Wednesday, September 1, 2010


After our visit to the Abbey House Museum in Leeds, Doorman-Priest and I headed over to the site of the Abbey proper.


Completed between 1152 and 1182, Kirkstall Abbey still stands substantially to its full height, its massive structure presenting a unique example of early Cistercian architecture. Although its community was disbanded in 1539, it has continued to attract the attention of increasing numbers of visitors, for no other building so completely illustrates this early period of English monastic life.

For further information on the history of the Abbey, see their website.


The Abbey is splendid. I never saw an ancient ruin of a church or abbey that I didn't love, and Kirkstall is no exception. My only regret is that the area is fenced and gated, and we did not get to walk inside the ruins. For me, the feel of a holy place, where prayers were said over centuries, is only experienced from the inside.


DP told me that on special occasions, services are still held in the Abbey. To hear that prayers are still being said in the holy place, even until today, pleased me a great deal.


In my earlier post on the Abbey House Museum, I mentioned that the day began with rain, but as you see in the pictures, the sun shone upon us by the time we walked around the Abbey.


Since I'd seen the lovely ruins of the Abbey up on the hill in a previous visit and longed to have a closer look, I'm thankful to my good friend DP for taking me to visit.

More to come on our day in Leeds, in which we continued to enjoy beautiful weather.

I'm afraid that I'm jumping around the timetable of my travels, but bear with me. I write as I write.

Note: The pictures are mine, with the exception of the photo at the top, which is from the slideshow at the Abbey website.


  1. Your pictures are lovely, Mimi. I take it that since the fences are not seen in your pictures, you were hanging over the fence to get as close as possible to the subject! Write when you feel like it about what you feel like writing. I love hopping from place to place and time to time in order or not!

  2. Wonderful, glorious England and you (and Scotland too)...thanks Mimi for the visual adventures.

  3. My paternal Gt Gt Grandfather was born nearby in the 1790's. His father had lived at Kirkstall since the 1760's.

  4. Susan and Leonardo, thank you.

    Susan, you're right. I poked the camera through or over the fence whenever I could.

    Lapin, did you ever visit the Abbey? It seems to me that it's a bit of a well-kept secret, not spoken of nearly as much as other ruins. I'd never heard of Kirkstall until last year.

  5. Oooo I envy you the visit to the Abbey. I love an old ruined church. How beautiful your pics are, Mimi.

  6. Thanks, Cathy. I confess that I'm surprised myself at how good some of my pictures came out. I could probably do even better if I read the instruction booklet and learned more about the different features of my camera that I never use.

  7. I haven't mastered my camera either. It's the same with all technology, really - who has the time? ... Do you have the time? I don't.

  8. Anyway, your pics are lovely. Now I'm wishing I had visited Leeds.

  9. Cathy, it would have been lovely to have you along. Wait till you see my pictures from Golden Acre Park in Leeds. The pretty pictures make themselves there.

  10. Looking forward to that! :-) Me like pretty pictures.

  11. I always feel a certain ambivalence re church/monastic ruins.

    They are starkly lovely. You can literally see the silence...

    ...and yet part of me would LOVE to see them restored (w/ a full company of Anglican Cistercians inside, praying the Hours!)

    Perhaps that's just part of the "Now/Not Yet" paradox in which we live, "while the Lord tarry."

  12. JCF, I like ruins. In the case of Kirkstall, I believe I would not want them restored. They're beautiful just as they are. Other church and abbey ruins that I've seen have a certain grandeur about them that I would not want changed.

  13. Well, I said it was only a part of me, Mimi. ;-/

    In the case of monastic ruins, it's just that I would to see full Anglican monasteries again (just because I'm not so called, doesn't mean I don't think {more} others are).

  14. JCF, then I agree with part of you.

    And the sun shone!

    DP, pure poetry, yes?


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