PLATE VIII. Interior of Chapter House - Newstead.
PLATE VIII. Interior of Chapter House - Newstead.

The chapter-house, now the chapel of the mansion is of one build with the parlour and may be assigned to the middle of the 13th century. Its west front is treated in the usual manner with a doorway in the middle and a window on either side. The doorway, like that of the parlour, is lofty as compared with its width. The opening is 5ft. 2in. wide. The arch was originally of three orders, but, owing to the interference of the ceiling, the outer order has been cut away. The inner orders, with rather slender roll-mouldings, are divided by a deep hollow, which was made by undercutting the surface of the stone and leaving a superficial band of intertwining foliage. Knobs were left at frequent intervals in the hollow and carved into heads, grotesque figures and rosettes, which appeared wreathed in the band of leaf-work. These for the most part remain, but the fragile undercut carving has been broken away. Three slender detached shafts, banded in the middle, on each side of the doorway, correspond to the three orders of the arch. The capitals are long and attenuated, with conventional foliage which in each case is treated differently. Owing to the small scale of the work as a whole, the carving is very minute. The stalks in each capital spring from a collar at the foot of the bell, just above the necking, which is deeper in the southern than in the northern capitals. The middle bands of the shafts have upper and lower rolls with pointed fillets, and a pointed roll in the middle between two deep hollows. The bases are high, with a water-moulding between the upper roll and the moulded plinth, which is composed of three rolls with small hollows between. The delicacy of the whole work is remarkable.

The windows on each side of the doorway are each of two lights with a quatrefoil plate pierced in the spandril beneath the enclosing arch. In each case the sill, ift. 9½in. deep to the glass line, is 3ft. 11in. above the cloister floor, and terminates in a projecting outer roll. The window arch is of two orders, each with a bold filleted roll. The jamb-shafts are detached, with plain capitals and bases with upper and lower fillets and rolls and water-moulding between. The window-opening is 3ft. wide and is divided by a small shaft, the capital of which is carved with conventional foliage and heads. The soffit-moulding of each light ends in small corbel-heads, and the hood-mould of each window was also stopped by small heads, set horizontally on the south side. While the two lights of the northern window have simple pointed heads, those of the southern are trefoiled.

The chapter-house internally measures 24ft. square, and is vaulted in six oblong compartments from two slender piers which divide it into a middle and two side aisles of two bays each. Each pier is octagonal in section with a central shaft and four detached shafts at the cardinal points. The capitals of the shafts are carved with trefoils and knots of foliage which spring, as in the chapter-house doorway, from collars in the lower part of the bell. Each shaft is banded with a pointed roll in the middle of the band. The bases have water-mouldings between upper and lower rolls with pointed edge-fillets.

As each compartment of the vaulting is narrower from north to south than from east to west, owing to the inclusion of six bays within a square, the enclosing arches on this line are acutely pointed. The soffit-mouldings of all the enclosing arches are hollowed rolls, a somewhat unusual feature. The diagonal ribs are pointed rolls. Of the six key-stones, three have flatly carved rosettes within roundels, one has been prepared for this treatment but left uncarved, and the two others are quite plain. The arches and ribs are met upon the walls by pyramidal corbels with triple fluting, ending in small sculptured heads. The treatment of the two vaulting bays of the parlour, now, as already mentioned, included in the chapel, is similar : both key-stones are rosetted.

Round the walls of the chapter-house ran the stone bench, on which the members of the house sat during the daily chapter-meeting. This was divided into seats by a series of arched panels with rounded trefoil heads, beneath a string-course at the level of the springing of the vault. The spandrils thus formed are pierced by unmoulded vesica. The jamb-shafts dividing the panels have water-mouldings in the bases: the capitals are plain with one exception, which is upon the south side, but were evidently intended for carving.

There are three two-light windows in the east wall, with trefoiled lights and quatrefoil plates in the spandrils. These, like the altar, tiled floor, etc., belong to the modern restoration of the building as a chapel. There is also a modern piscina with drain in the north-west corner of the chapter-house, close to the steps leading to the gallery formed out of the upper part of the parlour.

