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Some Account of the Restoration of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, 

Taunton 1 

Additional Notices connected with St. Mary's Church and the Town or 

Taunton S4 

Archdeacons of Taunton 37 

Vicars of St. Mary Magdalene II 

Monuments in St. Mary's Church 11 

Historical Notices of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene 47 

Remarks on the Gothic Towehs of Somerset "" 

The Ecclesiastical Architecture op England 

Section 1 91 

Section II llW 

Appendix ...... .114 

On the Furniture and Ornaments op Churches 119 




{JTlje ftrotoration of 

i)e Ijtttci) of &t. iHarg iBagfcalene, 

Qtaumon, Somerset. 

Bp tf)e &eb. ^amea (EoMe, <, IHI.D.. 

Cfje trar, 

ant tffiaplam to the fiigbt honourable lotO asbbartsa. 


HE design of the following account of the restoration of the 
Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, is to preserve, for 
the benefit of the present parishioners and after generations, 
a short statement of the proceedings connected with that 
undertaking; and also to encourage others, especially the 
Clergy, to similar attempts for the restoration of the houses 
of God. There is a difficulty in discharging this task, which I feel, liaving 
had the honour of arranging, in a great measure, the machinery by 
which the work has been accomplished, and being obliged therefore to 
introduce my own services more frequently than is agreeable either to 
my feelings or wishes. 

On my appointment to the vicarage, in 1840, the church was found, 
from age and neglect, to be in a most dangerous and dilapidated condition. 
It was quite evident that unless something should be speedily done, divine 
service could not be conducted in it with safety to the congregation. Like 
a ship, (a) to which indeed a church has been likened, she was being borne 

<"' Hence from the Latin Navis, the English Nave. The following passage from the apoatolical 
constitutions will show how far this allusion to a ship was carried: "When thou caJlest an 
assembly of the church, as one that is the commander of a great ship, appoint the assemblies to be 
made with all possible skill ; charging the deacons, as mariners, to prepare places for the brethren, 
as for passengers, with all care and decency. And first, let the church be long, like a ship, looking 
towards the east, with its vestries on either side at the east end. In the centre let the bishop's 
throne be placed, and let the presbyters be seated on both sides of him ; and let the deacons stand 
near at hand, in close, small garments, for they are like the mariners and managers of the ship, 
&c." Book ii., sec. 28. 






THE riirucii or sr m.\i:y magpalene. 

rapidly down the stream of time, where she would soon have either entirely 
disappeared. Of lrt't only the wreek of' her former greatness. "\\" ill no mean- 
he adopted to prevent such a catastrophe? was the Tearful question. It 
might have been supposed that the whole town would have arisen en ma 
and put forth all their energies and resources to preserve so noble a fabric. 
Several partial and ineffectual attempts had indeed been made to repair the 
edifice, or at least to do something by which the service might be performed, 
but these attempts were opposed by members of other communions, or, 
what is much worse, met with apathy and indifference from those of our 
own. May not this censurable conduct on the part of professed churchmen 
be traced up to its source, viz., the low and dead state of religion itself? 
The interest we take in the house of God and the services thereof is 
no fallacious standard of the progress of religion in our own hearts. In 
the painful position in which we were thus placed, what was to be done ? 

It was useless to expect that so large a sum as was necessary for 
its perfect restoration could be obtained by a rate from the parishioners. 
And to close the doors and leave a Large population without the means 
of grace, according to the usages of the Church of England, would be 
productive of evils too fearful to contemplate. The only plan, therefore, 
that seemed to suggest itself was, to endeavour to get the parish to do as 
much as possible, and to undertake the rest on my own responsibility, 
trusting to the Great Plead of the Church for His blessing and assistance to 
enable me to carry out such plans as would best advance the welfare of 
my parishioners, and most redound to His glory. Having, therefore, 
determined to make the attempt, I immediately expressed my views and 
wishes to the parishioners in the following letter, addressed to the church- 
wardens : 

" Gentlemen, 

" I beg very respectfully to call your attention to the dilapidated 
state of St. Mary's Church. We now appear to have arrived at that crisis in 
its history when all feel that something must be done, if we would preserve 
it from utter ruin. The subject has given me much serious and anxious consi- 
deration. I have dreaded, on the one hand, asking the parish for such a heavy sum 
as would be required to repair and restore it ; I have feared, on the other, to engage 
in so vast an undertaking entirely on my own responsibility. In order to steer 
between these difficulties, I venture to state, provided the parish will put the roofs 
and windows in a proper state, and do all other necessary repairs, that I will under- 
take to new seat the church in wainscot, by which nearly 400 additional sittings will 
be obtained ; to put in a rich stained-glass eastern window ; and adopt such other 
improvements and alterations as shall make it one of the most commodious and 
beautiful parish churches in the kingdom. 

*4~*Hfflh*H- <3888D - -t- 


I calculate the expense of the works to be done by me at about 3000 ; the 

whole of which I propose to raise without the assistance of a rate. The plans have 

been examined and approved by the Bishop, who is anxious that this very necessary 

work should forthwith be commenced. I beg further to state that I am prepared ^ 

to begin without delay. It is hoped this proposal will be received by you and the 

parishioners in the spirit in which it is made, and that we shall be found happily 

united in promoting an object which will greatly add to the comfort and happiness 

of my parishioners, increase the efficiency of our church, and advance the glory 

of God. M , .- 

I am, gentlemen, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" James Cottle. 

" To the Churchwardens of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton. 
" March, 1842." 

In reply to this communication, the churchwardens returned the 
following answer: 

" Reverend Sir, 

" We beg, in reply to your letter respecting the present state of St. 
Mary's Church, to state, for your information as well as for that of the parishioners 
in general, that the unsafe and dilapidated state of this venerable fabric has for some 
time past received our most serious attention ; and in order to ascertain more 
correctly the extent of repairs necessary, we have applied to Mr. Carver, who 
has furnished us with an estimate of the probable expense, together with a full 
report thereon. The sum of money actually required, we are of opinion, is more 
than the parishioners would sanction by a rate at once. We therefore beg to 
suggest the propriety of borrowing a portion of the sum stated, under the authority 
of an act of Parliament provided for this purpose. We hope to take an early 
opportunity of laying before the parish, at a Vestry Meeting, full details ; and trust 
that nothing will prevent our uniting with you in endeavouring to repair and 
restore our beautiful parish church. 

" We are, reverend sir, 

" Your obedient servants, 

" W. Court, ^| 
A. C. Cox, f Churchwardens. 

" The Rev. Dr. Cottle, Vicar of St Mary's." J * C> Easton J 

The churchwardens immediately convened a meeting of the parishioners, 
for the purpose of submitting this proposal to them, and, if approved, 
making the necessary rate. The following hand-bill was extensively 
circulated through the parish: 



" We, the Churchwardens of the parish, beg to inform you that our attention was 
some time ago called by the Venerable the Archdeacon of Taunton to the v. 
dilapidated and dangerous state of the parish church ; which subject has since 
engaged our most serious consideration. 


" A communication has lately been addressed to us by the Reverend the Vicar, 
in which he offers to new seat the church throughout with wainscoting, to extend the 
western gallery, to warm the church, to put in a rich stained window at the eastern 
end, and a stone communion screen, and make other improvements, at an expense 
of about 3000, thereby gaining about 450 free seats, and rendering the interior 
of the church one of the most commodious and beautiful in England ; all which the 
Vicar engages to effect without any expense to the parish, provided the parish will 
at the same time perform the immediate necessary repairs to the roof, walls, and 
windows. We therefore intend, at the Vestry Meeting to-morrow, to propose a 
rate of \0d. in the pound, towards the performance of the necessary substantial 
repairs of the church ; no rate having been made for three years past. 

"Dated 16th March, 1842." 

" W. Court, "j 
A. C. Cox, > Churchwardens. 
J. C. Easton, J 



At this meeting the plans submitted to the parish by myself and the 
churchwardens were approved, and a rate of lOd. in the pound granted, to 
assist in carrying out the latter. I here subjoin a report of the meeting, 
as it appeared in the " Somerset County Gazette" of the following week : 


" In pursuance of a notice issued by the churchwardens of Taunton St. Mary 
Magdalene on Thursday morning last, a meeting of the rate-payers of the parish 
was held at eleven o'clock the same day, at the Vestry Room, to take into con- 
sideration a proposition to be made by the churchwardens, for ' a rate of \0d. 
in the pound, towards the performance of the necessary substantial repairs of the 

" A large number of the inhabitants were present, and the Rev. Dr. Cottle, vicar 
of the parish, presided on the occasion ; an adjournment to the Market House was 
agreed to by the meeting, which repaired thither accordingly. The Chairman then 
called attention to an estimate which had been prepare by Mr. Carver, of the pro- 
bable cost of putting the church in a proper state of repair ; the various items 
were as follows: Stone work, windows, &c, 506 7*.; roofing, 725 19*.; 
stone floors, 30; plastering, &c, 51 12s. 6d. ; repairing walls without, 
301 6*. 9rf. ; total, 1615 5*. 3d. In order to suit the convenience of the 
parishioners generally, this sum was proposed to be raised in two instalments, the 
first amounting to 929 18s., and the remainder at a subsequent period. 

" The rate was proposed by Mr. A. C. Cox, and seconded by Mr. H. Badcock, 
who observed that the churchwardens, thinking it would be too much to expect the 
parishioners at once to grant a sum sufficient to cover the whole expense of 
repairing the church, had thought it best to apply for only a little more than 
half that sum, in order that something might immediately be done, with a view 
to remedy evils so much complained of in consequence of the dilapidated state 
of the building. At the same time, they did not desire to withhold the real facts of 

4..^ U 

-j... -- 






the case ; they wished it to be perfectly understood that, although 900 was all 
that was now asked, the total sum required would be, as stated in Mr. Carver's 
letter, 1615. Mr. Badcock then alluded to the alterations and improvements 
intended to be made in the church by the Vicar, which he considered would be 
a great advantage to the parish, and concluded by seconding the motion. 

" Mr. Bunter, who was exceedingly humorous on the occasion, expressed his 
intention to oppose the rate, on the ground that, as a Dissenter, its adoption would 
impose an unjust tax upon him and others who dissented from the Established 
Church. Church rates had been twice condemned by Parliament, and he thought 
they ought to be abolished it was not the proper way to support a religious 
establishment. If the rate was passed, however, he would pay his share of it : he 
did not intend to go to gaol, or render himself a martyr by refusing to make 
payment when called upon. 

" Mr. E. Beadon combated Mr. Bunter's arguments as to the principle of church 
rates, which, in his opinion, were just, because they were the law of the land. In 
answer to Mr. Beadon's observations, Mr. Bunter read a short extract from the 
Times newspaper, which had come into his hands that morning, and in which 
church rates were denounced as an unjust and nefarious impost on the Dissenters, 
for the support of an establishment to which they did not belong. 

" Mr. W. Pinchard also made a few remarks in favour of church rates, and was 
followed by Mr. H. J. Leigh, who spoke on the subject with much ability and 
effect. After alluding to the position in which his firm attachment to the church 
had placed him, and which now induced him, though with great pain, to oppose 
many of those friends with whom on questions of a generally political nature he 
was always proud most cordially to act, he observed that he thought the question of 
church rates was a mistaken one with reference to religious liberty. If a person 
purchased a house, he did so with a knowledge that he would have to pay to 
much for taxes while in possession of that property ; and therefore, while it remained 
the law of the land, he was bound to pay that tax as well as any other. He should 
rejoice, however, to see the law altered ; he had petitioned, and would petition 
again, that the repairs of the church should be defrayed out of the corporate pro- 
perty of the establishment, and he felt assured that the Church of England would 
then be placed in a much safer and stronger position. He would assist with all his 
heart in any endeavour to get the law altered, but he strongly deprecated resistance 
to the payment of church rates whilst they were the law. Mr. Leigh then referred to 
the internal alterations and great improvements which Dr. Cottle proposed to make 
in the church, and which that gentleman had engaged to effect without any expense 
to the parish, if the parish would immediately perform the necessary repairs to the 
roof, walls, and windows, which he considered a noble offer on the part of the \ icar, 
and a strong inducement to every man cheerfully to pay his portion of the rate. 1: 
they asked what security there was for the performance of Dr. Cottle's proposal, he 
replied it was the word of their meritorious and energetic Vicar, whom, Mr. Leigh 
said, he would readily and at all times back for the performance of whatever he 
might engage to do ; at the same time it had nothing to do with the business of the 
day, except as matter of inducement. 

" The Chairman then put the resolution to the meeting, and a show of hands 
having been taken for and against it, the majority were in favour of the rate, which 
was declared to be duly carried. 


M A vote of thanks was then accorded to the Vicar for his impartial conduct in 
the chair, and, in acknowledging the compliment, he addressed the meeting at 
some length. He said that, wishing to act impartially on the occasion, he had 
refrained from making any remark before on the object of their meeting ; he would 
now, however, say a few words. He should be glad to see the law of church rate 
settled. The dilapidated state in which the church of St. Mary Magdalene had for a 
long period been, had been to him a source of much anxiety yet he had dreaded to 
ask the parish for the large sum which would be required to restore it, or to incur the 
heavy responsibility of having it repaired without their co-operation. He trusted 
that, this rate having been carried, they would, by the end of the next twelvemonth, 
see their parish church in a very different state to what it then was. He then 
entered into an explanation of the plans which he had formed for the improvement 
of the interior of the sacred edifice, and observed that he was prepared to com- 
mence the work immediately. 

"The reverend gentleman was most cordially received and supported, and what- 
ever might have been the feelings of those present as to the principle of church 
rates, we feel bound to say, that the manner and spirit in which the proceedings of 
the meeting were conducted orderly, and without the least display of hostility on 
either side reflected the highest credit on all present, and afforded an example 
worthy of imitation throughout the country. Our opinions on the question of 
church rates are well known ; as the source of discontent and strife, we should 
hail their abolition with feelings of much satisfaction, and we feel that, as was 
observed by Mr. H. J. Leigh, the Church would then really be placed in a safer 
and stronger position. As long as they remain the law of the land, however, we feel 
that it is the duty of every man to submit to that law, at the same time that he may 
use his utmost power and influence to effect its obliteration from the statute book. 

u We understand that Dr. Cottle intends to new-pew the church throughout with 
oak wainscoting, to extend the western gallery, to introduce stoves, to put in a rich 
stained window at the eastern end, and a stone Communion screen, and make other 
improvements, at an expense of about 3000, thereby gaining about 450 free seats ; 
and we cannot withhold the expression of our gratification that this sacred edifice, 
which forms so distinguished an ornament of our town and the beautiful vale in 
which it is situated, will, by these alterations and improvements, be again entitled to 
the character which it formerly bore, of being one of the most magnificent and com- 
modious churches in England." 

The rate being granted, the work was immediately commenced. The 
portion of the restoration undertaken by the Vicar was entrusted to 
Mr. 13. Ferrey, diocesan architect The repairs to be performed by the 
parish were placed under the superintendence of Mr. R. Carver, the county 

It was too much to expect that a work of such magnitude, and one 
involving such great changes in the ecclesiastical character of the 
pariah church, would proceed without some difficulties. There were malty 
who would regret the removal of those objects which reminded tlnin of by- 
gone days, and in whose minds a thousand tender associations would spring 






up at the recollection of the past : we know how to honour and respect 
such feelings ; but there were other and greater difficulties. We had to 
break through long-cherished systems, and to overcome deeply-rooted preju- 
dices. All who have had any experience in parochial matters know that 
nothing is more difficult to manage than the arrangement of parish pews. 
There is no subject connected with the church on which persons are 80 
sensitive, and on which they exhibit such unchristian tempers. Ours was 
no common or partial attack on these dearly beloved objects of veneration ; 
the old high pew was to be brought low, the square pen was to be 
removed, and the snug sleeping-boxes were to give place to low, uniform, 
open seats. No marvel, then, that war was directed against the sacrilegious 
hand which should dare to introduce such innovations. No sooner was the 
cry raised, " the pews are in danger," than the Bishop was immediately to 
be applied to ; the faculty should be withheld ; the church was to be for- 
saken; no more Easter offerings for the Vicar. A meeting of the 
parishioners was forthwith to be convened, to restrain him from such inno- 
vations, and to prevent, if possible, such latitudinarian schemes, which, it 
allowed to spread, would be sure to destroy both Church and State. The 
meeting was held, large numbers attended, a formidable attack was to be 
made on the Vicar and his favourite system of low and open seats; but 
as he thought it no part of his duty to attend, and as there was no other 
object of attack, what could be done ? 

After expressing to each other their disappointment in not having him 
present, for the purpose of stating their views and determinations on the 
subject of the dear old pews (and which, perhaps, would not have been 
done in the most kind manner), and their regret at his want of courtesy 
towards the parishioners in absenting himself from the meeting, the fol- 
lowing resolution was adopted : 

" Resolved, that in the opinion of this meeting it is inexpedient to petition the 
Lord Bishop of this diocese to grant a faculty for re-pewing and repairing St Marjr'i 

The business of the day having thus terminated, all retired well pleased 
with this, no doubt, well-meant effort to prevent a supposed infringement 
upon the rights and privileges of the parishioners. It could not be supposed 
that this resolution would interfere with the progress of our works. All 
went on, therefore, precisely as before ; and with this meeting ended all 
public opposition to the introduction of new seats. I have never had any 
cause to regret my absence from this meeting, or my conduct on the 
occasion. I have seen what bad feelings arc sometimes en- I and 



-: +< 


perpetuated l>y these assemblies. I know, too, who had said that "where 
no pood i-. there the fire gocth out;" and that the good cause I hod 
espoused, whatever temporary obstruction it might meet with, must ulti- 
matelv prevail. I hud, also, too great confidence in the good sense of my 
parishioners to suppose that they would continue their opposition to that 
which their better judgment would by-and-by convince them was right. 
In this hoj)e I have not been disappointed; and my object in alluding to 
this meeting is, not to censure or blame those who convened it, but for 
the purpose of introducing the pleasing fact, that so completely have their 
feelings and views changed that there are now but few who do not approve 
of the plan we adopted. 

All proceeded steadily till January 1843, when a new and unexpected 
difficulty arose. It was understood at a former meeting of the rate-payers 
that the Vicar, on his own responsibility, would fit up the interior of the 
church, and make certain improvements, provided the parish would under- 
take the necessary repairs and restoration of the other portions of the 
fabric No promise was or could have been given by the churchwardens 
as to the exact sum required for this purpose. It is true an estimate had 
been made by the surveyor, of the probable amount; but on taking down 
the roof, and examining the building more closely, it was found to be in a 
much worse and more dangerous condition than was at first supposed. 
The estimate of Mr. Carver, to whom these circumstances were unknown, 
was therefore found very inadequate to meet the necessary expenditure. 
Another rate was accordingly applied for by the churchwardens ; and as they 
could not pledge themselves to the exact amount of their future outlay, 
cither from some misunderstanding or mismanagement the motion for the 
rate was negatived. A poll was, however, demanded on the part of the 
churchwardens, and at its close the numbers were found to be as 
follows : 

For the Rate 4C0 

Against it 313 


Majority for the Rate 


The rate, amounting to about 900, having been granted, workmen for 
some months were busily employed; some in pulling down the old pews, 
and restoring and cleaning the pillars, others in excavating the floors and 
repairing the walls, others again in preparing the new roofs and windows ; 
and as these works advanced, an increased interest was also beginning to be 
felt by the parishioners generally. The church began to develope new 



beauties, as the enormities which had hitherto concealed them were removed, 
and it was felt, with very few exceptions, that, after all, the church was 
not only improved in appearance, but really not in danger, by the removal of 
the old pews, and that we had commenced not only a necessary, but a good 

The period again arrived when the exhausted purses of the church- 
wardens reminded them that the further aid of their fellow-parishioners was 
needed. Another meeting was therefore called on the 2nd of May, 1844, 
for the purpose of making a third rate of tenpence in the pound, for the 
repairs and other necessary expenses of the church. Against this proposition 
there were only two or three dissentients, and the rate was consequently 
carried. I refer with much pleasure to this meeting, because it was one so 
unusual in the history of such assemblies. The kind and conciliatory spirit 
manifested on this occasion by all classes and denominations of my 
parishioners was such as not only to entitle them to my warmest gratitude, 
but to perpetuate the event in my recollection. 

The following report of the meeting appeared in the "County Gazette" 
of the following week : 

"A numerous and respectable meeting of the inhabitants of the parish of 
Taunton St. Mary Magdalene was held on the 2nd inst., to take into consideration 
the propriety of making a church-rate of ten-pence in the pound, to meet the 
ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the current year, according to the estimates 
produced. The Rev. Dr. Cottle presided. Henry James Leigh, Esq., said, 
having been requested to move a resolution that such rate be granted, he had much 
pleasure in taking upon himself that duty, especially as, from the appearance of the 
meeting, he did not anticipate any serious objection to the proposed rate ; for the 
meeting would recollect that the rate was required, not for any new scheme, but for 
the purpose of finishing the necessary substantial repairs of the fabric, in the course 
of its restoration, and which could not possibly be left in its present unfinished state. 
The active and intelligent churchwardens had produced an estimate for completing 
such repairs, and for ordinary expenses, such as clerk, sexton, &c, amounting to 
908 18s. The gross amount of one ten-penny rate would be about 1010; it 
might be calculated to realise 920, after deducting void houses and bad debts. 
Mr. Leigh then went into a detail of figures at some length, from the commencement 
of the work, and said that the expenditure by the churchwardens had been so 
careful and judicious that the most critical opponent of church-rates would find 
that their entire outlay had been confined to the most strictly usual and legal 
charges. Mr. Leigh was happy in thinking that the opposition of their fellow- 
townsmen, the dissenters, upon former occasions, had not been factious, but kindly, 
and, however he might differ from them on this point, conscientious, so far as it had 
proceeded (hear, hear). They must, he hoped, well know that he was a friend 
as much to their religious liberty as to his own. Henry Badcock, Esq., seconded 
the resolution. A show of hands being then called for by the chairman, the rate 
was carried almost unanimously, only three or four being held up against it, and the 





illl (11111(11 of ST MAKY MAGDAI I M 

chairman declared the resolution carried. The thanks of the meeting were then 
given to the worthy and reverend chairman." 

Having thus stated the rise ;md progress of this restoration, and some 
of the flflftnnftlM with which we have had to contend, and which have been 
happily surmounted, let us hope that before the close of the present year 
our labours will be brought to a happy termination, and be the means 

" Of hlessing thousands, thousands yet unborn, 
Through late posterity." 

Before a more detailed description of the interior of St. Mary's is given, 
I cannot resist the temptation to introduce Wordsworth's view of the 
interior of a Gothic Church, so descriptive of our own, in the following 
beautiful lines: 

" As chanced, the portals of the sacred pile 
Stood open ; and we entered. On my frame, 
At such transition from the fervid air, 
A grateful coolness fell, that seemed to strike 
The heart, in concert with that temperate awe 
And natural reverence which the place inspired. 
Not raised in nice proportions was the pile, 
But large and massy ; for duration built ; 
With pillars crowded, and the roof upheld 
By naked rafters intricately crossed, 
Like leafless underboughs, 'mid some thick grove, 
All withered by the depth of shade above. 
Admonitory texts inscribed the walls, 
Each in its ornamental scroll enclosed, 
Each also crowned with winged heads a pair 
Of rudely-painted cherubims. The floor 
Of nave and aisle, in unpretending guise, 
Was occupied by oaken benches, ranged 
In seemly rows ; 

And on the floor beneath 
Sepulchral stones appeared, with emblems graven, 
And foot-worn epitaphs, and some with small 
And shining effigies of brass inlaid." 

On entering the church by the western door, the visiter feels, on 
beholding the striking effect produced by the clustered columns, the 
numerous arches, the elaborately-carved roof, the splendid nave and aisles, 
the richly-^nincd windows, and the charm thrown over the whole by its 
OndiH'ss and antiquity, that * the palace Ml not lor man. but for the 


IF ; UUkX X 




Lord God." The church consists of a chancel, nave, four aisles, and two 
small chantries. There are but few other churches in England that have 
four aisles and a nave. The following are their several measurements : 

ft. in 

From the screen to the altar 

. , 



146 7 

Total width from north wall to south 








The nave .... 






1 1 broad. 

The north aisle 






The second north aisle . 





5 H 

The south aisle 





The second south aisle . 





The north chantry 





The south chantry 




2 H 

The chancel 




3 M 

We will now give a brief account of the arrangement and fittings-up of 
the church : and we would first notice the Organ. It is always a difficulty 
with church builders and restorers where to place this instrument. It had 
hitherto occupied an unsightly gallery, projecting considerably into the nave 
of the church, and thus destroying its proportions, blocking up the tower arch, 
and concealing the western window. This gallery having been removed, 
it became evident to all that, to replace it, even by one of a more correct 
style and character, would be to mar the effect of the whole restoration. 
Where to place the organ was a subject that occupied our anxious con- 
sideration. It was at length determined, though the design was novel, and 
its practicabifity doubted by many, that it should be divided into two parts 
and erected within the tower arch, against the north and south side of 
the tower, thus adding twenty feet to the length of the building, which 
would much improve its proportions and preserve undisturbed the wi 
window, the beautiful panelled arch of the tower, and the nave of the 

The old organ was built by public subscription in the year 1709; little 
of it now remains, except the open diapason in the swell of the present 
instrument, which is in excellent preservation, and exceedingly fine, and, 
having never undergone any " improvement," is a good specimen of old 
pipes. The great organ and swell are on the south side of the window, and 
the choir organ, with the pedal pipes, on the north side ; the bellows and 
feeders being inside the window, level with the sill, and extending the 
whole width of the tower. By this arrangement, the effect of the instru- 
ment has been increased; its tones arc powerful and exquisitely ft 


The diapasons are good, ami the clarabella is quite deserving the name, 
contains the following stops : 






Clarion . 

. 1709 

Oboe . 

. 1828 


. 1709 


. 1828 

Stopped diapason 

. 1709 

Open ditto 




. 1844 



Flute . 



. 1828 

Stopped diapason 

. 1709 

Dulciana . 

. 1828 



Mixture, two ranks . 

Cornet, three ditto . 

Sesquialtera, three ditto 





Stopped diapason 

Front open 

Small open . . 

