Furness Abbey north of Barrow in Furness was founded by Stephen Count of Boulogne, later King of England. In 1147, it was passed to the Cisternans who enlarged the building in the 12th and 13 centuries, and most of the ruins date from this period. As part of the English Reformation under the order of Henry VIII, the abbey was secularised in 1537. It stands on the famous Cistercian way, and ancient pathway through the area that’s now popular with tourists and hikers.
Today, the Gothic abbey’s ruins, with most exterior walls and much of the impressive stone decoration still intact, are an impressive and evocative sight in themselves. Visitors can also view the famous Furness Crozier, a bishop’s staff with a crook on top made in silver-gilt and copper along with an impressive gemstone ring. Both date back over 500 years.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entry to the abbey is via paid ticket; English Heritage members can go free.
- The crozier and ring plus information panels and stone carvings can be explored in the Visitor’s Center.
- There is a children’s playground and picnic tables on site, plus vending machines selling drinks and snacks.
- There’s a souvenir shop on site.
- The site is wheelchair accessible although the ground is very soft which might prove problematic for electric wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Furness Abbey is north of the coastal town of Barrow-in-Furness on the edge of the Lake District. A scenic rail journey connects the town with Lancaster, from where there are direct connections to London. More active visitors might consider undertaking the Cistercian Way walk, a 25-mile (40-kilometer) route along Morecambe Bay, visiting historic sites along the way.
When to Get There
Furness Abbey is located in Northern England in the picturesque Lake District region. The Abbey's opening times vary by season so it's best to check before visiting.
Haunted Abbey You may hear stories during your visit of the ghosts that haunt the grounds of Furness Abbey. Reports of the supernatural include the spirit of a monk who has been seen climbing a staircase, a squire's daughter who still searches for her long-lost love along a stretch known as My Lady's Walk, and a headless monk on horseback.
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