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Full text of "The abbey churches of Bath & Malmesbury and the church of Saint Laurence, Bradford-on-Avon"

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BY THE REV. THOMAS PERKINS 
WITH PLANS AND ILLUSTRATIONS 



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BELL'S CATHEDRAL SERIES 



BATH ABBEY 

MALMESBURY ABBEY 

ST. LAURENCE, BRADFORD-ON-AVON 




BATH ABBEY, THE NAVE, LOOKING WEST. 



THE ABBEY CHURCHES OF 

BATH & MALMESBURY 

AND THE CHURCH OF SAINT 
LAURENCE, BRADFORD-ON-AVON 



THE REV. T: PERKINS, M.A. 

RECTOR OF TURNWORTH, DORSET 



WITH FORTY-NINE 




ILLUSTRATIONS 



ARMS OF BATH ABBEY 



LONDON GEORGE BELL & SONS 1901 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

The present volunle is the outcome of personal examination 
of the three buildings described, supplemented by informa- 
tion gathered frorn various sources, among them papers by 
Professor Freeman, Canon Jones, Canon Jackson, and others, 
published in the Transactions of the Wilts Arch»ological and 
Natural History Society. 

My best thanks are due to Canon Quirk, D.D., Rector 
of Bath, and to the Rev. G. W. Tucker, M.A., Vicar of 
Malmesbury, for facilities readily granted to me to photo- 
graph their respective churches ; to Messrs. Basey and 
Player, vergers, for much interesting information ; to Mr. 
Bilson, and the Secretary of the Royal Institute of British 
Architects, for permission to use the plan reproduced on 
p. 92 ; to Mr. Brakspear, the architect who has charge of 
the restoration work at Malmesbury, for sending measure- 
ments and information respecting that church ; and, lastly, 
to an amateur, who desires to remain anonymous, for the 
use of the photographs reproduced on pp. 32, 80. These 
were taken before the restoration was begun, from points 
of view not now available on account of scaffolding erected 
against the building, and so are of special interest. 

TURNWORTH, BtANDFORD, 

April, 1901. 



CONTENTS 



BATH ABBEY CHURCH. 

CHAPTER . PAGE 

I. History of the Building . 3 

II. The Exterior . . ... 11 

The West Front . 11 

The Nave . .12 

The Central Tower . . 14 

The Choir ... 14 



III. The Interior 



The Windows 
The Monuments 
Prior Birde's Chantry 
The Organ . 



17 
18 
21 

2S 
28 



The Bells . 28 

IV. The Priors of Bath 29 

MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

I. History- of the Building . . . -33 

II. The Exterior . . -65 

The West Front . . . . 66 

The South Porch . . 68 

The South Aisle . ... • .73 

The Transept . • • 75 

The North Side . 77 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER 

III. The Interior 



The Nave Arcade . 
The Triforium 
The Watching-Chamber 
The Clerestory 
The Central Tower 
The Rood-Screen . 
The Vault 
The Aisles . 
Memorial Tablets . 
King Athelstan's Tomb . 
The Font 



85 
87 
89 
89 
89 
89 
90 

91 
94 
96 

97 



IV. The Abbots of Malmesbury 



99 



ST. LAURENCE, BRADFORD-ON-AVON 



103 



Dimensions of Bath Abbey 
Dimensions of Malmesbury Abbey . 



116 
116 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Bath Abbey, The Nave, Looking West . . Frontispiece 

Arms of Bath Abbey Title 

Bath Abbey, The East End 2 

Prior Birde's Chantry ..... 7 

The South Transept . . . .10 

The West Front . .... -13 

The Nave, Looking East ... 16 

Bishop Montague's Tomb . . • 22 

Lady Waller's Monument ..... 23 

Colonel Alexander Champion's Monument by NoUekens . . 25 

The Nave, South Side . ... ... 26 

The Conventual Seal of Malmesbury Abbey . . . 31 

Malmesbury Abbey from the South . . ... 32 

Supposed Tomb of Athelstan .... ■ • • 39 

The South Aisle ... 45 

Elevation of a Bay of the Nave (from Britton's ' ' English Architecture ") 5° 

■ Restored Ground Plan of Malmesbury Abbey . 52 

The Watching- Loft . .... . 56 

The South-West Angle .... . . 59 

The Market Cross . . ... ~ . .61 

The South Side from the Porch Roof . . ... 64 

Remains of the West Front ... ... 65 

The South-West Turret .... ... 67 

Carving on the South Porch ... .68 

The South Porch . ... ... 69 

Tympanum of the South Doorway ... ... 72 

Decorated Windows, South Side ... ... 74 

The Ruined Tower and Present East End . . . 76 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



The Present West Window 

The West End (Interior) 

The Main Arcade, North Side. 

The Easternmost Arch on the North Side 

The Triforium and Clerestory, North Side 

The Vault of Nave .... 

Diagram of North Window Vaulting 

Diagram of Aisle Vault . 

Wall Arcade, North Side 

The Font ... 

The Churches of Bradford-on-Avon from the North-East 

The West End and North Porch of St. Laurence's 

The East Wall of the Nave- .... 

Doorway in North Porch 

The Chancel Arch . . ... 

View from the Chancel . 

Carved Angels on the East Wall of the Nave 

Ground Plan of the Church 

The South Side . . . 

Plan of Bath Abbey .... 

Plan of the Remaining Portions of Malmesbury Abbey | 



PAGE 
80 
82 
84 

86 
88 
90 

91 
92 

94 
97 
104 
loS 
109 
III 
112 

113 
114 
114 
115 

At end 




BATH ABBEY, THE EAST END. 



THE ABBEY CHURCH OF 
ST. PETER, BATH. 

CHAPTER I. 

HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 

The chief interest of Bath Abbey, as we see it today, is that 
the whole of the building is of so late a date that we may 
regard it as the last complete ecclesiastical building erected 
before the dissolution of the monasteries. Henry VII. 's Chapel 
at Westminster, which, though attached to the abbey, may in 
a certain sense be considered complete in itself, is its only 
contemporary rival. Nothing of importance in Gothic art was- 
done in England after the Reformation j and as Bath Abbey 
Church was not actually finished, though it was nearing com- 
pletion, when it was surrendered to Henry VIII. in 1539, we 
may consider it the last expression of Gothic, and, comparing 
it with the work of preceding centuries, we shall come to the 
conclusion that Gothic, even had there been no Reformation 
to put an end to church building, was rapidly approaching the 
hour of its death. 

But though in Bath Abbey, as it stands to-day, we see 
nothing, save a few fragments of the foundations, of earlier 
date than the sixteenth century, yet a Christian church 
existed here from very early times ; and the history of Bath 
goes back to a still earlier date — for the natural hot springs 
^nd the genial climate of the Avon Valley attracted the 
Roman conquerors to the spot. Here they were able to enjoy 
spme of the chief luxuries they had been accustomed to in 
their own far-off southern land ; here they built a splendid 



4 BATH ABBEY. 

temple to the honour of Sul Minerva, and called the city 
Aquffi Sulis ; here, too, they constructed extensive baths, which 
have been excavated in recent times, and still more recently 
have been spoilt by the building of imitation Roman colonr 
nades round them. The Temple of Sul Minerva has entirely 
vanished save for a few sculptured stones that are preserve^ 
in the museum at Bath In the year 577 the city was 
captured by the West Saxons, and, like Malmesbury, at 
different times was under the rule of West Saxon and Mercian 
kings respectively. It is said, but on doubtful authority, that 
in the year 676 the Hwiccian King Osric founded a nunnery 
here, and it is certain that Oifa, the Mercian king, about the 
year 775 founded a college of secular canons at Bath. In 
the tenth century these canons shared the fate of many other 
bodies of secular clergy, and were expelled by Dunstan, 
and their place taken by monks. To Bath in the year 973 
King Edgar came with great pomp, and on the day of the 
Feast of Pentecost was crowned in the abbey church. To 
commemorate this event it was customary, up to so late a 
date as Leland's time, to elect on Whitsunday, from among 
the citizens, one who bore the title of " King of Bath." 

At the time of the Norman Conquest, ^Ifsige was abbot, 
and he, though an Englishman, managed to keep his office 
throughout the reign of William I. and until his death, which 
occurred in the reign of William II. 

At this time John de Villula, a Frenchman from Tours, 
was Bishop of Somerset, having his bishop-stool at the 
Church of St. Andrew, at Wells. Bur, dissatisfied with 
his bishopric, he persuaded William Rufus to grant him 
the abbey church at Bath ; this was done by charter in 
1088, and the grant was confirmed by two charters of 
Henry I., dated respectively 1100 and 11 11. In the second 
we find this passage: " Batha ubi frater meus Willielmus 
et ego constituimus et confirmavimus sedem episcopates 
totius Summersetse, quae olim erat apud villam quae dicitur 
Wella." John also obtained from William a grant of the 
site and ruins of the town of Bath, which had recently been 
destroyed by fire. The Abbey of Bath thus was merged in 
the bishopric. It had no longer an abbot of its own ; the 
bishop was nominally its abbot ; the prior and monks formed 
the bishop's chapter. Bishop John ruled the monks — who 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 5 

were no doubt for the most part Englishmen — very sternly ; 
he was a learned man himself; and he despised the monks as 
ignorant barbarians. " Aliquantum dure in monachos agebat," 
says William of Malmesbury, "quod essent hebetes et ejus 
aestimatione barbari." Having gained possession of Bath, he 
forthwith set to work to rebuild the church dedicated to St. 
Peter, and on its completion he transferred to it the bishop's 
s^at from the Church of St. Andrew, at Wells. So, to once 
more quote the words of William, " Cessif enim Andreas 
Simoni fratri, frater major minori." The see was now called 
the Bishopric of Bath. John died in 1122, and was succeeded 
by' Godfrey of Lorraine, who held the bishopric till his death 
in 1135. 

I'he next bishop was Robert, by descent a Fleming, but 
English born. He had been a monk at Lewes; and when 
Henry, King Stephen's brother, who had been Abbot of 
Glastonbury, became Bishop of Worcester, he sent Robert 
to act as his deputy at Glastonbury, for Henry did not 
resign the lucrative post of abbot of the wealthiest abbey in 
the West. On Godfrey's death he became Bishop of Bath. 

Robert set himself to get his diocese out of the state of 
confusion into which John of Tours had plunged it by trans- 
ferring his episcopal seat from Wells to Bath. It would seem 
that an arrangement was made by which, thoUgh Bath was 
to have the precedence, yet the Bishop of Somerset was to 
have a throne at both the churches — St. Andrew, at Wells, 
and St. Peter, at Bath ; and the bishop was to be chosen 
jointly by the monks of Bath and the canons of Wells. 

During Bishop Robert's time the church at Bath again 
suffered from its old enemy, fire, and the church built by 
John of Tours was so much damaged that it had to be 
largely rebuilt by Robert. Under him the cathedral church 
at Bath reached its greatest perfection. His successors seem 
to have looked with greater favour on Wells, and to have 
made that more and more their chief place of residence, 
so that Bath was neglected. 

Roger (1244-1247) may, according to Professor Freeman, 
be considered the last Bath bishop. When the great 
Jocelin died, the monks of Bath, without consulting the 
Canons of Wells, obtained a conge d'ilire of Henry III. ; 
elected Roger, he was confirmed in bis bishopric by Pope 



6 BATH ABBEY. 

Innocent IV., who paid no heed to the protest of the 
Canons of Wells. The pope, however, made it a condition 
that his own nephew should -succeed to the Precentorship 
of Salisbury vacated by Roger, and then, having thus 
obtained perferment for his kinsman, agreed that for the 
future the Canons of Wells should take part in the election. 
Roger's episcopate was a short one. On his death he was 
buried at Bath — the last of the pre-Reformation Bishops of 
Bath and Wells to choose St. Peter's as his last resting-placie. 

But though the bishops neglected Bath, they still were 
abbots of the monastery, and drew their share of the 
abbey revenues. Thus the monastery was much impovei^ 
ished, and suffered as property usually does when the rents 
are drawn by an absen'tee, and spent elsewhere. Hence it 
came to pass that at the end of the fifteenth century the 
church was in a ruinous condition, even to its foundations. 

It chanced that in the year 1495, Oliver King, previously 
Bishop of Exeter, was translated to the See of Bath and 
Wells, and soon after his appointment it happened that he 
was at Bath. It may bfe that the sad state of neglect in which 
he found the church made a vivid impression on his mind, 
but, whether this were so or not, he fell asleep, and while he 
slept he dreamed, and, behold, a ladder, near the foot of which 
grew an olive-tree, set up on the earth, and the top of it 
reached to heaven, and, behold, the angels of God ascending 
and descending on it, and, behold, the Lord stood above it 
and said, " Let an Olive establish the crown and a King 
restore the church." And he waked up out of his sleep and 
said unto himself, " Surely the Lord spake unto me, and as 
He has charged me so will I do." That vision of Bishop 
Oliver King may still be seen carved on the west front of 
the church. On each of the turrets at the two west corners 
of the nave are ladders set up, with angels ascending and 
descending, and on the west face on each of the corner 
buttresses is carved an olive issuing from a crown. 

About 1500, the ruins having been cleared away. Bishop 
King set about the work of rebuilding ; but, having calculated 
the cost, he did not feel himself justified in making the 
new church of the same size as the old one ; in fact, the new 
church, including the choir and aisles, only occupies the site 
of the nave of the church built by Bishop John. Bishop King 




PRIOR BIRDE S CHANTRY. 



8 BATH ABBEY. 

did not live long enough to see the new work brought to 
completion ; neither the south nor west part were roofed in, 
nor had the walls even been raised to their full height when 
he died in 1503. 

The prior at this time was one William Birde, whose rebus — 
a W and a Bird — may be seen in many parts of the building. 
He, after Bishop King's death, went on with the work till his 
death in 1525. The choir must have been nearly, if not 
entirely, finished, as the prior built himself a chantry chapel 
between the choir and its south aisle. 

Prior Holloway went on with the work, but before the building 
had been completed the monastery and the church were seized 
by the king's commissioners ; the lead, glass, and bells, sold, 
after the church had been offered to the city for a small sum 
— 500 marks. More niggardly, or caring less about the church 
than the inhabitants of many other places, who paid the sum 
requisite to purchase the church as a place of worship for the 
town, the citizens of Bath refused the offer, and thus everything 
that could be converted into money was stripped from the 
building. 

Finally, the abbey buildings passed into the hands of 
one Matthew Colthurst, whose son in 1560 gave to the city 
the " carcase of St. Peter's Church " for a parish church and a 
plot of ground adjoining it as a burial-ground. The citizens, 
however, seemed to care but little for the gift, for nothing was 
done to make the roofless building fit for its proposed use for 
a period of twelve years. Then some slight repairs were done 
by an officer in the Army named Peter Chapman. Another 
quarter of a century elapsed, and then the east window was 
glazed, the choir was enclosed, but the nave was allowed still 
to remain without a roof. 

It was not till Bishop Montague's time (1608-1616) 
that the building was completely roofed in.' Though 
Bishop Montague was translated to Winchester, yet when he 

' The story of how Bishop Montague's attention was drawn to the 
condition of the church is told by Sir John Harrington. They were 
together in Bath and were caught in a heavy storm of rain, and the bishop 
asked Sir John to take him to some place of shelter. Sir John took him 
into the north aisle of the church. " We do not get much shelter here," 
said the bishop, to which Sir John replied, " If the church do not keep 
us safe from the water above, how shalj if s^v? others from the fir? 
beloWf" 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 9 

died he was buried, not in the cathedral church of his new 
diocese, but in the church at Bath, where his monument 
may still be seen on the north side of the nave. Houses had 
grown up around the church, some actually abutting on the 
walls. The north aisle, at each end of which is a door, was 
for many years used as a public thoroughfare. A passage 
was afterwards cut through the houses on the north side, but 
it was not till about 1834 that the last house built against the 
church was removed. By this time the corporation was more 
alive to its duty than in the seventeenth century, and as the 
leases of the various houses fell in, pulled them down. 

A good deal of money was spent about this time upon the 
fabric; flying buttresses were added to the nave, and pinnacles to 
the embattled turrets, at each end of the church. But a more 
complete restoration was set on foot during the incumbency of 
the Rev. Charles Kemble, under the direction of Sir Gilbert 
Scott. He, as was his habit, left the church in a thoroughly 
neat and trim condition. The nave and its aisles and the 
south transept were vaulted with stone, so as to match the roof 
of the choir, the plaster ceilings of Bishop Montague's time 
being removed to make place for them. The new roofs are 
thoroughly well executed, and all the carving is sharp and 
clear. In order to give an unbroken vista from end to end, 
the screen on which the organ stood was unfortunately removed, 
and the organ placed elsewhere. The galleries were also re- 
moved, and the numerous memorial tablets were taken from 
the positions they had previously occupied on walls and pillars, 
and were all neatly arranged along the walls beneath the string 
course that runs below the windows. At the present time 
(1901) restoration of a much to be regretted character is in 
progress on the exterior of the building. Fresh statues to 
take the place of mutilated and weathered ones are being set 
on the west front, and for many years to come will give the 
west front a spotty appearance, for their colour and sharpness 
will prevent them harmonising with the rest of the stone-work 
of the fagade on which Time has left traces of his mellowing 
hands. 




THE SOUTH TRANSEPT. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE EXTERIOR. 

Bath Abbey occupks an excellent site, and may be well seen 
on all sidef save the south, where houses approach it somewhat 
closely. The clearing away of the buildings which stood upon 
the site of the Roman baths has opened out a fine view from 
the south-west. The church consists of a nave with aisles ; a 
central tower, oblong in plan ; two narrow aisles, transepts; and 
a choir, with aisles projecting farther to the east than the east 
wall of the choir itself. The plan is perfectly symmetrical, the 
only excrescence being a vestry occupying the angle between 
the south transept and the choir aisle ; this was built by Sir 
Nicholas Salterus. 

The finest and most interesting part of the church is un- 
doubtedly the west front. It has, moreover, the merit of 
being a genuine termination of the building behind it, not a 
mere screen for the display of statuary. At the angles of the nave 
are two turrets containing staircases. The two lower stages are 
rectangular; the upper, octagonal in plan; they rise above the 
parapet of the nave, and terminate in an embattled parapet, from 
within which rises a crocketed pyramid of eight sides — a modern 
addition. On the western faces of these turrets are carved the 
ladders mentioned in the last chapter. There are figures at their 
bases, which are seen, from old prints made when they were less 
dilapidated than at present, to be in attitudes of adoration. 
Figures of the twelve apostles under canopies are carved on 
the faces on either side of those faces of the two turrets that 
are decorated by the ladders and angels. The space above 
the large west window is occupied by carvings of angels and 
a large central figure under a canopy, no doubt intended to 
represent the Father ; beneath this figure are seyeral shields, 



12 BATH ABBEY. 

Some parts of the ladders have been renewed, but the upper 
parts have not been fully carved. On each ladder are two 
projecting blocks of stone, intended to be carved into figures of 
angels. The upper parts of the turrets have been altered from 
time to time. In a print of 1750 they appear much as at the 
present time; but from a later print we learn that the pyramidal 
terminations were not in existence in the early part of the 
nineteenth century. The great west window is one of seven 
lights divided horizontally into four parts. Below it is a battle- 
mented parapet with a niche in the centre, in which, no doubt, 
a statue formerly stood, and in which a new statue has recently 
been placed. At the base of it are the arms and supporters of 
Henry VH. Below it is the west door, beneath a rectangular 
label. The spandrels contain emblems of the Passion. On either 
side stand statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, to whom the church 
was jointly dedicated ; these seem to be of Elizabethaii date. 
The doors themselves were the gift to the church of the Lord 
Chief Justice, Sir Henry Montague, brother of the bishop who 
completed the church. On them may be seen shields bearing 
the arms of the Montagues and of the Bishop of Bath and 
Wells. On the central mullion of the windows at the west 
ends of the two aisles is a canopied figure. Above the window 
of the north aisle are carved the words Domue mea, and above 
the window of the south aisle Domue oronis — an abbreviation for 
orationis. On the west faces of the buttresses at the corners 
of the aisles may be seen an olive rising through a crown and 
surmounted by a mitre — a rebus on the name and title of Bishop 
Oliver King; below are figures of animals much mutilated, 
beneath which may be read on a scroll portions of words from 
the parable of the trees choosing a king. Beneath the window 
at the west end of each aisle is a doorway, the head of which 
is a four-centred arch beneath a rectangular label. 