Double diapason to CCC 

Octave copula to Great and 

Copula to Choir and Swell 
Great organ pedals . 
Choir organ ditto . 
Pedal pipes to manuals 

The compass of the great and choir organs is from FFF to F in 
alt, sixty-one notes ; and the swell is to tenor F. Considerable alterations 
have been made in the movements connected with the pedals, by which means 
an extra octave on the great and choir organ is brought into action, as well 
as making a double diapason of the original unison. Some notion of the 
difficulties with which Mr. Ling (a) has had to contend, and which he has 
completely overcome, may be given to those who are acquainted with the 
construction of instruments of this description, when we state that the 
movements from the keys of the choir organ to the pallets extend to a 
distance of twenty-one feet, and if placed end to end would extend over a 
distance of more than 2000 feet. The " trackers " are carried under the 
feet of the organist, and, notwithstanding the apparent complexity of the 
movement, the touch is exceedingly good. Mr. Ling has received the 
highest praise from all parties for this triumph of his skill over the 
numerous and great difficulties by which he was surrounded. 

The Screen at the entrance of the nave, and which also forms the 
front of the organ loft, is considered a very beautiful piece of workmanship. 
It was executed by Messrs. Wood, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, 
London, and having been publicly exhibited at the time of its completion, 
the following notice was taken of it in one of the journals of the day : 

W The whole of the arrangement was designed and effected by Mr. Ling, organ-builder, Taunton. 


" An opportunity was afforded us this week of inspecting a beautiful screen, 
designed for St. Mary's Church, Taunton. It is impossible to give any correct idea 
of its form by the pen alone. Its design is chaste, but bold and striking, and 
its execution, even to the minutest details, positively superb. Every portion 
is carved with the most careful finish, and iu its general effect it carries the 
mind two centuries back, when the art attained its highest perfection." 

The iSabe, &tsUs, and ^Transepts are handsomely fitted up with 
wainscot, having low open seats, with massive stall ends, terminating in 
richly-carved poppy-heads. 

The (Kfjanctl is furnished with stalls, separated from the aisles by 
light and elegant screens. 

The pulpit is hexagonal in form, and is carried upon a stem, having 
small columns attached, from which spring ribs and groining of oak, 
supporting the floor and body of the pulpit; the sides are decorated 
with traceried panels, and each angle is flanked by a light crocketed 
pinnacle, resting upon an angel ; the staircase is of light construction, and 
has richly-carved tracery between each baluster. 

The JpOnt is of Hamdon Hill stone, and is raised upon two steps ; the 
lower one being octangular, and the upper one cruciform. The font itself 
is highly enriched ; the exterior of the basin has, on each face of the octagon, 
elaborate geometrical tracery. 

The glltar sbcretn" is of Hamdon Hill stone, and consists of a series 
of tabernacle work : the upper tier of canopies is richly carved ; every 
alternate niche is of larger size than the intermediate ones, and the latter 
are arranged in two series, occupying together the same height as the 
larger niches ; upon the stringcourse and other portions, are emblazoned 
various texts of Scripture, suitable to the precincts of the Holy Table. The 
late Mrs. Jenkyns, of Wells, left fifty guineas for the " fitting up the altar- 
piece in St. Mary's Church, and furnishing the same with appropriate 
passages from Holy Scripture, calculated to impress the mind with an awful 
sense of our love and duty towards God." 

The (Eastern SSlin&ofo is filled with stained glass, by Mr. Wailes, of 
Newcastle, and may justly be considered one of his best works; the 
compartments between the mullions are filled with niches, containing 
figures of our blessed Lord, the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, tod 
the four Evangelists; under each is a cherub holding a scroll, on which 
appears an appropriate inscription. The tracery of the window is exceed- 
ingly rich and chaste; it is filled with angels and cherubim bearing shu-lds 
or scrolls, on which are placed either texts of Holy ScriptUM or some 
sacred emblem. There is also over the chancel door a small obituary 


window, by Mr. Wailcs, in memory of the infant daughter of the present 
vicar. It is much to he desired that this mode <>f perpetuating the memory' 
of our friends should be more generally adopted. Nothing can he more 
unsightly or unmeaning than the " monumental patchwork" so frequently 
seen on the walls of our churches. We may indulge the hope, from the 
ranting state of ecclesiastical taste and architectural knowledge, that such 
" sepulchral fungi" will henceforth cease to disfigure the fair proportions of 
many of our principal churches. Whether this evil shall be continued, will 
depend much upon the clergy themselves. (a) There is nothing in the rest 
of the windows that requires any particular notice; with the exception 
of the tracery of a few, they are at present filled with common glass. 
It is hoped, however, that at no distant period this will be removed, and 
its place supplied by stained glass of an appropriate description and 
character. A plan is in contemplation for introducing two or three 
windows yearly till the whole are filled. Perhaps there is nothing which 
our new churches rrant so much, and nothing which our old ones have 
lost with so much injury to their general effect, as windows of stained 
glass. In the desecration of our churches during the reign of William 
Dowsing and Company , (b) there were few things by which they so success- 
fully disfigured them as their smashing the beautiful windows. The whole 
of those in St Mary's church were once of stained glass, as seen by 
the fragments recently discovered. By whom they were demolished is 
uncertain; there can, however, be but little doubt that some of the 
members of the above fraternity were either engaged in or sanctioned 
this fanatical and wicked act. It would be most gratifying to see those 

() I beg to recommend the perusal of a very interesting and valuable paper on monuments, by 
the Rev. John Armstrong, B.A., read before the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society. 

All who profess and call themselves churchmen should read Mr. Markland's invaluable 
" Remarks on English Churches, and on the expediency of rendering Sepulchral Memorials subser- 
vient to Pious and Christian Uses." I am indebted to him for several remarks in this chapter. 

< b) The notorious William Dowsing was employed as Parliamentary visiter in demolishing 
church ornaments, &c, in the county of Suffolk, in the years 1643-4. In his Journal he says, 
" At Sudbury we brake down ten mighty great angels in glass ; in all eighty. At Allhallows, 
we brake about twenty superstitious pictures, and took up thirty brazen superstitious inscriptions. 
At Clare, we brake down one thousand pictures superstitions I brake down two hundred; three 
of God the Father, and three of Christ and the Holy Lamb, and three of the Holy Ghost like 
a dove with wings ; and the twelve apostles were carved in wood on the top of the roof, which we 
gave orders to take down ; and twenty cherubims to be taken down ; and the sun and the moon in 
the east window by the King's arms, to be taken down." His savage eagerness for destruction 
unhappily was not confined to Suffolk. In Cambridge he made sad havoc, and would have laid 
his merciless hands on the fine painted windows of King's College Chapel, but in this he was 
fortunately interrupted. 

" It is said of Richard Culmer, that, in defacing the windows of Christ Church, in Canterbury, in 
which among other things was represented the History of our Saviour's Temptation, he brake 
down Christ, and left the Devil standing ; for which he afterwards gave this reason that he had 
an order to take down Christ, but had no order to take down the Devil." Walker, p. 25. 



windows restored, and the thoughts so beautifully expressed by Fabcr 
realised : 

" I saw the sunbeams steal 
Through painted glass at evensong, and weave 
Their three-fold tints upon the marble near 
Faith, prayer, and love." 

Not only were the walls, windows, and roofs of the church in a 
dangerous condition, but the floor was in an insecure and unhealthy state. 
There was no proper drainage. The water from the church and yard, 
instead of being carried off by proper gutters, was allowed to soak into the 
church, thus producing damp and rot. In addition to this, from the im- 
proper practice of burying in the church, the exhalations from the vaults, in 
many cases covered with sleepers only, were sometimes intolerable. Large 
heaps of bones were found uncovered underneath the floor, and, in one 
instance, under a well-lined and cushioned pew, was found a coffin with its 
contents, with no indication of its ever having been interred. These evils 
have now been remedied, a proper drain has been made round the whole 
church, and the vaults properly secured by brick arches. The churchyard 
has also been lowered. This part of our work, while it has added much to 
the preservation of the edifice and the comfort of the congregation, has also 
considerably increased our expenditure. 

The bases of the pillars were also found to be very perilous. One of 
them had sunk several inches during the last year. On examination it was 
found that the ground underneath had been removed for the purpose of 
making a vault. They have now been properly secured. The whole of 
the church has been excavated between two and three feet, for the 
purpose of keeping it dry, and also to introduce Mr. Sylvester's Patent 
Hot- Water Apparatus. I am aware that many do not approve of warming 
churches, but I have never been able to see the force of the arguments 
usually advanced. Our habits and manner of living are so very different 
from those of our forefathers, that it seems now almost necessary in our 
large churches for the preservation of health. I admit that much might 
be done to remedy the evil (if evil it be) by proper ventilation during the 
week; but still, if it enables the aged, the delicate, or the infirm, to 
worship God without distraction, where is the objection? I am not 
advocating the usual methods adopted in warming churches by the general 
hot- water systems, or by unsightly stoves, and still more unsightly flues, 
penetrating through the roof or the tracery of some beautiful window. 
Neither money nor trouble have been spared to discover the best mode, 
and we are at present quite satisfied with the one introduced. The 




apparatus is concealed from view, is simple in construction, and effective 
:m<l inexpensive in operation. 

The fire is placed under the vestry, at the north side of the chancel. 
This room is entirely new, and rendered fire-proof; it is panelled with 
wainscot, and generally admired for its convenience and chasteness of design. 
From the rotten state of the roof of the old vestry the clergyman was 
frequently in danger of a shower bath, nolens volens. 

The numerous visiters who daily frequent St. Mary's church show 
not only that this restoration has attracted considerable attention, but that 
a great interest is felt in the subject of church restoration. Persons have 
travelled one and even two hundred miles to see the character and progress 
of our work. Who would, a few years since, have dreamt of individuals 
taking such a journey for such a purpose ? 

It is gratifying to find that what we have done has met with general 
approbation. We are not so Utopian as to suppose that we have satisfied 
or can satisfy the views and tastes of all. This were a task no mortal ever 

We have had obstacles, arising from limited resources, from parochial 
objectors, and from the building itself, which are known only to ourselves, 
and which we have not been able entirely to surmount. We have, 
nevertheless, done our best under the circumstances, not only to preserve 
it from destruction, but to restore it to its former beauty. We have not 
sought to revive papal superstitions and embellishments, "thus casting 
stumbling-blocks in the path which truly leads to the sanctuary," but to 
maintain its decency and its character as a Protestant place of worship, so 
far as we have been supported and encouraged by the precepts and examples 
of Holy Writ, and the doctrines and usages of our apostolic Church. (a) 

In our zeal for the restoration of our churches, and our love for anti- 
quity, there is a danger of running into extremes, and of introducing orna- 
ments and adopting practices not according to " Protestant use," thus 

U) From the days of the Reformation there have prevailed three schools in regard to rites, 
ceremonies, vestments, and church decorations : the Puritnn, the Laudean (as afterwards named), 
and the Anglican ; of which last Hooker was the most able and judicious exponent I humbly 
profess to be a diseiplc of Hooker. The Laudean school was popishly ceremonial in its notions ; 
and wished to retain, with or without reason, whatever had grown up in the course of the darkest 
ages. The Puritans, on the contrary, would allow nothing for which a text of Scripture could not 
be produced ; but their notions fairly carried out recoiled upon themselves, for if a white surplice 
is not enjoined in the New Testament, neither is a black Geneva gown. Hooker maintained, with 
great sobriety, that the Church might, in matters indifferent, prescribe what is for order and general 
edification ; and that decent rites and ceremonies are not of necessity contrary to the Word of God 
because they are not mentioned in it. The compilers of our Prayer Book ably and judiciously set forth 
this idea in the Preface to the Prayer Book, with the additions on the services of the church anc" on 
ceremonies. These documents should be carefully studied at this eventful period of our history. 





countenancing the abominations of Popery, and maddening the hearts of the 
Lord's people. If men did but remember the maxim, " Medio tutissimus ibis y n 
from how many evils and extravagances would they be preserved ! While I 
have no sympathy with those who would fit up our churches with all the 
gorgeousness and superstition of the Church of Rome, neither have I any 
fellowship (,) with those who censure or condemn every building that is not 
" run up," as the phrase is, in the meeting-house style ; or who, while they 
dwell in their own " ceiled houses," grudge every farthing that is spent in 
beautifying the house of God. I know that the Almighty dwells not 
in temples made with hands, and that it is not the splendour of architecture 
which will attract His presence, or fix His residence. I know that He will 
come down as benignantly, and abide as graciously, when His servants have 
assembled in the rude village church, as when they meet in vaulted aisles 
and under canopied ceilings. This, however, does not meet the question; 
for the mean building may have the Shekinah with it, as well as the 
magnificent: but is this any reason why we should rear only the mean, 
if we have it in our 'power to build the magnificent? The Almighty was 
content to have a tabernacle, destitute of wealth, while his people were 
in the wilderness, and harassed by their enemies; but when He had 
given them abundance and peace, He required a temple, of which it was 
said, " The house that is to be builded to the Lord must be exceedingly 
magnificent." And when that house arose, it was the wonder of the 
earth ; the gold, and the silver, and the precious stones were lavished on 
its walls, and the temple penetrated into the skies, a glorious and effulgent 
mass, as though it had descended from above, or, rather, as if it had been 
reared by immortal hands. We do think that when, with every token 
of approval, Jehovah took possession of a structure on which architecture 
had exhausted all its powers, and wealth had poured all its treasures, He 
gave evidence that churches, inasmuch as they are temples reared to His 
honour, ought to exhibit the opulence of the builders, and to be monuments 
of the readiness of piety to devote to the Lord the riches derived from His 
bounty. It is no token for good in our country, that while other structures 
are advancing in magnificence, churches are built of a less expensive r=tyle 
and character. If we compare ourselves with our ancestors, it may be said 
that we build more costly mansions and luxurious houses. If we want 




() We are told that when the excellent George Herbert undertook the rebuilding of the church 
of Layton, he made it so much 'his whole business that he became restless till he saw it finished, 
and that for decency and beauty it exceeded all others.' It is decency and beauty such as H.-rbert 
would have approved such as our own pure and apostolic church sanctions, and nothing more 
which should be universally adopted in our ecclesiastical building*." Marklaud's Remark* on 
English Churches. 


Till nu'itru op st. M.\m fttAODAl 

a new MxcIimiiltc. it -hall throw the old into the shade ; if \vc build new 
hoOMI <>t" Parliament, tin v >h:ill fin eclipse in grandeur Hid magnif'h-cn.v 
the former: if Hospitals arc to he erected, they shall he palace-, < .iti]:n<l 
with those of former times : hut if we want to build a Chureh, it must be M 
inexpensive, plain, and unadorned as possible, contrasting strangely with 
the magnificent buildings which former ages delighted to consecrate to 
the glory of God. There is wealth enough in the land; would that then 
the disposition to use it not only to multiply the number of our 
churches, but to increase their magnificence! Is it not a reflection upon the 
age and upon the country that, while we go far beyond our forefathers in 
the splendour of all other buildings, we have adopted a niggardly style in 
r. -gard to our churches, as though it were unimportant, either to God or 
ourselves, what kind of structure is set apart for the offices of religion? 

It is not, however, unimportant, either as it respects God or ourselves. 
If the church be God's house, it ought, like the palace of a king, to bear 
as great proportion as we have power to effect to the majesty of the 
occupant. "With regard to ourselves, who has not been conscious of the 
power of a cathedral to excite lofty emotions and heavenly thoughts? (a) 
It is vain to endeavour to make ourselves independent of association. We 
must be content to be material as well as spiritual, and not disdain the aids 
which a place of worship may give to the piety of the worshippers. It 
cannot tell well for the religious feeling of a country if there be parsi- 
mony in the churches, while there is profusion everywhere else. The 
churches not the exchanges, or hospitals, or docks, or palaces the 
churches, we repeat, ought to be the chief evidences, as well by their 
splendour as their number, of the piety, power, and wealth of a kingdom." 

<*) "On entering a cathedral I am filled with devotion and with awe; I am lost to the actualities 
that surround me, and my whole being expands into the Infinite ; and the only sensible impression 
left is, that J am nothing." Literary Remains of S. T. Coleridge. 

J b ' # " I cannot concur with those who, professing what they consider to be a scriptural jealousy 
for the simplicity of Christian worship, speak of the beauty, grandeur, and costly magnificence of a 
sacred edifice as inconsistent with that simplicity. I admit, indeed, that simplicity should ever be 
a governing principle pervading all our sacred buildings ; but the objector may be reminded that 
there is a sublime and elevated, as well as a plain and unadorned, simplicity: the latter may befit 
our own habitations, but surely falls below what is due to the house of God, when we have the 
means of arraying it with something more dignified and costly. On the important principle of 
simplicity, I would remark, that while it necessarily rejects that which is showy, gaudy, crowded, 
and distracted, it fully recognises all that is graceful, beautiful, magnificent, and even, where 
practicable, highly enriched; the principle of simplicity being still preserved when those enrich- 
ments are subordinate to, and in no respect interrupt, the leading characteristic beauties of the 
edifice; and which will always be the case when designed by superior taste and discriminating 
judgment in the architect. Let us bear in mind that when the same God and Saviour for whoRe 
worship all our churches are erected Himself entered the Temple of old, and looked round about 
upon all thirds including, of course, the 'goodly stones and gifts" witli which it was adorned, lie 
took no exception to any of its splendid cml.tllUliuienU ; His displeasure was exclusively manifested 



Who does not feel the strength and eloquence of the following remarks 
from one of our Homilies ? 

" If a man's private house, wherein he dwelleth be decayed, he will never cease 
till it be restored up again. Yea, if his barn wherein he keepeth his corn, be out of 
reparations, what diligence useth be to make it in a perfect state again! If the 
stable of his horse, yea, the stye for bis swine, be not able to bold out water and 
wind, how careful is he to do cost thereon ! And shall we be so mindful of our 
common base houses, deputed to so vile employment, and be forgetful of the house 
of God, wherein be entreated the words of our eternal salvation, wherein be 
administered the sacraments and mysteries of our redemption?'' 

At the Reformation, the churches were probably in a good state of 
preservation; no country could vie with our own in the number and 
magnificence of its sacred edifices. The suppression of the monasteries, 
however, tended in no small degree to hasten the destruction of our 
churches. The monasteries having been seized by the Crown, some of 
them were reduced to a state of ruin others entirely demolished. And if 
a few of the conventual churches were allowed for parochial uses, who was 
to repair them when in a state of decay? A secular spirit prevailed, 
and the idolatry of superstition was superseded by the idolatry of covetous- 
ness, through which many churches were despoiled, even of the plate 
barely necessary for the decent administration of the Holy Eucharist. 
And if we pass on to the reign of Elizabeth, the opposition of those divines 
and their followers who had imbibed the doctrines and discipline of the 
school of Geneva rendered any attempt towards beautifying and adorning 
churches useless. It was regarded and declaimed against as popish and 
superstitious ; parochial churches were, therefore, allowed to fall into decay, 
or, if repaired, it was done in a plain and inelegant manner, completely 
at variance with the richness and style of the preceding age. It was, 
however, in the subsequent century that they were laid waste by 
the ruthless hand of violence.'* " The mutilations to which they have 
been visibly subjected were not the work of the Reformers, but are to l>c 
referred to the Rebellion in the next century, a political and ecclesiastical 




against the disorder which prevailed, the traffic which was carried on, and the spiiit of the world 
which reigned throughout the assembly. All that was accessory to this, and this only, he expelled 
from the hallowed place ; the costly splendour of the building He left unmolested and unreproved." 
" Remarks on Monumental Architecture, by John Bacon, Esq., F.S.A. ;" read at the Quarterly 
Meeting of the Exeter Architectural Society. 

(> * The object of our Reformers was not to banish indiscriminately everything which had 
belonged to the Church while under the power of Home in this country. They would not cut away 
that which might be preserved and healed ; they removed only those errors which had arisen from 
neglect of Scripture and disregard to the traditioual interpretation of the primitive Church." 
Rev. J. H. Pindar's Sermons on the Common Prayer. 


-.* H-# -H :-<3888S> + 






OatMiroplM which went far indeed beyond the wi-hes and intentions of the 
rmen." It WM daring the ureat Kcbellion, " when men," says South. 
1 U) BXpreM their honour to God and their allegiance to their Prince 
in the same way, demolishing the palaces of the one and the temples of the 
other." It was when fanaticism lent its fierce and pitiless spirit to the work 
of spoliation that its triumph was complete. 

" Wliate'er the popish hands have built, 

Our hammers shall undoe ; 
We '11 break their pipes and burn their copes, 

And pull down churches too. 
We '11 exercise within the groves, 

And teach beneath a tree ; 
We '11 make a pulpit of a cask, 

And, hey then, up go wee ! " (a) 

The orders which the House of Commons issued in 1643-44, for the 
abolition of all Church ceremonies and appendages, led to consequences, 
which are mentioned by Dr. Heylin in these words : " Hereupon," 
he says, "followed such an alteration in all churches and chapels, that the 
churchwardens pulled down more in a week than all the bishops and clergy 
had been able to raise in two weeks of years; such irreverences, too, in 
God's public service, and discontinuance of it in many places, that his 
Majesty was compelled to give new life to it by proclamation an event 
which only showed the king's good meaning, with his want of power." 
Melancholy trophies, indeed, did these sacred fabrics now present to the 
eye of the nation ! trophies, alas ! of the victory of sacrilege and church 
hatred, over apostolic piety, order, and affection. w To this period may be 
traced the spoliation of our churches, and the commencement of pews 
and whitewash. 

') Chappell's '* Collection of English Airs," quoted by Mr. Markland. 

,k J It is no other than tragical to relate the carriage of that furious sacrilege, whereof our eyes 
and ears were the sad witnesses, under the authority and presence of Linsey, Toftes, the sheriff, and 
Greenwood. Lord, what work was here ! What clattering of glasses ! what beating down of 
walls! what tearing up of monuments ! what pulling down of seats! what wresting out of irons and 
brass from the windows and graves! what defacing of arms ! what demolishing of curious stone- 
work, that had not any representation in the world, but only of the cost of the founder and skill 
of the mason ! what tooting and piping on the destroyed organ pipes ! and what a hideous triumph 
on the market-day, before all the country, when, in a kind of sacrilegious and profane procession, all 
the organ pipes, vestmenU (both copes and surplices,) together with the leaden cross, which had 
been newly sawn down from over the green yard pulpit, and the service books and singing books 
that could be had, were carried to the fire in the public market-place ; a lewd wretch walking before 
the train, his cope trailing in the dirt, with a service book in his hand, imitating, in an impious 
scorn, the tune, and usurping the words, of the litany used formerly in the church. Near the 
public cross all these monuments of idolatry must be sacrificed to the fire, not without much osten- 
tation of a zealous joy, in discharging ordinances, to the cost of some, who professed how much they 
had longed to see that day. Neither was it any news, on this guild-day, to have the cathedral now 




--s^fcHwM'-r-^sssc + 


c< fsM* > H- 







If we pass on to the Restoration, when the deprived clergy returned to 
their forlorn and desolate churches, we shall find them not only borne 
down by age and infirmity, but so impoverished and straitened in their 
circumstances by successive trials and afflictions, that they were destitute 
both of the means and the power of restoring the breach which had been so 
recently and wantonly made. All they were able to do to their churches 
was, to " strengthen and secure such parts as seem decayed and dangerous.*** 1 
What was in their case inability, in the succeeding generations grew into 
indifference and neglect. Men were satisfied with keeping our churches 
in tenantable repair, and the cheapest mode by which this could be accom- 
plished was sure to meet their approbation. Hence the introduction of 
the lath-and-plaster system, by which so many of our churches have been 
disfigured; and from that period, to the beginning of the present 
century, what indifference has been shown by churchmen to the pre- 
servation of our churches ! How few new ones have been built ; how 
many old ones have been allowed to fall into decay, or deprived of their 
ecclesiastical character ! 

To what shall we impute this change in the views and conduct of the 
people ? May we not attribute it to our departure from Catholic princi- 
ples ; (b) to the slumber which seems to have overspread the minds both of 
clergy and laity; to the low standard of religious doctrine and practice, 
especially during the last century ; to the abuse of power in the office- 
bearers of our church, and to the ignorance and want of architectural 
knowledge in those who have professed to restore or build them ? What, 
for instance, has been done for the restoration or preservation of the church 
of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, during the last two centuries ? Judging 
from the parish accounts, large sums of money have been expended ; and 
if they had been properly applied, instead of presenting, as it recently 
did, something between a " cathedral and a ruin," it would have been in a 
state of perfect repair, a great blessing to the parish, and the glory of the 

open on all sides, to be filled with musketeers, waiting for the major's return, drinking and 
tobaccoing as freely as if it were turned into an alehouse." Bishop Hall's " Hard Measure." 

* From the first opposition to the decorous ceremonies of the national church, by the simple 
Puritans, the next stage was that of ridicule and obloquy. They actually baptized horses in the 
churches, at the fonts ;" and the jest of that day was, that the Reformation was now a thorough one 
iu England, since our horses went to church." D'Israeli'a " Curiosities of Literature." 

W White's Selborne. 

(W No one, I hope, can be so ignorant 'as to suppose I intend Roman Catholic. I mean the 
" one Catholic and Apostolic Church" of the Nicene Creed. " The whole body of men throughout 
the world professing the faith of the Gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, 
not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholincss of conver- 
sation, are and may be called the visible Catholique Church of Christ." Declaration of Facts and 
Order owned and practised in the Congregational Churches, Loudon, 1659, 4to., p. 18. 





neighbourhood. But how haw our pan cliial funds l>ccn spent? Not in 
preserving the fair proportions of the cdifiee, not in preventing its decay, 
not in providing for the increased population of the parish; but in rivet- 
ing galleries, pulling down chancel screen8, (a) bloeking-up windows, white- 
washing, colouring, and plastering pillars and walls; building high square 
pews, and a hundred other unwarrantable disfigurements. May we not also 
ascribe many of the evils we are now suffering to the system of jobbing 
not unusually practised in former days? May we not also trace to the 
same source the opposition to church rates? The old practices of "church 
work and parish pay " have not only ruined many of our i>arish ehurehes, 
but alienated the affections of many from our communion. 

It is not intended by these remarks to cast any reflection upon indi- 
viduals, but to expose a system which, it is feared, is practised in some 
parishes in the present day, of appropriating money raised by a church- 
rate to any but church purposes. 

I have taken the following items, verbatim et literatim, from two or three 
pages of a rate-book made about fifty years since: I need scarcely say 
that such are not found here now : 

My own Bill .... 

