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Cistercians Abbey: GRACE DIEU

Name: GRACE DIEU Location: nr Monmouth County: Monmouthshire
Foundation: 1226 Mother house: Dore
Relocation: c. 1236 Founder: John, lord of Monmouth
Dissolution: 1536 Prominent members:
Access: No remains to be seen

As early as 1217 John, lord of Monmouth (d. 1248), had raised the possibility of founding a new community with monks from Dore abbey. It was not until 1226 that a colony of monks finally settled at Grace Dieu, a delay that was thought to have been caused by both local unrest and the size of the benefactor’s purse.(1) Grace Dieu was the last of the Cistercian foundations in Wales and was also the least well known. The abbey appears to have been wrecked by the Welsh in 1233, who claimed that the abbey site was on land that rightfully belonged to them. However, by 1236 John had managed to secure the monks a new location and the community began rebuilding the abbey with timber granted from the Forest of Dean by King Henry III. The community had little luck at its new site and forty years later Edmund of Lancaster, lord of Monmouth, proposed moving the abbey yet again. It is not known whether a second move took place, but it is clear that Grace Dieu remained one of the poorest Cistercian houses in Britain. In the assessment of 1535 the net annual income of the abbey was valued at just £19.(2) The abbey was dissolved in 1536 with the smaller monasteries and it seems thereafter left to ruin. The site of the permanent foundation cannot be precisely fixed but it is thought to be marked by slight earthworks in Abbey Meadow, on the east bank of the river Trothy.(3)