Much Wenlock Rd, Buildwas, Telford TF8 7BW
Buildwas is a large, ruined abbey set in a water meadow near the River Severn in the rolling Shropshire hills. While it is ruined, a twelfth century church, extensive areas of monks’ quarters, the main shell of the abbey and an impressive vaulted chapter house remain. It is preserved by English Heritage, and there is a 25 space free car park twenty metres from the site. Parts of the site are currently barricaded for restoration work, with good signage explaining what is being undertaken. The church building and monks’ quarters were constructed from local sandstone. the infirmary and abbot’s lodging were still under construction around 1220, or perhaps not yet started, when the abbey gained access to the stone quarries and timber of nearby Broseley. Visitors may enjoy the pleasant walk which runs from the abbey along the banks of the Severn.
Buildwas Abbey was founded by a local bishop Roger de Clinton in 1135, a Cistercian (originally Savigniac) monastery, it was initially poorly endowed and impoverished, supporting only 6-8 monks, though, under Abbott Ranulf, it was later to achieve wealth and underwent considerable growth. Its strategic importance to the Plantagenet kings in their battle to subdue Ireland and Wales made it a more important centre, positioned as it was at the major Severn crossing, and it developed as a seat of learning, with an extensive library. It was linked to daughter houses in every county, including Basingwerk abbey in Flintshire, St Mary’s Abbey in Dublin and Dunbrody Abbey in Wexford. It was alo supported by large grazing estates in Wales and as far away as Derbyshire The difficulties faced by the abbey due to Welsh insurrection and political instability meant that the abbey had begun to decline and fall into disrepair well before King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536.