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Church of St. Mary

A Grade II* Listed Building in Monmouth, Monmouthshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8132 / 51°48'47"N

Longitude: -2.7139 / 2°42'50"W

OS Eastings: 350881

OS Northings: 212969

OS Grid: SO508129

Mapcode National: GBR FL.WTPP

Mapcode Global: VH86T.XP4C

Entry Name: Church of St. Mary

Listing Date: 27 June 1952

Last Amended: 10 August 2005

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2784

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: On the street continuing Church Street east out of the town centre.

County: Monmouthshire

Town: Monmouth

Community: Monmouth (Trefynwy)

Community: Monmouth

Built-Up Area: Monmouth

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

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Monmouth

History

Parish Church built on the site of the Benedictine Priory founded c1075, consecrated in 1101 and suppressed in 1536. The nave now became the parish church of the town while the choir and the other conventual buildings sank into decay apart from the Prior's Lodging which continued in use as a school (qv St. Mary's Community Centre, Priory Street). The Romanesque church survives in small part (see Interior) and also the tower which dates from C14. The old church had become very ruinous and the body of it was replaced in 1736-7 by Francis Smith of Warwick in classical style, though retaining the tower and spire. The tower was repaired and the spire rebuilt by Nathaniel Wilkinson in 1743, but the top 50' was rebuilt again in 1864 by Henry Hughes of Bristol. The galleries were added in 1824 by G V Maddox. In 1882 the church was again rebuilt within the existing north and south walls by G E Street in a severe Early English Gothic Style with the tower and spire kept once more. The contractor was Wall and Hook of Brimscombe and the carving was done by H Frith of Gloucester, cost of the rebuilding £6172. The church was completed after Street's death in 1882 and was supervised by Richard Creed. The only alteration since has been some minor internal re-arrangement (see Interior).

Exterior

The church is built of differing types of local sandstone, Old Red for the tower and chancel and grey/pink Buckholt for the rest with Bath limestone dressings. The stone is coursed and squared, Welsh slate roofs. Nave, side aisles and chancel with west tower against the north aisle. The unusual rectilinear plan of this church is the result of Street being required to reuse the foundations and north and south walls of Smith's church as far as possible as an economy measure. The body of the church is in six bays with equal nave and aisles, the tower is west of the north aisle while the chancel projects a further bay from the nave.
The tower is in three stages with diagonal nearly full height corner buttresses on the west corners and large square buttresses up to the bell stage on the east corners, these are presumably Smith of Warwick's work as they appear in pre-Street representations of the church but not in the 1684 drawing. The ground stage has only the small west door. Small pointed windows to the second stage except for the east face. Band before the bell stage with clock face. Bell openings with cusped trefoil heads. Parapet with string and corner pinnacles. Octagonal needle spire with openings with trefoil heads to the four cardinal faces. Finial in the form of a weathercock; the original Wilkinson finial having been removed by Street.
The west wall of the nave is mostly obscured by the tower; the south aisle has a 2-light window with equal lancets above a steeply gabled porch. The south side has six equal bays each with a 2-light window as before. Cill string, corbel table, the bays are articulated by buttresses with offsets, corner buttresses. The fifth bay has a door; the sixth is in Old Red sandstone. The east end has a 3-light window to the south aisle and a circular window to the north aisle. The north aisle gable has a chimney finial. The north wall has five bays as before, but the eastern bay is blind and has a lean-to vestry and a boiler room against it.
The chancel projects one bay, which has a 2-light window on either wall. The east gable has a window with five stepped lights and a quatrefoil above. Coped gable and apex cross.

Interior

Six bay Early English style nave with steeply pointed arcade and circular columns with slim Purbeck shafts to each face; the east bay is the chancel, with the sanctuary beyond. The west nave wall is blind, but retains a semi-circular Norman respond with base revealed showing the change in floor level. This is the only visible relic of the first church from before the surviving tower and tower arch of the C14. King post roof with arch braced collars. The 5-bay chancel screen has been moved to the west end to bay one but the aisle screens remain in place. Font apparently constructed of disparate medieval pieces. Full set of Street period furnishings with some good carving and metalwork. Parclose screens by W D Caroe, 1928. Four panels of fine tiles of c1450 are set into the baptistery walls. Late C16 and C17 plate. Glass for eight windows by Kempe; there is also one of 1938 by Canon B F L Clarke, once curate at St. Mary's and later an important historian of church architecture. Memorials include one to Philip Fisher (1702-76) supposed architect of the Shire Hall (qv), to Lord Llangattock (d.1911) with portrait bust by W Goscombe John; to Joseph Price (d.1796) which is an early work by Sir Richard Westmacott. C14 bells re-cast in 1706 by Abraham Rudhall, and rehung again in 1982 by the Whitechapel Foundry.

Reasons for Listing

Included and highly graded as one of Monmouth's three medieval parish churches which was largely rebuilt with definite Victorian character.

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