Tintern Abbey, Wye Valley
The ruins of Tintern Abbey lie between the River Wye and the A466 road at the southern end of Tintern village. The site is beautiful, with the tidal river frequently changing from a very low flow during Summer low tides to a raging torrent when Winter floods add to the high tides surging up the Bristol Channel.
The hills around the Abbey are covered with woods, changing colour with the seasons. The land upon which the Abbey is set makes the most of the sunlight, the Abbey receiving the benefit of the last of the sun shining down the Angiddy valley.
The actual ruins are now looked after carefully and receive a good number of visitors. Maintenance is often underway to prevent further deterioration of the fabric.
Tintern Abbey was originally founded by Cistercian monks in 1131 AD. in the reign of Henry I. Between 1270 and 1301 the Abbey was rebuilt and by the end of the rebuilding, around four hundred monks lived in the complex. The Black Death arrived in 1349 and affected Abbey life badly but it continued to operate until 1536. In that year the Abbey was part of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Within a few years the lead was stripped from the roof and the building began to decay. The Abbey then became a source of building stone and only in the eighteenth century was any interest shown in the ruin. Around 1760 the site was cleaned up and visitors to the Wye Valley began to be entranced with the beauty of the site and surroundings. JWM Turner was the best known artist to visit Tintern at the end of that century along with the poet Wordsworth. His poem “Lines“, composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, became a standard text for English students throughout the English speaking world.
Today the Abbey receives many visitors. At times the Abbey hosts special church services, although in the roofless and windowless ruin, the clergy have to compete with the weather, the cawing of the local rooks and the noise of road traffic climbing out of the valley to the south.
The site was taken over by the Office of Works in 1914 and is now in the care of Cadw, Welsh Historic Monuments. The Abbey is open most days. There is a gift shop attached to the Abbey which sells very appropriate items of good quality.