The western range was primarily used by lay-brothers who
worked and lived at the abbey, rather than on the granges. Here
they had their own refectory, dormitory and toilet-block (reredorters);
the lay-brothers at Fountains also had their own cloister and infirmary,
which lay to the west of the range. In a Benedictine house, where
there were no lay-brothers, the western range was occupied by the
cellarer and generally
also had accommodation for guests. The western range at Fountains
is the largest and most impressive twelfth-century
building of its kind in Europe. It was begun in the 1160s by Abbot
Richard of Clairvaux and
was brought to completion by his successor,
Robert of Pipewell.
This replaced a smaller range that was built during Henry
Murdac’s abbacy, since it could no longer accommodate
the ever-increasing number of lay-brothers.
was pulled down almost entirely to make way for the splendid new
range, which was an ambitious and impressive
structure. This was twice as large as its predecessor, extending
over ninety metres in length. The lay-brothers’ refectory
occupied most of the lower storey, but there was also cellarage,
a cellarer’s office, and an outer parlour. An open-plan dormitory
ran the entire length of the upper level. It has been estimated
that about 140 lay-brothers could have been provided for here.
The interior of the range would have been white-washed inside,
and painted with white mock masonry lines.