BETA Version
Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey - Overview

Tintern Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery established in Wales. It was founded in 1131 by Walter fitzRichard of Clare and first colonised by a group of monks from their mother house l’Aumone in France. With the growth of the community, the monastic buildings were enlarged, and in 1269 the construction of the Gothic church began, whose ruins can still be viewed today.

The land around the monastery was divided into granges and farmed by lay brothers. After the Black Death swept through the country in the fourteenth century, decimating the monks and the local population alike, the land had to be tenanted out. During the Glyndŵr Rising, 1400-15, many of the abbey’s possessions were destroyed by the rebels, which contributed to the monastery’s continued financial struggle. Abbot Wyche surrendered the abbey and monastery following the First Suppression Act in 1536 in which King Henry VIII demanded the dissolution of the monasteries. The buildings were stripped of their valuable roof lead and subsequently decay set in. Over the next two hundred years, the site was inhabited by the cottages and workshops of impoverished locals and workers from the nearby wire works.

By the late eighteenth century, it had become fashionable to visit the valleys and mountain uplands of Wales and inspect the country’s medieval ruins. The Duke of Beaufort, then the owner of Tintern, cleared the grounds to make them more accessible to tourists, but left the thick vines and ivy cover of the church untouched. Romantic poetry and landscape painting subsequently turned Tintern Abbey into the perfect example of a medieval ruin situated in a picturesque landscape.

In 1901, the Crown bought the ruins as they had become regarded as a monument of national importance and, in turn, Ministry of Works took ownership in 1967. Tintern Abbey is now a Grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument under the care of Cadw.

Click here to view the Virtual Reality Tour of Tintern Abbey

Accounts of Travel

About Us

This website was developed by a team of researchers and academics across a range of institutions and funded by the AHRC.

Terms of Use

Get in Touch