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Discover people and events that shaped the history

Did you know?

  • The Temple of Fame in the Water Garden is a folly in both senses of the word as it appears to be made from stone, but is in fact painted wood.
  • During the Second World War, Studley Hall and other buildings were used to house evacuees.
  • Surprise View, known as Anne Boleyn's Seat, was named this because paintings show that there was a decapitated statue on this spot before Aislabie bought the estate in the 1700s.
  • The Serpentine Tunnel was designed to give guests of the Aislabies a gentle fright on their way up to the High Ride. It's still dark enough to be exciting today.

Families of the estate

Different families and groups of people have called Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal 'home' over the centuries.

Early years of the abbey

This is how we think the abbey may have looked © Steve Tomlinson

This is how we think the abbey may have looked

The story begins in 1132 with signs of unrest at St Mary's Abbey in York. 13 monks fled York under the protection of Archbishop Thurstan and were granted the land at Fountains to start a new abbey.

The monks were highly organised and lived their lives according to strict rules. The abbey grew in size, wealth and power throughout the 1200s

The Aislabie's Water Garden

This is how we think the abbey may have looked © Andrew Butler

This is how we think the abbey may have looked

John Aislabie inherited Studley at a young age but pursued a political career until 1720 when he was expelled from parliament due to his role in the South Sea Bubble collapse.

He then diverted his energies into creating his garden at Studley. The river was channelled into canals and formal ponds and geometric planting revealed delights.

Two estates become one

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden © Andrew Butler

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden

John's son William Aislabie inherited the estate in 1742. He was able to purchase the ruins of Fountains Abbey in 1767 and immediately set about incorporating the Abbey into the gardens of Studley.

He created a romantic atmosphere and built viewing platforms for his visitors to admire the follies across the estate.

Statues are an important part of our collection

Statues are an important part of our collection


From lead statues in the garden to classical buildings framed in designed vistas, discover the historical objects in the Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal collection.