Plate V. The Small Cloister on the south side of the Church.
Plate V. The Small Cloister on the south side of the Church.


We now pass to the eastern half of the enclosed area. The most important building in the monastery, and in this case the first to be erected, is the church. Like all other unaltered Carthusian churches, it was a plain building in one span, without aisles or arcades. It is placed parallel to, and at a distance of 47ft. within, the north precinct wall; the east end is about 90ft. from the east precinct wall, and the west end is parallel to the east cloister wall, from which it is separated by a small intervening courtyard 15ft. in width. The walls are 54in. in thickness. It is impossible now to determine whether the north wall was free from attached buildings. The three projections in its length appear to have been buttresses; they may have been cross walls, but there is nothing left to indicate how far they extended northwards. There was a diagonal buttress at the north-west angle of this wall.

Internally the width is 27ft., and the walls have been traced to a length of 112ft., but the eastern foundations have not been discovered. There is some indication however of an eastern extension, forming a bay of about 15ft. in width, and the existence of something of this kind is corroborated by the recollection of old people.

Towards the western end of the church some portions of the walls—about 24ft. of the north wall, and 64ft. of the south wall, are still standing, partly to their full height. The southern 11ft, of the west wall, as far as the jamb of the west window, forms part of the wall of the three-storeyed building already mentioned, which is built with a straight joint against the south-west angle of the church. The great west window had an opening of 12ft., a portion of the south jamb remains in situ, and broken fragments of its tracery have been unearthed. In the south wall there is a large three-light Perpendicular window, apparently an insertion of a slightly later date. Its arch is complete, but the mullions and tracery have fallen out. There is no evidence of any window on the north side. A few small fragments of 14th century glass have been found, having a diaper on enamel surface.

The church had two entrances, one on each side at the extreme west. The large door on the north was approached from the door at the widened east end of the north cloister alley, and it was protected by a pentise, of which traces are to be seen on the standing portion of the north wall, continued beyond the entrance. The doorway on the south is smaller; it has a segmental inner arch, and descends by two steps into a cloister alley against the south wall of the church, close to the end of the vaulted passage mentioned as leading from the great cloister. A second door in the south wall, 26ft. further to the east, was blocked up at an early date. It has an inner segmental arch, but no trace of it appears outside.

A Carthusian church consisted of two quires, a western for the use of the conversi or Lay brethren employed upon the farm, and an eastern for the use of the monks. Other  lay folk were not admitted, or at least only allowed as guests in an enclosed gallery. No trace of the pulpitum, or screen with gallery over it which separated the two quires, can be seen in the standing walls, but at 72ft. from the west end the tile flooring ceases at what was doubtless a step, the gradus chori, at the east end of the monks’ stalls. At the south end of the step there was a door leading to the first chamber of a block of buildings running south from the church.

The Presbytery extended 40ft. east of the gradus chori, and here another line marking the termination of the tile floor is met with. No signs of an altar base have been found, and it still remains to be ascertained if the church extended, as is probable, a bay further east.

The floor tiles used in the western part of the church were 11in. square, plain black and yellow tiles laid alternately. A band of 5½in. tiles of various patterns irregularly disposed formed the floor below the gradus chori.

In the portion of the north wall still standing, there is part of a recessed arch for a tomb, west of the monks’ quire, but no worked stone or inscribed slab remains to show whether this was the tomb of the founder. A corbel for the support of a tie-beam strut is to be seen in the south wall.


On the south side of the church there was a small cloister (Plate V.) bounded on the west by the line of buildings which formed also the eastern side of the great cloister. The building called the prior's house occupies the first 16ft., and the site of the rest is partly covered by the modern farm-house.

The north side, extending for 60ft. against the church wall, had a cloister alley 6ft. in width, which was no doubt continued round other sides of the cloister. Five corbels and a weather-mould are still to be seen in the church wall, indicating the pentise roof, the slope of which is shown by a chase in the return wall at the west. The last 3ft. of the weather-mould are embedded in this wall,—a proof that the church was completed first. At the west end of the alley, an arch of two orders, springing from moulded corbels, led by the vaulted passage directly into the great cloister.

The eastern side of the small cloister is formed by an interesting range of buildings, not quite at right angles with the church, and not bonded into it. The cloister wall still remains to a height of 4ft. above the floor line for a length of 120ft, showing four doorways and a recess at its southern end, but a gap has been made in this wall where the farm road enters the enclosure.

The first doorway, next the church, 3ft. 6in. wide, leads into an important room which was also entered from the church by the south door of the presbytery.

Plate VI. Base of an angle shaft.
Plate VI. Base of an angle shaft.

In each of its two western angles there is a small circular shaft, with a bead above a square base. The shafts are missing from the eastern angles, but it may be concluded that they are vaulting shafts, and that the room was vaulted in one bay (Plate VI.). The tiled floor appears to have been re-laid at some time, many broken tiles being used and no regularity of pattern being pre­served. This may have been the result of interments. If this was the Chapter-house, as its position might suggest, some evidence of the altar which the Carthusians usually placed there was to be expected, but none has been found. In the opinion of so competent an authority as Mr. W. St. John Hope, the Chapter-house was more probably to the north-east of the church, as at Mount Grace and London ; but up to the present no foundations of any attached building have been discovered there, and as the church wall does not remain above the floor line, no evidence has been found of any doorway on that side.

The second doorway in the east alley led originally into a chapel 11ft. 6in. wide ; but an alteration has taken place here, and a wall has been built cutting off 8ft. of the western part of the chapel. This seems to have been for the purpose of raising a small tower, for the side walls have been thickened so as to leave an unpaved floor-space only 6ft. square, and on the right of the doorway a winding staircase has been inserted in the wall. After this alteration the chapel must have been entered from the room just described, but the wall is here destroyed below the floor line. The chapel is paved with tiles of various patterns, including many alphabet tiles, and the Cantilupe shield. At the east end a strip of plain tiles formed a foot-pace 4ft. wide for an altar-base 6ft. by 2ft. 6in. A slab suiting these dimensions and bevelled on three sides is now used at the farm pump.

The third doorway in the alley is 4ft. 6in. in width, and leads to a wide entry of 11ft, with a doorway at the other end opening to some buildings further east, which have not given any result from excavation. A narrow room was perhaps a vestry entered from the church. It has a tiled floor, which has sunk considerably owing to mining operations, the seams of coal lying about 200 yards below the monastery site, having been worked out in recent years. It is interesting to note in passing that the monks of Beauvale were pioneers in the coal mining industry, for at the time of the suppression their coal pits at Selston were valued at a considerable sum. (Valor Ecclesiasticus, Henry VIII., vol. v., p. 156. Valet in exit’ et proficuis carbonu maritim’, £xx.)

South of this passage is a room 25ft. by 22ft., the outer walls of which have been destroyed by the farm road.

The fourth existing doorway is a small one of 2ft. 10in, opening. It is 19ft. from the south wall of the last-mentioned room, and this space is partly occupied on the inside by a thick mass of masonry, having the commencement of a flight of steps immediately to the left of the door on entering. This room was at least 40ft. long, for no other cross wall was encountered for that distance, when all traces of the buildings are lost. It may have been the Frater, where the monks dined together in silence, at 10 a.m. on Sundays and Feast days. In the cloister wall, just beyond the doorway, there is a recess 1ft. 9in. in depth and 10ft, in length, probably for the stone trough of a lavatory in the cloister alley.

The south side of this cloister, in which would have been the kitchen, bakehouse, and brewhouse, has dis­appeared altogether. There is a deep well near the centre of the south end of the cloister area.


Reference has been made to the small court and tall building occupying the space between the west end of the church and the great cloister, and these will now be described. The north boundary of the court is formed by an irregular shaped mass built against the angle buttress of the church, leaving room for a doorway in the north-west corner. This end of the court is paved with plain tiles, and has a gully leading to a drain for rain-water.

Plate VII. The court of the Prior's House.
Plate VII. The court of the Prior's House.

The south side of the court is formed by the three-storeyed building which overlaps part of the west end of the church. In the wall of it there is, next the church, a small doorway leading into a vaulted cellar, approached by a paved pentise under the west window; and next the cloister wall is an arched doorway at the head of an external flight of steps leading to a room above the ground storey. Neither of these doors has a weather-mould, as they were under a pentise roof, shown by a projecting string sloping up from the sill of the west window to the spring of the upper door. A chase over this door indicates a pentise over the steps, which sloped down to a small buttress near their foot. (Plate VII.)

The ground storey of this building is divided by two cross walls into three oblong spaces, each with a plain vault. The middle space forms the passage from the south side of the church into the great cloister, and the two side spaces were cellars, one opening into the small court, and the other into the great cloister.

The room over may have been the prior’s cell in the original plan, approached by the steps in the small court, but there is no “turn” to be found at this entrance. At the end of the I5th century it seems that the prior’s cell was rebuilt, and made into the more pretentious and comfortable dwelling still standing to its full height of three storeys, but with a modern roof. (Plate II.) It was found necessary to strengthen the wall on the cloister side by increasing the thickness from 24in. to 36in. A circular stair was introduced, occupying nearly half the cellar on the south side, by which access was gained to the two upper floors, and the doorway was reset in the new masonry. (Plate IV.) The wall at the western end of the passage through was similarly thickened, and a corbelled lintel was introduced to carry it, inside the doorway. The wall in the cellar on the north was not thickened, but corbelled out to its new dimensions above the vault, where the later masonry of larger stone and good ashlar commences.

The large room on the first floor was lighted by two two-light windows, on the north and east sides. A large square fireplace remains in the south wall. A partition probably divided the room off from the old entrance, that part of the floor being at a lower level. The vice occupying the south-west corner is here lighted by a small loop. The upper floor provided a very pleasant room, 21ft. by 12ft. 6in, having a small hooded fireplace in the south wall, and lighted by a range of three two-light square-headed windows, overlooking the great cloister. All the windows of the later work are without hood moulds and have flat sills.

It may have been in connection with these altera­tions that the door leading from the widened alley in the north-east corner of the great cloister was walled up, so that access to the little court and to the north door of the church was limited to the lay brothers approaching from without, and the monks would now pass through the passage under the prior's house, and enter the church by the south door.

The material used in building the monastery was local calcareous sandstone of a dark red colour, obtained from a quarry on the hill side, laid in random courses, and roughly hammer-dressed on the external faces. The internal faces, and perhaps, the external faces also, were plastered. The dressings to windows, doors, &c., were of grit stone from over the Derbyshire border. Judging by the few fragments of mouldings and window tracery that remain, the buildings were of a simple and unpretentious character, very similar in all respects to many Nottinghamshire churches of late 14th century work.

The monastery had an excellent supply of water from a spring, now known as Robin Hood’s well, which rises in the wood half-a-mile away. The water was impounded at the north-east corner of the site, and carried thence in open streams round the outside wall of the cloister gardens, and also to a large fish pond on the east, near the gate-house. Water was laid on in leaden pipes to each cell, possibly from a conduit or cistern which may have stood, as at the London and Mount Grace Charterhouses, in the great cloister.