Restoring Selby Abbey

Restoring Selby Abbey

The great Norman Abbey of Selby, founded under William the Conqueror by Royal Charter, celebrates its 950th anniversary in 2019.

The Abbey is one of the few churches with monastic foundations to have survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries largely intact other than Westminster Abbey and those that gained cathedral status. As a result, it is one of the largest parish churches in England. The view from the Abbey’s Nave has been described as one of the most beautiful, powerful and intriguing church interiors in the land.

The Abbey gives the impression of unchanging serenity and poise, of a single inspiration reaching out from past centuries. The reality is dramatically different.

The North Yorkshire Abbey has survived centuries of political and religious turmoil as well as two disastrous fires. In recent decades, its existence has been threatened by extensive damage to its limestone that time and the elements have inflicted. So serious had the situation become that in 2002 the Abbey faced closure and was placed on the World Monuments’ Watch List of the World’s 100 Most Endangered Historic Sites.

The Selby Abbey Trust has helped transform the Abbey’s fortunes with the completion of a £6-million restoration programme. In a building of such antiquity it is inevitable that there will always be fresh challenges and the Abbey is now facing a major new threat.

The Challenge

Recent inspections confirm that failing lead on the roofs and multiple cracks in the asphalt gutters are allowing water into the Abbey and as a result stonework, much of it medieval is becoming eroded and damaged. The defects are worsening the decay. The next most urgent areas of repair are the Nave gutters; Nave South Aisle roof and the North Transept’s west gutter. All of these high-level gutters and roofs have reached the end of their lives and need replacing. Doing so requires expensive site access adjacent to areas that are also in need of masonry repair – especially the parapets.

£3 million is the estimated cost of the restoration needed to keep water out of the fabric of the abbey.

The Selby Abbey Trust is determined to face this latest challenge and has launched the 950th Anniversary Roof Appeal.

We have achieved so much in recent years with your generous support but we are asking for your help once more.

Recently Completed Works

Stonework restoration of the Western Bays of the South Choir Aisle £482,000
Restoration of the Scriptorium and Choir School, including pinnacles and gargoyles £800,000
The stonework restoration of the Eastern Bays of the South Choir Aisle £400,000
Re-glazing of the fourteenth century Washington Window costs met in full by The British American Tobacco Company £35,000
Replacement of Heating System £120,000
Restoration and re-glazing of the great East Window and restoration of the East End £545,000
Restoration of the Latham Chapel and North Choir Aisle £1,1 million
West End restoration £587,000
Abbots’ Tomb Slabs £16,000
Choir Lighting £12,000
Bell Augmentation and Tower Safety Works £38,000
Upgrading of the Electrical System £190,000
Installation of a modern Lavatory Facility £80,000
Conservation and repair of the medieval North Porch £220,000
Restoration and Repair of Hill organ £520,000
Repair of Carillon £25,000
Conservation and Relocation of Norman Font (ongoing) £49,000

The Hill Organ

We have reached our target. The project has been completed and funds have also been raised to purchase and repair the unique Harrison & Harrison console from Manchester Cathedral which will remain in the nave to support the liturgy and be available for concerts. For further details about the Hill organ go to

The Conservation of the Norman Font

Our stone Norman Font is currently situated in an awkward location and is in need of repair. Its superb ten foot medieval wooden cover, much of it original, also requires careful conservation. The cost of the project is £49,000. Once completed, our aim is to move the font to the centre of the nave aisle so that this important artefact has a greater liturgical and architectural prominence within the Abbey. Our aspiration is to complete the project by September 2018.

With Your Support

Selby Abbey has survived and will continue to survive because so many people care about its future. The Abbey fascinates historians, delights visitors, inspires artists and fills the towns-people with pride. It provides comfort and joy to all those who worship here because, above all, Selby Abbey continues to perform its primary function as a parish church.


For further details on all our projects and for ways that you can help, please make contact with the Appeal Office:

Brigadier Jeremy Gaskell OBE
Selby Abbey Appeal Office
The Rose House
Old Malton
North Yorkshire
YO17 6RF
United Kingdom

Tel No: 01653 697320

Alternatively contact the Abbey Office tel no. 01757 703123 or