Travelmag Banner

Yorkshire’s Abbeys explored

Jervaulx Abbey (

This beautiful ruin is the most decayed of our samples, and in my opinion, has the most character as a result of it.  Nature has reclaimed many of the walls and arches of this once-elegant structure, and in doing so has erased many of its architectural power.  In its place is the softened green of vines, moss, and lichen, the crumbling color of stone at your feet.


This abbey also survives from the 12th century Cistercian monks, but is privately owned, and has a much different feel from the majestic, soaring arches of Fountains or Rievaulx.  Here the majestic is balanced by the greenery into gentle, and the arches are settled rather than soaring.  It is quiet, here amid the green fields of roaming sheep.  It is peaceful, and serene, broken only by the occasional vehicle driving by on the small, hidden road.

Things to see:

• The profusion of wildflowers, such as fireweed, dots the area with splashes of hot pink, blue and purple.
• The line of trees, seemingly guarding the formal gardens to one side of the abbey
• An incredibly gnarled tree in a courtyard, which looks like a dryad struggling to regain her human shape
• Look for the lone standing arches, practically covered from top to bottom in clinging green vines, a true reclamation of nature
• Explore the rooms, but be careful of crumbling stepping stones and slippery mosses
• There are tea rooms and a small bed & breakfast across the road, owned by the family
• There is also a small botanical garden next to the tea rooms, with many exotic and unusual blossoms for your enjoyment and purchase

This is an abbey in the final stages of decay, where the stones have once again become part of the earth they were hewn from.  The gentle slopes of the walls, the weeds and ivy pulling things back to the ground.  When I visited this spot, it was late in the afternoon, almost dusk, and there was truly a timeless quality about the site that I found nowhere else in my travels among the abbeys.

Regardless of which sites you visit, there is a certain joy and poignancy about the Abbeys of Yorkshire.  Whether majestically soaring above your heads in gothic splendor, or slowly crumbling at your feet in natural decay, these are monuments to man’s ability to create beautiful memorials to faith, a craft and art unequaled in secular creations. 

Green Dragon, Artist
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Samuel Langhorne Clemens / Mark Twain

   [Top of Page]  
 Latest Headlines