Archive for March, 2015

Palm Sunday

8am Holy Eucharist            9.30am All Age Worship

11am Blessing of Palms, Procession & Sung Eucharist

6pm Evensong & Sermon

Holy Monday – Holy Tuesday CA7ZG6dWcAAoBic
7.30pm Holy Eucharist

Holy Wednesday
7.30pm Compline

The Bishop of Monmouth will Preside and Preach at Services over the Triduum

Maundy Thursday
7pm Mass of the Last Supper & Stripping the Altars
(The Sacrament is then Processed to Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street for the Watch of the Passion)

Good Friday
10am Ecumenical March of Witness (Town Centre)
12noon Stations of the Cross (Christchurch, North St.)
2pm The Last Hour
6pm Good Friday Liturgy
7pm Choir Sing Schuman’s Requiem

Easter Eve
8pm Paschal Vigil   holy-week

Easter Day
8am Holy Eucharist
9.30am All Age Worship
11am Sung Eucharist

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The Parish of Evander Seconda between Johannesburg and Swaziland will be the new link Parish for St Mary’s Priory Church. Canon Mark Soady welcoming the news writes, “I have had pleasure in writing to my twin parish Priest Fr Barnard (Archdeacon of Igwa West) to introduce me and the parish. I have very fond memories of welcoming the previous two Bishop’s of the Highveld to the priory church and look forward to welcoming him soon. From my visit to the Highveld I know they have much they can teach us, I look forward to working with them”.

Fr Mark & Bishop Dominic on a vist to a Highveld Board of Responsibility Project.

Fr Mark & Bishop Dominic on a vist to a Highveld Board of Responsibility Project.

Between 2002 -2013 St Mary’s Priory Church was linked to the Cathedral in the Highveld.

Sir Trefor Morris explains the plans for the Jesse to the then  Bishop of the High veld

Sir Trefor Morris explains the plans for the Jesse to the then Bishop of the High veld

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The Feast of the Annunciation  (March 25th) will be marked on Wednesday as one of our Patronal feasts BVM

10.00am Celebration of the Holy Eucharist

12noon – 4pm Welsh Blood Donor Clinic – give something of yourself as the Blessed Virgin did.


The Ministry Team and Parish Officials will celebrate  with Lunch at Kentchurch Court  Fr. Mark said, “This is an opportunity for us to give thanks to those who like Mary said yes when they were called by God to a task – a task which the wider worshiping community and town get the benefit of”.

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THE PCC (Trustees) of the St Mary’s Abergavenny Parochial Charity have adopted the report below as their official account of  the Charity’s activities in 2014.

Bishop & Vicar / Prior

Vicar / Prior & Bishop



Charity number: 1137751

Annual Report and Financial Statements

for the year ending 31 December 2014

Trustees’ report

The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ending 31 December 2014. The organisational structure, administration details and governance of the charity are set out later in this report while the activities of the church form the first part.



This year saw a return to the Priory’s monastic roots, with the formation of the Holywell Community, young people who follow the spirit of the Rule of St Benedict to serve both Church and the wider community. It is the first such monastic community to be established at St Mary’s since the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.


The year was again a busy one for the Parish with regular and special services, distinguished visiting preachers, awards, new technology, concerts and visitors from all over the world who came to see the renowned medieval monuments. An estimated 5,000 youngsters from local schools and their teachers, friends and families visited St Mary’s for Christmas and Christingle services. There was also a visit by former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, during which members of the audience had the chance to quiz him on a wide range of subjects.



The range of activities for St Mary’s with Christchurch can be split broadly into three categories – worship, prayer and pastoral care; mission and outreach; and fundraising, fellowship and hosting events.


Worship, prayer and pastoral care

The Revd Canon Mark Soady continues to serve St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church Christchurch as Vicar; St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, as Rector; and Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny, as Priest-in-Charge. This year, he was also appointed Area Dean of Abergavenny Deanery and, in November, installed as a Canon of Newport Cathedral.


Canon Soady, Dean & Bishop

Canon Soady at his Installation with the Dean & Bishop

The major event of the year was the establishment of the Holywell Community, inaugurated by the Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Richard Pain, in September, with Canon Soady as the Prior. The Community has started gently with two members – Ami Pope and Sam Patterson. They work both in the Church and the wider community, running all-age worship, visiting schools, evangelising through a radio show (on the local Hospital radio), and volunteering at a centre for young people in the town and at the Little Footprints playgroup. The Community is based in what was previously the Curate’s House and already owned by the Parish.


In November, the Parish and the Community welcomed the Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner as Sub-Prior and as Deacon of Abergavenny.


