Owner: English Heritage
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The first large Cistercian church built in England, Rievaulx (which means Rye Valley) was founded in 1132 but it expanded under St. Aelred (1147-66) when it housed 140 monks and 500 lay brethren. In the 13th Century extensive building took place but the abbey later declined until the dissolution in 1538.Cistercian Order meant withdrawal from the world and dependence on their own labour for building and farming. Because there was insufficient flat land for building, the abbey lay almost north-south rather than the normal east-west. A canal was constructed to transport stone by barge from nearby quarries.There are extensive remains, chiefly of the choir, presbytery and cloister, but because care was taken at the dissolution in 1538 to destroy the monks living quarters so that they could not return, little of these remain. The land eventually passed to the Duncombe family, owners of the nearby Duncombe Park Estate. Today the abbey is cared for by English Heritage.
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