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Ewenny Priory

Visited July 2019

Location Ewenny, Nr.Bridgend
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes 
Facilities None
Map

 

Ewenny Priory is a strange mix of buildings, some of which are privately owned by the Turbervill family who have owned it since the 18th century, some have been put  into the guardianship of CADW, and some owned and operated as a parish church by the Church in Wales. 

 


 

 


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The Priory is situated at the end of a no-through lane, the first thing you notice when approaching it are the large fortified walls surrounding it. This is unusual for a Priory, which where usually undefended as places accessible to the community. The defences were needed to protect the monks from raids by the Welsh, and to accommodate a garrison which was part of a larger ring of defences including nearby Coity, Newcastle and Ogmore Castles. The priory's tower acted as a look-out.

 

There is a good section of the fortified walls still in existence today but they can only be viewed from the exterior as they are in part of the priory that is privately owned and has no public access.

 


 

 


 

The nave of the priory was always used as a church for the local parishioners, and remained so even after the priory was closed. The presbytery and transepts were used by the monks, and the two areas would have been separated by a screen. The present day screen was added in 2006, it is made of glass and is the work of Swansea based artist Alexander Beleschenko.

 

There is a door leading from the church into the former monastic area- this is the part managed by CADW. It contains a collection of Celtic tomb stones, and memorial stones to the Turbevill family who still currently own the Priory site. There would have been others buildings for the monks behind those that survive, such as the cloisters,  the chapter house, refectory and dormitories but none of these survive today.  There is also a row of arches at first floor level, which contain a figure of a monk, looking down onto the proceedings below (or he would be if he had any eyes!) Kids will either love him or be scared by him!

 


 

 


 

There is also a  fine 12th century presbytery, with an altar made from the original altar slab, and a wall piscina- which was used to cleanse the vessels after Mass. It would have been decorated in wall paintings at one time, the outline of some can still be seen today, but mainly this room is very bare and minimalist to allow for you to appreciate the building.

 

Outside there are some archways remaining from the original Priory, and a graveyard for the Parish Church. The Priory does not have a lot to see to make it a long stop, but can be combined with nearby Ogmore Castle which has much more appeal for kids. The main appeal of the Priory for adults is that it is a rare survival of a fortified Priory, with connections to the painter JMW Turner, who famously painted a picture of the priory transept in 1797. Copies of the painting are available to view and buy in the Priory.

 


 

 


 

More info:  CADW Ewenny Priory

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