ACOUSTIC TRIANGLE 2005 TOUR
A Brecon Jazz Festival Event
Following the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066, an uneasy pact was maintained between the Welsh chieftains and the Norman invaders. This began to break down as Norman lords broke free of royal control and started to occupy territory on the Welsh border. One of these lords was Bernard of Neufmarche, whose activities in this area culminated in a battle near Brecon in 1093, in which the local Welsh chieftain was killed. Bernard built a castle at Brecon to control the area and gave an existing church near the castle described as 'the church of St John the Evangelist without the walls' to a monk of Battle abbey in Sussex called Roger. He and other monks of the Benedictine Order established a Priory on this site.
Brecon Priory flourished, as a satellite of Battle Abbey, for over 400 years - from about 1100 to the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537. Most of the building we see today dates from this period. Some parts of the Cathedral survive from the early Norman period, but the building was greatly expanded in the thirteenth century in the Early English style, and in the fourteenth century in the Decorated style. In the late Middle Ages it became an important place of pilgrimage following the construction of a Golden Rood on the screen at the East end of the Nave. The number of monks was never large but the work of worship and teaching was maintained throughout its history.
The Priory was closed by Henry VIII in 1537. The monastic buildings became the property of Sir John Price, a local man, and the church survived as a parish church for the town. The East end of the priory and some of the chapels fell into ruin, but the nave and the tower survived.
The building underwent major restoration in the 1860's under the direction of Sir Gilbert Scott. In 1923, when the Church in Wales was disestablished, the Priory Church became the Cathedral Church of the new diocese of Swansea and Brecon. The building was further up-graded at this time. In recent years some of the buildings have been converted into a Diocesan Centre, Heritage Centre, exhibition, shop and restaurant.
(abridged from notes by the former Dean, The Very Reverend Geraint Hughes, M.A.)
Thanks to Jim Smith for inviting Acoustic Triangle to Brecon.
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