The nave consists of five bays. The clerestory windows are 
unusually lofty, and are divided by transoms ; they are of five 
hghts. Along the top of the clerestory wall is a battlemented, 
pierced parapet ; but the pattern of the pierced openings differs 
from that of the parapet which runs along the top of the aisle 
walls. The aisles have five-light windows without transoms; 
their heads are four centred arches ; between each bay are pro- 
jecting buttresses of three stages with gabled offsets, finished 
with crocketed pinnacles; against them rest flying buttresses 



THE EXTERIOR. 



13 



formed of a lower semi-arch with a straight upper rectilinear 
truss, the character of which may best be understood by 
examination of the photograph, p. 10. From the points where 




Photo.— T.P. 



THE WEST FRONT. 



the arched flying buttresses abut against the clerestory walls, 
vertical, slightly projecting buttresses are built upwards against 
the wall and, rising above the parapet, are finished by crocketed 
pinnacles. The same design is carried right round the church. 



14 BATH ABBEY. 

The clerestory of the transepts resembles those of the nave 
and choir. 

The central tower is not square, but oblong in plan, the 
east and west sides being considerably longer than those on the 
south and north. It rises two stages above the roof. In each 
face are two pairs of windows with rectangular heads. Those 
of the lower stage have transoms, and are blocked up ; those on 
the upper story have no transoms, and are furnished with louvre 
boards. At each angle of the tower is a massive octagonal turret 
somewhat similar to those on the north-west and south-west 
angles of the nave. At the ends of the transepts are lofty 
windows, which are crossed by three transoms. The buttresses, 
pinnacles, and windows of the choir, which consists of three 
bays, resemble the corresponding parts of the nave. 

At the north-east and south-east angles of the choir are two 
turrets, square in section until they reach the level of the parapet, 
and octagonal above, terminating in octagonal pyramids deco- 
rated with crockets similar to those which may be seen on the 
turrets of the tower. The great east window of the choir is of 
seven lights, and its body is divided by transoms into four tiers. 
It is set under a rectangular head, the spandrels between the 
arch of the window proper being pierced by foliated arches and 
smaller openings. The aisles, as already mentioned, project 
beyond the east wall of the choir to a distance equal to about 
half a bay. It is possible that it was originally intended to 
throw out a lady-chapel between them. The north wall of the 
projecting part of the north aisle and the corresponding wall 
of the south aisle are furnished with buttresses, but there is 
no window between them. There are four-light windows at 
the east end of each of the choir aisles, with a small door 
below them. 

It only remains to mention the low vestry built against 
the east wall of the south transept, having its greatest Ifength 
from north to south, and a small door in the wall of the 
middle bay of the south choir aisle, and the date 1576 cut on 
the south side of the buttress, which projects southward from 
the south-east corner of the south transept : this probably 
gives the date of the completion of some work of repair on this 
part of the building. It will be noticed that this date is 
sixteen years later than the time when the church was presented 
to the city by Edmund Colthurst. Some remains of the tower 



t.HE EXTERIOR. 15 

piers of John de Villula's church may be seen rising about a 
foot or so above the ground against the eastern buttresses. 

Although compared with many abbey churches Bath is of 
small dimensions; although its details are in many respects 
poor ; although it has not those various irregularities and 
surprises that one meets with in examining those churches 
which have been the growth of centuries, and were altered and 
added to as occasion and the changed circumstances of the 
times required — features which lend such a charm and interest 
to many old buildings ; — yet it cannot be denied that it is a well- 
proportioned building, and that even its exterior is not devoid 
of dignity and beauty ; and when we pass into the interior, the 
general effect will be found still more impressive. 




THE NAVE, LOOKING EAST. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE INTERIOR. 

The general view of the interior of Bath Abbey Church from 
the west end is very fine. The vault of the nave rises to about 
75 ft. ; and as the span is about 32 ft, it will be seen that the 
ratio of height to width is about 2 '3 to i — rather above 
the average of English churches. But the height of the 
building seems greater than it really is, as there is. but one 
horizontal line dividing the walls of the nave and choir — a 
string course running above the arches of the main arcading 
and below the tall clerestory windows, whose sills are brought 
down to it. There is no triforium. The building is ex- 
ceedingly well lighted, — so bright, indeed, was the interior on 
account of the large size of the windows and the absence of 
painted glass that the church received the name of the "Lantern 
of- the West." The flood of light has now been somewhat 
subdued by the introduction of painted glass into nearly all the 
windows of the nave and choir aisles, as well as into three of 
the four large windows of the church, and by a colour wash of 
a light green tint applied to the clerestory windows on the south 
side. The windows of the clerestory right round the building 
have five lights, and are divided horizontally by one transom ; 
those of the north and south side in the aisles have five hghts 
without any transom. The great east and Avest windows have 
seven lights ; the west one is divided by two, the eastern by 
three transoms. The windows at the north and south side of 
the transepts have five lights, and are divided by two transoms. 
In all cases besides the transoms there is practically another 
horizontal division just below the head of the window, formed 
by the heads of the lights below it. The tracery, as will be 
seen from the illustrations, is thoroughly Perpendicular in 



i8 BATH ABBEY. 

character ; but only in the east and west windows do any of 
the mullions run in an unbroken line from the sills to the 
containing arch ; in these two windows the mullion on each 
side of the central light is so continued. A detailed description 
of the subjects of painted glass may be interesting to some 
visitors, so it is here given. 

The Windows — Most of the lower windows are filled 
with modern painted glass. The tracery, of course, is Per- 
pendicular in character, and that of one window bears an 
almost exact resemblance to that of all the rest. There is, 
however, one minute difference to be seen; if we count the 
clerestory windows from the west right through the nave and 
choir, we find that the heads of the lower lights are foliated in 
all the windows that bear an even number, while the corre- 
sponding lights in the other four windows on each side are 
plain. The clerestory windows on the east side of the north 
transept have lower lights with plain heads, while those on the 
west of this transept and on both sides of the south transept 
have the heads of the corresponding lights foliated. 

Beginning with the west window of the north aisle, and going 
along the north aisles of nave and choir and back to the west 
end by the south choir and nave aisles, we note the subjects 
of the various windows, the persons to whose memory they 
were inserted, and the name of the firms that designed and 
produced them. 

The window over the north-west door contains figures of the 
four Evangelists. It is a memorial window to Charles Empson, 
who died in 1861. It is by Chance, and both in drawing and 
colour is the worst window in the church. 

The first window on the north side represents Hannah pray- 
ing for a son, the finding of Moses, Ruth and Boaz, Martha and 
Mary, Christ and Mary, and the two Marys at the sepulchre. 
It was inserted by T. Gill in memory of his daughter, Louisa 
Gignac Waring, and is by Clayton & Bell. 

The second window contains emblems of the four Evangelists 
and sundry arms and mottoes. It is a memorial to various 
members of the St. Barbe family. Much old glass was em- 
ployed in its construction by Clayton & Bell, who added 
some glass of their own painting to complete it. 

The third window, in memory of John Soden, represents 



THE INTERIOR. 19 

various incidents in the life of John the Baptist. It is by 
Clayton & Bell. 

The fourth window, in memory of Colonel Madox, who 
died in 1865, represents Christ's charge to His disciples 
(Luke xxiv.). This is by Ward & Hughes. 

The fifth represents the raising of the widow's son by Elijah, 
the sea giving up its dead, the raising of the son of the Widow of 
Nain, Samuel and Eli, the Good Shepherd, Timothy taught by 
Lois, and Isaac, Josiah, David, and Joseph, and was inserted 
by the late vicar, Mr. Kemble, in memory of a son who was 
drowned in the Bay of Tunis; it wasmade by Clayton & Bell. 

We now cross the transept. 

The first window of the choir, in memory of Edmund Barrow 
Evans, who died in 1868, represents Christ preaching on the 
mount, and is by Bell of Bristol. 

The second window, in memory of the Rev. Henry Barrow 
Evans, who died in T856, represents Christ reading in the 
synagogue, and is by Bell of Bristol. 

The third window represents the miracle at Cana in Galilee, 
and also contains figures of the Virgin and Child, Eve and her 
sons, Sarah and Isaac, Elizabeth and John, Hannah and 
Samuel. It was erected to the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Jackson Doveton, who died in 1868, and is by Clayton & Bell. 

The window at the east end of this aisle contains represen- 
tations of the Nativity, Baptism, Crucifixion, and Ascension. 
It was put up as a memorial to Humphrey Newman, an ensign, 
by his brother officers, and was painted by O'Connell. 

The corresponding window of the south choir aisle contains 
the figures of the four Evangelists. It was presented by two 
sisters of the name of Jamieson, and is by O'Connell. 

The easternmost window of the south choir aisle is of 
white glass. 

The next, containing various subjects —Jeremiah, Christ 
among the doctors, and the doves being offered in the Temple — 
is in memory of William Gomm, of St. Petersburg, who died in 
1792, and was inserted in 1870. It was painted by Burlison 
& Grylls. Under this window is a narrow doorway. 

The westernmost window on the south side of this aisle is 
of Munich glass, and represents the miraculous draught of 
fishes and St. Paul preaching at Athens. -It is a memorial 
window to William Wildman Kettlewell, who died in 1872. 



20 BATH ABBEY. 

Under this window is a doorway, not, however, placed beneath 
its centre. 

Crossing the transept, we enter the east end of the south 
aisle of the nave. 

The first window represents the adoration of the Wise Men 
and scenes from the life of the Virgin. It is in memory of 
James H. Markland, who died in 1864. 

The next represents the miraculous draught of fishes 
(John xxi. 1 1), in memory of Admiral Norwich Duff, who died 
in i860, and is by Ward & Hughes. 

The third, in memory of George Norman, F.R.G.S., who 
died in 1861, is by Clayton & Bell, and represents Christ 
healing the sick. 

The fourth represents Moses with the tables of the Law, and 
also contains figures of Charity, Faith, Justice, and Hope. It 
is in memory of Edward F. Slack, who died in 181 7, and is by 
Clayton & Bell. Under this window is a doorway, not central. 

The last window, in memory of Robert Arthur Brooke, who 
died in i860, represents the raising of the son of the Widow 
of Nain, the healing of the centurion's servant, Christ blessing 
little children, the exhortation to watch and pray, and the 
question respecting the tribute money. It is by Ward & 
Hughes. 

The window at the west end of this aisle represents the four 
builders, Moses, David, Solomon, and Zerubbabel. It is by 
Bell, and was given by the contractors who carried out the 
restoration in 1864. 

The great east window contains representations of various 
incidents in the life of Christ. It was presented to the church 
by the members of the Bath Literary Club, and is by Clayton 
& Bell. 

The west window of the nave contains various subjects from 
Old Testament history. This window was not filled with 
painted glass all at the same time. In 1888 the north side was 
inserted as a memorial to Bartlett and Jane Little and six of 
their children. The other lights have now been filled. The 
glass is by Clayton & Bell. 

The windows at the north and south ends of the transept are 
tall and narrow, five-light windows crossed by three transoms. 
The clerestory windows have also five lights, but are crossed by 
one transom only. There is no painted glass in the north 



THE INTERIOR. 2t 

transept. The window at the end of the south transept is a 
Jesse window. In the lower lights we find the sickness 
and recovery of Hezekiah, together with the royal arms, those 
of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and those of the city of 
Bath. The painted glass was inserted to commemorate the 
recovery of the present King from his serious illness in 1872, 
when he was Prince of Wales. It is by Clayton & Bell. 

Of the two lower windows of this transept, the western one 
has white glass, the eastern one is painted with the following 
subjects : " I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat " ; " Suffer 
little children to come unto Me " ; " Visit the fatherless." It 
is a memorial window to Richard Brooke, who died in 1875. 

No church, save St. Peter's, Westminster, has so many 
Monuments of the dead as this. It is said that there are more 
than six hundred memorial tablets, besides a few statues. At 
one time these were stuck on every point of vantage, walls and 
piers alike ; but when the church was restored they were all 
tidily placed beneath the string course below the aisle windows, 
and so thickly are these parts of the walls covered with them 
that it would be hard to find room for the erection of many 
more. For the most part, they are of little interest to anyone 
save the relatives of the persons whose names and ^virtues they 
were erected to commemorate. The great number of these 
tablets may be accounted for by the fact that Bath was during 
the eighteenth century a great centre of fashionabfe life, and 
that it was then, and has been ever since it ceased to hold its 
own against other resorts of fashion, a spot to which invalids 
are attracted by the real or supposed beneficial effects of its 
hot baths and mineral waters. Many of these seekers after 
pleasure or health died at Bath, and, as they were for the most 
part drawn from the wealthy classes, tablets were erected to 
their memory in the abbey. The numerous monuments of the 
dead gave rise to the well-known couplet : 

"These walls, so full of monument and bust, 
Show how Bath waters serve to lay the dust." 

Only a few of the monuments need be mentioned. The place 
of honour in the list must be given to the altar tomb of Bishop 
Montague, who, as recorded in Chapter I., did so much towards 
the completion of the fabric, and who died as Bishop of 



22 BATH ABBEY. 

Winchester in 1618. This tomb may be seen under the 
fourth arch of the nave arcading on the north side. 



BISHOP MONTAGUES TOMB. 



Under the southern window of the transept is a striking monu- 
ment to the wife of Sir William Waller, the well-known general in 



THE INTERIOR. 



23 



the time of the Civil Wars, who commanded the Parliamentary 
forces in the Battle of Landsdown, close to Bath. In the front 
lies the figure of the dead lady, her face turned somewhat 




LADY waller's MONUMENT. 



Photo.— T. P. 



inwards. Between her and the wall her living husband, clad 
in mail, reclines on his right elbow, gazing down on his wife's 
face. Behind the figures, under semicircular arches, are two 



24 BATH ABBEY. 

spaces for inscriptions. Tliat on the western side is blank ; it 
was probably intended to receive the epitaph of Sir William, 
but he died and was buried in London. The other bears the 
following inscription : 

" To the deare 

Memory of the right 

Vertuous and worthy lady 

Jane Lady Waller sole daughter 

And heire to S' Richard Reynell 

And wife to S' William Waller k'. 

Sole issue of a matchlesse paire 
Both of their state and vertues heyre 
In graces great, in stature small 
Asfull of spirit as voyd of gall 
Cheerfully brave bounteously close 
Holy without vain glorious showes 
Happy and yet from envy free 
Learn'd without pride witty yet wise 
Reader this riddle read with mee 
Here the good Lady Waller lyes.'' 

At the head and feet of the lady two weeping children kneel. 

To the south side of the altar, on the wall facing north, is a 
monument to Bartholomew Barnes and his wife. Both figures 
are represented kneeling, with hands clasped for prayer, facing 
each other — he to the east, she to the west. Beneath him 
kneels the small figure of one son, and beneath her kneel five 
daughters. Its date is 1608. 

In the south side of the north choir aisle, towards its eastern 
end, is a tablet erected to the memory of the actor Quin, with 
an inscription by Garrick. Near the altar, on its north side, 
is the elder Bacon's monument of Lady Miller. On the south 
side of the western door of the nave is a monument to Colonel 
Champion, by Nollekens. On the opposite side of the door 
is a monument to Herman Katencamp, by the younger Bacon, 
dated 1807. In the south aisle is a tablet to William Hoare, 
R.A., by Chantrey. Another, by the same sculptor, may be 
seen in the choir aisle in memory of Admiral Sir Richard 
Bickerton. There are two monuments by Flaxman — one to 
the Hon. W. Bingham in the south aisle of the nave, and the 
other to Dr. Sibthorp, botanist, in the south choir aisle. Dr. 
Sibthorp is represented with a bunch of botanical specimens, 
just gathered, in his hand. 



THE INTERIOR. 



25 



The story of the Good Samaritan appears in more than one 
place in high relief on tablets erected to the memory of 
physicians. The most conspicuous one may be seen on the 
east wall of the south transept in memory of Jacob Bosanquet, 
who died in 1767. 



>^j««ipw 



W >* ' 1^»W 




Photo.— TJ'. 
COLONEL ALEXANDER CHAMPION'S MONUMENT BY NOLLEKENS. 



The most beautiful piece of work in the church is Prior 
Birde's Chantry (seepage 7), between the choir and its south 
aisle, under the easternmost arch of the arcading. It is most 
elaborately carved, and the rebus of the founder— a W and a 
Bird — appears upon it in several places. It consists of two 
bays. The whole of the western bay and the southern half of 



26 



BATH ABBEY. 



the eastern bay are vaulted with fan tracery. The vaulting at 
the eastern end is different. On this vaulting may be seen 
Prior Birde's arms, and above them a mitre and pastoral staff. 
There is a little variety in the arches and shafts throughout 




THE NAVE, SOUTH SIDE. 



Phi>lii.—T.P. 



the church. This repetition is a well-known feature in Perpen- 
dicular work. The piers have no general capital. The shaft 
which carries the inner order of the arch has a capital, and so, 
at the same level, have the vaulting shafts of the high vault and 



THE INTERIOR. 27 

that of the aisles. These shafts spring from the bases of the 
main pillars. The capitals at this level are plain, and so are 
the capitals of the vaulting shafts of the nave from which the 
vaulting ribs spring. But in the choir the place of these plain 
bands is taken by carved angels. Carved angels also form the 
termination of the hood moulding of the lower windows of the 
south transept, and probably of those of the north transept 
also, though these windows are hidden by the wooden pipes 
of the organ. 

Over the heads of the clerestory windows of the nave are 
small shields, and shields may also be seen in the centre of 
the fan tracery in the nave, choir, and transept. In the aisles the 
fan tracery is somewhat different, as in the centre of each bay 
there is a pendant. As has already been mentioned, the vault- 
ing of the nave and its aisles and that of the south transept are 
modern, put up, under the direction of Sir Gilbert Scott, to 
match the roof of the choir and its aisles and north transept 
respectively. The reredos was designed by the same architect. 
The oak screen across the eastern part of the south choir aisle 
is due to his son. The font is also modern. In fact, beyond 
the walls and the roofing of the eastern part of the church, 
there is little old about it. In the clerestory windows are a 
few fragments of seventeenth-century glass — heraldic shields. 

The floor of the present church is about six feet higher than 
that of John de ViUula's church ; and during the restoration 
some portions of the foundations of this church were dis- 
covered, enough to learn something of its dimensions. Just 
within the west wall are remains of part of the north jamb of 
the great west doorway, and in the south aisle a small piece 
of a column. In the north .aisle of the nave, near the second 
pillar from the west and also near the next pillar to the east, 
are the foundations of two Norman piers. Their position shows 
that the span of the central nave was wider than at present ; 
and if, as is probable, the aisle walls of Bishop King's church 
occupy the same position as the aisle walls of its predecessor, 
the Norman aisles must have been narrower. The foundations 
of another Norman pier exist near the first pillar on the north 
side of the choir, counting from the east. And at the extreme 
east end, outside the eastern buttresses on both sides, are 
remains of what were probably the western piers of the central 
tower. The foundations of the choir of the Norman church. 



28 BATH ABBEY. 

if they exist, are buried below the surface of the open space 
and roads to the east of the church. The head of the east 
window of the south choir aisle, it may be added, is semi- 
circular. Gratings have been placed over some fragments of 
the foundations of the Norman church to allow of their being 
inspected. 

The position of the vestry was described in the last chapter. 
It is a comfortable-looking room with an ornamental plaster 
ceiling, and contains some of the original copperplates from 
which the illustrations of J. Britton's book on Bath were 
printed. 

The Organ is a very fine one, erected in 1895 ; it is placed in 
the transept. The wooden pipes are arranged against the walls 
of the north transept, rising from the floor and hiding some of 
the windows ; the metal pipes are placed beneath the north and 
south arches of the tower, at some height above the floor. At 
present they are not contained in any organ-case ; but a design 
for one has been made, and money is being collected for 
defraying the cost of its erection. AH the newest principles 
of construction are embodied in the organ. The air is conveyed 
by gas-piping from the wind-chest to the organ-pipes. 

