Egglestone Abbey

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Address: Durham

Opening hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm for free. It is open for inspection and meditation even during the Holy Week but is closed during the Christmas, Boxing day and New Year holidays.

Contact: Customer Services 0870 333 1181

Monastic structures that have either fully survived or that have elegantly-silhouetted ruins left seem to be favorites among historical preservationists. Egglestone Abbey is one such monastic structure. It was a Premonstratensian Abbey that had been abandoned. It is located southeast of County Durham’s Barnard Castle. The abbey used to be a section of Yorkshire’s North Riding.

Egglestone Abbey is currently being maintained by English Heritage and is also provided protection because it is considered to be a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It was founded somewhere between the period of 1168 and 1198 by the Premonstratensians. These founders whore a white habit. They were later known as the White Canons. The Premonstratensians followed a strict code that was comparable to that followed by the Cistercian monks. However, they were not subjected to Episcopal discipline, which was rather strict. They preached and performed pastoral work in their area. Pastoral work referred to the distribution of meat and drink to those who needed the ration. They chose the abbey site for its isolation and nearness to a river and construction supplies (e.g. stone).

The abbey that you will see today is the result of the rebuilding that happened a hundred years after the original foundation. It was supposed to keep twelve canons but had problems maintaining the number because of its poverty. It was not only poverty that the White Canons suffered, however. The abbey was also invaded by the Scots and even some English army who were headed for the Battle of Neville’s Cross back in 1346. King Henry VIII finally dissolved the abbey in 1540 and granted its lands to Robert Strelly eight years later. The buildings were then transformed into a large private house, which ended up being abandoned anyway by the middle of the 19th century. Moreover, some of the stones that were made to build the abbey were taken down to pave Rokeby Hal’s stable yard.

You could say that this abbey had suffered through the years, having endured the lack of maintenance due to poverty, the invasions, the stripping downs and the final abandonmnet. Egglestone Abbey seemed like a lofty creature that had been shamed several times and yet, today, it stands as an English Heritage site. Despite everything, its memories survive among the ruins.

You can visit the abbey from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm for free. It is open for inspection and meditation even during the Holy Week but is closed during the Christmas and New Year holidays.