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This weak design could not have existed long. A fresh idea entered the minds of the chapter. They resolved to change the upper part into a belfry, divided it off by a wooden floor still remaining, and yet” (resolved to) “ retain a portion of the light. For this purpose a set of massive square-headed stone window-frames of two lights, strengthened by a transom, were inserted over the second arcade in the base of the long openings, forming the inner thickness of the double wall of the tower (built thus to save weight). On the top lintels of these stone window-frames the beams of the new floor for the bell-framing rested.”— Irvine, p. 40. It was after this change into a belfry that the tower walls gave way, and the St. Andrew crosses were inserted below. The bells were afterwards removed into the western towers. Then came the Perpendicular vaulting, and the sound-openings were filled in with Perpendicular panelling. “ The pinnacles of the tower were also recast. The Decorated main centre spires in each case were preserved; the surrounding small ones and those in the sides changed to Perpendicular, and the niches and figures added (possibly by Bishop Bubwith's executors)."-- Irvine, p. 42.
(Part I., $ 23.) All the detail of the restoration is well executed ; but it is certainly to be regretted that the work was undertaken before ecclesiastical arrangement was so well understood as it is at present. Something may perhaps be said in defence of the new disposition of the stalls- between, instead of in front of, the piers; but the removal of the canopy from Beckington's tomb was, as Mr. Freeman has characterized it, an “act of sheer havoc." Had the screen been removed, as in this case it might have been without either disadvantage or the destruction of anything really venerable, the nave would have been made available for the congregation. “ Did those who planned the last arrangements of Wells Cathedral know that there was a nave, and if they did know it, for what end did they suppose that that nave was built? A bishop, coming in by the cloister door, might possibly never find out that there was a nare at all; but a dean, coming in at the west end, must have seen that there was a good deal of building between that door and his own stall, and one would have thought that he must sometimes have stopped to think for what end that building was set up. Was that long array of arches, that soaring rault, made simply as a place for rubbing shoes before the service begins, or for chattering after the service is ended ? I think that Robert and Jocelin had better notions of the adaptation of means to ends than to rear so great a work for such small purposes.”—Freeman, “ Hist. of Cathedral Church of Wells,' p. 154.
(Part I., $ 23.) The order in which the eastern portion of the church was constructed is sufficiently clear. The Lady-chapel was first built, and must have stood for a short time distinct from the old choir. Then began the extension of the choir, and its connection with the Lady-chapel. Bishop Jocelin's (or the Early English) east end was at last removed, and the new work was joined to the three western (Early English) bays, which had already been repaired after the fall of the “ tholus." “ In the new exterior of the eastern end a portion,” says Mr. Irvine, “was built every year, leaving, inside, the old eastern chapels for use as long as possible. The joints mark the portions of every fresh year.” The Lady-chapel was certainly finished before 1326. The dates of the remaining work are uncertain ; but Mr. Irvine agrees with Mr. Freeman in regarding Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury as having been much concerned with it. The whole was probably finished before his death in 1363.
“ The new work,” says Mr. Freeman, “ though exceedingly graceful, is perhaps rather too graceful; it has a refinement and minuteness of detail which is thoroughly in place in a small building like the Lady-chapel, but which gives a sort of feeling of weakness when it is transferred to a principal part of the church of the full height of the building. The three elder arches are all masculine vigour; the three newer arches are all feminine elegance; but it strikes me that feminine elegance, thoroughly in its place in the small chapels, is hardly in its place in the presbytery.”• Hist. of Cathedral Church of Wells,' p. 111.
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(Part I., $ 30.) “ With the exquisite beauty of the Lady-chapel erery one is familiar; but every one may not have remarked how distinct it is from the rest of the church. Unlike any other of the component parts of the church, it could stand perfectly well by itself, as a detached building. As it is, it gives an apsidal form to the extreme end of the church: but it is much more than an apse; it is, in fact, an octagon no less than the chapter-house, and to this form it owes much of its beauty. As an octagon standing detached at one end and joined to other buildings at the other end, it allowed the apsidal end to be combined with the exquisite slender shafts which open into the space to the west. But it must be remembered that the chapel must at first have stood almost as a detached building, and that, though it was doubtless not intended to remain so, yet the fact of its original isolation clearly had an effect on its form. There is a second transept at Wells, but instead of dividing the choir from the presbytery, it is a mere appendage to the Lady. chapel, and it is therefore far from being the important feature which the eastern transept is at Canterbury and Salisbury."Freeman, pp. 109-10.