Proceeding along the cloister walk, we come, south of the chapter-house, to the traces of a blocked doorway, now filled with a stone bearing a list of the priors of Newstead and a Latin inscription to the effect that it was put up on 29th December, the feast of the martyrdom of St. Thomas of Canterbury, 1908. This doorway is probably that of the passage leading to the infirmary, which, from a document already cited,1 we know to have been east of the cloister and close to the churchyard. The passage, however, which remains beneath the east part of the south range, may have served this purpose, and the blocked doorway may have led into a room used as the convent treasury. Of the infirmary buildings no traces are left above ground: their site is covered by the rose-garden east of the house, in the angle formed by the eastern range and the later south-east wing. South of the blocked doorway and opposite the end of the south cloister walk are the remains of what appears to be a blocked window, which probably opened into the common-house.

The east-walk ends at a tall doorway, 3ft. 2½in. wide, with a chamfered semi-circular arch, in the wall of the south range. This leads to a vaulted passage or dark entry dividing the south range from the southward extension of the east range and forming a continuation of the east walk. This passage, which, with its doorway, forms part of the original 12th century work, is divided into three bays with a total length of 25ft. 7½in. The first bay, which is narrower than the rest and is 8ft. 3m. long, is covered by a flat segmental barrel-vault, which was probably altered when the dorter-stair from the south walk was made in the 13th century. The chamfered string-course at the springing of the vault upon either side is original. On the west side is a low plinth six inches broad : on the east side a modern newel stair leads to the upper floor. The second and third bays, a step lower than the first, are vaulted with chamfered diagonal ribs with broad flat soffits, forming wide segmental curves, and have a width of 9ft. 7½in. On the east side of the first bay is the modern doorway to the common-house. The second bay has on the east the earlier doorway, now blocked by the fireplace at the back; and on the west a low doorway in which are steps to the undercroft of the frater. The passage ends in a doorway to the garden south of the house. Probably a doorway at this point originally led to out-buildings on this side of the monastery and, as mentioned above, to the infirmary.

The common-house or warming-room formed a large hall beneath the southern part of the dorter, now measuring 57ft. from north to south by 24ft. from east to west, and divided into eight vaulted compartments by a line of three octagonal columns on the longer axis. This is now divided by a partition wall, embedding the middle column, into two rooms; but at one time the eastern bay, as the blocked doorway in the cloister shows, must have been walled off from the rest wholly or partially, to form a passage to the infirmary or as a separate room.

Modern restoration and re-arrangement make it impossible to speak positively on this point. The northern room is a hall lighted by a modern three-light window in the east wall of its north-eastern compartment, and with a doorway in the east wall of the next compartment which gives access to a passage on the ground-floor of the added southeastern range. The southern room, forming the smaller drawing-room, is covered on the east side by the same range, and is lighted by two large windows in the south wall, and a third at the south end of the west wall, all modern and of two lights with quatrefoil plates in the head. At the north-end of the west wall is a large modern fireplace with projecting chimney-breast, which, as before noted, blocks the original doorway.

The modern alterations here, as elsewhere, are in general keeping with the character of the mediaeval work; and it seems probable that the original fireplace of this room, of which no traces are left, was in the east wall and was removed when the south-east wing was added. The details of the pillars and vaulting are extremely plain, and the work was probably completed early in the 13th century. The pillars are low, with large octagonal capitals of simple profile, and plain bases without water-mouldings. The vaulting-ribs are chamfered, except in the two compartments of the third bay from the north, where they are pointed rolls. In this and the fourth bay they are corbelled off from the wall on plain inverted pyramids ; but in the other two bays they curve into the wall without any corbels. All details, however, have been considerably restored, and it is difficult to say how far the original work has been accurately reproduced.

