A ruined place of peacefulness
Jervaulx Abbey, Yorkshire Dales, England - May 27, 1999
We've quickly learned how thorough the destruction was that Henry VIII wrought upon Medieval churches. The country is peppered with ruins like this one. Here at Jervaulx we found this abbey carefully mowed with an honor box asking for money in return for an excellent map and explanation of the ruins.
Here the Cistercian monks lived under vows of silence and austerity (they didn't eat meat) from 1156 until its destruction in 1536. As we toured the old walls we marveled at the sophistication of the plumbing and the precision of what is still known about the abbey.
In this pleasant looking garden the monks used to meet every week to make confessions and dispense any punishments due their members.
The technology they had was also apparent. To the left we see the Abbots residence which was a vaulted two story building with a cellar.
Being the head guy had distinct privileges. To the right you see the Abbot's toilet which is hooked into a sewer system that runs the length of the abbey. (He must have looked regal under the arch, sitting on his throne.)
The stove to the left here was one of four in the kitchen that kept all the monks and the lay-monks (illiterate versions of the monks who did the manual labor while the monks studied and prayed) fed through the year.
Here's the lay-monks quarters.
Above everything else about this place, we noticed its tranquility. Could we choose a spot to live in no matter the cost, we'd re-build the Abbot's quarters and live here in this ruin. The sounds of the pasture animals wafted up from the fields and connected us with biblical times. (if you look closely in this picture, you can see Henry on top of the wall.)
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