Tag Archives: abbeys

Trout Lake Abbey (Trout Lake, WA)

Trout Lake Abbey
Trout Lake, Washington

Article coming soon.


Whitby Abbey

The Gothic Abbey
The Gothic Abbey, Whitby, England

The Whitby Abbey
* Abbey Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire – YO22 4JT *

I have always been drawn to the iconography of the Gothic Abbey atop the hills of Whitby, England. It is that vaguely interwoven backdrop of the gothic culture that is drawn to this city that once was home to Bram Stoker and the concept of “Dracula”. This fabulous monastic ruins was founded in 657 of the Common Era by King Oswy of Northumbria as a “double monastery” Anglo-Saxon style masterpiece housing both men and women. Equip with a decent visitor center and museum, one can walk the majestic ruins of this Yorkshire image. The 1220 Early English Gothic style ruins belong to the church of the Benedictine abbey re-founded on its site by the Normans. Embracing the sky with high richly carved pinnacle d east and north end transepts brandishing the marks of war, nature, and history as it is slowly reclaimed by the Earth. Definitely a spectacular monument not to be missed. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


It was this Abbey, belonging to the Benedictine order, that was left in ruin after the dis-establishment after the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of King Henry VIII. Now preserved, monitored, and cared for by the English Heritage with its museum housed inside the Cholmley House. One of North Yorkshire’s most memorable monuments, it has been used for numerous photo shoots, films, documentaries, and settings. Whitby was originally called “Streoneshalh” (named after Fort Bay or “Tower Bay”, of the Roman settlement that stood here first) and was home to the first Anglo-Saxon monastery here in 657 C.E. by Oswy (Oswiu), the King of Northumbria at the time. Lady Hilda, the abbess of Hartlepool Abbey, and grand-nieces of the first Christian King of Northumbria, Edwin, was appointed founding abbess of this “Streona’s Settlement”. This was a “double monastery”, managed and occupied by Celtic nuns and monks. It was also the home of the great poet Caedmon. By 867-870, the Danes led successive raids of the monastery, leaving it in ruins for almost 200 years. When Reinfrid, one of WIlliam the Conqueror’s soldiers travelled to this site as a monk, it was called “Prestebi” meaning “white settlement” in Old Norse. He founded a new monastery atop the ruins of St. Peters with two carucates of land, joined by the founder’s brother Serlo de Percy, they began Benedictine rule. In 1540, Henry VIII declared the Dissolution of Monasteries, thereby falling into destruction and ruin. Locals mined stones from its structures, leaving it but a crumbling ruin on the landscape. It however was still used as a landmark by sailors coming into port, and was heavy inspiration for Bram Stoker when writing “Dracula”. In 1914, it was shelled by German battle cruisers by a mis-fire giving it un-repairable considerable damage.

Continue reading Whitby Abbey


Hore Abbey

Hore Abbey
Cashel, Ireland

Just 1 km down from the Rock of Cashel is the Hore Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery on the Tipperary plains in Southern Ireland. The land was given to the Cistercians by the Benedictines from Archbishop David MacCearbhaill in 1270 C.E. It was built in 1272 C.E. under orders of the then ArchBishop David McCarville. The name for the abbey comes from the term “iubhair” meaning “Yew Tree”. The Latin name of the abbey is “Rupes” meaning “the rock” most likely because of being located near the Rock of Cashel. The abbey came with quite a bit of property including acreage, mills, and other benefices. In 1279 the Abbey was labelled a safe haven of rogues ready to kill the English and plunder the area as described by Margaret le Blunde who detested the Bishop. It was never a prosperous abbey and usually never had more than 5 residing within by the 16th century. He evicted the Benedictines after dreaming that they were going to kill him as he was interfering with the commerce of the city of Cashel. It was probably a delusion, but didn’t stop him from changing over the monastery to a different order. It was dissolved in 1540 C.E. Its annual income at this time was only £21. It was discovered in 1541 by the royal commissioners that the abbey church had been used as a parish church for some time before the Dissolution. In 1545 it was rented to Edward Heffernan, a clerk who used it as a private housing complex. In 1561 Queen Elizabeth gave the land to Sir Henry Radcliffe who then transferred it to the Earl of Ormond, James Butler. By 1575 it came into the hands of Thomas Sinclair, and since then became part of the parish, under property of the earl of Mount-Cashel. It has however fallen into ruins even though the church and sections of the east range still have structure. Architecturally it is quite plain, albeit a sincere historic beauty. It represents the conservative approach of the Cistercians. The grounds are free for the public to visit, although cattle and sheep graze there.

Location: down the road from the Rock of Cashel – Head north on Camus Rd. from King’s Croft road and make first left onto St. Patricksrock – it will be located in a field south of this road. Discovery Map 66: J 069 410.

Continue reading Hore Abbey


Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden
* http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/ * Kylemore, Ireland
“Mainistir na Coille Móire” is one of Connemara’s famous attractions, the Kylemore Abbey with its Victorian Walled Garden is a highlight of history in the area. Nestled in an area of old oakwoods which terrace the mountainside, within the mountainous valley of Kylemore Pass with woodlands and a lake, sits the Abbey as a home to the Benedictine nuns since the 1920’s. The Abbey was built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry in memory of his late wife Margaret in a neo-gothic style as a castle by architects James Franklin Fuller and Ussher Roberts with the aid of 100 men a day. Margaret died of dysentry that she caught while on an expedition to Egypt. The castle took 4 years to complete. It covers over 40,000 square feet with over 70 rooms. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, a billard room, a library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room, and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper, and other servants. Mitchell Henry was a wealthy politician from Manchester, England who was also the MP for Galway Country from 1871-1885. A Gothic Church built by Mitchell Henry and designed by Architect James Franklin Fuller was constructed as a miniature cathedral on the estate. The house was purchased by the Benedictine nuns in 1920 after fleeing from their convent in war-torn Belgium in 1914. They replicated here the same boarding school they were running in Belgium for over 300 years, still schooling to this day. It became one of the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The community of nuns who have resided here for 189 years. The south transept has beautiful stained glass tracery windows depicting Fortitude, Faith, Charity, Hope, and Chastity. In front of the altar was a trap door through which coffins were lowered to the vaults below. Due to erosion, the church began to decay. The nuns began restorations in 1991. A mile west of the main Abbey is the 6 acre Victorian Walled Gardens that Mitchell built during the construction of the Castle. This garden was one of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian period in Ireland and the only garden in Ireland that is built in the middle of a bog. The gardens are maintained with 21 huge glasshouses that were originally built to house exotic fruits and plants that were heated by three boilers, one of which doubled as a limekiln.
The Gardens fell into disrepair through the years until the Nuns found grants to repair them. The Gardens were re-opened in 1999. The Garden houses only plants and vegetables that grew in the Victorian era. In the back of the gardens is a tea room providing refreshments for the guests.

Continue reading Kylemore Abbey