Back in January this year I wrote about a visit to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden saying that I’d be visiting throughout the year at different seasons and reporting back. Yesterday was my second visit this year. Maybe this was because I took out an annual membership to Harewood House in March. Harewood is much nearer home than Fountains and I may only retain the membership for a year or two whereas I will always be a member of the National Trust.
Fountains Abbey may be further from home than the Harewood Estate but still it’s very unlikely that I would ever stay there for a holiday although whenever I visit I think the NT Cottage Properties (as they are called) always look very inviting. They may be part of the Trust’s portfolio of Cottages but several do not warrant this title – for they are very much grander than one would suppose from the blanket “Cottages” title. Yesterday I made these properties the ‘theme’ of my walk through the estate.
Built between 1598 and 1611 Fountains Hall is home to two apartments. On the third floor Proctor is furnished in the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the views must from there must be spectacular. Below Proctor, on the second floor is Vyner furnished in the style of Edwin Lutyens.
The Doorway to Fountains Hall
Just outside the gates of Fountains Abbey and opening straight out onto one of the minor approach roads are three self-catering cottages converted from what I remember well from a few years ago as the NT shop.
Abbey Cottage and Abbey Stores
Until the ‘new’ Visitor Centre was opened in 1992 this was the main entrance and car park to the ruins. My, how things have changed – I couldn’t even find a space in that car park yesterday, the main car park was overflowing and the Studley Royal Car Park was full too.
Burges’s St Mary’s Church and Choristers’ House
Finally, on the actual Fountains/Studley Royal Estate, a walk though the grounds from the ruins to the Lake brings you out into the Studley Royal Park. Walking along the main drive through the deer park one can clearly see Ripon Cathedral to the east and the Church of St Mary to the west. On the approach to the church, just on the right and standing detached and rather exposed, is the William Burges designed Choristers’ House which sleeps 10 and has been awarded 5 ‘acorns’ for comfort.
“Built in 1873 the original use was to house a music school along with the organist and music master. It was the Estate Office until 2001 and now it is a holiday home sleeping ten people. The interior reflects the Burges style with all existing original features maintained.” (NT Holiday Cottages Brochure)
It’s another holiday home in an outstanding location: right in the middle of a deer park.
How Hill Cottages
Finally, a short walk along one of the approach lanes to Fountains Abbey are the newly converted, and lately added to the portfolio, How Hill Cottages. These fall into the Trust’s “Celebration Collection” category of properties. From a group of 18th century farm buildings five self-catering units (using the most up-to-date green technology) have been created.
The Shared Courtyard at How Hill
“The tower on the hill behind the cottages is believed to have been originally built as an outlying chapel for the Abbey. It was restored by John Aislabie, when he owned the Estate, and rumour has it that he used it as a gambling den.” (NT Cottages Brochure, 2012)
How Hill Tower
The cottages share a single sheltered courtyard and there are magnificent views, including some of the Fountains Abbey buildings from a couple of them. Each is named after a bird : Curlew, Lapwing, Wren, Swallow and Lark.
The View from How Hill Cottages