Friday, 16 October 2009

Fountains Abbey, Nr Ripon

Fountains Abbey
Nr Ripon
North Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey lays about three miles South West of Ripon in North Yorkshire, on the North banks of the River Skell. Founded in 1132, Fountains is one of the largest Cistercian abbey in England. The foundation of the abbey came about after a group of monks from St Mary's of York, opted for a harsher, more disciplined way of life. They were exiled from York because of their 'reformist views' and taken into the protection of Thurstan, Archbishop of York. Thurstan provided the monks with land near to his manor at Ripon, and they began to build and farm on land on the banks of the river Skell. The thirteen monks were welcomed into the Cistercian order in 1132, but it appears that not all went to plan. Money was in short supply, and on several occasions it looked as if the new settlement would have to be abandoned....until some wealthy benefactors contributed finances to the monks. By the late 12th century, the monks at Fountains Abbey held huge swathes of land in many areas.

View of the abbey from the West. The Guesthouse complex can be seen at the right of this photo.

The building of the abbey began in earnest between 1132 and 1134, with stone buildings replacing the original wooden structures. Remains of some of these early timber buildings were unearthed during recent excavations. Today, the remains at Fountains, are amongst the most important ecclesiastical ruins anywhere in the world, and the valley in which the abbey sits, has been classified as a World Heritage Site. The remains that can be seen today, consist of the oldest surviving Cistercian water mill, the 12th century West range of buildings, the 16th century tower built by Marmaduke Huby, two guest wings and a host of other buildings.

The above photo shows a view down the nave.

This is an excellent resource for all things Fountain Abbey...from photos to documents about the abbey's history and its eventual demise.

The abbey was occupied for nearly four hundred years, until Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1539...when the lands and the wealth that the Cistercians had built over this long successful period of time, was handed to the Crown. The deed surrendering the abbey and its contents to the Crown, was signed on the 26th of November 1539...and it appears that the order to vacate and surrender was carried out almost immediately. The abbey lands, totalling some 500 acres, were sold on the 1st of October 1540, to Sir Richard Gresham, one time Lord Mayor of London, merchant and supplier of velvets, arras and satins to Henry VIII.

An inventory of the abbey, valued its wealth at a staggering £1115 18s 2d, making it by far and away the riches Cistercian abbey in the whole of England. Other items included vast amounts of gold and silver, bejeweled mitres and plate and chalices, as well as holy relics including a piece of the true cross of Jesus. The lead from the abbey's roofs would also have been highly sought after. The buildings at Fountains were initially spared the demolition that had befallen other monasteries and abbeys, as Henry had intended Fountains to become the new Bishopric which would have extended over Richmondshire. As it was though, the new Bishopric was eventually based at Chester. In 1540, Henry ordered Sir Richard Gresham, the new owner of the abbey and its lands, to make the abbey's buildings uninhabitable so that no new religious orders could establish themselves there. All the timber buildings and finely decorated wooden screens were burned in furnaces specially built on sight for this task, all the glass was removed from the windows, with the lead being melted down along with that from the roofs and pipes. Some of the glass from Fountains mysteriously found its way to York and Ripon, where it is preserved to this day.

This is the link to the Fountains Abbey website, and includes details of the parks and lands surrounding the abbey today.

The above photo shows a view looking down the Cellarium, where food was stored.

The monks from Fountains, now without a home and a job, were either pensioned off or offered jobs elsewhere, with the abbot, Marmaduke Bradley, receiving a yearly income of £22 plus a single payment of £100...a considerable amount of money in the 16th century.

Today, the abbey is a favourite of school field trips, offering hours of exploration. Photos courtesy of Charles Jeffries.

Monday, 5 October 2009

St Mary - Female effigy, Whitbeck

St Mary
Nr Millom

This weather worn effigy of a woman can be found against the North wall at the west end of the nave.

It looks to me as if it may have been outside in the church yard for a time, such is the worn nature of this stone artifact. It probably dates from the early 14th century, and depicts a woman with her arms crossed across her chest, wearing a flowing gown.

St Columba - Cross shaft, Warcop

St Columba

This fine example of a church-cross can be found on the South side of the church just by the path. It is in itself, Grade II listed and is probably medieval.

