Abbeys in North Yorkshire

This post was written by Grace, our fabulous work experience student.

There are lots of gorgeous remains of historic abbeys in North Yorkshire for you to enjoy. With so much history in our large county, there is always something new for you to discover.

Take a look at some of our favourite abbeys in the area and start planning your journey to the past.

Rievaulx Abbey

The impressive Rievaulx Abbey ruins are especially popular with visitors and locals. It has beautiful architecture and a fascinating backstory. Hidden in the River Rye valley, the abbey ruins reflect hundreds of years of history.

As you look round the ruins, try to imagine what the abbey looked like through the stages of its life. It has an interesting museum for everyone to enjoy that has unseen artefacts from the abbey, as well as having a cafe and gift shop to go in or have a look at. Whether you collect a trail sheet and walk around the ruins or just admire the abbey, it’s a brilliant day out for everyone.

Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire

Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey is in Coxwold, north of York. Being one of the monasteries that inspired the design of church buildings throughout the north, it is a great destination to stop and have a look at the brilliant architecture.

On your bike, or on your feet it is a fantastic location to stop and admire the outstanding example of early Gothic architecture. There are tours available and an onsite museum to have a look at, as well as having a Byland Inn that you can grab a snack at.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens

Discover the ruins at Fountains Abbey to find out about its history and try to imagine what life was life for a monk 1132. Keep an eye out for events held throughout the year – carols at candlelight during the winter are always incredibly popular.

Wander around the beautifully landscaped water garden within the grounds during your visit too. You’re also welcome to climb up to the high ride path to witness amazing views. Or, walk round the moon ponds and down the canal to see the statutes up close.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey is a stunning ruin overlooking the North Sea. The town of Whitby sits below and is a very popular holiday spot. The abbey was founded in around 657AD by the King of Northumbria and was the meeting place used to determine the official date of Easter in the 7th century.

With a recently renovated visitor information centre, lots of events and live performances throughout the year, there is always something exciting for the whole family to enjoy. This really is one of our favourite abbeys in North Yorkshire.

Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire

Easby Abbey

Managed by the English Heritage, the ruins at Easby Abbey are free for all to have a look around. Sat in the picturesque surroundings of the River Swale, this is one of the best preserved Premonstratensian monasteries in the UK. You can still see the remains of their refectory, gatehouse and canon’s dormitory.

The abbey has been a favourite for many artists throughout the decades. We’re sure you’ll have a wonderful time wandering around these tranquil ruins too.

Mount Grace Priory

Mount Grace Priory and gardens are a fantastic place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This is one of the more unique ruins you can explore in North Yorkshire and there is a lot of it left to enjoy.

You can walk around the church and see its surviving tower as well as visit the reconstructed monk’s cell. Rather than living communally as was the norm, monks at Mount Grace had private residences so they could live in solitude.

Bolton Abbey

You’re sure to have a fantastic day out at Bolton Abbey and the 30,000 acres of beautiful countryside you can explore. The ruins and surrounding landscape is full of history for you to unpack as you make your way around the estate.

As well as the church and ruins, you can spend a full day exploring the Strid Woods, playing on the historic stepping stones, visiting the Valley of Desolation and Simon’s Seat and much more. The abbey regularly hosts events and exciting activities for the whole family too.

Bolton Abbey woods in North Yorkshire

Kirkham Priory

You’ll find the spectacular Kirkham Priory between York and Malton. Learn all about the life of an Augustinian monk, picnic in the ruins and discover more about Winston Churchill’s secret visit during the Second World War.

There are some wonderful things for you to look out for during your visit. Keep your eyes peeled for the De Roos family heraldry on the gatehouse, the remains of monastic washbasins and the newly uncovered medieval floor tiles.

Jervaulx Abbey

The privately owner Jervaulx Abbey is not to be missed on a tour of abbeys in North Yorkshire. Having been pillaged during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, the ruined abbey is now flourishing with wild flowers as nature slowly reclaims the space.

The result is a tranquil space to reconnect with nature and reflect on the past. Plus, the family run tearooms on site serve some incredibly delicious treats for after your walk around the site.

What’s your favourite abbey in North Yorkshire? We love hearing about your visits, so please send us a Tweet or Facebook message to share a tale or two about your adventures.