History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: The wonderful rose window is a real treat.
Later in 1147 the Savigniac order was merged into the Cistercian order. Now the monks began to drain low lying ground near Coxwold to prepare the site for their permanent home. They called this new site Byland. An enormous amount of work was necessary to make the land ready to receive the monks, for the ground was marshy, and subject to flooding. The land was drained over a period of years, and the abbey was functional by 1177, when the monks finally moved in. From the size of the living quarters we can guess that there were roughly 36 monks and 100 lay brothers.
The Abbey Church
The new cruciform church was built in two phases. First a temporary church was erected quickly, then a grand, permanent church was built around it, and the temporary structure was gradually demiolished as the larger, permanent building took shape. When it was finished the church was 100 metres long, easily the equal of most European cathedrals, and by far the largest abbey cxhurch in England. It remained the largest Cistercian church until both Rievaulx and Fountains extended their choirs. Incidentally, the 12th century stone altar table from Byland Abbey church was donated to Ampleforh Abbey, where it can now be seen in St Benet's chapel.
The Abbey Precinct
Byland Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538/9, when the numbers of monks had shrunk to just 25, under an abbot. Henry granted the land to Sir William Pickering, and it passed in time through generations of the Wotton, Stapylton, and Wombwell families. It is now in the care of English Heritage and has regular opening hours
The location is superb, in a peaceful countryside setting. Directly acros from the abbey gates is a lovely old country inn, perfect for a relaxing pint after visiting the abbey! The most enjoyable feature of the site for me was the large area of 13th century floor tiles in the abbey church. The tiles are richly decorated, and for 13th century work that had been exposed to the elements for so long, they seemed quite vibrant and alive with colour. Byland is a lovely historic site; it you enjoy medieval monasteries like I do, but don't like the crowds you might encounter at places like Fountains Abbey, then Byland is perfect.
About Byland Abbey
Address: Byland, Coxwold, Yorkshire, England, YO61 4BD
Attraction Type: Abbey
Location: 2 miles S of A170 between Thirsk and Helmsley
Website: Byland Abbey
Phone: 01347 868 614
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
OS: SE548 789
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
White Horse of Kilburn - 2.6 miles (Countryside)
Gilling Castle - 3.8 miles (Historic Building)
Rievaulx Abbey - 4.2 miles (Abbey)
Birdforth, St Mary's Church - 4.3 miles (Historic Church)
Duncombe Park - 4.3 miles (Garden)
Rievaulx Terrace and Temples - 4.3 miles (Garden)
Helmsley Castle - 5 miles (Castle)
Whenby, St Martin's Church - 7.5 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Byland Abbey: