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St Mary's Church, Strata Florida (Ystrad-Fflur), Cardiganshire

Denomination: Anglican

Dedication: St Mary

Built: pre 1800 (see note 2 below)
Rebuilt: 1815 (see note 3 below)
Repaired: circa 1914
Photography: Lloyd Lewis (except where indicated)
Date: 1 July 2011
Camera: Olympus E-510 digital

Note 1. ...The [Strata Florida Abbey] buildings.... were largely demolished, with the stone going to be recycled in surrounding buildings.... it is still unknown what buildings were contemporary with the Monastery and then repaired using stone plundered from other Monastery buildings, and those which were built new from the plundered stone. It is unknown whether the present Parish Church of St Mary, within the boundaries of the graveyard, was built from robbed stone, or if it is perhaps a rebuild of what would have been the visitorís chapel for the Monastery.
[Source: Welsh icons website]

St Mary's Church, Strata Florida
Photography by John Ball, 24 April 1999 (Sigma SA-300 35-mm SLR)

Note 2. (Describing Strata Florida Abbey) ...There is a very fine Saxon arch, of freestone. This, with the trees about it, forms a very picturesque subject; but there is nothing else remaining that deserves notice. There is not even a fragment of a tomb or monument. The present church is built from the ruins of the ancient, but occupies a very small portion of its area.
[Source: The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography, of South Wales - from Materials Collected During Two Excursions in the Year 1803, by Benjamin Heath Malkin, Longman & Rees, London, 1804; republished in 1970 by S. R. Publishers Ltd, Wakefield; ISBN 0-85409-612-4]
This indicates that St Mary's Church was well established at the time of Malkin's visit in 1803.

St Mary's Church, Strata Florida

Note 3. A pulpit of 1724 [shown below] lies in a church dating from 1815 in its present form.
[Source: The Old Parish Churches of South-West Wales, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, Malvern, 1994; ISBN 1-871731-19-4]

St Mary's Church, Strata Florida

St Mary's Church, Strata FloridaSt Mary's Church, Strata Florida

Above, and below left: Three examples of the stained glass windows in the church.
St Mary's Church, Strata FloridaSt Mary's Church, Strata Florida

Above right: Ancient tombstone leaning against the wall of the church (see Note 4, below).

Note 4. Roughly shaped rectangular pillarstone, originally found in Strata Florida Abbey cemetery being used as a tombstone. It is now standing against the external chancel wall of Strata Florida parish church, measuring 1.5m high, 50cm wide and 12cm thick. The stone has a deeply pecked cross on one face with deep holes between the arms. Original source: Cadw scheduling description. RCAHMW 17.01.2008.
[Source: Coflein website (NPRN 275649)]

St Mary's Church, Strata Florida
Above and below: Ancient yew tree at the base of which is the Dafydd ap Gwilym memorial (see Note 5, below).
St Mary's Church, Strata Florida

Note 5. Perhaps the most famous connection that Strata Florida has had with the arts is that of Dafydd ap Gwilym, the most illustrious of the medieval Welsh poets and father of cywydd, a later medieval form of lyric poetry, whose verses are a celebration of life and his native Ceredigion and Wales. According to a cywydd by a near-contemporary, Gruffudd Gryg, Dafydd was buried next to a yew at the boundary wall of the cemetery at Strata Florida. By tradition, perhaps much later, the yew [in the above photographs] was identified as the burial place and is now much visited by those familiar with his beautiful work. It is marked by two simple inscriptions, one simply black paint on an architectural ashlar block made of Dundry stone and the other carved on slate placed there by the Honourable Society of the Cymmrodorion. Both inscriptions simply record his name and his approximate dates, 1320-1380.
[Source: Strata Florida Project, formerly on the website of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter]

Further details and photographs: Images of Wales feature on Strata Florida Abbey.

Below: Google satellite image of St Mary's Churchyard and the adjacent ruins of Strata Florida Abbey.
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