Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow. 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

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User Reviews

Hilary Gay (16 months ago)
Tintern Abbey is beautiful. You have to pay to go in but can also see quite a bit of it from the roadside. Good parking nearby. Some pretty shops and a pub and they had a small craft fayre when we visited. A river walk close by and you can picnic on the field at the back of the pub. Lovely day out.
Trish Phillips (16 months ago)
Beautiful sunny day in a wonderful and mystical backdrop of the Abbey. Plenty of places to eat including a wide open grass park if you wish to take your own picnic. Many art/craft outlets to wander through plus the bonus of all day parking for only £3 ! Cannot ask for more
Bex Upton (16 months ago)
Lovely time around Tintern Abbey. Was closed but still lovely to view from the street. Great walk along the river and a lovely meal at the pub, the Anchor Inn. Don't need a lot of time there but it's pleasant. Would recommend and would return
Daniel Morse (17 months ago)
Awesome place to stop off and have a break after a nice motorcycle ride (or car for that matter). Cafe restaurant was nice, burger was superb, coffee too.. But brownie not so great, try the cookies next time!
Noel Staunton (2 years ago)
Unfortunately closed due to Covid-19 protocols
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