Tintern Abbey / Chapel Hill

Extract from Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire & South Wales, 1895.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2011

CHAPEL HILL [otherwise TINTERN ABBEY] is a parish and village on the banks of the river Wye and on the high road from Chepstow to Monmouth, about one mile south-west from Tintern station on the Wye Valley branch of the Great Western railway, 5½ north from Chepstow, 10½ from Monmouth and 146 from London, in the Southern division of the county, upper division of Raglan hundred, petty sessional division, union and county court district of Chepstow, and in the rural deanery of Netherwent (Eastern division), arch-deaconry of Monmouth and diocese of Llandaff. The "Eclis" tourist coach runs to and from Chepstow daily during the summer months, and there are boats sailing from Chepstow, the distance by water being 9 miles. The church of St. Mary, attractively situated on the hillside above the abbey, is a building of stone, partly Early English, with later portions in a debased Gothic style: it was almost entirely rebuilt in 1866, and consists of chancel and nave under one roof and a western tower, with saddle-back roof, containing one bell: the church affords about 100 sittings. The register of baptisms and burials dates from the year 1695; marriages, 1779. The living is a perpetual curacy, average tithe rent-charge £43, gross annual value £68, net £60, in the gift of the Duke of Beaufort, and held since 1893 by the Rev. Harold Barclay Hennell, who is also rector of and resides at Tintern Parva. The ancient chapel of St. Anne, which stood on the opposite side of the road, south of the abbey, in part exists, some portion having been incorporated with the residence of John Loraine Baldwin esq. called "St. Anne's". In the village are Wesleyan and Baptist chapels and one for Bible Christians. The tinplate manufactory here is said to have been originally founded as wire works by Swedish and German colonists, about the time of the Restoration.

Charities:- (1) Thomas Hackett, of Penterry, by indenture dated Dec. 10th, 1634, reciting that Philip Hackett, late of the City of London, gentleman (eldest son of the said Thomas Hackett), then deceased, had left by will £15 to the poor of the parishes of Chapel Hill and Tintern Parva, and that Thomas Hackett had himself given £5 to the poor; he accordingly conveyed to William Catchmay and others twelve acres of land called Monck Redding, in the parish of Mounton, in lieu of the said sums of £15 and £5, the rents and profits of the land to be for the use of the said poor. (2) Francis Bedford, by will, dated June 18th, 1656, left an annual sum of £6, payable out of a certain farm at Llangattock-juxta-Usk, for putting out one poor boy apprentice yearly, the preference to be given to his own kindred. (3) Samuel Pritchard, by will, dated Dec. 27th, 1810, bequeathed £1,000 £2.15 per Cent. annuities, the proceeds to be distributed amongst the poor annually on St. Stephen's day. (4) The poor of Chapel Hill have also the rents of a field at Penterry, called "Poor's Leic."

For parochial purposes the parish is named Chapel Hill. but probably it is more widely known as Tintern Abbey, from the fact that the ruined abbey of that name stands within its boundary. The Benedictine Abbey of Tintern, situated in the bosom of lofty wooded hills, on a bend of the river Wye, was founded May 9th, 1131, by Walter de Clare, and colonized from L'Aumone, but the church appears to have been the work of Roger Bigod, 4th Earl of Norfolk, who began it in 1269; in 1287 it, was so far complete as to allow of Divine service being held, but mass was not held in the choir till 5 Oct. 1288. The extreme beauty of its position and its inherent picturesqueness have made it justly celebrated, but it is equally worthy of admiration for its architectural character, which belongs to a Transitional style between the Early English and Decorated periods, and which for excellence of composition and delicacy of execution is rivalled by few similar structures in the kingdom.

The church, with the exception of the northern arcade of the nave, remains nearly complete; the choir proper consists of four bays, with large aisles, but has no triforium: the ritual choir extended westward as far as the easternmost bay of the nave, the rood loft being placed so as to include it, and the high altar being under the tower: the nave is of six bays, with triforium and clerestory: the total length, from east to west, is 228 feet: the arches of the central tower are 70 feet high and so feet wide: the fine east window, 64 by 27 feet, now retains only its centre shaft and part os the stonework in the head, but the design of its exquisite geometrical tracery was skilfully recovered by the late Mr. Edmund Sharpe; the transept is 150 feet in total length and its north wing retains the dormitory stairs, the cloister being on that side: in the south wing is the visitors, door: each wing had two eastern chapels; both nave and choir were divided from their aisles by high stone screens, extending between the piers, but with openings for passage behind the high altar, and west of the rood screen; the great west window, 42 feet in height, still retains the whole of its tracery in an almost perfect condition, and the space below it is filled by the western doorway, with its flanking traceried arches; the extreme gracefulness of this design seems unsurpassable, and it has been felicitously reproduced in the Medieval Court of the Crystal Palace: on the east side of the cloister, 111 by 99 feet, are the sacristies, the chapter house, 56 by 28 feet, with three alleys, a narrow library, the slype to the infirmary, the common house, 88 by 27 feet, divided into two alleys by a central arcade, and over it the dorter (dormitory), the day stairs to which remain; adjoining, on the north side, is a kind of hall, entered by a large archway, and supposed to be the entrance from the river; above are chambers and next comes the frater, or the refectory, 82 by 29 feet, with its pulpit and offices, kitchen and external lavatory: to the north-west, built over an undercroft, are the buildings assigned to the conversi, or lay brethren.

At the time of the suppression of the abbey there were 13 monks only, though in its prosperity there were probably 70 or 80; it was surrendered 1 Sept. 1537 by Richard Wych, then abbot, and the revenues at the Dissolution are stated to have been £256 11s. 6d. yearly, which would probably represent at the present time an income little short of £4,000. After the Dissolution the site of the monastery was granted to the Earl of Worcester, with whose descendants it has remained until the present day, and is now the property of the Duke of Beaufort K.G. who is lord of the manor and the principal landowner. The soil is sand and light loam. The chief crops are barley, oats, potatoes and apples. The area is 1,263 acres, half of which are woods and 71 of tidal water and foreshore; rateable value, £1,782; the population in 1891 was 462.

Parish Clerk, William Jones.

Letters through Chepstow arrive at 7.30 a.m. The nearest post, money order & telegraph office is at Tintern

The National School for boys, girls & infants, for this & the parish of Tintern, holds 178 children; average attendance, 118; W. J. Arnold, master Tintern Railway Station, James E. Gale, station master

Baldwin John Loraine, St, Ann's ho
Davis Mrs. The Glynn
Griffiths Mrs
Harris Mrs. Gwyn house
Williams Oswald Field, Liveoaks

Carver John, farmer, Fair oak
Coy Caleb, caretaker to Tintern Abbey
Coy Rose (Mrs.), dress maker
Davies Mary Ann (Mrs.), coffee rms
Ellis Edwin, grocer & beer retailer
Garrett Emma (Mrs.), Beaufort Arms P.H
Griffiths John R. & Co. tinplate mnfrs
Howell Eliza (Mrs.), refreshment rms
Hunt William, farmer, Ridding
Jones John, blacksmith
Moreton George, Anchor inn
Phillips Charles H. tailor
Pugh Edwin, beer retailer
Redwood Charles, saw mill
Waite Samuel, Cherry Tree P.H
Wheeler John, Ship inn
Williams Wm. baker, grocer & draper
Woolley Josiah, Royal George hotel
[Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire & South Wales, 1895]

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