Tintern 1850-1914

This page includes all known descriptions of Tintern Abbey and village 1850-1914.
Only a very few of the many illustrations of Tintern are noted here. If poetry about Tintern was quoted, the first line is included below and the remainder may be found Wye Poetry.

Related pages:


The famous Tintern Abbey has been somehow seized in its old age by the ever young force of invasive vegetation that has given it a new lease of life. Grass, moss, bushes, and wildflowers have taken it upon themselves to fill in the blanks in the architecture; climbing plants swaying in the wind hang down the sides of beautiful windows with fine stone mullions, as if making up for the destroyed stained glass. At the time of my visit to this ancient monastic church a service tree laden with red fruit like grains of coral was joyfully deploying its branches across part of the left wing, long since crumbled. The vault of heaven served as roof to the building, completely open to the elements, and a group of birds sang vespers among the dilapidated arches which retained the beauty of the lines.

This Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter-Fitz-Richard de Clare, for the monks of the Cîteaux order. Travellers will find in the caretaker of this curious building an intelligent and enlightened guide. To him it is less a ruin than a friend.
Esquiros, Alphonse, (1812-1876), L’Angleterre et la vie anglaise: XXVI. Le sud du Pays de Galles et l’industrie du fer. Carmarthen, les eisteddfodau et les Iron-Works de Merthyr Tydfil, c. 1850s


‘Occasion of the Poem’
Whilst the author was engaged, on the 25th of July, 1850, with some persons on the top of the Ruins at Tintern Abbey, discussing a rumour that the Duke of Beaufort was about to give the site to the Romanists, he was accosted in a strong Irish accent, by one of three in the garb of Priests.
“I hope, sir, the day is not far distant when this place will again be in our hands.”
“I hope in God you may be mistaken; for now, at all events, these ruins speak the truth.” Was the reply; when the somewhat astonished and apparently displeased priests precipitately left the place.
[21 4-line stanzas]
Tintern! They waning grandeur strikes the eye;
Thou, like a giant, risest in the air
Another Babel, mounting to the sky,
Touch’d by the hand of Time, mature and fair.
But it is better to enshroud in gloom
Conduct unfil to meet the glorious sun;
Better to buru in the damp, dark tomb,
The deeds that once within those walls were done.
May Popish craft and carnal crime no more
Pollute the grandeur of they georgeous halls!
May Truth be in thee an abiding store,
And Holiness be written on they walls!
{origin of the name ‘Tintern’}
This Abbey, denominated the Gem of the Wye … is considered the most picturesque object in this part of the kingdom.
It occupies a gently eminence in the middle of a circular valley, beautifully screened on all sides by wooded hills; at the base along which,
“Pleased Vaga echoing through its winding bounds,
The Swift Sabrina hoarse applause resounds.”
Vaga – The Wye, Sabrina – The Severn
{History of the site, architecture}
The total area originally enclosed by the walls of the Abbey is said to have been 34 acres. The Concentual Church which forms the principal portion of the ruins, is, in all its parts, a unique whole – a copy of Salisbury Cathedral, 228 feet long and 150 feet wide. There is also a great resemblance between this Abbey and Netley Abbey in Hampshire, founded about 1239.
The roof and tower have fallen, but the greater paert of the rest of the Abbey remains in tolerable preservation, and is seen to much greater advantage from the road than from the river. The best situation to view the interior, is from the right hand corner, soon after you enter the west door; and the best time is the noontide summer sun, or when the harvest moon is shining.
The glorious Reformation, which relieved England from the tyrrany of Papal power, induced the Government … to inspect the Monasteries … The most monstrous disorders were discovered, and general horror was excited:
{history of the coming of Protestantism}
Visitors can but observe the neatness with which Tintern Abbey is kept, as well as all the Ruins belonging to the House of Beaufort.
Ribbans, Frederick Bolingbroke, (Headmaster of Sir Thomas Powells Endowed Grammar School, Carmarthen) Tintern Abbey: A Poem (London, 1854)
Inscribed to Her Grace the Duchess of Beaufort.
This includes prints
1 The Western Window, after W.H. Bartlett, engraved by A Willmore
2 Tintern Abbey, West Front
3 The Ferry at Tintern


William Wells Brown was a former American slave.

{Took a boat from Bristol to Chepstow.}
we mounted a horse for the first time in ten years, and started for Tintern Abbey. The distance from Chepstow to the Abbey is about five miles, and the road lies along the banks of the river. The river is walled in on either side by hills of much beauty, clothed from base to summit with the richest verdure. I can conceive of nothing more striking than the first appearance of the Abbey. As we rounded a hill, all at once we saw the old ruin standing before us in all its splendour. This celebrated ecclesiastical relic of the olden time is doubtless the finest ruin of its kind in Europe. Embosomed amongst hills, and situated on the banks of the most fairy-like river in the world, its beauty can scarcely be surpassed. We halted at the “Beaufort Arms,” left our horse, and sallied forth to view the Abbey. The sun was pouring a flood of light upon the old grey walls, lighting up its dark recesses, as if to give us a better opportunity of viewing it. I gazed with astonishment and admiration at its many beauties, and especially at the superb gothic windows over the entrance door. The beautiful gothic pillars, with here and there a representation of a praying priest, and mailed knights, with saints and Christian martyrs, and the hundreds of Scriptural representations, all indicate that this was a place of considerable importance in its palmy days. The once stone floor had disappeared, and we found ourselves standing on a floor of unbroken green grass, swelling back to the old walls, and looking so verdant and silken that it seemed the very floor of fancy. There are more romantic and wilder places than this in the world, but none more beautiful. The preservation of these old abbeys should claim the attention of those under whose charge they are, and we felt like joining with the poet and saying:
“O ye who dwell
Around yon ruins, guard the precious charge
From hands profane! O save the sacred pile –
O’er which the wing of centuries has flown
Darkly and silently, deep-shadowing all
Its pristine honours – from the ruthless grasp
Of future violation.”
In contemplating these ruins more closely, the mind insensibly reverts to the period of feudal and regal oppression, when structures like that of Tintern Abbey necessarily became the scenes of stirring and highly-important events. How altered is the scene! Where were formerly magnificence and splendour; the glittering array of priestly prowess; the crowded halls of haughty bigots, and the prison of religious offenders; there is now but a heap of mouldering ruins. The oppressed and the oppressor have long since lain down together in the peaceful grave. The ruin, generally speaking, is unusually perfect, and the sculpture still beautifully sharp. The outward walls are nearly entire, and are thickly clad with ivy. Many of the windows are also in a good state of preservation; but the roof has long since fallen in. The feathered songsters were fluttering about, and pouring forth their artless lays as a tribute of joy; while the lowing of the herds, the bleating of flocks, and the hum of bees upon the farm near by, all burst upon the ear, and gave the scene a picturesque sublimity that can be easier imagined than described. Most assuredly Shakspere had such ruins in view when he exclaimed:
“The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve –
And, like the baseless fabric of a vision,
Leave not a wreck behind.”
In the afternoon we returned to Bristol,
Brown, William Wells, (A Fugitive Slave), Three Years in Europe; Or, Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met. With A Memoir of the Author, By William Farmer, Esq.
(London: 1852)


… on passing a deep bend of the river among its evolving boundaries, the gray walls and lofty windows of Tintern, mantled in ivy, appear in the midst of the narrow vale, over which breathes an air of serene and holy tranquillity. Beautiful is this glance, for hence the noble abbey appears more secluded than we find it on a nearer approach, when a village, which elsewhere might be called pretty, seems here to intrude upon the conventual retirement of the spot, and inns and public-houses challenge our attention, and carriages come whirling along the dusty road, full of holiday tourists; all which unavoidably impairs, if indeed it does not wholly destroy, when below, the natural repose and retirement of the place. But the abbey itself nothing can vulgarize; no, not even the incessant inroads of visitors of all grades, who are perched with sketch-books in every corner, flirting in the nooks, munching sandwiches, smoking cigars, (this should be abated,) or performing gymnastic exploits upon the summit, among the ivied ruined arches; it still remains, even in the judgment of those familiar with foreign wonders, the most inimitably beautiful of ruins; and if the tourist chooses the first sequestered pathway leading up among the bowers and orchards, and looks down upon the scene thus marred, all these degrading annoyances are invisible, and the place resumes all its natural solitude, its delicious pastoral serenity and holy quietude, and he may enter into its enjoyment with some measure of that feeling which kindles into beautiful expression, in the lines of the great poet of nature:
Wordsworth’s poem: ‘Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour;’ dated July 13th, 1798, and first published in the ‘ Lyrical Ballads.’
Tintern, at a short distance and as a mass of ruins, is less imposing and picturesque than Fountains, the most extensive in Britain, or even some other abbeys, from the formal outline of its four great angles, without the relief of the great tower, which has fallen in; but on a nearer approach, its proportions become majestic, and the western part, with its deeply carved doorway, and lofty enriched window, partially hung with ivy, arrests the admiration of the spectator, who is no less struck, on a closer examination, with the elegance of the details, than with the grandeur of the scale and the dignity of its proportions. The door opens, and however highly his expectations may have been raised by this specimen of the exterior of the fabric, they are more than realized when the grandeur of its interior is suddenly disclosed; beyond a perspective of lofty ivied arches, the vast gap of the eastern window, seventy feet in height, with all its tracery rent away, and but one solitary mullion standing, half-trembling in the void, lets in a view of the solemn quietude of the wooded hills. This first burst is beheld with a sensation of almost breathless awe, and suspended with this first impression, it is long ere the spectator can abstract his mind sufficiently to examine it in detail; but when he does, far from losing, it gains upon him at every step, every new vista opening among the ivied arches appears more striking, and the contrasts between them more inimitable. From beneath the intersection of the roofless nave and transepts, supported by stupendous arches, whence arose once with pride the lofty lantern tower, the whole interior is at once beheld; and we turn from the great spectral eastern window, now void of all its ornaments, to that above the western entrance, which yet retains all its enriched tracery, half hung with ivy; and then, glancing at the tall and elegant lancet which lighted the southern transept, compare them one with another, and wonder at the beautiful and varied invention displayed, and the great labour which the monkish architects must have bestowed to bring to such consummate perfection

“This glorious work of fine intelligence.”
But it is not alone the grandeur of the architecture, or the vastness of the ruined abbey, but the green adornment wrought upon it by “time, the beautifier,” which invests it with a half-melancholy charm, more touching the longer we wander among its roofless aisles. The pale gray lichen, which stains the worn pillars and arches, the masses of climbing ivy, which fall in rich dark-green clusters, seem as though Nature had wrought out thoughtfully this shrouding investiture, to heighten the mournful solemnity of the pile, whose decay they render more beautiful than even its original splendour, here twining their gray withered arms around the time-worn columns, there hanging in graceful tendrils mingled with the wild rose, that roots itself in the stonework and waves its blossoms from the ruined arches. As with noiseless step we pace over the turf that shrouds the stone worn with the tread of worshippers, whose chants once trembled and echoed through the lofty arches, – now vocal only with the wild whistle of the wind, or the deep plaintive note of the stock-dove from the depths of the woods – a sad and reverential feeling of sympathy with the past, a holy awe, an enthusiastic ecstasy, at this blending of the past and present – of old antiquity and the ever-living and working spirit of nature  –  by turns transport the mind, and keep us lingering as on charmed ground, among the shadowy recesses, the gray dim nooks of the glorious pile; till stepping forth from its precincts, we seem to exchange the air of sacred seclusion for an empty void.
Such is the general impression upon all who can appreciate the influences of such a place. But the details also are exquisitely beautiful and will amply repay the most minute investigation. We may instance in particular the doorways in the cloisters, opening from the north aisle of the nave, perfect gems, and the remains of the chapter-house; also the sacristy, dormitory, and refectory, with its lectern, or place for reading homilies during meal-times – a custom still observed at Mount Sinai and other foreign convents. The fragments collected and placed in heaps about the church, in a manner which, though unavoidably they give perhaps somewhat too trim and neat an air to the sacred enclosure, show the beauty with which every portion of the original building was elaborated. Among these are the effigy of a crusader in chain-armour, and a draped female figure, resembling the antique, beneath the east window, which, though mutilated, shows with what feeling of the beautiful these old monastic artists often wrought. In the south aisle of the nave is seen a portion of the original pavement.
History, though it has preserved the date and origin of Tintern Abbey, relates no incidents of any importance connected with it during the centuries of its monastic splendour. It is said to have been built on the spot rendered sacred by the death of Theodoric, the Christian king of Glamorgan, here killed in conflict with the pagan Saxons in the year 600. The abbey, for monks of the Cistercian order, was founded in 1131, by the Norman, Walter de Clare, who dedicated it to the Virgin Mary; but the building was not finished till more than a hundred years after. This Walter was the grandson of William, the son of Osbert, to whom William the Conqueror gave the manors of Wollesten and Tudenham, and all he could conquer from the Welsh. Walter, dying without issue, was succeeded by his brother, Gilbert Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, whose grandson, Robert Strongbow, was the conqueror of Leinster, in Ireland. The male line failing, Maud, the eldest of their female heirs, was married to Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk. William, Lord Marshal of England and Earl of Pembroke, in the seventh year of the reign of King Henry III., confirmed to the monks all the lands, possessions, liberties, and immunities formerly granted by his predecessors. Koger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, in the year 1301, also confirmed to them divers lands at Portcassek, Pentick, Modisgat, &c. About the time of the dissolution, the number of inmates was only thirteen, when the estates were, according to Dugdale, estimated at £192. Is. M. per annum. Speed says the value was £252. 11s. 6d. The site was granted in the twenty-eighth of Henry VIII. to Henry, Earl of Worcester, and is now the property of the Duke of Beaufort, who has done much to clear out and preserve to later ages his magnificent possession.
We counsel everybody who is not hurried at Tintern, to cross the ferry, and ascend the rock called the ” Devil’s Pulpit,” to which it will be prudent to obtain a guide, though at a very short distance. We are inclined to prefer the view even to that from the Windcliff itself. The peninsula of the Wye, the abbey, and its precincts, which are just under one’s feet, and the distant course of the Wye towards the Bristol Channel, which expands in distant perspective, form altogether one of the most exquisite combinations of scenery which can possibly be conceived. An hour or an hour and a half will suffice to pay it a hasty visit, but the discriminating traveller will be loath to quit it so hastily.
From the ascent of the road to Chepstow there is a fine retrospective view of Tintern Abbey, whence its huge mass of dark gray, with the gleams of a red sunset through its empty windows and fissures, appears to great advantage. The road mounts higher and higher, through the woods that clothe the right-hand bank of the river. From the opposite and more precipitous, jut out projecting crags, one of which, commanding a striking view, has received the designation of the “Devil’s Pulpit.”
Anon, The tourist in Wales: a series of views of picturesque scenery, towns, castles, antiquities, &c ; With historical and topographical notices.  (London: [1851]), pp. 76-80
Excursion VI, From the vale of the Wye, from its source on Plinlimon to its mouth at Chepstow


This long entry in a Gazetteer comprised mostly a quotation from Coxe’s, Historical Tour through Monmouthshire (1801)
TINTERNE-ABBEY, a celebrated ruin in Chapel-hill parish, county of Monmouth; 4½ miles north of Chepstow, on the western bank of the river Wye.
The ruins of Tinterne-abbey are justly esteemed the most beautiful and picturesque objects on the Wye. The banks of this fine river are for the most part steep and wooded to the water’s edge; but where the high ground, as is occasionally the case, is removed to a little distance, low pastoral meadows occupy the interval, and finely relieve, with their softer and more quiet beauty, the hilly and darkcoloured landscape with which they are interspersed It is in one of these sheltered and secluded vales, and close to the water, that the ruins stand.
So complete and ably written an account of this ruin has been given, from personal inspection, by Archdeacon Cox, in his ‘Historical Tour through Monmouthshire,’
“We disembarked about half-a-mile above the village of Tintern, … forms a continuation of the perspective, and appears like an interminable forest.”
Tinterne Abbey, as well as others of the picturesque views which adorn the banks of the Wye, has been described or celebrated by a profusion of writers, both in prose and verse. Grose’s English Antiquities, Ireland’s Picturesque Views of the Wye, Whateley’s Ornamental Gardening, and Gilpin’s Observations on the River Wye, may be consulted. Among our poets, the abbey has been noticed by Mason, and a poem, entitled ‘The Banks of the Wye,’ appeared some years ago from the pen of Robert Bloomfield. But this scene has now been long endeared to all the lovers of song by Wordsworth’s ‘Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour;’ dated July 13th, 1798, and first published in the ‘ Lyrical Ballads.’
Anon, The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales: Adapted to the the most recent stataistical arrangements, and Lines of Railroad and Canal Communication … vol. 4 (1851), pp. 332-333


