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Verily might we not write over the entrance, “Ichabod” (the glory hath departed) ? But two hundred years after, however, in 1838, we may pull down the inscription, for the Manor House again has a glory of its own ; not, indeed, derived from the presence monarch, however noble; another glory, but not less real, the glory of perpetuating the memory of a famous Yorkshireman, William Wilberforce, by throwing light on the mental eyes of those who, though they see not
“The waving corn in autumn days,
Nor roseate hues when day is done”, can yet find joy and gladness in the mental vision of beauties unseen by any mere physical eye.
BY C. H. COMPTON, ESQ.
The Abbey of Rievaulx, or, as it should be more correctly named, Rievallis (the valley of the Rie), is situate near Helmsley, in the hundred of Riedale, in the North Riding of the county of York, and is the first Cistercian foundation in Yorkshire. In a paper written by our Hon. Sec., Mr. W.De Gray Birch, F.S.A.,“On the Date of Foundation ascribed to the Cistercian Abbeys in Great Britain," published in vol. xxvi of our Journal, p. 281, he gives a list of the various abbeys of this order arranged in a chronological series, which he took from a miscellaneous collection of tracts among the Cottonian MSS. in the British Museum,' from which it appears that Rievaulx Abbey was founded A.D. 1131, iij nonis Marcii (5th March): the four earliest abbeys of this foundation in England being, according to the MS.,-Furness, A.D. 1127, viij Idus Junii; Waverley, A.D. 1129,v Kal. Novembris ; Rievall and Tintern, A.D. 1131, vij Idus Maii. But Furness was originally a Savigniac foundation, and was not admitted into the Cistercian Order until A.D. 1148, together with the parent house at Savigny, and all its dependent houses. The Cistercian Order was founded A.D. 1098 at Citeaux, in the diocese of Chalons, by the secession of Stephen Harding, formerly a monk of Sherborne, and eighteen monks from the Benedictine monastery of Molesmes in Burgundy, consequent upon the disgust they felt at the laxity which had invaded the simple rules of St. Benedict.
The Abbey of Rievall was founded by Walter Espec or L'Espec, a great man in the court of King Hen. I. Ailred, Abbot of Rievall, says of him that he was prudent in council and discreet in war, a trusty friend, a loyal subject, of giant-like stature, but comely, having
MS. Cotton, Faustina, B. vii, fo. 36.
large eyes, a big face, a voice like a trumpet, yet beautiful and eloquent.
The popular account of the foundation of the abbey is thus given
“Walter Espec had, by Adelina his wife, a son named Walter, a comely person, who, taking much delight in swift horses, was thrown by one of them, who, being put out beyond his strength, stumbled; and he, falling from him, broke his neck, to the great grief of his parents, who wanted an heir for their great estate. However, taking advice of his uncle, William de Espec, rector of the church of Garton, about the disposal of it, was advised by him to make Christ his heir, at least to part of it, by building three monasteries, viz., Kirkham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Rievaulx, and Wardon in Bedfordshire.'
Walter Espec is described in the genealogy of Ros, which is found on the fourth parchment-leaf in the Cottonian Cartularium, as “ Miles strenuus conquestoris”. The Rev. J. C. Atkinson, the author of the Introduction to the Cartularium of Rievaulx, which he edited for the Surtees Society, and which forms vol. 83 of their publications, questions the correctness of this description. He says : “ It supposes him to be a man past the first Aush of youth more than sixty years before the battle of the Standard, at which Aeldred describes him as achieving a memorable renown, which is an utter impossibility, and it effectually discredits the statement of the genealogy.” And he answers it in the following way :
“that throughout the Museum MS. Cartularium the founder's name is invariably written Espec without the prefix L, and in the Bedfordshire Domesday we find, under the heading xxv Terra Willelmi Speck, and among the manors and lands held in capite by Speck, the manors of Wardone and Sadgivele; i.e., at the date of the return, 1087, William Speck is the feudal occupant of the lands and rights granted forty-eight years afterwards by Walter Espec to the monastery of Wardon, the inference being that Walter Espec was not simply the heir, but the son, or at least the nephew on the father's side, of William Speck, and that the “ Miles strenuus conquestoris” of the genealogy was William
Speck, his father, and that Walter Espec, though Miles Strenuus, could only be so in the service of King Henry.”
