Fountains Abbey named joint winner in Which? survey to find UK's top historic attraction

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Visitor favourite Fountains Abbey near Ripon has been named the nation's best historic attraction alongside Edinburgh's Royal Yacht Britannia.

Once a thriving monastic community before the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the Cisterian abbey ruins remain today one of the largest in Europe.

Managed by the National Trust, it has tied in first place in Which?’s survey of the best historic attractions in the UK, according to a survey of some 3,000 members.

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Criteria assessed value for money, helpfulness of staff, and a lack of crowds, with those rating Fountains Abbey highly crediting the "calm atmosphere" and leisurely walks.

Fountains Abbey, near Ripon. Image: James HardistyFountains Abbey, near Ripon. Image: James Hardisty
Fountains Abbey, near Ripon. Image: James Hardisty

The attraction scored a full five stars for a lack of crowds across the 800 acre estate. Alongside Royal Yacht Britannia it achieved a rating score of 88 per cent, higher than well-known attractions such as Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey and The Tower of London.

Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “This year two very different but equally impressive historic attractions topped our survey, and it’s easy to see why.

"Both Fountains Abbey and the Royal Yacht Britannia offer a unique day out with visitors telling us they enjoyed the opportunity to immerse themselves in a slice of history for the day."

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This is the second year the Royal Yacht Britannia, which has served the Royal Family for more than 44 years, has come top, achieving an almost clean sweep of five star ratings.

Coming a close joint third are Culzean Castle and Country Park in Scotland, and the Roman Baths and Pump Room in Bath, both achieving a score of 87 per cent.

Durham Cathedral was the highest scoring free attraction, with a customer score of 86 per cent. It ranked joint fifth in the table overall, tying with Stirling Castle. Awarded a full five stars in five of the nine categories, it gained just two stars for facilities.

At the other end of the table was Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the playwright’s childhood home in Stratford-Upon-Avon, with a score of 63 per cent.

While the building’s cultural significance was praised, it scored two out of five for value for money and facilities.

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