Archive for June, 2014

On July 3rd we welcome back Elvis Impersonator and the day after Gwent Bach… then later in July and Evening with Dr Rowan Williams & Alan Johnson MP and a Gala Dinner too.

July 3rd

The King is in the House

We welcome back Elvis impersonator, Keith Davies. The Concert is in aid of the Mayor’s Charity and Church Funds. Tickets area available from the Tithe Barn.


Gwent Bach Choir

Gwent Bach Choir

July 4th, 7.30pm

Gwent Bach Summer Concert :

Brahms Vier Quartete

Parry Songs of farewell


July 9th

An Audience with Dr Rowan Williams


An evening of conversation with the former Archbishop of Wales & Canterbury The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Baron Williams of Oystermouth.

Tickets from the Tithe Barn – Booking essential!!

July 11th

Rt Hon Alan Johnson  MP (Former Home Secretary)

We play host to a Labour Party Event



Allegra Ladies Choir in Concert at the Priory Centre

We welcome them fresh from the Millennium Centre and St Davids Hall for this Church Fund-raising Supper evening .



The Tomb of Dr David Lewis, First Principle of Jesus College, Oxford

The Tomb of Dr David Lewis,
First Principal of Jesus College, Oxford


July 24th

A Dinner in Celebration of Dr David Lewis, first Principal of Jesus College , Oxford at the Llansantffraed Court Hotel



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Following a parade by Veterans from the old Drill Hall in Baker Street passed the Mons War Memorial a service of Commemoration for the start of hostilities 100 years ago was held in  St Mary’s Priory Church.

To signify the words of the then Foreign Secretary that the ‘lights were gong out all over Europe’ candles were blown out after the reading of portions of scripture.


In his address the Vicar Fr Mark Soady said : “One Hundred years ago most of the men of Abergavenny gathered outside this Priory Church, as we are today, but gathered  to march off to war – the war that was to end all wars. They were an amazingly patriotic generation an example to us in their self-sacrifice.



One often hears of the Generals described as ‘Lions led by donkeys’ yet 78 British and Dominion Generals died, including Brigadier-General Baker from our Community. A further1 46 were wounded and two got the VC, so I think history may have done them a disservice – and what better a time to review the history than NOW.

Yes it was not to be the war to end all wars, but still their sacrifice would have been in vain unless we are prepared to offer our lives in the service of our fellow human beings. We need to bring those virtues in to our daily lives. For it is undoubtedly true that for to many people in our day ‘the lights have gone out’. There are in our country today people being held as slaves. There are young people being forced in to arranged marriages. There are too many people feeling trapped. So as we remember those who fought to give us the freedoms we enjoy let us commit ourselves anew to fight for that freedom for all.

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Due to the weather forecast tonight’s service at 6pm has been moved into the church


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           St Mary’s Priory Development Trust


                                                Charity Number 1077446


                                                   Annual Report 2013



1. Trustees

The under-mentioned were the appointed Trustees during 2013:


Sir Trefor Morris (Chairman)

David Yendoll (Vice Chairman)

Ms Elizabeth Powell (Secretary)

Mr John Williams (Treasurer)

Mr Christopher Cotterill

Mr Geoffrey Ellis

Mrs Glenys Holland

Mr Vernon Lewis

Mr David Marsh

Lord Rowe-Beddoe of Kilgetty

Rev. Mark Soady, Vicar of Abergavenny

Mr John Bartlett

Mr Timothy Pratt

Mrs Rosemary Carter

Mr George Williams

Mrs Sheila Bevan

Mrs Sheila Davies, Vicar’s Warden

Mrs Janet Battersby,

Mr Robin Smith, Church Treasurer

   (Mr Clive Jones, former Church Treasurer passed away in the early   part of the Year after serving the Development Trust since its formation).            



2. Members

There are 40 Life members of St Mary’s Priory Development Trust and a further 16 members who pay their subscription on an annual basis.


3. Meetings

Scheduled meetings of the Trustees took place on the dates shown:

3rd April (AGM), 1st May (plus volunteers), 16th July, 2nd October, 4th December—Review of year.

In addition there were extra meetings throughout the year of the Learning Services Group.

