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The hall, or principal room of the house, to which this passage led, has been, unquestionably, one of the most spacious and magnificent apartments ever erected in this kingdom; and admirably adapted for the reception of those distinguished barons and their hosts of gentilitial retainers, by whom the abbot was continually visited, and of whose individual presence we have indumerable proofs in the charters and account-books of the abbey. Of this we have triumphant evidence in the fact, that while the hall in the royal palace at Winchester, which was erected at the same period, included the space of 111 ft. by 55 ft. 9 in., and the king likewise directed that the hall in Dublin Castle should contain 120 ft. in length, and 80 ft. in width, the dimension of this hitherto long forgotten hall of the Abbot of Fountains extended to not less than 170 ft. by 70 ft. ; a capacity created, doubtless, rather in satisfaction of the magnificent mind of the founder, than respective of the grand scale of the monastery, or even of the emergency of any purpose to which it could be applied. But not only in the tedious route or the enjoyment of the chace there gathered in this princely ball, Percy and Mowbray, Nevill and Scroop, Marmion and Fitzhugh, Lacy and Romille, Markenfield, Norton, Mallory and Mauleverer, and the bearer of many a noble naine still sounding like trumpet music in the antiquary's ear- leaving their noisy followers, when the bounteous repast was followed by retirement and repose, to select their beds on the straw-strewn floor ; for when monastic austerity admitted of mirthful relaxation, how often did not its walls resound with the jocund applause that greeted the feats of mimics and jesters, or with the strains of the errant minstrel, that never turned to a monastic home without the assurance of a welcome and liberal reception.
It is, therefore, especially painful to find that of a structure that would have been in every respect so deeply interesting, could we bave seen it even in desolation and decay, little more should now rernain than the foundation. The north end of it is level with the sward; a great portion of the west side is scarcely more apparent, and the rest entirely destroyed by the lapse of the river arch below. On the east and south little more than three or four courses remain. Nevertheless, as the ground plan may be easily defined, and important fragments of the superstructure were found within the area, a tolerably accurate idea of its former appearance can be obtained. It has occupied the whole width of the house from north to south, and like the great Norman halls, was divided by pillars into a nave and side aisles, the latter
having circulated round the extremities of the former-a peculiarity not introduced in the king's hall at Winchester, nor in any other house of the period that we are acquainted with, though observable in the eastern and of some conventual churches during the first stage of the Early English style. Each of these pillars, of which there were seven on each side, independent of the corner piers, was a cylinder of thirteen inches in diameter, resting on a square base two feet high, and, together with the four attached marble shafts, was banded with the same material in an elegant manner, to which the rudely foliated capitals of grit stone insufficiently corresponded. Of the arches, which were no doubt pointed, few fragments are left, though sufficient to show the character of the mouldings. The number and position of the lateral windows cannot, unfortunately, be determined by reference to these intercolumniations, in consequence of the irregular abutment of the other apartments ; nor is there sufficient evidence of their particular form—though, from some fragments found *within the area, and in the utter absence of those transomed lights used in halls during this and part of the succeeding century, it is not improbable that they were plain shafted lancets, similar to those which John de Cancia introduced in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey Church. At the south end, indeed, we found the head of one of those double lancets surmounted by a circular aperture used during the Early English period, but it has probably occupied an exceptional place, even if it belonged to this part of the building at all. Of the other parts of the superstructure there is no trace, unless a few stones bearing the mask-like ornament have formed part of a cornice under the parapet.
The chief entrance to the great hall has been torn down to the ground, but the solitary base of the jamb, on the north side, shows it to have been flanked by four cylindrical shafts, with semi-octagonal bases ; so that we may readily judge of its appearance, either from those of the Lady Chapel, or that of the refectory of the abbey. But though this was the chief entrance, it is a singular feature in the arrangement of the house, that it was the only one by which access could be immediately had to the greater number, and perhaps originally, to all the apartmentsa provision that may be thought less indicative of defence than of strict supervision of the inmates, by those who remember how frequently the ancient satirists allude to the abuse of the back doors and private posterns of the monasteries. Even the kitchen had no outer door, though a flagged path has been found leading across the adjacent bank, from the west, towards it.
ently, hass or closet cach
· The nave of the great, hall, has, apparently, never been curtailed of its length; but, in the Tudor period, when a changed condition of society occasioned the erection of a separate refectory, and required the convenience of private apartments, several rooms were formed in the aisles, as may be, partially, traced by the foundation of the partitions. Their particular position will be best ascertained from the plan now exhibited ; but I may remark that, judging from the superior style and size of the fireplace in that which occupies the south-east angle, it was probably used as a parlour by the abbot; and that the floor of that which adjoins the staircase was elevated about two feet above the level of the hall, and partly paved with encaustic tiles; but was, in the absence of sufficient direction, destroyed by the workmen, in their usual anxiety for a uniformity of surface. After the formation of these apartments, it seems, also, they were insufficiently served by the narrow windows of the hall, from the square heads of some Tudor lights that were found within. To those at each angle of the southern extremity a small chamber or closet was attached outside the wall, which, consequently, has been pierced for the entrances ; a fact, which leads me to suppose, that they were used as gard-robes, since there was, apparently, sufficient space otherwise available within the hall, and an ash-heap or dunghill was found enclosed behind that on the west side. But so little, indeed, was this noble apartment appreciated, at the last, that the two compartments behind the detached fireplace, on the east side, were found filled with ashes and charred wood, at the time of the excavation. At the south end, likewise, and near the corner piers, are some fragments of rude wall that have been connected with these alterations, though for what particular purpose cannot now be ascertained : there was found here, too, a limestone trough, which, I am not prepared to say, has not been the alms trough, inasmuch as during the confusion consequent on the destruction of the house, it may have been removed hither from some other portion of the building.
