1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Strata-Florida

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STRATA-FLORIDA (Ystradflur), the ruins of a celebrated Cistercian abbey of Cardiganshire, Wales, situated amidst wild and beautiful scenery near the source of the river Teifi. The abbey is 2 m. distant from the village of Pontrhydfendigaid (bridge of the blessed ford) on the Teifi, and about 4 m. from the station of Strata-Florida on the so-called Manchester and Milford branch line of the Great Western railway. The existing remains are not extensive, but the dimensions of the church, 213 ft. long by 61 ft. broad, are easily traceable, and excavations made at different times during recent years have brought to light encaustic tiles and other objects of interest. The most prominent feature of the ruined abbey is the elaborate western portal of the church, which is regarded as a unique specimen of the transitional Norman-English architecture of the 12th century. A fine silver seal of the abbey is preserved in the British Museum.

Founded and generously endowed in 1164 by Rhys ap Griffith, prince of South Wales, the Cistercian abbey of St Mary at Strata-Florida (which was probably a revival of an older monastic house on or near the same site) continued for over a century to be reckoned one of the wealthiest and most influential of the Welsh religious houses. It was much favoured by Welsh bards, nobles and princes, several of whom were buried in the adjoining cemetery; and in its library were deposited many official documents and records of the native princes. In 1138 Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, “the Great,” summoned all his vassals to this spot to do homage to his heir, afterwards Prince David II. The abbey suffered severely during the Edwardian wars, and in or about 1294 a large portion of its buildings was destroyed by fire, though whether as the result of accident or design remains unknown; in any case Edward I. gave a donation of £75 towards the restoration of the fabric. During Owen Glendower's rebellion in Henry IV. 's reign, the abbey was held for some months by Harry of Monmouth (Henry V.) with a body of troopers. With the extinction of Welsh independence the abbey lost much of its wealth and influence, and at the dissolution of the monasteries its gross revenue was returned at only £122, 6s. 8d. a year, one Richard Talley being its last abbot. The fabric of the abbey and its surrounding lands came into the possession of the Stedman family, whose 17th-century mansion, built out of materials from the monastic buildings, has long been used as a farmhouse. By marriage the abbey and the estate of the Stedmans passed into the possession of the family of Powell of Nanteos.