Paid Dame Stibbs for turning on 
the Water .... 
Paid the men for forcing the Engine 
3 Dinners and Beer at the Sessions 
The Processioning Dinner . 
To Punch, Wine, Brandy, Beer, &c. 
Paid for Ringing for good news . 
Paid 12 men for being in Church 

all night 

Expenses at the same time for Eat 

ing, Drinking, &c. . 
Paid one year's run of the water 

























Paid for Drink at Shoreditch, on 

the Perambulation 
Gave 3 men for carrying the Pillory 

from the Castle door to the Church 

after the Man was Pillored 
Paid Visitation Dinner 
North Street Pump repaired 
Trying the Engine 
Beer for Keeby at the Bells 
Gave a Woman to go out of Town 
Paid for 2 Hedgehogs . 
Paid Mr. Hooper the Visitation 

Supper 19 10 



















The Church has suffered much in consequence of the miserable stipends 
paid to the clergy, especially in our large towns and cities. They have a 
larger amount of labour, and more claims on their resources, than in 
rural districts, and their incomes are usually much less. The tithes of 
town parishes are generally in the hands of deans and chapters, or of lay 
impropriators, and the amount paid in lieu of tithes to the incumbent is 
of a very trifling amount ; the rest of his stipend is supplied by fees and 
Easter offerings. w This is an evil that cries aloud for a remedy : it ought 

N The gallery across the chancel and south transept was taken down in 1824 ; the gallery in 
the small north aisle was erected in 1708, and removed in 1826. 

(b > This is a very objectionable mode of collecting a clergyman's stipend. It is no uncommon 
thing to hear persons say, if a clergyman does not preach or act according to their notions of 

^0^-^-<5$$8^-H^oA^^-^888$>^- ^HM4 



not so to be. The rule of the Gospel is, " that those who preach the Gospel 
should live of the Gospel." The incumbent, in too many cases, unable 
to meet the numerous demands on his limited means, has been driven to 
hold other cures, or engage in tuition to eke out his existence; perhaps 
non-resident, and only able to perform Divine Service in his own {tfirish 
once on a Sunday. This painful state of things has shown itself not only 
in the increase of irreligion, and the decrease of Church feeling and 
affection, but in the ruinous state of many of our once beautiful paritli 
churches, for where there is no love to God, there will be none to His 
house. a) Can we wonder at the spread of dissent during the last century ? 
May it not be laid down as an axiom, that it will make its way in exact 
proportion to the neglect of the people by the ministry of the Church ? 
When we consider that a few years since there was only one resident 
parochial clergyman in the whole town of Taunton, is it a matter of 
surprise that there should be now ten dissenting meeting-houses, all within 
a very few hundred yards of the parish church ? (b) I do not find fault with 
this; those who have dissented from the church have done no more than 
their duty ; the church, alas, has neglected hers ! Though no one can 
be more sensible 'than I am of the evils of division, or more desirous of 
unity in the church, I have never considered it any part of my duty to 
inveigh against those who dissent from us, in a parish where the church 
was inadequate to supply the spiritual food which the population needed. 
It has been my desire to remove the evil, instead of complaining of the 
consequences ; to increase the powers of the church ; to enlarge its tents 

right or wrong, that they will, in order to show their ill-will and their consequence, withhold their 
Easter offerings, by way of punishment. Clergymen ought not to be exposed to the ill-nature and 
unchristian I ike conduct of such individuals ; it is true, these offerings are especially exempted from the 
operation of the Tithe Commutation Act, and may be recovered before the justices of the peace, under 
the Small Tithes Act, by 4 & 5 Vict , c. 36 (See Burn's Ecclesiastical Law, ninth edition, by 
Dr. Phillimore). But who would like to engage in the disagreeable duty of enforcing these "dues f" 
Some further legislative enactment on this subject would be of service to the Church, and a great 
benefit to "poor vicars." 

<> " Wherefore all they that have little mind or devotion to repair and build God's temple, are to 
be counted people of much ungodliness, spurning against good order in Christ's Church, despising 
the true honour of God, with evil example, offending and hindering their neighbours, otherwise well 
and godly disposed. The world thinketh it but a trifle to see their churches in ruin and decay. 
But whoso doth not lay to their helping hands, they sin against God and his holy congregation. 
For if it had not been sin to neglect and slightly regard the re-edifying and building up again of his 
temple, God would not have been so much grieved, and so soon have plagued his people, because 
they builded and decked their own houses so gorgeously, and despised the house of God their Lord- 
It is a sin and shame to see so many churches so ruinous, and so foully decayed, almost in every 
corner!" Homily for Repairing and keeping Clean and Comely Adorning of Churches. 

< b > Not many years since there was only one duty at St. James's in this town. The clergyman 
held two other cures in addition ; and for the three services, after riding about twelve miles on a 
Sunday, received for his services about 60. I am glad to say there are now eight clergymen in 
the town. 


-H*Hlto*- -r^S88^MK+^j 

mi rumen of st. maiiv macdai 

and strengthen its stakes, that it might l>c indeed the people's church, 
and thus to take away all reasonable pretence tor separation. Restore to 

the clergy what they ought to enjoy, and they will then be able, without 
u pastoral aid," or " curates' fund" societies, to provide for the spiritual 
wants of their now, in many eases, destitute parishes. This is, lmv 
I tear, a eonsunuuation devoutly to be Avished, rather than seriously to be 
led; but are there no means by which the evil may be lessened, il" 
not entirely removed? I ventured not long since to introduce to the 
notice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a plan of which his grace WSJ 
pleased to express his approval. It was to give a power to the Ecclesiastical 
Commissioners to advance money to the patrons of livings, at a certain rate 
of interest, a portion of the principal to be paid off every year, and the 
whole in thirty years, for the purchase of the great tithes of the parishes 
of which they are the patrons, for the purpose of again annexiny them to the 
lirinij. The plan is precisely the same as that which enables incumbents 
to obtain aid for the erection of parsonage houses, under Avhat is called the 
" Gilbert Act." I have reason to believe that if a plan something like 
the one I have suggested were adopted, the tithes of many of our large and 
populous parishes Avould again gradually revert to their rightful owners. (a) 

" If lay-impropriators would but consider by what fraudulent means these 
tithes were originally taken from the church ; if they would but remember 
for how many centuries this property has been devoted to sacred purposes ; if 
they would but allow their minds to dwell upon the repulsive and startling 
effect which is produced by the fact, that Avhere God once had all, He has 
now so little and they so much ; I cannot but think that what may not be 
required by justice Avould be supplied by piety, and that the offerings of a 
free-will devotion would, in a far more noble and effectual manner, do that 
which legislative enactments might perhaps do, but perhaps could not do 
without committing injustice. "^ When Robert Boyle " understood what a 


W Burnet states, in his memorial to the Princess Sophia, in 1703, as one consequence of the 
great tithes being diverted, " the poor curate, who says the prayers, hath scarcely bread to eat a 
miserable case !" He further adds, that Queen Mary and Archbishop Tillotson were upon councils 
to have raised a fund to buy in the advowsons and impropriations so diverted, and to have "endowed 
the parochial churches with them again God send it one day in your highness's power (p. 79.). 
In 1663, the excellent mother of the heavenly-minded Nicholas Ferrar " came to a resolution to 
restore the glebe lands and tithes to the church of Little Gidding, which some fourscon 
before had been taken away. The following is an extract of the prayer wbifill accompanied the 
gift: " Be graciously pleased, Lord, to receive to the use of Thy church this small portion of that 
large estate which thou hast bestowed upon her, the uuworthicst of Thy servants. Lord redeem 
Thy right, whereof Thou hast been too long disseised by the world, both in the possessions, and in 
the person of Thy hand-maid."" Wordsworth's Eccles. Biog.," vol. v., p. 159. 

' b > Speech of James R. Hope, B.C.L., in the House of Lords, on behalf of the Deans and 
Chapters against the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues Bill. 












share he had in impropriations, he ordered very large gifts to be made to 
the incumbents in those parishes, and to the widows of such as died before 
he had resolved on this charity." (n) How many widows' hearts would 
" dance for joy," and how many over-worked and ill-paid incumbents and 
poor vicars would gratefully acknowledge the justice and bless the memory 
of all who would " go and do likewise !" 

The Church has likewise suffered grievously from the abominable pew 
system I mean not the building only, but the Church itself. Most 
cordially do I rejoice at the war commenced against pews, and trust it will 
cease only with their entire extermination. " Perverted taste, perverted 
feeling, perverted principles have reared them, and we have borne with 
them so long only because habit has accustomed us to this abomination." 
Among the many reasons that may be advanced for their abolition, I would 
introduce the following : 

1. Because the pew system tends to keep the poor from our Church. It is 
painful to find how the affections of many of our poor are alienated from 
the Church of England, and, in many cases, this may be traced to the 
exclusive system unhappily introduced amongst us. The poor are almost 
literally shut out of our Church. One great box after another has been 
erected till there is no longer room for them ; or if " accommodation," as it 
is called, be found, it is usually the furthest from the clergyman, or under 
a gallery, or in the darkest and coldest place in the church: sometimes 
stoves and tables are introduced into the rich man's pew, which, in addition 
to his crimson curtains, brass rods, and soft cushions, make a small sitting- 
room for his family. It is in vain to call the Church of England the poor 
man's Church whilst, upon her present system, she is emphatically the 
Church of the rich ! I believe it may be said that there is no other Church 
in existence which thus favours the rich at the expense of inconveniencing 
the poor ! (b) This practice is severely censured by the "Word of God. W 

2. Because pexos occasion a loss of room in our churches. It is gratifying to 
see how many new churches are springing up in every part of our country. 
May this glorious work continue, till there shall be " a fold for every 6heep 
and a shepherd for every fold!" We must not, however, in our zeal for 
the erection of new churches, forget the old ones. Ought we not to make 
the most of the accommodation which they afford ? In most old churches, 
by a different arrangement of pews, or, what would be much better, by 
their entire destruction, a large increase of sittings might be obtained for 

<*> See " Burnet's Lives." 

< b > There were no free sittings for the poor in St Mary's church previous to the present arrange- 
ment ; there are now between 800 and 400. The population of the pariah is 8019. 
< c > See James ii., 1 6. 




the benefit of the parishioners. The fact has beta eharlv proved, that :it 
least one^/ifth of the available space on the floor of a church is lost by the 
erection of pews. (a) 

3. Because jutes excite quarrels, and perpetuate angry feelings. Any 
interference with parish pew has been looked upon as a trespass and an 
invasion of rights, and been the fruitful source of most distressing scenes 
and excited feelings. A whole pariah has sometimes been kept in a state 
of ferment for months, and even years, on account of some real or 
imaginary injury connected either with the erection or appropriation of a 
pew. "Where is the clergyman who has not been called upon to endeavour 
to allay the bad feelings between his parishioners on this vexata quastio ? 
How often has he been told by some unkind and unfeeling member of his 
flock, that he does not choose to come to church till the churchwardens 
have provided him a pew ! Oh, when will men learn wisdom, and cease 
to hazard their souls' eternal welfare by these unchristian and petty 

4. Because pews afford every facility for irreverent behaviour. What 
talking, sleeping, carving names, and all kinds of improprieties b) are some- 
times carried on by thoughtless individuals behind the curtain of a high 
pew ! The clergyman ought to be able to observe every person in the 
church, which it is often impossible he can do, on account of the obscure 
corners in which persons seclude themselves. The occupants frequently 
sit and stand opposite to each other, and have the best opportunities 
they can desire for distracting each other's attention, and interrupting the 
course of their devotions; it is impossible that they can kneel; and even 
in long pews most persons find that their height renders kneeling so painful 
that it is impossible to continue it ; and in the new churches, where the 
pews are lower and more uniform, they are generally so narrow, that one 
can only just sit in them ; kneeling is out of the question ; so that, generally 
speaking, more than two-thirds of every congregation sit down during (lie whole 
time of prayer. This fact alone is enough to make every sincere worshipper 
wish to get rid of pews. 

5. Because pews enable ill-disposed and selfish persons, who neither occupy 
them themselves nor allow others to do so, greatly to lessen the efficiency of the 
church and to deprive the parishioners of tlieir just rights. Large pews are 
sometimes claimed by single individuals, or by persons having very small 

<' *' The fact is sufficient, that where 800 sit in large square pews, 400 can be accommodated 
in open benches, which are both cooler and really more comfortable." " The Advantage of Open 
Seats," a paper read before the Exeter Architectural Society, by the Reverend J. Medley, A.M. 

We have gained nearly 400 additional sittings by the present arrangement 

( b> I have known of cases in which cards have been introduced. 







families, ami are to be seen either quite empty or not nearly full; and it is 
a rare event to find the individual who habitually absents himself from 
church, or has more room than he wants, offering to give up his unoccupied 
sittings so long as he can possibly retain them. (,) " It is a notorious fact, 
that the great sticklers for their vested rights as pew-owners are the most 
irregular attendants at church, and that mang of them seldom enter it, mightg 
supporters of the outer frame-work, but caring nothing for that which is * all 
glorious icithin;'' ready to spend their last shilling in defence of an illegal 
purchase, but indifferent to the welfare of hundreds of the poor, who have 
none to speak for them or appeal in behalf of their invaded rights /" (b) This 
" dog and manger" system, as it has been called, has brought with it 
an innumerable train of evils. The rudeness sometimes shown to an 
individual, if he have unfortunately strayed into the wrong pew, is dis- 
tressing in the extreme. I have myself heard such unkind and ill-natured 
remarks, and witnessed such unbecoming scenes in churches which I have 
served, that the recollection at this moment fills me with pain and sorrow. (c) 
I will only add, 

6. Because wherever open seats have been introduced, a large increase in the 
congregation, especially of the poor, has invariably followed What is the 
great object of the Christian ministry ? The glory of God in the salvation 
of souls ! Everything, therefore, that is conducive to this great end must 
be a blessing. The most pleasing results have followed in all churches 
where pews have been abolished. (d) There has always been a large 
augmentation of regular attendants upon the preaching of that Word 
"which is able to make men wise unto salvation, through faith which is 
in Christ Jesus." 

It may be asked, do we really propose that the congregation should seat 
themselves where and how they can, as places may happen to be vacant? 
By no means. All that we insist on is, the necessity of getting rid of 

<*> I have been informed of a parish in this diocese, the churcli of which is seldom little more 
than half full, yet the proprietor of a boarding-school is obliged to tike his pupils to church by 
turns, i. e., half in the morning and half in the evening, because the accommodating pew-holder* will 
not allow them to occupy the empty seats! Would that this were a solitary case ! Does it not call 
for episcopal interference? Who, that has any love to God or man, would wish to tee such an 
abominable system continued ? 

< b) See Reverend J. Medley, on the subject of Open Seats. 

< c > I have on several occasions been obliged to stop the service, in consequence of some dispute 
between the rival occupants of a pew. 

< d > The Rev. J. Medley has most satisfactorily shown, in the paper already referred to, and which 
I should like to see circulated in the shape of a tract, " That the |>ew system is not only contrary 
to all sound principles of architecture, and fatal to all excellence in the interior arrangement of a 
church, but that it is alike inconvenient, illegal, and unchristian, and that the arguments in its 
favour, and the objections raised against the system of open seats, properly understood, are fallan u^ 
and untenable." 


*HiHm> i ' * fe* . < 388%>-*HtH* 


di.-tinction~ between rich and |M)<n- iii the lmuse of God, of affording accom- 
nio lotion to all, :ttnl of dettioyng the pert unsightly packing-boxes which 
at present deform our churches. Every householder in the parish should 
have a definite place allotted to him for himself :nnl family. Let our scats 
l>e appropriated, hut let them he unenclosed; of one uniform pattern, and 
so arranged that high and low, rich and poor, "shall worship one with 
another." Courtesy and regularity would assign seats which Avould not 
be disturbed. There must, however, be no exclusion. 

YfiA regard to the distribution of seats at St. Mary's, the Bishop 
proposes, when our repairs and restorations are completed, to issue a 
commission for the purpose of appropriating them to the parishioners. The 
commissioners will therefore relieve the churchwardens from a very onerous 
duty : they will, it is supposed, allot to those who are regular attendants at 
church a sufficient number of sittings for their accommodation. Those who 
do not attend the church cannot, of course, need them; nor will any have 
more sittings than they actually require for their own use. 

The system of monopolising and trafficking (a) in seats will, it is hoped, 
be for ever aholished, and that, in accordance with the principles of our holy 
faith, the injunctions of the Church, and the law of the land, (b) " we shall 
not overlook the claims of all the parishioners to be seated, if sittings can 
be afforded them." I here give several extracts from the judgment of 
Sir John Nicholl, in the Arches Court, in the case of Fuller v. Lane, 
u., 419, as to the law of parish pews : 

" By the general law, and of common right, all the pews in a parish 
church are the common property of the parish: they are for the use, in 

<> I am acquainted with a church, not many miles from Taunton, in which the pews, a few years 
since, were claimed by six or eight individuals. In the same parish an individual who purchased a 
seat of the churchwardens for a few shillings, immediately went and sold it to a gentleman for fm 
ftound*, of course pocketing the difference. 

While I am writing these pages, a spinster has applied to the churchwardens to have certain 
sittings hitherto standing in her name transferred to some other party, she being about to leave the 
town. This has usually lern done on payment of half-a-cruwn. The churchwardens very properly 
/old her that they could now do no tuch thing. She said she thought it was a very hard case, for she 
hud lost Jive sittings already, and hud only eleven left! 

There is another practice connected with pews, very injurious to the interests of the Church 
of England, and which, by throwing the seats open, would in some measure be prevented. In 
large towns where there are several churches, it is not an unusual practice for persons to hold pews 
at each church ; so that on one Sunday they are at one church, and the next at another, here in the 
morning, there in the evening, just as they may be attracted by their favourite preacher, or, as a 
person told me the other day, he came to St Mary's once a quarter, just to assert his right to his 
pew ! and he might have added, "for the pleasure it will give me of turning out intrude r.-s." If such 
semi-churchmen did but consult their own edification value the esteem of their own clergy desire 
the welfare of the Church or wish to render obedience to the law of the land, they would do what 
their duty bids them, attend their proper place of worship, the parish church. 

< b > Fuller v. Lane, 2 Add. llep., 424. 


common, of the parishioners, who are all entitled to be seated orderly and 

conveniently, so as best to provide for the accommodation of all 

The churchwardens are bound in particular not to accommodate the liitrlur 
classes bsyond their real wants, to the exclusion of their poorer neighbours. 

No faculty is deemed here, or at common law, good, to the extent 

of entitling any person who is a non-parishioner to a seat even in the body 
of the church. 

" Whenever the occupant of a seat in the body of the church ceases 
to be a parishioner, his right to the pew, however founded, and how valid 
soever during his continuance in the parish, at once ceases, though the 
contrary is very often supposed ; as for instance, that he may sell or assign 
it, or let it to rent, as part and parcel of his property in the parish. 

" The result, on the whole, of these faculties is, that in many churches 
the parishioners at large are deprived, in a great degree, of suitable accom- 
modation, by means of exclusive rights to pews, either actually vested in 
particular families, by faculty or prescription, or at least, and which is the 
same thing as to any practical result, supposed to be so vested. I add this 
last, because in very many instances these exclusive rights are merely 
suppositious, and would turn out, upon investigation, to be no right at all. 
With respect to the poor, indeed, every possible reason exists why no 
concessions should be made at all likely to infringe upon their due accommo- 
dation in the several parish churches. It is to be presumed that they arc 
the persons most in want of religious instruction ; and their title as such 
to receive it is expressly recognised by the divine Founder of Christianity 

How many evils have been introduced and continued in the Church 
of England, and how many magnificent and costly structures have been 
allowed to fall into ruin, in consequence of the apathy and indifference 
of her professed members ! She has indeed suffered from the ravages 
of Popery, from the violence of fanaticism, from the inroads of dissent; 
but, after all, her greatest foes have been those of her own house. There 
have not been wanting men who have boasted of their orthodoxy and 
churchmanship, and their love of the venerable institutions of their country, 
and their dread of any supposed innovation; but who, alas! have seldom 
shown the sincerity of these professions by any corresponding fruits. It too 
frequently happens that the man who is the loudest in his profession of 
attachment to the Church is the least willing to support it. Ask him 
to contribute of the abundance with which the Lord hath blessed him, and 
then, like the shade of Creusa 

" Deseruit, tenuesque recesait in auras." 


Oh, that nil the nominal members of the Church, and mini-h m of 
the Church, the reformed Catholic Church of our land, breathed the 
full spirit of her formularies, imbibed the full power of her doctrines, 
and exemplified their full force in their lives! Then no labour would 
itemed too great, no sacrifice too severe, in order to advance hef 
welfare and increase her usefulness. 

The unhappy divisions by which the Church of England is rent in 
twain is a source of deep regret and of much anxiety, not only to her 
profcased members, but to all who desire the welfare of our common 
country. It requires but little sagacity or foresight to perceive how these 
things must terminate if peace be not speedily restored, and if Infinite 
Mercy prevent not. The lip of Truth has said and who shall gainsay it ? 
" A house divided against itself cannot stand." We would have all things 
done " decently and in order," because the Church herself enjoins it, and the 
word of God commands it ; but surely the judgment and prudence of those 
may be questioned who seek the revival of ornaments and ceremonies 
many of which are of doubtful authority, while others are acknowledged to 
be "things indifferent in themselves," especially when their introduction 
cannot at the present time but be injurious to the interests of the church. (a) 
If wisdom be given to our rulers to discern the signs of the times and allow 
to public opinion its due weight, the Anglican church may yet be saved. 
But it is quite clear, that if they do not take up the matter, others will; and 
that what might have been, by God's blessing, wisely arranged by those to 
whom it more especially belongs to order such matters, will be left to the 
chances of popular discussion and the decisions of an unsuitable tribunal. 

The safety and usefulness of the Church consist not in her rejection or 
adoption of these outward observances, but in the Divine blessing and 
her spiritual efficiency. If it be right to agitate the revival of these 
matters, the present is certainly not the convenient season. The people 
of the country are perishing for lack of knowledge ; they are asking for 
bread, it were cruel to give them a stone. They are craving for spiritual 
sustenance, we should not offer them a scorpion. If we must contend, let 
it not be for the introduction of crosses or surplices, candlesticks or 
credence-tables, but for "the faith once delivered to the saints." If we 

'*> " Whatever little advantages may he compassed by these practices, they are certainly very 
dangerous ones, as tending to divide that Church whose only strength and safety consist in its 
union. These projects have been once already tried, with a very lamentable success. For the 
miseries of the Civil War were not owing to the separatists and sectaries (for these were afterwards 
brooded in Cromwell's army), but to the quarrels and distinctions made between Church -of- England 
men themselves. These unhappy differences kindled the first coals of the Civil War, and blowed up 
the whole nation into flames. And if this be not warning sufficient against trying the like experi- 
ments in future, J know not what is." Dr. Nicholl, on the Common Prayer, Pref. Ed. 1710. 





mn-t strive, let it be who shall most advance the welfare of the Church, i>y 
the multiplication of her temples, the education of her children, the 
augmentation of her bishops, priests, and deacons, and the advancement of 
every other object that will most facilitate and best secure the publication of 
that Word by which alone men must be saved. These objects would, indeed, 
be worth contending for, not by men only, but by the angels in heaven. 

Let the Church attempt great things, and expect great things. She is 
not straitened in God, but in herself. Her field of toil is the " world." Let 
her sphere of action be enlarged, her charity expanded, till this scene of her 
labours shall bud and blossom as the garden of the Lord. 

In her triumphant march to subdue all to the sceptre of the Redeemer's 
grace, let her remember that, in the memorable words of Bishop Hall, there 
must be " no peace with Rome ;" Popery must be destroyed, it cannot be 
reformed. Blessed be God, the spirit that rose up at the call of 
Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, breathes in the Church of England still, 
and, at whatever cost, will stand between the truth and Rome. The 
Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit, is the only weapon which the 
Saviour authorises and the Holy Ghost will bless. (a) Jesus lifted up from 
the earth must still draw all men to himself. The bleeding Cross is -till 
the banner in whose sign we overcome ; the love of Christ must still be 
the constraining motive. I still hope we can see, amid these alarming 
tokens of strife and wrath, signs of better things and a brighter day, wJien 
our breaches shall be healed and wlien we shall be thoroughly humbled and 
penitent. Do we not, in the midst of the spiritual sterility which the 
judicial withholding of the dew of God's blessing has brought upon the 
Church and the world, discern " a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's 
hand?" a token that the heavens shall again be opened, and copious 
showers of grace be once more outpoured upon the Church, to refresh the 
parched and withered soil, and to make it once more bring forth the mani- 
fold fruits of the Spirit, to the glory of Christ and the blessing of His people ? 
Amid the conflicting opinions and unseemly dissensions by which the Church 
is divided, disquieted, and injured, there are still those who are attached to 
her doctrines and her discipline, her ceremonies and her formularies men who 
value their privileges, who are awake to a sense of their responsibilities, and 
who desire to co-operate with her in the glorious work of encircling the 
earth with the sacred girdle of evangelical truth and apostolic order. (b) 

<) " Our weapons are faith, hope, charity, righteousness, truth, patience, prayer unto God ; and 
our sworde, wherewith we smite our enemies, we beate and batter, andbeare down all fal*ehoode, U the 
Worde of God. With these weapons, under the banner of the Crosse of Christe we do fight, ever having 
our eye upon our Grand Master, Duke, and Captain Christe." Ridley, bishop and Martyr. 

(b > To every colony of Britain she has resolved, God being her helper, to send forth a bishop. 




The eompiests of Falkland's MM :nv preparing the way for the yet 
wider ami wider extension of England's Church, whieli, whatever betide 
tin- fortunes of the nation, MftQM h^tined t< set up in every corner of 
the earth temples and altai- enumerated to God, whore the Word of 
Christ shall be purely preached and the memorial of His dying l<>ve duly 
administered by the ambassadors of Him who said "Go ye, therefore, and 
teaeh all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost" It is not to gratify the grovelling desires of 
l>olitieians or speculators, or to flatter the pride of man's heart, that God's 
providence has transferred the centre of civilization and power to this 
insignificant island, scarcely visible upon the map of the world, yet upon 
whose dominions the sun never sets, before whose arms the might of ancient 
nations sink, and at the approach of which the walls of the "celestial empire," 
long impregnable, have fallen to the ground. Is it for so paltry an object that 
Engliah ambition and energy have been permitted to join to the worlds of 
Alexander and Caesar another world yet vaster than them both, and to 
make the language, literature, and laws of England nearly as ubiquitous as 
the very light we see or the air we breathe ? 

