Tintern Abbey

Chepstow, United Kingdom

Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow. It was the first Cistercian foundation in Wales, and only the second in Britain.

The present-day remains of Tintern are a mixture of building works covering a 400-year period between 1131 and 1536. Very little of the first buildings still survives today; a few sections of walling are incorporated into later buildings and the two recessed cupboards for books on the east of the cloisters are from this period. The church of that time was smaller than the present building, and slightly to the north.

The Abbey was mostly rebuilt during the 13th century, starting with the cloisters and domestic ranges, and finally the great church between 1269 and 1301. The first mass in the rebuilt presbytery was recorded to have taken place in 1288, and the building was consecrated in 1301, although building work continued for several decades. Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk, the then lord of Chepstow, was a generous benefactor; his monumental undertaking was the rebuilding of the church. The earl's coat of arms was included in the glasswork of the Abbey's east window in recognition of his contribution.

It is this great Decorated Gothic abbey church that can be seen today, representing the architectural developments of its period; it has a cruciform plan with an aisled nave, two chapels in each transept, and a square-ended aisled chancel. The abbey is built of Old Red Sandstone, with colours varying from purple to buff and grey. Its total length from east to west is 228 feet, while the transept is 150 feet in length.

In the early 15th century, Tintern was short of money, due in part to the effects of the Welsh uprising under Owain Glyndŵr against the English kings, when abbey properties were destroyed by the Welsh. The closest battle to Tintern Abbey was at Craig-y-dorth near Monmouth, between Trellech and Mitchel Troy.

In the reign of Henry VIII, the Dissolution of the Monasteries ended monastic life in England, Wales and Ireland. On 3 September 1536, Abbot Wych surrendered Tintern Abbey and all its estates to the King's visitors and ended a way of life that had lasted 400 years.

In 1901, Tintern Abbey was bought by the Crown and the site was acknowledged as a monument of national importance. In 1984, Cadw took over responsibility for the site.



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Founded: 1131
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Darren Thomas Photography (5 months ago)
Decided to take a stop off at Tintern Abbey whilst in the area. I have never been before and was really disappointed. Not only was the sight of fencing around the Abbey making it look like a construction site the cost over over £8 to go and look around was way over priced for what you get to see and £5 to park. Definitely won't return and wouldn't recommend it as a place to go.
Alan Crump (7 months ago)
A beautiful Abbey in a beautiful setting, the day I visited, the sun shone, if you pay for parking you'll be refunded by the Abbey when buying a ticket or at the pub when £5 or more is spent. There are lovely walks by the river too.
Rach Pope (9 months ago)
Had a look round from the roadside. Visited The Anchor next door for some lunch and a drink. Great menu. Decided to have a ploughman's which was delicious with really thick ham and lovely Welsh cheddar. Bread was warm and pickles tasty. Had to ask for some more butter. Great service and it was a lovely afternoon that we sat in the beer garden. Highly recommend . .
Srivathsa Sarma (Sam) (9 months ago)
Tintern Abbey is a must visit palace near Chepstow. You can feel the history in this place. One can easily get a feeling for the life that was lived nearly a thousand years ago. Shame that this beautiful Abbey has become a ruin, but you really can see how magnificent it would have been in its prime.
Phil Bradford (9 months ago)
Tintern Abbey occupies a beautiful location in the Wye Valley, the ruins evocative and magnificent. As with most abbeys in England and Wales, Henry VIII and the ravages of time have left it a ruined shell, but it is a very atmospheric place and more than enough is left to get a sense of what the place must once have been like. It is currently (September 2023) undergoing a conservation project to preserve the church area, but as much as possible has been kept open and it is still worth visiting. The only annoyance is the car park, which costs £5 (unlike many National Trust and English Heritage places, not even Cadw members can avoid paying); you can get it back as a Cadw member or use it against the cost of your entrance/another purchase in the shop, but it is quite an irritant to have to make the initial outlay (card only).
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