Page images

Craven, and an alphabetical list of the servants of the monastery, and their several occupations.

At a period when the use of money, as a circulating medium, was extremely limited, the statements of account which occupy the greater part of the book, present some singular instances of the modes by which its absence was supplied. Not only did the Abbot receive all kinds of farming produce, such as corn, malt, cattle, butter and cheese, in part of payment, but also linen and woollen cloth and other articles of manufacture. These he paid again to the creditors of the Abbey; and the natural inference is fully corroborated that to manage such a system, even with tolerable success, a greater amount of energy and worldly shrewdness was required than many persons now supposed was to be found within the walls of a Convent. The great difficulty of making even small payments in specie is very strongly marked and there are several instances where the Bursar had to use some activity, and to ride far and long, after the fashion of country tradesmen of the present day, to raise a comparatively trifling sum that was urgently required. On the 7th leaf from the end of the MS. will be found the detailed result of the joint endeavours of the Bursar and Swynton among the tenants in Craven, to raise in cattle, sheep, money, or whatever they could obtain, the sum of 97. to be paid " Thomæ Clapham," to whose name the ominous addition of "Ballivo" is appended; and on the 9th leaf, in the same direction, a note to the effect that 14 pieces of lead had been disposed of, to a merchant at Ripon, in partpayment of 20l., which he had advanced to the Abbot when he was about to travel to London.

A great variety of amusing and interesting incidents occur in the account of monies paid by Swynton during his absence from home, and his transactions with different persons, as the following instances may shew.-In 1453, the Abbot, on his journey to Harlsey castle, near Northallerton, to baptise a child of Sir James Strangwayes, lost his way, and gave a boy called Tyrwhyte, twopence for directing his path through a wood.-A young man called Currer, " pro labore suo cum uno equo, ad monasterium " was rewarded with twopence.-Two men who drove cattle from Allerdale to Fountains, were paid a shilling.An oblation of fourpence was made to the church of Ripon for obtaining the iron (of St. Wilfrid) for burning the cattle at Warsall.-Swynton's expenses at Brimham and in Nidderdale, surveying the cattle for four days, amounted to eightpence.-At a meeting at Ripon, eightpence was paid for sweet wine for the Abbot, who otherwise seems to have preferred it.-Six salt-fish

bought for the Abbot's kitchen cost twenty-pence. The expenses of the Abbot's journey to Middleham, to speak with Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, victor of the battle of St. Albans, twenty-two-pence. And at Ripon, fourpence, when, attended by Swynton, he baptised the son of Roger Ward of Givendale.The minstrels of the Lord Poynings have twelvepence given to them.-In 1455, Swynton overlooks the planting of a hedge at "Mildeby" near Boroughbridge, between the tenement of the Abbey and the land of John Ingleby.-The expenses of a sheep shearing, eightpence. When the Prior of Newminster brought Abbot Greenwell a present of "selfysch" he was rewarded with two ells of black cloth of the value of eight shillings.-Swynton bought a "felt-hatt" "pro equitacione at a cost of tenpence. -A comparative idea of the value of their money may be formed from the fact that in 1456 wheat was sold at 48. the quarter; rye, 3s. 4d.; barley, 38.; oats, 1s. 4d. A good cow was worth ten shillings. A carpenter could earn fivepence a day. A man thrashing wheat, threepence per quarter; barley, twopence ; green peas, 24d.; grey peas, twopence; oats, twopence.

A remarkable facts is recorded on the 99th folio of the M.S., which when made public will doubtless lead to some speculation among historical students. One William Hudson, a blacksmith at Aldfield, in enumerating the deductions which he claimed from his account, "petit pro medicinis emptis filio domini Clifford xx". The particular date is not mentioned, but from the heading of the "Compotus actus" it would be in the 33rd Henry VI., 1454-5. If the circumstance occurred before the 22nd of May, 1454, the patient might have been the "Blackfaced Clifford," whose father was slain on that day at the battle of St. Albans. But if by the "Lord Clifford " was intended the ferocious "Butcher" himself, then the incident is rendered even still more interesting by the probability that the son was none other than the "Shepherd Lord," then an helpless infant, whose subsequent concealment among the peasantry has been immortalized by Wordsworth. In either case it must remain a matter of curious speculation why a child of the all-powerful house of Clifford was left penniless in the cottage of a blacksmith, under the very shadow of the Abbey, and why the Abbot was afterwards requested to pay for medicines; which in the case of "Black-faced Clifford," perhaps protracted his life to become a curse to his fellow creatures, and a pestilent instrument of desolation.

(There is a description of the Ingilby MSS. in the Sixth Report of the Commission for Historical MSS.)

June, 1864.

(J. R. W.)



At the recent visit of the British Archæological Institute to the ruins of Fountains abbey-although the care and attention with which that celebrated structure is preserved, elicited the praise and commendation of the several distinguished members then present-there appeared to be a unanimous persuasion that the development not only of its architectural, but also of its picturesque beauties, is not fully and satisfactorily attained; and that it was incumbent on me, as local secretary here, and also as one who has devoted considerable research to the history and architecture of the abbey, to make such a representation of the case to the Central Committee of the Institute, as might enable it (if it was considered to be within the scope of that influence it proposes to direct for the maintenance of our National Antiquities) to draw the attention of the noble owner to the fact, in a manner that might be deemed more respectful and persuasive than the mere suggestion of a solitary individual.

In order to explain why such a necessity exists, and how it was occasioned, after all the care and expense that, it is well known has been, during many years, bestowed on the abbey, it will be necessary to suggest a few remarks on its history subsequent to its dissolution.