FROM Wyndcliff, you have a delightful drive of two miles along the new road to the Abbey, skirting the river the whole of the way, and hemmed in on either side by immense cliffs and towering woody ridges. On a sudden turn of the road, an exquisite S. E. view of the ruin breaks in upon you, with the beautiful east windows in semi-profile: but, on a nearer approach, the admirable perspective of the columns through the window into the north transept is indescribable.
In any other place, in the absence of this attractive object, the eye would fasten on the extraordinary insertion of the mountains – the locking of them into each other seeming to impede your further progress; but here they sink into insignificance, as servile to increase the pride of their domineering rival.
{People buried at Tintern}
{Clearance of the ruins and discovery of an effigy of a knight.}
{Discovery of skeletons}
Other monumental discoveries have been effected by Mr Payne who shews the Abbey.
{Description of the ruins:}
Tintern Abbey is most peculiarly situated on a gentle rise, in the midst of a valley encircled by woody hills, about one hundred yards from the Wye.
Sir Richard Colt Hoare declares that this abbey, to the first glance of the eye, exceeded every ruin he had seen either in England or Wales.
On the entrance the richly figured framing of the west window is strikingly grand, being in a complete state of preservation, and displaying a most finished specimen of pure Gothic architecture. The ruin, generally speaking, is unusually perfect, and the sculpture still beautifully sharp. The outward walls are nearly entire, and are thickly clad with ivy.
The western door is small, compared with the magnitude of the other component parts.
This church is cruciform – its nave and choir 228 feet, and transept 150 feet in length.
On entering this superb ruin so many objects engage the eye, and in so admirable and sudden a manner, that you are momentarily chilled with astonishment, and do not instantly feel collected enough to survey any one of them seperately. The long line of elegant pillars which divide the aisles, now mostly remaining; the almost fallen arches which supported the tower; and the elegant remains of the magnificent east window terminating the nave and choir, a range of 228 feet, are primary attractions.
The bases of the fallen columns, still remaining to point out their original situations: the partially dilapidated staircase, in the north transept, leading to the roof, now rendered accessible; and the sculptured fragments and tombstones, ruined effigies, and broken ornaments here and there piled up, present themselves to fill up the mind of the contemplative and tasteful traveller.
The arches and pillars of the transept and choir are entire.
The outline of the east window, sixty-four feet in depth, and the whole breadth of the choir, is preserved, though its figured ornaments are destroyed. It is seperated in two equal divisions by a light and elegant shaft of singular beauty. Many of the windows are still perfect, but the roof has long since fallen in. The area is cleared from the rubbish, and covered with a neat and smooth turf.
In the centre of the north aisle you pass through a door which leads to the site of the monastic offices; immediately on your left are the cloisters, about 100 feet square; on the right is the chapter-house, upwards of fifty-four feet in length; adjoining to which is the infirmary, next the library; and by crossing the passage which led to the gardens, now converted into orchards, you pass some offices and reach the refectory, or great eating-room, eighty six feet in length, and thirty-two feet in breadth. In the left-hand wall is a small but beautifully sculptured oratory, erected, no doubt, for the purpose of delivering the grace to the assembled fraternity; adjoining to the refectory is the kitchen.
The following are the dimensions of the principal parts of Tintern Abbey as it now stands, which were taken by the late Mr. George Gething:
Length, from the western door to the east window, 228 feet; from north to south, 150 feet. Breadth of the centre pillar from centre to centre, 37 feet. Height of the centre arches, seventy feet, Height of the small arches, thirty feet. Breadth of the centre arch in the clear, thirty feet. The eastern window above the wall, sixtyfour feet. West window above the wall, forty-two feet. The will above the door, twenty-eight feet. Breadth of the west door, fourteen feet.
Up the vale, to the N.W. of the monastery, are some extensive iron and wire works. The machinery is well worthy the inspection of the traveller.
We are indebted to Edwin Paxton Hoods “Old England’ for the following ‘Legend of Tintern’ [Poem]
Taylor, Robert, Taylor’s illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye: including Chepstow, Monmouth, Ross, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan and Goodrich Castles, and other parts of the Welsh borders: with historical and topographical remarks
(editions in 1853, pp. 40-42; further editions in 1854, 1857, 1858, 1861, 1863, [1870])
Same as Taylor’s Shilling Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, the Magnificent Ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Ross, Raglan and Goodrich Castles and other parts of the Welsh Borders. With Six Handsome Coloured Views and Local Map. (Chepstow, R. Taylor, Beaufort Square, [1870])


Row boat down the Wye to Monmouth, visit grounds of Yat on route, Hotel at Monmouth the Beaufort Arms [inn], coach to Abergavenny Hotel the Angel back to Monmouth, row boat Pugh at the Bridge for Chepstow taking Tintern Abbey on route Hotel Beaufort Arms [inn] visit Wynd Cliff mail home.
Anon, Inside a copy of Black’s Picturesque Tourist of England and Wales (1851) is a handwritten, anonymous item entitled ‘Tour in Wales July 1853’.


The following might have been in the first edition of this guide published in 1847
The road out of Chepstow to Monmouth commands a succession of lovely views.  … Piercefield … Windcliff
A friend, the Rev. G. Roberts, who has written a sketch of this ruin, judiciously observes, that Tintern owes the celebrity it deservedly enjoys, perhaps as much to the scenery by which it is surrounded, as to its own intrinsic merit. “How different from the severe Llanthony, in its mountain cradle, is the sister institution in the same county! While everything there is rugged, bold, secluded, wild, and tempestuous, here we have softness, sunshine, repose, and richness. The graceful Wye, filled up to its banks, and brimming over with the tide from the Severn sea, glides tranquilly past the orchards and fat glebe of ‘Holye Tynterne.’ On every side stands an amphitheatre of rocks, nodding with hazle, and ash, and birch, and yew, and thrusting out from the tangled underwood high pointed crags, as it were for ages the silent witnesses of that ancient Abbaye and its fortunes; but removed at just such a distance as to leave a fair plain in the bend of the river, for one of the most rare and magnificent structures in the whole range of ecclesiastical architecture. As you descend the road from Chepstow, the building suddenly bursts upon you, like a gigantic stone skeleton; its huge gables standing out against the sky with a mournful air of dilapidation – as though they were only waiting for some friendly hand to take pity on their lonesomeness, and to consummate their ruin by dashing them down headlong into the gloom beneath. There is a stain upon the walls, which bespeaks a weather-beaten antiquity; and the ivy comes creeping out of the bare, sightless, windows; the wild flowers and mosses cluster upon the mullions and dripstones, as it were seeking to fill up the unglazed void with nature’s own colours… The door is opened – how beautiful the long and pillared nave  – what a sweep of graceful arches – how noble the proportions, the breadth, the length, and the height! How massive are the centre arches, clustered, bound, and tied together with knots of stone work, as though to support something most exquisite… the once glorious and elaborate Lanthorn Tower; and, then, with what. stately elegance does the eastern window close the perspective – one slender, and that the principal, shaft alone left, where formerly there were eight. But now that tall slender shaft, 70 feet in height, runs up into a dilapidated rose, and seems to fall like a thread upon the woods and lichen-stained rocks. As you walk up the nave, on the smooth velvet turf which nature laid down in the place of the encaustic tile, when she took charge of the hallowed spot, after man’s greedy sacrilege had desecrated it, your eye meets with relics and broken fragments, dug out of the ruins at several times, and reverently placed at the foot of the columns.” Amongst these is the effigy of a crusader in chain armour – popularly conjectured, but erroneously, to be that of the famous Strongbow, conqueror of Ireland in the reign of Richard II. – and which in Grose’s day had five fingers and a thumb on the right hand, now mutilated from exposure to the weather. “Here is a truncated Virgin and Child. Here is a beautiful fragment of the screen – another of the rood-loft – a key-stone, tumbled from the roof, elaborately worked – a crozier handsomely chiselled upon a broken slab – an exquisite morsel of fretwork  – a delicate specimen of tracery. Few tombs remain – no complete tombs, only memorials of the dead –  some nearly perfect, others mutilated, principally of Ecclesiastics. We have the names but of three Abbots. As you return from the east, you must admire the great western window, which is almost perfect. It has been objected that the breadth is too great for the height – this may be true, if spoken of the window as a detached portion; but it is not true when considered in respect to the doors below, the smaller windows above, and the general harmony of the whole building. Thoroughly to appreciate Tintern, you must see it at all seasons and in all weathers, and at all hours of the day; but be not absent in the September and October full moons, for then the moon’s disk, crossing the east window just below the rose, floods the church with a light which no painter can transfuse upon canvas, but which a devotional frame of mind appropriates to itself, as the true medium for associating the works of the past with the shadowy and fancied forms of those who raised them. The cloisters, the sacristy, the crypt, the chapter house, the’ dormitory, and especially the refectory, with its lectern in the wall, for the convenience of the ‘reader’ during the meals, are well worth inspection.” “Of Decorated in an early form, Tintern is a most perfect example.” An abbey, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, was founded here in 1131, by Walter de Clare, for a Cistercian community; but the existing structure was not finished until 1287. Roger de Bigod, Earl Marshal, bestowed great wealth on the abbey, in which a superior and twelve brethren ministered, and at the Dissolution the land revenues were £256 11s. 6d. The history of Tintern, strange to say, is involved in obscurity. – Some interesting discoveries have been made in the chapter house, until lately choked with ruins. It is to be hoped that the area of the cloisters will also be cleared.
The remains of a large oblong building, supported by a row of pillars, the lower parts of which appear in a perfect state, were discovered early in 1847, in making an excavation in an orchard which adjoins the Abbey. “The situation of this adjunct (nearly adjoining the Refectory) marks it as the Hospitium, or smaller convent, in which the monks were wont to entertain strangers and travellers of their order, who, passing them-c through the cloisters, entered on the more solemn duties of the abbey; and its extent suggests the scale of liberality on which every thing was done at this once splendid monasfic place’
There are two humble inns at Tintern; we can speak well of that below the Abbey, called the “Beaufort Arms.” It is just the place for a pedestrian tourist. Many interesting excursions may be made in this neighbourhood.
Cliffe, Charles Frederick, The Book of South Wales, the Bristol channel, Monmouthshire and the Wye, (3rd edition, edited and revised by the Rev. George Roberts, 1854), pp. 41-44
The British Archaeological Association visited south-east Wales including Tintern.
Wednesday, August 23. The principal object of this day’s excursion was Tintern abbey; where the Rev. Mr. Hugo read a paper upon its history and its founders. Having inspected every portion of the ruins, some of the party proceeded to view an adjoining building known as St Anne’s chapel, and popularly believed to be of a date anterior to the abbey, and used as a place of worship during its erection. Mr. White, Mr. Whichcord, and others, were, however, of opinion that it was a somewhat modern erection, or the ruin of an old gateway leading to the chase, and that the window had been transferred from the refectory, with which it precisely corresponded in style.
Anon, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 124 (1854), pp. 607-608

1850s (late)

