Monastic Wales.

Event detail for site: Beddgelert

c. 1200: Foundation

Beddgelert Priory was founded by or in association with the princes of Gwynedd on an early medieval religious site.

Little is now known about the early history of the house for the foundation documents were destroyed in a fire of 1283.

It is thought that the monastery was established c. 1200x40 (most likely 1210x30), perhaps by Llywelyn ap Iowerth, to replace an earlier religious community that had occupied the site since the sixth century. Gerald of Wales (d. c. 1220) described a group of celibates living at the foot of Snowdon (see below). The arrival of the Cistercians at Aberconwy may have prompted these men to constitute themselves as a formal community and accept the Augustinian rule.
The new community took on the landed resources of the former early medieval house.

Gerald of Wales included an account of the Culdee community at Beddgelert in his Speculum Ecclesiae of c. 1220:
In Gwynedd ... there was a religious house of clerics at the foot of the mountain of Eryri, commonly called the Mountain of Snows ... Here there were clerics devoted to the service of God and living in a holy manner and in common, after te example of the Apostles. They were not bound to any order of monks or canons but were celibates or culdees, who served God and were given to abstinence, continence and renowned for their charity and hospitality.

People associated with this event

Llywelyn ab Iorwerth; Llywelyn Fawr , prince of Gwynedd (founder?)

Bibliographical sources

Printed sources

Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales, ed. R. Neville Hadcock and David Knowles (Harlow, 1971) p. 147

Binns, Alison, Dedications of Religious Houses in England and Wales 1066-1216, Studies in the History of Medieval Religion, 1 (Boydell and Brewer: Woodbridge, 1989) p. 120

Bott, Alan, and Dunn, Margaret, A Guide to the Priory and Parish Church of St Mary Beddgelert, Gwynedd (Godalming, Surrey, 2004) p. 77

Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), Giraldi Cambresensis Opera, Rolls Series, 21, 8 vols, ed. J. S. Brewer, J. F. Dimock and G. F. Warner (London, 1861-1891) vol. 4, p. 167

Johns, C. N., 'The Celtic monasteries of north Wales', Transactions of the Caernarvonshire Historical Society, 21 (1960) p. 30

Robinson, David M., The Geography of Augustinian Settlement in Medieval England and Wales, BAR British Series, 80, 2 vols (Oxford, 1980) p. 277

Stöber, Karen, 'The Regular Canons in Wales', in The Regular Canons in the Medieval British Isles, Medieval Church Studies, 19 (Brepols: Turnhout, 2011), pp. 97-113

Other events in the history of this site

c.1200Foundation - Beddgelert Priory was founded by or in association with the princes of Gwynedd on an early medieval religious site. [7 sources]
pre 1240Patronage - Llywelyn the Great gave the community the land of Cynnddelw Llwyd of Pennant. [1 sources]
1246-1255Patronage - Owain ap Gruffudd gave the community land in Anglesey. [1 sources]
1258Prior as witness - The prior of Beddgelert, along with the prior of Penmon and the abbots of Bardsey and Aberconwy witnessed Llywelyn ap Gruffudd’s charter pledging his protection to Maredudd ap Rhys, in return for the latter’s homage. [2 sources][1 archives]
1269 (11 March )Exchange of lands - Llywelyn ap Gruffudd made an exchange of lands with the prior and convent of Beddgelert (at Caernarfon), whereby the community acquired lands nearer the priory in exchange for those that were more remote. [3 sources][1 archives]
1281Covenant - In December 1281 a covenant was made at the priory on Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's behalf. [2 sources]
1283Fire - Fire damaged the monastery and destroyed documentation; hence early records are now lost. [2 sources]
1284 (Nov)Compensation - Beddgelert was awarded £50 compensation by Edward I for damages sustained during the war of 1282-1283. [2 sources]
c.1286Nomenclature - From this time the house was referred to as 'the priory of the Valley St Mary of Snowdon(ia)' [2 sources]
1286Inspeximus of the priory's charters and grant of indulgence to those who help the community - In April 1286 Bishop Anian of Bangor issued an inspeximus of the priory's charters and offered an indulgence to all who aided the community. [2 sources][1 archives]
1289Disputed territory - The community lost its lands in Pennany Gwernorgan, that had been granted to them by Dafydd ap Llywelyn (d. 1246). [1 sources]
c.1291Wealth - The Taxatio Ecclesiastica assessed the priory's revenues at £7 4s 2d. [2 sources]
c.1300Financial problems - The priory was one of several Welsh houses to seek papal indulgence for help with its financial problems. [1 sources]
1350Forged documents - A legal case in 1350 found that the prior and convent of Beddgelert had forged documents supporting their claim to exemptions. [1 sources]
1379Clerical poll tax - Payment required  [1 sources][1 archives]
1399Financial problems - The prior and convent petitioned Rome for papal indulgence on account of their financial problems. [2 sources]
c.1400Visitation - In the early fifteenth century the bishop of St David’s conducted a visitation of the house.  [1 sources]
c.1406Glyn Dŵr rebellion - The prior of Beddgelert (Matheus)was amongst those who supported the rebel, Owain Glyn Dŵr, and was accordingly outlawed by Henry IV.  [2 sources]
1432Petition for help following fire - In 1432, the prior of Beddgelert requested papal assistance with repairing the fabric of the church which had been damaged by fire. [3 sources]
c.1500Decline - It was alleged that there were no resident canons in the priory - they simply showed up to the priory to sign leases.  [2 sources]
1501-2Internal dispute - Prior Dafydd Conway's predecessor, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, sued the prior for arrears in paying him the pension he had been awarded several years earlier. [1 sources]
1509-1510Fines levied - In 1509 the prior was fined 10s for failing to attend the Augustinian general chapter; the following year he was fined 11s for the same offence. [1 sources]
c.1535Wealth - The Valor Ecclesiastica assessed the house's income at £70 3s 8d. [1 sources]
1536Dissolution - At the Suppression there were three canons and nine 'religious men' at the house.  [4 sources]