Grid Ref: SE 576 853
Date: 2 November 2012


Rievaulx Abbey from the South West


My visit to Rievaulx Abbey was in November; the weather was very changeable with a mixture of cloud and short sunny intervals. Over a period of an hour I was able to take several shots, including some on the North Eastern side where the sun was just about to go off. The abbey is not built on an East West axis so the end of the abbey on the right above faces SE. This is a spectacular site for photography with the stone changing colour as the light varies.

The site is very complex as the abbey has been rebuilt three times. A timber building was erected by Walter l'Espec, Lord of Helmsley in 1131-2 at the end of the reign of Henry I (1097-1135). It was a Cistercian House for which the mother abbey was Clairvaux, where this order of monks had been founded by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). This early structure is known only from geophysical evidence. The first abbot, William (1132-1145) began building in stone about 1135 or 1136. The plan was as for the rebuilding of Clairvaux with a central church and cloister to the south. Aelred, the third abbot succeeded in 1147 and began building a new church and service buildings such as the infirmary. Sivanus (1167-1188) was the next abbot and rebuilt the south range of the cloister some time before 1188. Abbot Roger II (1223/4 to 1239) replaced the eastern parts of the church, presbytery and east crossing chapel. Further alterations were made in the 14th century.

The abbey was closed as part of Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries in January 1538. The Earl of Rutland bought the site and stripped the lead, timber and some stone. However, the site had an important iron industry and the Earl developed this further. It continued until the middle of the 16th century.


Abbey ruins   East side
View just before the sun reached the south west side   The NE side with part of the crossing
SW elevation   SE Elevantion
South West elevation   SE elevation



English Heritage Site
Wikipedia article on Bernard of Clairvaux,



index button

Celebrating England

© Craig Thornber, England, United Kingdom    Main Site Address:  https://www.thornber.net/

W3C XHTML 1.0 1.0 Strict W3C CSS