Thorny Abbey


Tintern Abbey - The first monastery of the Order of the Cistercians, established in Wales. The abbey is located between the village of Tintern and the Wai River. This is a wonderful place, known not only for the forests on the hills around the abbey, but also for the tidal river. In winter, the water in the river rises high, it reaches the mouth of the Severn River, but in the summer it is shallow and quietly meanders among the meadows.

General information

Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by monks of the Order of the Cistercians. This is the first Cistercian monastery in Wales and just the second in the UK. The abbey, rebuilt in the 13th century, became a haven for 400 monks and, despite the epidemic of “black death”, survived until 1536, when all the monasteries were dissolved by decree of Henry VIII, and Tintern began to decline. Now the Welsh Society of National Historic Monuments is watching over the ruins; restoration work is underway to preserve the ruins.

The heart of the abbey is an impressive Gothic church (other buildings are even more destroyed, there are mostly just grounds, but you can still see them). There is no roof in the church, but it looks extremely impressive. The nave has a length of 69 m, many columns are preserved, as well as the southern arcade and part of the cloister, elegant arches rest on the columns. Nowadays, the church is sometimes used for services that, even for those who are far from religion, present an interesting ceremony.

Photo and description

Thorney Abbey is located in Cambridgeshire in the east of England.

The first written construction in this area is a monastery of the middle of the 7th century, destroyed during the Viking raids at the end of the 9th century. In 970, a Benedictine monastery was founded here, rebuilt after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The construction of the new church began in 1085 and ended in 1108, although as early as 1089 the cathedral became operational. The abbey was patronized by the king of England, Henry I Bocklerk.

At the turn of the XII-XIII centuries, due to the threat of flooding, the abbey was abandoned, but already in the middle of the XIII and XIV centuries, after the construction of more reliable fortifications, the place was re-inhabited. In the 17th century, Torney Abbey greatly increased in size - stables, guest rooms and workhouses were added. However, all this has no documentary evidence, and after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the abbey was destroyed, only the main cathedral was preserved. In 1638, it was renovated as the parish church of the Virgin Mary and St. Botolf Iken. At that time, the chapels of the cathedral were destroyed and a vaulted gallery was built up. The eastern facade, although it retained elements of the Norman style, was rebuilt in 1840-1841 by the famous English architect Edward Blor. A model of the abbey is presented at the Torney Museum.

More than a dozen medieval saints, martyrs and bishops, including St. Botolf Iken, to whom the main cathedral is dedicated, are buried in Torney Abbey.

In 2002, the University of Leicester conducted archaeological work in the vicinity of Torney Abbey. In addition to pottery, tiles and animal bones, glass was found from stained-glass windows of the XIII-XIV centuries. These details of the stained-glass window are very intricate and well preserved.

Description of Whitby Abbey

What is this place now shrouded in a mystical web of romantic legends and gloomy beliefs? On the heights of the East Cliff in the vicinity of Whitby, surrounded by verdant fields and meadows, rise, like ghosts, the ruins of a once magnificent building. Narrow Gothic window openings, pointed domes of preserved towers are witnesses of ancient times. In the evening hours, when the last reflections of the crimson sunset go out, the monastery ruins seem like black giants. Silently listen to the symphonies of the wind, walking through the empty halls, numerous monuments erected in the local cemetery, where the inhabitants of the monastery were buried. Some of the tombstones are dated 667 - 865 years.

Whitby Abbey History

The legendary monastery (657) was organized and built at the behest of King Oswiu, who defeated the ruler of Mercia. On the eve of the battle, the king vowed before the Christian church to build a monastery on conquered land. So the famous Whitby Abbey arose, and its first abbot was the nun Hilda, who after her death was awarded the status of "saint" for her merits in the development of the abbey. At first, both men and women lived in the abbey, and later it (the abbey) became a man’s monastery. Gradually, the holy monastery turned into a popular youth education center. It is known that the famous representative of the early poetry of Britain, Cadmon, was brought up and trained in its walls. The descendants of the royal family of Deirov found their last refuge here, important church churches were held, including the fateful cathedral of 664, during which the Roman Church prevailed over representatives of the Celtic church.

The proceeds from the city fairs held annually on the birthday of St. Hilda went to the treasury of the abbey, and it flourished again until the 15th century. Mr. Whitby was not ruined by the Norwegians. The abbey suffered the sad fate of oblivion under the reign of Henry VIII of England. Great damage to buildings turned into ruins was caused by shelling by German cruisers in the First World War (1915).

