The impressive remains of an abbey founded by Stephen, later King of England in 1124. The Abbey developed a harbour on Walney Island to promote its trade in wool and iron, and built a castle at Piel for protection. At Dalton in Furness, nearby, is a 14th Century Pele Tower, Dalton Castle, which was used by the Abbey as an administrative centre and court house.
Iron was found in the area and this, together with wool and meat from sheep farming and ample supplies of timber, did much to increase the Cistercian's wealth and the Abbey's well-being.
It now lies in ruins and is a popular tourist attraction, lying on the Cistercian Way — an ancient walk popular with tourists, which used to link the Abbey with the town of Dalton-in-Furness
William Wordsworth visited on a number of occasions and referred to it in his famous 1805 auto-biographical poem The Prelude, whilst Turner made numerous etchings of the Abbey.
An exhibition on the history of the abbey, with a display of elaborately carved stones, can be seen in the visitor centre.
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