July 31 – A Walk in the Park at Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey

Open Mike, Karaoke and Quiz Night

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today began at Studley Royal where a huge crowd of geocachers descended at the entrance to Fountains Abbey. This is a National Trust property and after signing the log we received a wooden coin to commemorate our visit. We then joined the ‘fast’ group which meant we would walk the longer track around the grounds.

Studley Royal Park is a designated World Heritage Site in North Yorkshire, not far from Ripon. The deer park, which has an area of 323 hectares (800 acres) and features an 18th-century landscaped garden, some of the largest Cistercian ruins in Europe, a Jacobean mansion and a Victorian church designed by William Burges. It was developed around the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey.

We had a lovely walk with a great group of people and picked up five traditional geocaches around the grounds at the obelisk, the lake, the avenue, the park and one of the Abbey view. We met ‘two of nine’ who we have met before. None of the caches were difficult to find as there was always a large group of people already at each cache, passing the log book around.

On the way back up the hill, we visited St Mary’s church which is owned by English Heritage but run by National Trust. St Mary’s Church was one of two, late Victorian, memorial churches in Yorkshire, built by the family of the First Marquess of Ripon in memory of Frederick Grantham Vyner. The other is the Church of Christ the Consoler at Skelton-on-Ure, near the campsite for the UK Mega, and the architect of both was William Burges. Vyner was murdered by Greek bandits in 1870 and his mother, Lady Mary Vyner, and sister, Lady Ripon, used the unspent ransom money, gathered to obtain his release, to build two churches in Vyner’s memory on their respective Yorkshire estates.

St Mary’s, on Lady Ripon’s estate at Studley Royal, was commissioned in 1870 and work began in 1871. The church was consecrated in 1878. Burges’ design demonstrates a move from his favoured Early-French, to an English style. The interior is spectacular, exceeding Skelton in richness and majesty. The stained glass is of particularly high quality. We certainly noticed the similarities between the two churches with the use of the highly coloured parrot motive and the stained glass windows were made by the same artist in both churches.

The entrance way was beautifully carved but inside was even more magnificent and breathtaking. Inside the door was a very unusual font. As you stood in the nave the white organ stood out on one side and the painted ceiling in the chancel and domed ceiling in the sanctuary were amazing. On entering the chancel you had to put slippers on to cover outside shoes to protect the wonderful tile work. We have never seen anything like it. There was a wonderful double tomb of the Marquess of Ripon who died on 9/7/1909 and his wife Henrietta who died 28/2/1907 which was made from Verdi Antico Marble. There were ten misericords each with floral designs. The gilded string course of the chancel featured brightly coloured parrots sitting in niches all with different expressions alongside lifelike faces. Also in both churches are columns of five different coloured marble which were very attractive. The stained glass windows in both churches were also very similar and were designed by Frederick Weekes and constructed by Saunders & Co. Bruges had a love of coloured materials, including marble, mosaic, gilded metalwork and stained glass, as well as paintwork which is beautifully demonstrated in St Marys.

The stained glass is by the firm of Saunders & Co, set up with Burges’s encouragement in 1869 by his former pupil W Gualbert Saunders (1837–1923). Saunders employed Horatio Walter Lonsdale (1844–1919) and Fred Weekes (1833–93) as artists and draughtsmen, and the windows at St Mary’s are the result of close collaboration between the three. Weekes also executed some of the painted decoration in the church. He was assisted by Campbell, Smith & Co, a firm of church decorators founded by Charles Campbell in 1873. In 1877 Campbell had gone into partnership with Frederick George Smith, who had previously worked for Saunders.

Next, we gained entry to Fountains Abbey using our National Trust cards. We had some lunch in the cafe and walked down the hill to the Abbey. There was an earthcache to do there regarding the erosion of the rock used and the use of the Millstone Grit.

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It was founded in 1132 and it operated for 407 years becoming one of the wealthiest monasteries in England until its dissolution in 1539 under the order of Henry VIII. The abbey is a Grade I listed building.

After walking all around the ruins we also visited Fountain’s Hall. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII, the Abbey buildings and over 500 acres (200 ha) of land were sold by the Crown to Sir Richard Gresham, a merchant. The property was passed down through several generations of Sir Richard’s family, then sold to Stephen Proctor who built Fountains Hall probably between 1598 and 1604. The hall is a Jacobean mansion, built partly with stone from the Abbey ruins. Fountains Abbey mill is the only 12th-century Cistercian corn mill left in the UK and the oldest ‘intact’ building on the estate.

After a long afternoon of visiting the abbey, the corn mill, the hall and the museum depicting how the monks lived we returned up the hill. We called into a shed where there were displays of wool carding, spinning and dying. There was a long scarf which people could add to. I knitted my row in purple wool. I still remember how to knit! LOL

We then returned to the Mega campsite to buy some tea. There was also an open Mike and Karaoke this evening and some of the singers were excellent. Then we teamed up with Vimmes and Velosaurus who we knew from Eastbourne for the quiz night. We faired OK but I don’t think Mike and I were much help in the quiz.

Another long day with 12831 steps walked or 8.6 km according to the app on my cell phone.