The dormitory or dorter of the canons occupied the whole upper floor of the east range, extending over the chapter-house, which is entirely within the range, to the south wall of the transept. The post-suppression alterations, however, obliterated all traces of its arrangement, and its site is occupied by a series of bedrooms opening upon the corridor above the cloister walk and the landing above the common-house passage. As the site of the south transept on both floors was incorporated in the dwelling-house, the night stair from the dorter to the church, by which the canons came into church for the night-office, has disappeared. Of the day-stair from the cloister, however, there are some remains. This stair was entered from a doorway in the south range of the cloister, west of the entrance to the common-house passage, and mounted eastward at right angles to the entrance, with a series of three open arches at different levels towards the cloister, divided by double shafts, the lower courses and water-moulded bases of which remain built up in the wall. The doorway of the dorter must have been at the head of the stair, while, on the right hand, above the common-house passage and between the dorter and the east wall of the frater, there was probably a room which may have served as the treasury of the convent. The site of the rere-dorter or necessarium is probably covered by part of the south-east range: the fall in the ground towards the stream on the south afforded excellent opportunities for drainage.

A small modern doorway in the wall of the south range takes the place of the doorway of the day-stair and gives access to a modern stair which takes its place. Immediately west of this, in the lower part of the frater wall, is a broad recess 12ft. 10in. wide, beneath a segmental chamfered arch with a hood-mould. This was the cloister lavatory: the trough is now represented by a plain bench, 2ft. 3in. from the ground and 1ft. 6in. deep. Upon this is placed a fragment of a 15th century tomb-slab with the remains of an incised cross and the first words of the inscription, " Hic iacet," followed by a name which cannot be deciphered with certainty.

West of the lavatory come two blocked openings, the first with a sill at some height above the ground, the second, a doorway which probably led down into the eastern part of the frater undercroft. Both seem to have had lintel heads, and the first was probably the recess where towels were hung for use after washing at the lavatory. In the bay of the cloister wall opposite the lavatory, the second from the east, part of the space between the two windows is pierced by a square opening with a hollow chamfer, in the top of which is fixed a large hook. Possibly a lamp may have been hung here, and lighted on dark evenings before supper.

The doorway of the frater is in the west part of the south range, just opposite the angle formed by the west and south walls of the cloister walk. The sill was raised three feet above the ground, because of the undercroft below, and a flight of steps must have ascended through the doorway to the screens at the west end of the frater. The doorway was 3ft. 9½in. wide with a shallow splay, in which are two jamb-shafts upon each side of three-quarter circular section. These shafts were simply banded in the middle: the capitals are plain, and the bases very small. The head of the doorway has been entirely cut away by the ceiling, but probably remains behind the panelling of the corridor above. One carved return-stop of the hood is left on the east side. The work is of much the same date as that of the parlour and chapter-house, but plainer in character.

PLATE IX. Undercroft of Frater - Newstead Priory.
PLATE IX. Undercroft of Frater - Newstead Priory.

Next this, opposite the end of the west walk and 4ft. 6in. from the ground, is the pointed head of a blocked doorway which led down into the western part of the frater undercroft. The rebate for the door, which opened outwards, remains: the sill was probably one or two steps below the level of the cloister walk.

The south range was divided into two floors, the lower floor being sunk some feet below the ground-level. The whole site of the frater and its screens is occupied by the great drawing-room, the entrances to which are now from landings at the east and west ends. The passage formed by the screens led to the kitchen, the site of which seems to be approximately that of the present kitchen near the south-western corner of the house, a building with an octagonal roof and central louvre, for which the abbot's kitchen at Glastonbury probably furnished a suggestion. Buck's view shows a large square building with a pyramidal roof and a lateral chimney at this point. The pantry and buttery were probably on the west side of the screens; but this part of the house has been so much transformed that its monastic arrangements are merely conjectural.

The undercroft of the frater, now the servants' hall, and originally used as a cellar, measures 73ft. from east to west by 24ft. from north to south. It is divided by a row of octagonal columns down the middle into eight bays with sixteen vaulting compartments. The easternmost column is thick and massive, but the remainder are very slender: this probably indicates that the work was begun at the east end and the design subsequently altered to suit the spacing required, as it is difficult to imagine that there was anything upon the floor above which demanded a specially stout column at this point. The details throughout are severely plain. The vaulting compartments are groined without ribs: the enclosing arches have wide chamfers and are corbelled off from the wall upon small half-octagon pyramids, except at the point between the second and third compartments from the east in the north part of the wall, where the angles of the half-octagon are practically suppressed. The undercroft is lighted by a series of broad pointed openings, apparently modern enlargements of the earlier windows, in the south wall at the outside ground level. The present stairs and doorways to the undercroft are in the south parts of the east and west wall. As has been said, the original doorways in the north wall, which indicate an original division into two cellars, have been blocked, and in this wall there is now a fireplace beneath that of the drawing-room above. The north-eastern compartment has been partitioned off to form a small scullery.

