British Travel Journal

1 BEST ABBEY

- english-heritage.org.uk

RIEVAULX

Because of its remote moorland Yorkshire was often chosen as a place for religious retreats. Rievaulx Abbey was founded in the early twelfth century by Cistercian monks from France. It occupies a romantic wooded valley deep in the North

York Moors. St Aelred, one of the first abbots of Rievaulx, wrote of the location 'everywhere peace, everywhere serenity'. Under Aelred the abbey grew to great wealth thanks to the enterprise of its 140 monks and 500 lay brothers. This religious community farmed, brewed, traded and even set up an early blast furnace on the site. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasterie­s in 1538 Rievaulx fell into disrepair, but in the eighteenth century its beautiful remains became a place of inspiratio­n for artists. In the 1750s local land-owner, Thomas Duncombe MP built a terrace along the valley top from which the abbey ruins can be still be admired today. The soaring Gothic arches of Rievaulx's choir -mercifully intact - continue to inspire visitors and there is also a new café and museum on the site.

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