A form of letter issued by the pope - formerly sealed with a heavy lead boss (from the Latin “bulla”) employed in such solemn acts as canonization or the erection of a diocese.

A room where necessary conversation was allowed.

Pele Towers
These strong crenellated stone buildings provided a refuge against sudden attacks by the Scots. There are 40 Pele towers still extant in the Border country, e.g. Arnside, Broughton, Dalton, Millom, Muncaster, and Piel. Only a few years after the Great Raid, in 1322, the Abbot of Furness decided to "crenellate his dwelling house on the Isle of Fotheray.” (Piel)

A covered way or a small subsidiary building with a sloping roof.

Council taxpayers of the Borough of Barrow in Furness are eligible for free admission to the abbey grounds. Permits may be obtained from Central Reception, Barrow Town Hall.

Peter’s pence
All parishes in Christendom had to make contributions towards the building of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Rome. Because so much hardship had been caused by the Great Raid of 1322.  20 years later Furness parishes were only able to send much smaller amounts of money. One example: -Before the Great Raid, Dalton sent £8 after the Great Raid this parish could only manage £2

The use of photography as a tool for archaeological survey.

Piel Castle and
The ruins of Piel Castle, from which the whole island takes its name, stand on a low mound of boulder clay at the southern end of the tidal Piel Island. The castle guards the mouth of the harbour of Barrow-in-Furness on the north side of Morecambe Bay. The grant of land given by Stephen, Count of Boulogne and Mortain, in 1127 to Furness Abbey included Walney, on condition that the Isle of Fouldrey was fortified to protect the harbour. Excavations and survey of Piel Castle were carried out in 1983 and 1984 by the Cumbria and Lancashire Archaeological Unit, on behalf of English Heritage, preparatory to a proposed full-scale programme of consolidation and repair.

This has now been completed. Findings from the survey reveal that the main body of the walls throughout the castle were built with roughly coursed stones collected from the beaches while all architectural features such as doorways and window surrounds were constructed from red sandstone ashlar quarried in the abbey precinct and shipped across the harbour.  The original castle was used as a warehouse and customs post to regulate the thriving trade with France, the Low Countries and Ireland.
As the wealth of the abbey increased, Piel harbour became a busy port. In times of famine ships carried corn from the abbey's overseas granges, or exported the rich Haematite iron ore mined by the monks' workers. In 1212 and 1213 the monks were granted permission to import a ship load of malt and corn from their possessions in Ireland because of crop failure. In 1324 war was expected between England and France. The abbot of Furness therefore gave his men orders to prepare all his ships, powerful enough to carry more than 40 tuns of wine for the "king's use".  Piel Castle was built as a direct result of the Great Raid 1322.  The Abbot of Furness was granted a licence in 1327 by Edward III to "crenellate his dwelling house on the Isle of Fotheray".

He gave orders for the present castle to be built, which had to have a useful life of eighty years and be able to accommodate 200 soldiers, but with the cessation of the border raids the outer walls were never completed. In 1403 Abbot John Bolton declared that the castle was becoming too expensive to maintain as it would cost £300. In 1423 this same abbot was accused of using the castle for smuggling wool out of the country and importing wine without paying the current taxes, and also failing to maintain a proper garrison.  Besides wine and wool the castle was also used as a storehouse for smuggled corn from Ireland in spite of heavy penalties which were imposed by the Crown.

During its peaceful existence the occupants of the castle must have seen some interesting sights such as the state barges bearing the remains of the dead kings of the Isle of Man, who were interred at Furness Abbey, the great fleets which carried Lambert Simnel and his retainers, the Smuggling, and in later years the numerous schooners carrying iron ore, which anchored waiting for favourable winds.

There is no recorded date for the building of the Ship Inn on Piel Island, but it seems that it began as a ship’s chandler supplying the schooners with their needs and then was enlarged to form the present inn. The first date of a landlord and King of Piel” at the Ship Inn was a Thomas Hoole in 1861 who was the first licensed Barrow Pilot.

(link to Piel Island website)  http://www.pielisland.co.uk/

The Duke of Buccleuch gave the island to the people of Barrow and District as a war memorial in 1918. Piel Castle is under the custodianship of English Heritage. Access to Piel Island is by ferry from Roa Island which is joined to the mainland by a causeway.  Roa Island is four point seven miles south east of Furness Abbey.  From the abbey to Roa Island and across the water is a distance of five point two miles.  

