The Choir of St Thomas’ has gone on tour, either in the UK or overseas, most years since 1994. Tours provide opportunities to sing to new audiences in a variety of interesting locations, often in fine historic settings. They involve some hard work in rehearsal, but this is balanced with visits to places of interest and time for relaxation. Tours are hugely enjoyable and memorable experiences, especially for the choristers.
Since 2008, a combined choir of 40 or more Adults, Boys and Girls has taken part in the tour, singing in various combinations. Parents and siblings have also accompanied the choirs on tour, providing assistance and support.
There are lots more photos of our tours in the Photo Gallery.
September 2023 What a wonderful tour in Belgium!
2023 Choir Tour to Belgium- a Report by Head Choristers Bethany and Freddie
On Wednesday 23rd August we started our tour preparations with an evening rehearsal: the choristers started at 5 o’clock and the back row at 6 o’clock, finishing at 8:30, so we could get in as much singing as possible after the long summer break. Somehow, we all had to fit our cassocks in a small plastic bag for travelling, which was a struggle. All enjoyed the rehearsal, and it really helped us with our singing throughout the tour.
Thursday was our day of travelling! We left St Thomas’ at around 7.30 am to catch our ferry from the Port of Dover, which had an amazing view of the White Cliffs! Once we had made our way through security (“SILENCE!”) we had a very nice journey on the ferry which included free lunch. Once we had arrived in Calais we drove to our hostel in Bruges and settled in, before beginning our first rehearsal for the amazing 3 days of singing we had ahead of us. We had dinner at the hostel and time in the evening to chill out and play games.
Our first full day on Friday in Bruges started at 7:30 am. We had breakfast at the hostel, then a rehearsal, with a few breaks and biscuits. After lunch we set off for our first concert at St Salvator’s Cathedral. The concert was a success, the Cathedral was stunning. We sang many good pieces, but one that stood out was a new anthem written for us by Matthew, our counter-tenor. Afterwards, we all had free time to explore Bruges, then met at a pizza restaurant for some wonderful pizzas: chicken and cheese, vegan, meat, and margarita. Following that, we all walked home to play football, relax and prepare for Saturday.
Saturday was our second day of singing. After breakfast at the hostel, we boarded our coach to Ghent. It is a stunning city, filled with amazing sights, and we visited a very historic castle called the ‘castle of the counts’, which had a great array of rooms and views to explore. After a quick break for waffles, we all headed over to St Bavo’s cathedral for our afternoon concert; it was by far the biggest cathedral we sang in on tour and the acoustics were incredible! After a brilliant concert, we explored Ghent some more, before having an amazing croquette and chip dinner and returning on the coach to our hostel for the night.
On Sunday, our final full day in Belgium, we had a very early start, waking at 7 o’clock for an 8 o’clock coach journey to Kortrijk to sing at the morning service as well as an afternoon concert. We were all looking forward to singing in the gallery / organ loft, above everyone in the congregation. It was certainly a unique experience: we were very warmly welcomed by the priest, and the congregation gave us a standing ovation at the end of the service. Afterwards, we had some spare time to explore the town, which was very quiet, while others visited a fascinating museum.
Our afternoon concert was very well attended and was another great success. When we arrived back at the hostel, we played football with some of the boys and girls, while others played badminton. Then we had supper and speeches. We had several people to thank. First, Janey and all the chaperones, Alex, Marjorie, Jules, Sandy, and Stefan - they were all such good chaperones. Then we thanked Jordan, Jon, James H and our number one supporter - Lindsay. We finished off the night singing If Ye Love Me for the hostel staff - it was so magical, and they were so impressed.
Sadly, Monday was our last day on tour. We had had an amazing few days of singing, finishing with an incredible concert in Kortrijk. Today was to be a fun-filled day of activity, as we were off to the theme park Plopsaland! There were so many amazing rides, and we all had a lot of fun before our long trip back on the coach to Farnham, but not before the compulsory stop at a Belgian chocolate shop! Once we were all filled with chocolate, we got back on the coach and headed for our ferry back to Dover, again with an amazing meal on the way. We arrived back at St Thomas at about 11:30pm.
Bethany says: “I can really say that the choir tour this year has been my favourite by far, so many activities, amazing singing, and incredible venues we sang at. We were so lucky with the weather as well, and I can say that there was never a dull day on the tour. I can’t wait for the concert on the 23rd September, so we can sing it all again!”
