Founded in the late 12th Century, Egglestone abbey was one of a number of British religious houses owned by the Premonstratensian order (also known as the "white canons" due to their signature white habits) who followed an austere code similar to the Cistercians.
Egglestone never enjoyed the same status as some of the great Northern abbeys and always struggled financially. This situation was exacerbated by its relative proximity to the Scottish border. On a number of occasions, it proved necessary for the authorities to write off tax debts on behalf of the abbey. Other attempts were made to boost the abbey's income, but it never overcame its troubles and always remained a poor institution, even struggling to retain the 12 canons required for a religious house. This situation wasn't helped by Egglestone's position as a border abbey, which led to it suffering directly and indirectly from the ravages of both the Scottish and English armies during the course of its history.
After its dissolution in 1540, the church was abandoned. In 1548, the monastic buildings were turned into a manor house. This didn't survive long though, and the house and many of the remaining structures were eventually pulled down for their stone.
Today, Egglestone Abbey is a modest little ruin perched on top of a lonely hill from where it overlooks the nearby river Tees. Like many of these smaller properties, access is free and the site isn't staffed. Although many buildings have been destroyed, there's still plenty here to exercise the imagination.
The site was almost deserted when we visited and I suspect it's quiet most of the time. Egglestone is off the beaten track and unlikely to attract many visitors. A beautiful location and a serene ruin.
Update (09.04.2012): Replaced most of the original images in the gallery with new ones taken during the summer of 2011.