Name: VALLE CRUCIS Location: nr
Llangollen County: Denbeighshire Foundation: 1201 Mother house: Strata Marcella Relocation: None Founder: Madoc ap Gruffydd Maelor Dissolution: January 1537 Prominent members: Access: Welsh Historic Monuments open to the public
Valle Crucis was founded in 1201 by Madoc ap
Gruffydd (d. 1236), ruler of the Welsh principality of Powys.
abbey was named after the Valley of the Cross, the
lush green landscape in which it was situated. The valley itself
took its name from the ninth-century Pillar of Eilseg, a memorial
cross which stands near to the site of the abbey. This was built
a monument to the glories of the former kings of Powys, whose armed
intervention contributed to the maintenance of Welsh independence
after the Norman Conquest of 1066. During the Middle Ages, Valle
Crucis Abbey was also known as the abbey of Llanegwestl,
from the original Welsh name for its site. Thirteen monks and
abbot arrived from Strata Marcella,
near Welshpool, and building work began almost immediately. The
monks were granted access
extensive grazing lands for their flocks and herds on the granges
at Mwstwr and Buddugre and also held arable fields, water meadows
and woodland areas. The abbey had a comfortable income, although
it is doubtful if the number of monks increased from the original
thirteen. A few years after the foundation, the General
Chapter of the Cistercian Order reprimanded the
abbot of Valle Crucis, along
with those of Aberconwy and Caerleon,
because it was reported that they rarely celebrated Mass or
even received the Holy Eucharist.
It seems that the community lived a lifestyle bordering on luxury.
In the fifteenth century Guttyn Owain praised the hospitality
the abbots, remarking that the table was usually spread with four
meat courses served in silver dishes and accompanied by sparkling
claret. During the late fifteenth century the monks'
dormitory was completely taken over to be used as a grand set
apartments, in which the abbots must have lived in semi-secular
The abbey suffered some misfortunes throughout
the centuries. Some time during the first fifty years of its existence,
and before the abbey could be completed, a disastrous fire swept
through the monastery, necessitating considerable reconstruction.
Evidence of the damage can still be seen on the lower stonework,
which was stained deep red by the fire. During the Welsh wars
King Edward I, in 1276-77 and 1282-83, the abbey suffered at the
hands of the English and the buildings were significantly damaged.
In 1284, Valle Crucis was granted £160 by way of compensation
for the losses incurred. Some scandal surrounded the last years
of the monastery. In 1534 the penultimate abbot, Robert Salusbury,
was accused of many crimes and excesses and the following year
arrested for his part in a highway robbery. At the time of the
Dissolution the abbey had a net annual income valued at £188
and the monastery was finally surrendered in January 1537. Following
the site passed to William Pickering and later to the Wootton family.
The church soon fell to ruin, but the east range was converted
a dwelling house. The house was later used as a farmhouse and continued
to serve as such into the nineteenth century. In 1950 the property
passed into the care of the government and today is managed by
Welsh Historic Monuments. Extensive remains include
the east range of the claustral buildings and the foundations of
the south and west ranges. The site, noted for its great natural
beauty, is accessible to the public and can be visited at all reasonable