Three successive years are named as the years of the foundation of Rievaulx Abbey-A.D. 1131, 1132, and 1133. The latter is the date quoted in the genealogy of Ros, where the statement stands : “ Walterus Especke miles strenuus conquestoris tria fundavit monasteria i de Kirkham A.D. 1122 il de Rievall 1133 111 de Wardon 1136.” As regards the other two years named, the following extract from the Hexham Book (S. S., p. 108) will bring the matter fairly before us : “ Anno MCXXXII Walterus Espec vir magnus et potens in conspectu regis et totius regni, monachos Cisterciensis observantiæ, directos a Bernardo, Abbate vallis recepit et posuit in solitudine Blachamour secus aquam Rie, a qua cenobium eorum Rievallis dicitur cum quibus missus est Willelmus primus Abbas eorum vir consummate virtutis, et excellentis memoriæ apud posteros”; while to this mention of Rievaulx is subjoined in a note : “Rievaux was the earliest Cistercian house in the North of England, and Prior John of Hexham could not pass over the foundation of a monastery which was the mother of Melrose, and was presided over by the famous Aeldred, who was a native of Hexham, a place which had good reason to remember him." And further : “Anno 1132 tertio nonas Martii facta est Abbatia Sanctæ Mariæ de Rie-valle die Sabbati,” says the historian of Melrose (Chron., ed. Bann. Club, 69), and this is the date usually given. The donation, however, which brought the monks to that place had been made in 1131, when L'Espec gave
grif et Tilestona” to St. Bernard for the construction of an abbey (Registrum Chartarum Monasterii Rievallensis, MS. Cotton, Julius D I.). The chronicle of Segebert correctly ascribes the beginning of Rievaulx to this year (German. rerum Chronographi, ed. 1566, 1386). Mr. De Gray Birch, in his paper already referred to, says: “There is every reason to suppose that the lists were compiled from the archives of Citeaux itself, because the actual date of so many and such distant abbeys could not have been procured from any other source in those days. But, with the solitary reference in Archdale's Monasticon Hibernicum, treating of the abbey at Derry, this MS.
“ It is
does not appear to have ever been made use of by the historians of religious orders, at least as far as Great Britain is concerned."
The entry of Rievaulx in this MS. is: “MCXXXJ iij Nonis Marcii Abbatia Longi Pontis eodem die et anno Abbatia Rievallis”; and at p. 357 of the same vol. of our Journal Mr. Birch supplements this list by a somewhat similar list in another MS. among the Cottonian MSS. (Brit. Mus., MS. Cotton., Vespasian A, v. 1, f. 546). written,” he says, “in a hand cotemporary with the last year (1247) which is entered in the series.” In this list Rievaulx is thus entered : “MCXXxj de Rievalle.” Thus the MS. Cotton. Faustina agrees as to the day and month with the historian of Melrose, though both he and the Hexham Book give the year 1132; but if Mr. De Gray Birch's conjecture that the MS. Faustina was compiled from the archives of Citeaux itself is correct, the year 1131 would be the date of the foundation of the abbey. The original charter is without date, but in a cartulary of Rievaulx Abbey preserved among the Cottonian MSS., and printed by Dugdale as No. V, and by him headed “Ex Registro Abbatiæ de Rievaulx in Bibl. Cott. sub effigie Julii D 1, fo. 15a, A.D. m.c.tricessimo primo”, the possessions of the Abbey are given : the first of which is “In principio datæ sunt ix carrucatæ terræ Beat. Bernardo Abbati Clarevallensi scil Grif et Tillistona ad construendam ibi Abbatiam A.D. Mcxxx primo. Deinde post aliquot annos dedit Oda de Bolthebi Domino Willielmo Abbati Hestelscuit cum pertinenciis suis. A.D. MCXLV dedit nobis Walterus Espec Bildesdale cum pertinenciis suis.”
In the charter," he gives and grants, with the consent of Hen. King of England, and the counsel of Aulina his wife, to God and to the Church of St. Marie de Rievalle, in the hand of William the Abbot, and to the same brethren serving God, for the love of God and the health of the soul of King William of England, and for the health of Henry King of England and of all his parents, and for the health of the soul of my father and mother, and for the soul of Hugo de Wildecher, and for the souls of the father and mother of my wife, and of all our parents and ancestors, 9 carrucates of land, 'scil' terram