The land at Fountains was granted to 13 Cistercian Monks back in the year 1132 AD, when there was unrest at St Mary’s abbey in York. The monks fled under the protection of Archbishop Thurstan who gave them the land to start a new abbey. The beautiful Fountains Abbey and a good proportion of the ruins remain intact today. There is sound evidence of the Romanesque architectural methods used to construct this stunning building.
The Abbey passed through several hands until it became the property of John Aislabie in 1693. After his death in 1742, the ownership of the ruins were taken by his son William who landscaped the abbey gardens, incorporating statues and follies. Between the two of them they created what is believed to be the most important water garden in England.
The water garden is one of only three remaining throughout the country. The National Trust have owned the estate since 1983 and English Heritage carry out any conservation work need on the abbey. The gardens are currently being restored back to their original 18th century design and visitors can see progress being made there.
Fountains Abbey and Gardens are abundant with history and have a special ambiance like no where else. The walks are beautiful and steeped in history, with a surprise at every turn. Even on a dull day, the estate is beautiful and views of the abbey from Ann Boleyn’s seat is one to behold. Let the imagination take over and take time to absorb the past. A magical place for all.