The Premonstraten (Norbertine) abbey in Talley was founded in 1185 by the Welsh ruler of Deheubarth, Rhys ap Gruffydd. The Norbertine monks had a rule and a lifestyle based on Cistercian indications, but unlike them, and like the Augustinians, they performed duties in the parish. They had white habits, also modeled on Cistercian ones. The Order was supported in England at the end of the 12th century, especially by Ranulf de Glanville, a high official (Justiciar) of king Henry II. Perhaps it was he, during the Welsh – English peace in the 80s of the twelfth century, who influenced Rhys Ap Gruffydd to settle Premonstratensians in Talley. The rapid fall of Ranulf and the renewal of wars could have had an effect on the fact, that no other Norbertine monasteries had been built in Wales, and that Talley was poorly endowed.
Rhys Gruffydd’s descendants upheld the abbey’s existence, and his grandson, Rhys Fychan, was even buried there in 1271. The donations to the abbey included lands and rents both near Tally, and as well as in Ceredigion, Gwent and Gower, but nevertheless the abbey was never rich. Soon after the founding of the monastery, the Norbertians fell into a long lawsuit against the Cistercian abbey in Whitland, which could be the reason for not completing the church construction or reducing its plans to a much smaller extent. Eventually, the abbey was dissolved by king Henry VIII in 1536, and the buildings mostly demolished for building materials by local residents. Only the presbytery of the abbey church was not completely abandoned and until 1772 it served as a parish church.
The abbey church was to be erected on a cruciform plan as a three-nave, eight-span basilica with two transepts, east rectangular chancel and a tower at the intersection of naves. However, the church was never completed in this form, the eastern four bays of the nave and the southern aisle reached a height not much higher than the foundations, and from the planned northern aisle only the eastern part was finished, as a small room accessible from the northern transept. According to the original plans, only the chancel, north and south transepts and the tower were built. The monastic buildings with a cloisters and other rooms required by the rule stretched south of the church.
The ruins of the abbey with the remains of the church tower, a fragment of the transept and the foundations of the remaining parts, are open to the public, free of charge at any time of the day.
Website castlewales.com, Talley Abbey.
Website coflein.gov.uk, Talley Abbey; Abbey of the Blessed Virgin and St John the Baptist, Talley.
Website wikipedia.org, Talley Abbey.