Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 following a dispute and riot at St Mary’s Abbey in York. Following the riot, thirteen monks were exiled and after unsuccessfully attempting to return to the early 6th century Rule of St Benedict, were taken into the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York. He provided them with a site in the valley of the River Skell. The enclosed valley had all the required materials for the creation of a monastery, providing shelter from the weather, stone and timber for building, and a running supply of water. The monks applied to join the Cistercian order in 1132.
The abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Abbey buildings and over 500 acres (2 km²) of land were then sold by the Crown, on 1 October 1540, to Sir Richard Gresham, the London merchant, father of the founder of the Royal Exchange, Sir Thomas Gresham
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