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The two niches below retain their figures: the one headless and handless, and therefore undistinguished by any symbol; the other a male figure holding an immense and ragged staff; and therefore we may presume intended to represent St. Bartholomew. The niche above the apex of the arch-way is empty, but is remembered to have contained a sculpture of Christ upon the Cross.
The shields above the string course of the two windows are those of the founder, Walter L'Espec (or at least such as were assigned to him, probably after his death), gules, three wheels of five speks, or spokes, argent-and of Greystoke baron Greystoke, barry of ten argent and azure, over all three chaplets gules-the presence of which I cannot at present either genealogically or otherwise explain; though there must have been a good reason for placing the shield in company with that of the founder.
Neither can I appropriate the shield of some once noted person, below, who had borne "a bend" for his arms, and married, as I presume from the adjacent shield, a lady of the family of Ros-not only because several families (as Mauley, Paynel, Stopham, and other eminent families) used this charge, with differences of tincture, but because the pedigree of Ros is, like many more, singularly defective in notices of the younger branches of the family.
For these combined reasons, also, I am unable to say of what family was the lady who married the Ros, who was commemorated," as the sculptor thought, for ever, on the other side of the arch, for a cross patonce was then a very common bearing.
In reviewing the records of the past, there are few things that remind us more touchingly of the frail impotence of man's purpose and the insecurity of his institutions than when monuments like these, at length, crave a memorial.
In the shields of Ros that appear on this Gatehouse, I must remark that there is a peculiarity in the shape of the water bouget which I have seldom observed elsewhere; for instead of the outline of the lower and bulbous part being plain, a small loop is attached, on each side, as if to facilitate the carrying or the emptying of it. It is very much to be regretted that we have no sufficient collection of carefully drawn medieval heraldic bearings and charges from glass, manuscripts, and authentic sculptures like these as we have of many other antiquarian subjects.
Below these shields, and on each side of the archway, are two
sculptured, but weatherworn figures, having their separate canopies and brackets in high relief. The one group had always been said to represent, and that no doubt truly, St. George; who, on foot, is confronting a dragon with a most Runic like convolution of tail, and advancing to the onslaught with such dire impetus as might be derived "tali auxilio." Tradition and successive writers have averred that the other group commemorates the combat of David with Goliah. I doubt, however, this assertion; though the goggle eyed giant, that appears once to have been invested with all the nursery horrors of the malignant "Blunderbore," is assailed by a person of much less stature, but so mutilated that nothing can be inferred either from the fragment of his shield, the weapon that he carried, or the armour in which he has been apparently invested-for, considering there is an equal display of secular as of ecclesiastical feeling in the decoration of this façade-that the great military renown of the founder was acquired in the memorable engagement with king David of Scotland, at the Battle of the Standard-was most worthily maintained in the Scottish wars by his descendants in the line of Ros, and most especially by that member of the family who was then the patron of the house-I take it to be far more probable that the Canons, in this sculpture, (coupling it with the combat of the patron saint of England on the other side of the arch,) intended rather to represent, either in general feeling or particular incident, the services of their patrons against the Scottish foemen of England (believed then to be savages and giants), than the more memorable, though to them far less interesting, incident recorded in the Hebrew Scripture.
The inner face of the Gatehouse seems to have been ornamented with sculpture also; for Gent says that, when he was here about 1730, he was informed "by an old man named Robert Bell, who was born in 1654, and sprinkled in Oliver's time, that he remembered the inward side of the gate then demolished, over which was the Virgin Mary with our Saviour in her arms; and, also, St. Catherine with her wheel." At the time of Gent's visit, "some part of the building under curious arched work❞—as he says-" had been recently converted into an alehouse."
We now pass into the Close: observing, by the way, that a chapel-the site of which is marked on the engraved plan of 1754, and said to have been built out of the ruins of the Priory -stood between the Gatehouse and the Conventual Church; but is now entirely destroyed.
There is little left except hillocks of rubbish to mark the site of the Conventual Church. It appears to have been upwards of 300 feet long, and, therefore, in the first class of the Yorkshire houses. Of the Nave-that has measured about 130 feet in length-nothing remains but the plain base of the south wall, that tells us it was of the Founder's time, and had no aisles. Judging from the form of the rubbish, the transept has been of this date and had three eastern chapels in each wing. The choir is level with the sward, with the exception of a solitary lancet window-one of the three that graced its eastern extremitysufficient, however, to prove that this part of the fabric, which had been renewed upwards of a century after the foundation, had been second to no building of the kind, even in Yorkshire.
South of the Choir, the irregularity of the ground probably marks the site of the residence of the Prior.
