One of my favourite history places: Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

Primary History article

By Ailsa Fidler, published 25th March 2022

Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

When I was born my family lived in Kirkstall close to the Abbey and Abbey House Museum. We moved to Ireland Wood not long after this photograph was taken (I am the small one in the middle) but if we ever had a day out in the city we would head back to Kirkstall. I must have also been on at least three school trips to look at various aspects of the site, as I strongly suspect local schoolchildren still do. As a mum, when I took my son to the city for his first visit, Kirkstall Abbey was our first stop. It holds a special place in my heart.

Kirkstall Abbey is situated by the River Aire in north-west Leeds next to the A65, which means it is easy to get to. The main route into Leeds itself was allegedly diverted to run through the nave of the abbey when it was dissolved in c.1538 so it is better that the road now runs to the side of it at least! Founded in c.1152, the abbey is said to be the most complete Cistercian ruin in the country. Having survived a serious illness, Henry de Lacy gifted the money for its establishment to the monks at Fountains Abbey and told them it was to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary...

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