The Fragmentary remains of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Tongland, survive
next to the now derelict Tongland Parish Church. The abbey remains are
incorporated into the previous parish church, with the most obvious feature
being the 13th Century doorway with Dog Tooth mouldings.
The existing Structure is composed of a west gable with a square stone
belfry, north and part south wall.
Situated in the small village of Tongland, the Abbey ruins sites between the
grounds of Mansewood House and the disused Tongland Parish Church.
Nature of remains.
The ruins comprise a west gable with a square stone belfry, and parts of the
north and south walls. Within the interior are several carved stone
fragments of earlier windows.
Tongland Abbey was founded in 1218 by Alan, Lord of Galloway [though it is
sometimes ascribed to Fergus, Lord of Galloway with a foundation date of
1161] and was colonised by monks from Cockersand Abbey, Lancashire.
During an attempt of the King of Scotland to subdue the Stewartry in 1235
the Prior and the Sacrist were killed within the Church.
In 1296, during the Bruce - Balliol struggle for the Throne of Scotland,
the Abbot, Alexander, swore fealty to King Edward I of England, no doubt in
support of John Balliol who’s claim to the throne was through his wife,
Devorgilla, daughter of Alan, Lord of Galloway.
In 1430, the then Prior, James Herries, is reported to have repaired the
monastery and enclosed the grounds with a precinct wall, probably similar to
James II undertook a systematic destruction all the Douglas strongholds,
culminating in a two month siege of Threave Castle
in the summer of 1455.
James attended the siege in person. Although his main residence was at
Tongland Abbey, he had a field-tent erected at Threave.
During his reign (probably in 1509), James IV, asked Pope Julius II to
give the abbey to David, Bishop of Galloway to allow him repair the ruins
and reform its discipline. Between 1510 and 1525 the Abbey was held in
commendam by David. By 1529 the abbey is again described as ruinous though
still with a few monks. King James V writes to Pope clement VII and the
Cardinal of Ancona seeking the annexation of Tongland to the Bishopric of
Galloway, and this was sanctioned in a Papal Bull of 1530. In 1541 James V,
sought confirmation of the annexation from Pope Paul III, and in 1612 the
annexation was confirmed by parliament. For a brief spell between 1588 and
1606 the abbey was held in commemdation by William Melville.
The existing ruins are very probably the result of the 17th Century adaption
of the western transept of the abbey to form the parish church. The remains
of the latest Kirk on the site are believed to sit on top of the main abbey.