We interpret not thus the ways and works of the Almighty we read 
in these marvellous ordinations of God's never-failing providence another 
purpose, and look forward with hope to an issue higher far than man's 
ambition strives for even the universal propagation of the true faith of 
Christ, the advancement of the period when the "kingdoms of this world 
sliall become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall 
reign for ever and ever." 

I had no intention, when I commenced these pages, of touching on such 
a variety of topics a volume might, indeed, be written upon each ; they 
were, however, so pressed upon my attention by the circumstances of the 
times that I could not well reject them. I hope they will subserve the 
interests of that Church dear to me as my own existence. These pages 
contain the results of my observations and experience on subjects of deep 
importance, and it is with the hope of their being useful that I present 
them, with unaffected diffidence, to the reader. 

Before I conclude, I desire gratefully to record the kind services of 
several ladies of my congregation, some of whom are now removed to a 
distance, for the varied aid they have rendered me in this "work of faith 
and labour of love." 

To other ladies of my parish I beg also to express my thankfulness for 
their munificent offerings to the church, of the richly-carved stone font, the 
handsome altar-cloth, cushions for the pulpit and desk, together with the 

oT 32 <5 









linen for the communion. To a few young men my thanks are also offered 
for their kind present of a splendidly-bound bible, prayci-b<><.k. and altar 
services, and to Mr. Davis, builder, of this town, for two handsome chain 
to be placed within the communion enclosure. 

To the churchwardens of the parish, Messrs. Cox, Easton, and Jebonlt, 
my especial acknowledgments are due, and arc here most willingly and 
cordially offered, for the great aid they have rendered me on this OOoasiOBj 
and for the diligent, patient, and unwearied manner in which they have 
discharged the difficult duties of their office. 

To the various religious communities in the town, I take this opjiortunity 
of stating how much I appreciate the kindly feelings they have manili ~t< .!, 
and the assistance they have afforded me in the restoration of the perish 
church. To the numerous subscribers to this work, and to those who have 
kindly contributed to the Restoration Fund, I here present my grateful 
thanks. The whole of the expenses connected with thi< Dude) tak; 
likely to exceed seven thousand pounds, upwards of four thousand of which 
had to be provided on the responsibility of the vicar alone. This sum is 
much larger than was at first contemplated, and I regret that there is still 
a large deficiency to be provided for ; I hope, however, that my friends, 
and those of the Church, will not be "weary in well doing," but that they 
will aid, by their exertions and contributions, the advancement of that day 
which will be the happiest one in my life when the church of St. Mary 
Magdalene shall be completely finished, and the church account balanced. 
To my parishioners those over whom the " Holy Ghost hath made me 
overseer" my thanks are due for the interest they have felt, and the good 
feeling they have shown, in this undertaking. Few have been the differ- 
ences of opinion that have existed among us especially latterly; the 
wonder has been, that in a large parish like this, and in a work of each 
magnitude, they should have been so few. Nothing has occurred, and I 
trust never will occur, to interrupt the harmony of our friendship, or impede 
our usefulness ; we shall, I hope, though we may occasionally differ on 
other matters, be always found united in any effort to promote the welfare 
of the town and the interests of morality and religion. AVe have been 
engaged in a work of which we may ju>tly feel proudj our church is not 
only the glory of the town, but of the surrounding country ; and it ifl t> be 
hoped that what we have done will have the effect of inducing the parishes 
in our neighbourhood to follow our example. Above all. it will call 
down the Divine approbation, and I take it to be the happy prelude 
of brighter and better days for the Church of England in this parish. When 
we are slumbering in the silent tomb, many shall rise up to call (i<l blessed 






IB this temple of his grace. Oh ! it i> the chfcriii^ thought that many precious 
eouls shall be born there that has animated and cheered u.- OH in OUT difficult, 
and sometimes aluio-t in-urniountahle. path. Sutler, how Wj the wm-il of 
ath etiouate exhortation. Take care that you never again allow your ehureh 
to tall into a state ot' dilapidation. Not only will its eondition he the criterion 
of your own religion, but the mode of conducting Divine Service and e\< ry- 
thing else in the parish will be sure to be influenced by it. Cheerfully con- 
tribute to its support away with the utilitarian view that considers 
am thing good enough for a church! Let us serve God, not only with the 
member that we have, but provide everything of the best for Hi* 
service. Love your church ; diligently attend the services performed there ; 
pray for a blessing on the labours of the clergy, " and we beseech you, 
brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the 
Lord, and admonish you ; and to esteem them very highly in love for their 
work sake. And be at peace among yourselves." Your own interests are 
identified with her welfare : "they shall prosper that love Thee!" 

As it was in the first ages of the Church, so it is now. " Not by power 
or by might, but my spirit, saith the Lord." Without the influences of God's 
Holy Spirit, our "beautiful house" will be bereft of its glory; it will be 
the casket without the precious jewel ; like the parched and barren soil 
without the gentle dew or the fertilising influences of the sun. So will all 
our efforts be, without the dew of God's blessing and the life-giving 
influences of the sun of righteousness. May God, in his abundant mercy 
bestow upon us " showers of blessings," and make the Church of our fathers 
nay, our own Church to us and our children, none other than the 
house of God and the gate of Heaven ! 

ihMSH*-88S > ' * {feoK ' { <S8gHM|MHiP 

atibitionai Jl3oticc comtrctcti tattf) 

St* fttoxtft (S:f)i\tcf) anU tfje Lofton of Taunton, 



Suffragan Bishops Archdeacons Biographical Notices of the Vicar: of 
St. Mary'* Monumental Inscriptions, &c. 

N the year 1535 an Act was passed by the Legislature, 
setting forth that certain dioceses in England required the 
aid of Assistant or ?ttffragan 23tsf)opS, who were to be 
"honest, discreet, spiritual persons, learned, and of good 
conversation." The bishop of the diocese was to name a 
fit and proper person as his suffragan, who was to be 
approved by the King, and by liim recommended to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury for consecration. 

Taunton is one of the places appointed as the see of such 
bishops. In the year 1538, William Finche, Prior of Bremar, was con- 
secrated Bishop of Taunton, to act as a suffragan to the Bishop of Bath 
and Wells. We are not able to furnish the names of his successors. The 
Act authorising the appointment of suffragan bishops was repealed in 1553, 
after the accession of Queen Mary, but revived again in 1559, under 
Elizabeth, and is still in force. It is much to be desired that the powers 
conferred by it were again enforced ; for that there has long been a general 
desire for additional bishops in the Anglican Church is unquestionable. 
The population of England and Wales at the passing of the above Act 
did not, perhaps, exceed two or three millions ; it now probably amounts to 
sixteen. If we compare the duties of the English and Irish bishops, we 
shall find the latter, after the reduction in the number of sees by the Act 
in 1833, superintending, on an average, about one hundred incumbents 
each ; while the English dioceses contain, on an average, four hundred and 




+ <88C^ 

& ^*A> 


twelve parishes each. It" one hundred pari.-hes are sufficient to employ an 
Irish l>i>liop. whv -hould England be bo much worse provided for? If we 
were placed on an equal footing with Ireland, we should have one hundred 
and seven bishops.*"* 

Looking at the invariable rule of the ancient Church, to place a bishop 
in every great city, for the purpose of giving energy, unity, and con- 
sistency to the large body of clergy collected there, it seems strange that 
our large towns should have been left so long without resident bishops. 
Romanism has. with its usual quick-sightedness, availed itself of our 
deficiencies, and fixed the residence of its pretended bishops in populous 
places. In some of these places Romish ecclesiastics are gradually 
assuming a position and importance which can only arise from the Church 
of England not having any episcopal superintendence in those localities. 
A diocese ought to be of such dimensions that a bishop might, without 
much difficulty, visit personally, once a year, all the parishes under his 
jurisdiction, for the purpose of examining on the spot all the particulars 
which concern the spiritual well-being of the people, to preach the Gospel, 
and to administer confirmation, without those large assemblies which are 
productive of so many inconveniences and such grievous consequences. 
The extent of our dioceses has rendered this efficient system of super- 
intendence wholly impossible ; and, as a painful consequence, discipline has 
become relaxed and the unity of the Church impaired. Archdeacons and 
rural deans are, no doubt, to a certain extent, valuable assistants to a 
bishop, but they are only assistants; they are not invested with episcopal 
authority ; they are not the chief pastors of the clergy and people whom 
they visit officially ; they do not speak as those who have authority. The 
powers of a rural dean are of so limited and questionable character, that his 
authority (it is to be regretted that it should be so) is regarded in our rural 
districts with very little respect. The reason is, these offices are of human 
institution, and can never become substitutes for bishops. It is no part of 
our present design to suggest the mode by which suffragan bishops could 
again be restored, although it would be a pleasing task to do so. There are, 
no doubt, some difficulties in the way ; but if the attempt were only made, 
they would, I apprehend, speedily vanish. Two or three years since they 
would have bcin fewer the Church was then beginning to put forth fresh 

(*) England possesses, in proportion to her population, a smaller number of bishops than most of 
the European states. We have only 26 bishops for a population of sixteen millions. France, before 
the Revolution, hud 145 sees; Spain, 60; Greece, 36; Portugal, 14; Italy, Sicily, and the adjoining 
islands, 263. The Romish Church in Ireland has 30 bishops. Ancient Asia Minor and Northern 
Africa contain, respectively, 400 and 500 sees. Ancient Egypt, Syria, and Pentapolis, contained 
l.*8 episcopal we*. 

-r- r 


>^-<>% < ^r^^>--*^A>^H-^^y^r<>^<>- 


energy, and to give the promise of abundant fruitfulness. Her fair pros- 
pects have, alas! been blighted, and her usefulness impaired, by the unhappy 
divisions latterly introduced among us. One painful result which has 
followed, is to weaken the desire, and to lessen the respect, for episcopal 
authority and superintendence. Let us hope that this is but a temporary 
obscuration of her efficiency, and that soon she will come forth with 
renewed vigour, and unite all in the accomplishment of a work, which, 
under the Divine blessing, must tend greatly to her advancement ! The 
day will again return, we hope, when Taunton shall have its suffragan 
bishop. The church of St. Mary Magdalene would form a suitable 
cathedral, and the present vicar and patron to aid so good a work would 
gladly resign his office and the advowson into the hands of the Crown 
for this particular purpose/* 5 

The first appointment of an .4lrc[)tcncon for Taunton took place in 1106. 
The archdeaconry comprises four deaneries, viz., Bridgewater, Crewkerne, 
Dunster, and Taunton, and contains 176 parishes. The following is a list 
of the archdeacons : 

Robert is supposed to have enjoyed this dignity in 1 106. 

Godfrey was archdeacon of this diocese (supposed of Taunton), about 1 185. 

William de Wrotham, 1204. He died 3rd of Henry III. 

He was the eldest son of William de Wrotham, warden of the Stannaries in 
Devonshire and Cornwall, and forester- in -fee of the forest of North-Petherton, in 
this county. He was engaged in many secular employments. In the sixth of 
John he was, together with Reginald de Cornhull, receiver of the customs of all the 
merchants in the kingdom, and accounted in that year for nearly 6,000. In the 
seventh of John he obtained a charter for a market to be held every Tuesday at the 
manor of North-Curry, for the benefit of the church of Wells, to which that manor 
appertained. In the eighth of John he was a trustee to Geoffrey Fitz-Piers, Earl 
of Essex, upon the founding of the hospital of Sutton, in Yorkshire. On the death 
of his father he succeeded as heir to his lands, and to the office of forester of North- 
Petherton, which, on account of his being a clergyman, was executed during his 
life-time by his brother, Richard de Wrotham. 

Hugh de Wilton, 1219. 

W For further information, and some valuable remarks respecting suffragan bishops see 
" Burn's Ecclesiastical Law," ninth edition, by Robert Fhillimore, Advocate in Doctors' Com- 
mons, &c, vol. i., p. 246. The clumsy piece of legislation, in the shape of the " Ecclesiastical 
Functions Act," is, as it deserves, justly and universally reprobated. One fruit of this measure is 
the proposal that the see of Bath and Wells should be united to that of Salisbury ! When a bishop 
is incapacitated by age or infirmity from discharging the duties of his office with comfort to 
himself or benefit to the Church, why cannot he be allowed to retire, like our judges, on a pension, 
and his place supplied by another, instead of imposing an additional burden on a neighbouring 
bishop ? It is said, there is no power at present to do so then the sooner such a power be obtained, 
the better for the interests of the Church of England 





Walter St Quintin, 1244. He died 1.0th C'al. .Ian. ( Dcr. 1st!.), 12'. 
"William Burnell, it i.- Iielirwd. \\a> the next. He wa> MfchdeaOQB in 1294 
Gilbert tic .M..lni(lini> m in.-t it iitc<l 17 C'al. .Inn. (May 16th), 121)8. 
Peter de Avelmri, 1301. 
llmrv df C'lianinuton, 1308. 

Boberl Ha re wood, Dec. 12th, 1320. 

William Thringhull, 1371. 

Thomas Arundel m made Archdeacon of Tauuton at the age of 22, 1373. 

He was the son of Robert Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, and was consecrated 
Bishop of Ely on the 6th of April, 1375. In 1380 he was made Lord Chancellor 
of England, and translated to the see of York on the 3rd of April, 1388 ; and was 
the first that was ever removed from thence to Canterbury. He received his pall 
on the 19th of February, 1396. He resigned to Richard II. his post Of Lord 
Chancellor, which he had held for ten years. Being convicted of high treason 
(with the Earl of Arundel, his brother, who was beheaded), he fled to Rome, and 
his see was given to Roger Walden, Dean of York. Arundel was, however, restored 
by Henry IV. on his accession to the throne, for which favour the necessary steps 
were taken to procure of the clergy a tenth for the crown as a subsidy. 

The king, not contented with a tenth, afterwards attempted to obtain greater 
subsidies from the clergy ; but the archbishop vigorously opposed them, urging, 
among other reasons, that though the clergy did not serve personally in the king's 
wars, yet they were not idle, inasmuch as they daily prayed for the king and the 
realm, as well in time of peace as war. To which the prolocutor of the house of 
convocation, Sir John Cleyn, replied, " It was no matter for their prayers, so the 
king might have their money." This prelate severely punished the Lollards or 
Wickliffites, and forbad the translation of the Bible into the English language. He 
died on the 20th of February, 1413, exactly a month before King Henry IV., and 
was buried in the cathedral church of Canterbury ; to which he had built a fine spire, 
called to this day Arundel steeple. He left to his palace at Ely a magnificent 
table, ornamented with gold and precious stones, originally belonging to the King 
of Spain, and sold by the Black Prince to this bishop for 300 marks. He had the 
generosity to obtain, by his influence, the see of London for Roger Walden, his 
adversary, who had succeeded him in the see of Canterbury, after his flight to 
Rome, but was dispossessed of it on his restoration. 

Neapolitan us Cardinalis, 1383. 
Ralph dc Bighorn, 1391. 

He was elected Bishop of Salisbury in 1375, from which see he was translated 
to that of Bath and Wells in 1388. He built the inn, called the George, in Wells, 
and erected in that city a college, at the end of a lane, called College Lane, for 
fourteen priests ; gave ornaments and plate to the church to the value of 140, and 
appropriated to the chapter the parsonage of Pucklechurch. lie died in 1401. 

ThoflUU Poteet) or Pulton, Aug. 12th, 1 !<>">. 

He was Dean of York ; Bishop of Hereford, H20 ; Bishop of Chichester, 1123 ; 

igx** <3888>-*- 



He died at Rome, 

from which see he was translated to that of Worcester, 1426. 
and was buried in that city. 

Nicholas Calton, Sept. 1st, 1416. He died in 1440. 
Adam Molines, LL.D., 1440. 

He was of the baronial family of the Molines ; Dean of Salisbury ; Bishop of 
Chichester, 1445 ; and Lord Privy Seal. He was slain at Portsmouth by mariners 
hired for that purpose by Richard, Duke of York, 1445. 

Andrew Hales was admitted Jan. 19th, 1445; Archdeacon of Wells, 1450. 
Robert Stillington, LL.D., was collated April 20th, 1450 ; Archdeacon 
of Wells, 1465. 

He was Keeper of the Privy Seal and Lord Chancellor of England ; was con- 
secrated Bishop of Bath and Wells, 16th of March, 1466, in the room of John 
Phreas, who had been elected, but died before consecration. This bishop firmly 
adhered to the house of York, against that of Lancaster, and countenanced Lambert 
Simnell in opposing Henry VII. , for which he was imprisoned at Windsor in 1487, 
and, after four years' confinement, died in May, 1491. He was buried in the 
chapel of Our Lady, in the cloister of Wells cathedral, which he himself had built, 
and which was afterwards destroyed (together with the great wall of the palace), by 
Sir John Yates ; and within the memory of those who had seen his funeral, his 
bones were turned out of the leaden coffin in which they were interred. 

Richard Langport, May 14th, 1487. 
Oliver Bang was installed July 12th, 1490. 

He was sometime Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and Registrar of the 
Order of the Garter, and Canon of Windsor ; one of the Prebendaries of St. Paul's ; 
elected Bishop of Exeter, 1492, from which see he was translated to that of Bath 
and Wells, in 1495 ; and Secretary of State to Edward IV. and V., and to Henry 
VII. He laid the foundation of a new abbey church at Bath. 

William Worsley, LL.D., was admitted Feb. 18th, 1492. 

Robert Sherburn, A.M., was installed Dec. 16th, 1496. 

John Ednam, S.T.P., was installed May 27th, 1505. 

Robert Honywood, LL.D., was installed Aug. 18th, 1509. He died 
Jan. 22nd, 1522, and was buried at Windsor. 

Thomas Cranmer, S.T.P., succeeded in 1522, and in 1533 was made 
Archbishop of Canterbury. 

He was born at Aslacton, in Nottinghamshire, and was Fellow of Jesus College, 
Cambridge. He was a theological and polemical writer, eminent for his piety and 
learning, and for being the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury ; but his 
political character, on account of the variations of his conduct, is difTerently treated 
by historians and controversial writers. He assisted in setting up Lady Jane Grey, 
for which treason Queen Mary pardoned him, but had him burnt for heresy at 
Oxford, 2l8t of March, 1556, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. 



Till (llllllil OF ST. mai;y M.UiDAl.F.NE. 




John luMlumviu' was Aivlnlraroii of Taunton in 1547. 

It i> uncertain how long before this he held this office, or whether there were 
any between him and Cranmer. He died in November, 1651, and was buried in 

Westminster Abbey. 

John Fit/james, A.Al., May 22nd, 1554. 

Justinian Lancaster, 1560. 

Philip Blase, S.T.P., was installed May 28th, 1584. 

He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford ; was a learned man, and a great 
lover of books. He had an extensive library, which, at his death, he bequeathed to 
Wadham College, Oxford, then newly founded, in which is preserved his portrait 
at full-length, given by the foundress. He died in 1613, and was buried in the 
chancel of Batcombe church, in this county, where there is an inscription to his 

Matthew Sutcliffe, LL.D., was installed Jan. 30th, 1586. 
Peter Lilye, S.T.P., 1604. He died in 1614. 
Samuel Ward, S.T.P., was installed April 29th, 1615. 

He was Yice-Chancellor of Oxford, chaplain-extraordinary to King James I. 
and one of the four divines sent by him to the synod of Dort. He wrote several 
tracts, and some valuable manuscripts of his are now in Emanuel College, Cam- 
bridge, of which he was Fellow. In 1609 he became Master of Sidney College, in 
that university. He assisted in translating the Bible, and was a most excellent 
governor and exact disciplinarian. Being one of the assembly of divines, and of 
the religious committee, he was, therefore, esteemed a puritan. But in the civil 
wars of Charles I. he was one of those who consented that the college plate should 
be coined for the use of his majesty ; for which he was deprived of his ecclesiastical 
preferments, March 30th, 1648, when he was plundered and cast into prison, where 
he contracted a disease which put a period to his life, in great poverty, about six 
weeks after his release. Several of his letters are in the collection of Archbishop 

AVilliam Piers, S.T.P., was installed Dec. 19th, 1643. 

He was the eldest son of Dr. William Piers, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and was 
rector of Kingsbury. He wa3 eminent for his abilities and virtues, yet in 1654 he 
was sequestered from his preferments, and, for mere subsistence, married a low 
woman, who had a little farm, on which he laboured, thrashing his own corn, and 
selling his apples, butter, eggs, poultry, cheese, &c, in the markets of Ilminstev 
and Taunton ; but worse misfortunes befel him, for he became godfather to a child 
called Charles, and for this suffered imprisonment, from which he was not released 
till the restoration of Charles II., when he was made doctor in divinity, prebendary 
of Wells, and rector of Christian- Malford, in Wiltshire. He died in April, 1682, 
aged seventy, and is buried in Wells cathedral, where there is an inscription to his 

Edward Waple, S.T.P., installed April 22nd, 1682. 
Edmund Archer, S.T.P., was installed July 26th, 1712. 




+ ^888>--$-HHIH^4-- , 3888>- 




George Atwood, S.T.P., 1722. 

Lionel Seaman, M.A., 1753. 

Francis Potter, M.A., 1758. 

William Wilies, M.A., 1761. 

Thomas Camplin, LL.D., 1767. 

John Turner, M.A., 1780. 

George Trevelyan, LL.B., son of Sir John Trevelyan, Bart, 1817. 

Anthony Hamilton, A.M., Precentor and Canon lies, of Lichfield, &c. 

The following is a list of the 17tcars of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, 
from the year 1558, when the parish registers commenced : 

Dowel was vicar. He was succeeded by 

Thomas Woodland, Oct., 1568. He died 1604. 
John Goodwin, D.D., 1604. 

Edward Clark, March, 1628. He is said to have been a pious and 
learned man, and was succeeded by 
George Newton, Jan. 16, 1631. 

He was a native of Devonshire, and was born in 1602. He began his ministry 
at Bishop's Hull, near Taunton, and was presented to this vicarage by Sir William 
Portman and Mr. Robert Hill. When the "Book of Sports" came out, by order 
of Council, in the reign of Charles I., and was commanded to be read in churches, 
he told his congregation that he read this book as the commandments of men ; and 
he then immediately read the twentieth chapter of Exodus, as the commandments 
of God ; but as these happened to be contradictory to each other, he acquainted the 
people that they were at liberty to choose which they liked best. In the time of the 
civil commotions, when Taunton became the seat of war, he spent a year or two at 
St. Alban's, in Hertfordshire, and preached in the abbey church there ; but some 
time after the famous siege was raised, he returned to his charge, with two or three 
other ministers who had accompanied him in his absence. His preaching was plain, 
profitable, and successful. He was eminent for his meekness and prudence, and 
kept out of Taunton those divisions that did so much mischief in other places. In 
1654 he was, by ordinance of parliament, one of the assistants to the commissioners 
for ejecting scandalous, ignorant, and insufficient ministers and schoolmasters. By 
the act of uniformity he was deprived of his living ; but after he was silenced, 
convinced that it was his duty to continue his ministry, he took care to preach at 
those times when he might be least exposed ; but notwithstanding his caution, he 
was apprehended for preaching, and imprisoned for several years. AAer he obtained 
his liberty, he became the first pastor of the congregation at Paul's Meeting, in 
Paul Street, in this town, sometime between 1672 und 1677. He died June 12th, 
1681, aged seventy-nine, and was buried in the chancel of St. Mary's Church. 
His works were, " An Exposition and Notes on the seventeenth chapter of John," 
folio; "The Christian's character epitomised, a sermon on Psalm xci., v. 16." "A 
sermon at the funeral of Mr. Joseph Allein, and an account of his life;" "A sermon 





ill li< H 01 M MARY i II 

at the funeral of Lady Farewell ;" and "A thanksgiving sermon, on the 11th of 
He had, during his incumbency, two very pious and zealous assistants, rig. 

1. Tristram H'elman, who was brother to Edmund Welman, Esq., of llniin 
and of the Rev. Thomas Welman, vicar of Luppitt, near lloniton, who was 
preaching in St. James's church on the very day the siege of Taunton was raised 
l>\ the parliamentary army, in 1045, he was a pious and learned divine, and nephew 
of Mr. Simon Welman, of Taunton, the ancestor of the respectable family of 
Welman, of Poundisford Park, and of Isaac Welman, of Upcott House, near Bishop's- 
Hull, the son of Simon Welman, and who first occupied the mansion at Poun- 
disford. Tristram was equally eminent with his brother Thomas for his talents, 
benevolence, and piety. He preceded the Rev. Joseph Allein as assistant to the 
Rev. George Newton ; was married, and appears to have died somewhat suddenly 
in 1050. His uncle, Simon Welman, with his family, then living at Taunton, 
were regular attendants at St. Mary's church, where most of his children were 
baptized, married, and buried, and he himself was interred here the 14th of 
October, 1G70. 

2. Joseph Allein. He was born at Devizes, in Wiltshire, and was educated 
at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1655, he became assistant to Mr. Newton. 
He was a faithful and zealous minister, diligent in preaching and catechising in the 
church, and visiting " from house to house," testifying to all the " glorious Gospel 
of the blessed God." ' After a life of suffering for conscience' sake, he died at the 
early age of thirty-five years, and was buried within the communion rails at 
St. Mary's Church. 

Emanuel Sharpe, April, 1663. 

The father of this gentleman dying in possession of the rectory of Badialton, 
left him the advowson, of which he was deprived till the Restoration, and his family, 
consisting of a wife and five children, were forced to spin for a livelihood. During 
the Cromwell usurpation he wandered up and down Devonshire, teaching school at 
Dipford, Ugbrook, and Dartmouth. A great man offered him preferment if he 
would give up his principles, but he refused it on such terms. He retired at last 
to Marldon, which is a chapelry belonging to the vicarage of Paington, where he 
found quiet and support until the Restoration, when he not only enjoyed Badialton, 
but obtained this vicarage. He died 1670, and was buried in the chancel of the 
church. Walker says he was a learned man, of a sober and very exemplary con- 


William Cross, B.D., Feb., 1679. Buried in Nov., 1683. 
Walter Harte, M.A., Nov., 1683. 

