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Llanthony Prima (Priory)

also known as: Llanthony 1; Llanhodenei

Order: Augustinian Canons

Llanthony Priory was situated in the heart of the Black Mountains and had the loftiest location of any Augustinian house in Britan. Llanthony was the first Augustinian house founded in Wales and was under the patronage of Hugh de Lacy, lord of Ewyas.
Contemporaries remarked on Llanthony's healthy climate. Gerald of Wales (d. c. 1220) described the priory's location in his Journey through Wales:

The climate is temperate and healthy, the air soothing and clement if somewhat heavy; and illness is rare. When, sadly afflicted and worn out by long labour in their daughter house [Lanthony Secunda, Gloucester] the monks are brought back, as it were, to their mother's breasts, they are soon restored to the health for which they yearn, for this is their salubrious cure, this is their asylum and retreat. ... As they sit in their cloisters in this monastery, breathing the fresh air, the monks gaze up at distant prospects which rise above their own lofty roof-tops, and there they see, as far as any eye can reach, mountain-peaks which rise to meet the sky and often enough herds of wild deer which are gazing on their summits.
[Gerald of Wales, The Journey through Wales, trans. L. Thorpe (Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth, 1978), pp. 97-8]

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Medieval Diocese: St David's
Affiliated to: Llanthony 2 / Secunda (daughter-house); Weobley (cell); Colp, Co Meath, Ireland (cell);
Lordship at foundation: Gloucester
Access: Public; hotel on site
Owned by: Cadw

Main events in the history of this site

1108X1118Foundation - According to the foundation history of the house, Llanthony Prima had its origins in the late eleventh century when William de Lacy, a knight in the service of Hugh de Lacy (d. c. 1115), sought to live as a hermit in the Llanthony Valley, where a former chapel dedicated to St David stood.

Contemporaries commented on the beauty of the site:
'What more can I say?' he asked, 'The entire treasure of the king and his realm would not be sufficient to build such a cloister.' When he had held the minds of the king [Henry I] and his court in suspense for a long time by this assertion he finally explained the enigma by revealing that what he really meant was the circle of mountains which enclosed the monastery on all sides.
[Bishop Roger of Salisbury [d. 1139], cited by Gerald of Wales in his Journey through Wales, trans. Thorpe, p. 99.] [4 sources][1 archive]
1108x35Reputation - Bishop Roger of Salisbury (d. 1139) visited the site and was impressed with what he saw there. [1 source]
1115Founds cell - A cell was founded at Weobley but was short-lived. [1 source]
1135Dispersal - The community suffered from Welsh attacks and sought refuge first in Hereford with the former prior of Llanthony, Bishop Robert, and thereafter at Gloucester, where a cell was founded. A few stalwarts remained at the Welsh house throughout these troubled times. [3 sources][1 archive]
1136Founds cell - Miles, earl of Hereford, gave the refugee canons a site at Gloucester which was founded as a cell of Llanthony Priory; it was later known as Llanthony Secunda. [2 sources]
c.1140-70Decline - Religious life at Llanthony declined as most of the community remained at Gloucester and various books, relics and even the bell were taken from the mother house for use in its cell.  [2 sources]
1177x1210Recovery - Thanks to Hugh de Lacy II and his son, Walter, the community acquired significant interests in Ireland which greatly helped the priory's recovery. [5 sources]
1205Formal separation of the two Llanthonys - An agreement was drawn up to formalise the separation of Llanthony Prima and its cell in Gloucester. [4 sources][2 archives]
c.1212Concession - The community was granted the privilege of electing its own prior during a vacancy and was not obliged to consult with Walter de Lacy, lord of Ewyas. [2 sources][1 archive]
c.1214Charter - Walter de Lacy, patron of the priory and the great great nephew of the founder, granted an extensive charter to the community. [1 source][1 archive]
1216x1220Charter - Charter granted to the community by Reginald de Braose, lord of Abergavenny and Brecon. [1 source][1 archive]
1217Building work - Completion of the rebuilding of the church. [1 source]
1242Praised - Archishop Albert of Armagh praised the priory where he had himself taken refuge. [1 source]
1276Royal custody - The priory was in debt and duly taken into royal custody. [2 sources]
c.1277-1300Legal battles - In the late thirteenth century the priory faced a number of challenges from the Marcher lords and was involved in ongoing legal disputes. [3 sources]
1284Visitation - Visitation of the priory was undertaken by Archbishop Pecham. [4 sources]
1284Harbours outlaw - Peter de Marinis, an outlaw, took refuge in the priory. [1 source]
c.1291Wealth - According to the Taxatio of c. 1291 Llanthony's total income was estimated at c. £160. [5 sources]
1301Monastic observance - Archbishop Winchelsey of Canterbury complained to the bishop of St David’s that a former prior of Llanthony was ‘wandering at large with the connivance of the bishop'. [3 sources]
1330Theft - John of Hereford, a canon of Llanthony, was charged with theft and incarcerated in the bishop of Hereford’s prison. [1 source]
1348Royal custody - The priory was once again taken into royal custody. [2 sources]
1354Recalcitrant apostate - Thomas de Crudewell, a former canon of Llanthony who had absconded from the priory, wished to return to the religious life. [2 sources]
1373x1376Violence - Prior Nicholas de Trinbey (Trinley) was brutally attacked by several canons of the house who gouged out his eyes. [4 sources][1 archive]
1376Resignation of prior - On 8 February a mandate was issued to receive the resignation of Prior Nicholas Trilley (Trillek / de Trinleye). [3 sources]
1381Clerical poll tax - The sub-prior, RALPH, and six monks [WALTER CROK, JOHN MARA, JOHN ABERGEVENY, NICHOLAS CARYLUNM, ROBERT WYNTER, JOHN LOUNDON] each paid a tax of 6s.8d. [1 source][1 archive]
1386Prior imprisoned - The prior of Llanthony was imprisoned for failing to deliver the payment of tithes and subsidies he was charged with collecting. [2 sources]
1402x1405Glyn Dŵr revolt - The priory suffered considerable damage as a consequence of the rebellion. The prior of Llanthony was initially suspected of supporting the rebel. [3 sources]
1481Change in status: the union of the two priories - Llanthony Prima, originally the mother house, now became a cell of its daughter, Llanthony Secunda (Glos). [5 sources]
1504Union finalised - The terms of Llanthony Secunda's takeover of Llanthony Prima were finalised. [1 source]
1522Fiscal demands - Llanthony Prima was required to pay £20 towards financing the king's expenses in France. [1 source]
1534Act of Supremacy - Prior John Ambrose acknowledged Royal Supremacy. [3 sources][1 archive]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the priory had an estimated net income of £112 0s 5d.  [4 sources][1 archive]
1538Dissolution - On 10 March David Kempe, alias Mathewe, surrendered Llanthony Prima; Llanthony Secunda was dissolved at the same time. [4 sources]
+ 26 minor events. Show minor events

