Wednesday, March 25, 2015

[jules' pics] Fountains Abbey

It was dissoluted by Henry the Eighth so is no longer a proper church, but last Thursday we visited Fountains Abbey. Faced by about 15 members of the Cambridge Uni Society of North and West Yorkshire (plus me and James) the tour guide tried really hard to fill the hungry minds before her in the hour long tour. It was all extremely interesting, with the history of the foundation and growth including explanation of the historical differences between common all garden Benedictines and the back to basics Cistercians (Fountains Abbey was the latter), and there were many insights into the daily lives of the monks. Quite a lot has been deciphered by archaeologists analysing the features of the ruins. To me it all looked like piles of stones of many colours (see pretty pics at the bottom of this post), but they can see cupboards and notice boards,  can identify who the sculptures are of,  and even find plumbing. Yes medieval plumbing!

In Japan, quite a lot of religion occurs out of doors, which really is as it should be, but over the hour long tour I grew to appreciate why this is not very practical in Yorkshire. Fountains Abbey no longer has a roof (thanks to Henry, who also realised this was the best way of making the place uninhabitable), and even on  pleasant March day, it got very cold. By the end everyone was hoping that the warm and furry dog that someone had brought along would come to them to be petted.

Walk through the Abbey and you get to Studley Royal Water Gardens and the tea shop. Then walk through the deer park and you get to St Mary's, which, like our house is a Gothic Revival Church.  Unfortunately it is only open from Easter so we couldn't go inside. Some similarities in style between St Mary's and our house are apparent, but St Mary's is really very beautiful. It had a famous architect.

The water gardens may be a historical feat of engineering, but they are a bit dull being just grass and water and statues. There is also a stately home built mostly from stones taken from the Abbey after it was ruined, and a Mill which dates from when the Abbey was a big profit making enterprise. We had only the afternoon so no time to visit these two places. Together all of this is a World Heritage Site. It is a bit strange that Kamakura failed to obtain this status a couple of years ago. Just its water gardens are much better let alone the many temples. 

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 3/25/2015 06:13:00 PM


Unknown said...

Pretty pics as always, but for atmospherics & photo opps I prefer Jervaulx:

Not being a part of the heritage industry but privately owned, it is to me an example of our heritage as it used to be - an honesty box, a crookedy iron gate, the odd helpful sign, but otherwise properly unglamoured.

An early trip produces some spectacular pics, especially as it's normally empty. The car parking is free, though you may note that it's along the TdF route and decide to ride. The gradients are easy but persistent, the road reasonably little-trafficked.

Steve Bloom said...

To all appearances that architect was a product of male-line parthenogenesis. Double cause for fame!

But I'm afraid even that won't make me a fan of the pointy stuff.

James Annan said...

Steve, if you can't see the point of it you aren't looking very hard :-)

Fergus, we also had a short visit to Bolton Abbey recently (for this choral service, which was very good). Didn't realise Yorkshire had so many of them!

Unknown said...

My next trip is likely to be to the Roman site up the road;

On the idea of a shared pint/pot of tea, I'll be starting a new job in a few weeks' time which will keep me busy (and honest) and will involve much travelling. Could comfortably fit something in during the next week or two, if you are planning to get out in the wind and snow...