Rievaulx is a small village located near Helmsley in North Yorkshire. It is nestled in to the side of a steep valley and is situated close to the River Rye. Rievaulx is a peaceful and tranquil place made popular by the ruins of a large Cistercian abbey known as Rievaulx Abbey. High up on the hillside, overlooking Rievaulx Abbey, is Rievaulx Terrace and Temples, an 18th century wooded escarpment with two temples, one at each end of the terrace.
The main business activity in modern day Rievaulx is agriculture. In days gone by however Rievaulx was well known for the smelting of iron ore in to cast iron and the Cistercian monks are known to have been skilled metallurgists. Archaeologists have also identified an ancient blast furnace at nearby Laskill that, after investigation by experts, was deemed more efficient than anything else at that time. The ancient blast furnace is the only one of that type found in Britain so far. In the 18th century a water mill was built and is still in existence today. Although it has been converted in to a house most of the mill workings are still intact including the mill wheel. The millers cottage is still standing also but now as a separate property to the mill.
A short distance from the end of the actual abbey church is Saint Mary's church. Like the abbey church it is squeezed on to the valley side so the traditional east-west alignment has not been followed. Rievaulx village consists of a number of traditional stone built properties most of which overlook the abbey.
Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 by twelve French Cistercian monks from Clairvaux Abbey in France. The rural, secluded location was ideal for the monks who sought solitude and desired a life of prayer and self-sufficiency. To build Rievaulx Abbey the monks diverted the natural course of the River Rye several times in order to give them extra land to build on. It is still possible to trace parts of the original river course in the modern day ruins. The abbey ruins are very impressive with large structures still remaining. It must have been truly spectacular when it was fully built.
The abbey was finally dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Furthermore it is claimed that had King Henry VIII not dissolved the abbey and the associated blast furnace then the Industrial Revolution may have happened 250 years earlier. This stems from the fact that the monks never got to share their advanced blast furnace technology. Rievaulx Abbey is currently managed by English Heritage.
Rievaulx Terrace and Temples were created in 1758 by Thomas Duncombe the Third and are accessed from the top of the valley. The terrace is grass-covered and surrounded by a wooded escarpment. At each end of the terrace stands a Palladian temple. The rectangular-shaped temple, named The Ionic Temple, was intended as a banqueting house and contains some elaborate ceiling paintings. The circular-shaped columned temple, named The Tuscan Temple, is thought to be a scale model of the Mausoleum Temple at nearby Castle Howard. There are some excellent views of the abbey ruins from upon the terrace. Rievaulx Terrace and Temples are currently owned and managed by The National Trust.
The Abbeys of the North York Moors
Discover Yorkshire - Rievaulx Abbey
English Heritage - Rievaulx Abbey
National Trust - Rievaulx Terrace And Temples
Wikipedia - Rievaulx
Wikipedia - Rievaulx Abbey
Wikipedia - Rievaulx Terrace And Temples