Freddie says: “This tour will stay with all of us for such a long time, we all got so much closer. We all enjoyed every part and we can’t wait to go on another choir tour next year. We had so much support in Belgium, and so much help from everyone. We had so much fun, and we loved it.”
Have a look at the photos from the tour here Please note there are two pages of photos, so don't forget to check out page 2 !
After three years without tours, largely because of COVID, it was possible to resume touring in 2022.
Early morning of August 26th saw a coachful of sleepy members of the St-Thomas-on-The Bourne Choirs pull out of the churchyard on their way to a singing tour of West Wales. Later numerous carloads of relatives and general supporters followed them. The singers were based at an Outdoor Activity Centre near the splendid beach at Newgale and for the nineteen young choristers, and the young at heart adults, the trip would involve kayaking, swimming, coasteering, seal-watching boat trips, informal football and eating very good food provided by the centre. And, of course, a lot of singing.
The first concert was on Saturday in St Mary’s Church, Tenby. A varied repertoire included a lyrical arrangement of a Welsh folksong by choirmaster Jordan Theis and a setting of one of Cardinal Newman’s prayers by Matthew Rogers, one of the choirmen. Apparently the choir’s Welsh pronunciation improved greatly as the tour went on. St Mary’s was so impressed by their performance that they were asked to return in subsequent years. Another warm welcome awaited them the next day when they sang the morning service at St Mary’s Church, Cardigan, also a large and ancient church, with a good acoustic. The Bourne Curate, the Revd. Sandy Clarke, conducted the worship, which was followed by a short concert, then fish and chips were served to the choir in a lovely garden belonging to the grandparents of Cai Thomas, our own singing star and now a member of the adult choir. Monday was devoted mainly to water activities but culminated in Evensong in the Quire of St. David’s Cathedral. The choir’s singing was magnificent and in such a setting the whole experience was out of this world.
Many thanks to Jordan and Sandy, to Julian Cooper and Andrew Harrap, our organists, Janey Thomas and Jon Edwards for their organising and Clare Marren, the parish youth officer. It was a wonderful weekend and for those who stayed at home, there was a well-attended repeat performance of the concert programme at St Thomas’s Church, Frensham Rd, on Saturday September 10th.
There are lots more photos of this trip to Pembrokeshire in the photo gallery
This was the highlight of the year. The choir made its first ever visit to Venice, with a musical programme comprising Sung Mass at one of Venice’s huge Gothic churches (Sta Maria Gloriosa dei Frari), an open air concert in the Campo San Polo nearby, High Mass at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and Sung Mass at the Basilica di Sant’Antonio in Padua, one of Italy’s most important pilgrimage churches. There was limited time to rehearse beforehand at any of these venues, though an open-air rehearsal outside St Mark’s attracted considerable interest from the crowds of visitors. Despite this, and aided by a full day’s rehearsal at St Thomas’ before departure, the choir performed at its best every time. Robert Lewis, Director of Music, said: “I have taken choirs to Venice before and sung in St Mark’s, but never before at the main Saturday Mass, before a large congregation. There are few greater honours that a choir can aspire to!”
At each church, the choir was given a very warm welcome, and at St Antony’s the clergy even presented the choir with items from their own music library. The choir also very much appreciated the presence in the congregation of both chorister parents and members of St Thomas’ congregation, who had travelled independently to provide support. The tour wasn’t all hard work, of course – there have also been reports of sight-seeing, pizza, ice creams, beaches and a theme park ..... The tour could not have taken place without an enormous amount of hard work by Jeremy Mardel and Jon Edwards, as well as Robert Lewis. Read on for an account of the tour by two choristers...
William and Bella's account
The annual choir tour is never what you expect. For all who have been on a tour with St Thomas’ will know that it is not just a trip full of singing and rehearsals. No, the choir tour is so much more!
Day 1 Practice makes Perfect (hopefully)
This was the start of the tour, a day of practising and perfecting. We arrived at St Thomas’ at 10am, excited about the tour ahead, to rehearse all the spectacular music Rob had selected for us to perform. After a tiring day of rehearsal, we were kindly invited by Father John and Gillian Morris to the vicarage for a barbecue, a great way to end the day with plenty of food, drinks, cake and ice cream galore.
