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Talley Abbey

Visited April 2017

Location Talley, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes 
Facilities None








 A visit to Talley Abbey involves stepping back in time into an age-old altercation between two religious orders. The Premonstratensians, or White Canons arrived at the site and started to build an abbey in the 1180's. The nearby Cistercian order led by Abbot Peter of Whitland Abbey decided to try and takeover the White Canons estates, and a legal battle ensued, described on the information board at Talley Abbey as an 'Unholy Struggle'. Work stopped on the construction of the abbey whilst the church authorities tried to mediate through the ructions. It took nine years of bickering before the matter was eventually resolved in favour of the Premonstratensians and building work could recommence.


Whatever Abbot Peter's beef was with the building of the abbey, it certainly cost the White Canons dearly as they won the dispute but were left with severely depleted funds. So much for being a man of the cloth!


Due to this financial situation the plans for Talley Abbey had to be severely scaled back, and the building was completed on a much smaller scale. The remoteness of the abbey meant that it never really prospered, despite financial support from both Welsh and English sponsors. However it carried on a modest existence funded through rent from lands granted by its wealthy supporters. After the dissolution of the monasteries it became the parish church of Talley, a function it fulfilled until the present church, built next to the ruins, was constructed in the 18th century.





Today the remoteness of the abbey is one of its assets, it really is a beautiful and quiet place to visit. There are no facilities here, so no gift shop to tempt you, just like the original abbey would have tried to keep worldly temptations away. There is a small car park and some public toilets opposite the present day church. Nearby is the entrance to Talley woods, which are open to the public, and feature some good walking paths if the children want to use up some energy.


The ruins are small but impressive, especially the perfectly preserved archway of the nave. The half built walls in front of the nave are the remains of the front part of the abbey that was never completed, and it is hard not to speculate what the ruins would be like today had the abbey been completed to the original plan. 





We combined a trip to the abbey with a visit to the Gwili Steam Railway, about 1/2 an hours drive in the direction of Carmarthen. This is a small heritage railway which takes in a short journey from its station at Bronwydd Arms. It is a good fun day out for adult & children alike. For more details see our 'Other Places of Interest' page.



More info:  CADW Talley Abbey

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