Revisiting Queen Guinevere’s Sanctuary
In my new book the The Return of Sir Percival, Guinevere, Queen of the Britons, and widow of the deceased Arthur Pendragon, has been forced to take refuge in a remote abbey, deep in the forest. This sanctuary offers the forlorn queen a measure of safety from the maelstrom of violence raging throughout the fallen kingdom, and a base from which to plan for the future, however bleak.
In my search for the ideal geographical location for this mythical abbey, I considered a number of alternatives, but ultimately decided upon the site of the former Cistercian abbey in mid-Wales, the Abbey Cwm Hir. All that remains of the abbey today, which was established in the twelfth century, is a haunting ruin located in a very small village bearing the same name.
The site of the former abbey seemed an ideal place for Guinevere to seek sanctuary for a number of reasons. It is truly remote, the valley and surrounding hills are magnificent, and a series of rivers run through the area, one of which I used in a particular scene in the book. In the story (which takes place long before the monastery was built), a much larger monastic compound is located on the site. It contains a convent, a church, a great hall, and four stone towers, connected by a formidable curtain wall.
This was the destination that my daughter Morgan and I visited, on the third day of our visit to the U.K. In the next post, I will describe this location in more detail, provide details of our meeting with the caretaker, Melwynn, and share more photographs.