Abbey Cwmhir Heritage Trust has its origins in the early 1990’s, when it was established to promote an understanding of Cwmhir Abbey through talks and leaflets and to commemorate the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Welsh born Prince of Wales, who’s body is thought to have been buried at the abbey.
A few years ago we consulted with our local community and decided to widen the Trust’s activities to include a project to develop more aspects of community heritage. This project, which is ongoing, is ‘Demystifying the Abbey’. Since the project’s initiation the Trust has won a series of grants from LocalGiving Magic Little Grants, supported by People’s Postcode Lottery, National Lottery Heritage Fund/Cadw and Welsh Council for Voluntary Action. The activities supported by these grants have been very wide ranging and the breadth of activities is shown on this website.
Through these activities we have developed a vibrant team of volunteers who bring their wide range of skills to assist the Trust and we have an extensive group of supporters who follow and take part in our activities and talks.
Looking to the future, we wish to continue with this diverse range of topics that combine field activities with desk-based research, amateur enthusiast with academic professional to further our communities appreciation and enjoyment of the rich heritage of Abbey Cwmhir and its granges.
We particularly acknowledge the support of many organisations and individuals
Prof David Austin – Sacred Landscapes Arts & Humanities Research Council
Julian Ravest – Drone photography and photogrammetry of archaeological sites
Our Trustees are:
John Hughes – Trustee and Chair of meetings
Julian Lovell – Secretary and Trustee. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Ty’r Ehedydd, Abbeycwmhir, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 6PL
Roger Coward – Trustee
Jackie Marriott – Trustee, Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Oral History Group Lead. Contact email@example.com
Sian Meredudd – Trustee
Mel Walters – Trustee, Project Lead for ‘Demystifying the Abbey’ community heritage project. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the local volunteer team after 15 January 2020 meeting
Michael Stevenson, Roger Coward, Phil Olivant, Julian Lovell
Mel Walters, Frankie Jeffries, Angela Swindell
THE PROJECT: DEMYSTIFYING CWMHIR ABBEY
‘Demystifying Cwmhir Abbey’ is an exciting community heritage project based at Abbeycwmhir, Radnorshire, led by Abbey Cwmhir Heritage Trust in collaboration with CADW, CPAT (Clywd-Powys Archaeological Trust) and the Sacred Landscapes Arts & Humanities Research Council funded programme at Strata Florida Abbey.
Our community heritage project is undertaking a range of exciting activities to better understand and advance the historical understanding of the Abbey at Cwmhir, from before the abbey was built up to our living memories – and we invite our local communities to be part of demystifying this important part of our Welsh heritage. We plan to host experience and learning opportunities ranging from an introduction to our heritage for young people and their teachers and leaders, training in how to interpret historic documents, and hands-on involvement with field surveys and excavations. Alongside this we are seeking partners who can help us express our heritage through art events and installations, publicity and knowledge sharing.
The Cwmhir Abbey church in the 12th century was possibly the largest in Wales, and we hope to find out why the Cistercian monks chose our valley to build such an important centre. What is the evidence that our valley was considered sacred well before the Abbey was built?
We also hope to discover aspects of the monks’ daily life. How extensive was the Abbey precinct? Can we find evidence of how they lived? Surveying techniques such drone photography and geophysics can identify possible buried structures and excavations can throw light on these foundations and unearth artefacts that would allow us to discover more of the history of the site.
The Abbey also featured in a number of other important events in Welsh history.
- We know that Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Welsh prince of native descent is thought to be buried near the alter in the nave of the Abbey in 1282.
- The abbey was burned by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr in 1401.
- Later the Reformation enabled Henry VIII to snatch the Abbey’s valuables and buildings and it was a Royalist camp in the Civil War that was overrun by the Parliamentarians.
- From 1562 to 1822 the Abbey site was owned by the Fowler family. One of the early Fowlers is described in a well known old Radnorshire rhyme
Alas, Alas poor Radnorseere
Never a park, nor never a deere
Never a man with five hundred a year
Save Richard Fowler of Abbey Cwm Hir’
- The Abbey Bible printed in 1588 is one of a few original welsh language bibles to survive today. It is inscribed with the name of William Fowler, – one of the Fowler family of Abbeycwmhir and an important landowner in Wales, Provost of Shrewsbury and a member of the Council of the Marches.
A fuller description of the history of the Abbey can be found here. (see AHT history page)
So we can see, from this snapshot of Cwmhir Abbey history, that there is an abundance of heritage to be discovered in this secluded Radnorshire valley.
Do come and join us as we ‘Demystify Cwmhir Abbey!’ (Contact page)
Access to the Abbey ruins is kindly given by the Hamer family of Home Farm, Abbeycwmhir.