Name: Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
Address: Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 3DY
Telephone: 01765 608888

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The Studley Royal Park which includes the Ruins of Fountains Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in North Yorkshire. The 12th century Fountains Abbey ruins are the largest of its type in the country and on the same site is the 18th century Studley Royal Water Garden which is a spectacular example of a Georgian water garden.

Fountains Abbey History

The Fountains Abbey was founded 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks who later became Cistercian monks on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in Ripon.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII, the abbey and more than 500 acres of land were sold by the Crown to Sir Richard Gresham and the property was passed down his family over several generations until it was sold to Stephen Proctor who built Fountains Hall, a magnificent Elizabethan mansion between 1598-1604.

Fountains is the largest abbey in England and has remained remarkably complete given its age. This could be in part due to its fairly remote location which meant that wealthy families did not want to subsequently turn the building into a family home once the abbey was subject to dissolution in 1539.

The vaulted ceiling of the cellarium is a particularly interesting part of the abbey and is home today to 8 different species of bats. The warming room is also a popular place to visit in the ruins because it is the area where the monks constantly kept a fire raging in a huge fireplace and the recently opened muniments room is above it. In this room, the monks kept their documents.

Studley Royal Water Garden

The Studley Royal Estate was a separate entity from the Fountains Abbey until 1767 and it was inherited by John Aislabie in 1693. It is currently considered to be one of the finest examples of a Georgian water garden in England and it was created by John Aislabie in 1718. After the death of John Aislabie his son William extended the garden further and bought the adjacent Fountains estate.

The water garden contains a number of ornamental lakes, temples, canals and cascades that are all singularly eye catching and have no doubt helped the estate to achieve the prestigious World Heritage status. The medieval deer park is home to three different types of deer approximately 500 wild deer run free in the deer park on the estate.

The estate was purchased by the West Riding County Council in 1966 and in 1983 the National Trust acquired it and it is managed in conjunction with English Heritage.

What’s There

  • An estate that is 800 acres in total.
  • The largest abbey in England.
  • Spectacular Georgian water garden.
  • A deer park containing 500 wild deer.
  • See the lavishly decorated Victorian St Mary’s church.
  • Take in the Abbey’s story at the Porter’s Lodge exhibition.
  • A large childrens play area.
  • Free parking at the visitors centre.
  • Baby change and feeding areas.
  • Picnic seating available and benches throughout the estate.
  • Studley Tearoom.


Standard adult admission is £9, children £4.85 and family £23.

Free admission for National Trust members.

See more information on National Trust Membership.