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Help and advice for Strata Florida - Extract from 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' by Samuel Lewis 1833

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Strata Florida - Extract from 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' by Samuel Lewis 1833

"CARON-UWCH-CLAWDD, or STRATA-FLORIDA, a chapelry in the parish of TRÊGARON, partly in the hundred of ILAR, and partly in the upper division of the hundred of PENARTH, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 6 miles (N. E.) from Trêgaron containing 732 inhabitants. Near the source of the river Teivy, in the vicinity of this place, a sanguinary battle was fought, in 1042, between Grufydd ab Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, and Hywel, Prince of South Wales, who, having been previously discomfited by Grufydd, was pursued hither, and, in this second action, was slain, together with a great part of his army. This place is distinguished as the site of a celebrated abbey for Cistercian monks, founded here in 1164, by Rhys ,son of Grufydd, the reigning prince of South Wales, under the name of' Strata Florida or, as it is called by the Welsh, Ystrad Flur; and the endowment then given to it was confirmed by the sons of Rhys in the presence of their army, in the church of Rhaiadr, and subsequently by Henry II. Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of Wales, desirous of determining, before his death, the succession to the sovereignty, convened a meeting of all the Welsh chieftains at Strata Florida, where they renewed their oaths of allegiance, and did homage to Davydd, his son, by the English princess, in preference to his elder brother Grufydd. During the early wars between the English and the Welsh, this monastery frequently sustained considerable damage; and in the 23rd of Edward was accidentally destroyed by fire, with the exception of an old building, subsequently used as a barn, which is supposed to have formed part of the original structure, and is called Yr hên Vonachlog, or     " the old Monastery." King Edward gave the abbot permission to rebuild it, and granted the sum of £78 towards defraying the expense. From this period it continued to flourish in the possession of ample endowments, including a large tract of adjacent country, besides lands at a distance; and was the place of interment of many of the Welsh sovereigns and nobility, of whom Prince Rhys, its founder,was buried here in 1196. It afforded an asylum for learned men during various succeeding ages, amongst whom was Gutyn Owain. an eminent Welsh poet, herald, and historian of the fifteenth century, who made this his principal residence, and here probably compiled some of his most elaborate works. Several of the public records of the principality were deposited in this abbey, in common with that of Aberconway; and amongst the rest was the Chronicle of Caradoc of Llancarvan, which was a collection of the successions and acts of the British princes after Cadwalladr, to the year 1156, by Caradoc and afterwards continued in these monasteries until the year 1270, forming a complete registry of the most notable occurrences within the island, and particularly in connexion with the principality. There were several cells and hospitals, with chapels annexed to the latter, subordinate to the principal establishment here : the revenue of this monastery, at the time of the dissolution, was estimated at £122.6.8. After the dissolution, a mansion was erected here by John Stedman, Esq., which, together with the estate, has become the property of the Powell family, by marriage with an heiress of the Stedmans. In the vicinity of this place, near the summit of a chain of hills which separates the counties of Cardigan and Brecknock, and surrounded by a wild and dreary tract of moorland, there is a cluster of lakes, six in number, the principal of which is Llyn Teivy, where the river Teivy has its source. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St.David's, endowed with £800 royal bounty, and £400 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of E. W. Powell, Esq. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, is a small edifice of mean appearance. The buildings of the ancient monastery, which were of considerable extent and magnificence, occupied a somewhat romantic situation, being environed on three sides by a lofty chain of barren hills, and overlooking the vale of the Teivy. The only part remaining is an arched gateway, of curious Norman architecture, differing greatly from other specimens of that style, and of great beauty: various sculptured fragments of freestone glazed tiles, painted glass, and other relics, indicating the past grandeur of these buildings, have been occasionally dug up; and two seals, one circular, about the size of a crown piece, and bearing the arms of the abbey, and the other elliptical, having a representation of the Madona and child, were found several years ago in the adjacent grounds. The old cemetery was enclosed by a rude stone wall, and is reported to have comprised one hundred and twenty acres of ground, being the exact quantity of the abbey land now tithe-free, in which leaden coffins have been frequently dug up, and in which there were, according to Leland, thirty-nine yew trees, though others say twenty-four, and under one of them, as tradition reports, Davydd ab Gwylim, the noted bard of this county, was interred. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £198.12."

[Gareth Hicks: 16 December 1999]