The Annual General Meeting for the year 2012 took place on  23rd March 2013, at St Mary’s Priory Church. Trustees, Members and invited guests were present. The officers, as listed above were duly elected to their respective posts. At the AGM, I paid tribute and thanked all those who had given service over the years

2,and particularly those who had served from the inception of the Trust in 1999. Given the longevity of the Trust, change in Trustees is inevitable. Special tribute is given of the service of Clive Bowker Jones who passed away in the early part of the year.



4. Accounts

The audited accounts for St Mary’s Priory Development Trust for the year 2013, were presented to the AGM by the Treasurer, Mr John Williams and duly accepted. They have been submitted to the Parochial Church Council and a copy of this report and the accounts will be submitted to the Representative Body of the Church in Wales and the Charity Commissioners. The Chairman paid tribute to Mr Williams who had brought his considerable influence and expertise to the successful financial management of the Charity over the years. 


Report of the Chairman to the AGM


Sir Trefor reminded the meeting of the relationship between St Mary’s Priory Church, (which had formerly enjoyed charitable status within the Church in Wales, but now had that status in its own right under Charity number 113771), and St Mary’s Priory Development Trust (Registered Charity number 1077446), which had been formed in 1999 by the Church specifically to bring to fruition the complex Tithe Barn Project.   The Priory House Company Ltd had been formed as a service company to run the Church site as a whole and was owned jointly by the two Charities. The reason for restating this position is the matter of the levy of a Business Rate on the whole of the Tithe Barn being made by Monmouthshire County Council and HMRC in the early part of the Year, backdated to 2010. As mentioned in my previous Annual Report the matter centred on the fact that Monmouthshire County Council and HMRC had now raised the matter of a business rate being applied to the whole of the Tithe Barn premises including those parts which are wholly and entirely used for charitable educational purposes. Negotiations proceeded with the Company being advised by Cooke and Arkwright, who have expertise in the field. The matter was resolved in the latter part of the Year with allowance being made for the charitable status of the Development Trust relief of 80% was given.

In 2008, when the Tithe Barn Project was nearing completion, discussions took place with officers of the Charity Commission, myself, as chairman and Father Jeremy Winston together with our Solicitors and Accountants. The relationship between the various elements of the Church (as above) were considered and it was resolved that the St Mary’s Development Trust, rather than the Church would assume responsibility for any payment of additional taxes which may arise from the “business” part of the building in the Food Hall. The Development Trust has contributed £2500 to the outstanding sum, the remainder sourced from the Priory House Company Ltd and the former Franchisees

The appointment of Father Mark Soady as Vicar of Abergavenny in January 2012 has meant that his unbounded energy, enthusiasm and organisational skills have been a considerable asset to the Development Trust as well as the Church in general. The remarkably supportive group of volunteers who run the Learning Service throughout the have continued to bring understanding of the heritage and history of the Priory and Town to schools and families through the Tudor and Mediaeval workshops and there has been a substantial increase in the schools attending to one each week. The Mediaeval Fair continued in 2013 and was a great success with enhanced displays of arts and crafts, ‘hands on’ workshops and opportunity for involvement of children and their families, all managed without an entrance charge. Donations were given and remarkably it was the Vicar who had most success by as a ‘victim’ placed in the Stocks. Fortunately the missiles were wet sponges.

As ever the band of Church Stewards and Tapestry Ladies welcomed, assisted and informed our many visitors to the Priory Church and Tithe Barn, to present our

heritage treasures and in addition in 2012 there were many specially arranged guided tours of all manner of Societies and groups, including those from the U.S and Europe.


The Learning Service of the Development Trust has now settled into a well organised pattern for welcoming schools and families who attend a variety of workshops covering the Mediaeval and Tudor Periods. Not only do our group of volunteers run the Learning Service, they also maintain and develop the Abbot’s Garden and Courtyard Gardens. In addition a further group engage in making and stitching mediaeval clothing, using original materials as part of the Learning Service. Perhaps we could be used as an exemplar for the Government’s initiative of the ‘Big Society’.

