Sunday, 30 October 2011

Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey.

Wed 19th October 2011

This was another sunny day out with Sal, the weather was almost summerlike. We had another disaster with the Sat Nav;just getting us out of Bingley was a major task in itself. On the moors above Ilkley it was assigned to the glove compartment, I knew where Fountains Abbey was anyway but wasn't sure on the easiest route there. The drive down Nidderdale was simply beautiful with the trees just starting to change colour.

Tat shop and Visitor Centre

When we arrived, Sal made straight for the tat shop.....nuff said.

Fountains Hall

Our next point of call was Fountains Hall which was built between 1598 and 1604, partly with stone from the Abbey ruins. It played host to the young prince destined to become the ill fated Charles I, during his first royal progress from London to Edinburgh in 1604 and during the Second World War, the Hall and other estate buildings were used to house evacuees. However, after the war, the Hall again fell into a state of serious dilapidation but has been one of the National Trust's major restoration projects since acquiring the estate in 1983.

Fountains Hall

  It was a bit disappointing inside as only the 2 downstairs rooms were open. There wasn't much in either to be honest but the outside gardens are very well laid out and the frontage is very interesting with various Coats of Arms and figures of past owners adorning it.

Sal getting genned up

The Abbey Ruins

A dispute and riot at St Mary's Abbey in York led to the founding of Fountains Abbey in 1132. After pleading unsuccessfully to return to the early 6th century Rule of St Benedict, 13 monks were exiled and taken into the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York. He provided them with a site in the valley of the little River Skell in which they could found a new, more devout monastery and as a result, Fountains Abbey was built.

Fountains Mill

Fountains Mill (above) is perhaps the best preserved watermill in England and is the only 12th Centuty Cistercian corn mill in Britain. A working mill was too valuable to demolish at the Dissolution in 1539 and it was spared because it was able to generate an income for the estate of £3 a year. In its time the mill has also been a sawmill, a dairy operation, a stone masons’ workshop, a generating station for electricity and during the Second World War it housed refugees.

Today there is a nice little cafe in the buildings so we treated ourselves to a couple of cappuccinos and I had some flapjack whilst Sal has a shortbread man which I foolishly ordered as a shortbread ginger man much to her amusement.

Abbey Ruins

We then spend a good hour just wandering around the ruins with our cameras. The ruins have to be the most impressive of any  Abbey ruins. The main Abbey itself was built down in the valley so only the top of the main tower can be seen as you approach it from the Visitor Centre so the first view of the vastness and complexity of the site comes as somewhat of a surprise

Abbey ruins


Amazingly the cellarium roof has remained intact and the lay brothers ate, slept and socialised here, beneath the incredible vaulted ceiling which escaped Henry VIII’s brutal sixteenth century dissolution of the abbeys. 


Today the inhabitants are protected species of bat who live in the ceiling nooks and only come out after dusk. It is estimated there are over eight species of bats living in the cellarium.

The south aisle of the church

View down the Nave looking towards the Great East Window

When you are stood in the Nave, you really do start to appreciate what a spectacular structure this must have been when built. The North and South Aisles adjoin it with the Great East Window in front.

Rooks on Abbey walls

One thing I did notice was the number of rooks which have made the ruins their own. There were hundreds of them which resulted in a continual cawing noise most of the afternoon.

Abbey wall detail.

Abbey ruins.

The main tower and ruins.

The Abbot's House, The Chapter house, Cloisters, infirmaty, refectory and kitchen were all situated around this area of the ruins (see below).

Plan of Abbey

Archway, warming house.



At one point in the afternoon I completely lost Sal. When she starts clicking away with that camera she is completely lost in a world of her own. She was at the far end of the nave one minute then just vanished into thin air the next and I couldn't find her anywhere. She reappearred about 10 minutes later totally unconcerned and carried on clicking away bless her.

West Green, Fountains Abbey

The Porter’s Lodge part of the Abbey ruins is located on the edge of the West Green overlooking the Abbey and was the gatehouse and main entrance to the Abbey precinct. Today the ruins house a new contemporary building, opened in May 2008, providing exhibition space for the interpretation of the history of the Abbey and monks’ lives.  The most impressive exhibit is a model of the Abbey (below) and there is also an interactive area where you can don Monk's habits. I had one embarrassing photo taken on me but unfortunately Sal neshed out which is unusual for her. The walls are covered with artifacts and displays relating to the history of the Abbey.

