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Cistercian Abbeys: LLANTARNAM

Name: LLANTARNAM Location: nr Newport County: Monmouthshire
Foundation: 1179 Mother house: Strata Florida
Relocation: None Founder: Hywel ab Iorwerth
Dissolution: 1536 Prominent members:
Access: Private ownership

Llantarnam Abbey was founded in 1179 by the Welsh lord of Caerleon, Hywel ab Ioerwerth (d. 1211), and was colonised by monks from Strata Florida. In its earlier years the abbey was known by a variety of names including Nant-Teyrnan, Dewma and Caerleon. In 1273 the General Chapter decreed that Llantarnam was to be the official name although Caerleon continued in use until the later Middles Ages.(1)
Llantarnam not only received gifts from its founder but also benefited from the patronage of the native Welsh in the upland areas of eastern Glamorgan. It was recorded that during the late twelfth century the house had a community of sixty monks, although the numbers had dropped to twenty by 1317.(2) This was probably a result of the damaging effects of the revolt of Llywelyn Bren which took place in 1316.(3) At the time of Dissolution there were only six monks and a net annual income of £71.(4) The abbey was suppressed in 1536 with the smaller monasteries and the site was bought in 1554 by William Morgan, who built a house over part of the claustral complex. The layout of the Norgan's house probably reflects some of the layout of the cloister ranges and may incorporate medieval fabric.(5) The house was substantially rebuilt during 1834-5 and in 1946 the property was acquired by the sisters of St. Joseph, who continue to reside there today.(6) The surviving literary works from Llantarnam abbey include St. Gregory’s ‘Homilies’ and a late copy of a set of Chester annals.(7)