People associated with this site

Clement , prior of Llanthony (prior)

Geoffrey of Henlaw , prior of Llanthony; bishop of St David's (prior)

Henry I , king of England, lord of Normandy (patron)

Hugh de Lacy , lord of Weobley and Ewyas (patron)

John Pecham; Peckam; Peckham , Archbishop of Canterbury (conducted visitation)

Priors of Llanthony Prima

Robert Béthune , prior of Llanthony; bishop of Hereford (prior)

Roger fitz Miles , earl of Hereford (supporter)

Roger le Poer , bishop of Salisbury (admirer)

Walter de Lacy , magnate (patron)

William of Wycombe (Wycumbe) , prior of Llanthony (prior)

de Bohun (Bohun) , lords of Brecon; earls of Hereford (patrons)

Bibliographical sources

54 Printed sources

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5 On-line sources

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Archival sources

National Library of Wales, 'Baker-Gabb deed', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book formerly belonging to Llanthony', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book formerly belonging to Llanthony Prima', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book formerly belonging to Llanthony Prima', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book formerly belonging to Llanthony Prima', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book formerly belonging to Llanthony Prima: Gregorii Quaedam', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book formerly belonging to Llanthony Prima: miscellaneous theological and philosophical works', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, London, 'Book likely from Llanthony Prima', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Catalogue of Books from Llanthony Prima', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Catalogue of books from Llanthony, f. 11r', (Document),

British Library, 'Catalogue of books from Llanthony, f.4r', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Catalogue of books in Llanthony, f. 3r', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Catalogue of books in Llanthony, f. 4v', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, 'Chancery warrants for Great Seal; request for secular aid against rebellious monks', (Document), (View website)

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

British Library, 'History of the Augustinian canons' priory of Llanthony Prima (co. Monmouth) and Secunda (co. Glos).', (Document), (View website)

Lambeth Palace, 'Life of Robert Bethune, by William Wycombe, fourth prior of Llanthony', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Life of Robert de Bethune by William Wycombe, fourth prior of Llanthony', (Document), (View website)

Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 'Polychronicon', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'The History of the Foundation and Translation of the Monastery of Llanthony', (Document), (View website)

Related articles on Monastic Wales

Remnants of Llanthony Prima,
Who were the Regular Canons?, Dr Karen Stöber

Images of this site

Arcading, Llanthony

Chapterhouse, Llanthony Priory


Corbel, Llanthony Prima

East end of the priory church, Llanthony

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

Lands owned by Llanthony Priory in the Upper Valley

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory church

Llanthony Priory church, moulding

Llanthony Priory, in the church, looking SW

Llanthony Priory, south side

Nave arcade

Nave arcade

Nave arcade

Nave arcade

Nave arcade, Llanthony Priory

Nave of the former church

Poll tax return for Llanthony Prima, 1381

Presbytery, Llanthony Priory

Remains at Llanthony

Remains of the former church, Llanthony

Remains of the nave, Llanthony

The former chapterhouse, Llanthony Prima

The nave arcade

Llanthony Priory

Monmouthshire, OS Grid:SO28852786
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