Tintern, Jewel of the Wye Valley.
Nestled within a lush Welsh valley amidst the riparian meadow near the River Wye, rest the ruins of Tintern Abbey. Located in Monmouthshire, Wales, Tintern’s ethereal beauty captivates the imagination. I once had the privilege of visiting the Cisterian ruins, and fully understand why this sacred site was a source of inspiration to the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. Of all the places I’ve seen, this was one of the most astonishing.
A brief history of the Abbey.
Learning the a brief history of Tintern Abbey allows one to better appreciate this historical site. After my informative visit and some research, I found that Tintern Abbey was founded May 9, 1131, by Walter De Clare, then Lord of Chepstow. It housed Monks during the 12th and 13th century. Due to my fascination with Tintern Abbey, I learned about both the Abbey’s multi century long history, and it’s infinite romantic beauty. To me, Tintern’s monumental ruins rivaled even younger cathedrals in it’s majesty.
Tintern Abbey was funded by important benefactors such as Roger Bigod III, who was the grandson of Maud and who consecrated Tintern. The Abbey began with a few modest buildings and grew as the community expanded. Eventually, the grand Gothic church that stands today was added. As time went by new recruits for the monastery became hard to find. The Black Death plagued the country in the late1340s, but monastic life carried on. Tintern Abbey fell victim to financial woes in the midst of the Welsh uprising against the English kings. During the 1530s under the reign of King Henry VIII, the roof had been removed and it’s lead sold for the royal treasuries. The King decreed the dissolution of the monasteries in an attempt to establish control over the church during that time, and sever ties with Rome. Leading to the closing of the monastery.
The Abbey in modern times.
During the 18th century Tintern Abbey, enveloped in ivy, inspired painters such as J M W Turner. In recent times, Tintern Abbey has become a welcoming tourist attraction. Adequate parking has been added to the site to allow access to tour buses and passersby. Facilities and a gift shop provide amenities for a convenient visit. Today the Abbey still shows traces of delicate stone carving, and visitors can imagine how the Gothic stained glass windows must have inspired worship in the Monks who resided there. Once inside visitors are awestruck at the architecture as light cascades down from the open ceiling. Tintern’s floor is now overlaid with a carpet of emerald green grass. A pasture of cows grazes near the Abbey, and the adjacent river is lined with quaint cottages.
Tintern Abbey appears as if from another time, a scene revealed only in fiction. Tintern Abbey will remain in my memory as one of the most stunning sites to visit. A jewel hidden within the Welsh countryside.
Tintern Abbey, Wales.