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It is to be regretted that no really accurate ground-plan of Bolton has yet been produced. The best is that which was given in the Manual of the
Yorkshire Archæological Association, on the occasion of their visit to the ruins in 1877. In this the dimensions of the original church are approximately shown, and the existing foundations of the octagonal chapter-house and some of the domestic buildings clearly, if somewhat hastily, outlined. It has been conjectured that the central tower, which certainly formed part of the original design and as certainly no longer exists, may have fallen with such disastrous effects as to necessitate the rebuilding of the choir and transepts in the fourteenth century. However this may be, the western tower was begun in 1520, after the fashion so often traceable in parish churches. That is to say, the building of towers being a long process, the nave was left intact meanwhile; and as in this particular case the work was never finished, we have the instructive spectacle of a thirteenth-century west front standing close to the tall arch of a sixteenth-century tower, which rises only to the height of the nave. The usual monastic arrangement of screens, which seems to have been adopted by the canons, was especially suitable when, as was so often the case, part of the building was used as a parish church and part as the chapel of the priory. The choir, it must be remembered, was separated from the nave by two very solid screens. Of these, the eastern, called the “pulpitum,” was capable of supporting a broad gallery from which parts of the service were sung, and which still survives as the organ-loft in some of our cathedrals. Westwards was the rood-screen, equally solid, and having an altar in the middle, with a small door on each side. This, which was known as the “ Jesus Altar," or “ Altar of St. Cross,” served, in such cases as the one before us, for the parish; and here, at Bolton, where the nave is still used as a parish church, the altar stands precisely in this position, and the piscina may be seen close at hand in the south wall. At Marrick, a convent of Benedictine nuns near Richmond, and strangely near the Cistercian nunnery of Ellerton, the nave of the church has been rebuilt and is still used by the parish, while the choir has fallen into decay. It may well have been that here, as at Bolton, the western arm was always the parish church, and thus, at the dissolution, it was easy to wall it off completely and leave the rest to its fate.?
1 See on this subject Chap. V. “Fountains.”
? Leland, however, has a curious theory that at Marrick the parish originally occupied the eastern arm. If this is true, they must have migrated westwards at the dissolution.
Happily the choir at Bolton has yielded but slowly to decay, and some of the fourteenth-century ornament and wall arcading retains its beauty almost unimpaired. The practical leaden roof which protects the nave and shelters the Sunday worshippers, goes far to spoil the picturesque effect of the church from many points of view, but does not help us to forgive the spoilers who unroofed the choir.
Strange as it is to think of Clifford, the Shepherd Lord, frequenting the company of these cloistered ecclesiastics, it is stranger to pass in imagination to the wild, half-brutal, and yet sterling “ Protestant dissenters” who afterwards peopled the remote hamlets and homesteads; strangest perhaps of all, to recall —and who can help recalling ?-Mrs. Gaskell's description of another Wharfedale group—the six little Brontë children who “used to walk out, hand in hand, towards the glorious wild moors which in
i Confided in infancy to shepherds who concealed him among the Cumberland Fells, he was restored to his estates by Henry VII when he was twenty-five.
“ Love had he seen in huts where poor men lie ;
His daily teachers had been woods and rills,
after days they loved so passionately; the elder ones taking thoughtful care for the toddling wee things.” Surely somewhere on the misty moor they are wandering now—still six still hand in hand.
In our first chapter we turned away from the busy streets of York, with all their crowd of present interests and associations of the past, to linger among the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey. Since then, as we have wandered in desert places brooding over an obscure but not unreal episode, in many a bright pasture and solemn shade, our feet have brushed the dew and our eyes and hearts found rest, while even the half-scornful contemplation of a purely spiritual conflict has soothed the fretfulness of our souls. Not for to-day or to-morrow, but for ever, did these monks design their buildings or mould their dispositions, confiding, with deliberate faith, to future generations the completing of the one, and to God the perfecting of the other.
At Whitby we once more enter a thronged and busy town, and once more only to turn our backs