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Fountains Abbey: Location

Fountains Abbey: History
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Strength and Stability
End of Monastic Life

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Lay Brothers' Range
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The bakehouse and brewhouse


© Abbey House Museum
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The two-storey building that lay to the south of the woolhouse, and was part of the same complex, is thought to have housed the abbey’s bakehouse and brewhouse. This is now heavily ruined, but was once a fine ashlar building dating from the late thirteenth century.(136)

Daily bread
In 1512, the keepers of the West Gates at Fountains, who rented a house there, received each week from the bakehouse seven loves of the best bread and seven of the inferior kind; while their successors only received six loaves of each, they did collect three extra gallons of ale from the brewhouse each week. [Lease Book of Fountains Abbey, nos. 276, 237.]

The bakehouse
A huge brick-lined oven in the southern end of the lower storey suggests that this was the abbey bakehouse. Here, bread would have been baked for the monks, lay-brothers and servants, as well as corrodians, guests and the poor. Saturday was probably the main day for baking.(137) At least two types of bread were baked here – the better bread was for the convent, the poorer quality bread was for the yeomen.(138) ‘The Beaulieu Account Book’, compiled. c. 1270, lists four different types of bread.(139) Bread of sorts was also fed to horses and dogs. The mid-fifteenth century account books record payments for ‘horsebread’, and the Lease Book mentions ‘grey’ loaves that were fed to dogs. In 1520, the forester of Fountains Park received as part of his daily allowances two loaves of grey bread for his hounds.(140)

The brewhouse
The upper storey of the bakehouse has been identified as the brewhouse, for not only were the two buildings often together, but there is evidence of a piped water supply. Brewing was one of the few industrial processes that required an abundant supply of water.(141)

Waste not, want not
In the late thirteenth century the monks of Beaulieu Abbey used the dregs of the malt to feed the community’s pigs and poultry.
[D. Williams, The Cistercians in the Early Middle Ages, p. 206.]

Brewing occurred weekly and the ale was probably only intended for internal use. Two kinds of ale were produced. The community would have received the better quality ale.(142) In 1531, John Cooke was the brewer [pandoxtrium]. The terms of his lease reveal that should age or infirmity cause him to retire, he would be provided for by the community; in other words, he would receive a pension of sorts.(143)

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