Corner of Yorkshire: Byland Abbey

If you’ve ever sat down in an old stone house anywhere in the Howardian Hills there’s a good chance that you were seated on a bit of Byland Abbey. Despite being one of the most impressive and influential buildings in England for 400 years it fell into disrepair after the monastery was dissolved in 1539 and its stones were then taken by the neighbouring  population and used in their own homes.

There is still enough remaining, though, to see why the abbey was once described by 12th century historian William of Newburg as ‘one of the shining lights of north’. The lower half of the huge Rose Window, for instance, was copied by the builders of York Minster and elements of nearby Jervaulx Abbey are identical.

Perhaps most remarkably of all, Byland was built on marshland, with the founding monks working for years creating ditches to drain the land before building work even began. A real act of faith.

Dave Lee

High res j-pegs here:



Categories: Writing, Yorkshire Post


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