Construction on Furness Abbey began in 1123, with numerous alterations and additions following in the ensuing three centuries. Throughout the Middle Ages it was a stronghold of the wealthy, influential Cistercian order, a big wheel in local politics.
But if you wanted to worship here you’re almost 500 years too late; the abbey was one of the victims of Henry VIII’s “Dissolution of the Monasteries”. Nonetheless, the abbey’s ruins, with most exterior walls and much of the impressive stone decorations still intact, are an impressive and evocative sight in themselves.
Furness Abbey is in the coastal town of Barrow-in-Furness which lies to the south 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.