The York Abbey, St Mary's

St Mary's Abbey in York was a great institution which sat opposite and mirrored the city's cathedral for some 350 years. 

Its story ties together two of the most important events in English history.  It was begun by William the Conqueror to reinforce his hold on the north after 1066 and ended by Henry the Eighth as a consequence of his Reformation of the church.

In its day it was the wealthiest abbey in the north and one of the richest in the country.

The abbey's economic power and privileges brought benefits to the city but were also a source of conflict.

Its monks provided charity but were sometimes derided for their lifestyles.

When Henry did finally wind up the great institution, in order to get his hands on its money, there was no public outcry at its passing.

Life in the Abbey >