This guidebook dates to the period when Russel owned Piercefield (c. 1855-1861)
Visitors by steam packet usually secure a conveyance on landing at the packet slip, when they immediately set forward for Tintern, if they intend to return to Bristol the same evening.
Having witnessed the stupendous views from the cliff, we descend to the winding road leading to Tintern. It winds round the promontory, displaying fresh beauties, because viewed from different positions. You now approach the mazy Wye, which pursues an easy meandering course, except when disturbed by the influx of the tide: now and then, perhaps, a pleasureboat, or barge laden with goods, is seen on its surface; the cliffs, o’ertopped with woods, rise in awful sublimity; and the leading features of this road are marked by stillness and solitude.
Journeying about two miles further, our attention is on a sudden forcibly arrested, in turning from a deep wooded hollow (producing a most impressive effect) by the singular and very sudden appearance of TINTERN ABBEY, the glory of monastic ruins, standing in the centre of a sylvan valley. Of all the picturesque scenes along the course of the classic Wye, from its splendid source in the wild blue hills of Cambria, to its junction with the turbulent and majestic Severn a little below Chepstow, this is one on which the mind loves to linger. How beautiful is that amphitheatre of green and wooded hills! how sequestered from worldly turmoil. Surely, this is the spot of all others for a structure dedicated to the service of the Most High!
The approach to this venerable pile is now much more pleasing to the eye than it was some years ago, when it was obstructed by several old cottages. The road at present lies open. There is a cicerone living near the gate of entrance. Take notice, there is no admission on Sundays.
On throwing open the W. door of the Ruin, an effect bursts on the spectator of a description so majestic and singular, that words are inadequate to express. In a moment you are conveyed from the stillness of the country into what remains of a grand cathedral church! it is as though the slave of Aladdin’s lamp had been engaged to produce an illusive effect! It is neither a mere creation of art nor a creation of nature; but a grand spectacle, in which both seem to have united their powers in producing an object beautiful and sublime.
The walls are almost entire; the roof only has fallen in: most of the columns that divided the aisles are still standing; of those which have dropped down the bases remain, every one exactly in its place; and in the middle of the nave four lofty arches, which once supported the tower, rise above the rest, each now reduced to a narrow rim of stone, but completely preserving its form. The shapes even of the windows are little altered, but some of them are quite obscured, others partially shaded by tufts of ivy; and those which are most clear are edged with its slender tendrils and lighter foliage wreathing about the sides and divisions: it winds round the pillars – it clings to the walls  – -and, in one of the aisles, clusters at the top in hunches so thick and so large as to darken the space below. The other aisles, and the great nave are exposed to the sky; the floor is entirely overspread with turf.
Monkish tombstones, and monuments of benefactors long since forgotten, appear above the greensward. Maimed images and sculpture, worn with age and weather, are scattered about, such as the head of a monk, the figure of a mailed knight, his shield on his left arm, legs wanting, the right hand having five fingers besides the thumb – and a mutilated image of the Virgin. A staircase, much impaired, which led to a tower (now no more) is suspended at a great height uncovered and inaccessible. Nothing is perfect; but memorials of every part still subsist, all in decay, suggesting at once every idea which can occur in a seat of devotion, solitude, and desolation.
From the length of the nave, the height of the walls, the aspiring form of the pointed arches, and the size of the E. window, which closes the perspective, the first impressions are those of grandeur and sublimity; but as these emotions subside, and we descend from the contemplation of the whole to an examination of the parts, we are no less struck with the regularity of the plan, the lightness of the architecture, and the delicacy of the ornaments; we feel that elegance is its characteristic no less than grandeur, and that the whole is a combination of the beautiful and sublime.
There is one remarkable spot whence a view of a superior kind is obtained: it is a pillar that joins the N. transept to the E. side, running parallel with the chancel. Nothing can exceed this in picturesque beauty. It is true, the grand display from the W. entrance is astonishing; and the S. aisle being entire, a continuous line of pillars, forming a narrow arch, thickly crowned with pendulous foliage, gives a most lovely perspective, still the place here mentioned is far superior: it presents at one view the body of the church, the whole of the S. transept, part of the N. and some of the chancel. To crown the whole, the arches below the part where the tower once stood forms a square, presenting a group of unrivalled beauty.
The church is cruciform, and an excellent specimen of English architecture in its greatest purity: it is a copy of Salisbury cathedral (according to Dugdale), which was built a very few years before the Abbey. The arches and pillars of the choir and transept are complete, and the frame of the W. window is in perfect preservation; the design of the tracery is extremely elegant, and when decorated with glass ornaments must have produced a fine effect. –  The general form of the E. window is entire, but the frame is in decay; it occupies the total breadth of the choir, and is divided into two large and equal compartments by a shaft not less than 50ft. in height, having an extremely light form, and in particular points of view seems suspended in the air. The inside of this noble Ruin was cleared out in 1756 by order of the duke of Beaufort, its proprietor; since which period it has been kept in good order. Instead of dilapidated fragments overspread with weeds and choked with brambles, the floor is covered with a smooth turf, keeping the original level of the church, which exhibits the beauty of its proportion, heightens the effect of the gray stone, gives a relief to the cloistered pillars, and affords an easy access to every part.
Gilpin, however, says, – “ When we stood at one end of this awful piece of ruin, and surveyed the whole at one view, – the elements of air and earth its only covering and pavement; and the grand and venerable remains which terminate both; perfect enough to form the perspective, yet broken enough to destroy the regularity – the eye was above measure delighted with the beauty, the greatness, and the novelty of the scene. More picturesque it certainly would have been, if the area unadorned, had been left with all its rough fragments of ruin scattered around (and bold was the hand that removed them!): yet, as the outside of the ruin, which is the chief object of picturesque curiosity, is still left in all its wild and native rudeness, we excuse (perhaps we approve) the neatness which is introduced within: it may add to the beauty of the scene – to its novelty it undoubtedly does.”
[Sir Richard Colt] Hoare says, – “ This Abbey (on the first surprizing view) exceeds every Ruin I have seen either in England or in Wales.”
There are some remains of the Refectory on the N. side of the church, and an oratory adjoining, supposed to have been used for saying grace at meals: vestiges of the dormitory, and several other apartments may be traced. Some picturesque remains near the river side are set down as the Abbot’s lodge, and others as forming the cells of monks, now converted into cots for the poor.
Although the exterior is not equal to the inside view of the Ruin, yet in some positions (particularly to the E.) it is seen with great effect. About half a mile from the ferry, down the river, the Ruin assumes a new character: the E. window, wholly covered with shrubs and half mantled with ivy, rises like the portal of a majestic edifice embowered with wood. Through this opening, and along the vista of the church, the clusters of ivy which twine round the pillars, or hang suspended from the arches, resemble tufts of trees; while the thick mantle of foliage seen through the tracery of the W. window forms a continuation of the perspective, and appears like an interminable forest. The scene by moonlight is peculiarly impressive, and reminds one of Scott’s description of Melrose Abbey : –
“If thou wouldst view fair [Truman] aright, …”
Roscoe, [Thomas, (1791-1871), Wanderings and Excursions in South Wales, (1836)
Bucke, [Charles, On the Beauties, Harmonies and Sublimities of Nature, vol. 3, (1821); Warner, [Richard, A Walk through Wales in Aug, 1797 (1798)]
&c. join in rapturous eulogy on the beauties of this celebrated Ruin. We might go on quoting from many other sources, but it is needless; and we have only further to observe, that the remains of Tintern Abbey is an interesting object to all classes of society – not merely the antiquary (although to him of paramount interest), but to the artist, the student, the grave, the gay. –  Those who have inspected it will scarcely ever forget the impression made on the mind while beholding this venerable fragment – this awful vestige of days long past.
“How many hearts have here grown cold, …
[Three of the stanzas by Henry Man, 1802 – see poetry]
A beautiful Roman pavement, lately discovered here, is inclosed within railing in the interior of the Abbey. Much credit is due to the duke of Beaufort’s agent, for the great pains he has taken in the preservation of antiquities, and in other respects improving his Grace’s property in this neighbourhood.
The finest engraving of the Ruins is prefixed to Capt. Barber’s interesting Tour (now very scarce) [1803] : it was delineated by Capt. B. on the spot. “I locked myself (said he) in the Abbey, and employed myself several hours without interruption in sketching the interesting features of this Ruin.”
The figure of a brass band grasping a spear having been found by one Bowen, he sold the relic to some visitor at the abbey, and afterwards engraved some sort of resemblance to it on a stone, incribed underneath “a piece of antiquity” this he placed over his door, a little above the entrance to the abbey. The brass band was taken from a tomb in this church, in which was found a body entire, with leather buskins and buttons on the coat, which crumbled to dust on touching. Entire skeletons of several other bodies were found in an orchard to the E. formerly the burial ground. From the size of the bones it would appear, that they were beyond the common stature: on the legs of one of them were cloth buskins in apparent preservation, but upon exposure to the air they soon mouldered into dust: the metal buttons were almost bright. No coffins were found, but the bodies were covered with large flat stones; it is, therefore, probable that they were of an inferior order to those interred within the church.
Adjoining the N. door, a portion of wall, supposed the side of a cloister, has been cleared of the ivy that veiled it, disclosing a range of gothic windows. A quantity of rubbish was also removed which lay near the door of entrance, and immediately connected with the steps that lead into the cross aisle, two flag stones were discovered, inscribed
“ Hie jacet Johannes de Lynus.”
“ Hic jacet-Henricus de Lancaut,
Abas de Veto.”
About six yards to the right, on entering the W. door, a flight of steps was discovered, supposed to be the entrance to a vault lying underneath the body of the church, but it was not further explored, and is closed up by a large stone which had previously been removed.
The mutilated head of the Virgin, and the sculptured head of a monk (before mentioned), have been much defaced by mischievous persons. Whether the peculiarity in the latter of its having five fingers and a thumb on the right hand, was natural to the person represented, or a mistake of the sculptor, is uncertain. The lower extremities were broken off just above the knees, and carried away by some pilferer; the legs are said to have been crossed, with a dog or lion at the feet. It was said that this effigy represented the renowned Strongbow, but this is disproved by satisfactory documents: his body was interred in Trinity church, Dublin.
Several of the tiles, &c. which formed part of the flooring of the abbey are in possession of the villagers.
Adjoining the Ruin is a village, which the poor inhabitants call “Abbey,” to distinguish it from other cottages at a short distance called “Tintern.” The remark made by Gilpin in 1770 is still applicable: “Among other things in this scene of desolation, the poverty and wretchedness of the inhabitants were remarkable. They occupy little huts raised among the ruins of the monastery, and seem to have no employment but-begging, as if a place once devoted to indolence could never again become the seat of industry. As we left the Abbey, we found the whole hamlet at the gate, either openly soliciting alms, or covertly, under pretence of carrying us to some part of the ruins which each could show, and which was far superior to any thing which could be shown by any one else. The most lucrative occasion could not have excited more jealousy or contention.”.
The old crones are very minute in relating the following legend, when they can secure a patient listener: A party of gentlemen, who had inspected the abbey, employed some labourers to dig in the orchard adjoining in search of antiquities. Part of one day and the following night were spent in this labour, when two bodies were discovered, uncoffined. The party on the next day determined on having a dinner served up in the abbey! But scarcely had they begun their sacrilegious repast, when a thick darkness Overspread the horizon – deep thunder shook the hills around, reverberating through the abbey – the lightnings flashed a sheet of liquid flame throughout the ruin – hail, succeeded by torrents of rain, deluged the ground, and
“Peal on peal
Crash’d horrible, convulsing heaven and earth.”
During this tremendous visitation, the spirit of Strongbow arose, accompanied by many whose repose had been disturbed, and pointing to the abbey door (which had suddenly opened), the terrified interlopers crawled out without daring to remonstrate; and the viands left in the abbey were whirled away over the roofless walls. Tintern has now fallen to decay, obvious from the many ruinous buildings about it. The site of a noble castellated mansion approaches close to the water; this belonged to the family of Fielding in the 16th century, and is said to have been sadly battered by Cromwell’s army from the opposite bill, as plain marks of an encampment are to be seen there. Cannon balls have often been dug out of a bank in a garden adjoining to the Great House. Tintern was formerly the scene of a battle between the British Christians and the Pagan Saxons, in the year 600 {history}.
The river Wye here winds itself in a singular manner, forming the exact outline of a horseshoe. lt is often remarked, that there is a deficiency of lodgings for travellers here. If a tolerable sized inn were erected, with suitable conveniences, many persons would be induced to linger in this romantic spot for a time, to view its natural beauties.
Anon, A Pocket Companion for the Stranger visiting Chepstow and its Romantic Scenery containing a description of every object worthy of notice; Together with brief accounts of the Castles of Chepstow, Raglan, and Caldicot; the Splendid Ruins of Tintern Abbey and the impressive Scenery of the Far-famed Windcliffe; the beautiful prospect from Banygar Rocks etc.etc. Chepstow, [late 1850s], pp. 12, 16-30


At Tintern Parva we were shown the ancestral habitation of Fielding, and passed a new church which was well worthy of note. But the neighbourhood of Tintern Abbey eclipsed every other thought, and I strained my sight for the earliest possible glimpse of the delightful vision. A storm which had been threatening, broke upon us, unfortunately, at the critical point, and I first beheld that magnificent ruin in circumstances which increased its desolation. In spite of the rain, however, I embraced an opportunity of entering its walls and surveying it for a few moments, amid the wild confusion of the elements. The rain dashing through its rich but broken tracery, and the wind tossing the gorgeous drapery of its mantling ivy, with the melancholy sighs it gave amid the columns, and along the aisles, deepened the solemn impression of the spot, and gave a heightened interest to the thoughts of its former sacred uses, when it resounded with the chant of priests and the swells of music from the organ. As I purposed a more leisurely visit in fairer weather, I was willing to have seen it thus amid storm and tempest. I resumed my journey to Chepstow; and as the storm soon abated, and was succeeded by sunshine, I had many fine views of the windings of the river, some of which are very bold, sweeping, amid precipitous banks, crowned with the richest foliage and verdure. Chepstow itself has many beauties, as seen from the Wye, and after slightly surveying the town and castle, I crossed the iron bridge, and drove to Tidenham (where he stayed with the vicar).
The rest of the [next] day was devoted to an excursion to Tintern, to which the ladies contributed their agreeable society. The party proved a very cheerful one, and we encountered scarcely any fatigue of which our fairer associates did not bear their full share. In {Chepstow castle}
Two miles more of delightful scenery, and I stood again in Tintern Abbey, and wandered through its holy aisles, and climbed to its venerable summit. Here, over the lofty arches of the transept, I walked, as in a path through a wood, the shrubbery growing wildly on both sides, as on the brow of a natural cliff. White roses flourish there in abundance; and it is only at intervals that you can get a glimpse of the Abbey-floor beneath. Around you is a beautiful prospect of the river, and of an amphitheatre of hills; and when you stand in the aisles below, and view these same hills through the broken windows, you feel that they should never have been glazed, except with transparent glass. On the whole, when the beauty of its situation is fully taken into consideration, in addition to the original graces of its architecture, –  its graceful pillars, its aerial arches, its gorgeous windows, – and when we observe the fond effect with which nature has clothed the pile in verdure, as if resuming her power with tenderness, and striving to repair the decays of art, with her own triumphant creations; when all these, and other attractions which cannot be enumerated in description, are united in the estimate, I cannot but give to Tintern Abbey the credit of being the fairest sight, of its kind, which ever filled my vision. I have since seen many similar objects, combining architectural beauties with those of nature, but were I allowed to choose one more glimpse of such a picture, among all, I think I should say to the enchanter – “let me have another look at Tintern.”
Coxe, A Cleveland, (American?), Impressions of England, (New York, 2nd edition, 1856, pp. 219-221), Dated 1855 on dedication page


Next we came to Tintern Abbey—a monument of Roman superstition. This Abbey is said to have been built for White Monks, in the year 1131 or 1132, and dedicated to St. Mary, by Walter Fitz-Richard-de Clare, as a sort of pious fraud, or to expiate the sin of having robbed and murdered the native inhabitants by wholesale. The roof has fallen in, and the old walls stand as a relic, and a place for jack daws to send forth their notes.
Beer, W., Missionary Tour, Bristol District, The Bible Christian magazine, for the Year 1856, being a continuation of the Arminian magazine, vol. 22 of the 3rd series, (1856), pp. 271-273


The Cambrian Archaeological Association visited Tintern on Tuesday 18th August
From thence the road lay across a wild heath to Tintern Abbey, where Mr. Freeman pointed out to a numerous assembly the more remarkable features of the ruins. Some doubts seemed to exist as to portions of the outer offices, especially a curious arrangement of what was said to be a double fire-place, but the use of which must have been discontinued by the community, as the shaft of the chimney had been closed with masonry. No vestiges, however, of smoke were visible. A small room off the refectory was conjectured either to have been a strong chamber for the safe keeping of the abbey plate, or for the improvement of refractory brethren.
Anon, ‘Report of the 11th Annual meeting, Monmouth, 17-23 August 1857’, Archaeologia Cambrensis, (1857), p. 414


Then we went to Tintern abbey. The day was so gloomy & thick that we did not think it worth while to mount to the top of the Wynd Cliff which we had seen twice before – the abbey looked as beautiful as ever & indeed there have been many interesting relics disinterred since I was there last. The old man who shews it is a curiosity in his way & has been there above 30 years making a very good thing of it though he pays 20 guineas taxes for the ruins!
Hibbert, Mary Ann, Diary for 1856, 1857, 1858, Gloucestershire Record Office, D1799/F337


Thomas Emerson Headlam, (1813 -1875) Q.C., M.P. for Newcastle on Tyne, 1847-1874, and Ellen his wife toured the Wye Valley in 1858. Ellen Headlam produced some reasonably competent watercolours based on sketches she made during the tour. They were both keen collectors of plants, especially ferns.
5th August 1858 Thursday
We set of after breakfast on foot to Tintern Abbey. The morning was very fine and we strolled leisurely along the road which follows the course of the Wye, in its most beautiful part under the Windcliff. We carried with us sketching materials and Aubigne’s History of the Reformation, that I might read whilst Ellen sketched. On our way she made the sketch, from which the drawing of the Severn and Wye, in a previous page is taken. At last at a turn of the road we came upon Tintern Abbey. It is a perfect site for a Monastery, surrounded with Fir Trees and rich grass land, with the river winding round it. It is the most complete and beautiful ruin of the kind I have ever seen. The old church stands out clear and distinct from the rest of the building, in quite sufficient preservation, to convey an accurate idea of what it was in the period of its splendour and in this state it s likely to continue; for the whole ruin in carefully and tastefully preserved; no undue ornate appearance, but on the other hand no further decay permitted. The Church appears to have been throughout in one uniform style, the early decorated. Ellen made a drawing of the window of the north Transept from the remains of some of the conventual buildings on the North side, but we could not attempt the architectural details are well given in Photographs. The Abbey was founded by a De Clare, an ancestor of Strongbow, at the latter end of the 12th century but the present building was not erected until the latter end of the 13th century, most probably by Roger Bigod, Early of Norfolk, on whom the estates of the De Clares had devolved. It was for monks of the Cistercian order, and was endowed by Walter de Clare to expiate the sins of which he had been guilty in wasting the District round, and robbing and murdering the Inhabitants by wholesale [sic]. At the time of the Reformation it was granted by Henry VIII to the second Early of Worcester, from whom it has descended to the present Dukes of Beaufort. After looking carefully over the ruins, we crossed the river by the Ferry, from whence the best general view of the Abbey can be obtained. We then recrossed the Wye and walked up to Chapel Hill, the little church that stands at a short distance from the ruins. The views from the churchyard with its fine old Yews in the foreground, the Abbey below and the river winding round, is not easy to be surpassed, and we saw it to great advantage on a fine afternoon in summer. We strolled along the hillside looking for new ferns and wild flowers till the time for the arrival of the carriage. Before it came Ellen made a sketch of the road, and a cottage that caught her eye as Picturesque. It is probably the first drawing made at Tintern which does not include the Abbey. Mr Bainbridge came for us at 5 o’clock and we drove back to dinner having spent a delightful day.
watercolour ‘Tintern Abbey August 5th 1858’
Headlam, Thomas, ‘Illustrated Journal of a tour in Monmouthshire on the Wye and in North Wales during the Month of August, 1858’ by Thomas E Headlam with watercolour sketches by his wife Ellen, NMGW St Fagans, ms WFM 1561, pp. 6-10

1858 (and earlier)

