Mount Grace is never going to be a tourist hot-spot, but its definitely worth a visit. It’s very easy to get to [right off the A19 in North Yorkshire] and is the best preserved of the Carthusian houses in England. Being a monk in the 14th Century probably wasn’t too much fun, but at Mount Grace they certainly made the best of it. Strictly a silent order [and vegetarian] the monks lived in individual two-storey houses, with a simple pass-through hatch to receive their food without having to see or talk to outsiders. The houses each had their own small courtyard, cloister and vegetable/herb gardens – with a loo at the bottom of the garden. Throw in a few mod cons and we’d all be happy to live there now. One “cell” has been restored so you can see how they lived.
It’s operated by English Heritage on behalf of the owners, the National Trust, and hosts some excellent outdoor productions.
The rather nice house which front the remains was built of the salvaged stone after the dissolution, and eventually fell into the hands of the Bell family who purchased it in 1898 as a country retreat. Sir Lowthian Bell [1816-1904] was a wealthy ironmaster and pioneered large-scale aluminium manufacture who restored Mount Grace House using the Arts and Craft designers Phillip Webb and William Morris. Webb had designed Bell’s enormous house at Rounton Grange nearby – then Webb’s largest commission – most of his work was in the south of England. Mount Grace house preserves some of the arts & craft details, including Morris’s wallpaper and carpet.
There are a number of Webb houses in North Yorkshire, and some inspired by him – often the work of Walter Brierley [known as the York Lutyens] and he was part of Brierley Groom, the longest running architectural practice in the UK.
Anyway, a small point but in the shop they sell beer from the North Yorkshire Brewery at Pinchinthorpe Hall. Great range of beers, including live beers which you can pour carefully, or chuck the lot in the glass, yeast and all, for a cloudy version. The Prior’s Ale [3.6% ABV] is excellent. Interestingly, the beers are much cheaper from Mount Grace than ordering from the brewery [for local visitors obvs].
The featured image shows Mount Grace house, the restored house in the Arts & Crafts style.