Kirkstall Abbey is set in an urban area about 3.5 miles west of Leeds on the A65. It is not on the normal tourist route so a lot of people miss it.

One of Britain’s best preserved abbeys, Kirkstall Abbey was founded in 1152 by a party of Cistercian monks from Fountains Abbey. In 1534 it was closed down in the ‘Dissolution of Religious Houses’ ordered by Henry VIII. The monks were pensioned-off, the roofs stripped of lead and some buildings converted for agricultural use.

Many famous artists such as JMW Turner, Thomas Girtin and Moses Griffith came to paint Kirkstall Abbey’s picturesque ruins. Today large parts of the Abbey can still be seen and explored free of charge.
Completed between 1152 and 1182, Kirkstall Abbey still stands substantially to its full height, its massive structure presenting a unique example of early Cistercian architecture. Although its community was disbanded in 1539, it has continued to attract the attention of increasing numbers of visitors, for no other building so completely illustrates this early period of English monastic life.

The ideal of the monastic life is that a man who enters it shall give up all share and interest in the affairs of the world and devote his whole life to the service of God. About 525 St. Benedict gathered together a community of such men at Monte Cassino between Rome and Naples, where he drew up a series of rules to guide their daily life and worship. Monasteries following the Benedictine rule were soon established in most European countries, but their increasing laxity led to a number of revivals, the most important of these beginning in 1098 with the foundation of the Abbey of Citeaux in Burgundy in eastern France.

Stephen Harding, an Englishman, became abbot here in 1109. Within the next decade he drew up the ‘Charter of Charity’, the constitution which bound together the Cistercian order under the government of a general chapter, or assembly of abbots. In addition, a series of ‘customs’ were established which ensured that all Cistercian monasteries followed the same interpretation of St. Benedict’s rule as practised at Citeaux. By 1120 some twelve Cistercian monasteries had been founded, but by 1152 their number had increased to three hundred and thirty. In Yorkshire the major expansion took place in the 1130s and 1140s, the community which was to found Kirkstall Abbey leaving Fountain Abbey near Ripon in 1147.

Under the leadership of Abbot Alexander, the monks first tried to settle on the lands of Henry de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, at Barnoldswick, a Pennine village near Skipton. Here both the climate and the local inhabitants proved so inhospitable that a new site had to be found. While passing through Airedale, Alexander came upon a pleasant stretch of country well stocked with timber, stone and water, and inhabited by a group of hermits. As this land was in the ownership of William of Poitou, a vassal of Henry de Lacy, the Abbot Alexander was able to use Henry’s influence to gain possession of the site.

On May 19th, 1152 the monks transferred from Barnoldswick to Kirkstall, there to build their monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. At first all the buildings were of wood, but within a few years these were being replaced by massive masonry structures in the local Bramley Fall gritstone. So quickly did the work progress, that the Church, the Cloister and its surrounding buildings were all completed in the lifetime of Abbot Alexander, who died in 1182.

Source:- http://www.leeds.gov.uk/kirkstallabbey

Taken with a Lumix DMC FZ38
Enhanced with Photomatix.

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Tags

abbey, kirkstall abbey, leeds, ruin

Thanks for taking the time to browse my portfolio, I hope you see something you like. Colin.

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Comments

  • Sandra Cockayne
    Sandra Cockayneabout 4 years ago

    Excellent shot Tyke, great framing! S:)x

  • Thanks Sandra, appreciated.

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Roy  Massicks
    Roy Massicksabout 4 years ago
    A peak through the trees – love it !
  • Thanks Roy.

    – Colin Metcalf

  • hilarydougill
    hilarydougillabout 4 years ago

    Where exactly is Kirkstall Abbey? I am sure everyone would love to know and they too could visit it. hugsxxx

  • Hi Hilary, thanks for your comment. Kirkstall Abbey is set in an urban area about 3 miles west of Leeds on the A65. It is not on the normal tourist route so a lot of people miss it. I will up date the narrative in case anyone else views it and is interested.

    – Colin Metcalf

  • hilarydougill
    hilarydougillabout 4 years ago

    wonderful bio. hugsxxx

  • We aim to please. Sometimes the aim is erratic but we try.

    – Colin Metcalf

  • snapdecisions
    snapdecisionsabout 4 years ago

    Has a great mood to it , Lovely image and subject Colin !!!

  • Thanks trev for comment and fave.

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Warren  Patten
    Warren Pattenabout 4 years ago

    Very nicely framed,geat image Colin..fav.

  • Cheers mate and thanks for the fave.

    – Colin Metcalf

  • patjila
    patjilaover 3 years ago

    Wonderful capture the Kirkstall Abbey Colin plus information, have been lucky I’ve seen it in real and here again!

  • So pleased you like it and I hope it brought back fond memories! Thank you!

    – Colin Metcalf

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