Archive for April, 2016

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’.


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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

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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.


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


Barley Studio - creation.jpg

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.

HW painting (1).jpg

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.

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May Preachers

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”.

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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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The Priory Church Choir and the Abergavenny Borough Band will celebrate The Queen’s 90th Birthday  with a Concert on Saturday, April  23rd at 7pm – 3 days after Her Majesty’s Birthday.


On Sunday June 12th as part of the UK Celebrations our bells will ring out from 12noon – 2pm. Our gardens will be special dressed for this weekend in June also.

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Charity number: 1137751

Annual Report

for the year ending 31 December 2015

Trustees’ report

The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements [ not included in this post] of the charity for the year ending 31 December 2015. 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 consolidation of the Priory’s return to its monastic roots, with the doubling of the number of young people following the spirit of the Rule of St Benedict in the Holywell Community, serving both Church and the wider community.


Commissioning  of the Holywell Community by Bishop Richard

The year was again a busy one for the Parish with regular and special services, distinguished visiting preachers, awards, concerts and visitors from all over the world who came to see the renowned medieval monuments. Thousands of youngsters from local schools, their teachers, friends and families visited St Mary’s, and its daughter church Christchurch, for Christmas and Christingle services. However, the Church had to limit these numbers because of access and fire regulations, leading to around 1,000 people not being able to attend these special services. This year, there was also an emphasis on mission and outreach.

In addition, the parish was twinned in March with the parish of Evander with Secunda in the Diocese of the Highveld, South Africa, a link which will be cemented by a proposed visit of Fr Barnard, parish priest and Archdeacon of Igwa West.


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 with Christchurch as Vicar; St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, as Rector; and Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny, as Priest-in-Charge, as well as Prior of the Holywell Community. He continues to serve as Area Dean of Abergavenny and as a Canon of Newport Cathedral. In March, HM The Queen sanctioned Canon Soady’s admission as Member (Brother) of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.


The Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner has settled into her role as Sub-Prior and Deacon of Abergavenny, while continuing her work as a prison chaplain.

The Holywell Community entered its second year with four lay members—Amy Pope, Samuel Patterson, Michael Topple and Adrian Price. They work both in the Church and the wider community, running all-age worship, visiting schools, and volunteering at a centre for young people in the town and at the Little Footprints playgroup. Their wide range of duties included visiting the sick, gardening at the Tithe Barn and Church, serving at regular and special services and, towards the end of the year, acting as Verger at weddings and funerals. Sr Amy took on Chaplaincy work at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, while Br Sam gained more experience of church life by spending time at Ss Julius & Aaron, Newport. He also led a reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament at Exposition during the annual Anglican Pilgrimage to Glastonbury.


The Community in playful mood.

Following the month-long Stewardship Campaign in September, the Holywell Community also started weekly Bible Study sessions, enabling parishioners to explore more deeply the Word of the Lord.

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, the Revd Roy Jenkins, presenter of the BBC Radio Wales Programme All Things Considered preached at Abergavenny’s joint service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.


    Revd Roy Jenkins (C) BBC

  • Also in January, a Mass was said for Charles, King & Martyr, using the 1662 service – it was at St Mary’s that Charles said to have held his last Court;
  • To mark the 70th anniversary  of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, Bonia, pupils from King Henry VIII Comprehensive and Cantref Primary Schools,Abergavenny, came to St Mary’s to commemorate Holocaust Day;
  • During Lent a series of Evensong addresses saw one Bishop, two Priors, two Canons and four Priests look at the lives of the Celtic Saints;
  • 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;
  • The Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Richard Paine presided and preached at services over the Easter Triduum;
  • In July, Bishop Richard came to St Mary’s for the last of his evening events Walking with Mary, celebrating Mary and her importance to Anglicans. The preacher was the Revd Philip Godsell;
  • Fr. Godsell, who was an Ordinand of this Parish, offered a Mass of Thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary—his third Mass after being ordained Priest at Petertide;
  • In October, an evening service commemorated the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt and St Crispin’s Day;


    The Lord Lieutenant’s Cadets lay a a wreath at the tomb of Agincourt Veteran Sir William ap Thomas

  • In June the Civic Service for Abergavenny Town Council was held in St Mary’s;
  • In September, the Rt Revd Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor, preached at St Mary’s, Christchurch and St Peter’s at the end of the parishes’ month-long Stewardship Campaign;
  • In October, the congregations gave thanks for the bounty which the earth brings at their Harvest Thanksgiving services, raising money for Embrace the Middle East, to be used to buy mattresses for Syrian refugees in the Lebanon ;
  • In November, the All Souls Mass and Remembrance Day Masses took place;
  • In December, there were more joyous occasions as local schools used the church for their Christingle and Christmas services – thousands of youngsters, their families and teachers visiting the church in the space of a week.

