Saturday, 16 May 2009

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey
Nr Helmsley
North Yorkshire

The abbey at Rievaulx was probably founded in 1132, and was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in the North of England. Situated in a valley on the North West banks of the River Rye, and roughly three miles North West of Helmsley (just off the B1257) the Cistercian monks chose a beautiful place in which to build their abbey.

St Bernard of Clairvaux sent a small group of monks to the Yorkshire dales in 1132 to establish an abbey here, and it wasn’t long before the numbers of those living and working here swelled. Money was contributed from all quarters of England, with Henry II of England, and David I of Scotland both sending financial aid to the abbey. Its success continued, despite setbacks as a result of plague, war and famine. By the end of the 14th century, probably as a result of the plague, there were only 14 monks and a few others still living and working here. When Henry VIII’s agents finally arrived to dissolve the abbey in 1538, there were 23 individuals still at the abbey.

Rievaulx has produced 3 saints…..Saint William, the first Abbot here, Saint Aelred, the third Abbot, and Saint Waldef, a monk here at Rievaulx and then the Abbot of Melrose.

Large areas of the abbey still stand, however it’s thought that only about 15 percent of the original 90 acre site can still be seen above ground.

I would normally have more photos of site such as this, however, the number of English Heritage sites visited that day would have meant paying out a small fortune in entrance fees...which I think is unreasonable. Another visit may be pending sometime in the future…but for now I’m afraid this is the only photo from this Summer’s visit.

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