Valle Crucis Abbey and Plas Newydd, North Wales

First Published on my previous blog – October 2013

Thursday last week was a beautiful, still autumn day, with a blue sky and gentle breeze, so I decided to make my way through pretty country lanes to Llangollen, North Wales. Here are two very different heritage attractions I had last visited years ago and this seemed a great opportunity to photograph them again in the beautiful October light.

Valle Crucis Abbey

This pictureque abbey is located on the A542, just a few miles from Llangollen. Nearby is the Pillar of Eliseg, a ninth century stone cross partly destroyed during the civil war. This ancient monument gives the abbey its name, which translated is ‘the valley of the cross’.

Valle Crucis Abbey and Fishpond

Valle Crucis Abbey, Denbighshire, North Wales, was founded in 1201. Pictured also is the only surviving example of a monastic fishpond in Wales.

Valle Crucis Abbey - Interior from West

Valle Crucis Abbey - Interior from East End

Ruined following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, Valle Crucis was a Cistercian abbey and was founded in 1201. Today the atmosphere within its ruined walls is serene, a peace made all the more profound by the building’s rural surroundings, away from busy roads and buried deep in the lush greenness of a fold in the Welsh hills.

A view that best captures the essence of the building can be found at its east end, from across the only surviving example of a monastic fishpond in Wales.

Plas Newydd

Just a short drive away is Llangollen – set on the River Dee, the town has many attractions and is popular with visitors. It also hosts an annual International Eisteddfod, a festival with musical and dancing competitions.

Yesterday, though, I drove through the town centre on my way to Plas Newydd (‘new hall’ in English). This striking property was home to the Ladies of Llangollen, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby. The pair, who were from aristocratic families, lived at the property from 1780 – 1829, having escaped unwanted marriages in their native Ireland.

Plas Newydd - House and Driveway

Plas Newydd, Denbighshire, was the home of the Ladies of Llangollen, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby from 1780 to 1829.

Plas Newydd - Roses and Clipped Yews

Plas Newydd and Castell Dinas Bran

The house is a very photogenic, with a black and white half-timbered façade. It is decorated inside and out with ornate carvings and it’s well worth using the free audio guide to discover more about the property, the famous residents and the incredible collection of objects it holds.

Roses were in full bloom in the garden when I visited, which also features topiary and standing stones – and I spent quite a while capturing images of the house from many angles, often using the gardens as foreground interest. I was also able to photograph the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran in the background, a ruined medieval castle, looming broodingly on a distant hill.

Plas Newydd is managed by Denbighshire County Council and Valle Crucis Abbey, by CADW.

You can see more photos of Valle Crucis Abbey and Plas Newydd on my main website.

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