As well as the usual weekday and Sunday worship during the year, Canon Soady has organised and/or presided over a number of special services and events:

  • In January, a Mass was said for Charles, King & Martyr, using the 1662 service – it was at St Mary’s that Charles is said to have held his last Court.
  • Also in January , schoolchildren from King Henry VIII Comprehensive and Cantref Primary Schools, Abergavenny, came to St Mary’s to commemorate Holocaust Day, when victims of The Holocaust and subsequent ethnic cleansings were remembered;
  • During Lent a series of Evensong addresses saw a number of people whose jobs are sometimes derided talk about how their Christianity informs and affects their working lives. Speakers included a policeman, a politician, a solicitor, a doctor and a journalist;
  • In the 100th anniversary of the start of the First Wold War, the Church hosted a special service for current and former members of the Armed Forces;
  • In March, two programmes in the BBC Radio Wales Celebration series were recorded;
  • In June, the Church co-organised a D-Day concert with Abergavenny Borough Band, members of St Mary’s Choir and youngsters from Llanfoist Primary School. As well as music from the 1940s, the event saw the world premiere of Lest We Forget, a work for Band, off-stage buglers and the spoken word, written by Lewis Wilkinson;
  • The Civic Services for both Abergavenny Town Council and Monmouthshire County Council were held in St Mary’s;
  • In October, the congregations gave thanks for the bounty which the earth brings at their Harvest Thanksgiving services, raising money for the Barnabas Fund as they did so;
  • In November, the Bishop of Monmouth confirmed seven people from the Parish ;
  • Also in November, the All Souls Mass, Remembrance Day and the Road Peace service commemorating those killed or injured in road crashes, took place;
  • In December, there were more joyous occasions as local schools used the church for their Christingle and Christmas services – over 5,000 youngsters, their families and teachers visiting the church in the space of a week.


Mayor arrives for his Civic Service

Mayor arrives for his Civic Service

As well as these special services, we continued to try to enable ordinary people to live out their faith as part of our parish community through:


  • Worship and prayer, learning about the Gospel, and developing their knowledge and trust in Jesus.
  • Provision of pastoral care for people living in the parish
  • Mission and outreach work.


Acts of worship were carried out on almost every day of the year, and pastoral care continued through, in particular, the visiting of, and on occasions taking Communion to, parishioners who through sickness or age were unable to come to church. The average attendance at the main Services at the churches was 150, and the number reported to be recorded on the Electoral Roll for both churches on 31 December 2014 was 260 (2013: 266).


In addition to our regular services, we enable our community to celebrate and thank God in the milestones of the journey through life. Through baptism, we thank God for the gift of life, in marriage public vows are exchanged with God’s blessing and through funeral services friends and family express their grief and give thanks for the life which is now complete in this world and to commit their loved one into God’s keeping. This year, the Vicar celebrated 24 baptisms, celebrated 16 weddings in the Parish , and took over 50 funerals in his Incumbency


Eucharistic services were held at care and nursing homes and retirement complexes in the town throughout the year, as well as carol singing in the town centre, at the care homes and in pubs.


Ecumenically, the parish shared services of Compline and Stations of the Cross with the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Michael’s, Abergavenny, during Lent, as well as participating fully in the Abergavenny Council of Churches. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, the Rt Revd George Stack, preached at the Advent Carol Service at the end of November.


Mission and outreach work

The year saw church members looking even further outward in their mission and outreach, including:

  • The Holywell Community working in Church, Schools and among young people of the town;
  • Again running a marriage preparation course, with 10 couples exploring their relationship and what marriage will mean to them;
  • Members of our Mothers Union volunteering at a contact centre for children suffering family break-up, which opened this year in Abergavenny;
  • The Mothers Union also helping to buy goods for people being re-housed locally; and collecting baby items and food for asylum seekers in Newport;
  • Families who had suffered bereavement during the year being personally invited to the All Souls Service, with many taking up that invitation;
  • At Christmas, the congregations filling boxes with small items as part of the Shoe Box Appeal, sending more presents out to Eastern European countries than ever before;
  • Parishioners contributing staple foodstuffs and toiletries to the Abergavenny Food Bank, which opened its doors in the town this year;
  • The hosting of a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting;
  • Members of the church continuing to be involved with the 7Corners project in Abergavenny, which aims to provide a place for young people to meet;
  • The large number of motorcyclists who meet at Abergavenny bus station on Saturdays and Sundays being invited to a Road Peace service to commemorate those who had died in road traffic accidents;
  • Members of the Mothers Union and other parishioners contributing to Velindre Cancer Care by knitting chicks for Easter, which were then sold in aid of the charity;
  • The Parish Fellowship also contributing over 30 Christmas parcels of items such as toiletries, gloves, and small gifts for older teenagers in Abergavenny who, through no fault of their own, are living by themselves, again an increase on last year’s total;
  • Contributing to the Bishop of Monmouth’s Lent Appeal.


Much of the parishes’ mission and outreach work was organised by the Abergavenny Anglican Churches Together group (AACT), established during 2012 and with members drawn from all four churches in Canon Soady’s incumbency  and co-ordinated through the Joint Warden’s Meetings.


