« PreviousContinue »
may be said to have survived. Their original number is forgot. From the appellation of “the Seven Sisters,” by which the trees are always known, they may not have lately exceeded that number; though one of coeval antiquity stands at the south end of the Abbey bridge near the mill. Dr. Burton, writing in 1757, remembered seven trees, but remarked that one of them had been blown down a few years before. One, and the greater part of another, fell in the great gale of the 7th of January, 1839. Another rears but a withered sapless trunk. The rest vegetate with astonishing vigour, and last year bure their accustomed supply of berries ; though their giant stems are but mouldering skeletons.
Candolle, deriving his information from Pennant, who stated, that in 1770 one of them was 1214 lignes in diameter, supposes that they were then upwards of twelve centuries old ; but, as we cannot ascertain when they ceased to expand, and the process of decomposition commenced, this computation probably falls far short of their actual age. The tortuosity of their rifted boles forbids an accurate measurement, but one of them is at least 25 feet in circumference.
Immediately on crossing the Skell by a picturesque bridge, built in the thirteenth century, we come to the Gate-House,* now reduced indeed to a mere fragment, but bearing, in the traces of the apartments on each side, abundant testimony of its former magnitude and importance.
The two gabled ruins, passed soon after entering what was
At this point, however brief the time at the visitor's disposal may be, he should turn aside a few paces to FOUNTAINS HALL, which is not generally included in the guide's route, unless requested. It stands at a very short distance from the Abbey gate, on the side of a densely wooded and precipitous declivity, and was built by Sir Stephen Procter of Warsell, in the time of King James I., at an expense of 30001., though he ruthlessly quarried his stone from the walls of the Abbey. Its venerable aspect, however, accords so well with the scenery, that it mitigates “the regret with which the antiquary would otherwise contemplate so wide a scale of spoliation.” The chief front sleeping in a summer's sun, with its picturesque gables and balcony, and statues, and glistening
“ Bay windows, goodly as may be thought," is peculiarly imposing and beautiful. The arrangement of the principal apartments is still undisturbed; but they contain nothing remarkable, except the dining-room, which is hung with tapestry, representing the Rape of Proserpine, Jupiter and Ganymede, and Vulcan receiving directions from Thetis about the making of armour for Achilles. In the Hall also—now called the Chapel--is a sculpture over the fireplace, of the Judgment of Solomon, and in its great embayed window, the armorial bearings of the Procters and their connexions, displayed in confused and fast-fading glass. Over the chief entrance to the house, are the crests of Sir Stephen and Honor his wife, and between them a motto, difficult of application, at least, to his secular condition.
RIEN TROVANT, GAINERAY TOVT.
formerly called the first court, appear to have been the HOSPITIUM, which, in the records of the Abbey, is said to have been built by the Abbot, John de Cancia; though, either from the rule of the order enjoining a severe character of architecture, or the inferior consequence of the building, displays none of the scientific progress that was rapidly developed in his time. In the basement story of the eastern house, 73 feet long and 23 feet wide, and vaulted from a row of five pillars, is an apartment which may have been the dininghall of the guests; and in the upper apartments of each, a domestic character is indicated by fire-places, with flues curiously constructed, in the gables.
To the east of these baildings stands a wall containing the chief doorway, and three upper windows of a structure built above the Skell, which may have been the Infirmary, erected also by John de Cancia. The other walls are destroyed ; but on a recent excavation of such parts of the floor as had not fallen into the river, it was found to have had three aisles, divided by four arches on each side.
The main fabric of the Abbey now engages attention, and the West CLOISTER, being the nearest part of it, will, perhaps, be first entered. It is not less than 300 feet in length, but was built at two different periods; the upper portion, extending from the nave of the church to the porter's lodge, being of the same transition Norman character, very curiously shown in the buttresses ; the rest, forming the ambulatory, or “ Novum Claustrum," built by John de Cancia. Along the outside of the upper part, which was once divided into store-houses, has been a pent-house, communicating, like the cloister, by a large and handsome doorway with the church. The large octagonal stone basin, in the east aisle, has originally been a lavatory, but converted into a cider mill.
Above the cloisters, and extending its whole length, was the Monks' DORMITORY, divided into forty cells by wooden partitions, which left a passage down the middle, lighted by a large window at the south end, and, by night, by a great cresset or lamp. At the south-west corner are the walls of two spacious gard-robes, communicating with the dormitory, and placed conveniently above the river. The dormitory is still approached by the spacious and original stairs winding over the porter's lodge; but the staircase by which the monks descended to their nocturnal offices in the church, is unfortunately walled up.
The nave-a good plain example of the Transition Norman period -exhibits only, on each side, both of the clerestory and the aisles, a succession of eleven bays, divided by broad and shallow pilasters, and occupied by as many round-headed lights without shaft or moulding. On entering at the great western door, the effect is
exceedingly solemn and impressive ; the pointed arcade, resting on | massy columns 20 feet high and 16 feet in circumference, without
the relief of a triforium intervening between them and the plain splayed windows above. The great west window was introduced by Abbot Darnton, in the place of two or three plain Norman lights, surmounted probably by a round one in the gable, and has a gallery in the base, whence processions might be viewed. Above the outside of this window is a niche supported by the figure of a bird, holding a crosier, and perched on a tun, from which issues a label inscribed “dern 1494.” If the bird represents an eagle, it may, as the symbol of St. John, perhaps signify the Christian name of Darnton ; but if the sculptor thus took leave to represent a thrush, a rebus on the name of the founder, Thurstan, was also intended.
Each bay of the aisles has been covered by a pointed but transverse vault, divided by semi-circular arches, of which the imposts are placed considerably lower than those of the pillars to which they are attached. Nearly the whole of the eastern half of these aisles has been divided by lattices into chapels, of which there are some indications in the painted devices and matrices of their furniture, traceable on the piers. There has been, also, a screen across the nave at the seventh pillar eastward.
The transept was built in the same transition period of architecture as the nave, but manifests so little progressive or pointed character, that it might have been considered, particularly outside, as pure Norman. At its intersection with the nave, was, originally, a tower, though elevated probably not more than one of its squares above the roof. All trace of it, however, is now lost, except a fragment of its arches, which has been pointed and moulded, at the south-east and north-west angles. It was, probably, the insecure condition of this tower, incapable of such considerable improvement as, unfortunately, was effected at Kirkstall, which led to the erection of the present magnificent substitute; since Abbot Huby was obliged to disfigure the transept by the erection of a massy buttress against its south-east pier, and also to construct an arch under that of the adjacent aisle of the Choir. The corbels of its hood mouldings display, on shields, Three Horse Shoes, the arms of the Abbey, and his initials, M H., surmounted by a mitre enfiled by a crosier.
Two melancholy chapels, divided by a thick wall and covered with a barrel, but pointed, vault, abut on the east side of each wing of the transept, and occupy a space, which, if we may judge from the like arrangement at Kirkstall, would not have been transformed into the less monastic form of aisles, even at a more advanced architectural period. Their gloomy character has also been increased, ! at the north end, by walling up the arches of the transept in order to give increased stability to the new tower. In the chapel that adjoins it—dedicated, it appears from a mouldering inscription, to St. Peter—there has been placed, within recollection, under a broken monumental arch in the north wall, the effigy of a cross-legged warrior in chain-mail, bearing a shield, charged with a lion rampant, and said, by tradition, to represent the great Baron Roger de Mowbray, who died at Ghent in 1298, and was buried in this church. There is placed also in this chapel a sculptured tablet representing St. John, and another of an evangelist, undistinguished by a symbol,