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adorned the lamp they forgot not the light. Within twenty years after their settlement at Fountains, seven monasteries had been founded at their suggestion, and received their first establishment of inmates from this place. Newminster, in Northumberland, was, as they termed it, their eldest daughter ; and thence, again, shortly went out monks for the foundation of Pipewell in Northamptonshire, Sawley in Craven, and Roche in the West Riding of this county. Kirkstede Abbey, in Lincolnshire,' and Kirkstall Abbey, near Leeds, were founded by the counsel of the abbot of Fountains. The abbeys of Louth-park4 and Vaudey5 in Lincolnshire, Woburn in Bedfordshire, and Melsa? in Holderness, were all colonized and constructed by men from this celebrated institution-facts that should be remembered whilst viewing or investigating their remains. The fame of the house even brought hither, in the year 1146, a Norwegian bishop, who persuaded a requisite number of the monks to accompany him to his own country, where they founded a monastery at Lisa, which became a great blessing to the barbarous people.
It is unnecessary to continue these remarks, premised only for those unacquainted with the early position and influence of the house ; or to enter on that general explanation of the structure, which will be better understood when we shall have adjourned to the spot. Before, however, I narrate the discoveries that have recently added so much to the interest of the abbey, it will be convenient to give a brief history of the building since it was desecrated and left to decay, and to allude to circumstances that have retarded the discovery until the present time.
At the period, then, of the Reformation, the Abbey of Fountains was one of the most noble and extensive structures, as well as one of the most influential aud wealthy foundations in the kingdom. The far-famed sanctity of its earliest members had placed such an amount of temporal wealth at their disposal, as to have enabled them to determine the original plan and proportions of the house on the grandest scale; while the solidity of the Norman style, in which it was constructed, secured them against hasty reform or considerable decay. As they were designed so they remained, with few exceptions, until the time when the institution was dissolved. After the surrender of the abbey, in November, 1539, the building escaped immediate and
(1) Mon. Ang. vol. i. p. 801.
wilful violence, and, generally speaking, little more than the · roofs, glass, and internal fittings and furniture, were removed.
Soon after the expulsion of the monks, and on the 1st of October, 1540, the king granted the site of the house and many of its possessions to Sir Richard Gresham, of London, whose tenants had no occasion to convert it into a quarry, while its sequestered situation protected it from the mischievous hands of the people of Ripon and the adjacent country. In 1596, it was sold by Gresham's family, to Stephen, afterwards Sir Stephen Procter, of Warsal, in the parish of Ripon, who, being attracted by the beauty of the site, resolved, a few years after, to fix his future residence here. The abbot's house, however, had either become so dilapidated, by fifty years of neglect, or so objectionable and offensive in its arrangement to the taste of the man, or of his times, that a new site was chosen, a few hundred yards west of the abbey, and a mansion erected, whose venerable and picturesque appearance now accords so well with the seclusion and tranquillity of the scene around, as considerably to mitigate the regret with which we must contemplate the spoliation it has occasioned. In a valuation and description of the estate,' made, perhaps, twenty years afterwards, it is said that this house cost nearly 30001., notwithstanding the opportunitie of stone got at hand out of the abbey wall ;” the inference being certain, that the abbot's house was that part of the edifice whence the chief portion of it was obtained. After a life of ambitious speculation, pursued with so little rectitude of conduct as to have been visited by legal punishment and parliamentary censure, Procter, sinking deeper and deeper in debt, and harassed by London moneylenders, died, before the year 1619, leaving his last delusive hope inscribed above the portal of his hall, RIEN TROVANT GAINERAY TOVT. The abbey estate, mortgaged, statute-stapled, and encumbered in every conceivable manner, then passed quickly through the hands of various speculators or land jobbers, none of whom resided on the spot, or, of course, were interested in the preservation of the ruins, until the middle of the seventeenth century, when it was carried, by an heiress, into the respectable family of Messenger, of Newsham, who adhered to the Roman Catholic faith, and ever after their acquisition of the estate resided at Fountains Hall. During their possession, and in the year 1682, Thoresby, the historian of Leeds, saw it, “ full of trees in the very body of it,” and in this condition it appears to have remained,
(1) Harl, MS. 6853, p. 451.
until John Michael Messenger, Esq., was prevailed on, by persuasion which he most painfully and ceaselessly regretted until his death, to dispose of it, in 1767, to William Aislabie, Esq., owner of the adjacent estate of Studley Royal. Mr. Aislabie had long coveted the inclusion of the abbey in the celebrated pleasure-grounds which his father had formied adjacent to the site, and his acquisition of it has not only been fortunate for himself or his successors, but for all lovers of antiquity or of art; since the wealth and liberality of the house of Studley have secured all the attention which the gradual decay or casual accidents of so vast a pile constantly demand ; and its inclusion in that far-famed domain has protected it from wanton injury and desecration. Unfortunately, however, instead of contenting himself with the sufficiently arduous task of mitigating the formal character of the scene through which the abbey and its untutored sylvan accessories were to be approached, he attempted, in the wretched fashion of his time, to assimilate the remains of one of our most majestic and imposing monuments of the intelligence and piety of the past, with the trim neatness of terraces and statues, formal avenues, shaven hedges, mock temples, and gay parterres; to root up fragments of the building, which he fancied had never been connected ; to supply what he thought was wanting ; to make the crooked straight, and the rough plain. The tourist Gilpin, of Bol re, visited the abbey when these operations were in progress, and in his “ Observations relative chiefly to picturesque beauty made in the year 1773," has left on them this just and indignant commentary. “A few fragments 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 great 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.”
