Wanderlust: Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden

Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY

As much as I want to go fully medieval all over this post, I will do my best to restrain myself....

Armed with shiny new National Trust cards, on a rather overcast and miserable March weekday, Des and I decided to get out of York and explore further afield.

We decided to head out towards one of the best preserved monastic ruins in the country, Fountains Abbey, which is situated a few miles south of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

I'll just give a short bit of historical context!

The abbey was founded in 1132 and remained a thriving monastic community up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 (anyone who watched Wolf Hall - we have Cromwell to thank for this!)

The abbey then passed into crown hands, stripped of all it's wealth (it was actually one of the richest monasteries in the country!) and then sold into private ownership.

In the 18th century, the abbey became part of Studley Royal Estate and was incorporated into the beautifully landscaped Studley Royal Water Garden.

The site was acquired by the National Trust in 1983 and is managed in partnership with English Heritage.

In 1986 the entire Park was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to it's importance as:

"A masterpiece of human creative genius, and an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history."

The peace and tranquility of the whole site is striking

As we are still in March, we were one of very few visitors to the Abbey. However there are plenty of places to explore and hide away from the crowds, especially as there is the whole of the Water Garden and Studley Estate to explore!

What I love about visiting historical places, especially ruins, are all the little details that you can uncover - carvings, tiles, hidden passages and archways.

Latin Inscriptions in the Transept

The weathered sandstone is beautifully coloured!

The vaulted undercroft where food and provisions were stored

My life in the past few weeks has been pretty hectic and accordingly stressful, not that I should complain really, as this flurry of activity is due to lots of exciting business ventures!

It was amazing how relaxing it was just being outside in the countryside, surrounded by stunning views and architecture.

There's almost too much to see here, I recommend taking a full day in order to get round everything.

View from the water garden, looking back to the abbey

The first and only shot from my short career as a medieval model.