Images de page
PDF
ePub

ciency of due length and perspective both in All Souls' and Magdalen Chapels; those choirs being less than three diameters in length. In these copies it is obvious that the rule had been lost or was disregarded, and the proportion of the choirs is consequently deficient"."

In conformity to the prevailing fashion, and style of architecture, the roofs of both Chapel and Hall were constructed of timber: they were of equal height, and also nearly alike in form and decoration: but their ornaments were few, belonging chiefly to the arches and beams, aud consisting of mouldings varied in their form and application. Substantial bearing shafts fixed on carved stone corbels were their main supports; these bound the wide spreading arches and surmounting framework together, and received the pressure of their vast weight. Though constructed chiefly of chesnut, and carved with a bold simplicity and skilful accuracy common in the fifteenth century, these roofs were afterwards polluted with coarse paint of various colours; and at the same time, namely, in the seventeenth century, large and rudely carved shields, and other supposed ornaments, were added in various conspicuous places, whose fantastic forms and brilliant colours ill-suited the simplicity of the ancient design.

Five windows on each side of the Choir gave light to the interior of the Chapel, but it is, like New College, entirely destitute of an altar window'; the eye strikes up a dead

P In answer to these remarks Mr. Buckler observes," the Chapel is in beautiful proportion, and in perfect harmony with the general plan of the College. Its relative dimensions attest the skill with which they were composed." Ms. note.

Architecture, p. 104. The ancient roof, says Ingram, was framed with open trusses of timber, carved and moulded on the inside in a similar style to the roof of All Souls' Chapel, and rising to the ridge with a very low inclination; so that the outside roof of lead was concealed by the embattled parapets." Memorials, p. 23.

Architecture, p. 66.

wall, which all the ornaments of art, aided by the skill of a Wykeham or a Waynflete, could not enliven. Necessity, we know, required the sacrifice; the cause is apparent, but the effect remains the same. It might perchance boast. of storied niches and sculptures in abundance; but the Chapel that wants a spacious east window, rich in tracery and glowing with colours, has to regret a feature the absence of which is irreparable.

In addition to the great western window with its perpendicular tracery, a window on each side of it, two on the southern side, and two on each side of the entrance to the Choir, gave sufficient light and solemnity to the Antichapel.

8

It is remarkable that Waynflete, though he subsequently followed the model of All Souls in many particulars, had adopted the greater simplicity of Wykeham's architecture in the windows of his Chapel; the more ancient curve being there preferred to the compound arch from four centres with an obtuse point, of which the buildings of Archbishop Chichele every where exhibit the most perfect examples.

The stalls of the Fellows and Chaplains, twenty-one in number on each side of the Choir, were placed nearest to the north and south walls, and had accordingly lining and canopies. These consisted of well shaped and lofty pannels, separated by slender buttressets, and terminating in crocketed arches and handsome tracery, the whole coloured and gilt; the compartments in after times at least presented painted figures of saints, not remarkable for the merit of their execution. These curious specimens of ecclesiastical furniture were richly rather than skilfully carved, and handsomely rather than chastely formed. They were not designed to engage attention by their boldness, and merited not that minute examination, Memorials, p. 24.

which we bestow on many similar ornamental works; but they furnished an interesting link in the descending chain of "Gothic" architecture. They showed that the bold projecting canopy had dwindled down to a shallow arch and pattern of tracery, destitute of any prominent feature on which light and shadow might play their enchanting effect; and proved also extravagance of ornament in the crockets, which were misshapen, and formed by bunches of leaves and flowers issuing from several stems; whereas the true crocket springs in a single close or expanded leaf, from only one stem, which follows the shape of the arch or canopy it adorns.

The under parts of the seats were carved with grotesque figures, monstrous animals, rich foliage, and a great profusion of curious and well-carved devices.

