Fountains Abbey

Location: Studley Royal Estate, 3 km (2 mi) Southwest of Ripon, North Yorkshire   Map

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Feb 10am- 4pm daily

Official site

Fountains Abbey


Description of Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey Layout

Fountains Abbey is a former Roman Catholic Benedictine Monastery situated in Studley Royal Estate, 3 km (2 mi) Southwest of Ripon, North Yorkshire in United Kingdom. Fountains Abbey was found in 1132. The abbey was closed in 1539 by the orders of Henry VIII during Dissolution of the Monasteries. After taking a side of Reformation English king proclaimed himself as a head of the Church. Subsequently Henry took over church's possessions and riches.


History of Fountains Abbey

The monastery was founded in 1132 by 13 monks who were expelled from St Mary's Abbey in York after a dispute over the direction of the denomination. The then Archbishop of York, Thurstan, assigned them the site of what later became Fountains Abbey. After building the monastery, they joined the Cistercians three years later. At first the monastery lived mainly from sheep farming, with the increasing number of lay brothers taking on a large part of the work and doing other crafts to a lesser extent.

The work of the lay brothers in particular made Fountains Abbey one of the wealthiest monasteries in England in the 13th century. In addition to sheep breeding, iron processing and horse breeding, among other things, now formed important pillars of economic success. Over time, significantly more was generated than was necessary for the self-sufficiency of the monastery.

In the 14th century, alongside an economic crisis, the plague, Scottish raids and bad harvests, as well as the financial mismanagement of the community, led to the economic success of the monastery collapsing. Many lay brothers left Fountains Abbey or were hired out to peasants for labour. Sheep farming was replaced by dairy farming by the 15th century.

Nonetheless, the Fountains Abbey brothers continued to be very influential within the Cistercian order. The abbots were part of the parliament. However, while the abbey was still booming again, the monastery was dissolved in 1539 as part of the dissolution of the monastery by Henry VIII.

Fountains Abbey

Today's condition

The abbey was sold several times along with the surrounding park and was also partially restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fountains Abbey was already a magnet for paying visitors in the 19th century. The site has been owned by the National Trust since 1983, who have continued to carry out restoration work on the abbey and other buildings. With around 300,000 visitors a year, the 333 hectare site of the Studley Royal Water Garden, which houses the abbey, is one of the most visited properties of the National Trust. In 1986 the entire complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fountains Abbey