Rievaulx Abbey

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Opening Times:

01 Apr-30 Sep daily, 10am-6pm;
1-28 Oct Thu-Mon, 10am-5pm,
29 Oct-4 Nov 2012 daily 10am-4pm;
5 Nov-17 Feb 2013, Sat & Sun 10am-4pm;
18 Feb-24 Feb 2013 daily, 10am-4pm
25 Feb-28 Mar 2013, Sat & Sun 10am-4pm
24-26 Dec and 1 Jan closed


Adult: £5.80
Child: £3.50
Concession: £5.20
English Heritage free

Venue contact details:

T: 01439 798228
W: www.english-heritage.org.uk/

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey became one of England's wealthiest monasteries before its dissolution by King Henry VIII in 1538 and is one of the most complete and impressive abbeys in Britain.

Turner visited Rievaulx at least twice. His first visit was in 1801 on his second tour to the north, followed by another trip during 1816 when he was collecting material for a series of illustrations for his Whitaker commission.

In 1801 Turner made a series of quick studies of Rievaulx, recording the ruins from viewpoints ranging from the west through south, to the east.  In addition he made a large pencil sketch of the imposing end of the south transept, which he developed as one of the subjects in his series of prints called the 'Liber Studiorum.'

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Turner's Viewpoint

In 1816 Turner returned to his 1801 viewpoints to the south-east, and took two sketches; one looking to the abbey from the bridge, and one looking over the bridge to the abbey.  Each formed the basis of a finished watercolour, the first painted about 1825 for his series 'Picturesque Views of England and Wales' (Rivaulx Abbey, York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery), Wilton number: 785).  The second was painted in the 1830s for publication as a commercial engraving in the 'Modern Gallery of British Artists' (Rievaulx Abbey, from The Gallery of Modern British Artists 1834-1836 Watercolours, Tate Gallery, N05615).

The latter is typical of the jewel like compositions that Turner made for later engraving projects.  The former, however, is one of his most expansive treatments of atmosphere and light, cloud and wooded valley, and one of his most brilliant evocations of the constantly changing moods and weather of the Yorkshire scenery that he so much enjoyed.

Turner's sketching spot for the first watercolour is on the bridge south of the abbey.  Sadly the actual view of the abbey from here is now obscured by tree overgrowth. However, visitors can explore the atmospheric ruins close up and sample scrumptious Yorkshire fare in the Rievaulx Abbey Tearoom.

Discover The Landscape

The Turner Trails bench can be found within the grounds of Rievaulx Abbey.

Turner's Religious Houses

Listen to Episode 4 of our Turner podcast series when Turner expert, Professor David Hill, is joined by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, as they look at Turner's sketches and paintings of Yorkshire's historic religious houses.

The Venue


Rievaulx Abbey, Rievaulx, North Yorkshire, YO62 5LB

Map reference: SE574843 | SE577850 (Abbey)

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Directions to Rievaulx Abbey:

Follow the A170 Thirsk-Scarborough road to Helmsley; 2 1/4 miles N of Helmsley on minor road off B1257