Margam Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, located in the village of Margam, a suburb of modern Port Talbot. It was founded in 1147 as a daughter house of Clairvaux by Robert, Earl of Gloucester. Early Christian crosses found in the close vicinity and conserved in the nearby Margam Stones Museum suggest the existence of an earlier Celtic monastic community. The founding abbot was William of Clairvaux. The third abbot, Conan, enjoyed the praise of Giraldus Cambrensis, whom he appears to have entertained prior to his official visit with Baldwin of Forde, Archbishop of Canterbury, to preach the Crusade in 1188. Conan (or Cunan) contributed to Patristic literature, as he is credited with the capitula or chapter-headings prefixing each section of St. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs, one of the works for which that author was titled a Doctor of the Church.

The abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII of England in 1536 and sold to Sir Rice Mansel. Significant holdings of the monastery library appear to have survived this event, including the Annales de Margan. At this time, only 12 monks were living in the monastery. From the Mansel family the abbey eventually passed into their descendants in the female line, the Talbot family. In the 19th century, C R M Talbot constructed a mansion at Margam Castle which overlooks the abbey ruins. The nave of the abbey continued in use as the parish church, as it does to this day. It is Anglo-Catholic in its churchmanship.

Margam Abbey now consists of the intact nave and impressive surrounding ruins. Those ruins not belonging to the church are now owned by the County Council. These remains, including the unusually large twelve-sided chapter house, dating from the 13th century, stand within 3.4 km² Margam Country Park, close to Margam Castle. The Abbey church of St Mary, the ruined Chapter House and the Abbey undercroft are all Grade I listed buildings.

On a hill overlooking the abbey stand the ruins of an outlying monastery building, Capel Mair ar y Bryn ('the chapel of St Mary on the hill'). The purpose of this building is thought to have been to allow members of the monastic community who were engaged in the keeping of flocks to fulfil their devotional obligations without having to return to the main church.

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Founded: 1147
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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Tyniec Abbey

Tyniec Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer probably around 1044. Casimir decided to rebuild the newly established Kingdom of Poland, after a Pagan rebellion and a disastrous Czech raid of Duke Bretislaus I (1039). The Benedictines, invited to Tyniec by the King, were tasked with restoring order as well as cementing the position of the State and the Church. First Tyniec Abbot was Aaron, who became the Bishop of Kraków. Since there is no conclusive evidence to support the foundation date as 1040, some historians claim that the abbey was founded by Casimir the Restorer’ son, King Boleslaw II the Generous.

In the second half of the 11th century, a complex of Romanesque buildings was completed, consisting of a basilica and the abbey. In the 14th century, it was destroyed in Tatar and Czech raids, and in the 15th century it was rebuilt in Gothic style. Further remodelings took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, first in Baroque, then in Rococo style. The abbey was partly destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland, and soon afterwards was rebuilt, with a new library. Further destruction took place during the Bar Confederation, when Polish rebels turned the abbey into their fortress.

In 1816, Austrian authorities liquidated the abbey, and in 1821-1826, it was the seat of the Bishop of Tyniec, Grzegorz Tomasz Ziegler. The monks, however, did not return to the abbey until 1939, and in 1947, remodelling of the neglected complex was initiated. In 1968, the Church of St. Peter and Paul was once again named the seat of the abbot. The church itself consists of a Gothic presbytery and a Baroque main nave. Several altars were created by an 18th-century Italian sculptor Francesco Placidi. The church also has a late Baroque pulpit by Franciszek Jozef Mangoldt.