“ Rievaulx, Helmsley, York YO62 5LJ. Tel 01439 798340 · Fax 01439 748284 „
This review will focus on Rievaulx Terrance and Temples and this is a separate attraction to Rievaulx Abbey.
The National Trust purchased/ was given this property in 1972. It was originally part of the Duncombe estate and built by Thomas Duncombe in 1758 when he inherited the Duncombe estate. His desire really was to show off to his family friends and visitors the Ryedale scenery and Rievaulx Abbey in style.
There are two classical Georgian temples set on an elevated grass terrace one at each end. These are called the Doric or Tuscan temple and the Iconic temple. The floor of the Doric temple was scavenged from the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. It is because its fragile nature that you can only admire this from the windows of the temple. You can go into the Iconic temple this is more than a simple folly it is a dining room with a what was a fully equipped kitchen below to served food both hot and cold to the Guests. The dining room is laid out ready for guests to arrive. The ceilings are wonderfully painted and the walls covered with works of art. It really is a testimony to entertaining on a grand scale by the Georgian's.
In the downstairs part of the temple there is an exhibition about the temples and English Landscape design.
Where is it and getting there?
By road its 2½ miles north west of Helmsley on B1257 bewared this road is a bit bendy and a straight up hill and is often full of motorbikes. You can cycle there but your calves will ache when you get to the top of the hill.
It is on a Moorsbus M8 route from Helmsley Sunday and Bank Holidays mid March-October, daily late July-August. Discounted entry is offered for visitors using the Moorsbus but I am unsure of the rate.
Parking is in tree line bays but if you are disabled there is a small car parking area that is right by the entrance to the visitors centre.
This is just a small property that the National Trust own but is certainly worth combining with either a visit to the Abbey itself which is owned by English heritage or Nunnington Hall which is near by and also owned by the National Trust.
We have been here several times during the different seasons and because of this you notice numerous changes to the landscape. In the spring it is a beautiful short walk through the beech woodland with the sound of birds chirping their mating calls. As you scan the vista you can see landscape both beneath the trees and on the horizon carpeted with spring flowers such as snowdrops and crocuses and wild flowers. On those autumnal days the crunching of leaves underneath your feet is wonderful as are the stunning array of colours in the canopy above you. During both of the seasons I would suggest wrapping up well as the wind from the exposed hills can rattle through your bones. The path underfoot we have found can take a pushchair and you don't need the muscles of Hercules to push it either. Throughout the wood there are various points for children to see as part of the woodland trail and to help them identify trees and some local wildlife.
Once you are on the grass terrace you can capture glimpses of the Abbey through the trees. They have been planted and cut to allow you to see the Abbey from slightly different angles and to show it at its best. You can't walk direct from here down to the Abbey, as the hill is just to steep and blocked off. We have been very fortunate to see what I think was a sparrow hawk here and I would advise bird lovers to bring their binoculars as you often see sparrow hawks and kestrels in the area. In fact the kestrels have been know to nest in both temples.
The woodland walk brings you out at the Doric temple you can climb the steps here and peer in at the floor and a marble table inside. I think this temple is really interesting only from an architectural point of view and the floor from the abbey. It is very similar to a folly at near by Castle Howard.
The Iconic temple is just wonderful and it really is just like taking a step back in time with dining table, twelve chairs, set ready with Chamberlain Worcester porcelain for a meal. It is almost as if people are just going to walk in for lunch any minute. The interior is richly plastered, and is magnificently frescoed with mythological scenes taken from Italian masterpieces. The guide here is always willing to answer questions I have found and direct your gaze to interesting parts of the fresco that you may have missed.
The visitor's centre is really just a Portakbin style centre with a small shop and a coffee machine for drinks. There are toilets available as well. But this is a small property and with Helmsley I don't think it would justify a café really. There are plenty of benches around the walks for you to pause and soak in the views. The grassy areas is perfect for picnics on a warm summers day.
There are baby-changing facilities in both the men's and women's toilets with nappy bins. The inclusion of family trails gives children things to look out for on the visit, which is fun. The green space on the terrace is ideal for a bit of energy use to get the little one tired. The paths are ok for pushchairs.
As mentioned earlier there is a separate parking area at the front of the visitors centre. There is a separate entrance for wheelchair users. Disabled toilets are provided. The grounds are partly accessible to wheelchairs due to the nature of some of the paths and steps to the temples. You can borrow a single seater mobility vehicle but this must be booked in advance as you need to be shown how it works.
Open 28th Feb-1st Nov 2009
Open every day 11-5 last entrance 1 hour before closing Ionic Temple closed 1-2
Telephone: 01439 798340 (summer)01439 798340 (summer)01439 748283 (winter)
Gift Aid Admission:
A great attraction to visit for a few hours probably best to combine this with a trip to other attractions in the area as this one will fill just a couple of hours. Some stunning views of the countryside and if you are lucky you will see some birds of prey.