St Mary’s Priory Choir went on their annual Singing Week in July, providing the music at Evensong in Lichfield Cathedral, Malvern Priory and St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. In April, our Director of Music Tim Pratt was awarded the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music. Mr Pratt wrote the Stabat Mater which the choir sang on Good Friday. They also sang with Westminster College Choir during their visit in May. The year was rounded off by the recording of a CD of music for Remembrance.


The choir continued to provide grants for Choral Scholars, providing training opportunities for young people of sixth form age, who might otherwise not either be involved in choral singing or come to church.


Members of the congregation again joined fellow pilgrims from all over the country for the annual Fr Ignatius Memorial Pilgrimage through the Llanthony Valley in August.

Detailed restoration  work underway

Detailed restoration work underway

St Mary’s was visited by people from all over the world and from nearer home, with many groups such as U3A, local history organisations, Mothers Union and other church groups booking tours to learn about the collection of medieval monuments in the church – said to be one of the finest in the country – and to sit quietly in a church which has been a place of prayer for nearly 1,000 years.

Work on the memorial to the late Dean of Monmouth, the Very Revd Jeremy Winston, who had been Vicar of Abergavenny for 18 years, progressed slowly. In January, the window designer Helen Whittaker was able to carry out detailed measurements, while in November the Diocesan Advisory Committee agreed in principle to moving the world-renowned Jesse figure and to the window itself.


The church bells, described as the finest ring of 10 bells in Christendom, were rung each Sunday, at funerals and weddings, and on special occasions. They were also rung by a number of visiting groups of ringers.


Fundraising, Fellowship and Hosting events

A number of concerts, for both the Church and outside organisations, took place at St Mary’s, including:

  • Gwent Bach Society performing Bach’s St John’s Passion for Easter, presenting Music for a Summer’s Evening in July and performing The Armed Man : A Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins for Remembrance;
  • The Dragon Fly quartet performing music by Ravel, Elgar and Debussy;
  • The Erebus Ensemble performing In Quire and Places Where They Sing;
  • A concert by Les Choeurs de St Maur;
  • Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir performing in aid of the Welsh Warrior Charity;
  • Elvis impersonator Keith Davies performing for the town mayor’s charities.


The Priory Centre Hall and Christchurch Hall continued to be resources for the community. As well as hosting church fundraising events and after-service fellowship, Christchurch Hall was used by an art group for vulnerable youngsters and as part of the North Street Open Gardens Scheme. The congregation at Christchurch is encouraging the local community to make more use of the Hall, including running a coffee morning each month.


The Priory Centre provided the venue for various fundraising activities and celebrations, including St Mary’s Patronal Festival lunch and the parish’s Christmas lunch. We also held a race night, coffee mornings and provided refreshments during Abergavenny Food Festival.


The major event of the year was An Evening with Dr Rowan Williams, when he was interviewed about his life and the audience had a chance to ask questions ranging from ‘which book would you like to record for listening books’ to Sharia Law and whether he preferred cheese or chocolate.

Being interviewed by Caroline Wollard

Being interviewed by Caroline Wollard


Also in July, a fundraising dinner for the Lewis Chapel development was held at Llansantffraed Court Hotel, with guest speaker Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, who spoke eloquently about Dr Lewis, the first principal of Jesus College, Oxford, whose tomb gives the Chapel its name, and about the layers of history within the church. Part of that history was brought to life by Canon Soady dressing in a copy of robes depicted on Dr Lewis’ tomb.


Fr Mark in copies of robes depicted in Dr Lewis' tomb.

Fr Mark in copies of robes depicted in Dr Lewis’ tomb.

History also featured in the recording of Y Llys, for S4C, a programme about the Wars of the Roses and the rise of the House of Tudor, part of which was recorded in St Mary’s.


Looking at the past in a new way was made possible with the installation of new technology at St Mary’s where visitors with Smartphones or iPads (or using ones which are available to borrow) can scan codes which will reveal the history of the church, its monuments, and explain how the Church works today.


Reference and administration details

St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church, Christchurch, is in the Parish of Abergavenny, in the Deanery of Abergavenny and the Diocese of Monmouth in the Church of Wales.


Incumbent and ministers

The Incumbent is the Reverend Canon Mark Soady. From September, he has been assisted by two members of the Holywell Monastic Community and, since November, by Deacon the Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner.

The Community praying with its Episcopal Visitor

The Community praying with its Episcopal Visitor


The worship in the parish has been made possible through the on-going contribution of our Licensed Lay Ministers Jeff Pearse, Gaynor Parfitt and David Meredith; retired ministers Canon Andrew Willie, the Revd Frances Buxton and the Revd Malcolm Lane In June, the parish bid farewell to Ordinand Philip Godsell the week before his ordination to the Deaconate and his appointment to Cyncoed Rectorial Benefice.



Objectives and activities

We review our aims, objectives and activities each year, looking at what we have achieved and the outcomes of our work in the previous twelve months. The review looks at the success of each key activity and benefits of activities in a wide variety of cultural areas. The review also helps us ensure our aims, objectives and activities remained focussed on our stated objectives.


