The Abbey of Strata Marcella (Welsh: Abaty Ystrad Marchell) was a medieval Cistercian monastery situated at Ystrad Marchell (Strata Marcella being the Latinised form of the Welsh name) on the west bank of the River Severn near Welshpool, Powys, Wales.
It was founded in 1170 by Owain Cyfeiliog Prince of Powys, as a daughter house of the Abbey at Whitland. Within two years the Abbey had moved a short distance to the present site but excavations have found no evidence of any early structures before construction in stone started in 1190 so it is likely the earliest building were simple wooden structures. Building work continued until the early 13th century by which time Strata Marcella had become the largest Cistercian Abbey in Wales. Its nave was 200 feet long. It was monks from Strata Marcella who went to the Vale of Llangollen in 1200 to found the Abbey of Valle Crucis.
Strata Marcella was one of a number of Cistercian Abbeys founded by Welsh Princes which operated independently from the Norman-founded abbeys in England. As such they tended to support the Welsh Princes in their struggles against King Edward I of England and the Marcher Lords and because of this the abbey suffered much damage during the Welsh wars of independence. The abbot and monks were deemed to be working against English rule in Wales and in 1332, the local lord, John de Cherleton, ordered the eviction of all the Welsh monks and replaced them with English monks from Buildwas Abbey, Shropshire.
During the Owain Glyndŵr rising at the beginning of the 15th century the buildings were heavily damaged and the monastery never completely recovered.
The abbey was finally dissolved in 1536 at the dissolution of the monasteries in England and Wales. At that time there were only four monks at the abbey and the local lord, Lord Powis, had already purchased the site and had removed everything of value. The stone from the buildings was sold and used to build several local churches. Today the only visible remains are earthworks covering the remains of the church and cloister in a meadow beside the River Severn.
- Gathering the Jewels:Strata Marcella
- The Cistercians in Yorkshire
- 'House of Cistercian monks: Abbey of Buildwas', A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2 (1973), pp. 50-9.