The shaft of the cross, missing its arms\top, is mounted in a large square plinth.

St John the Baptist - Grave slabs etc, Tunstall

St John the Baptist

Some great fragments here at Tunstall church. A small collection of broken grave slabs near the tower, and this fascinating Roman votive stone. The stone was originally found at Burrow nearby, where there was a Roman fort. It was removed from the fort by the Reverend Richard Rauthmell in the 18th century. It was the mounted into the left jamb of the most Eastern window of the North aisle during the 1907 period of restoration. For some bizarre reason though, it was mounted on its side....I've flipped the image so that it's easy to see.

The stone contains a dedication to Aesculepius, the Roman\Pagan god of medicine, and also to Hygeia, goddess of healing.

The photo above and the one below, show a small collection of stonework that can be found at the foot of the tower. The two larger stones in the top photo are obviously grave slabs, but I'm unable to date them.

The two left hand stones in the the photo above are probably the remains of broken grave slabs, again, undated, whilst the other two to the right of the photo, look like broken finials from the top of the tower.

St Oswald - Cross shaft and base, Ravenstonedale

St Oswald

Here's another fine example of a cross shaft and its base in the church yard at Ravenstonedale. This cross shaft and its base are both Grade II listed, and, according English Heritage, may be pre-conquest, ie, may date from before 1066.

The shaft and base only lay about twenty five feet to the South of the church. The cross shaft is fitted with a brass sundial plate with a date of 1700 on it.

St Andrew - Grave slabs etc, Penrith

St Andrew

The church of St Andrew at Penrith, is a fascinating building....possibly starting out life as a  church with a thick walled, defensive tower and then being extended over the years until it became the beautiful Victorian church we see today. The building is littered with architectural gems, including effigies, grave slabs and pre-conquest grave stones. The two effigies shown below, can be found at the head of the stair case in the tower.

Above. Effigy of Anthony Hutton, dating from sometime after his death in 1637

The effigy above, represents Anthony Hutton of nearby Hutton Hall in Penrith. He was Master in Chancery, and died in 1637. When he died, his wife Elizabeth had the two effigies made, and placed in the North Choir of the church right next to the family pews. Elizabeth survived her husband by 36 must have been a little strange sitting next to her memorial every time she visited church!

The two effigies are made from tufa stone commonly found around Conisbrough near Doncaster in South Yorkshire. When they were in their original location in the church, they were protected by an iron grill bearing an inscription that read: "Her lies interred Anthony Hutton Esq. who was a grave, faithful and judicious Counsellor at Law, and one of the Masters of the High Court of Chancery, son and heir of that renowned Sir William Hutton, of Penrith, and was matched in to the noble family of Sir Thomas Burdett of Bramcourt, in the county of Warwick, Baronet , by the marriage of his vertuous sister Elizabeth Burdett, whose pious care and religious bounty hath erected the marble tomb to perpetuate the memory of such a worthy Commonwealth man, and so dear a husband, who died the 10th day of July, 1637"

Above. Effigy of Elizabeth Hutton, again, dating from sometime around 1637

Beneath her own tomb and effigy, the memorial read: "Here lyes the Portraiture of Elizabeth Hutton, the wife of the lately deceased Anthony Hutton, who, through living, desired thus to be placed in token of her union with him, interred, and of her own expected mortality"  In 1722, whilst the church was being rebuilt, the effigies were removed to Hutton Hall for safe keeping. They were then taken to Nunwick Hall at Great Salkeld where they suffered mutilation at the hands of unknown vandals. They then found their way to Great Salkeld church in 1894, and finally back to St Andrews in 1897, when they were housed in the gallery overlooking the tower staircase.

St Andrew's collection of pre-conquest crosses and hog-back stones has to be one of the most well known in the county of Cumbria. There are two crosses, both intact but for their cross heads, and four hog-back tomb stones. The carvings on each of the stones are in good condition, despite their age and the fact that they've been subject to countless harsh Cumbrian winters.

Above. The Giant's Grave.

