MENTION Jay Chou to most people and they won’t have heard of him.

But to anyone from Selby, chances are they have. One of the Far East's biggest pop stars, Jay held his wedding ceremony at the town's historic Abbey.

That was three years ago and the event, which followed an official marriage registration in China, has attracted visitors from across the world.

Every time we visit Selby Abbey we come across visitors from China, Japan, Taiwan and other parts of the Far East.

Our most recent visit was no exception, with two groups of Chinese tourists wandering around and posing for photographs.

The marriage has also drawn many couples from the Far East - 25 last year - to the abbey for blessing ceremonies.

“It has made a big difference to visitor numbers to Selby,” says abbey vicar John Weetman, who we met during our visit. “The couple booked Castle Howard for their reception but the chapel was not big enough for the ceremony.”

Dating back to medieval times, the abbey - is a splendid building. Its fascinating history, surviving fire and flood, sinking foundations and the destruction wrought by Henry Vlll, is interesting enough, and a guide book is well worth the small investment at the abbey shop.

There are many not-to-be-missed sights: the Washington Window - a coat of arms with a stars and stripes design which is thought to have been an inspiration for the flag of the USA. It is believed to commemorate John Wessington, Prior of Durham from 1416 to 1446.

Then there’s the leper’s squint, a narrow gap slicing through the thick stone walls allowing lepers the chance to see the high altar from outside. During medieval times the squint provided the only view the poor, disfigured victims of the disease could have of the high altar.

And there’s the stonemasons’ marks left by those who built the abbey, visible on the pillars at the west end of the nave.

You can also see the marvellous Jesse Window, generally thought to be the second finest window in England - the Great West Window of York Minster being the first - with glass still surviving from its installation in 1330.

And a variety of lovely carved animals including a deer, rabbit, cow and pig, carved by craftsman Tom Strudwick.

The abbey shop also serves teas, beneath the Germain window, which contains scenes in which Benedict, a monk from Auxerre in France, experienced a vision by God where he was called by St Germain to start a new monastery at ‘Selebiae’. In his vision he was told the site would be marked by the presence of three swans.

Benedict travelled to England but first took a wrong turn, confusing Salisbury with Selebiae. He then ventured through King’s Lynn until finally resting at the bend of the river Ouse at Selby. Three swans alighted the river at this point and three swans have been the Abbey’s coat of arms, and Selby’s symbol, ever since.

The swans inspired a great little booklet produced by Selby Civic Society. Free of charge and available in the abbey and at various locations around the town, ‘Swanning Around Selby contains a number of walks of up to three miles in length as well as a tour of the abbey.

Each walk takes on a different theme: one follows in the footsteps of famous Selbians including King Henry l, who Medieval historians believe was born here in 1068, and Jonathan Hutchinson, a Quaker and one of the most important medical experts in the later part of the 19th century.

Another looks at Selby from a trading perspective and one takes in Selby Canal and one looks at the town’s transport heritage.

There are a number of cafes to have a bite to eat in the town, and a variety of high street shops. It’s easy to reach by train from Bradford, for an enjoyable day out.

*Swanning Around Selby is available free from Selby Abbey, local libraries, Selby railway station, the Selby Times office, Selby Town Hall and many cafes and shops.