Cistercian architecture a joy to behold: Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

Folks, I have been a bad, bad, blogger: not posting much lately, I know.

I offer in my defense the following proof that I have been using my time wisely and productively, on a two-week visit to England that my wife Sharon and I are now halfway through.

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of visiting an old and surprisingly mostly intact Cistercian Abbey here in Leeds (where I have been attending sessions at the International Medieval Congress and Sharon has been taking day trips to Thirsk–home base of the late lamented James Herriott–and medieval York).

The Abbey is called Kirkstall, founded in 1152, and you can get a small taste of how amazing it is from the following images. They reveal buildings largely unchanged from their first construction in the 1150s, though some sections are “late” (i.e. later 12th or 13th c.) and there are minor Victorian and later restorations of a few sections damaged in the vicissitudes of subsequent centuries.You’ll get a sense of why the 19th-century romantics flipped over this place, painting it repeatedly (sez Wikipedia: “The picturesque ruins have been drawn and painted by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman.”)

Here are a few more of the 150+ pix I took while there:

2 responses to “Cistercian architecture a joy to behold: Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

  1. magdalenaperks

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I think Yorkshire is definitely a place I would like to live. I have to say, though, it is terribly difficult to break into the Church of England as clergy, and since I have no other marketable skills, I doubt we will be able to emigrate, even though Nicholas has dual citizenship.

  2. Chris, I was delighted to see images of Kirkstall. Definitely one of my favourite places when we lived in Leeds. Curiously the abbey has another claim to fame. It served as an inspiration for ‘Nightstop’, an innovative Christian hospitality project developed in the late 1980’s ( The project involved volunteer hosts opening up their own homes to young homeless people I know quite a few of them who made monastic connections with the hospitality.

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