THE taste displayed by the ” monks of old ” in the selection of localities at which to erect their monastic establishments was perfect. Whatever might have been the extent to which they carried their individual mortifications, there is no doubt that the shutting of the eyes to the beauties of nature formed no part of such mortification, for, as a rule, establishments of this kind are invariably found situated amid scenery of the most charming and attractive nature. And such is Tintern Abbey. Ensconced in a sheltered valley on the western bank of the river Wye, Tintern seems the very embodiment of an abode of religious peace and retirement, in which man might enter into the most intimate communion with nature. It was founded by Walter de Clare, in 1131, or about three years after the Cistercians or White Monks, a branch of the Benedictine order, made their appearance in England ; hence of the various Cistercian abbeys in this country, that of Tintern is one of the oldest. It was dedicated to St. Mary. The church, of which an interior view is here presented, is considered to be an excellent specimen of pure Gothic architecture, and unsurpassed in respect of the lightness and elegance of its structure, or of the delicacy of its ornamentation. Mass was first celebrated in the church in October, 1168, at which time the building had not been quite completed, this only having been accomplished in the beginning of the thirteenth century. Of all the archaeological remains of a similar kind, Tintern Abbey is probably the most familiar to the public. The adjacent scenery, replete with all those elements which conduce to attract, the wooded and sloping banks of the Wye, the rugged cliffs, the solitude and grandeur of the surroundings, render this a spot dear to the tourist ; while of those who have never visited the locality, the pencil of the artist and the camera of the photographer have aided in making them, in some degree, acquainted with a pile which, in respect of romantic and picturesque associations, as well as of elegance of structure, has few compeers.
After the Reformation, Tintern Abbey was granted by the Crown to Henry, the Second Earl of Worcester. It is situated in Monmouthshire, about nine miles to the south of Monmouth.
JOHN TRAILL TAYLOR.
(From Treasure spots of the world: a selection of the chief beauties and wonders of nature and art, 1875)