In the 12th century the park at Grimsthorpe was still covered in dense woodland, and it is thought that the Earl of Albemarle granted the use of this land to the Cistercian Order of monks. They sent an abbot and 13 monks from Fountains Abbey to clear the land and build. The monks called the area Vallis Dei, meaning the valley of God, today known as The Vaudey.
The monks created stews, or fishponds. They cleared and enclosed land to hold deer. The wealth of the monastery was based on the wool trade that declined in the 14th century. Bu the time the Abbey was suppressed, on the orders of Henry VIII in 1536, few monks remianed.
By 1736 little was left of the Abbey buildings and a local antiquarian, William Stukeley, noted that 'the foundations of the ruins of the abbey generally remain from the gatehouse to the dovecote'.
On 18 July 2006 the park rangers were carrying out some routine work in the park, not too far from the Abbey site, when they had to try and move a large stone. This stone turned out to be an intricately carved piece of limestone that will almost certainly have come from the Abbey. The two photos show how it has a square hole cut into one face and delicately carved sides. Was this once fixed on top of a column to provide support for vaulted arches? Contact us if you have any ideas about its function and location within the abbey building.
During some excavation work in the river bed during April, three large pieces of carved stone were discovered. They look as though they could have formed part of an archway. It is hoped that one piece will be put on display in the information room during the summer.