Focus on Fountain’s Abbey


I very often lack focus and tend to meander through my life.  Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, in Yorkshire, were a case in point.  Looking for somewhere to admire snowdrops, I ventured there last week.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Swathes of them nestled beneath the trees.  I captured one or two shots, but I was soon drawn into the magnificence of the water gardens.

It was a gloomy old day and I stopped to read the cheerful sign inside the fishing tabernacles. They are part of the balustrade and cascade into the lake and date back to 1719.  Probably designed as a base for fishing excursions, they cleverly concealed the sluices used to drain the canal quickly in time of flooding.



The water gardens must be one of the finest sights in England, and neither I nor the swans allowed ourselves to be depressed by the weather, while the pheasants seemed positively immune.  Not well focused though!

It wasn’t long before I was ambling among the ruins of the Abbey, smitten by the hues in the aged stones.  Snowdrops there were aplenty but I’m afraid that they played second fiddle.


Fountains Abbey, 3 miles south west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, is one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, it had an active life until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

A full history can be found here.  Today the Abbey and Water Gardens are successfully managed by the National Trust and they have some delightfully focused snowdrops on their site.





Paula focused on black and white photography in her Traces of the Past on Sunday.  It’s not my forte, so I’m compromising.  But I would love to draw your attention to her very beautiful Focus in Thursday’s Special.


    1. It is a lovely setting, isn’t it? Now would be a good time to go and see the daffs in Farndale too. Have to see if we can manage it before we go back to the Algarve at the end of the month. 🙂

  1. A belated welcome back from Florence Jo! (I’ve been away for a few days as well so I’m playing catch up).

    Yet another gorgeous stroll through country I missed my last time around. The noble ruins of Fountain Abbey are set so beautifully against the greenery that I hardely noticed the ominous sky. (Unfortunately, on each of my previous trips through England, work kept me busy in the city centers).

    And I loved the word play on Downton Abbey, was this intentional?

  2. Beautiful abbey, Jo! love the reflections in the water! And the view with the arch in the middle – magical! I commented here to leave you a note I linked up to your Monday Walk, thinking it would have less comments – haha, technically, yes, less, but not that much less! You must be popular, my friend!

  3. What beautiful views. I like to explore and take photos on a cloudy day. Somehow the greens seem even more vivid when the sky is grey, and there are few shadows to spoil the photos. The abbey’s architecture is beautiful, even in ruins.

    1. Thank you kindly. 🙂 I’ve been offline and just saw this today. I don’t really have time to respond properly to awards but I do appreciate the thought.

  4. Oh Jo, you brought back some great memories. Mike and I visited Fountains Abbey in 1999. When we were there, some schoolchildren were there learning about the abbey and doing a monk reenactment of sorts. It was also very foggy and atmospheric when we were there. Later, I took a poetry class where we were to write about something using repeated last lines in each stanza. I dug up the poem today and thought I’d link to it; I wish I could write a post about our visit but I don’t have the pictures in digital form. Maybe someday I’ll get around to scanning all my photos in.

    Here’s my poem, if you care to read it:

    Thanks for sharing about this marvelous place. It is really special.

    By the way, have a fabulous time in Florence! I’m so excited about your upcoming trip. Did James find a job yet? I hope so. No word from Adam, so it probably means he hasn’t!

    1. I love it when I visit somewhere around the blogs that brings back memories, Cathy. Thanks for the link. I’ll hop over there now. 🙂
      I’m looking forward to Florence but I do wish James had managed to get another job. He’s still waiting for interviews, which isn’t great because the employer withheld his last month’s wages against the money that has to be repaid. Nightmare! Adam might yet surprise you 🙂

  5. These are stunning photos, Jo! 😀 The black/white one has a wonderful sense of grandeur and majesty and there is one of the ruins that has a spectacular play between the darker lowers ruins at the front and the great towering lighter arches at the back. Just beautiful…those snowdrops didn’t have a chance really, did they?!😀 Thank you for sharing…with these continual reminders of the area I grew up in will have me putting the house on the market and moving back up!

    1. Then we could have a cuppa in the Abbey tearooms, Annika 🙂 🙂 Just a thought… I love Fountains and Rievaulx, both. They couldn’t have lovelier locations. Soon be time for the daffodil walk in Farndale 🙂 Thanks for the kind words and have a great weekend!

  6. I love the sharpness of the silhouettes in that first photo .. and your focus riff … and the language of Fishing Tabernacles … and the grandeur of the ruins … and the GREEN!!! Last time I heard talk of Cistercian monasteries was in Jordan – an architect on the dig was off to do a Cistercian monastery crawl, if I can use such an undignified expression.

    Not quite spring here, although the air could almost be called balmy. We spent the morning beginning the very daunting pack-up, and I’m waiting for my second last Friday lunch with my daughter. Many on-the-cusp-of-spring hugs to you, with an occasional cough to avoid.

    1. I could definitely fancy a Cistercian monastery crawl 🙂 🙂 Reckon we’d get Jude and Gilly to come along too.
      Our meeting in Lodz seems so far distant, Meg! Lot of water under the bridge since then. I’m just back from a lovely sunny stroll up the local beach. Can’t believe how different from yesterday’s wildness. 🙂 I’m just about to book the Uffizi for next Tuesday and then I shall probably get lost in Florentine daydreams for a while. Packing? Ugh! Have a lovely luncheon and afternoon, and no sniffles 🙂

  7. Dang that Henry VIII…he did a lot to spoil historical sites, and history, eh? Your photos are simply lovely, very precise and very clear. The first one is simply stunning…all those branches in the open air! I’ve been MIA, but I may be back for a while before going off back into the woods

    1. You snuck up on me while I was walking on the beach! 🙂 🙂 Storm Doris breezed through yesterday with torrential rain and it was a relief to see a bit of blue sky. I’m so spoilt! 🙂 Off to Florence on Sunday and I can’t wait!!! Thank you kindly, sir. You have been missed!

