These 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.
After 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.
From 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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