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Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden

©NTPL/Andrew Butler

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Few of The National Trust properties are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park does have that distinction.

As well as being of unique historic importance, this attraction packs in a wider variety of historic monuments than anywhere else in Europe. The elegant ruins of the Cistercian Abbey, the Medieval Deer Park, Elizabethan Hall, Georgian water garden and Victorian church, cover the whole spectrum of England's heritage in one beautiful landscape.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden also have an action-packed agenda which includes free guided tours, exhibitions, musical concerts, wildlife walks and spotlit autumnal evenings to allow visitors to enjoy the many different aspects of this rich heritage site.
©NTPL/Andrew Butler
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The magnificent 12th century Abbey ruins are set in the Skell Valley and are the largest monastic ruins in the country. They are well able to be explored through the passages, towers and staircases which mercifully survived Henry VIII's Dissolution of Monasteries in 1539, which saw many similar buildings destroyed.

Explore the cloisters and the huge fireplace in the Warming Room above which the documents of the Abbey were kept warm and dry. Once the home of the holy order of Cistercian monks, this quiet place of contemplation is now inhabited by several protected species of bat.

Nearby is the millpond and waterwheel of the only surviving Cistercian corn mill in the UK, now fully restored.

The Studley Royal Estate passed through the hands of several families until the Aislabie family inherited it in 1693. John Aislabie became the Chancellor of the Exchequer until he resigned for his part in the disastrous South Sea Bubble debacle and he returned in disgrace to Studley Royal House. He began creating this breathtaking landscaping marvel, inspired by the landscapes of similar french
©NTPL/Andrew Butler
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One of the main features is the Temple of Piety, dedicated to Hercules in 1729. The crescent-shaped Moon Pond continues the classical theme surrounded by lead statues of Bacchus, Neptune and Galen while the statue of Hercules and Antaeus overlooks the Formal Canal.

From the High Ride there are wonderful views of the water gardens and the route takes visitors past the Octagon Tower and the Temple of Fame Rotunda - a perfect family picnic spot.

The rich collection of treats continues on through the park with the Surprise View, Rustic Bridge, Cascades, Fishing Tabernacle, Grotto, Anne Boleyn's statue and Drum Fall among other superb highlights. Although the house was demolished in 1946 after a devastating fire, the gardens and outbuildings live on.

St Mary's Church is also part of the estate and has a richly decorated interior of carved angels, lions, a magnificent organ housing and multicoloured parrots looking down on the choir.

Finally stroll through the Deer Park to the restaurant and tea room overlooking Studley Lake and enjoy the fresh air and sighting of flora and fauna along the way.

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Bus Services:
Harrogate District Community Transport (Ripon Roweller 139) Ripon-Markington (connections with Harrogate and District 36 from Harrogate).

Signed on-road cycle loop View local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website.

By Road:
4 miles west of Ripon off B6265 to Pateley Bridge, signposted from A1, 12 miles north of Harrogate (A61).

On Foot:
4 miles from Ripon via public footpaths and bridleways.

Ordnance Survey Reference:

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden Postcode for SatNav: HG4 3DY


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