Restoring Studley Royal water garden


Studley Royal water garden is one of the few great 18th century ‘green gardens’ to survive in its original form. Designed by John and William Aislabie, it was an ambitious plan to tame the river Skell into mirror-like ponds, graceful canals and elegant cascades.

Time has shown us that their design was not quite flawless... the flow of the river is not strong enough to carry silt away and it builds up in the half moon reservoir.

We are well underway with a 30-year project to rediscover the 1781 experience when the garden was at its most spectacular.

Latest updates

02 Sep 15

The view restored

Water management is an ongoing challenge for the estate. Since 1983 the Trust has spent nearly £3million on maintaining the water features in the World Heritage Site garden and that’s just a drop in the ocean. This £300k project marks an important step forward in river management both inside and outside of the National Trust.

A view of Fountains Abbey along the river Skell

24 Jun 15

Shifting the silt

A small ‘digger-boat’ called a Truxor churns-up the silt and a pumping attachment sends it along a pipe to a collecting area where it dries. The collection area is made from 100% natural materials; straw bales, wooden posts and coir. Once the silt has fully dried out it can be used to enrich the local farmland.

Silt in the collecting area at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal

15 Jun 15

Work gets underway at half moon reservoir

Work gets underway to remove about 8,000 cubic metres of silt blocking the flow of the river. Working with specialist Yorkshire contractor Ebsford Environmental we're using sustainable technology to pump the silt away. This avoids traditional dredging and is less disruptive and damaging to wildlife.