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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






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The buildings


The twelfth-century guest complex stood to the west of the lay-brothers’ range, on the very fringes of monastic life. It included a large aisled guesthall and two guesthouses, and had its own drainage system to flush the latrines. A room between the two houses may have been occupied by the guestmaster/hosteller, the monastic official (obedientiary) who oversaw the management of the complex. The substantial remains of the east and west guesthouses are amongst the finest in the country, and whilst all that remains of the guest hall is a stone table leg, its structure and layout is known from geophysical survey of the site in 1992. The complex offers considerable insight to the provision for and distinction of guests within the Cistercian precinct.

The guest complex at Fountains
© Dave Macleod
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The guest complex at Fountains

The guesthouses
The guesthouses were built in the 1160s and substantial remains can still be seen.(107) They were both two-storey structures and vaulted, providing in total four suites for distinguished visitors and their households. Superior accommodation was on the upper levels. The eastern house is the better preserved and was the larger of the two. Its lower storey comprised of six bays and was divided into two rooms. Access to the upper storey was via an external staircase, which was originally of timber and later of stone. Less remains of the western guesthouse and accordingly, less is known about its layout and design. However, it was similar to the eastern house, but slightly smaller, occupying four rather than six bays. A bridge over the River Skell provided access to the first floor of the west house. The guesthouses were renovated in the fourteenth century. For the eastern house this essentially meant the reorganisation of the lower level, to extend the hall and decrease the chamber; windows and fireplaces were inserted in the upper storey. The western house was more extensively altered. A new two-storey hall was built to the north of the house, and the former guesthouse served as the chamberblock to this hall. Both houses were well equipped and designed for comfort, having fireplaces, latrines and even rose windows.(108)

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