The Cloisters. Basilica Of Saint Paul-Without-The-Walls, Rome. Author: Dnalor 01. Licence (CC-BY-SA 3.0). Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Cistercian Abbey Of Rievaulx, Yorkshire. Dissolved By King Henry VIII, 1538.

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia.
unless otherwise stated.

Rievaulx Abbey,
Yorkshire, England.
Photo: 8 September 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: mattbuck (category).
(Wikimedia Commons)

Rievaulx Abbey.
Photo: 8 September 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: mattbuck (category).
(Wikimedia Commons)

Rievaulx Abbey is a former Cistercian Abbey, headed by the Abbot of Rievaulx. It is located in Rievaulx, near Helmsley, in the North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire, England.

Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 by twelve Monks from Clairvaux Abbey, France, as a mission for the colonisation of the North of England and Scotland. It was the first Cistercian Abbey in the North. With time, it became one of the great Cistercian Abbeys of Yorkshire, second only to Fountains Abbey in fame.

Rievaulx Abbey at Dawn.
The Presbytery, South Transept,
Chapter House foundations
and wall of The Infirmary.
Photo: 2011.
Author: Antony McCallum.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Ruins of Rievaulx Abbey.
Photo: 23 August 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Photograph by Mike Peel (
Please attribute using name and website URL
(as per the author line above).
(Wikimedia Commons)

The remote location was ideal for the Cistercians, whose desire was to follow a strict life of Prayer and self-sufficiency with little contact with the outside world.

It was one of the wealthiest Abbeys in England and was dissolved by King Henry VIII of England in 1538. Its ruins are a tourist attraction.

Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire, England.
Photo: 8 September 2012.
Source: Own work by mattbuck.
Author: mattbuck (category).
(Wikimedia Commons)

Rievaulx Abbey.
Photo: 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Tilman2007.
(Wikimedia Commons)

At that time (1538), there were said to be seventy-two buildings, occupied by an Abbot and twenty-one Monks, attended by one hundred and two servants, with an income of £351 a year. It also had a prototype blast furnace at Laskill, producing cast iron as efficiently as a modern blast furnace. According to Gerry McDonnell (archeo-metallurgist of the University of Bradford), the closure of Rievaulx delayed the Industrial Revolution for two and a half centuries.

Henry ordered the buildings to be rendered uninhabitable and stripped of valuables such as lead. The Abbey site was granted to the Earl of Rutland, one of Henry's advisers, until it passed to the Duncombe family.

The Kyrie Eleison 
(Orbis Factor),
Mass Setting XI, 
is used on most Sundays
throughout The Liturgical Year.
The Monks at Rievaulx Abbey would have sung this.
Available on YouTube at


  1. The Kyrie is a prime example of a medieval "farced" text. It is quite lovely and the opening invocation "Orbis factor, rex aeterne eleison" reveals where the setting got its origin. I wonder if any of the other Kyries have extant texts with similar interpolations revealing their origins.

    I am happy you mentioned their furnaces. Had the Industrial Revolution happened in 1590 rather than 1840 we could be looking at a very different world. The Revolution could have been tempered by the Church and by the existing political order. Really, the Revolution as it did happen occurred right after France's apostasy, which motivated almost every other nation in Europe to have at least one of two revolts against the state and the Church in the following century. That gave us secularism and nationalism—could there be a more dangerous mixture? We know how the twentieth century continued the nineteenth's madness. Still, God allowed Henry to suppress the monasteries and their great contributions. Did the Church at the time deserve any better? I guess the lesson of Rievaulx is that if we want a bright material future, God will only give it to us after we have secured a luminous spiritual future.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Dear The Rad Trad. Thank you for your most interesting contribution to this Post on Rievaulx Abbey.

    Reference the query on the Kyries, it might be of interest to Readers to know that the following Kyries have these interpolations:

    Kyrie I: (Lux et origo). For use in "Tempore Paschali".
    Kyrie II: (Fons bonitatis). For use "In Festis Solemnibus. I.".
    Kyrie III: (Deus sempiterne). For use "In Festis Solemnibus. II.".
    Kyrie IV: (Cunctipotens Genitor Deus). For use "In Festis Duplicibus. I".
    Kyrie V: (Kyrie magnae Deus potentiae). For use "In Festis Duplicibus. II".
    Kyrie VI: (Kyrie Rex Genitor). For use "In Festis Duplicibus. III".
    Kyrie VII: (Kyrie Rex splendens). For use "In Festis Duplicibus. IIII".
    Kyrie VIII: (de Angelis). For use "In Festis Duplicibus. V".
    Kyrie IX: (Cum jubilo). For use "In Festis Beatae Mariae Virginis. I".
    Kyrie X: (Alme Pater). For use "In Festis Beatae Mariae Virginis. II".
    Kyrie XI: (Orbis Factor). For use "In Dominicis infra annum".
    Kyrie XII: (Pater cuncta). For use "In Festis Semiduplicibus. I".
    Kyrie XIII: (Stelliferi Conditor orbis). For use "In Festis Semiduplicibus. II".
    Kyrie XIV: (Jesu Redemptor). For use "Infra Octavas (quae non sunt de Beatae Mariae Virgine)".
    Kyrie XV: (Dominator Deus). For use "In Festis Simplicibus".
    Kyrie XVI: For use "In Feriis per annum".
    Kyrie XVII: For use "In Dominicis. Adventus et Quadragesimae".
    Kyrie XVIII: (Deus Genitor alme). For use "In Feriis Adventus et Quadragesimae. In Vigiliis, Feriis IV Temporum et in Missa Rogationum".

    There are, in addition, several more Kyries, described within the wording "Cantus ad libitum" (at the Choir's choice).

  4. Thank you for that. I knew the settings retained names from their original "farced" versions, but did not know the originals still existed. The Kyrie and dismissal from Fr Finnegan's Sarum Mass in Oxford back in 1997 were farced. The Kyrie was more successful than the dismissal, but that is just my opinion.

    A happy Corpus Christi octave to you and your readers, Zephyrinus.


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