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A piece of a groined arch from Tintern Abbey


Museum number: M633

Curatorial note

This fragment is listed in the earliest 1837 inventories of Soane's collection as ‘A piece of a groined arch from Tintern Abbey. Stone’. A 1906 inventory adds that it is a ‘Fragment of Mortar’.

Soane’s collection originally held two other fragments from Tintern Abbey ,M1116 described in inventories as ‘Fragment of a Gothic Ornament from Tintern Abbey. Stone’ and M1117 ‘Another’. Both, unfortunately, are today listed as ‘missing’ and have not appeared in any twentieth century inventories which indicates that they probably disappeared in the late 19th century.

We have no definite provenance for these pieces. However, Soane was the designer of Piercefield House in Gwent, quite near the ruins of Tintern Abbey, which was constructed for George Smith Esq. between1785 and 1793. It seems reasonable to assume that Soane might have acquired three fragments from the Abbey during the years when he was a regular visitor to the Piercefield estate.

We do know something about how Soane displayed some of them in association with other items. In his 1835 Description of his residence, privately published, he describes a recess off the Corridor on the south side of his basement as follows: ‘…..Some of the Casts and Fragments also placed in this recess, are from the ruins of Ramsey Abbey, Tintern Abbey and other Gothic structures. The walls of the corridor are enriched with casts from ancient sculpture, of ornaments, groups, and single figures. On the northern side are apertures looking into the Egyptian Crypt; the jambs of which are decorated with Casts of figures from Westminster Abbey, mutilated in the time of Oliver Cromwell’.

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If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk