The Wonder of the North

The Wonder of the North

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

Mark Newman


Boydell Press



A history and tour of this exceptionally beautiful designed landscape in North Yorkshire.
Dubbed "the Wonder of the North" in 1732, the National Trust's Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Estate (now a World Heritage Site) encompasses one of the largest, most magnificent and beautiful designed landscapes ever created. This richly illustrated volume charts the landscape's history from the first arrival of prehistoric hunters, via medieval monasticism, the Dissolution of the monasteries, eighteenth-century aestheticism and scandal, and the first ages of mass tourism, to the present day. At the heart of the story lies the rise and fall of England's largest Cistercian monastery and how that shaped the origins of the Aislabie family's breathtaking gardens. Their Studley Royal was at the forefront of every emergent landscape gardening fashion between 1670 and 1800. The book also describes the dramatic history of the family and the monumental scale of their achievements in this field, extending over many dozens of square miles of North Yorkshire - far beyond the limits of the garden as it is seen today (reduced to serve the more limited needs of Victorian day-trippers).
The Wonder of the North brings social and garden history together with archaeology to reveal Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal - too often seen as "just" a ruined medieval monastery - as one of the world's greatest artistic creations.

Mark Newman has been the National Trust's archaeological adviser for Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal estate since 1988. He was also resident there, living in Fountains Hall from 1988-1995.


October 2015
196 colour, 52 black and white, 15 line illustrations
406 pages
30.8x20.8 cm
National Trust Monographs
ISBN: 9781843838838
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC ARC008000, ARC016000
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Table of Contents

Preface: The 'Wonder of the North'
Priming the Canvas: Natural and Man-Made Landscapes Before 1132
Utility and Sanctity: Fountains Abbey and its Surroundings 1132-1540
From Dissolution to Resurrection: The Manors of Fountains and Studley, 1539-1667
Founding a Dynasty: The Emergence of Studley Royal
Emerging Wonders: The Unfolding of a Designed Landscape, 1723-42
Filling the Landscape: William Aislabie at Studley, 1742-67
Beyond Studley's Domain: Kirkby Fleetham, Hackfall, Laver Banks and Fountains
Estates Combined: Fountains and Studley, 1768-81
Arcadia Declining: The Estate in the Earlier Nineteenth Century
A Place of Popular Resort: The Rising Tide of Visitors
Relicts of Our Own Days
Conclusion: A Future for Studley Royal


[A] uniquely complete and beautiful book...The book is produced to the very high standards which we expect of Boydell. NORTHERN HISTORY

A fascinating story, not only of a garden and the historical events that affected its development, but of the people who created it. It is also a beautifully produced book - thoughtfully laid out in manageable chapters that take you through the history of this World Heritage site..Anyone interested in garden history will not be disappointed. ENGLISH GARDEN

This is a sumptuous volume that does justice to a place whose splendour has been acknowledged by its designation as a World Heritage Site. FOLLIES MAGAZINE

This thorough and illuminating a welcome addition to the history of the English landscape garden. COUNTRY LIFE