The Tithe Barn, Priory Centre and other facilities are run by the Priory House Company Ltd, which is a ‘service’ company, with the shareholders being the St Mary’s Priory Trustees (51%) and St Mary’s Priory Development Trust (49%).

The facilities in the Tithe Barn and Priory Centre are widely used for meetings and conferences by voluntary groups and official bodies. The number of visitors and Tourists to the Tithe Barn and Church, either individually or in organised groups continues to grow and thanks to the hospitality as well as the welcome from the volunteer stewards, indicate they have a most enjoyable visitor experience

The Chairman closed his address to the AGM by paying tribute to the work of all those who give their time voluntarily to assist the Development Trust in particular and St Mary’s Priory in general.

(Sir)Trefor Morris,   Chairman.






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We will mark Armed Forces week from June 23rd – 28th


Fly a Flag for our Armed Forces – Monday 23rd June 2014, 10 a.m. – County Hall, Usk

Monmouthshire County Council will be holding a “Fly a Flag for Armed Forces” event at County Hall, Usk on Monday 23rd June 2014 at 10 a.m.

This event which is held to celebrate the work of the armed forces and show appreciation for the contribution made by all those who serve or have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

The event will involve raising the commemorative Armed Forces Day flag outside Monmouthshire County Council’s Headquarters at County Hall, Usk.

The Leader, County Councillor Peter Fox and the Chairman, County Councillor John L. Prosser will address those assembled and there will be prayers by the Chairman’s Chaplain Father Mark Soady ( Vicar of Abergavenny).



Later on the Monday, Fr Mark , Chairman of the Welsh Warrior (Richard Hunt) Foundation will attend the launch of the new Welsh Warrior Beer at the Kingstone Brewery, proceeds of the sale of which will go to the work of the charity.


Armed Forces Day

World War 1 Centenary Service in the Tithe barn Courtyard at 6pm

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TONIGHT we said farewell and God speed to Ordained Phil Godsell, prior to his ordination next Saturday to the Deaconate. 

Following a Service of Evensong which Phil sung,  the congregation attended a reception in the Priory Centre. During the evening Phil was presented with a Home Communion set paid for by parishioners of the Anglican Churches in Abergavenny.


Fr Mark Soady, Vicar in a his address and Evensong said:

Tonight’s farewell to Phil gives me an opportunity to say something about the Order of Deacon’s within the church – the Order to which Phil is being ordained next Saturday

It is in the book of Acts that we first read of the Church calling people out to fulfil the ministry of Deacon. The workload of the Apostles was getting so heavy that they needed to call seven men to help them in the duties – and in particular to serve at table. To this day then the Church recognises that the deacon has a particular role in preparing the Altar for the Holy Eucharist.

Those chosen are described as being “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom”. So the Holy Spirit had a part to play as he will next Saturday when the Bishop will call him down upon Phil and those to be Ordained Deacon with the words “ Send down your Holy Spirit upon your servant [Phil] for the office and work of a Deacon in your church”.


Phil looks on as Fr Mark chats to the Lord Lieutenant

Phil looks on as Fr Mark chats to the Lord Lieutenant


Further details of qualities necessary to be a Deacon are given in the Paul’s first letter to Timothy:

“Deacons likewise must be serious, not double tounged, not addicted to much wine, not greedy to gain; they must hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience…” ( Chapter 3.8-10)

Now some of you will say, because you know him Phil, is not a serious person….some of you may say (for I to am in Deacon’s Orders) neither is Fr Mark, but this is not about being straight laced it is about trying to be honest and, not in St Paul’s words “double tounged”. It is about taking the Gospel seriously as Phil certainly does in the way he leads his life.

St Paul writing to the earlier Church in Rome said:

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;” ( Chapter 12.4-6)

Each and every one of us here tonight has been given gifts by God to enable us to build up God’s Kingdom here in Abergavenny, but the church has discerned that Phil has the gifts and the calling to be an Ordained Minister in his church. I have observed Phil fulfilling a kind of ministry already that foreshadows the ministry that he will begin next Saturday. The people of Cyncoed will be blessed to have such a devout and devoted person as their Curate. To Phil the diaconal duties of care and service, alongside preaching the Gospel come so naturally to him.


