The ruins of St Mary's Abbey stand amidst the lawns of the Museum Gardens. The abbey was once the most important and influential benedictine monastaries in the north of England. It was founded in approximately 1088 by King William Rufus and thrived until the 16th century when it was demolished by King Henry the VIII.
St Mary's Abbey is also associated with the legend of Robin Hood. Supposedly a friend of Robins', Sir Richard of the Lee, borrowed some money from the Abbot and being unable repay the money was about to be foreclosed upon and have his lands seized. Robin Hood lent him the money and Little John went with Sir Richard to York to repay the debt.
Near the entrance to S tMary's Abbey are the remains of St Leonards Hospital. It used to be the guest hall for pilgrims and other visitors to St. Mary's Abbey but is now part of the Yorkshire Museum and houses exhibitions on a regular basis.
Strolling through the wonderful Museum Gardens, I discovered this interesting building, but unfortunately, there was not a lot of information about it on the nearby sign, so I did some more research at home.
This timber framed building was constructed in the 14th century and it belonged to the nearby abbey, probably used as accommodation for visitors. Other suggestions are that it might have been used to store goods. You can see that the lower parts of the buildings are made of stone, like this it was protected from floods. These stone parts are the oldest part of the building, probably built around 1310, while the half-timbered were added some decades later.
Over the centuries, the old building had many different uses: It was used for farming, and later in the 19th century became a museum. Today it is a venue that can be hired for functions and weddings.
Directions: Museum Gardens
When you enter the Museum Gardens from Museum Street, there is a ruin on the right-hand side. This is St Leoard's Hospital.
The ruin now looks rather small, but in the Middle Ages this was an impressive building and a very important institution. The hospital was built in 1137 upon the remains of an even older hospital that had been destroyed by a fire. Some of the stonework even dates back to the Romans. The hospital was not only a place where the old and the ill were cared for, but it also gave alms to the poor. For several centuries, this was the most important hospital in Northern England, but during the reign of Henry VIII it was severely reduced because of its close ties to the Minster.
The remains you can see today are mostly from the hospital's chapels, and if the fence is open, you can also visit a part of the vaults. Usually when I went there, the fence was closed, though - it seems that the vaults were used by people to hang around and leave their rubbish, therefore the fence might be there to protect the historic ruins.
Adress: Museum Street/Museum Gardens
Directions: At the entrance to the gardens
Founded in about 1080AD by Stephen Of Lastingham, St Mary's Abbey was one of the largest and wealthiest Benedictine Abbeys in the country. The abbey was demolished by King Henry VIII in 1540 and has stood as a ruin ever since.
Situated in the green expanse of the Museum gardens is the Yorkshire Museum, which displays some of the finest Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval treasure ever discovered in Britain. Unique thirteenth century statues from the nearby St Mary's Abbey can also be seen here.
On a warm summer's day though it seemed most people wanted to laze on the grass outside.
The remains of St Mary's Abbey are quite delightful and situated in the museum gardens. This abbey was the first monastic house to be established in Yorkshire after the Norman Conquest.
The Multangular Tower is situated at the entrance to The Museum Gardens off Museum Street. There used to be white peacocks around here but I have not seen them in recent years.