Fountains Abbey 16
Photographer: Sedgfield, William Russell (1826 - 1902)
Medium: Photographic print
William Howitt begins his book 'The Ruined Abbeys of Yorkshire' with a criticism of the “Dryasdust” style of historical writing used by topographers by which one gets “the bare bones of the chief facts, and nothing but the bare bones; no flesh, no muscle, no skin, no beautifying colour and life."
On the history of Fountains Abbey he continues: "In some contentions in its earlier days between Murdoc, its abbot, and one William, for election to the archbishopric of York, the partizans of William set fire to it, and burnt it down, hoping to have burnt Murdoc in it. It was soon rebuilt, for the style of the main body of the abbey is Early English, and though many additions were made to it, they must have been either very early, or only towards the conclusion of the papal ascendancy in England; for the main body of the building is in the Early English style, and the tower in the Perpendicular. We are told that in 1203, Ralph, the ninth abbot, commenced the building of the choir, and that successive abbots built the Lady Chapel, or chapel of the Nine Altars, and that these, with the great cloister, the Infirmary, and the Xenodochium, or house of entertainment for the poor, were not completed till 1247. The great tower appears to have been built by the abbots Huby and Darnton at the end of the fifteenth century, and is of the style of that period, Perpendicular; so that it must have been in the glory of its freshness when the commissioners of Henry VIII. arrived in 1535 to terminate its ecclesiastical existence."
Text by William Howitt from his book 'The Ruined Abbeys of Yorkshire'
This is the second of four photographs by Russell Sedgfield published in this re-issue of part of 'The Ruined Abbeys and Castles of Great Britain' (1862).