We can see so much where the Chapter House has stood as informs us that it had been of the rectangular shape-not an octagon as in some houses of the Austin Canons-of the unusual dimensions of about 80 feet by 30 feet; and, from a few bases of the arcade which adorned the interior, of the same Early-English period as the Choir.
Between the Chapter House and the south end of the transept of the Church, has been a small apartment with a bench on one side, as at Thornton Abbey, in Lincolnshire; but it is not certain to what purpose it has been applied. The rest of the buildings that formed the east side of the Quadrangle are irretrievably ruined and lost.
The south side of the Quadrangle was entirely occupied by the Refectory, which stood east and west, contrary to the ordinary rule. It is also remarkable that it had no windows towards the Quadrangle. It was entered, towards its western extremity, by a highly decorated doorway of transition-Norman work, engraved in the Oxford Glossary. The south and western walls have been removed, and the eastern one is quite plain.
The swift declivity of the ground allowed the formation of a vaulted cellar below the whole length of the Refectory. Some of its octagonal pillars have recently been opened out; and from their capitals, it seems the work has been of the Early-English period.
On the western side of the Quadrangle, and on a level with it, was the Dormitory; and, below, a range of vaulted cellars or storehouses; but the whole was wantonly pulled down in the last century, except the wall towards the Quadrangle.
This wall, on the other side contains, however, an object of extraordinary interest, in the celebrated Lavatory, made familiar by pictorial illustration. It is placed by the side of the Refectory door, so as to afford the Canons the facility of performing their ablutions before proceeding to their meals, and has been erected probably towards the close of the thirteenth century.
The Font, which is represented as standing by the Lavatory, in the masterly etching of it by Prout, has since unfortunately been removed from the Priory; and may now be seen in the church of Acomb near York. There is a large and clever engraving of it by the late Mr. Fowler of Winterton. It is a very singular specimen of debased Perpendicular work; and wherever it may have originally stood, no doubt was intended for the baptism of those who were born in the large extra-parochial district which surrounded the Priory.
Besides the offices I have noticed, there are, on the south side of the site, other fragmentary and confused vestiges of buildings, buried in rubbish-but canopied with aged and luxuriant trees, that harmonize so well with the feeling of rest and tranquillity that has descended upon this solemn and lovely spot, that the most enthusiastic antiquary could not wish for their removal.
Such then-briefly and imperfectly told-is the history of Kirkham Priory:-a history which, in reference at least to the unfortunate event which occasioned its foundation, may be appropriately closed by the reflection of the poet Longfellow—
X.-OBSERVATIONS ON THE HISTORY AND STRUCTURE OF THE
BLESSED MARY OF BYLAND. A Paper read on an excursion made there by the Yorkshire Architectural Society, June 22nd, 1864. By JOHN RICHARD WALBRAN.
As the time placed at my disposal is but short, I must refrain from entering at length into the early history of Byland Abbey, and will refer only to those circumstances which originated the institution, and occasioned three separate sites to be occupied by its monks, before they settled on the spot where we are assembled: a fuller introduction will, however, be the more readily dispensed with, since the Chronicle of the House, written by the third abbot, in the time of King Richard the First, may be read in the first volume of the Monastican Anglicanum.
In the year 1134 twelve monks left the Abbey of Furness in Lancashire, under the patronage of Ralph Meschin, and settled at Calder, about four miles from Egremont in Cumberland. After they had continued there for the space of four years, and were beginning to erect a monastary, their dwelling place was destroyed in an invasion of the country by David, King of Scotland. The convent then fled to the parent house of Furness, but, on arriving at the gate, were met by the abbot and his brethren, who peremptorily denied them admission. The outcasts, upon this repulse, determined at once both to leave Furness and to desert entirely the site they had occupied at Calder, though they had little more personal property than their vestments and a few books, which were carried in a waggon drawn by eight oxen. After a sorrowful consultation during the rest of the day, they set out in the morning towards York, in order to ask the advice of Archbishop Turstin. They had heard that, six years before, he had provided a home at Fountains for some monks who had seceded from St. Mary's Abbey at York, and believed that they might therefore rely on his friendly offices and protection.
During their journey, and when they came into the town of Thirsk, they were accidentally met by the steward of the Lady Gundreda, widow of Nigel de Albini, and mother of Roger de Mowbray, a youth then in ward to King Stephen, but soon to come in to possession of his princely estates. Being much struck with the unusual appearance of the company, he enquired into their history and condition, and invited them to dine at the table of his lady at the castle of Thirsk, he going before to announce their approach. When, says the chronicler, Abbot Gerald and