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Guidebook: Rievaulx Abbey

Guidebook: Rievaulx Abbey


Product Code: 09405

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Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 as the first monastery of the reforming Cistercian order in the north of England. From humble beginnings, when a founding party of about 30 men – one-third monks, the rest lay brothers – came from Clairvaux in Burgundy, in eastern France, the abbey quickly grew to become one of the most powerful and spiritually renowned centres of monasticism in Britain. At its peak in the 1160s it was home to a community of over 600 men, who passed their lives in an ordered daily sequence of religious services, reading and manual work.

Many of the buildings visible today were constructed by the third abbot, Aelred (abbot 1147-67), who became the most prominent figure in England of his day. Under his rule, the name of Rievaulx was familiar in the royal courts of England, Scotland and France and the papal court in Rome, and the abbey served as the centre for monastic colonization of northern England and Scotland.

After the Suppression in 1538, when King Henry VIII closed more than 800 monasteries across England and Wales, the new owner of Rievaulx deliberately destroyed many of the buildings. But, by a twist of fate which the Tudor reformers could not have foreseen, those buildings that survived assumed a new identity as ruins 200 years later. In the 1750s Thomas Duncombe, owner of the nearby Duncombe Park, created a grassed terrace along a ridge overlooking the valley, affording dramatic views through the trees of the ruins below and initiating one of the earliest examples of the Picturesque landscape in the north of England. As haunting reminders of the past, the ruins – set in the newly appreciated grandeur of the North York moors – inspired visits from writers, artists and tourists.

Today, although much of the abbey is ruined, the eastern parts of the church stand to almost their full height as a breathtaking reminder of Rievaulx’s monastic past.

Key Features:

  • 48 pages
  • Paperback
  • Published in 2016

Size: Approx. 210 mm (w) x 285 mm (h)
Author: Fergusson, Coppack
Author 2: Harrison and Carter
ISBN: 9781850749417

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