Address: Tintern, Monmouthshire NP16 6SE

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Phone: +44 (0) 1291 689251

 

Tintern Abbey History

Tintern Abbey was formed by Cistercian monks who came over from France. Their first colony was at Waverley in Surrey and this began in 1128. Tintern Abbey was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, and it became the second British colony for the monks. Whilst the buildings first started in 1136, they were mainly rebuilt during the 1200s, this using the red sandstone we see today.

The location is near Tintern in Monmouthshire and the Abbey lies on the Welsh side of the River Wye, the dividing line between England and Wales at this point.

This great building was a religious home and sanctuary to many, and was also a place where people came to marvel at the spectacular building. This changed in 1536 when the Dissolution of the Monasteries took place under Henry VIII. All monastery land and buildings had to be ceded to the king by Abbot Richard Wyche. From this time on, the monks were forced out and the buildings went into ruin. Roof lead was soon sold, and this speeded up the decline.

The building was used in the 17th and 18th century by workers in the nearby wire works, and from this point on it  became a tourist attraction.

By 1901, the Abbey had been acquired by the Duke of Beaufort and was then sold to the Crown for £15,000. Structural work took place to make it safe for tourists and in 1984, CADW (the historic environment service of the Welsh Government) were given the task of running it.

It became a Grade I listed building in 2000 and is visited by 70,000 people a year.

 

Tintern Abbey Visit

Landmarks are often built on high ground and can be seen for miles around, but Tintern Abbey is the complete opposite. Sited near the Welsh border and surrounded by hills, you almost stumble across it down in the valley, but what a wonderful sight when you do!

You can imagine the majesty of the place all those years ago and it’s nice to walk around the grass floored ruins. The ideal thing is that it’s a fairly large area and won’t get overcrowded as there’s plenty of room for everybody and people tend to spread out.

There’s a restaurant/bar over the road and tea rooms alongside, so it’s easy to make a nice trip out of it. Part of the ruins are across the road from the main site and are free to roam, and you can see a certain amount of the Abbey from the pavement alongside, again for free. But it’s only a modest charge and obviously worth paying to enter the main site and view all.

You enter through the shop which sells all the usual historical artefacts for a site like this. It’s important to get a map of the site as you can be going around in circles if you don’t have one and it explains the various site details. There’s a map in the main brochure and this is a smart purchase. As with many ancient sites, doing a degree of research before you go can pay dividends.