Wednesday Wander – Tintern Abbey, Wales

tintern-abbey-3These lovely gothic ruins are all that remains of Tintern Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded on May 9, 1131, by Walter De Clare, then lord of Chepstow.

Situated in a picturesque river valley on the border between England and Wales, the Abbey flourished for four centuries, spawning two daughter Abbeys in Gloucestershire and Ireland. Then, on September 3, 1536, the land, buildings and contents were surrendered to King Henry VIII, under his dissolution of the monasteries.

tintern-abbey-1After the dissolution the Abbey fell into disrepair, the lead from its roof removed and sold, workers from the nearby wire works living in the ruins. Then, in the late 18th century, a fashion for visiting the ‘wilds’ came into being, and Tintern Abbey, with its romantic atmosphere and pretty setting, became a popular tourist destination.

The Abbey ruins inspired artists and poets including Wordsworth, Tennyson, Gainsborough and Turner. In 1967, the poet Allen Ginsberg took acid there, which seems a fairly random thing to do – he ended up writing ‘Wales Visitation’ as a result of his experience.

tintern-abbey-2From adoration to inspiration, the Abbey has had quite a journey over the centuries. I visited many years ago and remember it being quite wild and atmospheric, the land rising around it. Apparently now there is a gift shop, as is often the way, but I imagine it has been done in such a fashion as to not disturb the Gothic beauty of the old stones. I might have to go back for another look…

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


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21 thoughts on “Wednesday Wander – Tintern Abbey, Wales

  1. Ah, Tintern Abbey, forever haunted by the ghost of a thousand English papers on Wordsworth… 😉
    The dissolution of the monasteries was quite the piece of barbarism, wasn’t it? I just learned that there was a parallel event in Bavaria in the 19th century, where the state just took over the wealth of the church, and much cultural riches were wantonly destroyed in the process (libraries trashed, etc).
    I guess the amazing thing is that Tintern Abbey still stands, as much as it does…

    1. It was indeed – so much was lost when Henry decided to break up the monasteries. It is pretty amazing that the place still stands, definitely, especially with the wire factory nearby and people living in the ruins.

  2. Aaah! I LOVE Tintern Abbey! ❤ ❤ ❤ I completely and utterly fell in love with this place. Something about it. It was one of those places I didn't want to leave when it was time to go. And we had the place to ourselves. Not a single tourist in sight. (I mean, you know, except for us.) You're making me want to dig out all my photos (non-digital ones) from years ago. There was no gift shop when I was there and I can't imagine that. Kind of a shame. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh, you know it! Yes, there wasn’t a gift shop there either when I went (these are also non-digital photos), and it was deserted as well. Such a magical sort of place, and in my very favourite country in the world. If you do dig out your photos, please share if you can 🙂

  3. And this prayer I make,
    Knowing that Nature never did betray
    The heart that loved her; ’tis her privilege,
    Through all the years of this our life, to lead
    From joy to joy: for she can so inform
    The mind that is within us, so impress
    With quietness and beauty, and so feed
    With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
    Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
    Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
    The dreary intercourse of daily life,
    Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb
    Our chearful faith that all which we behold
    Is full of blessings.

    William Wordsworth, excerpt from “Tintern Alley.”

      1. It is and one of my favorites. However…you will see that I called it Tintern Alley instead of Abbey. This is the glitch in my brain where this poem is concerned…I always ALWAYS call it Tintern Alley. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

      2. Haha! I love that, Linda 🙂 I did notice, but thought maybe it was an autocorrect thing. Which in a way it is, but it’s your brain doing it rather than your phone. I think we all have glitches like that 🙂

  4. Lovely photos, Helen. Never been to Tintern Abbey – looks gorgeous.The Dissolution is a fascinating time in the way it altered the course of our history. I often wonder what modern Britain would be like to live in if it hadn’t happened, if Henry had the divorce he wanted. Would we have remained a Catholic nation? What would our society be like – would some of our laws be more like Ireland’s, re abortion and gay marriage? Interesting to wonder.
    Must be a book in that … 🙂

      1. He is a huge figure in our history, fascinating and monstrous by turns. If I was a better scholar with a sharper mind I might be tempted to write that book 🙂

      2. A huge figure indeed! I went to a school endowed by and named after him when I was younger, just one of many. His reach has lasted centuries. I think it would be a great book to write, but definitely a challenge.

      3. I went to a school named after his friend turned enemy (one of the many!) Thomas More – these people really do loom large in our culture, don’t they?

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