Former school in old church, Abergavenny

Link to French translation


Former school in old church     

The stone building opposite Harry’s Sandwich and Coffee Bar was originally St John’s Church, the parish church. A curfew bell was rung each evening in the church tower to warn that the town gates were closing for the night. The tower dates from the 14th century.

The building ceased to be a church after St Mary’s Priory Church, in Monk Street, became the parish church, following a petition to King Henry VIII from the people of Abergavenny. The priory itself was closed in 1539, as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries (to strip the churches of their power and riches). The king gave the tithes (taxes) from the priory to establish the King Henry VIII Grammar School in the redundant St John’s Church. The school opened in 1542.

Any boy at the grammar school who behaved badly was put into a basket and hauled up to the rafters, where he remained for the rest of the day! You can see an illustration of this practice on a slate plaque to the lower right of the school’s old entrance door. Schoolboys had to provide their own candle and slate as well as paying for their education in Latin and the classics.

The building remained a school until 1898, when a new school was built at Pen-y-Pound. The former church then became a Masonic Lodge.

With thanks to Gill Wakley, of Abergavenny Local History Society, and to Harry’s Sandwich and Coffee Bar for hosting the QR codes

Postcode: NP7 5RT    View Location Map

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