I was delighted to find a batch of photographs I recognised today.
Fountains Abbey is a Cistercian Abbey. Apparently in the 12th century there was an outbreak of illness which saw people sleeping in tents because there was no space in the infirmary.
Fountains has many wealthy patrons as testified by the account books of the thirteenth century. despite this the abbey got into debt. This was partly because of their building projects. Edward I appointed a clerk to resolve the matter and ensure that the monks didn’t get into any deeper debt. It didn’t help that during the reign of Edward II the Scots turned up in Yorkshire to plunder and to burn. In 1319 Fountains was excused it’s taxes.
In 1443 John Neville was given the job of finding out who was “lately making a riot at the abbey.” Neville had no idea but the following year a commission was issued against “anonymous sons of inquiry” who had infringed upon the liberties of the monks. They were told that they needed to give back anything they had taken within three months or they would be excommunicated.
By 1535 the total value of the plate at Fountains was over £900. There were herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, 86 horses and 79 pigs.
Eventually the abbot and his monks were forced to surrender on 26th November 1539. It hadn’t been an easy couple of years. In addition to the abbot there was a prior and thirty monks – all of whom were required to sign the surrender in the chapter house. The abbot received a pension of £100.
Did you know there was a plan to turn Fountains into a bishopric with control of Lancashire (someone didn’t check the map methinks.)
And the original charter for the abbey is held at nearby Studley.
‘Houses of Cistercian monks: Fountains’, in A History of the County of York: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1974), pp. 134-138. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/vol3/pp134-138 [accessed 18 March 2021].