Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis Sixth Series Volume 1 1900

Archaeologia Cambrensis Sixth Series Volume 1 1900 is in Archaeologia Cambrensis.

Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis Sixth Series Volume 1 1900 Basingwerk Abbey

Basingwerk Abbey [Map]. The effort (says a correspondent of the Manchester Guardian) which is to be made with the view of pre- serving the remains of Basingwerk Abbey, Flintshire, from further dilapidation, is rousing keen interest among archaeologists in Flint- shire, Cheshire, and even more distant places. The Flintshirc County Council have also the matter in hand, and the probability is that a strong committee will be formed to deal with the matter, and to preserve this beautiful ruin, with its rich historical associations, from being yet more rudely dealt with by the hand of time. The Abbey stands on rising ground not far distant from the Holyhead railway station. The origin of the name Basingwerk" is absolutely unknown. Learned writers in the Archceologia Cambrensis, and kindred publications, have made ingenious guesses and deductions on the subject, but none of them agree. With regard to the date of the foundation of the Abbey, it is stated by Bishop Tanner that Ranulph, Earl of Chester, began to build it about 1131, and that it was afterwards added to by Henry II, and bestowed upon the Cistercian Order in 1159. The accuracy of Tanner's conjecture is borne out by the confirmation of grants made to God, St. Mary, and the monks of Basingwerk" by Henry II, wherein the King says:—" And I moreover do grant and confirm to them all their tenements which Ranulph Earl of Chester and other barons have given to them, that is to say, Halliwelle and Falibroch, and the chapel of Basingwerk, in which they at first dwelt, with the mills and all their apourtenances." From the words "in which they at first dwelt," it is evident the monks had been some time settled at Basingwerk at the date of the granting of this charter. The charters of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth and his son, David, both speak of gifts which their predecessors had bestowed upon the monks of Basingwerk, and the probability, therefore, is that the original foundation was by one of the earlier princes of Wales. The Cistercians had no religious house in this country before 1128, so that the first monks at Basingwerk must have belonged to some other Order, perhaps the Fratres Gresei, as conjectured by the l% laborious" Leland. Giraldus de Barri (Cambrensis) was here in the train of Archbishop Baldwin, and he describes it as "cellula de Basingwerk" (the little cell of Basingwerk"). In the time of the first Edward we find that the Abbas de Basingwerk" was called to Parliament, and Edward gave one of them a tract of land at Gelli, in Whitford, where there used to be a chapel belonging to the monks of Basing- werk (it is now a farmhouse). There is no doubt that at one time the Abbey was a rich and flourishing one, with property in various parts of the country. Henry II confirmed to them, among other possessions, "a hundred shillings out of the revenues of Chester," and they also had the church of Holywell and the chapel of Colsul (Coleshill), the village of Wenhewm," tithes of fish from Rhuddlan and other places, and property in the English dioceses of Coventry and Lichneld. Tanner states they also had a silver mine at Basing- werk. About the end of the fifteenth century, the Abbot of Basing- werk was Thomas ap Davydd Pennant. The herald bard, Guttyn Owain (who in those days resided alternately at Basingwerk and Strata Florida), wrote a poem (still extant) in which he compliments this abbot upon his illustrious pedigree, and then proceeds to describe the Abbey in most interesting fashion:

It is a part of heaven he is the Sovereign of our language Excellent are the buildings the houses of the district Of faultless freestone abundant are the materials. And native oaks in an extensive park. Houses of delicious wine the temple of the saints Houses of the choir a house for the convent A good house for the corn on the other side. There is a malt house and it has a brick house. There is a stone wall by Cilgwri, And upon it a gate house. Upon a rampart, where a load of gold might be obtained, Has a narrow fortress shutting in the monks. With mills has he tilled with every available glen and hill. Generous God, wherever his lot falls There the work of water and wind is not in vain. Gold has been bestowed upon the fabric On the land of God, like the leaves in number. Should the gold of a king have been there contributed, He has given twice as much in wine. Goods and victuals without number He daily gives to all the world."

In 1543 (32 Henry VIII) letters patent were passed under the Great Seal, being a grant of the reversion of the Abbey to Harrye ap Harrye and Peter Mutton, in consideration of the sum of £ 280 8s. 8d. The daughter of the first named married one of the Mostyns of Talacre, and the Abbey and grounds now belong to Sir Pyers Mostyn, of Talacre, the head of one of the chief Roman Catholic families in North Wales. — Wrexham Advertiser, June 22nd, 1901.