Aberconwy Abbey Church

Conwy, United Kingdom

Aberconwy Abbey was a Cistercian foundation at Conwy, later transferred to Maenan near Llanrwst, and in the 13th century was the most important abbey in the north of Wales.

A Cistercian house was founded at Rhedynog Felen near Caernarfon in 1186 by a group of monks from Strata Florida Abbey. About four or five years later they moved to Conwy, and in 1199 were given large grants of land by Llywelyn the Great who had recently become ruler of Gwynedd. Llywelyn was regarded as the founder of the house, and thanks to his support it came to hold more land than any other Welsh abbey, over 40,000 acres (160 km²). On Llywelyn's death in 1240 he was buried at the abbey, and his son and successor Dafydd ap Llywelyn was also buried here in 1246. In 1248 Llywelyn's other son, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, who had died trying to escape from the Tower of London in 1244, was reburied at Aberconwy after the abbot of Aberconwy, together with the abbot of Strata Florida, had arranged for his body to be repatriated from London.

The abbot of Aberconwy was an important figure in the negotiations between Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and the English crown later in the century, and in 1262 was entrusted with the task of being Llywelyn's sole representative in negotiations.

In 1282, Edward I of England surrounded Snowdonia with a massive army. On 11 December Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Tywysog Cymru, was lured into a trap and murdered.

In 1283 King Edward I of England obliged the monks to move from Conwy to Maenan, further up the Conwy valley, so he could construct a castle and walled town at Conwy. The move had been completed by 1284, with Edward financing the building of a new abbey. In the 15th century the abbot, John ap Rhys, became involved in a dispute with Strata Florida Abbey and led some of his monks and some soldiers on a raid on that abbey. The abbey was valued at £162 in 1535 and was suppressed in 1537.

Little remains of the Maenan Abbey buildings, but the original abbey church in Conwy was adapted to become the parish church of St Mary & All Saints and although much rebuilt over the centuries some parts of the original church remain. The other buildings of the abbey are thought to have been located north and east of the church, including where Conwy Castle now stands.



Your name


Conwy, United Kingdom
See all sites in Conwy


Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

More Information



4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sion Lewis (14 months ago)
Worth going to understand the history of the church, could t believe it was built before the castle.
Sheila Peters (2 years ago)
Spent an enjoyable and informative hour here whilst on holiday. Enticed in by their butterfly initiative - visitors make an origami butterfly, write on a spiritual message and the butterflies are used to decorate the church. Surprised by the number of people who responded (was a cool refuge on a very hot day). Well worth a visit, interesting history, beautiful windows. The words on one grave provoked contemplation... he had 45 children!! Didn't make mention of the number of wives.
annette butler (3 years ago)
I attended a lovely Christmas day service here. Everybody was made very welcome and, even though I was a visitor, I felt included in the service. It is a beautiful church offering worshippers a spiritual home from home.
malcolm craven (4 years ago)
Attended At St Mary's for this year's remembrance service. The church is beautiful with a history back to the 12th century, on the site of an older monastery. Located in the fee fantastic walled town of Conwy. It was a very well attended service.
Zrnho Correy (6 years ago)
This is indeed a Beautiful Church.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I. 

The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.

The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.