Monastic Wales.

Remnants of Monmouth Priory

Little now remains of the medieval church which was rebuilt in the second half of the eighteenth century and serves as the parish church of St Mary’s. Some knowledge of the original layout and design is known from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century accounts and paintings of the church, together with the few medieval remains. The chief surviving remnants are the fourteenth-century tower in the west end of the church, which seemingly incorporates twelfth-century features, and medieval tiles. A seventeenth-century drawing suggests that the church had Romanesque arches and spires, a crossing tower with two transepts and a presbytery with aisles or side chapels. It may thus have been similar in layout and design to the church of St Mary’s, Abergavenny. An account of the church written shortly after the Dissolution described it as a ‘beautiful’ building which had three aisles; the claustral buildings were at this time ruinous and adjoined the east end of the church. The cloister was north-facing. An inventory taken at the time of the suppression mentions a refectory, buttery, kitchen, bishop’s chamber and auditor’s chamber. The school buildings to the north of the church may incorporate elements of the medieval prior's lodging.

The site was recently renovated with the help of an HLF grant. It is now a community building and is open to the public. A medieval fireplace was uncovered during the restoration work of 2001 but the main medieval remnant is a late fifteenth-century oriel window (‘Geoffrey’s window’) with castellated battlements. This stood on the north range, seemingly on the gable end of a building which extended northwards. Three carved heads below the window show a knight, a miller and an angel, to represent the strong ties between the priory and the local community.[1]

[1] R. N. Hadcock and D. Knowles, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales,(Harlow 1971), pp. 55, 71; R. Cooper, Abbeys and Priories of Wales,(Swansea 1992), pp. 68-9.

Monastic sites related to this article

Monmouth, Monmouthshire(Priory)