Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
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. 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. 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.