As part of our Inspir-Ed series, we’re on the lookout for creative venues and events that spark the imagination.

This blog features editor Angela Stone’s visit to Kirkstall Abbey for Hallmark’s My 5 Days programme.

The Abbey retains its eeriness in bright sunlight

With My 5 Days, everyone in the creative studio is given 5 days annually to work on a project or learn a new skill. Or, in Angela’s case, to write an epic poem inspired by a 12th century abbey.

‘Love Lived Here’ by Angela Stone

Poem reads:

If I was a ruin,
Crows would nest in my rusted shoulders
And shoots of weeds would grow
Between cracks in my fingers.
Shuffling feet and gawping eyes
Would look up at my towering presence,
A silhouette against the clear sky.

They would step under the hallowed arches of my legs
And take a moment to read placards about my former glory:
“Before her doors closed hundreds of years ago,
Love lived here.
Her body was a stronghold,
A buzzing sanctuary.
Now the decay has set in.
Note the way the silver hairs
Catch the sunlight on a summer’s day
Or the way she appears moody blue in moonlight.”

Visitors gaze up at crumbling walls
And meditate on the way things once were
In the place they now stood.
Imaginings of laughter echo in the holy stillness
Then vanish like wisps of incense.
They place a palm against cold weathered stone
And hope to absorb my history.
Contemplating my half-destruction,

The Poem’s Inspiration

Angela says, “I’ve always loved Kirkstall Abbey – a ruined Cistercian monastery inside a public park. So on a sunny day in September I spent some time writing in the Abbey gardens, surrounded by the dramatic ruins.

The impressive ruins

It was perfect for inspiring a moody and brooding poem. But in case I got tired of writing, it was also a great spot for people-watching with plenty of picnics, family walks and ball games to have a nosy at.

There’s also the Abbey House Museum, where you can go back in time to a Victorian cobbled street. Most importantly though, there’s a café – writing is hungry work!”

The cafe is an ideal spot for people-watching

Visiting Kirkstall Abbey

Founded over 800 years ago, Kirkstall Abbey is one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in the country. The venue also hosts a regular programme of events, including a deli market and mindfulness sessions.