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Fountains Abbey: 10. W Range

(54°6′35″N, 1°34′56″W)
Fountains Abbey: 10. W Range
SE 274 683
14 Aug 2001, 28 Sep 2003, 04 May 2015

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The W range runs N to S, presenting a straight face to the great court from which the cellarer's office projects. At its maximum extent it was 22 bays long, but it had been shorter and narrower. The range was subdivided into various rooms – stores, outer parlour, lay brothers’ refectory; above it was the lay brothers' dormitory (Gilyard-Beer 1970, 57-60). The cellarer's office is an early survival (Gilyard-Beer 1970, 58-9).

The vaulting is famous, but also a few doorways survive; numerous corbels low on the side walls support the vault, while a series of subtle carvings on the southernmost central piers provide detail in this spectacular space.

Corbels are numbered from N to S [not L to R on the wall]. If a corbel was too damaged, no photo was taken; the numbering continues with the next photo.

The doorway into the S aisle of the church is recorded in the report on the church. (For further details of the abbey, see report for Fountains Abbey, church).


Under abbot Richard III of Vauclair, extension of the old W range built under abbot Henry Murdac became necessary due to increase in numbers. The earlier E wall was retained but the range was enlarged to the W and S, and upwards. The foundations bridging the Skell, and the lower walls to just below window cill level, belong to the early 1160s. The N end (bays 1-13) use the same late Norman styles as the church (Coppack 1993, 44).

The range was extended to the full 22 bays that are seen today in the time of abbot Robert of Pipewell (1170-80). The vault was put on the W range at this time, and necessarily the lay-brothers' dormitory above was rebuilt. Fenestration of the lay-brothers' refectory at the S end (bays 14 to 22) uses pointed windows, but for the dormitory, round-headed windows continued the original design (Coppack 1993, 47, 49).

For further history, see report for Fountains Abbey, church.


Exterior Features



Interior Features

Vaulting/Roof Supports


Interior Decoration



The width of the chamfers increases over time, but also the way they are used. Earlier chamfers are practical, reducing damage on the angle of the stone, and tend to be narrow. Later, they are used with more appreciation of their value in grading the orders, or in their function of sending the eye onward around the architecture. These changes can be seen in the windows of the W range.


G. Coppack, The English Heritage Book of Fountains Abbey (London, 1993).

R. Gilyard Beer, Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire (HMSO, 1970).