Strata Florida Abbey was founded in 1164 by the Cambro-Norman Knight Robert FitzStephen. In the 12th century, Cistercian monks from Whitland Abbey, Narbeth, Carmarthenshire started to construct a religious settlement on the banks of the Afon Fflur (from which the present Abbey takes its name), a short distance from the present site. This was at a time of fast expansion of the Cistercian order. The church was consecrated in 1201.
Several descendants of the Lord Rhys have been buried at this Abbey, including 11 princes of the Welsh royal house of Dinefwr of Deheubarth during the 12th and 13th centuries Notable burials include Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys II and poet Dafydd ap Gwilym.
Strata Florida became an important and powerful religious centre. Around 1238, Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth held a council at Strata Florida. It was here that he made the other Welsh leaders acknowledge his son Dafydd as his rightful successor. Strata Florida controlled many farms throughout Wales.
In 1401, during the early years of Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion, Strata Florida Abbey was taken by King Henry IV and his son. The monks were deemed to be sympathetic to Glyndŵr, so they were evicted from the monastery, which was plundered. Henry IV turned the religious buildings into a military base as he planned to capture or defeat any Welsh rebel forces active in the area. By 1402 the Earl of Worcester held the Abbey for the English Crown with a garrison of several hundred men-at-arms, archers and foot soldiers. It continued to be used as a military base for further campaigns against the Welsh rebels in 1407 and 1415.
The monastic site was returned to the Cistercians with the end of the Glyndŵr rebellion.
Beginning in 1539, Henry VIII used his dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church in Rome to dissolve and sack the monasteries of England and Wales. Strata Florida Abbey was dissolved in 1539 by church commissioners. The buildings and their contents were valued and then sold off. The church and most of the ancillary buildings were demolished for building materials such as the window glass and stone as well as the roof tiles and lead. However, the refectory and dormitory were rebuilt as Ty Abaty, a house for the local gentry. The property has been owned by a number of notable families including the Steadmans and the Powells of Nanteos. Much of the former monastic lands of the Cistercian abbey at Strata Florida were given to Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex who sold them on to Sir John Vaughan, of Trawsgoed. Through his marriage to Jane Stedman, daughter of John Stedman of Ystrad Fflur and Cilcennin, he gained more land on which to create the large Trawsgoed estate.
The present parish church of St. Mary, within the boundaries of the graveyard, may have been built with stone taken from the monastic site.
Following its dissolution, the site of Strata Florida Abbey was left to deteriorate. It was not until the coming of the railways in the late 19th century that interest in the site was rekindled. Stephen Williams, a railway engineer, was surveying a possible route through the area when he took an interest in the ruins. As Williams was a founder member of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, he invited the group to the site in 1848. Following this visit the Association leased the Abbey site in order to create better displays and presentations to the public.
Williams, who was to become a leading expert on the archaeology of the Cistercian Order, was placed in charge of excavations. Over the next few years, he removed huge amounts of spoil, to uncover the majority of remains that are still on view today. Interest in the ruins brought in wealthy Victorians by railway. Strata Florida, a principal station on the Carmarthen Aberystwyth Line, was named after the Abbey.
The site was designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1919 and is now in the care of Cadw. It has a variety of ruins. The only substantive structure remaining of the monastery is the main entrance archway. The Great West Door to the Abbey Church has low walls marking the extent of the church and its six subsidiary chapels. A modern roof protects an area of excavated work medieval tiling. The small on-site museum has some of these tiles on display. One of the best-known is one depicting a medieval gentleman admiring himself in a mirror.
The graveyard next to the Abbey ruins is still used for burials. A memorial to the Welsh language poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym, who is interred here is next to an ancient yew tree. A stone memorial in the Chapter House commemorates the princes who are buried at Strata Florida. It is a replica; the original is housed in the site's small museum.References:
The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way. The column is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.
The base of the column, in three levels, is surrounded by 18 more stone sculptures of saints and 14 reliefs in elaborate cartouches. At the uppermost stage are saints connected with Jesus’ earth life – his mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, his foster-father St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist, who was preparing his coming – who are accompanied by St. Lawrence and St. Jerome, saints to whom the chapel in the Olomouc town hall was dedicated. Three reliefs represent the Three theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Love.
Below them, the second stage is dedicated to Moravian saints St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who came to Great Moravia to spread Christianity in 863, St. Blaise, in whose name one of the main Olomouc churches is consecrated, and patrons of neighbouring Bohemia St. Adalbert of Prague and St. John of Nepomuk, whose following was very strong there as well.
In the lowest stage one can see the figures of an Austrian patron St. Maurice and a Bohemian patron St. Wenceslas, in whose names two important Olomouc churches were consecrated, another Austrian patron St. Florian, who was also viewed as a protector against various disasters, especially fire, St. John of Capistrano, who used to preach in Olomouc, St. Anthony of Padua, a member of the Franciscan Order, which owned an important monastery in Olomouc, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a patron of students. His sculpture showed that Olomouc was very proud of its university. Reliefs of all twelve apostles are placed among these sculptures.
The column also houses a small chapel inside with reliefs depicting Cain's offering from his crop, Abel's offering of firstlings of his flock, Noah's first burnt offering after the Flood, Abraham's offering of Isaac and of a lamb, and Jesus' death. The cities of Jerusalem and Olomouc can be seen in the background of the last mentioned relief.