Recusancy in Abergavenny and the Marches

Saturday 14 October 2017

at St Michael’s Centre, Abergavenny

Following the acquisition of the Gunter Mansion by the Welsh Georgian Trust earlier this year, the study day will explore how covert activity carried out by Catholics persisted in Abergavenny and the Marches in the years after the Reformation, and in particular how the Gunter family provided a secret chapel and meeting place for Catholics in Abergavenny.

The four speakers at the study day are: Dom Aidan Bellenger, Dr Hannah Thomas, Jeremy Knight and Dr Richard Allen.

Dom Aidan Bellenger, former Abbot of Downside, is a writer and historian whose talk “Catholic Hierarchy in the post reformation period 1558–1850 in England and Wales” will explain where priests were trained, how they lodged with powerful Catholic families and how they ministered to the substantial number of outlawed Catholics that remained in Abergavenny and the Marches.

Dr Hannah Thomas is a lecturer at Durham University and has studied the history of the Jesuit’s college and library that was set up at the Cwm outside Monmouth in the beginning of the 17th century. The “house” was eventually suppressed in 1678 after the Titus Oates plot which saw the arrest and execution of the last Catholic martyr in Britain, St. David Lewis, who was born in Abergavenny and is buried in Usk.

Jeremy Knight is a local historian and writer. He is president of the Monmouthshire Antiquarian Society and a well-known speaker on all aspects of local Welsh historical events. His talk “Community and Conflict:The Abergavenny of St David Lewis” looks at events in Monmouthshire in the years after the Reformation in particular in relation to the Catholic families.

Dr Richard Allen is a reader of Early Modern Cultural History at the University of South Wales. His talk “Everyday life in a seventeenth-century Catholic household: the Gunter family of Abergavenny” will tie in with the acquisition of the Gunter Mansion by the Welsh Georgian Trust. In 1907 a secret Catholic chapel was rediscovered in the attic together with a painting of the Adoration of the Magi and other artefacts and inscriptions indicating that the room had been used as a place of worship by Catholics. It is known that the priests David Lewis and John Kemble (from just across the border in Herefordshire) said Mass in this chapel.

Please click on the link below for more details and the booking form.

Recusancy study day booking form