When reviewing our aims and objectives and in planning and considering our activities for the year, the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have considered the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion.


The objective of the Charity is promoting in the ecclesiastical parish the whole mission of the Church. Encouraging and facilitating the practice of the Christian Faith by the Churches includes the following:

  • Conducting regular Christian worship in both Churches;
  • The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, on at least six days each week at St Mary’s Priory Church; marriages, funerals and baptisms;
  • The provision and maintenance of the fabric of St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, and of Christchurch, Abergavenny and their associated buildings;
  • Leaving St Mary’s open to the public to enter and benefit from personal spiritual contemplation; and to be able to view the medieval monuments and learn about the Benedictine foundation of the Church and its place in the history of Christianity and of Abergavenny;
  • The maintenance of Christian burial places;
  • Promoting the study of Christian teaching, practices and Scriptures;
  • The provision of means and encouragement to promote fellowship within the membership of the Churches and the wider community;


In addition to the above, Christian devotional acts and outreach work is carried out, including:

  • Visiting the sick;
  • Administering the Sacraments to those unable to attend regular acts of Worship, to the sick and dying;
  • Supporting pastoral work;
  • Fostering ecumenical links between differing Christian denominations;
  • Supporting the work of other charities through, among others, the Mothers Union and Mission and Outreach Committee.


LLM Jeff and Lay Holywell Community Members lead singing in Cantref Home

LLM Jeff and Lay Holywell Community Members lead singing in Cantref Home

Further achievements in the year

Monies were raised by freewill offertory, fund raising activities and specific appeals. These were used to support the work and administration of the churches and wider mission. Volunteers, who helped at each act of worship to support the clergy, have donated their time. The churches will continue with their acts of worship and pastoral care during 2015 and will continue actively to try to increase its Electoral Roll, through its mission work in the community.


The activities of the committees and groups within the churches continued during the year. The monies raised contributed to the general income of the churches. These activities are expected to continue during 2015. All those involved in group activities and who assist with the main functions of the churches are volunteers who have freely donated their time, energy and skills.


In order to continue to foster increasing unity between the different Churches and congregations within Canon Soady’s Incumbency, regular meetings of the Wardens from all four Churches were held.


The Trustees

The trustees who served the Charity during the period from the Annual Vestry Meeting in April 2014 until the end of the year were as follows:

The Rev’d Canon Mark Soady                     Chairman

Mrs Janet Battersby    JP                      People’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference

and Safeguarding Officer (from July 2014)

Mrs Sheila Davies                           Vicar’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference

Mrs Margaret Dodd                                     Representative on the Deanery Conference

Mr Stephan Grabner                                    Representative on the Diocesan Conference

Mrs Anne Griffiths

Mr Steven Lamerton                                    Gift Aid Treasurer

Mr Vernon Lewis

Mr David Marsh MBE

Mrs Eunice Marsh                            PCC Secretary

Ms Louise McLeod                           Safeguarding Co-Ordinator (until July 2014)

Mr Jeff Pearse                                   Licensed Lay Minister, representative on the Deanery Conference and the Diocesan Conference

Mr Gary Peddar

Mr Andrew Powell                           Deputy Vicar’s Warden

Mr Tim Pratt

Mr Robin Smith                                Deputy People’s Warden, St Mary’s Treasurer

Mrs Hazel Watkins

Mrs Sadie Watkins

Mrs Sheila Woodhouse                  People’s Sub-warden at Christchurch, Christchurch Treasurer

Ms Caroline Woollard                    Vicar’s Sub-warden at Christchurch, representative on the Diocesan Conference and member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales

In addition (from January 2014 to the Vestry meeting in April 2014):

Mr Anthony Aurelius


Structure, governance and management

The Parish of Abergavenny is part of the Diocese of Monmouth within the Church in Wales. The Church in Wales is a Province within the Anglican Communion and, as such, exists to advance the Christian Religion through world-wide mission. The object of the Parochial Church Council is to ensure that the life and work of the Church within the Parish helps to fulfil that mission, both locally and more widely.


The Representative Body of the Church in Wales holds the land and property of the Church in Wales, including St Mary’s Priory Church, Christchurch and other church buildings, and including the Garden of Rest at St Mary’s, and their contents. The Representative Body is an exempt Charity and was set up under Section 13(2) of the Welsh Churches Act 1914. It acts on behalf of the Province in paying the stipends of the full time clergy, and administers the Church in Wales scheme of covenanted and gift aid giving recovering tax on behalf of the parishes.


The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is not a body corporate, its composition, procedure and powers being regulated by the Constitution of the Church in Wales as amended from time to time by its Governing Body set up under Section 13(1) of the Welsh Church Act 1914. Elections are held at an Annual Vestry Meeting which must take place on or before 30th April each year. All persons whose names are entered on the Electoral Roll are entitled to vote and stand for election. Before assuming office, every member of the PCC publicly makes a declaration that he or she will be bound by the Constitution. The Members and Officers of the PCC, including the Incumbent, on appointment become Trustees of the “Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity Trust”.


