southern aspect of the abbey ruins that greets you on first entering the site

Rievaulx Abbey

The Monastic Abbey features prominently in Yorkshire history, but then who can blame the Monks for choosing such a beautiful county and wonderful countryside to locate their monasteries of quiet prayer and contemplation. On this site we feature three of the most prominent, Fountains Abbey, Bolton Abbey and the one featured on this page Rievaulx Abbey.

Rievaulx church
This is what remains of the Church including the transepts and presbytery, the nave section is heavily ruined and only the base section survives. To the right is what remains of the chapter house.

The majestic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey rising from the depths of the narrow valley of the river Rye, serves to illustrate the power, wealth and importance that these Carvings from rievaulxmonastic communities held in medieval England. Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 and was the first Cistercian abbey in the North of England. The Abbey’s period of greatest prosperity and importance came during the rule of its third abbot, St. Aelred 1147-1167, when many of the buildings surviving today were constructed. At this time the community peaked at 140 choir monks and 500 lay-brothers and servants, when the abbey was suppressed in 1538 under the reign of King Henry VIII, there were only 22 monks but still 102 paid servants. Small wonder that the King saw a need for the reform and ultimate destruction of monastic institutions.

The Cistercian order originated in France about 1098. The centre of the monastic philosophy was an uncompromising insistence on poverty, simplicity of life and the need to separate the communities physically from the outside world. With this in mind the Cistercians positioned their monasteries away from other settlements and insisted that they be self sufficient, renouncing all cash revenues and feudal ties. They introduced a system of lay-brothers who would work their estates and be bound by monastic discipline.

monks refectory
The monks refectory or dining room was built towards the end of the 12th century. It is one of the finest ever built by the Cistercians. Readings were given from the pupit while the monks ate in silence.

Where is Rievaulx Abbey?

Rievaulx Abbey can be found off the A170 Scarborough Road on the B1257 near Helmsley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *