One of the best Abbeys to visit

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by tvordj on November 28, 2012

Rievaulx Abbey was the first Cictercian Abbey in the North of England and grew to be one of the most important. The ruins there today are some of the most complete you will find. They are nestled at the bottom of a narrow winding hill in a valley in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and we spent a lovely few hours exploring them.

The Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter Espec, Lord of Helmsley as a temporary building prior to a stone abbey built shortly after under the supervision of the first Abbot, William and was expanded and rebuilt several times as the needs changed. The Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538 marked the end of the Abbey and it was dismantled.

When you visit the abbey, I would definitely recommend getting the free audio guide. You first go to one of the outbuildings where there is a little museum telling you about the history and the life of monks in the abbey. Through the ruins there are storyboards and you enter the number in the audio device to hear about that part of the abbey. It's described by a narrator posing as a monk who lived there during the end of the abbey's "life" in the 1500s. It's very interesting and really brings the site to life. The ruins have enough to them that you can picture what it would have been like in it's heyday. We spent a couple of hours traipsing around the area listening, on a cool November Saturday afternoon.

It's not that easy to find though it is signed on the road above, the B1257 road that winds across the hills of the moors. We picked up the road from Stokesley off the A19. It's a very scenic drive.

The cafe is small but modern with a great view over the Abbey grounds. We ate lunch there and the food was hot and delicious. There's an accessible toilet in the visitor center and a really good gift shop. There's also a picnic area.

It costs just under 6 pounds per person and they do charge to park but if you are visiting the abbey, you get the 4 pound fee back which offsets the entrance fee somewhat. We visited on a sunny day in November and in winter it's only open on weekends except in February when it appears to be open every day. They do offer guided tours on Fridays through November and December (probably through the summer, more often) for 20 pounds which includes lunch in the cafe. Full details for the various opening times are available on the website. Definitely check beforehand as they do seem to vary.

Rievaulx Abbey
Leeds, United Kingdom, YO6 5LJ
+44 1439 798 228

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