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Valle Crucis Abbey

Visited August 2018

Location Nr. Llangollen, Wales
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes 
Facilities Gift Shop


This Cistercian monastery was built on the 1200s and in use for 336 years until the dissolution under Henry VIII.






It is a little hard to find as you have to follow a lane that appears to lead into a camp site, but it turns out the abbey is in the middle of the campsite which did make it rather noisy as the campsite was full as it was high season. However once you have gone through the shop and into the abbey area it is much more peaceful, even in August. 


The first part of the abbey that the visitor comes across is the front wall of the abbey church, with its round window which is still intact today. The entrance to the church is around the back, but before you get there there are other parts of the site to see. Next to it is the remains of the cloister, with a washing pool once used by the monks, still in place in the middle of the grassed area.The chapter house is especially impressive, it has some beautiful vaulted ceilings. This was the area where the monks would listen to readings and make their confessions. A small door off the large chapter house building leads up to the dormitories. This area of the building now houses a collection of medieval grave stones, including that of Madog ap Gruffudd, the great grandfather of the Welsh revolutionary Owain Glyndwr. The stairs leading up to the first floor are a bit slippery with bird droppings, as is the rope hand rail, so be careful on ascending!





The other side of the abbey has the remains of the abbey church, a large space which allowed both the monks and the lay brethren who worked at the abbey to worship at the same time, albeit separated by a screen. The abbey had become rich by the 14th century, it was ranked second richest to Tintern, so the buildings were of good quality and included a heated suite for the abbot. Previously the Cistercians had been known for their austerity so this was really relaxing the rules. 


The abbey also had a fish pond, this was common at the time as the monks were forbidden to eat meat but could eat fish so they needed a ready supply in close proximity. The fishpond is still in existence behind the church, it is the only surviving monastic fishpond in Wales.


There is also a small house on the site which contains an exhibition and film about the abbey. There are toilets and a gift shop, but no cafe so bring your own picnic if you want to eat. 





There are plenty of nearby attractions in the area, such as the Llangollen Steam Railway and the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct so it is easy to make a whole day excursion.





More info:  CADW Valle Crucis

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