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Fountains Abbey is Britain's largest monastic ruin and was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks who were seeking a simpler life. These monks had been exiled from the Order of St. Benedict and taken under the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York. He provided them with a secluded site in the valley of the River Skell.

The monks later joined the Cistercian Order and lived a rigorous daily life with a diet just above subsistence level. The Abbey was built by these Cistercians, who were assisted over time by lay brothers who helped the Abbey achieve considerable wealth by the mid 13th century. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539, the Abbey buildings and land were sold to a merchant. Over time the Abbey ruins and grounds became joined to the Studley Royal Estate and future owners landscaped the valley grounds and Abbey ruins.

This is a view down the nave looking toward the great east window.

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Additional Photos by John Cherrington (john_c) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4079 W: 52 N: 5746] (24666)
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