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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 guesthall


A table leg; all that remains of the twelfth-century guesthall
© Cistercians in Yorkshire Project
<click to enlarge>
Remains of guesthouse table-leg at Fountains

Geophysical survey has recently revealed that a large aisled guesthall, comprising of seven bays, lay to the north of the guesthouses. The hall was probably entered via a porch at the southern end, and would have been heated.(109) Guests would have slept and also eaten here. In the early days the abbot of Fountains would have presided as host, but later entertained distinguished visitors in a private chamber. The guesthall was built c. 1170, during Robert of Pipewell’s abbacy, and was probably intended as a public hall for ‘the common folk’ [Gerald of Wales].(110) These guest halls could, evidently, be rather rough. An ‘untoward event’ occurred in the guesthall refectory at Margam Abbey in 1180, when one young man struck another and was the next day found dead on the very spot where he had thrown his punch.(111) Guests at Furness were stabbed to death by visiting grooms in the thirteenth century when a brawl broke out in the abbey’s guesthall.(112)

Household expenses
The abbey accounts for 1457/8 record that 13s 4d was spent on linen for the refectory and hospice.
[Memorials of Fountains III, p. 51.]

The hospice outside the West Gate
Fountains may also have had guest accommodation of sorts outside the gates of the abbey, perhaps to provide for women who were not permitted to be received as guests within the precinct. There certainly seems to have been a hospice here affiliated to the abbey in the sixteenth century, for according to the terms of the tenancy, the keepers of the West Gates, Robert and Ellen Dawson, were to build stables by their house or the hospice for their own horses and those of their guests,

the which guests Robert agrees by these presents to receive and
care for diligently and humanely in everything, both in word and
deed, and to treat them courteously and kindly in the accounts of
their expenses as far as he is able, without damage to the monastery
or of himself.

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