This vast apartment seems only to have been warmed, originally, by three plain but capacious fireplaces—one in the middle of each end, and another isolated or detached from the wall, near the passage to the kitchen. In the apartments formed by its division, additional fireplaces of different sizes were inserted ; but, with the exception that has been named, all so rudely, as to require no further observation than that, in one of those that have been lined with paving tiles, I found a specimen, with the pattern of a stag grazing, that has belonged to some elaborate design of the Perpendicular era.
Of what may have been the chimneys of the hall, there has been found only a large Tudor cap, and some fragments of two of the Early English period.
The other apartments of the house have been arranged on each side of the hall. In the eastern aisle, and immediately opposite the entrance, are a few steps of a staircase six feet seven inches wide, not spiral but straight in its direction, and probably a subsidiary work, leading to the abbot’s chamber. Immediately behind it is an apartment on a lower level than the hall, used perhaps originally as a cellar, but for prudential reasons not yet cleared out. The next apartinent, southward, though separated by a lobby or ante-room from the hall, was the domestic oratory or chapel-461 feet by 23 feet. The foundations of a shallow buttress, on the south side—for the other was encumbered by the superstructure of the storehouse-suggest the idea of two lights, otherwise proved to have been inserted in pairs ; and the base of a window that remains fixed, at the north-east corner, that at least three have occupied the eastern wall. From large portions of these windows, found among the rubbish, it appears that this part of the house was the last that was erected, and that John de Cancia did not probably witness its completion. The style is not only more fully developed, but the dog-tooth ornament, which never occurs in any of the extensive Early English buildings of the abbey, has been introduced here. The stone altar, though it has lost its slab, remains tolerably perfect on a low platform, that has apparently been paved either with large tiles, such as may be seen at the south-west corner of the hall, or slabs of marble ten inches square, alternating, in lozenge form, with white stones, of which some portions still remain attached to the wall. On its north side is a narrow staircase, in the thickness of the wall, that has led, probably, to the abbot's chamber, which may have been placed, and very eligibly, over the storehouses on the north side. Immediately to the west of this staircase door is the base of a work, introduced in the Perpendicular period, and from its size 9 feet by 2 feet, certainly neither part of an Easter sepulchre, nor of the analogium. Near it were found two carved stones, the one representing an heraldic tiger or griffin, chained—the other, a monkey sitting in the hollow of a cornice. On the opposite side of the chapel a shallow piscina, cut in a thin slab, was found detached upon the floor, near a small orifice communicating immediately with the river below.
On the north side of the chapel, but much below its level, is a picturesque apartment, 58ft. by 28ft., still partially vaulted; and which, having been hitherto accessible, from the declivity of the ground, has often been delineated as a “crypt,” though stoutly asserted by the country people to have been the place where the abbot's six milk-white chariot horses were kept.” “ Sex equi ad bigam"-whatever that vehicle may have beenand “ Sex equi ad stabulum domini abbatis," mentioned in an inventory of the live stock of the house at the time of its dissolution, may confirm this singular tradition to the ear; but, judging from the relative position and general appearance of the place, I am disposed to believe that it has been one of the domestic offices, and, particularly, the store-house of the establishment. It has, originally, had no communication with the house, but was entered by an independent door from the abbey-green, though subsequently, a smaller opening was made to a passage or space, at the east end of the chapel, which may have been connected with the kitchen and its offices. A portion of the groined roof of this apartment has fallen within recollection, but sufficient remains, in a single bay, to show that it was of the same character as that which John de Cancia adopted in the new cloister, and the store-house of the abbey, which exhibits the peculiarity of springing gracefully from the pillars, at a small elevation from the ground, without the intervention of abacus or capital. In this place, also, should be noticed two apertures or sinks, expanding in the south wall to the river tunnel on the other side; where, though their outlets are concealed from common observation, one of them—surmounted by a depressed arch -is finished in a manner not unbecoming an Early English fireplace.
Above this place—whatever it may have been-were, most likely, the apartments occupied specially by the abbot; and neither in seclusion from the noise and bustle of the house, nor in variety of prospect down the river dell, or beyond his garden towards the sunlit cliffs and noble buildings of the church, could a retirement have been found in such perfect harmony with a dignified monastic life, nor, let us hope, with the continual sympathies and associations of its occupants.
This range of building has extended so far east as to have included two other apartments; but, as their foundations are barely visible, we cannot satisfactorily conjecture to what use they have been"applied.
In the original plan, a yard about 20ft. wide was introduced on the south side of the chapel, for the purpose of serving both it and the great hall with light; but, at a subsequent period, it