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Rosedale Abbey
Rosedale Abbey.jpg
Rosedale Abbey
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OS grid reference SE726955
• London 200 mi (320 km) S
  • Ryedale
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district YO18
Dialling code 01751
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
  • Thirsk and Malton
List of places
54°21′00″N 0°52′59″W / 54.35°N 0.883°W / 54.35; -0.883

Rosedale Abbey is a village in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England. It is situated approximately 8 miles (13 km) north-west from Pickering, 8 miles south-east from Castleton, and within Rosedale, part of the North York Moors National Park.


A Cistercian Priory (Rosedale Priory) once stood on the site. All that is left today is a staircase turret, a sundial and a single stone pillar. Some headstones that seem to belong to nuns have been reported, though it is unclear whether they remained in situ. Founded in 1158 or earlier, the priory was inhabited by a small group of nuns who are credited with being the first people to farm sheep commercially in the region - a quintessentially Cistercian practice driven by the order's desire to live "far from the concourse of men".

Little is known of the Priory. Unlike their male counterparts in nearby Fountains or Rievaulx Abbeys, the nuns were probably not fluent writers. Furthermore, the Cistercians were famed for their hostility to women, leaving nuns aiming to follow the Cistercian life in an awkward, unofficial position, only partially connected to the rest of the Order. This is compounded by the fact that a house for nuns could not be founded, as male Cistercian abbeys were, by a party of religious being sent out from a pre-existing abbey, able to trace its filiation all the way to the mother-house at Citeaux. Because of this, it is extremely difficult to guess at what the Priory would have looked like (whereas Cistercian abbeys are highly formulaic). What stone remains is well finished and laid, but it is unclear where in the church it would have been, and what ancillary buildings might have surrounded that church. Indeed, this whole chapter of the valley's history is little understood, with only a handful of references remaining. There are records suggesting the nuns at one point had to be moved following a raid by Scots. Another record reprimands the nuns for financial mismanagement and urges them not to give away so much in aid to the poor that they bankrupt themselves. Another reprimand tells them not to allow visitors into their dormitory, while another warns them against allowing puppies into the church, lest they disturb the service. It seems from these records that there was probably a steady population of between half a dozen and a dozen nuns.

The priory ceased to operate in 1536 due to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The buildings were left to decay, with what remained eventually being dismantled in the 19th century. The stone was reclaimed all around the village - including a new church close to the priory church. but there are also suspiciously well-carved lintels built in to garden walls, and sheds with well-cut ashlar stone. Many of the buildings that exist in the village now have distinctly Gothic windows, and two of the churches at least have circular windows (a common feature of Cistercian churches, which were all dedicated to the Virgin Mary, of whom circular windows were a sign). It is unlikely that many (if any) of these stylistic details are remnants of the priory. They speak more of the Victorian sensibilities prevalent at the time the village's population soared, but may well have mimicked traditions set out by the priory.

It is worth noting, too, that there is evidence that the local water-courses have been carefully managed - another common feature of Cistercian landscapes, and that there is a Grange in Rosedale (Grange being the term for a monastic farm). While it is easy to dismiss the priory as a small concern, based on the small number of nuns and lack of surviving ruins, we must remember that Fountains Abbey is unlikely to have held more than a few dozen choir monks for much of its life, so really all we can say is that Rosedale Priory could have been very small, or could have been quite big, or could have been somewhere in-between.

In the 19th century an iron ore mining industry was established. The population of the valley expanded rapidly until the demise of the mines in the 1920s. The standard-gauge Rosedale Branch railway line ran round the head of the valley, serving mine workings on either side, and across the moors to reach what is now the Esk Valley Line at Battersby Junction.


Rosedale Abbey comprises a collection of stone houses, and public houses, St Mary & St Lawrence Church, an art gallery, tea room, a sandwich shop, glass studio and a village green.

Tourism in the area has developed into a major industry, with many smaller properties renovated for private holiday homes or as self-catering accommodation. Hotels, larger properties, and farms provide bed and breakfast accommodation.

Recently a local parish council election attracted candidates opposed to the construction of affordable housing close to their properties.

The Rosedale Show is held in the village each August, and attracts some 5,000 visitors. The show dates back to 1871 and is one of the oldest in North Yorkshire.

The notoriously steep road known as Chimney Bank starts in the village.

For such a small village Rosedale boasts both a football and cricket team. The football team managed by Alastair Wilkinson competes in the Ryedale Beckett League Division 1 and the Cricket Team Captained by William Sullivan competes in the Feversham League which they won in the 2019 season.

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