Wales

Tintern Abbey

Standing in roofless splendour on the banks of the River Wye in Monmouthshire, this national treasure makes for a stunning place to visit at any time of year. It is not at all surprising that Tintern Abbey, which lay undisturbed until the 18th century, has since featured in the words of Wordsworth and paintings of J.M.W. Turner. 

Founded almost 900 years ago by Cistercian monks, Tintern Abbey started life as a group of timber buildings, before being replaced by a simple stone church. After receiving the patronage of wealthy lords, the monks became more ambitious and, in 1269, began to build a new abbey church. 

Their ambition knew no bounds and the new building became known as one of the greatest masterpieces of British Gothic architecture. However, like most other abbeys in Britain, Tintern Abbey surrendered in the first round of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. It fell into disrepair and slowly crumbled into a magnificent ruin. 

Forgotten about until the 18th century, visitors started flocking to see the ruined abbey on small boats along the River Wye. With the Napoloeonic Wars and French Revolution raging in Europe, tourists were confined to exploring ‘Picturesque’ and ‘Romantic’ locations closer to home. Tintern Abbey quickly became a busy and popular tourist attraction, although it is thankfully more peaceful for today’s visitors. 

As you near the Abbey, you will first catch sight of it framed by rolling hills and trees. A wander through the magnificent stone structure reveals stone columns, huge windows and graceful arches. You will certainly feel a sense of history as you make your way through the former infirmary and abbey kitchens. 

There is a small gift shop at the site and places to eat and drink nearby.

Tintern Abbey opens throughout most of the year, except over Christmas and New Year’s Day. Check their website for opening times and any private events. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages near Monmouth here.

Image copyright  © Crown copyright (2020) Cadw, Welsh Government

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