Sunday, 20 May 2012

Fountains Abbey

(Cont. from previous post)

After we left Fountains Hall, we had Fountains Abbey right ahead of us. It was as impressive a sight as ever, and we were glad that, again, there was hardly anybody about.
The wild flowers growing between the stones add a lot to the ruins, don't you think?
This is only a small selection of pictures I took that day; to look at them all (don't worry, there are not hundreds of them, less than twenty, actually), click here and then click "next".

Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 monks who left York, where life at the monastery had become too luxurious and preoccupied with politics for their liking. They wanted to revert to the strict rules of living a spiritual-oriented life of modest humility, poverty and prayer.  Less than a hundred years later, though (obviously none of the original founders were around anymore), Fountains Abbey had become the most wealthy and powerful of all monasteries in England. So much for leading a modest life in holy poverty!
In 1539, Henry VIII dissolved all monasteries, which of course applied to the abbey as well. The stones, glass panels and lead from the windows and anything else that had any value was used in building other houses, mostly in Ripon, but some even as far away as York; the abbey was reduced to a convenient self-service stop, a kind of early B&Q.
After having passed through several hands, in 1767 the Aislabie family bought the land for 18.000 £, and had the fashionable ruins incorporated into their landscaped parkland so that they could be viewed from Studley Royal, their water garden.

That meant the ruins were now relatively safe from more plundering, and I think we can all be grateful to the Aislabies for not having allowed them to completely disappear.

The water garden is very beautiful, too, but I did not take many pictures there, I'm afraid.
This spot piqued my curiosity:
A sign next to it explains that, unlike with most of the other parts of the vast parkland, the original look and purpose of this place is unknown. There is always plenty of restauration and conservation work in progress all over the abbey grounds and Studley Royal, and if I remember correctly, the National Trust are planning on doing some digging here to find out more about what this once was.

At this point, we had been walking lots, and our delicious and substantial breakfast had been eaten enough hours ago for us to be hungry again, and so we went for a snack at the tearoom situated on the edge of Studley Lake. It is in a pretty building dating from victorian times and originally was the home to the estate stewards.
The price of that cheese sandwich seems very high - well, it was good and rather large and filling, and once I had that piece of rich & thick chocolate cake, I felt as if I wouldn't be needing anything to eat for weeks to come :-)

We walked back through the deer park, along Studley Roger's main road, across the fields and into Ripon.

Before we retreated to our room at Box Tree Cottages, we went to have a look at a house which once was the home of Lewis Carroll: The Old Hall, next to the cathedral. His father was canon there. Jenny, I thought of you when I took this picture:

That was pretty much Day One - certainly a Good Day!


  1. What a lovely day! Thank you for all your pictures and explanations. This is a part of England I don't know at all.

    1. You are welcome, Kristi. I wouldn't know this part of England either if it wasn't for the family ties.

  2. Replies
    1. I wonder how much it will have changed since you last went.

  3. That Hall where L.C. lived is so stately. Did you go inside? Or is it privately owned now, maybe so. The grounds are stunning at Fountains Abbey, I love the shot you took of the arches and the steps too. Really beautiful photos.

  4. Fountains Abbey! I loved the photos that you took there. You just KNOW that I looked at all of them. (And then some!)
    I never tire of seeing old stone steps worn away by many feet over the centuries.
    Isn't it exciting to think of walking in the footsteps of Lewis Carroll? Did you see a Cheshire Cat grinning from a tree? I can just see you imagining that! I loved the book by Jenny Woolf about Lewis Carroll and I loved that he spent a lot of time in Eastbourne too!
    And you know most people would love that big piece of cake, but I am more excited over the thought of English cheese! :-)

    1. It is both I want, Kay - the cheese AND the choccy cake!
      We saw cats, yes, but none was in a tree...

  5. What glorious photos and what a wonderful travelogue. I've been to Yorkshire but never to Fountains Abbey or surrounding area. It looks as if it is definitely going to be on the list for my next visit out that way.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and insights.

    Take care and God bless, love, Carol

    1. Hello Carol, I am quite sure you'd enjoy a visit to Fountains Abbey, maybe even more than I do, or at least on a different level, because you also have the religious dimension which I lack.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed day one! Eagerly awaiting what comes next.
    I also looked at ALL the photographs in your bucket; played them on slide show. Lovely photos.

    1. Thank you for looking at all the pictures, Jill, I am glad you enjoyed them!
      Day Two will follow soon, but there are two other posts I want to do before that.

  7. A good day indeed, Meike. Oh, that undercroft at the abbey - so magnificent!

    1. Yes, Perpetua, that's what it was, a good day. And the ruins are truly magnificent, no wonder they have become World Heritage.