Kirkstall Abbey – Leeds Leeds Leeds

Soooooooooo this is my third blog and as you can already see from my website I have an obsession with Abbeys. And Planes. And Lighthouses (irrelevant to this piece but I’ll chuck it in).  I shall start with Abbeys and why I love them, and why I love Kirkstall.

Firstly – Whats not to love? They are stunningly beautiful.  The architecture. The intricate Masonry. The backdrops to the Abbeys are the crowning glory. The Monks who resided in these places weren’t daft – you need a view from such a wonderful building and by gosh they nailed it.

Secondly the History.  The era of the Tudors and Stuarts in the UK shaped the country we have now.  These Abbeys were destroyed due to one of the most famous of our past Monarchs deciding he wanted a divorce – he was no longer happy with his brothers wife. But the Catholic Church didn’t let him. Resulting in something referred to as the “Dissolution of the Monastries” where dear old King Henry VIII essentially smashed the whole place up.

I wouldn’t mind but he still wasn’t happy after the divorce and chopped his second wifes head off anyway.  Obviously I’ve simplified here – but this was the beginning of The Church of England where God will let you have a divorce – go on!


And that is what we are now left with – massive smashed up bits of beautiful buildings in beautiful places.

Kirkstall Abbey is Situated to the North West of Leeds City Centre on the North Bank of the River Aire.

Established in 1152 after a guy called Henry De Lacy got really really ill and in his illness swore if he recovered he would give an abbey to the Virgin Mary.  His bribery to God worked and he recovered.  After eventually deciding on the location of Kirkstall (and booting off some hermits) the Abbey was built and up and running.

All was good and well at the Abbey – or so I believe – who knows – until 22 November 1539 when the abbey was surrendered to King Henry the 8th.

Bits of stone have been pinched from the grounds to make up various other buildings around Leeds, the property has been through the hands of several owners before Colonel John North presented it to Leeds City Council leaving us with the beautiful (free of charge) ruins & grounds we have today.  Free to roam. Explore. Picnic in.  Admire.

Now here’s where I’m going to go off on a mental tangent – bear with me….so abbeys, scenery, days out with family, history……did I mention the plane spotting….well – Kirkstall Abbey is directly below Leeds Bradford Runway Approach – every plane coming in needs to go over you and your lovely day out to imminently land and they are ear splittingly low – about 2000 feet – probably less – i forgot me tape measure.

This – with the RAF’s spontaneous contributions creates truly magical experiences.

This absolute beast came over us as we were completely absorbed in exploring.

Giving us the shock of our lives we were a bit devastated we hadn’t caught it on camera – however – lucky for us it was doing approach training we we had 2 more flyovers and got some top quality spotting and dodgy iphone video momentos. (see above).

And this is why I wrote this blog.  This place has something for everyone.  Me or the Kids have never not enjoyed ourselves.  Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac mentioned in concert she is spiritually drawn to this place (making it even cooler).

For me its somewhere to let the kids run riot while I completely geek out with me mate over planes and architecture.  Its fab.  Spot on for picnics. Perfect for Dogwalking. Ideal for just Relaxing! Its big enough to take out of it what you want.  Give it a try! Costs nowt – absolute bargain! 🙂

About Frances Stoner 29 Articles
Mum of "The Traveling Family UK" - here there and everywhere - love life and living. I enjoy the odd (bucket of) wine and love trying new food. My kids drive me mad but keep me driven. My husband comes up with the ideas - I execute them - and him. Oh and my babies forever! Love them!

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