It would no doubt have been a surprise to the devout Cistercian monks who once called it home.
But historic Kirkstall Abbey has today been recognised for giving one of Yorkshire’s warmest welcomes.
The abbey has been awarded a Visit England Welcome Accolade, designed to shine a light on the region’s best quality visitor experiences.
The accolade particularly highlights the warm welcome visitors receive at the abbey and its stunning grounds.
Elaine Francis-Truett keeper at Kirkstall Abbey, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been recognised with this prestigious award from Visit England, particularly because it highlights how hard the team at the abbey work to make sure visitors feel welcome and engaged.
“The Abbey is such a stunning and historic attraction which captures more than 800 years of our local history, so we’re also very proud to be doing it justice and making sure people who come here get a sense of both its fascinating story and its unique beauty.”
Monks began building Kirkstall Abbey in 1152 on land gifted to them by wealthy nobleman Henry de Lacy.
They flourished in their new home until the Dissolution of the Monasteries when, on November 22, 1539, Abbot John Ripley surrendered the abbey to King Henry VIII’s agents.
In the late 1800s, the abbey buildings were bought by Colonel John North, who donated the grounds to the Leeds Corporation in 1890. Today, Kirkstall Abbey is one of the country’s most well-preserved monasteries.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Kirkstall Abbey has been one of the most beautiful jewels in the crown of Leeds’s heritage for centuries and it’s wonderful to see it recognised for being an amazing place to visit.
“This award is also a huge endorsement for everyone who works tirelessly to keep the abbey and its grounds looking so fantastic all year round and who help to ensure its captivating story continues to be told.”
For more details about Kirkstall Abbey, visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries