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BUILDWAS ABBEY

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The ruined and buried remains of Buildwas Abbey. It was originally founded for the Savignac order in 1135, by Roger de Clinton, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. It then became the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary and St Chad when the two orders were united in 1147. No evidence for permanent buildings earlier than the 1150s has been found, and the main abbey buildings including the church, chapter house and cloisters were probably built during the rule of Abbot Ranulf, in 1155-1187. The church and much of the claustral range were completed by the end of the 12th century, and the infirmary and abbot's lodging in the 1220s. A large chapel and parlour wing were added in the 14th century. The abbey was dissolved in 1536 by Henry VIII, and three years later the site was granted to Edward, Lord Grey of Powys. The infirmary and abbot's lodging were subsequently converted into a house.

Although now in ruins, much of the main complex (built of sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings) stands above ground and indicates the original layout. This was adapted to the local topography, which is why the cloister is unconventionally arranged to the north of the church at a lower level. There are also the earthwork and buried remains of an extensive water management system, as well as the remains of several charcoal burning hearths.

The abbey was occupied by a small group of monks who made their income by charging tolls to passing travellers on the bridge over the River Severn. Its past was rather turbulent and includes the murder of the abbot in 1342 and the abduction and imprisonment of the abbot and monks in 1350 by Welsh border raiders. The abbey lands were later laid waste by followers of Owain Glendwr in 1406, and further persecution followed during the Wars of the Roses. During the 19th century the monastic precinct was bisected by a railway, now disused, which ran to the south of the church. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.