go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Text only version

Fountains Abbey: Location

Fountains Abbey: History
Trials and Tribulations
Strength and Stability
End of Monastic Life

Fountains Abbey: Buildings
Chapter House
Warming House
Day Room
Lay Brothers' Range
Abbots House
Outer Court

Fountains Abbey: Lands

Fountains Abbey: People

Cistercian Life






Contact Us

The gatehouse


Access to the abbey precinct was controlled. Visitors were first admitted through an outer gate, that stood to the west of the abbey [the West Gate], and thereafter proceeded to an inner gatehouse, the great gatehouse, which was also known as Kirk Garth Gate. Here, the porter officiated each day from Lauds until Compline, receiving visitors and administering alms.
[Read more about the administration of charity at Fountains ]

Nothing at all remains of the West Gate, which was completely destroyed following the suppression of the monastery; the stone from here may have been taken for the construction of Fountains Hall.(123) Although little is known about the structure of the West Gate, surviving documents reveal that by the sixteenth century it was leased to lay keepers who, on both occasions, were married couples. They rented a dwelling house at the West Gate and managed some kind of hospice with stables here for visitors. Both husband and wife had various duties to perform in return for their allowances of food, drink and fuel. While the husband acted as porter of the West Gate, and was to ensure that the gate was closed at night, his wife was to launder and repair linen belonging to the abbot’s chamber, the hospice and buttery.(124)

The inner gate at Fountains
© British Library
<click to enlarge>
The inner gate at Fountains

The inner gatehouse dates from the 1170s, and was therefore constructed about the same time as the aisled guesthall. Although it is heavily ruined, enough survives to indicate that it was vaulted and was fairly similar to other twelfth-century Cistercian gatehouses, for example, at Roche and Kirkstall.(125) A porch would have led to two gatehalls; the larger one, to the east of the porch provided access to the inner court, the other to the outer court, via a walled passageway. The porter, who manned the gate from early morning until Compline, had a room here from which he could access both the porch and gate hall. Whilst the gatehouse served as a point of entry to the monastery, where visitors were welcomed and access controlled, it was also used for administrative purposes. Corrodians might receive their allowances here. Thomas Wel, who received a corrody from the abbey in the sixteenth century, was entitled to six loads of wood each year, which would be delivered to him at the inner gate (KirkGarth Gate).(126) The abbey tenants and keepers attended an annual audit at the gate, but it is not clear whether this was the outer (West) or inner (Kirk Garth) gate.

<back> <next>