The bells of the abbey were sold at the time of the 
dissolution of the monastery, but it is possible that they were 
re-purchased for the church by the parish; at any rate, the 
church was, during the sixteenth century, furnished with six 
bells, the largest a very heavy one. In 1 700 these six bells 
were melted, and from the metal was cast a peal of eight bells ; 
and in 1774 two more were added, making the number up to 
ten. In 1890 machinery was added by which at i p.m., 
5 p.m., and 9 p.m. chimes are played ; these are different on 
each day of the week, the series forming a strange mixture 
of sacred and secular tunes, as will be seen from the following 
list : 

Sunday : " The Easter hymn.'' 

Monday: "Stella." 

Tuesday : "The harp that once in Tara's halls." 

Wednesday : " All Saints." 

Thursday : " Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon." 

Friday : " Come, ye faithful." 

Saturday : " Tom Bowling." 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE PRIORS OF BATH. 

It will not be necessary to give a list of the bishops of Bath 
and Wells, as this may be found in the volume on Wells in 
Bell's " Cathedral Series." The first of the Somerset bishops 
connected with Bath was John, a monk from Tours, who from 
his medical skill made large sums of money, and with it 
purchased of the king the ruins of the town of Bath, which had 
been burnt during the insurrection of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, 
in the reign of William Rufus. He rebuilt the abbey church 
and constituted it the seat of his diocese. From this time 
forward the bishop was the abbot ; but only a few of his 
immediate successors followed the example of John de Villula 
in residing at Bath, and Wells became once again the chief 
residence of the bishops who bore the title of Bath and Wells. 
Hence the prior became the virtual head of the monastery. 
The names of most of the priors from the time of John de 
Villula are preserved. In some cases record exists of the dates 
of their appointments ; in other cases we simply find them 
mentioned as priors of Bath in connection with some special 
historical event. 

A certain John was prior in the days of Bishop John de 
Villula. 

Peter was elected in 1159, and is mentioned in 1175. 

Walter died in 11 98. 

Hugh is mentioned as prior in 1190. He appears to have 
been acting in place of Walter, who was for a time absent 
from Bath. 

Robert is mentioned as prior in 1198, when he probably 
succeeded Walter. 

Thomas is mentioned as prior in 1228, and died in 1261. 



3° 



BATH ABBEY. 



Walter de Aona succeeded Thomas in isl^ and was_ 
still prior in 1275. 

Thomas de Wynton was elected in 1291, and resigned in 
1301. 

Robert de Cloppecote was no doubt at once elected, as 
he is mentioned as prior in 1303. He has the unenviable 
reputation of being an oppressor of the monks. He died in 

1331- 

Robert de< Sutton was elected by the monks in 1331, but 
the pope would not sanction his appointment. 

Thomas Christi was appointed prior by the Pope, but he 
resigned in 1332. 

Another Robert is mentioned as prior in 1333- 

John de Iford, Prior of Bath, was charged with adultery 
in 1346, and either resigned or was deprived of his office in 
consequence. 

John de Berewike, or John de Berkelye, is mentioned 
as prior in T363, and again in 1370. 

John de Forde was prior in 1371. 

John de Walcote succeeded him. 

Another prior John died in 1412. 

John de Telesford was elected in 1412, and died in 1425. 

William Southbroke was elected in 1426, and died in 
1447. 

Thomas Laycock was holding the office in 1451. 

Richard is mentioned as prior in 1476. 

John Cantlow was elected in 1498, and died in 1499. 

William Birde, who has been mentioned in connection 
with the rebuilding of the abbey, was elected in 1499, and 
held the post till his death in 1525. 

William Holloway, or Gybbs, succeeded him, and carried 
on the work of rebuilding; but he was obliged to surrender 
the abbey in 1539, and consequently was the last of the priors 
of Bath. 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 




THE CONVENTUAL 

SEAL OF 

MALMESBUKY ABBEY. 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



CHAPTER I. 

HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 

The little town of Malmesbury stands on a lofty promontory 
or peninsula, for two streams, the Bristol Avon and Newnton 
Water, flowing in a southerly direction, almost meet, leaving 
but a narrow ridge of ground between them, then separate 
again, to unite finally a little farther to the south. On the 
narrow neck of land just mentioned stands the suburb of 
Westport ; across the narrowest part no doubt in former times 
ran a rampart or wall, and the name Westport keeps alive the 
memory of a fortified gateway which defended the town on 
the north-western side. The quadrangular space enclosed by 
the two rivers is occupied by the town of Malmesbury. The 
abbey was built at the southern end of the ridge, just where it 
opens out into the quadrangle mentioned above, and looked 
out to the north from the edge of the escarpment which rises 
above Newnton Water. 

The early history of the town is shrouded in the dim mist 
of legend. One Dunwal Maelmutius, or Malmud, King 
Paramount of Britain, father of that Brennus of whom we read 
in Roman history as having forced his way into the city of 
Rome in the days of Camillas, is said to have founded, about 
the year 400 b.c, a city where Malmesbury now stands. Other 
chronicles speak of the existence, even in earlier times than 
this, of an encampment on' the high ground between the Avon 
and Newnton Water, That such a stronghold did exist is by 
no means improbable, since the character of the place would 
naturally suggest it as being eminently suitable for defence. It 



34 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

is said that its original name was Bladon. Of its condition 
during the time of the Roman occupation of Britain we have 
no written record, nor have any Roman remains been found in 
the immediate neighbourhood. When the Teutonic tribes 
invaded Britain, the Keltic inhabitants fled from Bladon, and 
it became an important military post under the name of 
ingleburne, and, standing as it did on the borders of Wessex 
and Mercia, it was sometimes held by one, sometimes by the 
other of these two rival powers that fought for the supremacy 
of the island. A nunnery is said to have existed here in the 
fifth century of the Christian era ; if so, the nunnery was in all 
probability destroyed and the nuns driven out or slain by the 
heathen conquerors. Leland, however, speaks of a nunnery 
existing near the Castle of Ingleburne at a somewhat kter date, 
and tells us that the nuns, having been guilty of acts of 
unchastity with the garrison, were expelled by the Saxon 
archbishop. He also says that the nuns were under the 
direction of Dinoth, Abbot of Bangor. All this is, however, 
very uncertain. The first authentic figure that emerges from the 
mist of legend is one Maldulf, from whose name, according to 
some authorities, the word Malmesbury was derived, though 
another derivation is Mal-dunes-bury, the City of the Hill of the 
Cross. Maldulf is sometimes spoken of as an Irishman, some- 
times as a Scot. Possibly he was one of the Scots who 
remained in their old home in Ireland when the main body 
of the tribe migrated to Caledonia, to which they gave the 
name of Scotland. Ireland in these early days was the home 
of religion and learning, and it was by Irish missionaries that 
Christianity was first introduced into the south of Scotland and 
north of England. 

■Maldulf is spoken of as a hermit. What brought him to 
Malmesbury we do not know. Finding the wild woodland 
to his taste, he made up his mind to settle here. The palace 
and manor of the petty king of the district were hard by at a 
spot known as Caer-dur-burh. Of this chieftain Maldulf asked 
and obtained permission to build for himself a cell under 
Caer-Bladon, the stronghold, on the river Bladon, now known 
by the name Avon. Maldulf was extremely poor, if we may 
trust William of Malmesbury, who says, " Deficientibus 
necessariis scholares in disciplinam accepit, ut eorum liber- 
alitate tenuitatem victus corrigeret." The pupils who were 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 35 

attracted by his learning were formed in course of time itito 
a " monasterium," by which we must understand not a fully 
developed monastery, but a little band of disciples living 
together and looking up with reverence to the wisdorn of 
their master. The most distinguished among the pupils was 
the famous Ealdhelm, who was of near kin to Ine, the West 
Saxon king. He may be regarded as the real founder of the 
Abbey of Malmesbury ; before his death he became Bishop of 
Sherborne, when the great West Saxon diocese was divided 
about 70s A.D. 

It is impossible to give the exact date of the coming of 
Maldulf to Malmesbury ; all we can be sure of was that he 
came during the latter half of the seventh century. There was 
a deed, which William of Malmesbury incorporated in the 
chronicles, in which Leotherius, or Eleutherius, who was Bishop 
of Wessex from 672 to 676, made a grant of land for the 
foundation of an abbey. If this document were genuine, the 
date of the formal foundation is brought within very narrow 
limits ; but documents of this nature may be looked upon 
with some suspicion. It has indeed been suggested that many 
such deeds purporting to make grants of land to religious 
houses were forged by the monks at the time of the Norman 
Conquest in order that they might not be despoiled of their 
land by William I., who, despite many unchristian acts, yet 
wished to stand well with the Church. The great West Saxon 
King Alfred wrote a life of Ealdhelm, but unfortunately this 
has perished, and we have only the chronicle of Faricius, a 
monk of Malmesbury, who became Abbot of Abingdon in 
1 100 A.D., and that of William of Malmesbury, who wrote 
about 1 140 A.D., from which to gather details of his life. 

Both these men — with the view of exalting the honour of 
their religious house, of which Ealdhelm was practically the 
founder, though nominally the second abbot, Maldulf being 
considered the first — interwove with the real events of his 
life many legends, some of which, on account of their 
miraculous character, we can reject at once, but others we 
can only mark as doubtful. Among the former is one closely 
resembling that told of the miraculous beam at Christchurch 
Priory, Hants. It is said that when Ealdhelm was superin- 
tending the building of his church one of the beams was too 
short for its purpose, and was lengthened in answer to the 



36 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

abbot's prayer, and that it afterwards remained unscathed, 
though twice in after years the roof of the church was 
destroyed by fire. It is also said that the ruins of the 
church that he built were never wet with the rains of heaven, 
even in the stormiest weather; it is also recorded that on 
one occasion when he knelt down to pray he hung his 
outer garment on a sunbeam, from which it hung suspended 
as though upon a clothes-line. Among the stories about 
Ealdhelm that we may believe is the following. The 
abbot, having noticed that the country people cared little 
to listen to any preachers of Christianity, however eloquent 
they might be, while at the same time they delighted ex- 
ceedingly in music, stationed himself on a bridge over which 
many wayfarers had to pass, and there played upon a harp 
and sang songs that were popular favourites of the day, and 
then, having thus gathered a crowd round him, he changed 
the character of his lays and began to sing psalms and hymns 
and spiritual songs, and thus led the people to listen to 
the truths he desired to teach. This anecdote is related by 
William of Malmesbury, and he says he obtained it from 
King Alfred's life of the saint. 

Apart from all monkish exaggeration it may be safely 
asserted that Ealdhelm was a man of distinguished piety 
and virtue. The year of his birth is uncertain. William 
of Malmesbury speaks of him as a lad {pusio) in 670, but 
his name appears as one of the attesting witnesses to a 
Glastonbury charter dated 670, and in this he signs his 
name as " Ealdhelm Abbas." Again it is stated that he was 
Abbot of Malmesbury for thirty years, and that at the time 
of his death, which certainly occurred in 709 a.d., he was 
seventy years of age. 

The grant of land for the purpose of founding an abbey 
contains some rather singular clauses. Eieutherius seems 
to fear that in future times disputes would arise between the 
monks and the bishops, for he says that he makes the grant 
with hesitation, and because he has been earnestly entreated 
to do so ; and he expresses a hope that if trouble should 
arise, his successors will not lay the blame on him. When 
he appoints Ealdhelm abbot, he says he does so after due 
deliberation, and gives him authority to rule the abbey with 
the same power as that possessed by bishops. The deed 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. • 37 

then goes on to say that the bishop bestows on Ealdhelm, 
the priest, in order that he may lead a hfe according to strict 
rule, that portion of land called Maildulfesburg, in which place 
his earliest infancy had been passed and his first initiation 
in the study of learning had been received, and where he 
had been instructed in the liberal arts, and had passed his 
days nurtured in the bosom of Holy Mother Church. 
In the Malmesbury chartulary this deed bears the date 
675 A.D. William of Malmesbury, however, dates the 
appointment three years earlier. But if we assume 675 to 
be the correct date, it will leave thirty years as the time he 
ruled the abbey before his appointment to the Bishopric 
of Sherborne in 705. Soon after its foundation the abbey 
began to receive endowments, both from the Mercian and 
the West Saxon kings, and the money so obtained gave 
Ealdhelm the means of building. On the foundations of an 
old church within the monastic precincts he raised a church 
dedicated to the Holy Saviour and the Apostles Peter and 
Paul ; he also built within the precincts another church 
dedicated to St. Mary, and hard by a chapel to the honour 
of the Archangel Michael. Of this chapel William of 
Malmesbury says a few traces remained in his day, but of St. 
Mary's Church he says that it surpassed in size and beauty 
all other old churches in England, and adds some words, 
about the exact meaning of which there has been much 
dispute — namely, " Celebris et illibata nostro quoque perstitit 
sevo." But Ealdhelm built not only, at Malmesbury, but 
also erected the little church at Bradford-on-Avon which 
was standing in the days of William of Malmesbury and 
still stands, the oldest church m England of whose building 
we have any authentic record. He also established a monastery 
at Frome, of which he was abbot. 

When Ealdhelm died in 709 his body was laid in St. 
Michael's Chapel adjoining St. Mary's Church. The monks 
now used this church for their services, though the church 
of the Holy Saviour and the Apostles Peter and Paul was 
still regarded as caput loci, or chief church. A silver shrine 
to contain the good abbot's bones was presented to the 
abbey by King Ethelwulf; on the outside of this might 
be seen in low relief representations of the miracles that 
he is recorded to have worked. 



38 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

Alfred, the great West Saxon king, though he gave no 
grant of money or land to the abbey, attempted to raise 
its position as a seat of learning, but in this attempt he 
signally failed. He sent to Malmesbury a learned Scot, 
John by name, who was the author of a treatise on the 
" Division of Nature." But this John met with little favour 
as a teacher ; and the pupils of the monastery school 
stabbed him with the steel instruments that they used for 
writing, so that he died. We are not told what was the 
special reason for his unpopularity; it may be that he at- 
tempted to make idle pupils work against their will, it may 
be that his coming was resented as the intrusion of a stranger. 
Anyhow, he was murdered ; but it came to pass that after 
his death he was regarded as a martyr, and his body was buried 
in the Church of the Holy Saviour and the Apostles Peter 
and Paul. 

The greatest of all the royal benefactors to Malmesbury 
town and abbey was Alfred's grandson, Athelstan. "What 
Harold was to Waltham," says Professor Freeman, " Waltheof 
to Crowland, Simon de Montfort to Evesham, ' Glorious ' 
.iEthelstan was to the no less venerable pile of Malmesbury." 
It seems that in one of the numerous battles between the 
English and the Danes the inhabitants of Malmesbury bore 
themselves like men, and gave valuable help to Athelstan. 
In consequence of this he made the burgesses a grant of 
land which they still enjoy. There are now 280 allotments 
of 2 acres, 48 of 3 acres, 24 of 4 acres, and 12 of 10 acres. 
And on the marriage of one of those entitled to receive the 
grant, he is taken to the piece of land which falls to him, 
and the steward hands to him a turf cut from the soil, and 
gives him three strokes across his back with a twig cut from 
his allotment, at the same time uttering the words : 

" Turf and twig I give to thee 
Same as King Athelstan gave to me." 

No Stranger coming to Malmesbury, however long he may 
reside there, can obtain an allotment; none but the sons of 
former holders or one who marries a daughter of a former 
holder can obtain the grant, and no unmarried man can 
claim it. The names of those eligible for it are entered on 
a list, and they are appointed in rotation; and when vacancies 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 



39 



occur, those who hold a two-acre plot are promoted to a 
three-acre plot, and so on. The holders may not build on the 
land, nor does the holding convey any political or municipal 
rights. 

Among V other valuable gifts, King Athelstan gave to the 
abbey two most precious relics — a portion of the Holy 
Cross and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns. No wonder 
that the possession of such priceless treasures brought pilgrims 




SUPPOSED TOMB OF ATHELSTAN. 

to the abbey. Moreover, when two of Athelstan's nephews 
were slain in battle with the Danes, he brought their bodies^ 
and buried them at the head of the tomb of their sainted 
kinsman Ealdhelm, and when he himself lay a-dying at. 
Gloucester he desired that his remains should be borne to. 
Malmesbury. Here he was buried in a spot which it is hard, 
to identify. William of Malmesbury says " he was buriedi 
under the altar of St. Mary in the tower, wherefore they 'are 
wrong who say that the Abbot\iElfric built the tower, since 



40 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

he was not appointed abbot until thirty years after Athelstan's 
death." But in " De Gestis Regum " the same writer asserts 
that "he was buried at the head of the sepulchre of St. 
Ealdhelm " — that is, in St. Michael's Chapel. Are we from 
the contradictory nature of these two assertions to come to 
the conclusion that William is not accurate in his details, or 
can we reconcile them by supposing that he is speaking in 
the former passage of the spot to which Ealdhelm's bones 
were afterwards removed when Dunstan, in fear of the Danes, 
took them from the silver shrine in St. Michael's Chapel and 
laid them in St. Mary's Church ? 

King Edwy was no lover of monks, and he showed his 
hatred of them at Malmesbury by expelling them and putting 
secular clergy in their place, turning the monastery, as one 
of the injured monks says, into "a sty of secular canons." 
The monks, however, retained possession of the bones of 
Ealdhelm, who had been dead some two hundred and fifty 
years, and showed them to the king as they lay within the 
silver shrine, on whose crystal cover the saint's name shone 
in letters of gold. Whereupon Edwy, out of respect to 
the memory of his illustrious kinsman, restored the monks 
to their former place, and moreover bestowed on them the 
Manor of Brokenborough, one of the most valuable gifts they 
had yet received. 

In the reign of Edgar the Peaceful things looked brighter 
for monks throughout the land. In a document dated 974 
this king says : " Considering what offering I should make 
from my earthly kingdom to the King of kings, I resolve 
to rebuild all the holy monasteries throughout my kingdom, 
which as they are outwardly ruinous with mouldering shingles 
and worm-eaten boards even to the rafters, so what is still 
worse, they have been internally neglected and almost de- 
stitute of the service of God. Wherefore ejecting those 
illiterate clerks (i.e., the secular clergy) subject to the dis- 
cipline of no regular order, in many places I have appointed 
pastors of a holier race that is of the monastic order, 
supplying them with ample means out of my royal revenues 
to repair their churches wherever dilapidated. One of these 
pastors by name ^Ifric I have appointed guardian of that 
most celebrated monastery which the Angles call by the 
twofold name Maldelmsburg." We may here notice that 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 41 

this peculiar form of the name seems to have been formed 
by combining the names of Maldulf and Ealdhelm. 

There are conflicting accounts of the architectural work 
-carried out by the Abbot ^Ifric. William of Malmesbury, 
when speaking of Athelstan's time, says : " It may be 
necessary to observe that at that time the Church of St. 
Peter was the chief of the monastery which now (that is, 
about 1 140) is deemed second only ; the Church of St. Mary, 
which the monks at present frequent, was built afterwards, 
in the reign of Edgar, under Abbot ^Ifric." But it is not 
clear whether we should regard ^Ifric's work as an entire 
rebuilding or as a restoration of St. Mary's Church. Certain 
it is that St. Mary's now became the chief church, although 
the smaller Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, once the caput 
loci, seems to have stood until the dissolution; for Leland, 
who was at Malmesbury in 1540, in his description of what 
he saw there, says: "There was a little church joining the 
south side of the transept of the abbey church in which some 
said that John the Scot, the preceptor, was slain by his pupils 
in the time of King Alfred — weavers have now their looms in 
this little church, but it standeth and is a very old piece of 
work." 

It is recorded that Dunstan gave to the new or restored 
Church of St. Mary a large organ with pipes of metal and 
a brass plate, whereon was an inscription in Latin verse of 
his own composing. But this was not the first organ that 
the abbey possessed, for one had been built under the 
direction of Ealdhelm, who himself described it as a mighty 
instrument of innumerable tones, blown with bellows and 
enclosed in a gilded case. This is the first instance on record 
of an organ being used in England. 

Dunstan, as has been mentioned above, removed the body 
of Ealdhelm from its shrine and placed it in a stone tomb 
at the right-hand side of the high altar in St. Mary's Church. 

