We are pleased to announce that the new Jesse Window in Memory of the late Dean Jeremy Winston will be dedicated by the Bishop of Monmouth on July 7th. A week later a Plaque to Dr David Lewis, son of a Tudor Vicar will be unveiled.


Cartoon of part of the window

At 12noon on July 7th, in the context of a short service, which will include scriptural references to Jesse (the father of King David) the window in memory of Fr Jeremy who served here as Vicar for 18 years, will be dedicated by the Bishop of Monmouth, in front of an invited congregation of parishioners, donors and contractors.

The window located in the east end of the Lewis Chapel will complete the world famous Jesse figure.

This extraordinary larger-than-life figure once formed the base of an intricate and elaborate construction, which depicted the lineage of Jesus Christ from Jesse, the father of King  David


Fr Mark with ‘Jesse’

So called ‘Jesse figures’ and ‘Jesse trees’ are not uncommon in stone and stained glass, but this is the only one in wood to be found in the United Kingdom – and probably the world.

In the BBC series A History of British Art, Andrew Graham Dixon describes it as ‘the only great wooden figure to survive the wreckage of the British Cultural Revolution’.

We do not know who carved it, but we do know that it retains its extraordinary command of our attention and fascination. Carved from one solid piece of oak, probably in the 15th century, it was originally highly coloured and depicted all the Davidic kings and descendants, surmounted by the figures of Mary and the Child, and Christ in glory.

Latest thought estimates the height of the ‘tree’ growing from Jesse’s side to have been between 25ft and 30ft.

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Window designer Helen Whittaker working on the window.

The window is being designed by Helen Whittaker. Helen is a renowned artist and designer, highly regarded for her new stained glass windows, restoration painting and architectural sculpture in glass and copper. She is the Creative Director at Barley Studio, York. Helen has an MA, which looked at Jesse trees, from the University of Wales, from her studies at the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture. Her BA, with a specialism in three-dimensional design using glass and ceramics, is from the University of Sunderland, a Centre of Excellence and the largest glass and ceramics department in Europe.  Helen is an Associate of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and a Court Member (the executive body) of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

Fr Jeremy Winston was Vicar of Abergavenny for 18 years before being appointed Dean of the Cathedral in Newport. He sadly died in November 2011, only months after being installed as Dean.

Just over a week later on July 15th the Principal of Jesus College Oxford will unveil a Plaque to his predecessor the first Principal, Dr David Lewis in the chapel which bears his name.

Sir Nigel Shadbolt will unveil a plaque to mark the burial spot of Dr Lewis at a Ceremony in front of the College Alumni, following which the Vicar, Canon Mark Soady will bless it.

We are grateful to the Alumni who paid by subscription for the plaque. Thank you!

Dr David Lewis (died 1584) was a local man who achieved fame by becoming an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.He was the eldest son of Sir Lewis ap John (alias Wallis), Vicar of Abergavenny, and chose to take his father’s Christian name after the Welsh practice.

He was a man of his age and one of great academic distinction. He was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1541, and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law. He was one of the founders and first principal of Jesus College, as well as being appointed Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, Master of St Catherine’s Hospital, London, and one of the Masters in Chancery. He was MP for Monmouthshire in 1554. He died in 1584 in London and his body brought to Abergavenny to be buried beneath a tomb that he had commissioned from the Herefordshire sculptor, John Gideon, during his lifetime.

An excited Fr Mark welcoming the news said:

July is going to be  a big month for us at St Mary’s Priory – and all centred on the Lewis Chapel. We are grateful to the many benefactors who have made these two projects possible, as we continue to develop this chapel as  place of prayer and learning.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming back the National Eisteddfod of Wales to Abergavenny.   Croeso Eisteddfod Genedleothol Cymru


On the Opening Sunday of the Eistedfodd our Preacher at the main morning service will  be Dr Rowan Williams. The Bi-lingual Service will be sung by the Priory Choir. At 11am each day there will be  service in the CYTUN Tent on the Maes, we expect our Vicar will lead that service on one day. WE will be part of the team of Hosts serving Tea and Coffee in the CYTUN Tent on Tuesday- come and see us!

In conjunction with Abergavenny History Society visitors to the town can go on a tour of the Priory led by Welsh language tour guides, during the Eisteddfod week.

The Priory Church and Centre are likely to be the venues for some competition ‘prelims’, so we will be part of the ‘greater Maes’.


