Kirkstall Abbey Leeds: Haunting tales and history around one of the city's most well-known landmarks

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It's the historic Leeds landmark shrouded in myth and mystery.

Cistercian monks began building Kirkstall Abbey in 1152 on land which was given to them by nobleman Henry de Lacy.

They flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries when in November 1539, Abbot John Ripley surrendered the abbey to King Henry VIII’s agents.

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Kirkstall Abbey.Kirkstall Abbey.
Kirkstall Abbey.

Fast forward to 2024 and thousands of visitors continue to enjoy walking around the grounds of the hsitoric gem with many asking one simple question - is the Abbey haunted?

The grounds of the Abbey are said to be home to Mary; a woman who witnessed her husband committing a murder. She turned him into the authorities, and its said that her guilt still haunts her and the grounds.

And tales have also been told of a haunting manifestation of a former abbot that walks around the building that has now been converted to the nearby Abbey House Museum. 

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It is claimed that in the 1940s a mother and daughter were walking the grounds of Abbey House when they came across a frightened monk wearing traditional brown robes and habit. He was said to have been so frantic he couldn’t speak and disappeared soon after with no explanation of where he came from.

YEP NEWSLETTERS: Get the latest headlines, straight to your inbox, with our free emails . Kirkstall Abbey was acquired by the Leeds Corporation as a gift from Colonel North and opened to the public in the late 19th century.

It is now a Grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument. And after a £5.5 million renovation programme the gem boasts a visitor centre with interactive exhibits which illustrates the history of the abbey and the lives of the monks.

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