Ruins of St Mary's Abbey Church
|Dedicated to||St. Mary|
|Founder(s)||Stephen of Whitby, Alan Rufus, William II of England, William the Conqueror|
|Location||York, Yorkshire, England|
|Visible remains||Hospitium , precinct walls, gatehouse, abbey church (ruins with part of the nave and crossing still standing), abbot's house (substantially altered); statues and other remains in the Yorkshire Museum.|
|Public access||yes (Museum Gardens)|
The Abbey of St Mary is a ruined Benedictine abbey in York, England and a Grade I listed building.
Once the richest abbey in the north of England,it lies in what are now the York Museum Gardens, on a steeply-sloping site to the west of York Minster.
The original church on the site was founded in 1055 and dedicated to Saint Olaf II of Norway. After the Norman Conquest the church came into the possession of the Anglo-Breton magnate Alan Rufus who granted the lands to Abbot Stephen and a group of monks from Whitby. The abbey church was refounded in 1088when the King, William Rufus, visited York in January or February of that year and gave the monks additional lands. The following year he laid the foundation stone of the new Norman church and the site was rededicated to the Virgin Mary. The foundation ceremony was attended by bishop Odo of Bayeux and Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux. The monks moved to York from a site at Lastingham in Ryedale in the 1080s and are recorded there in Domesday. Following a dispute and riot in 1132, a party of reform-minded monks left to establish the Cistercian monastery of Fountains Abbey. In 1137 the abbey was badly damaged by a great fire. The surviving ruins date from a rebuilding programme begun in 1271 and finished by 1294.
The abbey occupied an extensive precinct site immediately outside the city walls, between Bootham and the River Ouse.The original boundary included a ditch and a narrow strip of ground, but the walled circuit was constructed above this in the 1260s in the Abbacy of Simon de Warwick; the walls were nearly three-quarters of a mile long. In 1318 the abbot received royal permission to raise the height of the wall and crenelate it; a stretch of this wall still runs along Bootham and Marygate to the River Ouse.
The gatehouse in Marygate and its lodge formed part of a range of buildings that linked to the older church of St Olave by a chapel dedicated to Mary. Though work on the chapel and gatehouse was under way 1314 and completed in 1320, the surviving structures are mostly of fifteenth-century origin.
St Mary's Tower is a structure at the corner of Marygate and Bootham.
The abbey church is aligned northeast–southwest, due to restrictions of the site. 350 feet (110 m) in length, consisted of a nave with aisles, north and south transepts with chapels in an eastern aisle, and a presbytery with aisles. To the east of the cloister and on the line of the transepts were a vestibule leading to the chapter house, the scriptorium and library. Beyond the church lay the kitchen, novices' building and infirmary. The Abbey chronicle (which has not been fully translated from Latin) names the project officers as Simon de Warwick, a monk administrator and the master stonemason Master Simon, all of whom were still alive upon the completion of the project in 1294.The original Norman church had an apsidal liturgical east end, and its side aisles ended in apses, though they were square on the exterior. Rebuilding began in 1270, under the direction of Abbot Simon de Warwick, and was swiftly completed during a single twenty-four year building campaign, such was the financial strength of the abbey. The completed abbey church was
The abbot's house, built of brick in 1483, survives as the King's Manor because it became the seat of the Council of the North in 1539; the abbots of St Mary's and the abbey featured in the medieval and early modern ballads of Robin Hood, with the abbot usually as Robin Hood's nemesis.[ citation needed ]
In August 1513 the Abbot supplied four chests for the use of Philip Tilney, treasurer of the English army before the Battle of Flodden. The Abbey seems to have become the accounting office for the army in the north, involving Thomas Magnus, Archdeacon of the East Riding, and two monks of the abbey, Richard Wode and Richard Rypon.
St Mary's, the largest and richest Benedictine establishment in the north of England and one of the largest landholders in Yorkshire, was worth over £2,000 a year, (equivalent to £1,350,000in 2019), when it was valued in 1539, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII; it was closed and subsequently substantially destroyed. On 26 November 1539 the Abbey surrendered £2,085 and 50 monks to the Crown.