1 1 c was also a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, prebendary of Wells, and 
canon of Bristol. Refusing to take the oaths at the revolution, he lost all his 
preferments; and retiring to Kentbury, in Berkshire, he remained there till his 
death, February 10th, 17-'50, at the great age of ninety-five. He was regarded as 
a principal pillar of the nonjuring cause. It is a remarkable circumstance, and 
deserving of being perpetuated, as conferring equal honour on all the parties, that 
the three successors of Bishop Ken, the great friend of Mr. Harte, Kidder, Hooper, 



and Wvnn, all contrived that he should receive the profits of his prebend of Wells, 
so long as he lived. 

There are two engraved portraits of Mr. Harte, the first when he was in his 
thirty-ninth year, 1685, engraved by Hibbart, after Zelman; and the other, inscribed 
" Macarius," a small head-piece, in his son's book, called " The Amaranth." 

Richard Doble, 1690. It is said the parish made him uneasy and lie 
resigned, 1695. 

Nathaniel Markwiek, Oct., 1695. Resigned, 1703. It is stated that 
the eonduct of his curate led to his resignation. 

He was author of two volumes of tracts on the Seventy Weeks of Daniel, the 
Apocalyptic Visions, &c. He was esteemed a man of extraordinary piety, and is 
said to have had no other motive for resigning his vicarage than his inability to 
effect the spiritual improvement of his parishioners to the extent of his wishes. 

Thomas Gale, April, 1703. Buried, October, 1727. 
John Bos well, A.M., October, 1727. 

This gentleman was descended fronTthe family of the Boswells, in Gloucester- 
shire, and was born 'at Dorchester, January 23rd, 1698. He was educated at 
Abbey-Milton school, in Dorsetshire, under the Rev. George Marsh ; was entered 
of Baliol College, Oxford, and a commoner in the same house. He did not take 
his bachelor's degree till 1720, being called away from college to be tutor to Lord 
Kinnaird. He took his master's degree at St. John's College, Cambridge ; was 
ordained deacon by Dr. Potter, Bishop of Oxford, in Christ-Church, Oxford, and 
priest, at Wells, by Dr. Hooper, Bishop of Bath and Wells. He was presented to 
the living of St. Mary Magdalen, by Henry Portman, Esq., in October, 1727. 
His other preferment was a prebend in the cathedral church of Wells. He died in 
June, 1756, aged fifty-eight. In the year 1730, he published a sermon on Psalm 
xvi. 7, preached on the anniversary of King Charles II. 's Restoration. In 1738, 
there appeared from his pen the first part and first volume of " A Method of Study, 
or an Useful Library ;" containing short directions, and a catalogue of books, for 
the study of several valuable parts of learning, namely, geography, chronology, 
history, classical learning, natural philosophy, painting, architecture, and heraldry. 
The author professes that his view, in this work, was to assist poor clergymen in 
their studies, and to induce young gentlemen to look into books. The plan he 
pursued, was to point out the chief particulars necessary to be known in several 
useful parts of learning, and to prescribe a method for acquiring them. To this end 
he recommends such books as treat of them, lays down the order in which they 
should be read, attempts a character of each, and points out their peculiar excel- 
lencies. In 1743 Mr. Boswell gave to the public the second part and second 
volume of his " Method of Study." The study of divinity is the subject of this 
volume ; and the particular topics discussed are the rise of the Hebrew tongue, the 
duties of the ministerial functions, natural and revealed religion : the chapter on the 
last head includes a discourse on the heathen oracles, and miracles, and some 
remarks on Mr. Sale's "Strictures" on Dr. Prideaux's "Life of Mahomet;" and 
it is followed by a dissertation on the resemblance between the sacred and profane 
account of things. Mr. Boswell designed a third volume, on the reading of the 





Scriptures, and on the doctrine nnd constitution of the Church of England, with a 
dissertation on the Assyrian empire ; but never published it. Tins work shows the 
author's learning ; but the utility of it is now, in a great measure, superseded by 
the progress of knowledge, and the publication, since its appearance, of many 
treatises on the dilfcrcnt parts of science, much superior to those which it recom- 
mends. Mr. Boswell had the reputation of being a good scholar, and excelled in a 
proper and graceful pronunciation in the pulpit and the desk. 

William Cliafin, Nov., 1756. Resigned, June, 1803. 
Frauds Hunt Clapp, July, 1803. Died, Oct. 19th, 1818, and was 
buried within the communion rails on the north side. 

He was six years curate and sixteen vicar. The vicarage was augmented 
during his incumbency. He was the youngest son of Robert Clapp, Esq., of 
Salcombe, in the county of Devon ; the family resided many years on their own 
property at Salcombe. The original name of the family was Clappa, and dates its 
descent from Osgod Clappa, master of the horse of Edward the Confessor. Robert 
Clapp, father of the late vicar, married Mary, daughter of George Hunt, Esq., of 
Park, in the county of Devon, who on her mother's side was descended from the 
family of Wjk, or Weeks, in Devonshire, who possessed estates granted to their 
ancestors by William the Conqueror, one of which, called " Tawmill," still remains 
in the family. The Rev. Francis Hunt Clapp married Sarah, daughter of John 
Hippesley Brice, Esq., of Shepton-Mallet, and granddaughter of Roger Hoare, Esq., 
for many years clerk of the castle in Taunton, by whom he had one daughter ; he 
was survived four years by his only brother, George Hunt Clapp, Esq., of Park, 
Devonshire, barrister-at-law. 

Henry Bower, A.M., Queen's College, Oxford, chaplain to the Earl of 
Roeeberry, April, 1819. Died Jan. 21st, 1840. He was also rector of 
Orchard-Portman and Staple-Fitzpaine. 

James Cottle, A.M., LL.D., May 20th, 1840, formerly of St. Ca- 
therine's Hall, Cambridge, chaplain to the Right Honourable Lord Ash- 
burton, and late incumbent of Taunton St. James. 



There arc no mural JttonuilUlTtS or brasses in St. Mary's church 
deserving any particular notice. TVe give a few of the inscriptions. The 
oldest is a table monument in the chancel, with several coats of arms, in 
memory of Thomas More, of Taunton, a descendant of More, of Bag- 
borough, to whom Henry the Eighth granted the priory; on it there is 
the following inscription : 

Thomas More, of the Pryory of Taunton, esquyer, hear lying, departed this 
life the 28th day of March, anno d'ni 1576, and had two wyfes; by the first he left 
lyving Robert, Gessey, Francis, Johan ; by the second Jesper and Florence, and 
bleat them all. 



Here under lye the body of Frannces, the wyflfe of William Lechland, of 
Tanton, gentleman, the said Frannces was the daugher of Henrye Cornishe, of 
Greennwitche, Esquyre, by Margarete his wyffe, sister too Sir John Younge of 
Bristoll, Knighte, the said Henrye Cornishe being godsone to King Henrye the 
eight ; was placed by him Captaine of the Castle of Jersey, and their they boyth 
liued eleven years, after which beinge called home, they liued and dyed here. 

The said Frannces after a longe sackness, wherin she was a paterne of patience 
as she was of vertues in her liffe, deceased the 13 day of Marche, anno do: 1631, 
to whom her said husban, after forty and nyne yeares and sixe monthes liuinge with 
her in maryage, hathe geuen this laste righte a grave and this stone. 

Her age was : 76. 

Cht'S Cafilet 

is erected by 

The Rev. J. Cottle, M.A., LL.D. 

Vicar of this Parish, 

To perpetuate the blessed Memory 



Formerly Minister of this Church, 

Died A. D. 1668. 

" The Memory of the Just is blessed." 

Hie jacet dominus Josephus Alleine, 

Holocaustum, Tauntonenses, et Deo et vobis. 

^acrctr ttr the #Umarj} at 

Major-General ROBERT DOUGLAS, 

Who died June 7th, 1798, Aged 54, 

Sincerely regretted by all his Relatives & Friends. 

After serving his Country Forty Years 

In all quarters of the Globe, 

He fell a Victim to the fatal effects of Climate. 

His remains lie interred near this Spot. 

Also to the Memory of his Son, JOHN DOUGLAS, 

Captain in the 54th Regt. of Foot, 

Who died of the Yellow Fever, at St. Kitt's, July 11th, 1796, 

In the 22d Year of his Age. 

This tribute of gratitude is erected by her 

Who lives to deplore the loss 

Of the best of Husbands 

And a beloved Son. 

>acrefc to the #Unuirn of the 

Vicar of Taunton Saint Mary Magdalene, 

Who departed this life 

October 19th, 1818, Aged 59 Years. 



"Within a Vault in the adjoining Church-yard, 

On the east side, are deposited the mortal Remains 

Of the Rev. THOMAS COOKES, Rector of Notgrove, 

And late of Barbourne House, in the County of Worcester. 

He departed this life in the 7<Uh Year of his age, 

On the first of December, 1809. 

Those of the present generation who recollect him while living, 

Will, in the remembrance of his many benevolent actions, 

Feel for the loss that has been sustained by the poor 

And the distressed ; 

Who invariably recognised in him their unaffected Friend 

And disinterested Patron. 

And may those who are yet unborn, 

And to whom the virtues of the dear Object 

Whom we here commemorate were unknown, 

Reap from the perusal of this tablet 

The only advantage of the comfortable and most consoling truth, 

That a Life, 

Which was spent in charitable and virtuous actions, 

Was at length, in the fulness of years, 

Closed by a Death 
Full of Hope and pious Resignation. 

acrrtf to tljr Memory 

Of the Reverend MATTHEW WARREN, 

A most venerable Divine ; 

Learned without pride, 

Pious without Ostentation, Prudent without Subtilty, 

Facetious without rudeness, 

Grave without austerity, Zealous without Fanaticism ; 

Who, descended from the ancient Earls of Warren, 

Embraced with a most cordial affection 

His friends, his neighbours, and the whole Church of Christ. 

He was of a graceful aspect, 

Of a polite and gentle disposition, and of the sweetest manners. 

Elegance, Candour, and Modesty, 

Ran through his Discourses. 

Born at Otterford in the County of Devon, 

Educated at Oxford. 

Taunton was a long time the Field of his Labours, 

Where he was Pastor of a Presbyterian Congregation. 

He also instructed 

Many young Men in Piety and sacred Learning ; 

Which double offices 

He discharged faithfully, diligently, soberly, 

Peaceably, and with much praise, 

Until the 14th day of June, 1706, 

When God called him to his heavenly rest. 






Daughters of John Gardner, Minister of the Gospel, Bath. 
Interred together, August 18th, 1C65. 
Here lie two plants twisted by death in one, 
When that was dead could this survive alone ? 
They were heav'n ripe, and therefore gone, we find 
Ripe fruit fall off while raw doth stick behind. 
They are not lost, but in those joys remain, 
Where friends may see and joy in them again. 
(Their age) 

1. Here Learn to Die betlMes Least happILLIe, 

2. Ere yee begin to LIVe ye CoMe to Dye. 

acre& to tljc iHemorg of 


Third Daughter of Robert Ord, 

Late Lord Chief Baron of Scotland, 

By Mary, eldest daughter of Sir John Darnell, Knt. 

And Wife of Angus Macdonald, M.D., 

Of this Place. 

In whom was combined 

With the utmost Suavity of Manners, 

Piety without Bigotry, 

Good Sense without Affectation. 

Endeared to all who knew her, 

She was taken from this World 

The 16th of October, 1801, aged 54 Years. 

This humble Tribute to her Memory 

Is erected by her Affectionate Husband. 

Also in Commemoration of 


Of Dolphinton, in Scotland, Advocate ; 

A Young Man 

Endeared by his amiable Qualities 

And public Virtues to all who knew him. 

He departed this life at the House 

Of his Uncle, Dr. Macdonald, 

The 23d of November, 1805, Aged 28 Years. 

Here Christopher Saunders daughter sleeps under this marble stone, 
Whose Christian lyfe and godly end to God and world is known. 
She Elenor by name was call'd, and eke was Lewis Pope's Wyfe 
With whome in all humility and love she led her Lyfe. 
Amidst the bitter pangcs of death at no tyme did she cease, 
To parents and to husband both bequeathing love and peace ; 
And strengthened she above all strength did suffer paines with joye, 
Embracinge Christ, bid world adieu, but kept her unborne boy. 
Obiit 12 Decemb. 1595. 




Of Taunton, who deceased the first of Maye, anno Domini 1691 

Vivit post Amen virtus. 

Thy corpse in grave enclosed, 

Cannot thy deeds commend : 
Thy hundred pound hy will disposed, 

Shall to the worlde's end. 
Thou, living, cladst the naked hack, 

Thou, dying, didst provide ; 
For ever to supply this lack, 

At thy appointed tyde. 
God grant that this thy bounty rare 

May good disposers find : 
Not slothful to perform this care 

According to thy mind. 


The wife of Simon Saunders, who departed this life the 5th Day 

of July, 1735, aged 37 Years. 

Who departed this life the 1st Day of April, 17G9, aged 52 Years. 
Bless'd be the Lord for all, my Husband dear, 
Bless'd be thy Memory for thy Love sincere ; 
With Patience, Mildness, Charity possest, 
For every Goodness by thy friends caress'd. 
When all thy Virtues to my mind I call, 
I cannot but lament thy sudden fall ; 
Man's life is measured by his works, not days, 
And life Immortal crowns all Mortal Praise. 

Here under lyeth buried the body of 
Borne in Taunton, and anciently descended of the familie of the Huyshes of Deny- 
ford in the Countie of Somerset. He founded the Hospital in Mawdelyn Lane 
in Taunton for thirteene poor men, begunne by himselfe, in his live tyme, and 
finished by his executors after his death ; and, (for reliefe of the said poore men) 
he gave by his last will one hundred and three pounds by the yeare for ever ; 
yssuing out of certaine howses and tenements in the Black Fryars, London, and 
also by his sayd will, he gave one hundred pounds a yeare for ever out of the sayd 
tenements for the maintenance of fyve schollars of his name of Huysh and kindred 
at one or both of the universitys of Oxford or Cambridge, and dyed in the true 
faythe of Christ Jesus, xxiii. day of February, anno Domini 1615. 

Orate pro anima JOHANNIS TOOSE, Mercatoris, Tantonie, qui obiit 19 die 
mensis Aprilis. anno Salutis, 1502, cujus anime propicietur Deus, Amen. 

This inscription was on the firbt stone in the middle aisle, going from the belfry, 
and was the oldest in the church, except some few partly covered by the pews. 




H. S. I. 
Vir Reverendus JOHANNES BOSWELL, A.M., prtcbendarius Wellensis et 
hujus ecclesiac vicarius ; quem pastorem attcnte scdulum probeque fidelem deflens 
parochiani, (ilium pientissimum et dcfensoretn eximium ecclesia luget Anglicana, 
nee non scriptorem apprime elegantem, summeque literatum. Obiit Anno Salutit 
1756, jEtatis58. 

To the Memory of Mr. EDWARD CLARK, 
Master of Arts, late the godly learned pastor of this church, who died Dec. 31st, and 
ANN, his wife, who died 17th of the same month, 1G30. 
Not that they need a monument to keep 
Theyr names from mould'ring while theyr bodies sleepe, 
Wrapt up in dark oblivion ; not that they 
~JL Need trust to statues, pillars, poesy, 

Theyr dead memorial from the dust to raise, 

As if theyr persons had outlived theyr praise ; 

Some friends erecting this, have signified 

Theyr love expired not with them when they dyed. 

Archdeacon of Taunton, died 15 Dec. A. D. 1752, ^Etat. 68. 


The wife of George Atwood, B. D., Archdeacon of Taunton, 
died January 29th, A. D. 1733, Mtat. 41. 

Who died the 20th of January, 1678, after he had been Vicar of this town 16 Years, 

aged 70 Years. 

His wife, who died the 19th of March, 1689. 

His eldest daughter, who died the 14th of June, 1684. 



Hujusce Oppidi bis 

Praetoris, Qui obijt 

XXI Die Mensis 

Augusti, Anno Domini, 


Et /Etatis suae 


Secundo, hie 

Requiescit in Spe 

Bcatas resurrectionis. 


IHK (11111(11 01 ST. MAKY MAXIMUM 

Of this towne, woollen-diajKr, who departed this life the 14th day of December, 

anno domini 1667. 
Here lies, ye friends, behold it and condole, 
A body worne out by an active soul ; 
The sheath cut thorough by too keen a blade, 
Which heaven hath wrapt up till a new be made. 


Of Hydwood, in the County of Annandale, North Britain, who departed this life 
the 10th Day of April, 1719, aged 28 years. 
Like to a spreading rose in undue time, 
Pluckt by the hand of death when in his prime, 
So was this youth, whose friends do sadly mourn, 
He cannot unto them again return. 
But Oh ! where should spirits be but above, 
Eternally to praise the God of love ? 


The brother of the above-said William Murray, who departed this life the 29th day 

of April, 1756, aged 58 years. 

Who died the 27th Day of August, 1727, aged 69 years. 

The wife of Thomas Newman, N. P. of Hull-Bishops, who died the 15th Day of 

August, 1715. 

The daughter of the said Thomas Newman, who died the 19th of March, 1722. 

Move not this stone 
For any one ; 
For 'tis our request 
To be at rest, 
'Till the great Day 
We must away 
Together go 
To bliss or woe. 

Here MARGARET CARVIN'S reliques lye, 
Whose aged soul Christ home did take, 
To reigne with him : lo ! all must dye, 
And to their final judgment wake. 
Reader, prepare, for thus must thou 
To death's impartial sceptre bow. 
Ohiit xix die Feb. anno Domini 1679, ^Etatis sua- M. 



Second wife of George Newton, Pastor of the church in this place ; was born at St. 
Alban's, in the county of Hertford, and died in this town December 31st, 1645. 
Were there no graves in Alban's ? Could not hee 
That gave thee ayre, spare earth to cover thee ? 
Has she that first possest thy husband's bed, 
Possest thy grave where thou wast born and bred, 
And forced thee down to this remoter place, 
To seek out her's ? A very equal case ; 
Thy town to her, to thee her's, burial gave, 
And thus you two did but exchange a grave. 

Hie quoque jacet corpus 

Artis Magistri, qui obiit 12 Junii, 1681, anno aetatis 79, postquam officium evange- 

listas in hoc oppido per 50 annos fideliter praestiterat. 

Non fictis maestam lachrymis conspergite tumbam, 

Pastoris vestri nam tegit ossa pii. 
Vestra salutifero planxit peccata flagello, 

Delicti sensu corda gravata levans. 
Absolvit pensum, sancta et mercede recepta ; 
Nunc caeli regno, ut stella corusca, micat. 


Who died 15th of November, 1789, aged 35 years. 

Didst thou know him, reader ? 

If thou didst not, 

Know this ; 

He was a tender husband, 

A social friend, and an honest man. 

arrrtr to the ilofctett iHent0rp of 
Taunton bore him, London bred him, 
Piety train'd him, virtue led him ; 
Earth enrich'd him, heaven carest him, 
Taunton blest him, London blest him ; 
This thankful town, that mindful city, 
Share his piety and hid pity. 
What he gave, and how he gave it, 
Ask the poor, and you shall have it. 
Gentle reader, Heaven may strike 
Thy tender heart to do the like ; 
And now thy eyes have read the story, 
Ciive him the praise and Heaven the glory. 

jEtatis suae 65, anno Domini 1686. 



Infra quiescit corpus GULIELMI QIIX, da Tonoduno, mercatore, qui summa 
cum laude ultimo munere praitorio in prima socictatc municipal) lmjus oppidi 
pvrfunctus est, et mortem obiit decimo scptimo die Aprilis, anno Domini 
annoq ; a'tatis sua; sexagesimo nono. 

Infra etiam jacet corpus Joiiannis Gii.i., dc hoc oppido, generosi, filii prsefaU 
Gulielmi Gill, qui mortem obiit undevicesimo die Februarii, anno Domini 1688, 
annoque tetatis 42. 

(That is,) 

Underneath resteth the body of William Gill, of Taunton, merchant, who was the 
last mayor of this borough under the first charter, and discharged the office with the 
greatest applause. He died the 17th day of April, 1G83, in the 69th year of his a^e. 

Also underneath licth the body of John Gill, of this town, gentleman, son of the 
above-said William Gill, who died the 19th day of February, 1688, in the 42nd 
year of his age. 

chy man as* Bant. 

Sacred to the Memory of MARY, the beloved wife of 

John Norris, Esq., of Thorncombe, in this County, 

And Daughter of William Grant, Esq., 

Late of the Honourable East India Company's Civil Service. 

This Monument is erected by her Bereaved Husband, 

As a Sincere though faint Testimony 

Of the strong love and affection He bore her, 

And as a Just though Inadequate Tribute 

To the Mild Amenity of Disposition. 

And unaffected Goodness of Heart, 

Which, as Wife, Daughter, and Friend, Endeared her to all. 

By those who shared her Intimacy, and best knew her Virtues, 

Her premature loss is deeply mourned, 

And will be long and severely felt. 

She died on the 24th day of April, 1836, in the 39th year of her age, 

And her Remains lie Interred under the south-east corner of the Railing of the 

Communion Table of this Church. 

&mtcu to the jHemarn of 


Surveyor of the Royal Navy, 

Who died at Taunton, April 1840, 

Aged 72 Years, 

After Serving His Country Fifty Years. 

" To His Abilities and Exertions 

This Country is Mainly Indebted for its Most 

Valuable Improvements in 

Naval Architecture, 

Which will confer a lasting Benefit on the 

British Nation." 

[From the Report of the Committee of Finonco, Iinatc of Commons, 30th April, 1840 




Clothier, of this town, who died June 20th, 1600. 
Man is like a thing of nought ; 
His time passeth away like a shadow. 

-gvurrti to tfye #Umorj 


CHARLOTTE, the Beloved Wife of 

Sir Robert Seppings, 

Late Chief Surveyor of His Majesty's Navy : 

She departed this Life 

The 23rd November, 1834, 

Aged 02 Years. 

Her life was Guided by Truth. 

Co the ifHemorg of 


Youngest Son of the late Reverend Phillip Bliss, M.A., 

Rector of Frampton Cotterell, and of Doddington, in the County of Gloster. 

He sailed as Lieutenant of His Majesty's sloop of war, Acorn, 

And was lost, together with the whole ship's Company, 

In a Hurricane, between Bermuda and Halifax, 

April 15th, 1828, Aged 28. 

This Monument is Erected by his Mother, Brother, and Sister, 

A Testimony of His Exemplary Worth and of their Sincere Affection. 


Mother of the above John Oneby Bliss, 

Died the 11th of January, 1835, Aged 73, 

And was Buried near this Spot. 

In a Vault Underneath are Deposited the Remains of 


Of this Town, 

Who died Oct. 3rd, 1815. 

And of REBECCA, his Wife, 

Who was taken from her Family after a Protracted Illness, 

July 26th, 1840. 

Also, Three Sons 

Of the above Charles and Rebecca Poole ; 

GEORGE, who died in Infancy, 

JOHN, who died August 27th, 1817, 

And CHARLES, March 9th, 1830. 

This Tablet is Erected 

As a Tribute of Affection 

To her Beloved Relatives, 

By their only Surviving Child 

And Sister, Mary Liddon. 


-<$88SH*H^ *H 


In the Adjoining Church Yard, 

The Mortal Remains of 


The Beloved Wife of John Pinchard, lw|., 

Of this Place, and of Stockton, Wilts, 

Await the Resurrection of the Just. 


** If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which s'eep in 

Jesus will God bring with him." 1 Thess. iv. 14. 

Also of the said 


Who, on the 25th day of April, 1842, 

In the 80th year of his Age, 

Entered into rest. 

" I am the Resurrection and the life." John ii. 25. 

j&acrrtr to the iHrniDrn of 

Late of the Bengal Artillery, 

Who departed this life at Taunton, 

On the 6th day of March, 1838, Aged 86. 

This Monument is Erected 

By his Surviving Children, in Testimony of their late Respect and Gratitude towards 

A Devoted and Affectionate Parent. 



His wife, who died at the same Place, on the 1 1th day of December, 1804, Aged 36. 


On a brass plate in the north transept is the following 

In a Vault underneath are deposited 

The Remains of 


Born the 28th July, 1775, 

Died 21st Jan. 1840, 

Vicar of this Parish 20 Years. 



historical Xottccs 


2TI)e Cfjtirtfj of St iKtarg irttaefcalenc, 

ftattnton, Somerset, 



$t*torical Notices of 


Stye ijtttrf) of L Jftarg Utesoalene, 

Bp torge Cafoe. 


AUNTON has ever been a principal town in Somerset, ami 
has been called, by Camden, " one of the eyes of the county." 
It is situated in the centre of the luxuriant and beautiful 
valley called Taunton Dean, (a) and has three churches St, 
James's, St. Mary Magdalene's, and Trinity, the latter erected 
in the year 1842. It is to the church dedicated to St. Mary 
Magdalene that we are about to call the attention of the reader. This 
sacred and magnificent structure is situated nearly in the centre of the 
town, at the end of Hammet Street, (b) and stands opposite a fine, open 
parade ; from which, with its splendid tower, it is seen to good effect, and 
forms an object of universal admiration. The interior is not less interesting 
and striking than the exterior, and perhaps, as a whole, it is one of the finest 
specimens of Gothic architecture in the west of England ; it exhibits, 
notwithstanding the different styles that have been introduced as altera- 
tions have taken place and additions been made, so much of uniformity 

W Taunton Dean, that is, the Fate of Taunton. The Saxon word den was added to the names of 
places to signify their being situated in valleys or woods j the word den means both a valley and a 
woody place. From the high conceit of the inhabitants of its pre-eminence above other places 
has arisen the boastful proverb, " Where should I be born but in Taunton Dean'" Fuller per- 
sonifies it as the "king's summer parlour;" and a late writer draws an inference in its favour from 
the Taunton men never denying the place of their birth, nor using general terms, like the Yrk- 
shiremen, who say, " they were born in the north." 

