Fountains Abbey


Today started of very overcast with no sign of sunshine so I decided to head out Ripon way to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. When I arrived the sun decided to shine and it was soo hot! Hope you like the images and the brief history (National Trust).

Bridged – a scarlet contemporary bridge sitting across the river Skell, close to the site of a lost iron bridge from the 18th century.
The vista from the windows overlooking the River Skell

The abbey’s beginnings

The abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York. They’d grown fed up of the extravagant and rowdy way that the monks lived in York and so they escaped seeking to live a devout and simple lifestyle elsewhere. This was how they came to Fountains. 

By the time three years had passed the monks had become settled into their new way of life and had been admitted to the austere Cistercian Order and with that came an important development – the introduction of the Cistercian system of lay brothers.

Introduction of the lay brothers

The lay brothers (what we would now call labourer) relieved the monks from routine jobs, giving them more time to dedicate to God rather than farming the land to get by. It was because of the help of the lay brothers that Fountains became so wealthy through wool production, lead mining, cattle rearing, horse breeding and stone quarrying

It wasn’t all plain sailing

Bad harvests hit the monks hard and they also had to deal with raids from the Scots throughout the 14th-century, which led to economic collapse. This was only made worse by the Black Death which struck the country in 1348.  

Despite its financial problems, the Abbey remained important. The abbacy of Marmaduke Huby (1495 – 1526) marked a period of revival and the great tower built by Huby symbolises his hope for the Abbey’s future.  

The Dissolution

The Abbey was abruptly closed down in 1539 in the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII, and the abbot, prior and monks were sent away with pensions.

Fountains Abbey today

The estate was sold by the Crown to a merchant, Sir Richard Gresham. It remained in private hands until the 1960s, including William and John Aislabie who designed Studley Royal water garden of which the abbey became an integral part of. The National Trust bought the estate from the West Riding County Council in 1983.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s