Built: Buildwas was founded in 1135
Location: Nr Ironbridge, Telford, Shropshire, TF8 7BW
History: Founded by the local bishop in 1135, it was sparsely endowed at the outset but enjoyed several periods of growth and increasing wealth: notably under Abbot Ranulf in the second half of the 12th century and again from the mid-13th century, when large numbers of acquisitions were made from the local landed gentry.
Abbots were regularly used as agents by Plantagenet in their attempts to subdue Ireland and Wales and the abbey acquired a daughter house in each country. It was a centre of learning, with a substantial library, and was noted for its discipline until the economic and demographic crises of the 14th century brought about decline and difficulties, exacerbated by conflict and political instability in the Welsh Marches.
The abbey was suppressed in 1536 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Substantial remains of the abbey church and monk’s quarters remain and are in the care of English Heritage.
Price: Free for all
Parking: Yes, free but limited parking
Review: Luke and I decided to visit Buildwas Abbey after it was recommended to us from the English Heritage lady doing tickets at Wenlock Priory. It was only a 10/15 minute drive away and I do suggest that you do both on the same day.
Buildwas Abbey is a lot smaller than Wenlock Priory, but it does contain one special thing and that is the chapter house with its amazingly intact tiled floor and decorative stonework.
We pretty much had the place to ourselves, there was one other couple at the start but they left 10 minutes after we arrived, so it was nice to be able to wander around in our own little world.
Annoyingly there was some parts that were fenced off for our safety, but we will still to see the numbers archways and the abbey remains. There is not much onsite information but apparently information boards should appear this year.
Luckily when we went to Wenlock Priory there was a guide book there, so we were able to find out a bit more about the place that way. It was in this book that we learned that the ruins of Buildwas Abbey in Shropshire are among the most important Cistercian remains in England.
So although this is a small site, it is very much a worthwhile place to visit, particularly if you’ve just explored Wenlock Priory. Just make sure to visit the priory first, and buy a guide book as well.
I do believe there has been some talk that more information guides will be coming this year to the Abbey (I visited in February 2022 so things might have changed), but if you visit Wenlock Priory first you can buy a very informative guidebook. And I do like to have the books of each place that I’ve visited.