Selby Abbey - History and Facts | History Hit

Selby Abbey

Selby, England, United Kingdom

In existence since 1069, Selby Abbey has been used for worship for over 900 years. In the heart of Yorkshire and often known as the hidden gem of the county, it is not especially well known despite being unmatched in its beauty and archaic stance.

Amy Irvine

08 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey is a beautiful Norman church in the heart of Yorkshire, England, with a history dating back to 1069 AD.

History of Selby Abbey

The original Selby Abbey was constructed towards the end of the 11th century after a monk, known as Benedict of Auxerre, had a vision where he was called by St. Germain to build a new monastery at ‘Selebiae’.

Over the next 500 years approximately 35 abbots led Selby Abbey, with constant additions being added to the structure. Over time, the abbey became one of the most renowned churches in England, with regular visits from kings and nobility, who often bestowed ornate gifts upon it.

Following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, although the church building itself survived, Selby Abbey became a shadow of its former self and was left to slowly decay – with large parts of the structure, including the central tower, falling to ruin.

However, the history and legacy of this great building led many to campaign for its restoration, and in the middle of the 19th century the church was repaired and reconstructed. Despite further fire damage in 1906, Selby Abbey was once again sympathetically restored.

Selby Abbey today

Today, visitors can tour the Grade I listed Selby Abbey when it’s not in use for services and explore the rich narrative of this historic church. The abbey often hosts concerts and performances from a host of renowned acts, and is free to enter, open 10am-4pm daily. Free guided tours are available.

Selby Abbey is stillI an active place of worship and often has weddings and christenings taking place. A restoration programme is also underway.

Getting to Selby Abbey

The Abbey is located at the heart of Selby – less than 30 minutes from the centre of York, and is 5 minutes’ walk from the train and bus stations and 2 minutes’ walk from the nearest bus stop and car-park.

The Abbey is a short distance from both the M62, A1(M) and A19. Buses from Selby cover York, Goole, Cawood, Leeds, Doncaster and Pontefract. By train, Selby is a main stop on the Transpennine, Northern Rail and Hull Trains services.