A number of churches across the Diocese of Monmouth are participating in this year’s national Open Doors event, which takes place throughout September as part of European Heritage Days.
From Ebbw Vale to Llanfechfa, Llanwenarth Citra to Newport, churches are offering tours, recitals, talks and exhibitions to showcase the fantastic heritage held within their walls.
Newport Cathedral stands on a site which has been practising Christianity for over 1500 years. Today it is a ‘walk through time’ with signs of pre-Norman stonework in the St Mary’s Chapel, the famous Norman Arch leading into the Norman nave with its medieval wagon-beam roof, considered to be a national treasure and deemed to be one of the oldest roofs in the country, terminating with the modern John Piper Mural situated behind the High Altar. The stained glass windows in the Cathedral are of interest, depicting the family of St Gwynllyw (Woolos) and biblical scenes. These windows date from 1875 onwards. In addition to a comprehensive guide book, guides will be on hand to give a fascinating account of the Cathedral’s interesting history.
On Saturday 12 September, between 9.30am and 4.30pm, the Cathedral will be open to the public, with a number of activities: Guided tours of the tower will be available offering fine panoramic views of Newport and the surrounding countryside. En route to the top, you can meet the bell ringers who will explain the art of bell ringing and, through a video, explain the actual workings of the bells.
There will be a concert by Gwent Schools Musicians at 12pm, as part of the Music at St Woolos concert series. Throughout the day the Cathedral shop will be open and refreshments will be available in the Cathedral Hall.
Around the Diocese, other churches are taking part in Open Doors in a variety of ways:
- St Mark’s Church, Goldtops, Newport, is open 10am-4pm every Wednesday throughout September, with a ‘pop-up cafe’ and information about the Church.
- Christchurch, Ebbw Vale, is will be open on Saturday 12 September, 11am-3pm, with guided tours and light refreshments.
- All Saints Church, Llanfrechfa (near Cwmbran) will be hosting a special exhibition by the Newport branch of Gwent Family History Society on Saturday 19 September, 2pm-5pm, as well as children’s activities, quizzes, handbell ringing and information on the historic features of the Church. At 5pm there will be a special choral service ‘Thy Will Be Done’, with the theme of social justice.
- St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, will be giving visitors the opportunity to share in activities with the new monastic community which is resident at the Church, on Saturday 26 September, 9am-5pm.
- The Parish Church of St Peter, Llanwenarth Citra (near Abergavenny), will be open for tours and to show the plans for the renovation to the Church on Sunday 27 September, 11am-5pm. Refreshments will also be available and local produce and cakes will be on sale.
Jen Robinson from Newport Cathedral said: “I’m delighted we have been able to open the Cathedral to the public in this way. This is a really special opportunity to see part of Wales’ hidden heritage, and we’re encouraging the local community, as well as visitors from further afield, to take advantage of this opportunity by visiting this weekend.”
There is no cost for entry to any Open Doors events. Open Doors gives everybody the chance to explore historic buildings and sites free of charge.
Open Doors is part of European Heritage Days, which takes place in 50 countries across Europe every September. It is Wales’ largest celebration of buildings and architecture, the largest volunteer event in the heritage sector in Wales, with over 1800 volunteers participating. The event is led by CADW, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, in conjunction with partners across Wales. For more information, please visit www.cadw.gov.uk/opendoors.