Situated in a peaceful valley on the outskirts of Barrow-in-Furness, the ruins of this Cistercian monastery, is one of the area’s most popular tourist attractions.
The abbey was established in 1123 in Preston by Stephen, grandson of William the Conqueror, and King of England from 1135 to 1154. In 1127 it moved to its present site in the Vale of Deadly Nightshade, between Barrow and Dalton.
It was originally built for the Order of Savigny but in 1147 was absorbed by the Cistercians.
Income from iron mining, sheep and cattle farming, and other industries made the abbey one of the richest and most powerful in the country. Threats from Scottish raiders led to the establishment of castles at Dalton and Piel Island.
In 1537 the abbey was dissolved and destroyed under the order of Henry VIII during the English Reformation.
The red sandstone ruins left standing date mainly from the late 12th and 15th century. They became a popular tourist attraction with the opening of the Furness Abbey train station in the mid-19th century. The station has now closed but the scenic Furness Line, running from Barrow to Lancaster, is still open.
The site today is maintained by English Heritage. A museum explores the history of the abbey and contains a number of rare stone carvings.
For Furness Abbey opening times and admission prices visit the English Heritage website.
The Abbey House Hotel offers 3-star accommodation next to the site.