The crosses are both around eleven feet tall, and stand at either end of the Giant's Grave, with the hog-back stones placed between them. The cross shafts and the hog back stones all date from slightly different periods. The oldest of the two cross shafts dates from sometime around 950AD, whilst the other dates from around 1000 AD. The hog back stones all date from around 950 AD. Local tradition has it that during the 17th century, the grave was opened, and the bones of a warrior with his broad sword were discovered buried beneath the stones. There seems to be no information indicating what became of this discovery.

The grave is no longer in its original position, having been moved and re-aligned with the church during the 1887 restoration. At this time, the cross shafts and the hog back stones were all re-mounted on new plinths. In 1722, when the church was undergoing a major rebuild, the church wardens decided that the grave should be broken up and discarded.....however, and luckily for us!! the population of Penrith were in uproar at the desecration of this ancient monument. Some of the hog back stones did suffer some damage at this point in time though, and the metal strips holding a couple of the stones together bear witness to this attempt at destroying the grave.

Of the four hog-back stones, the one shown below is probably the best preserved. The carvings are still fairly fresh and clear, despite the obvious repairs that have been carried out.

The stone shown below is a little more weather worn, but even so, the carvings are still in good condition.

The next stone, shown below, is now smooth with no remains of any carvings left.

And finally....this stone looks as if it may have lost some of its 'top-curve' and has had some significant repairs done to it. Despite this though, the carvings are just and so visible.

A good view, below, of the Giant's Grave.

Another good view of the Giant's Grave. The Giant's Grave is said, local tradition would have us believe, to be the last resting place of Owen Caesarius, King of Cumbria from 920 to 937AD. The hog-back stones are said to represent wild boar that King Owen killed in nearby Inglewood Forest.

The grave slab shown below, can be found in the porch (if I remember rightly!?) and is carved from very coarse almost white sandstone. The photo doesn't do it much justice I'm afraid, but the cross head depicted here combines a ring head with bracelet forms all within a circle from which four leaves project outwards. The cross shaft has stylised leaves on either side. This slab most likely dates from the late 12th century.

Above. Possibly 12th century grave slab.

The slab shown below probably dates from the 14th century, and has most likely been used as a door threshold at some point. The chamfer on the left hand side of the slab, along with the large amount of wear and tear on the left also, points to the stone bearing a large amount of use.

Above. Possible 14th century grave slab.

The design on this slab, shows a cross with an eight armed ring head with fleur-de-lys terminals, with a separate eight armed rosette type pattern in the centre. The emblem seen on the right of the slab is probably a chalice, with an unidentified rectangular emblem on the left hand side just and so visible. The chalice was a symbol used to indicate that the burial was that of a priest. The base has been so badly worn as to be almost smooth and devoid of any pattern.

St James - Grave slabs and crosses etc, Great Ormside

St James
Great Ormside

One of my favourite churches, St James is a great site with Norman and medieval architecture, viking burials and the curious tower...possibly a fortified building erected upon an early medieval ring work...and built next to a late medieval pele tower. The church and the church yard are littered with grave slabs and other snippets of archaeological interest.

The cross shaft, shown below, lays about five metres South of the tower, and is quite badly damaged at the top. The base into which it is mounted seems at odd with the smooth finish of the shaft...I wonder if they were not originally together.

I'm not sure what the photo below shows. This small remnant is situated high up on the tower's wall...I think it could be a very small two light window, either blocked, or else moved from its original position and remounted here.

This brightly coloured orange artifact is mounted in the wall of the South porch. There is a line of very faint lozenge patterns carved into the areas above and below the hole, with two shafts either side. It is thought that it could date from the 12th century (or possibly earlier) and that it may be part of a stoup, a small stone basin for keeping holy water in.

The following photo shows an undated grave slab, which lays about eight metres South of the chancel outside in the church yard. There doesn't appear to be any patter carved into this stone, other than the letter F.

The following photo shows the head of what may have been a free standing cross, or a mounted in the external wall of the East wall of the vestry. Possibly dating from sometime in the 12th century, it retains most of its left and right arms, a damaged upper arm, and has 6 small holes carved faintly into its face. To the right of this remnant, there is also a red sandstone stone mounted into the wall...this time with zig zag patterns carved into its face. I've not been able to date this item as yet.

