Making full use of our recently acquired National Trust membership, we visited this interesting place and World Heritage Site on a cold but dry day. There are various car parks around the estate and we used the West Gate one. I won't reveal all the facts and figures inc case you wish to discover the place yourselves.
The first building we encountered was the Elizabethan Fountains Hall dating back to 1597.
Several families lived there, the Vyner family being the last before it was sold to the West Riding County Council. We thought how lucky that family was to live in such a wonderful place until we learnt that they lost both a son and daughter in WW2.
The Hall now houses an exhibition telling the history of the Settlers Society – a boys training camp set up here in the 1930s to give young men from deprived areas of the North East a chance to escape the poverty of the Great Depression.The Abbey is a stunning feat of architecture dating from 1132 and you can learn of the remarkable history on information boards at the nearby Porter’s Lodge. Although the Abbey is referred to as “ruins”, as seen on the photos it is easy to imagine how the monks used to live.
The grounds are extensive and have been designed so there is something to capture your interest at every turn.
Although early in the year, apart from the snowdrops there seem to be no formal gardens. However, there are many different species of trees and plenty of wildlife such as deer, pheasants, swans and other birds and we were surprised to see ducklings in January!
The paths are wide and well made, dogs are allowed on leads, there are a few cafe areas and the estate is well signposted. Some areas are accessible free to non-members and allow a decent walk.
A return visit is definitely on the cards as we have more to explore.