A medieval labourer was poorly paid. He assisted mortar makers by sifting and mixing sand, clearing earth to open up foundations and quarries, axed trees and pushed one wheeled barrows, heavily laden with blocks of stone.

Son of an Oxford tradesman who was declared to be the Earl of Warwick and rightful heir to the English throne. In 1487 he was crowned in Dublin Cathedral as Edward VI. Together with his Yorkshire followers, 2000 German mercenaries reinforced by badly equipped Irishmen, crossed the Channel in an attempt to seize the English throne and sailed up the west coast of England landing on Piel Island. Lambert's forces were joined by a party from Broughton Tower led by Sir Thomas Broughton.  However the rebels gained very little support. According to local tradition they spent the night outside Ulverston. They then marched through Yorkshire and met the king's men near Newark, where Simnel was defeated and captured to end his days as a scullion.

The name given to a narrow window with a pointed head.

Laver / lavabo
The monks washed their hands here before and after meals. No remains at Furness. Outstanding, almost complete lavabo is extant at Mellifont Abbey, Co.  Louth, Ireland; founded by St. Malachy 1142, it was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland.

Lay brothers / Conversi
Lay brothers were an important part of Cistercian life and their numbers far exceeded the quire monks because Cistercian granges were so large and a lot of people were needed to work them. There was a grange master – a senior monk who supervised work on the granges. The lay brothers spent more time in doing manual work and attended only a few of the church services. They were deliberately kept illiterate learning by heart the Paternoster, Ave Maria, Credo, Miserere, some psalms and responses to be made at their profession. They received communion seven times a year and if work on the granges did not allow them to return to the monastery, they prayed in the fields.

It was usual in Cistercian churches to have two altars for the lay brothers. The one on the right was known as the "Mary Altar" and the left one was the "Altar of the Dead". The remains of this chantry chapel can be seen at Furness and was referred to by Wordsworth in "The Prelude".  ..."With whip and spur we by the Chauntry flew". Cistercian monasteries were designed to house both quire monks and lay brothers but at the same time to segregate the White Monks from the bearded/bread brethren. CH Lawrence, in his book "Medieval Monasticism", refers to this preservation of "social apartheid".  The western range of buildings was used by the conversi.  They had a separate refectory on the ground floor and a dormitory above and even a separate cemetery.

The brothers used their own stairs to congregate in the nave of the church. They were separated from the rest of the church by a rood screen that blocked the view into the monks' choir. In the cloister the lay brothers' walk was restricted to the west - side. Like quire monks lay brothers took vows but they could not vote for monastic officials or become quire monks or priests. However the lay brothers who worked on the granges were under the care of the community in the same way as quire monks, and sharers of spiritual and temporal possessions. The lay brothers spent most of their time in the fields, the mason’s yard or the workshops of the carpenter or blacksmith.

A blood sucking worm used medicinally for bleeding Monks were bled four times a year; it was thought to be beneficial. It took place in the warming house in the months of February, April, September and December. The leeches were dark coloured worms up to 8 cms. (3 inches) long; they were placed on the skin where they held on with their tails and drew blood with their mouths. After about twenty minutes the leeches fell off but the bites went on bleeding for several hours. After the monks had been bled they were allowed a stay in the infirmary where there was a fire and where they could eat meat. Surgeons and doctors are once again realising the value of the leech in microsurgery.

The Pyper.
The name "Pyper" originates from the following story that is set in the period following the completion of the abbey church. A certain land owner and saltworker lived in Salthouse village. He used to breed horses and break in young horses that had been running wild in the forest, which he then sold at fairs. He was known as the pyper because he was always playing his bagpipes. One day he took a young horse he was breaking in to Dalton Smithy to be shod.  After the shoeing he stayed a long time drinking in the alehouse and playing his bagpipes. In the evening as he was riding his horse home past the abbey gates, he heard the monks singing in the church.