This grave slab (below) is mounted into the external face of the North wall of the vestry. It measures just over one metre long, and has an incised fleur-de-lys pattern instead of a cross. You can just about make out the sword carved next to it on the left. It is thought this grave slab may date from the 15th century...other slabs similar to this, and dating from the 15th century, have this design carved into their face...the fleur-de-lys is thought to have represented the Virgin Mary.

This undated pink sandstone slab is now mounted in the internal face of the West wall of the porch. It shows a straight armed cross with a very rough fleur-de-lys. Apparently this stone is very similar to some found at Appleby and Morland churches.

This large grave slab lays in the recess of the blocked South door, outside in the church yard. It has a simple cross formed by four sunk panels.

St John - Grave slab, Newton Reigny

St John
Newton Reigny

There are only two medieval grave slabs here at Newton Reigny. I haven't photographed the biggest one, which measure some two and half by one and half metres.

This photo above shows the second of the two slabs, this one layining in the church yard. There are no visible carvings on its surfaces now, but it has a well defined chamfer to its edges, and possibly dates from the 13th century.

St Edmund - Grave slab, Newbiggin

St Edmund

This tiny church with its over sized chancel, sits behind Newbiggin Hall, a spectacular collection of red sandstone towers and buildings, and was probably the manorial chapel here.

The grave slab shown above, is set in the chancel floor, and is extremely badly worn. The stone has probably been turned around at some point, as the most worn side is now facing the wall. The incised design shows an elaborate cross head with twelve arms, the terminals of which alternate between fleur-de-lys and angular trefoils. This slab probably dates from the latter half of the 14th century.

St Lawrence - Grave slabs and cross shafts etc, Morland

St Lawrence

A beautiful church, St Lawrence posses the only Saxon (or Saxon Norman) tower in the whole of Cumbria. It also posses a good collection of grave slabs and other artifacts.

The photo below shows a sundial, minus its brass dial, mounted on a stepped plinth. It lays around fifteen metres South West of the tower, and probably dates to the 18th century only.

The collection of stones shown below are mounted into a blocked recess, and were probably place here during the restoration of 1896. The most notable stone is at the bottom of this stone collage. It is probably a fragment of the head of a slab with an incised cross and the start of an inscription. Also to be seen here, there are two larger stones, one of which is probably a corbel, and one of which has a finial cross.

This grave slab, now standing upright against the internal face of the East wall of the South transept, bears a carved foliage cross in relief. It most likely dates from the 13th century, and its size, around one metre 2o centimetres, is apparently unusual!!

The photo below, shows part of the base of a slab set in the East wall of the South porch. It shows the relief carving, the stepped base of a cross with a trefoiled arch underneath. This could date from the late 13th century.

This photo shows two stones mounted one above the other. The sandstone contains a simple chevron pattern.

St John the Baptist - Grave slabs, Melmerby

St John the Baptist

There are two grave slabs shown in the following photo...mounted in the floor of the sanctuary. There is actually another one here, but it is out of shot. The slab to the right of the photo, is about four by two feet. Carved in red sandstone, it bears a relief carving of a cross with fleur-de-lys terminals with a ring around the centre of the cross head. It bears a prominent stepped cross base (hidden beneath the chair) and has a sword carved next to the cross shaft. This slab probably dates from the late 14th or early 15th century.

Laying next to it, and partially hidden beneath the alter table, the next slab bears a cross with broad and very rough fleur-de-lys terminals...again rising from a stepped base (not shown here), and also with a sword at its side.

St Wilfred - Grave slabs etc, Melling

St Wilfred

A beautiful church, in a small Lancashire village, probably built within the confines of an early Norman motte and bailey castle....St Wilfred's is a gem. Probably built on the site of a Saxon church, as evidenced by the remains of a Saxon cross (shown below) the church possesses a good number of relics. The small remnant of a cross shaft can be found on one of the church's window sills, and is incredibly detailed.

I think the following photo may show the remains of another ancient cross shaft. It is of a different design to the Saxon portion shown above, and is not as well decorated. Some sources state that this may represent the bottom of a small medieval stone crucifix.

I think this is a Roman tomb stone or votive stone (Please correct me if I'm wrong) It's been difficult to find much information about the many remains found in the church. This is mounted in the porch.

On the outside road facing wall of the West tower, the faint carving of sheers can be seen, just beneath the clock.

