Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey

Inspiring architecture; sacred space and a vibrant worshiping community make Selby Abbey the place it is today. Men and women have worshiped here and served the wider community for over 900 years. The Abbey is not just a building it is a living and vibrant part of the local community yet provides space that allow the visitor and the worshiper alike to find peace and tranquillity.

This Abbey Church, dedicated to Our Lord, Our Lady and St Germain, has been both the home to a community of monks, destroyed by fire and rebuilt by human hand and now resides at the heart of community life in this small Yorkshire town.

Benedict, a monk from Auxerre in France, experienced a vision by God where he was called by St Germain to start a new monastery at “Selebiae”. In his vision he was told the site would be marked by the presence of three swans. Benedict undertook a great journey from France to England but first took a wrong turn, confusing Salisbury with Selebiae. He then ventured through King’s Lynn until finally resting…” at the bend of the river Ouse at Selby. Three swans alighted the river at this point and three swans have been the Abby Arms ever since.

American connection

Selby Abbey contains a rare and famous feature: a 14th century Washington Window. The window shows three red stars above two red bands on a white shield which are the charges on the Washington family Arms and the model for the American flag: the Stars and Stripes. It was General George Washington, later President George Washington, 1st President of the United States of America, who held this coat of arms which became the footprint for the creation of a new flag for the newly formed country.

Jesse window

The Jesse Window at Selby Abbey is generally thought to be the one of the finest windows in England (second only to the West Window of York Minster). It consists of seven lights, with beautifully flamboyant tracery above, and was constructed in the year 1340.  

Meet the vicar

The Reverend Cannon John Weetman - John Weetman has been Vicar of the Abbey since April 2011.

International spotlight

More recently, in 2015, Jay Chou, Taiwanese singer, actor/director, record and film producer, married his model/actress girlfriend Hannah Quinlivan at Selby Abbey, an event that has since boosted visitor numbers, with international tourists flocking to see the historic location.