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The church made but slow progress during the troublous and depressed times of the monastery of Meaux, but under the eighth abbot, Michael, 12351240, the fabric was completed and covered throughout with lead. The interior fittings were so far proceeded with as the erection of the monks' stalls and the decent ordering of all the altars. The buildings for the smiths and tanners were removed by the same abbot from North Grange to within the abbey precincts, and a lead-covered building of stone was erected at Wawne for the manufactory of woollen cloth for the monks and converts, and also for gifts to the poor and to pilgrims.
Under William, the ninth abbot, 1249-1269, the belltower was added to the church, and covered with lead, and within it placed a great bell, called "Benedictus. An inner ceiling of wood was added to the church, the floor was paved throughout with tiles, and the stalls of the converts erected in the west part or nave of the church. It would seem that these final works for the completion of the great church were accomplished in 1253; at all events it was not until July 2nd of that year that the high altar received consecration at the hands of Gilbert, Bishop of Withern, acting for the Archbishop of York.* The infirmary of the converts was finished under the same abbot, and a large lead-covered granary near the bake-house. Abbot William was buried in the chapter house, near his predecessors, beneath a tomb in front of the pulpit.
During the comparatively brief reign of the next three abbots, no progress or change was effected in the
*The following are the actual words of the dedication, as given in the Abbey Chartulary (Lands. MSS. 524, f. 106b). "Hoc altare consecratum est in honore Beate Marie Virginis et matris Domini nostri Jhesu Christi a domino Gilberto Candide Case Venerabili episcopo vj nonas Julii, anno gratie millesimo CCo quinquagesima tertio. Concessit etiam idem episcopus ad idem altare xl dies de injuncta penitentia omnibus celebrantibus et adorantibus ante illud omni tempore, confessis et vere contritis. Et ad omnia altaria privata ab ipso consecrata insuper decem dies concessit."
fabric of the monastery, but under Roger, the thirteenth abbot, 1286-1310, a great chamber was built near the cemetery on the east side. He placed two beautiful painted panels over the high altar. Shortly before his resignation he built, for his own special use, a set of chambers on the east side of the monks' infirmary, and between that and their dormitory. These subsequently became the regular apartments of the abbot. It was during his rule that the monks found it necessary to strip the lead off the lay brethren's dormitory to pay a sum of seventy-eight marks due to the Franciscan friars of Scarborough. The friars used the Meaux lead for the roofing of their own church.
Abbot Adam, shortly before his death, began the erection of a chapel over the great entrance to the abbey, but his successor, abbot Hugh, 1339-1340, did not carry out the work, and used the stones prepared for the purpose in the construction of a great vat for the barley in brewing. The chronicler also states that he covered the monks' dormitory with lead, but we suspect that this is a slip of the penman for the converts' dormitory, which had been so lately stripped for the Scarborough friars. The story of the crucifix, now erected in the converts' choir, has been already told.
During the second term of the abbacy of William Dringhouse, 1367-1372, a fire broke out in the church during the night, owing to its being struck by lightning in two places. The convent tailor happened to be roused from his sleep, saw light on the roof of the church. He awoke a monk who was sleeping out of the dormitory, and the monk, in his turn, by violent knockings at the door of the dormitory, at last roused his fellows, who climbed to the roof, and the flames were presently extinguished. The chronicler saw in their exertions miraculous powers, for how else could they have safely passed over a ceiling scarcely able to bear a lad of seven, and how else could they have
carried to that height great brazen vessels of water, which, at ordinary times, they could not have carried empty? This abbot provided for the church two suits of vestments for the high altar, one of blue velvet with golden stars; the other of green and red diaper shot with gold.
