Exploring The Ruins Of St Mary's Abbey
Following the path in front of the Yorkshire Museum you catch your first glimpse of the abbey ruins as the western corner of the precinct wall comes into view. Most of this thirteenth century wall is still standing, its empty window arches, like a row of canine teeth, framing a view of the tree-tops beyond.
Scattered on the grass in front of the precinct wall are remnants of the abbey's main buildings. Also notice, near the entrance to the abbey, the remains of St Leonards Hospital, whose riverside landing followed the narrow lane to your left.
This is the perfect spot for quiet contemplation. Who would believe that York's busiest shopping street is only a few hundred yards away? The stones of this ancient, holy place seem to shelter you from all worldly distractions.
Saint Mary's Abbey was the first monastic house to be established in Yorkshire after the Norman Conquest. Founded in about 1080AD by Stephen Of Lastingham, it was one of the largest and wealthiest Benedictine Abbeys in the country. The abbey was demolished by King Henry VIII in 1540 and has stood as a ruin ever since.