He rode through the open church door, up the nave, and into the choir. When he reached the high altar the horse suddenly dropped to its knees, its new shoes falling from its hooves. The pyper fell senseless to the ground. The monks nursed him until he had recovered from his shock. The pyper then decided to save his soul by giving his land, his horses, and all that he owned to the monastery, where he stayed for the rest of his life.  The monks then took possession of the piper’s land.

Horse Closes
This legend relates to one of the miracles of St. Cuthbert, written by Reginald, a monk of Durham. "The Abbot of Furness being about to set out on a journey to the shrine of St. Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral, selected on the previous evening those horses which he intended should carry him and his retinue to that city. In the night a thief attempted to steal one of the chosen horses, but, says Reginald, without explaining how the thief obtained admission, the horse was so surrounded with hedges that he could not lead the horse away. Having with great difficulty cut a path through them, he returned to the horse, and endeavoured by main force to pull it through the opening he had made. In vain were his efforts.

Until the sun rose the thief persevered in the attempt, and at last returned to relinquish his project. To his astonishment he found that his hands were fast to the reins, and that it was out of his power to stir from the stable. There in the morning he was found by the abbot who was loud in his praises of "the holy Cuthbert" in defeating the designs of the robber who would have stolen the steed specially dedicated to his service. The would be thief, in his attempt, was suffered to depart, but the event was told to the monks of Durham and handed down to them as one of the many miracles wrought by their favourite saint".
(From "Churches, Castles and Ancient Halls of North Lancashire, "Vol. 1 by E.  Roper).

The Dane Ghyll Story
The Furness abbey monks obtained their salt from the Furness area until a better source was discovered in the Fylde district.  According to legend Danish warriors destroyed the Furness saltworks and proceeded to import salt which the monks could not afford; salt beef, mutton and even bacon were unknown to the people at this time due to the Danes' destruction of the Salthouse. One day some of the men from the Salthouse farms saw a group of Danes out for a day's sport near the abbey grounds. They had wanted to get their revenge for a long time so they began to attack their enemies and a battle took place. The only one to escape was the captain of the Danes. The rest were killed and the captain fled and eventually entered the monastery to become a monk. This is how Dane Ghyll is supposed to have been so named, the present valley being the place where the battle was fought between Salthouse men and Danish warriors.

According to T A Beck, “The library or scriptorium or both are supposed to have occupied the room above the Chapter House, the access to which was from a passage on the west side” (p. 391, "Annales Furnesienses.”)

Lighting the monastery
The monastery received its artificial light from
candles – these were stored in the sacristy/vestry that was often called the “wax cellar” for this reason. Altar linen, chalices, plate, and Holy Communion bread were also kept here by the sacristan. Aromatic candles were lit before Mass.
cressets – these were stone bowls filled with fat and provided with a wick; they were placed in the dorter (dormitory) and on the night stairs. There is an original cresset among the artefacts in the Furness Abbey Museum.
Lamps with brackets to support them.

Local myths
Oliver (it was Thomas) Cromwell and his men arrived in Furness and couldn’t find the abbey.  They were just about ready to begin their homeward journey when the jubilant monks, thinking they had had a lucky escape, began to ring the abbey bells to celebrate their narrow escape. The soldiers heard the bells, turned round and found the abbey.  A tall story because Furness Abbey was huge being the second richest Cistercian Abbey in the country and all roads led there.
The abbey was blown up by gunpowder.
The abbey was destroyed in The Second World War by enemy bombing.
A tunnel exists between Piel Island and the abbey.  

Louis J.Lekai
Father Louis J. Lekai a Cistercian himself is generally regarded as the leading historian of the Cistercian Order in modern times.  Born in Hungary, Father Lekai went to live in the United States in 1947.  He was one of the founders of Our Lady of Dallas Abbey of the Cistercian Order. He was professor of history at the University of Dallas for several years. His book "The Cistercians", 1977, will long remain the definitive work on its topic.
In the
Lambert Simnel
Photo by 
co-worker of
Action Furness