Rhys continued his support the abbey throughout his life, as he
did to other places and orders such as the Cistercian's at Whitland,
Talley Abbey for the Premonstratensian Canons, Llanllyr one of
only two Cistercian nunneries in Wales, and Cardigan, which of
all things was a Benedictine order. A truly remarkable man lord
Rhys, fighting the Normans on one hand then supporting their religious
order with the other. The life of Strata Florida continued after
the death of Lord Rhys, both Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and his grandson
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd visited there on several occasions and received
a blessing from the Abbott.
The thirteenth century saw the Abbey begin to decline as a monastic
house. A fire in 1286, set by lighting, caused severe damage.
Then during a rebellion in 1294-95 the Abbey suffered further
damage from the attentions of English royal forces.
In 1401, during the rising of Owain Glyndwr, it was occupied once
again. This time it was by the forces of king Henry IV, his men
even used the church as a stable for their horses and they had
to call the Welsh heathens!!!
In 1407 the Abbey was again used as barracks,
this time 120 English men-at-arms and 360 archers were stationed
there. It was then however that the Abbott decided that he had
had enough, with his monks he promptly up and left and abandoned
the Abbey to its fate. So started the decay until just what one
can see now is left, which thankfully has been stabilized by the
Welsh Organisation CADW.
Welsh Cistercian house, first founded in 1164, moved to it picturesque
location in 1184, and it took about 90 years for the building
works to be completed. Unfortunately, no sooner had the monastery
been completed, when a series of disasters brought about severe
damage and destruction.
1285 the abbey church was struck by lightning, which caused a
great deal of fire damage, then only 9 years later further destruction
was suffered as a result of the Welsh rebellion About a century
later still, the abbey was vandalised and deserted, left eventually
for military occupation during a further revolt. Considering the
frequency and severity of these wars, it is nothing short of a
miracle that there are some remains at Strata Florida worth viewing.
beautifully preserved west doorway, with its unique composition
of ornate stonework, provides a perfect window for surveying the
foundations and fragmented remains of the site, against a magnificent
backdrop of rolling countryside. Along the length of the nave
there is little to see except for the unusual arrangement of the
screened nave aisles, verified by the low foundation walls that
exist. However, what is enchanting to see are the proliferation
of wild flowers springing from every crack and crevice in the
craggy slate walls.
the original crossing of the church, three of the south transept
chapels have been roofed to protect a splendid collection of re-laid
medieval floor tiles, and some fragments of painted wall plaster.
These fine examples give an indication of the rich and colourful
work that went into the decoration of the medieval monasteries,
and provide us with sufficient evidence to fire the imagination.
today, surrounded as it is by farmland , it is not difficult to
visualise the secluded, and mostly peaceful, lifestyle enjoyed
by the Cistercian monks in this gloriously uninhabited valley