Llanthony Priory is a special place. Nestled in the sheep-dotted Vale of Ewyas, it couldn’t have a more atmospheric setting. Giraldus Cambrensis described the area as “ a situation truly calculated for religion”. Foggy conditions added to the drama when we visited.
The Priory dates to the early 12th century. It was founded by a Norman nobleman, William de Lacy and Ersinius, a former Chaplain to Queen Matilda. The two hermits attracted a band of followers and a church was built on the site. Later, the number of monks grew to around 40 and they adopted the Rule of St. Augustine, becoming one of the earliest houses of Augustine canons in Britain.
In 1135, tensions between the Normans and the local Welsh population led to a daughter cell, Llanthony Secunda, being founded in Gloucester. The priory’s valuables were removed there and the fortunes of the mother house seemed to dwindle. The rebellion of Owain Glyndwr in the early 15th century further diminished the priory’s standing. The priory was dissolved under Henry VIII and the remaining monks received pensions. Over the following centuries, the priory decayed and became a ruin. In the 18th century, a house was built within the ruins. It is now a hotel.
St. David’s Church stands adjacent to the ruins and has it’s origins in the sixth century. It is a simple, peaceful place.
Beautiful surroundings, atmospheric ruins and a 12th Century Bar (!) make Llanthony a wonderful place to visit. Oh, and there’s plenty of good spots for playing Hide and Seek…..