The PCC also appoints the Priory Trustees, a body set up under a 1925 Deed of Trust to administer certain lands and properties held by the Representative Body as Custodial Trustees on behalf of and for the benefit of the Parish. The Trustees report to the PCC and their accounts are kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.


The St Mary’s Winston Appeal also works under the auspices of the PCC and its accounts are also kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.


Property administered by the Priory Trustees includes the Priory Centre, the Tithe Barn and the Curate’s House. The latter two have been purchased in recent years and their freehold values are shown in the Accounts of this Charity.


Commercial operations undertaken in the Priory Centre and the Tithe Barn are administered by The St Mary’s Priory House Company Limited, a Service Company registered with Companies House and in which the Priory Trustees, on behalf of the PCC and the “Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity Trust” hold 51% of the shares. The remaining 49% are held by the “St Mary’s Priory Development Trust” (Charity No 107744) a separate but related Charity set up by the Priory Trustees in 1999.


Risk Review  

The PCC has conducted it own review of the major risks to which the Charity is exposed and systems have been established to mitigate those risks. The risks facing the Charity include the state of repair of the Churches and the financial requirements to meet its stated activities, including payment of its Annual Parish Share, bearing in mind the fall in the numbers of regular worshippers and the reduction in regular giving. The structure of the Churches is continually monitored by the Fabric committee and the Church architect, and the finances are controlled by careful budgeting and encouragement and appeals to the worshippers and visitors.


There have been no serious incidents or other matters relating to this charity over the previous financial year that we should have brought to the attention of the Charity Commissioners but have not.


Organisational Structure  

The PCC is responsible inter-alia for promoting the mission of the Church, the parochial budget and all expenditure there under, the care and maintenance of the fabric of the Churches and associated buildings and of the Garden of Remembrance, and for action on any other matter referred to it in accordance with the constitution. The PCC is also the normal channel of communication between the parishioners and the Bishop of the diocese. All members of the PCC are volunteers.


In addition to the election of members, the Officers, i.e. The People’s Warden, the Deputy People’s Warden (St Mary’s) and People’s Sub-Warden (Christchurch) are elected at the annual Easter Vestry; the Vicar appoints the Vicar’s Warden, Vicar’s Deputy Warden (St Mary’s) and Vicar’s Sub-Warden (Christchurch) at the same meeting. New representatives are told of their responsibilities and of the issues facing the Churches by existing representatives, and receive such additional training as required. Other Officers, including the Secretary, Treasurer and Safeguarding Officer are appointed at the first meeting of the PCC after the Vestry Meeting.


As indicated, members of the PCC also serve as representatives on the Deanery and Diocesan Conferences and the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. St Mary’s and Christchurch are active members of Abergavenny Council of Churches and volunteers help run the Christian Aid Fortnight activities in the town, organise Lenten study groups, and stage a town centre carol service.


The Churches are run entirely by volunteers as the clergy are remunerated by another charity from the Parish Share payments made by all the Churches in the Diocese. Without the work of these volunteers, who, for example, enable St Mary’s to be kept open every day for members of the public to visit and to pray, the Churches would not function.



Committee structure


The PCC met eight times in 2014 but between these meetings, a number of committees meet to support the work of the Churches:


  • The Mission and Outreach Committee (members of which are from all four churches in the incumbency working under the auspices of AACT.)
  • The Finance Committee
  • The Fabric Committee
  • The Fundraising Committee
  • St Mary’s Winston Appeal Committee


Artists impression of Memorial Window with Jesse

Artists impression of Memorial Window with Jesse


Regular inspections and maintenance of both Churches, plus the other buildings and the grounds, were carried out during the year as required. The report and recommendations following the Quniquennial Inspection of St Mary’s, undertaken during November and December 2013, were received in February 2014 . They showed that in order to maintain the integrity and long term future of the Grade 1 listed building a number of comparatively small repairs are required within the next 18 months with an approximate total cost of £50,000. Further major repairs to be completed within the next five years include floor repairs throughout much of the main body of the church in order to maintain the safety of both the congregation and the many visitors. Also recommended are a series of repairs to the Lewis Chapel, and its roof, many of which will be achieved in association with the proposed installation of the new window in memory of the Very Reverend Jeremy Winston and the relocation of the Jesse Effigy.


At the same time, the Architects undertook an Access Audit of the buildings and this has already resulted in a number of actions being taken to improve safety and accessibility for everyone using the Church and its associated facilities.






The level of direct voluntary contributions at each act of worship, excluding tax reclaimed through Gift Aid, amounted to £79,370 (2013 £79,490). Compared to the reductions in recent years this has been a welcome improvement and reflected increased individual giving from the diminishing congregation.


