Studley Royal including the ruins of Fountains Abbey is a designated World Heritage Site in North Yorkshire, England. The site, which has an area of 323 hectares (800 acres) features an 18th century landscaped garden, some of the largest Cistercian ruins in Europe, a Jacobean mansion and a Victorian church designed by William Burges. It was developed around the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey.
Fountains Abbey and Hall
Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 by Benedictine monks who left St Mary's Abbey, York to follow the Cistercian order. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII, the Abbey buildings and over 500 acres (200 ha) of land were sold by the Crown to Sir Richard Gresham, a merchant. The property was passed down through several generations of Sir Richard's family, then sold to Stephen Proctor who built Fountains Hall probably between 1598 and 1604. The hall is a Jacobean mansion, built partly with stone from the Abbey ruins. Fountains Abbey mill is the only 12th-century Cistercian cornmill left in the UK and the oldest 'intact' building on the estate.
John Aislabie inherited the Studley estate in 1699. He was the Tory Member of Parliament for Ripon in 1695, and in 1718 became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Aislabie was a principal sponsor of the South Sea Company scheme, the bill for which was promoted by him personally. In 1720 when this vast financial operation collapsed, he was expelled from Parliament and disqualified for life from public office.
Studley Royal Water Garden
The water garden at Studley Royal created by John Aislabie in 1718 is one of the best surviving examples of a Georgian water garden in England. It was expanded by his son, William who purchased the adjacent Fountains Estate. The garden's elegant ornamental lakes, canals, temples and cascades provide a succession of dramatic eye-catching vistas. It is also studded with a number of follies including a neo-Gothic castle and a palladian style Banqueting House.
St Mary's Church
St Mary's Church was one of two, late Victorian, memorial churches in Yorkshire, built by the family of the First Marquess of Ripon in memory of Frederick Grantham Vyner. The other is the Church of Christ the Consoler at Skelton-on-Ure, and the architect of both was William Burges. Vyner was murdered by Greek bandits in 1870 and his mother, Lady Mary Vyner, and sister, Lady Ripon, used the unspent ransom, gathered to obtain his release, to build two churches in Vyner's memory on their respective Yorkshire estates.
The medieval deer park, where the church stands, is home to 500 deer and a wealth of flora and fauna. This park once enclosed Studley Royal House, which was destroyed by fire in December 1716 and rebuilt. The replacement building was extensively damaged by fire in 1946 and demolished. Only the large stable block, built between 1728 and 1732, has survived. This is now a private house.