Archive for July, 2018

A new Exhibition will open at St Mary’s Priory on August 15th – The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary – in conjunction with the new St Thomas Pilgrim Way.


          The new heritage trail on the Welsh-English borders, St Thomas Way.  

Artist Michelle Rumney has been visiting places along the St Thomas Way and exploring medieval beliefs since last September.  She’s been working alongside Chloe MacKenzie, research fellow in Medieval English at the University of Southampton.  They’ve been looking at the ways people made sense of the world around them.

This story is inspiring on so many levels.  Chloe has been walking in places that still hold echoes of those times over 700 years later, testing the new circular routes at each of the 13 points along the trail.  Meanwhile, Michelle has been exploring the strange world of the Mappa Mundi and the medieval practice of ‘Measuring to the Saint’.   While he was being measured to the Saint, William started coming back to life.


In the 13th Century, it was the custom to measure a person who needed spiritual or physical help from head to toe using a piece of string or thread.  They would send this length of string to a cathedral or priory and the monks would make a candle from it, then pray to the saint for the person’s eternal soul.  Michelle loved this concept that a humble piece of string could perhaps still connect us spiritually.  She has used the practice in her work, measuring over 250 people ‘to the saint’.  Using these lengths of string to create a new ’map’, she invites us to explore and reflect upon these new landscapes.


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The programme for the Festival has been announced.  Each day at Evensong we will celebrate a different century of liturgical music, with different choirs contributing.  The Festival Trebles’ Choir is made up of Trebles from Priory Choir, Newport Cathedral Choir and singers from Swansea.

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The Icosa Choir at St Mary’s at last year’s Festival

Bank Holiday Monday August 27th (pre-reformation)

6pm Choral Vespers (St Mary’s Priory Choir Treble voices)

Magnificat Plainsong Tone v

Anthem: Respice in me – Gerarde

6.30pm Festival Launch Reception (by invitation)

7.30pm Choral Compline (Men’s Voices)

Tuesday August 28th ( 16th Century)

1.15pm Lunchtime Concert- Eleanor Barnard (Soprano)

5.30pm Choral Evensong (Collegium Loidis)

Introit: Jesu,  dulcis memoria- Vittoria      Responses: Smith

Cancticles; Second Service – Byrd

Anthem: When David heard – Tomkins

Wednesday, August 29th (17th Century)

1.15pm Lunchtime Recital: Jon Weller (Tenor) and Aine Smith (Soprano)

5.30pm Choral Evensong ( Ethelbert Consort)

Introit: Why art thou so heavy, O my soul – Loosemore

Responses: Ayleward        Canticles: Fourth Service – Batten

Anthem: Hear my prayer -Purcell

Thursday, August 30th (18th Century)

1.15pm Lunchtime Recital – Tim Pratt (Organ)

5.30pm Choral Evensong (St Mary’s Priory Choir)

Introit: Salve Regina -Lotti

Response: Ebdon      Canticles: Woodward in B flat

Anthem: O Praise God- Woodward


Friday, August 31st (19th Century)

1.15pm Lunchtime Recital – Emma Gibbons (Organ)

5.30pm Choral Evensong (Festival Trebles’ Choir)

Responses: Wesley       Canticles: Service in F – JB Dykes

Anthem: He delivered the poor – Parry


Saturday, September 1st (20th Century)

5.30pm Choral Evensong (Academia Musica)

Response: Radcliffe     Canticles: Dyson in D

Anthem: Blessed City, Heavenly Salem – Bairstow

7.00 pm Evening Recital – Icosa Choir conducted by Luke Mather


Sunday, September 2nd (21st Century)

6.00pm  Closing Choral Evensong (Icosa Choir)

Music at Evensong:

Responses: Bick        Canticles: Short Service – Lesemann-Elliott

Anthem: O gladsome light – Tim Pratt

7.20pm   Closing “Bring and Share” Buffet Supper in Priory Centre


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Wednesday marks the Feast of St Benedict, Patron of Europe and writer of the Monastic Rule followed here on and off for 1,000 years. The Holywell Community based here currently follows the spirit of the Rule.


Icon of St Benedict in the St Benedict Chapel 

10am Mass of the Feast in the Priory Church

Our Vicar and Prior Canon Mark Soady will travel to Devon mid morning to join Buckfast Abbey’s Millennium Celebration in the afternoon. Monks first built an Abbey following the Rule of St Benedict on that site in 1018.

The Feast marks the end of the Holywell Community Lay Members year, so Fr Mark will bid farewell Sr Joanna before departing. (Sr Jenni having already left). The new Community will be licensed on Sunday, August 12th.

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Today sees the launch of a new Pilgrim trail from Swansea, via Abergavenny to Hereford Cathedral. The trail is launched by a day of activities ending in Evensong at the Cathedral.


