“ At Selby Abbey we are always open to considering any approaches made to us from those wanting to make use of this splendid and historic building. We always enjoy working with those who come to enjoy and to make use of the Abbey for a variety of purposes and like to adopt a ‘can do’ mentality as far as possible. ”

The Vicar

Architectural History

Founded in 1069 by Benedict of Auxerre, the present building dates from the time of the second Abbot, Hugh who came to Selby from Durham. Work began in 1100 and the Nave still bears a resemblance to that of Durham Cathedral in its Norman style of architecture. The original east end was replaced by an enlarged Quire in the fourteenth century in the Decorated Gothic style as the Abbey grew in size and importance. The Abbey Church survived the Dissolution of 1539 as it was adopted by the people of the market town of Selby that had grown up around the Abbey, but all the other monastic buildings disappeared over the ensuing centuries. Worship continued in the former monks Quire, while the pewless Nave hosted markets, stabled horses and barracked soldiers among its varied uses, until the Abbey was restored to its former glory by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the late Victorian period. A major fire destroyed much of his internal work in 1906 but was carefully replicated by his son, John Oldrid Scott, in a very successful restoration that saw the Abbey re-opened just two years later.

Architectural Features

The Abbey is built out of the same local magnesian limestone as York Minster. Internally, the warmth of the stone walls is enhanced by the wooden ceilings in both Nave (flat) and Quire (vaulted) – each adorned with gilded roof bosses. The Abbey is cruciform with a central tower (and two western towers) and a Nave and Quire of roughly equal size. Large wooden doors (with inset smaller doors) give access at the west end and through the north porch, with a further slightly smaller doorway via the south transept. Access to the towers, the roofs and the clerestory/triforium levels is possible via spiral staircases in each corner.

The Quire is furnished with Scott’s interpretation of a wooden medieval monk’s Quire while the Nave contains modern chairs which can be removed to leave an open space. The old sacristy remains as a multi-purpose room off the south Quire aisle. The medieval Great East Window is a notable feature while other windows (including both large transept windows) mostly contain Victorian stained glass. Some original gargoyles/grotesques remain but these have been supplemented on the exterior of the Quire by some award winning new carvings in recent years. The Hill organ is world-renowned, having featured in some celebrated recordings made by EMI with Fernando Germani in 1961 (a major restoration of the organ will be completed in 2016).

Filming Attributes

The Abbey contains toilets (6) and a kitchenette, and further facilities (and two rooms) are available in the Institute less than 50m from the north porch. The Abbey is situated within its own churchyard (with grass and trees at the eastern end of the Market Place in the centre of Selby town. The churchyard is surrounded by cast iron railings (18th century) on most sides and can be secured if necessary. Vehicular access is possible via gates to the north and south of the Abbey and there is a hard-standing area for parking or service vehicles within the churchyard on the northern side. A number of windows in the Nave aisles do not contain stained glass and can be used to project ‘daylight’ using special lighting from outside if necessary. While the Quire is an ‘ecclesiastical’ space, the Nave is more versatile and could be used as a medieval hall (for example) as well as a great church/cathedral. Animals are allowed and the likes of fire-eating and sword fighting have also been accommodated in the past. (Candles and torches also present no problem). Night shoots would be possible. Abbey staff and volunteers are always happy to assist in whatever way we can (and the welcome and assistance that has been given to those hiring the Abbey is frequently commented on).

Some accommodation is available in Selby itself and is plentiful within a 15 mile radius (which includes York). There are good road and rail services to Selby, with the M62 and A1(M) nearby and mainline train services to York, Doncaster, Leeds, Manchester, Hull, etc. (plus direct services to London). The bus and rail stations are both within 5 minutes walk of the Abbey and there are several short and long stay car parks in the town. (The River Ouse runs through Selby and is connected to the Aire by the Selby canal).


Crew and Relevant Links


Email: nancy.sheridan@heritage4media.com

Phone: 01757 703123

Website: www.selbyabbey.org.uk