We had move the coach to a campground at Boroughbridge so we could visit the western side of the North Yorkshire Moors and also some places on the eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales.
We headed to Helmsley a very picturesque little town. It was a very cold day. Thought this was supposed to be May!
Our first stop was Helmsley Castle. Again there was a long history to the castle. Most of the stonework defences seen today were built during the 12th and 13th centuries by the crusader Robert de Roos and his descendants. The castle has a unique D shaped keep which can be seen from the town today. It also has an Elizabethan mansion built by the Manners family. . The castle was also the site of a three month siege during the Civil War when Royalists were starved into submission by Parliamentarians led by Sir Thomas Fairfax. Fairfax dismantled the defences but spared the mansion.
So far on our journey we have visited several castles. Each time it is hard to imagine seeing the silent ruins how the life in the castles would have been with the hustle and bustle of the day.
After touring the castle we wandered round the small town before heading to Rievaulx Abbey. The Abbey was founded in 1132 by St Bernard of Clairvaux as a missionary effort to reform Christianity in Western Europe. Over time it developed into a flourishing community and one of the wealthiest monasteries in medieval England. At its height it had 140 monks and up to 500 lay brothers. They relied on fishing, mining, agriculture and the woollen industry as their main source of income. It was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII and the land given to Thomas Manners, first Earl of Rutland. It was thought provoking to think what would have happened to the monasteries if Henry VIII had not dissolved them out of greed and religious feuds. The course of history may have been very different. As we toured this huge site we learnt about the life of the monks and their daily routines and finally what happened to them on the dissolution. The monks were OK because they were given a pension but the lay brothers were left to their own devices.