Days Out

FREE FAMILY DAY OUT: Exploring Kirkstall Abbey (and Abbey House Museum)

I have seen pictures online of Kirkstall Abbey of various events popping up from cinema screenings to markets, all at the 12th century ruins. But other than events, what was there to offer for a family in Yorkshire with young children?

We had been invited to review Abbey House Museum (the gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbey) and Kirkstall Abbey itself by Leeds Museums and Galleries, so we went along in the school holidays to explore.

We drove from Wakefield and I was surprised at how close Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum (which are across the road from each other) are to the motorway and tucked around the back of Kirkstall Rd where I have previously worked for TV channels. Kirkstall Abbey is just 4 miles from Leeds City Centre (bus details are at the bottom of this post).

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Vlogging at Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum in Leeds / Yorkshire Families

Even from the car park Kirkstall Abbey is staggeringly beautiful and is thought of as one of the most complete Cistercian monastries in Britain.

But the kids being kids were more interested in the playground next to the car park. Anyway we managed to bribe them into Abbey House Museum Cafe aka The Gatehouse for some lunch before exploring Kirkstall Abbey and then inevitably, ending up back at the playground.

We had a peek inside the museum which is made up of Victorian Streets (but you have to pay to get in and we didn’t have time to do both, we should have scheduled a full day trip out). Abbey House Museum’s The Gatehouse cafe and toilets are aptly themed too with plenty to learn even whilst sat on the toilet!

The cafe, like the museum, is stunning in terms of the architecture of the building. It was a sunny day when we visited so we opted to sit outside overlooking a vast array of plant beds and Kirkstall Abbey across the road.

There’s also a picnic area too or you can choose a range of drinks and hot and cold food from a simple menu of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and other hot meals.

The food is fresh and nice but basic, so it was perfect for the kids but a little plain for us adults.

We finished off with ice creams before crossing the road to Kirkstall Abbey. Other than the visitor centre it is all outdoors so make sure you wrap up warm and bring an umbrella, unless you drop on like we did and have sunny weather.

Kirkstall Abbey is FREE to enter

There’s also a nice field for children to play on too and well built paths to help you explore the circumference of the Abbey.  On appearance you can tell it was built by monks from Fountain’s Abbey as there are a lot of similarities in its appearance.

As The Cistercians in Yorkshire writes: “The history of Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire, begins with its foundation in 1147, when a group of twelve monks from Fountains Abbey, under the guidance of their prior, Alexander, colonised the site at Barnoldswick. In 1152 the community relocated to the present site of Kirkstall, and remained here until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539. The abbey buildings escaped the wholesale destruction and plunder that occurred elsewhere; most were left standing and used for agricultural purposes; this is perhaps why Kirkstall is now the most complete set of Cistercian ruins in Britain. While the abbey is now embedded in the industrial quarter of Leeds and the site bisected by the A65 Kirkstall Road, during the Middle Ages – and up until the late eighteenth century – this was a secluded spot in a rural setting. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the main thoroughfare to Leeds actually ran through the nave of the church.”

My family and I made our way around the Abbey before realising how to actually get in to the Abbey through the visitor centre.  

The kids loved running around the site and playing hide and seek. Also there’s often activities on in the visitor centre during school holidays.

I also couldn’t resist taking endless photos of the stunning site for pleasure and for instagram of course.  

 

The kids also found a mud kitchen to play in. It was great to see them use their imaginations to move around the areas rather than give them lots of pre planned activities.

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Make and Move: Jasmine and Arianna exploring Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds / Yorkshire Families 

As the weather started to turn, we then made our way back to the playground as we had promised we could go there too.

We had only given ourselves a few hours to visit but I could have easily spent longer there. There is so much to do for the whole family young and old and easily a day out if visiting both places in tandem. 

For other ideas for free days out in Yorkshire, go to: https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk/2019/04/17/free-days-out-in-yorkshire-where-to-go-and-what-to-do-with-the-family/ 

How to get to Kirkstall Abbey

Visitor information:

Email

kirkstall.abbey@leeds.gov.uk

Address

Kirkstall

Leeds

LS5 3EH

Opening Hours

Mondays: Closed – Open Bank holidays: 10:00 – 16:00

Tuesday – Sunday:

April to Sept 10:00 – 16:30 Last admission 16:00

October – March 10:00 – 16:00. Last admission 15:00

Admission

General admission is free

Venue Details

Visit one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in the country and step back in time to see how the monks lived. Refreshments are available from the Gatehouse café across the road at Abbey House Museum.

Facilities

Baby change; Toilets; Visitor centre; Picnic area; Cafe; Education facilities; Play area

Telephone Number

0113 3784079

Access

For information on access at this venue, please visit our Access page

Parking

A large free car park is situated opposite Kirkstall Abbey, on Abbey Walk. This includes disabled access parking.

Public Transport

Bus numbers 33, 33a and 757 travel from the city centre to Kirkstall Road.

The nearest train stations are Kirkstall Forge (1 mile away) and Headingley (1 mile away). Contact Metroline for up-to-date travel information on (0113) 245 7676.

 

Getting to Abbey House Museum

Visitor information:

Address

Abbey Walk

Kirkstall

Leeds

LS5 3EH

Venue Details

Wander the beautifully created authentic Victorian streets for a glimpse of life in 19th century Leeds.

Telephone Number

0113 3784079

Email

abbey.house@leeds.gov.uk

Public Transport

Bus numbers 33, 33a and 757 travel from the city centre to Kirkstall Road.

The nearest train stations are Kirkstall Forge, c.1 mile away, and Headingley, a 1 mile walk. Contact Metroline for up-to-date travel information on (0113) 245 7676.

By car: If you are using a route planner, our postcode is LS5 3EH.

Access

For information on access at this venue, please visit our  Access page

Parking

A large free car park is situated next to Abbey House Museum on Abbey Walk. This includes disabled parking. There is an additional disabled access parking space immediately outside the museum entrance.

Opening Hours

Mondays: Closed (Open Bank Holiday Mondays, 10:00 – 17:00)

Tuesday – Friday & Sundays: 10:00 – 17:00. Last admission 16:30.

Saturday: 12:00 – 17:00. Last admission 16:30.

Facilities

Baby change; Cafe; Shop; Education facilities; Picnic area; Play area; Toilets; Parking

Admission Adult

£5.20

Admission Child

£2.65 Children under 5 years – free.

Admission Concession

£4.20

Admission Family

£11.00

Admission Group

£4.20

Admission Leeds Card

  • Leeds Card Adult £4.15,
  • Breezecard child £2.10,
  • LeedsCard Family £8.80.
  • Leeds Card Extra £3.15 Please make sure you have your card with you.

Admission Max Card

General admission is free

Admission Membership

Admission is free to members of the Leeds Art Fund, Friends of Leeds City Museums, the Museums Association and the National Arts Collection Fund.

 

DISCLAIMER: WE RECEIVED FOOD AND DRINK FREE OF CHARGE TO COVER OUR COSTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. ALL VIEWS ARE OUR OWN.

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