Other unrestricted general income including from fund raising amounted to £82,950 (2013 :£71,638), including a number of generous donations. However, no Legacies were received during the year (2013 : £37,171). Fund raising towards the cost of erecting the new window in St Mary’s in memory of our previous incumbent, the Very Reverend Jeremy Winston, was put in abeyance while the necessary approvals were progresses and only £1,753 was received during the year..


The level of unrestricted expenditure amounted to £215,332 (2013 : £179,204) with restricted expenditure on further repairs to St Mary’s Tower, and costs associated with the Lewis Chapel amounting to £22,502 (2013 : £13,463). The Parish Share payable to the Diocese during the year was £87,319 (2013 : £90,705) : however, £28,800 remained outstanding at the end of the year (2013 : £7,000).


During 2014 considerable expenditure was incurred in undertaking major repairs and enhancements to the Grade 1 Listed St Mary’s Priory to maintain it as a welcoming and accessible facility for the use of the Church and the local and wider communities. Much of this work, which included installing a new, energy efficient, lighting system and new sound systems for both the organ and the loudspeakers was funded from Legacies received in previous years.


The net assets of the Charity at 31 December 2014 amounted to £256,915 (2013 : £330,878), including freehold properties valued at £362,641 (2013: the same). The principal liability remains the mortgage on the Curates House of £195,000, now used by the Holywell Community. The significant decrease in net assets during 2014 is due to the outstanding payments on the Parish Share and the additional expenditure on major repairs and enhancements.



Reserves Policy

The reserves policy of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) recognises the need to hold reserves to ensure funds are available to provide continuing mission should the income levels fall. Reserves are also required to meet the future maintenance programme for the Churches and Church buildings.


A minimum level of reserves needs to be retained to ensure the PCC can meet its legal commitments should the Charity be unable to continue due to a lack of a sustainable income stream. The Officers of the PCC have established a policy whereby the unrestricted funds not designated for specific use by the PCC or invested in tangible fixed assets, i.e. free reserves, held by the Charity should ideally be between three and six months of the resources expended in general funds.


The Charity is dependent on donations, grants and investment income. The current economic climate remains uncertain and may continue to have a negative impact on future income streams.


 Investment policy

The Parochial Church Council (PCC), through its finance committee, has considered the most appropriate policy for investing funds and agreed to achieve the best available rate from our Bankers, within the constraint of maintaining rapid access to funds in the event of a call on them.



Lloyds Bank, 54 Cross Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5HB, and, HSBC Bank plc, 2 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AF.


Independent Examiner

Dorrell Oliver Limited, Linden House, Monk Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5NF.


Trust Architect

Michael Bartosch, of Bartosch & Stokes, 1 Bath Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HL



Approved by the Trustees

and signed on their behalf

by The Reverend Canon Mark Soady, Chairman

Feast of St Cuthbert 2015 (20.iii.15)



The full report submitted to the Charity Commissioners includes  a copy of the Parish Accounts fro 2014.

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On the day  HM The Queen pricked Lt Col Andrew Tuggey DL as High Sheriff of Gwent, Colonel Tuggey appointed Canon Mark Soady as his Chaplain.

Commenting on his appointment Fr Mark said, ” I am honoured to have been asked to be Chaplain to the new High Sheriff. I have worked alongside Colonel Tuggey both in his military capacity and also in his work with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I am very much looking forward to his term as High Sheriff. I know he will bring a great professionalism and commitment to the role, so it will be great to support him during his year of office.”


Lt Col Andrew Tuggey DL is a former Commanding Officer of the RoyalMons RE(M). He is currently Chief Executive & Secretary of the UK Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. The origins of the Office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown. Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year.

Whilst the duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements of the role today. In addition, High Sheriffs actively lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector. In recent years High Sheriffs in many parts of England and Wales have been particularly active in encouraging crime reduction initiatives, especially amongst young people. Many High Sheriffs also assist Community Foundations and local charities working with vulnerable and other people both in endorsing and helping to raise the profile of their valuable work.

The nomination of sheriffs in the counties of Wales was first vested by statute in the Council of Wales and the Marches and the Welsh justices under Henry VIII. With the abolition of the Council in 1689, the power of nomination was transferred to the justices of the Court of Great Sessions in Wales. When this court was abolished in 1830, its rights were in turn transferred to the courts of King’s Bench, Exchequer, and Commons Pleas. Finally, by an Act of Parliament of 1845, the nomination and appointment of sheriffs in Wales was made identical to that in England: That is the appointment is made by HM The Queen pricking the names on a list will being attended by her Privy Council.

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We are pleased to welcome back two old favourites this weekend.

Friday in the Priory Centre

Catherine Thomas Harpist


Saturday in the Priory Church

Gwent Bach Society in Concert :Vaughan Williams Mass in G and Bach motets


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HM The Queen has been pleased to sanction Canon Mark Soady’s admission as Member (Brother) of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.


