Joy at Skenfrith church as rare priest's cope is returned
9:10am Sunday 17th February 2013 in News
FORMER GLORY: The rare priest’s vestment which has been repaired and is now in a purpose-built display case
A RARE priest’s vestment dating back to the 1500s has been returned to a church in Monmouthshire after a year-long restoration project.
Parishioners at St Bridget’s Church in Skenfrith, near Abergavenny, got the first glimpse of the red velvet Skenfrith Cope, which would have been worn around the shoulders, at a celebration service led by the Reverend Dr Jean Prosser, MBE, and attended by Rt Rev Dominic Walker, Bishop of Monmouth.
The cope was in urgent need of repair and its display case was too small and riddled with woodworm.
It was lost for many years and rediscovered in the 19th century, having been used as an altar cloth.
A fundraising campaign saw The Friends of St Bridget’s raise £20,000 by holding events such as concerts, open garden days and cake sales to pay for an expert in London to carry out the repairs and have it placed in a purposebuilt case.
Rev Prosser said: “It was very fragile and worn.
“We didn’t know where it was for 300 years, before it was recognised in the church in 1846 when it was being used as an altar cloth.
“It was put in a case 100 years ago but had deteriorated badly.
“We are thrilled to have it back.
“It is one of three known to exist in the world.
“One is in Chicago and the other in London.”