During the. time of Ethelred II. the monks suffered in 
many ways ; the heathen Danes obtained a footing in the 
country, and destroyed churches and monasteries. A party 
of marauders attacked the church at Malmesbury, and one of 
them tried to break off the precious stones from the shrine 
of St. Ealdhelm, but fell back as though shot; whereupon 
the rest fled, and so Malmesbury escaped the destruction 



42 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

that overtook many other religious houses at that time. On 
another occasion two Danish chieftains were seized and put 
to death by order of Ethelred ; the widow of one of them 
was carried a prisoner to " Malmcestre," as the chronicler 
Langtoft spells the name. This lady was young and endowed 
with great beauty, and when Edmund, the king's son, after- 
wards known as " Ironside," heard thereof, he straightway 
took horse and rode to Malmesbury, and there and then 
wedded her without his father's knowledge. 

During the reigns of Cnut and his two sons little is heard 
of Malmesbury save that one Constantine, a refugee arch- 
bishop, became a monk of Malmesbury, and planted a vineyard 
for the monks to make wine for themselves withal, of the 
quality of which, however, no record has come down to us. 

In the year 1059, when Edward the Confessor was king, 
Abbot Brithwald was buried, as many of his predecessors 
had been, so says William, in the Church of St. Andrew. 
As this church is not elsewhere mentioned, it may be that 
St. Andrew is a lapsus calami on the part of the chronicler 
for St. Michael, a chapel in which we know that Ealdhelm 
was buried, and probably some of his successors, who would 
naturally wish that their bones should lie as close as possible 
to those of the great saint. Be this as it may, the dead 
abbots were greatly incensed that Brithwald, who had not 
been a holy man, should make his grave with them, and 
their ghosts began to disturb the monks, until they decided 
to dig up the unwelcome intruder's body and to cast it into 
a marsh outside the abbey precincts. When this was done, 
the dead abbots' ghosts walked no more. It was during 
the vacancy caused by his death that Herman, a Fleming 
who had been the king's chaplain, and had been appointed 
Bishop of the Diocese of the Wilisaetas, and had his bishop- 
stool in the cathedral church, which stood at what we now 
call Old Sarum, near Salisbury, sought to unite the Abbey 
of Malmesbury with all its revenues to the episcopal see. 
Edward the king gave his consent to this arrangement; but 
the monks strongly resisted the attempt to absorb their abbey, 
just as in after times the monks of "Glastonbury objected to 
the incorporation of their abbey in the See of Bath; so 
Herman had to abandon the attempt. He is said, however, 
to have built a detached bell-tower at Malmesbury. 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 43. 

William the Conqueror was a benefactor of the abbey, and 
gave it sundry valuable gifts which he had brought from his 
capital, Rouen, among them the head of St. Ouen, and 
appointed three Normans successively to rule over it. One of 
these, Warin de Lyrd, annoyed that the remains of abbots of 
the conquered race should occupy positions of honour near 
the high altar, had their bodies exhumed and cast into a hole 
in the Chapel of St. Michael, "conglobata velut acervum 
ruderum." Among them was that of John the Scot, whose 
murder by his pupils has already been recorded. Warin, 
however, afterwards repented of his irreverent conduct, and in 
order to make some reparation he, together with Bishop 
Osmund of Sarum and Abbot Serlo of Gloucester, who took 
part in the ceremony, removed the bones of St. Ealdhelm from 
the stone tomb in which Dunstan had laid them, and replaced 
them in the original silver shrine, the gift of Ethelwulf. 
William's queen, Matilda, made a grant of land to the abbey, 
and an annual festival of five days, afterwards extended to eight, 
was appointed to be observed in honour of St. Ealdhelm. 
This festival was still observed at the time of Leland's visit 
in 1540. 

We hear nothing of Malmesbury during the troubled days 
of the Red King; but iniportant events occurred in the 
reign of his successor, for at that time Roger was Bishop of 
Sarum, and he revived the claim to the abbey that Herman 
had made. He was more successful than the former 
claimant had been, for, despite the resistance of the monks, 
he obtained and held the revenues for twenty years. His 
success was, without doubt, due to the fact that he stood high 
in the favour of Henry I., a much stronger king than Edward 
had been. Roger was a great builder. He rebuilt his own. 
cathedral church at Old Sarum, and built castles at Sher- 
borne, Malmesbury, and Devizes ; and he has been regarded 
'by many authorities as the builder of the church at Malmes- 
bury, part of which forms the church we see there at the 
present day. /'^ That this church was erected after his death 
seems certain to the writer ; but the evidence for and against 
the earlier date assigned by many to the building will be 
given. It is singularly unfortunate that we have not absolute 
documentary evidence of the date of this church. We would 
gladly give up the knowledge of the exact dates of many other 



44 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

dated buildings if we could only be sure of that of Malmesbury 
nave. A claim has been put forward that Gothic, as distinct . 
from Romanesque, had its origin in the He de France, and that 
such Gothic features as may be met with in English work are 
simply importations from France, due to the buildings having 
been planned by or executed under the direction of French 
architects. Now undoubtedly the vaulting of the aisles at 
Malmesbury, which remains, with some trifling alterations here- 
after to be mentioned, just as it was left in the twelfth century, 
has Gothic characteristics ; in this church we meet with 
ribbed vaulting and the pointed arch. If we could assume 
that these aisles were vaulted by Roger, we should be able to 
claim that we have a Gothic building older than St. Denis at 
Paris and contemporary with those earlier French churches, 
the ambulatory of St. Martin des Champs, Morienval, St, 
Etienne at Beauvais, and others, in which the Gothic principles 
of construction make their first appearance. And even if we 
must give up the date formerly confidently assumed (about 
1 135), we still can lay claim to the origin of Gothic in England 
quite apart from He de France influence. It seems as if when 
the hour for the birth of Gothic had come, the principles on ! 
which it was based appeared almost simultaneously in various 
-districts, although when once they had been discovered there 
is no doubt that they were most thoroughly developed in the 
He de France. 

Rickman, one of the earliest systematic writers on English 
architecture, gives the date of the building of Malmesbury 
Abbey as 1115-1139. In this he is followed by J. H. Parker. 
Professor Freeman gives the date of its commencement as 
1 135, though he allows that the nave may not have been 
finished until twenty or thirty years after that date; but he 
supposes it by no means improbable that it may have been 
gradually erected from one original design. Professor Moore 
speaks of it as nearly contemporaneous with St. Denis ; that 
would be about 1 140. Professor Moore's remarks on Malmes- 
bury Abbey Church are so interesting that they must be quoted 
in extenso : 

" Few instances of the constructive use of the pointed arch, or of the 
•employment of groin ribs in vaulting, occur in England prior to the re- 
building of Canterbury Cathedral by a French architect, which was begun 
in 1175. One instance, however, occurs at an early date in Malmesbury 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING 



45 



Abbey, a building which is nearly contemporaneous with St, Denis in 
France. Here, in the vaults of the aisles, we have a distinct approach to 
Gothic construction. These vaults, though simple in form and ponderous 
in their parts, are yet certainly advanced in <;Jiaracter for their time. In 
them the principle of interpenetrating round vaults, {he forms of whose 




PIioto.~T.P. 



THE SOUTH AISLE. 



arches are necessarily determined by the forms of their surfaces, gives 
place, in a measure, to that of an independent system of arches, which 
command the forms of the vaults. . ■ .It will be seen that the' pier arch 
and the transverse arches are all pointed, and that the diagonals are 
semicircular. It will be seen. too., that the crowns of the diagonals reach 



46 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

to a considerably higher level than those of the transverse and longitudinal 
ribs, and that consequently the vaults are, like early French vaults, 
considerably domed. ... 

"It is evident that the central aisle was originally designed for vaulting 
with quadripartite vaults, since a group of three vaulting shafts rises from 
each pier capital." These shafts clearly belong to the Original construction, 
as may be seen by their perfect adjustment with the imposts of the great 
arcade, and by their being banded by the original triforium string. They 
emphasise the divisions of the bays, and give a continuity to the vaulting 
system, like that which is characieristic of Gothic designs in France. 

"The existing high vaults are of late English construction, and are 
ill-suited to the lower portions of the building. If the originally intended 
vaults were ever built over the central aisle, the effect of the interior must 
have been both grand and impressive, though the scale of the building is 
not large." — Moore's "Development and Character of Gothic Archi- 
tecture" (1890), pp. 124-126. 

The advocates of the early date base their opinion on pas- 
sages in the writings of William of Malmesbury, a chronicler 
of whom already mention haS' been made. So famous is 
this historian that a little space may be here devoted to a 
brief sketch of his life and writings. He was born some- 
where about 1075, and since, v/hen speaking of himself, he 
says " utriusque gentis sanguinem traho," it may be inferred 
that he was the son of a Norman father and an English 
mother. He received his early education at Malmesbury 
Abbey, and afterwards assisted Abbot Godefrey in collecting 
books to form the first library of the monastery. Of this 
library he subsequently became librarian, and thus had ample 
leisure for gathering materials for his own writings. In 1140 
he might have become abbot, but he declined this honour- 
able post, probably because its duties would have given 
him less leisure for study. In his later days he enjoyed the 
friendship of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, half-brother of 
Matilda, and champion of her cause against Stephen. This 
Robert was a patron of learned men and of letters, and so was 
naturally attracted to the studious monk William. William, 
too, was a staunch supporter of Matilda, and was one of those 
who attended a meeting of her adherents at Winchester in 
1 141. Soon after this he died. His two great works are 
"De Gestis Regum Anglorum," which covers the ground 
from 449 to 1128, and is one of the chief sources of English 
history up to the latter date, and "De Gestis Pontificum 
Anglorum," which brings down the history of the church to 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 47 

1 140. The fifth book of this work relates the story of St. 
Ealdhelm, and gives far more details of it than the earlier 
chronicle of Faricius. We might fairly expect William to give a 
definite account of his own monastery, but his record is by no 
means so precise as we could desire. He tells us that of St. 
Michael's Chapel nothing more than some ruins were standing 
in his day. " Cujus nos vestigia vidimus." Of the Church of 
St. Mary, which is spoken of as Ealdhelm's, he says : " Lata 
majoris ecclesiae fabrica Celebris atque illibata nostro quoque 
perstitit sevo" ("De-Gestis Pontificum," lib. v.). Professor 
Freeman says the use of the past tense " perstitit " clearly 
shows that the church was no longer standing when he wrote, 
and that it had been destroyed to make room for a new church 
during his lifetime. But "perstitit" may be translated "has 
stood," and is still standing as well as " stood," so that this 
passage does not seem conclusive evidence for the demolition 
of Ealdhelm's church before the time when William wrote. 
There is, however, a passage about Roger in the " De Gegtis 
Regum " (lib. v.) which runs thus : " Pontifex magnanimus 
et nullis unquam parcens sumptibus, dum quae facienda pro- 
poneret, sedificia prsesertim, consummeret ; quod cum alias, 
tum maxime in Salesberia ei Malmesberia est videre. Fecit 
enim ibi sedificia spatio diffusa, numero pecuniarum sumptuosa, 
specie formosissima ; ita juste composito ordine lapidum, ut 
junctura perstringat intuitum, et toto maceriam unum men- 
tiatur esse saxum. Ecclesiam Salesberiensem et novam fecit 
et ornamentis excoluit, ut nulli in Anglia cedat, sed multas 
praecedat ; ipseque non falso possit dicere Deo ' Domine 
delexi decorem domus tuae.' " 

Now, with respect to this passage it may be remarked that 
the words et Malmesberia are not to be found in some texts, 
and, moreover, even if they are genuine, it is by no means 
certain that they refer to the church at Malmesbury, for we 
learn from the second book of William's " Historia Novella," 
a continuation of the "De Gestis Regum," that Roger had 
begun {inchoaverat) a castle at Malmesbury. The church at 
Sarum has entirely disappeared, so that we cannot compare 
its masonry with that of the existing church at Malmesbury, 
which indeed is exceedingly good, and might well be considered 
to accord with William's praise, when we consider that most of 
the buildings which he was accustomed to see had wide-jointed 



48 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

masonry. These passages are the only evidence that can be 
brought forward in favour of an earlier date than 1140 for the 
building or planning of the church. On the other hand, it 
may be said that it seems almost inconceivable that if the old 
church had been already pulled down, even in part, or was to 
be pulled down to make room for a finer church, that William, 
writing on the spot, should not definitely have said so, for 
the reconstruction of their abbey church must have been of 
absorbing interest to all the monks at Malmesbury living 
when it was in progress. The style, moreover, is decidedly 
advanced for the first half of the twelfth century ; and it must 
be remembered that the Benedictines — and Malmesbury was 
a Benedictine house — were a very conservative body, as Mr. 
Prior ^ points out, and clung tenaciously to the Romanesque 
forms for some years after the Early English style had been 
employed in the churches of secular canons. Roger, indeed, 
may have been imbued with a love for the newer ideas, and 
might, if the work was his, have forced them on the monks. 
Still, the silence of William on the matter seems to lend weight 
to the opinion that nothing was actually done towards the 
rebuilding, even so far as the preparation of plans, before his 
own death. Had the choir remained to the present time, had 
there been any sketch or verbal description of it, the problem 
of the date might have been an easier one to solve. Whether 
the pointed arch was used in the choir we cannot tell. 
Beneath the central tower it certainly was not used, though 
there it would have been an easier expedient than the use of 
the stilted Norman arch, which we see on the north side, to 
overcome the difficulty of getting unequal spaces spanned by 
arches springing from the same level and rising at their crowns 
to the same height. This was the plan adopted in St. John's 
Church, Devizes, where, as at Malmesbury, the arches under 
the north and south sides of the tower were narrower than 
those beneath the east and west sides. 

Another argument sometimes brought forward to show that 
Roger could not have built the nave of the abbey church 
is that he is said to have begun a castle in the very churchyard 
itself, not a stone's throw from the church, and that there 
would not have been room for the western part of the nave 

' " History of Gothic Art in England,' pp. 36, 37. 



. HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 49 

aalong as the castle remained standing, and that Roger would 
not have planned a church part of which would occupy the 
site of his castle. This argument is not of much weight, as 
there is nothing to show that the churchyard was not at that 
time more extensive than now. After the dissolution of the 
monasteries, it is as likely that the western part of the church- 
yard was encroached on for building-purposes as the eastern 
part, where we see an Elizabethan house built upon the 
foundations of some of the monastic buildings. A road also 
has been cut through the site of the choir, and the steeple of 
St. Paul's Church which once stood in the churchyard is now 
divided from it by a road. The castle was not demolished 
until- the time of. Ring John, who granted to the monks its 
materials for building-purposes. These they may have used 
for some of their domestic buildings, for we have record that 
extensive buildings were erected during the thirteenth century, 
though all of these have now disappeared. 
- It seems reasonable to suppose that the rebuilding of 
the church was undertaken early in the second half of the 
twelfth century, ..possibly after the civil war was over.^ As 
the country round the abbey was in a disturbed condition 
during the reign of Stephen, much of the fighting taking place 
in the neighbourhood, it seems hardly likely that this time 
would have been;- chosen by the monks for extensive building- 
operations. „' The character of the architecture itself would 
indicate the second half of the twelfth century as the most 
probable time .for the erection of the church. The massive 
pillars of the nave, the round-headed arches, and the chevron 
moulding of the triforium are remnants of the Norman style, 
while the pointed arches of the nave arcading are an early 
introduction of the style which was destined to prevail in the 
thirteenth century. It may be noticed that the pointed arches 
are not very sharp,* and that, as at Wimborne Minster, their 
pointed character is somewhat masked by the grotesque heads 
carved.at their points. It is also worthy of note that pointed 
arches are only found in connection with the vaulting of the 
aisles^namely, in the main arcading of the nave and the 
transverse arches of the aisle vaulting. In the triforium both 

' The compact between Stfephen and Henry which ended the war was 
made at Malmesbury in II53. . - : : ;:': ■ ■ • 
^ They meet on an angle of abojit -.150''." -^ 



so 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



the main and sub arches are 




ELEVATION OP A BAY OF THE NAVE 
(From Britton's English Architecture. ) 



Norman in character. The 
clerestory was from the 
first very fully developed, 
as can be seen from the 
exterior pilasters, which 
rise almost to the top of 
the walls; this shows 
that the walls were not 
much raised when the 
clerestory was recon- 
structed in the fourteenth 
century, and the church 
covered, probably for 
the first time, with stone 
vaulting. It is evident 
that a stone vault was 
contemplated from the 
first, although for a time 
probably the nave was 
covered by a wooden 
ceiling. The original 
clerestory was without 
doubt pierced by tall, 
narrow, round-headed 
windows. The central 
tower was probably ori- 
ginally a lantern, such 
as that at Wells and 
Salisbury, though, like 
them, it afterwards had 
a vault inserted beneath 
it. This was done at 
Malmesbury during the 
Perpendicular period, 
possibly with a view of 
making the church 
warmer and more com- 
fortable for the monks, 
as some of the choir- 
stalls were situated be- 
neath the tower. 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 51 

Although we cannot exactly date the rebuilding of Malmes- 
bury Abbey Church, we may safely say that it is a very early 
example of Transitional work. The treatment of the pointed 
arch in the groining is more systematic than that of the pointed 
arches in the vaulting of the nave at Durham, which is dated 
1 1 28-1 133, and is earlier than the Transitional work at 
Kirkstall, which was completed in 1182, and the Transitional 
work at Wells in Bishop Reginald's time. Thus the church at 
Malmesbury forms an important link in the chain connecting 
the Romanesque and Gothic. 

In 1 190 a dispute again arose between the monks and the 
new Bishop of Sarum, Hubert Walter, who had been con- 
secrated in 1 189. The story shall be given in the quaint 
words of the chronicler, Richard of Devizes ; " The King of 
Darkness that ancient firebrand between the church of Sarum 
and the Abbey of Malmesbury applying fresh fuel kindled the 
old fire into a blaze. The Abbot was summoned not upon 
the question of making his. profession to the Bishop, but that 
of laying aside altogether his name and the staff of a pastor. 
The King's ^ letter to the Chancellor was produced, ordering 
the Abbot to answer in law to the demands of the Bishop of 
Sarum. But the Abbot (Robert de Melun), whose fortune was 
at stake, was one whom no danger found unprepared, and who 
was not a man to lose anything by cowardice. He gave blow 
for blow, and got other letters from the King counteracting the 
former ones. The Chancellor, perceiving the shameful con- 
tradictions in the King's mandates, in order that the King's 
character might not suffer if any further steps were taken, put 
the whole case off until the King's return " ; and then the 
whole matter seems to have dropped. 

King John proved himself a benefactor to the abbey, and, 
as has been stated above, gave the monks the materials of the 
castle built by Bishop Roger, and, moreover, in the seventeenth 
year of his reign, bestowed on them the Manor of Malmesbury. 

The most casual examination of the church will show that 
there is no thirteenth-century or Early English work to be seen 
in it. There seems a gap in its architectural history of a 
whole century. Much twelfth-century work, as we have seen, 
there is ; fourteenth- and fifteenth-century work may also be 

' Richard I., who had gone to the crusade, leaving Longchamp, Bishop 
of Ely, Chancellor of the Realm and Governor in his stead. 



52 MALMESEURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

seen. What were the monks about during that great building- 
epoch, when the Cistercians were so busy in Yorkshire, when 
the great secular Church, of Lincoln received its most splendid 
additions, and. St. Mary's rose on a new foundation at Salis- 
bury? It seems probable that, the church having been com^ 
pleted and standing in all its massive grandeur, the abbot and 
monks rested for a time contented with the work, and then, 
when once again they turned their attention to architectural 
work in the second .half of the thirteenth century, it was not 
upon the church, but upon the domestic buildings that they 
spent their money and their labour. It was by William - de 



-■) / 

o o < ^ 

! I 

i ^ 

O -O < j 



RESTORED GROUND PLAN OF MALMESEURY ABBEY. 

