Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
Studley Royal Travel Blog› entry 627 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Mum and Dad (England)
I remembered Studley Royal from my youth, as my godfather used to be the Park keeper, and we would visit his small cottage on the grounds from time to time. My dad would also visit the Abbey and surrounding gardens, as he was in a conservation organisation, taking people on wildlife tours to see bats, frogs and field mice, amongst other things. It was therefore nice to visit as an adult and recapture some fond memories of childhood.
As my family are all National Trust members, we gained free entry, which was a nice bonus. There was also a free guided tour just about to begin, so we stood and listened to the introductions, before deciding to go off and explore on our own.
Walking down a pleasant narrow path, we glimpsed the imposing Abbey for the first time. It was originally constructed in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks, who were in exile due to a riot which they had taken place in, in a church in York! As this was obviously rather unholy of them, they clearly thought building Fountains Abbey was a way back into God's good books. However, as a result, they did convert to the Cistercian order the same year.
The Abbey dominated the area for 400 years, until the dissolution of the monastries, by the womanising Henry VIII, in 1539. Today, they are the largest Abbey ruins in England. I do however wonder, what would have happened if Henry hadn't gone on his religious purge?
Whilst the Abbey looked tantalisingly close, we decided to start out at Fountains Hall, which was built at the end of the 16th Century, with bricks from the Abbey ruins.
As it was a warm day, we took an early break at the ice cream store, as its against Dad's religion to pass up on the opportunity of Brymor ice-cream! To be honest, he didn't have to twist my arm.
Now, it was time for the pièce de résistance, the Abbey itself. The ruins were incredibly well preserved, saying that they have been deteriorating for so long, and wild flowers have sprung up in patches, particularly where the small stream runs by. Towering arches and ornate stonework had lasted the test of time, and it was easy to imagine how people must have been enchanted with the place, nearly a millenium ago.
Exiting through the back of the Abbey, we wandered down to the Georgian Water Garden, arguably one of the most beautiful in England, constructed in 1718. Ducks swam on the pond, busts decorated the lawn, whilst a columned yellow building was next to some benches, where sightseers stopped to rest in the warm afternoon sun. It was all rather pleasant.
Mum and Dad decided that they would stop for afternoon tea in a small cafe, whilst I took Julia to see St Marys Church and Studley Royal Park. The church was fantastic, although we were a little disappointed that it was closed. Nevertheless, we pressed on to Studley Royal House and near to here we managed to see the resident deer.
It was starting to get late, so we headed back to meet Mum and Dad and walked back through the Water Garden and Abbey, and enjoyed the blue sky, which had finally decided to show itself.
As a special evening treat, we decided to end the day at the legendary Anchor Inn Pub, in Whixley, which serves just about the best carvery going. Lamb leg, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, vegetables, gravy etc etc. Yum!