Day 2 We’re on our way
It’s an early wakeup call, arriving at church by 8am. There is a buzz of excitement and apprehension as the final checks are made of passports and music. We wave goodbye to our families and off we go, ready for a fabulous tour. The flight passes quickly, and as we land we catch a glimpse of Venice below us. Bags and children collected and counted, we head off on the coach to our hotel, further along the coast. We quickly unpack, before racing down to the pool - we had been waiting all day for this - and then dinner.
Day 3 Our First Foray into Venice
After breakfast, a quick rehearsal on the terrace, and then free time for the hotel pool or the beach nearby. Half of us decided to explore the beach, while the rest chose the pool. A quick lunch, then we piled onto the coach and set off for our first adventure in the city. There was a lot of walking through the maze of alleyways, taking in the sights as we went, including the spectacular Rialto Bridge, and with time for a fabulous ice-cream. Then on to the stunning church of Santa Maria dei Frari to sing at evening Mass. Afterwards we sat on the steps outside and ate our packed teas, before making our way to Campo San Polo for a short outdoor concert. In the darkness the Girls’ Quartet sang their beautiful rendition of ‘Steal Away’ to the gathered crowd, while people watched from windows above, with thunder and lightning in the background. By the end of the day we were all exhausted, and when we returned to the hotel I crashed onto my bed straightaway.
Day 4 St Mark’s Basilica
After breakfast and a short rehearsal, some of us went to the beach, some to the pool. Then a coach ride, and a journey into Venice by boat, gliding towards the beautiful St Mark’s Square. After walking round St Mark’s Square and ice-creams, we rehearsed in a corner of the square, just outside the Basilica. A large crowd soon gathered and the police were about to move us on, until Rob explained why we were there. After changing quickly in the crypt, we sang to a packed congregation, including many familiar faces from St Thomas’. It was an amazing privilege. Afterwards, we headed to a pizza restaurant, where we had great fun playing cards and games or talking amongst ourselves.
Day 5 Padua Awaits
We had an early start and boarded the coach for Padua, where we went straight to the Basilica of St Antony to get ready to sing at the morning service. After the mass, we were allowed to perform by the tomb of St Anthony, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy. Lunch in an attractive park by the Basilica was followed by an ice cream parlour. We returned to the hotel, and had our final dinner in a local restaurant, where we sang to the staff and other diners. And then it was time for speeches on the beach, as the sun set over the Adriatic, and we said thank you to the chaperones, Rob and everyone who helped organise the tour, and farewell to Molly, Izzy, Joe and Ollie who would be leaving the choir after the tour. There were tears, followed by an eventful dip in the sea, with a few hundred jellyfish.
Day 6 Aqualandia!
This was the day that we had all been waiting for! We all excitedly jumped into the bus for the fifteen-minute drive to the waterpark, and spent the day getting soaked and thrilling ourselves on the most daring rides I had ever seen. All too soon it was time to return to the hotel, pick up our bags, say our final farewells to the hotel staff and leave for the airport.
This was probably my favourite tour so far, as I developed my independence and had lots of fun in the process. St Thomas’ choir is not just a place to sing: you can socialise, grow with others, and generally become a better person.
William and Bella
There are lots more photos of this trip to Venice in the photo gallery
This year the choir returned to Belgium for its summer tour, from Friday 25 August to Wednesday 30 August. Rob Lewis, the Director of Music, led a party of 16 boy choristers, 4 senior girl choristers and 11 men, together with Julian Cooper (organist), Andrew Harrap (organ scholar), and 5 chaperones (who had the toughest job of all!). The choir sang at Mass in Brussels Cathedral, and concerts in the cathedrals of Brussels, Bruges and Ghent. Musically, the tour was a great success. The following account by Head Choristers Izzy and Joe gives their perspective.
Friday We arrived at St. T’s at 8:30 prompt. After an hour of the usual madness, meetings and missing items, we set off by coach for the ferry. On arrival at Dover the sleeping masses awoke and were let loose in the terminal shopping centre. After each chorister had been checked, escorted and carefully stowed back on the coach, we drove onto the ferry. Starting through France on the coach again, there were more naps and songs from the boy choristers – to the thoroughly well-disguised joy of the gents. After checking in to our smart hostel near the centre of Antwerp, we went straight to dinner, then bedtime for us choristers.