Colerne, who became abbot in 1260, that the great work of 
remodelling and rebuilding the various parts of the abbey were 
directed. We hear of a great hall and a lesser hall, of a kitchen 
and a larder, of a dormitory and a chapter-house, of a bake- 
house and a brewhouse, of a stable and a workshop, all built 
or rebuilt by him ; we also read of his planting a vineyard and 
enclosing it with a stone wall, and of his making a garden of 
herbs adjoining it and of his planting vines and apple-trees in 
his own garden. Moreover, he improved the water supply, 
and the stream he led into the abbey by a conduit flowed 
into the lavatory for the first time on St. Martin's Day, 1284. 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. JS 

All" these buildings have vanished, destroyed after the dissolu- 
tion j in them, had they remained, we should have found 
examples of the Early English style. 

About the same time a hospital of the Order of St. John of 
Jerusalem was founded at Malmesbury near the south bridge. 
A single arch of this is still standing. In the thirteenth century 
we find mention of the Church of St. Paul, the vicar of which 
was appointed and paid by the abbey. This no doubt stood 
on the same site as the Church of St. Paul, all of which has 
been swept away save the steeple, which now serves as a bell- 
tower for the present parish church. 

We have little written record of Malmesbury Abbey for many 
years, but from studying the building we can discover what was 
being done during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. No 
eastern extension seems to have been made after the church was 
finished in the twelfth century, unless it were the lady-chapel 
mentioned by William of Worcester, who visited Malmesbury 
in the time of Henry V. He tells us he measured its length 
and breadth, as he did the other dimensions of the church, not 
by any measuring-rod, but by counting his own steps. We 
are informed in Dugdale's " New Monasticon " that William of 
Worcester's step was igg in. This value seems rather too 
small, for there are some parts of the building which we can 
still measure whose length William of Worcester gives in his 
own steps. The interior projection of the transepts beyond 
the. aisles is 39 ft. William of Worcester says the projection 
of the transepts beyond the aisles is 22 steps, but he does not 
say whether he is speaking of interior projection or not. If he 
is, then his step must have been about 21 in. The lady- 
chapel, he says, measured 36 of his steps in length and 9 in 
breadth, which would make it about 58^ by 14^ ft., or 63 
by 15 ft. 9 in., according to the value we give his step — 19^ or 
2 1 in. This is exceedingly narrow if the length of the chapel 
ran east and west ; but it may have run across the east end 
of the choir. He gives as the total length of the building 
172 steps — that is, about 280 or 300 ft. 

A considerable amount of work was done during the 
fourteenth century. The clerestory was remodelled and larger 
windows inserted in it. The walls of the eastern part are 
probably the original twelfth-century walls ; but the western 
parts have been rebuilt. The present vaulting was .thrown 



5 a MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

over the nave, and flying buttresses and pinnacles were added to 
counteract the weight of the new roof. Besides these changes, 
two large windows with very peculiar tracery were inserted in 
the south aisle and one in the north aisle. The sills of the other 
windows were brought lower down. These alterations were no 
doubt made partly to admit more light (for mediaeval Churchmen 
had no predilection for " a dim religious light "), partly to 
display painted glass. The peculiar tracery of the windows 
on the south side (see illustration, p. 74) may have been 
designed with reference to the subjects of the glass that was 
destined to fill them. On the north side, as the cloister 
would not allow of the sill of the new window being brought 
down so low as those on the south side, a gable was carried 
up in the aisle wall, and vaulting introduced below it. In the 
fourteenth century also the south porch was cased on its 
southern side, the old hood moulding and terminations being 
either copied or used again. It is almost certain that the 
porch never received a vault, for, if it had, there would have 
been no occasion for placing the present ceiling below it. A 
parapet was also added to the walls of the nave, the aisle, and 
porch on the south side, but not on the north. 

At what time the central tower, which probably at first did 
not rise much above the ridge of ihe roof, was raised and the 
spire added we cannot tell. The spire, which is said to have 
been more lofty than that of the cathedral church at Salisbury, 
probably consisted of a timber framework covered with lead. 

In the fifteenth century a western tower was built. It may 
be that the addition of a spire and the tampering with the 
arches beneath the central tower when the vaulting was intro- 
duced beneath the lantern had rendered it risky to ring the ten 
bells which hung in the central tower, so that another tower 
was built to contain them. But this western tower was built in 
a most insecure way. It was not erected upon foundations on 
the ground beyond the west front, but its western face was- 
built upon the existing west wall of the church, the north and 
south faces on the clerestory walls, and the eastern face upon an 
arch crossing above the vaulting of the nave but below the 
external roof. To strengthen it an additional flying buttress 
was inserted on the south side beneath the fourteenth-century 
flying buttress J of this we may be sure, since it has re- 
mained to our own day, although it has been rebuilt during 



HISTORY OF THE BUILDING. 55 

the restoration- commenced at the end of the last century. 
Probably a similar buttress was built at the north side also. A. 
flying buttress was also built eastward across the clerestory 
window, which may still be seen on the south side. 

At the same time a large Perpendicular window was inserted 
in the west front, and a Perpendicular doorway within the 
original great western doorvvay, which was partially walled up. 
Whether this was done to strengthen the- wall or simply for 
sesthetic reasons we cannot tell. Both the towers fell — we 
do not know exactly when ; all we know is that Leiand, writing 
in 1540, says the church had two steeples: "one that had a 
mightie high pyramis felle daungerously in hominum memoriS, 
S,nd sins was not re-edified, it stode on, the middle of the 
transeptum of the church and was a marke to al the countrie 
aboute. The other yet stondeth, a great square toure at the 
west end of the chierch." The ruin, however, of the central 
tower was not so complete as it is now, for it is recorded that 
portions of its pillars were thrown down by the concussion 
t)f guns fired to celebrate the Restoration of Charles II. 
The rood-screen beneath the western arch of the central 
tower was not destroyed, but still stands as a reredos to the 
present church. The carving on this, however, indicates a 
date late in the fifteenth century. 

Professor Freeman thinks that before the central tower 
fictually fell the monks having abandoned the choir and cross- 
ing migrated into the nave for safety, for he says : " Just east 
of the rood-screen the arch is built up as high'Ss the impost 
With a solid wall which appears to be older than the destruction 
|Df the eastern part of the church. I grourid this belief chiefly 
pn the fact that the masonry up to this height is quite different 
and of a much better character than that which blocks the 
arch itself, which last exactly resembles that with which the 
arches between the transepts and the nave aisles were clearly 
blocked at the time of the destruction." He is inclined to 
believe that when the tower showed signs of weakness the wall, 
upon the rood-screen was introduced to remedy the weakness 
and put off' the evil day for a time; 

During the fifteenth century Perpendicular tracery was 
inserted in the Norman windows of the aisles, and the cloister 
door was reduced in size. 

The string course above the nave arcading seems,, for some 



56. 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



UTiacccmntable reason, to have been partially hacked away 
some time before the fall of the western tower, for we find 
that the string course above the arcading of the ruined part 
of the church was created in the same way. 

The watching-loft projecting from the south triforium is of 
late fourteenth or early fifteenth-century date. 




THE WATCHING LOFT. 

, We cannot fix the date of the fall of the western tower 
within very close limits. All we know is, that it was standing 
at the time of Leland's visit (1540), but that it was gone in 
1634, for a tourist, whose name we do not know, visited 
the church in that year, and says he found the two turrets 
at the west end quite demolished, but says nothing of any 
western tower. He apparently ;had. rio knowledge that such 



. HISTORY OF THE. BUILDING.: rsj 

•a. tower ever existed. It would therefore appear that in all 
probability the fall was not a recent event in 1634. At some 
time after the tower fell the present west wall of the church 
was built, cutting off the two western bays of the nave, and 
a finely proportioned window was inserted in it. The tracery 
■of this is modern. The vaulting of the two western bays 
within the existing church, as well as that of the, two still 
farther to the west, was ruined by the fall of the tower. 
The stone vault was never replaced, but within the present 
church a very well-executed plaster vault was put up to take 
its place. 

In the time of Edward III. the Abbot of Malmesbury was, 
with twenty-four other abbots, summoned to sit in Parliament ; 
but it was not Until the days of Richard II. that the abbot 
received a mitre. 

In the reign of Henry VIII. the abbey was dissolved. The 
exact date of the surrender was December 15, 1539. The 
last abbot, Selwyn, together with about twenty monks, were 
pensioned off, and all the abbey property was seized by the 
king. The annual value was returned to the king's com- 
missioners as ;^8o3. 

After the dissolution the monastic buildings gradually dis- 
appeared. Some portions were seen by the anonymous toUrist 
above mentioned in 1634, and John Aubrey in 1650 speaks 
of the reimains of the kitchen standing on four strong pillars 
to the north-west of the church. 

■ The Tudor house, still known as Abbey House, to the north- 
east, was built upon the lower story of some part of the domestic 
'buildings, possibly the infirmary. The original windows may 
still be seen on the north side. Once there was a central row 
of pillars within the undercroft, but these have now been 
■destroyed, together with the vaulting, and the undercroft is used 
as a wine-cellar. It is supposed by some that the house above 
this was built by William Stump, a rich clothier of North 
Nibley, in Gloucestershire, who for the sum of ;^i,soo bought 
of Henry VIII. the site of the abbey and the buildings thereon 
standing. He used some of the domestic buildings as work- 
shops, others as residences for his workmen, filling even the 
chapel at the south end of the transept with looms, but pre- 
sented the remains of the nave to the parish, to be used as iL 
parish church in place of the dilapidated church of St. Pauli 



58 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

The tower of this church and its spire, a broach of the Perpen- 
dicular period, alone remain to the present day, and serve as a 
campanile for St. Mary's, which has no bells of its own, seeing 
that no tower remains in which bells could be hung. Before 
the fall of the central tower it contained ten bells, one of which 
bore the name of St. Ealdhelm, and was rung to scare away 
lightning. 

It was on August 20, 1541, that Granmer granted the license 
for the use of the nave of the parish church for parochial 
purposes. 

At the time of the dissolution the manuscripts of the abbey 
library were scattered — some were sold as wastepaper or 
parchment J some, says John Aubrey, were used by him and 
his schoolfellows to cover their school-books ; he also tells us 
that Mr. William Stump, great-grandson of the purchaser of 
the abbey, had several of the abbey manuscripts. " He was 
a proper man and a good fellow ; and when he brewed a barrel 
of special ale his use was to stop the bung-hole, under the clay, 
with a sheet of manuscript ; he said nothing did it so well, which 
methought did grieve me much to see. Afterwards I went to 
school to Mr. Latimer at Leigh Delamere, where was the like 
use of covering of books. In my grand father's days the manu- 
scripts flew about like butterflies. All music books, account 
books, copy books &c were covered with old manuscripts as 
we cover them now with blue or marbled paper : and the 
glovers of Malmesbury made great havoc of them and gloves 
were wrapped up in many good pieces of antiquity." When he 
was grown up Aubrey went to his first school at Yatton-Keynell, 
to see if he could find any remains of Parson Stump's manu- 
scripts, but he could light on none, " His sons were gunners 
and soldiers and had scoured their guns with them " ; but he 
saw some ancient deeds bearing the abbey seal. Some few scraps 
of Malmesbury manuscripts were discovered, though in a very 
mutilated condition, by the late Rev. Canon Jackson, for many 
years rector of Leigh Delamere, the parish of which Latimer, 
Aubrey's schoolmaster, was rector in the seventeenth century. 
These manuscripts were shown by Canon Jackson at a meeting 
of the Wilts Archaeological Society at Malmesbury, and, despite 
the rough usage to which they had been subjected, still showed 
traces of gold lettering and the beautiful penmanship of the 
monks. 




Photo, — T. p. ■ 



THE SOUTH-WEST ANGLE. 



6o MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

After the destruction of the cloister of the abbey, buttresses 
were built against the walls of the north aisle. 

Malmesbury, during the civil war of the seventeenth 
century, was alternately occupied by Roundheads and 
Cavaliers, for it lay on the direct road between Bristol and 
Oxford, the respective headquarters of the opposite parties 
during a considerable part of the war. What injury, if any, 
was done to the church during this period we do not know, 
though during the Commonwealth it was not used for divine 
worship. 

At the present time extensive works of repair and restoration 
are in progress. This work will not probably be completed 
for some time. The condition of the fabric was such that 
immediate steps were needed to secure it from further ruin. 
The restoration of an old building is always a process fraught 
with danger : incumbents often wish to make their churches 
smart ; architects, builders, and masons always want to do 
too much and to insert modern imitations of old work. 
There is some hope, however, that at Malmesbury less 
mischief than usual will be done, and that the church, when 
it emerges from the restorers' hands, will be not a practically 
new building, but an old one repaired and made sound 
throughout, yet still retaining its old features. Some objection 
may, however, be fairly made to the new carved finials placed 
on the pinnacles on the south side, which might better 
have been left in their truncated condition. The writer has 
had the opportunity of examining the report prepared jointly 
by the Society of Antiquaries and the Society for the 
Protection of Ancient Buildings. This report contains some 
admirable suggestions for the extension of the church west- 
ward. It is recommended that the two ruined bays at the 
west end should be rebuilt and this part of the church 
covered with a timber roof, but that the north aisle should 
not be extended farther to the west, as it would be unwise 
to tamper with the solid buttresses; that the present west 
wall should be retained, with its window and tracery left 
intact, though the glass might be removed from it. If an 
arch were built beneath the window to support the weight 
of the west wall, the modern organ-gallery, with the round- 
headed arches of modern date on which it stands, might be 
removed so as to give a greater appearance of length. The 



HISTORY OF THiE BUILDING. 



6i 



jebiiilt western portion of the church would form a kind of 
vestibule to the church if an entrance were made in the new 
■west wall, which should be built without interfering in any 
way with the remains of the original doorway. The whole 
scheme would be somewhat costly, and it is doubtful if funds 
will allow of its being carried out for some time to coine. 




MARKET CROSS. 



The present contract provides for the rebuilding of the 
western part of the nave arcade on the south side only, with 
the triforium and clerestory above it, the roofing of the ruined 
part of the south aisle, the demolition of the walls across this 
aisle just to the east of the porch, and the removal further 
to the west of the wall which forms the present west end of 



62 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH, 

the' aisle, so as to throw the whole aisle open from east to west, 
and the building of a temporary wall under the renewed 
arches of the nave arcading, so as to enclose the aisle on its 
north side. 

Before leaving the history of the building it may be well 
to briefly notice the fine market-cross standing outside the 
present churchyard to the south. Leland speaks of it 
having been built ho7ninum memoria ; this well accords with 
its architectural features, which indicate a fifteenth-century 
date. It is octagonal ; a groined roof springs from a central 
pier. In character it much resembles the Poultry Cross 
at Salisbury and the cross at Chichester. The gateway 
leading into the present churchyard at the south-east is much 
more modern in construction, though some of the stonework 
seems old ; it was probably erected in the seventeenth century. 




THE SOUTH SIDE FROM THE PORCH RCOF. 



Photo.— T.JP. 




REMAINS OF THE WEST FRONT. 



CHAPTER II. 



THE EXTERIOR. 

The church at Malmesbury as we see it to-day, like those 
at Pershore and Hexham, is but a fragment of the old abbey 
church, and in some respects has fared worse than these two 
churches, for while they can each boast of the possession of 
a tower, and the former of one wing of the transept, and the 
latter of the whole transept, Malmesbury has lost both its 
towers and transepts, is ruinous at both ends, and the church, 
as used for service at the present day, consists of little more 
than the six eastern bays of the original nave, its two aisles, 
and the great southern porch, /Outside the pajrt now roofed in, 
t he arch, above which once rose the north wall of the central 
tower, still stands in all its lofty ruined grandeur, as also do 
the west wall and south-west angle of the south transept, 
and the south aisle wall to the west of the porch, a pojrtion 

65 F 



66 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

of the clerestory at this part of the church, and the southern 
half of the west front, but all in a more or less ruined 
condition. 

It will be convenient to begin the examination of the ex- 
terior of the building with the remains of the west front. 
The south jamb of the original great west door may still 
be seen, and enough of the mouldings of the arch remains 
to show that the carving was of an elaborate character. On 
one order were represented the signs of the Zodiac, of which 
three only remain, in an almost unrecognisable state. There 
never was more than one entrance to the church at the west 
end; there are no doorways giving admission to the aisles. 
Above the west doorway there was once a great window — a 
Perpendicular insertion in the Norman walls, as we infer 
from the remains of the ends of the four transoms by which 
it was divided. To the south of the doorway may be seen 
some intersecting arches of the arcading, which, interrupted 
here and there, runs along the west front and the south 
side of the church and along that part of the transept that 
still remains. 

The west end beyond the central part, which no doubt, 
before the erection of the western tower, terminated in a 
gable, is a simple screen of stone-work running out to a turret, 
oblong in plan, at the §outh-west angle. Malmesbury, therefore, 
like Salisbury and Exeter and other churches, had a western 
facade bearing no relation to the nave and aisles that it 
terminated. Professor Freeman remarks that nowhere else 
in English Romanesque has he found a similar sham wall. 
Above the arcading just mentioned, in this part cut into to 
allow of the insertion of a rectangular tablet, is a richly 
ornamented window with chevron moulding and semicircular 
drip-stone, with the remains of inserted Perpendicular tracery, 
and above it a string course which runs round the buttresses and 
turret. Above this is an arcade of two complete arches, with 
half arches on either side with richly carved mouldings 
without capitals. Underrieath each of the two central arches 
of this arcade are two sub-arches rising from shafts with 
capitals ; above this is another string course, and then another- 
row of arcading consisting of five semicircular, non-intersecting 
arches with plain mouldings underneath a plain string course, 
and then a plain wall, once probably terminating in a parapet, 



THE EXTERIOR. 



67 



-which has, however, disappeared. Of the south-west turret 
three complete stages and a portion of the fourth still stand ; 
the lowest is plain, with no openings. On the western and 
southern faces of the second are two lofty semicircular-headed 
arches. Beneath the two on the western face are other semi- 
circular-headed arches. The wall beneath the eastern arch on 
the south side is pierced by a long slit; over the second 
stage is an ornamental string course, above which the turret 
recedes ; the next stage is decorated on the south and west 
faces with an arcade of 
intersecting semicircular 
arches springing from 
shafts with capitals. The 
fourth stage, of which 
only: the lower part re- 
mains, is decorated with 
richly carved pilasters; 
similar pilasters are to 
be seen also on the 
eastern face, the corners 
being occupied by carved 
cylindrical shafts. 

Turning round the 
angle, we find between 
the south-western turret 
and the south porch two 
bays of the aisle wall 
with a flat buttress be- 
tween them. Along the 
wall of the western bay 
the arcade of intersect- 
ing arches is resumed, but it is not seen in the next bay. Each 
bay contains a round-headed window with inserted Perpendicular 
tracery, but without glass. In fact, the whole of the western 
part of the building consists of walls without a roof; hence, of 
course, no glass is found in the windows. Against the wall, 
between the first and second windows of the clerestory, count- 
ing firom the west before the restoration was begun, rested 
two flying buttresses, one above the other, a second one 
having become necessary to support the extra weight when 
the western tower was built. This part of the wall is, at the 




Photo,— T.P. 
THE SOUTH-WEST TURRET. 



6? 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



time of writing, being rebuilt; the flying buttresses and the 
lofty pinnacles against which they abut have been one by 
one rebuilt of the old stones as far as possible, and at the 
same time fresh tracery and glass have been inserted in the 
clerestory windows. It is said that this part of the church 
was in such an unsafe condition that the parishioners were 
afraid to sit in the nave whenever a strong south wind was 
blowing, lest the clerestory windows should be blown in and 
fall on the heads of those seated below. 

We next come to the great glory of the church, of which 
the people of Malmesbury are so justly proud — the magnificent 

south porch. This projects 
a considerable distance from 
the aisle wall, and may be 
divided into three parts : the 
outer casing and buttresses, 
added in the fourteenth cen- 
tury; the twelfth-century arch; 
and the side-walls and inner 
doorway. The outer facing 
has plain mouldings encircled 
by a hood moulding terminat- 
ing in monsters' heads of the 
same form as may be seen 
at the extremities of the hood- 
moulding over the arches of 
the nave arcading. Just within 
this is a plain arch, and then 
the original outer porch re- 
cessed in eight orders. These 
run round the porch without any capitals, and are profusely 
decorated with sculpture. The first, third, fifth, seventh, and 
eighth of these orders, counting inwards, are carved with 
scroll-work ; the second, fourth, and sixth are carved with 
figure subjects set in ovals of scroll-work ; but unfortunately 
they are so much weathered that many of them can now 
with difficulty, if at all, be made out. The process of decay 
has been very rapid in recent times. The Builder, in the 
number for March 2, 1895, cotitains a reproduction of an 
old engraving by Le Keux, by. comparing which with recent 
photographs it may be seen how much the carving has been 




Pholo.—T.P. 
CARVING ON THE SOUTH PORCH. 