We now return to the west walk of the cloister. This communicated with the southern part of the western range by a doorway, now blocked, 2ft. 8½in. wide and 5ft. 9in. high, with a rectangular head and with an ogee moulding and hollow chamfer running continuously through the head and jambs. This must have been made in the 15th century, possibly superseding an earlier doorway. There are traces of another blocked opening nearer the north end of the same wall.

At the north end of this alley, next the church, a plain round-headed doorway, 3ft. 5in. wide, was the entrance from the outer parlour, which gave admittance to the cloister from the outer court. This, like the inner parlour, was a passage through the range of buildings, with a doorway at either end. The outer doorway is shown in Buck's view as existing, though blocked, in 1726, and appears to have been, like the inner, part of the original 12th century work, though encased within the southward extension of the west front of the church. The blocking masonry was pierced with a small rectangular window. This part of the work has now been Gothicised in harmony with the rest of the west front, and the doorway has been destroyed. The parlour now forms the lobby at the foot of the north-western staircase, which ascends from it to the landing at the north end of the great hall on the first floor.

The western range contained the great cellar of the monastery and the outer parlour on the lower floor, and the prior's hall, the chief guest room of the priory, on the upper. At the north end of the hall and above the parlour were the private rooms of the prior's lodging. This range has been so entirely rebuilt that its mediaival arrangement cannot be made out with certainty, and Buck's view and the picture in the billiard-room both show the house with post-suppression additions which concealed much of the old work.

The arrangement, however, in 1726 affords some clue to the appearance of the building before the suppression. Buck's view shows it as consisting of three storeys, the uppermost of which probably represents a 15th century heightening of the prior's hall, with the addition of a clerestory, due to the substitution of a flat for a pointed roof. At the south end of the west wall was a porch, leading into the screens of the hall and approached by a straight flight of steps, guarded by parapet walls with a landing at the head. The porch, apparently of late 16th or early 17th century date, stood upon a bridge with a half-arch, beneath which was evidently the door into the cellar. It is highly probable that this, allowing for rebuilding, reproduced the former arrangement of a first-floor main entrance, approached by a stair.2 North of this, in the middle of the front, a row of six arches projected, bearing the great chimney of the hall, shown as pierced by a two-light window, and a rectangular bay-window continued as high as the parapet. Within the arches were a series of windows lighting the cellar; and the northernmost arch adjoined a large buttress with a gabled head above an offset. This buttress, which terminated beneath the added stage, was certainly not later than the early part of the 14th century. Between it and another more slender buttress was a window, apparently round-headed, on the ground-floor. Above the second buttress, the upper part of which was cut off, rose a half-octagon bay, with large windows lighting rooms on the first and second floors, that on the first floor being evidently the great chamber at the end of the hall. A narrow piece of wall divided the bay from the screen forming a continuation of the west front of the church. In this, above the parlour doorway and breaking the blank window-tracery of the wall, were a large rectangular mullioned window, and above it a smaller one on the second floor.

It is obvious from the elevation that at this period the great hall, with clerestory windows of uncertain date in the upper stage, ran through the second and third storeys and terminated in a cross-wall at the point corresponding to the presumably mediaeval buttress on the outside; and that between this and the south wall of the church the two upper storeys were divided by floors. In the present arrangement this division is still maintained.

