Friday, 27 March 2009

Selby Abbey

Many of the abbeys made redundant after the dissolution became cathedrals (if they were in the right place) or were pulled down (if they were not). Selby Abbey survived as the town's parish church - thus endowing this modest, Yorkshire market town with one of the largest and most splendid parish churches in the UK.

Built on the scale of a cathedral, the church was begun shortly after the Norman conquest, and much of the present interior dates from this period. The nave arcade piers are pure Norman romanesque, the style derived from those in Durham Cathedral. The nave was completed in the Early English Gothic style, but the chancel dates from the Decorated style of Gothic, in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, and is a particularly rich example of this period.

The great East Window is also in the Decorated style, and contains its original mediaeval glass, depicting a tree of Jesse. More 14th century glass contains the coat of arms of the Washington family - stars and stripes - later used as the model for the US flag.

From the outside, the church is beautifully composed, set amongst lawns and trees, with its strict cruciform plan and high central tower complimented by twin west towers. The whole setting is delightful.

The Crescent, Selby, North Yorkshire YO8 4PU

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