Saturday After breakfast, we rehearsed at the hostel, ready for our day in Ghent. On arrival there, we walked through the pretty streets to the impressive Gravensteen Castle, and climbed to the top for excellent views of the city. Then we had time to eat our packed lunches and ice cream, and explore the picturesque canals and squares before the rehearsal at St. Baaf’s Cathedral. After a very good first concert, we headed back to the hostel for dinner and a film for the choristers before bed.
Sunday An early start, leaving Antwerp at 7:50 for Brussels. On arrival at the Cathedral, we rehearsed for Mass; the distances between Rob, choir and organ were a challenge, but everyone pulled together and at the end of the service the clergy led the large congregation in generous applause. Then we walked to a nearby park for a picnic and a game of Frisbee, followed by ice creams and a walk into the Grande Place in the centre of Brussels. We returned to the cathedral for a further rehearsal and the concert, which was a great success. Back in Antwerp, we walked into the centre to the pizzeria Da Giovanni. After delicious meals, the choristers went to get more ice cream before bed.
Monday We started with a rehearsal at the hostel after breakfast. Then choristers and a few (lucky) adults headed off to Oceade waterpark, whilst most of the (even luckier) gents spent the day exploring Antwerp. We all had a really enjoyable day; plenty of action for some of us, a little peace for the others! We all met up again in the evening for more lovely Italian food. Afterwards the choristers headed to the hostel, stopping of course for our daily ice cream intake, whilst the gents found a nice spot on the square to serenade their neighbours with an informal vocal recital.
Tuesday After another great breakfast at the hostel we boarded the coach for Bruges. Once we arrived, we walked through part of the old city and took a canal trip: it was really interesting to see this beautiful old city from the water. Then we walked through the main square and had even more ice cream, before arriving at St. Salvatore’s cathedral to rehearse. Outside we sang “Locus iste” to promote the concert, and attracted much interest. Here too, the distance between the organ and choir gave us a challenge but, as always, we pulled together and our last concert of the tour went very well. It was followed by dinner at a burger restaurant, with the traditional tour speeches and thank-yous. Tired, we all got on the coach back to the hostel for the last time.
Wednesday brought mixed emotions for everybody – happy, but sad that choir tour was nearly over. We got on the coach for the final time, and set off for Ypres, where we split into two groups: while the gents and girls explored Ypres, the boys had a great time at Bellawaerde theme park. We arrived back into Dover very tired, and all slept most of the rest of the way back home. Waking up at St. Thomas’, having dreamt of all the fun we’d had, we realised that the tour was over all too quickly. We said our goodbyes and headed home - ready for another fantastic tour next year!
There are more photos of this trip to Belgium in the photo gallery
After flying out on the last Friday of August, the first singing engagement of the tour was at the Altenburg Dom, a beautiful former monastic church near Cologne, where the choir sang at the evening Mass, followed by a short concert. On the Sunday morning, we sang at Mass from the organ gallery at the great church of St. Aposteln. After a break for tourism, we sang at the evening Mass at another beautiful church, St. Pantaleon. Monday was a day off for a visit to a water park. Tuesday was the highlight of the tour – singing a capella at midday prayers in Cologne Cathedral, a great privilege and a very moving occasion. The tour’s musical finale was a concert back at St Aposteln, making full use of the mighty organ for Parry’s “I was glad”. The tour ended with a trip on the Rhine to Bonn before the flight home on the Wednesday. As William, the Head Chorister, commented: “Participating in all these fantastic opportunities is wonderful - it is an experience that no chorister will forget.”
There are lots more photos of this trip to Cologne in the photo gallery.
The tour started with a flight to Prague on Thursday 21 August, and a concert the next day at the beautiful baroque church St Nicholas, in the heart of the city. The church was full and the concert well received. Saturday was a day of relaxation, with a pedalo trip on the River Vltava and bobsleigh rides.
Sunday was the busiest day, with morning Eucharist in the Anglican church of St Clement’s, and evening Mass in the church of St Salvator, near the end of the Charles Bridge; the Mass ended with the congregation giving a rare standing ovation, which was a great honour. We returned on Monday to St Salvator, this time for a concert, with a large and enthusiastic audience.
