From Cistercian monks to poets Wordsworth and Tennyson, Tintern Abbey has inspired devotion for centuries. The abbey is located on the banks of the River Wye – with Wales on one side of the river and England on the other. It was founded in 1131 and was home to Cistercian monks for the next few centuries. But after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, in 1536 the abbey was abandoned and it began to crumble and decay for the next 300 years. Then when railways were built along the valley it became a hugely popular tourist attraction, with thousands of visitors a day coming to see the abbey’s remains.
One of the great things about travel is coming across something unexpectedly amazing. I’d never heard of Jumièges Abbey until spotting it on the map on a last-minute trip to Normandy. Near the banks of the Seine between Rouen and Le Havre, this Benedictine abbey was originally built in the seventh century. Not that it latest long – it was destroyed first by the Vikings then later by the English and the Huguenots. But each time it was rebuilt, until finally being abandoned after the French Revolution and pillaged for its white limestone.