A fifteenth-century index catalogue records that the Abbey's library originally contained over 750 books. Approximately thirty-five texts from the Abbey are currently extant, including only five printed books; these include a 15th-century copy of Richard Rolle's Incendium Amoris.
A Vulgate Bible, sold at auction in England in 2010, has been identified as the possession of Brother John Grayson from St Mary's Abbey. It is an octavo volume and was printed on 8 November 1526 by Thielmann Kerver in Paris. Brother Grayson was first noted at the Abbey in 1528 but was absent from its pension list at the time of the Dissolution in 1539.
The Anonimalle Chronicle is an important chronicle whose scope extends from the legendary Brutus to 1381.It was composed in Anglo-Norman by an anonymous monk of St Mary's Abbey towards the end of the 14th century. It includes the most detailed surviving description of a medieval parliament and a well-informed account of the Peasants' Revolt; these are likely to have been written by eyewitnesses and later incorporated into the chronicle. The body of the chronicle from Brutus to the year 1307 has been described as a variant of the prose Brut but there are considerable differences (e.g. the chronicler shows an interest in early ecclesiastical history which the Brut does not). From 1307 to 1333 it follows the main Brut tradition more closely though it demonstrates a marked London interest. After 1333 the chronicle is an individual account probably drawing on sources originating in London. The manuscript was known to the 16th-century antiquaries Thynne and Stow; its title derives from Thynne's description of it. It afterwards passed through the hands of various owners until it was found in the possession of the Ingilby family of Ripley Castle in 1920. The section from 1333 to 1381 was edited by V. H. Galbraith and published in 1927. In 1982 it was acquired by the Brotherton Collection, at the University of Leeds. Another partial edition appeared in 1991 in the form of an edition and translation of the chronicle from 1307 to 1334 by Wendy Childs and John Taylor.
The Yorkshire Museum, built for the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, stands in part of the abbey cloister; parts of the east, south and west cloister walls were temporarily excavated in 1827–29 preparatory to digging the museum's foundations.The relationship between the Museum and abbey is historically quite intimate as part of the richly carved chapter house vestibule (c. 1298–1307) survives incorporated into Tempest Anderson Hall lecture theatre (1911–12). These walls and part of the warming house are retained in the Museum as part of the Medieval gallery display.
Excavations of the chapter house were undertaken in 1912 by the honorary curator of Medieval archaeology, Walter Harvey-Brookwho, along with Edwin Ridsdale Tate designed and developed the Museum of Medieval Architecture on the site.
Further excavations in the abbey were undertaken in 1952–56 by the then Keeper of the Yorkshire Museum, George Willmot who encountered the pre-Norman and Roman layers beneath the west wing of the nave.
Excavations in 2014 and 2015 discovered an apse in the south transept, large parts of the wall foundations, and numerous residual small finds dating from the Roman to Modern periods. These investigations also encountered fragments of human remains, disturbed from burials somewhere on the site. One of the major conclusions of these excavations was the prevalence of in situ archaeological remains at a very shallow depth beneath the modern ground surface; in some cases as little as 7 cm underground.
A 13th-century gilt, Limoges enamel figurine depicting Christ (the St Mary's Abbey Figurine) was discovered in the Abbey in 1826, having avoided the dissolution of the monastery in 1539. It disappeared soon afterwards, and was thought by some to have been destroyed, only to be discovered in a private art collection in Germany in the 1920s. In 2019, the statue was bought by York Museums Trust and put on display in Yorkshire Museum.
