New Book | The Wonder of the North

Posted in books by Caitlin Smits on December 3, 2015

From Boydell Press:

Mark Newman, The Wonder of the North: Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2015), ISBN: 978-1843838838, 406 pages, $60 / £30.


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 to 1995.

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

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