Location : Barrow-in-Furness
Grid Ref : SD 220716
Furness Abbey was one of the richest Cistercian monasteries in England, exceeded only by Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. The soaring ruins of red sandstone soak up the grandeur of this 900 year old site.
Located in a peaceful valley, the majestic remains of Furness Abbey once housed the flourishing community of a wealthy order. With the aid of an audio tour, or the comprehensive guidebook you can walk around the many buildings with made up the Abbey, including the Precint and Outer Court, the Church with its North and South Transept and Tower, the Cloister Court, Chapter House, the dormitory, infirmary and kitchen.
It was founded by Count (later King) Stephen of Boulogne c.1125, but much of the structure is the later Cistercian, as opposed to the original Savignac.
The Abbey developed a harbour on Walney Island to promote its trade in wool and iron, and built a castle at Piel for protection. At Dalton in Furness, nearby, is a 14th Century Pele Tower, Dalton Castle, which was used by the Abbey as an administrative centre and court house.
The careful planning of water supplies and drainage channels is especially evident here, with a water course running through the site, under the kitchen building, and the toilets.
The visitor centre houses an education centre and an extensive exhibition about the history of the Abbey. Various pieces of stone from the Abbey have been placed here for protection. An audio tour taking you round the Abbey is available.
The Abbey is in the care of English Heritage