"ABBEYCWMHIR, (comprising the two hamlets of Cefnpawl, in the hundred of Cefnllys and Gollon) a parish in the hundred of Knighton, union of Rhayader, in the county of Radnor, South Wales, 6 miles to the N.E. of Rhayader. The name signifies "abbey in the long hollow". A Cistercian monastery was founded here in 1143 by Cadwallon-ap-Madoc, dedicated to St. Mary, and intended for sixty brethren of the order; the number of inmates, however, was not at any time so great. The situation was one of singular wildness and beauty. The monastery was completely embosomed in wooded hills, one of which has an elevation of 1,650 feet. The oak forests, which in those remote times covered the hills and hung over the rugged precipices, have long disappeared, and where they grew, sheep find now their pasturage.
In 1231 the abbey was threatened with destruction by Henry III., who did actually set the grange on fire, in royal revenge for the treachery of a friar who had made a false report to the garrison of Montgomery, and thus occasioned its defeat by the Welsh prince, Llewellyn. It was saved by the payment of 800 marks by the abbot. In 1401, it was much injured by Owen Glyndwr, and at the Dissolution, three monks only were found in it. The site, then given by Henry VIII. to Walter Henley and John Williams, passed afterwards to the Fowler family. The ruins consist mainly of a large part of the walls of an edifice, which was most probably the church. Many shafts and columns remain, and fragments of freestone, beautifully carved, are scattered over the ground. In the church are some tombs of the Fowlers. The living is a perpetual curacy, value £61, in the bishopric of St. David's. The church is dedicated to St. Mary."
"CEFNPAWL, a township in the parish of Abbeycwmhir, hundred of Cefnllys, in the county of Radnor, South Wales, 6 miles E. of Rhayadergwy. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Ithon and Clywedog."
"GOLLON, a township in the parish of Abbeycwmhir, hundred of Knighton, county Radnor, South Wales, 6 miles N.E. of Rhayader."
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
ABBEY CWM HIR, a parish, comprising the hamlet of Cevnpawl, in the hundred of KEVENLLEECE, and the hamlet of Gollon, in the hundred of KNIGHTON, county of RADNOR, SOUTH WALES, 6 miles (N. E.) from Rhaiadr, contalning 481 inhabitants. This place derives its name, which signifies "the abbey in the long dingle," from the erection of an ancient Cistercian monastery in this sequestered spot. The two hamlets of which the parish now consists, and which unitedly maintain their poor, constituted, till within a very recent period, the upper division of the parish of Llanbister, to which the church of Cwm Hir was a chapel of ease. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Brecknock, and diocese of St. David's, endowed with £800 royal bounty, and in the patronage of Thomas Wilson, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain edifice of moderate dimensions, with a small belfry at the west end, under which a gallery was erected in 1830, at the expense of Mr.Wilson, who also presented an organ ; in the chancel are two mural tablets to the memory of Sir Hans Fowler and another member of the same family. A tenement called the Vron, in the parish of Llanbister, is charged with the annual payment of ten shillings to the poor of this parish. The ancient abbey, which was dedicated to St. Mary, was founded in 1143, by Cadwallon ab Madoc, and was originally designed for sixty brethren of the Cistercian order, but never completed upon so extensive a scale. It occupied a secluded situation in a romantic valley, deeply embosomed among lofty hills and abrupt precipices, once covered with forests of oak, but now almost denuded, affording only pasturage for mountain sheep, and exhibiting some stunted trees, the roots of which have penetrated between the interstices of the slate rock which composes the substratum of these hills. In the year 1231, a friar of this house having occasioned the defeat of the garrison of Montgomery, by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, by conveying to it false intelligence of the position of the latter, King Henry II., on approaching with the English army, set fire to the grange of the monastery, in revenge for the friar's treachery, and was proceeding to burn the abbey itself, which was only saved from destruction by the payment of three hundred marks by the abbot. It suffered considerable injury, in 1401, from the furious resentment of Owain Glyndwr; and the society, at the dissolution, consisted only of three monks, the revenue being estimated at £28. 17. 4. In the 37th of Henry VIII., the site was granted to Walter Henley and John Williams, and afterwards passed into the family of the Fowlers : the estate is now the property, by purchase, of Thomas Wilson, Esq., who is building, with materials brought from the ruins of the abbey, a small but elegant house upon it, in the Elizabethan style of architecture. The venerable ruins, which have recently been rendered more interesting and conspicuous, by clearing the ground, consist principally of portions of the four walls of a spacious building, two hundred and thirty-eight feet in length, and sixty-four in breadth, which was probably the church, varying in height from four to twelve feet above the ground. The pedestals, with part of the shafts, of a beautiful range of twelve clustered columns, of peculiar elegance, still decorate the walls ; and within the area there was probably a double range of massive pillars, separating the nave from the aisles, of which the bases of three are remaining, from which it appears that they were square, with flutings for a cluster of three columns at each angle of the pillar, with a single lateral shaft intervening; at the east end are the remains of two door-ways, with triple clustered columns at the angles of each, and between them a series of four columns; and on the north-east side of this extensive building are appearances of a similar arrangement The ground about this interesting ruin is filled with fragments of richly carved freestone, of which the ornamental parts of the building were constructed, and in many of these the details are as perfect as when first sculptured: a gravestone was lately found among the ruins, bearing an ancient inscription in rude characters. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor of this parish amounts to £233. 18.
CEVNPAWL, a joint township with Gollon, forming that part of the parish of ABBEY CWM HIR which is in the hundred of KEVENLLEECE, county of RADNOR, SOUTH WALES, 7 miles (E. by N.) from Rhaiadr, containing, exclusively of Gollon, 117 inhabitants. It is situated on the left bank of the Clywedog brook, which falls into the river Ithon, in a fertile, pleasant, and well-wooded valley, near the ruins of the abbey of Cwm Hir. One of the most perfect carneddau in the county, consisting of about thirty or forty cart-loads of stones, thrown loosely together, with a hollow in the centre, is observable on a hill, a short distance south-west of this place. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £233. 18.
GOLLON, or GEULAN, a joint township with Cevnpawl, forming that part of the parish of ABBEY CWM HIR which is in the hundred of KNIGHTON, county of RADNOR, SOUTH WALES, 8 miles (N. E.) from Rhaiadr, containing, exclusively of Cevnpawl, 364 inhabitants. A small plot of land was bequeathed by the Rev. Robert Barlow, in 1610, for the benefit of the poor of this place.
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