In the History of Glasney College (James Whetter) The foundation date for Tywardreath Priory is given as 1088
Tywardreath was founded by Robert Fitz Turold. he also built a castle at Cardinham, after which the family name was changed to de Cardinan. he appears to have had rather less ignoble motives. the site was ideal, close to navigable , but sheltered , water, with fish, timber, fresh water and building materials for the taking, and an established village close by.
1135-approx The Benedictine priory was founded at Tywardreath, overlooking St Austell Bay, a daughter house of Saint's Sergius and Bacchus of Angers. With which its relationship persisted not always harmoniously-for nearly 300 years.
At one time a substantial place consisting of a chapel, a refectory, dormitory, prior's lodging, guest chamber, chapter house and cloister. The buildings of which were situated South of the present church.
It is strange that the Cornish, after their early devotion to monasticism, should have taken little interest in their medieval monasteries, all were dependant on some foreign house or one outside of Cornwall.
The Priory Church, 80 feet long and 57 feet wide, catered for the needs of the local population, possibly a reason why there was no parish church in Tywardreath until the 14th century.
1150-The church of St Uny Lelant was granted to the priory of Tywardreath, by the Lord of the Manor of Ludgvan Leaze.
1170-Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, confirmed to the priory of Tywardreath.
"The Church of St. Euni...cum omni partinencia sua siccat Robertus grammaticus melius et librius unquam habuit".
For about a century the living at St Uny Lelant remained a Rectory, with the Prior and Convent of Tywardreath being the owners of the Rectorial Tithes.
1261- July 27th The Archbishop of Canterbury, Boniface of Savoy, slept in the priory, he may of suggested the formation of a parish, with its own vicar. The following month , Ralph was appointed.
He was accommodated in the Priory, given a "monks" portion, and provided with a horse and fodder.
1272-Edmund son of Richard Earl of Cornwall became Earl. Although he lavished money on his little town of Lostwithiel and the great abbey of Hailes in Gloucestershire, for some reason or the other he took little interest in the Cornish religious houses. The handful of monks at the time at Tywardreath were very poverty stricken and lived in a decaying priory.
1284-Bishop Quivil excommunicated their wayward prior.
1371-Willamus became prior, he was to have a chequered career, being excommunicated but later reinstated. The Vicar of Tywardreath of the time complained to the Bishop about him, and it is possible the this is when the vicar ceased to live in the priory, and the first vicarage was built.
13th Century-The Priory's possessions reached over much of Cornwall and Devon, it owned all of the local churches , mills as far as St Breward, a number of manors, received the harbour dues from Fowey, tithes of tin, fish wool and lamb from as far afield as Totnes in Devon, and even the fishing rights in the Fal. Naturally , too, they owned land round the village itself: over 300acres in all, with farms at Newhouse, lower Lampetho and Colwith, and woods at Stoneybridge. The monks also had chapels at Respryn and St Clether. A priory in the Middle Ages was a considerable business, and its management depended on the sagacity of its priors.
14th Century-having a French mother house during the wars with France its position was neither so secure nor as comfortable as might be supposed. Inevitably these alien establishments were occasionally suspected by the English, and the mother Abbey kept an eye on Tywardreath whenever possible.
1338-The priory had to be evacuated for fear of French pirates.
1536-Tywardreth was one of the first to be lost under the act of dissolution. Income being only £123. perhaps its condition was the worst of all. What that condition was is suggested by the injunctions of Bishop Veysey a few years before to the bibulous old Prior Collins and the other six monks of the house. they were to say matins shortly after midnight as their rules demanded; no brother was to go out alone, and all windows and doors by which women might enter were to be closed. It seems the monks were suffering from a frailty that needed control. But this was not all. The Prior was still the nominal lord of the borough of Fowey, an encumbrance that his tenant Thomas Treffry was determined to get rid of. Treffry moved in the exalted circle of Cromwell himself and one day returned from London with a letter for Collins from that implacable Hammer of Monks.
There was no mincing of words. The King had heard that the town of Fowey was sore decayed owing to the lack of order and justice for which the prior was responsible,
Wherefore his Hignes thinketh that ye be veray unworthy to have rule of any towne that cannot well rule yourself.
Collins went and shortly afterwards the priory was dissolved.
After the dissolution of the monasteries the priory was well and truly vandalised to the point that it practically disappeared. Some of the stone was embarked for the mother house at Angers but got no further than the entrance of Fowey harbour where the ship sunk. There and off Polridmouth, some of it was recovered in the last century and taken to Menabilly. Much of what was left, one suspects found its way into houses and barns in the village and into outlying farms . Over the door of 13 Church Street Tywardreath is a carving of the Virgin and Child.
The priory's assets were still worth having, all the same a number of rival bidders squabbled over them for years until, by the 1620's two families the Bassetts and the Rashleighs, gained control.