Ryedale parish population estimates for Byland with Wass
Population 110 (1999)
"Byland Abbey - that's a broken old Church," says the three year old, "Daddy will have to mend it!" Quite a formidable D.l.Y. job for poor Dad, and if he is thinking of asking for advice on how to raise the money for the restoration, he may also be wondering how the money was raised to build the Abbey in the first place.
A community of Cistercian monks founded the Abbey in 1177 AD and they spent the next 250 years extending and adding to the Church and living quarters. Rich benefactors financed some of this building work but the bulk of the money was earned the hard way through agriculture and commerce.
The Cistercians were extensive farmers of corn and livestock and kept sheep flocks numbered in thousands. The Abbey's farms or "Granges" were scattered around the Byland/Wass, Oldstead, Wildon and Osgoodby areas but they had many more as far afield as the North York Moors, the Vale of Pickering, Nidderdale and Westmoreland. They had a thriving export trade in wool to Italy and France.
With the help of several hundred lay brothers, the monks ran watermills, fulling mills, fisheries, dye-works, spinning, weaving and bleaching industries which they ran from an elaborate system of waterways, traces of which still exist From the beginning of the 14th century, the monks' farming went into decline because of lost fertility in their arable land and diseases in their livestock. After the Black Death in 1350, their numbers were greatly depleted and they rented out the bulk of their land and lived off the rental income. After the dissolution, their lands were appropriated and given or sold to private landowners and the Church of England. However, the industries they founded lived on. The bleaching industry survived until the early 19th century in Wass and Oldstead.
Visitors to Byland can sit on the hardwood seat donated to the Parish by the Easingwold Lions Club, and as they enjoy the peaceful panorama of the ruin and the countryside beyond, they can reflect on the hive of activity that would have confronted them if they had sat there seven or eight centuries earlier.
from Baine's Directory of the County of York 1823
Will require Adobe Reader to view
BYLAND MEMBRIS, a township in the parish of Coxwold, comprehending Byland, Wass, and Oldstead.
BYLAND, (and Byland Abbey) in the parish of Coxwold, and wapentake of Birdforth; 5 miles SW. of Helmsley. Population, 372.Here are the remains of the magnificent Abbey of Byland, situated in a rich valley, separated from Rivaulx, by the hilly ridge of Hambleton.
Gerald, the Abbot, with twelve Monks from Furness, in Lancashire, having been disturbed by the incursions of the Scots, fled to York, and afterwards was entertained some time as the castle of Thirsk, by Roger de Mowbray, who gave him the church and town of Byland, near which the Abbot and the Monks founded a monastery, and a noble cathedral, about the year 1177, which flourished till the general dissolution. It was surrendered in the year 1540, by the John Leeds, the last Abbot and twenty-four monks, when its yearly revenues amounted to £238. 9s. 4d. The site was granted to Sir Wm. Pickering, Knight.
It would seem from Speed, that Roger de Mowbray originally founded this monastery at Hode, (Hood Grange,) in 1134, and at the instance of his mother, in 1143, removed it to a part of her jointure near the river Rye, at Byland, opposite to the Abbey of Rivaulx, since called Old Byland, which place being thought inconvenient for Religious replica orologi svizzeri, four years afterwards they removed to Stoking, near Coxwold; and at last fixed, a little more easterly, near Whitaker, where it continued in a flourishing state till the general dissolution.
This Abbey was situated near the foot of Cambe Hill, in a place well suited to devotional retirement, and was a large and magnificent structure; the site is in the possession of the Stappleton family. In the summer of 1818, Martin Stapylton, Esq. of Myton Hall, by whose family the property is now possessed, caused a quantity of rubbish to be removed from the South side of the ruin, when a stone coffin with the bones entire was discovered here, and conveyed to Myton; and tradition says they are the remains of Roger de Mowbray; there also was discovered some beautiful Roman pavement, in high preservation.