Monastic Wales.

Remnants of Ewenny Priory

The monastery was fortified and the medieval church and claustral buildings lay within a walled enclosure with towers and gatehouses in the north and south. Five towers survive.
The priory was entered through the North Gate. Two square openings in the gateway roof were for pouring molten lead or pitch on top of any invaders.

The cloister seemingly stood to the south of the church, as was common. Little now remains of the claustral buildings and the site is largely occupied by a private dwelling. But two fine fourteenth-century gateways survive as well as remnants of the medieval perimeter wall. Although nothing remains of the west and south ranges, eighteenth-century drawings offer some indication of their layout for it was only at the turn of the nineteenth century that they were fully dismantled.

The nave of the former priory church now serves as the parish church of St Michael whilst the east end is in the care of CADW. Much of the medieval structure survives and dates from the twelfth century. The stonework up to the stringcourse dates to the first half of the twelfth century; later in the century the church was heightened. Nothing remains of the north transept or the transept chapels; the present north aisle is a rebuilding of the original which collapsed in the early nineteenth century. The fourteenth-century presbytery, south transept and central tower all survive, as well as the medieval altar stone. A number of medieval windows have been preserved and include three plain round-headed Norman windows in the south wall of the south transept.

The medieval church was cruciform in design, with the monks’ choir in the east and the parish church in the nave. A screen divided the two and remnants of the thirteenth-century partition survive. The monks entered the presbytery through an ornate fourteenth-century oak screen. The presbytery is now paved with modern replicas of the medieval tiles. Whilst some of these depict the arms of St Peter’s, Gloucester, others show the arms of the last abbot of Gloucester, William Parker, as well as of various benefactors of Ewenny.
The nightstairs were in the south transept and provided covered access from the monks’ dormitory to the choir. Here too were tombs of the priory’s patrons. They include the tombs of Maurice de Londres, his son, William (d. c. 1211), and Hawise de Londres (d. 1274); there are several slabs commemorating members of the Turbervill and Came families. Two Norman arches in this transept would have led to barrel-vaulted chapels.

[Cooper, Abbeys and Priories, pp. 55-56; Cadw: Ewenny; Coflein database - Ewenny Priory].

Monastic sites related to this article

Ewenny, Vale of Glamorgan(Priory)