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This beautiful ruin was once one of the great Yorkshire Cistercian abbeys, housing at its zenith well over 200 monks and lay brothers. A truly outstanding example of early Gothic architecture, Byland Abbey's distinctive part-remaining rose window probably inspired the design for the more famous one at York Minster. Stunning remains of the mosaic tiles in the south transept offer a glimpse of just how magnificent the church was in the Middle Ages.
The majestic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey rise from the depths of the narrow valley of the river Rye. Escape the crowds and experience the serene beauty of this impressive monastic site founded by St Bernard of Clairvaux in 1132. Highlights of its long history are displayed in the indoor interactive museum, and afterwards there's delicious local food to enjoy in the cafe.
Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors
A real surprise to first-time visitors, this Grade I listed church, built in the 1860s in the ‘French Gothic Revival' style by the renowned architect J.L. Pearson, has been called ‘the little gem of moorland churches'. There is richly decorated stone and woodwork in French Gothic style, a hammer-beam roof and some first rate stained glass.
Holy Wells of Lastingham
On the end of the bridge which spans the beck near the centre of the village of Lastingham stands St Cedd's Well. It has a canopy of stonework brought from Rosedale Abbey, and is inscribed with a reference to Cedd's foundation of the monastery at Lastingham. This is a well-preserved Holy Well still providing a source of drinking water. Lastingham has two other wells which have now dried up but their remains can be seen in the village. St Mary Magdalene's Well is situated at Spaunton Bank not far from Lastingham and is a spring of sweet clear water issuing from a bank into a stone trough and is thickly covered with water-cress. Above the spring and set into the bank is a slab of local stone with the well's dedication inscribed on it.
St. Chad Church, Hutton-le Hole
Built by one of St. Cedd's three brothers, St. Chad, special features of this lovely building include a wooden altar with stone mensa; an oak reredos from Welburn Hall; altar rails made of oak from Douthwaite Hall; a Font and Lectern from Ryton Church & some beautiful post-war stained glass in the sanctuary, depicting to the north St Chad, and to the south the Crucifixion and the Annunciation.
St. Gregory Church, Cropton
With beautiful views across the valley of the River Seven to the moors beyond, St Gregory's boasts a wonderful rural location. Built over an earlier church of uncertain date, which was damaged by fire, this small 19th century village church has an interesting apsidical sanctuary. Worthy of note is the stained glass and the font, which may be of Anglo-Saxon origin.
St. Mary Church, Lastingham
The 11th-century church at Lastingham is built on the site of a former Celtic monastery founded in AD654 by St. Cedd of Lindisfarne. The atmospheric crypt is said to have been built to form the last resting place of this monastic pioneer.
St. Mary & St. Laurence Church, Rosedale
The Parish Church of St Mary & St Laurence was built on the foundations of the priory chapel, and if you look carefully you will see signs of the old building.
View a map of these locations in Ryedale.
Itinerary 1: The churches at Lastingham, Cropton, Rosedale, Hutton le Hole and Appleton-le-Moors are a group of five rural churches within the Anglican Diocese of York, on the southern edge of the North York Moors and all within a few miles of each other. They could be visited singly or as a group. For a truly inspirational break to reconnect with your spiritual side, they could be visited in conjunction with the holy wells of Lastingham. Why not stay overnight at The Grange Hotel in Lastingham and take advantage of some of the real ales at the Blacksmith's Arms.
Itinerary 2: Follow in the footsteps of centuries of pilgrims, with this pleasant woodland walk from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey along the Cleveland Way. The trail takes walkers along one of the most historic track ways in the land, with picturesque views and fascinating place names along the way. The walk is clearly signposted and the Moors bus will bring you back to Helmsley when you're finished or why not extend your visit by making your way to Byland Abbey and maybe staying the night in one of the lovely villages along the way.