The Almonry

The Almonry of the Mont Saint Michel

The Almonry or alms’ room, is composed of two naves. The roman plain groined vaults of a pointed form rest on a cluster of strong and thick columns the bases and the capitals of which are square. It is lighted by two small windows with deep bendings, pierced between the buttresses, two on the east and six on the north; they open out in the interior of the room and there are stone benches in the slayings. 

The entrance door opens to the south on the court of the Merveille. Under the porch, in front of it, is the starting point of a staircase contained in the tower, called Corbins’ tower. This staircase, of great simplicity, but the construction of which is remarkable leads up to the Dormitory, to the higher south circular road and to the base of the timber-roof, after leading, halfway, to the battlement of the Chatelet and to the curtain which joins it to the Merveille. 

During the researches made in 1872, by order of the Minister of public instruction and fine arts, we found near the south entrance door the remnants of a furnace and among the remains of burnt clay some pieces of melted white metal covered by green oxide, indicating a mixture in which copper is present in large quantities. These are perhaps the remains of the bells melted in the Abbey or of the metal prepared to manufacture obsidional coins which the abbots of the mount were authorized to issue during the reign of Charles VII, at the period of the long wars with the English. 

At the end of the Almonry, towards the west, there is a door communicating with the Cellar; this aperture with a double rabbet presents a peculiar arrangement being shut in by two leaves — one before the other — which, towards the Almonry were kept strongly closed each of them by a crossbeam fixed on one side in a mortice made on one of the doorposts and on the other side, in the wall, where, when the leaves were opened it was put, throughout the whole width of the door, in a square opening made for that purpose. 

On the right of the double door is the entrance to the staircase constructed at the junction of the two buildings east and west; it leads to the Dormitory and above to the north battlement. 

On the left, another door opens on a circular vertical the conduit which makes the Almonry communicate with the Dormitory and which is used to bring up the water necessary to the monks for the service of the Dormitories, of the Vestry on the south and of the Lavatory situated in the south gallery of the Cloister.

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