This beautiful medieval grave slab has been handily mounted on the inside wall of the porch. It shows a tall cross with fleur-de-lys arms on a stepped base.

The following two grave slabs can be found at the East end of the church, in the floor of the chancel behind the prayer rail.

I can't make out the design carved into the face of the slab shown above. There looks to be two small plaques missing.

The stone shown above, a tall cross with fleur-de-lys arms on a stepped base with an engraved memorial around the edges. Unfortunately, I've not been able to date either of these stones.

St Michael - Hog back stones and cross shafts, Lowther

St Michael

Typically in my haste to photograph this church, I've missed each of the three major grave slabs her at Lowther. I did manage, however, to photograph the hog back stones, cross shaft and sun dial.

The first hog back stone, shown above, is obviously very well worn. It's likely that this example of pre-Norman conquest architecture has been outside for many's weather worn surfaces are nearly blank.

The photo above, shows another hog back stone, in the foreground, and a red sandstone cross shaft above it. The hog back stone once again looks as if it has been at the mercy of the weather, as its surfaces are very weather worn. The cross shaft, now broken in two, has a well preserved Saxon knot motif carved into its surfaces.

The photo above, shows a medieval cross shaft still mounted in its stepped base. Both items are to be found at the South of the church, about twenty feet from the wall of the South Transept.

St Oswald - Grave slabs and a female effigy, Kirkoswald

St Oswald

When Peter Ryder was doing his field research for his book The Medieval Cross Slab Grave Covers in Cumbria, he must have had a nightmare visit to Kirkoswald. The large collection of grave slabs kept outside the church are badly in need of some loving care and attention. All are covered in lichens and moss, making their carvings incredibly difficult to see. The grave slabs are all situated to the left of the North porch....which incidentally still contains some original timbers.

The first slab, shown above, is probably late 14th or early 15th century and has had its base broken off. The design carved into the sandstone, shows a simple cross with a ring around the centre of the head. The terminals are crude fleur-de-lys. To the right of the cross a simple carving of a sword can be seen.

The next slab, shown above, probably dates from the 1200's. The cross carved here is very ornate, with decorated fleur-de-lys within a circle. On the left of the cross's shaft, there is a small square carving, which Peter Ryder indicates is a 'clasped book'. A sword is carved to the right of the cross, with its tip meeting the tongue of a small dragon which is looking up. The lichen is so thick at the base of this slab that the dragon is not really visible. The dragons tail passes under the foot of the cross, and rises again to the left of the cross base.

This double grave slab, shown above is very weather worn, and again thickly covered in lichen . There is an incised line dividing the slab in two, with an identical cross on each side. Both crosses are simple four armed crosses with slim shafts with a small disk shape just beneath the head. Both finish on a stepped base. The cross on the left has a small pair of closed shears to its left, whilst the cross on the right has a small shield to its left, and a plain sword to its right. There are the remains of some inscriptions beneath the bases of both crosses, as well as to the left of the left hand cross and to the right of the right hand cross.

The very broken slab shown above, is probably late medieval. There is a huge piece missing from the top left hand side. What is left has an incised cross with a ring with fleur-de-lys at the terminals. The cross stands on a stepped base, with a short sword to its right.

Another very badly damaged slab, this one, shown above, possibly dates from the 1400's, though it contains a badly weathered inscription with a date probably in the later part of the 15th century. This slab has a simple cross incised on its face, with fleur-de-lys at the terminals of each arm. The cross is mounted on a stepped base, and has a sword carved to its right. There are lines of writing to the left and the right of the cross, so worn now as to be almost unreadable. A 19th century newspaper article stated that the date 1466 could be made out on this stone, as well as the name John Lothaine.

The slab shown above, probably dates from the late 13th century. It is in extremely good condition, with the carvings showing very well through the covering of lichen. This is probably due to the fact that it was, until 1906 kept inside the church, only being removed when the boiler chamber was being dug beneath the church. It was found with the remnants of an oak coffin and a pewter chalice dating from the 14th century. The cross carved into the face of this slab is of a bracelet type with trefoiled buds at the terminals of each arm. The cross is mounted on a stepped base, and has a small pair of shears carved to its right.

The photo above shows a member of the clergy, in flowing robes and with arms clasped across its chest.