Tintern, Abbey of

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Former cistercian abbey on the River Wye, four miles north of Chepstow, Monmouthshire, west England, Diocese of hereford (Latin, Tinterna Major ). It was founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard, Lord of Chepstow, with monks from L'Aumône, Diocese of Chartres, France. As early as 1139 Tintern sent a colony to Kingswood, Gloucestershire, and in 1200 another to Tintern Minor, County Wexford, Ireland. During the 13th century the abbey was completely rebuilt: the refectory and other claustral offices were begun in 1220; work on the church started in 1270 and ended about the beginning of the 14th century. This church, 245 feet long with transepts of 110 feet, and today almost perfectly preserved except for the roof, ranks with fountains abbey as the most beautiful ruin in England. Tintern was damaged in 1223 during the war between Richard Marshall and King Henry III, and as compensation was allowed to pasture 40 mares with their foals for three years in the forest of Dene. Between 1265 and 1282 the abbot performed important royal commissions and acted as collector of tenths in the Diocese of Llandaff, Wales. This eventually involved the abbey in financial losses, and in the 14th century exemption from this office was granted. Tintern actually played little part in Welsh affairs, though local disputes arose about its weirs, which hindered navigation along the River Wye to Monmouth. Even beyond the income from its wool trade, Tintern prospered through its possessions in Wales, Norfolk, and Kent, the most lucrative being the churches of Magor and Lydd, originally belonging to Santa Maria di Gloria, Diocese of Anagni, Italy, and granted to Tintern by Pope Gregory IX. At the dissolution under King henry viii there were 13 monks at Tintern, the last abbot being Richard Wych.

Bibliography: w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 165573); best ed. by j. caley, et al., 6 v. (181730) 5:265274. Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, London (12271468 ). Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, London (12321467 ). f. a. gasquet, The Greater Abbeys of England (New York 1903) 190197. e. a. foord, Hereford and Tintern (London 1925). o. e. craster, Tintern Abbey (London 1963).

[c. h. talbot]