The Local Time is Tuesday, 21-Oct-2014 14:30:16 BST
Bolton Abbey Byland Abbey Easby Abbey
Fountains Abbey Friary Gardens Gisborough Priory
Jervaulx Abbey Kirkstall Abbey Monk Bretton Priory
Mount Grace Priory And Gardens Nostell Priory Rievaulx Abbey
Rievaulx Terrace & Temples Roche Abbey

Selby Abbey

Whitby Abbey    

Byland Abbey

The ruins of Byland Abbey stand beneath the Hambleton Hills, just over a mile from the village of Coxwold, in North Yorkshire. This was not the original location and the monks occupied four sites before settling here in 1177. The community had to work hard to prepare the site at Byland for habitation. They cleared woodland, built ditches to drain the marshy land and embarked on a highly ambitious system of water management. This involved extensive alterations to the watercourse, and the construction of fish ponds, dams and lakes. Surviving earthworks from these ponds and their dams are amongst the most remarkable of their kind in this region.

Byland was founded as a Savigniac house in 1134, but with the absorption of the Savigniac Congregation in 1147, it was brought within the Cistercian family, and together with Fountains and Rievaulx, described as one of the 'three shining lights of the North'. Today, the abbey remains include one of the largest cloisters in England, which was glazed in the 15th century to keep out the cold.

Byland Abbey, Coxwold, York, North Yorkshire
Byland Abbey, Coxwold, York, North Yorkshire YO61

Easby Abbey

This was a house of the Pre-monstratensians founded around 1152. The Order took its name from the Abbey of Premontre in the diocese of Laon, it having been inaugurated there by St. Norbert in 1120. The Premonstratensians wore a white habit and became known as the White Canons. Eventually the abbey suffered looting and destruction with the dissolution of the monasteries and was finally abandoned. At the time of dissolution, a bell was taken and installed in the belfry of the parish church of St. Mary along with the stalls and miserere seats.

The substantial remains of an abbey of Premonstratensian ‘white canons’, most notably its lavish roof-height refectory of c. 1300 and other monastic buildings. Within the precinct is the still-active parish church, displaying fine 13th-century wall-paintings. In a beautiful setting by the River Swale, Easby can be reached via a pleasant walk from Richmond Castle.

Easby Abbey (St. Agatha's) Richmond, North Yorkshire
Easby Abbey (St. Agatha's) Richmond, North Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey

A dispute and riot at St Mary's Abbey in York led to the founding of Fountains Abbey in 1132. After pleading unsuccessfully to return to the early 6th century Rule of St Benedict, 13 monks were exiled and taken into the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York.
Three years later the exiled monks became part of the Cistercian Order, founded in France in 1098.
One of the Abbey's most important developments was the introduction of the Cistercian system of lay brothers. They were usually illiterate and relieved the monks from routine jobs. Many served as masons, tanners, shoemakers and smiths, but their chief role was to look after the Abbey's vast flocks of sheep, which lived on the huge estate stretching westwards from Fountains to the Lake District and northwards to Teesside.

In 1966 the estate was sold to the County Council and in 1983 the ownership of the estate passed in perpetuity to the National Trust. English Heritage carry out conservation work on the Abbey and Monastic Mill.

Fountains Abbey, Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Fountains Abbey, Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire. HG4 3DY

Friary Gardens

From the Market Place Friar's Wynd takes you through one of the two remaining medieval gateways, past the Georgian Theatre to the Friary Gardens where the fine Franciscan Friary bell tower, built by the Greyfriars of Richmond, still stands - amidst beautiful, well kept gardens.

Dating back to the late 15th century, the Tower originally formed part of an expansion of the Friary which was first established by the Franciscan Order in 1257 on land granted by Ralph Fitz Randal, Lord of Middleham.

The site is unique in that so much of the building has survived to the modern day.

Friary Gardens, Richmond, North Yorkshire
Friary Gardens, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Gisborough Priory

The ruins of an Augustinian priory founded by the Bruce family, afterwards Kings of Scotland. They are dominated by the dramatic skeleton of the 14th-century church’s east end.