There was also a small Chapel in the middle of the south side of the Choir, of the use of which we find no record. It was of the same height as the Chapel, and through want of good taste, was taken down in 1731, or thereabouts. This appears from the Oxonia Depicta of Williams, begun in 1726, and finished in 1733, where though the square projection of the Chapel is distinctly seen both in the ground plan and in the view of the College, yet it is omitted in the large ichnographical plan of Oxford, carefully engraved by Toms, which has the date of 1733. It appears in the Oxford Almanacks for 1730 and 1731'.

The Choir was separated from the Antechapel by a Roodloft, on which, as soon afterwards in Merton Chapel, an organ was erected. This screen is curiously alluded to in an Indenture of Agreement between the Warden of Merton College and John Fisher, citizen of London, for making a Roodloft within the Choir of the Church A.D. 1486. "Which Rodeloft the said

* Memorials, p. 15.

John shall make lyke unto the Rodeloft of Mawdelen College in Oxford, that is to wete, from the ground upwarde to the lowest seylyng pece xii fete with speris and lynterns for ii awters. Also the said John graunteth and hym byndeth by this Indenture to make in the seide Rodelofft farre better dorys, than there be in Mawdelyn College aforesaid"." In the following year, the Warden, as we shall see, agreed for a payre of organs "lyke unto the new payre of organs" in Magdalen Chapel, to be set up within the new Roodloft at Merton.

The altars below the Rood-screen were called the President's and Vice-President's altars, being situated at the back of their respective stalls. There were also four other altars in the Antechapel, one of which was named "the Arundel altar," on which daily Mass was to be celebrated for the souls of William Earl of Arundel, and Lord Thomas Maltraversy. There was also an altar erected occasionally on the first step of the Choir", but for what purpose we know not.

At the east end of the Choir stood the high altar in all its magnificence. Two large sculptured figures of St. Mary Magdalen and St. John the Baptist filled niches above, while other images, sixteen of which were sent by the Founder from his Palace at Waltham at one time in 1481, decorated the rere-dos, and the altars in the nave. A lamp burned before the great cross, which stood with two candlesticks upon the altar; while four large candelabra, called standards, which remind us of those four in the Church of St. Bavon at Ghent which bear the arms of our own King Charles the First, having belonged to Whitehall Chapel, stood in front. Two lecterns of

u Archæological Journal, vol. ii. p. 181.

See Appendix, p. 266.

y Statuta, p. 65.

Appendix, p. 269.

brass, one for the Gospel, and one for the Rectors of the Choir, were placed in their respective situations; one of these was decorated with the Pelican, the other with the Salutation, or more probably the Annunciation (for an angel is mentioned) of the blessed Virgin. Curtains were suspended on each side the altars, and the walls were decorated with paintings. Before the high altar was laid a carpet. The names of Benefactors inscribed or illuminated on vellum were placed over the different altars. A canopy of red damask was elevated over the President's stall. A large chest for vestments, &c. stood near a small organ in the Choir. Figures of Saints and Bishops in coloured glass filled with a subdued and mellowed light the bays of the Chapel windows.

In addition to these ornaments, the Chapel was rich in Antiphonaries, Missals, Graduals, Processionals, Manuals, Legends, Psalters, Martyrologies, Collectories, Pontificals, Ordinals, Collation-books, and Hymnaries: in short, all the Service Books, which Maskell has so well described as appertaining to the use of Sarum. Chalices there were in great number; one of which was given by Mr. Thomas Kerver, senior of the two first appointed Deans of Arts. Besides these, there were crucifixes, one of which was said to contain a portion of the true cross, and another ornamented with precious stones; basins, monstrances, cruets, thuribles, bells, ships, pyxes for reserving the Host; the sacred oils and the holy chrism; processional and cantor's staves, vats for holy water, and candlesticks in abundance; one of the latter was in the form of an oak tree with its stem, leaves and acorns. These were for the most part of silver gilt, a few of silver only. There were also "texts" of the Gospel ornamented with figures of the Crucifixion, or with emblems of the Trinity, or with the image of St. Paul; a pax in the shape of a fleur

[ocr errors]

Appendix, pp. 256, 258, 259, 261, 262, 263, 265, 267, 269, 271.

« PrécédentContinuer »