute to the character of the area.
This is a description of the ground plan of the church.
If known, the dimensions (measurements) of the church ground plan will be displayed here.
If the footrprint (area) of the church is known, it will be displayed here.
A description of the history and archaeology of the church and its site.
The Church of St. Mary is the church of the Benedictine priory founded in Abergavenny before 1100 by Hamelin de Ballon, Lord of Abergavenny and first builder of Abergavenny Castle (qv). The townspeople were using the nave and north aisle for worship by the C14, although St. John's remained the parish church (qv Masonic Lodge, St. John's Street) until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. St. Mary's then became the church of the town and St. Johns was converted to be the King Henry VIII Grammar School. Nothing of the Norman church appears to survive today and the present building, including most of the tower, seems to date mainly from the period between the end of the C13 and the end of the C14. It may well be that there were major repairs after damage done by the Owain Glyndwr rebellion in 1404 but C19 rebuilding and restoration has altered the church too much to be certain of this. The first major restoration was in 1828-9 when the medieval arcade between the nave and north aisle was removed to create a square preaching space with galleries in the style of the time. This work was undertaken by William Whittington, a surveyor. In 1874 George Gilbert Scott produced a report with recommendations for repairs to the fabric and a proposed restoration to return the church to a medieval appearance. Not all his recommendations were adhered to in the restorations that followed, first by Thomas Nicholson of Hereford in 1881-2 when the nave and north aisle were reformed and the west porch was added; and then in 1896 when E A Johnson replaced many of the windows and restored the choir, chancel and chapels. Since that date, the only major changes have been the east window of 1922 and the north transept north window of 1954, while the tower was restored in 1911 and 1950. Internally there has been a major restoration of the very important collection of monuments undertaken 1994-8 by Michael Eastham.
A description of the exterior of the church and the main features of the churchyard.
The church is built mostly of red sandstone rubble but the Victorian work is both more neatly squared and more varied in colour. There are also dressings in white limestone, particularly the tower quoins, which may be part of the Johnson repairs of 1896 (see History), and the whole is roofed in natural slate, except for lead on the tower and west porch. The plan is nave with north aisle of almost equal size, with a 3-bay porch/narthex across, crossing tower, north transept, south transept attached to the Church Rooms, choir, chancel and side chapels giving an east front of three different sized gables. The west front has a central entrance into a 3-bay porch which gives access to the nave on the right and the north aisle on the left. The porch dates from 1881-2 as does the whole appearance of the west front with the large windows and gables. The porch has a central pointed arch of C14 type with a triple moulded opening and an ogee arched hoodmould with high relief finial like a tomb niche. This entrance is flanked by buttresses which rise to pinnacles which themselves flank a gable over the arch. Beyond the buttresses are 3-light Perpendicular style windows with cusped heads and quatrefoils over. There are diagonal corner buttresses, and pointed arch doorways on the returns, a frieze of quatrefoils runs right around the parapet. Behind the porch the gable ends are supported by stepped buttresses at the corners and in the centre. Each gable has a tall 4-light Perpendicular style window with elaborately traceried head and dripmould over. Each steeply pitched gable has a quatrefoil sunk within a roundel, copings and apex cross. The north aisle wall is apparently medieval with four large evenly spaced 3-light windows which are probably Victorian restorations at least in part and certainly the limestone dressings (see south wall). The east gable also has an apex cross but is otherwise obscured by the projecting north transept into which it opens internally. This gable has a large 5-light Perpendicular style window which dates only from 1954. The gable roof above is seen to be lower than the crease of a previous roof revealed against the north face of the tower; slit windows on the left return. Next comes the north wall of the choir chapel which has a plain doorway flanked by a 3-light Decorated window with trefoils in the tracery on the left and a smaller 2-light one, now largely hidden to the right. The east wall of this chapel was not seen, but a 5-light Perpendicular style window was noted from inside. The east gable of the chancel has a large 5-light Perpendicular style window dating from 1922 with a corbel table above. The east gable of the Herbert Chapel has a large 4-light Perpendicular style window. The south wall of the Herbert Chapel was not seen, but from inside two 3-light and one 4-light window were noted. The east wall of the south transept was only partly seen but appeared largely featureless. The south transept, though in part medieval fabric, joins directly to the modern Church Rooms built in 1999 and designed by Morgan and Horowskyi. The west wall has a 3-light C20 window. The south wall of the nave has three 3-light windows as on the north wall but they lack limestone quoins. The fourth and most westerly one is missing and the walling becomes progressively more Victorian in character as it approaches the west end of the church. The crossing tower is square with a stair turret attached to the north-west corner. Long-and-short quoins and the window dressings are in white limestone; there are drip courses below and above the bell-stage. Trefoil headed lancets to three faces, an additional one above the lower south transept roof, none on the north face. The bell-stage has a 2-light Decorated opening with trefoil tracery to each face. Castellated parapet.
Information about any noteable architects, artists, people, or events associated with the church.
Information about any important features and building fabric.
If known, a list of the church's major building material/s will be displayed here.
Any renewable energy systems the church is using will be listed here.
This section gives a general description of the interior of the church. Further details of any important internal fixtures and fittings will be listed below.
The interior of the main part of the church is very much the result of the 1881-2 restoration by Thomas Nicholson (see History) which recreated the arcade between nave and north aisle and both of the roofs. The eastern part of the church was restored in 1896 by E A Johnson. The 5-bay arcade is of slim compound Perpendicular style quatrefoil piers of white limestone. The crossing arches and those from the chancel into the side chapels are C14, however, and Decorated. The chancel vault is plaster and was 'new' in 1836. Important furnishings include the monastic choir stalls from the time of Prior Wynchester (1493-1516) although these were apparently made up from different sources at that time. These were restored by Hugh Harrison in 1998. The font is a Norman bowl, reset in 1897. The C15 Jesse figure is carved in oak with great skill and is an extreme rarity. The WWI Memorial is by W D Caroe. The surviving pews and other joinery are from 1881. The Herbert Chapel is floored with medieval ledger slabs. The church contains a remarkable collection of medieval and later funerary monuments, particularly in the Herbert Chapel. Those in the main church include Lord Hastings (died 1325), a carved and coloured wooden knight; Eva de Broase a mid C13 sandstone figure and Dr. David Lewis (died 1584), which is signed John Gildon. The Herbert Chapel contains seven important monuments dating from the early C14 to the mid C17, which were restored in the 1990s (see History) when they were also returned to their medieval arrangement. Sir Lawrence Hastings (died 1348); Sir William de Hastings (died 1348) (Were both killed at the Battle of Poitiers?); Sir William (died 1446) and Lady Gwladys (died 1454) ap Thomas; Sir Richard (died 1469) and Lady Margaret Herbert; Richard Herbert of Ewyas (died 1510); Andrew Powell (died 1631) and wife; William Baker (died 1648) and wife. This is as fine and varied a group of monuments as can be seen anywhere.
Information about the church's important internal fixtures and fittings.
Information about the church's important moveable items and artworks.
A description of the ecology of the churchyard.
Information about the presence of bats in the church building or churchyard.
Records whether the church has been consecrated.
Records whether there have been burials in the churchyard.
Records whether the churchyard is still being used for burials.
Records whether there are any war graves in the churchyard.
Any important churchyard structures will be listed here.
Signifiance levels are set at high, medium and low.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the relationship of the church to its surrounding area and helps place it within its wider landscape context.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the significance of the historic building fabric of the church.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the historic significance of the interior of the church.
Significance defines what is special about a church. This could be architectural, archaeological, historical or liturgical. Here, it describes the relationship between the church and its community.