At the Annual Vestry Meeting on April 20th the following officials toke up office-

Vicar’s Warden: Sheila Davies

People’s Warden: Tim Pratt


Our Unique Wardens’ wand

Asst Vicar’s Warden: Andrea Corley

Asst People’s Warden: Robin Smith

Vicar’s Sub Warden (Christchurch): Carolyn Wollard

People’s Sub Warden (Christchurch): Cllr Sheila Woodhouse

PCC Members:                                                                          Robin Alldred, Anne Griffiths, Michael Hoult, Rebecca Jackson, Steve Lamerton, Vernon Lewis, Eunice Marsh, Jenny Macpherson, Andrew Powell,Patricia Rutledge

AACT have elected the following representatives to  the Diocesan Conference: Chris Cotterill (St Peter’s). Jenny Elkins (Holy Trinity) and Caroline Wollard (Christchurch).

The PCC subsequently elected the following officials:

Secretary: Eunice Marsh

Treasurer: Robin Smith

Gift Aid Secretary: Steve Lamerton

We will again this year be taking a full part in Christian Aid Week from May 15- 21st.


We are stepping up to Dr Rowan Williams’ challenge to the Church in Wales  to re-engage with Christian Aid.


Dr Rowan Williams

Jesus calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and not just the ones next door or at the end of the street.

Christian Aid Week unites over 20,000 churches to put this love in to action.

We will be collecting at the Market on the Tuesday and hosting a Quiz Night with Fish & Chips at the Priory Centre on the Friday. Plans are in the early stage son planning to be part of the Big Brekkie.

We hosted the Christian Aid Head of Office for Wales to preach here during Lent.


The Archbishop of York, The Most Revd John Sentamau recently visited the Barley Studios and observed work on the Jesse Memorial Window.


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L to R: Helen Whittaker, Keith Barley and The Archbishop of York

The Window’s Designer, Helen Whittaker said,

The Archbishop of York seemed very interested in the project.

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Helen at work on the window

Helen Whittaker has won several awards including a commission through the Stevens Competition run by the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass. Helen is a visiting tutor for the Prince of Wale’s School of Traditional Arts. Her MA thesis was on Jesse Trees.

The Window is being commissioned in Memory of the late Dean Jeremy Winston. Fr Jeremy Winston was Vicar of Abergavenny for 18 years before being appointed Dean of the Cathedral in Newport. He sadly died months after being installed as Dean.

We expect the Window to be installed in the Priory Church in Mid-June and to be dedicated in early July.

In May we welcome back the Bishop of St Helena as our preacher for Ascension Day and on May 8th the ACS General Secretary.


The Bishop of St Helena

Bishop Richard of St Helena will be the Celebrant and Preacher at the Ascension Day Eucharist (May 5th) in the grounds of the Holywell Community House. There will be no Eucharist celebrated in any of the Abergavenny Anglican Churches that day as we come together as one family in this one place. “It is great to have Bishop Richard with us on the Feast of the Ascension, not only because he is an old friend, but because his Diocese covers Ascension Island.” says Canon Mark Soady, Vicar, welcoming the news.

Three days later we will welcome back Fr Darren Smith SSC, The General Secretary of the Additional Curates Society as our Preacher at the 11am Choral Eucharist on Sunday, May 8th.


Fr Darren on his visit to St Mary’s Priory in 2015

Fr Mark said, “We are very grateful for the support we receive from the ACS  as a Parish and as the Holywell Community . ACS play a vital role in nurturing and supporting vocations”.

Details of the Parish Holiday in June have been announced. The Holiday is a three night stop over in Norwich with day visits to Walsingham and Sandringham.

In this the 90th Birthday year of HM The Queen where better to go and visit then The Queen’s Norfolk Retreat.SandringhamHouseBack.jpg

Described by King George the V as

Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere in the world.”

it is the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862. The house, set in 24 hectares of stunning gardens, is perhaps the most famous stately home in Norfolk and is at the heart of the 8,000-hectare Sandringham Estate, 240 hectares of which make up the woodland and heath of the Country Park, open to the public free of charge every day of the year.

We will visit the House, Gardens & museum, as well as spending time at the Church of St Mary Magdelene where the Royal family Celebrate Christmas each year.

Day 3 we will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham


We will attend the Mid-day Mass and following Lunch, Sprinkling at the Holy Well. There will be time for quiet contemplation at the Shrine or in the ruined Abbey.




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