St Mary's Abbey, York by fishers

St Mary's Abbey, York

Looking back over the photos we have posted, it was a surprise to find that it is almost 4 years since a photo of these abbey ruins was posted. Several of you commented on the corner of the ruins on yesterday's post, so I thought it time to share another shot. For a shot from a different direction see https://365project.org/fishers/365/2016-08-23

The history notes here are a slightly modified version of those posted with the earlier shot.

St Mary's Abbey was a massive church with a range of other buildings, in a big walled enclosure. It was the largest and richest Benedictine establishment in the north of England and one of the largest landholders in Yorkshire. It's downfall came in 1539 when King Henry VIII disolved monasteries across the country and siezed their wealth.

Much has been destroyed, but this north wall of the nave and the arch which would have been at the base of a central tower remain impressive and give some idea of the scale of the building. Parts of the building completely destroyed are marked in the grass with lines of stone.

The original church on the site was founded in 1055 and dedicated to Saint Olaf II of Norway. A church of that name still exists, immediately to the left of the window arches, and in much modified form still serves as a parich church for the local community.

This church building was started 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 350ft (76 metres) 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.

The ruins are an attractive feature of the Museum Gardens, which were recently reopened after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed. It was nice to wander in these gardens and ruins without the crowds normally found there.

Ian
How nice to have these ruins all to yourself. It must have been an impressive building when first built. Lovely shot of these amazing arches.
July 6th, 2020  
Love your pov and history
July 6th, 2020  
Lovely old stonework and great narrative. Fav!! 😀
July 6th, 2020  
Great shot
July 6th, 2020  
and such a fine trimmed lawn!
July 6th, 2020  
nice
July 6th, 2020  
Beautiful capture of this great historical wall. Fav.
July 6th, 2020  
Wonderful angle shot, architectural details
July 6th, 2020  
Lovely shot. I'm sure the Mystery Plays were performed there before they moved into the Minster.
July 6th, 2020  
Lovely ruins, great stonework
July 7th, 2020  
Well composed. I like the arches.
July 7th, 2020  
Good perspective. Lovely capture.
July 7th, 2020  
Beautiful architecture and a great story. Pity many British churches lost their splendour because of the rift with Rome. I have seen a chapel, could be in Warwick but not sure with its walls restored to their previous glory - it was fantastic.
July 7th, 2020  
@pattyblue @craftymeg @carolmw @bkbinthecity @koalagardens @pdulis @pyrrhula @seattlite @janturnbull @kjarn @kwind @netkonnexion @sangwann

Thank you all for your lovely comments and favs, they are very much appreciated.

The gardens are really at their best, since people have been kept out for three months when the gardens were closed. No worn patches in the grass, no rubbish, and on this visit few people around. It is a shame that so many of these abbey churches were destroyed, but it is interesting to compare the ruins of this abbey church and the still functioning Minster in York.

Ian
July 7th, 2020  
@janturnbull

Janet, you were quite right about the Mystery Plays - I remember the temporary staging with the ruins as the backdrop forming a very attractive setting.

Ian
July 7th, 2020  
fascinating! I am really enjoying your narrative and loving the stories behind each architecture
The remains of the artwork is amazing! The actual building must have been beyond superb
July 8th, 2020  
@ninaganci

Thank you Nina - some of the artefacts from the abbey are in the Yorkshire Museum, including four super sculptures. You are right, it must have been very impressive before 1539!

Ian
July 8th, 2020  
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