St Mary’s Abbey, York England

St Mary’s Abbey Audio Guide

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St Mary’s Abbey Quick Facts

  • St Mary’s was the largest and richest Benedictine abbey in the North of England.
  • Like the majority of abbey’s it was pulled down by Henry VIII in the dissolution of the monasteries.
  • A religious presence was established at the site in 1055 when a church was constructed.
  • St Mary’s Abbey was damaged by fire in 1137 but what remains today is the remnants of the reconstruction dating back to 1271.

Where is St Mary’s Abbey in York

York St Mary’s Abbey is found in York’s Museum Gardens and is situated next door to the Yorkshire Museum. It was the largest and richest Benedictine abbey in the North of England. Henry VIII had his men pull the abbey down in the Revolution of the Monasteries during the 1500’s. 

The Gatehouse and Main Gateway to the Abbey from Marygate.
The Gatehouse and Main Gateway to the Abbey from Marygate.

The Abbey’s History 

The original church on the site dated back to 1055.  After the Norman conquest, the church came into the possession of the Anglo Breton Alan Rufus and granted the land to Abbot Stephen and a group of Monks from Whitby.  After completion of the church it was rededicated to Virgin Mary.  Monks then moved to York from a site at Lastingham in Ryedale.  The abbey was badly damaged by fire in 1137 and the surviving ruins date back to 1271 after a rebuilding programme. When you visit St Mary’s Abbey, do not forget to take a brief walk around the back, alongside the Yorkshire Museum.  This will give you further views of the remaining structure.