There is quite a lot about Stanlow (or Stanlaw) Abbey in Henry Youngs Book 'A Perambulation of the Hundred of Wirral', this was published in 1909 and contains those pictures.
At the risk of boring people, I've reproduced below all of the information from that book:
"In a little under a mile the busy little port of Ellesmere is reached, with its huge elevator, corn mills, and other manufactories, and passing quickly through the town by Bridge Street to Pontoon, a boat will be found waiting (if the precaution has been taken to send a postcard a few days in advance to Thomas Ryder, Stanlaw Point,! near Ellesmere Port) for Stanlaw Point, on which is situated the ruins of the ancient abbey, is now an island, cut off from the mainland by the Manchester Ship Canal, which has to be crossed. No boats are kept at Ellesmere for the purpose, and the writer of these lines, on his first visit, had to steal a boat which some sailors had left at Pontoon whilst they made purchases in the town, and bribed two stalwart youths to enter the conspiracy with him. Luckily, the boat was safely moored again before the sailors returned.
Landing on the island, the farm and ruins of the abbey are in front, and the prospect is a pleasing one, showing how greatly for the better the hand of man has changed the scene since Ormerod saw it and described it. "It is," he
says, "difficult to select a scene of more comfortless desolation than this cheerless marsh barely fenced from the waters by embankments on the north, shut out by naked knolls from the fair country which spreads along the feet of the forest hills on the south-east, and approached by one miserable trackway of mud, whilst every road that leads to the haunts of men seems to diverge its course as it approaches Stanlaw." Nothing like this scene will be noticed now, for though the Point itself is bleak and dreary enough, on nearly every side the prospect is a pleasing one; the great fens and marshes in the neighbourhood of Ince, at one time stretching for many weary miles, have been drained, are well farmed, and dotted with prosperous-looking homesteads, whilst in the foreground is Ince Hall. The Mersey here takes a wide sweep to the south-west, so that at high tide the river Gowy seems to fall into a beautiful lake, and the view over to the prettily wooded shores on the Lancashire side at Speke and Hale forms a pleasing prospect; to the north-west is the Mount Manistay, happily now nearly all green with vegetation. When the tide is out the mud flats are tenanted by numerous sheldrakes-or, as the Wirral people call them, burrow-ducks, on account of their nesting in the rabbit burrows-whilst wild geese and other water-fowl are scattered over the mud flats, and in the winter the place is visited by numerous swans. There is a small rabbit-warren on the island, and numerous well-bred goats pick up a hard living.
The rock on which the abbey was situated is of red sandstone, and the position is a bleak one blown on by every wind of heaven; and before the surrounding country was fenced and drained it is impossible to imagine a more uninviting situation, for the rocky knoll was surrounded on three sides by great gloomy marshes and sour bad lands, over which the traveller must have trod a precarious path, with many a will-o'-the-wisp to dog and betray his footsteps, for the marsh was obscured by tall reeds, valuable for thatching; and the founder of the abbey in the charter directed that the reeds were not to be gathered without the express permission of the convent.
It was on this bleak spot, where the river Gowy fell into the Mersey after dragging itself slowly and painfully through the dreary marshes, that John de Lacy, Constable of Chester, founded this abbey of Cistercian monks in the year 1178, shortly before he set out for a crusade in the Holy Land, never, alas! to return. The Cistercian monks were a very austere order, choosing lonely situations, difficult of access, and far away from the busy haunts of men. Their peculiar system was the work of Stephen Harding, an Englishman, and although the first abbey was founded by William Gifford, bishop of Winchester, at Waverley, A.D. 1129, yet so much did the monks commend themselves to the people of England that rich endowments flowed in upon them, so that their establishments in England in the reign of Henry VII 1. numbered seventyfive. They were great agriculturists and promoters of Gothic architecture, numbering among their beautiful buildings such noble monuments to their skill as the Abbeys of Woburn, Tintern, Furness, and Fountains.
