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Fountains Abbey: 03. Library Passage

(54°6′35″N, 1°34′56″W)
Fountains Abbey: 03. Library Passage
SE 274 683
17 Jul 2001, 25 May 2015

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The passage at Fountains joins the cloister to the infirmary walk. It was developed from previous uses in the later twelfth century and thus its remains are rather disjointed. The W section has a half-barrel vault and once served as a library; the 4th bay of the rib-vaulted area was entered from the S transept and was a sacristy; the four E bays were newly-enclosed in the late twelfth century. As well as W and E entrances, there is an entrance from the transept, which is still open, and there is a blocked entrance in the S wall which led into the vestibule of the chapter house, where more books were kept [we all know the problem of books] (Gilyard-Beer 1970, 45). The passage is windowless.

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


Gilyard-Beer narrates the various divisions which were made within the passage in monastic times, and its use as a charnel house after the Dissolution until it was opened in 1854 (Gilyard-Beer 1970, 44-45).

Some time in the later twelfth century a ribbed vault was put on the five eastern bays, while the bay to the W, supporting the night stairs from the monks dormitory to the S transept, remained with its original half-barrel vault. The corbels are thus of both periods.


Exterior Features


Interior Features

Vaulting/Roof Supports


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

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