Don't miss: Exhibit celebrates 18th century British grandeur

Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, Wales, is best known through William Wordsworth's ode "Lines, Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey." Yet the site was established as a tourist locale decades before William and Dorothy Wordsworth undertook a walking tour of the district in 1798.

This depiction of Tintern Abbey is featured in the exhibit "Enchanting Ruin: Tintern Abbey and Romantic Tourism in Wales." (Photo courtesy Hatcher Graduate Library)

"Enchanting Ruin: Tintern Abbey and Romantic Tourism in Wales" is an exhibition exploring the richness and complexity of the abbey as a symbol and destination in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the golden age of picturesque tourism in Britain.

The exhibit is on display from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays through May 10 in the Special Collections Library on the seventh floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. A free lecture will be presented at 5 p.m. March 18.

Drawing upon a wealth of accounts by travelers, poets, guides, cartographers, artists, antiquarians and locals, a lively and contradictory picture of this iconic Romantic site emerges.

The exhibition contains 18th and early 19th century books, engraved plates from books and maps, including two large county maps from the early 1800s, colored prints and ephemera in the form of a guide sold for use by people as they toured the ruins at Tintern.

The exhibition, curated by Suzanne Matheson of the University of Windsor, includes a section devoted to the Claude mirror — an 18th century optical device people took with them on tours of the Wye Valley. A digital slideshow of sights throughout the Wye Valley region of Wales and Tintern Abbey through the Claude mirror is a highlight of the exhibition.

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