In 1306, nine witnesses were interrogated about events they had seen in Swansea, around seventeen years previously. The Welshman, William Cragh, had been hanged by William de Briouze, Lord of Gower, and – apparently – miraculously restored to life.

Before the hanging, Cragh had ‘bent a penny to St Thomas’ as a way of invoking the help of Thomas of Hereford. The wife of Lord William, Lady Mary de Briouze, had also been praying to Thomas of Hereford for his help.

When the apparently lifeless Cragh began to recover, Lady Mary also had him ‘measured to St Thomas’. This involved cutting a piece of string the length of his body, which would be given as an offering to the saint.

Cragh’s recovery was understood as a miracle. The testimony of nine medieval eyewitnesses still survives, in a manuscript in the Vatican library.

After Cragh’s recovery, he went on pilgrimage – together with Lord William and Lady Mary de Briouze – to the tomb of St Thomas at Hereford Cathedral, to give thanks. Their journey is the inspiration for the St Thomas Way.


Highlights from the day include; Medieval Pilgrims living history with ‘Pilgrims and Posies’, ‘Re-Making Maps of the Mind’ art exhibition by Michelle Rumney, guest lectures by leading scholars, St Thomas Way ale and medieval brewing . Choral Evensong, sung by the choir of the Collegiate and Parish Church of St Mary, Swansea, and including participation from our Prior Canon Mark Soady.


Participants are not required to do the trail on foot or in one, but as a series of visits to the 13 sites – and on each visit to acquire a stamp.


Visit the St Thomas Way website 

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More details of the Priory Choir’s week in Gloucester Cathedral in August have been released.


On Saturday  18th  they will be singing the music of Richard Woodward (1743- 1777), music that appears to have sat undiscovered in the library of Gloucester Cathedral since about 1772.

A chance conversation with the librarian at Gloucester led to a setting of the Magnificat  and Nunc Dimittis and also an anthem O Praise God in his holiness  being discovered and prepared for performance. The Choir’s Music Director Tim Pratt commented  “It has been a fascinating project and it is quite likely that these pieces will be receiving their first performance in nearly 250 years.”

Appropriately the Choir will sing (Treble Voices) Evensong for the Feast of our Patron the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption on August 14th and Sung Eucharist (Full Choir) on the Feast Day, Wednesday August 15th.


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ON Monday, July 9th we will officially open the new Welsh Language Centre at the Tithe Barn named Canolfan Y Ddegwm (in English The Tithe Centre).

This joint project sees us partnering with the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, whose Welsh Language Unit will be based here; and an association of local Welsh Societies under the umbrella of Criw ‘r Efail.


Details of the Centre were announced on St David’s Day.

Welcoming the news then, Canon Mark Soady Prior & Vicar said:

I am very excited to be working in partnership with the local Health Authority and other interested parties to create this legacy of the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny. When the Church took the Tithe Barn back in to its ownership 10 years or so ago we did so with the intention…

The Tithe Barn will continue to also be home to:

  • Abergavenny Tourism Information Centre
  • Abergavenny Tapestry
  • The Church’s office and Exhibition display 

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It is the last day day of our  Festival of Flowers at St Mary’s Priory to mark many of this year’s Anniversaries, some of which are very significant for the country and for Abergavenny.

As part of our Year of Celebration of Marriage the Festival contains the following displays:

  • The 70th Anniversary of the Marriage of HM The Queen & HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, last November (photo right)
  • The Marriage of TRH The Duke & Duchess of Sussex, in May (photo left)



Getty Images

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle exchanged vows on May 19, 2018, in front of 600 guests including the Queen,more than 30 royals, and famous faces such as Oprah Winfrey, tennis champion Serena Williams, actor George Clooney and his barrister wife Amal Clooney, Sir Elton John, who sang at the reception, David and Victoria Beckham and actor Idris Elba.

After the wedding, hand-tied bouquets of flowers from St George’s Chapel were delivered to St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney. One of the recipients was Pauline Clayton, 89, who at the age of 19 helped to embroider the train of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress.



Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip first met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Prince George, Duke of Kent. Their engagement was officially announced on July 9, 1947, and they were married four months later, on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. The then Princess Elizabeth was the 10th member of the Royal Family to be married at the Abbey, the first was on November 11, 1100, when King Henry I married Princess Malda of Scotland

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It is the penultimate day of our  Festival of Flowers at St Mary’s Priory to mark many of this year’s Anniversaries, some of which are very significant for the country and for Abergavenny.

Other Anniversaries been marked include:

  • 250 years of Encyclopaedia Brittanica:  The Encyclopædia Britannica (Latin for “British Encyclopaedia”),published by Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., is a generalknowledge English-language encyclopaedia.
  • The Blue Moon – 100 years before we will experience it again.
  • Colossus computer is developed 75 years ago:Colossus was a set of computers developed by Brish code breaker in the years 1943–1945 to help in the cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher used by the German Army in the Second World War.
  • Nelson’s Column in situ for 180 years: Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in central London was built to commemorate Admiral Horao Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805
  • Sir Isaac Newton born 375 years ago: Isaac Newton changed the way we understand the Universe.
  • 150 years since the first traffic lights installed, in London:John Peake Knight, a railway engineer and inventor, is credited with designing the world’s first traffic light, a manually-operated gas-lit signal.


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Until July 3rd we will have a Festival of Flowers at St Mary’s Priory to mark many of this year’s Anniversaries, some of which are very significant for the country and for Abergavenny.

As part of the Festival this evening we have a special service to mark in prayer and readings the anniversaries the Festival celebrates.

The service at 6pm will include clergy from a variety of the town’s christian denomiantions and will be attended by representatives of organisations associated with the Anniversaries.


100 Years of Women’s suffrage


Canon Mark Soady Prior:

As we gather among the beauty of God’s creation we come to give thanks for this year’s anniversaries and the abundance of his blessings upon us.

Revd Jeffrey Pearse, NSM Curate:

Father we give thanks for the example given us by Our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth both in her service to the nation and her commitment to through marriage to Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. May she be an example to us all of a life well lived. We give thanks also for the support she receives from her husband and her son. In this place Father we give thanks for Charles, Prince of Wales, for his tireless support of us as our Patron. In their 70thanniversary year we remember your servants in the National Health Service who in their way have made this country healthy by the eradication of disease.

V:Lord in your mercy

R:Hear our Prayer

Revd Ian Kirby (URC):

Almighty God we hold up before you all who died in the Great War, and all who for decades later suffered; praying that they are now resting in Peace. So, Father, as we mark the Centenary of the ending of Hostiles, may we learn to sow love, where there is hatred; and to bring joy, hope   and gladness where there is currently only despair and sadness. We pray especially at this time for the work of our Twinning Associations and groups as they break down the barriers of ignorance and mistrust between peoples of different nations and races.

V:Lord in your mercy

R:Hear our Prayer

Deacon Gwenllian Knighton (Methodist):

We bring before you in thanksgiving Father others who have fought against injustice and inequality, especially at this time we remember the Suffragettes and all who campaigned and voted for women’s suffrage, and support women’s rights in our own day and age. In this place we give thanks for 10 years as a town fair-trading so that all may receive a fare wage for their labours. Upon human Labour send a blessing Lord.

V:Lord in your mercy

R:Hear our Prayer

Revd Malcolm Lane JP,Chaplain to the Chairman of Monmouthshire CountyCouncil:

Father, as your Son came to heal, so we pray your continued blessing on the endeavours of the St John Priory for Wales, giving thanks for a centenary of service in times of war and national disaster as well as in times of peace of and joy. Enable those who train the young to be a source of inspiration to the cadets and badgers; so the healing work may prosper in the years to come. We pray also for the Royal Air Force created out of the hostilities of the fist World War, it has now become an agent of peace and defence of our realm and territories.

V:Lord in your mercy

R:Hear our Prayer

Revd Jeffrey Pearse :

In your wisdom you called Richard to be a Bishop in your church and five years ago to serve as Chief Pastor of this Diocese. We give thanks now for the gifts you have given him and pray that through him your church may grow in this place. We pray that your Gospel may be preached and your kingdom come, in the name of your son our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN


Our Royal Patron HRH The Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday display

Music in the Service

The Priory Church Choir will sing:

Introit- I will thank thee Daniel Purcell in honour of Bishop Richard’s Anniversary


All things Bright & Beautiful  J Rutter to mark the NAFAS Diamond Jubilee

Benedictus in b Flat CV Stanford to Commemorate the Centenary of the Order of St John in Wales


‘Angel Voices ever singing’ to acknowledge artists and artisans, ‘Love Divine’ to celebrate Marriage and ‘God is our strength and refuge’ to the Dam busters tune to mark the RAF Centenary.

The Service will end with the National Anthem and Sir Edward Elgar’s ‘Imperial March’ as an Organ Voluntary as we mark HM The Queen’s 65th Anniversary of Coronation.


Centenary of the end of Hostilities World War1

Readings at the Service

The Sub Prior will read Wilfred Owen’s Poem ‘The End’ to mark 100 years since the Armistice.

A reading from the ‘Song of Solomon’ to mark the NAFAS Anniversary and St Matthew’s Gospel will help us acknowledge anniversaries connected to social justice.

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