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The Abbey of Whitby, in the Archdeaconry of Cleaveland, on the coast of Yorkshire, was founded A.D. 657, in consequence of a vow of Owsy, King of Northumberland. It contained both Monks and Nuns of the Benedictine
Upon the gale she stoop'd her side,
As she were dancing home;
Furrow the green sea-foam.
Like birds escaped to green-wood shades, order; but, contrary to what was usual in such establishments, the abbess was superior to the abbot. The monastery was afterwards ruined by the Danes, and rebuilt by William Percy, in the reign of the Conqueror. There were no nuns there in Henry the Eighth's time, nor long before it. The ruins of Whitby Abbey are very magnificent.
Lindisfarne, an isle on the coast of Northumberland, was called Holy Island, from the sanctity of its ancient monastery, and from its having been the episcopal seat of the see of Durham during the early ages of British Christianity. A succession of holy men beld that office ; but their merits were swallowed up in the superior fame of St. Cuthbert, who was sixth bishop of Durham, and who bestowed the name of his “patrimony" upon the extensive property of the see. The ruins of the monastery upon Holy Island betoken great antiquity. The arches are, in general, strictly Saxon ; and the pillars which support them, short, strong, and massy. In some places, however, there are pointed windows which indicate that the building has been repaired at a period long subsequent to the original foundation. The exterior ornaments of the building, being of a light sandy stone, have been wasted as described in the text. Lindisfarne is not properly an island, but rather, as the venerable Bede has termed it, a semi-isle; for, although surrounded by the sea at full tide, the ebb leaves the sands dry between it and the opposite coast of Northumberland, from which it is about three miles distant.
One eyed the shrouds and swelling sail,
With many a benedicite;
And would for terror pray;
Rear'd o'er the foaming spray; And one would still adjust her veil, Disorder'd by the summer gale, Perchance lest some more worldly eye Her dedicated charms might spy; Perchance, because such action graced Her fair-turn'd arm and slender waist. Light was each simple bosom there, Save two, who ill might pleasure share, -The Abbess, and the Novice Clare.
The Abbess was of noble blood,