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Whitland (Abbey)

also known as: Albalanda; Abaty Hendy-gwyn; Y Ty Gwyn ar Daf

Order: Cistercian

Whitland was founded by Bernard, bishop of St David's (1115-1148), and remained under episcopal patronage until its suppression. The monastery was supported by the native details of standing remains

Dedicated to: Virgin Mary Medieval Diocese: St David's
Affiliated to: Clairvaux (mother-house); Cwmhir (daughter-house); Strata Florida (daughter-house); Strata Marcella (daughter-house); Comber, Ireland (daughter-house); Tracton, Ireland (daughter-house)
Lordship at foundation: Deheubarth
Access: Private but ruins visible from road

Main events in the history of this site

pre 1145Foundation - Whitland was the first of two houses in Wales to be colonised direct from Clairvaux and spawned a number of daughter-houses.
 [2 sources]
c.1151Relocation - Following the death of Bishop Bernard of St David's, the community relocated to Whitland. [3 sources]
1160s (late)Patronage - Rhys ap Gruffudd assumed patronage of the house and added to the community's endowments. [2 sources]
1164Founds daughter-house - Whitland founded its first daughter-house at Strata Florida. [1 source]
pre 1166Patronage - By 1166 Rhys ap Gruffudd had confirmed and extended the abbey's original grant of Hendy-gwyn ar Dâf. [1 source]
1170Founds daughter-house - Whitland founded its second daughter-house at Stata Marcella. [1 source]
1176Founds daughter-house - Whitland founded a daughter-house at Cwmhir. [1 source]
1186Burial - Rhys's son, Cadwaladr, was buried at the house. [1 source]
1188Visit - Gerald of Wales and Archbishop Baldwin stayed at the abbey while preaching the Crusade. [1 source]
1200Founds daughter-house - On 25 January Whitland founded a daughter-house at Comber, Co. Down, Ireland. [3 sources]
1220Burden of hospitality - Abbots travelling from Ireland to the General Chapter at Cîteaux often broke their journey at Whitland.  [3 sources]
1224Founds daughter-house - A second daughter-house was founded in Ireland - at Tracton, Co Cork. [4 sources]
1247Abbey invaded - Nicholas, lord of Cemais, Patrick de Chaworth, lord of Kilwelly and of Carew, accompanied by Stephen Bauzan and a band of knights, invaded the abbey.  [1 source]
1258Plundered - Whitland was plundered by royalists on 4 February; abbey servants were killed in the skirmish. [2 sources]
1271Burial - Maredudd ap Rhys Gryg WAS buried at the front steps of the High Altar. [1 source]
c.1291Wealth - According to the Taxatio Ecclesiastica Whitland had an estimated income of £43 15s 4d, a rather insignificant amount and perhaps a consequence of damages incurred during the Edwardian wars. [5 sources]
1295Royal visit - Edward I stayed at the house on 5 June 1295, during the revolts. [1 source]
1377Clerical poll tax - Payments demanded from the community. [1 source][1 archive]
1379Clerical poll tax - Payments required from the community. [1 source][1 archive]
c.1405Glyn Dŵr rebellion - The abbot of Whitland was accused of being a rebel and of supporting Glyn Dŵr. [3 sources]
c.1440Decline - Abbot David (1433-43) claimed that his house had been devastated to such an extent by warfare and fire that the monastery's revenues and resources could barely support him and his eight monks. [2 sources]
1491Deposition of abbot - Abbot Huby of Fountains, reformator of the Cistercian houses in England and Wales, deposed the abbot of Whitland. 'for moral laxity and illicit contracts' [Williams, The Welsh Cistercians, p. 63]. [2 sources]
c.1496Murder - A monk of Neath Abbey who was staying at Whitland killed a secular priest in the cloister. [3 sources]
c.1535Wealth - According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus the house had a net income of £135 3s 69d. [3 sources]
1539Dissolution - While Whitland was dissolved following the 1536 Act of Suppression, it was re-founded in April 1537 but finally closed in February 1539. [4 sources]
+ 18 minor events. Show minor events

People associated with this site

Abbots of Whitland

Bernard , bishop of St David's (founder)

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

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

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

John Leland , antiquary, poet (visits)

Rhys ap Gruffudd , prince of Deheubarth (patron)

Bibliographical sources

58 Printed sources

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8 On-line sources

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Archival sources

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

Exeter Cathedral Library, 'Annales Cambriae (Annals of Wales): Cronica ante adventum Domini', (Document), (View website)

Exeter Cathedral Library, 'Annales Cambriae (Annals of Wales): Cronica de Wallia', (Document), (View website)

British Library, 'Counter-seal of Whitland Abbey', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, 'Exchequer, King's Remembrancer Clerical Subsidies - Whitland, 1377', (Document), (View website)

The National Archives, , 'Exchequer, King's Remembrancer, Clerical Subsidies- Whitland, 1379', (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

Poll tax return for Whitland, 1377

Poll tax return for Whitland, 1379

Site of the abbey church, Whitland Abbey

Site of the east end of the abbey church, Whitland

Whitland Abbey

Whitland Abbey

Whitland Abbey

Carmarthenshire, OS Grid:SN20791816
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