« AnkstesnisTęsti »
for picturesque beauty. From William Aislabie it defcended to the late Mrs. Lawrence, famous for her political spirit, and for triumphing over the very Reform Bill, and continuing, by the creation of what were called cowfhed votes, to fend her nominees for the adjoining borough of Ripon to parliament. By her it was bequeathed to the Earl de Grey, a collateral defcendant from the Aiflabies, who is now the fortunate proprietor.
To reach the abbey, you must present yourself at the gates of Studley Park, where guides are in attendance to conduct you over the whole scene. With one of these you afcend the vale of the Skell, amid a fucceffion of fcenes of the most woodland and truly English beauty. As you advance, you behold unfolding before you, woods, grand old avenues, lakes, streams, fountains, and lawns and terraces of the most smoothlyshaven neatness. It is the perfection of art employed on a wildly fecluded nature. The exquifite keeping and finish of the whole makes you feel as if you had entered the very gardens of Armida, if even they in their fabled beauty can be conceived fo highly adorned and exquifitely tended.
In fhadier bowers,
More facred and fequeftered, though but feigned,
Nor faunus haunted.
In fact, the artistic finish appears almost too perfect, and as if not a leaf even could fall without offending that confummate polish of velvet lawn, winding walk, fmooth as polished stone, and bower, and temple, grotto, and statue of Grecian god or goddess, or contending gladiators, the hum of nicely-studied waterfall, or the funlit furface of lakes, moved only by the wings and oaring feet of wild fowl. But, as these elyfian
scenes are but the introduction to the abbey itself, we shall only say that we pass the Moon and Crescent ponds, the Octagon Tower, leaving Studley Hall itself on the right, and through groups of immense spruce firs, fome of them of one hundred and thirty feet in height, and of upwards of twelve feet in circumference at the bafe. Suddenly a door opens, and we find ourselves in a noble Gothic alcove, called Anne Boleyn's Seat, and before us a most striking view of the abbey, with its tall and ftately tower, amid the opening woods, and on the banks of the meandering Skell.
As we advance along this narrow dale amid towering rocks and shrouding woods, we are reminded that we are now in Fountain Dale, famous for the contest of Robin Hood and the Curtal friar. Paffing this spot, we presently emerge into the full view of the noble abbey, with the fine pointed windows of the body of the church wreathed with masses of ivy; but its grand tower standing clear and majestic, and nearly as unimpaired as at the hour of its defertion. To defcribe the whole of the remains of this admirable ruin would require a volume. There are the chapel of Nine Altars, the glorious choir, the transept and side chapels, the tower, the nave, the cloister-court, the cloisters, and chapter-house-all demanding particular attention for their noble proportions, and the grace and beauty of their remaining arches, columns, and windows. The chapel of Nine Altars is wonderfully impreffive from the loftiness and lightness of its arches, which cross it in prolongation of the clereftory of the choir, the central pillars of which are octagonal, but are now ftripped of the cylindric fhafts, with which they were formerly clustered. These are faid to have been the work of a rustic genius of the village of Sawley, called in the charters of the abbey "Thomas Marmorarius de Sawley.” Over one of the windows is a fcroll infcribed in abbreviation
with a motto which reveals the origin of the abbey's name. Benedicite fontes domino.
In the choir only the external walls remain; but on the two upper greces of the High Altar have been relaid a portion of that "painted floor" recorded to have been bestowed on the choir by the abbot, John de Cantia, in the thirteenth century, confifting of tefferæ of red, black, yellow, and grey. There is also a stone coffin, said to be that of Lord Percy of Alnwick, who was buried before the high altar in 1315; and a huge black marble gravestone of the abbot, John de Ripon. In the fide chapels of the transept are other remains, particularly of the tomb of Abbot Burley and on each fide of the great tower, above and below the belfry windows, are inscriptions in Tudor black letter boldly relieved. The infcriptions above the windows are all different, but the fame individual motto ferves for the lower infcription on all four fides." Soli deo honor et gloria in fecula feculorum. Amen." The Cloifter Court remains furrounded by the church and its accompanying buildings. It is one hundred and twenty-five feet square. On the west of it are the cloisters themselves, ftill perfect, and presenting a double arcade of arches. It is lighted by windows looking into the court, but presents a folemn and fombre twilight scene; and when the imagination raises the figures of the ancient monks, in cowls and frocks, taking their exercise here in winter, the impreffions of their life and times come vividly before us. So narrow is the valley here that a great part of these cloifters are built over the river, the floor being laid on arches. Over the cloifters was the dormitory of the monks, divided into about forty cells.
In November, 1848, a great discovery was made of the foundations of the Abbot's house, which was fituated to the south-east of the Lady Chapel, and also built on arches over
the ruin. The falling in of part of these arches led to the discovery, and the foundations have fince been laid bare, and present very interefting details of the goodly manfion of the abbots, containing a fine pillared hall, one hundred and feventy-one feet long by seventy feet wide, ample kitchens, chapel, refectory, and a ftable for the fix white horfes which drew
FOUNTAINS: LADY CHAPEL.
the chariot of the laft abbot. "Sex equi ad bigam." Amongst the rubbish which covered the foundations, were found many ornamental encaustic tiles, and amongst the ashes of the kitchen curious fragments of filyer plate, pottery, etc., and
abundance of oyster, muffel, and cockle fhells, showing the liberal use of fish by the holy brotherhood.
It appears that Sir Stephen Proctor, of Warfill, in 1611, pulled down this fine old abbot's houfe, to build himself a manfion, which still stands on a steep and wooded flope, at a short distance from the western gate of the abbey. The old house, with its large mullioned windows, its picturesque gables, its oddly out of keeping Ionic porch with fundial over it, its balcony, its statues, purloined from the abbey, and its clipped yew hedges, is an object well becoming the fcene, though we should have preferred that Sir Stephen had found some other quarry for his stones than the abbot's dwelling.
The view of the buildings is beautiful as you stand at the fouth end of the Lady Chapel and take in the extent of the lofty walls and windows, one above another, with the trees beyond equalling them in height. The old rocks alfo, fhowing themselves along the north fide of the abbey, overhung with trees which have grown fince the abbey itself was hewn out of those rocks, are remarkably picturesque.
Near the abbey, on the other fide of the river, which we cross by an old bridge, still stands the abbey mill, looking ancient and in excellent keeping with the scene. It ftill grinds for the people of the neighbourhood as it ground for the monks, and looks out duftily from amongst ancient trees. There is also a faw-mill hiffing luftily as in modern contempt of all this antiquity. Near the old mill ftands one of the most antiquated groups of yew-trees that eye ever beheld. There were probably seven of them, for they are still called the "Seven Sifters," though there are only three or four remaining, huge and hollow, but still most of them vigorous in foliage. One of them is twenty-five feet in circumference, and they are calculated to have ftood here twelve centuries.