A Short History of Jervaulx Abbey
Founded in 1156, Jervaulx was a Cistercian abbey, the daughter house of the abbey at Byland. The Cistercian Order was based on the austerity taught by St Benedict and, under the leadership of Bernard of Clairvaux, Cistercian monks set out to establish themselves in wild and inhospitable areas where they could dedicate their lives to prayer, study, meditation and manual labour.
The north of England offered just such an environment. Viking settlement during the Anglo-Saxon period had led to the destruction of many of the older monasteries and the Cistercians filled this spiritual vacuum with monastic houses like those at Rievaulx, Fountains, Byland and Jervaulx.
Jervaulx was not the first monastic house in the Vale of Ure, an earlier monastery was established at nearby Fors but the land there was poor and so it was moved to its present site. At the height of its prosperity the abbey owned half of the valley and was renowned for breeding horses, a tradition that remains in the area to the present day. It was also the original home of Wensleydale cheese.
Although severely ravaged and pillaged during the Dissolution of Monasteries, Jervaulx's magnificent ruins remain amongst the rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales. It was purchased by its present owners in 1971 and is reputedly the second largest privately owned Cistercian abbey in the United Kingdom.
It remains a place of great beauty, tranquillity and history and is famed for having over 180 species of wild flowers among its walls.
A detailed guide to the site is available from the Visitor Centre. An honesty box system of entry helps to conserve the site for future generations.
Inscription carved into the wall of his cell at the Tower of London in 1537 by Adam Sedbar, the last Abbot of Jervaulx.
Following their return to North Yorkshire from the Scottish Borders Major and Mrs WV Burden bought part of Jervaulx Abbey Estate in 1971. Included in their purchase was the 12th Century Ancient Monument of Jervaulx Abbey.
Following the Major’s death in 1980, parts of the Estate, including the Abbey, passed to his eldest son Rae, who, although based in the South, kept the property maintained and open to the public with the help of his younger brother Ian and his family.
In 2000 Rae decided to concentrate his business solely in the South and sold his Estate, including the Abbey, to Ian, his wife Carol, and their two daughters, Gayle and Anna.
Since then the family have worked together in an effort to maintain the tranquil and serene surroundings that can be enjoyed at present.
Recently Carol and Ian converted part of their house into luxury guest accommodation and can now invite guests to enjoy their surroundings in great comfort.