The first edition of Black’s Guide to North and South Wales and Monmouthshire was published in 1851 but the earliest available edition on line is that of 1858.
TINTERN ABBEY. This majestic ruin, viewed in connection with the surrounding scenery, is justly esteemed the most beautiful and picturesque object on the banks of the Wye. It occupies a level area, beautifully screened on all sides by richly wooded hills, amidst which the river pursues its winding course. A more pleasing object, or more enchanting scenery could not easily be found.
The name, Tintern, is supposed to be derived from the Welsh words, Din, a fortress, and Teym, a sovereign ; and it appears that this was the site of a hermitage to which Theodoric, King of Glamorgan, retired, after he had resigned the throne to his son Maurice.
An Abbey for Cistercian monks was founded here, in 1131, by Walter Fitz-Richard de Clare, and dedicated to St. Mary. He, however, died in the following year, and was succeeded by Gilbert de Clare, first Earl of Pembroke, who died in 1148, and was buried at Tintern. His son, Richard Strongbow, succeeded to the titles and estates, but the male line of this family failing, Matilda, the heiress, married Hugh de Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, by whose grandson, Roger de Bigod, according to William of Worcester, the Abbey Church of Tintern was built, A.D. 1287. Among the monastic institutions of the kingdom, this establishment was for a long time pie-eminently distinguished for the sumptuous style of living, and the unbounded hospitality which were maintained here. In this Abbey Edward II. took refuge for a time from the pursuit of his Queen, Isabella. At the period of the dissolution there were not more than thirteen inmates. Henry VIII. granted the Abbey and estates to Henry, Earl of Worcester, from whom they have descended to the Duke of Beaufort, the present proprietor.
The principal portion of the ruins is the Church, which is a beautiful specimen of pure Gothic architecture. As a distant object, it is not very striking, but on a nearer approach, when the eye can fix upon some of its nobler parts, and observe the harmony of its proportions, it appears a structure of surpassing beauty. Entering at the western door, the spectacle suddenly disclosed is most majestic and sublime. The whole is roofless, but the walls are almost entire, and some of the columns are still standing. Of those which have fallen the bases remain, and in the middle of the nave are the four lofty arches which supported the tower, now reduced to skeletons of stone, yet completely preserving their form. The eastern window, with one tall mullion ramifying at the top, is singularly light and elegant; and the western window, over the entrance, is peculiarly rich in ornament, and of exquisite beauty. The pavement is obliterated, the elevation of the choir is no longer visible, and the whole area is reduced to one level, cleared of rubbish, and carpeted with turf, closely mown. Fragments of sculpture, and maimed effigies, worn by time and weather, are scattered about, or laid against the walls and columns. Some of these have but recently been brought to light, in clearing the adjacent ground of accumulated rubbish. A strong iron railing is carried along the upper walls, so that visitors may with safety traverse the greater part of the transept at a considerable elevation above the floor ; and here the eye will be better able to estimate the magnitude and proportions of the edifice. The best situation from which to view the interior, is at the corner on the right of the western entrance. The scene from this spot, when the sun is shining, or when the harvest moon sheds her beams on the mouldering pile, is truly sublime. “From the length of the nave, … the whole is a combination of the beautiful and sublime.” [Quotation from Cox’s Historical Tour through Monmouthshire (1801)]
The Abbey Church is cruciform, measuring from E. to W. 228 feet, and from N. to S., at the transept, 150 feet. The nave and choir are 37 feet in breadth, the height of the central arches is 70 feet, of the smaller arches 30 feet, of the east window 64 feet, and of the west window 42 feet. The extent of the area originally enclosed by the walls of the Abbey is said to have been 34 acres. On the north side of the Church are remains of the Refectory, with a Lectern for the use of the reader during meals. There are also vestiges of Cloisters, a Dormitory, a Confessional, a Chapter House and some other apartments. In 1847, during the progress of excavation in an orchard adjoining the Abbey, a discovery was made of the remains of a large oblong building, supported by rows of pillars. This appears to have been the Hospitium, in which the monks were wont to entertain strangers and travelling friars.
The cluster of cottages near the Abbey is called Abbey Tintern, in distinction from Tintern Parva, nearly a mile distant, in which the parish church is situated.
Anon, Black’s Picturesque Guide through North and South Wales and Monmouthshire, (8th edition, 1858), pp. 389-391; (11th edition, 1861), pp. 389-391; (1869), pp. 374-77, (1870), pp. 374-377
Including 2 views, one internal, one external


We honoured Tintern Abbey with a close inspection which it well deserves. It fulfilled our utmost expectation we rambled some time amongst the ruins and then rejoined our carriage.
Linder, Samuel and Susannah, Tour of North Wales, 1859, NLW MS 23065C, f. 15


Mr and Mrs Hall’s long description of Tintern, first published in 1859, quoted various well-known descriptions and some lesser-known poetry.
From the water, from the heights, from the road – no matter on which side approached, or from what position beheld – the abbey excites a feeling of deep and intense veneration, of solemn and impressive awe.
It may be less gloomy, less “monastic,” than others of its order – deriving fame more from grace and beauty than from grandeur and a sense of power; but the perfect harmony of all its parts, and the simple, yet sublime, character of the whole, give it high place among the glorious bequests of far-off ages, and entitle it to that which it universally receives – the earnest homage of mind and heart.
By the courtesy of the custodian of the abbey we were admitted within its gates when the solemnity of night was over the ruined fane. Bats were flitting through broken windows, and every now and then a “moping owl” uttered the deep plaint that at such an hour – or at any hour – there should be intruders to molest
“Her ancient, solitary reign.”
It needed no light of sun, or moon, or torch, to let us read on these ivy-mantled towers – on that “Cistercian wall” – the “confident assurance” of its long-departed inmates.
“Here man more purely lives, less oft doth fall
More promptly rises, walks with nicer heed;
More safely rests, dies happier; is freed
Earlier from cleansing fire, and gains withal
A brighter crown.”
It was a time and place for holy contemplation, for calm and hallowed thought, for a heart’s outpouring in silent prayer, for earnest appreciation of by-gone glories, of solemn communion with the past. It was no hard task for Fancy, under such exciting, yet tranquillizing, circumstances, to see again the pale moonlight through “storied windows;” to hear the mingled music of a thousand voices rolling round sculptured pillars, ascending to the fretted roof; to follow, with the eye and ear, the tramp of sandaled monks – nay, to watch them as they passed by, their white robes gleaming in the mellowed light, solemnly pacing round and about the ruin, restored to its state of primal glory and beauty, adorned by the abundant wealth of Art it received from hundreds of princely donors and benefactors.
“In such a place as this, at such an hour,
If aught of ancestry can be believed.
Descending angels have conversed with men,
And told the secrets of the world unknown.”
Having spent a night at the humble, yet pleasant, hostelrie, “The Beaufort Arms” – which now, in its half a dozen rooms gives, or rather permits, hospitality to guests at Tinterne – in lieu of huge chambers, in which pilgrims rested, barons feasted, and princes were “entertained” –  a morning was most agreeably and profitably passed among the ruins, accompanied by the venerable custodian who holds them in charge, and fulfils his trust faithfully. Everything is cared for that ought to be preserved: the debris is never left in unseemly places; the carpet of the nave is the purest and healthiest sward; the ivy is sufficiently free, yet kept within “decent bounds;” and there is no longer danger of those vandal thefts that robbed the church and all its appanages to mend by-ways and build styes. But the ruin belongs to the Duke of Beaufort; and those who have visited Raglan, Chepstow, Oystermouth, [the inclusion of Oystermouth this is incorrect] and other “properties” of his grace, will know that Tinterne is with him a sacred gift, to be ever honourably treated. Nor may those who, either here or elsewhere, express a feeling of gratitude to “the Duke,” forget that to his excellent agent and representative, Mr. Wyatt, [Osmund Arthur Wyatt (1811-1894)] they owe very much for the satisfaction they receive, and the gratification they enjoy, when visiting remains on any one of the Beaufort estates.
{Note on the origina of the name Tintern}
{History of the Abbey}
{History of the Cistercians from Rev. E. Cutts, in the Art-Journal.}
Other munificent donors continued the great work Walter de Clare
It seems to have become a ruin rapidly: it was stripped of its lead during the wars of Charles I. and the Commonwealth; for a century afterwards, it was treated as a stone quarry; and Gilpin, writing in 1782, gives a frightful picture of the state of filth and wretchedness to which the glorious pile of the Norman knights had been subjected, and the utter misery of the neighbouring inhabitants – a population of literal beggars;  in the place where food and drink had been accorded of right to all who needed; whence no man nor woman went empty away; where the weary and the sorrowful never sought relief in vain; where in letter, as well as in spirit, this was the motto for all to read: –
“Pilgrim, whosoe’er thou art.
Worn with travel, faint with fear,
Halt or blind, or sick of heart,
Bread and welcome wait thee here.”
[note:] There is nothing like misery, nor much that looks like poverty, to be found now in the village and neighbourhood of Tinterne. Several neat, though small, houses are let as lodgings; and besides the comfortable little inn, “The Beaufort Arms,” there are two other inns, with fair promises of “entertainment.” The accommodation they afford, however, is by no means adequate to the demand in “the season;” but that is no great evil, inasmuch as Tinterne is but five miles from Chepstow, and ten miles from Monmouth – both places abounding in hotels. [end of note]
All writers are warm in praise of the exceeding beauty of the ruins of Tinterne; less of the exterior, however, than of the interior. “The Abbey of Tinterne” (writes Bucke, in his “Beauties, Harmonies, and Sublimities of Nature “) ” is the most beautiful and picturesque of all our gothic monuments: there every arch infuses a solemn energy, as it were, into inanimate nature, a sublime antiquity breathes mildly in the heart; and the soul, pure and passionless, appears susceptible of that state of tranquillity, which is the perfection of every earthly wish.” We quote also a passage from Roscoe’s charming book. “Roofed only by the vault of heaven  – paved only with the grass of earth, Tinterne is, probably, now more impressive and truly beautiful, than when ‘with storied windows richly dight;’ for nature has claimed her share in its adornment, and what painter of glass, or weaver of tapestry, may be matched with her? The singularly light and elegant eastern window, with its one tall mullion ramifying at the top, and leaving the large open spaces beneath to admit the distant landscape, is one chief feature in Tinterne. The western window is peculiarly rich in adornment, and those of the two transepts of like character, though less elevated.”
Thus also writes Gilpin: “When we stood at one end of this awful piece of ruin, and surveyed the whole in one view, the elements of air and earth its only covering and pavement, and the grand and venerable remains which terminated both perfect enough to form the perspective, yet broken enough to destroy the regularity, the eye was above measure delighted with the beauty, the greatness, and the novelty of the scene.”
Besides the engravings that picture in our pages the Exterior of the Abbey, distant views taken by Mr. Hulme, – one ” from the village, looking down stream,” the other “from the Chepstow Road,” – we give those that convey sufficiently accurate ideas of the peculiar charms and beauties of the Interior – the East Window, the West Window, and the Guest Chamber.
Nearly sixty years have passed since Archdeacon Coxe wrote, and Sir Richard Colt Hoare pictured, the beautiful details of this deeply interesting ruin; the “facts” are little altered since then. On entering from the west, “the eye passes rapidly along a range of elegant gothic pillars, and glancing under the sublime arches that supported the tower (entirely gone), fixes itself on the splendid relics of the eastern window, the grand termination of the choir. From the length of the nave, the height of the walls, the aspiring form of the pointed arches, and the size of the east window, which closes the perspective, the first impressions are those of grandeur and sublimity. But as these emotions subside, and we descend from the contemplation of the whole to the examination of the parts, we are no less struck with the regularity of the plan, the lightness of the architecture, and the delicacy of the ornaments; we feel that elegance is its characteristic no less than grandeur, and that the whole is a combination of the beautiful and the sublime.”
The abbey is a cruciform structure, consisting of a nave, north and south aisles, transepts, and choir. Its length from east to west is 228 feet, and from north to south, at the transepts, 150 feet. The nave and choir are 37 feet in breadth, the height of the central arch is 70 feet, of the smaller arches 30 feet, of the east window 64 feet, and of the west window 42 feet. The total area originally enclosed by the abbey walls is said to have been 34 acres. These walls may now be easily traced, and some of the dependent buildings are yet in a good state of preservation: in one of them the custodian of the abbey lives.
Judiciously placed, so as not to intrude on the eye, yet carefully preserved, are many relics of its former greatness. Among the old encaustic tiles [illustrated], grouped into a corner – some of them cleansed, but the greater part retaining the mould which time has placed over them – are several which bear the arms of the abbey donors; we copy two of these tiles: others represent flowers, animals, and “knights in full career at a tournament.”
The most interesting of its relics, however, is the effigy of a knight “in chain armour, a pavache shield, and with crossed legs,” supposed to be that of Strongbow, first Earl of Pembroke  [illustrated]; but more probably that of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, the builder of the church – Sir S. Meyrick so considers it. It is still in a good state, and is said to have been entire not many years ago, when a drunken brute, returning from a village orgie, struck the head from the body, and mutilated the members.
One of the most beautiful, and by no means the least interesting, parts of the ruin is “the Hospitium,” or Guest-Hall. It was a spacious and lofty chamber, with a vaulted stone roof, supported on pillars, of which the massive bases yet remain. “Of the style of architecture employed in this dining hall, the numerous windows, with their mullioned partitions, tall shafts, and foliated arches, face shafts, and corbel heads along the walls, from which sprang the lofty groined vault that covered and connected the whole, present a tolerably distinct picture –
“ Along the roof a maze of mouldings slim,
Like veins that o’er the hand of lady wind.
Embraced in closing arms the key-stone trim,
With hieroglyphs and cyphers quaint combined,
The riddling art that charmed the Gothic mind.'”
And such is Tinterne Abbey – a ruin eloquent of the past: a fine combination of grace and grandeur, well expressed by the single word, Harmony. A hundred years at least were occupied in its erection, from the commencement to the finish, and many hands must have been employed in its building and adornments; yet it would seem as if one spirit presided over and guided the whole, so perfect is it in “keeping.” Anywhere it would be an object of surpassing interest; but neither Art nor language can do justice to the scenery amid which the Abbey stands. Wood and water, hill and valley, were essentials to the monks, when they founded any structure; here they had them all in perfection.
Thus on this subject writes Gilpin : – “A more pleasing retreat could not easily be found; the woods and glades intermixed, the winding of the river, the variety of the ground, the splendid ruin, contrasted with the objects of nature, and the elegant line formed by the summits of the hills which include the whole, make altogether a very enchanting piece of scenery. Everything around breathes an air so calm and tranquil, so sequestered from the commerce of life, that it is easy to conceive a man of warm imagination, in monkish times, might have been allured by such a scene to become an inhabitant of it.” These words we borrow from Archdeacon Coxe: – ” The picturesque appearance of the ruins is considerably heightened by their position in a valley watered by the meandering Wye, and, backed by wooded eminences, which rise abruptly from the river, unite a pleasing intermixture of wildness and culture, and temper the gloom of monastic solitude with the beauties of nature.” Undoubtedly the quiet enjoyment experienced at Tinterne is largely enhanced by the landscape charms in which the ruin is enveloped ; but it has many attractions apart from the scenery: it is a graceful, beautiful, and deeply interesting remain of the olden time. The antiquary, Grose, complains of its want of solemnity, although he does full justice to its beauty. “On the whole,” he says, “though this monastery is undoubtedly light and elegant, it wants that gloomy solemnity so essential to religious ruins; it wants those yawning vaults and dreary recesses which strike the beholder with religious awe, make him almost shudder at entering them, and call into his mind all the tales of the nursery. Here, at one cast of the eye, the whole is comprehended – nothing is left for the spectator to guess or explore; and this defect is increased by the ill-placed neatness of the poor people who show the building, and by whose absurd labour the ground is covered over by a turf as even and trim as that of a bowling-green, which gives the building more the air of an artificial ruin
in a garden than that of an ancient decayed abbey.” . . . . “How unlike,” he adds, “the beautiful description of the poet
“Half-buried there lies many a broken bust,
And obelisk and urn, overthrown by time;
And many a cherub here descends in dust.
From the rent roof and portico sublime;
Where reverend shrines in Gothic grandeur stood,
The nettle or the noxious nightshade spreads;
And ashlings, wafted from the neighbouring wood,
Through the worn turrets wave their trembling heads.”
The venerable antiquary found elsewhere, no doubt, many scenes such as he desired, where neglect had effectually aided time: and, perhaps, where nature has been less lavish than here by the banks of the Wye, desolation may be more picturesque than order. But there will not be many to agree with him in condemning the care that has preserved without restoring, and the neatness that refreshes the soul without disturbing the solemn and impressive thoughts here suggested : –
“How many hearts have here grown cold, … [Henry Man, 1802]
And be his creed what it may, he is cold of heart and narrow of soul who feels no sentiment of gratitude towards those who raised temples such as this, in which to worship the Creator, and to propagate or to nourish Christianity, in dark ages when the church, despotic as it was, stood between freedom and a despotism more brutal and more destructive. In these cloisters the arts of peace were cultivated, when a Vandal aristocracy acknowledged no law but power.
What food for thought is here – what material for reflection! Who will not
“Envy them, those monks of old,”
passing a life in calm and quiet, amid scenes so surpassingly beautiful! Here they read and wrote; here the Arts were made the handmaids of religion. We may not, under the walls that shadow their dust, amid pleasant meadows, at the foot of wooded hills, by the fair river-side, all of which they had made charming and productive – we may not ponder over, or even call to mind, the errors or the vices hidden under “the white robe with a black scapular or hood!” Let them be remembered elsewhere, but forgotten here!
We may fitly conclude our visit to ” faire Tinterne” by quoting a passage from the eloquent historian Macaulay: – “A system which, however deformed by superstition, introduced strong moral restraints into communities previously governed only by vigour of muscle, and by audacity of spirit; a system which taught even the fiercest and mightiest ruler that he was, like his meanest bondsman, a responsible being, might have seemed to deserve a more respectful mention from philosophers and philanthropists … Had not such retreats been scattered here and there, among the huts of a miserable peasantry, and the castles of a ferocious aristocracy, European society would have consisted merely of beasts of burden and beasts of prey. …The church has many times been compared to the ark of which we read in the book of Genesis; but never was the resemblance more perfect than during the evil time when she rode alone, amidst darkness and tempest, on the deluge beneath which all the great works of ancient power and wisdom lay entombed, bearing within her that feeble germ from which a second and more glorious civilization was to spring.”
Hall, Samuel Carter and Anna Maria, The Art Journal, Volume 5, (London, 1859)
Hall, Samuel Carter and Anna Maria, The Book of South Wales, The Wye, and the Coast. Part I, (London: James S. Virtue, 1861), pp. 116-130
This included some wood-engraved vignettes.
Includes information from “The Castles and Abbeys of England,” by Dr. William Beattie [1844]