The exact date when the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem came in to being is unknown, but Benedictine monks established a hospice ( a place of care) for Christian Pilgrims to Jerusalem about 1080, around the same time as St Mary’s Priory was being created here in Abergavenny. The Order was driven out of Jerusalem 100 years later in 1187.

Queen Victoria recognised and incorporated the modern Order of St John in 1888.The Jerusalem Eye Hospital having been founded in 1882, St John’s Ambulance Brigade & Association in 1877.

The Objects of the Order are twofold: Pro Fide & Pro Utilitate Hominum.   The first great principle of the Order is the encouragement of all that makes for the spiritual and moral strengthening of mankind. The Order is also called to promote and encourage all work of humanity and charity for the relief of persons in sickness,distress, suffering or danger, without distinction of race, class or creed.

Fr Mark will be Installed at Llandaff Cathedral on Saturday, June 20th.

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The Prior of Caldey Abbey, Fr Gildas closes our series on the Celtic Saints Next Sunday (March 22nd) at 6pm  with a talk on Samson of Dole.

Fr Gildas with the Abbey in the background

Fr Gildas with the Abbey in the background

The Address by The Bishop of St Asaph on St Asaph & Kentigern will be available here soon.

Other talks in the series:

St David, Fr Harri Williams, Secretary of the Friends of St David’s Cathedral

St Teilo, Canon Mark Soady, Canon in the stall of St Teilo at Newport cathedral

St Woolos (Gwynllyw), Canon Andrew Willie, Archivist of the Cathedral Church of St Woolos, Newport

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This Lent we are looking at what the Celtic saints can teach us.

On March 15th the Bishop of St Asaph (Rt Revd Dr Gregory Cameron) will speak about St Asaph and St Kenitegern. The series concludes the following Sunday with the Priory of Caldey speaking bout St Samson of Dole and reflecting on the link between the Celtic and Coptic churches.

To read the other addresses in the series click on the  link below:

St David, Fr Harri Williams, Secretary of the Friends of St David’s Cathedral

St Teilo, Canon Mark Soady, Canon in the stall of St Teilo at Newport cathedral

St Woolos (Gwynllyw), Canon Andrew Willie, Archivist of the Cathedral Church of St Woolos, Newport

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In the third of our series on Celtic Saints the Archivist of Newport cathedral, Canon Andrew Willie speaks of the Saint to whom it is dedicated: Gwynlllyw or Woolos to give him his anglicised name.

I have been asked this evening to preach on the subject of the Saint to whom the Cathedral of this Diocese is dedicated, known in English as Woolos, in Welsh as Gwynllyw, in Latin as Gundleus. Questions inevitably, as with most Celtic saints, centre on the sources for his life and their reliability. With Jesus, we have the four Gospels to tell the main story, but the Church in the twentieth century found itself under attack for failure to acknowledge what became known as non-canonical Gospels and of their stories to fill in the blanks of Our Lord’s life. These fillings consisted of tales of a relationship with Mary Magdalene, possibly as his wife, much exploited in modern fiction: and of a childhood in Nazareth in which he created a bird of clay or of wood, breathed life into it and made it fly [the Spaniard Murillo actually painted the scene]; and also of the tale in which the infant Jesus turned children who would not play with him into goats and then back into human kids again, much to the delight of their mothers. Such stories are indeed complete nonsense. However, history abhors a vacuum and legend conspires to fill it. The aim of the Church has been to downgrade the authority of such gospels not so much in terms of the total censorship of which it unjustly stands accused, as ignoring them in the interests of historical and doctrinal purity. In a similar way, we have several stories of Woolos, legendary ones which are in-fillings and a pure one with all that can be safely learnt from history; though even this will contain some personal interpretation.

Canon Andrew Willie

Canon Andrew Willie

Let’s start with the legendary stories, concocted, firstly from Lives of the Saints, [of Gwnllyw, generous to the king; and of Cadog, his son, depicting him until conversion, as a thorough-going rogue]; secondly, from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Annals of the Kings of Britain; thirdly, from ambiguity in Latin; and fourthly from the Red Book of Llandaff, the liber Llandavensis.

In the legendary story, Gwynllyw [Woolos], king of Gwynllywg [Wentloog] and tribal leader was very much the bandit. Anxious to find a wife, he kidnapped Gwladys the daughter of Brychan, king of Brycheiniog, from whom the name Brecon is derived, but whose court was actually at Talgarth. Gwynllyw survived the ensuing battle with assistance from Arthur, king of Ercing and he brought his wife back to his territory. The ambiguity comes from the fact that the basic Latin word could describe a consensual elopement or one of criminal violence. He and Gwladys had their firstborn son Cattwg [Cadog]. However, at the same time, Gwynllyw stole possibly as tribute, a cow belonging to St Tathan, who had established his Church at Caerwent. Breathing out hell fire, Tathan came to Gwynllyw’s stockade demanding retribution. The cow was returned and Cadoc was given up for a godly life under the tutelage of Tathan, as Hannah gave up her son, the prophet, Samuel, to Eli.

Both eldest son and wife combined to save Gwynllyw’s soul and a Church was built, we are informed, in a place where Gwynllyw was told by an angel that he would find a black ox with a white spot high above its forehead. A similar story surrounds the building of Durham Cathedral on a site to which monks carrying St Cuthbert’s body were led by two milkmaids searching for a lost dun [brown] cow. The dun cow is celebrated in a panel on the north side of Durham Cathedral: the black ox in a magnificent statue in Newport city centre. However, the fact is that ease of defence would seem a good reason for building on the Newport and Durham sites. It was just common sense!

Black Ox in the City Centre

Black Ox in the City Centre

Legend credits both Gwynllyw and Gwladys with daily bathing in the Usk as proof of piety. Having lived in Newport for twenty years and watched that river’s daily fluctuations, I doubt this happened: the river has exceptional mud at low tide and poses great danger from tidal currents when fuller.

According to Liber Llandavensis, at Cattwg’s instigation, Gwynllyw received last rites from Dubritius, Bishop of Llandaff. Circa 1100, just as now, Llandaff was trying a make out a case, that its Bishop should be primate for a Welsh province, totally independent of Canterbury: so Dubritius is cited as its Bishop, when in fact his small unique see [Celtic Bishops were normally sacramental missionaries rather than ecclesiastical rulers] embraced a region near Hay on Wye, called Ercing in Welsh, Arconium in Latin, Arkenfield in English, quite a long way from Cardiff and long before a bishopric was established at Llandaff. I had Dyfrig’s cushion in St Woolos Cathedral chapter and the pleasure for me as a bibliophile of visiting the patrimony of Hay. And as for Arkenfield itself, don’t blink as you drive through: if you do, you will miss it altogether.

Wales is dependent for her early Christian history on what was normally an oral tradition. Though Latin was in use, Welsh only became a written language 200 years after St Augustine of Canterbury persuaded Ethelbert of Kent to codify his laws in written English. Wales also lacked a Bede, who in Dark Ages England saw that a historian’s primary tasks were to seek information and be true to his sources without redaction. His written account has remained essential reading since the early eighth century and the usual source, reproduced from Gildas, for the martyrdom of Julius and Aaron in the city of the legions, in Welsh Caerleon.

Saint Gwynllyw as portrayed in the cathedral's stained glass

Saint Gwynllyw as portrayed in the cathedral’s stained glass

A reason why Welsh tradition is very much questioned lies in an obsession with linking personal and place-names in ways which though meant to be history, some-times are pure fiction. Geoffrey of Monmouth, author of Annals of The Kings of Britain [c.1135] was a master of this process known as onomancy and the most famous example was his linking of Old King Cole, a merry old soul, with Colchester. It may even be behind the linking of Arthur with Arconium. Sadly, some scholars, despite his European fame, doubt Arthur ever existed.

And what of Gwynllyw? What can be safely said of him? The Cathedral Church at the top of Stow Hill, and particularly its entrance chapel, is proof of his existence; so too are the dedications to his wife Gwladys, their son Cadog and other children, Cyfw, Maches and Tanglws found in Monmouthshire and Gwent. His was a Celtic Church of the grave, rather like that of Tewdric, King of Morgannwg, mortally wounded according to tradition by an axe-blow to the head in battle with the Saxons, some say at Bath, others at Tintern, a hundred years after Gwynllyw. Tewdric’s coffin nestles against the north wall of the chancel of Mathern Church and it has been opened twice, once by Bishop Godwin of Llandaff in the 17th century and once in the 19th. What really stood out was the blow to the skull. It affirmed Tewdric’s distinction of being rated a Martyr as well as a King. Would that we could find Gwynllyw’s coffin!

The Cathedral Church of St Gwynllyw

March 29th is Gwynllyw’s day. He is called a King and Confessor. As king, he would have expected his people to follow him in adopting Christianity. His example, especially through his son Cadoc, led to the foundation of many churches. Part of his confession was his conversion from Man of Battle to one of Peace, like many Medieval Barons, who forsook the sword for piety. This may not have been because of feelings of guilt so much as a feeling that only in Jesus could his life find purpose. I think of that great war-time pilot, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, who witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and went on to found homes for the disabled and to write of the genuineness of the Turn Shroud. Asked about his conversion, he said he had investigated many religions but found without Christ his life was so empty.

Unlike Norman town Churches, normally dedicated to Mary, Celtic foundations tend to be dedicated to their founder. St Woolos’s has stood at the top of Newport’s Stow Hill for 1500 years. Cadog’s influence spread into the Vale of Glamorgan where he founded the community of Llancarfan, which in time was to provide Llandaff with its Chapter. Christians are called upon lay foundations as Woolos did, whilst acknowledging Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.

The remaining talks in the Series will be given by the Bishop of St Asaph on Kentigern & Asaph next Sunday and by the Priory of Caldey on St Samson on March 22nd.

You can read the earlier sermons here: St David & St Teilo.

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