The outer stair and first-floor porch, however, have been removed, and the grand staircase leading to the hall is in the space at the angle of the west and south ranges, to the south-west of which are the tower and other modern buildings. The cellar below the hall now forms the "crypt " or entrance hall, and is entered by a gabled porch at the south end. This is of early 15th century work and has a pointed barrel-vault crossed by slender transverse ribs. It is not indicated in Buck's view and can hardly be in its original position : it is possible that it was built up within the porch on the first floor, or removed elsewhere to make room for it. A buttress on the south side reproduces the features of that at the north end of the hall. North of the porch, the arrangement of projecting arches, within which the windows of the cellar are recessed, has been retained, but with modifications in size and number: these carry two tall bay-windows of similar design, while there is a third above the porch, all lighting the great dining-hall on the first floor, with clerestory windows in the recesses between. At the north end of the projecting arches the early buttress has been rebuilt, and north of this the general arrangement does not materially differ from that shown by Buck. The Gothicising, however, of the screen-wall at the extreme north end did away, as has been seen, with the parlour doorway and also with the windows above, the only window in this part of the front of the building being the two-light opening near the foot of the secondary staircase.

At the present time the great cellar or entrance hall measures 47ft. from north to south by 23½ft. from east to west, and is divided into four bays and eight vaulting compartments by a middle row of three octagonal piers, into which the chamfered ribs of the vault die away. Much of the stone-work is old, but it has been much modernised. At the south end a doorway leads into the lobby at the foot of the grand staircase. A short flight of steps in the west part of the wall at the north end leads up to an inner cellar, now called very inaccurately the "monks' parlour," which is vaulted in four compartments from a central column, with details similar to those of the great cellar. This formed the under-croft of the great chamber of the prior's lodging, and now leads to the lobby of the secondary staircase on the site of the outer parlour.

Of the rooms upon the upper floor, the great dining-hall, with its elaborate decoration and carved screen at the south end, represents with enlarged dimensions the prior's hall; while the breakfast-room at the north end corresponds roughly to his great chamber. North of this and above the parlour, on a level with the head of the smaller staircase, was probably a second room, unless the great chamber was continued through to the wall of the church. From the landing between the smaller staircase and the library, at the north end of the west corridor, a newel stair leads to the two rooms on the second floor above the staircase and breakfast-room. The northern room, known as the monk's chamber, lighted by a modern window in the north wall, was possibly the prior's oratory; and the southern, famous as Lord Byron's bedroom, his sleeping-chamber. The wall-masonry of the northern room appears to be mediaeval, but this enlargement of the prior's lodging can hardly have been made until the heightening of the walls of the hall, not earlier than the 15th century.

In the early days of the monastery, the prior doubtless slept in the dorter with his brethren, and the western building was probably of a very simple character. It is possible that the only building on this side was the outer parlour, projecting at the north end of the west wall of the cloister : the cellar beneath the frater would, early in the 13th century, have provided ample accommodation for the convent stores. The scanty indications seem to show that the western cellar, with the hall and prior's lodging, were built about the end of the 13th century at earliest, when the west front of the church was completed. The high-pitched roof of this range was probably removed in the 15th century, when a clerestory and flattened roof were added to the hall, and the prior's lodging correspondingly raised by a storey.

Of the buildings of the outer court, which must have included various offices for the business of the convent, a guest-house and the almonry near the gate-house, nothing is left; and the low range of buildings south-west of the Sussex tower added by Colonel Wildman is entirely modern. When all allowance, however, has been made for alterations and modernisms, the cloister and its buildings present an admirable example of the plan of a mediaeval monastery, while the beautiful remains of the church are a feature seldom found where a monastery has been converted into a dwelling-house. At Lacock and Ford, where much of the cloisters and their buildings have survived, the churches have disappeared or, as at Lacock, have left only slight traces of their existence. In other cases, as at Thurgarton and Brinkburn, where the churches remain whole or in part, the modern house has left little trace of the cloister. At Newstead, on the contrary, where the cloister buildings have been adapted to the purposes of a dwelling-house with remarkable conservatism, the ruins of the church, though sadly imperfect, are the chief architectural feature of the group.

(1) See p. 96 above.
(2) Cf. the arrangement at Torre abbey, Devon. A similar arrangement is shown in old views of Daventry priory (see Bridges, Hist. Northants, I, 48), and may be paralleled from many private houses.