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Margam Abbey

Visited May 2015

Location Neath, Port Talbot
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes- fee charged
Facilities Cafe, Toilets, Gift shop, Various attractions








Margam Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded by Robert of Gloucester in 1147. The site was close to the Margam Stones, carved religious stones of Celtic origin, so it was possibly chosen as a site because of its existing religious significance. The abbey took forty years to build, and was a rich house as the monks traded in wool which was a valuable commodity at the time. However by 1331 it was in debt due to the loss of livestock , and the troubles in the area caused by the Welsh rebellions.


When the abbey was final closed during the Dissolution of the monasteries the number of monks stood at just nine.  The land was sold to Sir Reece Mansel in 1536, and he built a grand house on the site. This was demolished by his descendants, the Talbot family, who then built the large Gothic mansion which still survives today and is known as Margam Castle.


Unfortunately the Mansels and Talbots were very neglectful of the ruins, meaning that not much is left for today's visitors to see. 





However the few fragments are actually very beautiful, the remains of the twelve-sided Chapter House being of special interest. It still had its roof until 1799, when the central column collapsed during a storm, leaving the building open to the elements, a state it remains in to this day.






The abbey remains are now part of the Margam Country Park, owned by Port Talbot Council and free for all to visit (apart from the parking fee) There are many attractions here apart from the abbey ruins, the house built by the Talbots is very impressive, and in the process of being restored (The interior, apart from the hall, was not open on the day we visited) The house is known as Margam Castle, but is more like a mansion in my opinion. It does have an impressive tower though, so maybe could be described as a castle on that basis. Have a look at the picture, then decide for yourself!


Attractions for children to enjoy are a ride on the diesel train (24" gauge for those who are interested) several play areas and  the fairy tale village, which has a selection of miniature houses, each one based on a different fairy tale. The houses have limited roof height, so adults will have to duck if they accompany the children inside, but they are undoubtedly a popular attraction for children & adults alike. There is even a fairy tale castle, which obviously appealed to the reviewers of this site!


There is also an abundance of wildlife- as well as ducks on the lake which you can feed (seed can be purchased at reception) there is a farm trail with interesting livestock and a herd of fallow deer. We caught sight of these while on the train, the driver stopped for a few minutes so that we could view them properly without scaring them away.


If all that is not enough there are several walks in parks, these are way marked, (although we did lose our way at one point!) I believe there is also fishing available on the lake although we did not try it first hand, but there were several people queuing up for permits when we arrived.


For the price of parking the whole family can have a fun packed day at the park, as well as visiting some beautiful abbey ruins. There is a cafe for your refreshment needs and a gift shop to round off the visit. Certainly recommended if you are in the area!




More info:  Margam Country Park

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