This post continues my series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7) documenting our joy in guiding my sister and her husband through a small slice of the cultural delights that Northeastern England has to offer. June 22, 2017? Must be Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden.
(I can still remember the day I first heard about Fountains Abbey - Spousal Unit RAVED about this paradise that he had visited with his parents and the kids. Now, keep in mind that Spousal Unit is from the UK and has seen many historical sites. So a RAVE from him really means something.)
|The kids at the Abbey in 2008
My enthusiasm for the Abbey springs from the slow reveal. You pass this sign and stroll a wandering path, and your eyes suddenly gaze upon the Elizabethan Fountains Hall. OK, not the Abbey.
Exploring the cottage garden of the Hall, you cross a footbridge and the waterway pulls your eyes toward the Fountains Mill built by the Cistercians in the 12th century. OK, still not the Abbey.
And then, there She is. Fountains Abbey - one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for 407 years, becoming one of the wealthiest monasteries in England until its dissolution in 1539 under the order of Henry VIII.
And there's more … the stream that led you from the cottage to the Mill to the Abbey meanders downhill and is transformed - into the Studley Royal Water Garden. During the 18th century, John Aislabie had a breath-taking vision to impress visitors to his Yorkshire estate and so turned the surrounding woods and valleys into the Georgian water gardens we see today.
Of course, a National Trust site would not be worth its cottons without a tea shop. And by this time, we needed some nourishment!
|Upper right - that Jackdaw was keeping a close eye on my lentil soup and crusty bread!
And there's more … the magnificent St. Mary's Church is one of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in England. It was designed in the 1870s by the flamboyant architect William Burges, and has been called his 'ecclesiastical masterpiece'. The church was built by the Marquess and Marchioness of Ripon following a tragic family death in 1870. Its extravagantly decorated interior is influenced by 13th century English gothic styles, and displays colored marble, stained glass, a splendid organ and gilded figures in all their original glory.
By the time we arrived at the church, it had JUST closed. My sister charmed the docent into opening the door for a 'quick peek'. So most of my pictures of the stunning edifice are from outside!
We closed our visit (as you do) with a quick look 'round the gift shop. I was entranced with the site map - there was more that we had not explored!!!
So, now you know why this page of the diary was calling out to me. Rolling vistas that MY words cannot describe. Sudden ruins that pop up from the earth - what hands wrought this beauty, and what other hands sought to wipe it out. An opportunity to return and see even more of this delightful valley.
I do think we'll be back.
Our World Tuesday