« VorigeDoorgaan »
hands on each other, or on the secular clergy ; of carrying arms; playing at dice and other unlawful games ; frequenting taverns, gardens, vineyards, meadows, cornfields, and other forbidden and improper places; leaving off their proper habit; refusing obedience to their superiors and conspiring against them; going out of the monastery and its precincts without leave; associating with the excommunicated and celebrating the divine offices in their presence, etc. etc. ; he is to absolve them of all their crimes except such as ought to be reported to the Apostolic See.
About the middle of the same century, the number of monks at Roche had become so small that John, Earl of Warren, in granting to the monastery the church of Hatfield, gives as his reason that he could not but remark how few were the monks compared with the magnificence of the stonework of the Abbey. His gift is, therefore, intended to support thirteen additional monks “of respectable life and competent literature.” When, on 23d June 1539, Abbot Henry Cundel surrendered the monastery to the emissaries of Henry VIII, he was joined in the deed by seventeen monks, each of whom afterwards received a pension of £6 a year, while one of £33:6:8 was allotted to the Abbot.
Of the meaning and origin of the name Roche Abbey there has never been any question. The “ compendium of the discoveries made by Dr. Legh and Dr. Layton in the visitation of the Royal Province of York, etc., in the time of Henry VIII,” specifies, under the head of “Superstition,” that “ Pilgrimage is made hither to an image of the crucifix, found (as it is believed) on a rock, and is held in veneration.” No vestige of this curiosity can now be traced in the face of the limestone, and it may be assumed that the visitors, in accordance with their general instructions, destroyed the dangerous symbol. The rock, however, has enjoyed a permanent if less exalted fame as excellent building material; and the Roche Abbey quarries, besides being honourably mentioned in the competitions for St. Paul's Cathedral and the new Palace of Westminster, have supplied stone for no small proportion of the Yorkshire churches.
History has no more important lesson to teach us than its own continuity ; and the fact that the present is the child of the past and the parent of the future, has burst upon the minds of some modern thinkers with the force of a religion. It is good, indeed, for men and nations to sober the days of sunshine and cheer the nights of gloom by the powers of retrospect and forecast, and to recognise, in much that to them is smooth and easy, and full of rest and peace, the outcome of another's conflict and reaping of his toil.
“So we inherit that sweet purity
For which they struggled, groaned, and agonised.” Scanty as are the ruins which now nestle in the green and flower-strewn valley at Roche, they still plead the cause of the past and protest against oblivion.
“ The wayfarer from Sheffield,” says a recent writer, “ cannot fail to remark that, as he approaches the Abbey, the face of the country is entirely changed. The red-tiled cottages, the roses with which they are entwined, the rich pastures and the marks of high cultivation which meet the eye on every side, bear witness, not only to the excellence of the soil and the care of a noble landlord, but also to the work and taste of those untiring men who, in the early periods of our history, were the pioneers of all the peaceful arts, and who have left the impress of their refinement on the places where they dwelt.” 1
To destroy this continuity and obliterate this record, was the special function of the landscapegardening of the eighteenth century.
The traveller of to-day will not expect to find the “very fair builded house all of freestone and every
By Sidney Oldall Addy, M.A. Shef
i Charters of Roche Abbey. field, 1878.
house vaulted with freestone and covered with lead,” described by one Cuthbert Sherebrook; but even the “venerable chasm and solemn thicket” visited by Walpole in 1772, and pronounced by him “SO overgrown that when one finds the spot one can scarce find the ruins,” must have been preferable to the wholesale pulling down and covering up which, under the auspices of “Capability Brown," almost immediately followed.
It is plain that the rock was no mere excuse for a name, but a feature of real importance in the site ; for a little consideration will show that it must have almost touched, and very considerably darkened, the north transept of the church. Yet the winding valley, with its gentler southern slopes, its woods and running stream, was doubtless soon converted into a pleasant seclusion ; and the natural features of the scene are, in themselves, little inferior to those of Fountains. But, alas for the antiquary who dreams of finding here rich treasures of monastic ruin! A gatehouse of comparatively late date, and parts of the choir and transepts of the church, are all, or nearly all, that remain, where once was a church at least 200 feet long by 100 feet broad (at the transepts), and a cloister-court, 180 feet by 125 feet, surrounded with stately halls and buildings of stone.