The finest example of a typical Norman Abbey in Britain to day, Selby was also the first monastery to be built in the North of England following the Norman invasion.
A monk from the Benedictine monastery of Auxerre in France experienced a vision from St. Germain that he should travel to England and establish a new monastery at Selebiae where three swans would guide him, and to this day the crest of the town is three white swans.
Built in 1069 by the De Lacy family the abbey became very successful under Benedictine rule. As with many of these fine churches it was badly damaged by fire through the course of its history.
The last Abbott was a good friend of Henry VIII. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries Selby abbey was left standing intact, perhaps on the orders of Henry himself, but fell into disrepair over time. In 1690 the tower fell, bringing down the South transept. After becoming the parish church the abbey continued to decline, narrowly missing the fate of other ex monastic / collegiate churches such as Howden Minster and Bolton Priory (Abbey) which became partly ruinous. In 1906 it was completely restored and the tops of the West towers were finally completed – 900 years late !