St Mary

St Mary was rebuilt in 1875-6 by the architect John Dando Sedding who carefully reused some of the original fabric and introduced a rich decorative sgraffito scheme.

About this church

The chancel roof and much of the window tracery are medieval, whilst the 15th century chancel screen and Norman font are survivors from the earlier building. The north chancel window contains fragments of medieval glass whilst some monuments and floor slabs of the 17th & 18th centuries were also incorporated into the rebuilding. In the churchyard is a late medieval cross to which Sedding added a new top.

In 1885 the Vicar's wife, Rosamund Lindsay died. Her husband decided to decorate the interior in her memory. The artist chosen, Heywood Sumner, came from an ecclesiastical family. His grandfather was Charles Sumner, Bishop of Winchester and his father George became the Bishop of Guilford. His mother Mary Sumner was the founder of The Mother’s Union. At Llanfair Kilgeddin he introduced sgraffito panels to enhance the interior, taking The Benedicite (Song of Creation) as his theme. This technique, which uses thin layers of different coloured plaster which are cut back to reveal the required colour underneath, was Roman in origin, but had been reintroduced into Britain by Henry Cole at the Victoria and Albert Museum. True to medieval tradition, Sumner included local features in his designs. For example in 'O Ye Mountains and Hills' on the north wall of the nave the nearby River Usk, the Sugar Loaf and Llanvihangel Gobion church tower are all included. The sixteen sgraffito panels present a remarkably complete example of this style of work, and under the window which depicts 'All Ye Beasts' you will find his initials HS and the date 1888.

In 2017 the church experienced a tragic metal theft in which the original pipes of the Telford organ were stolen. The organ restoration is now complete. 

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard
  • Parking within 250m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches

St Mabli

More information about this church coming soon.


St Mary

Abergavenny parish church was founded in the late 11th century as the church of a Benedictine priory. It is the only part to survive, apart from the later tithe barn.

Our Lady & St Michael Priory

The church is unusual in its long history in that it has been served by members of two religious orders: the Franciscans (1687-1857) and the Benedictines (1857-present).

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