Baysdale Abbey

A Grade II listed bridge across Black Beck is the only visible remains of the Cistercian nunnery which was established in the 13th century in this most secluded of the North York Moors dales. It’s a uphill drive out along a narrow road which is frequently closed in snowy winters. According to Pevsner the long house in the photo has date stones of 1633 and 1812.

At the time of the Dissolution there were nine nuns living in Basedale as it was called then. They all came from wealthy families and seemed to have been quite a rum lot. It is recorded that they were disobedient with one prioress reprimanded for her “excess and perpetual misdeeds”. Baysdale was actually the third site for the nunnery. Originally it was established in Hutton Lowcross but soon the nuns were in disgrace and in dispute with their neighbours. A new Priory and mill was built on land at Nunthorpe near Great Ayton but apparently their behaviour did not improve and before long the ecclesiastical authorities moved them again, this time to isolated Baysdale. This would have been around 1189. A case of out of sight … I wonder what the nuns actually got up to.


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