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The Yorkshire Versailles. By Lucinda Lambton

Travel | By Lucinda Lambton

Heavenly: Fountains Abbey, founded in 1132 by 13 monks

Medieval Fountains Abbey is nestled in Studley Royal’s 18th-century landscape

Studley Royal Park is an 800-acre estate. It includes the ruins of Fountains Abbey – named after the six springs that watered the site. The abbey was founded in 1132 by Benedictine monks. They had left St Mary’s Abbey, York, to follow the Cistercian order. Their leader St Benedict’s rule was a firm one: ‘Idleness is the enemy of the soul. For this reason, the brethren should be occupied at certain times in manual labour; at other times, in sacred reading.’ Fountains became wealthy through wool production, lead mining, cattle-rearing and stone quarrying. After the Dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s, the abbey buildings were sold by the crown to Sir Richard Gresham, whose family stayed at the helm until 1598. As a scholarly bonus, the gardens and the park were to reflect every stage in the evolution of English garden design. If that were not enough, it...


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