Llanthony Priory (Welsh: Priordy Llanddewi Nant Hodni) is a partly ruined former Augustinian priory in the secluded Vale of Ewyas, a steep-sided once-glaciated valley within the Black Mountains area of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Monmouthshire, south east Wales. It lies seven miles north of Abergavenny on an old road to Hay-on-Wye at Llanthony. The priory ruins lie to the west of the prominent Hatterrall Ridge, a limb of the Black mountains.
Remote Llanthony, locked away in a dramatic location still radiates a spirit of isolation and contemplation. Norman knight William de Lacy founded a hermitage here when he – untypical of the times – abandoned war and embraced religion. By 1118 Llanthony had become a monastery of Augustinian canons, which continued until it was suppressed in 1539.
Although now a 900-year-old ruin, it’s easy to see from these extensive remains that Llanthony was one of Wales’s great medieval buildings. In particular, its former magnificence lives on in the surviving richly decorated red stonework and superb row of pointed archways, which frame a scene that has changed little since de Lacy’s times.
The buildings at Llanthony gradually decayed after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, to the ruin seen today.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries, in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former personnel and functions.
The dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s was one of the most revolutionary events in English history. There were nearly 900 religious houses in England, around 260 for monks, 300 for regular canons, 142 nunneries and 183 friaries; some 12,000 people in total, 4,000 monks, 3,000 canons, 3,000 friars and 2,000 nuns. If the adult male population was 500,000, that meant that one adult man in fifty was in religious orders.
On famously failing to receive from the Pope a declaration of nullity regarding his marriage, Henry had himself declared Supreme Head of the Church of England in February 1531, and instigated a programme of legislation to establish this Royal Supremacy in law and enforce its acceptance throughout his realm. In April 1533, an Act in Restraint of Appeals eliminated the right of clergy to appeal to "foreign tribunals" (Rome) over the King's head in any spiritual or financial matter. All ecclesiastical charges and levies that had previously been payable to Rome, would now go to the King.