1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abbey/York
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- Abbey York
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St Mary's Abbey, York, of which the ground-plan is annexed, exhibits the usual Benedictine arrangements. The precincts are surrounded by a strong fortified wall on three sides, the river Ouse being sufficient protection on the fourth side. The entrance was by a strong gateway (U) to the north. Close to the entrance was a chapel, where is now the church of St Olaf (W), in which the new-comers paid their devotions immediately on their arrival. Near the gate to the south was the guest-hall or hospitium (T). The buildings are completely ruined, but enough remains to enable us to identify the grand cruciform church (A), the cloister-court with the chapterhouse (B), the refectory (I), the kitchen-court with its offices (K, O, O) and the other principal apartments. The infirmary has perished completely.
Some Benedictine houses display exceptional arrangements, dependent upon local circumstances, e.g. the dormitory of Worcester runs from east to west, from the west walk of the cloister, and that of Durham is built over the west, instead of
as usual, over the east walk; but, as a general rule, the arrangements deduced from the examples described may be regarded as invariable.
The history of monasticism is one of alternate periods of decay and revival. With growth in popular esteem came increase in material wealth, leading to luxury and worldliness. The first religious ardour cooled, the strictness of the rule was relaxed, until by the 10th century the decay of discipline was so complete in France that the monks are said to have been frequently unacquainted with the rule of St Benedict, and even ignorant that they were bound by any rule at all. The reformation of abuses generally took the form of the establishment of new monastic orders, with new and more stringent rules, requiring a modification of the architectural arrangements. One of the earliest of these reformed orders was the Cluniac. This order took its name from,the little village of Cluny, 12 miles N.W. of Macon, near which, about A.D. 909, a reformed Benedictine abbey was founded by William, duke of Aquitaine and count of Auvergne, under Berno, abbot of Beaume. He was succeeded by Odo, who is often regarded as the founder of the order. The fame of Cluny spread far and wide. Its rigid rule was adopted by a vast number of the old Benedictine abbeys, who placed themselves in affiliation to the mother society, while new foundations sprang up in large numbers, all owing allegiance to the "archabbot", established at Cluny. By the end of the 12th century the number of monasteries affiliated to Cluny in the various countries of western Europe amounted to 2000. The monastic establishment of Cluny was one of the most extensive and magnificent in France. We may form some idea of its enormous dimensions from the fact recorded, that when, A.D. 1245, Pope Innocent IV., accompanied by twelve cardinals,
Fig. 5. — Abbey of Cluny, from Viollet-le-Due
a patriarch, three archbishops, the two generals of the Carthusians and Cistercians, the king (St Louis), and three of his sons, the queen mother, Baldwin, count of Flanders and emperor of Constantinople, the duke of Burgundy, and six lords, visited the abbey, the whole party, with their attendants, were lodged withn the monastery without disarranging the monks, 400 in number. Nearly the whole of the abbey buildings, including the magnificent church, were swept away at the close of the 18th century. When the annexed ground-plan was taken, shortly before its destruction, nearly all the monastery, with the exception of the church, had been rebuilt.
The church, the ground-plan of which bears a remarkable resemblance to that of Lincoln Cathedral, was of vast dimensions. It was 656 ft. high. The nave (G) had double vaulted aisles on either side. Like Lincoln, it had an eastern as well as a western transept, each furnished with apsidal chapels to the east. The western transept was 213 ft. long, and the eastern 123 ft. The choir terminated in a semicircular apse (F), surrounded by five chapels, also semicircular. The western entrance was approached by an ante-church, or narthex (B), itself an aisled church of no mean dimensions, flanked by two towers, rising from a stately flight of steps bearing a large stone cross. To the south of the church lay the cloister-court (H), of immense size, placed much farther to the west than is usually the case. On the south side of the cloister stood the refectory (P), an immense building, 100 ft. long and 60 ft. wide, accommodating six longitudinal and three transverse rows of tables. It was adorned with the portraits of the chief benefactors of the abbey, and with Scriptural subjects. The end wall displayed the Last Judgment. We are unhappily unable to identify any other of the principal buildings (N). The abbot's residence (K), still partly standing, adjoined the entrance-gate. The guest-house (L) was close by. The bakehouse (M), also remaining, is a detached building of immense size.