Powys Digital History Project

The medieval church 3
A pattern emerges


The creation of new parishes
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the parochial map of Wales was drawn and the parish with its priest, glebe lands and tithes was at the centre of Welsh ecclesiastical life. In some parts of Norman controlled Wales - around Brecon, for example - the newly created parishes were small in size and reflected the newly created manors and knight’s fees. Elsewhere new parishes were created by sub-dividing areas previously under the influence of a native monastic foundation. Some of these clasau were disbanded by their new overlords while others were reduced to the status of parish churches. Many of these new livings were bestowed on the new monasteries. Although the pattern being created was very much that to be found in England and indeed across Northern Europe, a great many of the bishops driving these changes forward were Welsh and a great many of the local priesthood would have been native. As local Welsh lords began to support houses of the new orders, so native Welsh monasticism dwindled. The Augustinian Canons in particular, supported by the princes of Gwynedd and Powys, took over several of the clasau of north Wales and converted them into Augustinian houses.

The growth of the Cistercian order
By 1200 the native traditions were drawing to a close. As time went by, the new orders were seen less as an alien system forced on Wales, and the Cistercian order, very much a part of the great European monastic revival, became very successful, with nine foundations by 1201 which were either Welsh or in Welsh controlled areas.

There are 5 main pages on the medieval church in Wales. Use the box links below to view the other pages.