Studley Royal is one of the few great 18th-century gardens to survive substantially in its original form and is one of the most spectacular water gardens in England.
The landscape garden is an outstanding example of the development of the ‘English’ garden style throughout the 18th century, which influenced the rest of Europe.
It was designed around the equally spectacular ruins of Fountains Abbey, one of the few Cistercian houses to survive from the 12th century and providing an unrivalled picture of a great religious house in all its parts.
The remainder of the estate is no less significant. At the west end of the estate is the transitional Elizabethan/Jacobean Fountains Hall, partially built from reclaimed abbey stone. With its distinctive Elizabethan façade enhanced by a formal garden with shaped hedges, it is an outstanding example of its period.
The creator of Studley Royal was John Aislabie, a politician who was directly involved in the scandalous South Sea Bubble of 1719. The revelations of his involvement led to his resignation and imprisonment for corruption. Upon his release, he retired to Studley and devoted the rest of his life to the development of the gardens.