Gisborough Priory is located on the eastern fringes of the medieval market town of Guisborough, which lies to the north of the North Yorkshire Moors in the north-east of England. In 1119 AD, Robert De Brus founded and lavishly endowed a priory for Augustinian canons at Guisborough. This monastery became one of the most powerful in Yorkshire and dominated the life and fortune of both the town of Guisborough and the surrounding area throughout the Middle Ages.

Gisborough Priory, Guisborough, North Yorkshire
Gisborough Priory, Guisborough, North Yorkshire

Jervaulx Abbey

Jervaulx Abbey was one of the great Cistercian abbeys of Yorkshire, founded in 1156. It was dissolved in 1537. The Abbey is privately owned and visitors can view the ruins during daylight hours. Ruins include several stone coffins and burial sites.

The crumbling walls of this ancient Cistercian monastery, heavily clad in their diverse vegetation, present one of the most romantic images of a former splendour and seclusion enjoyed by the white monks. Set humbly against a backdrop of parkland, this privately-owned ruin is an enchanting and enlightening reminder of the simplicity of life, the spiritual devotion, and the harsh conditions endured by the strict order of Cistercians.

Jervaulx Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Jervaulx Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire

Kirkstall Abbey

One of Britain's best preserved abbeys, Kirkstall Abbey was founded in 1152 by a party of Cistercian monks from Fountains Abbey and was closed down in November 1539 in the Dissolution of religious houses ordered by Henry VIII. The monks were pensioned-off, the roofs stripped of lead and some buildings converted for agricultural use. Many famous artists such as JMW Turner, Thomas Girtin and Moses Griffith came to paint Kirkstall Abbey's picturesque ruins. Today large parts of the Abbey can still be seen and explored free of charge.

The abbey buildings escaped the wholesale destruction and plunder that occurred elsewhere; most were left standing and used for agricultural purposes; this is perhaps why Kirkstall is now the most complete set of Cistercian ruins in Britain.

The ruins of Kirkstall are now situated on the outskirts of Leeds, some three miles from the city centre.

Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, North Yorkshire
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, North Yorkshire

Monk Bretton Priory

The substantial ruins of a Cluniac monastery, with an unusually well-marked ground plan, an almost complete west range and a 15th-century gatehouse.

Founded in 1154 as the Priory of St Mary Magdelene of Lund by Adam Fitswane, sited here on the Lund, from Old-Norse 'lundr' meaning a sacred woodland grove.

In course of time the Priory took the name of the nearby village of Bretton to be commonly known as Monk Bretton Priory.

Monk Bretton Priory, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Monk Bretton Priory, Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Mount Grace Priory And Gardens

  • Ruin of a 14th-century Carthusian priory
  • Atmospheric 14th-century ruined priory
  • Explore the rooms where Carthusian monks dwelt in hermit-like isolation
  • Fascinating reconstruction brings to life the priory's medieval past
  • Local art exhibitions
  • Managed by English Heritage

Visitors today can see the layout of the whole monastery, including one reconstructed monk's cell, together with the typically small Carthusian chapel and the later house. There is also a museum on the site detailing the history of the priory.

Mount Grace Priory And Gardens, Saddlebridge, Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Mount Grace Priory And Gardens, Saddlebridge, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 3JG

Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory is surrounded by a generous landscape park and gardens, with good trees.

The park leads down to a lake where there are attractive waterside walks and plantings of flowering trees and shrubs including rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias.

There is a fine summerhouse and attractive Gothic arch. Nearer the house a rose garden is the main feature.

Nostell Priory, Doncaster Road, Nostell, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Nostell Priory, Doncaster Road, Nostell, Wakefield, West Yorkshire. WF4 1QE

Rievaulx Abbey

The abbey of Rievaulx was founded as the first Cistercian outpost in the North, and was to be a centre for White Monks to reform and colonise the North of England and Scotland. The impressive ruins at Rievaulx include extensive remains of the church, which was one of the finest in the North, and claustral buildings; five arches from the original cloister survive.

