Until a few weeks ago, we’d never really heard much about Fountains Abbey. But the guidebook avows it to be one of Yorkshire’s can’t-miss stops, and we’ve made it a bit of a point to collect UNESCO world heritage sites on the trip, so the countryside beckoned. It’s an enormous place and must have been breathtaking in its heyday. After the dissolution of the. monasteries by Henry VIII, it fell to wrack and ruin, but enough remains to give you an idea of the incredible scale of the place. (Both of us are reading the Wolf Hall trilogy right now, so the Dissolution Period has added interest and relevance. It’s pretty clear that these were some wealthy monks, and you can sort of see why Henry levied that 100% wealth tax.)
Nowadays, the abbey’s adjoined to an extensive gardens and ornamental lakes, and also boasts a super playground, which was extremely popular with the younger set.