So here the good Cistercians dwelt, toiling for the good of men's souls, and endeavouring to leave the world a little better than they found it. Their isolation was complete, and the busy strife of those noisy days of turmoil and war passed by them unheard and unheeded; but the situation was an ill-chosen one, for the place was liable to floods when the Gowy came tumbling down in fury, and the Mersey rose before the gathering storms. A great eruption of the sea in 1279 is stated by the Annals of St. Werburgh to have done immense damage at Stanlaw; and alas! troubles come not singly but in battalions, for a belching gale damaged the great and beautiful tower of their church, so that it fell, carrying with it part of the surrounding masonry, and almost ruining the abbey as a place of abode. Yet the monks clung tenaciously to the hallowed spot, to which came pious pilgrims, for it held the bones of the illustrious dead, the great Earls of Lincoln and the Constables of Chester lying buried therein in a vault cut out of the solid rock.
In another two years the surrounding marshes were lighted by a great fire, for what remained of the abbey was ablaze, and the place was reduced in a great conflagration. Still the monks clung to the little that remained of their beautiful building; but ere long another inundation occurred, and the inmates were in a piteous plight, for the water rose three feet high in the offices of the monastery, so that at last the monks of Stanlaw requested leave of Pope Nicholas IV. to migrate to Whalley, where they had received rich grants of land from the De Lacys, and at last their request was granted on their increasing their number by twenty.
"Considerable difficulty," Mortimer says, " attended their removal, which was opposed by parties who pleaded a prior grant of Whalley, and were only induced to relinquish their claim upon the promise of several large sums of money. Even their own patron opposed their movements. He resumed possession of the church he had given them, and retained it until they assigned to him their chapel at Clitheroe, then valued at one hundred marks. At length, in 1294, the separation finally took place. Five of the monks remained at Stanlaw, one at the Grange of Stanney, and one was transferred to finish his studies at Oxford, where he attained a doctor's degree. The twenty-five that removed to Whalley obtained entrance into the church, 'having read their forced revocation before the doors, the people in crowds invoking the judgements of Heaven upon the simoniacs,' by whom they had been so long excluded."
Robert Hauworthe, who had been Abbot for twenty-four years, and had learned to look with affectionate eyes on the great marsh lands, with its reed gatherers, decided to remain at Stanlaw with four of his monks, much to the relief of the dwellers on the country-side, for the removal of the monks to Whalley was bitterly felt, and great efforts were made to rekindle the enthusiasm of the people for the abbey, an indulgence of forty days being given to all who aided it by contributions, and another of a less number of days, "to all who should either go to Stanlaw to pray for the souls of the Earls of Lincoln, and the Constables of Chester there buried." Its distresses even excited commiseration on the Continent. The Archbishop of Montroyal and the Bishop of Versailles granted similar indulgences to all who would undertake a pilgrimage to pray for the soul of Edmond De Lacy.
So the monks remained faithful to their beloved Stanlaw, which became a cell under Whalley until the dissolution, when it passed into the possession of that great trafficker in lands, Sir Richard Cotton, and was sold by him to Sir John Poole of Poole Hall.
But little of the former splendour of Stanlaw Abbey remains; scattered about are various stones, which have been carefully carved, and four beautiful old circular columns now support the roof of a cow-house. One of the walls, in which is an ancient doorway, is still standing, and in the centre of the farm-yard is a subterranean passage, hewn out of the solid red sandstone, passing under the buildings and emerging over 45 yards, close to where the Gowy falls into the Mersey. Another passage, which, however, the present writer did not succeed in finding, is said by Ormerod to have led to a small circular apartment, hewn also out of the solid rock, which was not discovered until a furious storm burst in upon it, and laid bare the chamber containing numerous bones and several leaden coffins. At the present day bones are still found when gardening operations are in progress, showing that Stanlaw was a favourite place of burial, and that a considerable God's acre was attached to the abbey.
From what remains, the style of architecture is judged to be extremely fine Early English, and although of no great size, the building must have been a very beautiful specimen of the architecture of that period.
The present farm-buildings, in which are in-corporated portions of the abbey, were erected about 1750, and are now fast falling into decay, for the house is occupied by a fisherman and a wild-fowler, to whom the great out-buildings are useless.
As we move quietly away to the boat, to be rowed across the ship canal, the buried past, in which we have been dwelling, and in fancy almost hearing the great bell in the tower calling the faithful to evensong from across the marshes, is on a sudden forgotten, as a steamer hurries swiftly along the ship canal on its voyage through Eastern Wirral to the great ocean beyond, and spells for us the great change that has occurred in our habits, thoughts, and life, since the good Cistercian monks held sway at Stanlaw."