A protest march against the closing of the smaller monasteries or priories valued less than £200 per year e.g. Cartmel and Conishead. Robert Aske, a lawyer who came from a well-connected Yorkshire family led the pilgrimage.  Furness people, some abbey monks and abbey tenant farmers including those from Walney supported the movement. It attracted 30 – 40,000 at its height. They adopted the five wounds of Christ as their emblem. The success of the uprising forced Henry VIII to open negotiations with the rebels. As part of the bargain he authorised the Duke of Norfolk to offer a general pardon and invited Aske to spend Christmas at court. But he failed to keep his promises and another uprising broke out the following year. Aske was arrested for treason and taken to York Castle where he was hanged in chains for several days until he died of suffocation. Several of the other leaders were tortured before being hanged. The great northern tragedy was really happening.

A small basin with a drain in a wall niche used for cleansing communion vessels.  The hole in the base took away the water into the consecrated ground.

All the monastic services were sung: Grace before and after meals, in processions and at funerals. Gregorian Plain Chant was the special music taught, sung and developed by monks.  It was written in Latin for male voices and did not need the accompaniment of a musical instrument.  This type of music is called monody; bird song is the only parallel. “The men of that time believed that devils trembled and angels noted down in letters of gold the words that dropped from their lips as these grave and masculine voices chanted through the darkness of the night the triumph of good over evil and the glories of the Lord and His Church” (From the writings of the life of Stephen Harding by Dalgrain). Quire monks and novices rehearsed under their director, the lead singer, Precentor/Cantor, in the sacristy: this building must have been the abbey's song school mentioned in Victoria County History.

Plan of the Abbey
"It has been said that a blind first generation Cistercian could find his way around any early foundation of the Order, such was the uniformity of design". (Trevor Green, Cistercian historian). The Furness Abbey English Heritage book 1998 carries a colour coded plan of the abbey.  Visitors to the abbey can find their own way around with the plan or by using a Walkman tape that is included in the entrance fee. The best place to start is the cloister. Then face north and before you is the church, to the left the lay brothers' range, to the right the chapter house and behind you the frater and kitchen.

William Wordsworth (English poet 1770-1850), made several visits to the Cartmel and Furness peninsula. He visited Cartmel Priory and found the grave of a former teacher, William Taylor from Hawkshead School:
"That morning, ranging through the churchyard graves
Of Cartmel's rural Town, the place in which
An honored Teacher of my youth was laid”
Extract from "The Prelude", Book X, line 490 - 514 William Wordsworth
Selected Poetry (Oxford World Classics).

The Furness District of Lancashire was an isolated region at the beginning of the 19th century. Roads were poor, packhorses were used while passengers travelled in horse drawn coaches and many walked or travelled by horseback, crossing the sands of Morecambe Bay. The poet was familiar with this route, and when crossing the sands from Hest Bank in the direction of Conishead Priory he noted Chapel Island, later immortalising it in "The Prelude", learning that Robespiere was dead.

William visited Aldingham Rectory where he had befriended the Baldwins. In August 1794 the poet arrived at Rampside and joined his sister Dorothy who was staying with her cousin Elizabeth Barker and Francis Barker in a house that stood on the site now occupied by the Clarke's Arms. Rampside was then a popular bathing resort. The artist Sir George Beaumont, a close friend of the Wordsworths had shown William his painting of Piel Castle in which the ruins "tower against a sky split by lightning, while a ship labours in an angry sea."  (William Wordsworth by Stephen Gill).

Inspired by this painting and after seeing Piel Island for himself in 1805, he wrote the following: -
"I was thy Neighbour once, thou rugged Pile!
Four summer weeks I dwelt in sight of thee:
I saw thee every day; and all the while
Thy Form was sleeping on a glassy sea.”

(Verse from the beginning of the Elegiac Stanzas), Oxford World Classics.