It will be remembered that, at the time of the Reformation, the abbey of Fountains was one of the most magnificent and extensive structures, as well as one of the most powerful and wealthy monastic foundations in the kingdom. The church and the domestic offices had been built at an early period, when an accession of princely grants and donations had enabled the abbots to gratify their architectural inclinations, on the noblest scale, while the solidity of the Anglo-Norman mode of construction had secured both against hasty reform or dangerous decay. The space that remained covered by them, when their utility was at an end, is said to have been about twelve acres. After the surrender of the house, the work of destruction was not urged with that demoniac fury that was usually displayed at other

(1) A Paper addressed to the Central Committee of the Archæological Institute in 1846. It was this Paper which originated the Excavations at Fountains Abbey.

places; and, generally speaking, little more than the timber and lead of the roofs, the glass of the windows, and the internal fittings and furniture were removed. Immediately after the expulsion of the monks, the king granted the site of the abbey, with many of its possessions, to Sir R. Gresham of London, who, being non-resident, and having few tenants in the immediate neighbourhood, could not convert it into a stone quarry; while its sequestered situation protected it from the sacrilegious hands of the inhabitants of Ripon and the adjacent country. In 1596, it was sold by Gresham's family to Sir Stephen Procter, who, being attracted by the beauty of the place, could unfortunately, think of no other materials wherewith to build his mansion, than the walls of the monastery. For this purpose however, I would believe he took little more than the outbuildings; and the venerable and picturesque appearance that the house has now assumed, accords so well with the surrounding scene, that it materially mitigates the regret with which the antiquary would otherwise contemplate so wide a scene of spoliation. After Procter's decease, the estate passed restlessly through various hands, none of whom resided on the spot, or cared for the preservation of the abbey; until, in the middle of the seventeenth century, it was carried by a heiress into the family of Messenger, who, if they did not sufficiently protect it, did as much as their Romish creed would allow, without exciting suspicion, to preserve it from violence and sacrilege. During their possession, and in 1682, Thoresby, the historian of Leeds, recorded in his Diary that he saw it "full of trees in the very body of it;" and in this condition, "a noble wreck in ruinous perfection," it appears, from drawings and prints, to have remained until Mr. Messenger, in 1767, sold it to William Aislabie, Esq., the owner of the adjoining estate of Studley Royal. Mr. Aislabie had, naturally, long coveted its possession, as an invaluable addition to his celebrated Grounds, and immediately on obtaining possession, unfortunately set about, in the wretched taste of his time, to harmonize the crumbling and desolated relics of antiquity, with the trim neatness of his velvet lawns and gay parterres. The tourist Gilpin, of Boldre, visited the abbey when these operations were in progress, and in his "Observations relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, made in the year 1772," has left an indignant commentary on what he had not patience to describe sufficiently. "A few fragments," says he, "scattered around the body of a ruin are proper and picturesque. They are proper, because they account for what is defaced; and they are picturesque, because

they unite the principal part with the ground in which union the beauty of composition in a good measure depends. But here they were thought rough and unsightly, and fell a sacrifice to neatness. Even the Court of Justice' was not spared, though a fragment probably as beautiful as it was curious.

"In the room of these detached parts, which were the proper and picturesque embellishments of the scene, a gaudy temple is erected, and other trumpery wholly foreign to it.

"But not only the scene is defaced, and the outworks of the ruin violently torn away; the main body of the ruin itself is at this very time under the alarming hand of decoration.

"When the present proprietor made his purchase, he found the whole mass of ruin-the Cloisters," the Abbey Church, and the Hall3-choked with rubbish. The first work therefore, was to clear and open. And something in this way might have been done with propriety, for we see ruins sometimes so choked that no view of them can be obtained ......

"But the restoration of parts is not enough: ornaments must be added, and such incongruous ornament, as disgrace the scene are disgracing also the monastery. The monks' garden is turned into a trim parterre and planted with flowering shrubs; a view is opened through the great window to some ridiculous I know not what (Anne Bolein" I think they call it) that is planted in the valley; and in the central part of the abbey, a circular pedestal is raised out of the fragments of the old pavement, on which is erected a mutilated heathen statue!"6

From these remarks, which are corroborated by several other accounts, that I have heard, and partially by existing appear

(1) I think that Mr. Gilpin was mistaken in his appropriation of this building; for what has been immemorially styled, and bears all the internal evidences of, the Court Room, still remains in substantial condition-a fine vaulted apartment, 42ft. 7in. by 22ft.-over the Kitchen. It had an ample staircase leading from the Cloister-court, but it is now choked with rubbish.

(2) It appears from the plan published by Dr. Burton, in his Monasticon Eboracense, that before Mr. Aislabie obtained possession, the portion of the Cloisters north of the entrance to the Quadrangular Court, was divided into three apartments, having separate communications with two walled courts in front, of which no apparent vestiges remain.

(3) The Refectory is perhaps intended by this name. The bases of the four columns that divided this noble apartment (109ft. by 464ft.), and are indicated in Burton's plan, have disappeared.

(4) The Cloister Court, 125 feet square, whence a considerable, and the only remaining, portion of the arcade that supported the penthouse, was swept away. The present is not the original level; and several monumental stones are, I believe, concealed under the grass plot.

(5) A mutilated stone, now laid in one of the northern side chapels of the choir.

(6) I presume that this was one of the stray Arundelian marbles. Mr. Aislabie sometime inhabited one of the newly built houses in Arundel-street, the site where they were once deposited, and is said to have found the torso of a statue in his cellar, which he removed to Studley. All recollection of it is now lost; but when the members of the Institute visited Fountains on the 24th of July last, I drew their attention to the mutilated fragments, of which I apprehend it was composed.

« PreviousContinue »