(b> This street was called after Sir Benjamin Hammet, who built it in 1788. The church 
previous to this was very much concealed from public view, the entrance to it being through a 
narrow lane. 



i in cin'Rfn op st. maiiy mac.pai.enf.. 
ami beauty OS to fill with MlipriM and admiration the minds of all who 

MioUl it. Ami wo may add that, from our personal observation of the 

various churches hoth in this and other counties, the cliuivh of St. 
Marv Magdalene, Taunton, is as line an ecclesiastical structure of its class 
as we ever witnessed. The circumstances of its history ami the exact 
date of its first erection have not been precisely ascertained. Its origin is 
lmried in obscurity; this is, however, the case with most of our country 
ehurehes. The only clue that sometimes leads to the discovery of the 
date of a church is frequently found in the old foundations, upon which new 
structures have arisen ; and this remark applies to the church now under 
consideration. Often, in the remains of an old arch and its piers, to 
which new work has been added as at Corfe church, near Taunton the 
old Anglo-Norman semi-circular arch and its massive pillars tell pretty 
nearly the date of its first erection, viz., about 1150, as that style scarcely 
survived the twelfth century. Occasionally the date may be found in a 
single and almost hidden pier, as at the church of Pitminstcr, where, in 
the remains of a pier or pilaster now sustaining the south end of the western 
arch, and from whose capital it springs, is given the date of the latter part 
of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth century, while the general 
style of the church is that of the fifteenth, and some of it much later. We 
may also recognise the period of an original erection from a single old bloeked- 
up window, as at Norton-Fitzwarren church, where we find a window of 
the early English style ; and this, accompanied with the massive octagonal 
piers, and an ornamented corbel, gives the date of the thirteenth, while 
nearly all the rest of the windows carry us forward to the fifteenth cen- 
tury ; if we were to judge of the age of the church by these windows, we 
should be led into error. The old window is of the twelfth or tliirteenth 
rmtury, and no doubt gives the proper age of the church. We cannot 
therefore always affix the date with chronological exactness to the erection of 
a building by its windows. How many are there, especially in the county of 
Somerset, which have most of, if not all, the windows of the perpendicular style 
of the fifteenth century, while other parts of the church are known to be 
of the twelfth or thirteenth, being of a style which prevailed only in one 
of these periods! We now propose giving our views and opinions, together 
with what information we have been able to obtain, respecting the church 
of St. Mary Magdalene ; our statements may not always be confirmed by 
documentary evidence, yet if they are rendered more than probable by that 
which is circumstantial, we think this is as much as can be expected 
upon a subject involved in so much mystery as the origin of this church. 
Could we have examined the documents at the Priory at the time of its 





dissolution, and which then, perhaps, were scattered or destroyed, no doubt 
we should have been relieved from many difficulties in discharging the task 
before us. (a) We have been disappointed, too, in not finding any j 
records, from which we had hoped to have derived assistance ; but these have 
been so badly kept, or entirely lost, that we have gained little or no 
help from them. (b) 

The chief sources from which we have derived our information are the 
following : 

First From a few well-authenticated ancient documents. 

Secondly From the various styles which have been introduced as new 
works have arisen, or alterations taken place ; these show a different age, 
and therefore give another date; and although it is not easy to say with 
exactness when one style terminated and the other commenced for the 
transition was very gradual yet there was a period in each when the parti- 
cular style only at the time of the alteration prevailed, and when it became 
so obvious that no one could mistake its distinctive features. For instance, 
the capitals of the piers of the north and south transepts, or chantries, are 
very different from the necks of the capitals of the south piers ; they are 
simple cones, whilst those of the north are concave, thus showing that 
both were not erected at one and the same time. (c) 

Thirdly From observations made during the recent alterations, and 
especially while the earth underneath the floor was being removed ; much 
older foundations were then discovered than the works which had been 

(a) Why libraries should have been so recklessly destroyed at the Reformation does seem 
astonishing. At Malmesbury, which possessed some of the finest manuscripts in the kingdom, 
broken windows were actually patched with portions of them j and, for many years after the 
dissolution, bakers had not consumed the stores which they had accumulated for heating their 
ovens. Leland, who saw the priory at Taunton just before its dissolution, takes notice of the 
library, and mentions the names of some of the books he saw there. The library of Glastonbury, 
one of the richest in England, was probably destroyed at this time by the fanatics. What would 
we now give had Bale's wish been realised, that " in every shire of England there had been one 
solemn library for the preserving the noble works of men, godly-minded, and lively memorials 
of our nation." 

(b ? There were no registers kept in churches before 1538, when an order was issued to keep a 
register of all baptisms, marriages, and burials. These registers commenced in the parish of 
St Mary's in the year 1552. What we more especially complain of is, the loss of most of 
the registers containing the churchwardens' accounts of parish meetings, expenses, &c. ; only a 
few of which are to be found. There must have been great inattention or negligence by some 
parties. It is hoped they will be better preserved in future, and that this and similar publications 
will have the effect of stirring up the spirit of inquiry, and of inducing those who have leisure and 
the means to investigate parish records, and to examine bishops' registers and other documents 
calculated to throw light upon the history of our churches and the manuscripts of the middle ages. 

W The necks of the capitals of the piers of the north transept, or chantry chapel, are similar to 
those of the north aisle, and this shows that this transept and the aisle were creeled at the HUM 
time, but after the church had been built; whereas the south transept was erected with the church, 
and hence the difference in the necks of the capitals of the piers. 





raised upon them. To those circumstances we paid the pott minute 
attention, and thereby gained more information than we had anticipate*!, 
and from which we have been le<l to form a somewhat different opinion 
of the age of this church than that generally entertained. 

The t \i-tt 'tice of a eltnreli on this site was, no doubt, much earlier than 
the erection of tlie Priory, and the completion of it, in its present form, much 
later than is usually supposed. It is rather singular that neither Dugdale, in 
his "Monastieon," nor Tanner, in his "Notitia," gives the least information. 
nor refers to any document, connected with the Priory or the first erection of 
St. Mary's. Neither docs Camden, or Gough, in the "Britannia." take any 
notice of it "And it is rather singular," says Mr. Britton, in his "Archi- 
tectural Antiquities," that "neither Dr. Toulmin, Collier, nor Savage, 
could obtain any document relative to the age of the tower; neither does 
Leland, or Camden, or Gough, furnish us with anything even like a hint to 
lead us to a discovery." It is no wonder, then, that the materials should be 
so scanty from which we have had to derive our knowledge, and if the 
account about to be furnished should be more satisfactory than any ]>re- 
viously given, it will be to us a source of much gratification. In taking a 
general view of this structure, it appears that no church in this county has 
undergone more frequent or greater changes, or has received more or target 
additions, since its first erection. Hence, no one date is applicable to the 
whole ; and many must be affixed, as the several parts arose or alterations 
were made. In order, therefore, to give a correct idea of the building, we 
must go back as far as the seventh century, and it is believed there is 
sufficient evidence to satisfy us in coming to the conclusion that a chinch 
must have existed on the same site long previous to the Norman Conqnot. 
In addition to some historical circumstances connected with the town, 
which have led to our coming to this conclusion, we have been further 
strengthened in our opinion by the following considerations, viz. the early 
introduction of Christianity into Britain; the early division of England 
into parishes; the state of Taunton at the latter part of the seventh 
century; some items in the endowment of the Priory; and the dis- 
covery of the old foundations. With regard to the Jirst, viz., the 
introduction of Christianity into this country, few who have tend 
the best works on ecclesiastical history, will doubt that it was in or 
near the Apostolic age. The planting of it at Glastonbury/") and 

'*' Mr. Stevens, in his continuation of Sir William Dugdale's history of abbeys and monasteries, 
speaks of the abbey as follows : " Of this abbey, so much celebrated throughout the Christian 
world, too much cannot be said, being a subject for whole volumes, as we see some have been 
compiled of othtr churches, inferior to this in antiquity and many other particulars. This was 


the gradual rise of that magnificent establishment, must have had a great and 
extensive influence upon the surrounding country, but especially upon the 
towns and villages near it ; and as the Romans had stations, if not in, yet 
around Taunton, (a) it is evident that it at that time not only existed, but was 
a place of some importance, arising perhaps from its fertile soil and beautiful 
situation. Taunton, from its contiguity to the abbey at Glastonbury, would 
no doubt soon partake of its Christian benefits. The ministers of Chris- 
tianity at that time went from place to place preaching the Gospel to all who 
were willing to hear it, and, when a few had believed, then, like Paul and 
Barnabas, they collected them into societies and established churches. It 
Wis their usual custom to begin with a city, or other important place, where 
they for a time located, and from which they made frequent excursions to 
the adjacent towns and villages, with the pious purpose of gaining converts 
to the true faith. We know that Taunton was a town of no small importance 
in the seventh century, for here was a castle, the residence of a Christian 
king, who held here a great council, composed of the bishops, clergy, 
nobles, and commons of his kingdom. It were unreasonable not to suppose 
^ that from the abbey, long previous to this, missionaries had been sent forth 
to establish Christianity and found churches in this town. This consi- 
deration will receive additional strength from the circumstance of the 
division of the county into parishes, which we are informed by Camden 
was made by Archbishop Honorius, about 636. Although we are aware 
that historians differ with regard to the time, yet it is not to be supposed 

(notwithstanding the groundless cavils of some critics) one of the first places where Christianity 
may be said to have had a settlement; and though the possession was perhaps for some time interrupted 
by the persecutions of the Roman emperors, yet, as soon as ever the faithful began to breathe again, 
they again resorted to this place as peculiarly dedicated to God. It was even honoured by the British, 
Saxon, Danish, and Norman kings, and never ceased to have the same veneration paid to it till it fell 
by the hands of the sacrilegious men, to supply (among the rest) the boundless profusion of King 
Henry VIII., who, still assuming the name of a Christian, overthrew as many sacred structures as if he 
had been a heathen, Goth, or Vandal. But these reflections may be ungrateful to many, who cannot 
or will not distinguish between sacrilege and reformation, and therefore look upon the destruction of 
churches and other places as heroic actions, and glory in converting the noblest structures (which 
civilised heathens would have spared on account of their magnificence), into barns and stables, and 
into heaps of rubbish, as this once wonderful fabric is at present; or else conveying away that very 
rubbish, that no memory may remain of such sacred piles, as has happened in many other places. " 

() Taunton, there is reason to suppose, was not unknown to the Romans, for in the year 16G6 two 
large earthera pitchers full of medals, and in weight eighty pounds each, were dug up with mattocks, 
by labourers, in ploughed fields; the one at Lydeard St- Lawrence, and the other within the 
adjoining parish of Stogumber. A like discovery was also made of Roman coins and other 
antiquities in the foundations of an old house near the Castle, in 1643 ; and in taking down a house 
in St. James's parish, Taunton, an old Roman coin was found, the size of a farthing, with the head of 
Vespasian. In Collinson's " History of the County of Somerset" it is said, " that a Roman road 
ran nearly parallel with the Fosse, from the forest of Exmoor, through Taunton, Bridgwater, and 
Axbridge, to Portishead, on the Bristol Channel, where it intersected Wansdike, and whence there 
was a trajectus to the city of Isca Silurum, now Caerleon, in the county of Monmouth." 



Till. CBUBCB 01 si MAltv ICAODAJ 

that this all took place at (mee, for no oYmiri it wa< gradual and dependent 

on circumstances, and must have taken a long time to make the arrange- 
ments which now exist.' m) It is, however, probable that parishes were 

formed in this county ;i> early as in any other, considering the establishment 

at (ilaMonhiiry. ami its influence over the neighbourhood. And it is likely 
that such a place as Taunton then was, one of the oldest towns in the 
county, ami so near the ahhey, would be amongst the earliest to come under 
this division. We have, therefore, every reason to believe that the town 
was divided into the parishes of St. Mary and St. .lames, and that churches 
also Mooted, about the close of the seventh century. The importance 
of the town at this period would also seem to favour this conclusion. Dr. 
Tonlmin has justly observed, "in whatever obscurity the early period of 
the history of Taunton ii involved, it clearly appears to have been a place 
of good note in the time of the Saxons, for Ina, one of the West Saxon 
kings, as early as the seventh century, built a castle here, nearly upon the 
site of the present, (b) not only as a place of residence, but also for the 
purpose <t hctter securing the conquests (c) which he had made in this part of 
Britain/' It is here that this prince, whose reign throughout is " marked with 
fortitude tempered with moderation, and prudence heightened by religion," 
is said to have held the first great councils of his kingdom, by whose 
assistance he compiled a code of laws for the government of his subjects. 
In this great council we find the bishops and clergy mentioned with the 
nohles and commons. He says, "I, Ina, king of the West Saxons, have 
called my fatherhood, aldermen, and my wisest commons, with the godly 
men of my kingdom, to consult of great and weighty matters." (d) It is not 

() The division of a diocese into rural parishes, and the foundation of churches adequate to 
them, cannot be ascribed to any one act, nor indeed to any one single age. The forming of parishes 
and the appropriation of their tithes, seldom took place until the churches had been or were about to 
be built to which the tithes were to be appropriated. And all those churches erected in the 
century were, of course, of Saxon origin, and built in the Saxon style." Burn's " Ecclesiastical 
Law," vol. i., p. 59. 

M Castles in that age, as well as churches, were sometimes built of wood ; sometimes in haste, 
for present accommodation, or from the want of other materials at hand; and this will account for their 
speedy disappearance, time not leaving a vestige to tell the site on which they stood. 

< cl " Ina, king of the West Saxons, was one of the best and most illustrious princes of the Saxon 
Heptarchy. The turning his arms against Gcrwcnt, king of Wales, and obtaining a great victory, 
which gave him the full possession of Cornwall and Somersetshire, and made Taunton the capital of 
the western kingdom, where he built a castle for his residence, as well as for the defence of his 
western dominions. The latter part of his life and reign was spent in peace and piety ; and after 
having worn his crown with glory thirty-nine years, the devotion of the times induced him, in 728, to 
make a pilgrimage with his queen to Rome; after which he shut himself up in a convent to pass the 
remainder of his life in devotion." Dr. Aikin's " General Biography." 

<< Here is represented, in King Ina, the king's royal person ; his fatherhood, in those ancient 
days, were tho^e whom we call bishops, and therefore were termed reverend fathers: by aldermen, 
the nobility is meant ; so honourable was the word alderman of old times, that only noblemen were 




therefore to be supposed that such a wise and pious king as he is said to 
have been would build a castle, not only for the defence of his kingdom, but 
as a residence for himself, and assemble also so great a council, not only of 
his nobles and commons, but of the bishops and clergy, and neglect the 
spiritual wants of the town in which he resided. Neither would he, we 
think, have called such a great council to assemble here, had there not been 
churches already in existence ; but if this were not the case, no doubt he 
soon supplied the deficiency. That he was inclined to build churches, w c 
have abundant proof in the munificent donations made by this king to the 
church at Glastonbury. In the year 708 he demolished all the old build- 
ings, and re-built the abbey. One of the chapels belonging to it he 
garnished with gold and silver, and gave to it likewise ornaments and 
vessels of gold and silver ; for the gold thereupon bestowed amounted 
to three hundred and thirty-three pounds weight, and the silver to two 
thousand eight hundred and thirty-five pounds, besides the precious gems 
embroidered in the celebrated vestments. He also, in 725, not only gave 
great possessions to the church at Glastonbury, but founded a larger 
one there, in honour of our Saviour and the Holy Apostles, Peter and 
Paul, at the east of the old church. Collinson, in his " History of Somer- 
set," confirms our views of the subject, and says that it was at Taunton 
" he convened the clergy of the west to assist him in the promotion of the 
Christian religion; and, notwithstanding the insurrection of Ealdbryght 
Clito, who urged a presumptive claim to his crown and sceptre, and whom 
he vanquished underneath the walls of Taunton, and the seditious mur- 
murings of some other malcontents of inferior note, he lived to see his 
territories in the full possession of tranquillity, and there being now no 
longer an occasion for walls and bulwarks, the castle of Taunton was 
demolished; and the king, having put the government of his kingdom into 
the hands of Ethelard, brother of his queen, Ethelburga, retired to a 
monastery at Rome, and there ended his days." 

Collinson also adds, which shows still more the importance and respect- 
ability of Taunton at that time : " Ethelard, succeeding to the throne of the 
West Saxon p, seems to have followed the steps of his great predecessor, and 
to have cultivated peace, piety, and religion, in which he was assisted by his 
devout queen Fritheswitha, who, abandoning all her splendid possessions, 

called aldermen : by the wisest commons it signified knights and burgesses ; and so is the king's 
writ at this day " ' De discretioribus et magis sumcientibus :' by godly men is meant the cono- 
cation house, for that it only consisteth of religious men: to consult of great and weighty matters; 
so is the king's writ at this day ' Pro quibusdam arduis et urgentibus negotiis, nos, statum et 
defensionem regni nostri Angliae, etecclesiae Anglicans concerneiitibus.' " See Doddridge "On the 
Antiquity of Parliaments," in " Hearne's Collection of Curious Discourses," toI. L, p. 281. 



devoted herself entirely to God; and, among many other acta of religioul 
charity, prevaileil w|K>n Kthelard to bestow the town of Taunton, then the 
Seat of roval n->idence, on the elnuvli of Winchester, which had been 
founded by Cynegils, the first Christian king of the West Saxons." (,) It is 
unreasonable t<> .-uppose that such religious and royal personages, so zealous 
for the advancement of Christianity, would have made this their residence, 
unless there had been churches in which to worship the Moat High God. 

The next thing we notice, in reference to the early existence of this 
church, are some of the items in the original endowment of the Priory by 
its founder, Bishop Giffard, in 1127. It was so much improved by his 
successor, Henry de Blois, brother of King Stephen, that he came in for an 
equal share of honour with the founder of it. But the exclusive claim of 
William Giffard to be considered in this light was ascertained by an inqui- 
sition, taken on oath before the king's escheators at Taunton, in the tenth 
year of the reign of Edward II., 1316; and by a charter of confirmation 
which passed in the reign of Henry IL, reciting the foundation of the 
priory and the subsequent grants made to it, it appears that the endow- 
ment of it, when first established, consisted of all the churches of Taunton, 
with their chapels and all their appurtenances; the manor of Blagdon; the 
church of Kingston, with its chapels and appurtenances; the church of 
Bishop's-Lydeard, the church of Anger's-Leigh, and the church of Bishop's- 
Hull, with their respective appurtenances ; and that Henry de Blois, the 
successor of William Giffard, augmented this endowment by a grant of 
the church of Pitminster, with its chapels and appurtenances." (b) This 
endowment gives us the date of the churches then in Taunton, as well as 
Kingston, Bishop's-Lydeard, Anger's-Leigh, Bishop's-Hull, and Pitminster. 
It is reasonable, therefore, to inquire what where the churches in Taunton 
that formed a part of the above endowment, except St. Mary's and 
St. James's? The town was never divided into more than two parishes, 
and we have never heard of more than two churches, viz., one dedicated to 
St. Mary Magdalene and another to St. James. We think the words in 
the original charter, " omnes ecclesias Tauntonia? could only refer to these 
two ; for if there were other places of worship, they could only have been 
chapels-of-ease to them. Neither do we think that these words include the 
churches and chapels in the neighbourhood* for these are distinctly men- 
tioned by name in the charter, independently of "omnes ecclesias T aunt/mM 
nun ru/>r///'s" The chapels mentioned by Dr. Touhnin as having existed in 

W See Collinson, vol. iii., p. 229. 

i b > See a copy of the original endowment, Dugdale's " Monasticon," toin. ii., p. 83. 



Taunton, viz., St. Margaret's, at the bottom of East Reach; St. Paul's, 
in the west part; and St Leonard's, at the north end of the town, were 
built some time after the date of the above endowment, and therefore 
could not be included in it ; besides, not one of them was in the parish of 
St. Mary Magdalene. If, then, churches were not erected at the time the 
priory was founded, how are we to understand the terms of the endow- 
ment ? The inhabitants of this parish, moreover, must have been without a 
place for divine worship for nearly twelve hundred years after Christianity 
had been introduced into this island, and that, too, with a Christian esta- 
blishment nearly as long in its neighbourhood, which appears very 

We notice, lastly, the old foundations lately discovered. These were 
deep, and formed of flint and rubble, so cemented together as to be 
separated only with great difficulty. Upon these foundations another 
church had formerly stood, and the piers of the present north and south 
transepts stand upon the old foundations which once formed a part of the 
north and south walls of the chancel of the first erection. The foundations 
of the nondescript piers, supporting the present chancel arch, as well as the 
piers themselves, belong to a much older church than the present; these piers 
have been much altered, in order to suit successive buildings, and have 
lost much of their first massiveness, through the endeavours to make them 
look more modern. At present they do not seem to have the character 
either of one style or the other, and they no doubt belonged, with the 
foundations beneath them, to a much older church than the one erected in 
the thirteenth century, of which we shall presently speak, and formed part 
of a Saxon church, which, by repeated alterations, was changed into the 
Norman style and character. And from the old plain abacus still remaining 
on the north pier, and from which springs the transept arch, wc should 
infer that the older chancel arch was low and semi-circular, having either a 
Saxon or Norman origin. This church, no doubt, was in existence at the 
time of the foundation of the priory, and is one of those alluded to in the 

Thus, from the circumstance of Taunton being known and visited by 
the Romans its co-existence with the early establishment of Christianity 
at Glastonbury its being for a considerable time the residence of a 
Christian king and its having been early in the eighth century attached 
to the see of Winchester, it is certainly not too much to conclude that 
there existed churches here in the seventh century, or before; especially 
when this is further supported by the collateral evidence we have furnished. 
Having advanced thus far, we now proceed to notice the erections and 




alterations which have taken place from the establishment of the priory 
to the present time. 

It has been already observed, that the oldest part of the church consists 
of the foundations lying beneath the piers of the north and south transepts. 
and the columns supporting the chancel arch the plain, square abacus, like 
those we often see crowning the Anglo-Saxon pier, from which springs the 
semi-circular arch : these are the only remains both of the Anglo-Saxon 
and Anglo-Norman structures, the first erected before the end of the 
seventh century, and, we believe, changed into the latter style sometime in 
the eleventh, but previous to the founding of the Priory. 

The next portion of the church, in point of antiquity, includes the 
north aisles, the row of columns that divides the outer from the inner 
aisle, the three eastern arches over the above piers, and the eastern arch 
over the piers of the nave, on the north side ; and also the piers of both 
transepts, formerly chantries, as well as the sunk, panelled parapet over 
the eastern part of the south aisle. All these are of a similar date; 
they belonged to the same church, and are the remains of a church built 
in the thirteenth century in the early English style, which prevailed 
throughout the whole of that century. We have satisfactory evidence of 
this erection from a letter of Bishop Branscombc, then Bishop of Exeter, 
the occasion of which was as follows : the prior and the convent, with the 
inhabitants of the parish, had begun to rebuild their church; but, finding 
that they had not sufficient means to complete it, applied to the bishop for 
letters permissive to make collections in other parishes to enable them to 
finish it. The bishop grants their request, and writes a letter to his arch- 
deacons on the subject. This letter is dated from Clist, near Exeter, the 
13th of March, 1277, and addressed to the Archdeacons of Exeter and 
Totness, authorising them to make collections throughout the diocese, 
during the space of twelve months, in favour of the prior and convent of 
Taunton, who, he says, " have began to build their church in a style of 
costly magnificence, to the completion of winch their means are far from 
being adequate." (a) This letter is quite conclusive as to the time when 
this church was being built ; and the date agrees well with the style 
of what remains of the building. This letter bears too early a date 
for the style of the greater part of the building now standing, it being 
the florid, or perpendicular, which was not introduced until about 
1375, and even at this period only a few specimens have been found, 



<) " Qui eccleiiam suam edincare ceperunt opere sumptuoso, ad cujua perfectionem prope non 
suppctunt facilitates." Bishop Branscombe's Register, fol. 85. 

H^* 0-*-88&>- 

-3~HHiM* , -5-$888&-* 





which is nearly one hundred years after the date of Bishop Branscombe's 
letter, so we may be pretty sure to which part it applies, and for which 
the collection was made. It may not, therefore, be too much to con- 
jecture that this church was finished about 1279, which is more than 
half a century previous to its being endowed as a vicarage,^ which took 
place in 1308, and which, according to Dr. Toulmin, gives the time of the 
erection of the church, that is, according to our view, the early English 
church, (l)) after the foundation of the priory, which cannot be correct if we 
attach any importance to the date of the above letter. He further adds, 
" the two outer aisles, as appears from the date on the porch, were built in 
1508, or perhaps one of them only, for there is a difference in the archi- 
tecture. Had he been acquainted with the several styles of Gothic 
architecture, and the period of their introduction, he would not have fallen 
into such an error, but would have seen that the date of the north aisle 
was of the thirteenth century, while the porch would have enabled him 
to fix only a part of the south aisle and its porch at 1508, the perpendicular 
alone prevailing at that time. There is one question in connection with 
tins church of the thirteenth century, on which we have not been able to 

< a > The following ordination respecting the vicarage was made by Walter Haselshaw, Bishop of 
Bath and Wells, viz. : That Master Simon de Lyme, as incumbent of, and duly instituted in, the 
vicarage of St Mary Magdalene, in the town of Taunton, should receive, every week throughout the 
year, twenty-one canonical loaves, and forty-two conventual flagons of ale, and seven loaves of bolted 
bread, of the same weight as the canonical loaves, and twenty-eight loaves of fine wheat flour, and 
seven flagons of best ale. That he should receive, every year, from the prior and convent, fifteen 
marks of silver, and six cart-loads of hay, and seven bushels of oats every week for his horse, and 
two shillings for shoeing his horse, yearly ; that he should have all legacies left to him in the said 
parish, and such tithes and curtilages as his predecessors usually had, with the following duty, viz., 
that he should serve, with proper assistants, the chapel of the blessed Mary Magdalene, of Taunton, 
and the chapels of Trendle, the Castle, and St. George's Well, in sacraments and other sacred offices, 
at his own expense, with this addition, that he should find a resident minister to officiate always at 
Trendle, for the relief of the said vicar and his successors (to whom the care of the souls of the 
whole parish was committed by the ordinary). The prior and convent were to find a secular resident 
priest for the parish of Stoke and Ruishton, and another for Staplegrove and St. James, and a third 
for Hule-Episcopi, at their own expense. It was further ordained, that the said vicar and all hia 
assistants, serving the said chapels, should make an oath of trust to the said prior, their rector, at 
their admission, that they would, without any defalcation or reserve, restore and refund all and 
singular the obventions received in the aforesaid places. That, for the augmentation of the said 
vicarage, two quarters of wheat should be delivered out of the priory grange, or granary, to the said 
vicar on the feast of our Lord's nativity. The prior and convent to sustain ordinary, and their 
proportion of extraordinary, burdens, and find books, vestments, and other necessaries for the said 
chapels, at their own expense. 

< b > The church of the early English style appears to have consisted of a nave, two north aisles, 
and one south ; and a chantry south of it, a chancel and two chantries adjoining on the north and 
south sides. 

