Description: Abbey Hotel
Date Listed: 1 September 1956
Cadw Building ID: 1940
OS Grid Coordinates: 328832, 227873
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9444, -3.0355
Built into the west range of Llanthony Priory.
The building which is now Abbey Hotel has late-medieval (?late C15) monastic origins and was possibly part of the Prior's lodgings, as well as incorporating the south-west tower of the Priory. Following the Dissolution it passed into secular use and was remodelled in the earlier C19 (see engraving by John Varley) perhaps by the poet and essayist Walter Savage Landor who purchased Llanthony in 1809 for £20,000. However his restoration plans are reported to have been short-lived as he ran out of money.
Llanthony was a priory of Augustinian Canons that was founded c1108-1118 but after 1136 there was a gradual move to the new settlement of Llanthony Secunda at Gloucester. The priory church is late C12. The English cell flourished so much that in 1481 the original Llanthony was reduced to that of a priory cell of Llanthony Secunda, reversing the previous relationship between the two priories. It therefore seems an unlikely time to be building a new Prior's lodging but the evidence of the building suggests that the priory's fortunes were not all lost, although its value at Dissolution in 1536 was only £100.
The present building is largely picturesque early C19 in character, although the earlier origins are clear. The four storey part is however a direct adaptation of the south-west tower of the Priory Church into a four storey wing. The two houses (this one and Court Farm) are connected internally and must reflect the arrangements in the period of ownership by Walter Savage Landor (1809-1864). This was the home farm for the Llanthony Estate and he lived here himself 1809-1811 while he was building his new house. When he left for Bath and Italy the house became the resident Agent's house, and this position was in the Knight family for more than a century. The last agent bought the house and the Abbey at the Estate sale in 1963, and his widow lives here still.
The interior of the house section on the left does not have visible medieval features, except for the vaulted undercroft, which was not seen at resurvey (May 1997). It retains the 13' oak table dated 1690 which was accepted by the Llanthony Estate in lieu of rent from the tenant of Llwyn-celyn Farm (qv). This table was recorded by Bradney in its original position in 1906.
The hotel interior has a bar in the 2-bay vaulted undercroft which is early C13. The Dining Room is also vaulted in like manner, this has an early C19 fireplace. There are two stone spiral staircases, the original C13 one goes to the three bedrooms in the tower, the top one of which has a vaulted roof. No other rooms were seen.
Mostly coursed squared red sandstone with ashlar quoins, but the medieval parts are ashlar, and this is particularly the south west tower of the Priory which is incorporated into the hotel, stone tile roofs. The building is partly two storeys and attic, and partly four storeys (the south -west tower|). The hotel is a curious building in that it appears to have two rear elevations, which, like Court Farmhouse, may reflect a reversal of the house when it changed from farmhouse to public house, maybe in the C18.
The entrance front now faces east into the Priory ruins as befits a hotel set up to cater for the visitors. This is a low two storeys with a high steeply pitched roof. The ground floor is partly hidden by an open pentice on a four bay timber frame and with a Welsh slate roof. Behind this are two part glazed double doors with elliptically arched heads. To the left of this a paired 6 over 6 sash, and to the left of that but at a higher level another one. In the roof are three sloping topped dormers with 3 over 2 sashes, each is at a differerent level in the roof which suggests floors at different levels, inevitable in the conversion of a medieval building to domestic use. Centrally placed rebuilt red brick chimney. The present ridge line is considerably lower than the medieval ridge line which is ghosted onto the south-west tower. The left hand upper floors are approached up a flight of steps to a door in a lean-to. The paired sash windows are the main living room of this part. The hotel is the right hand part with the undercroft and the tower. The south gable has a lean-to against it and two small C20 windows above.
The west elevation onto the garden is much plainer, with a half dormer breaking the eaves line and one in the roof as above.
At the north end the building incorporates the south-west tower of the Priory. This is probably early C13, and is four storeys with a room on each floor. The south wall rising above the main range is blind and is topped by a red brick chimney. The east wall has the ghost of the south aisle roof at third floor level, and above this a pointed arched small paned window, probably an early C19 insertion, it has a tilting window in the head and a 6 + 6 casement below.
The north wall looks into the church and has an Early English arch on the ground and first floors which has been blocked up with rubble walling. Above this is a two light casement in an arched head. The wall is buttressed on either side and retains the fragments of vaulting. There is a doorway out onto what was the walk behind the great rose window of the west front of the church.
The west wall was external to the church and is decorated with applied colonnettes in the Early English manner. Round arched first floor window with drip mould over. Stair turret in the south west corner. A hipped stone tiled roof caps the tower.
Reason for Listing
Graded I for its important medieval origins associated with Llanthony Priory, and for the surviving medieval fabric, particularly the south west tower. Group value with Llanthony Priory, Court Farmhouse and St David's Church.
Reference: B Freeman, Gwent (New County Series) 1980, p.63-4.
D H Evans, Further excavation and fieldwork at Llanthony Priory, Gwent, Proceedings of the Monmouthshire Antiquarian Society, 1983-4, of particular use is the dated plan of the ruins on p.48.
Sir Joseph Bradney, A History of Monmouthshire, The Hundred of Abergavenny, 1906, p.236
Information from the owner Mrs Knight.
Built into the west range of Llanthony Priory.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.