|The remains of The Chapter House, Thornton Abbey|
Thornton Abbey was constructed in the middle of the twelfth century, under the instructions of William de Gros, The Earl of Yorkshire. It is situated four miles south of the River Humber on the Lincolnshire side of that great waterway.
Incredibly, the stone used in the abbey's construction was hewn sixty miles away near Tadcaster. It is believed that the thousands of tons of stone required were transported to the site on wooden barges. First along The River Wharfe into the Ouse, then along the Humber before turning into a narrow stream called Skitter Brook. Just getting all that stone to the abbey site was a phenomenal achievement.
|Carving of an unnmaed apostle|
|A view of the medieval gatehouse|
It was an Augustinian monastic settlement exercising enormous political, economic and spiritual sway over the north Lincolnshire region. Its influence lasted for four hundred years until Henry the Eighth began The Dissolution of the Monasteries.
In the late fourteenth century, a magnificent gatehouse had been constructed at Thornton. It was the first major brick building to be built in England. Somehow it survived The Dissolution and remains largely intact to this day. After the 1540's, Thornton Abbey fell into a state of neglect. Most of its walls were knocked down and local people effectively used it as a quarry for building stone.
|A window in the medieval gatehouse|
Only the foundations and part of the chapter house remain. The abbey had clearly been a vast and ambitious complex in which the craftsmanship of skilled stone masons was fully exercised. It must have towered over the landscape like something from another world.
It's off the beaten track but I was there on Saturday morning before travelling on to Hull City's KCom Stadium for the Birmingham City match. Thornton Abbey is a place where if you close your eyes you can imagine the march of history, echoing through the years. The yelling of the stone masons. The chanting of monks. The ominous thunder of Henry VIII's horses.