This is a National Trust property, and depending which option you choose on your SatNav it's either just a bit further on from Stokesley and quite a nice drive, or it's miles away and out in the middle of nowhere! I know this because I chose 'fastest route' on the way there (one hour 10 minutes) and much of it on winding uphill roads, stuck behind a van with all the engine power of your average milk float. On the way back I opted for shortest route (one hour 20 minutes), virtually the same distance in miles, but driving through nice villages.
According to the brochure I was given, it was created between 1749 and 1757 by Thomas Duncombe II. It's a fairly small site consisting of two temples of classical Georgian design, and a nice little walkway. Sadly, I visited at lunchtime and the temples themselves were closed, but apparently one (or maybe both?) feature ceiling paintings with mythological scenes.
There is free parking, and you have to travel about a mile or so along a very narrow path to get up there. Some people are fitter than me, and they chose to walk - I'm not daft, I stuck to the car! Anyway, free parking at the top, which is great.
At the entrance, there is a little shop where you pay to get in, and also you can buy some goodies. They have some lovely little souvenirs, including wooden ornaments, and books, and other things like tea towels. I was really quite tempted by the sweets and jams, but in the end I decided not to bother as I felt they were very over-priced.
The lady on duty was lovely, and she chatted to me as I browsed, made me feel really welcome, and gave me lots of information about becoming a member of the National Trust. This kind of place is obviously much more popular than I had ever considered, and while she was giving me this little talk, two or three other visitors arrived, and they all chimed in to tell me how wonderful it was to be a member of the National Trust (if I hadn't known better, I'd have thought they were on commission!!).
I was told the walk around the site is approximately one mile, and taking a steady wander (with a few stops along the way to admire the scenery), it took me just a little over an hour. I started with a quiet wander through an absolutely gorgeous wood, which was filled with trees and bluebells. It had the most amazing magical feel to it. I could have stayed there for hours! Then you come out into the open and there is a large grassed area (I think this is the 'terrace' from the place name) with a temple at each end. Personally I was more interested in the wood and the fantastic views than the architecture, but I accept for some people this would be a great attraction. There are a number of park benches dotted around for people to sit and just soak in the atmosphere.
As you walk along the grassed area from one temple to the other, there is a fantastic view overlooking Rievaulx Abbey. Sadly, this is not part of the National Trust, so you would have to pay separately if you wanted to visit there, too. This amazing view was something I could happily have sat and gazed at for hours. The whole place had a really relaxing, and almost other-worldly feel, and was very calming.
There was one thing I really didn't like, though, and that was the way the grassed area just fell away sharply at one side. It was an almost sheer drop and was not fenced off. I thought this was extremely dangerous, and would have said this made the place unsuitable for families with young children (although I did see a family with young children having a picnic in the woods, so perhaps I am just too much of a worrier?).
I was very pleased to note the toilets were clean, and they had a disabled toilet, too. All in all, I was very impressed with this place, it's definitely worth a visit if you like this type of thing. Good for scenery. Personally, I felt there was not enough to occupy children, although I'm sure they would adore playing in the woods.
At the time of writing (May 2009) prices are as follows:
£5 per adult
£2.75 per child
01439 798340 (summer)
01439 748283 (winter)
As I understand it, if you become a member of the National Trust, you get into all NT properties for free (well, I mean as part of your membership), so if you plan on visiting a few different places, it may make financial sense to join.
Rievaulx Abbey is one of the finest examples of a Cistercian Abbey that you are likely to find. A mere stone’s throw from Helmsley, it is accessible by car and by a summer time only shuttle bus. There is also a trail that can be followed from Helmsley, across country to the Abbey, which takes about an hour and a half and incorporates the first couple of miles of the Cleveland Way. At the entrance to the Abbey is a small gift shop and an exhibition about the history of the Abbey. Rievaulx was founded in 1132 and soon became the matriarch of the Cistercian movement in England. In its heyday the abbey housed 140 monks and 500 lay brothers but this number was cruelly cut as a result of the Black Death in 1348. After this, the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII and his supporters laid waste to the beautiful building. Rievaulx was one of the largest Cistercian monasteries in the country and was left a mere shadow of its former self by Henry. Many walls were razed to the ground and the roof was stripped of lead. However, there is still much to be seen. The aisle walls of the Abbey church are now gone but you can still see the upper windows supported by the columns in the nave. The triple arched nave is unusual because they are normally built East to West but because Rievaulx is built on a sloping valley its nave is built North to South. Rievaulx Terrace cannot be accessed from the Abbey site. Instead you have to go along the B1257 north-west of the town. The Terrace covers about half a mile and compromises grass terraces and woodland, originally built to enhance the Abbey’s views. The views are magnificent and at either end of the terrace are temples, one Tuscan and one Ionic. The Tuscan Temple houses a permanent exhibition on 18th Century English landscape design and has a painted ceiling and amazing furniture. Rievaulx makes for an amazing day out. I particularly like going round ruin such as these
and of the many that I have been to, Rievaulx is a firm favourite.. Rievaulx Abbey is open daily from April to September 10am – 6pm, October to March 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm and costs £2.60 (free to members of English Heritage). Rievaulx Terrace is open Easter – October daily 10.30am – 6pm (or dusk if earlier) and costs £2.80 (free if member of National Trust).