There was a strong interest in architecture and ruins in 18th-century England. Rooker, a pupil of Paul Sandby (1731 - 1801), was employed as an engraver to produce illustrations for books of architectural and antiquarian views which catered to this fashion. He was also a watercolour painter and he frequently made engravings of his own watercolours.
Rooker has drawn the building in great detail in ink in this watercolour and then applied delicate washes of colour to produce what is known as a tinted drawing.
He exhibited a view of Kirkstall Abbey at the Royal Academy in 1776 which may be this or a similar work. This watercolour was certainly made before 27th January 1779 when the tower fell down.