Mysterious Legends of Whitby Abbey

The majestic ruins of an ancient monastery over a centuries-old history inspired many legends and beliefs that have survived to this day, exciting the imagination and hearts of local residents and curious tourists. Despite the “electronic” age, the myth of the transformation of snakes by St. Hilda into stones continues to live. Many claim that they have repeatedly seen in the gaps of windows a moving silhouette of a girl who once violated the vow of celibacy. Seeing once a beautiful knight, a nun fell in love with him at first sight with all the passion yearned for the love of a man of a woman. She was severely punished for carnal sin: she was walled up alive in the wall of one of the tombs.

One of the legends tells about the bells taken from the abbey bell tower, sunk in the sea, but still ringing from the seabed. In the 18th century, under the pretext of dispelling rumors about the spontaneously ringing bells remaining in the abbey and the appearing ghost of St. Hilda, the authorities ordered them (bells) to be removed and taken to the ship for re-melting. Sailing a short distance from the coast, the ship sank for some reason, giving food for new myths about the underwater bells ringing. There is a belief about the collapse of the main high (30 m) tower of the abbey, which collapsed suddenly, for no apparent reason. According to local residents, on the eve of the collapse for several days, they allegedly watched the ghosts of the long-dead residents of Whitby circling in a round dance around the tower.

Legend of Count Dracula

The mystical abbey of Whitby is also connected with the name of the infamous Count Dracula, who became the hero of the novel by Brem Stoker, inspired by the expressive spectacle of the monastery ruins and made them the place for Dracula to become a vile dog. The real prototype of this hero - the Romanian count Vlad Tepes (Kol) became famous for his infinite cruelty to his enemies, who, on his orders, were imprisoned. The sight of bleeding victims caused satisfaction in Dracula’s inhuman soul, and this is probably why he was nicknamed the vampire.

The image of Lucy in the novel, which became a vampire, also arose not from scratch. His prototype was a real female aristocrat, about whose cruel sadism there were many rumors. She personally executed her maids, enjoying the sight of the pouring blood. The villainous image of Dracula has become a fertile basis for the creation of various works of art: novels, performances, operas, and films. Many Eastern Europeans believe that this vampire count once lived in one of the castles of their country. Whitby Abbey, “glorified” in Stoker’s novel, which became a “horror classic,” was not without its Dracula. Residents of local neighborhoods are firmly convinced that just the former monastery is Dracula's castle.

Whitby Abbey modern reality

Today, a small British town (13 thousand inhabitants), despite its small size, has become a major tourist attraction, attracting a huge number of tourists from different countries. Fans of everything mystical, lovers of extreme hobbies, artists, poets, writers, filmmakers, etc. come here. Ancient castles, the Delby forest, Mullan Spout waterfall and other attractions are interesting to everyone, even very experienced travelers. Here you are imbued with the atmosphere of medieval England, a powerful ruler.

The main attractive symbol of these places is the ruins of Whitby Abbey, stunning the imagination not only with its Gothic appearance, but also with a train of unusual legends associated with them, and the dramatic history of the former monastery. In recent years, luxurious modern hotels and guest houses of different levels of comfort from 3 stars and above have appeared in the city and its environs. Most of them are located in picturesque places with good ecology, the internal arrangement is made in impeccable English style.
Beautiful landscapes, the proximity of unique attractions make your stay in Whitby rich and rich in impressions, give rise to romantic feelings in your soul and inspire you to create works of art.

How to get to Whitby

The most difficult thing in organizing a trip of Russian tourists to England is to get a Schengen visa, but otherwise there are no problems. If you are the owner of Schengen, there are no obstacles for arriving in London. There are plenty of flights from Moscow airports, 4 hours - and you are in London. From there, trains go to County Yorkshire. In 2 hours you arrive in York, from which you can reach Whitby by comfortable bus in 1.5 hours. If you arrive in Whitby in the evening, easily get an overnight stay in one of the city’s many hotels, and go to the abbey in the morning.

It is open to visitors year-round on a specific schedule. March-September - from 10.00 to 18.00, October-November - 10.00-17.00, in other months the monastery is open on weekends - Saturdays and Sundays, from 10.00 to 16.00. The Dracula Museum receives visitors in the summer months, from 10.00 to 16.00, in the winter months - only on weekends, from 10.00 to 16.00.