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Roche Abbey

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roche abbey roche abbey

roche abbey roche abbey

Roche Abbey is a now-ruined abbey near Maltby, South Yorkshire, England. It is situated in a valley alongside Maltby Beck and King's Wood.

The abbey was founded in 1147 when the stone buildings were raised on the north side of the beck. When the monks first arrived in South Yorkshire from Newminster Abbey in Northumberland, they chose the most suitable side of the stream that runs through the valley, on which to build their new Cistercian monastery. Twenty-five years later, at the end of the century, the Norman Gothic great church had been finished, as well as most of the other buildings. The abbey was under the control of the De Wasteney family - of French origin who came over with William the Conqueror. This only lasted for a short time until it was passed to another family for administration. A succession of powerful Yorkshire families controlled the abbey, including the Levett family, another family of Norman origin (originally 'de Livet') that gave its name to the nearby village of Hooten Levett (sometimes spelled Levitt).

The cliff path walk can take you up to a tremendous view across the abbey grounds from where you stand in awe at its layout. Unfortunately many of the buildings are low-standing but the walls of the church still stand boldly up to full height and you can see the gothic French idealism thrust into its design and architecture. Later additions to the buildings included a kitchen area and abbot's quarters, that were built on the other side of the beck. These quarters were accessed by a bridge which still stands. The monks had toilets too which were over Maltby Beck so the running water took away the waste. They even dammed the stream higher up to ensure fast flowing water: quite a modern facility for the 13th century.

No records exist as to what went on in the abbey other than there were 14 monks and an unknown number of novices at the time of dissolution in 1538. It was the dissolution by King Henry VIII of England that rendered the abbey to ruin, but the walls of the north and south transepts are still impressive. The local community at time of dissolution decided they had first right of claim on Roche Abbey and its possessions. A very detailed account exists citing the terrible destruction of the abbey and its valuable artefacts. Timber, lead and stone were also removed in vast quantites.

Left in ruin, the land passed through many private hands until the 4th Earl of Scarbrough decided it needed revitalising to enhance his adjoining family seat at Sandbeck Park. Lord Scarborough enlisted the talents of Capability Brown. With total disregard for any historical matters, Brown demolished buildings, built large earth mounds and turfed the whole site. Up until the end of the 19th century, Roche Abbey remained buried beneath Brown's work and wooded parkland. However, subsequent excavation in the 1920s returned Roche to its former splendour. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.

There are several local legends concerning ghosts, tunnels to other buildings, and even a lost wishing well.

roche abbey roche abbey

roche abbey  roche abbey

all Roche Abbey photos on this page are copyright 2007 Danum Photos and are low res (72dpi). Please contact us to purchase

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