Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Fountains Abbey (Part One).

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Fountains Abbey,
Yorkshire, England.
Photo: 28 June 2014.
Source: Own work.
Author: Diliff.
Attribution: Photo by DAVID ILIFF.
License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
(Wikimedia Commons)

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian Monasteries in England. It is located approximately three miles South-West of RiponNorth Yorkshire, near to the village of Aldfield. Founded in 1132, the Abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The Abbey is a Grade I Listed Building, owned by the National Trust and part of the designated Studley Royal Park, including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rievaulx Abbey, 
Yorkshire, England.
Rievaulx Abbey was the first Cistercian Abbey in Northern England
and is very close to Fountains Abbey.
The second Cistercian Abbey in Northern England was Fountains Abbey.
Photo: 31 August 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Rob Bendall (Highfields).
(Wikimedia Commons)

After a dispute and riot in, 1132, at the Benedictine House of Saint Mary's Abbey, in York, thirteen Monks were expelled (among them Saint Robert of Newminster) and, after unsuccessfully attempting to return to the Early-6th-Century Rule of Saint Benedict, were taken into the protection of ThurstanArchbishop of York.

He provided them with land in the Valley of the River Skell, a tributary of the River Ure. The enclosed Valley had all the natural features needed for the creation of a Monastery, providing shelter from the weather, stone and timber for building, and a supply of running water. After enduring a harsh Winter in 1133, the Monks applied to join the Cistercian Order and, in 1135, became the second House of that Order in Northern England, after Rievaulx Abbey. The monks subjected themselves to Clairvaux Abbey, in Burgundy, France, which was under the rule of Saint Bernard. Under the guidance of Geoffrey of Ainai, a Monk sent from Clairvaux, the group learned how to celebrate the seven Canonical Hours and were shown how to construct wooden buildings in accordance with Cistercian practice.

English: Acey Abbey,
Jura, France.
Français: Abbaye d'Acey,
Jura, France.
Photo: 7 March 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Arnaud 25.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The "architecture of light", 
of Acey Abbey, France,
represents the pure style of Cistercian architecture,
intended for the utilitarian purposes of Liturgical Celebration.

Cistercian architecture is a style of architecture associated with the Churches, Monasteries and Abbeys of the Roman Catholic Cistercian Order. The Cistercian Order was headed by Abbot Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (+1154), who believed that Churches should avoid superfluous ornamentation, so as not to distract from the Religious Life.

Cistercian architecture was simple and utilitarian, and though images of Religious Subjects were allowed in very limited instances (such as the Crucifix), many of the more elaborate figures, that commonly adorned Mediaeval Churches, were not; their capacity for distracting Monks was criticised in a famous Letter by Saint Bernard. Early Cistercian architecture shows a transition between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Later Abbeys were also constructed in Renaissance and Baroque Styles, though, by then, simplicity is rather less evident.

In terms of construction, buildings were made, where possible, of smooth, pale, stone. Columns, Pillars and Windows fell at the same base level, and, if plastering was done at all, it was kept extremely simple. The Sanctuary kept a simple style of proportion of 1:2 at both Elevation and Floor Levels. To maintain the appearance of Ecclesiastical Buildings, Cistercian sites were constructed in a pure, rational style and may be counted among the most beautiful relics of the Middle Ages.

Most Cistercian Abbeys and Churches were built in remote Valleys, far from Cities and populated areas, and this isolation and need for self-sustainability bred an innovativeness among the Cistercians. Many Cistercian establishments display early examples of hydraulic engineering and waterwheels. After stone, the two most important building materials were wood and metal. The Cistercians were careful in the management and conservation of their forests; they were also skilled metallurgists, and their skill with metal has been associated directly with the development of Cistercian architecture, and the spread of Gothic architecture as a whole.

English: Cistercian architecture was applied, based on rational principles.
Deutsch: Aufriss des Langhauses der Zirsterzienser-Klosterkirche
von Kloster Arnsburg.
Date: 1888.
Source: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, aus: Dehio/v.Bezold: Die kirchliche
Baukunst des Abendlandes, Stuttgart, Atlas II, 1888, Tafel 199,4.
Author: Unknown.
(Wikimedia Commons)


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