The abbey was founded in 657ad by King Oswy of Northumbria under the Abbess Hilda. A few centuries later, the wooden structure was destroyed by Viking marauders who regularly plundered the British east coastal communities. Eventually, in the 13th century, a beautiful stone building was constructed. The work to complete the Abbey took a further two hundred years..The order of Benedictine monks served the community and helped to maintain the fabric of the building..Like all Abbeys and Monasteries, it was the seat of learning and the monks were responsible for the teachings of Christianity through education and local services held within the Abbey. The misguided jealousy of the English king Henry VIII caused him to outlaw the Roman catholic religion leading to the dissolution of the monasteries..These wonderful buildings soon fell into disrepair, under constant threat from thieves who were eager to ransack the fabric of the structures, removing lead from the roofs and stone from the walls..The rest, as they say, is history.