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Neath (Abbey)

also known as: Neath

Order: Cistercian, Savigniac

Neath was founded as a Savigniac house but later became part of the Cistercian Order.
Following the Dissolution, Sir Richard Williams (alias Cromwell) bought the site and converted parts of the complex into a Tudor mansion. The antiquary, John Leland (d. 1552), regarded Neath as 'the fairest abbey of all Wales.’show details of standing remains

Dedicated to: Virgin Mary; Holy Trinity Medieval Diocese: Llandaff
Affiliated to: Savigny (mother-house)
Lordship at foundation: Glamorgan
Access: Public
Owned by: Cadw

Main events in the history of this site

1130Foundation - Neath was founded as a Savigniac house by Richard de Granville and Constance.  [9 sources][1 archive]
1147A change of order - The Savigniac Order joined the Cistercian family and Neath duly became an abbey of Cistercian monks.  [1 source]
c.1196Relocation - The uncertainty of the monks' situation at Neath prompted them to consider relocating to Exford, Somerset. [3 sources]
c.1200Episcopal confirmation - Henry of Abergavenny, bishop of Llandaff, probably issued his charter concerning the abbey's lands in Llandaff soon after the monks' failure to relocate to Somerset.  [1 source][1 archive]
1207Royal confirmation - The community acquired charters of confirmation from King John. [4 sources]
1210Royal visitor - King John stopped off at the house en route to Ireland (Friday 21 May). [1 source]
1224Destruction - One of Neath's houses was destroyed by the rebel, Morgan Gam, lord of Afan. [2 sources]
c.1250Deposition - Abbot Robert was removed from office and excommunicated. [1 source]
1269Internal problems - Abbot Adam of Carmarthen (c. 1266-89) wrote to the General Chapter concerning the conduct of certain lay-brothers of Neath. [3 sources]
c.1280Building work - The monks began to build a new church. [1 source]
1284Royal visit - Edward I visited the abbey. [2 sources]
1289Agreement - The abbey made an agreement with its patron, Earl Gilbert de Clare. [3 sources]
c.1291Wealth - At this time Neath was one of the richest houses in medieval Wales.  [4 sources]
1316Destruction - Neath was reputedly devastated during the rebellion of Llywelyn Bren. [3 sources]
1326Royal fugitive - Edward II sought refuge at Neath from 4-10 November, while moving around Wales for his safety. [2 sources]
1336Royal confirmation - Edward III responded to the abbot of Neath's request to confirm the abbey's grants and privileges. [4 sources]
c.1405Destruction - Neath suffered extensively during the Glyn Dŵr rebellion. [3 sources]
1424-1441Recovery - Under Abbot Thomas Franklin, Neath enjoyed a period of recovery leading to prosperity. [2 sources]
1468Confirmation - Richard Neville, earl of Warwick and lord of Glamorgan, issued the community a significant charter confirming all its privileges and resources from the twelfth century. [3 sources]
c.1500Abbatial suite - The southern end of the dormitory and refectory was modified to make a private suite for the abbot.  [1 source]
1510-1539Reputation - Under Abbot Leyshon Thomas, Neath enjoyed a lofty reputation. [2 sources]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the abbey had a net annual income of £132 7s 7d. [3 sources]
1539Dissolution - In February the house was suppressed. [3 sources]
+ 20 minor events. Show minor events

People associated with this site

Abbots of Neath

Edward I , king of England , lord of Ireland, duke of Aquitaine (visitor)

Edward II , king of England (fugitive)

Edward Stradling, sheriff of Glamorgan (patron)

Gilbert de Clare, seventh earl of Gloucester and sixth earl of Hereford (patron)

John (Lackland) , king of England, and lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou (Guest)

John Leland , antiquary, poet (visitor)

Richard de Granville (Grainville), baron (founder)

Bibliographical sources

89 Printed sources

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25 On-line sources

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Archival sources

The National Archives, 'Acknowledgement of receipt of land by Neath Abbey; abbatial seal attached', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Agreement between the abbeys of Margam and Llantarnam', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, 'Annales Cambriae: Annales ab orbe conditio adusque AD MCCLXXXVI (1286)', (Document), (View website)

Hereford Cathedral Library, 'Book formerly belonging to Neath Abbey', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Wales, 'Dynevor Estate Records', (Collection), (View website)

West Glamorgan Archive Service, 'Neath Abbey Charters - foundation charter', (Document), (View website)

West Glamorgan Archive Service, 'Neath Abbey Charters: confirmation of the abbey's lands in Llandaff by Bishop Henry de Abergavenny', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, 'Office of the Auditors of Land Revenue and predecessors: Receivers' Accounts, Series I. BISHOPRICS O', (Collection),m. 4r. (View website)

Glamorgan Record Office, 'Tyrwhitt Drake of St Donats Castle Collection', (Collection), (View website)

Related articles on Monastic Wales

Remnants of Neath Abbey,
The Cistercians in Wales, Professor Janet Burton
Who were the Cistercians?, Professor Janet Burton

Images of this site

Brothers' lane, Neath Abbey

Carved head

Cloister doorway into the church


Daystairs, Neath

Doorway into the library and sacristy

Eastern range


Exterior of the west range, Neath Abbey

Groundplan of Neath, Cadw, Welsh Government (Crown Copyright)

Lane in the western cloister area


Large collapsed section of the north choir aisle

Monknash Grange buildings

Nave, Neath Abbey


Night stairs, Neath Abbey

North nave aisle, Neath Abbey

North transept altar, Neath Abbey


Pier and arches of the undercroft of the latrine of the eastern range

Piers and arches of the undercroft of the latrine of the eastern range with post-Dissolution window

Post-Dissolution house


Post-Dissolution house

Remains of Monknash Grange

Remains of the cloister


South end of the west range, Neath Abbey

South side of the post-Dissolution house

Tiles


Tiles

Tiles

Tiles


Tudor Mansion, Neath Abbey

Undercroft, Neath Abbey

Unidentified cleric


West front of Neath Abbey

West range, Neath Abbey

Western range

Tiles, Neath Abbey

Neath Port Talbot, OS Grid:SS73789736
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