Jervaulx Abbey



Down a very ordinary road we drove to the gates of Jervaulx Abbey. It was one of the nicest places we visited. The entrance is very unassuming and if you didn't look for it, you would have missed it.



Jervaulx Abbey
Jervaulx Abbey in the Ure Valey was in a word: spectacular. The walls of this ancient Cistercian monastery seemed to be held together by the vegetation growing on them. Even though it was a ruin it is not hard to imagine the former splendour and seclusion enjoyed by the monks. The Abbey is located on privately-owned parkland. It is a monument to the simplicity of earlier times, of faith and spiritual devotion and of the hardships that the order endured.


Much of the ruins in the pictures date back to the mid-12th century. Jervaulx had more damage inflicted on it than other Yorkshire abbeys at the Dissolution because the abbot at the time was involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace. For that, the abbey church was destroyed, so it is fascinating to see that such big sections of the monks' dorter and the infirmary are still standing.
Jervaulx Abbey Ruins


Jervaulx Abbey
The ground plan of the church can still be identified, but only fragments of the original walls are visible along the entire 270 ft, and so are a few column bases that show through the undergrowth. I think what adds charm and beauty to the ruins, are the colourful flowers and green foliage that cover the ancient stones. I read that there are about 200 different species of vegetation growing amongst the ruins.


From the cloister, a few steps lead into the Chapter House where some remaining central columns indicate that this was once a vaulted room. Probably the most recognised feature of Jervaulx, visible on the horizon is the wall supporting the remaining nine lancet windows which formed part of the monks' dormitory. The added bonus to walking the grounds was that there was no one around. It was quiet and the perfect place to be contemplative.
Jervaulx Abbey


Jervaulx Abbey
The look of the Abbey changes from season to season because of the different flowers growing on the stones. The sheep grazed on the land totally oblivious to the beauty and significance of their surroundings. Of course, you had to be careful where you stepped...




As if just the Abbey wasn't cool enough, we were surprised to see that the owners of the Abbey had provided a 'conscience box' at the entrance gate. The entrance fee was a donation. It went toward the maintenance of the Abbey. There were also guide books left under a glass covered box that you deposit money in and take one, which is what we did. Good thing too, because past the entrance of the abbey, just inside the gate is a long table with a drain. We didn't know what it was until we read the guide... it is a rare example of a monks embalming slab! This large piece of stone was used to lay out the abbots and wash them before burial, and was originally found in the infirmary.
Jervaulx Abbey



Travel Diary II

Middleham Castle

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