Ruined but prideful, forgotten but known, beautifully neglected — Kirkstall Abbey is a lot of things to a lot of people. This gorgeous piece of historic architecture has stood in Kirkstall for more than 800 years and is one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey on the entire island. Its picturesque setting on the banks of the Aire belie what is a tumultuous history, as Kirkstall was one of the many monasteries to feel the horny wrath of Henry VIII as the famous king blundered ever more towards a calorific demise. Its subsequent neglect only increased its romantic aura, and the abbey has long been a favourite of painters looking for that idyllic scene, although the brush has largely been replaced with the filter in the modern age. Entry to the abbey is free but be aware that it is closed on Mondays, with the exception of Bank Holidays. That might seem a little bit backwards, but let’s not complain.