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river Lea, and within some 200 yards from its banks, and on the eastern side, the buildings were placed. Abbeys were usually self-contained, and the first essential in such an establishment was the means for grinding corn both for man and beast; and possibly some trade was added to the work for the “ The House" by using the mill for neighbouring farmers and others. The bed of the river Lea being of a flat gradient, and the damming of the river probably difficult of execution, it was necessary, in order to obtain power on the mill wheel, to form a “race” of considerable length, not less than about a mile. Such mill-stream or race was formed which brought the water-power from the river to the mill, and this was placed between the Abbey church and the great gateway. Then, in times of flood, it was necessary that a “waste" should be formed from the mill stream before it reached the wheel : this also was carried out. Then, of course, after the water had served the mill, it had to be conveyed again to the river, and this was done by what is known as the “mill tail”. All these three watercourses still remain, namely, “the mill stream”, taken from the river far up to the north ; " the waste”, running from the stream to the tail; and lastly, “ the tail”, taking the spent water from the mill to the river again. The mill stream was further made use of for providing another essential of an abbey establishment, namely, the means of breeding and cultivating fish, which formed so large a part of the diet of the monks. The remains of the fish-stews are still to be seen to the west of the mill stream, in the field to the north-west of what is known as Harold's Bridge. This bridge would serve as the approach to the fish-ponds from the Abbey precincts, and for other purposes. The Abbey precincts had to
1 As steam-power, now at a ripe age, was not then amongst the many lights with which the Middle Ages were blest, the monks most wisely availed themselves of that power which a bountiful Providence had provided, in the weight and force of the running stream which had its course along this fruitful valley.
It is recorded that the mill was given by the first wife of Henry II. No part of the original mill building appears to remain, but the present mill occupies its site.
be enclosed, according to custom, and for this purpose a wall was built : probably the north and east walls ran along the lines of the present walls fencing the gardens which now occupy the Abbey precincts. On the west it may be that the boundary followed the mill stream and tail, and on the south that rear line of Sun Street and Church Street marks the line of boundary. To this large enclosure the Abbey gate, placed on the mill stream just north of the mill, gave entrance ;, and herein was contained the parish church, the monks' church, with its cloister and its surrounding buildings, the abbot's dwelling, the infirmary buildings, and probably their cloister; the gardens, and the burial-places of both monks and parishioners. Happily part of the church is still remaining, that is, the portion used as the parish church, the gateway, and a small vaulted building to the north of the monks' church.
Excavations made by Mr. E. Littler have disclosed that, east of the present church, the central tower, with its transepts and presbytery, extended to a considerable length.
To turn now to the present church. It is necessary, in the first place, shortly to define the terms which are made use of in these remarks. When referring to the “ Norman period” the years assigned to it are those first given by Rickman, as from 1066 to 1190 ; and the other periods used by him are also followed here, being those usually, but not universally, adopted by those writing on the subject.
As we see it now, the church consists on plan (speaking generally) of the nave and aisles of the Norman church, the two eastern bays being used as a chancel ; a chapel on the south side, its east end lining with the east end of the nave, and a western tower, together with a vestry and its offices, built about 1870. Beneath the south chapel, for its full size, is a crypt, separately entered: from the west end.
The main entrance to the church is by a doorway in
1 A portion of an ancient wall still exists by the side of the mill stream, between the church and the gateway.
the west wall of the tower. There is also a large south doorway in the middle bay of the aisle, and a north doorway in the second bay from the west end, not now commonly used, as well as another doorway not often used at the west end of the south aisle. At the east end of the north aisle is also a small doorway, entered from the land of the enclosed adjoining gardens. At the time of the erection of the vestry, a doorway was made in the wall of the north aisle for access between the two, and an outer doorway formed from the vicarage garden. The south chapel is entered, from the churchyard only, by a doorway in its west wall near the angle buttress at south-west corner, approached by a flight of steps rendered necessary by the floor level of the chapel being raised above the floor of the nave, so as to allow height for the crypt below the chapel. At the west end of the north aisle there is a doorway next the aisle to an internal circular stair, which now leads to the ringing room in the tower, and to the roofs. There is also a small doorway just east of the south entrance, which is said to have led to a room over a south porch, but there is doubt as to the accuracy of this suggestion. It is hardly necessary to mention the big folding doors near the last-mentioned one, the purpose of which seems to be to aid the action of the heating apparatus, which now (unfortunately, from an architectural point of view ) occupies the whole of a spacious, well-lighted, and vaulted crypt.
The dimensions of the plan are as follows, namely : Length from east to west within the walls 108 ft., the clear space of bays 10 ft. 3 ins. ; width of nave, 23 ft. 8 ins. ; diameter of circular piers, 4 ft. 7 ins. ; width of north aisle, 9 ft. 7 ins. ; of the south aisle, 9 ft. 10 ins., measured from wall to circular piers. The tower is 15 ft. 11 ins. east and west, and 15 ft. 5 ins. north and south. The south chapel, called The Lady Chapel, is 41 ft. 7 ins. long, and 21 ft. wide.
In cross-section, the nave is of three stages in height, having an arcade between it and the aisles, and á triforium and clerestory with low-pitched modern but substantial roof covered with slates, and a flat ceiling