My Office This Evening – Friday October 17, 2014


Jervaux Abbey in Yorkshire is off the beaten path… it’s on a privately owned estate, so it doesn’t show up in any of the English Heritage guides. I learned about it from chatting with the attendant in the visitor center at Kirkstall Abbey.

When I see paintings of these ruins from the “Romantic” period – late 18th, early 19th centuries – they are often depicted as lushly overgrown with foliage hanging from the walls and columns. But today, they are mostly well maintained, the foliage trimmed and cut back almost to the point of non-existence.

So Jervaux Abbey was something of a throwback to an earlier time… the owners apparently spend a whole lot of money trimming the foliage. So more than any other ruin I visited during this trip, Jervaux recalls the paintings of JMW Turner, who, I learned, sat on this very hill in 1816 (almost 200 years ago) and sketched this ruin for a Yorkshire visitor guide.

Not familiar with JMW Turner? You will be soon… there is a major feature film about him coming to the US later this fall… In the meantime, Google him…