Carols by candlelight at Christchurch,North Street

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, including some of the Benedictine Offices, were celebrated 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 140, and the number reported to be recorded on the new  Electoral Roll for both churches on 31 December 2015 , the numbers accounted for by the sad loss of some parishioners while others moved away.

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. The Deacon celebrated a further five baptisms in the Parish and there were further funerals taken by herself and retired and lay ministers.


Amy leads the singing at Belmont Home

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. A particularly joyous occasion was the ecumenical Christmas service where around 200 Christians from throughout the town sang carols and listened to the story of Christ’s birth.


Mission and outreach work

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.

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 9 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 in 2013 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 60 boxes to orphanages in Romania;


    Loading the shoe boxes

  • Parishioners contributing staple foodstuffs and toiletries to the Abergavenny Food Bank;
  • 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;
  • 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;


    Packing Christmas gifts for ‘Teenagers’

  • Contributing to the Bishop of Monmouth’s Lent Appeal;
  • Contributing to the work the Additional Curates Society.

St Mary’s Priory Choir went on their annual Singing Week in July, becoming choir-in-residence at Salisbury Cathedral. 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.

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, is progressing well, with work to stabilise the outside of the east wall of the Lewis Chapel being carried out. Window designer Helen Whittaker started work on the glass itself, with the window due to be installed in late Spring/early Summer 2016.


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, with the exception of two weeks after Remembrance Sunday when renovation was being carried out. 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 music by Vaughan Williams and Bach;
  • Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir performing in aid of the Welsh Warrior charity;
  • Abergavenny Borough Band and choir celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day;
  • A concert by Cologne Philharmonia Choir;
  • Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir performing in aid of the Welsh Warrior Charity;
  • Concert pianist Peter Lutter performing in aid of Action for Duchenne and the Winston Memorial Appeal;
  • A concert by Crickhowell Choral Society;
  • Greater Gwent Music and other artists performing in aid of the Mayor of Abergavenny’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 adults and as part of Cantref Open Gardens Scheme, the latter raising money for Target Ovarian Cancer. The monthly coffee mornings held at Christchurch are well supported by both members of the congregation and people from the community.

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 and provided refreshments during Abergavenny Food Festival.


The major event of the year was An Evening with Michael Howard, when he was interviewed about his life and the audience had a chance to ask questions.

Members of the parish undertook a pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, Durham and York in September, learning more about the lives of saints in the area, to complement the Lenten addresses on the Celtic Saints.

Under the auspices of Abergavenny Council of Churches, a General Election hustings was held, giving the six candidates for the constituency of Monmouth an opportunity to speak on a wide range of questions submitted by members of the public.


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. He has been assisted by a Deacon, the Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner and by the members of the Holywell Monastic Community .


Deacon Sarah & Fr Mark

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 , the Revd Malcolm Lane and the  Canon Roger Williams.


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 objective.

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;



Singing carols in the Courtyard during the Winter Food Festival

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.


Further achievements in the year

Monies were raised by freewill offertory, fundraising 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 2016 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 2016. 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 Revd Canon Mark Soady               Chairman

The Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner

Mrs Janet Battersby                           People’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference   and Safeguarding Officer

Mrs Andrea Corley

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

Mr Lyn Evans

Mr Stephan Grabner                                Representative on the Diocesan Conference

Mrs Anne Griffiths

Mr Steven Lamerton                               Gift Aid Treasurer

Mr Vernon Lewis

Mr David Marsh

Mrs Eunice Marsh                                    PCC Secretary

Mrs Jenny McPherson

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

Mr Tim Pratt                                               Deputy Vicar’s Warden

Mr Andrew Powell

Mrs Patricia Ransome

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

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 Stephan Grabner, Mrs Hazel Watkins, Mrs Sadie Watkins, Mr Gary Pedder


The Herbert Chapel tombs

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.