Much of the following was published in Thomas, William Heard, Tintern and its vicinity [Second, improved edition, 1845?], p. 25. The text in bold was quoted from a description by Samuel Meyrick.
Having come in sight of the hamlet of Tintern, a few majestic poplars mark the spot where the Abbey is, or was. The mouldering, ivy-vested walls, soon appear. The entrance is at the western portal. On entering the interior presents itself at once to view in all its grandeur – an imposing spectacle wherein sublimity and beauty are combined. The eye at once traverses a grand vista of arches and columns decorated with lichens and moss, and hung with massive festoons of ivy. The eastern window has a vast chasm in which one slender shaft seems to have naturally sprung up, as if art itself in this luxuriant vale was trying to germinate. The scene is bounded by the outlines of a lofty hill whose rugged side is clothed in exuberant foliage. In the centre of the place is a grassy pavement from which one looks upwards in amazement at the lofty columns that once supported the massive tower. But the tower has fallen – the groined roof is gone – and the colossal arches alone in their desolate magnificence, darkly intersect the canopy of the sky. Around are scattered fallen pilasters, mutilated statues, and crosiered tomb-stones; while verdant and luxuriant grass, and widely-spreading trees on every side, proclaim the march of nature into the dominions of art, adorning the triumph of the one, and hiding the desolation of the other. The burying ground for five centuries is now a fine orchard. Amongst the relics is the effigy of a knight habited in a hauberk and chausses of mail composed of rings set edgeways. His head having been broken off is replaced, and on his corf is a coronet, and the strap which fastens in front the back of the hood: the sword is in its sheath. There is a fragment of another effigy near the cloister door which consists of a helmeted head. Near the eastern window is the head of a shaven friar, and the disfigured remains of a virgin and child. There are some beautiful relics of the screen, profusely carved and gilt. Several tombstones are scattered in different places, some of them carved elaborately with crosses and black-letter inscriptions. One in the southern aisle, and much fractured, claims notice from being carved with the images of salmon and trout – the latter in a group of three. A curious tiled pavement in the same aisle, is in wrought with escutcheons representing knights in full course at a tournament. Leaving the grassy lawn-like floor of the abbey, the ascent to the top is made by a flight of spiral steps into one of the angles in the northern transept. Here a pleasing prospect repays the toil, while a momentary feeling of awe steals over the mind as we bend over the roofless wall and look into the fearful abyss below, which seems to be at once the glory and the grave of art. Shrubs and flowers threaten to make a wilderness of the mouldering summit of the abbey walls. The white periwinkle spreads luxuriantly over the rubble covering the ground to the north, which was once a part of the abbey garden. The length of the chancel and nave is 228 feet; transepts across 150 feet; height of tower arches 70 feet, the lesser arches 30 feet.
{History of the Cistercian order}
At length the first Rex Fidei Defensor [Henry VIII] appeared, who by one blow of royal indignation and cupidity “felled fatally six hundred and forty-five monasteries, ninety colleges, two thousand three hundred and seventy-four chantries, and one hundred and ten hospitals!”
At this general spoliation, “Tintern was found to have only thirteen religious, and estates yielding £256 11s. 6d. per annum.” The eighth Harry then granted the ruins to the Earl of Worcester, who was an ancestor of the Duke of Beaufort, the present proprietor. The waves of oblivion cover the crumbling temple and its builder in the same solitary grave. The baleful shadows of the past cover the bishops, monks, and fighting knights of Tintern, like the midnight of Egypt – the fluctuous tide of time leaves only the mound between the furrows on its shores, to mark the spot where all the brotherhood sleep. Even their very names are forgotten, The lover of antiquarian knowledge strains his eager vision in poring over the musty past – he looks in vain to find anything calculated to make him wiser surviving the wreck of time. The philosopher sighs over the desolation. The man of science mourns as he looks at the almost universal blank. The agriculturist is palsied in amazement at the silence that every where reigns on the subject of sustaining animal life. The industrial masses are led to exclaim – If the past can furnish no wholesome admonitions for the future, let it perish from the recollection for ever; let the mantle of oblivious drapery cover its crumbling monasteries, castles and temples. Fortunate it is that the light of science, mental, moral, social, and physical, has now so far dispelled the gloom of barbarism as to give a powerful impetus to man’s career, down, apparently, to the farthest future in the vista of time.
The shadows falling solemnly on the feet of tower and arch from the lofty western wall, and the placid evening sunlight slanting between from where windows were once, warned us that it was time to start for Newport.
Brooking, J. R., A Few Rough Notes, Taken During a Western Excursion, (1861), pp. 119-122


An effigy, said to be that of Strongbow was discovered a century ago at Tintern.
Clark, George T., ‘The Earls, Earldom and Castle of Pembroke’, Archaeologia Cambrensis, (1859), p. 90


Somewhat encroached upon by the high road, which is carried within a stone’s throw of its venerable walls, stands Tintern Abbey, occupying a narrow slip of level ground on the margin of the river, encircled by hills which form a thickly-wooded amphitheatre around it; and although the solitude is broken and the seclusion somewhat destroyed by the neighbouring manufactories [1870 edition: tin and wire works], the beauty of the situation and the elegance of the building triumph over this, and Tintern remains the most romantic ruin in Britain. In distant views, the four arms of the cross of the church, each terminating in a pointed gable, seen in perspective, have a peculiarly good effect. It gains, however, upon a nearer approach, when the elegant forms of the pillars and arches, “the beauty of composition and delicacy of execution which distinguish it above most other Gothic edifices in this country, can be examined and appreciated.” Its architecture exhibits a transition from the E. E. to the Dec. style, and the portions of carving still preserved, the fragments of bosses, keystones, &c., exhibit foliage of most varied fancy and elaborate execution. Although the roof is gone and one or two pillars have fallen, the walls are entire, and the stone, well-chosen and durable, has been little injured by the weather. Even the mullions of the windows remain tolerably perfect, and the view of the distant hills and woods seen through them is very pleasing. The length of the church is 228 ft., of the transepts 150 ft., and its height 70 ft. It is neatly kept by persons appointed by the Duke of Beaufort, to whom it belongs, and is carpeted with velvet turf, beneath which, in the S. aisle of the nave, a fragment of the original pavement, composed of glazed tiles, bearing the arms of the Bigods and the Clares, has been found. Although the abbey was founded in 1131 for monks of the Cistercian order by Walter de Clare, the existing church, commenced by and carried through by his successors, the Clares, Marshalls, and Bigods, was not completed till 1287, or 156 years later. It was suppressed at the dissolution of the monasteries, and granted by Henry VIII. to Henry Earl of Worcester, from whom it has descended to the Dukes of Beaufort.
Here is a broken cross-legged figure of a knight in chain-armour, thought to be either Richard de Clare (called Strongbow), the conqueror of Ireland in the reign of Henry II., or Roger de Bigod. There is also the tomb of an ecclesiastic, bearing carvings of a cross and several fish. An ornamented but mutilated doorway led into the cloisters, beyond which, to the N. of the nave, are remains of monastic buildings. In the centre, the refectory was provided with a pulpit, from which homilies were read during meals, as at the Abbey of Shrewsbury; on one side was the kitchen, communicating with it by buttery-hatches through the wall, and on the other the dormitories. In 1847 the remains of an Hospitium, or smaller convent for the entertainment of strangers, were discovered in the orchard during the progress of some excavations. Here is a ferry over the Wye, on the abbey side of which was the arch of the water-gate.
Anon, A Handbook for Travellers in South Wales, and its borders, Including the River Wye, (New edition, London, John Murray, 1860), pp. 45-46; (1870, pp. 55-56)
The editor had lived the greater portion of his life in the district: the preface is dated Cefnmawr, Beaufort, 1860.


… the village of Tintern, prettily situated, but not requiring any special notice. Yet I would mention an ancient ivy covered ruin which stands on my right as I leave the village. Nobody seems to possess any information concerning this decayed building, but I expect it has been (not the nunnery, which some people suggest, but) a private mansion. …
Tintern Abbey is a very short distance from the villages and its beauties come suddenly upon one. I mentioned Mr. Christian Payne in my introduction to this book. His house is not a stone’s throw from the Abbey, and he has held the post of cicerone to the ruins for upwards of thirty six years. A hale old gentleman yet quite qualified to live thirty-six years longer, as I hope he may. Mr. Payne has seen three dukes of Beaufort. His cottage is as neat and trim as you could desire, thanks to the order and care of his good wife.
How grand are these ruins! How beautiful every line of this venerable Abbey of Tintern ! The view which breaks on me when the entrance door is unlocked is solemnly majestic. Great are the ruins of Tintern Abbey, and an awful grandeur reigns around; yet, as I have said, their is beauty in every line though an overwhelming power in the whole. Magnificence does not infer beauty; but here, after the first great effect on the mind, one perceives everywhere an architectural delicacy which is loveliness itself. How many centuries have waged an elemental war against this ancient abbey, yet it continues grand and glorious in its ruined state; its noble walls and pillars and windows and arches wearing a charming and consistent mantle of green ivy. And how the freshness of the living climber contrasts with the worn aspect of this impressive pile!
Tintern Abbey is cruciform. The naves and choir measure two hundred and thirty feet in length, their breadth thirty-three, while the extremes of the transept are one hundred and sixty.
History records the foundation of this massive Abbey by Walter de Clare. in 1131, and its dedication to St. Mary in Henry the Eighth’s reign. But it experienced the fate of many other monasteries, and was granted at its dissolution to Henry, Earl of Worcester, the ancestor of the present Duke of Beaufort.
Rich woods and sloping hills form the appropriate background, and invest the ruin with an additional picturesqueness of beauty which is rarely seen.
Mr. Barber, who visited Tintern Abbey many years ago, said truly that words can neither do justice to its merits nor convey an adequate idea of the scene. It is neither a mere creation of art nor an exhibition of nature’s charms, but a grand spectacle in which both seem to have blended their powers in producing an object lovely and sublime. Through long ranges of Gothic pillars and arches, some displaying all the exquisite workmanship of their clustering shafts, while others are hung with shadowy festoons of ivy, or lightly decorated with its waving tendrils, the eye passes; and, for a moment arrested by the lofty arches rising in the middle of the structure which formerly supported the tower, it glides to the grand window at the termination of the ruin. Beyond this aperture, distinguished by a shaft of uncommon lightness springing up the middle, the wild wooded hills on the opposite side of the Wye rear their dusky summits, and close the scene with much congenial grandeur. [Barber, 1803]
Before proceeding to speak more particularly of it, I would bear testimony to the care and attention bestowed on this ancient ruin by Mr. Payne. I think he considers it a child of his, so solicitous is he for its welfare. The fragments which have from time to time fallen, are collected together on the grass: representatives of sculptured monks, of cornices, of columns, of bosses; the ornamented fragments being marvellously chiselled, imitative of oak – leaves, of figs, of sunflowers, and other productions. Wonderful is the under-cutting; devices of the most beautiful tracery –  so delicate that you marvel at their preservation – chiselled beneath from the body of the stone and fairly worked out, yet still by a cunningness of handiwork, which I fear is now unknown; retained in their plane by a few fine points of connection. The oak-leaves, acorns, and ivy sculptured, as explained; are especially fine.
The Gothic fret-work of the great eastern window seems bound together by the clustering ivy. Its mullions are very deceptive. To the unpractised eye, the girth measured on the stone would appear to be not more than two or three feet, but so numerous are the ins and outs of the workmanship that the true circumference, following the surface, is six feet four inches and a quarter. My attention is arrested by the sculptured effigy of a knight. I learn, from Mr. Payne, that it is supposed to represent Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, commonly called “Strongbow,” though he was buried in Christ Church, Dublin. By some it is regarded as the effigy of the Duke of Norfolk.
In addition, I observe the figure of a monk, and an elaborate sculpture of the Virgin and child, probably executed when the Abbey received its dedication.
I would call the Tourists best attention to the Cloisters, the Sacristy, the Chapter House, the Refractory, with its lector or pulpit (where from many a homily was delivered by a fasting monk, in purgatory of spirit, to his feasting fellows, as they enjoyed their heaven of good things!) I notice here the buttery hatch through which those good things were passed, and the adjoining pantry with its elegant groined roof. The Hospice, or place of entertainment for guests, is very extensive; in length, ninety feet by twenty-eight. The bases of its central pillars, four in number, still remain.
There was once a neighbouring chapel attached to this abbey. That chapel is now the residence of Mr Payne, where I took tea.
From the summit of the abbey walls, a wide prospect opens to me, though the height is not great in comparison with others, being only seventy five feet; Very different from the giddy spire of Antwerp Cathedral.
The eastern gable of Tintern Abbey rises to about one hundred feet, and is very frequently sketched by tourists.
Many parties are formed to visit the beautiful ruin when the moon is up. The most glorious effect is when she ascends in the south-east. When Autumn ushers in her lovely harvest-moon, then Tintern Abbey may be seem in all its grandeur.
I cannot speak of the effect of moonlight on this noble ruin, as the luminary rose in the west during my visit, and I did not care to mar (by partial view) the intense pleasure which I hope to receive when I visit Tintern again in Autumn.
Growing by the side of the wall, and ornamenting the nave, are a fine mountain ash; an ordinary ash, and an elder tree.
There is always a mournful effect produced on our spirits by the ruined state of what was once perfect and animated. Treading these transepts, this nave, this green sward, whereon the altar stood, and where now remains nothing personally indicative of its old worshippers; save a mutilated Latin cross: my fancy revives the past, and peoples this silent place.
Ruined, yet noble abbey, perhaps the most beautiful in the world!
“How many hearts have here grown cold …” [Henry Man, 1802]
Visitors should notice especially, the choice carvings in miniature which ornament the columns and panels. These heads of monks are wondrously cut – some of the faces most beautiful in expression, and others grotesque and comical.
Old Mr. Payne has considerable dry humour, and won’t readily be caught napping. There are some tourists who think that the sixpence they pay to a guide entitles them to behave as scandalously as they choose. I have had frequent opportunities of observing this, and an unsavoury fact it is. Such cockney travellers entertain the belief that it is a “knowing” thing to assume all sorts of puppyish airs and graces, and the most patronising demeanour possible. Thus, at odd seasons, tourists of this sort fall to the lot of Mr. Payne, and Mr. Payne falls on the lot of them in a manner at once instructive and amusing. “I say, old feller !” drawled one of these youths; “it’s a jolly fine place, this Tintern Abbey; but, I say, can’t you show us some of the old monks?” “Old monks!” replied Mr. Payne, “Well, I don’t know, I’m sure; but if we haven’t any of them, I can show you a young monkey!” which wasn’t so bad for an ancient gentleman of seventy winters.
There is a curious rock in this neighbourhood, on the opposite side of the Wye, known as the Devil’s Pulpit. Its dim gray surface, seen from the road, gave me an idea of its great size and ruggedness, but the distance effectually prevented any certain conclusion.
{Wyndcliff, Piercefield}
[The following day he travelled to Monmouth, passing Tintern.]
Ha! here is old Mr. Payne, healthful, kindly, and brisk as when I saw him the other day. Here he comes, on his way to the ruins of Tintern, and I give him “good den” from my throne on the roof, and he gives me “good den!” from the road, and as we drive away, I wonder shall I ever see him any more.
Beautiful Abbey! how graceful in the sunlight! how rich the ivy which, glistening in the warm beams, nestles in thy bosom, and clasps thee with the clasp of love! My parting memory of thee is fraught with envy; for I observe Mr. Payne unlocking thy door, and I am not with him to enter again and contemplate thy glories.
Now we meet various carts and wagons laden with black bags. The bags contain charcoal; and the charcoal is for the use of the works at Tintern; and at the works there, the manufacture of telegraph-wire is carried on.
Peacock, William F., Coles’s Tourist’s Guide Book. What I saw in the Golden Valley: being a trip to Monmouthshire, through the counties of Salop and Hereford, with personal visits to Raglan Castle Goodrich Castle, Goodrich Court, The Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Symonds Yat, Coldwell Rocks and the Abergavenny mountains ; also ‘The tour of the Wye’  (2nd edition [ca.1860]), pp. 55-68, 74


