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Old Gateway, Rievaux Abbey in Helmsley, Yorkshire.

Old Gateway, Rievaux Abbey in Helmsley, Yorkshire.

Photographer: Sedgfield, W. Russell (

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1862

Shelfmark: C.44.d.7,8

Item number: 211

Length: 6.9

Width: 6.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

“When the abbey was first established in the twelfth century, the country all around it was a wild wilderness of almost unbroken woods, abounding with animals, but with very few men. One William came there with his little company of monks, and set about at once to erect a monastery, which probably was small and rude. These monks were of the Cistercian order, and the abbey, like all their houses, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary...In the course of time Rievaux, or the abbey in the vale of Rye, became the head of the Cistercian order in England. At the feast given by Nevill, archbishop of York, on his installation in 1464, the abbot of Rievaux ranked fourth in the order of precedence at table. The abbey flourished for more than four hundred years, and was presided over by thirty-three abbots, of whom Aelred, the historian of the ‘Battle of the Standard,’ was the third…it was surrendered to the commissioners of Bluff Harry, by Richard de Blyton…A hundred fodder of lead was stripped from its roofs by the commissioners, its fine bells carried away, and it was left in its then august splendour to the insults and ravages of the long-restrained elements.”

Excerpt from “Rievaux Abbey”, in ‘Ruined Abbeys and Castles of Great Britain’ by William and Mary Howitt.

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