Changing Studley


This year we're excited to announce our vision for new project 'Studley' where we're aiming to improve the Studley Royal entrance to this World Heritage Site. 

An entrance to a World Heritage Site; introducing 'Studley'

When John Aislabie started to design his water garden there was the only one entrance: Studley Royal. It was an impressive sight for those visiting. While the visitor centre remains the main entrance to the site today, we want to make sure this entrance is still the kind the Aislabie's would expect for their masterpiece.

The cafe would have a view out to the water garden
Proposed view of Studley from the East
The cafe would have a view out to the water garden

Why are you changing it?

Over the years feedback has made it clear that Studley has been in need of a big refresh to tackle the large queues and awkwardly situated admission point. The tea-room building is easily overwhelmed with slow-moving queues, which often spills out through the main entrance door. This means the flow is disjointed, confusing and disruptive for both visitors and staff.  Access for wheelchair users and pushchairs is also very difficult, particularly on busy days when the building is pushed to its limits.

In addition to the functional issues with the tea-room, the buildings that currently make up the Studley Royal welcome area are a mixture of temporary structures and poorly designed extensions. Not only are they unpractical but they hide the Aislabies’ original landscape design.

Our aim as a World Heritage Site is to restore it to its 18th century heyday and opening up these views is a key part of the project. We're now in a position where we can properly act upon this feedback to address the problems that the Studley entrance poses and make it the best possible experience here for everybody.

The view across Studley Lake
View of Studley proposal
The view across Studley Lake

A World Heritage class design

We’re working with award-winning heritage architects, Feilden Fowles, who have come up with a design that blends into the landscape, while working hard to open up key views that have been lost over the years.

We're working with landscape architects, rankinfraser, who are an Edinburgh based practice established by Chris Rankin and Kenny Fraser. They have over 30 years combined experience of delivering multi award-winning projects from conception through to completion.

Restoring key views

A key consideration for this project was to open up views that have been covered up for a long time due to the mish-mash of temporary buildings that have cropped up. Visitors will be able to enjoy a view over to the canal and the cascades into Studley Lake from the new tea-room. A new path will also be opened up so you can access the tea-room from both sides - a route that hasn't been accessible since the National Trust took on the estate.


The build designs are only proposals at this stage to give an idea of scale but the illustrations give a good idea of how the final building might look.

If you'd love to learn more about the project have a look at our Q&As below.

Thanks to you

We love and care about Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal as much as you do and the team here works really hard to make it the best experience possible for everyone to enjoy. Without you though, none of this would be possible. Every penny that you spend here from your membership, entrance fee or cup of tea - it all goes back into looking after this special place, so thank-you!