The architecture of the Cistercian Order spread throughout much of Europe. That is why we have great examples of it in countries like France where the Fontenay Abbey is located or Spain with the Veruela Monastery. But there were also Cistercian temples on the other side of the continent, in Greece, where the famous Daphnis Monastery for a time also belonged to this religious order.
And it also spread throughout the British Isles as is clear from this monumental Rievaulx Abbey, which remains standing today, almost like a dilapidated skeleton and completely abandoned.
It is not the only Cistercian church in England in ruins. In fact, almost all of them today are in a similar state or even worse. And they are several. The truth is that the Cistercian order landed in English territory in a relatively early period, around the year 1130. From then on they built various churches of a conventual nature.
One of them is from Rievaulx, erected in 1131, and founded by Saint Bernard himself, so that its links with the French parent company were very strong. Something that of course also manifests itself in the architecture itself.
The three floors of the French churches of the time can be seen, each of them clearly separated by cornices and differentiatedfor the different types of openings. From the slightly pointed arches in the lower part, which separate the naves, to the twin openings in the upper area, passing through other paired and flared arches on the intermediate floor.
We must also highlight the pillars that support the arches of the naves, some fasciculated pillars receiving all the decorative moldings of the warhead. And as for the transept near the head, it is very prominent.
There are many elements for which it could seem that we are in a French Cistercian building. However, one of the characteristics of the temples that this order created is that it knew how to maintain those essences of its origins while hybridizing and merging them with the traditions of each place where it developed. For that reason there are details that are a clear approach to the forms of the so-called Early English Style, the first Gothic English, and whose maximum exponent and more pure is the majestic Salisbury Cathedral. Although other cathedrals in England bear witness to this style, such as those of Ely or Wells.