Image of 'Brecon Collegiate Church and School' in script across the top

History of Brecon Church


When King Henry VIII was reorganizing the English church after the Reformation, he closed down all of the monasteries and took their property. Some of their buildings were repurposed. In 1541, he issued Letters Patent (a formal royal proclamation: the term appears in the plural, even though it is a single text) closing down the collegiate church at Abergwili, in South Wales. He reestablished it 40 miles west in the town of Brecon, giving them the buildings of the now-defunct Dominican friars there. The transplanted organization was given a new name, Christ College Brecon, and a new purpose, running a school. More than 450 years later, the school is still in operation.

The story of the foundation of Christ College Brecon is best told through the motives and actions of its two founding fathers, Henry VIII and Bishop William Barlow. Visit them our People page. If you run across unfamiliar terminology, we hope that our glossary will be helpful.

The Sources

The original Letters Patent are lost, but the government's original file copy (our Witness R) still exists at The National Archives in London. Several other copies were made in the 1700s and 1800s. Except for the file copy, all of the other manuscript copies appear as an appendix to a collection of the medieval statutes of St Davids Cathedral. These Letters Patent were also printed in an obscure book in 1719. for more information about these documents see our 'About these documents' page.