St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Goldcliff
This church’s early fortunes may have been linked to the downfall of Goldcliff Priory in the 15th century. Like the church, the priory was dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. It was founded in 1113 and at one time was the largest Benedictine priory in South Wales. It occupied a coastal site c.1km from the current church.
In 1424 the priory was badly damaged by floodwater and storms. It was re-formed in 1442. In 1451 the king granted the priory to the recently formed Eton College, in Windsor, but the priory was formally abandoned in 1467. Some of the stone in the walls of the current church may have been recycled from the priory site.
Even this inland site was not immune to tidal flooding. Inside the church is a plaque installed soon after a freak tidal surge in 1607 (recorded as 1606 on the plaque, which refers to a previous calendar). The plaque records the level which the water reached and the flood’s effect on the parish: 22 people were drowned and the damage was valued at more than £5,000.
The church originally had just a single cell. The nave may originally have been erected in the 12th century. The Victorians rebuilt and extended the church. The font (stone bowl for holy water) is medieval, with a cover dating from the 18th century.
In October 1858 some 200 or 300 people took part in a picnic at Goldcliff to raise funds for an organ for the church.
The connection to Eton College continued into the 20th century. In June 1900 the press reported that “the patrons, the authorities of Eton College” had appointed the Rev John Price as Goldcliff’s new vicar.
Today the church is one of several in the benefice of Magor.
Postcode: NP18 2AU View Location Map