Handbook to Monmouthshire and South Wales (Usk, J.H. Clark, 1861)
Clark, James Henry, Hand book to Monmouthshire & South Wales, or, A descriptive and historical tour from Gloucester to Milford … (London, Houlston and Wright, [1861])


There are so many things of deep interest crowding upon me when I write, that I know not how to speak of them, nor when to cease. Here, now, is Tintern Abbey – beautiful Tintern! breathing of poetry – poetry itself! – standing before me in imagination as vividly almost as when I saw it in its own enchantingly lovely vale. To convey to one, who has not seen it, any idea of the beautiful blending hero of nature and art, the sweet repose of the vale and the shining river, with the venerable, time-worn abbey, – far more impressive and lovely in its decay, deserted and alone ‘midst its exquisite enclosure of hills, than when, in its earliest splendour, it was the habitation of luxurious, though professedly self-denying monks,  – is as impossible as it is for me to express or define my feelings on beholding the whole of this extraordinary picture. They were peculiarly wrought upon on first seeing an ancient ruin, that of the Castle of Lewes; but this, oh surely, either in its own isolated extreme beauty, or with all the surrounding charms, can have no compeer. It seemed as if speaking in tones of music, low and sweet, of the far-gone, solemn past. I could have walked on its grass-grown floor, or sat silently for hours within, and gazed upon its aerial arches and lofty gothic windows, the ivy enwreathing their fine tracery, elegant still even in decay, – its walls and graceful clustered columns, in the close embrace of this most elegant of nature’s adorning, which looks, in its massive net-work of trunks, almost as venerable as its long-loved ruin; yet vigorous in age, and as if striving now, when the weight of centuries is slowly but surely crumbling it to dust, still to uphold what was once the strong support of its feeble and wayward youth There is nothing within or without to offend the eye, or break the mysterious charm that is around it; no artist need try to improve the picture by making one omission in his sketch. Our ride thither was through scenery renowned for its singular and almost unequalled beauty, throughout England, – which ride, by the way, i ought to have spoken of first. The high cliffs, which shut in the valley in that part where the Wyndecliff is situated, and for a mile, perhaps, on towards Tintern, gradually give way to rolling hills, between which an occasionally short and narrow depression makes its way up, affording glimpses of the far-off landscape. Just opposite the ruins, on the same side of the river, a fine, richly-cultivated, undulating slope comes down from a considerable height, and spreads out into a broad plateau, from the edge of which the ground again descends to the river. Looking up the stream, which here makes a short bend, the prospect opens into a more champaigne country, still however varied with hill and dale. It was on the plateau I have mentioned, that the monks had placed their abode; and if their hearts were really prepared to estimate and rightly to enjoy the beauties of creation, they could hardly open their eyes upon the scenes around them without seeing cause for gratitude and praise. Enough – we left it. For a long distance, by looking back over the phaeton, I could see the abbey reposing in the vale, with its frame-work of hills and trees, softly fading from our sight, – if I may use such a comparison again, – like the dying away of sweet music, until, by a short curve round a hill, it was lost to our view; and I turned back again into my seat, feeling almost sad at the thought that I should probably never see it again.
Anon (an American) [Tour of England (The Lakes), Scotland, Wales and Ireland]
The Friend, A Religious and Literary Journal, vol. 36, no 27, (1863) p. 211


Anon, The companion-guide to the South Wales railway from Monmouth to Carmarthen, (London : James S. Virtue, 1861)


Chepstow and its Neighbourhood (Usk, J.H. Clark, 1861)


Anon, Windcliff, Tintern Abbey, and other objects of interest in a tour from Chepstow to Monmouth, (Usk: J.H. Clark, 1862)


Contains much reported speech with people he met.
Tintern Abbey
Wordsworth’s poem, ‘Lines written on revisiting Tintern’
“See, there are the gables of Tintern, its broken walls and arched windows rising out of its wood of trees!” It was a scene of quiet, truly monastic beauty. The smoke ascended in the clear autumnal air from the hamlet cottages near, and the Wye, now brim full from the height of the tide, gave a perfecting charm to the landscape. We entered the interior of the beautiful ruin in silence. No one ever enters the place without being deeply impressed by its noble proportions, and the classical grace and chastity of its architecture. This abbey church was built in 1131, and presents a fine specimen of the early – English style, blending into a more ornamented character, as later additions were made or changes introduced. The roof is gone, but the walls are entire; all the pillars, except those which divide the nave from the northern aisle, and the four lofty arches which supporting the tower spring high into the air, though reduced to narrow rims of stone, still preserve their original form. The western window, with its rich tracery, is extremely beautiful. “From the length of the nave, … contrast present desolation with former splendour.” [ from Coxe, An Historical Tour through Monmouthshire (1801)]
My weighty friend seated himself on a tomb; but I, observing an iron railing surrounding the top of the walls, looked for the ascent thither, and found that the walls were double, and that stairs ascended between them. I soon, therefore, stood aloft over my friend’s head, and eagerly invited him to come up, and see the charming view all around, and the admirable perspective of the church below. “Not for the world !” he exclaimed – “Not for the world! My legs have done wonders to-day, but my head would never stand that.” “Good,” said I. He had done wonders, and I had done one too; for I had wiled him on to Tintern, six good miles, and up a long, steep hill, and now he must walk back. It was more than he had done for the last twenty years.
The history of Tintern contains nothing very remarkable. It was founded by the Strongbows, and became rich and hospitable. Edward II. sought refuge there for some time from the pursuit of his queen Isabella. At the dissolution it contained only thirteen monks, and was valued with its estates, according to Dugdale, at £132, but according to Speed at £256, per annum. It was granted by Henry VIII. to the second Earl of Worcester, and is now the property of the Duke of Beaufort.
Howitt, William, and Howitt, Mary, Ruined Abbeys and Castles of Britain the photographic illustrations by Bedford, Sedgfield, Wilson, Fenton and others, Vol. 1, (1862), pp. 76-86; 2nd series, 1864


An article on early evidence for iron and wire-works at Tintern.
Few situations can be found more favourable to calm contemplation and religious serenity, or possessed in a higher degree of the elements of picturesque beauty, than Tintern. The magnificent and venerable ruins of the Abbey form a source of attraction to innumerable tourists, not only from every locality throughout the kingdom, …
Llewellin, William, ‘Some Account of the Iron and Wire-Works of Tintern.’ Archaeologia Cambrensis, (1863), pp. 291-318



William and Mary Howitt, The Wye : its ruined abbeys and castles with photographic illustrations by Bedford and Sedgfield. (London : A. W. Bennett 1863), Tintern, p. 63


Clark, J. H., Guide to Monmouthshire and South Wales. No.1, Trip from Gloucester to Milford including a description of the castles, abbeys … within an easy distance of the South Wales Railway. (Usk: J.H. Clark, 1865)
See Clark’s History of Monmouthshire, (1869), below


History, description, size, list of people said to have been buried in the abbey, long poem, ‘Legend of Tintern’; another poem, ‘On Tintern Abbey’.
Anon, A Description of Tintern Abbey, Printed at the County Observer Offices, Usk [1866]
(Small 16pp. paper-back guide book with two prints of the Abbey, bound with Monmouth and its Neighbourhood, Containing an Account of the Town, Castle, and Scenery (Usk, printed by J.H. Clark, preface dated 25th March, 1866)


The Wye Tour from Ross to Chepstow, with every place and features on the river briefly described.
Tintern Pava
Ash Weir
Tintern Abbey
“Tintern, they name shall hence sustain
A Thousand raptures in my brain;
Joys, full of soul, all strength, all eye,
That cannot fade, that cannot die.”
The Devil’s Pulpit
Clark, James Henry, Clark’s Series of Guide Books No.2, Monmouth and its neighbourhood, containing an account of the town, castle, and scenery, notices of the parishes in the district, the castles of Grosmont, Whitecastle, and Skenfrith, together with tours down the Wye, from Ross to Monmouth, and from Monmouth to Chepstow, (Usk : Printed by J.H. Clark 1866)
Anon, Monmouth and its Neighbourhood, Containing an Account of the Town, Castle, and Scenery … together with Tours down the Wye, from Ross to Monmouth and from Monmouth to Chepstow. (Usk, printed by J.H. Clark, preface dated 25th March, 1866)


Tintern …
How many hearts have here grown cold …” [Henry Man, 1802]
Anon, Sporting Magazine, Volume 50, (1867)


About 5 miles distant from Chepstow on the road to Monmouth. On turning a point of the road, this beautiful monastic edifice suddenly meets the eye; its pointed arches of fairy lightness, covered with ivy, rising in the centre of a sylvan valley, with the classic Wye wending its course by its side, is a sight which strikes the beholder with amazement, and is seen with capital effect from this spot.
Of all the picturesque scenes along the course of the meandering Wye, this is the one on which the mind loves to linger. How beautiful is that amphitheatre of green and wooded hills! How sequestered from worldly turmoil! Surely this must have been the spot of all others for a structure dedicated to the Almighty. And where can the tourist be, who, having once passed through the romantic scenery with which its neighbourhood abounds, ever regretted having spent a few hours amid the cloistered walls of the abbey, or among the picturesque scenes of the secluded spot, where everything combines to cherish devout thoughts.
This very beautiful monastic edifice, with pointed arches of fairy lightness, stands in the centre of a sylvan valley, with the classic Wye wending its course by its side.
Of all the picturesque scenes along the course of this meandering river, this is the one on which the mind loves to linger. How beautiful is the amphitheatre of green and wooded hills! How sequestered from worldly turmoil! Surely, this must have been the spot of all others for a structure dedicated to the Almighty. And where can the tourist be, who, having once passed through the rich romantic scenery with which its neighbourhood abounds, ever regretted having spent a few hours amid the cloistered walls of the abbey, or among the picturesque scenes of this secluded spot, where everything combines to cherish devout thoughts.
As a ruin, the venerable fabric excels everything of the kind in the kingdom. Here, although nothing is perfect, memorials of every part still exist – all certain, but all in decay; and, from the delightful woods which encompass the vale of Tintern, it may be justly termed the Vallis umbrosa of Monmouthshire.
The bosom of the lovely Wye is sometimes enlivened by boats containing pleasure parties from Monmouth and Ross, but this “descent of the Wye” does not frequently occur, on account of the difficulty in getting the wherries back again.
Persons who have once paid a visit to Tintern are so struck with the beauty of the ruin and the loveliness of the views, that they are led to revisit the scene.
[Poem] As some fond lover to his lady goes, …
[To the Wye, in Songs of the Wye and Poems by Wioni, (London: 1859), p. 98]
Monkish tombs and mutilated figures are deposited about the walls, and the floor is covered with a fine green sward. Time has worn the sharp edges of the carved and sculptured stones of the ornamental Gothic window frames and arches; and nature has claimed the ruin as her own, for mosses, lichens, pennyworts, antirrhinums, wall-flowers, and spleenworts have settled themselves in the joints of the elaborately chiselled stones.
he present monastery was founded in 1131, by one Walter Fitz-Richard de Clare, but the church itself, the ruins of which may be said most decidedly to form the principal portion of the abbey, was not completed until the thirteenth century. In those days the building of such edifices was the work of generations, and it was rarely indeed that the founder lived to witness the fulfilment of his undertaking. In 1287, the Cistercian Friars took possession of the edifice. Little, however, remains to tell the tales of by-gone days, when hooded friars trod those aisles, chaunting hymns of praise and performing those hallowed services within its precincts, which Henry VIII, by his sic volo, was destined to silence.
Poem: “Yet sacred Tintern, since thy earliest age, … [Anon]
Many a goodly cargo of corn and wine from Normandy has found its way up the noble river, which forms an artery of the sea, and was disembarked at that time-worn pier, where the abbot’s galley has degenerated into a clumsy ferry boat with a sort of amphibious old man for its commander.
But the day of dissolution at length arrived, when Henry the Eighth’s cupidity prompted him to seize upon its revenues – it became merged in the common wreck of six hundred and forty-five monasteries, ninety colleges, two thousand three hundred and seventy-four chapels, and one hundred and ten hospitals. At this period the estates were, according to Dngdale, valued at £192 1s 4 1/2d per annum, and according to Speed at £256 11s. 6d,; now worth £5,151 10s.
In the 28th year of Henry’s reign, the ruins were granted to Henry, 2nd Earl of Worcester, ancestor to his Grace the Duke of Beaufort, to whom they now belong.
The approach to the venerable ruins is much more pleasing at the present time, than it was some few years since, by the removal of several miserable hovels and pigstyes, but there is yet room for improvement.
The north door opens at that part where the Cloisters formerly were, but these were not fashioned till the Earl of Pembroke, in the 15th century, left money for the purpose: The arcade is entirely demolished.
On approaching the west door, the richly sculptured framing of the windows furnishes a fine specimen of pure Gothic architecture in a good state of preservation. On passing through this door-way, which appears disproportionably small to the building, the beholder is struck with amazement at the imposing spectacle presented to the eye; a sudden awe thrills through the mind at the solemn stillness which pervades the place.
” Relic of by-gone years and noble days.
Despoiled yet perfect, within thy circle spreads
A holiness appealing to all hearts.”
The enraptured glance falls on a grand vista. of noble arches and columns extending to the eastern window, mantled with ivy, and on advancing along a carpet of living green to the centre of the building, the spectator is no less struck with the regularity of the plan, the lightness of the architecture, and the elegance and grandeur which characterise the whole of the fabric.
“Since Henry seized from priestcraft thy domain,
And drove thy Monks forth from this calm retreat,
To spoil thy beauties Time hath strove in vain
The arts exulting smile at its defeat.”
The roof has long fallen in, and the building is open to the canopy of heaven, but the shell is entire: all the pillars are standing excepting those which divided the nave from the northern aisle, and their positions may be traced by the remains of their bases. The lofty arches which supported the tower still preserve their original form. The arches and pillars of the transepts are in good preservation, and the shapes of the windows may yet be traced although some are partly obscured by the luxuriant ivy.
The abbey is cruciform, consisting of a nave, north and south aisles, transept, and choir. Proportions:
Length, chancel and nave, from E. to W.       228ft.
Length, transept, from N. to S                                    150ft.
Breadth, nave and choir                                  37ft.
Height, central arch                                        70ft.
Height, lesser arches                                      30ft.
Height of east window                                   64ft.
Height of west window                                   42ft.
The total area originally enclosed by the walls is said to have been 34 acres. The boundary wall is still traced, and the water gate yet stands. There were three other gates, and the groined arch of one of them is visible at St. Ann’s chapel.
Ornamented fragments of the roof, cornices, and columns, rich pieces of sculpture, and mutilated figures of monks and warriors are arranged in heaps along the green award, which is kept in admirable order. Among these relics are – an effigy of a knight in armour, much defaced, supposed by some to be that of Richard Strongbow, who died and was buried in Ireland: it was sculptured with five fingers on the right hand, but whether it was purposely designed so, or was a blunder of the sculptor, cannot be ascertained, the arm and hand is now demolished – the disfigured remains of a Virgin and Child – the head of a shaven Friar – several monkish tombstones carved with crosses and black letter inscriptions, one of which is engraved with the images of salmon and three trout in a group, and inscribed “Hic jacet Johannes Willifred” – a curious tiled pavement inwrought with the escutcheons of the Clare and Bigod families, of about 36 feet in length and 8 feet in breadth -and at the eastern entrance a flat stone which bears the inscription, “Hic jacet Henricus de Lancaut Abbas de Voto.” De Voto is the name of an abbey near Waterford, in Ireland, founded by one of the Marshalls, in accordance with some vow he had made.
The Abbey is nearly surrounded by fine orcharding, and the trees both in spring, when covered with their delicate bloom; and in the autumn when laden with delicious fruit, form a delightful boundary to the interesting pile.
The descriptive lines of Scott on Melrose, is equally applicable to Tintern by moonlight : –
“If thou would’st view fair Tintern aright,  … Was never scene so sad and fair !”
The walk along the aisles beneath the moon’s pale rays, when a solemn silence prevails save the echo of the owlet’s call, is expressive and grand in the extreme, and those who have paced along the velvet avenues in the dewy silent hour, will scarce ever forget the feelings of veneration which possessed their minds, whilst looking up upon this “ awe-inspiring fane,” or the deep solemnity by which they were affected when they were reminded of –
“How many hearts have here grown cold, …” [Henry Man, 1802]
Hood, in his “Old England,” embodies the crimes and compunctions of the founder in the following poem ‘Legend of Tintern’ ….
Poem: ‘On Tintern Abbey’, Anon
Clark, J.H., History of Monmouthshire (Usk, 1869), pp. 310-315
Another edition, c. 1880, but with less text.


