Relaunching Rievaulx Abbey
Not much has changed at Rievaulx Abbey for hundreds of years. The incredible Cistercian abbey ruins lie hidden away in a quiet, wooded valley only a few miles north of Helmsley. Founded in 1131, the abbey had become incredibly successful and wealthy before being ordered closed and destroyed by Henry VIII’s men after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.
Fast forward to 2016 and the site of Rievaulx Abbey has just been relaunched with the opening of a brand new visitors’ centre and wonderfully refurbished museum. Arriving at the site after driving through the village of Rievaulx – a village so charming and beautiful that it could be mistaken for a movie set – you’ll arrive in front of the tall, glass-fronted visitors’ centre. You’ll be welcomed on arrival by the friendly staff from English Heritage, the charity charged with caring for Rievaulx Abbey. Once inside, you’ll find yourself in a greatly expanded tearooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views through the trees and up to the Cistercian Abbey ruins. The high ceiling and abundant natural light gives the room a spacious, airy feel – a great place to have a drink or lunch before or after exploring the abbey. You can walk out and enjoy a drink in the garden, shaded by tall beech and oak trees with views up to the abbey and out across the surrounding sheep-grazing pastures.
Wandering up to the abbey, you can listen to the new audio tour, introducing you to the abbey and providing an informative commentary and insight into life at the abbey. The audio tour is presented by “one of the monks” – performed as if by someone who lived at Rievaulx Abbey during its heyday.
At the top of the site you’ll find the refurbished museum, with expertly presented displays showing artefacts, historic items and ancients relics found within the grounds of Rievaulx Abbey. And, while still unchanged, the abbey remains one of the most stunning and peaceful monastic ruins in the world.
As a final treat, don’t forget to taste the English Heritage wines, liqueurs, jams and chutneys – offered to you for free by the friendly Rievaulx team – the Passionfruit Curd is definitely one to try!
You can join Grand Yorkshire for a tour to Rievaulx Abbey as part of a day trip from York every Wednesday and Sunday. Click here for full details of this enchanting day trip from York to Rievaulx Abbey.