On Tuesday there was time for a visit to Prague Zoo - the biggest in Europe – before the flight home, at the end of a wonderful tour.
There are lots more photos of this trip to Prague in the photo gallery
2013 London & Oxford (non-residential) tour
In place of a full tour, the choir enjoyed a combination of day trips to sing services in cathedrals, rehearsals and recording sessions, and fun. It began on Saturday 24th August, with a coach trip to Greenwich, followed by a boat trip up river and ride on the London Eye. The choir then sangat the 6 o'clock Mass to a packed congregation in Westminster Cathedral.
The next day was rehearsal at All Saints’ Tilford for a recording, with a barbeque and football match afterwards. Monday saw further rehearsal and a sound check for the recording. On Tuesday recording took place for the Choir's first CD for several years, "On Christmas Night", with a choir dinner in the evening.
Wednesday was the final day of the tour: a river trip in Oxford was followed by singing Evensong in the Cathedral.
There are lots more photos of this tour in the photo gallery
2012 Choir Tour to Normandy
In August 2012, the choir visited Normandy, singing an informal concert in Rouen Cathedral, Mass at Fécamp Abbey, and a concert at Étretat, which received much acclaim in the local press and was followed by a reception in the Mayor's Parlour.
This was the first tour under the baton of our new choral director Robert Lewis, and was enjoyed by everyone who took part.
2011 Choir Tour to Belgium
In August 2011, over 40 boys, girls and gentlemen travelled to Belgium for a four-day tour, staying in Ypres. The first singing event was a Saturday lunchtime concert in Ghent cathedral, followed by singing the morning service at Ypres cathedral on the Sunday, and then a lunchtime concert in Poperinghe the following day.
The final singing occasion was at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, which was extremely moving and was also Philip Viveash’s final appearance conducting the choirs of St Thomas-on-The Bourne. Although the tour was hard work, there was plenty of time for relaxation and sightseeing, which included a tour of the First World War battlefields and cemeteries, including a very moving perforamnce of "For the Fallen" at Tyne Cot cemetery, the Commonwealth war cemetery with the largest number of burials - nearly 12,000.
2010 Choir Tour to Hereford Cathedral
In August 2010, some 40 boys, girls and men sang six services over four days in Hereford Cathedral, while the cathedral choir was on holiday. The services began with the men singing Evensong on the Thursday, followed by men and boys on Friday, and men and girls on Saturday. On Sunday morning, men and boys sang Eucharist, followed by men and girls singing Matins. On Sunday afternoon, the combined choir of men, boys and girls joined to sing evensong and were made particularly welcome by the clergy.
While there was plenty of hard work, there was also time to relax. This included bowling, swimming and shopping, and an excursion to Ludlow for the men. The highlight was a 8.5 mile canoe trip on the River Wye – though for some this also counted as hard work!
2009 Choir Tour to Christchurch, Dorset
Over 40 men, boys and girls, accompanied by some 20 parents, spent three days of the August bank holiday weekend in Bournemouth, singing services in the magnificent priory church at nearby Christchurch. The tour was the first with Philip Viveash as Director of Music. The choir worked hard, singing five services over three days, as well as rehearsing thoroughly beforehand. The music spanned five centuries, from Tallis to Rutter. All the hard work paid off in the quality of performance, especially on the Sunday when all 43 voices sang at the Eucharist and Evensong to a full congregation.
As well as hard work, there was time to fit into the packed weekend a mixture of swimming, skittles, mini-golf, a boat trip, visit to the Oceanarium, and some shopping.
2008 Choir Tour to Southwell, Notts
At the end of August, the men’s, boys’ and girls’ choirs visited Southwell Minster for five days, singing Evensong from Monday to Friday. Duties were shared – men and boys sang on Monday and Tuesday, the men and girls on Thursday and Friday, and all sang together on Wednesday. As well as a busy programme of services and rehearsals, there was time for bowling, swimming and shopping, and a visit to the caves under the centre of Nottingham. The accommodation in part of Nottingham Trent University was particularly appreciated by the children.
2007 Men and Girls Tour to Hereford Cathedral
In late August, the men’s and girls’ choirs sang evensong on three days in Hereford Cathedral. Swimming, shopping and a visit to the cinema provided additional entertainment. Accommodation at the National College for the Blind proved very suitable – but a bit of a walk from the cathedral!
