Saturday, 17 August 2013

Kirkstall Abbey.


Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.


File:Kirkstall Abbey 1890s.JPG


The Nave, Kirkstall Abbey,
Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
Date: 1890s.
This File: 1 May 2006.
User: Jungpionier.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian Monastery in Kirkstall, North-West of LeedsYorkshire. It is set in a public park on the North Bank of the River Aire. It was founded circa 1152. It was dis-established during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, under the auspices of Henry VIII.

The picturesque ruins have been drawn and painted by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman.

Kirkstall Abbey was acquired by Leeds Corporation, as a gift from Colonel North, and opened to the public in the Late-19th-Century. The gatehouse became a museum.




The de Lacy Coat of Arms.
Description: Or, a lion rampant purpure.
Source: Own work.
Author: Dlkeller999.

de Lacy (Laci, Lacie, Lascy, Lacey) is the surname of an old Norman noble family, which originated from Lassy, Calvados, France. The family took a major role in the Norman conquest of England and the later Norman invasion of Ireland. The name is first recorded for Hugh de Lacy (1020 – 1049). His sons, Walter and Ilbert, left Normandy and travelled to England with William the Conqueror, playing a major role in the Battle of Hastings

The awards of land by the Conqueror, to the de Lacy sons, led to two distinct branches of the family: The Northern Branch, centred around Blackburnshire and Yorkshire, was held by Ilbert's descendants; the Southern Branch, of Marcher Lords, centred on Herefordshire and Shropshire, was held by Walter's descendants.

Until 1399, the Northern Branch of the family held the great Lordship of Bowland, before it passed through marriage to the Duchy of Lancaster, as well as being Barons of Pontefract and, later, Earls of Lincoln.

The Southern Branch of the family became substantial landholders in the Lordship of Ireland, and was linked to the Scottish Royal Family; Elizabeth de Burgh, whose great grandfather was Walter de Lacy, married Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.


File:Kirkstall Abbey Kirche von Osten.jpg


Kirkstall Abbey, 
Leeds, Yorkshire,
from the East.
Photo: 30 April 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Jungpionier.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Henry de Lacy (1070 – 1123), Lord of the Manor of Pontefract, 2nd Lord of Bowland, promised to dedicate an Abbey to the Virgin Mary, should he survive a serious illness. He recovered and agreed to give the Abbot of Fountains Abbey land at Barnoldswick in the West Riding of Yorkshire (now in Lancashire), on which to found a Daughter Abbey.

Abbot Alexander, with twelve Cistercian Monks from Fountains Abbey [Zephyrinus: Near Rievaulx Abbey], went to Barnoldswick and, after demolishing the existing Church, attempted to build the Abbey on Henry de Lacy's land. They stayed for six years, but found the place inhospitable. Abbot Alexander set about finding a more suitable place for the Abbey and came across a site in the heavily wooded Aire Valley, occupied by hermits.

Alexander sought help from de Lacy, who was sympathetic and helped acquire the land from William de Poitou. The Monks moved from Barnoldswick to Kirkstall, displacing the hermits, some of whom joined the Abbey, the rest being paid to move. The buildings were mostly completed between 1152, when the Monks arrived in Kirkstall, and the end of Alexander's Abbacy in 1182. Millstone Grit for building came from Bramley Fall on the opposite side of the river.


File:Kirkstall Abbey, church from north.jpg


Kirkstall Abbey. 
The Church, from the North.
Photo: 20 July 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: Tony Grist.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The English Cistercian houses, of which there are ruins at Fountains, Rievaulx, Kirkstall, Tintern and Netley, were mainly arranged after the same plan, with slight local variations.

The Church is of the Cistercian type, with a short Chancel and Transepts, with three Eastward Chapels to each, divided by solid walls. The building is plain, the windows are unornamented, and the Nave has no Triforium. The Cloister, to the South, occupies the whole length of the Nave. On the East side, stands the Two-Aisled Chapter-House, between which and the South Transept is a small Sacristy, and, on the other side, two small apartments, one of which was probably the Parlour. Beyond this, is the Calefactory, or day-room, of the Monks. Above this whole range of building, runs the Monks' Dormitory, opening by Stairs into the South Transept of the Church.

On the South Side of the Cloister, there are the remains of the old Refectory, running, as in Benedictine Houses, from East to West, and the new Refectory, which, with the increase of the inmates of the house, superseded it, stretching, as is usual in Cistercian houses, from North to South. Adjacent to this Apartment are the remains of the Kitchen, Pantry and Buttery. The Arches of the Lavatory are to be seen near the Refectory entrance. The Western Side of the Cloister is occupied by Vaulted Cellars, supporting, on the Upper Storey, the Dormitory of the Lay Brothers.


File:Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire by Charles Alban Buckler 1850.jpg


Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire.
Artist: Charles Alban Buckler.
Date: 1850.
Current location: British Library.
Source/Photographer: [1].
This File: 9 May 2011.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Extending from the South-East angle of the main group of buildings, are the walls and foundations of a secondary group of buildings. These have been identified as the hospitium, or the Abbot's House, but they occupy the position in which the Infirmary is more usually found. The Hall was a very spacious Apartment, measuring 83 ft. in length by 48 ft. 9 inches in breadth, which was divided by two rows of Columns. The fish-ponds lay between the Monastery and the River, to the South. The Abbey Mill was situated about 80 yards to the North-West. The Mill Pool may be distinctly traced, together with the goit or Mill Stream.

On 22 November 1539, the Abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII's commissioners in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was awarded to Thomas Cranmer, in 1542, but reverted to the Crown when Cranmer was executed, in 1556. Sir Robert Savile purchased the estate in 1584, and it remained in his family's hands for almost a hundred years. In 1671, it passed into the hands of the Brudenell family, the Earls of Cardigan. Much of the stone was removed for re-use in other buildings in the area, including the steps leading to Leeds Bridge.

During the 18th-Century, the picturesque ruins attracted artists of the Romantic Movement and were painted by artists including J. M. W. Turner, John Sell Cotman and Thomas Girtin. In 1889, the Abbey was sold to Colonel John North, who presented it to Leeds City Council. The Council undertook a major restoration project and the Abbey was opened to the public in 1895.


File:KirkstallAbbey.JPG


Kirkstall Abbey.
Photo: 23 August 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: JohnArmagh.
(Wikimedia Commons)


File:Kirkstall Abbey Kirche von Westen.jpg


Kirkstall Abbey, 
from the West.
Photo: 30 April 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Jungpionier.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Abbey is a Grade I Listed Building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. After a £5.5 million renovation programme, there is a new Visitor Centre, with interactive exhibits, which illustrates the history of the Abbey and the lives of the Monks. Entry to the Abbey is via the Visitor Centre - free of charge, but with a donation box. Occasionally, guided tours are available (free of charge).

The Leeds Shakespeare Festival, performed by the British Shakespeare Company, took place annually in the Cloisters, from 1995 until 2009. The Abbey grounds are a public park, and are used for occasional events, such as the annual Kirkstall Festival and the Kirkstall Fantasia open-air concerts.

On the other side of the main road, the grade II* Listed former Abbey Gatehouse now forms the Abbey House Museum.


File:IL Kirkstall.jpg


Kirkstall Abbey.
Image courtesy of Leeds City Council.
Copyright notice states:"You are free to use imagery as you wish, 
with no royalty payments or lengthy registration process. 
Our aim is to promote Leeds and encourage the use 
of quality, up-to-date, images of the city."
This File: 23 May 2006.
User: GeeJo.
(Wikimedia Commons)


File:Kirkstall Abbey von Westen.jpg


Kirkstall Abbey, 
from the West.
Photo: 30 April 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Jungpionier.
(Wikimedia Commons)


5 comments:

  1. It seems that in July 2011 they held the first Catholic Mass there since the Reformation. See
    http://www.catholicpost.org.uk/2011/july/Kirkstall_Abbey/
    and
    http://ourladyofkirkstall.org.uk/Homilies/KirkstallMass-letters.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  2. Many thanks, indeed, Bruvver, for imparting such wonderful news.

    The first Catholic Mass at Kirkstall Abbey since the Reformation !!!

    Those Cistercian Monks must be dancing with joy.

    Thank you also for the Links that you kindly provided. The Abbey was really heaving, wasn't it ? How heart-warming.

    JARay in Australia will be delighted to read about the Mass at Kirkstall Abbey. That used to be his stomping ground.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Many thanks indeed Bruvver Eccles and you too Zephyrinus.
    I'm trying to remember when I was part of a procession which walked from Leeds Cathedral to Kirkstall. It would be about 1952/3 and it was organised, I think, by the Catholic Young Men's Society. The procession was hours long...and I do mean hours long. The distance would be at least two miles if not more and I think that the head of the procession had already arrived at Kirkstall before the last of the procession left the Cathedral. My guessing about the date is that I left school in 1950 and at Christmas in 1954 I was in the RAF for two years and immediately after that I set out for Lisbon to enter the English College there. I thought that we had Mass when we all arrived at Kirkstall but my memory may be playing me false. It may have been Benediction. I do know that there were thousands of us there! I have a photo of Kirkstall which I had enlarged into a picture which I now have on my wall here at home. I took the photo myself and it was Spring time so the leaves are just coming out and the cherry blossom is out too. I love it.

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  4. JARAY - do you by any chance know the late Fr. Charlie Holmes?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Near the abbey, the Cistercian monks also operated a forge since the 13th century on the banks of the Aire river, with waterwheel-powered hammers to pound the steel. This is probably the oldest continuously-operating industrial site in England. I visited the site about 20 years ago when my company was interested in acquiring the modern forge which still operates on the site, making axles and brakes for large off-road machinery. The owners showed me the waterwheels which are still used occasionally for demonstrations. They also have a small museum with equipment and accounting books from the abbey dating back many centuries, documenting commercial transactions such as making hinges for nearby castles, etc. I don't know if this is still there at present.

    ReplyDelete