For the first time ever, Kirkstall Abbey has announced it will be charging tourists an entry free.
Out-of-town visitors to the 12th-century monastery will be asked to pay £5 to gain admittance as the cash-strapped council looks for new ways to raise funds.
Kirkstall Abbey is a hugely popular tourist attraction for those who live close to Leeds, and it’s expected that the charge could raise an additional £160,000 for the council
Admission for local residents, meanwhile, will continue to be free – with Loiners now being asked to provide proof of address with them when they visit.
Read more: Kirkstall Abbey claps back at review that complains it has “no roof”
The council has been told it needs to save £64.5m next year but has promised to put some of the funds raised back into the 870-year-old site.
Plans for improvement at Kirkstall Abbey include a new on-site cafe and new audio tours, which the new fees will help pay for.
Leeds city council deputy leader Jonathan Pryor said that Kirkstall Abbey was a “treasured part of the city’s heritage” and that the council’s finances had required it to come up with “innovative and creative ways” to protect the site.
He added that the council had “consulted broadly with the public both in and out of Leeds”.
However, some families have vowed to ‘boycott’ the abbey over the news that an admission fee will be charged.
Initially, the fee was going to be set at £8 but following consultations that showed it to be unpopular it was dropped to £5 instead.
The abbey was first built by monks in 1152 on gifted land and was used as a residence until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
Today it might appear as a ruin, leading one visitor to complain last summer that it ‘has no roof’, but in spite of this it is still considered to be one of the most complete Cistercian monasteries in Britain.
Feature image – Tim Green