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By Linda Lee

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His site is one of very few that is still in private ownership and, as such, has escaped the ‘manicured’ appearance of other historic monuments maintained by official custodians. It is the wild, rambling nature of Jervaulx Abbey that provides the atmosphere necessary to understand the austere life of a Cistercian monk. Almost being ‘returned to nature’ certainly gives a new perspective to medieval architecture, and makes a colourful contribution to historical facts. Although the site today remains relatively remote and peaceful, visitors do have the opportunity to sample some home-made delights in the tea shop across the road.

Flanking the main window are two symmetrical, gabled and turreted buttresses each with a low-level, broad lancet window. The extent and richness of the carving on the dark ashlar stonework of this gable end is so beautiful that any opportunity should be considered to make an exploration of this charming site. O isborough Priory, as the fourth richest monastery in Yorkshire, managed to survive the Dissolution until Christmas Eve 1539 when the Prior and 23 canons surrendered their house to the Crown.

Founded by an influential local baron, Robert de Brus, the priory was generously endowed. Robert’s brother, William became the first Prior, and many family descendants were later buried in the church including the grandfather of King Robert the Bruce. S espite there being nothing left above foundation level of the first stone church, the evidence suggests that it was a building of great proportions. When the second church was started at the end of the twelfth century, the intention was to build an even more grand version.

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Abbeys & Priories of Great Britain - Volume One by Linda Lee


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