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26 September 2013

A Taste of Fountains Abbey

There I was trying to sort out my backlog of holiday photos from Lake Tahoe when I was encouraged to take a trip out to Fountains Abbey. The result was yet more photos! It's a nice problem to have. These are actually from a couple of weeks ago...

As we wandered up to take in the view from "Anne Boleyn's Seat" we passed the statue above. As I snapped a photo I joked that this must be a statue of Anne Boleyn making reference to the fact that she had been beheaded by Henry VIII. It seems that I'm only 250 years late in making this joke. See the following that I just pinched from TommyId:

"The name Anne Boleyn’s Seat was coined because paintings show that there was a decapitated statue on this spot before the acquisition of the Abbey by Aislabie in 1768."

Hold on a second. This can't possibly be a statue of Anne Boleyn. Google tells me that Anne had six fingers, a large mole on her neck... and three breasts! I wonder what Henry saw in her? ;-)

Here's a pretty freaky picture of the inside of my mind. Actually, this is a PhotoSynthed shot of the Cellarium in Fountains Abbey. The Cellarium was the Abbey's pantry where the food and drink would have been stored. See below for what the same scene looks like in real-perspective. I love the pattern of the bricks and the arches.

Fountains Abbey ran from 1132 through to 1539 when proceedings came to an abrupt halt at the orders of Henry VIII.

Desperate to kick the Roman Church out of England, Henry founded a new Church with himself as "Pope". Then, as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, he set to work shutting down the Abbeys and Monasteries. The abbots of Fountains Abbey were given an ultimatum to sever all ties with Rome which they duly did. This was good news for them and good news for the Abbey, as it saved it from being leveled. And so ended Rome's hold over England.

So we have something we can thank Henry for!

See below, a picture of Henry VIII as drawn on a whiteboard by my son J-Uke. These pictures have been popping up all over the place in the Uke household this past year. It's been one of his topics at school that has obviously captured his imagination.

Check out these arches. The perspective gives this picture an immense Colosseum-like curvy feel. It is big in real-life, but that wall is actually straight ;-)

More of J-Uke's Henry VIII artwork. I think J-Uke's nailed that iconic Henry ostrich-feather look.

Talking of feathers...

Here's a picture of the River Skell that sleepily wends its way past the Abbey. These days you can walk a large easy loop along the river to check out the various follies in the grounds. As I wandered around I began to wonder whether the Abbots themselves would have made the same sort of journey when the Abbey was in proper use, or were they perhaps stuck inside transcribing books?

Thanks to Google I've discovered that the Abbots of Fountains Abbey were of the Cistercian Order which apparently favours "manual labour and field-work". So there's a good chance they were often to be found outside enjoying the beautiful countryside. They certainly picked a nice spot to set up an Abbey!

This view of the Abbey looks a little imposing. If you think that this is impressive, imagine what it might have looked like with a roof and windows.

Here's that rogue, Henry VIII again! 

You might think that you'd need to be on mushrooms to see a tower like the one above.

This is Octagan Tower, a Gothic folly found in the grounds of Fountains Abbey that overlooks the Water Garden. It's made up of a single room with windows on seven sides (see the picture below).

If you want to get down to the Water Garden from the Tower, you can, via a tunnel that has been designed to be just long enough that you can't see daylight at the other end. I love that the designer forces you to take a leap of faith as you step into the darkness.

Enter if you dare! Fantastic!

Here's what must be my favourite PhotoSynth glitch picture. It's a shot of the inside of the Octagon Tower.  The room is octagonal, but through the magic of PhotoSynth, I've managed to flatten it out for you. I took this as a series of pictures in a full circle around me and PhotoSynth did the rest. I love that the windows don't all line up. The best one of all is the window right in the middle of picture. It's at an angle! I don't know how I did that. Brilliant!


  1. I love Fountains Abbey and this made me want to visit again soon. My dad took me there when I was little. The little lake there was filled with some kind of manky green algae that looked like pea soup. My dad asked me if he could throw my frisbee into the lake to see what happened. He promised to buy me a new one. I let him and he threw it in. It sank in a really anti-climatic way. And he never got me a new frisbee.

    The stupid thing is that I fell for exactly the same thing at Brid when he threw my plastic boomerang at a seagull.

  2. I want to build a tower like that one above,in my backyard.
    No seriously,I do,but I can't afford to do that without losing my head to my wife and her sharp purse strings.-)

  3. I notice you have (42) Members at the moment KU.
    Very Douglas Adams I think.-)
    Check out this new Australien cartoon that came about mainly because of you.

    So if it becomes a cult pop figure in the future,it can be all traced back to you King with your love of Tokyo Zombie and dung beetles.
    What have you unleashed on the world KU ?-)

  4. @evl - Fountains Abbey really is a beautiful place to visit. The day we went they just happened to be offering free entry, otherwise it can be a bit pricey to get in. It was a birthday treat for my Mrs and the weather held out all day! Get yourself down there! Your dad sounds like a right-un! Ha ha. I've never heard of anyone chucking boomerangs at seagulls before. Have you Daz?

    @Daz - "I notice you have (42) Members at the moment" - so I have! Well spotted! I predict that it will stay that way for another 42 months! ;-) WOW! I hadn't realised that I am part of a cartoon-based sync! I will check this out in more detail soon. If you end up getting planning permission for your new tower (from your wife) then I want an invitation to the grand opening! I'll bring my camera ;-)

    1. Free entry to Fountains Abbey is really good. You did well with the weather. The last time we went it tipped it down all day.

      Maybe if my dad was Australian he would have actually hit the seagull. As it was, he was a mile off and the seagull looked on with disdain. And yeah, he is a right-un.

  5. The only thing I can ever recall people chucking at seagulls were chips (not gambling chips though.-) and I live in Australia,so if anyone would be chucking boomerangs at seagulls it would be us .-)

  6. The only way my wife would let me build a tower like that was if I told her it was for her precious dogs.

  7. Having spent the last two days wandering round Nidderdale, I plan to vist Fountain's Abbey tomorrow.

    I remember when it only cost 6d to get in.
    I still know a way in that's free to the more agile visitor.

  8. My family hails from Nidderdale Outa-Spaceman! It's a very special place to me.

    "I remember when it only cost 6d to get in"... you're obviously far too old to remember things like this! ;-) Ha ha

    "I still know a way in that's free to the more agile visitor." This doesn't involve a snorkel does it? You're meant to wear a National Trust sticker to show that you've entered via one of the approved methods. I wonder what I've done with mine... you could have had that! Oh hold on... it's not waterproof! Bah.. foiled! ;-)