Skenfrith – St Bridget’s Church

History

   Construction of the church of St. Bridget in Skenfrith began at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, during the reign of English king John. Its consecration was made in 1207. In the fourteenth or fifteenth century, the church was greatly enlarged, by the addition of side aisles and embellished with wall polychromes. The first major repairs were carried out in the seventeenth century, another in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Architecture

   The church was built of Old Red Sandstone. Initially, in the 13th century, it consisted of a rectangular nave and a rectangular chancel of similar width. On the west side, a square, squat tower was built, originally devoid of buttresses. Its walls were almost 1.5 meters thick, and due to the fact that its façades were pierced only with small, narrow, almost slit windows, it also gave the impression of fulfilling defensive functions.
   In the fourteenth or fifteenth century, side aisles were added to the nave from the north and south, equal in length to the central nave and comparable in width. Each of them was opened onto the nave with four arcades based on circular pillars, each also was covered with a separate gable roof. In addition, the entrance on the south side was preceded by a porch at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, while a small sacristy was attached to the southern wall of the chancel.

Current state

   The church luckily avoided major early modern transformations, thanks to which it remains one of the most interesting buildings in the Gwent region today. Only the tower had to be reinforced with a huge buttress, and it was topped with an unusual wooden dovecote. Inside, the church’s greatest treasure is a mantle or cape, which probably dates from the end of the 14th century. It is made of red velvet, with an embroidered image of the Virgin Mary and royal lilies. A thirteenth-century piscina and a baptismal font have also been preserved.

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bibliography:
Salter M., The old parish churches of Gwent, Glamorgan & Gower, Wolverhampton 2002.

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of St Bridget A Grade I Listed Building in Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, Monmouthshire.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Bridget’s church, Skenfrith.