Fountains Abbey model, Porter's Lodge

Abbey Museum, Porter's Lodge

Abbey Museum, Porter's Lodge

Unfoirtunately we had spent too much time in the Abbey so a trip into Ripon was called off for another day but we did agree to go to Studley Royal to see if we could see any of the deer in the grounds.

Scooby Doo


The water garden at Studley Royal is supposedly one of the best surviving examples of a Georgian water garden in England. It was created by John Aislabie in 1718 and was expanded by his son, William after Aislabie's death. William expanded the property, purchasing the adjacent Fountains Estate. The garden's elegant ornamental lakes, canals, temples and cascades provide a succession of eye-catching vistas. The garden is also studded with a number of follies including a neo-Gothic castle and a paladin style banqueting house.

We had hoped to go and see the gardens but it was nearing half past four and it was closing. There is plenty of scope for another visit though and next time we intend to see the gardens and then go into Ripon and research its connections with Lewis Carrol which interests Sal.

Studley Royal

Studley Royal.

On our drive back through Studley Roya park we got to see the famous deer and stags. With it being rutting season, there was plenty of "activity" and one stag in particular seemed to be the head of the herd. Other smalled stags crept nearer to challenge him but soon beat a hasty retreat when he turned on them. Sal got a very good photo of him (below).

Stag, Studley Royal.

Panic set upon the both of us as we realised that we'd had nothing to eat all day and more importantly, we had not been to a pub! We decided that a drive back through the Dales would be too tiring so we stopped off in Otley and had a pint in the Black Bull in the Market Square which is reputed to be the oldest pub in the town followed by a pint and one of Spoon's specials for my tea.

All in all another thoroughly enjoyable day out.

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Dragon Of Wantley - for Sal

The Dragon of Wantley is a 17th century satirical verse parody about a dragon and a brave knight. It was included in Thomas Percy's 1767 Reliques of Ancient Poetry.
The poem is a parody of medieval romances and satirizes a local churchman. In the poem, a dragon appears in Yorkshire and eats children and cattle. The knight More of More Hall battles the dragon and kills it. The Wantley of the poem is Wharncliffe and the dragon lived in a cave on Wharncliffe Crags, five miles to the north of Sheffield, South Yorkshire.  Me and Sal had an afternoon at Grenoside Woods and Wharncliffe last Monday and she was telling me the tale of the Dragon.

Grenoside Woods near Wharncliffe

Grenoside Woods near Wharncliffe

Wharncliffe Chase where the Dragon roamed.

Old stories tell, how Hercules
   A dragon slew at Lerna,
With seven heads, and fourteen eyes,
   To see and well discern-a:
But he had a club, this dragon to drub,
   Or he ne'er had done it, I warrant ye;
But More of More Hall, with nothing at all,
   He slew the dragon of Wantley.

This dragon had two furious wings,
   Each one upon each shoulder;
With a sting in his tail, as long as a flail,
   Which made him bolder and bolder.
He had long claws, and in his jaws
   Four and forty teeth of iron;
With a hide as tough as any buff,
   Which did him round environ.

Have you not heard how the Trojan horse
   Held seventy men in his belly?
This dragon was not quite so big,
   But very near, I tell ye.
Devoured he poor children three,
   That could not with him grapple;
And at one sup he ate them up,
   As one would eat an apple.

All sorts of cattle this dragon did eat,
   Some say he ate up trees,
And that the forests sure he would
   Devour up by degrees;
For houses and churches were to him geese and turkeys;
   He ate all, and left none behind,
But some stones, dear Jack, which he could not crack,
   Which on the hills you will find.

In Yorkshire, near fair Rotherham,
   The place I know it well;
Some two or three miles, or thereabouts,
   I vow I cannot tell;
But there is a hedge, just on the hill's edge,
   And Matthew's house hard by it;
There and then was this dragon's den,
   You could not choose but spy it.

Some say, this dragon was a witch;
   Some say, he was the devil,
For from his nose a smoke arose,
   And with it burning snivel,
Which he cast off, when he did cough,
   In a well that he did stand by;
Which made it look just like a brook
   Running with burning brandy.

Hard by a furious knight there dwelt,
   Of whom all towns did ring,
For he could wrestle, play at quarter-staff, kick, cuff and huff,
   Call son of a whore, do anything more;
By the tail and the mane, with his hands twain,
   He swung a horse till he was dead;
And that which is stranger, he for very anger
   Ate him all up but his head.

