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Rievaulx Abbey,Rievaulx Abbey, YO62 5LB map
The majestic, almost regal, appearance of Rievaulx Abbey looming from the depths of a narrow river valley symbolises the power and importance of monasticism in medieval England.Founded by St Bernard of Clairvaulx this enormous Cistercian house, numbering some 150 monks and 500 lay brethren at one time, was the nucleus from which several other northern abbeys were colonised.
Although the early 13th century church - reputed to have been one of the finest monastic churches in the North - remains substantially intact, less than half of the outbuildings, recorded at the time of the suppression in 1538, are still in existence.
Across the 15 acre site, there are many outbuildings standing to a good height and virtually the whole range can be identified at foundation level. Another of the impressive architectural treasures still very much in evidence, apart from the abbey church, is the monks' refectory. This beautiful dining hall, some 124ft (37.5m) long and an amazing 50ft (15.2m) high, was supported by an undercroft built into the terraced ground. A good deal of the arcading, and several of the gracefully, arched lancet windows of the refectory survive to give a clear indication of the former glory of this communal hall.
Fragmented sections of the ancient precinct wall can still be seen, although depending on the time of year, they are often obscured by spreading climbers and over zealous weeds. On one occasion when we visited Rievaulx Abbey in the spring, we are able to capture this colourful image of delicate, deep pink blossom bursting over the crumbling stones.
1 Apr-30 Sept 10am-6pm Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun 1-31 Oct 10am-5pm Mon Thu Fri Sat Sun 1 Nov-20 Mar 10am-4pm Mon Thu Fri Sat Sun 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan Closed
Adult £4.50 Children £2.30 Concession £3.40 English Heritage Members Free