While the majority of employees working on the site are employed by the Priory House Company Ltd, the Charity employed 1  member of staff, the Organist, as at December 2015, she is payed at least the Living Wage, as decided by the PCC.


Committee structure

The PCC met seven times in 2015, 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 General Purposes and Finance Committee
  • The Fabric Committee
  • The Fundraising Committee
  • St Mary’s Winston Appeal Committee



Work to lower the external ground level of the East-end of the Lewis Chapel


Regular inspections and maintenance of both Churches, plus the other buildings and the grounds, were carried out during the year as required. Minor works following the receipt of the latest Quinquennial Report for St Mary’s have continued. In addition the latest Quinquennial Report for Christchurch and its adjacent Hall was received during the year.

Work undertaken at St Mary’s during the year included

  1. A programme of repair and refurbishment of the external stonework of the east wall of the Lewis Chapel, including the stone tracery of the window, in preparation for the installation of the memorial window in 2016. At the same time, the external ground levels were reduced to match the internal floor levels to eliminate issues of moisture ingress.
  2. A programme of modifications repairs and reconditioning to the peal of 10 bells, including the fitting of new roller wheels. The bells were installed in 1947 and the work was undertaken by the original bellfounders, John Taylor & Co, of Loughborough to ensure the continuing integrity of this highly regarded peal.




The level of direct voluntary contributions at each act of worship, excluding tax reclaimed through Gift Aid, amounted to £86,143 (2014: £79,370). Compared to the reductions in recent years this significant (8.5%) increase reflects increased individual giving from the diminishing congregation.

Other unrestricted general income, including from fund raising activities, amounted to £122,915 (2014: £82,950), including a number of substantial donations. In addition, the Church received a major Legacy when a nearby house was bequeathed to the Parish in the will of a parishioner. Selling the property realised £139,996 and this was used to repay a large proportion of the loan from the Representative Body which the Parish received to towards the purchase of the previous Curate’s House, now occupied by the Holywell Community (see below). All necessary approvals having been obtained, work has begun on installing the new window in St Mary’s in memory of our previous incumbent, the Very Reverend Jeremy Winston, and this has released money from our principal external funding body, while fundraising also recommenced. As a result £43,232 of additional restricted funds was received during the year.

The level of unrestricted expenditure amounted to £203,909 (2014: £215,332) with restricted expenditure on further minor repairs to St Mary’s Tower, and costs associated with the Lewis Chapel and the memorial window amounting to £43,763 (2014: £22,502). The Parish Share payable to the Diocese during the year was £80,555 (2014: £87,319) : however, £40,000 remained outstanding at the end of the year (2014: £28,800).

The net assets of the Charity at 31 December 2014 amounted to £401,531 (2013: £256,915), including freehold properties valued at £362,641 (2014: the same). The principal liabilities are the shortfall on the Parish Share and the balance of the loan on the Holywell Community House, now £59,004 (2014 : £195,000) after application of the proceeds of the sale of the Legacy property received.

During 2015, the Charity received £3,000 of service fee from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority associated with the latter’s use of part of the Tithe Barn as the location of the town’s Tourist Information Centre.It also received a grant via the BBNPA for Agincourt associated expenditure. It received no other grants, or income for services delivered, from central or local government during the year.

Although not strictly in 2015, in January 2016, the Chairman and Treasurer undertook a review of the Internal Financial Controls of the Charity using the questionnaire circulated by the Wales Office of the Charity Commissioners as the basis of the review. All relevant procedures were found to be compliant but the need to tighten up on a number of aspects was highlighted and appropriate changes are being implemented.

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

HSBC Bank plc, 2 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AF

Barclays Bank, 57 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AT 

Independent Examiner

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

Trust Architect

David Arnold, of Arnold Bartosch Ltd (formerly Bartosch & Stokes), 1 Bath Mews, Bath Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HL


Approved by the Trustees and signed on their behalf by Revd Canon Mark Soady, Chair

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