St. Mary's Abbey, North Yorkshire

The ruins of St. Mary's Abbey stand in the gardens of the Yorkshire Museum in the city of York, England. For 450 years, St. Mary's was the wealthiest and most powerful abbey in the North of England.


History of St. Mary's Abbey

The abbey was a Benedictine refoundation by King William II of England (1088) of a 1055 monastery dedicated to Saint Olave to the west of York Minster.

St. Mary's was once the largest and richest Benedictine establishment in the north of England and the abbots were famously decadent. The abbey featured heavily in the early medieval ballads of Robin Hood, with the abbot usually as Robin Hood's nemesis.

In 1132, a party of reform-minded monks left to establish the Cistercian monastery of Fountains Abbey. The abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII around 1540.

What to See at St. Mary's Abbey

Today, the picturesque ruins of the abbey's north and west wallsstand in the Museum Gardens and are often used as the setting for the York Mystery Plays. The plan of the rest of the monastic complex is laid out in the surrounding grass.

Other remains of abbey buildings include the Pilgrims' Hospitium, the West Gate and the 14th-century timber-framed Abbot's House (now called the King's Manor).

Excavated finds and architectural features, particularly relating to the chapter and warming houses, are displayed in the nearby Yorkshire Museum.

Quick Facts on St. Mary's Abbey

Site Information
Names:St. Mary's Abbey
Categories:monasteries; ruins
Status: ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:53.962455° N, 1.080598° W
Address:North Yorkshire, England
Lodging:View hotels near St. Mary's Abbey
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

More Information

© Holly Hayes

Map of St. Mary's Abbey, North Yorkshire

Below is a location map and aerial view of St. Mary's Abbey. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.