The St Dogmaels Abbey was founded between 1113 and 1115 for twelve monks from the French convent of Tiron. The founders were Robert fitz Martin and his wife, Maud Peverel. In 1120, abbot William of Tiron agreed to Martin’s request that the priory of St Dogmaels be transformed into an abbey. His first abbot was Fulchard, elected by bishop Bernard of St Davids. In 1138, the village and St Dogmaels Abbey were plundered by the sons of Gruffudd, Ap Cynan, Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladra. While in 1188, the well-known monk, chronicler and writer Gerald of Wales visited the abbey, who together with Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, gathered support for the Third Crusade, during his trip around Wales.
In the 13th century, the construction of the central nave of the abbey church was completed, and at the end of the 13th or at the beginning of the 14th century most of the monastery buildings, cloisters and the infirmary and chapter house were erected. In the fourteenth or fifteenth century, a large part of the west range was rebuilt to provide better living conditions for the abbot. A new range has been also added to the abbot’s guests. The last change in the church was the construction of the northern transept at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
In relation with the ongoing Reformation, the abbey was dissolved in 1536. At that time, there were only eight monks and an abbot in the convent. Most of the abbey was leased to John Bradshaw of Presteigne in Radnorshire, who built residence within it.
The abbey consisted of a church and monastic buildings adjacent to it from the south. The church was a one-nave building erected on a cruciform plan. A rectangular chancel was attached to the nave from the east, under which there was a vaulted crypt. From the south, there was a transept from the 12th / 13th century, one of the oldest parts of the monastery. For a change, the northern transept was created at the beginning of the sixteenth century and was the last medieval addition. At the intersection of the naves there was a small tower.
The courtyard, surrounded by cloisters, adhered directly to the south wall of the nave of the church. It was possible to get to the majority of monastic buildings by cloisters. The oldest of them, from the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were located in the west range, where the dormitory was probably located. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the perpendicular abbot’s house, was added to it. In the southern range from the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, there was a refectory and a so-called day room. The 13th-century eastern range housed the sacristy and the kind of reception (parlor). To the east of them at the beginning of the fourteenth century a chapter house and infirmary were erected in separate buildings.
Only ruined fragments have survived from the abbey buildings and the church. The northern and western walls of the nave, the northern transept, the fragment of the chapter house and the ruined infirmery building survived. Partially preserved is the crypt under two eastern bays of the presbytery and floor tiles from the fifteenth century on large areas of the nave. The remaining part of the abbey is outlined only by the low ground walls and foundations. The monument is under the protection of the Cadw government agency and open to the public.
Website coflein.gov.uk, St Dogmaels Abbey, St Dogmaels.
Website wikipedia.org, St Dogmaels Abbey.