Llanthony – Augustinian Priory

History

   The beginnings of the priory date back to 1100, when according to tradition, the Norman knight William de Lacy, looking for a safe hiding place during the hunt, hid in a nearby chapel of St. David, and in return for saving, he vowed to build the church. Soon, a temple dedicated to Saint John the Baptist was created. It was consecrated in 1108, and until 1118, a group of about 40 monks from England, founded the first monastery in Wales of canons regular, or Augustinians.
  
In 1135, after persistent attacks by the local Welsh population, the monks fled to Gloucester, where they founded a new convent named Llanthony Secunda. Around 1186 Hugh de Lacy, gave the abandoned priory funds from his Irish estates, and by 1230 Llanthony was rebuilt.
  
Llanthony flourished during the entire thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but in the fifteenth century, it began to decline. End occurred in 1538 when the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII. The monastery buildings were sold for 160 pounds, but unused and unrepaired by new owners, began to fall into disrepair. Only the infirmary was transformed in the 18th century into the parish church of St. David. In 1799, the estate was bought by Colonel Mark Wood, who transformed some buildings into a house and shooting range.

Architecture

   The Llanthony priory consisted of a magnificent Norman-gothic church on the north side and monastery buildings south of it. The church was built on a cruciform plan in the form of a three-nave basilica, with a huge central tower over the intersection of the naves and transepts and a pair of smaller western towers. In the eastern part of the church you can see round romanesque arches, while in the western part, pointed arches dominate, which originated in the early period of English gothic at the beginning of the thirteenth century. It can be concluded that the eastern end of the church was erected first, and then the builders gradually moved west.
  
To the south of the nave of the church stretched a square patio surrounded by cloisters. From its western side there were monastery buildings of unknown destiny, in the south there was a refectory, and on the eastern side a chapter house was built. It was a vaulted room with a three-sided end to the east, where monks gathered every day on stone benches placed around the walls. At some distance from the main buildings, on the south side there was an infirmary, later transformed into a parish church and economic buildings on the western side. The whole of the priory was surrounded by a wall with an entrance gatehouse from the eastern side.

Current state

   In Llanthony, the ruins of the priory church and the chapter-house are preserved, as well as the farm building and the parish church, that is, the former infirmary. The ruins of the monastery are under the care of the Cadw government agency. They are open all year, every day from 10:00 to 16:00, admission is free. Some of the monastic buildings have been renovated and now there is a hotel in it.

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bibliography:
Website castlewales.com, Llanthony Priory.
Website wikipedia.org, Llanthony Priory.