Selby Abbey

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Selby Abbey
The West Front
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Broad Church
Dedication St Mary the Virgin and St Germain
Parish Selby
Deanery Selby
Archdeaconry York
Diocese York
Province York
Priest(s) The Revd Canon John Weetman
Assistant priest The Revd Robb Wainwright
Honorary priest(s) The Revd Canon Roy Matthews
Organist/Director of music Dr Roger Tebbet

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


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.


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 15th century[2] 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.

The Washington family coat of arms in 15th century stained glass at Selby Abbey, England


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.[3] World Monuments Fund committed more than $800,000 to exterior work, including roof repairs, beginning in 2002.


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

A new organ was built by William Hill dating from 1909, with restorations by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1950 and John T. Jackson in 1975.[4]


Bishop of Selby[edit]

The West End of the Abbey

The Bishop of Selby is a Suffragan Bishop to the Archbishop of York and oversees the Archdeaconry of York, which includes the Deanery of Selby.

The Choir in the East End of the Abbey

Selby Abbey is one of twenty members of the Greater Churches Group.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Selby and Tadcaster History". Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Washington Window". Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Restoring Selby Abbey: The Challenge We Face, Selby Abbey. Retrieved on 23 May 2009.
  4. ^ National Pipe Organ Register
  5. ^ Hampshire Telegraph - Saturday 20 August 1864
  6. ^ Yorkshire Gazette - Saturday 3 December 1881
  7. ^ Thornsby, Frederick W., ed. (1912) Dictionary of Organs and Organists. Bournemouth : Logan.
  8. ^ Thornsby, Frederick W., ed. (1921) Dictionary of Organs and Organists; 2nd ed. London: G. A. Mate
  9. ^ Hull Daily Mail - Friday 7 January 1921
  10. ^ Hull Daily Mail 7 March 1922
  11. ^ Who's Who in Music. First Post-war Edition: 1949/50. London: Shaw Publishing Co. Ltd.
  12. ^ International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory. International Bibliographical Centre (Cambridge), 1988

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°47′04″N 1°04′05″W / 53.78444°N 1.06806°W / 53.78444; -1.06806