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Cwmhir (Abbey)

also known as: Abbey Cwmhir; Abaty Cwm Hir

Order: Cistercian

The monks of Cwmhir, 'the abbey of the long valley', had divided loyalties. It was founded by the Welsh ruler of Maelienydd but from time to time the area came under the control of the Mortimer family. The community thus enjoyed the patronage of the native Welsh and the Marcher lords. Equally, their position between the two sources of power left them subject to details of standing remains

Dedicated to: Virgin Mary Medieval Diocese: St David's
Affiliated to: Whitland (mother-house)
Lordship at foundation: Maelienydd
Access: Open to public

Main events in the history of this site

1176Foundation - The abbey was founded by Cadwallon ap Madog (d. 1179) and colonised by monks from Whitland Abbey. The house was situated on the north bank of the Clywedog brook. [5 sources]
1179Patronage - Following the death of its founder, Cadwallon, in 1179 Cwmhir was patronised by Roger Mortimer, the Marcher lord who was responsible for Cadwallon's death.  [1 source]
1195Revolt - When the abbot of Cwmhir forbade ale to the lay-brothers they retaliated by stealing his horse. [2 sources]
1198-1199Daughter-house founded - Cwmhir sent a colony of monks to establish a new house at Cymer, NW Wales. [3 sources]
1199Charter - Roger Mortimer, lord of Maelienydd, issued a significant charter to the abbey in memory of his predecessors and in honour of those who had died in the conquest of 1195. [4 sources]
1214Royal protection - Following the death of Roger Mortimer, King John took the abbey into royal protection. [2 sources]
1228Destruction - One of Cwmhir's granges was burnt by royal troops.  [1 source]
1231-2Royal confirmation - Henry III granted the community various privileges and issued a confirmation charter. [3 sources]
1231Allegations - Henry III attacked the house after allegations that a member of the Cwmhir community was responsible for tricking a troop of English soldiers into ambush. [2 sources]
1232Royal confirmation - Henry III reconfirmed his father's charter; this and King John's charter of protection in 1214 provide a valuable insight into the nature of the abbey's original endowment. [1 source]
1234Burial - Cadwallon ap Maelgwn was buried at the abbey. [2 sources]
1252-4Royal support - Henry III further supported the abbey by instructing the men of Montgomeryshire not to waste or destroy the community's woods within their bailiwick. [2 sources]
1252Destruction - The abbey's woods in Ceri were damaged by the men of Montgomery. [2 sources]
1282Burial - Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was buried at the house following his death in December 1282. [2 sources]
1291Wealth - The house had an estimated income of £35 12s 0d. [4 sources]
1381Clerical poll tax - Payment required from the community: [1 source][1 archive]
1387-9Numbers - At this time there were eight monks at Cwmhir. [1 source]
c.1401Destruction - The abbey suffered destruction during the Owain Glyn Dŵr revolt.  [3 sources]
1524Bequest - Rhys ap Thomas, who died in 1525, left £8 to the community to buy a pair of organs for the abbey. [2 sources]
c.1532Numbers - At this time there were three monks. [1 source]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the abbey had a net income of £28 17s 4d. [3 sources][1 archive]
1537Dissolution - On 2 March 1537 the abbey was suppressed. At this time there were just three monks.  [6 sources]
c.1540Fabric removed - Five bays of the nave arcade were taken to Llanidloes parish church where they have since remained. View. [1 source]
+ 20 minor events. Show minor events

People associated with this site

Abbots of Cwmhir

Cadwallon ap Madog , Welsh prince; ruler of Maelienydd (founder)

John Leland , antiquary, poet (visits)

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd , Prince of Wales (Buried at house)

Owain Glyn D?r; Owen Glendower; Owain ap Gruffudd Fychan , declared prince of Wales (Causes destruction)

Rhys ap Thomas , Sir (benefactor)

Roger (II) de Mortimer , lord of Wigmore (patron)

Bibliographical sources

70 Printed sources

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8 On-line sources

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Archival sources

The National Archives, 'Exchequer, King's Remembrancer, Clerical Subsidies - Cwmhir 1381', (Document), (View website)

Related articles on Monastic Wales

The Cistercians in Wales, Professor Janet Burton
Who were the Cistercians?, Professor Janet Burton

Images of this site

Capitals from Abbey Cwmhir

Capitals from Abbey Cwmhir

Nave Arcade from Abbey Cwmhir

Poll tax return for Cwmhir Abbey, 1381

Ruins of Abbey Cwmhir

Capitals from Abbey Cwmhir, Church of St Idloes, Llanidloes

Powys, OS Grid:SO05557110
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