Monday, 3 August 2009

Kirkstall Abbey


I don't often do monochrome images but this seemed to lend itself to that treatment. It shows the Norman columns and arches of the nave of Kirkstall Abbey, in Leeds, a well-preserved example of a Cistercian monastery. It was built in the 12th century (1152 onwards), on the bank of the River Aire, as a 'daughter' abbey to Fountains Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales. It was surrendered in 1539 to Henry VIII's commisioners, in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After that it passed into private hands and much of the stone was taken for other buildings. During the 18th century the romantic ruins attracted many artists - it was painted by Turner. It was eventually gifted to Leeds City Council and restored in Victorian times. Since then it has provided a most attractive public park and venue for concerts and plays. The gatehouse is a museum of Victorian life in Leeds.

I spent a happy couple of hours wandering here yesterday, though it is hard to imagine it being an isolated monastery - the busy A65 now runs between the abbey and its gatehouse and the park provides a green oasis in what is really quite an urban area. There were lots of people enjoying the sunshine; one family had even set up a barbecue for their picnic by the river.


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