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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Abbot's House

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HOUSE.

I. Passage.

2. Great hall.

3. Refectory.

4. Buttery.

5. Storehouse.

6. Chapel.

7. Kitchen.

8. Ashpit.

9. Yard.

to. Kitchen tank.

maintained its rigid austerity, till in the course of years wealth impaired its discipline, and its members sank into indolence and luxury. The Premonstratensians were brought to England shortly after A.D. 1140, and were first settled at Newhouse, in Lincolnshire, near the Humber. The ground-plan of Easby Abbey, owing to its situation on the edge of the steeply sloping banks of a river, is singularly irregular. The cloister is duly placed on the south side of the church, and the chief buildings occupy their usual positions round it. But the cloister garth, as at Chichester, is not rectangular, and all the surrounding buildings are thus made to sprawl in a very awkward fashion. The church follows the plan adopted by the Austin canons in their northern abbeys, and has only one aisle to the nave - that to the north; while the choir is long, narrow and aisleless. Each transept has an aisle to the east, forming three chapels.

The church at Bayham was destitute of aisles either to nave or choir. The latter terminated in a three-sided apse. This church is remarkable for its exceeding narrowness in proportion to its length. Extending in longitudinal dimensions 257 ft., it is FIG. 1 ,. - St Augustine's Abbey, Bristol (Bristol Cathedral).

A. Church. H. Kitchen. S. Friars' lodging.

B. Great cloister. I. Kitchen court. T. King's hall.

C. Little cloister. K. Cellars. V. Guest-house.

D. Chapter-house. L. Abbot's hall. W. Abbey gateway.

E. Calefactory. P. Abbot's gateway. X. Barns, stables, &c.

F. Refectory. R. Infirmary. Y. Lavatory.

G. Parlour.

not more than 25 ft. broad. Stern Premonstratensian canons wanted no congregations, and cared for no possessions; therefore they built their church like a long room.

The Carthusian order, on its establishment by St Bruno, about A.D. 1084, developed a greatly modified form and arrange ment of a monastic institution. The principle of this order, which combined the coenobitic with the solitary life, demanded the erection of buildings on a novel plan. This plan, which was first adopted by St Bruno and his twelve companions at the original institution at Chartreux, near Grenoble, was maintained in all the Carthusian establishments throughout Europe, even after the ascetic severity of the order had been to some extent relaxed, and the primitive simplicity of their buildings had been exchanged for the magnificence of decoration which characterizes such foundations as the Certosas of Pavia and Florence. According to the rule of St Bruno, all the members of a Carthusian brotherhood lived in the most absolute solitude and silence. Each occupied a small detached cottage, standing by itself in a small garden surrounded by high walls and connected by a common corridor or cloister. In these cottages or cells a Carthusian monk passed his time in the strictest asceticism, only leaving his solitary dwelling to attend the services of the Church, except on certain days when the brotherhood assembled in the refectory. The peculiarity of the arrangements of a Carthusian monastery, or charter-house, as it was called in England, from a corruption of the French chartreux, is exhibited in the plan of that of Clermont, from Viollet-le-Duc.

The whole establishment is surrounded by a wall, furnished at intervals with watch towers (R). The enclosure is divided into two courts, of which the eastern court, surrounded by a cloister, from which the cottages of the monks (I) open ,is much the larger. The two courts are divided by the main buildings of the monastery, including the church, the sanctuary (A), divided from B, the monks' choir, by a screen with two altars, the smaller cloister to the south (S) surrounded by the chapter-house (E), the refectory (X) - these buildings occupying their normal position - and the chapel of Pontgibaud (K). The kitchen with its offices (V) lies behind the refectory, accessible from the outer court without entering the cloister. To the north of the church, beyond the sacristy (L), and the side chapels (M), we find the cell of the sub-prior (a), with its garden. The lodgings of the prior (G) occupy the centre of the outer court, immediately in front of the west door of the church, and face the gateway of the convent (0). A small raised court with a fountain (C) is before it. This outer court also contains the guest-chambers (P), the stables and lodgings of the lay brothers (N), the barns and granaries (Q), the dovecot (H) and the bakehouse (T). At Z is the prison. (In this outer court, in all the earlier foundations, as at Witham, there was a smaller church in addition to the larger church of the monks.) The outer and inner courts are connected by a long passage (F), wide enough to admit a cart laden with wood to supply the cells of the brethren with fuel. The number of cells surrounding the great FIG. 12. - Carthusian monastery of Clermont.

cloister is 18. They are all arranged on a uniform plan. Each little dwelling contains three rooms: a sitting-room (C), warmed by a stove in winter; a sleeping-room (D), furnished with a bed, a table, a bench, and a bookcase; and a closet (E). Between the cell and the cloister gallery (A) is a passage or corridor (B), cutting off the inmate of the cell from all sound or movement which might interrupt his meditations. The superior had free access to this corridor, and through open niches was able to inspect the garden without being seen. At I is the hatch or turn-table, in which the daily allowance of food was deposited by a brother appointed for that purpose, affording no view either inwards or outwards. H is the garden, cultivated by the occupant of the cell. At K is the wood-house. F is a covered walk, with the necessary at the end.

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The above arrangements are found with scarcely any variation in all the charter-houses of western Europe. The Yorkshire Charter-house of Mount Grace, founded by Thomas Holland, the young duke of Surrey, nephew of Richard II. and marshal of England, during the revival of the popularity of the order, about A.D. 1397, is the most perfect and best preserved English example. It is characterized by all the simplicity of the order. The church is a modest building, long, narrow and aisleless. Within the wall of enclosure are two courts. The smaller of the two, the south, presents the usual arrangement of church, refectory, &c., opening out of a cloister. The buildings are plain and solid. The northern court contains the cells, 14 in number. It is surrounded by a double stone wall, the two walls being about 30 ft. or 4 o ft. apart. Between these, each in its owii Church. Monks' choir. Prior's garden. Great cloister. Chapter-house. Passage.

Prior's lodg ings. Dovecot.

Cells.

Chapel of Pont gibaud. Sacristy. Chapel. Stables. Gateway. Guest-cham bers.

Barns and granaries. Watch-tower. Little cloister. Bakehouse. Kitchen. Refectory. Cemetery. Prison.

Cell of subprior. Garden of do.

V.

garden, stand the cells; low-built two-storied cottages, of two or three rooms on the ground-floor, lighted by a larger and a smaller window to the side, and provided with a doorway to the court, and one at the back, opposite to one in the outer wall, through which the monk may have conveyed the sweepings of his cell and the refuse of his garden to the "eremus" beyond. By the side of the door to the court is a little hatch through which the daily pittance of food was supplied, so contrived by turning at an angle in the wall that no one could either look in or look out. A very perfect example of this hatch - an arrangement belonging to all Carthusian houses - exists at Miraflores, ´┐Żnear Burgos, which remains nearly as it was completed in 1480.

A. Cloister gallery.

B. Corridor.

C. Living-room.

D. Sleeping-room.

E. Closets.

F. Covered walk.

G. Necessary.

H. Garden.

I. Hatch.

K. Wood-house.

FIG. 13. - Carthusian cell, Clermont.

There were only nine Carthusian houses in England. The earliest was that at Witham in Somersetshire, founded by Henry II., by whom the order was first brought into England. The wealthiest and most magnificent was that of Sheen or Richmond in Surrey, founded by Henry V. about A.D. 1414. The dimensions of the buildings at Sheen are stated to have been remarkably large. The great court measured 300 ft. by 250 ft.; the cloisters were a square of 500 ft.; the hall was 110 ft. in length by 60 ft. in breadth. The most celebrated historically is the Charter-house of London, founded by Sir Walter Manny A.D. 1371, the name of which is preserved by the famous public school established on the site by Thomas Sutton A.D. 161i, now removed to Godalming.

