The church stands a short distance to the north of the river Skell, the FIG.
It is pleasantly situated at the confluence of the streams Laver and Skell with the river Ure, which is crossed by a fine bridge of nine arches.
It lies in the sequestered valley of the river Skell, 3 m.
The little Skell descends from the uplands of Pateley Moor to the west a clear swift stream, traversing a valley clothed with woods, conspicuous among which are some ancient yew trees which may have sheltered the monks who first sought retreat here.
In 1132 the prior and twelve monks of St Mary's abbey, York, being dissatisfied with the easy life they were living, left the monastery and with the assistance of Thurstan, archbishop of York, founded a house in the valley of the Skell, where they adopted the Cistercian rule.