AGM (Yr 2019/20) and Fountains Abbey Talk
23rd February 2021
Almost 30 members signed up to attend our first Zoom AGM. While we missed the usual sociability of
our traditional meeting we at least managed to get the important matters of our Financial Report and
election of the committee and officers dealt with.
Your committee now comprises : Susan Amaku and Stuart Holland (joint Chairmen), Chris Dicken (Treasurer), Angela Fahy (Secretary), Henry Pankhurst, David Siddans, Granville Simpson, Nigel
McClea and Chris Holland (Membership Secretary).
As our Annual Report noted, more members are becoming involved in our newly set up Sub Groups
(Events, History, Communications, Development and Planning) and this is a very welcome change. Your
committee is kept very busy and this helps share the workload and brings fresh ideas and energy to the
running of the Society.
We were delighted to have a Zoom talk from Mike, who used his 10+ years as National Trust guide to lead us around Fountains Abbey. At the time the abbey (named for the many springs on the site) was the largest monastic establishment in Britain, owning land in 200 places (including in Cumberland and Lancashire). Its annual turnover is estimated to have been £80 million in today's money. Fountains had 200 lay brothers in addition to the ‘choir monks’ (the latter subject to their oaths of poverty, chastity and obedience) who lived according to the rules of St Benedict.
Having spent two years camped under a tree on the site they set about building the extensive complex, only a small part of which is visible today. The buildings would have been painted white inside and out, with the walls decorated in some places, and with grey glass (painted coloured glass was a later addition). We were impressed to hear of the sophisticated lavatory arrangements, ensuring that the water used for washing and cooking flowed separately from waste water. Mike's talk could only scratch the surface of this beautiful UNESCO site, so we hope in the future to organise a visit there.