A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a church which has stood in the centre of Chepstow for nearly 1,000 years.

St Mary’s Priory has been at the heart of the town for more than 950 years, after being built by William Fitzosbourne, second cousin to William the Conquer, around the same time he built Chepstow Castle.

South Wales Argus:

But now, as is the case for many churches built centuries ago, the historic building could face having to close its doors unless it can raise enough cash to keep afloat.

"The uniqueness is that substantial size of St Mary’s means that the ongoing day to day running and the maintenance costs of the building is more than many," explained Rev Philip Averay, who has set up the Friends of St Mary's Priory, Chepstow.

"These costs have become unsustainable by the local worshipping congregation."

Rev Averay said that many residents in Chepstow were "unaware" who is responsible for funding such buildings.

South Wales Argus: Chepstow's St Mary's Priory (picture: Stephen Davies)

Chepstow's St Mary's Priory. Picture: Stephen Davies


"Few are aware that it is the sole responsibility of the local church congregation through their regular giving and fund raising efforts to fund the ongoing running and maintenance costs, without any access to other funds," he said.

South Wales Argus:

"It is true that we are sometimes able to access grant funding for major projects, like we have in recent years to alter the access to the building to ensure disabled access. "However these are very specific projects and do not take into account the every day and regular expenses."

Rev Averay explained that the Friends' vision for St Mary's - "which is the largest meeting space in Chepstow" - was for it to become the centre of the town's community life once more.

"We are asking for the support of the Chepstow community, not just to prevent St Mary’s closing, but to engage in the vision to make it a place fit for the 21st century," he said.

"Although Christian worship and life events will remain the core of St Mary’s life, such as, christenings, weddings and funerals our hope it will also become the prime place for such community things as concerts, school holiday activities, the arts and many other things."

South Wales Argus: Chepstow's St Mary's Priory

Chepstow's St Mary's Priory

For all this to happen the Friends need the full support of the Chepstow community, financially and in volunteering their time.

A Zoom meeting at 7.30pm on Thursday, June 10, will outline the vision for St Mary’s and seek the practical and financial support of the community.

To register your interest, email Rev Averay at revphilipaveray@gmail.com

"We are seeking to start the charity of The Friends of St Mary’s Priory, Chepstow which will drive this vision forward and seek to engage the community further to ensure not just the survival of St Mary’s, but it’s thriving as place at the heart of Chepstow," said Revd Averay.