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Buildwas Abbey


Featured Location Guide

Buildwas Abbey is a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1135 and occupies a quiet and tranquil site on the edge of the River Severn. It is in the village of Buildwas and its full title is The Abbey of St Mary and St Chad.  Originally it was a daughter house of the Savignac Furness Abbey in Cumbria and became a Cistercian Abbey in 1147 when the two orders merged.

Buildwas comes from the Saxon words of belde meaning shelter and was for water meadow, and this very much conjures up the picture of where it is situated.

In 1342 the Abbot was murdered by one of his monks. In 1350 the next Abbot was abducted by Welsh raiders and held to ransom and to top it all in 1406 it was attacked by the then self proclaimed Prince of Wales Owain Glyndwr. Finally it was closed in 1536 by the commissioners of Henry the VIII as part of his religious reforms/persecution  of those who did not follow the Church of England faith.

See Larger Image An English Heritage site

The mansion, which was formally the Abbot's housing, is the most complete, but today is a private dwelling and only viewable from the grounds of the abbey or from the Buildwas Nature Trail. The ruins you walk through today are the church, cloisters and only part of the large estate.

There is also a woodland walk (Nature Trail) adjacent to the ruins. It includes are area where the monks took advantage of the flooding River Severn to construct fish ponds. The trail is a circular walk and starts at the old Abbots Lodging and you walk past the ruins of the Infirmary and along an ancient apple corridor to the woods and stream. You go over a stone bridge crossing a brook and walk along the banks of the River Severn as you head back to the ruins. There is a leaflet available for the Woodland Walk giving you some background history on it.

Today's site in it's peaceful setting hidden back off the road amongst some trees on the banks of the River Severn and a nature reserve it is a far cry from it's turbulent history. The church remains rank among some of the best preserved 12th century examples in Britain and a row of original Norman columns remain.

See Larger ImageClick on an image to see a larger version.

See Larger Image The central courtyard

See Larger Image The Chancel

See Larger Image Some seats inset into one of the walls.

See Larger Image A marbled tiled floor.

See Larger Image Click on an image to see a larger version.

These images were taken prior to DSLR cameras. We will be updating them in the future.

This is a map of the area and you can see the Abbey is not far from Ironbridge a well known Shropshire landmark.

One point to mention is that it wasn't very well signposted off the road and because it sits back off the road when all the trees are out you won't necessarily see it. When you leave the road you go down a long drive and end up in a little car park which only takes a small number of cars. It was an impressive site, no audio tour or boards explaining what the parts were but worth a visit.

There are a number of properties like this in the surrounding area including Wenlock Priory at Much Wenlock.

Further information Grid



Buildwas Abbey, Shropshire

Ceremonial County: Shropshire

Grid Reference:

SJ643043 - OS Map 127

Map Link:


Aerial photo: Aerial Map



Best Times to Visit:





English Heritage

Other useful websites:

Virtual Shropshire Guide

Nearby Locations: Wenlock Priory    Ironbridge   Haughmond Abbey
Other Relevant pages:  


Planning Grid


Buildwas Abbey, Shropshire

Grid Reference:

SJ643043 - OS Map 127

Getting there:

On south bank of River Severn on A4169, 2 miles west of Ironbridge.


Through a double gate on the road side and down a long drive to a small car park. Up some steps to the entrance kiosk.


Small car park, 10m from entrance


No toilets, small shop in entrance kiosk, no refreshments but picnics are welcome in the grounds. Guide books.

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Extensive ruins of a Cistercian Abbey with much of it's 12 century church. In a woodland setting beside the river Severn.

What to take:

Wide angle lens

Nature Highlights:

Wild flowers, large trees.

Best Times to Visit:







01952 433274

Opening times:

March-September Wed-Sun 10am-5pm. Also open Bank Holidays.


English Heritage Members - Free

Adults 3.40 Concessions 2.70 and children 1.60

Photo Restrictions:

No commercial photography is allowed in all their grounds, it is not permitted in some buildings for conservation purposes, usually a no photography symbol is present on entry to the building where this restriction is in place.

Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Limited disabled access. Entrance via ramp, most of the site is on rough grass.
Special Needs Facilities: None
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed: On leads

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Tracey Park Section: Abbey and Religious Buildings Key:
Page Ref: Buildwas Topic: Abbeys Last Updated: 02/2011


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