Sunday, November 25, 2012
Today Fountains Abbey serves as the most wonderful folly you can imagine.
Britain's largest monastic ruin and most complete Cistercian abbey stands in the landscaped park of Studley Royal, another great house that belonged to the Aislabie family. The house itself suffered a serious fire in 1946 and was pulled down shortly afterwards, but its park and water garden are very much still there.
Some would see the dissolution of the monasteries as an advance of modernism but more and more I see Henry VIII as Britain's answer to Stalin - at least when I am walking around abbey ruins.
Huby's Tower, seen in the photograph above, dominates most views of Fountains Abbey. But it was not built until the early 16th century, not long before the monks were driven out.