"Serene Splendour in the beautiful Yorkshire Moors." Rievaulx by ranger49

Rievaulx Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 25 photos

A Cistercian Monastery from 1132

Until the establishment of the Abbey the village of Rievaulx did not exist. There is some evidence of human occupation from Neolithic times but this sheltered Valley remained undisturbed until Bernard of the Cistercian Monastery at Clairvaulx in Burgundy was inspired to extend monastic rule to northern England and Scotland. Through carefully planned negotiation with King Henry 1 and the local Royal Justice, Walter Espec, approval and patronage was obtained. A band of monks from the parent monastery in France was despatched to establish the first off-shoot of the Order in this secluded, unknown place which they named Rievaulx from the river Rye and their own word for valley

Housed originally in wooden dwellings they quickly recruited lay-members and new recruits to the order. The buildings included the essential place for prayer and a refuge for travellers. Farming and fishing provided for their needs and in time trade and industrial activities like tanning, brewing and iron smelting were established.

As the numbers grew so did the abbey building. Thanks to plentiful supplies of building materials local stone of several different kinds, an abundance of wood from the neighbouring forests and water the building took shape along the lines common within the Cistercian community. With the exception that the Church was built from east to west rather than in the Christian tradition of north to south due to the constraints of the available terraced terrain.

But this idyll of tranquillity, harmony and compassion was not to last. A catalogue of personal, social and world events had disatrous consequences for the Abbey and its inhabitants.
Financial problems and outstanding debts, epidemics of cattle and sheep diseases, the plague of the Black death which swept Europe in the 14th Century, attacks from the Scots, allegations of mis-conduct, and strife,resulting in a death, between the Abbey and neighbours and between Rievaulx and other Abbeys. And finally religious and political disagreements and the loss of patronage. - all these reduced the numbers at the monastery.
By the time of King Henry V111 decision to abolish monasteries and the Dissolution in 1538 the numbers still remaining there had been reduced from the 640 of the glory days to little more than 20..,

It was the around the original settlement of the lay members who continued to work the land that the village grew, and through which visitors now pass to the Abbey remains, admiring thatched cottages and a picture of tranquil rural life in the 21st, century.

  • Last visit to Rievaulx: May 2009
  • Intro Updated Jun 6, 2009
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Reviews (6)

Comments (3)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Feb 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Barabara, lovely little page with gorgeous photos of Rievaulx. Although I have once visited Yorkshire for a few days, I have never heard of this place.

  • Myfanwe's Profile Photo
    Feb 27, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Hi Barbera, Thanks for your lovely comments on my Holmfirth page. Fantastic main pic of the Abbey here, this is another place I'd like to visit up North - there are too many!!

  • Aitana's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2009 at 12:16 PM

    Hi Barbara, thanks for sharing this beautiful place, your nice pictures and your tips.


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