Selby Abbey

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Selby Abbey is an Anglican parish church in the town of Selby, North Yorkshire.

Contents

Background

It is one of the relatively few surviving abbey churches of the medieval period, and, although not a cathedral, is one of the biggest. It was founded by Benedict of Auxerre [1] in 1069 and subsequently built by the de Lacy family.

Architecture

Like York Minster, the church rests on a base of sand and has suffered from subsidence. Many sections collapsed entirely during the 17th century, and further serious damage was done by a fire of 1906 which melted the bells in the central tower. Nevertheless, extensive rebuilding and refurbishment has made the church one of the most impressive in the country. The tower is Norman, but the eastern end is in Decorated Gothic style, and the west front a mixture of Norman, Gothic and Victorian.

The interior bears some similarity to that of Durham Cathedral, on which the design was modelled. Richly-carved and moulded capitals are found throughout the church. A major feature is the east window, which contains original medieval glass and depicts the Tree of Jesse, a popular subject of that period. The chancel stonework is thought to have been designed by Henry Yevele.

A notable feature of the abbey is the 14th century Washington Window, featuring the heraldic arms of the ancestors of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The design featuring three red stars above two red bands on a white shield is said to have been the model for the US flag, and is the model for the flag of the District of Columbia.

Restoration

The Abbey is currently undergoing an extensive restoration, costing several million pounds. Stage 6, the restoration of the Scriptorium was completed at a cost of £795,000. The £400,000 cost of restoring the South Choir Aisle and the 'Washington Window' was met in full by British American Tobacco.[2]

Organ

A new organ was built by John Compton in 1906 but was soon afterwards destroyed by the fire.

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