Kirkstall Abbey is considered to be one of the best examples of a medieval Cistercian monastery in Britain and with over 800 years of history and development, you do have to wonder...is it haunted?
Situated just outside of Leeds, Kirkstall Abbey still stands to its full height and for centuries, it offered a peaceful existence for the Cistercian monks who lived and worked there. However, daily life could be harsh and, like any community, it was not immune to intrigue and mystery as religion developed.
Since the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, sightings of ghosts have become common and by the 19th century there were reports of ghostly apparitions in the nave of the church. One witness claimed to have seen a funeral procession of sombre men, clad in white, proceeding slowly down the nave.
The Abbey is also famous for its repeated haunting manifestation of a former Abbot that walks around the building that has now been converted to the Abbey House Museum – although you are more likely to hear him moving around you than you are to see him.
Some also believe that there is a mad monk who haunts the Abbey after his brother was killed by highway men on his way back from Fountains Abbey (another Abbey in Yorkshire) mad with guilt and despair, he began carving his brothers initials into the Abbey grounds that can apparently still be seen in the small bench nooks around the ruins even now and he continues to walk around the Abbey to this day.
The Abbey grounds are also home to a young female entity called Mary who witnessed her lover committing murder and then turned him in. She has often been seen with the ghost of a dog, though it is not certain whether or not they are connected.
Amazingly, I walk around this Abbey at least once a week and I still haven’t seen anything remotely suspicious but I definitely know what to look out for now.
Side note: These photos were taken with Lomography redscale film and my Diana Mini. My best friend has always tried to convince me that this combination, especially the redscale looked scary, however it wasn’t until I formed the idea of this article and started to do some research that I realised that she was really quite right!
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