Stuart E. Rigold and official guidebooks

Bayham_blue
1974 (1985)

Stuart Eborall Rigold (1919-1980) studied geology at St Andrews, and during WW2 worked at Bletchley Park. He continued his studies at St Peter’s Hall, Oxford, where he was recruited for the Ministry of Works (1948) working under Bryan O’Neil. He was Principal Inspector (1976-79).

Rigold wrote the following guidebooks:

It should be noted that several of these are sites in Kent: Maison Dieu; Temple Manor; Eynsford Castle; Reculver.

Crossraguel Abbey: conversation allowed

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Crossraguel Abbey © David Gill

The Cluniac abbey at Crossraguel retains a number of Ministry signs. The inner parlour is one of a series of rooms on the east side of the cloister, and is adjacent to the inner court.

Other Cluniac foundations in state care include:

The Crossraguel Dovecot

IMG_7809
Crossraguel Abbey © David Gill

The dovecot at Crossraguel Abbey is located in the south court. It was constructed in the 16th century and is claimed to be “one of Scotland’s oldest surviving dovecots”. Nesting boxes were built into the interior of the structure.

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Dovecot at Crossraguel Abbey © David Gill

Saddell Abbey

Gravestones at Saddell Abbey © David Gill
Gravestones at Saddell Abbey © David Gill

The Cistercian abbey at Saddell in Argyll was completed in the early 13th century by Reginald, son of Somerled, Lord of the Isles.

Saddell Abbey © David Gill
Saddell Abbey © David Gill

The site contains an important collection of tombstones.

Further details can be found on Canmore.

Guidebooks and Sir Alfred Clapham

Whitby Abbey © David Gill
Whitby Abbey © David Gill

Sir Alfred (William) Clapham (1883-1950) was responsible for at least three guidebooks produced by the Ministry of Works. He was educated at Dulwich College and then worked on the Victoria History of the Counties of England (where (Sir) Charles Peers was architectural editor). In 1912 he joined the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England). (For his life: ODNB.)

He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1913, and served as its President from 1939 to 1944. He was knighted in 1944.

Clapham worked on at least three guides for the Ministry of Works, and all appeared posthumously.

1951 (2012 reprint)
1951 (2012 reprint)

They included the Augustinian Abbey at Thornton in Humberside (and originally Lincolnshire). This appeared in 1951, and from 1954 included a supplement on the monastic buildings by P.K. Baillie Reynolds. Clapham’s guide was published by English Heritage (1989), revised in 2010, and last reprinted in 2012.

1952 (16th impression 1979)
1952 (16th impression 1979)

Clapham published the 1952 guide to the Benedictine Abbey at Whitby. The abbey had been the subject of clearance and excavation by Peers during the 1920s after it came into State Guardianship. Peers and C.A. Ralegh Radford had published on the Anglo-Saxon origins of the abbey.

1955 (12th impression 1977)
1955 (12th impression 1977)

Clapham’s third guidebook was on St Augustine’s Abbey at Canterbury (1955). Like Whitby the abbey has Anglo-Saxon origins.

Strata Florida

Strata Florida © David Gill
Strata Florida © David Gill

The Cistercian abbey at Strata Florida in mid-Wales lies at the foot of the Cambrian mountains. Professor David Austin of the University of Wales Trinity St Davids will be lecturing (‘Sacred landscapes and national identity’) on recent archaeological work at the site at the Society of Antiquaries.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

1963
1963

James S. Richardson prepared a formal guide to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (1936) that replaced Sir Herbert Maxwell’s Palace and Abbey Church of Holyroodhouse (1906). Richardson’s guide, in its third edition continued into the 1970s (with the 11th impression in 1975).

Holyroodhouse_MoW_green
1936 (2nd ed. 1948; 3rd ed. 1950, 2nd impress. 1953)
Holyroodhouse_MoW_blue
1936 (3rd ed. 1950, 7th impress. 1961)

However The Palace of Holyroodhouse: An Illustrated Guide with a Short History of the Palace and Abbey (1st ed. 1960; 3rd ed. 1963; Edinburgh HMSO) appeared alongside the more formal guide. This was priced at 1 shilling and 6 d. This illustrated guide was ‘Prepared for the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works by the Central Office of Information’. It starts with a simple guide to the rooms, each numbered with a black and white illustration and a short description (pp. 2-10, nos. 1-16). This is then followed by a Short History (printed on yellow paper) (pp. 11-26). There is a final set of photographs including Queen Elizabeth II at Holyroodhouse in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Scots Greys, and a small selection of the paintings in the collection (pp. 30-32). The guide itself is anonymous.

It makes a companion to the other illustrated souvenir guides appearing from the late 1950s for sites in England and Wales.

3rd edition 1950 (11th impression 1975)
3rd edition 1950 (11th impression 1975)

James S. Richardson and guidebooks in Scotland

Second edition 1948, 7th impression 1967
Second edition 1948, 7th impression 1967

James S. Richardson was appointed Inspector of Ancient Monuments in Scotland in 1914. He prepared a series of the Ministry guidebooks from the 1920s (and some were revised in the 1980s).

Second edition 1951, 4th impression 1958
Second edition 1951, 4th impression 1958

Richardson’s work established a line of guidebooks for sites in guardianship in Scotland.

Fourth edition 1953 (2nd impression 1954)
Fourth edition 1953 (2nd impression 1954)

The preparation seems to have been prompted by Sir Charles Peers, the Chief Inspector. The continuing use of Richardson’s text in the present guidebooks (such as Dundrennan Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey) over nearly 80 years indicates the value of his description and analysis.

Second edition 1948 (9th impression 1973)
Second edition 1948 (9th impression 1973)

A Guide to the Abbeys of England and Wales

2nd ed. 1976
2nd ed. 1976

An illustrated guide to the Abbeys of England and Wales formed number 7 in the series (following no. 6 on Castles). The text was by R. Gilyard-Beer, formerly Assistant Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments. The first edition appeared in 1959, and the second edition in 1976 (Department of the Environment). The guide has two main section: The Monks (covering the different orders) and The Buildings (looking at the elements of monastic buildings). There are comprehensive series of plans allowing the reader to understand the architectural parts of abbeys.

He also prepared a series of guidebooks for the Ministry of Works, MPBW, and the DOE:

  • Gisborough Priory, originally Yorkshire, subsequently Redcar and Cleveland (1935)
  • (with Rose Graham) Monk Bretton Priory, Yorkshire (1955)
  • Abingdon County Hall (1956)
  • Cleeve Abbey, Somerset (1959)
  • Shap Abbey, Cumbria (1963)
  • Spofforth Castle, Yorkshire (1965)
  • Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire (1970)
  • Creake Abbey, Norfolk (1970)

Leiston Abbey excavations

Leiston Abbey © David Gill
Leiston Abbey © David Gill

DigVentures have been excavating at the Premonstratensian Leiston Abbey in Suffolk. The BBC are now reporting on what appears to have been the discovery of the hospital (“Leiston Abbey: Dig Ventures archaeologists in ‘hospital find’“, BBC News 5 September 2015). The abbey is in the care of English Heritage.

DigVentures hope to excavate the original location for the abbey at a location close to the Minsmere RSPB Reserve.

More on the excavations can be found here.

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