Yesterday's local newspapers carried the news of a fire in Abergavenny. The fire, which is believed to have started in an empty flat above an Indian Takeaway, sent flames shooting 12ft or more into the night sky. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the blaze. However, there is cause for concern as the fire has left the building, part of the 16th century Gunter Mansion, structurally unsound. It was in the Gunter home that Fr David Lewis and Fr Philip Evans regularly said Mass and ministered to the Catholics of Abergavenny and surrounding area. (Both priests were martyred in 1679.) It was common knowledge that Thomas Gunter had a secret Catholic Chapel in his home but its exact location had been lost to memory. In 1908, during renovations to the property, Gunter's secret chapel was discovered by surprised workmen. The above photo shows the Gunter Mansion, now divided into shops. The small, attic window in the gable in the foreground looks out onto Cross Street from the former chapel.
This strange looking photograph was taken from the back of the Gunter Mansion and clearly shows the remains of the lintel of the doorway. This doorway was the entrance to the secret chapel, which was entered via an outside staircase. It is exciting to be able to see, even just partly, this centuries old entrance and to picture in the mind's eye, those faithful Catholics who risked so much by adhering to their faith.