2006 Parish Choir Tour to Romsey Abbey
On 30 July, the men and boys visited Romsey Abbey in Hampshire to sing Sunday Eucharist and Evensong. They sang at the main morning Eucharist at 10.00 a.m. and at Choral Evensong at 6.30 p.m. During the day they enjoyed a picnic and there was also time for cricket, football and swimming in between.
2006 Men and Girls Tour to Hereford Cathedral
Team leader Ellie Powell wrote this piece for the parish magazine: "When we first saw the cathedral we all thought, WOW! Are we really singing in this huge building? It was beautiful! We had a great laugh. When we sang it echoed round the cathedral, it was wonderful. We stayed in a pretty little Youth Hostel in Leominster (near Hereford). It had comfortable rooms, and a TV room, where we were A LOT! The food was great and we were happy."
2005 Beverley Minster
At the end of July 2005 the Parish Choir made a successful trip to Beverley, singing the services at the Minster on 24 July and singing a concert at Holy Trinity, Hull (the largest parish church in England!) the night before. We stayed at the excellent Beverley Arms Hotel and made trips to Flamingoland, The Deep, and The National Railway Museum, and spent some time on the beach in Bridlington.
2004 Tewkesbury Abbey
2004 saw a trip by the Parish Choir to sing at Tewkesbury Abbey, singing the services on the Sunday and staying at the Royal Hop Pole Hotel. Although a relatively short trip, we managed to fit in a tour of the Abbey, swimming, a trip on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway, and a visit to the Cotswold Falconry Centre.
The choir enjoyed a wonderful tour to Salzburg. We stayed in a pretty chalet-style hotel in Hüttau, and sang concerts in the Lutheran church at Berchtesgaden (Germany) and Pfarrkirche St Michael, Mondsee (used for the wedding scene in the film "The Sound Of Music"). Following the concert in St Michael we sang during the Mass and then again in Salzburg Cathedral on the Sunday morning. We were very warmly welcomed and enthusiastically applauded at both services. When not singing we visited the absolutely excellent Berchtesgaden Salt Mines, took the ferry across the Wolfgangsee lake, visited Salzburg and relaxed!
2001 Christchurch Priory
We stayed in the UK for summer 2001 and sang the 3 services on Sunday 29th July at Christchurch Priory, Dorset. We took a long weekend break from the Friday to the Monday and the boys were able to go on trips to nearby beaches and the New Forest.
2000 Northern France
As with the 1999 tour, a relaxing week was spent in Northern France where we sang concerts in Coutances Cathedral, Villedieu-les-Poêles and in the 10th century church at St Jean-le-Thomas in the town where we were staying: the townspeople of St Jean-le-Thomas filled the small church and were hugely enthusiastic in their support. There was also time for the beach, shopping, a trip to the very busy Mont St Michel and, for some of the gentlemen, golfing or a day trip to Jersey.
1999 Northern France
A week in Northern France with concerts in Coutances Cathedral, the Abbaye de La Lucerne and Villedieu-les-Poêles. Recreational visits were made to Mont St Michel, the Normandy invasion beaches and to the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry.
A week in Wales with concerts in Machynlleth and Aberystwyth and as part of the Aberystwyth Festival.
1997 USA and Bermuda
This was our most exotic tour yet! The USA leg of the tour included services and concerts in St Bartholomew's church and St Patrick's (Roman Catholic) Cathedral in New York city, concerts in Princeton University Chapel and the Old South Church in Boston. Whilst in Bermuda we sang services at the cathedral in Hamilton (the capital) of which Matins was broadcast live on the radio, and also a concert at St Mark's Church in Smiths Parish.
1996 - Exeter Cathedral
We enjoyed a week of singing the services at Exeter Cathedral.
1995 Central France
A week in Central France including well-attended and enthusiatically received concerts at Preuilly sur Claise, the medieval Collégiale St Ours in Loches and at the Abbey de Fleury in St-Benoît-sur-Loire (near Orléans). We were honoured to be allowed to sing an anthem during the service of Vespers given by the monks of the Abbey de Fleury.
1994 Ripon Cathedral
A week of singing the services at Ripon Cathedral. We also enjoyed tours of the nearby ruins of Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey.