Easby Abbey

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Nestled along the picturesque River Swale in North Yorkshire, the impressive ruins of Easby Abbey is one of the best-preserved monasteries of the Premonstratensian ‘white canons.’ This tranquil site boasts the magnificent refectory, gatehouse, and canons’ dormitory. Within the precinct, the parish church, still in use, houses rare 13th-century wall paintings.

A Glimpse into the Past

History of Easby Abbey

Easby Abbey holds a distinguished place among Britain’s well-preserved monasteries of the Premonstratensian order. Its foundation dates back to around 1152, courtesy of Roald, constable of Richmond. The Scrope family later became patrons of the abbey. Following its suppression in 1536, most of the buildings quickly fell into ruin. However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the site captured the imagination of antiquarians and Romantic artists. The surviving structures bear witness to the abbey’s former grandeur and prosperity.

Explore the Highlights


  • The abbey is approached through a charming lane, leading to the splendid early 14th-century outer gatehouse.
  • The well-preserved shell of the gatehouse stands two storeys high, adorned with steeply pitched gables at both ends.

Abbey Church

  • Although largely demolished after the Suppression, the original church was a substantial structure, approximately 52 metres (170 feet) long and 27 metres (88 feet) wide across the transepts.
  • It followed a conventional Premonstratensian plan, featuring a short, square-ended presbytery.
  • The nave’s assumed lines are marked in the turf.
  • The existence of a central tower in the abbey church remains uncertain, with only partially surviving crossing piers.
  • Fragments of the north and south transepts, dating from about 1180–1200, offer glimpses into the abbey’s architecture.
  • In the early 14th century, the presbytery was extended to six bays, with reformed transept aisle windows.
  • The extension, in part, served as a burial place for the Scrope family.
  • A three-bay chapel was added on the north side of the nave, adjacent to the north transept.

A Treasured Landmark

Easby Abbey as a Romantic Ruin

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Easby Abbey’s ruins became a celebrated landmark. George Byng, Viscount Torrington, praised it as ‘a more perfect ruin’ in 1792. Easby Abbey drew the attention of artists, including the renowned JMW Turner, who depicted its beauty around 1816–18.

Antiquarian Interest

In the 19th century, the site garnered significant antiquarian interest. Sir William St John Hope conducted partial excavations in 1885–6 on behalf of the Society of Antiquaries (see Research). The Jaques family maintained ownership until 1930 when the Ministry of Works took guardianship.

Plan Your Visit

Opening Times

Open daily from April to October, 10 am to 6 pm.


Some parts of the site may be uneven and muddy. Stairs and steps exist within the ruins.


The car park is conveniently signposted off the B6271, with the abbey adjacent to it. Consider contributing £1 or £2 to St Agatha’s.


Nearby Richmond Castle offers a shop and toilets. Richmond town provides public toilets and various dining options.


Dogs on leads are welcome.

Guided Tours

From 9th April to 31st October, guided tours are available every Sunday. Visitors can join these tours on the day, first-come, first-served. Alternatively, pre-booking is possible by emailing Kate.Streatfield@english-heritage.org.uk. Please note that tour availability depends on volunteer availability and may be affected by severe weather conditions.

Easby Abbey is FREE to all.


Easby Abbey, Easby, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 7EU
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