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Ruination

By admin | July 16, 2009

On the second Saturday of our tour, we had a free afternoon. Our driver Jim offered the use of the bus to us and suggested some possibilities for sites to see. When he suggested that we visit Tintern Abbey, we all agreed that this would be a great thing to add to our itinerary. There are two reasons why it was a good idea: First, it is in Wales. None of us had ever crossed into Wales before, so we were immediately interested. But secondly, it is a great ruin. I love British ruins, and this one did not disappoint.

In 1536, King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. When he began, there were about 800 Abbeys (monasteries and convents) in his jurisdiction; by 1540 they were all gone. He sent his emissaries to the various houses, offered pensions to elderly monks and nuns and gave assistance to the younger ones to get settled in other positions (often in the church or even in secular employment). His minions took everything of value and placed it in the royal treasury. Then, they stripped the buildings of everything of value. The windows were taken out, the roofs were stripped of their lead coatings and then the roofing timbers were removed and usually burned on-site to melt the lead into shot. The result is that the buildings were then exposed to the elements and quickly fell into ruin. In many cases, the local populace used the buildings as a quarry, strengthening their own homes and buildings with the stones and rocks used in the former Abbey.

Tintern was dissolved in 1536, and it is a great ruin. Most of the walls of the church are intact, as well as the outline of most of the dormitories, chapter house and other buildings associated with the Abbey. It is great fun to walk around and imagine what it was like when it was used by the minks in its heyday. Here are some pictures:

The great church at Tintern Abbey

The great church at Tintern Abbey

One of the aisles in the church

One of the aisles in the church

This is the view of the church from the top of a small set of stairs in the north transept. The monks would have come into the church this way from their dormitory.

This is the view of the church from the top of a small set of stairs in the north transept. The monks would have come into the church this way from their dormitory.

Topics: Church, Reformation | Comments Off

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