Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey
We hadn't planned on seeing Fountains Abbey.   It was just one of those quirky things about life; we were headed for Burnsall but stopped in Linton to eat. We consulted our little map and saw that Fountains Abbey would be worth a visit.   Funny, how some of the most unexpected places can be the most beautiful.

Fountains Abbey was designated a World Heritage site, and no wonder, a stroll through the grounds will take your breath away.   It was the Abbey we enjoyed the most.

It was late afternoon on a yet another sunny warm day in Yorkshire. Our walk first took us down a winding path, through some woods that opened onto the West Front of the Abbey.   It has the plain unadorned aspect of Cistercian architecture if the mid twelfth century.

In 1494 Abbot Darnton inserted the large Perpendicular window.   Above is a niche for a statue of the Virgin Mary to whom Cistercian abbeys were dedicated, now empty.

The West Front

The Perpendicular Tower
This is the Perpendicular Tower and is 167 feet high and made of limestone.   It was erected by Abbot Marmaduke Huby (1495-1526) as a memorial to himself (humble guy, eh?) as a builder and reformer of the Order.   Inscriptions to the glory of God, initialled M.H., are carved around the four sides.

It was in the years following Huby's death that Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church and made the riches of abbeys his own.   By 1939, the deed of surrender was signed in the Chapter House by Abbot Marmaduke Bradley.   The 30 monks left the Abbey with their pensions.

The Nave is really impressive, late Norman in style and twelve bays in length.   The interior was originally painted white and the first seven western bays were enclosed to form a separate church for the lay brothers.

Because of the time, the Abbey was relatively free of visitors as we walked through it, so I managed to capture some excellent uncrowded pictures.

The Nave

The Outer Nave
The Outer Nave resembles a long hallway with arches leading to Nave.   I couldn't find information on it but I took the picture for purely artistic reasons.   It was really nice to be able to explore the grounds at our leisure.   We were given a sense of having traveled back in time.

In 1540, the Abbey buildings and more than 500 acres of land were sold by Henry VIII to Sir Richard Gresham.   Two generations later the Abbey was sold to Stephen Proctor who built Fountains Hall from 1598 to 1604 using the stone from the Abbey.   Upon Proctor's death, the Abbey once again changed hands, but this time it was purchased by William Aislabie, the owner of the neighbouring Studley Estate.   That is why today the Abbey ruins are united with Aislabie's beautiful landscaped gardens.

The Guest Houses are very special as they are rare survivors from the past, dating from circa 1160. They are made of stone in typical English medieval domestic architecture.   They were used by the abbey's patrons, the nobility and wool merchants.
The Guest Houses

The West Range
The 300 feet West Range linked the Cloister with the outside world.   The bays were subdivided by walls: the northernbays (Celarium) were storehouses; the southern nine bays were the lay brother's refectory with a hatch to the kitchen.   From the centre of the range projected the Chequer, the Cellarer's office where he checked stores and goods.

Despite the warm weather the Range was still damp and cool.   I imagine in winter, these weren't the most comfortable of accomodations.

The abbey was alive with wild life.   This bunny was out for a meal and not all that bothered by me taking a picture of him.   There is a 360 acre park containing 500 Red, Sika and Fallow deer.

The day was quickly drawing to a close and we still hadn't seen half the park.

There were several temples, follies and statues that we missed such as the Serpentine Tunnel, the Rustic Bridge, Grotto, Half Moon Pond, cascades, Fishing Tabernacles, Drum Fall and the Seven Bridges Valley in the Deer Park.   We did see Anne Bolelyn's Seat from the edge of the River Skell.   The view of the Abbey at sunset from the Seat must be breathtaking.

A new day took us to the North York Moors.

Free Range Abbey Bunny

Exploring London

Onward to the Moors

Exploring Yorkshire

Related Links
2003-2006 My Travel Diary