Photograph of the nave and Presbytery of Tintern with the lawn carefully mown. Note the effigy of the knight leaning against a pillar on the left.

From Taylor’s ‘Tintern Abbey and its founders.’







John Taylor, F.S.A., Librarian of the Bristol Museum and Library, compiled a very detailed book on the history of Tintern Abbey. Some versions had no illustrations, but others had early untitled photographs of Tintern Abbey, Chepstow castle and at least one other castle bound into special editions of the volume. The On-line version (from a library in Rome), has 29 photographs, 20 of which are internal and external views of Tintern. The special edition in the National Library has 24 photographs. This does not claim to be a guide but it includes a small plan of the Abbey and an engraving of the knight in armour.
Roads to Tintern.
How to get there
The Hermitage at Tintern
The Founders of Tintern Abbey
The Cistercian Order
History of its Abbey to its Dissolution
Dissolution of the Abbey
Description of the Monastic Buildings
Visitors to Tintern
Taylor, John, Tintern Abbey and Its Founders Comprising a Revision and Correction of Preceding accounts, with numerous additional Particulars Hitherto Uncollected, Including the Dates of the Various Buildings. (1869), 83 pp.
3rd edition
7th edition, [1880] in  NLW Castell Gorfod ms42, dated December 2nd, 1873 which includes a ms. letter from the author to Joseph Joseph.
8th edition
Reprint: (Cwmbran : Gwent County Council Libraries, 1994)
Reprint: (Monmouth : Oakmagic Publications, 2004)
John Taylor also published a slim guide book: An Hour at Tintern Abbey. (From Original Research.) (no date)


One of the most beautiful of our British rivers is the Wy or Wye, which, during a considerable part of its course, forms the boundary between Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, and finally pours its waters into the estuary of the Severn. The banks of Wye are for the most part steep and wooded to the water’s edge; but where the high ground, as is occasionally the case, is removed to a little distance, low pastoral meadows occupy the interval, and finely relieve with their softer and more quiet beauty the hilly and dark-coloured landscape with which they are interspersed. In one of these sheltered vales, about nine miles south from Monmouth, and close to the water, on the right or western bank, stands the ruin of Tintern Abbey. This religious house was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare, grandson of Walter Fitzosbert, Earl of Ew, by whom it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was filled by a colony of Cistercians, or White Monks, as they were popularly called, a branch of the great order of the Benedictines. The Cistercians made their first appearance in England about the year 1128, when they established themselves at Waverley in Surrey; but having once obtained a footing in the country, they spread rapidly. In the 20th year of Henry VHI. the number of Cistercian abbeys in England amounted to seventy-five, of which thirty-six were included among the greater monasteries. There were also twenty-six nunneries of this rule. Of the Cistercian abbeys, that of Tintern appears, from the date of its foundation already given, to have been one of the oldest. It does not seem, however, to have been remarkable in the Catholic times, either for the number of its inmates or the extent of its possessions. At the dissolution it continued only thirteen monks, and its rental, according to Dugdale, amounted to no more than £192. 1s. 4d., although Speed makes it to have been £256 11s. 6d. After the Reformation the place was granted by the Crown to Henry, the second Earl of Worcester, the ancestor of the present Duke of Beaufort, whose property it now is.
The church, of which chiefly the existing ruins are the remnant, appears to have been erected some time after the foundation of the monastery. It is stated by William of Worcester that the monks celebrated their first mass in their new church in October, 1268; but it has been conjectured that even then only part of the building could have been erected. It was probably finished, however, in the course of the thirteenth or in the early part of the fourteenth century.
Archdeacon Coxe, in his ” Historical Tour through Monmouthshire,” has given so complete and ably written an account of this ruin from personal inspection, that we will extract the greater part of his description, which will be found to be applicable in nearly all its parts to the present appearance of the abbey.
“We disembarked about half a mile above the village of Tintern, …  appears like an interminable forest.” [Coxe, William, (1747-1828), An Historical Tour through Monmouthshire illustrated with views by Sir R.C. Hoare, Bart, (2 volumes, London: printed for T. Cadell, jun. and W. Davies, 1801), vol. 2, pp. 351-355]
The different picturesque views which adorn the banks of the Wye, and especially Tintern Abbey, have been described or celebrated by a profusion of writers both in prose and verse.
Anon, The British Workman Out and at Home. (June, 1869), pp. 156-157
Print: ‘Tintern Abbey on the Banks of the Wye [including a bee hive on the left]


Black’s Guide to the counties of Hereford and Monmouth: described in Alphabetical order, (A. and C. Black, 1873)
Adam and Charles Black, Black’s guide to the counties of Hereford & Monmouth, described in alphabetical order, 8th ed. (Edinburgh, Adam & Charles Black, 1886)


We now accompany the tourist to the justly celebrated and magnificent pile of Gothic ruins – Tintern Abbey, last, but not least, in our journeyings. It is distant eleven miles from Monmouth, and may be reached either by road or river; the drive by the former is considered by every traveller to be one of the most delightful in the kingdom.
[note:] As we write, the Wye Valley Railway, (marked in our map in the frontispiece) is in course of construction, passing along the banks of the River Wye in front of the WyndclifF and Piercefield, embracing a full view of the Abbey; and, in conjunction with the Ross and Monmouth line, will complete the Wye Tour by rail.[end of note]
Few situations can be found more favourable to calm contemplation and religious serenity, or possessed in a higher degree of the elements of picturesque beauty, than Tintern. The magnificent and venerable ruins of the Abbey form a source of great attraction to innumerable tourists, not only from every locality throughout the kingdom, but also from the remotest portions of Europe, and America; for surpassingly beautiful as the ruins of the Abbey unquestionably are, no pencil, however accomplished, can fully represent, nor language adequately express, the extraordinary variety and exquisite loveliness of the scenery amidst which its founders had the good taste to place it. According to Taylor, Tintern was sacrificed amongst no less than 101 monasteries of the Cistercian order. We have no specific details of the manner of its dissolution further than the surrender was made in conformity with the usual requisitions, on September 1st, 1537, by the hands of Richard Wych, its last abbot. The Abbey with its estates devolved on Henry, second earl of Worcester; the Duke of Beaufort, the noble earl’s descendant, still retains this enviable property, and none would say that it could be in more desirable ownership. This splendid monastic edifice is so well known, and has been so often described, that it would seem unnecessary to give a lengthened description of it here; besides, to do it justice, would require a volume of itself. Some inaccuracies are, however, found in all the published accounts (according to Mr. Wakeman), which it may be as well to set right. He says : –
“The monastery was founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard de Clave, whom Leland has confounded with his nephew, Walter Fitz Gilbert; but the church, the ruins of which form the greater part of the existing remains, was not finished till the latter part of the thirteenth century, in the time, and probably at the expense of, the second Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, grandson of Hugh Bigod, who married Maud, one of the co-heiresses of the Marshalls. It is stated that high mass was first celebrated in the choir in 1288. The church had been used for divine service the previous year, probably in the nave; the building must, therefore, have been commenced some considerable time before; and it by no means follows that the whole fabric was completed even in 1288. Little of the monastic buildings remain. A door at the eastern end of the north aisle opens to what was the cloisters, which were not completed till late in the fifteenth century, as we know from the will of William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke of the name, who left a legacy to be applied to that purpose. There are no remains whatever of the arcade, whence it has been conjectured that it was constructed of timber. On the floor close to the beforementioned door is a flat stone bearing an inscription which has been a sad stumbling-block to makers of guide books: ‘Hie jacet Henricus de Lancant Abbas de Volo.’ It will prevent a great deal of ingenious speculation if these gentlemen are informed that De Voto is the name of an abbey in Ireland, founded by William Marshall, in satisfaction of a vow made by him when in great danger from a storm at sea, and named by him after the mother house, Tintern, alias De Voto, of which monastery this Henry was Abbot.”
Sir Richard Colt Hoare declares this abbey to exceed every ruin he had seen either in England or Wales. The site within its boundary walls has been estimated to occupy thirty-four acres of ground.
As we approach the Abbey’s “ivy-vested walls,” and time forbidding any further allusion to its history, we refer our companion for details to a comprehensive little work . – “Tintern Abbey and its Founders” [John Taylor, (1869)] – conduct him to the foot of the sacred ruins – witness his amazement and delight when the door is thrown open – and then bid him Farewell.
Waugh, Waugh’s Illustrated handbook to Monmouth, and the Various objects of Interest in and Around it. (New and Enlarged Edition, [1875]), pp. 75-77


The Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye
(Chepstow: T Griffiths, 1875?)


The text is the same as in J.H. Clark’s c.1880 edition of History of Monmouthshire (Usk)
The map of the railroads does not include the Wye Valley Line (opened to Tintern in 1876)
This includes an advert:
Boats. Boats. T Fuller, Boat Proprietor, Wye Bridge, Monmouth
Begs to inform Tourists and Families desiorous of travelling over any part of the Beautiful Wye between Ross and Chepstow, that he supplies BOATS and trustworthy men, on the shortest possible notice. Boats kept waiting for every train from Ross.
Parties desirous of making the entire tour by water, from Ross to Chepstow, would oblige by giving one day’s notice by post to the above address.
[James Henry Clark], Tours from Ross and Monmouth (rail and water): Chepstow; Tintern Abbey; Windcliff; Raglan Castle; etc. etc. (Usk:  James Henry Clark, ca. 1875, pp. 62-71
(Usk: ca. 1880, pp. 39; 62-76)
1875 July
The Rev Frances Kilvert visited Tintern.
Today I went to Chepstow and Tintern. … I was disappointed in the famous view from Wind Cliff. {poor weather} The view may be fine and wide on a clear day but any view would be spoilt by the filthy ditch which they call the Wye in the foreground, a ditch full of muddy water at the best of times, namely high water, but now a scene of ugly foreshore and wastes of hideous mud banks with a sluggish brown stream winding low in the bottom between. I thought the vast height of the Wind Cliff itself with its grey crags peeping from omongst the thick foilage more imposing that the outlook from its top, view of Chepstpw Castle, Channel, Gloucester City and all. I came down by the winding steps and was disgusted by the trick of the Moss cottage in which, judging from the stench of the place, the inmates seemed to be keepinga polecat or badger. As we drove down the hill from the Wind Cliff into Tintern the coachman blew his horn and was answered by a clear and sweet echo from cliffs beyond the Wye.
Tintern Abbey at first sight seemed to me to be bare and almost too perfect to be entirely picturesque. One wants a little more ruin and ivy and the long line of the building should be broken by trees, but within the presincts of the Abbey the narrow aisled vistas, the graceful lightness of the soaring arches and the exquisite and perfect tracery of the east and west windows are singularly beautiful. I climbed to the top of the walls and looked down into the vast square deep well formed by the four great lofty arches of nave, choir and transepts which upheld the great central tower of the Church. The top of the walls was adorned with a perfect wild-flower garden of scarlet poppies, white roses, yellow stonecrop and purple mallows which formed a low hedge along each side of the otherwise undefended footpath or thickness of the walls, and which climbed with profuse luxuriance over the ruins of the summit of the walls. From this perch, on a level with the jackdaws, who, angry and astonished, clustered and clattered fiercely on the highest gables, I looked down into the green-floored enclosure of the grey ruins and into the streets of the village where the people looked dreadfully small as they moved about the roads and garden paths.
It was a solemn grey day, very quiet, a perfect day for seeing a ruined Abbey which is less imposing in glaring sunshine, and under a cloudless blue sky. Rain had begun to fall lightly and the soft grey mist which came creeping up the valley with the rising tide, veiling the crests of the wooded cliffs with light woolly clouds, seemed in harmony with the spirit of the place. For a long time I was alone in the ruins. There was no sound amongst the lofty walls and vast grey arches but the chattering of the jackdaws, the gentle singing of birdsfrom the orchards and gardens without the walls, and the soft falling of the quiet rain as it dropped tenderly like the tears of Heaven weeping upon the grassward floor of the ruined Church and the richly crossed but nameless tombs of the Abbots of Tintern.
At a quarter to four the coach started on its return to Chepstow and I left the stately grey ruin standing in the hollow by the river surrounded by its guardian hills, clothed with dark green woods which shut it in from the world.
On a fine day the drive from Chepstow to Tintern must be a singularly beautiful one, and I made a great mistake today in not walking there and back, as I had plenty of time and it is only ten miles both ways.
Plomer, W., (ed), Kilvert’s Diary, vol. 2, (1940), p. 202
Kilvert the Victorian: A New Selection from Kilvert’s Diaries, (1992), pp. 259-261


Tintern railway station on the Wye Valley Railway opened on 1st November 1876 (closed for passengers in 1959 and freight in 1964)


A 28 page guide to Tintern was written by Thomas Blashill F.R.I.B.A. It was based on a talk entitled ‘Monastic Buildings’ given by him to the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club (Hereford) on the 21st August, 1877.
The guide includes a brief history of the site, description of the ruins with a plan and notes on Monastic orders.
Anon, Report of a meeting, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club for 1877-1880 (1887), pp. 4-11 including a plan of the site reproduced in the guide.
Blashill, Thomas, Guide to Tintern Abbey, (Monmouth, Waugh, [1878]); ninth thousand [edition], [1881]; (new edition, 1906)


Anon, The Wye tour illustrated : a descriptive account of the picturesque River Wye


Blashill, Thomas, ‘The Architectural History of Tintern Abbey’ Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, vol. 6, (1881-1882), pp. 88-106


27th July. Visit by 68 members of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club of Hereford who travelled by train to Tintern. Dr Yeats of Chepstow spoke about the carved stone and Mr George Cowley Haddon, architect, gave a talk on the abbey and took them around, following Thomas Blashill’s guidebook [1878]. Mr J Lorraine Baldwin and Lady Frances Baldwin welcomed members to their home, St Anne’s, near the Abbey. After lunch at the Beaufort Arms, Tintern, Dr Yeats gave a talk on the Wye and the Cistercians.
Anon, Report of the field trip, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club for 1877-1880 (1887), pp. 235-245


