Monastic Wales.

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Strata Florida (Abbey)

also known as: Strata Florida; Ystrad Fflur; 'Vale of flowers'

Order: Cistercian

Strata Florida was founded by the Anglo-Norman lord, Robert fitz Stephen, but soon thereafter Lord Rhys seized Cardigan and assumed patronage of the monastery. He and his family were generous benefactors and a number of members of the dynasty were buried at the abbey. However the abbey's Welshness brought opposition from the English Crown and the house sustained considerable damage in the Edwardian wars and the Glyn D?r revolt.
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Dedicated to: Virgin Mary Medieval Diocese: St David's
Affiliated to: Whitland (mother-house); Llantarnam (daughter-house); Aberconwy (daughter-house); LLanll?r (daughter-house)
Lordship at foundation: Deheubarth
Access: Public
Owned by: Cadw

Main events in the history of this site

1164Foundation - The official foundation date was given as 1 June 1164; the new house was colonised by monks from Whitland Abbey.  [2 sources]
1165Patronage - The Lord Rhys seized Cardigan and assumed patronage of the house. [2 sources]
1175Burial - Cadell ap Gruffudd, brother of the Lord Rhys, took the habit and was buried at the house. [1 source]
c.1175Record-keeping - From the late twelfth century the monks began to keep annals and from these compiled a Latin chronicle in the thirteenth century and the house became a key custodian of Welsh culture.  [4 sources]
1179Founds daughter-house - Strata Florida founded the first of its daughter-houses at Llantarnam (later Caerleon). [2 sources]
1184Relocation - The community relocated some twenty years after it had first settled at Strata Florida. [1 source]
1184Patronage - The Lord Rhys granted an important charter to the abbey detailing the core monastic estate. This was read out to an audience at the church of Llansanffraid. [6 sources]
1186Founds daughter-house - A second daughter-house was established; a colony of Strata Florida monks settled at Aberconwy. [3 sources]
1188Hospitality - Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales stayed overnight at the house while preaching the Crusade throughout Wales. [1 source]
pre 1197Affiliation - Strata Florida was given oversight of the newly-founded nunnery of Llanllŷr. [2 sources]
1201Burial - Gruffydd, the Lord Rhys' son and a prince of Wales, took the habit at Strata Florida where he was buried. [1 source]
1201Completion of new church - The new abbey church was completed [3 sources]
1202Library extended - Gerald of Wales sought to raise money for his journey to Rome by borrowing money from the monks of Strata Florida and leaving his cherished collection of books as surety. [2 sources]
1202Vision - A monk of Strata Florida had a vision of three angels in the choir of the monastery church. [2 sources]
1210Burial - Matilda de Braose, widow of the Lord Rhys' son, Gruffydd, was buried at the house. [1 source]
1212Opposition - King John ordered the abbey's destruction as 'harbourers of our enemies' since the community supported Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. [3 sources]
1238Meeting - Llywelyn ab Iowerth (d. 1240) summoned all the princes of Wales to a great gathering at Strata Florida where they swore fealty to his son, Dafydd, and thereby secured the succession. [4 sources]
1255Purchase - The community purchased its great bell which Robinson (The Cistercians in Wales: Architecture and Archaeology) suggests hung from the crossing tower. [3 sources]
1258Dispensation - The Cistercian General Chapter responded to the abbey's plight and granted the community dispensation to withhold hospitality for three years [3 sources]
1276-1277Destruction - The abbey incurred damage during Edward I's Welsh wars. [1 source]
1282-1283Destruction - The monastery suffered damage as a consequence of Edward I's Welsh wars. [1 source]
1284Compensation - Edward I awarded the community £78 compensation for damage caused during the second campaign. [3 sources]
c.1284Destruction - The belfry was struck by lightning and fire devoured the entire church save for the presbytery. [2 sources]
c.1291Wealth - The Taxatio Ecclesiastica assessed the abbey's net annual income at £98 6s 9d. [4 sources]
1294-1295Destruction - The abbey was burned by royalists in a local uprising. [3 sources]
1344-47Tussle for the abbacy - Llewelyn Vaughan and Clement ap Richart were involved in a dispute over the abbacy. [1 source]
1401-1402Royal occupation - Henry IV and his army occupied the abbey and the monks were temporarily displaced. [3 sources]
1407Occupation - During the Glyn Dŵr revolt royalist troops billeted at the house. [2 sources]
1415Occupation - 120 royalist troops were billeted at the house. [2 sources]
1428 (Lent)Internal revolt - An abbot of Strata Florida's daughter-house, Aberconwy (Maenan), sought to overturn the abbacy at the mother-house.  [4 sources]
c.1441Abbatial dispute - John ap Res, abbot of Cymmer, accused Abbot William Moris of Strata Florida before the king and forcibly seized the abbacy. [2 sources]
c.1442Devastation - By 1442 the abbey was in a state of desolation. [2 sources]
1534Malpractice - One monk was imprisoned for attempting to counterfeit coins.  [1 source]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the house had a net income of £118 7s 3d. [4 sources][1 archive]
1539Dissolution - The house was suppressed on 21 February 1539. [5 sources]
+ 30 minor events. Show minor events

People associated with this site

Abbots of Strata Florida

Cadell ap Gruffudd (burial)

Dafydd ab Owain , Cistercian abbot and bishop of St Asaph (abbot)

Dafydd ap Gwilym , poet (resident at; perhaps buried there)

Gerald of Wales; Giraldus Cambrensis , archdeacon of Brecon (guest)

Guto'r Glyn , Welsh bard (resident bard)

Maredudd ap Rhobert , lord of Cydewain (Death and burial there)

Rhys ap Gruffudd , prince of Deheubarth (patron)

Robert fitz Stephen , constable of Cardigan and lord of Pennardd (founder)

Bibliographical sources

123 Printed sources

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12 On-line sources

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Archival sources

National Library of Wales, 'A nineteenth-century transcript of Crosswood estate rentals of 1577', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Wales, 'Aberdihonw Deeds', (Collection), (View website)

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

National Library of Wales, 'Chronicle of the Princes, Brut y Tywysogion (Peniarth 20)', (Document), (View website)

National Library of Ireland, 'Giraldus Cambrensis, Topographia Hibernia', (Document),f. 64v (View website)

National Library of Wales, 'Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch (White Book of Rhydderch)', (Document), (View website)

Related articles on Monastic Wales

Remnants of Strata Florida,
The Cistercians in Wales, Professor Janet Burton
Who were the Cistercians?, Professor Janet Burton

Images of this site

Carved head of monk

Detail from the arch, west door of Strata Florida Abbey

Detail from the arch, west door of Strata Florida Abbey

Fragment of a decorated capital


Groundplan of Strata Florida, Cadw, Welsh Government (Crown Copyright)

Man With a Mirror Tile

Nave of Strata Florida Abbey

Ruins of the Nave, Strata Florida Abbey

Strata Florida Abbey

Terminals of the arch mouldings from the west door of Strata Florida Abbey



Underground feature from the site of the central crossing

West door of Strata Florida Abbey

West door of Strata Florida Abbey

West door of Strata Florida Abbey

Ceredigion, OS Grid:SN7467965731
View site details on COFLEIN (RCAHMW database)[new window]