THE EXTERIOR. 



,69 



weathered in recent years.^ The anonymous tourist who 
visited the church in 1634, and has left an account of the then 




THE,, SOUTH PORCH. 



' When I was at the church in November, 1900, the daughter of a 
former vicar, who also happened- to be visiting the church, remarked 
on the great advance of decay that had taken place since her father's death. 



'70 



MALMESBURY ABBJEY CHURCH. 



existing eoridition of the abbey church in his " Topographical 
Exclusion,'' printed in Brayleys Graphic and Historical Illus- 
trator, p. 411, gives a minute description of the sculpture on 
the porch. Beginning at the bottom of each arch on the 
western side, he enumerates the subjects thus : 



riRST OR Inner Arch. Second or Middle. 



1. Defaced quite. 
2.. Light from chaos. 

3. The sea from the 

land. 

4. The Lord sits and 

beholds. 

5. He makes fowls. 

6. He makes fish. 

7. He makes the 

beasts. 

8. The spirit moving 

on the waters. 

9. Adam made. 



10. Adam sleeps and 

woman made. 

11. Paradise. 

12. Adam left there. 



13. Devil tempts Eve. 

14. They hide them- 

selves. 

15. God calls to them. 

16. God thrusts them 

out. 

17. A spade and distafif 

given. 

18. Adam digs, Eve 

spins. 



J 1 God sits and be- 
' |- holds the sins of 
2-J the world. 

3. Cain a fugitive. 

4. He comes to Eve. 

5. An angel. 

6. God delivers Noah 

the axe. 

7. Noah works on the 

ark. 

8. Eight persons 

saved. 

9. Abraham offers 

Isaac. 

10. The lamb caught in 

the bush. 

1 1 . Moses talks with his 

father. 

12. Moses keeping 

sheep. 

13. Moses and Aaron 

striking the rock. 

14. Moses reads the Law 

to the elders. 

15. Samson tearing the 

lion. 

16. Samson bearing 

the city gates. 

17. The Philistines put 

out his eyes. 

18. David rescues the 

lamb. 



Third or Outer. 
■ V Defaced quite. 

3. John, the forerunner 

of Christ. 

4. Michael the Arch- 

angel. 

5. The angels come to 

Mary. 

6. Mary in child-bed. 

7. The three wise men 

come to Christ. 

8. They find Him. 

9. Joseph, Mary, and 

Christ go into 
Egypt. 

10. Christ curses the fig- 

tree. 

11. He rides on an ass 

to Jerusalem. 

12. He eats the Passover 

with His twelve 
Apostles. 

13. He is nailed to the 

cross. 

14. Laid in the tomb by 

Joseph. 

15. He riseth again. 

16. He ascendeth into 

heaven. 

17. The Holy Ghost 

descending on the 
Apostles. 

18. Michael overthrows 

the devil. 



THE EXTERIOR. 



71- 



Third or Outer. 

19. Mary mourning for 

Jesus. 
20.1 

■ >■ Demolished quite, 

23) 



First or Inner Arch. Second or Middle, 

19. Eve brings forth 19. David fights with 

Cain. Golia:th. 

20. Abel tills the earth. 20. Goliath slain. 
21.1 Two angels for 21. An angel. 
22./ keepers. 22. David rests himselt. 

23. Abel walks in the 23. Defaced quite. 

fields. 

24. Cain meets him. 24. David walks to 

Beth-horon. 

25. Cain kills Abel. 25. David's entertain- 

ment there. 

S^loemolished quite, lyi} Demolished quite. 
28. J 

Professor Cockerell, in his work on the sculpture on the 
west front of Wells,, also gives his reading of the Malmesbury 
sculptures. He agrees with the tourist with respect to Nos. 9, 10, 
II, 13,: 14, 15, 16, 17, and 25 on the first arch; No. 23 he takes 
to represent Abel's sacrifice. He agrees with the list of 
subjects given above for Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 
and 19 on the middle arch ; but thinks No. i represents God's 
command to Noah, No. 11 the burning bush. No. 14 the rod 
of Moses. Speaking of the outer arch, he commences with 
No. 5, and generally agrees, save that he omits No. 17, and 
for No. 10 gives Christ before the doctors, and the betrayal. 

Within the outer archway is the inner porch, rectangular 
in plan, with bench tables on either side, above each of 
which is an arcade of four arches, round-headed, with chevron 
moulding springing from capitals with square abaci, them- 
selves richly carved; but all the shafts, save the end ones, 
have disappeared. Above the arcading on either side, under 
a semicircular arch, is a group of six seated figures with angels 
flying above them, all in high relief. The seated figures 
probably represent the twelve apostles. These carvings 
seem of earlier date than those on the outer arches, and. 
may have belonged to the earlier Church of St. Mary existing' 
in William of Malmesbury's day. The doorway leading into 
the church is recessed in three orders, elaborately carved wittf 
scroll patterns. The tympanum over the door contains a' 
carving of Christ and attendant angels. A holy-water stoup; 
stands on the east side of the door. The ceiling of the porch- 



72 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



is a plain tunnel roof of plaster. The floor is paved with 
rough flagstones much worn. Before the restoration is com- 
pleted a new pavement will probably be laid ; it is to be hoped 
that it will be of stone, not of tiles, which would not harmonise 
with the old stone-work. 

Above the porch, as is so often the case, is a chamber, 
lighted here by a two-light rectangular window with square, 
leaded panes. The porch has buttresses at the corners, set at 
right angles to its faces ; it is finished at the top by a horizontal 
pierced parapet, behind which the lead roof rises to a very 




P/ula.—r.J'. 



TYMPANUM OP THE SOUTH DOORWAY. 



obtuse angle ; from the base of the parapet the heads of 
two monsters project. The outer porch is protected by 
some ugly iron railings with gates running between the two 
buttresses that project from the southern face of the porch. 
These are to be removed, so that the recessed entrance will 
be much better seen. 

In the angle between the east side of the porch and the wall ' 
of the aisle is a rectangular turret rising just above the wall of 
the nave, with a pyramidal roof, covered, as the roof of the 
aisles are, with stone shingles ; this contains a newel staircase 
leading up to the chamber above the porch, and also to the 



THE EXTERIOR. 73 

triforium on the south side. Access to this staircase can be 
gained either from the exterior or interior of the church. 

To the east of the porch there are five bays, divided 
along the south aisle wall by flat pilasters ; in the first two 
are round-headed windows with inserted Perpendicular tracery, 
and beneath them an arcading of intersecting arches rising from^ 
square capitals ; the next two bays contain large Decorated 
windows deeply splayed. To make room for these, since their 
sills are much nearer to the ground than those of the windows 
whose place they took, the arcading was cut away and a plain 
wall built, yl'he fifth bay is similar to the first and second, 
and here the original arcading remains./ The windows of the 
clerestory contain Decorated tracery, and all save the eastern- 
most one have three lights ; this last is narrower and has only 
two lights. The parapets that run along the top of the walls 
of the aisles and clerestory are similar to the one that runs 
round the walls of the porch. A very fine series of flying 
buttresses was added to support the thrust of the stone vault 
when the clerestory was remodelled and the nave vaulted with 
the existing roof in the fourteenth century (see p. 64). 
/The Walls surrounding the three easternmost windows of 
the clerestory are ornamented with projecting carved medal- 
lions/ there are five on each side of the window nearest 
the transept, and three on each side of the other two win- 
dows. One of these medallions is modern, and, according 
to the principle wisely adopted in the restoration, it is left 
quite plain. Wherever new work is added, as in the case 
of a pillar which was built to take the place of one that had 
fallen, the mouldings are left perfectly plain, so that for all 
succeeding time a distinction may be seen between the old 
and the modern work. This principle, however, has not been 
adopted in the new stone-work introduced into the tracery 
of the clerestory windows. The original .flat buttresses may 
be seen running up against the eastern half of the clerestory 
wall, but there are no such buttresses against the western half 
of the wall, which probably was rebuilt in the fourteenth 
century. The wall that rises at the east end above the roof 
of the aisle is provided with an external flight of steps leading 
up to the roof of the nave from the ruined west wall of the 
transept. These steps have been renewed, but an old print 
represents such a stairway existing before the recent work of 



74 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 







DECORATED WINDOWS, SOUTH SIDE. Plua.-T.P 



restoration. The flying buttresses rest on vertical buttresses'' 
rising within the parapet, with gabled heads, and loaded with 



THE EXTERIOR. 7S 

plain, massive, and lofty pinnacles rising to about the level of 
the parapet of the clerestory, the easternmost pinnacle alone 
being lower. The pyramidal part of these pinnacles rises 
from within a battlement that runs round their bases. These 
have been rebuilt, and the finials are new. 

The transept never had any aisle on the west side, 
nor can traces of any aisle having ever existed on the east 
side be found ; possibly, however, there may have been one 
or more apsidal chapels. The west wall of the south tran- 
sept is still standing., It consists of two bays divided by a 
flat buttress ; at its base runs arcading similar to that which 
is seen along the wall of the south aisle; above it in each 
bay is a Norman window, in which there are no signs of 
inserted tracery ; and again, immediately above a string course, 
which runs on the same level as the parapet of the aisle wall 
in each bay may be seen another Norman window. In the 
thickness of the wall at this level a gallery is pierced, which 
probably communicated with the triforium of the nave. When 
we get round the end of the wall, and are able to examine the 
other side, which was, of course, originally the interior wall 
of the transept, we find some traces of an arcading of non- 
intersecting arches under a carved string course. The lower 
windows above this are deeply splayed, and on either side 
of each of the upper windows are narrow, round-headed, arched 
openings communicating with the passage mentioned above ; 
but these are not symmetrically placed. The character of 
this wall will be better understood from an examination of the 
accompanying illustration than from any verbal description. 
At the south end of the transept wall may be seen traces of 
weather moulding. This may indicate that a chapel once 
projected farther southward ; indeed, it is quite possible that 
this was the site of the small church spoken of in the records 
of the abbey, which, after the dissolution, Leland says he 
saw filled with weavers' looms. 

The pointed arch which once led from the south aisle into 
the transept still remains, but it has been walled up; and 
above it may be seen the wide,\round-headed archway opening 
out from the triforium,\which has been blocked by masonry, 
through which a small rectangular opening has been made to 
give light to the triforium. 

The great western arch between the crossing and the nave 



THE EXTERIOR. 77 

has been blocked with a wall that forms the east end of the 
present church. The arch is semicircular. Above it may be 
seen portions of the ribs of the vaulting which was inserted 
below the lantern. Three of the piers that supported the 
central tower remain, the south-east pier alone haying dis- 
appeared. The tower arch piers consist of clustered shafts 
with square abaci. The tower itself was square in plan, but, 
probably with a view of providing as much blank wall as 
possible behind the choir-stalls, the piers are longer in section 
from east to west than from north to south, and the existing 
arch on the north side is seen to be much narrower in span 
than the west arch. It is consequently considerably stilted. 
Above this archHhe vaulting ribs may be seen in a more 
perfect condition than over the west arch of the tower ; the 
ribs meet in a boss of carved foliage. A fragment of the choir 
arcading still remains. The lower part of the arch springing 
from clustered shafts may be seen, and above it the shafts and 
a small piece of the chevron moulding of the westernmost 
arch of the triforium of the choir. The eastern end of the 
north aisle of the nave has been blocked up, and a small 
doorway inserted beneath the arch. 

The exterior walls of the north side of the nave and its 
aisle are much plainer than the corresponding walls on the 
south side of the church. It was on this side that the cloister 
was built. Though monks generally preferred the south side 
of the nave for the cloister garth and its surrounding walks, and 
naturally so, since they got the advantage of the sun to warm 
and light three out of the four walks in which so much of their 
time was passed, yet occasionally the character of the ground 
induced them to. depart from the' usual custom, as they did at 
Malmesbury and in the not far distantBenedictine Abbey Church 
of St. Peter at Gloucester. The entrance to the church from 
the domestic buildings of the abbey was along the east walk 
of the cloister, through a lofty Norman doorway which led inta. 
the north aisle. This doorway may still be seen; but at so;riS 
time during the Perpendicular era it was walled up and a smaller 
doorway made through the inserted masonry. This opening 
was not cut centrally, but is nearer to the east side. Some 
traces of the moulding of the depressed arch still remains, but 
it no longer opens into the aisle, as a thin wall has been built 
within it, its inner side flush with the interior wall, so that 



7§ MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

only a recess in the great thickness of the Norman wall remains 
on the outside. There is no arcading along the wall of the 
north aisle of the nave, but above the second offset of 
the buttresses ^ there is a row of windows, one in each bay. With 
the exception of one to be mentioned immediately, they are of 
Norman date, and have had Perpendicular tracery inserted. 
In the fourth bay from the east a large Decorated window has 
been inserted, and to allow sufficient space for this the wall 
has been raised into a gable, forming a very pleasing feature 
on this side of the church. It will be remembered that two 
windows of a somewhat similar character are to be seen on the 
south side of the church ; but then, as the sills could be brought 
near to the ground, there was no reason for raising the wall to 
accommodate their heads. Here, however, the cloister com- 
pelled the builder to keep the bottom of the window at a 
considerable height, so that he had to raise the wall to get 
room for the top of the window. Whether it was ever intended 
to alter all the windows in like manner we cannot tell. Doubt- 
less the desire to obtain more light and to have the opportunity 
of displaying painted glass led to the change being made some 
time during the fourteenth century ; possibly lack of funds — for 
the abbey was not one of the richest — led to the change not 
being carried out more fully. The Abbot of Malmesbury once 
had a great opportunity, which would have led to the enriching 
of his abbey, presented to him, but he was not brave enough 
to accept the chance; for when a last resting-place for the 
body of King Edward II., murdered at Berkeley Castle, was 
requested of Adam, Abbot of Malmesbury, he, like the Abbots 
of Bristol and Kingswood, refused to give his permission for 
the burial, and it was left to brave Thokey, Abbot of the 
Benedictine house of Gloucester, to receive the body within 
his walls. Had Abbot Adam granted the request, the money 
which in after years poured into the coffers of Gloucester from 
the hands of pilgrims who visited the tomb of Edward would 
have increased the revenues of Malmesbury, with the result 
that this most interesting church — the best specimen on a large 
scale that we possess of the transition from Romanesque to 
Gothic — would in all probability have been altogether rebuilt, 

• The lower parts of the buttresses beneath the level of the window-sills 
are comparatively modem, and did not project, as they now do, while 
the cloister existed. 



THE EXTERIOR. 79 

or at any rate so much altered that its chief interest would 
have been destroyed ; hence we may well feel thankful for the 
caution shown by the abbot, though no doubt his successors 
often regretted that he had let the chance of enriching their 
house pass away unused. 

In the last bay that still remains on this side of the 
church there is a doorway with an elliptic head. The flying 
buttresses on this side resemble .those on the south side 
pi the church, but the pinnacles are not finished with 
carved finials. In place also of flying buttresses two massive, 
solid buttresses, or rather walls, flank each side of the bay 
nearest the west. These descend through the roof of the aisle 
down to the floor and, as we shall find when examining 
the interior of the church, form a small chamber at the west 
end of the north aisle. These walls were probably built after 
the fall of the western tower to secure the church from further 
injury. The tower would seem to have fallen chiefly towards 
the north. This was fortunate ; otherwise, the great south porch 
might have been crushed. The three western bays of the north 
aisle were destroyed, together with the adjoining arcading of the 
nave, and the vault over the five western bays of the nave, and 
the vault over the two western bays of the south aisle. The 
two easternmost nave bays of the part of the church damaged 
by the fall were repaired, and a wall was built to the west of 
these to form the west end of the church. In this wall was 
inserted a lofty, well-proportioned window. Its tracery, of 
flowing Decorated type, is a modern restoration. 

To the west of the outside of this wall the original church 
extended rather more than two and a half bays. Three pillars 
may be seen on the south side. The first is original, but is 
partially embedded in the walls erected after the fall of the 
tower to form a kind of lobby to the north of the great porch. 
The third is really a respond attached to the original west wall 
of the church. The second has been recently rebuilt. These 
piers are of the same character as those of the nave arcading tp 
be described in the next chapter, with huge cylindrical shafts 
and circular abaci with scalloped capitals beneath, with the 
exception of the one that has been rebuilt, whose capital has 
purposely been left plain to show that it is modern work. 

The whole of the exterior of what still remains of the abbey 
church has now been described in sufficient detail. The 



8o 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



mutilated condition detracts considerably from its appearance 
as a whole. But in the state in which it existed after the 
erection of the western tower, and before the fall of the 
central spire, and with all its domestic buildings standing — that 
is to say, during the second half of the fifteenth century— it 
must have been one of the most imposing of English abbeys. 
The site alone would give it a dignity that many other similar 
buildings never possessed. Durham and Lincoln only could 

boast of sites as good. 

[m^ _ 1 The abbey buildings 

stood on a lofty plateau 
flanked by a steep 
escarpment on the 
northern side. The 
abrupt nature of this 
escarpment is best seen 
from the railway just 
before it enters the 
station, or from the foot- 
path running up from 
the station by the side 
of the little stream 
called Newnton Water, 
on which once stood 
the abbey mill, and on 
which its successor still 
stands to the north side 
of the abbey grounds. 
Let us, as we stand at 
the foot of this hill, re- 
build in imagination the 
square western tower 
flanked by its two tur- 
rets, the mighty central steeple whose spire rose, so tradition 
tells us, to a height exceeding that of our highest existing 
spire — that of St. Mary's Cathedral Church at Salisbury — 
the ruined transept and the eastern arm, and all the lower 
roofed domestic buildings, some of whose basement walls 
would stand upon the slope of the escarpment, even as the 
walls of the basement of the infirmary (if such it be) on which 
the Abbey House is built still stand; let us, further, imagine 




THE PRESENT WEST WINDOW. 



THE EXTERIOR. 8i 

the whole pile of buildings flushed with the rosy light of 
sunrise on a bright summer morning ; — and we shall have a 
vision of beauty such as we can in few places find in our 
England of the twentieth century. As the picture drawn by 
our imagination fades away and we see the sad reality, the 
mutilated remains of what was once a building of no mean 
order, we shall find our minds filled by conflicting emotions of 
regret and thankfulness — regret that so much beauty has passed 
away, thankfulness that so much still remains,- and that it is 
something more than a ruin that crowns the hill before us, and 
that so much work of that most interesting architectural period 
which witnessed the development of Gothic architecture out 
of the Romanesque has escaped the fate that overtook so 
many of the religious houses of the land at the time of the 
dissolution of the monasteries.. 




Photo— r. p. 



THE WEST END. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE INTERIOR. 

The church is entered by the south porch, the sculpture of 
which has been described in the last chapter. This gives 
admission to that part of the south aisle which extends 
farther to the west than the present west end of the nave, 
and which has been walled up so as to form a kind of lobby. 
At the western end of the wall which has been built beneath 
the arcading that once divided the nave from the aisle may be 
seen a window, to the east of this a pier incorporated in the 
wall, then the next archway entirely blocked up. The wall that 
runs across the aisle to the east has been pierced by a doorway 
giving admission to the church, which is thus entered at the 
west end of the present south aisle of the building as it is now 
used for service. At the eastern end of the south wall of what 
has been called above the lobby may still be seen some traces of 
the arcading which once ran along the interior of the aisle walls 
beneath the windows. Between this and the great south 
doorway is a small door opening to the newel staircase by 
which we can reach the room over the porch and the triforium, 
the same staircase as that mentioned in the last chapter, to 
which, as there stated, admission can be obtained from the 
outside as well as from the inside. 

