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Ralph Haget, abbot of Kirkstall (1182-c. 1190) and Fountains (1190-1203)

‘A man of piety and noteworthy for all holiness; a lover of justice and most ardent in rivalry for the good of the Order.'
'None was more frugal in prosperity, more liberal in poverty, more important in judgement, more loyal in friendship.’

Ralph was a member of the knightly classes, but dissatisfaction with his military lifestyle prompted him to enter the Cistercian abbey of Fountains, c. 1170. In 1182 Ralph was sent to lead the community at Kirkstall, a daughter-house of Fountains. Ralph faced problems as abbot regarding the loss of the abbey’s herds, external quarrels and (of greatest consequence), the loss of the abbey’s grange at Micklethwaite. This had grave consequences and the community was forced, out of poverty, to seek refuge for a while at other Cistercian abbeys.

Although Ralph’s abbacy at Kirkstall was rather unsuccessful - he was criticised for his lack of judgment – he was, nonetheless, promoted to the abbacy of Fountains where he presided over the community until his death in 1203. Ralph was particularly noted for his contribution to poor relief during the famine of 1194, when he set up a refugee camp outside the gates of Fountains. Ralph was buried in the chapter-house at Fountains.