14 March 2011
The majestic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey rise from the depths of the narrow valley of the river Rye. Escape the crowds and experience the serene beauty of this impressive monastic site founded by St Bernard of Clairvaux in 1132. Highlights of its long history are displayed in the indoor interactive museum, and afterwards there's delicious local food to enjoy in the cafe.
This beautiful ruin was once one of the great Yorkshire Cistercian abbeys, housing at its zenith well over 200 monks and lay brothers. A truly outstanding example of early Gothic architecture, Byland Abbey's distinctive part-remaining rose window probably inspired the design for the more famous one at York Minster. Stunning remains of the mosaic tiles in the south transept offer a glimpse of just how magnificent the church was in the Middle Ages.
Mount Grace Priory
This atmospheric 14th-century ruined priory is managed by English Heritage and famous for its resident colony of stoats. It is possible to explore the rooms where Carthusian monks dwelt in hermit-like isolation and fascinating reconstruction brings to life the priory's medieval past.
St. Mary's Church, Thirsk
St. Mary's Parish Church, built in the Perpendicular Gothic style is over 500 years old and, apart from the chancel arch, has remained virtually unaltered since that time. The church contains many features of historical interest to the visitor including one of Yorkshire's most famous organs which was played at the wedding of the well known Yorkshire vet, James Herriot in 1941.
High on a cliff above the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby are the gaunt, imposing remains of Whitby Abbey. Founded in 657 by St Hilda, Whitby Abbey has over the years been a bustling settlement, a kings' burial place, the setting for a historic meeting between Celtic and Roman clerics, the home of saints including the poet Caedmon, and inspiration for Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.
Old St Stephen's Church
This is a rare and unaltered example of a church furnished for the preaching of the Word - a real ‘preaching box' which has escaped re-ordering - with galleries to the north and west, box pews below and a superb three-decker pulpit half way along the south side. The sea is a recurring theme throughout and there are memorials to the shipwrecked in the church and churchyard, a list of rescues by the lifeboat and a model of the SS Pretoria. Rare survivals are the ‘maiden's garlands', which were carried in the funeral procession of a maiden.
St. Mary Church, Lastingham
The 11th-century church at Lastingham is built on the site of a former Celtic monastery founded in AD654 by St. Cedd of Lindisfarne. The atmospheric crypt is said to have been built to form the last resting place of this monastic pioneer.
Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors
A real surprise to first-time visitors, this Grade I listed church, built in the 1860s in the ‘French Gothic Revival' style by the renowned architect J.L. Pearson, has been called ‘the little gem of moorland churches'. There is richly decorated stone and woodwork in French Gothic style, a hammer-beam roof and some first rate stained glass.
St. Chad Church, Hutton-le Hole
Built by one of St. Cedd's three brothers, St. Chad, special features of this lovely building include a wooden altar with stone mensa; an oak reredos from Welburn Hall; altar rails made of oak from Douthwaite Hall; a Font and Lectern from Ryton Church & some beautiful post-war stained glass in the sanctuary, depicting to the north St Chad, and to the south the Crucifixion and the Annunciation.
St. Mary & St. Laurence Church, Rosedale
The Parish Church of St Mary & St Laurence was built on the foundations of the priory chapel, and if you look carefully you will see signs of the old building.
St. Gregory Church, Cropton
With beautiful views across the valley of the River Seven to the moors beyond, St Gregory's boasts a wonderful rural location. Built over an earlier church of uncertain date, which was damaged by fire, this small 19th century village church has an interesting apsidical sanctuary. Worthy of note is the stained glass and the font, which may be of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Holy Wells of Lastingham
On the end of the bridge which spans the beck near the centre of the village of Lastingham stands St Cedd's Well. It has a canopy of stonework brought from Rosedale Abbey, and is inscribed with a reference to Cedd's foundation of the monastery at Lastingham. This is a well-preserved Holy Well still providing a source of drinking water. Lastingham has two other wells which have now dried up but their remains can be seen in the village. St Mary Magdalene's Well is situated at Spaunton Bank not far from Lastingham and is a spring of sweet clear water issuing from a bank into a stone trough and is thickly covered with water-cress. Above the spring and set into the bank is a slab of local stone with the well's dedication inscribed on it.
View a map of these locations in North Yorkshire.
Itinerary 1: The churches at Lastingham, Cropton, Rosedale, Hutton le Hole and Appleton-le-Moors are a group of five rural churches within the Anglican Diocese of York, on the southern edge of the North York Moors and all within a few miles of each other. They could be visited singly or as a group. For a truly inspirational break to reconnect with your spiritual side, they could be visited in conjunction with the holy wells of Lastingham. Why not stay overnight at The Grange Hotel in Lastingham and take advantage of some of the real ales at the Blacksmith's Arms.
Itinerary 2: Follow in the footsteps of centuries of pilgrims, with this pleasant woodland walk from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey along the Cleveland Way. The trail takes walkers along one of the most historic track ways in the land, with picturesque views and fascinating place names along the way. The walk is clearly signposted and the Moors bus will bring you back to Helmsley when you're finished or why not extend your visit by making your way to Byland Abbey and maybe staying the night in one of the lovely villages along the way.
Itinerary 3: The sea is a renowned as being nature's healer and why not soothe your spirit with a spiritual tour of the North Yorkshire Coast. Travel to Whitby is easy and enjoyable when you take the Coastliner bus or take a trip back in time on North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Once there explore the wild and awe-inspiring ruins of Whitby Abbey from their dramatic cliff top location. You could stay a while at the Raven Hall Hotel The Raven Hall Hotel even has its own small chapel and a Celebration of Faith in August.