Photographer's Note

This is the inside of the presbytery of Rievaulx Abbey, the outside of which I showed in my previous post. My POV was in the middle between the north and south transepts, looking at the east facade. Actually the geographical directions are at odds with church building conventions, as the lie of the land forced the building to deviate from the normal east/west of most churches. In geographical terms I am looking southeast.

The presbytery was extended in the 1220s to house a shrine for the third abbot, St Aelred. He was held in such high regard by the abbey community that no expense was spared. The exceptional workmanship shown in the decorative stonework, especially in the upper storeys, is said to have been done by master masons and is held to be one of the finest examples of early English architecture.

Aelred’s shrine, made from gold and silver, would have occupied a central position. Henry VIII, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538, would have appropriated the shrine and melted it down for his coffers, along with other valuables. Imagine the outcry if Elizabeth II attempted something similar today!

The abbey was mainly built from sandstone, quarried from sites within a 10 mile radius. It is thought most of the stone came from Wethercote quarry 6 miles away. There is evidence there of medieval tool use and track-ways from there to the abbey can still be identified. It is good quality sandstone which could be carved into the larger of the pieces required. Better quality still was the limestone from Griff Bank quarry. This was capable of being carved with small details for decoration. Several other quarries have been identified where stone for rubble fill was obtained.

Closer view in the WS

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Additional Photos by Kath Featherstone (feather) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7646 W: 399 N: 14391] (51130)
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