Saturday, 15th October, 2016

Today we visited Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey. I had vivid memories of both these beautiful places from my visit to England in 1990 and was certainly not disappointed when seeing them again (although I did find that I had some parts of each mixed up with the other in my mind).

Fountains Abbey is within a beautiful 18th century garden which covers 800 acres and this is a World Heritage Site. Sadly, we didn't have time to explore much of the gardens but we spent quite a lot of time wandering around the Abbey.


We have seen a lot of pheasants on our travels. They always make me think of Danny the Champion of the World, my favourite Roald Dahl book.


abbey ext

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest abbey ruins (and I think one of the most beautiful).


guest house

This is a wall of one of the two guest houses. You may be able to see a round window that has been bricked up. This was done when the fireplace below was installed.


river under

The river was diverted to flow under the abbey. It was used as a sewer! The monks used water from a nearby spring for washing, drinking and cooking.


This was the latrine. Apparently there were doors and the effluent went straight into the river! There were rooms above which had sort of ensuites and these too emptied straight into the river.


lay brother quarters

The lay brothers' (as distinct from choir brothers who spent most of their time in the church) dormitory was on top of the remaining level at the left of the photo. Each brother had two metres of space so it is not hard to see how many brothers there were! The lay brothers did most of the work.


west end

The west end of the church. Notice the round Norman arch. The amount of ornamentation indicated the importance placed on the doorway.



The Nave. Notice the very solid Norman columns and rounded arches. Also the beautiful green grass!


south aisle

This is the south aisle, looking east.



The tower was the last part of the building to be completed before the dissolution in 1539.



Another Norman part of the monastery (11th to 12th century).



Many birds have found great accommodation in the Abbey!



This is the cloister.



You can clearly see where the roof used to be.



This part of the floor is in pretty good condition considering it's about 700 years old!



It is thought that the monks kept many of their treasures in this room as it was kept warm by the fireplaces below it. Work such as copying manuscripts was also undertaken in here.



The huge fireplace



This is the refectory (dining room). During meals, one of the monks would read passages of Scripture from the raised pulpit on the right hand side.


chapter house

This is the Chapter House. The monks held meetings here. Originally, they met here to hear a chapter of scripture, hence the name.



The view looking up from inside the tower


east end

The corner of the east end. Can you see the bird that I inadvertently photographed?


Is this a sheep? A lion? Something else?


lady bird

A ladybird joined us for lunch. Not sure why she was in the tearooms - there were no aphids that we could see.


Foutains Hall

This is Fountains Hall. It is only metres from the Abbey. The builders used the Abbey as a quarry!



This little cottage is located just outside the estate. It looked lovely in the sunlight.


We moved on to Rievaulx Abbey after lunch.


The sun was trying to shine through the cloud cover at Rievaulx...



...but didn't always manage to achieve this.



Rievaulx was a lot quieter than Fountains Abbey.



This corner of the cloister has been reconstructed to show what it would have been like. There was a roof from these columns to the wall.



Looking toward the Sanctuary


cahpter house

This is the Chapter House. You can see the graves of former abbots (we were told that all had been desecrated at the time of the dissolution).


cloister to refectory

In the cloister, looking towards the doorway to the refectory.



Refectory. You can see where the floor was, just above the lower arches. You may also be able to see steps leading up to a doorway on the right hand side.



A close up of the steps. I wondered who was the last person to use them and how long ago that might have been.



More steps, this time inside a tower.



east end

The last of the sun on the East End



The Abbey had its own orchard.



I very much doubt that this particular tree is as old as the abbey but it is still bearing fruit.


last look

One last look as were were heading back to the visitor centre. The presence of the children in the photo helps to understand the size of the building.



The market town of Helmsley. Lots of lovely old buildings.



The owners go to a lot of trouble to make this shop look great!

It has been great to visit or pass through several towns which have hymn tunes named after them. The tune "Helmsley" is often set for the hymn "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending".

We have noticed that English people often say, "Are you OK?" when we would say "How are you?" It took a while to sort this out. I thought they were referring to my leg and was wondering how they knew!

Another thing we are trying to work out is the practice of tipping at restaurants. This is much more common here than in Australia. Some places, especially the more expensive, make it quite clear that tipping is expected. Others such as Toby's Carvery, which we have now visited six or seven times, don't seem to. Toby's Carvery gives us a 30% discount voucher each time we go there so it makes it even more economical, on a par with McDonald's!

I am gradually getting more comfortable with driving and negotiating the (many!) roundabouts. It is still quite stressful sometimes - I don't know what I would do without Siri!

We made it back to York Minster in comfortable time for a concert. It was the London Sinfonia with the Choir of York Minster. Music included all four of Handel's Coronation Anthems the most famous of which is Zadok the Priest. The other music was Bairstow's Blessed City, Heavenly Salem, Handel Organ Concerto Op 4 No 2 in B Flat, James MacMillan's Oh Give Thanks Unto The Lord and Bach's Suite No 3 in D BWV 1068. The concert was of professional standard and I enjoyed every second! In particular, it was wonderful to hear the coronation anthems in such a rich acoustic - my idea of heavenly music! I had booked online and managed to get front row seats so the orchestra was only a few metres away with the choir behind.

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