Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall, north-west of Leeds city centre in West Yorkshire, England. It is set in a public park on the north bank of the River Aire. It was founded c.1152. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII.
The picturesque ruins have been drawn and painted by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman.
Kirkstall Abbey was acquired by Leeds Corporation as a gift from Colonel North and opened to the public in the late 19th century. The gatehouse became a museum (LINK)
The last few weeks I have been playing tourist, visiting places close to home. Some I have never been to like York gate gardens and some like the Abbey I have taken the children to pass an hour during the summer holidays.
So on yet another wet and windy summers day I took myself of to look round Kirkstall Abbey, I had forgotten how big the place was and the construction of such a building from so long ago still surprises me, just looking at the size of this window arch... it's amazing.
I juggled with a large umbrella the rain and the wind, so quite a few photos have rain spots on them.
The abbey is a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. After a £5.5 million renovation programme there is a new visitor centre with interactive exhibits which illustrates the history of the abbey and the lives of the monks. Entry to the Abbey itself is via the visitor centre – free of charge, but with a donation box. Occasionally, guided tours are available (free of charge).
The Leeds Shakespeare Festival, performed by the British Shakespeare Company, took place annually in the cloisters from 1995 until 2009. The abbey grounds are a public park, and are used for occasional events such as the annual Kirkstall Festival and the Kirkstall Fantasia open-air concerts.
On the other side of the main road, the grade II* listed former abbey gatehouse now forms the Abbey House Museum.
A OS marker can be found on the wall outside the park grounds, this is the third one I have found this week , the others been on church walls.
After Kirkstall Abbey was left empty, it soon deteriorated. The lately added tower was not designed with supports and eventually gave way in 1779. It continued in that fashion until 1895, when it was reopened as a public park.
The church as a road.
Within a century of the Abby closing down the main road to Leeds ran straight through the middle of the church.
The night stairs.
The night stairs were used by the choir monks, they came down from their dormitory to attend the first service of the day, at one o' clock in the morning, they were called a further six times throughout the day.
The Chapter House.
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The East Range
The Warming House
The visitor centre
Beautiful medieval tiles which the abbey’s Cistercian monks strolled upon centuries ago, and a tiny tuning peg which may have belonged to a visiting medieval minstrel, are among the archaeological discoveries being exhibited
Just over the road from the Abbey is Abbey House Museum.
Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England is housed in the gatehouse of the ruined Kirkstall Abbey, and is a Grade II* listed building.
I have not been in here before and its beautiful, coffee and cake ordered and a chance to get warm and dry. I had planed to have a look at the Victorian street, but decided to save that for another day.
In 1927 Abbey House, a Grade II* Listed Building, opened to the public as a museum displaying the history of the people of Leeds. In the mid-1950s the downstairs of Abbey House was transformed with the construction of mock Victorian streets inside – Abbey Fold, Harewood Square and Stephen Harding Gate. These had faithful recreations of houses, shops, a church and a pub inside showing what life in Leeds would have been like in the 1880s. Above, in the first floor are collections of more aspects of Victorian Leeds, including Victorian toys, clothes and furniture.
The Norman Hall
..it was at these gates that Henrty VIII'S commissioners arived on 22nd November 1539 to demand the surrender of the Abbey and all its property into their hands.
According to tradition the former abbot, John Ripley, retired to live int he gatehouse, blocking each end with windows removed from the abbey. A stone coffin containing a skeleton, a silver spoon and a silver farthing of Edward I (1272-1307) was discovered under the floor of this room in the 19th century.
Book shop in the Abby House
Other places I have visited this past week;
(click.... to get the link).
Wikipedia page Kirkstall Abbey