Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Gunter House at Abergavenny with its Secret Catholic Chapel. Fundraising group to restore and tell the story of this remarkable House. From the South Wales Argus


The Welsh Georgian Trust has been in negotiations with a Monmouth-based company to buy the Grade II*Listed Gunter Mansion in Cross Street and an agreement has been reached to acquire it if the funds can be raised.
The Monmouth-based trust, which specialises in rescuing endangered treasurers, aims to restore the building which boasts one of the best preserved recusant chapels in the UK and the only one in Wales.
At the time the property was owned by Thomas Gunter, a local attorney and ardent supporter of the Catholic faith.
A number of retail units now occupy the ground floor of the mansion which once contained the chapel in its attic.
The trust needs to raise £200,000 to buy the building from The Cardiff Exchange and Office Company Ltd and to carry out immediate urgent repairs. A bid will then be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for major restoration.
Once the restoration work is complete, the bulk of the building will remain retail to ensure it has a viable economic future which, it is hoped, will be an opportunity to help in the regeneration of that part of the town centre.
A public meeting, hosted by the Trust’s chairman, Andrew Becket, was held in the town last week.
Mr Becket said there was ‘tremendous support shown’ and a wealth of ideas put forward. A steering group is due to meet and several groups formed to look at areas of the project such as the lottery bid, fundraising and research of the building.
“It is II*Listed for its ‘special interest as a late 16th century house with fine features and an important history.”
An altar piece, The Adoration of the Magi by an unknown artist is now on display in Abergavenny Museum.(See above) St David Lewis would have offered Mass in this building.
The trust wants to see the chapel opened up to the public, and one possibility is to create a small centre celebrating the history of the Catholicism in Wales.
Former Torfaen MP Paul Murphy who is a prominent Catholic, the local history society and Civic society have pledged their support for the project.
Mr Becket said: “Whatever happens, this will be a community project. We have no fixed ideas at the moment but we will keep it within the realms of what is achievable.”
It has until the end of 2016 to raise the funds.More anon.

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