A Remarkable Augustinian Priory
It's unlikely that you will come across the ruins of this ancient Priory by accident, located far up the Honddu Valley in the remote Black Mountains this remarkable old Priory is only accessible by a single narrow lane that runs from Llanvihangel Crucorney over Hay Bluff to Hay-on-Wye.
The Priory dates back to the early 12th Century the site was said to have been chosen by William de Lacy while out hunting and a church dedicated to John the Baptist was built. The Priory itself is believed to have developed around this original church. It was used at this time by around 40 Augustinian canons but unfortunately due to it's remoteness and the areas lawless inhabitants the canons were forced to abandon the Priory and nothing remains of the original building.
A major rebuilding programme took place in the late 12th century and supported again by the de Lacy family canons from Gloucester returned to the Priory. The priory's church was built between 1180AD and 1230AD and was one of the great medieval buildings in Wales being a mixture of Norman and Gothic styles. Inevitably the areas turbulent history took it toll and most of the monks had left the Priory and returned to Gloucester by the time of Owain Glyndwr's rebellion which devastated the Priory in the early 15th century. Eventually the Reformation and the dissolution of the Monastries in 1536 by Henry VIII brought to an end an era of what must have been one of the most impressive buildings of it's time.
Today the ruins of the Priory are open to the public and it's well worth venturing off the beaten track to find it. The Offas Dyke footpath runs very close by and there is even a pub at the Priory for weary travellers to refresh themselves.