Explore Swanley Grange

Swanley Grange has had a medieval make-over. Stop by to discover more about Fountains Abbey’s agricultural past.

What is a grange?

Granges were like monastic farms that provided food for the monks and Swanley was one of three ‘home’ granges within walking distance of the abbey itself. The wool from the sheep that the monks kept generated an income for the abbey and enabled it to grow into one of the largest and wealthiest monasteries in the country.

What can I do here?

Step inside to try your hand at traditional crafts such as weaving and knitting, meet the new woolly and feathered residents, and explore the vegetable garden.

Discover what's growing in Swanley Grange
Three friends exploring Swanley Grange vegetable garden
Discover what's growing in Swanley Grange

Veggies galore!

The vegetable garden design is inspired by that of a monastic grange with turf seats, heritage varieties of herbs and beans, and plants which will be dug back into the ground to fertilise the soil.

Use touch and smell to explore the vegetable garden
A grandmother and granddaughter touching the herbs in the garden at Swanley Grange
Use touch and smell to explore the vegetable garden

Natural dye demonstrations

On the first Saturday of every month (April to December) pop along to Swanley Grange and see our volunteers creating colourful woolly masterpieces. Using plants from around the estate they're dying fleece all sorts of colours.

Newly dyed wool hanging out to dry at Swanley Grange
Dyeing wool at Swanley Grange
Newly dyed wool hanging out to dry at Swanley Grange

Get hands on

Learn a little bit more about the abbey's link to the wool trade and have a go at a woolly craft in the workshop every school holiday!

Have a go at carding some wool
A girl having a go at carding wool
Have a go at carding some wool
The vegetable garden at Swanley Grange with Huby's Tower in the distance.

Get involved at the grange 

You can help us tell the story of the abbey's agricultural past by volunteering with us. There's all sorts to have a go at from welcoming visitors, to looking after the chickens, gardening and helping demonstrate heritage crafts.