In response to the weekly photo challenge ‘Security’
In 1147, Henry De Lacy (Baron of Pontefract Castle) vowed he would found an abbey if he recovered from a terrible illness. He survived.
During my childhood my father was the gardener at Kirkstall Abbey in Yorkshire, Henry De Lacy’s abbey. Founded in 1152 it is one of the best examples of a Medieval Cistercian monastery in England.
My early childhood was played out amongst the ruins of this beautiful abbey and the grounds held no boundaries for us even though it bordered a fast flowing river. I was too young to have concerns for my own safety, all the local children played there and no one worried about our security.
A few days ago, I visited the abbey again and apart from the security fencing that has been erected around parts of the ruins it’s exactly the same, it’s still the same familar playground where I played as a young child, but perhaps smaller.
Using the new secured gateway, daughter Sophie and I wandered around the ruins, the walls are still intact and we moved freely between the malt house, the kitchen, the refectory, the cloister, the chapter house and the church.
After the closure of the abbey in 1539 the wall beneath the large Gothic window in the church was demolished, this allowed travellers to pass through and it became the main road to Leeds. The wall was rebuilt by the Victorians in the 1890s
Standing within the church and looking toward the east window where the alter once stood, Sophie gave thought to the monks, the choir monks and lay monks who once lived and worked here. I remembered my childhood and the games of hide and seek. Two year old Evelyn thought of nothing more than climbing in and out of stone tombs and we even managed another game of hide and seek.