Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire Moors

It was in the spring of 2003 that I first set eyes on the haunting remains of Rievaulx Abbey on the North Yorkshire Moors. What an amazing, imposing structure! I tried to imagine what Rievaulx would have looked like in the 12th century when it was built and inhabited by Cistercian monks.

This pic show Angela and Gus, dwarfed by the ruins of Rievaulx.

Some of the ideas used in planning the structure of the church, the part of the monastic complex you see in my photos, came from the European travels of Aelred, one of Rievaulx's most prominent abbots. Travel in those days was not by air or rail! Contrast Aelred with the people you know today who've never set foot outside the county in which they were born!

The Presbytery. Altar.

A dozen or so of the 'white monks,' so named for the color of habit they wore, moved to northern England from France, for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to northern England and Scotland. They built on the thousand acres donated to the order by the lord of Helmsley Castle (the town of nearby Helmsley is a subject for another post), and by the mid 1100s at its peak, there were as many as 650 men living at Rievaulx.

Their economic business was raising sheep and selling wool, so the monastery was greatly impacted when disease decimated the flock. But the ultimate threat to the monastery was Henry VIII, when he separated from the Catholic Church, declared himself head of the Church of England, and began the dissolution of the monasteries.

Rievaulx, just before sheets of rain came wafting across the valley.

Another shot of the Presbytery.

All of these photos were taken by me, although if you did a Google image search, you would find many similar photos for Rievaulx. I guess we're all impressed by the same things.

Having read Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, it's hard not to picture a monastery without at least one monk who's up to no good.

3 comments:

Angela said...

Ahhh, one of my favorite places! I love Rievaulx.

Judy said...

I do too! And twice, I got to go there with you,! :-) It's always so nice to be able to share something that spectacular with someone else.

ButterYum said...

Wow, I've been scanning through your photos of England - they're absolutely wonderful. Hubby and I had an opportunity to travel there in the fall and we fall in love! I've been meaning to post the photos of my trip, but haven't gotten around to it. You've inspired me to start working on it.

Thanks so much,
Patricia

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