An article on monastic arrangements would be incomplete without some account of the convents of the Mendicant or Preaching Friars, including the Black Friars or Domini cans, the Grey or Franciscans, the White or Carmelites, Y Friars. the Eremite or Austin Friars. These orders arose at the beginning of the 13th century, when the Benedictines, together with their various reformed branches, had terminated their active mission, and Christian Europe was ready for a new religious revival. Planting themselves, as a rule, in large towns, and by preference in the poorest and most densely populated districts, the Preaching Friars were obliged to adapt their buildings to the requirements of the site. Regularity of arrangement, therefore, was not possible, even if they had studied it. 'Their churches, built for the reception of large congregations of hearers rather than worshippers, form a class by themselves, totally unlike those of the elder orders in ground-plan and character. They were usually long parallelograms unbroken by transepts. The nave very usually consisted of two equal bodies, one containing the stalls of the brotherhood, the other left entirely free for the congregation. The constructional choir is often wanting, the whole church forming one uninterrupted structure, with a continuous range of windows. The east end was usually square, but the Friars Church at Winchelsea had a polygonal apse. We not unfrequently find a single transept, sometimes of great size, rivalling or exceeding the nave. This arrangement is frequent in Ireland, where the numerous small friaries afford admirable exemplifications of these peculiarities of ground-plan. The friars' churches were at first destitute of towers; but in the 14th and 15th centuries, tall, slender towers were commonly inserted between the nave and the choir. The Grey Friars at Lynn, where the tower is hexagonal, is a good example. The arrangement of the monastic buildings is equally peculiar and characteristic. We miss entirely the regularity of the buildings of the earlier orders. At the Jacobins at Paris, a cloister lay to the north of the long narrow church of two parallel aisles, while the refectory - a room of immense length, quite detached from the cloister - stretched across the area before the west front of the church. At Toulouse the nave also has two parallel aisles, but the choir is apsidal, with radiating chapel. The refectory stretches northwards at right angles to the cloister, which lies to the north of the church, having the chapter-house and sacristy on the east. As examples of English friaries, the Dominican house at Norwich, and those of the Dominicans and Franciscans at Gloucester, may be mentioned. The church of the Black Friars of Norwich departs from the original type in the nave (now St Andrew's Hall), in having regular aisles. In this it resembles the earlier examples of the Grey Friars at Reading. The choir is long and aisleless; an hexagonal tower between the two, like that existing at Lynn, has perished. The cloister and monastic buildings remain tolerably perfect to the north. The Dominican convent at Gloucester still exhibits the cloister-court, on the north side of which is the desecrated church. The refectory is on the west side and on the south the dormitory of the 13th century. This is a remarkably good example. There were 18 cells or cubicles on each side, divided by partitions, the bases of which remain. On the east side was the prior's house, a building of later date. At the Grey or Franciscan Friars, the church followed the ordinary type in having two equal bodies, each gabled, with a continuous range of windows. There was a slender tower between the nave and the choir. Of the convents of the Carmelite or White Friars we have a good example in the Abbey of Hulne, near Alnwick, the first of the order in England, founded A.D. 1240. The church is a narrow oblong, destitute of aisles, 123 ft. long by only 26 ft. wide. The cloisters are to the south, with the chapter-house, &c., to the east, with the dormitory over. The prior's lodge is placed to the west of the cloister. The guest-houses adjoin the entrance gateway, to which a chapel was annexed on the south side of the conventual area. The nave of the church of the Austin Friars or Eremites in London is still standing. It is of Decorated date, and has wide centre and side aisles, divided by a very light and graceful arcade. Some fragments of the south walk of the cloister of the Grey Friars remained among the buildings of Christ's Hospital (the Blue-Coat School), while they were still standing. Of the Black Friars all has perished but the name. Taken as a whole, the remains of the establishments of the friars afford little warrant for the bitter invective of the Benedictine of St Alban's, Matthew Paris: - "The friars who have been founded hardly 40 years have built residences as the palaces of kings. These are they who, enlarging day by day their sumptuous edifices, encircling them with lofty walls, lay up in them their incalculable treasures, imprudently transgressing the bounds of poverty and violating the very fundamental rules of their profession." Allowance must here be made for jealousy of a rival order just rising in popularity.

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Every large monastery had depending upon it one or more smaller establishments known as cells. These cells were monastic colonies, sent forth by the parent house, and planted on some outlying estate. As an example, we may refer to the small religious house of St Mary Magdalene's, a cell of the great Benedictine house of St Mary's, York, in the valley of the Witham, to the south-east of the city of Lincoln. This consists of one long narrow range of building, of which the eastern part formed the chapel and the western contained the apartments of the handful of monks of which it was the home. To the east may be traced the site of the abbey mill, with its dam and mill-lead. These cells, when belonging to a Cluniac house, were called Obedientiae. The plan given by Viollet-le-Duc of the Priory of St Jean des Bons Hommes, a Cluniac cell, situated between the town of Avallon and the village of Savigny, shows that these diminutive establishments comprised every essential feature of a monastery, - chapel, cloister, chapter-room, refectory, dormitory, all grouped according to the recognized arrangement. These Cluniac obedientiae differed from the ordinary Benedictine cells in being also places of punishment, to which monks who had been guilty of any grave infringement of the rules were relegated as to a kind of penitentiary. Here they were placed under the authority of a prior, and were condemned to severe manual labour, fulfilling the duties usually executed by the lay brothers, who acted as farmservants. The outlying farming establishments belonging to the monastic foundations were known as villae or granges. They gave employment to a body of conversi and labourers under the management of a monk, who bore the title of Brother Hospitaller - the granges, like their parent institutions, affording shelter and hospitality to belated travellers.

Authorities. - Dugdale, Monasticon; Lenoir, Architecture monastique (1852-1856); Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonnee de l'architecture francaise; Springer, Klosterleben and Klosterkunst (1886); Kraus, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst (1896). (E. V.)


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Abbot's House'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/a/abbots-house.html. 1910.

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