Established as a Benedictine monastery in 1088, St Mary’s Abbey was situated inside the York’s city walls on the north bank of the river Ouse. There are several parts of ruins that still remain to this day, and you can enjoy them in full for free in the beautiful Museum Gardens in York.
Unlike many other abbeys, this one was in a central position with a lot of contact with the outside world. The Abbey sits opposite the Minster, and it quickly became a powerful and wealthy estate.
In fact they were one of the city’s biggest landowners, and many local merchants resented their prosperity. They were notoriously self-indulgent and extremely wealthy, at the time the abbot was one of the most powerful clergymen. Some speculate that one of the abbots never left his beloved monastery. Many people that live close to the site have witnessed a dark figure (resembling a monk) wandering around these ancient ruins after dark accompanied by the sound of coins jingling with his every step.
Today, the ruins and beauty of the park surrounding it can be enjoyed from dusk until dawn for free. The location next to the river Ouse is very peaceful and serene on an early morning, and bustling with life and things to do during the day.