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Tintern Abbey

Nestling snugly on the banks of the lower reaches of the beautiful wooded Wye valley is Tintern Abbey. It was Founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare for Cistercian monks, who came from the Abbey of Aumone, in the Diocese of Chartres, itself founded only ten years before.

Tintern Abbey Ruins Inside Tintern

It is thought that Gilbert, first Earl of Pembroke and the son of Walter de Clare, was buried at Tintern. The Cistercian monastery was one of the wealthiest in Wales. Much of it was rebuilt in the l3th to l5th century at which latter time it was the largest and wealthiest monastic foundation in the principality and the monks instead of having to use the sparse buildings which were originally erected for prayer, were able, because of the lavish gifts bestowed on the abbey by rich patrons, to convert them into more elaborate dwellings. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Tintern were rigorous in the cultivation of their lands, where the diversity of cultivation was extensive.

When the Black Death swept the country in 1348-49 it caused changes throughout monastic lands, at Tintern it lead to abbey estates being leased to tenant farmers. After 400 prosperous years the Cistercians left the Abbey at its dissolution in l536 by Henry VIII, at which time most of the articles of value were catalogued, weighed and sent to the king's treasury. However, many treasures and documents that appertained to the abbey were also stored at Raglan Castle; where they were destroyed during the English Civil War.

The ruins decayed into magnificent obscurity, until the publication of the Reverend William Gilpin's observations on the River Wye in l782. Soon after the first visitors began to arrive to view the abbey, that small trickle of visitors became a flood after the paintings of William Turner and the writings of William Wordsworth made the ruined Abbey known throughout the land

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