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Site Details

NPRN 359

Map Reference ST59NW

Grid Reference ST53319999

Unitary (Local) Authority Monmouthshire

Old County Monmouthshire

Community Tintern

Type of Site ABBEY


Period Medieval

Site Description Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter fitz Richard of Clare, the Anglo-Norman lord of Chepstow. The Abbey was colonized by a group of monks from the abbey of l’Aumone in France and was only the second Cistercian plantation in Britain. At first, the monks lived and worshipped in a temporary arrangement of timber buildings but by the middle of the twelfth century they had erected a modest stone church and associated cloister ranges. An expansion of the monastic buildings resulted from a growth in the community during the first half of the thirteenth century. Building of the Gothic church which still dominates the lower Wye Valley commenced in 1269. It was consecrated in 1301 and almost certainly in the presence of the patron, Roger Bigod, the fifth earl of Norfolk. A departure from the early Cistercian ideals was witnessed during the later Middle Ages, exacerbated by the impact of the Black Death (1348-49) and by the effects of the Welsh uprising under Owain Glyn Dwr (1400-15).

There were further limited building programmes carried out until the reign of King Henry VII in the early sixteenth century. Tintern was later surrendered to the king’s visitors in September 1536, during the first round in the suppression of the monasteries. A few months later the buildings and local possessions were granted to Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester. He began to lease out portions of the site and soon the abbey environs were crowded with cottages and early industrial buildings. The ruins of Tintern Abbey were largly forgotten until the late eighteenth century, when they were discovered by the artists and poets of the Romantic age. In 1901 it was saved when it was purchased by the Crown.

Source: Robinson, D.M. 2002. Tintern Abbey: CADW

RCAHMW, February 2011

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