William Wordsworth visited Furness Abbey in 1805 and later recorded the experience in his poem "The Prelude".
“Our steeds remounted, and the summons given,
With whip and spur we through the Chauntry flew
In uncouth race, and left the cross-legged Knight,
And the stone-Abbot, and that single wren
Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave
Of the old Church, that, - though from recent showers
The earth was comfortless, and, touched by faint
Internal breezes, sobbings of the place,
And respirations, from the roofless walls
The shuddering ivy dripped large drops -yet still,
So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible Bird
Sang to itself, that there I could have made
My dwelling-place, and lived for ever there
To hear such music. Through the Walls we flew
And down the valley, and, a circuit made
In wantonness of heart, through rough and smooth
We scampered homewards..." (Extract from "The Prelude, Book 11, 1805).
Following Wordsworth's visit to Furness Abbey he also composed poetry relating to the Furness Railway navvies.

Pope Eugenius III
A former Cistercian monk and pupil of St. Bernard at Clairvaux.  He was elected pope in 1145 and two years later the Savigniac Order merged with the Cistercian Order.

All monks took a vow of poverty. "The institution of our name and order forbids us to possess churches, altars, places of burial, tithes of the labourer or pasture of another, towns, villeins, rents from lands, revenues from bakehouses or mills, and such like which are opposed to the purity of monastic life." (Cistercian Statutes).

The director of music and chief singer, he conducted choir practices in the vestry.  He had to organise the music for the services - (all of which were sung), rehearse readers, choose and teach hymns, and correct musical mistakes. He was also responsible for arranging processions.

Precinct Wall
Remains are still extant of the great boundary wall which enclosed the monastic precinct - some 73 acres.

"The priest's place" is the easterly section of a monastic church, containing the high altar and reserved for the clergy.

Presbytery Stabilisation Work

At Furness Abbey there is an on-going programme of conservation maintenance to address the structural failure and movement of the presbytery walls.

Phase 1: 2008/2009
Installation of temporary steel restraining framework following identification of severe cracking, movement and settling of walls.

Phase 2: 2010/2012
Detailed archaeological excavation around the base of the walls to find the cause of the movement and develop structural engineering solutions.  A gradual decaying of the oak raft which was used for the new walls of the 15th century extension of the presbytery has been the cause of the problem.

Phase 3: 2012/2013
Undertaking of key trial works to assess the most appropriate technique for underpinning and possibly piling the base of the presbytery walls.
During this period of conservation Furness Abbey is open during normal advertised hours. There is restricted access in the immediate area around the presbytery.

A monk who was second in command to the abbot.  He was responsible for the maintenance of order in the choir both physical and spiritual. He occupied the first place in the choir, Chapter House and Refectory (Frater). He was responsible for the security of the abbey. Each night he organised searches of the Cloister Court and buildings. All doors were locked and the keys were brought to him. Monks had to rise when the Prior passed them and were not allowed to sit down until he was seated. He slept in the monks’ Dormitory in the early days.

Prime promoters are English Heritage, Tourist Information Centres based in Barrow and Ulverston.
The Dock Museum (01229 870871), helps to promote the abbey and houses some monastic artefacts.
The North West Evening Mail, (01229 821835) the Westmorland Gazette, (01229 588634) and Radio Cumbria (01229 836767), cover events at the abbey.
Furness Abbey is included in Cumbria's top ten visitor attractions.
For more information on times of opening and admission charges ring the Abbey Museum 01228/592444.

Publicity leaflets are widely circulated and there is a 1998 Furness Abbey English Heritage book on sale in the Visitors' Centre, Furness Abbey. In the past there was an extensive use of posters, pamphlets, postcards and guidebooks even in French.  (From a 1910 excursions brochure) The chemin de fer de Furness organised a wide variety of voyages, circulaires, not only to "les charmants Lacs Anglais" but to "L'Abbaye de Furness and to Barrow for "vues superbes des docks et de la mer".

This was originally a raised platform from which news was given. Very few survive.

A stone screen separating the monks’  quire from the nave

"A place of temporal punishment for those who die in God's grace, but are not entirely free from venial sins or have not entirely paid the satisfaction due to their sins"  (Catholic Dictionary).

Poet’s Pilgrimage
Top of Page
Drawing by
Jo Rose
Piel Island
Papal Bull
Pilgrimage of Grace
Precentor /Cantor
Plain Chant
Click and
Alice Leach
Old print
Of Piel