These children, as I told, being eat,
   Men, women, girls, and boys,
Sighing and sobbing, came to his lodging,
   And made a hideous noise:
"O, save us all, More of More Hall,
   Thou peerless knight of these woods;
Do but slay this dragon, who won't leave us a rag on,
   We'll give thee all our goods."

"Tut, tut," quoth he, "no goods I want;
   But I want, I want, in sooth,
A fair maid of sixteen, that's brisk and keen,
   With smiles about the mouth;
Hair black as sloe, skin white as snow,
   With blushes her cheeks adorning;
To anoint me o'er the night, e'er I go to fight,
   And to dress me in the morning."

This being done, he did engage
   To hew the dragon down;
But first he went, new armor to
   Bespeak at Sheffield town;
With spikes all about, not within but without,
   Of steel so sharp and strong,
Both behind and before, arms, legs, and all o'er,
   Some five or six inches long.

Had you but seen him in this dress,
   How fierce he looked, and how big,
You would have thought him for to be
   Some Egyptian porcupig:
He frighted all, cats, dogs, and all,
   Each cow, each horse, and each hog:
For fear they did flee, for they took him to be
   Some strange, outlandish hedgehog.

To see this fight all people then
   Got up on trees and houses,
On churches some, and chimneys too,
   But these put on their trousers,
Not to spoil their hose. As soon as he rose,
   To make him strong and mighty,
He drank, by the tale, six pots of ale
   And a quart of aqua-vitae.

It is not strength that always wins,
   For wit doth strength excel;
Which made our cunning champion
   Creep down into a well,
Where he did think this dragon would drink,
   And so he did in truth;
And as he stooped low, he rose up and cried, "Boh!"
   And hit him in the mouth.

"Oh," quoth the dragon, "pox take thee, come out,
   Thou disturbst me in my drink."
And then he turned, and shat at him -
   Good lack! How he did stink!
"Beshew my soul, thy body's foul,
   Thy dung smells not like balsam;
Thou son of a whore, thou stinkest so sore,
   Sure thy diet is unwholesome."

Our politic knight, on the other side,
   Crept out upon the brink,
And gave the dragon such a douse
   He knew not what to think.
"By cock," quoth he, "say you so, do you see?"
   And then at him he let fly
With hand and foot, and so they went to't,
   And the word was "Hey, boys, hey!"

"Your words," quoth the dragon, "I don't understand."
   Then to it they fell at all,
Like two boars so fierce, if I may
   Compare great things with small.
Two days and a night, with this dragon did fight
   Our champion on this ground;
Though their strength it was great, their skill it was neat,
   They never had one wound.

At length the hard earth began to quake,
   The dragon gave him a knock,
Which made him to reel, and straightaway he thought
   To lift him as high as a rock,
And thence let him fall. But More of More Hall
   Like a valiant son of Mars,
As he came like a lout, so he turned him about,
   And hit him a kick on the arse.

"Oh," quoth the dragon, with a deep sigh,
   And turned six times together.
Sobbing and tearing, cursing and swearing,
   Out of his throat of leather:
"More of More-hall! O thou rascal!
   Would I had seen thee never!
With the thing at thy foot thou hast pricked my arse-gut,
   And I'm quite undone forever."

"Murder, murder!" the dragon cried,
   "Alack, alack, for grief!
Had you but missed that place, you could
   Have done me no mischief."
Then his head he shaked, trembled and quaked,
   And down he laid and cried;
First on one knee, then on back tumbled he,
   So groaned, kicked, shat, and died.

Grenoside Woods

Grenoside Woods

Grenoside Woods

Grenoside Woods

Dying Off

These are a series of shots I took at Swinsty Reservoir near Harrogate. I had done a night shift and needed a bit of fresh air. These days my night shift pattern seems to consist entirely of work, eat and sleep especially at this time of year when I go home in the dark and set off to work in the dark. I just don't ever seem to see the light of day and it tends to wear me down occasionally.

I had hoped for a bit of sunshine and maybe a sunset but the autumn mist came in and so as not to waste my afternoon completely I thought I would try and capture the dying of summer months. I like the way they have turned out, all were taken with my 18-200VR lens with the flash activated which has given the dark backgrounds.

The trees were starting to turn dramatically, a bit of warm sunlight would have produce some lovely shots, maybe I'll pop back next week, weather permitting.

Enjoy the photos.


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