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Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt FBA FSA FRHistS, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University will be the Guest Lecturer at a Dinner on July 24th.

Sir Diarmaid is knighted by The Queen

Sir Diarmaid is knighted by The Queen

The Lewis Chapel Project at the Priory is well underway in the first phase which involves the installation of a Jesse Window to accompany the famous carved Jesse figure in the Chapel. The next phase is to repair and refurbish the whole Chapel, containing his tomb, with fitting recognition for Dr David Lewis, a figure of considerable importance in the later Tudor period who was, inter alia, the first Principal of Jesus College, Oxford University.

It is appropriate that the evening is being held at the Llansantffraed Country House Hotel with the house’s close links to the Herbert Family , and their association to St Mary’s Priory.

The menu for the evening is being planned by Michael Morgan, the owner of the Hotel who will be using some local produce from his newly restored walled garden at the Hotel. If there are special dietary requirements, the Hotel will make the necessary arrangements. Tickets are priced at £65 per person and include pre-dinner canapés and Pimms, three courses and wine.

Dress will be black tie with the option to wear a light jacket.

Llansantfraed Court Hotel

Llansantffraed Court Hotel

The timetable for the evening is:-

5.45pm. Optional tour of walled gardens and visit the House Chapel.

6.30pm. Canapes and Pimms

7pm. Our Guest Speaker

7.45pm. Dinner

11pm Carriages

To book you place please email: vicar@stmarys-priory.org


Proceeds from the Dinner will go towards refurbishment costs of the Lewis Chapel at St Mary’s Priory.

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At the Licensing of Fr Mark Soady as Area Dean of Abergavenny the Bishop of Monmouth referred to the pastoral nature of the Area Dean’s role as well as some times having to say No.

Bishop & Fr Mark

Bishop & Fr Mark

During the service the Choir sung the Anthem  “Trust in the Lord” , which was written by the Priory’s Director of Music for Fr Mark’s Collation as Vicar, Epiphany 2012. They sang the Magnificat  and Nunc Dimitis  to Stanford in B flat.


THE SERMON IN FULL – check against delivery

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Matthew 16:23

Sometimes we have to have awkward conversations when things have to be spelt out. It seems that is the work of an Archdeacon and occasionally the Area Dean.

Nobody – or at least most people- don’t want to argue. But sometimes clarity has to be sort that is not always palatable. Like telling a congregation that we cannot afford to give them a full time cleric. Sorry…

Hard conversations have their places in any organisation or community. But there is no point in dispelling hot air for the sake of it. We need to negotiate our positions and seek a commonality of purpose. The problem in church circles is that we are often supreme individuals. We have our own invention of faith and vision and to see a way forward is not easy.

Soon I will be publishing a simple guide to the strategy of the Diocese which will focus on Ministry Areas and the support of mission in our church and secular communities. The strategy will not be primarily about reforming the structure but about reforming the culture.

It is a perennial challenge that has faced the church as it moves towards and then sadly away from God and then hopefully back again.

The conversation between Peter and Jesus illustrates this tension.   Get behind me Satan seems a bit harsh!

Yet for Christ much was at stake. Not just his own mission but the mission of humanity. Peter got it wrong. He was telling Jesus to look after himself. Not a good idea! Jesus wasn’t bothered about himself. His mission was to save the world and he needed to constantly align himself to God’s plan. ’Peter you need to set your mind on divine things’.

Well good folk, we need to do the same. Otherwise this lovely church is a carcass to a dead religion.

We need to discern divine things. The trouble is that we do not think much of divine things. It’s got to be contradictory to what’s best for us, surely. Secretly we agree with Peter and not with Jesus. Come on, relax, Jesus, life is for living, not for dying.

Well precisely, but Jesus is asking us to realise also that life is for living, but it requires us to die to the old self. Let go, but let God. I have learnt over the years that this is essential to find life, love and peace. Now, I know Jesus may seem extreme in his approach, but that was because he is the pioneer of God’s love. On our part we can live in his victory by the cross. But it does mean that we need to recognise the cultural shift away from self first, towards loving God and ourselves in God.

