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Aerial View of Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Aerial View of Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Photograph taken August 1990 © Crown copyright. Historic England Archive ref: nmr 12018/24

An aerial view of Fountains Abbey. This Cistercian monastery was founded in 1132 by a group of monks from the Benedictine house of St Mary’s, York. They wanted to pursue a harsher and more disciplined way of monastic life. During the Middle Ages Fountains was one of the leading Cistercian monasteries. It gave help to a number of needy people who came to the abbey gates during the famine of 1194-6. By the time of the Dissolution it was the richest Cistercian abbey in Britain, valued at £1115 18s 2d. It was closed in November 1539. The abbot and 30 monks all received pensions. Demolition began in 1540. The new owner, Sir Richard Gresham stripped it of anything of value. Furnaces were built in the church to melt the lead from the roof and pipes. The fire was fed by timber from the screens and furnishings. He did not demolish all the buildings as he planned to convert them into a mansion. The grounds surrounding the ruin were landscaped during the 18th century. It is now (2011) a World Heritage Site.

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