When we enter the church t' rough the door leading into 
the south aisle we find that a modern screen, pierced by three 
semicircular arches with mouldings carved in imitation of the 
Norman style, has been run across the church ; above this is 
the organ-gallery, containing a fine organ with a handsome 
case. The existing west end of the north aisle has been walled 

83 



84 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



off,i and now forms a kind of lumber-room, in which brooms, 
coal, etc., are kept. The result of this walling-up on either 




THE MAIN ARCADE, NOETH SIDE. 



side is that within the church as it now exists we can see five 
bays in each aisle and six bays of the nave arcading, the 

' This wall is the lower part of the wall that forms the easternmost of the 
tno solid buttresses mentioned in the last chapter. 



THE INTERIOR. 85 

organ-gallery stretching across between the western arches oil 
either side. 

The first things that probably will catch the eyes of the visitor 
are the massive and somewhat short cylindrical piers of the nave 
arcade. These are perfectly plain save for the memorial tablets 
wherewith the bad taste of the time which succeeded the conver- 
sion of the abbey church into the parish church of the town has 
disfigured all the shafts, with only two exceptions. It would 
undoubtedly add considerably to the dignity of the arcading 
could these be removed ; but if it were done, a chapter in the 
architectural history of the building would be erased, and it is 
by no means clear that, in some instances at any rate, the piers 
themselves have not been partially cut away to receive the 
tablets. A considerable part of the piers is hidden by the pews, 
with their cast-iron poppy-heads and cast scroll-work attached 
to the bench ends. If all these, however, were removed, and 
chairs used for seats, yet the bases of the pillars would still be 
hidden by the wooden floor, which, has evidently in modern 
days been raised above the original level. The lowering of the 
floor to its original level would greatly enhance the appearance 
of the church. 

The diameter of the cylindrical pillars is about 5 ft., the 
width of the arches between them about 1 1 ft., and their height 
but little exceeds two diameters ; indeed, the distance from the 
top of the pews to the capitals is only some 7 or 8 ft. The 
capitals, as will be seen from the illustrations, are very simple, 
and are all alike with the exception of one on the south side, 
which bears some carving. The capitals are scalloped, and are 
surmounted by circular abaci. The arches of this nave arcad- 
ing are pointed, but the angle is somewhat obtuse. The sectional 
moulding of these arches, as will be seen from the plan aild 
illustrations, is somewhat elaborate ; but with the exception of 
the arches in the two eastern bays, they are not ornamented 
with any carved work. Over every arch there was at one time 
a label of billet moulding, terminated by grotesque heads, the 
character of which will be seen on examination of the photo- 
graphic illustrations. Grotesque heads of a different kind are 
carved at the heads of the labels. It may here be noticed that 
all the labels and all the heads .of the arches are alike. In 
several cases parts of this hood moulding and one or botji of 
its terminations have disappeared, and the whole has vanished 



s^ 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



from above the third arch on the north side, counting from the 
east. One order of the mouldings of the two eastern arches 



~" '■;vi Mill' 




f^5f==- 



riu>io.—T.p. 

THE EASTERNMOST ARCH ON THE NORTH SIDE. 

on ea;ch side is enriched by carving on the side facing the- 
nave. In the eastern arches the decoration is prismatic billet,' 
and in the next arches star moulding.- This extra enrichment," 



THE INTERIOR. 87 

which may also be noticed in the string course above the 
arches, probably indicates the extent of the ritual choir, which, 
no doubt here, as elsewhere, extended one, if not two, bays 
westward of the crossing. The present choir screens at West- 
minster, Norwich, and Peterborough, are built across the 
structural nave, and at Christchurch, Hants, the two eastern 
bays of the nave triforium are much more elaborately deco- 
rated than the rest. 

The string course beneath the triforium at Malmesbury is 
much mutilated, but it was once decorated with somewhat 
unusual carving, which has 'been imitated in the string course 
of the modern western screen. The triforium itself is very 
fine. The arches, decorated with chevron moulding, unlike 
the pointed arches below, are semicircular, thus showing that 
although the pointed arch had been already introduced at the 
time of building, the use of the round arch had not been 
abandoned ] probably the whole was designed at the same 
time, though, of course, the actiial masonry of the triforium 
must in each bay have been laid after the arch below had 
been completed, for there is^ot here any indication of the 
pointed arches having beeri a later insertion. In the eastern 
bay on each side the main arch of the triformm encloses three 
sub-arches, in the other bays four. Each of the arches rises 
from well-developed capitals with square abaci. The space 
between the mouldings surrounding the sub-arches, which 
are simple and uncarved, and the lowest onier of the com- 
prising arch is* occupied by a plain wall. /In quite recent 
times ^ — ^probably to exclude draughts — a wall has been built 
behind the shafts of the triforium sub-arches,jwhich prevents 
any view of the church being obtained from the triforium 
gallery save from one spot on the south side, where under the 
arch of the fourth bay, counting from the east, is a curious pro- 
jecting gallery, or box, which may be seen in the illustration on 
p! 56. Several conjectures have been made with respect to this. 
By some it is supposed to have been an organ-chamber, by 
others to have been on certain occasions the seat of the abbot. But 
the space seems hardly sufficient for even a small organ, and the 
difficulty of access renders the latter supposition improbable ; 
it can now only be reached by crawling under or climbing over 

' The present verger says his father remembers the building of these 
walls. 



88 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

the massive beams that run across the space between the exterior 




THE TKIFORIUM AND CLERESTORY, NORTH SIDE, 

lean-to roof of the aisle and the floor over the interior vault. 
But as the trusses are not the original ones, the place may have 



THE INTERIOR. 89 

formerly been more accessible than now. In all probability it 
was a watching-chamber, where some ofiScial passed the 
night t9 watch over the safety of the building and give notice of 
any sacrilegious attempt at burglary or any outbreak of fire. It 
is said that after the church became parochial it was used as 
a post of vantage from which a parish officer might note and 
mark the names of those present in the church at a time when 
absence from public worship was punishable by fines or im- 
prisonment, though a complete view of the church could not 
have been obtained from this point, as those seated in the south 
aisle could not be seen ; from what spot they were watched 
is not stated. But that this watching-chamber was at one time 
used for this purpose was stated to be a fact by Canon Jackson 
at a meeting of the Wilts Archaeological Society, on the 
authority of an old man who remembered the olace being so 
used. 

What the windows of the original clerestory were we cannot 
now tell, as this part of the building was much modified in the 
fourteenth century. A passage runs beneath all the windows, 
save the two easternmost on each side, passing through the 
thickness of the wall between the windows. The windows 
now, save those in the eastern bays, which are two-light win- 
dows, have each three lights, and their tracery is of fourteenth- 
century character. Much of it has already been renewed, and 
those windows which have not as yet been touched will shortly 
be taken in hand. The shafts which support the roofs spring 
without bases from the imposts of the main piers of the nave, 
and the vaulting ribs spring from carved capitals formed by 
carrying the string course above the triforium round the vault- 
ing shafts. The system of vaulting is thoroughly Gothic in 
principle, the thrust of the roof being counteracted by the 
external flying buttresses described in the last chapter. 

^ The _piers that once sustained the central tower were 
formed by clustered columns, and hence the easternmost 
arches of the nave, as we see it now, rise on their eastern sides 
from clustered shafts with rectangular abaci, and not from 
cylindrical pillars. 

The east end is formed by_the insertion of a plain wall 
beneath the original western arch of the central tower, as 
described in Chapter I. Against the lower part of this stands 
the rood-screen, probably removed from its original position 



9° 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



farther west at a time when the tower was seen to be in an 
unsafe condition. The screen is ii ft. 6 in. in height, and 
along the top runs a cornice ornamented with a twenty-six 
square paterae, carved with various devices, such as a Tudor 
rose, portcullis, griffins, etc. In the centre are the arms 
of Henry VII., on which the English leopards are quartered 
with the French lilies. The supporters are, on the right 
hand a dragon, and on the left some animal, possibly a 



"^-^J^wpr- 




Photo.— T.P. 



THE VAULT OF NAVE. 



greyhound, though as the head and limbs have disappeared, it 
is difficult to identify. Above the cornice runs a battlemented 
parapet. The rood-screen was pierced by a central doorway ; 
this is now, of course, walled up. Over the cornice hangs a 
painting of the raising of Lazarus, said to be a copy of one 
painted by Michael Angelo, presented to the church by the 
Duke of Suffolk. 

The vault of the nave is of stone, , except that part which 
covers the two western, bays. Here the fall of the tower 



THE INTERIOR. 



91 



destroyed the roof, and when the church was repaired these two 
bays were covered with a plaster roof in imitation of the original 
stone vault. So close is the resemblance of the plaster to the 
stone that from the floor of the church the difference can hardly 
be detected. Mr. Prior speaks in terms of high praise of this 
roof, saying, " the grace and strength of the traceried vault niake 
it one of the most vigorous examples of the fourteenth century."^ 
He also speaks of the clerestory as having "lifted the Roman- 
esque construction of 1130 another five-and-twenty feet"; but 
in this, even apart from the date, there is a mistake, as some 
part of the clerestory walls are of twelfth-century date, and their 
height was slightly increased by the fourteenth-century builder. 
A stone vault seems to have been intended from the very first, as 
the vaulting shafts rising 
from the imposts of the 
main piers are not four- 
teenth-century additions. 
No doubt a wooden ceil- 
ing was at first put on, 
but this was only a tem- 
porary contrivance, inten- 
ded to give place to stone 
as soon as funds would 
allow the complete design 
to be executed. During 
the thirteenth century time 
and money seem to have 
been devoted to the enlargement of the domestic buildings, 
and when these were completed the abbot of the day turned 
his attention once more to the church, and vaulted it with 
stone, and made sundry other minor alterations in the fabric. 

The quadripartite vaulting of the aisles /emains as the 
twelfth-century builder left it/ (see p. 92), witn the exception 
that in two bays on the south side and in one on the north side 
one quarter of the filling was cut out in the fourteenth century, 
when the large Decorated windows were inserted. This was 
an easy matter on the south side, where the heads of the 
windows could be kept low, the enlarged area of the windows 
being obtained by bringing the sills down ; but on the north 




DIAGRAM OF NORTH WINDOW VAULTING. 



" History of Gothic Art in England," p. 36b. 



92 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



side this could not be done, owing to the south walk of the 
cloister, and a gable had to be raised. This led to a com- 
plicated system of vaulting ribs being used, which can best be 
understood by reference to the plan on the preceding page. 
The general vaulting of the aisles is of the greatest interest, 
as it is a very early example of rib vaulting. It is thus 




DIAGRAM OF AISLE VAULT, 

described by Mr. Bilson (who has kindly allowed his plan to 
be here reproduced), in a paper published in the Journal of 
the Royal Institute of British Architects ; 

"The aisle vaults are supported on the one side by the 
great cylindrical piers of the main arcades, and on the other 
by triple shafts on the aisle wall. The arches of the main 
arcades and the transverse ribs of the aisle vaults are all 
pointed, the latter being of square unmoulded section. The 



THE INTERIOR. 93 

diagonal ribs are semicircular, and their section shoWs three 
large rolls with two smaller rolls between them. The keys of 
'the diagonal ribs are placed higher than those of the arcade 
arches and transverse ribs ; -the surface of the vault cells at 
the key of the diagonal rib is i ft. 5 in. above the surface at 
the apex of the transverse arches, and 2 ft. -above the surface 
at the apex of the arcade arches and the apex of the vault 
on the aisle wall." 

The difference of level of the surface of the vaulting at the 
intersection of the diagonal ribs and at the apex of each 
transverse arch — a common feature in Continental vaults^is 
one of the arguments brought forward by Professor Moore to 
substantiate his assertion that the vaulting of Malmesbury 
aisles is an imitation of French forms, though a somewhat 
similar arrangement may be seen in the earlier vaulting of the 
choir aisles at Durham, the date of which is accurately known 
— namely, 11 28-1 133. At Malmesbury, however, the pointed 
arch is used more systematically than at Durham. 

Along the interior of the south wall of the aisle ran an 
arcade consisting of three round-headed arches in each' bay, 
springing from capitals with square abaci resting on shafts. 
This arcading, however, was much interfered with at various 
times, especially when the larger windows were inserted. 
Thus, for instance, on the south side in the first and second 
bays to the west of the wall across the aisle, the central arch 
of the three has been entirely cut away, and part of each of 
the side ones, in order to bring down the splay beneath the 
original Window; this no doubt was an alteration made with 
the intention of getting more light. The same may be noticed 
in the fifth bay within the chapel formed by a screen ; while in 
the third and fourth bays, where the large Decorated windows 
mentioned above have been inserted, the arcading has alto- 
gether disappeared, its place being occupied by added masonry, 
•which increases the thickness of the wall. On the north side 
more of the arcading remains. In the first bay outside the east 
wall of the chamber devoted to keeping various lumber, the 
three arches with their shafts remain ; in the next the arches 
and one pillar may still be seen, as also in the fourth bay; 
while in the fifth the easternmost arch is blocked. On this 
side, as mentioned in the last chapter, the sills of the windows 
are at a higher level than on the south, on account of the 



94 



MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 



cloister having been on this side of the church, and con- 
sequently there is room above the arcading and below the 
windows for a string course with chevron ornament ; this runs 
at a higher level in the fifth bay. The east end of each aisle 
is blocked with masonry under the arch which formerly led 
into the crossing. In the north aisle, however, a doorway is 
cut in the inserted wall. The last bay of each aisle is con- 
verted into a chapel, now used for a vestry, by a screen running 
north and south, and by a screen inserted beneath the main 




WALL ARCADE, NORTH SIDE, 



Photo T,P. 



arcading on each side. These screens are said by some to 
have been brought to this church from the neighbouring parish 
church of St. Paul, when it was finally closed, but Mr. Brakspear 
says they are in situ and are the continuations of the front 
screen of the " Pulpitum." 

In the chapel at the end of the north aisle may be seen 
a stone tablet in memory of T. Stump, and also a small 
brass tablet, on which we can read the words. "Gift of 
T Stump Malmesbury Abby Gent 1689." 



THE INTERIOR, 



95 



On the east wall of the corresponding chapel on the other 
side are two memorial tablets; the lower one, dated 1625, 
bears a long and curious inscription in memory of Dam6 
Cicely Marshall, 

Deo Opt: Max:" 

ET isACR"^. 

POSTERIS 

Stay Gentle passenger, and Read 

Thy doome, I am, thow mvst be dead 
In assvred hope of a Ioyfvll RESVRREccoSf heere rests deposited all y. 
•WAS mortall of ? Reljgiovs <S' Vertvovs Lady dame Cyscely Marshall 
davghter of 5 Ho ; S^ Owen Hopton Kti late lieftenant of f towre- royal 
f Faythfvll Modist (S* loyall wife of S ; George Marshall K"? whether 

transcended in her more 5 ORNAM^® "t BEAVTIFIED A WIFE A MOTHER OR A 
MATRONE IS STILL A QUESTION BETWIXTE HIR (ALL DISCONSOLATE) HvSBAND 
DaVGHTEJI servants, OSELY THIS is agreed VPPON on ALL HANDS ? SVCH 
WERE HER perfections IN EACH ESTATE ? IN VAINE WILL ANY EPITAPH ENDEAs 
VOUR TO DELYNEATE THEM, WHAT WAS HER FaITH HoPE ChaRITY TEMPERANC 
PIETY PATIENCE MAY (XO BETTER PVRPOSE) BE EXPECTED FROM f ^RVMPE OF AN 

Arch Angel in ? day of Gods generall retrybvcoK, then from ? faynt 
<S" flagging attrybvcons, of any particvler penn 5^0 Close all 'v^ her 
Close, theis two spiritvall eiacvlatons, Miserere mei Devs cS* Domine 
recipe anima meam were f wings wheron ^ last breath ot this tvrtle 

MOViNTED towards HEAVEN TO WHOSE SWEETE MeMORY HER SAD MaTE 
hath devoted THIS POORE MONNVM^* WHICH, OH, LET NO PROPHANE 

hand violate, 
Emigravit 2 Apryll 
Anno salvt : 1625 

XrVS ^ f VITA 

Mors j-Mihi -i via 
C^LV J \ Patria 



96 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

Outside this chapel, against the screen that runs beneath 
the easternmost arch of the nave arcading, is the only efifigy 
that the church contains, Said by tradition to be that of 
Athelstan the Glorious, one of the great benefactors of the 
town and Abbey of Malmesbury. There is no inscription 
to identify it. The recumbent figure rests upon an altar 
tomb of Perpendicular character {see' anie, p. 39). 

Whether this statue was intended to represent King Athelstan 
or not, it was in any case not caiwed until many centuries after 
his death, and has been removed to its present position from 
some other spot. William of Malmesbury tells us that the 
king was buried at the altar of St. Mary in the tower. He 
also adds that he had once seen the body of the king in his 
coffin, and that he must in life have been of becoming stature, 
thin in person, and that his hair was flaxen in hue, and that it 
was still twined with the gold thread which he wore in his life- 
time. Of course the present church was not in existence when 
the great West Saxon hero was laid to rest, so that the coffin 
may have been removed from its original grave, and it may 
have been in course of the removal that William of Malmes- 
bury saw it. This monument is said to have been removed 
from a building on the north side of the presbytery to its 
present site when the eastern arm of the church became a 
ruin. It is also stated on the authority of a manuscript letter 
of Anthony Wood who visited the church in 1678, that during 
the civil wars the head of the statue was broken off and 
destroyed, and that the inhabitants put on the present head 
in its place ; but whether it resembled the former one or not 
he could not say. The head of the lion on which the feet 
rest is also a reproduction. Several authorities, among them 
John Britton, assert that this monument has no reference to 
Althelstan ; but it is by no means unlikely that tradition is here 
correct, and that this statue was intended to keep alive in the 
town which he so much benefited, and which he chose as 
the burying-place of two nephews and himself, the name and 
fame of the victor of Brunanburh. 

From what has been already said, it will be understood that 
the church as it now stands has no chancel, and it is not likely 
that any attempt to build one will be made. The communion 
table stands against the east wall, and the altar rails project, in 
the form of three ^ides of a rectangle, in front aind at either 



THE INTERIOR. 



97 



end of it. A little distance in front of the rails on the south 
side stands the pulpit, and on the north the reading-desk. As 
we stand in front of the rails we shall notice how on each side 
the capitals of the easternmost cylindrical pillar have been 
mutilated, apparently with the intention of inserting some 




THE FONT. 



wooden beam. In fact, it is said that at one time not only 
the cloister, chapels, and domestic buildings were used as 
weavers' workshops, but that looms were even introduced into 
the nave itself. 

The font stands near the western screen. 

The general eifect of the church is not so imposing as it 



98 MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

would be if it were longer ; the blank wall at the east end still 
further detracts from its appearance. To run out a chancel 
would no doubt be a suggestion that would meet with much 
favour, but it would be wholly unjustifiable, as it could not 
well be done without interfering with the fine ruined tower 
arch to the north-east of the church, and would also interfere 
with the old rood-loft now incorporated in the eastern wall. 
More length would be gained if the modern organ-gallery were 
swept away and the organ placed — as suggested in the joint 
report of the Society of Antiquaries and the Society for the 
Protection of Ancient Buildings — over the altar. In this 
position it would help to break the plain expanse of the eastern 
wall, and would be near the choir, if seats were arranged for 
the choristers at the east end of the church. The rebuilding 
of the ruined part at the west end in the manner indicated in 
Chapter I. would also give extra length to the church. The 
pews might well be swept away and the floor lowered so 
as to show the bases of the pillars. One other alteration 
should be made ; the gas-jets are now placed so close to the 
triforium walls that the heat and fumes are likely to lead to the 
decay of the stone ; it would be far better if electric-lighting 
could be used, but if this cannot be introduced, the gas 
standards or pendants should be kept well away from the walls. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE ABBOTS OF MALMESBURY. 

A COMPLETE list of the abbots is not in existence, but such 
as are known will be mentioned. 

Ealdhelm was the first real abbot, though Maldulf had 
preceded him in charge of the religious community existing 
at Malmesbury, which, hoi^everi had not been formally created 
an abbey until about the year. 680, when Eleutherius ap- 
pointed Ealdhelm. In 705 he was consecrated Bishop of 
Sherborne. According to some authorities, Daniel succeeded 
either at the time of his appointment as bishop or on his 
death in 709. William of Malmesbury makes no mention 
of Daniel, but speaks of a second Ealdhelm, nephew of the 
saint, as the next abbot, .^thelheard was the next abbot, 
and resigned his office on being consecrated Bishop of 
Winchester in 780. To him succeeded Cuthbert, who died 
about 796. 