Mr. Gilpin was, certainly, mistaken in his appropriation of the building to which this tantalizing passage alludes, for “the hall of pleas,” in which the court of the Liberty of Fountains was held, within memory, still remains entire, and with all the characteristics of its purpose, above the kitchen, in the abbey.
“In the room of these detached parts,” continues Mr. Gilpin, “ which are the proper and picturesque embellishments of the scene, a gaudy temple is erected, and other trumpery, wholly foreign to it.”
stainly, mizing pass Liberty, with all bey.
“But not only is the scene 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.”
7 When the present proprietor made his purchase, he found this whole mass of ruin -the cloisters, the abbey church, and the hall (by which I suppose is meant either the chapter house or the refectory) choked with rubbish. The first work, therefore, was to clear and open. And something of this kind 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; ornament must be added : and such incongruous ornaments as disgrace the scene are disgracing also the monastery. The monk's garden (that is the cloister court) is turned into a trim parterre, and planted with flowering shrubs ; a view is opened through the great (east) window to a ridiculous—I know not what-Anne Boleyn,' 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.?
From these remarks, which are too fully corroborated by evidence on the spot, it seems that Mr. Aislabie's chief object was not merely to obtain an uniform and level surface in and around the building, but also to subdue, remove, or conceal, such portions of the walls as, either by poverty of elevation, rudeness of form, or fragmentary connexion, could not be grouped with the main fabric. Thus, among other operations which cannot here be particularly defined, it is stated, in the “ Gentleman's Magazine” for 1820, that a portion of the pillars of the choir were actually pulled down, the superincumbent clerestory having fallen long before. It is probable that he removed also the greatest part of the reredos of the high altar, of which a great portion appears in an unmeaning gallery which he erected under the great east window of the Lady Chapel, and the rest scattered in different apartments of the abbey. But an injury, still more lamentable, was occasioned by the indiscriminate disposal of the rubbish with which every part of the building was filled. For, having removed a large portion of it for the formation of walks connecting the abbey with the garden, and the reduction of broken ground and intractable foundations around the exterior,
(1) A rude, but very singular, white marble effigy, now laid in “the Mowbray Chapel,” in
(2) Part of one of the Arundelian Marbles, of which several fragments were found by Mr. Aislabie, in the cellar of his house in Norfolk-street, London, the site of the great collector's garden,
heir graceful propeether with the gen The bases
he brought the rest to a common level in each apartment or division of the fabric, and covered all with one oblivious sward. Not only were pavements, sepulchral monuments, bases of columns, indications of altars, chantry-chapels, screens, and many other interesting objects and arrangements thus entirely concealed, but the principal constituent members of the structure were robbed of their graceful proportion and lofty elevation, and they have since been viewed, together with the general effect which they pervade, from a false and artificial level. The bases of the great Norman columns of the nave were, then, wholly sunk ; the platform of the choir confounded with the aisles depressed on each side; the arcade of the great cloister court levelled with the quadrangle within its enclosure; an artificial platform was intruded into the refectory ;-in short, for the eye of one not conversant with the fabric, doubts, anomalies, and falsities were created, which have become alike difficult to be corrected or to be comprehended. The restoration of the true level is, indeed, still practicable ; but a great portion of the valuable evidence to be derived, during an original excavation, has been thus irrecoverably lost. Yet, after all, it is consolatory to reflect that, in these operations, Mr. Aislabie often declined the officious advice of Kent and Brown, and that a more complete excavation did not take place at a time when there was neither inclination to observe nor ability to record the results.
After the decease of Mr. Aislabie, many of the absurdities he had perpetrated were considerably modified, or gradually suppressed ; but no reduction or investigation of the rubbish was attempted, till 1790, when Mr. John Martin, of Ripon, anxious to discover the tombs of the abbots, said in “ Burton's Monasticon” to have been buried in the chapter-house, persuaded the gardener of Mrs. Allanson, the non-resident proprietress, to institute a search, which led to the clearance of that apartment. This, however, was but the exchange of one evil for another ; for though the tombs and the bases of the columns of the aisles were discovered, yet the preservation of the very curious Early English pavements was neglected, and the rubbish and remains of the vault merely transferred to the exterior of the building, which, until the last few weeks, consequently lost seven feet of its elevation.
Such was the treatment which the abbey had received within the period of recollection. During its possession by Mrs. Lawrence, from 1808 to 1845, many necessary and extensive repairs were supplied by a prompt and liberal hand. Among