Friday, March 4, 2011

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

 Easter Week at Fountains Abbey
Vaulted arches of the cellarium

Fountains Abbey - the largest monastic ruins in England

I think that Fountains Abbey is my husband's favorite site to visit in England. Not only is the history of Fountains interesting, but the extensive ruins are open to visitors. It's easy to spend several hours there. We've done that twice, and there's still much to see that we didn't get to.

From the National Trust website:

'A dispute and riot at St Mary's Abbey in York led to the founding of Fountains Abbey in 1132. After pleading unsuccessfully to return to the early 6th century Rule of St Benedict, 13 monks were exiled and taken into the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York.

He provided them with a site in the valley of the little River Skell in which they could found a new, more devout monastery. Although described as a place "more fit for wild beasts than men to inhabit" it had all the essential materials for the creation of a monastery: shelter from the weather, stone and timber for building, and plenty of water.

Within three years, the little settlement at Fountains had been admitted to the austere Cistercian Order (founded in France in 1098). Under its rules they lived a rigorous daily life, committed to long periods of silence, a diet barely above subsistence level, and wore the regulation habit of coarse undyed sheep's wool (underwear was forbidden), which earned them the name "White Monks."

One of the Abbey's most important developments was the introduction of the Cistercian system of lay brothers. They were usually illiterate and relieved the monks from routine jobs, giving them more opportunity to dedicate their time to God.

Many served as masons, tanners, shoemakers and smiths, but their chief role was to look after the Abbey's vast flocks of sheep, which lived on the huge estate stretching westwards from Fountains to the Lake District and northwards to Teesside. 

Without the lay brothers, Fountains could never have attained its great wealth or economic importance.'  Read more of the article here. 

My favorite Fountains Abbey photo

At the top of one of the arches

The spring house

I think this is the most often photographed portion of the Fountain Abbey ruins

 The  mill - Photo from The National Trust

The oldest parts of the mill are actually older than the visible parts of the Abbey. The mill, the best-preserved water mill in England, was a working mill for 850 years. It's the only 12th century corn mill in Britain.

Although we saw the mill on our last visit to Fountains Abbey, we didn't get photos because our camera card was filled by that time. One should always carry a memory stick or second camera card. Then again, it's hardly our fault that England has so many interesting places to visit!

Fountains Abbey is not far from Ripon. Visiting Ripon Cathedral and Fountains Abbey on the same day is a bit overwhelming, but neither should be missed. Fountains Abbey definitely takes two visits at least.

While there, we watched a really cute video, 'The Silent Years' about a novice monk. Here's a wee taste of it that I found on YouTube. Trust me, it was a lot funnier before they decided it needed narration.

Hope you have a good weekend. :-)

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
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Unknown said...

Funny how such old lifeless buildings can be so amazingly wondrous to look at!! Thanks for the bit of the history lesson too!

Robin said...

Oh, Judy you did it again!!!! Makes me want to go back so much, only if I could win the lottery :)!! These are beautiful pictures of our beloved Yorkshire. Hope you have a great weekend.

Empty Nester said...

Wow, amazing photos! I'm not a traveler but your pictures are changing my mind about that! Great reading too!

Heide at ApronHistory said...

I can see why it is your husbands favorite place to visit! It is fasinating! Looks so peaceful. Very interesting history too.

jennyfreckles said...

It's one of my favourite places too. Maybe one day I'll go back and take you some more photos.

Rachel said...

I like to call visiting your blog on Fridays as Vacation Friday!! :) I love these pictures. I'm not sure I could choose a favorite one. Although the one you mentioned being your favorite is probably close to the top of my list as well!

Happy Friday friend, have a blessed day and great weekend!


J_on_tour said...

It is strange that you should post this today as I was asked to helpout with the suitability of a walk with a friend that went around the outside of this estate ...... today !! We walked around the south side and glimpsed views of the Abbey and Hall, then into Ripon for some lunch of local products to eat and sat outside in the square as it was warm enough unusually in March. We returned the other way through Studley Roger to the gorge and then the lake, up the hill past the church to the visitor centre car park. we thought was a bit long for the group that he was thinking of, but it is a handy idea for the Yorkshire walking group that we are occasionally involved in. Off to York in the morning to meet folks I know and some I don't to see the re-opened & refurbished Yorkshire museum. Will catch up with post again when I have more time tomorrow night.

Judy S. said...

I wonder whether this Ripon has a connection of some kind with Ripon, WI? Loved your daffodil post, Judy. We just saw lots of them along the roadside in northern CA, along with calla lilies! (And a little bit of snow....)

Cranberry Morning said...

Just in case anyone else also wondered about a connection between Ripon, Wisconsin and Ripon, North Yorkshire, I found this tidbit online:
In 1849, the present town of Ripon, the post office, and what is now the First Ward of the city, was called Ceresco. Now they are all Ripon... Ripon was at first the name of what is now only part of the city. It originated in this way: At the time I purchased of Gov. Horner, he asked the privilege of giving the name to our village. This I granted with these restrictions: First, that it should not be a personal name; second, that it should not be like any other name in the United States; third, that it should not be an Indian name [as so many Wisconsin names are]; and lastly, that the name should be short. Horner's ancestors came from Ripon, England. That name he selected; and as it was not open to any of the objections I had mentioned, it was adopted. This was found at

purejoy said...

oh my stars!! that is one of the most beautiful posts i've ever seen. the photographs are absolutely stunning! the arches, the arches!! and as soon as you mentioned "ripon" i did a doubletake. like were these ruins in wisconsin??
haha. and then i got over myself. what in the world?
and come to find out there's a story behind its name!! who knew??

thanks for the history lesson(s)!

Unknown said...

Amazing pics! P.S. Who knew monks weren't allowed undies???

Karen Harris said...

Amazing photos of an amazing place. Reading your blog makes me realize how much of the countryside we didn't see when we lived there. I guess life just sometimes gets in the way. Oh well, we'll just have to visit the country as tourists so we can't really see things.

craftydiva said...

Oh I am so jealous that you get to see England!!!! I am Gloria (from Underherwings) grandaughter.

Tiffanee said...

So beautiful and what a history it has. Thanks again for sharing with me places I have never seenor heard of before.

Diane said...

OMGosh, how grogeous are those pics! I especially like the one of the running water.

Unknown said...

I always think an amazing book could be written from the perspective of a house or building. Bet these walls have incredible stories to tell! Thanks for the share.

George The Lad said...

Never been there, thanks for telling us about it, love your photos of it.

Elizabeth said...

One of my favourite places in the world - carpeted with snowdrops at the moment. x


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