Strata Florida is World Monuments Fund Britain’s first project in Wales. A partnership with the Strata Florida Trust was announced in October 2016, championing this extraordinary Cistercian monastery in Ceredigion.
Known to date from the 12th century, but constructed on an ancient site of regional Iron Age and Celtic importance, Strata Florida Abbey has great significance as a place of Welsh hiraeth and cultural identity. It is still known as the ‘Westminster Abbey of Wales’ where eleven early princes of Wales are buried, including Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys II, as is the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely regarded as one the great poets of Europe in the Middle Ages. The most important primary historical source for early Welsh history, the Brut y Tywysogion, was compiled at Strata Florida, which built a reputation as a centre of medieval learning, poetry and literature.
Telling the Strata Florida Story
The monastery comprised an inner precinct of church, cloisters, chapter house, dormitory and refectory, and a vast outer precinct extending over 120 acres. Beyond this the estate consisted of lands and granges spread extensively across the Cambrian Mountains, reflecting its power over the landscape of mid-Wales and the ancient kingdom of Deheubarth. The monastery was dissolved in 1539 under orders of Henry VIII. The former monastic buildings were subsequently converted to a Gentry house, and later adapted as a farm. The Strata Florida Trust has recently purchased the farm, and we will be working with them to restore these important historic buildings and to tell the wider story.
At the end of 2019 a Conservation Management Plan and business plan were completed for the site. The business plan recommended that Strata Florida is best placed to develop as a cultural centre for Welsh Heritage, but one that is networked with other tourism and access networks across Mid-Wales
In the same year the restoration of the Beudy was completed. The Beaudy, which once housed cattle, is now home to the Strata Florida Trust offices. The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded a grant to restore the next building on the list – the Ty Pair, a cook/bakehouse. The restoration, which is valued at £128,000, will give the Strata Florida complex an exhibition venue (with the idea of displaying ‘A History of Strata Florida in 100 objects’) and a pop-up catering space.