Wirt Sikes, American Consul in Cardiff, 1876-1883, published a description of his travels in Wales in Harper’s Magazine, (New York, 1878) which he later published, with additional material, in ‘Rambles and Studies in Old South Wales‘ (1881). The section in italics was not included in Harper’s Magazine.
Tintern Abbey
The ruins are now the property of the much-enduring Duke of Beaufort, and being his, are kept in the tidiest possible trim by a custodian who lives most comfortably in one of the corners of the old pile. The first sight of Tintern Abbey from the hill on the Chepstow road almost warrants the claim which has been made for this ruin that it is the most picturesque in Britain. Yet the claim is made less on account of the exterior than of the interior.
It stands in a secluded and romantic valley, close to the banks of the Wye, surrounded by cultivated hills and embowering trees. On drawing nearer you find that its immediate inclosure is a level, grassy lawn surrounded by stone walls, and with a wooden gate opening off the smooth highway which runs in front of its western façade. Here at a glance we are able to comprehend the ruin in its entirety; nothing is hidden, nothing covered up or left unexplored. The bright free sunshine bathes the ruin in one broad lake of pure golden light. No trees intercept the vision. There were trees in the grounds near the road a short time ago, but they so shut off the view that they have been cut down. The façade nearest us is the main entrance to the church, which is the part of the abbey now most complete, or rather least destroyed. On the other side are the ruins of the cloisters, parlors, dining-hall, kitchen, chapter-house, etc., much fallen to decay. The limb of the cross which juts out with its tall peak on our right is the south transept. The great window which occupies so large a part of the principal facade is an exquisite specimen of rich Gothic ornamentation.
It is not, however, until we have passed into the church that the really sublime effect of this grand ruin bursts upon us. The gaze sweeps down the entire length of the vast nave to the marvellously light and elegant window which lifts its graceful stone mullion at the opposite end of the church. Along the sides of the perspective stands a range of fine Gothic pillars, some rising completely to the arches, others quite crumbled to their base. Overhead the only roof is the high blue sky. Along the summit of the ruined walls we see a wealth of ivy, and paths where people, visitors like ourselves, are walking securely about.
Passing to the right, we stand in the south aisle, the entrance to which from without is now walled up. The view here is hardly less impressive and majestic than the other —a vista of crowding arches, walls, and windows, among which the ivy riots luxuriantly. Here within a railed space is a collection of encaustic tiles, relics of former elegance, bearing various designs, as flowers, animals, and the arms of the abbey donors. Halfway down this aisle we come to the south transept, where stands the mutilated statue of Roger de Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, who built the church—a strange, ghastly, broken figure, of gigantic proportions, with its head and members lopped off, as if it had been put through some hitherto undreamed-of refinement of inquisitorial torture, in which it had been literally broken all to pieces. It came to this lamentable state, however, through the freak of a drunken Welsh sailor, who, passing this way in the course of a spree he was occupied in conducting, mistook the effigy for a person on pugilistic purposes intent, and so proceeded to knock its head off its shoulders. It is needless to say this was a great many years ago, when the ruin was open to the incursions of any vagabond strolling by. The effigy is now propped up in a grim sort of fashion against the branches of a giant ivy. It is, perhaps, the most interesting relic in the abbey. It represents the doughty De Bigod in his chain-armor, with short sword and shield; and the probability is, it would have gone hard with his drunken assailant if the knight had been as much alive as the mariner took him to be. [Illustration of the effigy in Harper’s Magazine, p. 221, but not in the book.]
Tintern Abbey has always been a favorite sojourning place with artists as well as with poets. Wordsworth was a frequent visitor to the neighborhood, to which he was constantly returning in his poems when prevented from returning in the flesh; and many other poets have made Tintern their theme. It is sufficiently remote from any railway station to avoid the common fate in our day of certain abbeys more accessible to London, of being overrun by the excursionizing rabble; and even its striking beauty fails to lure to it the cockney whose taste, time, and money are all three somewhat limited. So the soft note of the sodawater bottle is not heard within its hoary walls, and the smell of the vulgar but convenient sandwich pollutes not the purity of its hallowed atmosphere.
[the text in italics was not included in Harper’s magazine:]
Leaning against the wall in the hanging garden of the posting inn the ” Rose and Crown,” in Tintern village, I caught sight of the superannuated coach which used to run to Chepstow — an old yellow vehicle, mouldering to decay, with dirt and neglect, reigning undisputed over box and boot, and its insides utilised apparently as a hen coop. On the front of the grimy dashboard, like a ghost of departed days, is still dimly discernible the word “Tourist” which once flaunted in bright letters over the horses’ tails, as the noisy chariot rumbled along under the Wynd Cliff, on the smooth descending road.
There are pleasant inns, (one the “Beaufort Arms” of course), in the village near the Abbey, in which to stay overnight; we could secure comfortable lodgings for a long stay, if we cared to make it; but in truth few visitors tarry here longer than a night.
Sikes, Wirt, ‘On the Welsh Border’, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, vol. 56, December 1877-May 1878, (New York, 1878), pp. 218-220
Sikes, Wirt, Rambles and Studies in Old South Wales, (1881), pp. 135-139 (Reprinted by Stewart Williams, Barry, 1973)
Includes two prints ‘Tintern Abbey, from the road’, ‘West Window, Tintern Abbey’


Some few miles above Chepstow, on a strip of level ground, which is washed by the waters of the Wye, and is surrounded by hills and by woods, stands Tintern Abbey. The very name of Tintern is full of colour and of melody, and fitly characterises one of the loveliest ruins in Britain. The abbey was commenced in 1131, and was completed in 1287. Its style is Early English, merging into Decorated. It was founded by Walter de Clare, for monks of the Cistercian order; and one of the dilapidated tombs is by some conjectured to be that of Richard Strongbow, who, in 1172, conquered Ireland. The whole building is cruciform in structure, and the outer walls still remain. Tintern is floored with turf, and canopied by the heavens. Its length is 228 feet. The pointed gables, the columns and arches still remain; and the carvings, mouldings, tracery, keystones of arches, are of most delicate, ornate beauty. The sumptuous west window still exists in almost perfect condition, while its mullions and transomes are improved, rather than injured, by Time. The views from the glorious old building are delightful; the situation is, in itself, a charm; and the ruin, as a whole, is almost matchless; though it reminds us somewhat of Valle Crucis. Near it are the remains of the Hospitium, and of the abbot’s house.
The light, elegant, and most poetical style in which this paragon of architecture is built, renders it one of the most exquisite things, in its sort, on which the eye can rest. Tintern is, indeed, “a thing of beauty, and a joy for ever.” It belongs to the Duke of Beaufort, and is now well cared for. The art of architecture has scarcely ever surpassed sweet Tintern in a beauty which is at once chaste and ornate, stately, expressive, and of a rare and mystic loveliness. The west front, the east window, the south transept, the pointed arches, and the shafted columns of fair Tintern are still sufficiently clear, and sharp, and fresh ; and are, indeed, only mellowed by Time. They, like the whole of the building, are of an exquisite pensive beauty, and of a tender, ethereal grace. Ivy, the flower of ruin, lends its melancholy charm to the delicate sentiment of Tintern. To fancy and to feeling it scarcely seems that Tintern was ever mechanically constructed according to the technical rules of a semi-scientific art. The work appears an imaginative art-creation: impresses us—after making due deduction for the artist’s heathenism—as a thing evolved by that magician architect who raised Aladdin’s palace. The place looks, not as if it had been built up slowly by mason hands, but as if it had grown naturally, as a flower grows. The subtle essence of its witchery transcends definition. Truly, Tintern is a poem in stone ! Hawthorne says, “Not the Coliseum, nor the tombs of the Appian Way, nor the oldest pillar in the Forum, nor any other Roman ruin, be it as dilapidated as it may, ever give the impression of venerable antiquity which we gather, along with the ivy, from the grey walls of an English abbey or castle.” I think that our present Welsh tour will afford abundant instances which will confirm the force of Hawthorne’s fine saying. It is pleasant also to connect Tintern with Wordsworth. A few miles above the abbey he composed his immortal lines. It is noteworthy that the building itself inspired his imagination less than did the abstract forces of Nature in their relations to the mind of man.
And we, if we be calm and wise, shall feel that Wordsworth helps Tintern to develop in our souls the “elevated thoughts” which belong so fitly to the place and scene.
Wilson, H Scutz, Picturesque Europe, vol. 1, The British Isles, (Cassell, Petter, Galpin and Co., London, Paris and New York, ?1880s)


Members of the Cambrian Archaeological Association visited Tintern on Thursday, August 26th, 1885
At 10.30 Newport Station was left, and as the train emerged out of the tunnel, some three miles above Chepstow, a lovely view of the windings of the Wye below opened out. On this side were the richly wooded slopes of the Banager Rocks; on the other rose the famous Wyndcliff. A little further, and we curve round the Plumbers’ Cliff, and a singularly beautiful view of Tintern Abbey and its surroundings lay before us. A walk of a mile and a half from the Station brought us to the site of what has been described, and perhaps not unjustly, as being, ” for rich picturesqueness of situation, and extent and beauty of architectural remains, the most attractive Gothic ruin in the world.” It was founded originally in A.D. 1131, by Walter, third son of Richard de Clare, a Norman baron, and cousin-german to the Conqueror; but the present edifice is of later date, being the new foundation, in a.d. 1239, of Roger de Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, and Marshal of England, to whom the De Clare estates had passed by marriage. The Order to whom it belonged was the Cistercian, and the typical plan of their houses is well shown in its arrangements.
On entering, through the west door, the members were received by Mr. Loraine Baldwin, the courteous guardian [see below], who had thoughtfully secured for the occasion the services of Mr. Thomas Blashill, F.S.A. Mr. Blashill, who has for many years made the Abbey a loving study, then described its general features, and pointed out in detail, from the evidence of arch, and pier, and masonry, the several stages of its construction, and afterwards conducted us through the several parts of the monastic buildings. As he has promised to contribute an article to our Journal, embodying his latest researches, it is enough to say here that in spite of the heavy downpour, which, marred considerably the enjoyableness of the visit, the unbroken attention of the members showed how entirely they entered into the attractions of the place, and how fully they appreciated the benefit of having such a guide to lead them. The little church of Tintern Parva, prettily situated on the banks of the river, between the Abbey and the Station, has a good groined porch, with a holy water stoup. It consists of nave and chancel, with a vestry on the north side; has lately been restored, and is kept in good order
Anon, Archaeologia Cambrensis, (1885) pp. 351-352
Loraine Baldwin, (1809-1896), lived with his wife Lady Frances Baldwin, at St Anne’s, a former gatehouse and chapel near the abbey. He was made Warden of Tintern Abbey in 1873.


The Abbey of Tintern is generally allowed to be the most picturesque of all our monastic ruins.
{Detailed history and description of the ruins with a plan.}
Blashill, Thomas, ‘Tintern Abbey’ Archaeologia Cambrensis, (1886), pp. 241-252
This might be similar to Blashill, Thomas, Guide to Tintern Abbey, (Monmouth, Waugh, new ed. 1906)


Baddeley, M.J.B., and Ward, C.S.,
Thorough Guide Series: South Wales and the Wye District of Monmouthshire
(London, 1886 and subsequent)


{History and description}
A service was held in the Abbey on 23rd June, 1887 to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee and the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey at which the Bishop of Llandaff preached to a congregation of 1300 people.
Anon, [signed S.H.], Hillman’s illustrated historical handbook for tourists to Chepstow, Wynd-Cliff, Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Raglan : castles & ancient remains of Wentwood, and other places of interest on and about the Wye : with an appendix containing geological, ornithological, entomological, and botanical notes of the district, (4th ed., revised and enlarged. Chepstow: Hillman & Co.; London: Marshall Brothers 1889, same pagination as the 1878 edition), p. 54; another edition, 1890.


{List of Hotels at Tintern, coach service between Chepstow and Tintern.}
Never was a more beautiful building erected on a more charming site then is Tintern.
{History, detailed description of the abbey and conventual buildings.}
Bevan, George Phillips, Tourists’ Guide to the Wye and its Neighbourhood, (London, E Stanford, 1887), pp. 21-22


Johns, R.H., Illustrated Guide to Newport: contains accounts of Chepstow, Raglan and Caerphilly Castles, Tintern Abbey, (Newport, R.H. Johns, 1888)


Print ‘Tintern Abbey from the road
{History, inscribed stones, description, plan
Print: Tintern Abbey from the Wye
The abbey has a peculiar charm seen by moonlight …
Dimension of the ruins
print: Effigy of a knight in Tintern Abbey
other carved stones
The Jubilee service 1887
Poem: Legend of Tintern
Oh, came ye by Tintern, and paused ye awhile
Anon, [signed S.H.], Hillman’s illustrated historical handbook for tourists to Chepstow, Wynd-Cliff, Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Raglan : castles & ancient remains of Wentwood, and other places of interest on and about the Wye : with an appendix containing geological, ornithological, entomological, and botanical notes of the district.
(4th ed., rev. and enlarged. Chepstow : Hillman & Co.; London : Marshall Brothers 1889), pp. 44-55


Burrow, Edmund J., (ed.), The Wye Valley: from Ross to Chepstow (Cheltenham, E.J. Burrow, 1896)


Tintern, quoting Clark, 1869
Holbrook, John Calvin, Recollections of a Nonagenarian of Life in New England, the Middle West, and New York, Including a Mission to Great Britain in Behalf of the Southern Freedmen, Together with Scenes in California, (Boston, 1897), p. 217


As a picturesque ruin the fabric excels everything of the kind in the kingdom. On the sale of the Duke of Beaufort’s Monmouthshire properties a few years ago the abbey was purchased by the Crown since when a good deal has been spent on the preservation of the ruins and on unearthing other portions.
H. Johns’ guide to Newport: The “Borough” Guides, no. 113 [containing accounts of Chepstow, Raglan, and Caerphilly Castles, Tintern Abbey, Caerleon, Crumlin Viaduct, &c., &c.] [1901]


Clark, James Henry, (of Usk.) [Guide to] Usk, Raglan, and Tintern


More than one great artist has immortalized the secluded vale, where, on a bend of the Wye and surrounded by wooded hills, the ruins of Tintern Abbey stand. The somber-looking heights, which close in to the east and west, create the atmosphere of loneliness and separation from the world so sought after by the Cistercian monks, who doubtless found inspiration in the grandeur of the surrounding mountains and in the peacefulness of the sweet valley below. Tho the church of the Early English abbey is roofless and the central tower gone, the noble structure, with its many graceful arches, seems to attest to the spirit of religious fervor and devotion so intimately associated with the history of its gray and lichen-covered walls.
The finest part of the ruins is undoubtedly the church, which, with the exception of the roof and the north piers of the nave, still stands complete. It has a nave of six bays with aisles, a choir of four bays with aisles, the transepts with eastern aisles having two chapels. A transverse Galilee stood formerly beyond the western entrance. In the north transept are remains of the dormitory stairs, and on this side the cloisters, too, were situated. The aumbry, parlor, sacristy, chapterhouse, slype to the infirmary, day-stairs to dormitory and undercroft were on the east side of the cloisters; the postern and river gate, over which was the abbot’s lodge on the north side, and also the buttery, refectory, and kitchen. The delicacy of design and execution to be seen in the ruins is unrivaled in the kingdom – the tracery of the windows being particularly fine. The ruined church possesses the grace and lightness of architecture peculiar to the twelfth century, and is, even in its decay, of truly sublime and grand proportions. Time has been unable to obliterate the skilful work of our forefathers, for the Early English transition arches, the delicate molding, and the exquisite stone tracery in the windows still delight the eye. The history of Tintern is almost a hidden page in the chronicles of time. On the surrender of Raglan Castle to the Cromwellian troops by the Marquis of Worcester, the castle was razed to the ground, and with it were lost the abbey records, which had been taken from Tintern when the abbey was granted to the Marquis’s ancestor by Henry VIII. It is known, however, that the first foundation on the site was in the hands of a cousin of William the Conqueror, Richard Bienfaite by name. He founded the abbey in 1131, and was succeeded by his nephew, Gilbert “Strongbow.” His granddaughter Isabel married the then Earl of Pembroke, and her daughter, marrying Hugh Bigod, brought the estates to the ducal house of Norfolk.
Dixon, H. Claiborne, The Abbeys of Great Britain, (1908), pp.