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Kirkstall Abbey, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Kirkstall Abbey,  Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Photograph taken 1896 - 1920 © Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive ref: AA97/08058

Kirkstall Abbey was founded in 1152 by a community of Cistercian monks from Fountains Abbey. It gained its wealth from keeping sheep for the wool trade. Monastic life for the 31 monks came to an end in November 1540 when the abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. Although a few buildings were cleared to ground level most were left standing and used for agricultural purposes. This is perhaps why Kirkstall is now the most complete set of Cistercian ruins in Britain. The church still stands to roof level. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the road from Leeds to Skipton ran right through the nave! The abbey is now in the care of Leeds City Council (2011).

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