Abbey-Cwm-Hir Radnorshire Family History Guide

Alternative names: Gollan and Cefn Pawl

Status: Parochial Chapelry

Parish church: St. Mary

Parish registers begin:

  • The registers included with those of Llanbister date from the year 1682

Nonconformist Places of Worship:

  • Baptist Chapel at Bwlch-y-sarnau, erected in 1829,  and one at Cefn Pawl with 170 sittings.

The independent register dates from 1837

Parishes near to Abbey-Cwm-Hir

Schools

Public Elementary School (mixed), built in 1866, for 50 children

Baptist Church School, Bwlch-y-sarnau, built in 1870 for 60 children

Historical Descriptions

Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales Circa 1870

Abbey-Cwm-Hir, a parochial chapelry in Rhayader district, Radnor; 6 miles NNW of the Central Wales railway below Penybont, and 6 ½ ENE of Rhayader. Post-town, Penybont. Acres, 10,965. Pop., 537. Houses, 96. The name signifies the Abbey of the long Vale. The surface lies along the Clywedog, a tributary of the Ithon; and is a charming, fertile bottom, environed and overhung by picturesque wooded hills. A Cistertian abbey was founded here, in 1143, by Cadwathelan ap Madoc; and destroyed, in 1401, by Owen Glendower. The property belonged, in the 17th century, to Sir Wm. Fowler, concerning whom it was said, –

“There is neither a park nor a deer
To be seen in all Radnorshire,
Nor a man with five hundred a year
Save Fowler of Abbey-Cwm-Hir.”

The abbey church was 255 feet long and 73 feet wide; but only a few fragments of it remain. The mansion of F. Philips, Esq., partly built with the stones of the church in 1816, stands adjacent. A Roman road goes up the vale past the abbey, toward the valley of the Marteg. The living of Abbey-Cwm-Hir is a p. curacy, in the diocese of St. David’s. Value, £61. Patron, F. Philips, Esq. The church was built in 1680, and contains tombs of the Fowlers.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72]

The National Gazetteer 1868

Abbey-Cwm-Hir, a par. comprising the two hmlts. of Cefnpawl, in the hund. of Cefnllys, and Gollon, in the hund. of Knighton, union of Rhayader, in the co. of Radnor, South Wales, 6 miles to the N.E. of Rhayader. The name signifies “abbey in the long hollow.” A Cistercian monastery was founded here in 1143 by Cadwallon-ap-Madoc, dedicated to St. Mary, and intended for sixty brethren of the order; the number of inmates, however, was not at any time so great. The situation was one of singular wildness and beauty. The monastery was completely embosomed in wooded hills, one of which has an elevation of 1,650 feet. The oak forests, which in those remote times covered the hills and hung over the rugged precipices, have long disappeared, and where they grew sheep find now their pasture. In 1231 the abbey was threatened with destruction by Henry III., who did actually set the grange on fire, in royal revenge for the treachery of a friar who had made a false report to the garrison of Montgomery, and thus occasioned its defeat by the Welsh prince, Llewellyn. It was saved by the payment of 300 marks by the abbot. In 1401, it was much injured by Owen Glyndwr, and at the Dissolution, three monks only were found in it. The site, then given by Henry VIII. to Walter Henley and John Williams, passed afterwards to the Fowler family. The ruins consist mainly of a large part of tho walls of an edifice, which was most probably the church. Many shafts and columns remain, and fragments of freestone, beautifully carved, are scattered over the ground. In the church are some tombs of tho Fowlers. The living is a perpet. cur., val. £61, in tho bishopric of St. David’s. The church is dedicated to St. Mary.

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales 1845

Abbey Cwm Hir, a parish, in the union of Rhaiadr, comprising the hamlet of Cevnpawl, in the hundred of Kevenlleece, and the hamlet of Gollon, in the hundred of Knighton, county of Radnor, South Wales, 5 miles (N. E) from Rhaiadr; containing 589 inhabitants. This place derives its name, which signifies “the abbey in the long dingle,” from the erection of a Cistercian monastery in this sequestered narrow vale. This abbey, which was dedicated to St. Mary, was founded in 1148, by Cadwallon ab Madoc, and was originally designed for sixty brethren of the Cistercian order, but never completed upon so extensive a scale. It occupied a secluded situation in a romantic valley, deeply embosomed among lofty hills and abrupt precipices, once covered with forests of oak, but now almost denuded, affording only pasturage for mountain sheep, and exhibiting some stunted trees, the roots of which have penetrated between the interstices of the slate rock which composes the substratum of these hills. In the year 1231, a friar of this house having occasioned the defeat of the garrison of Montgomery, by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, by conveying to it false intelligence of the position of the latter, King Henry II., on approaching with the English army, set fire to the grange of the monastery, in revenge for the friar’s treachery, and was proceeding to burn the abbey itself, which was only saved from destruction by the payment of three hundred marks by the abbot.

It suffered considerable injury, in 1401, from the furious resentment of Owain Glyndwr; and the society, at the dissolution, consisted only of three monks, the revenue being estimated at £28. 17. 4. In the 37th of Hen. VIII., the site was granted to Walter Henley and John Williams; it afterwards passed into the family of the Fowlers, and subsequently became the property of Thomas Wilson, Esq., who built, with materials brought from the ruins of the abbey, a small but elegant house upon it, in the Elizabethan style of architecture: the estate has been since purchased by Thomas Phillips Esq., the present proprietor. The venerable ruins, which have recently been rendered more conspicuous by clearing the ground, consist principally of portions of the four walls of the abbey church, inclosing a space two hundred and thirty-eight feet in length, and sixty-four in breadth, and varying in height from four to twelve feet above the ground. The pedestals, with part of the shafts, of a beautiful range of twelve clustered columns, of peculiar elegance, still decorate the walls ; and within the area there was on each side a range of massive pillars, separating the nave from the aisles, of which the bases of three are remaining, from which it appears that they were nearly square, with flutings for a cluster of three columns at each angle of the pillar, with a single lateral shaft intervening : at the east end are the remains of two doorways, with triple clustered columns at the angles of each, and between them a series of four columns; and on the north-east side of this extensive building are vestiges of a similar arrangement. The ground about this interesting ruin is filled with fragments of richly carved freestone, of which the ornamental parts of the building were constructed, and in many of these the details are as perfect as when first sculptured : a gravestone was lately found among the ruins, bearing an ancient inscription in rude characters, recording that a person of the name of Mabli was there buried.

The road leading from Kington to Aberystwith passes through the parish, which is bounded on the south and south-west by the parish of Nantmel, on the east and north-east by that of Llanbister, on the south-east by Llandewy, on the north-east by Llanano, and on the west by St. Harmon’s. The land is chiefly in pasture, and the scenery, which is diversified with portions of oak timber and plantations of fir, is picturesque and beautiful. The two hamlets of which the parish consists, and which unitedly maintain their poor, constituted, till within a very recent period, the upper division of the parish of Llanbister, to which the church of Cwm Hir was a chapel of ease; but they were disunited by agreement, the inhabitants giving up their claims to occupy certain pews in the church of Llanbister, on being exonerated from contributing to its repairs. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £800 royal bounty; net income, £61; patron — Wilson, Esq.; impropriator, Chancellor of Brecknock. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain edifice of moderate dimensions, containing 120 sittings: it has a small belfry at the west end, under which a gallery was erected in 1830, at the expense of Mr. Wilson, who also presented an organ; in the chancel are two mural tablets to the memory of Sir Hans Fowler and another member of the same family. A tenement called the Vron, in the parish of Llanbister, is charged with the annual payment of ten shillings to the poor of this parish.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of Wales by Samuel Lewis Third Edition Published London; by S. Lewis and Co., 13, Finsbury Place, South. M. DCCC. XLV.

