A lithograph of Strata Florida Abbey by Sparrow, published May 28th, 1786 by J Hooper
Strata Florida Abbey near Tregaron
Strata Florida Abbey (Abaty Ystrad Fflur) is a former Cistercian abbey
situated just outside Pontrhydfendigaid, near Tregaron, and was originally
founded in 1164. The name Strata Florida is a corruption of the Welsh Ystrad
Fflur, meaning Valley of (the river of) Flowers. Ystrad corrupts into Strata,
while Fflur (flowers) is the name of the nearby river.
The west doorway
Original mediaeval tiling
Abbey wall remains
There is a little confusion over the actual founding of the monastery. It was founded by a group of monks from Whitland Abbey, at a time of very fast expansion of the Cistercians, the White Monks. Building actually began on a different site on the banks of the Afon Fflur (from which the present Abbey takes its name), a short distance from the present site. Currently farm land, there are stories that huge stones were unearthed on the original site, known as Hen Fynachlog (the Old Monastery), though how true this is has yet to be formally investigated. Overall, it is considered that the Abbey was founded around 1164 A.D. thanks to the patronage of the Lord Rhys, which is why many of his descendants were buried there. In 1184, a further charter was issued by Lord Rhys re-affirming Strata Florida as a monastery under the patronage of Deheubarth.
St Mary's Church beside the Abbey at Strata Florida
was built in 1815, replacing an earlier building. It was restored in 1875
and again in 1914.
Strata Florida was not excused from the wrath of Henry VIII, and the monastery was dissolved in the 1540s by the church commissioners. The refectory and dormitory were rebuilt into a gentry house, now known as Ty Abaty, which was owned by a number of families, including the Steadmans and the Powells of Nanteos.
Sir John Vaughan, of Trawsgoed, acquired from Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex much of the former monastic lands of the Cistercian abbey at Strata Florida.
The monastery buildings themselves were largely demolished, with the stone going to be recycled in surrounding buildings, such as potentially the great barn complex by Ty Abaty. A complex site, it is still unknown what buildings were contemporary with the monastery and repaired with stone plundered from other Monastery buildings, and which were built new from the plundered stone. It is also unknown whether the present parish church of St. Mary, within the boundaries of the graveyard, was built from robbed stone, or is a rebuild of what would have been the visitor's chapel for the monastery.
Current opening times
Dates - 1 November 2016 - 31 March 2017
Times - Daily 10.00am - 4.00pm