(Part I., $ 31.) The remains of a canopy which formerly stood above the tomb of Dean Forrest, are in the undercroft of the chapter-house ; the “unknown ecclesiastic” in this (the north-east) transept, is thought to be John de Midleton, Chancellor of Wells (collated 1337). He held this office but a short time, and then became a Friar Minor. In this transept is also the altar-tomb of Bishop Gilbert Berkeley (15601581), with some curious and not very intelligible inscriptions. Round the edge are the words “ Spiritus erepto salvus, Gilberte, Novembre carcere Principis enc (?) æthere Barkle crepat. Annum dant ista salutis.” In the centre, * Vixi, videte S. præmium ; luxi, redux quieascibus, pro captu agendo præsulis septem per annos triplices.” The words “VIXI” and “LVXI” mark the bishop's age at his “deliverance” or death-83.
Against the east wall of this transept is a sculptured representation of our Lord's ascension.
(Part I., § 33.) The separation of the chapter-house from the cloisters is one of the architectural indications (the arrangement of the cloister is another) that the Cathedral Church of Wells was a secular, and not a monastic foundation. “In secular foundations the chapter-house is much more strictly part of the church than it is in a monastery. In a monastery the chapter-house is one of the main parts of the whole building. It communicates directly with the cloister, and thereby with the church and the other principal buildings. But it has no direct communication with the church ; it has no more connection with the church than the refectory has, and not nearly so much as the dormitory has. But in secular foundations the chapter-house is much more commonly a part of the church, its principal or only entrance being from the church itself. This is a general, but not an universal rule, Salisbury being a notable instance to the contrary."— Freeman, · Wells,' p. 96.
(Part I., $ 38.) A cloister and refectory had been built by Bishop Gisa (10611088) when he introduced the rule of Chrodegang of Metz for the observation of the canons. These buildings were removed by Bishop John de Villula, who built his own manor house on the site. Bishop Jocelin of Wells removed the manor-house to the site it now occupies; and the existing cloister formed part of the great design which was either originated by Bishop Jocelin, or was mostly carried out during his episcopate. The outer walls of the cloister, including the doorway leading to the palace, are of this
date. The doorway into the transept, " and the doorway which is in some sort the fellow to it in the south-west tower, give us the surest signs that the cloister is not now in the same state in which it was originally designed. . . . . The wall comes up uncomfortably close against this tine doorway, though it does not mutilate it in the way which is done by the vault which was added long after. This vault, and the window tracery of the cloister of the same date, are therefore not only later additions, but additions which could not have been so much as contemplated when the cloister was first built. What, then, was the cloister in its original state? That its outer wall was of stone is plain; but I believe that whatever was inside, the roof, and whatever there may have been in the way of tracery or arcading, was of wood. Wooden cloisters were not un
Even in so great a monastery as Glastonbury, it is plain that the cloister was not of stone.”-Freemin, p. 84.
Mr. Irvine thinks that the doorway which opens from the cloister into the south-west tower was intended to serve as the principal entrance to the cathedral. The space before the west front was the great cemetery, in which, and even in part within the church, the three annual fairs were held. Bishop Robert had issued mandates against this abuse. Bishop Reginald " (whom Mr. Irvine looks upon as the designer of the west front) " found it necessary to confirm and strengthen them. He had also set apart a fresh space, the present market-place. . . . . Opposite this spot both the original entrance and the early gate-house leading into the cloister still remain,—the entrance passing from thence by the grand door under the south-west tower into the church.” If this were really the case, such an arrangement must have been unique, at least in this country. The western portals opened only to the cemetery; for which reason, if Mr. Irvine is right, they could not serve as the principal entrances to the cathedral. An act of the chapter in 1297 refers apparently to this south-west door as “ Magnum ostium ecclesiæ sub campanili versus claustrum.” The words “ magnum ostium" give strength to Mr. Irvine's suggestion.