Escape the crowds and experience the serene beauty of this impressive monastic site, in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Rievaulx Abbey became one of England’s wealthiest monasteries before its dissolution by King Henry VIII in 1538. This year, Rievaulx celebrates its 875th anniversary. Highlights of this long history are displayed in the indoor interactive museum, and afterwards there’s delicious local food to enjoy in the tea room. For families wanting to let off steam, why not explore the many walking and cycling trails around the site?

Rievaulx Abbey, Rievaulx, York, North Yorkshire
Rievaulx Abbey, Rievaulx, York, North Yorkshire

Rievaulx Terrace & Temples

  • Two classical Georgian temples set on an elevated grass terrace
  • Exquisite ceiling painting depicting mythological scenes
  • Stunning vistas over the Ryedale Valley and Rievaulx Abbey far below
  • Landscaped garden with fantastic spring flowers
  • Good level access and batricars available Childrens trails and activities
Rievaulx Terrace & Temples, Rievaulx, Helmsley, Yorkshire
Rievaulx Terrace & Temples, Rievaulx, Helmsley, Yorkshire. YO62 5LJ

Roche Abbey

Beautifully set in a valley landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century, the most striking feature of this Cistercian abbey is the eastern end of its church, built in the new Gothic style c. 1170. It has one of the most complete ground plans of any English Cistercian monastery, laid out as excavated foundations. The story of the pillaging of Roche, recorded by the son of an eyewitness, is among the most vivid documents of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The ruins of Roche Abbey lie in the wooded valley of the Maltby Beck, about 9 miles from Doncaster and 13 miles from Sheffield in South Yorkshire. Now only a small part of the eastern end of the abbey church remains standing to any height. But this was once a splendid 12th-century church, one of the earliest built in the ÔNew Gothic' style in northern England. Roche was founded in 1147 and building began on the stone church in about 1170. Although never a large or wealthy abbey, Roche built up a moderate collection of land-holdings during the 12th and 13th centuries and played a significant part in the history of the region in the later Middle Ages. Like other monastic houses, Roche was suppressed in the reign of Henry VIII, the monks dispersed and the abbey buildings destroyed.

Roche Abbey, Maltby, Doncaster, North Yorkshire
Roche Abbey, Maltby, Doncaster, North Yorkshire

Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey was founded in the second half of the 11th century by a monk from the French abbey of Auxerre. This was the first monastery to be established in the north of England after the Norman Conquest. By the beginning of the 12th century, the timber abbey had been replaced by a stone building under the direction of Abbot Hugh.

You can still see the nave pillar, with its deep-cut diamond pattern, which is named after him. Selby Abbey took around 130 years to complete and was recognised as the wealthiest and most influential Benedictine monastery in Yorkshire. By the mid-14th century it looked largely as it does today. At the time of the Dissolution in 1539, the monastic buildings were demolished but the abbey church survived to become the parish church.

Selby Abbey, The Crescent, Selby, North Yorkshire
Selby Abbey, The Crescent, Selby, North Yorkshire YO8 4PU

Whitby Abbey

High on a cliff above the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby are the gaunt, imposing remains of Whitby Abbey. Whitby Abbey has over the years been a bustling settlement, a kings’ burial place, the setting for a historic meeting between Celtic and Roman clerics, the home of saints including the poet Caedmon, and inspiration for Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. Discover how over 2,000 years of history make the Abbey one of England’s most important archaeological sites.

In 867, the abbey fell to Viking attack, and was abandoned until 1078, when it was re-founded by Regenfrith (Reinferd) a soldier monk, under the orders of his protector, the Norman, William de Percy. The second monastery lasted until it was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540. The abbey buildings fell into ruins, and were mined for stone, but remained a prominent landmark for sailors.

Whitby Abbey, Whitby, North Yorkshire
Whitby Abbey, Whitby, North Yorkshire. YO22 4JT
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Yorkshire Abbeys and Priories and Places to Tour and Visit