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Llanthony Priory

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A monastery of Augustinian Canons, situated amongst the Black Mountains of South Wales, nine miles north-east of Abergavenny. St. David is said to have lived some time here as a hermit, but the tradition lacks confirmation. The origin of the priory was as follows. About the year 1100 a retainer of the Baron of Herefordshire, named William, whilst hunting in the neighbourhood, discovered the ruins of a chapel and cell, supposed to have been once occupied by St. David, and he thereupon decided to quit the world and become a hermit there himself. He was afterwards joined by Ernisius, chaplain to Queen Maud, wife of Henry I. The fame of the two anchorites reached the ears of William's former lord, Hugh de Lacy, who in 1107 founded and endowed a monastery for them, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The rule of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine was adopted. In course of time the severity of the climate, the poverty of the soil and the persecution of the Welsh natives combined to make life there impossible. In 1134 the entire community, numbering about forty, abandoned the monastery and took refuge in the palace of Robert, Bishop of Hereford. After two years a new monastery was built for them near Gloucester by Milo, Earl of Hereford, which was called Llanthony Secunda. Only a few canons lived from time to time in the original monastery, and both houses were governed by one prior, who resided at Gloucester.

The buildings at Llanthony fell gradually into decay and passed into private hands at the dissolution in 1539. In 1807 the property was bought by Walter Savage Landor. It still belongs to his descendents, the habitable portion of it having been added to and converted into an inn. The church is in ruins, but the western towers, part of the central one, and some of the nave piers and arches are standing.

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