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales 1842

Abbey Cwm Hir, a parish, in the union of Rhaiadr, comprising the hamlet of Cevnpawl, in the hundred of Kevenlleece, and the hamlet of Gollon, in the hundred of Knighton, county of Radnor, South Wales, 6 miles (N. E.) from Rhaiadr; containing 481 inhabitants. This place derives its name, which signifies “the abbey in the long dingle,” from the erection of an ancient Cistercian monastery in this sequestered spot. The two hamlets of which the parish now consists, and which unitedly maintain their poor, constituted, till within a very recent period, the upper division of the parish of Llanbister, to which the church of Cwm Hir was a chapel of ease. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £800 royal bounty; net income, £61; patron, Thomas Wilson, Esq.; impropriator, Chancellor of Brecknock. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain edifice of moderate dimensions, with a small belfry at the west end, under which a gallery was erected in 1830, at the expense of Mr. Wilson, who also presented an organ; in the chancel are two mural tablets to the memory of Sir Hans Fowler and another member of the same family. A tenement called the Vron, in the parish of Llanbister, is charged with the annual payment of ten shillings to the poor of this parish. The ancient abbey, which was dedicated to St. Mary, was founded in 1143, by Cadwallon ab Madoc, and was originally designed for sixty brethren of the Cistercian order, but never completed upon so extensive a scale. It occupied a secluded situation in a romantic valley, deeply embosomed among lofty hills and abrupt precipices, once covered with forests of oak, but now almost denuded, affording only pasturage for mountain sheep, and exhibiting some stunted trees, the roots of which have penetrated between the interstices of the slate rock which composes the substratum of these hills. In the year 1231, a friar of this house having occasioned the defeat of the garrison of Montgomery, by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, by conveying to it false intelligence of the position of the latter, King Henry II., on approaching with the English army, set fire to the grange of the monastery, in revenge for the friar’s treachery, and was proceeding to burn the abbey itself, which was only saved from destruction by the payment of three hundred marks by the abbot. It suffered considerable injury, in 1401, from the furious resentment of Owain Glyndwr; and the society, at the dissolution, consisted only of three monks, the revenue being estimated at £28. 17. 4. In the 37th of Hen. VIII., the site was granted to Walter Henley and John Williams, and afterwards passed into the family of the Fowlers: the estate is now the property, by purchase, of Thomas Wilson, Esq., who has built, with materials brought from the ruins of the abbey, a small but elegant house upon it, in the Elizabethan style of architecture. The venerable ruins, which have recently been rendered more interesting and conspicuous by clearing the ground, consist principally of portions of the four walls of a spacious building, two hundred and thirty-eight feet in length, and sixty-four in breadth, which was probably the church, varying in height from four to twelve feet above the ground. The pedestals, with part of the shafts, of a beautiful range of twelve clustered columns, of peculiar elegance, still decorate the walls; and within the area there was probably a double range of massive pillars, separating the nave from the aisles, of which the bases of three are remaining, from which it appears that they were square, with flutings for a cluster of three columns at each angle of the pillar, with a single lateral shaft intervening: at the east end are the remains of two doorways, with triple clustered columns at the angles of each, and between them a series of four columns; and on the north-east side of this extensive building are appearances of a similar arrangement. The ground about this interesting ruin is filled with fragments of richly carved freestone, of which the ornamental parts of the building were constructed, and in many of these the details are as perfect as when first sculptured: a gravestone was lately found among the ruins, bearing an ancient inscription in rude characters. The total expenditure of the parochial rates for the year ending March 25th, 1836, amounted to £278. 14., of which £195. 14. was for the relief of the poor, £46. 13. towards county rates, and £36. 7. for incidental charges.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of Wales by Samuel Lewis Third Edition Published London; by S. Lewis and Co., 87, Hatton Garden. MDCCCXLII.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1840

Abbey-Cwm-Hir, a chapelry to the vicarage of Llanbister, Radnor; 6 miles north-east of Rhayader. — Living, a perpetual curacy in the archd. of Brecon, and dio. of St. David’s; of the certified value of £4 13s.; gross income £61. Patron, the vicar of Llanbister. The chapel is termed the Abbey-chapel, from its vicinity to the venerable ruin of Cwm-Hir, a Cistercian monastery, founded, accord ing to Leland, by Cadwathelan ap Madoc, in 1143. It is romantically situated upon the Clewedog, in a valley sprinkled with oak trees, and surrounded by hills and precipices. Pop., in 1831, 509. Poor rates, in 1837, £260.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1840.

Directories

Abbey-Cwm-Hir Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1920

Administration

  • County: Radnorshire
  • Hundred: Cefnllys Hundred
  • Union: Rhayader Poor Law Union
  • Registration District: Rhayader Registration District
  • Acres: 10,965

Photographs

English: Abbey Cwmhir Hall seen from the south.
English: Abbey Cwmhir Hall seen from the south. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Abaty Cwm Hir. The remains of the abb...
English: Abaty Cwm Hir. The remains of the abbey at Abbeycwmhir, a 12th century Cistercian abbey in North Radnorshire. There is a longstanding tradition that the body of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (the Last) was buried at the abbey after his death near Builth in 1282; a modern slab has been placed at the east end to commemorate this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Abbey Cwm Hir A mound south-west of t...
English: Abbey Cwm Hir A mound south-west of the abbey ruins may be a spoil heap from excavations . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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