Going West: The Valley of the Flowers

Wales 142

The rain hammered against the car. We’d been twiddling our thumbs for a while, attempting to keep the windows from steaming up too badly while we grazed on what we had in the glove compartment, looked at the map and tried, unsuccessfully, to read the information board in front of which we had parked. The sun had fled the scene. Thunder rumbled overhead and the ‘Valley of Flowers’ was pretty much invisible.

Wales 143

Somewhere beyond the curtain of rain lay a beautiful valley nestled in the circling green of the hills. Even closer lay the ruined Abbey of Strata Florida that we had come to see. Yet all we could see was water and the blurred shapes of departing cars. No-one was fool enough to be wandering round ruins in this weather.

Wales 144



“How deep is it?”

“No idea…”

“I’ll get the Wellies…” No-one, that is, except us.

Wales 149

The rain began to ease a little as we sploshed through the running puddles towards the Abbey. In the twelfth century, a group of Cistercian monks had begun to build a community in the area. The Abbey was founded around 1164, under the patronage of Rhys ap Gruffydd, with the church being consecrated in 1201.

Wales 156

The Abbey assumed an important place in Welsh politics and religion, and eleven princes of the Welsh Royal House of Dinefwr were buried there as well as the monks themselves. Then, in In 1401, Strata Florida Abbey was taken by King Henry IV and his son. Considering the monks guilty of supporting  Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion, the community was evicted from the Abbey, though its final demise did not come until it was dissolved in 1539 under Henry VIII’s reforms of the Church.

Wales 150

Little remains of the Abbey at first glance, apart from the arch and the outline. Local buildings seem to wear its stone and memory, but there are a series of chapels that are quite unique. Their altars long stood open to the sky and the winds, but their floors remain, beautifully laid with medieval tiles.

Wales 171

Simple roofing now protects them, lending a shadow of intimacy once again to the little chapels. Where the rain had splashed the tiles, the colours sang once more and the intricacy of their designs could be seen, including not just geometries and floral patterns, but mythical creatures and, famously, a gentleman looking at his reflection in a mirror.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Ancient sites, History, Photography, Poetry, Stuart France and Sue Vincent, travel, Wales and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Going West: The Valley of the Flowers

  1. Jorge Medico says:

    Rain sometimes adds just the right mood.


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