People are not going to be attracted to the church by us looking after our own needs first. The only way they will find completeness is in the life of the spirit of Christ. That is the fundamental truth about Christianity. And we allow ourselves to receive this gift so that others may share as well. And we do so in the atmosphere of welcome and hospitality. Come. I will show the divine way, of inclusiveness and openness, of charity and service.

Father Mark, lives by this purpose. Yes, he enjoys life, even having the occasional glass of champagne but He is always open to the mission of the church in community. He seeks the service of the church and his readiness and commitment to the new Benedictine way like the Holywell Community demonstrates his desire to follow the divine things. I know Mark will do his best to work in the same way as an Area Dean. At the heart of the role is to be a help to clergy and to offer a pastoral heart to the mission of the church.   I am confident he will fulfil this duty and continue to be an example.

But Mark is only one leader amongst many. The question that The Lord asks us as he asked Peter is ’are we with him?’Are we ready for the divine things? Of course, for we have travelled this far and where else can we go.

So in the goodness of the spirit we go forward, rejoicing in the love of Christ.



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Preaching at the Civic Service of the new Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr John Prosser, the Bishop of Monmouth said:


‘For now we see in the mirror dimly , then face to face’ (1 Cor 13.12 )


Image is very important to us. At many levels.

Some like to preen themselves in the mirror. We want to look right. Those in public office have to look the part. We need to dress smartly and think carefully about the impression we make. The chains of office are heavy, resplendent with silver or gold and they speak of corporate image. In a simple visual way they represent the town or city or county and they suggest confidence and prosperity. And quite rightly so. We should be proud of our homeland. We should be proud that we have been called or elected to promote the well being and the character of our area.

But to return to the mirror. St Paul says we only see dimly, or, imperfectly, our true image, our true self. Those who take office are aware of this also. There is an element of performance – you act out a role which will entail you to be the pleasant face of the corporate image. Clergy are the same. And any public office, in the public eye carries not only prestige but also a personal cost. Not only John, but also of the chairs and mayors here will have a busy year! Much of personal life will be put on hold. The number of meetings, events and speeches are necessary to cover the ground and you do so willingly. You will be helped by your secretarial staff and obviously family and friends but, as this service indicates, you may also be seeking some spiritual resource as well.

So let’s return to the image. The mirror. It does a good job. It’s a rough indication of personal appearance . But it is imperfect and of course shows us in reverse! But by its nature it suggests a superficial consideration.


Our self, our identity cannot be just seen at that face level. Adolescents spend a great deal of time looking at themselves in the mirror or in selfies, not only looking at their appearance but trying to check out their identity. There is a search for self confidence and expression. This is natural, though quite difficult to do in an age which is obsessed by the beautiful perfect image. There are many who look at themselves who are not only disappointed but even suicidal. They do not fit their own perception. It is our responsibility always to look out for the vulnerable and the hurting as well as those who contribute well to,our society.

St Paul gives this snapshot of personal image after listing the various gifts or skills a person can have in building up the Christian community, the church. In the end he concludes these are insufficient in themselves. There has to be love. That love is founded in Christ and expressed in personal integrity and in a spiritual life that encounters the divine.

The Bishop and the Chairman chat at Bishopstow Reception

The Bishop and the Chairman chat at Bishopstow Reception

I think those are principles that apply to all those called to lead and represent the community. Look for personal integrity and not just what will be expected of you. Interpret the pattern of service for the common good and for the betterment of humanity and start with yourself! Be kind, be gentle to yourself, and give yourself the opportunity to reflect moredeeply upon the issues that currently impact upon the community you serve. Our society is always in a state of flux, and so is each one of us. Take time to,read those signs of change, both inwardly and outwardly and think upon them not from the perspective of what seems ok -the mirror – but in the deeper pool of love. Our leadership is judged in the end by our capacity to love and act charitably to others.

It’s a great pleasure to be with you today and I wish you all well in your respective offices and those you will serve.

Go well and God bless your endeavours.



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8am Holy Eucharist


11am Sung Eucharist


3pm Monmouthshire County Council Civic Service

Chairman of the Council: Cllr John Prosser , Chaplain: Fr Mark Soady, Preacher: The Bishop of Monmouth

6pm Evensong

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