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h appears to monastic structures ore frequently found
built, is the black argillaceous shale of the country, walled in such laminar and random courses as are more frequently found in the military than the monastic structures of the period. This stone, which appears to have been brought from a quarry above the park, was, however, felt to be unserviceable, as well as unsightly; but the change to boulder stones, gathered from essarted land, was one only for durability; and it was not until the Perpendicular period that ashlar masonry seems to have been adopted.
The chief object of interest is the conventual church, of which I think it may not unreasonably be assumed, both that it was never completed according to the original design, and, most assuredly, that the dissolution of the house arrested the extensive additions that were about to be thus tardily—and perhaps not very elegantly—supplied. The condition in which the work has been arrested has given the very ruin a most singular, and, at first view, perplexing aspect, of which I do not remember a similar instance. The original plan, which remains entire amid the projected and incomplete additions, has been unworthy-however claimed by the asceticism of its occupants—of the wealth, the piety, and the liberality of the Percys. It was, of course, in the form of a cross, but with this peculiarity, that the length of the transept exceeded that of the nave and choir united by not less than twelve feet. The choir, according to the plan observed at this period in the disposition of conventual churches, contributed, externally, only in a subordinate proportion to this space ; but it was, surely, neither the design of the architect, nor the willing acquiescence of the convent, which left the rave a mere excrescence on the transept of the length of thirty-nine feet. Both nave and choir having been devoid of side aisles, the transept, by its ample length and corresponding expansion of six eastern chapels, has assumed the appearance of the principal part of the church ; and the friends and dependants of the Percys must have witnessed, with mortification, how much more consistently developed was that noble structure which was begun by the Lacys at Kirkstall, or even the less ostentatious house which the disconsolate Lady of Skipton was preparing for the canons at Bolton.
But from whatever cause the plan may have been curtailed, the contraction of the church, in this particular, has both robhed the more than usual expanse of the cloister court of its most effective accompaniment, and has referred the position of some of the domestic buildings to sites not usually acknowledged in the Cistercian arrangement.
The nave of the church has not merely been contracted in its dimensions, but pervaded, frequently, by an oppressive gloom ; for though its walls now rise superior to any other portion of the abbey and to the altitude of about twenty-five feet, yet there is no definite appearance of windows, though there may have been two on each side; and the only other light which it could have derived must have been from that which has occupied the ragged fissure in the midst of the western wall. Below this aperture his been the chief doorway ; but, as the walls have been industriously pillaged of every fragment of wrought stone, there is nothing left to indicate the form or span of the arch, nor the mouldings with which it was decorated. However the contraction of space, in this part of the church, may have been felt in the processional exhibitions of the convent, it is certain that the absence of aisles, for the purpose of private chapels, had become inconvenient ; for outside the northern wall of the nave, and at a distance of twenty-nine feet, is a foundation, ranging with, and prolonged much further than, its length; all doubt of its appropriation, which might have been raised by the apparent absence of a western wall, being settled by the presence of a piscina of the Decorated period, inserted in the previously external wall of the nave. This accomodation was gained, like the previous works of the house, by the smallest possible outlay of labour. There was no communication formed, either by an open arcade or otherwise, with the nave, nor even, after the usual fashion, with the transept. Instead of this, however, an archway or aperture has been formed at the east end of the chapel, which would admit of light, but not of transit; and, in the excess of parsimony, the altar has been formed out of the very wall through which the opening around has been obtained. The soffits and jambs of this arch have been torn away; but what I have called an altar is not a mere mass of masonry that has resisted a violent or mischievous breach of the wall, is proved from the evenness of its eastern surface, and the regularity of its form. The appurtenant piscina, which is distant about eighteen feet, is but a plain, wide, trifoliated recess, with three round and shallow basins, that seem to have communicated with a small walled cistern, of which some remains were traced below the floor.
The foundation of a wall, joined with, and bonded into, the south-western angle of the nave, and running directly west for the space at least of ninety feet, raises the presumption, that the contraction of the nave was not at least voluntary; and as the thickness of the wall is not much less than five feet, and, consequently, unnecessary for a mere boundary or screen-wall for the cloister court, that this indicates the amount of the intended extension, though its intimate connexion with the old work, and and the absence of a corresponding wall, or even foundation, on the north side, renders it difficult to decide whether this preparation had been stayed by the parsimony of the founder, or a change had been determined at the same time as the reformation of the choir, immediately before the suppression. That the work was never perfected, is evident from the existence of the west wall of the original nave.
