History of St Marys

For over 900 years the Priory Church of St. Mary has been at the very heart of life in Usk. Built for the glory of God, this beautiful church continues to serve as a living place of worship, prayer and pilgrimage. St. Mary’s is a haven of peace and stillness in a fast and busy world.

St. Mary’s was originally both a Priory and a Parish church…

The Priory for Benedictine nuns was founded c1160 by Richard ‘Strongbow’ le Clare.

It was one of only three monastic houses in Wales for female religious orders before the Reformation. 

The monastic church ran east and west of the tower, with transepts (long demolished) north and south. 

Later the north aisle was added to provide a parish church for the town.

Following the Welsh uprising led by Owain Glyndwr and the burning of Usk in 1405, the church underwent a period of much rebuilding….

The large perpendicular windows were inserted and the two porch doors built 

The choir screens were added later in the C15th

The church became well known for its shrine containing relics of St Radegund, a C6th Frankish princess who founded the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers and so the Priory Church became an important place of pilgrimage.

Following the Dissolution of the Priory in 1536…

Roger Williams became owner of the monastic buildings together with the land to the south of the church. 

The large stone building beside the west entrance to the churchyard was originally the gatehouse to the Priory 

The remains of the Priory buildings may be glimpsed through the narrow lancet window in the western end of the nave. 

Following the dissolution, the chancel and transepts were demolished and during C18th a schoolroom was built on the site of the north transept,