Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Valle Crucis Abbey  


Unitary Authority
Valle Crucis  
Street Side
The abbey lies in the lower Eglwyseg valley between the main road and the river, approximately 0.9km N of Llangollen.  


Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary  

The Cistercian abbey of Valle Crucis was founded in 1201 by Madog ap Gruffudd, king of Powys Fadog, with 13 monks from Strata Florida abbey, near Welshpool, which was a daughter house of Whitland, the earliest Cistercian house established in Wales, itself a direct offspring of Citeaux. The name is taken from the Cross of Eliseg a short distance to the N. It suffered severely during the Edwardian Wars, 1272-1307, but became a centre of Welsh literary activity, the continuation of the Brut y Twysogynon was probably written here. A further period of flourishing scholasticism took place in the later C15 when a number of famous bards, among them Guto'r Glyn, and Lewis Mon, and including Gutun Owain (fl 1450-1498) who wrote in praise of the splendour of the architecture and the table kept there, are associated with the house. An englyn by Owain Gwynedd of the late C16, describes the house in ruins. The buildings are laid out on a modified Cistercian standard plan with the cruciform church, the cloister on the S, and the frater at right angles to the S claustral range, which was rebuilt in late C14. The convent was dissolved under the 1536 Act of Suppression, and was disbanded by January 1537. The property passed through the hands of Sir William Pickering, Sir Edward Wootton and others until it was brought into the Coed Helen Estate. It became popular in the Romantic Movement, being drawn by the brothers Buck, 1742, painted by Turner, c1794/5, by Sandby, late C18, Varley, c1800, Cotman 1810, Gastineau and others, and visited by Thomas Pennant in 1773. The W end of the church was repaired by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1872.  

The early work on the church is of uncoursed dolerite with Cefn freestone and gritstone quoining, the later work generally of Carboniferous limestone ashlar work. The buildings are now roofless, except for a slate roof on the E claustral range. The structures that survive consist of the chancel walls and the W front of the church, the S transept and the E range of the cloister including the chapter house and sacristry, and the lower part of the reredorter. Of the remainder only the lowest parts of the walls survive, and are now laid out as a monument in care. The chancel has a remarkable articulated E wall, with 2 stages of lancets between pilaster buttresses, which rise and are joined as arches in the gable. The nave is of 5 bays, with transepts and E chapels. The W front has a moulded round-headed W door of 3 orders, and above three 2-light windows under an encompassing arch. An 8-light cusped rose window is set high in the gable, above which is an inscription recording the building by Adam, abbott 1330-1344. Of the E claustral range the chapter house, approximately square in plan, has three 3-light reticulated E windows between buttresses, with small windows above, lighting the dorter. The sacristry is, unusually, extended to the full length of the aisled S transept and has small windows to an upper chamber developed in the late C15 as the Abbot's camera, with access by stair to a chamber over the E aisle of the transept. Towards the cloister, the outer wall of the chapter house has a fine 3-light Curvilinear window interpreted as a book cupboard, a round-headed arch to the sacristry, and a pointed arch to the slype. A range of small windows above the former lean-to roof light the former cubiculae in the dorter.  

The chancel has triple wall shafts probably intended to carry a vault. It was later extended W towards a pulpitum placed in the nave in the late C14 or early C15, largely cutting off the transepts, each of which has two altars in the E aisle. The sacristry opens off the S transept and is barrel vaulted. The C14 chapter house vaults are supported on 4 columns, the filleted wave mouldings running without interruption into the quadripartite vault. The dorter has small trefoil-headed windows with equal splayed reveals to the cubiculae and a fireplace on the E wall. The Abbot's lodging over the sacristry was converted to a dwelling after the Dissolution and has an inserted fireplace with a C13 grave slab reused as a lintel. The dog-toothed base of the pulpit stair in the frater survives.  

Reason for designation
Included at Grade I as one of the most important remains of a monastic house in Wales. Scheduled Ancient Monument  

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