The nave, 33 feet long, 12 feet wide. I Chancel, 22 feet long, 20 feet wide. 
North aisles, 33 15 | South aisles, 33 15 

In 1292 this parish was rated as a rectory by Pope Nicholas, at 90 marks; about 135 of our 
present money. 






sati.-fy OUnelvi Ik -ther it had :i tower. The present is of a diiteivnt 

style, and tin f another md later age than tlic fabric, M the 

reOMUBI show; and in addition to this, the present tower stands too tar 

Gram tin- place irfaere die freetera portion of tin- church originally ter- 
minated, which was at the third arch from the chancel, ami may be observed 

by an inspection of tin- three eastern arches of the north aisle and nave. 

It" it had a tower, it was certainly not placed at the west end, tor when the 
recent excavations were made, not the least vestige was perceptible from 
which we might have supposed where it stood, as the earth appeared aerer 
to hare been moved: it seems probable, therefore, that the tower belonging 
to this church was never erected no doubt for want of the necessary 
means, for we find that they could not finish the church without being 
obliged to apply for foreign aid ; it was therefore left to those of the 
fifteenth century to erect the present magnificent tower, and in addition 
they increased considerably the size of the church of the thirteenth, as the 
different styles will show. Since this enlargement various alterations have 
taken place, which we shall now endeavour to trace, and, for the sake of 
perspicuity, we purpose dividing them into two periods the first extending 
from about 1400 or 1420, the date on the south porch, and which will 
include the erection of the tower, the extension and elevation of the nave, 
the erection of the western part of the south aisle, and also the above 
porch, which bears the date 

Hmimi \t)08. 

The second period extends from the above date to the middle of the 
seventeenth century ; in which took place the pulling down of an old south 
chantry, and the reconstruction of the eastern part of the south aisle, thus 
making it uniform with the western part; the altering of the chancel; the 
converting of the chantries into transepts; the destruction of the rood loft, 
and the erection of the crown gallery in its place. Under the first period, 
we have to notice the Tower. It does not fall within our province to giye 
minute description of this elegant structure; we shall, therefore, only speak 
of it in connection with other portions of the church. It is quite clear 
that it was built after the north aisles had been extended and completed, for 
it is made to project so far upon the west end of these aisles as to block up 
a portion of one of the west windows. It is equally evident that its erection 
took place when the nave was raised and extended, from the great elevation 









of its inner beautifully-panelled arch, which opens completely upon the 
nave, and, by its great height, admits all the light from its handsome 
western window into the body of the church. The tower itself, no doubt, 
took many years to complete ; (a) it is clear, however, that the original design 
was never departed from, the same order prevailing through the whole. 
Its being built in the perpendicular style is a proof that its erection com- 
menced after the introduction of that style, and was finished before it began 
to degenerate into the debased English. The tower is the best specimen of 
the florid, or perpendicular, and was built when this style was in its 
greatest perfection. This order commenced in the fourteenth century, and 
was continued throughout the fifteenth, and even entered into the six- 
teenth. It corresponds with the style of St. Michael's, Coventry, and 
also with that of Merton College Chapel, Oxford, and with some of the 
windows in the tower of Fotheringay Church, Northamptonshire, whose 
date is 1434. 

The nave also, at this period, was extended three arches, raised 
almost to cathedral height, and elaborately finished with a splendid, carved, 
oak roof, which has lately been fully restored. Its height, with the 
panelled arch of the tower, gives great grandeur to the body of the church, 
it being high enough to admit six clerestory windows on each side, 
composed of four lights each. The spaces between them are filled with 
twelve ornamented niches, canopied, and finished with delicately-formed 
pilasters, having small crocketed pinnacles, and terminating in a trefoiled 
head. These niches are supposed to have been filled with the statues of the 
twelve Apostles, previous to the Reformation, but then destroyed. In the 
second column from the west door on the north side is a beautifully-sculp- 
tured niche, supposed to have been designed for and occupied by a statue 
either of the patron saint, St. Mary Magdalene, or the Virgin Mary. The 
font is now placed, with very good effect, opposite this niche. This exten- 
sion of, or addition to, the nave is seen from the different construction of the 
eastern and western arches on the north side ; the eastern, being the older, 
are more acute, partaking of the lancet; the western are all obtuse, and 
more resemble the Tudor. It has a double row of pillars, composed of a 
small cylinder surrounded by four delicate shafts, (b) having their capitals 

<*> It was not an unusual practice to occupy many years in such erections ; for instance, the tower 
of St Michael's Church, Coventry, the building of which commenced in 1373, was not finished till 
1395, and was built at the sole expense of two brothers, Adam and William Batnor. 

(*> One of these small shafts on the last pier of the older part on the north side had no base to it 
all the rest had but its cylindrical shape went down to the pavement This was to enable the 
Romish procession of the priesthood to pass round with more ease, it being the outer shaft of the 
last pier, next the western end. This, however, no one would now suspect or perceive, a new base 

IN- :- 


ornamented with ohernbk busts, their hands supporting shield, scroll, or 
some other <h 

At this time, al.-o, the western portion of the south aisle was built, ami 
made wider than the old eastern part, which remained the same: hut this 
new erection did not take place until some time alter the tower had been 
finished, as may be seen by examining the west end wall, where the aisle is 
made to encroach upon the side of the tower, and which is quite the reverM 
with the north, for there the tower extends beyond the aisle, showing that 
it was built after the aisle, while the south goes beyond the angle of the 
tower, proving that that part was erected after it. The extent of this 
enlargement is evident in the south wall, from the different stone employed, 
and from the old and new work not having been toothed together. Where 
this alteration ended was plainly observable, both from the inside and outside 
of the church; from the former it is not now visible, the walls having been 
recently plastered ; from the latter it is, however, still to be seen. 

The last erection of this period appears to have been the south porch, 
which completed the design then in view, and which gave a finish to the 
western part of the edifice ; it is of a very elegant and elaborate construction. 
In the front are niches for statuary. The ceiling is groined with fan tracery, 
and a small chamber is constructed over it. (a) It is finished at the top with 
a perforated parapet, and on the angles are crocketed pinnacles. The door 
entering the church is square-headed, the spandrils of which are filled with 
sculptured figures and sacred emblems. This porch was in a very mutilated 
state previous to its present correct and judicious restoration. Of late 
years it has been used more as a receptacle for lumber than as an entrance 
into the church ; this very censurable misappropriation will henceforth, it is 
hoped, be discontinued, and the porch be employed for the sacred purposes 
of its original construction. 

Having tints noticed the chief alterations which took place between the 
latter part of the fourteenth century to 1508, we proceed to our second 
period, viz., from that time to the middle of the seventeenth century. 

And the first thing we would notice is, the reconstruction of the eastern 
portion of the south aisle, which was before uniform with the eastern end of 
the north, having a chantry adjoining the south of it, but was taken down, 
and the whole aisle made uniform with the western; the old materials 
were evidently used for this purpose, for when the wall over the piers was 

having been lately put to the shaft, and an angle stone let in, like the rest ; but as this stone does not 
join like the other angle stones to the base, the peculiarity may on a very close inspection be 
perceived, though the reason for this baseless shaft few would imagine. 

'' This is called part-in-, a small room generally over the porch, used either as the abode of a 
chantry priest, or as a record room or school. There is a large one at Cirencester. 




-*K888S>^*Hli >0 *H--<388&>- 



taken down to repair the roof, old cemented stone and mortar in large 
pieces were found filling up the middle, as rubble ; the old nautilus corbels 
for supporting the roof had again been used, as well as the old sunken panel 
parapet, both of which belonged to the church of the thirteenth century. 
In the building of the pillars they imitated those of the western side, and 
made the bases and shafts very similar, but introduced a greater variety into 
the capitals, for although cherubic busts are made use of, they sustain 
different devices ; instead of the simple shield, hands are introduced, with 
the scroll, a cross band, or wreath, and some appear to have the Vandyke 
collar of the age of Charles I., wliich, perhaps, gives very nearly the date 
of their erection ; for had these piers been raised at one and the same time, 
their capitals would, no doubt, have been all alike ; in the moulding of the 
bases, also, some difference is to be found. The windows, too, in this 
portion of the church are of an older date than the rest, and belonged, 
probably, to the former aisle; the east window is of a bold construction, 
large and handsome, consisting of seven lights, with a transom ; indeed, the 
whole of the windows in the church, thirty-eight in number, are entirely 
new, but have been strictly copied from the old. The chancel, too, now 
underwent a change, both in extent and elevation ; it is difficult, however, 
to describe what the exact alterations were, but clerestory windows were 
introduced for the purpose of throwing more light on the rood loft, which 
was converted into a gallery; these were of a modern date, and con- 
sisted of two fights each, with round heads ; they have been lately taken 
out, and the places blocked up. The handsome window recently introduced 
is precisely of the same size and character as that of the dilapidated one 
previously removed; this window, with the chancel arch and walls, has 
been elevated nearly three feet by the recent alterations, which is a manifest 
improvement in the general appearance of the whole edifice. The two side 
windows in the chancel are filled with stained glass, containing sacred 
devices and armorial bearings. 

Another change which took place was the reconstruction of the north 
and south chantries, converting them into regidar transepts ; this must have 
taken place after the south aisle had been finished, the south wall of the 
transepts projecting beyond a part of the east window of the same; the 
north transept extends in a similar manner over the east window of the 
north aisle. In effecting this alteration it appears, the pillars of the thir- 
teenth century were retained. Chantries were al>olishcd by an order from 
Government about 1538, (,) and a great change then took place, some bong 

<*) Chantries were built and endowed for the maintenance of a priest to sing masses, which were 
held satisfactory to redeem the soul of the founder out of purgatory : from these prayers it waa called 




toned into transepts, and hi thaw* windows were occasionally substi- 
tuted for tin' altar, piscina, and sedilia : far instance, in tin- teMU gp ti at 
St. Mary's, although not larger than a room of moderate size, there an- foot 
win<l<w- in each. Two black altar bUm were found lying at the bottom of 
the two south windows, probably where they had once been used as altars. 

The last thing to be noticed is, the changing the rood loft (,) into a 
gaBetJj in 1637 called the "crown gallery," ^ from the circumstance of 
the royal arms being placed on or above it, by which the royal supremacy 
was asserted over the English church. All the roods disappeared nearly at 
the same time, and many of the lofts and screens also ; in some parishes, 
however, the order which had been issued for their removal was disregarded, 
and they were continued for some time after ; many are even found at the 
present time. In the churches near Taunton, we may mention Norton- 
Fit i warren and Bishop's-Lydeard, where they still remain. We have 
heard that the original order for taking down the rood and its loft in the 
last-mentioned church is still in the possession of one of the parishioners. 
The crown gallery in St. Mary's, with the Gothic screen beneath, was 
removed in 1825 ; it is said that portions of this screen may now be found, 
used as fencing, in different parts of the parish ! (c) 

The several alterations thus mentioned as having taken place during this 
last period, occurred after the Reformation, and it would seem, from certain 

a chantry, and the priest who officiated there was called a chanter, or soul's-priest The original of 
chantries was here in the fifteenth century, when the doctrine of purgatory was invented and 
received. There were many in England before the dissolution, and any man might build a chantry 
without the leave of the bishop ; but in later times none could build these chantries without the 
king's licence. In the reign of Henry VIII., when the belief in purgatory began to decline, it was 
thought an unnecessary thing to continue the pensions and endowments of these priests ; therefore, 
anno 37 Henry VI II., cap. 4, these chantries were given to the king, who had power at any time to 
issue commissions to seize those endowments, and take them into his possession. There were seven 
chantries founded in this church ; the titles of which, the names of the last incumbents, and the 
amount of the yearly pensions in 1553, were as follows : 

St Andrew Henry Bull 5 

St. Michael John Seyman .... 4 

Holy Trinity Ralph Wilkins .... 5 

Holy Cross Fraternity . . . W. Trowbridge .... 4 

St Ethelred W. Callowe 5 

Virgin Mary John Pytte 4 

Twing's Chantry Alexander Maggot ... 8 

'' A gallery where a crucifix or rood and other images, usually those of the Virgin Mary and 
Saint John, were placed. 

,b > The octagon turret, having a staircase leading to the rood loft, was till lately seen in the south 
transept, but, being much decayed, the present angular pier was erected in its place, to give greater 
support to the roof and arch ; the crevice lights to the stairs are still to be seen on the outside in 
the wall. 

< c > A few years since the handsome screen in the chancel of St James's church in this town was 
taken down, and sold for S. It now forms a portion of the fittings-up of a cottage in the 







remains, between the years 1630 and 1670 not so much from a desire to 
make the church uniform or perfect, as for affording increased accom- 
modation to the parishioners. Multitudes at this time crowded to this 
sacred temple to listen to the glad tidings of the Gospel delivered by the 
then vicar, the Rev. George Newton, and his zealous and pious assistants, 
the Rev. Tristram Welman and the Rev. Joseph Allein ; (,) there were then 
no dissenting places of worship in the parish ; the population of the town 
was considerable, arising from the extent of its trade ; and having only this 
church and St. James's, then a small one, (b) there must have been diffi- 
culty in providing for the accommodation of the people. 

We had almost omitted to state one peculiar feature in the con- 
struction of this edifice, viz., its having a nave and four aisles ; there are 
but few of a similar arrangement in this country, and we are only able 
to mention two those of Kendal, in Westmoreland, and St. Michael's, in 

Abbe Marite, in his travels in Palestine, describes a church in Beth- 
lehem, called St. Mary Magdalene, a most magnificent structure, having a 
splendid roof supported by four rows of columns of white marble veined 
with red, dividing the interior of the church into five aisles. We are not 
aware if there be any symbolism understood by this arrangement. In the 
case of St. Mary's, we should rather suppose that it arose more from acci- 
dental circumstances than from any original design. 

Thus successive fabrics arose on the same site, each eclipsing its pre- 
decessor in costly magnificence; it was, however, for the people of the 
nineteenth century, by the judicious, substantial, and chaste restoration of 
the noble structure, to outvie them all, so that it may be truly said, " the 
glory of this latter house exceedeth the former." 

We look upon the present church as a great honour and blessing to the 
town of Taunton. The Tabernacle, for its splendour, became the great 
ornament and glory of the Jewish camp and nation in the wilderness ; and 
though the outer covering was of badgers' skins, the interior was most 
gorgeous, that it might be in some measure suitable to the dignity of the 
great King for whose palace it was designed. (c) The beautiful temple of 

<> See the chapter containing notices of the Vicars of St Mary's. 

<*> St James's Church was considerably enlarged, and the whole of the south aisle built by the 
Rev. Dr. Cottle, then incumbent, in the year 1838, at an expense of upwards of 2000, by which 
700 additional sittings were obtained. It was previously in a most dangerous state ; some of tha 
pillars and the south wall being considerably out of the perpendicular, and only kept from falling, aa 
it afterwards appeared, by the weight of the buttresses on the outside. 

< c > The value of the gold and silver made use of for the work of the Tabernacle, besidea the brass 
and copper, amounted, according to Bishop Cumberland, to upwards of 182,568. The instructions 
with regard to the Tabernacle were very minute Exod. xxri. 



+*H* , -^<B88>-*MS^H!I 


Solomon gave a glory anil lustre to the WON nation in tin: land of Judea, 
and to the city of Jerusalem. Both these buildings were erected with 
costly splendour by the command of the Almighty, and under His own 
especial superintendence. We are aware that this outward grandeur is not 
necessary to secure the Divine presence and blessing, as we learn from our 
Saviour's discourse with the woman of Samaria ; we find, however, that 
when the people neglected the temple, and allowed it to fall into ruins, God 
reproaehed them for dwelling in a ceiled house, while His house laid waste, 
and commanded them to go to the mountain, and " bring wood to build the 
house of the Lord," and for their encouragement he said, " I will take 
pleasure in it." But we take higher ground than the mere magnificence of 
the building, or the honour it confers on the town ; it is a temple " for the 
King of kings." It is a house of prayer, set apart for the express worship 
of the great Author of our being ; it is a place for instruction, where by 
the " foolishness of preaching" it may please God to save them who believe. 
By the simple and primitive arrangements introduced into this church, the 
rich and poor " meet together," and, in the beautiful language of our 
Liturgy, " with one accord make their common supplications unto God." 
May the truth, as it is in Jesus, in its native simplicity and loveliness, be 
faithfully and affectionately proclaimed in this glorious edifice, as long as 
one stone shall remain upon another! Of this church, its clergy, and 
congregation, may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ say, 
" this is my rest for ever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it ; I will 
abundantly bless her provision, I will satisfy her poor with bread ; I will 
also clothe her ministers with salvation, and her saints shall shout aloud 
for joy." 

HH*^38I9 & ' fr ' * r db' * f 3 8&H^H* 






HHtm&vbe on 

Wf)t Cotijtc ftotoers of Somerset. 



iirmavfcs on 

()e <otf)tc STxitoers of Somerset. 

Sjonorarp fBrmbct of tf)f Oxford jronctp for promoting ttir tu&f of <5otj)it arrfiiifcturf, if. 


HE Churches of Somerset are remarkable for their beautiful 
towers ; a person travelling by the most ordinary route 
through the county sees them in rapid succession, each pos- 
sessing beauty peculiar to itself, though marked by a general 
composition, to some extent observable in all. 

This family resemblance arises mainly from their being 
built about the same period, and indeed, there are few of an earlier date 
than the fifteenth century, for though some may be referred to an earlier 
period, yet most of them appear to have been built in the time of Henry 
VII. ; and tradition further states that Henry, in consideration of the 
steady support afforded him in his contest with the House of York by 
the natives of Somerset, founded their churches in a style of unusual 

Without questioning this statement, which rests only upon tradition for 
support, there would seem to be other adventitious circumstances connected 
with the county sufficient to account for the excellence of its ecclesiastical 
architecture. Few tracts of country possess so many kinds of excellent 
building-stone as Somerset, for within a very limited space are found the 
quarries of Box, Farley, and Coombe Down, furnishing stone of the oolitic 
species ; in other parts are the quarries of Doulting and Hamdon Hill, of 
the limestone formation. There are also abundant supplies of the red 
and green sandstone, and the blue and white lias, extensively scattered 


OK' 1 % " 


flwoughout the county; indeed, there i- scarcely any spot in Somerset .-hire 
where building materials may not be procured with much facility.''* 

With advantages lik< the.-c, it would only he giving our forefather- 
credit tor their ordinary sagaeity to RmpOM th:it they availed thein- 
selvcs of such resources, and reared those beautiful structures which now 
excite our admiration, for it is not a scattered few that merit attention, 
but all, fnm the largest to the most diminutive, are interesting in their 

It is worthy of remark, that in date and style there is a similarity 
between many of the towers of Suffolk and Somerset; in those of the 
former county the local material has likewise been greatly conducive to 
their beauty, scarcely a church in Suffolk is without some pleasing decora- 
tion formed in flint-work; this material is used not only for facing large 
surfaces of walls, but is introduced in the manner of mosaics, and constitutes 
a chief means of ornament ; in fact, our ancestors never failed to avail them- 
selves of the local products, and exhibited their skill by applying them to 
purposes of extraordinary beauty. 

The towers of Suffolk are mostly of the sixteenth century, and though 
much resembling those of Somerset, yet in many instances they bear a very 
different proportion to the churches of which they form component parts, the 
churches are generally of great height, having large and strongly marked 
clerestories ; this is rather the exception than the prevailing character of the 
Somerset churches, the bodies being low in comparison to their towers, and 
in some instances quite insignificant by the side of most stately and splendid 

On the summit of the high hills, it is not improbable that the towers 
were intended as sea marks to guide the mariners, thus the more simple and 
bold their outline, the better would they be suited for this object, and many 

W The summits of the hills in the immediate neighhourhood of Bath are of the oolitic formation, 
and have a thickness, probably, of ISO to 150 feet Masses of this rock are scattered on the slopes 
of the hills covering the subjacent clays and Fuller's earth, which, with the inferior oolite and 
calcareous sand, constitute the lowest members of the oolitic group. Sometimes the oolitic beds 
form outlying eminences, such as Stantonbury Hill, Dundry Hill, and May's Knoll. The oolites 
rest on a platform of the lias formations, which appear on the lowest portions of the slope of the 
oolitic hills ; the valleys which separate these hills and are drained by rivulets flowing into the 
Avon, are occupied by the formations of the red marl, or red sandstone. In some places the lime- 
stone, which underlies the new red sandstone, occasionally crowns the summits of the hills, but 
more usually is found in horizontal strata, resting against the elevated beds of the mountain lime- 
stone, which latter, with the old red sandstone, forms the constituent mass of Leigh Down nnd 
Broadfield Down, near Bristol. The eastern side of the county, from Bath, by Fromc, Bruton, and 
Castle Cary, to Yeovil, and the southern side, from Yeovil, by Ilminster, to Wellington, are occupied 
by hills of like geological character to those around Bath. Rocks of the green sandstone, and 
even chalk, are found in many places along the border of the county. 



of them answer to this description ; (a) but whether constructed with this 
special view or not, thru existence must be regarded as a proof of religious 
zeal ; to have reared such lofty and magnificent towers throughout the 
breadth of the county, as well in retired villages as in populous and wealthy 
towns, shows that the modern principle of lavishing money to decorate 
churches where they form features of city improvements, and resting con- 
tent with mean edifices where less exposed to view, had no favour with 
the builders of antiquity ; their aim was directed to the single purpose of 
glorifying God, by dedicating to His service the best building they could 
raise, whether in the frequented city or the secluded hamlet. 

Amongst the many admirable towers of this county, the following may 
certainly be selected as being unusually fine, although numerous others are 
well deserving of notice: the towers of St. James and St. Mary, Taunton; 
also of North Petherton, (b) Chew Magna, Evercreech, Iluish Episcopi, 
Dundry, Glastonbury, St. Cuthbert's Wells, Bakew r ell, Wraxhall, Ban well, 
Kingsbury, Shepton-Mallet, Mells, Leigh, Bishops'-Lydeard, Chewton 
Mendip. Of these, none is more justly admired than the splendid tower of 
St. Mary's Church, Taunton. 

It would be satisfactory to know in what year, and to whom belonged the 
honour of designing so beautiful a structure. The author of the " History 
of Taunton," appreciating the skill shown in the design, endeavours to 
identify it with the great Wykeham of Winchester, and contends that the 
style and character of the tower belong to the fourteenth century ; however 
strongly this opinion may have prevailed when the work alluded to was 
published, a greatly increased acquaintance with the details and peculiari- 
ties of the different periods of mediaeval art now convinces us that the tower 
is not of so early a date as the fourteenth century, and that its erection may 
safely be assigned to the latter end of the fifteenth century. 

There are unfortunately no coats of arms, or cognizances, upon the 
tower to settle the exact date when it was built ; but on the transoms of the 
two upper series of belfry windows are sculptured angels supporting shields, 
on which are carved the initials <fct. 23. These letters may refer to Richard 
Beerc, Abbot of Glastonbury, who presided over that establishment in the 

W Dundry Tower, for example, is known to have been built as a sea-mark. The church iUelf is 
very small, but the tower extremely lofty, and being situated at the top of a very high hill, is visible 
far down the Bristol Channel. It was erected by the merchant-adventurers of Bristol ; a stone in 
the tower has the date 1482. 

< b > This beautiful and elaborately ornamented tower is said to have been built by the same 
architect who designed St Mary's tower at Taunton, and there seems nothing unreasonable in this 
belief. The towers at Chew Magna, Chewton Mendip, and Dundry, are also stated to have been 
built by one and the same architect, and tradition further reports him to have given the last village 
its name, by exclaiming, on completing the tower, " Now I have Done dree." 



fifteenth century a dignitary eminently skilled in architecture, and who 
built the churches at Glastonbury on which are sculptured the same initials, 
jR. 13. ; it is therefore not unlikely that he may have JWfrpirid the l< autiful 
tower of St. Mary's Church. (,) There are evident marks in many of the 
churches of Somerset which will justify the supposition that one master 
mind designed them, and the inferior copies can easily be detected. 

Amongst so many well-proportioned towers as Somersetshire affords, it 
is rather a matter for regret that there is not a greater variety in their 
architectural character. They scarcely admit of distinct classification, still 
there are some peculiarities in their crowning features which deserve to be 
noticed ; thus many terminate in regular graduated buttresses, diminishing 
as they rise, and ending in tall and w r ell-designed angular pinnacles ; others 
are strengthened at the angles by buttresses which finish before they reach 
the top of the tow r er, and are met by overhanging perforated pinnacles, 
resting on gurgoyles, and having delicately traceried parapets between 
them. Of this latter kind, the tower of St. Mary's is a remarkable example, 
but the effect of this arrangement is not always successful ; for skilful as 
the combination of parts may be in design, a repetition of pierced pinnacles 
and open parapets presents too fragile an appearance for its purpose: 
such construction in stone is rather unnatural, hence all these crested 
terminations are found to be disfigured by iron ties, &c, that have been 
applied at different times to secure them from the destructive effects of 
hijjrh winds. 

It may also be observed, notwithstanding the magnificence of this tower 
as a whole, that there are other marks about it by which we may trace the 
commencement of the decline in art, which, within the space of another 
century, terminated in the total debasement of those principles winch 
distinguished the best productions of the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies. A profusion of ornament may at first excite admiration by skilful- 
ness of design and execution, but it cannot satisfy the judgment, if it is 
adopted to the exclusion of sound principles of construction, or to the 

() " Richard Beere was installed Abbot of Glastonbury, January 20th, 1493. He built the new 
lodgings by the great chamber, called the king's lodgings, in the gallery ; as also the new lodgings 
for secular priests and clerks of our Lady. He likewise built the greatest part of Edgar's Chapel, at 
the east end of the church ; arched the east part of the church at both sides ; strengthened the 
steeple in the middle by a vault and two arches (otherwise it had fallen) ; made a rich altar of silver 
gilt, and set it before the high altar ; and returning out of Italy (where he had been ambassador), 
made a chapel of our Lady of Loretto joining to the north side of the body of the church : he made 
withal a chapel of the sepulchre in the south end of the nave, or body of the church ; an almshouse 
(with a chapel) in the north part of the abbey, for seven or ten poor women ; and the manor place at 
Sharpham, in the park, two miles west from Glastonbury, which had been before nothing else but a 
poor lodge. He died on the 20th of January, 1524, and was buried in the south aisle of the body of 
the church, under a plain marble." 





liOTHir TOWKKS 01 .sO.MKKm 

prevention of that repose which ought to be a part of every composition 
in art.<"> 

The ordinary principles of design seem to require that the lower part of 
a building should be the strongest, and that as the building rises, it should 
become lighter, the means adopted to effect this, produces of itself a charac- 
ter of ornament; thus the base of a tower may be entirely solid, with the 
exception of a doorway and window on the west side; it then rises to the 
ringing chamber, where again but little light is necessary, such as may be 
obtained from small openings ; above this chamber is the belfry, and here 
considerable perforations in the walls are necessary for the escape of sound ; 
above this story no chamber is ever constructed, it being an object of 
paramount importance to place the bells in as elevated a position as possible, 
that the sound emitted may have free course. This useful construction, 
when merely decorated to give it grace, at once presents an agreeable 
design, the lower part appearing neither bald or unmeaning, nor the upper 
part feeble or unnecessarily minute, and if the summit is designed in accord- 
ance with this feeling, there is a unity in the whole justified by its purposes. 

