This is a lovely site high above a bend on the River Tees, close to Barnard Castle. There isn’t a lot left of the abbey but it is a delightful spot to drop out on a sunny day.
It was founded by the Premonstratensian ‘white canons’ founded between 1195-8. It was always small and not very wealthy and frequently unable to pay its taxes. There were never more than fifteen canons. Several served as vicars of nearby churches.
After the Dissolution, the north and east ranges were converted into a mansion with a kitchen installed in the western range. The tower of the abbey church was demolished as it spoilt the view from the new house. After a new hall was built at Rokeby and the estate workers continued to live here until the late 1800s when it fell into disrepair. It is now in the guardianship of English Heritage.
The ruins include part of the nave and chancel of the C13th church. The tomb under the crossing with its top missing was that of Sir Ralph Bowes. A stone and wooden staircase leads to the first floor of the monks living quarters. Below is the undercroft still with its big fireplace. The cloisters and other monastic buildings are marked by outlines in the grass. The east wall of the mansion stand to nearly its full height and the undercroft with its large fireplace still survives.
The abbey is open daily between 10-6 and is free. There is plenty of parking by it.
DISABLED ACCESS Access is through a metal gate. The site is flat and covered with rough mown grass. There is level access into the remains of the buildings except for the stairs to the monks living quarters, but there isn’t a lot to see up there.