A gap here occurs of nearly 200 years. Abbots, of course, 
there were, but their names have been lost. It may be that 
the records were destroyed when King Edwy expelled the 
monks for a time. The first of the new series of abbots 
was .(Elfric, appointed by Edgar about 974. He became 
Bishop of Crediton in 977, and was succeeded at Malmesbury 
by ^Ethelwerd ; his successors were Kinewerd, Brihthelm 
Brihtwold I., Eadric, Wulsine, Egelward, Ealwine, 
Brihtwold II. — the abbot whose body was exhumed and cast 
into a marsh. Herman, Bishop of Sarum, during the vacancy 
claimed the abbey ; but the monks obtained the support of 
Earl Godwine, and elected Brithric. He was deposed by 
William the rConqueror, who placed Turald, a monk of 
Fechamp in Normandy, over the abbey. He became Abbot of 

99 



loo MALMESBURY ABBEY CHURCH. 

Peterborough in 1070, and Warin de LyrA became abbot in 
1070. Godfrey de Jumiege, who came from Ely, succeeded 
him in 1081. It is recorded that he wore a brazen ring around 
his body ; he was a great collector of books for the abbey 
library. Edulf, a monk from Winchester, succeeded him 
in 1 106, and ruled the abbey till Bishop Roger of Sarum 
deposed him in 11 18 and constituted himself head of the 
abbey till his death. John became Abbot in 1 140, and held 
the office for a few months only. During this time an attack 
was made on the abbey by one Robert, who came from 
the castle at Devizes, and slew all the monks who had not 
sought safety in flight. Peter was chosen abbot in 1141. 
He was succeeded by Gregory about 1159, and Gregory by 
Robert about 11 74. Osbert, Prior of Gloucester, became 
abbot in 1180, and died in 1181 or 1182. Nicholas, a monk 
of St. Albans and then Prior of Wallingford, was the next 
abbot. He was deposed in 1187, and Rorert de Melun, 
sub-Prior of Winchester, took his place. He died about 1208, 
and Walter de Loring succeeded to his office. On his 
death in 1222 John, a Welshman, became abbot. His name 
is found among those who signed the deed executed in 1222 
confirming the Great Charter originally granted by King John. 
Geoffrey was abbot from 1246 to 1260. William de 
Colerne, who has already been mentioned in Chapter I. as 
a great builder of the domestic offices of the abbey, became 
abbot in 1260, and held the post till his death. William de 
Badminton became abbot in 1296. Adam de la Hooke, who 
refused a place of burial within the walls of his church to the 
body of Edward II., succeeded him in 1324. In the records 
of Edward III. there is a grant of a pardon to the Abbot 
of Malmesbury who was charged with giving shelter to one of 
the murderers of Edward II., but whether the shelter was 
given at the time of the murder by Adam or later by his 
successor is not very clear. If Adam were the guilty party, 
it may be that his refusal to grant a grave to Edward II. was 
due to a feeling of hostility towards him. 

Of the remaining abbots a list with the dates of their 
entering on their office will suffice, for we know little of 
them beyond their names: John de Tintern, 1339; Simon 

DU AUMENEY, I348 ; WALTER CaMME.^ I360 ; ThOMAS DE 
' He Was the first mitred abbot. 



THE ABBOTS OF MALMESBURY. loi 

Chelesworth, 1395 ; Robert Pershore, 1424 ; Thomas 
Bristowe, 1434 ; John Andover, 1456 ; John Aylee, 1462 ; 
Thomas Olveston, 1480; Robert Frampton, or Selwyn, 
1533' He was the last abbot, and surrendered the abbey to 
Henry VHI. on December 15, 1539. 

The last abbot received a pension of ;^i33 6s. Sd., the 
other twenty-one pensioners sums varying from ;^i3 i6s. %d. 
to jQ6, In the year 1553 the Pension Rolls mention' only 
seven recipients of the pensions ; the ex-abbot and the others 
were by this time dead. Of those living in 1553, Walter 
Stagey, formerly steward of the abbey lands, Richard 
AsHETON, marked in 1533 as farmer, and two priests, Thomas 
Froster and Thomas Stanley, are marked as married. 
Evidently they had taken advantage of the dissolution of 
their monaftery and the growing Protestantism of the age to 
disregard their former vows. 

Malmesbury Abbey is now a vicarage in the gift of the 
trustees of the late Rev. C. Kemble, and, though in the 
county of WiUs, is in the Diocese of Bristol. The town is 
reached by a branch line of the Great Western Railway run- 
ning from Dauntsey station. Dauntsey is 87^ miles from 
Paddington, and the branch line is 6| miles in length. A 
new loop of the Great Western Railway is now being made 
from Wootton-Basset to the Severn Tunnel to shorten the dis- 
tance from London to South Wales. This will pass not far 
south of Malmesbury, and should a station be made where 
the new Ifne ctosSesthe branch from Dauntsey, it will somewhat 
shorten the distance. 



CHISWICK PRESS : CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO. 
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON. 



THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 
AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 



THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 
AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 



The little Church of St. Laurence, at Bradford-on-Avon, easily 
reached by the Great Western Railway either from Bath or 
Malmesbury, is in its foundation closely connected with the 
abbey at the latter place, and is one of the most interesting 
buildings in the country. We have many fragments of churches 
in various parts of England, some undoubtedly of earlier date 
than this church at the Wiltshire Bradford ; but this is the 
earliest complete church of which we have documentary 
evidence, fixing its date within the limits of a few years. 
Owing to its peculiar history, the building as we see it now 
differs little in form and dimensions from what it was when 
first erected. It must not, however, be supposed that all its 
walls have stood intact from the time of its first erection, about 
the year 700, to the present day. Some of the stones which we 
now see in the walls were at some unknown period displaced, 
converted to other uses, or even buried beneath the soil which 
accumulated round the building ; but they have been discovered 
and put back into their former positions, and some new stones 
have of necessity been added. Unfortunately those responsible 
for the restoration decorated in some places this new stone-work 
with certain ornamental features to make it match the old, 
instead of leaving it perfectly plain, so as to mark the difference 
between the original and the modern work; indeed, to the 
writer it seems as if in such a case as this it would have been 
better to use some different material, such as brick, for the 
repairs, so that no one could, in any future ages, fail to di§- 

105 



io6 THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 

tinguish the work of the nineteenth-century restorer from that 
of the old Wessex builder. 

William of Malmesbury speaks of a church as standing 
at Bradford in his own day, which he says was built by St. 
Ealdhelni, the founder of the abbey at Malmesbury. His words 
are : " Et est ad hunc diem eo loci Ecclesiola quam ad nomen 
beatissimiLaurentiifecissepredicatur Aldhelmus" (" De Gestis 
Pontificum "). From this we leirn that a church existed at 
Bradford in the early part of the twelfth century, which had 
been built by the Abbot of Malmesbury at any rate before 705, 
when he became Bishop of Sherborne, for a deed at the time 
of his consecration mentions the monasteries which he had 
founded at Frome and Bradford. By the word "monastery" 
we must not understand a large- establishment with church, 
cloister, refectory, dormitory,' bakery, brewery, mill, and all the 
other adjuncts to a monastery, whether Benedictine or Cister- 
cian, of the twelfth or thirteenth century, but a kind of mission- 
station where two or three priests resided and ministered to 
the spiritual wants of the district. The only necessary build- 
ings would be a church and a small attached dwelling-house. 
Bradford, as well as Malmesbury, was comprised within the 
limits of the See of Sherborne, and both looked up to their 
founder. Bishop Ealdhelm, as their head. 

No notice of anything connected with this church occurs 
for nearly three hundred years after Ealdhelm's death; but 
in 1 00 1 we find that King .lEthelred II. bestowed the 
monastery (canobiuni) with the adjacent manor {cum undique 
adjacente villa) on the Abbess of Shjaftesbury, in order 
to provide the nuns with a safe retreat (impenetrabil!^. 
confugium), in case they were attacked at Shaftesbury bf 
the Danes, and also in order that they might be able to 
hide there the precious relics of King Edward, murdered, at 
the instigation of his stepmother, as he left the gateway of her 
abode, which once stood somewhere near the site of that 
Corfe Castle whose ruins we see to-day. His body, found 
at a spot near Wareham, to which his horse had dragged it, 
was first buried at Wareham and afterwards carried to Shaftes- 
bury. .iEthelred directed that when peace should be restored 
to his kingdom, the nuns should return to Shaftesbury, though 
some of them might, if they preferred it — but only with full 
consent of the abbess — remain at Bradford. We may perhaps 



AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 107 

wonder why the nuns should be safer at Bradford than at 
Shaftesbury, but the reason is not far to seek : Shaftesbury is 
built upon a lofty hill some 700 ft. above the sea level, and the 
abbey stood on the highest part of the hill, and must have 
been a conspicuous object for many miles round; whereas, 
Bradford lies in a hollow, and was surrounded on all sides by 
woods, which would make it a spot difficult of access for a 
body of troops. Thus from the year looi until the days of 
Henry VIII., when Shaftesbury Abbey, like all the other 
monasteries and nunneries, was dissolved, the church at 
Bradford remained in the hands of the powerful and wealthy 
Abbess of Shaftesbury. 

The Manor of Bradford then passed into lay hands, and 
with it went the little church of St. Ealdhelm's building, 
and its character as a church was soon forgotten. In 
1 715 it was in the hands of one Anthony Methuen, who, as 
lessee, with the consent of the lord of the manor, granted 
part of the building — that is to say, what had been the 
nave and porch — to the Rev. John Roger, Vicar of Bradford, 
for use as a parish school. The chancel did not go with 
the rest. The chancel arch was destroyed and a wall built to 
entirely separate it from the nave ; whether this was done in 
1715 or had been done previously, we do not know. The 
deed of gift speaks of it as a " building adjoining the church- 
yard in Bradford, commonly called or known by the name of 
the Skull house," from which it would appear that it had at 
some time been used as a charnel-house. The chancel was 
used as a cottage. In course of time other buildings rose 
round it, and it was completely forgotten ; no one dreamed of 
its being the Church of St. Laurence. In 1856, however, the 
Rev. W. B. Jones, Vicar of Bradford, was asked to read a paper 
at the meeting of the Wilts Archaeological Society, which had 
been arranged for the following year, on the antiquities of 
Bradford ; and here it may be incidentally mentioned that even 
apart from this little church there is much of antiquarian 
interest in the town, among other things the chapel on the 
bridge over the Avon. Mr. Jones climbed to the top of a 
hill on the north side of the town, on which stood the ruins 
of St. Mary's Chapel, in order to survey the remains at that 
place ; and then, as he looked down on the town which lay 
outspread below him, his eye caught sight of three ridges of 



io8 THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 

roof slightly higher than the surrounding buildings which 
seemed to him to indicate the outline of nave, chancel, and 
porch of some old church. He brought his conjectures to 
the notice of the meeting, but his idea that these buildings 
were the remains of some forgotten church did not meet with 




THE WEST END AND NORTH PORCH. 

much favour from those present. Professor Freeman, Sir 
Gilbert Scott, and Mr. Petit were convinced that the building 
was of great age, but the general opinion was that the masonry 
was far too good for the end of the seventh century. The 
walls are fine jointed ; and as it was then a generally accepted 



AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 



109 



article of belief that no fine-jointed masonry of earlier date 
than the twelfth century was to be found, it was assumed 
that this building could not have an earlier date. This view 




fiM^BfiP 




Fhott.—T.i'. 



THE EAST WALL OF THE NAVE. 



was combated in an article in The Saturday Review for Octo- 
ber 19th, 1872 (probably written by Professor E. A. Freeman). 
In it the writer said that Beda's account of the rough stone-work 



no THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 

of northern churches of early date did not necessarily imply 
that finer work might not be found in the south, especially 
at a spot where the common building-stone was the Bath 
oolite, so easily worked to smooth faces. From this time 
forward the opinion that this building was St. Ealdhelm's 
work gradually gained ground. 

In 1872 the chancel was purchased, and after some difficulty 
with the Charity Commissioners, who insisted on the preserva- 
tion of the interests of the Endowed School, the rest of the 
building was handed over by the trustees of the charity to 
the purchasers of the chancel in exchange for the old Church 
House, built, as Leland informs us, in the fifteenth century. 

The restoration of the building then commenced, and it now 
stands with an open space round it, all the other buildings that 
once blocked it in having been cleared away. In removing 
sundry chimney-stacks and digging up the floors many of the 
original stones were discovered, and these were put back 
into their former places. 

The church, as it now stands, consists of a nave 25 ft. 2 in. 
by 13 ft. 2 in., a north porch 10 ft. 5 in. by 9 ft. 11 in., and a 
chancel 13 ft. 2 in. by 10 ft. Two features are very noticeable : 
first, the great height in proportion to the width and length of 
the building ; and, secondly, the small size and number of the 
windows. The side walls of the nave are 25 ft. 5 in. in height, 
those of the chancel 18 ft. 4 in., and those of the porch 
15 ft. 6 in. There are only three narrow windows in the 
building — one in the nave, another in the chancel (both on 
the south side), and a third on the west side of the porch. 
Great height in proportion to length seems to have been a 
usual feature in so-called Saxon churches. We meet with it at 
Deerhurst, at Wareham, and at Escomb, in the county of 
Durham ^ ; and it is possible that these buildings may have been 
divided into two stories. On the north wall of St. Laurence's 
are some marks of effaced brackets or rafter holes on a level 
with the top of the chancel arch j these, however, may have 
been inserted at the time when the building was arranged for 
domestic purposes. 

' Early drawings of churches often represent these as short and high. It 
was once thought that these were mere conventional representations, but 
in all probability they indicated pretty accurately the proportions that 
formerly prevailed. 



AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 



The walls of the nave and the east wall of the chancel are 
divided on the outside into three stages. The lowest is quite 
plain with the exception of some shallow pilasters, formed by 
cutting away the rest of the wall and leaving them slightly 
projecting. The lower stage is divided from that above it by a 
string course which runs at the same level all round the building. 
The second stage is ornamented with arcading formed of 
semicircular-headed arches, rising from a row of flat pilasters 
with bases and capitals. 
This arcade is simply 
ornamental, the whole 
being formed by cutting 
away the stone and 
leaving the pilasters and 
arches projecting, not 
by constructing arches 
in the usual way. The 
stone is laid in regular 
courses without any re- 
ference to the arches. 
It would seem that this 
stage was originally built 
quite plain, and when 
the walls were finished 
the decoration was added 
by cutting into the sur- 
face. In some cases 
the arches are only cut 
out below, in other 
cases both below and 
above. In the porch 
there are no arches in 
the second stage, simply 

pilasters running up to the table below the eaves. The arcade 
in the chancel wall is more elaborately cut than in the nave. 
In the gable of the eastern wall of the chancel are remains of 
several moulded pilasters, the arches above them being more 
and more stilted towards the centre. 

The church is entered by a Porch on the north side. On 
its front in the gable it had a series of moulded pilasters, most 
of one of which and smaller parts of two others still remain. 




FhalD.—T.P. 
DOORWAY IN NORTH PORCH. 



112 THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 

Beneath these is a string course level with the eaves ; below 
this a stage ornamented with pilasters, and in the lower stage 
the doorway. The head of the doorway is semicircular, but 




THE CHANCEL ARCH. 



Stilted, springing from imposts, and is surrounded by a hood 
moulding also resting on imposts. The north face of the 
porch is not quite parallel to the wall of the church, its eastern 
side being a few inches longer than the western. The door- 



AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 



113 



way is not in the centre of the north wall of the porch, but 
much nearer to the western wall. Like the other openings in 
this church, it is exceedingly narrow. The doorway from the 
porch into the church is placed centrally, and is rather wider — 

2 ft. 10 in.— and is 8 ft. 6 in. high, measuring from the floor to 
the centre of the arch. The side 

walls of the doorway incline so 
that the opening is a little nar- 
rower at the springing of the 
arch than at the floor. On the 
left-hand side is a moulded pil- 
aster of three flattened roundels 
supporting a plain impost and a 
projecting hood moulding. To- 
wards the eastern end of the 
south side of the nave there is 
a window. Only a few fragments 
of the original window remain, 
but these sufficed for a conjectural 
restoration. Windows had been 
inserted in the west wall to give 
light to the building when used 
as a school, interfering with the 
external arcading ; this, however, 
has been restored. 

From the nave we pass into 
the chancel through an ex- 
tremely narrow arch measuring 

3 ft. 5 in. in width, while the 
height is about 10 ft. The sides 
converge towards the top. On 
the west face it has a hood 
moulding of three bands (which 
are tolerably perfect on the south 
side) and imposts extending into 
the walls. There are incisions in the arch just below the 
impost, into which probably were driven wooden blocks ; in 
these the staples were inserted on which the chancel gates 
hung. High above the chancel arch, on the western face,. 
are two carved figures of angels in low relief, their heads 
surrounded by aureoles, their wings extended; and with 




Photo.—T.P. 

v:ew from the chancel. 



114 THE CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE 



maniples hanging over their arms. The stones on which they 
are carved are shaped as if intended to form the angles of a 
classical pediment, and may have been part of a reredos of 
an altar placed in the upper story, if the supposition that the 




CARVED ANGELS ON THE EAST WALL OF THE NAVE. 

church was so divided is correct. The present position of 
these figures is the same as that in which they were discovered 
at the time of the restoration. 

The chancel window, situated a little to the east of the 
middle of the south side, is about 3 ft. 6 in. in height, round- 
headed, and considerably splayed both inside and out. The 

sides converge slightly. 



The floor of the chancel 
is somewhat lower than 
that of the nave. 

On the south side, op- 
posite to the north porch,' 
and giving the building 
a cruciform plan, was a 
building, possibly • the 
residence of the priest 
or priests. At the time 
of the discovery of the 
church a cottage occupiedji 
this site. Part of the 
eastern wall of this was 
the original wall. The 
marks of the gable of 
this building, after the 
removal of plaster, might be seen beneath the roof of the 
cottage on the south wall, and also marks showing where 
the original west wall of this Southward projection abutted 




^ ^ ^^m C ^ ''''^^^^^ 



GROUND PLAN OF THE CHURCH. 



AT BRADFORD-ON-AVON. 



"5 



against the wall of the church. The arcading which surrounds 
the building terminated where the two side walls met the 
south wall of the church. This cottage has been entirely 
cleared away, and two large blittresses have been built with 




THE SOUtH SIDE. 



their bases on the foundations of the east and west walls of 
the original southern projection. A doorway gave entrance 
from this to the nave, but was of a much plainer character 
than the door on the north side. 



DIMENSIONS OF BATH ABBEY. 

Length: Interior, along aisles 

Width of nave and choir 

Length of nave, interior 

,, ,, choir ,, 

,, „ transept „ 

Width of transept 

,, ,-, tower, east to west, exterior ... 

,, „ ,, north to south, exterior... 

Height of vault 

„ tower 



Area 



212 
72 

106 
67 

122 
20 
28 

40 

7S 
162 



16,600 sq. feet. 



DIMENSIONS OF MALMESBURY ABBEY. 

Existing Part. 

Length : Exterior, south aisle, including ruined part 160 

„ Interior, south aisle, as now used 81 

„ ,, of nave of existing church 94 

,, „ ,, north aisle 97 

Width: Exterior of nave and aisles ■•• 84 

„ Interior of nave 33 

„ „ „ aisles 13 

Thickness of aisle walls 8 

Height of nave vault about 65 

Area about 9,500 feet. 

Porch. 

Width, east to west, exterior, exclusive of buttresses ... ... 33 

Length, west to south 24 

Ruinous or Non-Existent. 

Sides of central tower (interior) 30 

Length of transept (exterior) 166 

Totallength of building about 300 

Length of lady-chapel about 60 

Width of lady-chapel 15 



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the place of the out-of-date publications of local booksellers, that we are 
glad to hear that they have been taken in hand by Messrs George Bell 
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" The volumes are handy in size, moderate in price, well illustrated, and 
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the beginning of Bell's 'Cathedral Series.' This set of books is an 
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relates, and an interesting history of the relative diocese. The books are 
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HoQi