What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Rly. =Nearest Station.=–Tintern. =Distance from London.=–145-1/2 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 4-3/4 to 6 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 24s. 6d. 15s. 4d. 12s. 2-1/2d. Return 42s. 9d. 26s. 10d. 24s. 5d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Beaufort Arms Hotel,” “Royal George Hotel,” “Rose and Crown Hotel,” at Chepstow, 5-1/2 miles distant by road.
Tintern Abbey is situated in a level valley, surrounded on all sides by high green pastures and wooded hills, at the bottom of which the glorious river Wye glides in its circuitous course to the sea. The abbey is said to share with Melrose the distinction of being the most picturesque and beautiful ecclesiastical ruin in Great Britain. When the sun is setting, or better still, under the mystic light of the harvest moon, the picture formed by the roofless abbey in its perfect setting, needs a Wordsworth to do it justice.
An abbey for Cistercian monks was established on this spot in 1131 by Walter Fitz-Richard de Clare and dedicated to St. Mary. None of this building remains, as the whole edifice was rebuilt about 1260. The chief part of the ruins, now standing, is the church, though in 1847, when excavations were being carried on in an adjoining orchard, the remains of the Hospitium were discovered. This was an oblong building, supported on pillars, in which it was the custom for the monks to entertain strangers or travellers of their order. In the middle of the nave are the four arches which supported the tower, now mere skeletons, yet sufficiently preserved to show their form. The walls are nearly complete, and many of the columns still stand, as well as the bases of those whioh have fallen. All the pavement has disappeared, and the whole of the former floor is reduced to one level, now carpeted with turf.
The church is cruciform in plan and measures 228 feet from east to west. The remains of the dormitory, chapter-house, cloisters, and the refectory, which still has its lectern for the use of the reader during meals, are to be found on the north side of the church. Walking on the walls is forbidden. The vast extent of the ruins of the Hospitium recalls the fact that Tintern Abbey was for a long period distinguished for its luxurious style of living and its great hospitality.
When in the neighbourhood of Tintern one should visit Monmouth for its remarkable old bridge with its interesting gatehouse.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. TINTERN ABBEY.
The beautiful river Wye is seen flowing just beyond the ruins.]