Strangely enough, I have mentioned Fountains Abbey only three times on my blog so far (this is the fourth time); once in the post preceding this one, once in a post about the book "The Lady's Maid", and in this post.
My first visit to Fountains Abbey was, I believe, in 2004 (my mother-in-law moved from South Yorkshire to Ripon in 2003), and I have gone back almost every year since. It is a place that I love, with its combination of wide open spaces, carefully landscaped (and yet quite natural looking) parkland, impressive ruins and (mostly) away from the noise of traffic and the hustle and bustle of city life. No matter the weather or season, it is always worth visiting, and one can spend anything from a few hours to a full day there without getting bored.
Clicking on this link will take you to my photobucket album; from there, simply click "next" and you'll see the pictures I took at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal in August 2010.
It is a long, straight stretch of road, leading past large old trees, some of which we were sure pull out their roots at night and wander around the park, making sure everything is as it should be, and the deer are not eating the bark off the young saplings planted to replace their dead comrades.
Looking back towards where we came from, in the distance, right on the axis of this road, you can just about make out Ripon Cathedral.
The first building you pass when coming to Fountains Abbey this way is this one, the Chorister's House. It is nowhere near as old as it looks (built in 1873), but it is very picturesque, isn't it? As a private residence (a holiday home that sleeps up to 10 people, according to the Fountains Abbey website), it is not open to the public, and I took this picture from quite far away, not wanting to intrude on their privacy.
Next is St. Mary's, a church built in 1870 to commemorate the Marchioness of Ripon's brother who had been murdered in Greece (I remember this information from a leaflet we were given in the church, but I just looked it up again on the website to make sure I am getting dates and names right).
I took this picture specifically with my blog and its readers in mind!
We walked on towards Fountains Abbey; up until here, by the way, you do not pay any admission fee - so, less well-off families can well afford taking their children to those beautiful grounds and do not necessarily need to hang out at shopping malls and bus stops.
Stone walls have almost the same tugging appeal to me as doors and doorways, and I loved the play of light and shadow on this one.
During all the visits to Fountains Abbey, I had never been inside Fountains Hall - probably because I thought it would cost extra admission, which it doesn't. So, this time, my sister and I ventured inside - we had the place all to ourselves.
This mansion would certainly deserve its own blog post! Please read up on its interesting and changeful history on the official website.
A few shots from the inside (part of it - obviously not shown here - can be rented as a holiday home; wouldn't it be great to be staying there for a few days?):
And then finally, Fountains Abbey itself!
But I'm afraid this post has, again, turned out longer than I expected, and therefore, I'll take you on our walk further on tomorrow.