Fountains Mill is one of the oldest buildings on the estate and was in continuous use until 1927. Fountains Mill was built by the Cistercians in the 12th-century to grind grain for the monastery. It survived the closure of the Abbey and continued to mill grain right up to 1927.
In its long history, the building has also been a monastic granary, a timber sawmill, a home for refugees, and a mason’s workshop.Today you'll find an interactive exhibition and see objects discovered when we restored the mill in 2001, including some very old graffiti.
Have a go at grinding some corn and see the water wheel in action as you explore.
Studley Royal deer park is a much-loved part of the estate; home to over 500 wild Red, Fallow and Sika deer. The Deer Park once contained the Tudor manor house known as Studley Royal House – but this was largely destroyed by fire in 1716 and so was rebuilt about 50 years later in the grand Palladian style. Sadly, this house too was damaged by fire in 1946. The building was entirely demolished shortly afterwards.
Today all that remains to remind us of the house is the impressive stable block, built between 1728 and 1732, which is now a private residence.
The Deer Park also contains a large variety of ancient trees – many are over 300 years old. The lime tree avenue leads the eye down through the deer park to the original entrance to the estate and all the way to Ripon Cathedral.
St Mary's Church
The religious fervour of the Victorians is displayed in the richly decorated high Anglican church of St Mary’s a religious masterpiece of architect William Burges.
The richly decorated Victorian Gothic church was commissioned in 1870 by the first Marquess and Marchioness of Ripon to commemorate the Marchioness’ brother who had been allegedly murdered in Greece.
Look out for the brightly coloured parrots carved into the wood inside the church.
Find out more about the history of the Abbey in the Porter’s Lodge exhibition. Tucked inside the original gatehouse is the contemporary structure which houses the interpretation centre.
The Porter's Lodge sits on the edge of the west green overlooking the Abbey. Important visitors to the Abbey would have passed through the gatehouse and local poor people would have gathered outside the gates waiting for free food from the monks (alms for the poor).
Today you can learn about the Abbey’s rise from humble origins to religious powerhouse and eventual decline. You can also see a model showing the Abbey as it would have looked before the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s.
We opened the Porter's Lodge exhibition in 2008 and won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award in 2009. Funding for the project came from the European Union Interreg NWE Converting Sacred Spaces programme. This was a joint venture which Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal has been a part of, along with Belgium, Britain, France, Ireland and The Netherlands.
In 1597 Stephen Proctor bought the Fountains Abbey estate and began the construction of Fountains Hall soon after. Since then several families have called the Hall their home including five generations of the Messengers.
The Vyner family were the last to reside in the Hall before it was sold to the West Riding County Council.
The hall has seen many uses over the years – stately home, courthouse, an estate employees’ lodging and a farmer’s house.
Sir Stephen Proctor built this elegant mansion as his country home in the early 17th-century. He reused sandstone blocks and a stone staircase from the Abbey but had fresh limestone cut for the windows and main façade.
Today you can still explore the hall and see our informative displays, you can even stay in one of the holiday flats in the hall – or even get married here.