One of the many historical places we visited when we were in south west Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway recently was Glenluce Abbey – yes, yet another ruin! It was founded around 1192 it’s thought, and was a daughter abbey to Dundrennan Abbey, so it was a Cistercian abbey peopled by monks who wore white robes.
After the Reformation in 1560 the monks embraced the new religion and were allowed to live out their lives in the abbey with the last one dying in 1602. Like most of these places when they were no longer used the people living locally used the place as a handy quarry, an easy place to go and purloin some nice stone for whatever domestic project they had on hand.
The windows in the photo below have obviously been fairly recently restored.
Quite often you can see quite fancy stones in the walls of local cottages near such ruins which were clearly taken from a much more important building.
There’s a very sweet and dainty looking type of wee fern-like plant, but it has lilac flowers, which has very happily set up home in lots of the abbey stonework.
The one below has settled in what must have been a small shuttered window, but the shutter is long gone.
And below is a very narrow but tall building which was for the use of the abbot. Inside it’s just one teeny wee room, about five feet wide I think. There must have been two or three storeys to it originally but the floors have gone and the abbott must have used a ladder to get up there as there’s no room for any stairs. The height and narrowness of it makes it look very French to me. Sadly it wasn’t possible to get a photo of the front of that building because of the overhanging trees. It looks perfect to me, it would make a wonderful folly if you were lucky enough to have a big enough garden for it!
Well it is that season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and this was what Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire looked like last week when we visited it. It was a Cistercian Abbey and the grounds lead into Studley Royal which is a beautiful water garden which was created in the 1700s, but more about that in another post.
It didn’t look quite so misty close up, but it was very chilly and I imagine it must have been bitterly cold for the monks who lived here, they first settled in this area in 1132. In fact there was a party of schoolchildren there at the same time as us and they got to dress up in monks’ habits, hoods and all. I actually envied them as they looked a lot warmer in them than I felt.
There’s still quite a lot of the main building left and there’s a great model in the Porter’s Lodge which shows how large the whole place was in its heyday. A lot of the buildings have just disappeared.
The setting is beautiful with streams and fountains leading in to the river which would have provided the monks with fish. They were very good businessmen and turned the surrounding land into productive farmland for crops and sheep.
I can’t resist a bridge of course and there are a few like this one around the abbey.
This abbey was one of the many casualties of Henry VIII and his disagreement with the Pope in order to get his hands on Anne Boleyn. It had been one of the richest abbeys in Europe until then.
There’s a lot of walking involved if you want to go around the adjoining water gardens too so flat shoes are required, but it’s a lovely place and is well worth a visit, I’ll be posting those photos soon I hope.