Studley Royal Park

The in 18./19. The Royal Gardens of Studley, North Yorkshire, designed in the 14th century, uniquely integrate the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey, built in the 12th century and dilapidated since the 16th century. The monastery complexes include the late Romanesque church and the chapter house. The Fountains Hall mansion was built in the neo-Gothic style. The park is one of the most magnificent Gregorian gardens in the country.

Studley Royal Park: Facts

Official title: Studley Royal Park with the ruins of Fountains Abbey
Cultural monument: Ruins of the Cistercian abbey, including 123 m long late Romanesque church, chapter house, monks ‘bedroom, the 100 m long cellarium, the lay brothers’ dormitory, and the hospital; extensive park and a renaissance-style mansion “Fountains Hall”
Continent: Europe
Country: UK, North Yorkshire
Location: Fountains Abbey, northwest of York
Appointment: 1986
Meaning: one in the 18th / 19th Century designed, in its form fascinating garden landscape including the ruins of the Fountains Abbey and the neo-Gothic Fountains Hall

Studley Royal Park: History

1132 Founding of the abbey by monks from St. Mary’s Abbey (York); Adoption of the rules of the Cistercian order
1135-47 Construction of the main nave and transepts of the abbey church
13th century Construction of the early Gothic “Chapel of the Nine Altars”
1539 Dissolution of the monastery
1598-1611 Construction of Fountains Hall and partial demolition of the abbey to obtain building materials for Fountains Hall
1727 Design of Studley Royal Gardens with octagonal tower, “Temple of Piety” and moon pond

Heavenly rigor and earthly strolling

In 1132 a dispute broke out in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary in York. Young monks turned against the old abbot and demanded a return to the rules of St. Benedict from the 6th century. But, as usual, authority prevailed: 13 brothers were expelled from the monastery and given by the Archbishop of York land in the valley of the small river Skell in the wild Yorkshire Dales. There they founded a new abbey, St. Mary of Fountains, presumably named after the numerous springs that rose on the slopes of the surrounding hills. They joined the Cistercian Order a few years after the founding of the monastery, and a century later, Fountains Abbey was the richest Cistercian monastery in England.

Soon after they settled down, the brothers began building the abbey church and residential buildings. The first phase included the main nave and the two transepts of the church, then the work and living rooms followed, which later had to be expanded again and again so that they are partly built across the Skell. In the third construction phase, in the first half of the 13th century, a wide transverse chapel with nine altars was added to the east end of the church, and finally a tower in the late English Gothic style was added next to the north aisle, the one between Perpendicular style prevailing in 1350 and 1520, emphasizing the vertical lines.

So that the Cistercian monks could devote themselves more to prayer, they accepted lay brothers into the monasteries. They did most of the construction and handicraft work, tended the large flocks of sheep and worked the lands. The lay brothers also had to take a vow and lived almost as strictly as the monks. In what is now the ruins of Fountains Abbey, the Refectory of the Lay Brothers, into which a staircase leads from the west end of the church, looks breathtaking through a series of 19 central columns.

After a period of bad harvests and epidemics in the 14th century, the monastery had just regained prosperity when King Henry VIII broke with the Pope in the first half of the 16th century and ordered the dissolution of all monasteries. Whatever was of value fell to the crown. Since this also included the lead from the roofs, most of the abbey churches only survived the centuries as ruins. According to cheeroutdoor, Fountains Abbey and part of the lands were sold. Stephen Proctor, the new owner, built Fountains Hall, a three-story mansion not far from the abbey ruins and inhabited for four centuries. After Proctor’s death, the property moved from hand to hand. Eventually it fell to the Aislabie family. One of the offspring of this family was John Aislabie, an influential member of parliament and later finance minister. After a major financial scandal in 1720, he not only lost these political offices, but also his honorary rights. He retired to Yorkshire and devoted himself exclusively to the creation of the Studley Royal garden, which he had begun in 1716. After his death, his son William continued his work, bought the land from Fountains Abbey and integrated it with a deer park into the landscaped garden.

One of the most beautiful gardens of the early 18th century is the Studley Royal Water Garden. While in the 17th century formal gardens with marked out paths and beds, often based on the French or Italian model, met the taste of the wealthy upper class, people later wanted to stage nature as nature, less formally, but with precisely planned views and arrangements of trees and Lakes. First travelers reported on gardens in East Asia, and so Aislabie also planned an “oriental” element. His “Valley of the Seven Bridges” was created. Exactly planned observation towers and classical statues deliberately placed in the lines of sight already indicated the dawning renaissance of classicism. It is almost a miracle that this garden in the remote Yorkshire valleys has been preserved for nearly three centuries.

Studley Royal Park