IN the countryside outside Holywell stand the romantic ruins of Basingwerk Abbey.

The abbey was founded in about 1132 by Ranulph de Gernon, second Earl of Chester, as a house of the order of Savigny.

In 1147 it became part of the Cistercian Order and a daughter house of Buildwas Abbey in Shropshire.

In the late 1270s Edward I used the abbey as his base while constructing his castle at Flint and rewarded the monks for their hospitality.

Basingwerk has stood for almost 900 years and has a fascinating past, reflecting how things changed over the course of Britain’s history.

In the 12th century the monks of Basingwerk were doing rather well.

Already in possession of the manor of West Kirby, in 1157 KingHenry II presented them with the Manor of Glossop, possibly as a reward for accommodating him during his campaigns in North Wales.

The charter gave them the right to collect wood, mine lead, and to ‘tax’ the people by collecting animals and grain from them.

Later in 1289 a charter granted the monks the right to hold a market in Glossop each week which brought a certain amount of income for them in fees and fines.

They also encouraged farmers in the region to increase wool production.

In the 13th century the abbey was under the patronage of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, and his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn gave St Winefride’s Well to the abbey.

The monks also harnessed the power of the stream to run a corn mill and to treat their wool.

In the latter part of the 13th century, however, as mentioned earlier, it was Edward I who became the abbey’s benefactor.

The dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 brought an end to abbey life at Basingwerk as it did across the country.

Following the dissolution part of the abbey was reused as farm buildings - the remnants of a barn can still be found on the site. Parts of it were removed for use elsewhere.

The roof of the refectory became part of Cilcain Church while the Jesse window, once described as ‘the finest glass window in all Wales’, was moved to the parish church of St Dyfnog in Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch, Denbighshire.