Fountains Abbey and the water gardens of Studley Royal are a World Heritage Site close to Ripon owned by the National Trust. People have long been attracted to this inspiring place to explore the atmospheric ruins of the Abbey which are now set in the beautiful water gardens created by John Aislabie. There are beautiful walks through the grounds taking in mirror ponds, hidden follies and the deer park - where red, fallow and sika deer can all be seen.
The Abbey was founded by just 13 monks in 1132 but grew to become one of the most important abbeys in the country and owned extensive areas of land, including in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District. The Abbey was closed in 1539 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII and the monks and abbot sent away with a pension.
John Aislabie inherited Studley Royal in 1693 but really set about transforming the grounds in 1720. He added lakes and ponds, classical statues, follies and small buildings all carefully placed in the landscape. He then bought the Abbey ruins in 1767 and incorporated them into the gardens to provide a stunning feature. The gardens you see today are little changed from this time and continue to delight new generations.