William of Scarborough, the eighteenth abbot, 13721396, did much for the abbey buildings. He replaced the shingles and tiles that roofed the infirmary chapel, the west part of the infirmary, and a portion of the cloister, with lead. He provided the monks' dormitory with benches and bedclothes (lectisterniorum apparatu); he added backs to the benches in the refectory; he furnished the house for the monks who were seriously ill, with bed-steads and separate seats, and formed special chambers for individual in the monks' infirmary. He pulled down the chamber of the old guest house, and the chamber of the chaplain who served the chapel in the wood. He also removed the kitchen of the converts' infirmary, and turned the kitchen of the old guest house into a chamber over the "polanghat,"* and made a covered way leading from it to the great gates. William also beautified the church in various ways, contrary to the original spirit of the Cistercian rule. He decorated the altars of both St. Benedict and St. Peter with enamel work, carved figures, and painted panels; provided silver gilt pastoral staves, together with a variety of plate and vestments for the different altars; he caused a great bell, named Jesus, to be cast; and provided three marble slabs inlaid with the brass images of the three abbots, his immediate predecessors; a fourth stone, intended apparently as a memorial to himself, was lost in the water during its transit, and could not be recovered.
Spelt also "polanyhate" in abbot Burton's time. This inner gate of the abbey probably derived its name from polein or polane, an old English word for a pulley, the gate being worked and kept close at night over a pulley.
The nineteenth abbot was Thomas Burton, 13961399, who after his resignation wrote the chronicles of the abbey. He cast from the bell metal that had been left by his predecessor three new bells to accord in tone with the big bell Jesus. They were termed (1) Mary, weighing 1500lbs. (2) John, weighing 1200lbs. and (3) Benedict, weighing 900lbs., expending over their manufacture £16 17s. 6d. He repaired the roofs of the cloister, and made big gates on the west side of the cloister and on the eastern side of the monks' infirmary, which were always to be kept shut at night. He also moved the smithy and several other offices to within the abbey precincts.
I have collected a variety of unpublished information respecting the history of Meaux Abbey, most of it subsequent to the conclusion of abbot Burton's chronicle. Of this material three portions are now given.
In the old Register of the Corporation of Hull there is a contemporary transcript of an important and interesting indenture of corrody between the abbot of Meaux and Thomas Fishlake, a burgess of Kingston-on-Hull, dated 1353, in the first year of the abbacy of John Ryslay, though the preliminaries had all been arranged in the time of his predecessor, abbot William de Dringhoe. The dire results of the Great Plague, the burden of pensions, and the great scarcity of grain and other necessaries, compelled the abbey to resort to exceptional means for the raising of funds. The chronicle relates that Thomas Fishlake secured this liberal corrody (pergrande corrodium) with its exceptional privileges, for a sum of £60, a most considerable sum for those days, and a high rate of payment, if (as seems probable) Fishlake was advanced in life. By this indenture, Thomas Fishlake was permitted to build and occupy a small two-storied building, with a drain
under it, on the north of the chancel, and to have assigned to him a specific place of burial within the church; the upper chamber was to have two glazed windows looking into the church, through one of which he could see the high altar, and through the other the altar of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Michael, whilst the lower chamber had one window, through which the second of these altars was visible; the monastery covenanted to keep the rooms in repair, never to intercept the view from these windows, and to keep the drain, or sewer, always clear of obstructions during Thomas' natural life. The corrody consisted of a weekly allowance of thirteen conventual loaves, eight loaves of white bread of second quality, and four loaves of inferior grain; of ten gallons of conventual beer, whenever a new brew was carried to the cellar ; and daily from the abbot's kitchen as much flesh and fish as would suffice for two monks, and articles of food for his (Fishlake's) attendant at the rate supplied to one of the abbot's servants. Fishlake was also to be supplied with a furred robe, or 13s. 4d., every feast of St. Andrew, with a tunic and hood; with 5s. for his shoes; with certain quantities of cheese, butter, candles, oatmeal, white flour, and salt; also with eight wagon loads of peat, four wagon loads of good hay, and a sufficiency of straw. Moreover, the abbey granted to him and his friends (provided they were not soldiers) free access and egress to his chambers, on the condition that they used a certain gate in the west wall, or another gate called "Dadmandore" (probably "Deadman's Door," or the entrance to the monk's cemetery). All necessaries were also provided for daily mass at the altar of the Blessed Virgin. The following is a transcript of the indenture, with the abbreviated Latin extended:
* In two places where I could not see the sense nor construction, in the copy of this document which has been kindly supplied me, I have left dots, but in both places the omission is immaterial.