The precincts of the Abbey are entered through a round arch beyond the tunnel-like passage which formerly gave access to the buildings of the fort. Passing through the door of the glass screen which fills the arch, the visitor finds himself in the west cloister. It is a broad and lofty corridor, paved with warm-tinted tiles, and lighted by Gothic windows of three lights, set in embrasures of the stone wall. For some months these window-openings remained unglazed, in imitation of many mediaeval cloisters; but the rigorous winters of these northern lands necessitated the addition of glass panes. A large double door affords exit to the cloister-garth, whence a comprehensive view is gained of the buildings that stand around.
In front is the monastery wing, to the left hand that of the School, to the right is the one-stoned building of the capacious sacristy, and behind rises the hospice. The picture is one seldom witnessed in these northern lands. On all sides one sees graceful buildings of grey stone, with stone window-frames and mullions of a lighter tint. Running all around the quadrangle are the grey granite cloister walls, relieved by the green of clinging ivy here and there, and set off by the smoothly shaven lawn and beds of brightly coloured flowers. The windows of decorated Gothic are headed with exquisite tracery— wonderfully varied. The corbels of their weather mouldings are no less varied, for each head represents some particular saint or prominent historical personage.
Many of the gargoyles here are worthy of notice as being strikingly original in design. Some of the best are the work of monastic artists of the house.
Returning to the interior of the cloisters, and passing down towards the north wing, we are able to glance into the low vaulted arch of brick-work which tradition declares to be the remains of the Lovat dungeon, already alluded to. At the corner of the cloister are beautifully executed stone statues in niches sunk into the stone wall. There are two at each corner on the window side of the cloister. On the NW. corner are SS. Maurus and Placid, two of St. Benedict's first disciples. The others, taking them in order as we pass round by our right, are St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica, SS. Martin and John Baptist, SS. Theresa and Joseph.
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