Open Day Launch For New Visitor Centre at Kirkstall Abbey

by Roz Tappenden | 04 November 2005
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colour photograph of a ruined stone abbey framed by a tree in the foreground

Kirkstall Abbey was built in the 12th century. Image courtesy: Leeds City Council.

Kirkstall Abbey will spring to life on Sunday November 6 2005 when its new visitor centre is officially opened.

A family fun day will take place to mark the opening of the building, which is built on the site of a medieval toilet.

The centre is part of a £5.5m makeover for the monastery, which is one of the best preserved in the country.

Anyone attending the open day can enjoy a guided tour and medieval refreshments. There will also be demonstrations of medieval activities including pottery and tile making, medieval music and the chance to join in craft demonstrations and games from the era.

colour photo of a woman standing inside a dark chapel of a ruined stone abbey looking through an opening where light is streaming in

The centre will provide access to parts of the abbey that were previously closed to the public. Image courtesy: Leeds City Council.

Children will get the chance to dress up in monks’ habits to get in the spirit of the event, which will take place between 12 noon and 4pm.

The day will begin with guided tours of the new centre, followed by brief speeches at 11.45am when Councillor John Procter, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Leisure, performs the opening ceremony.

He said: “We are absolutely delighted that the new visitor centre at Kirkstall Abbey is opening on Sunday and it promises to be a great day. With all the activities going on there will be something for people of all ages so I encourage people from all over the city to come along and make it a really memorable celebration.”

photo of a bearded man wearing medieval costume standing outside the entrance to a ruined stone abbey

The monastery is undergoing a £5.5m makeover. Image courtesy: Leeds City Council.

He added: “The new visitor centre offers a fascinating insight into what life was really like at the abbey and together with the other improvements this will make one of the most popular landmarks in the city an even more interesting and attractive place to visit.”

Audio-visual displays and panels will form part of the new facilities, allowing visitors to learn about the history of the abbey.

The centre will also include a full-size reconstruction of the Reredorter – the toilets used by the medieval laybrothers who were responsible for the agricultural and manual work around the abbey.

colour photograph of a ruined stone abbey with the remains of a tall tower in the centre of the picture

The second phase of work will concentrate on the monastery's parkland and grounds. Image courtesy: Leeds City Council.

It will also provide access to the rest of the abbey including areas such as the cloisters, church and infirmary, which will be open to the public for the first time.

The work being carried out at the abbey is part of a two-phase project. Other work carried out has improved the structure by re-pointing and re-grouting stones with the same materials that were used to build the abbey some 850 years ago.

A second phase of work, due to be completed in Spring 2006, will involve improvements to the grounds and surrounding parkland.

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