The abbots of St. Mary's were similar in prestige to the Archbishop of York, being entitled to wear a mitre and having a seat in Parliament (allowing them the style "My Lord Abbot").In total there were 30 Abbots, including:
|Abbot||Dates of Abbacy||Notes|
|Stephen of Whitby||1088–1112|
|Severinus (or Savaricus)||- 1161||Died in office|
|Clement||1161–1184||Died in office|
|Robert de Harpham||1184–1195||Deposed|
|Robery de Longo Campo||1197-1239||Died in office|
|William de Roundel||1241-1244||Died in office|
|Thomas de Warthill (Wardhull)||1244-1258||Died in office|
|Simon de Warwick||1258–1296||Died in office|
|Benedict de Malton||1296–1303||Resigned|
|John de Gilling||1303–1313||Died in office|
|Alan de Wasse||1313–1331||Died in office|
|Thomas de Malton||1331–1359||Resigned|
|William de Mary's||?1359–1382||Died in office|
|William de Bradford (Bridford or Brydford)||1382–1389||Died in office|
|Thomas de Staynesgrave||1389–1398||Died in office|
|Thomas de Pygott (Pygdt)||1398–1405||Died in office|
|Thomas de Spoffoth||8 June 1405-?1421||Resigned|
|William Dalton||1422–1423||Died in office|
|Roger Kyrkby (or Kiby)||1437-1438||Died in office|
|John Cottingham||1438-1464||Died in office|
|Thomas Bothe (Booth)||1464–1485||Resigned|
|William Senhouse (Sever)||1485-1502||Later Bishop of Durham 1502–1505|
|William Thornton||1530–1539||Abbot during the Dissolution of the Monasteries|
All that remains today are the north and west walls, plus a few other remnants: the half-timbered Pilgrims' Hospitium , the West Gate and the 14th-century timber-framed Abbot's House (now called the King's Manor). The walls include interval towers along the north and west stretches, St Mary's Tower at the northwest corner and a polygonal water tower by the river. Much stone was removed from the site in the 18th century, in 1705 for St. Olave's Church, between 1717 and 1720 for Beverley Minster, and in 1736 for the landing stage of Lendal Ferry.
The remains of the Abbey were described by Edwin Ridsdale Tate in a 1929 publication in which he asserted that: "Nowhere in England is there another spot so full of charm as York and where in York is there a more charming spot than the Gardens of the Philosophical Society, in which stand the beautiful fragments of that once powerful and noble monastery of St. Mary's. Here we must leave the venerable pile in the evening of its glory."
Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall, north-west of Leeds city centre in West Yorkshire, England. It is set in a public park on the north bank of the River Aire. It was founded c. 1152. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII.
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It is located approximately 3 miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for 407 years, becoming one of the wealthiest monasteries in England until its dissolution, by order of Henry VIII, in 1539.
Sherborne Abbey, otherwise the Abbey Church of St. Mary the Virgin, is a Church of England church in Sherborne in the English county of Dorset. It has been a Saxon cathedral (705–1075), a Benedictine abbey church (998–1539), and since 1539, a parish church.
Hailes Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey, in the small village of Hailes, two miles northeast of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England. It was founded in 1246 as a daughter establishment of Beaulieu Abbey. The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. Little remains of the abbey. It is a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument.
Netley Abbey is a ruined late medieval monastery in the village of Netley near Southampton in Hampshire, England. The abbey was founded in 1239 as a house for monks of the austere Cistercian order. Despite royal patronage, Netley was never rich, produced no influential scholars nor churchmen, and its nearly 300-year history was quiet. The monks were best known to their neighbours for the generous hospitality they offered to travellers on land and sea.
Glastonbury Abbey was a monastery in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. Its ruins, a grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument, are open as a visitor attraction.
Dunbrody Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in County Wexford, Ireland. The cross-shaped church was built in the 13th century, and the tower was added in the 15th century. With a length of 59m the church is one of the longest in Ireland. The visitor centre is run by the current Marquess of Donegall and has one of only two full sized hedge mazes in Ireland.
The Abbey of Bury St Edmunds was once among the richest Benedictine monasteries in England, until the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. It is in the town that grew up around it, Bury St Edmunds in the county of Suffolk, England. It was a centre of pilgrimage as the burial place of the Anglo-Saxon martyr-king Saint Edmund, killed by the Great Heathen Army of Danes in 869. The ruins of the abbey church and most other buildings are merely rubble cores, but two very large medieval gatehouses survive, as well as two secondary medieval churches built within the abbey complex.
Leiston Abbey in Suffolk, England, was a religious house of Canons Regular following the Premonstratensian rule, dedicated to St. Mary. Founded in c. 1183 by Ranulf de Glanville, Chief Justiciar to King Henry II (1180-1189), it was originally built on a marshland isle near the sea, and was called "St Mary de Insula". Around 1363 the abbey suffered so much from flooding that a new site was chosen and it was rebuilt further inland for its patron, Robert de Ufford, 1st Earl of Suffolk (1298-1369). However, there was a great fire in c. 1379 and further rebuilding was necessary.
Vale Royal Abbey is a former medieval abbey and later country house in Whitegate England. The precise location and boundaries of the abbey are difficult to determine in today's landscape. The original building was founded c. 1270 by the Lord Edward, later Edward I for Cistercian monks. Edward had supposedly taken a vow during a rough sea crossing in the 1260s. Civil wars and political upheaval delayed the build until 1272, the year he inherited the throne. The original site at Darnhall was unsatisfactory, so was moved a few miles north to the Delamere Forest. Edward intended the structure to be on a grand scale—had it been completed it would have been the largest Cistercian monastery in the country—but his ambitions were frustrated by recurring financial difficulties.
The York Museum Gardens are botanic gardens in the centre of York, England, beside the River Ouse. They cover an area of 10 acres (4.0 ha) of the former grounds of St Mary's Abbey, and were created in the 1830s by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society along with the Yorkshire Museum which they contain.
Cleeve Abbey is a medieval monastery located near the village of Washford, in Somerset, England. It is a Grade I listed building and has been scheduled as an ancient monument.
Cirencester Abbey or St Mary's Abbey, Cirencester in Gloucestershire was founded as an Augustinian monastery in 1117 on the site of an earlier church, the oldest-known Saxon church in England, which had itself been built on the site of a Roman structure. The church was greatly enlarged in the 14th century with addition of an ambulatory to the east end. The abbot became mitred 1416. The monastery was suppressed in 1539 and presented to Roger Bassinge.
St John's Abbey, also called Colchester Abbey, was a Benedictine monastic institution in Colchester, Essex, founded in 1095. It was dissolved in 1539.
Keynsham Abbey located in Keynsham, Somerset, England, was a monastic abbey founded c. 1166 by William, Earl of Gloucester. The abbey was established as a house of Augustinian canons regular, and operated until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
St Bees Priory is the parish church of St Bees, Cumbria, England. There is evidence for a pre-Norman religious site, and on this a Benedictine priory was founded by the first Norman Lord of Egremont William Meschin, and was dedicated by Archbishop Thurstan of York, sometime between 1120 and 1135.
Edwin Ridsdale Tate L.R.I.B.A (1862–1922) was a British antiquary, artist and architect based in York.
The Abbey of Saint Mary de Pratis, more commonly known as Leicester Abbey, was an Augustinian religious house in the city of Leicester, in the East Midlands of England. The abbey was founded in the 12th century by the Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and grew to become the wealthiest religious establishment within Leicestershire. Through patronage and donations the abbey gained the advowsons of countless churches throughout England, and acquired a considerable amount of land, and several manorial lordships. Leicester Abbey also maintained a cell at Cockerham Priory, in Lancashire. The Abbey's prosperity was boosted through the passage of special privileges by both the English Kings and the Pope. These included an exemption from sending representatives to parliament and from paying tithe on certain land and livestock. Despite its privileges and sizeable landed estates, from the late 14th century the abbey began to suffer financially and was forced to lease out its estates. The worsening financial situation was exacerbated throughout the 15th century and early 16th century by a series of incompetent, corrupt and extravagant abbots. By 1535 the abbey's considerable income was exceeded by even more considerable debts.
Walter Harvey Brook was an English antiquarian, artist and curator based in York.
George Francis Willmot BA FSA (1908–1977) was a British archaeologist and curator based in York
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Mary's Abbey .|