I hope you’re having a great summer. It’s a mixed bag for me really! I still feel as busy as ever and I’m still in search of a rest. Nevertheless, I have managed to visit some lovely places. Today I wanted to share my visit to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens with you. This place genuinely left me speechless. I felt incredibly overwhelmed for the whole day.
These ruins are the largest monastic ruins in the country and boy they did not disappoint. The Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York, seeking to live a devout and simple lifestyle.
Three years later, the settlement at Fountains had been admitted to the austere Disrercian Order. This itself brought an important development, the introduction of the Cistercian system of the lay brothers.
The lay brothers (labourers) relieved the monks from rounding jobs, consequently giving them more time to dedicate to God. Fountains became wealthy because of the wool production, lead mining, cattle rearing, horse breeding and stone quarrying.
However, the 14th century brought challenges as the monks had to cope with bad harvests and raids from the Scots which led to an economic collapse. The Black Death in 1348 also added to this pressure.
Despite the financial problems, the Abbey remained essential. The abbacy of Marmaduke Huby marked a period of revival. The Great Tower, built by him, symbolises his hope for the future of the Abbey.
Sadly, in 1539 the Abbey was closed down in the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII. They were all sent away from the Abbey without pensions. The estate was sold by the Crown to a merchant, where it remained private until the 1960s. The National Trust bought the estate in 1983.
I have to say, this place is amazing. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe it. I honestly walked around in complete awe. It’s so difficult to comprehend. I tried to imagine the lives and the challenges. If only walls could talk!
Studley Royal Water Garden:
John Aislabie inherited the Studley Royal estate in 1693. He was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718, thus being an incredibly ambitious man. However, his career was halted in 1729 due to his participation in the South Sea Bubble financial scandal; expelling him from Parliament. Consequently, he returned to Yorkshire and focused his attention to this incredible garden.
The garden has everything: flowers, waters, statuses, follies. It is literally the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
In 1767, William Aislabie purchased the Abbey ruins to complete the garden and create a utopia. Today, over 200 years later, it is a World Heritage Site, with little differences being made.
Honestly, this place is just amazing. I loved walking around, seeing the water, imagining the history and the lives here. I really need to go back and see it all again. Thinking back, I probabaly had my mouth open in complete shock the whole time. It’s that kind of place.
Keep enjoying August and have a fantastic Bank Holiday weekend.
Big love xx