      1. Rain…ugh! But Florence! WOW…I love Florence–The Bridge, David. Got the worst haircut of my life there, though, the guy spoke no English.

      2. Truth be told I could have stayed in Italy and just kept on moseying, but there’s always a killjoy who says ‘home’ 😦 Off to Anglesey in Wales today. Could be breezy! Have fun wherever you end up! Must be due some down time?

  8. One of my favourite places in Yorkshire . . . . and just love the atmosphere you have created with your post and photographs today. Captures it beautifully . . . .hope all is well with you x

    1. Hi Becky, and thank you! 🙂 Survived Storm Doris quite well in these parts, though I got a good soaking yesterday. Just back from a walk on the local beach in very nice sunshine. Can’t tell what’s coming from one day to the next 🙂 You guys ok?

  9. Great photos Jo, I love the ones of the water gardens. I went to Fountains Abbey a few years ago but sadly didn’t manage to ser yhe water gardens as they seemed to be quite a walk from the abbey and I was running out of time. Have you ever been to Brimham Rocks? It’s only a relatively short drive from Fountains Abbey and is an amazing place with lots of different rock formations and great views. Have a look at this post on my other blog for some pics –

    1. No worries about hitting wrong keys- I do it all the time (and curse 🙂 ) Yes, we’ve been to Brimham Rocks but it’s quite a long time ago. I’ll pop over for a read a bit later as I’m about to go out. 🙂

  10. Girlfriend … nobody can turn places into fairy tales like you. Stunning images … and I love the images with the reflections in the water. Stunningly beautiful post.

    1. Good morning, Vivi! Laundry all done and rested up? We have a glorious morning here after crazy storm Doris yesterday, and totally unlike the drizzly day we had a Fountains. Thanks for the kind words, sweetheart 🙂 🙂

      1. I thought you were in Florence by now .. ??!!! Looking at Florence for Febr-18. Or maybe Christmas, they only celebrate 25.12.
        I have seen photo from Doris behaviour – mental lady. Glad you’re all okay.

      2. We go on Sunday, from Liverpool, so won’t be there till evening. When I booked I hadn’t even thought about Carnival but now I’m half hopeful that there might be a little costume drama in the streets. And no- it won’t be me! 🙂 🙂 Lisa, more likely!

      3. Do they have carnival in Florence too … I thought it was only Venice. Learn something new every day. I’m sure that you will enjoy every minute – are you driving to Liverpool, quite a distance.!!!!

      4. Apparently there’s a children’s parade at 2pm on 28th 🙂 Not sure if we’ll be in the right place. Just booked tickets for the Uffizi that morning. 🙂 Yes, the drive is about 2 and a half hours but no Leeds flight available. A Budapest postcard just plopped on my doormat 🙂 Thank you so much!

      5. It looks like it called Carnevale di Viareggio – but I can’t find where it’s going in Florence .. 26 & 28. The hotel should know. How many nights are you staying. Glad the card has arrived – my address USB didn’t work in my net book in Budapest, so I had to do the postcards on my PC at home. Technical problems .. the story of my life. *laughing

      6. I appreciate it and thank you! 🙂 I saw the address for the start of the parade on one of the Florence blogs but didn’t write it down. No worries if we see it or not, really 🙂 We only have 4 nights/3 days and there’s a LOT to see. Excited!!! 🙂

    1. I’m just in awe in general, Sue 🙂 It was half term hols so there were heaps of kids about despite the mild drizzle. I love the way these places try to engage youngsters with quizzes and such. If you ever come this way, I’d say Fountains is a must, hon. And thank you 🙂

    1. I was thrilled those pheasants stayed put for long enough, Dianne 🙂 There was a whole bunch of them, pecking about, but they always seem to have eyes in the back of their head when I approach. Thanks, darlin’. Beaming smiles your way 🙂

  11. The reflection of the little temple and a couple of those abbey photos are absolutely wonderful Jo. So crisp and clear. I think you focused perfectly! And the dull day probably helped make these images so more vibrant – no glare to interfere. Glad you found your snowdrops even if they did pale into the background somewhat. I declined to go find any more on Sunday as it wasn’t just dull, it was foggy and damp. Hope Doris didn’t cause you too many problems today!

    1. Michael looks diminutive in the temple shot. It’d just started to mizzle and he’s heading for shelter 🙂 Glad to hear from you! I was wondering if Doris had knocked your power off. We did alright up here. It was windy and woefully wet as I struggled back from t’ai chi yesterday afternoon, but I managed to get to the cemetery for Dad in the morning. (his 89th ‘birthday’ on Sunday, when we head for Florence) Thank you for the kind words 🙂 🙂

  12. What a beautiful castle Jo. I am amazed how green the grass is too in the midst of winter. Lovely post. If I go to England on holiday I will just pull up your blog and follow all your walks. I bet it would take me months though. 🙂

  13. What a magnificent place Jo! lucky you living close enough to visit. It looks full of atmosphere, I wouldn’t fancy it in the dark, bet there’s ghosties 🙂 but imagine a summer’s day . . .

    1. That’s only a fraction of it, Gilly. It’s about an hour and a half by car, some of it very tedious motorway, so we don’t go often but it’s a beautiful site. Lovely snowdrops too 🙂

  14. Impressive and mysterious, Jo. Especially in the gloomy weather. Still, the water attracts. When some forces were (are) in power, the decline of certain cultural and religious monuments takes place, because it was so ordered. Sad. The same happened to the missions in California in more recent imes than the monasteries in England.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s