Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010
On the same dark mid-winter day that we visited Usk and Monmouth, we also went to Tintern Abbey in the lovely Wye Valley.
We are members of Cadw and get in “free”, so we always visit when we are in the area.
Tintern Abbey by the late Victorian artist Benjamin Williams Leader
It was early afternoon, but with sunset soon after 4pm at this time of year, it was already dim. It made the abbey’s stones seem more ruinous than ever but also showed up their lovely pink colour. I believe it’s the old red sandstone on which much of Monmouthshire stands and which gives the Wye its red colour.
Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010 – the lovely soft red sandstone
Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian house founded in 1131 and rebuilt in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. It was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1536 when he dissolved the monasteries. He gave it to Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester, who sold lead from the roof and leased parts of the area for cottages and other early industrial buildings.
The abbey regained fame in the 17th and 18th centuries when it was discovered by the Romantic poets (such as Wordsworth) and artists (such as Turner).
The arches of Tintern Abbey by JMW Turner around 1794 – the ivy seemed to be an attraction at the time but was cleared after the Crown took over the abbey in 1901
My aim for the day had been to take pictures of bare winter trees and some of these were visible from the abbey, too.
Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010 – winter tree (beech?)
What I noticed most, though, was the hard white lichen like chewing gum patches all over the stones.
Tintern Abbey, December 31, 2010 – the white lichen on the stones looks like snow…
And the whole ruins, which have stood tall for so many centuries, looked as if they would crumble into damp rubble at any moment.
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