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set-off on the outside. This set-off is about 9 in., and consists of a plinth of soft stone considerably splayed. It is now much worn away, and has weathered badly. The walls on the outside of each storey are also vertical, the diameter of each storey being the same throughout. The summit of the tower is surmounted by a plain stone parapet which was once moulded, but all the mouldings are
now worn away.
The only entrance into the tower is from the nave, through a small pointed opening or tower-arch, 3 ft. 8 in. wide. This arch is of stone, and has on the nave side a moulding encircling the arch, with a grotesque figurehead at its termination or springing.
The tower, like those before described, is built of rough flint rubble masonry, the stones being set in lime-mortar, which is somewhat soft and crumbling. The flints in the interior of the tower (so much as can be seen of them on account of whitewash and plaster) are laid in rough courses; but in the upper part of the tower considerable care appears to have been taken to lay them in regular
The tower has nine openings in it three in the base or lower storey, two in the middle, and four in the upper or top storey. The windows in each face are immediately above one another, and are situated on the north, west, and south faces. These windows are all pointed, and of the Decorated period, being probably coeval with those in the nave. The windows in the upper storey are double-light windows, whereas those in the base and intermediate storey are single-light windows, and only about 1 ft. wide, the arches, mouldings, and tracery being of
Nearly all the freestone in the tower (such as in the windows, plinths, quoins, parapet, and staircase, is of clunch and a soft limestone; there are, however, a few pieces of hard, coarse, shelly limestone very much like Barnack, which has weathered well; but the clunch and soft limestone are fast perishing.
All the window-openings in the interior of the tower are heavily splayed, similar to those in the towers before described.
In the south angle of the tower (as shown in the
sketch) is a circular stone staircase encased or built within an irregularly shaped tower, the external walls of which are also of rubble, and about 1 ft. thick, being built into the main walling of the tower and nave. This staircase is approached from the inside of the tower, through a small opening 2 ft. 3 in. wide, having a segmental arch of stone. The stairs lead up to two oak floors or stages within the tower; the lowest of these floors being at a level of 21 ft. above the ground-floor of the tower, and
Plan of Bardfield Sailing or Little Sailing Round Church Tower.
corresponds with the level of the top of the first storey or base. The outside appearance of this staircase is that of an ugly, heavy buttress. It is surmounted, or gathered in at the top, where it enters the third storey of the main tower, by a sort of rough-built conical cap of stone. In the walling of this staircase are three or four openings in the form of crosses, which give light to the interior of the staircase. This staircase is undoubtedly an innova
tion, and formed no part of the original round tower, and was probably built, during the fifteenth century, for the purpose of ascending to the floors before mentioned. These floors may have been rooms used by the priest, but on this point I have no direct evidence. In the interior of the tower one can see where the main walling has been cut away to accommodate the staircase, and afterwards rebuilt.
In the east face of the tower (from the interior), looking towards the altar, and about 2 ft. above the first oak floor, and just beneath the apex of the nave-roof, is a small pointed opening of similar dimensions, and at the same level as the two windows in this second storey. What the function of this opening was I am at a loss to know, unless it was used by the priest to see the altar, which he could conveniently do if occupying this floor. In some of the other towers before described I have noticed the remains of similar openings, but blocked up or filled in with rubble-masonry or modern brickwork. I think, however, the more rational explanation of this opening is that it existed before the nave was attached to the tower, or perhaps before the nave-roof was carried so high. One can hardly imagine an opening being made through the tower walling for the mere purpose of looking into the interior of the nave.
There is only one bell in the tower, the date it bears being 1768.
The lower part of the tower is now used as a vestry, in common with most of the other round towers of Essex. In The Gentleman's Magazine for May 1811 (Part I, p. 47) an engraving of this tower will be seen.
Now, what is the origin of this somewhat strange structure is the question which suggests itself, as it appears so entirely out of character with the existing nave or chancel? Is the structure, as a whole, coeval with the main structure of the church? Or did the lower part of the tower exist prior to the church, or form part of another building? Or is it built on the foundation of an earlier church? From the MS. I have quoted, giving the date of the dedication of the church as 1380, there is nothing to lead one to suppose that a church existed here prior to this one, while, on the other hand, it is not
unreasonable to suggest that a building or church may have existed, and that the lower part of the round tower formed part of it. I am rather inclined to lean to this idea, as the position of the tower relatively to the nave, the approach to the tower, the position of the windows, the diameter and proportion of the lower part of the tower, the thickness of the walls, the materials of which they are constructed, have a similarity to the towers before described. Undoubtedly the upper part of the tower above the second storey, and the window openings, are of the same period as the nave, these Decorated features being probably innovations.
As to the lower part of the tower being of the Decorated period, it is to my mind a query; and if ever the tower and nave-walls were stripped of their plaster covering, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the rubblemasonry in the lower part of the tower would be found of greater antiquity than the upper and the walling of Besides, the walls of the tower are considerably thicker than those of the nave.
With reference to the entry in the Domesday Book, before mentioned, under Sailings, this certainly is some little evidence in favour of an early sacred building in the neighbourhood. Again, as there appears an uncertainty in the dedication of the church, it does not require a great stretch of the imagination to suggest that if a church did exist prior to the existing one, it was dedicated to St. Margaret, as it was not uncommon in early times to rededicate a church after entirely rebuilding.
Because the windows, etc., are of the Decorated period, it is no absolute proof that the tower is of that period, as we are all so well aware how little the work of one period was admired or appreciated in the period immediately succeeding it.
To sum up the result of this investigation. I think that sufficient evidence has been adduced, so far, to justify the assertion that the tower is at any rate of considerable antiquity.
NOTE ON FURNESS ABBEY.
BY C. H. COMPTON, ESQ.
(Read 6 Jan. 1892.)
IN my paper on Rievaulx Abbey, read at our Congress at York last autumn, I stated that Furness Abbey was the first Cistercian foundation in England, it having been founded in the year A.D. 1127. My authority for this statement was the list of Cistercian abbeys, with the dates of their foundations, contained in the Cottonian MS., Faustina, B vii, fo. 36, in the British Museum, a paper on which appears in vol. xxvi of our Journal, 281, by our Hon. Sec., W. de Gray Birch, Esq., F.S.A., Furness being entered in that list thus, "MCXXVII, viij Idus Junii, Abbatia de Furnesio." Mr. Birch also gives a list of Cistercian houses in Great Britain, with foundation dates as hitherto fixed, the entry of Furness being, "Furness, co. Lanc., founded A.D. 1124, at Tulket; removed in A.D. 1127 to Bekangesgil, or Furness"; and he says "the Cottonian list distinctly awards the seniority to Furness, whose entry into the order dates from 1127."
Since reading this paper I have received a communication from our Associate, Mr. John Reynolds of Bristol, in which he states that “Furness, founded in 1127, was Savigniac, and did not become Cistercian until 1148, when, in the time of the fifth Abbot, it, with the parent house at Savigny, and all other dependent houses, was handed over by the then Abbot of Savigny, with the consent of the Pope, to St. Bernard, and all then became Cistercian. To show more fully that it was not so before, is proved by the fact that the Abbot and monks of Furness objected to the transfer, and appealed to the Pope to be allowed to remain under their old rules. At first they were successful, but at last had to give in."
It is most interesting at Furness to see how, in later times, the monks altered their buildings from the original Savigniac to their own Cistercian arrangements.
Dugdale, in his Monasticon, under the title of "Abbey