The transept is spacious and well proportioned; and, in its length of 122 ft., and breadth of 30 ft., announces the design of a church rivalling even that of Fountains, where the transept is only 7 ft. longer. The whole of its area has been reclaimed by the recent excavation ; and, though the walls do not exceed the height of 12 ft., it remains in a better state of preservation than any other portion of the abbey. The eastern side is flanked, on each side of the choir, by three chapels, divided by solid walls, according to the Norman plan of annexation still remaining, in much more perfect condition, at Kirkstall. The number and position of the windows in the body of the transept are uncertain ; but with reference to the chapels, there is reason to believe that each one has had two lights in the east end, though the divisional wall has not in any instance been retained. The two outer chapels, at each end, still retain very interesting remains of their altars and other appurtenances, but as those adjoining the choir are entirely void, it appears evident that they had been cleared, with an intention of opening them to the aisles of that new structure. Neither the platforms of the altars, which occupy about half the floor of each chapel, nor the altars themselves remain, in any instance, entire ; for the wrought stone of the one, and the slabs of the other, would be among the most useful articles of plunder : yet the two altars in the north chapel are worthy of observation, since each is removed a little from the eastern wall, and contains, on that side, a square recess or locker, suitable for the deposit of relics or the sacred utensils.
The floor of the southernmost chapel has been, originally, formed of plain square tiles, each row being divided, diagonally, by a narrow border, with corner pieces, but it has been, apparently, renewed, considerably, in the Perpendicular period, and also disturbed by the insertion of a large slab of freestone, rendered remarkable not only by the sculpture of two foliated crosses, of similar design and dimension, but by its diagonal
tion, since that side, acred utensils originally, sepulch was undetese, or their "pas found to dendly position hat
inclination towards the north of not less than twelve inches. That this unusual, though not unique, design has not emanated from the fancy of the sculptor is evident, for the removal of the stone disclosed two perfect skeletons, reposed, not in separate coffins, but, side by side, in one undivided grave. These may be remains of those who were connected with the patronage of the chantry, or, certainly, of those whose worldly position has been honourable ; but nothing was found to denote the precise period of their decease, or their profession in life ; even the sex of each was undetermined. Whether, therefore, it is the sepulchre of those who had enjoyed an unusual share of reciprocal affection, or for whom community in some fatal accident or remarkable undertaking had suggested, to survivors, a commixture of their dust, must rest among the things that are forgotton ; nor may the induction of the head dispel the dream of the heart, that “they were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death were not divided.”
To the south-west of this stone, but in the body of the transept, is another large slab of freestone, covering the remains of William de Rimington, once prior of the abbey, and chancellor of the University of Oxford. The black letter circumscription that has retained this record, encloses a foliated cross, well executed in bas-relief. The prior, in whom, I think, I recognise the author of several tracts against the Wickliffites, which bear his name, and are to be seen among Bodley's MSS., in the Bodleian Library, had, no doubt, sprung from the adjacent village of Rimington, and received the rudiments of his education at Sawley, before he went to the university, over which he presided in 1372. When the stone was adjusted and repaired, his skeleton was found perfect below; and it appeared that, whatever might have been the vigour of his intellect, he, like many other dignified ecclesiastics of old, whose remains have been observed, had been endowed with a tall and athletic frame.
There is no appearance of any interment in the adjoining chapel ; and the perfect condition of the pavement leads to the conclusion that these chapels had not been vaulted with stone, but merely covered with a wooden roof, which would be removed without injury to objects below. This floor is, indeed, a very fine example, both as to style and mode of insertion, of the geometrical polychromatic pavements of the thirteenth century. The principal design is circular, and formed by a row of etoiles placed between two rows of lozenges, and bounded by plain concentric borders, the centre being a flower of many petals, resembling a marigold.
The middle chapel in the north cross has a pavement of similar design (represented in the annexed sketch), but inserted in a different fashion in the floor. It is a singular circumstance, that these pavements resemble so minutely one which was found in 1760, on the site of the Abbey of Melsa, that a delineation of the one would convey a definite idea of the other. Indeed, as both these houses were of the Cistercian order, it is not improbable that both pavements had been copied from the very same design.
The pavement of the northernmost chapel is of the same character as that at the end of the south cross. It has been, perhaps, first disturbed for the formation of a grave, and the insertion of a sepulchral slab of mountain limestone, which still remains in the centre. A large plate, on which has been graven the robed figure of a priest, has been torn from its matrix; but as the circumscription has been committed to a material that could tempt no such despicable pillage, we can, fortunately, learn that it commemorates Sir Robert de Clyderow, Rector of Wigan, in Lancasbire, and one of the forgotton “ Worthies of
Yorkshire.” This was that bold man, who, when Thomas Earl of Lancaster, in his coutention with King Edward II, in 1321, sent into Lancashire for additional assistance, commissioned his son, Adam de Clitherow, and John, son of John de Knolle, to repair immediately to him, with horse and arms, and four other men-an offence for which, two years after the Earl was executed, he was brought to trial, charged also with the further crimes of preaching sedition in the parish church of Wigan, and offering absolution to all such as might be disposed to join the standard of the Barons. Though he was found guilty, and condemned for execution, yet, by a timely and judicious application of his purse, his life was spared; when, as this stone would tell, he either, from necessity, retired to this monastic seclusion, or, at the close of his career, preferred to seek a sepulchre within its walls, rather than amid the scenes of his turbulent ministration.
The inscription on the stone is graven in the Lombardic character, and was, in usual form, as follows:
SIRE ROBERT DE CLYDERHOW PERSONA DE
A space, equal in width with this chapel, and projecting from it into the transept, has been, probably, an extension of the