'Piper was painting historic ruins before any bombs fell on Britain. During the first years of the war he deliberately sought out and sketched many of the well-known monuments of English architecture, especially those that had already appealed to the picturesque aesthetic of the late 18th Century. This work was a meeting of three different ages: the historic architecture, whether medieval or later; the style of Cotman and Gilpin, and their contemporary watercolour painters; and the painterly habits of Piper himself in the 1940s. He made then some of his best works. He went to ruined abbeys, such as Valle Crucis, Rievaulx, Lacock, Mulcheney and Llanthony, and to the great country houses of Seaton Delaval, Holkham, Castle Howard, West Wycombe, Stowe and Fonthill.
These paintings of 1940-42 were indeed one of the moments of reconstructions in British art, which Piper had believed necessary from before the war. The buildings were not (in any normal sense) places where people lived or used for worship, and if they were not prodigiously ruined in reality, they certainly looked as if they were in his pictures. They appear as an inheritance, still valuable if now impotent. His own use and development of this inheritance was that of a modern European artist. The abstract sources of his style were both French and British, but it was his own vision that transformed his subjects, reconstructing them from ruins' (see D. Fraser Jenkins, Exhibition catalogue, John Piper The Forties, London, Imperial War Museum, 2001, p. 30).
The artist made the following footnote regarding Llanthony Priory, 'In a hollow of the Black Mountains in Wales, near the Welsh border. Usually known as Llanthony Abbey, because since the 1920s the Abbey Hotel has occupied part of it. A 12th Century foundation that seems to have been deserted in the 13th Century, the ruined buildings are still largely unrestored. Long may they remain so. J.P.' (see R. Ingrams and J. Piper, Piper's Places, London, 1983, p. 85).