Chepstow – St Mary’s church

History

Church of St. Mary in Chepstow was founded in 1075 as a temple of the Benedictine priory, funded by William Fitz Osbern and his son Roger de Breteuil, the second Earl of Hereford. As Chepstow developed as a market settlement and port around the castle, the nave of the temple began to be used as a parish church. The priory was successfully developed throughout the Middle Ages, flourishing until the dissolution of the order in 1536. Most of the priory buildings, as well as the choir of the church and the cloisters were demolished. Another disaster came in 1701, when the central tower collapsed during the storm, destroying the transepts. During reconstruction, instead of recreating the original appearance, it was decided to build a low tower on the west side of the nave. Even larger changes in the medieval building took place in the 19th century. The aisles were then removed and the eastern part and the transepts were rebuilt. Further work, partly aimed at restoring the Norman character of the nave, began in 1890, but it was discontinued and abandoned in 1913.

Architecture

The original priory church was built of local yellow sandstone. It had a long, vaulted, six-span nave and a richly decorated romanesque, western entrance portal from the beginning of the 12th century. In the period from the thirteenth to the beginning of the sixteenth century, the building grew into a three-nave basilica with two transepts, eastern chancel and a centrally located tower at the intersection of the naves.

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bibliography:
Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website wikipedia.org, Priory Church of St Mary, Chepstow.