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Archaeologia Cantiana -
Vol. 88 1973 page 134
Excavations at Boxley Abbey By P. J. Tester, F.S.A.
to the raised pavement of the chapels (Fig. 5, no.
1). Many other
scattered floor-tiles of various shapes and sizes indicated the former
existence of tile-mosaic pavements, as in the south transept. Fragments of
mouldings and part of a chamfered hood-mould were recovered from the
destruction debris (Fig. 4, nos. 1, 4 and 6).
The base of the altar in the north chapel was uncovered, and
it appeared that this had been reconstructed at one time, and the floor
raised about 6 in. The first altar was
5 ft. 6 in. long and backed against the east wall. Later it seems to have
been rebuilt to stand 1 ft. 6 in. from the wall, its width (east-west)
being 3 ft. Originally the floor was laid on rammed chalk and had been
raised by a layer of clay and chalk capped by a thin spread of mortar
intended as a bedding for tiles. Both lateral walls of this chapel
retained traces of plaster.
Apparently the east wall of the chapels was not of one build
as there was a distinct straight-joint through the footings in
continuation of the south face of the wall separating the north and
central chapels, and the colour of the mortar was noticeably lighter in
the southern section. Moreover, the floor-level in the north-east corner
of the central chapel could not be observed due to an intrusive excavation
of unknown age or purpose. Whatever the explanation of these anomalous
features, there is good reason for assuming that the three chapels would
have been conceived as part of a
unitary plan despite a possible hiatus in their construction.
In each transept the chapels would most likely have been covered by
separate pointed barrel vaults with pointed arches forming the entrances.
This arrangement can still be seen at Fountains Abbey where the east end of
each chapel was lighted by a pair of round-headed windows with a circular
opening above. The piece of chamfered hood-mould found in excavation may
have come from a doorway in the north end of the transept, as indicated in
the reconstructed plan, Fig. 7.
THE WEST TOWER OR PORCH
An unexpected result of excavating outside the west end of the church was
the discovery of foundations of an attached structure with diagonal
buttresses at its south-west and north-west corners. This was clearly a late
addition, probably built in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, and
forming either a porch or a tower. It is more probable that it was the
latter although it is impossible to establish this with certainty. The
footings seemed more substantial than required for a porch—even one with
an upper storey. On plan it may appear disproportionately small for a tower,
although its actual dimensions are no less than many of those attached to
parish churches. It is known that a tower existed somewhere at Boxley Abbey
for after the Dissolution
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