Bearing these remarks in mind, it may be questioned whether the tower 
of St. Mary's is not overcharged with parts tending rather to confusion, and 
the want of projection in the angular buttresses detracts from the strength 
of expression which such a large vertical mass should possess; the same 
observation will apply to some of the other towers already named. 

It must be admitted that the other examples referred to, having 
graduated buttresses, set angularly at each corner, or arranged in 
couplets rectangularly, rising to the top of the tower, and terminating in 
solid but well-proportioned turrets or pinnacles, exhibits as beautiful 
and consistent an arrangement as can be devised in stone. With a wide 
projecting base, these angular supports diminish proportionately, stage 
by stage, and give that pyramidal form to the mass which seldom fails 
to satisfy the eye, while the continuity of outline at the summit, where 
the lines are not broken by overhanging cage-like construction, perfects the 

W Mr. Welby Pugin, in his " Principles of Pointed Christian Architecture," asserts, that every 
tower built during the pure style of pointed architecture either was, or was intended to be 
surmounted by a spire, which is the natural covering for a tower; a flat roof is both contrary to the 
spirit of the style, and it is also practically bad. There is no instance before the year 1400 of a 
church tower being erected without the intention, at least, of being covered or surmounted by a 
spire ; those towers ante-decent to that period, which we find without such terminations, have 
either been left incomplete for want of funds, weakness in the sub-structure, or some casual 
impediment, or the spires which were often of timber covered with lead have been pulled down for 
the sake of their materials. In fine, when towers were erected with flat embattled tops, Christian 
architecture was on the decline, and the omission of the ancient and appropriate termination was 
strong evidence of that fact 




design in a part manit*e>tlv tin in>-t rfiftctlU to 00mpOBj Mid where t<> 

m Ve<|Urntlv in.>-t faulty. 

The towns of the parish churches at Wills, BtekwiU, and Wraxhall, 
are very good illustrations of this kind, and the first is particularly successful 
in its projRWtions. 

Further than these vanities in their outlines they have nothing 
remarkable in design beyond the richness of detail which generally belongs 
to them. Each tower, according to its height and bulk, is divided into 
several stages ; the belfries being mostly enriched ; the walls pierced by two 
or more couplet windows on each side, filled in with elaborate open tracery 
to give vent to the sound of the bells ; the other spaces occupied by niches 
and sunk panelling ; the lower stages are necessarily less ornamented, but 
are well arranged, and by their solidity giving consistency to the whole. 

Internally the junctions of the towers and churches are excellent. The 
ringing loft is in most cases supported upon a stone vaulting of rich fan 
tracery, having a large circular trap in the centre, for the purpose of 
lowering or hoisting the bells. (,) It is to be lamented that the tower arch, 
fan tracery vaulting, and west window, are in so many cases shut out 
from the body of the church by a large organ case, or lath-and-plaster 
screen; happily however, there is a chance that these blemishes to our 
churches will be removed by the gradual increase of architectural know- 
ledge which is now taking place. 

Many of the towers contain good peals of bells, and some of them 
have curious inscriptions; generally speaking, our ancestors constructed 
their timber framing w T ith great judgment, but it is a grievous fact, 
that the careless manner in which repairs have been made in recent 
times to the wooden cagework, has been the cause of most serious 
mischief to the towers themselves, several instances might be adduced in 
proof. When the ringers encounter a difficulty in ringing owing to the 
weakness of the framing, instead of bracing the parts together, so as to 

W This beautiful mode of vaulting is essentially English, and is seldom or ever met with in 
continental architecture; but exquisite specimens are to be found in most of our English churches, 
either applied as in the case of tower vaulting, or adapted to the soffites of chantry chapels and 
mural tombs ; when used for the latter purposes, it does not possess the mechanical construction 
belonging to larger examples; it was the latest description of vaulting introduced, and is frequently 
discovered in the most debased examples of Tudor architecture. There is an exception to this kind 
of vaulting in the tower of Merton College Chapel, Oxford. The belfry is supported by a curious 
piece of construction in oak, very skilfully designed with moulded principals and pierced spandrels, 
having also in the centre a circular lantern-shaped opening, for the admission of the bells. This 
ingenious piece of carpentry was shut out from view till within a late period, by a wretched lath and 
plaster ceiling. The corbels supporting the main arched timbers are sculptured with the representa- 
tions of different orders of ecclesiastics. 





make the framework itself secure, they stiffen it by thrusting struts 
and wedges between the main timbers and the walls; or if the de- 
fective part should be near a window, then by wedging to the window- 
breast, mullions, or window-head, whichever may be nearest, thereby 
throwing all the strain and vibration of the bells, when in full swing, 
directly upon those parts; the disastrous effects produced by this system 
must be manifest ; upon observing old bell framing, it will be found 
perfectly independent of the side walls, and when the peal is in full action 
the whole cagework may be seen to oscillate considerably, having no con- 
tact with the walls, being indeed no more than a dead and inert weight ? 
resting upon stone corbels or set-offs. 

It is interesting to observe how carefully and minutely the most 
concealed detail of every part of a church was formerly finished, regard- 
less of its inaccessable situation. Instances of this may be found in 
the stair turrets, which form such pleasing appendages to the Somerset 
towers; the stone newels instead of ending abruptly at the top, are fre- 
quently made small vaulting shafts, from which moulded ribs branch 
over, forming elegant groined termini to the stairs, and even the slit 
windows by which the stairs are lighted, and the doors of communication 
to the different stages, evidence the greatest care in design. (a) 

Having noticed a few characteristics of the towers themselves, their posi- 
tions in reference to the bodies of the churches must be stated. The most 
general position appears to be at the west end, but in cruciform plans they 
necessarily stand as centre towers over the junctions of the nave, transept, 
and chancel. Many also are placed between the nave and chancel where 
no transept exists, and some are situated at the north and south sides, but 
these are the exceptions to the common practice. 

Large and conspicuous gurgoyles are common ornaments to the towers, 
and they not unfrequently consist of representations of grotesque and 
debased animals. Monsters both of animal and human shape, are to be 
seen in most distorted and offensive postures ; by some, these oddities are 
referred to the caprice of the workmen who carved them, but it has also 
been well observed, that these uncouth devices are meant to represent the 
vices and depravities of human nature, and placed at the western extremity 
of the building, to show the distance between holiness and sin ; the former 
state being symbolised by the representations of saints and angels, (which 

'" When the upper part of the tower of St Mary's Church, Taunton, was reinstated, in 1746, 
they very injudiciously made all the angular pinnacles of the same design ; the stair-turret has, 
therefore, no marked character at its summit : this is to be regretted, as a most important feature of 
the tower is thus lost. 


*-<$88^-H**i&'- 4 >XB88S>- 


arc usually found at the east end near the altar, or within the precmcte of 

the ohanoel) where the i a aoro d mysteries are celebrated 

Amongst all the towers of Somerset, and some of them standing on 
prominent and lofty ground overlooking the sea, Done possesi the distinctive 
features of lantern towers: do indisputable examples of this clan are to be 
found, but the extremely light and open appearance of the angular pinna- 
else attached to some of them, induce belief that they might have been 
formerly used es receptacles for cressets upon occasion of the great festivals 
of tlu> Church, if not at other times; and this conjecture obtains support 
from its being known that the upper stages of the tower at Boston, in 
Lincolnshire, All Saints, York, and old Bow Church, London, were pro- 
vided with small lanterns for purposes of illumination. (a) The two latter 
structure- hail not the distinctive lantern form as Boston, yet they were 
furnished with convenient places for receiving lights. The extremely 
perforated character of pinnacle is not confined exclusively to the Son, 
towers; some of the Gloucestershire towers are decorated with similar 
like turrets, and it can scarcely be concluded that these forms, 
devised with so much skill, were adopted without reference to a useful 
purpose. The open parapets which connect these pinnacles retain the 
outward trace of battlements, but are usually so ornamented as scarcely to 
be recognised under that form; in this respect they differ greatly from the 
battlements of the adjoining churches of Dorset. The Dorsetshire towers 
are of late date, and almost invariably finish at their summits with bold and 
expressive battlements; it is not however to be inferred that they were 
used for defence, as they had become mere features of ornament, though if 
occasion required, they might be found quite serviceable for protection. (b) 

Although Somerset is so distinguished for its towers, it is not wholly 
without spires; the churches of Croscombe, Doulting, Bridgewater, Yatton, 
and a few others, have these graceful superstructures; but the period when 
they weri- common crowning features had passed away, and the enriched 
perpendicular towers had succeeded them. The exquisite spires which 
enrich the scenery of Northamptonshire, may all be assigned to a full 
century anterior to the erection of the Somerset churches. 

The preceding observations being intended merely to point out a few 
leading characteristics of tin- principal towers, induced by a desire to call 

ial attention to the remarkable one of St. .Man's Church, Taunton, it 

') On one of the turrets of Hadley Church, near Barnet, Middlesex, there was formerly a 
pot, filled with combustible matter, to serve for a cresset or beacon. 

In some cases the towers of churches were formerly used for defence; Rugby Towtr, in 
Warwickshire, i* known to have been occupied by soldiers. 





would be taking too wide a range to institute a parallel between them and 
the towers of other counties; but such an investigation would afford an 
interesting subject of disquisition, for though, upon a cursory glance, there 
might not seem any conspicuous difference in them, yet, were they carefully 
delineated, much variation would be found in their designs, and a general 
rule of proportion might be ascertained, m to account for the superiority 
which some examples possess over others. It is to be hoped that while 
the churches of Yorkshire, Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire, and other 
counties, are being illustrated, with a view to make known their interesting 
features, the magnificent churches of Somerset may not be forgotten. The 
towers alone belonging to these churches would richly illustrate any 
work. (a) The want of early records, pertaining to nearly all our parochial 
churches, deprives us of the information respecting the founders of them, 
and we can only learn imperfectly from heraldic badges and stained glass 
of those families who were formerly benefactors. The disappointment 
arising from this fact might of itself, without higher motives, induce us to 
adopt the excellent recommendation of J. H. Markland, Esq., who, in an 
admirable letter to the Oxford Archaeological Society, has suggested that, 
in lieu of the incongruous tablets, sarcophagi, &c, which are continually 
thrust into churches as memorials to deceased friends, the mourning sur- 
vivors should " furnish a pillar, a transept, or a choir," to some church, 
whereby the privilege of contributing to build God's house might be shown; 
and to perpetuate the memory of the deceased, a small brass plate might be 
inserted, with the necessary inscription, in some suitable part. 

A good illustration of the practice here recommended, may be seen in a 
curious church at the village of Wanborough, Wilts, having both a tower 
and a spire; the latter is placed over arches, at the junction of the nave and 
chancel: the tower is at the west end, and on a small brass plate is the 
following inscription : 

Orate p CI) emu Saltan r eiJttlja uvr n ttefuurtitf ittarjia }3I)iliuo, Qrchna. 
Glauttite . Sgntte t wan Mttsf car rar altirf . 0110 Unbto brrartJ, btrarto r aA< 
MM porljtaui* . q. i). rapamlc tcrpcrt &n fflno. xccccxxxv. 

" Pray for Thomas Polton and Editha, his wife, defunct ; for Master Philip, 
Archdeacon of Gloucester, Agnes, and fourteen others their children ; for Sir 
Robert Everard, vicar, and all his parishioners, who this tower commenced, Anno 
Domini 1435." 

'' The late Mr. Gage Rokewode published a very interesting account of the Ecclesiastical 
Round Towers of Norfolk and Suffolk, illustrated by some excellent engravings : to those who wish 
to pursue this subject further, the perusal of his communication to the Antiquarian Society, 
published in the 23rd volume of the " Archaeologia," will afford much pleasure. 


The churches of Long Melfbrd and Lavcnham, Suffolk, liave also 
inscriptions worked under the external stringcourses and other places, 
imploring the suffrages of the faithful tor the repose of those pious person- 
ages who erected distinct portions of the building, such as the tower, the 
aisle, the porch, and side chapels, each part being inscribed with the 
date of its erection. 

Without adopting the literal form of these inscriptions, we may at 
least imitate the spirit which prompted men of old to dedicate largely of 
this world's goods to the enlargement or restoration of churches, and thus 
secure to others increased opportunities of enjoying the blessings of 
* common prayer." 



8fh> HH 

Ecclesiastical ^rcijitectttre of England 


IBcclestaattcal ^tcfjttecture of lEnglantr, 

Hg Stomas $ouf) $orcf), (Esq. QL.ffit. 

i-iu of Cnnitp Colltgr, (Samfcrlogr. 




Praise of Pointed Architecture Its peculiarly appropriate character in the design 
and construction of Religious Edifices. 

F all the different kinds of architecture, that have been con- 
secrated at various periods to the service of Religion, none 
appears more calculated to inspire the mind with awe and 
veneration than that peculiar style employed in ecclesiastical 
edifices during the middle ages, originally invented by the 
Normans, and carried by their successors to the highest point 
of perfection. It is true that the classic orders of Greece 
and Rome have never been surpassed, as presenting models 
of grandeur and beauty in the construction of palaces and 
public buildings of a merely secular character; but where is the temple, 
raised by pagan hands, and dedicated to imaginary deities, that can compare 
with the sacred interior of the Christian Cathedral of our forefathers, glorious 
with its many-clustered columns and vaulted roofs, long-drawn aisles, and 
richly-storied windows fabrics conceived in the loftiest spirit of devotion, 
and consecrated to the living God ! 

It is not, however, by the vast scale only and stupendous dimensions of 
these hallowed piles, that admiration is principally excited ; vastness alone, 
without variety, might awaken astonishment, but could never enchain 



attention ; and mere BIBivfiH'ss, uninformed with t lie* finer principl. 
Art, would produce stnt iiiitiit rather of repulsion than delight. Wherein, 
then, consists tin- peculiar charm of these struct urea? In the admirable 
adaptation of the various comjMment parts to form one complete, grand, and 
entire edifice, where arch u|H>n arch, and column upon coluiiin, are beauti- 
fully hlended into one harmonious mass; a mighty and magnificent plan, 
emhraeing in its ample scojkj an almost infinite amount of minute and 
appropriate details; an extreme simplicity of outline, susceptible of even 
the greatest profusion of decoration. 

But it is chiefly in a religious point of view, by reason of its sublime 
and awful character, that the Pointed Style (a) is most imposing; for when 
can the heart be more deeply affected with solemn and devout impressions, 
than when buried in meditation beneath the vaulted canopy (b) of centuries, 
only not less perishable than the vault of heaven (c) itself, and probably 
destined to endure as long : or where can the eye glisten with so fervent a 
delight, as while gazing on the triumphs of Faith, pictured in the calm but 
brilliant jiortraitures of evangelists, and apostles, saints, martyrs, and con- 
feeBOTS, each resting within his OWD gOrgeOUi tabernacle. " 1: and their brows 
all radiant with the light of immortality : or who, standing upon the ashes 
of the dead, and surrounded with monuments so enduring, feels not in 
himself that, although the creature of a day, he is the pilgrim of eternity ; 
while the full soul, swelling with the choral symphonies, and borne upon 
the wings of devotion, contemplates the glories of that loftier and more 
magnificent temple above, where the service never ceases, and the hallelujahs 
never die ? (e) 

() " Pointed architecture is so termed in allusion not only to its characteristic arch, but to its 
pinnacles, spires, &c, and seems most appropriate and most expressive of its character." Pogin'a 
Specimens of Gothic Architecture, vol. i., p. 2. 

< b > The groined nave of Wells Cathedral, after a lapse of six hundred years, presents as firm an 
appearance as when it was first constructed. So also many other cathedrals. 

(<) The heavens are the work of thy hands they shall perish." Psalm cii , 25, 2C. 

W The idea of tabernacles was probably derived from the expression of St Peter to our Lord at 
the Transfiguration, "Lord, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Mom, 
and one for Elias." Matthew xvil, 4. But " the Lord of life and glory" needed no other than that 
tabernacle of humanity, which he had already hallowed by being himself enshrined within it. On 
another occasion also, our Lord was pleased to represent himself under a similar figure, which the 
Jews misunderstood in reference to their temple, when " He only spake of the temple of his body." 

M Some very excellent individuals object to the decoration of ecclesiastical edifices on the 
principle that exceeding plainness is more appropriate to a place of religious worship. But where 
do we discover the archetype of this style in Nature ? Is not the Universe one vast Temple, and has 
not the Supreme Grand Architect adorned it with a splendour and beauty that reflect His glory on 
every side? Moreover, shall the shrines of ambition and luxury glow with the brightest trophiea of 
Genius, and the richest treasures of Art, while the temples of Him, who is the All-bounteou.-. (>inr 
of every good and perfect gift," remain neglected and unadorned ? 


Settfon K. 

Ecclesiastical Architecture from the earliest period to the Norman Conquests British Churches 
Saxon invasion, and triumph of Paganism Restoration of Christianity by Augustine Early 
Saxou foundations at Canterbury, Rochester, and London At York At Wearmouch At 
Ripon and Hexham Abbot Benedict Biscopius and Bisnop Wilfred -Churches at. Glaston- 
bury, and splendid chapel constructed there by King Ina Albert, Archbishop of York 
Eanbald and Alcuin Destruction of churches by the Danes King Alfred the Great His 
glorious character The Nursing- Father of the Chuic.i Repairs the ruined 
monasteries and churches His example imitated by his successors Munificence 
of King Edgar Ramsey Abbey Architectural form and character of the Saxon 

N the first introduction (a) of Christianity in this island, 
shortly after the death of its Heavenly Founder, the esta- 
blishment of the new religion induced the necessity of 
consecrated edifices for the due performance of divine wor- 
ship, and the celebration of its holy mysteries. In this 
early dawn of civilisation, it is probable that these primitive 
fabrics were imperfectly constructed, and most frequently 
of perishable materials, wood and wicker-\vork, (b) with a 
simple coating of clay, composed the walls; and the lowly 
thatch, " where the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest 
for herself, where she may lay her young," afforded the sole covering for 
the altars of the Lord of Hosts ! These sanctuaries have long since passed 

() Xempore, ut scimus, summo Tiberii Ca:saris," &c. Gildas. 

W Of this description was that primitive " oratory of bark't alder or wiokerwands winded and 
twisted together, with a roof of straw or rushes," built at Glastonbury by the first missionaries, and 
afterwards " preserved by Paulinus, the first bishop of York, out of reverence for the holy personages 
who had prayed in it, when he built a more decent church of wood and metal (lead) over it" 
Eyston's Little Monument to the once famous Abbey and Borough of Glastonbury, p. 6 ; Milncr's 
Treatise on the Ecclesiastical Architecture of England, p. 22. 

The church at York, also, in which King Edwin was baptized by Paulinus, was a wooden 
struoture, raised for the purpose, and subsequently enclosed in the more spacious church of stone, 
erected by that monarch. " Baptizatus est autem Eburaci in die sancto Pasche in ecclesia Sti. 

Petri Apostoli, quam ipse de ligno citato opere erexit Curavit inajorem ipso in loco el 

augustiorem de lapide fabric-are basilicam, in cujus medio ipsum quod prius feccrat oratorium, 
includeretur." Bedae, Hist Eccl., lib. ii., c. 14. 



away -oriinil >K*1 in the dust with their humble worshippers ; hut doulile>s 
many a >itt still remains, supporting on its consecrated soil the majestic 
Cathedral of n much later a^c, when the names and the hktoriM of their 
early founders were either forgotten, or hut faintly echoed in the legends of 

Gildas, the most ancient of our native historians, bears honourable 
testimony to the piety and zeal of the British Christians, in re-constructing 
the churches which had been destroyed during the Dioclesian persecution ; 
and even St. Chrysostom (a) directs attention to the churches and altars in 
this island. These early Christians, however, were permitted to enjoy but 
a brief repose; for shortly after the withdrawal of the Roman legions to 
protect the empire at home, so fierce a struggle ensued between them and 
the Saxons, whose aid they had solicited against the northern barbarians, 
and who treacherously turned the tide of conquest against their feeble 
suppliants, that the kingdom was filled with anarchy and ruin. All order 
was subverted the churches were again destroyed the priests slain at the 
very altars, " and though the British Church was never entirely extin- 
guished,^ 5 yet paganism for a time prevailed. 

By the Saxon invasion was ushered in the gloomy idolatry of the North, 
and the grim spirit of Odin triumphed over the mild genius of Christianity. 
This period of gross darkness, attended with almost a total eclipse of the 
light of the Gospel, overshadowed the kingdoms of the Heptarchy for con- 
siderably upwards of a century, until the blessing was again restored by the 
zeal of Gregory the Great. 

In A.D. 596, this eminent pontiff despatched Augustine, with forty 
monks, from Rome, to rekindle the faded lamp of Christianity in the 
Saxon dominions; and so marked was his success, that, on the conversion 
of Ethelbert, King of Kent, an event greatly accelerated by the influence 
of his pious queen, (d) Canterbury was assigned him by the sovereign for 
his residence; and the Pope, as a reward for his exertions, conferred on 
him the archiepiscopal pall, with instructions to establish twelve sees in his 
province. The good example of this powerful prince was almost universally 

'*' Kat fap tcqxei eKKKtjotai 
Kai Ova larrtjpia treir/jyairiv. 

XPY202TOMOY on 0eo< o Xprr<fc. 
*> " Ruebant redificia publica simul et privata, passim Sacerdotes inter altaria trucibantur." 
Bedse, Eccl. Hist lib. i., c. 15. 

'*> It appears from William of Malmsbury, that the British anachorets of Glastonbury con- 
tinued to follow their course of life in the fastnesses of their retired island, such as Glastonbury 
then was, during the whole period of the Pagan-Saxon persecution." Milner, p. 22. 

<*) Bertha, daughter of Caribert, King of Paris, and, previously to her marriage with Ethelbert, a 
Christian princess. 







followed. The ancient religion revived the Church once more arose from 
the dust, and put on her beautiful garments. 

On the king's conversion to Christianity, he applied himself with the 
greatest zeal to the noble work of building churches. He founded a new 
one for the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, (8) which Augustine was 
then erecting, and designed it as the final resting-place for himself, his 
successors the kings of Kent, and the archbishops of Canterbury. He 
also founded the church of St. Andrew, at Rochester, (b) which he endowed 
for an episcopal see ; and having prevailed on his nephew Sebert, the King 
of the East Saxons, who reigned under him, to erect a new bishopric in his 
kingdom ; he fixed the see at London, and founded and endowed the 
cathedral church of St. Paul (c) in that city. These three were the earliest 
churches erected by the Saxons after their conversion to Christianity the 
blessed first-fruits of the sacred mission conducted by Augustine. 

It is probable also, that at the same period the old British churches in 
various parts of the kingdom, which had flourished under the Roman 
dominion, and survived the havoc of Pagan desolation, were repaired and 
restored to their original use. Of these pristine structures two were still 
existing in the city of Canterbury (d) alone the one dedicated to St. Martin, 
HgfrpO on the east side of the city, wherein Queen Bertha performed her devotions, 
and assigned to Augustine and his companions on their first arrival; and 
the other, that which the king after his conversion presented to Augustine 
for his archiepiscopal see, having previously repaired and dedicated it to 
our blessed Saviour. To render the triumph of Christianity complete, the 
temples used by the idolatrous Saxons were consecrated to Divine worship ; 
Pope Gregory recommending Augustine (e> not to demolish the temples, 
but only to purify them by the destruction of their idols, and then to 
consecrate them to the service of the living God. These, and the renovated 
British churches, may be reasonably considered the prototypes of many of 
the churches (f) afterwards erected in the kingdom. 

In A.D. 627, Edwin, King of the North Humbrians, having been 
converted and baptized, founded a noble church at York, which he dedi- 
cated to St. Peter ; and about the year A. D. 676, the famous Benedict 

(*) Bedae, Hist Eccl., lib. i., cap. 33. 

0>) Ibid., lib. ii., cap. 3. " Dedicated to St. Andrew, out of respect to the monastery of St Andrew 
at Rome, of which Augustine was originally a member, and the arms of this see are borne in 
reference to the instrument of martyrdom of the patron saint " Winkle's Cathedrals, Intro- 
duction, p. x. 

< c ) Ibid., lib. ii., cap. 3. 

W Ibid., lib. L, cap. 26. 

W Ibid., cap. 30. 

W Monast AagL, vol. iii.. p. 208. 

-I- -3888^H^<A^h4-^88S>^-o0^^oAo 


\l>liot of Wearmouth, in tli*' vicinity of (iyrwi, built St. 

Peter^i Church in thai monastery, having previously undertaken ;i journey 
t<> France for the express purpose of engaging irorkmen to construct it 
after the Etonian manner. On the oompletion of this building, he sent into 
Prance for artificers skilled in the mystery of making glass to glaze the 
windows, an art until that time unknown to the inhabitants of Britain. 

About the same period, A. D. 676, Wilfred, Bishop of York, founded 
the conventual church of llipon, (b) in Yorkshire, and the cathedral church 
of Hexham, in Northumberland. Three other churches also at Hexham 
churned him for their founder; and under his auspices, the pious Ethel* 
dreda founded and established the church and convent of Ely. This muni- 
ficent prelate, the Wolsey of his age, by the favour and liberality of his 
sovereigns, the kings of Northumberland, rose to such a pitch of greatness, 
as to vie with princes in his state; and attained such opulence, as enabled 
him to found several rich monasteries. In the prosecution of these under- 
takings he invited the most distinguished builders and artists from Rome, 
Italy, France, and other countries, and according to his biographers Eddius 
and Malmsbury, Wilfrid was eminent for his knowledge and skill in the 
science of architecture, and himself the principal director in all these works. 

In A. D. 716, Ethelbald founded the abbey of Crowland, in Lincoln- 
shire ; and about A. D. 719, Ina endowed and erected the larger church at 
Glastonbury, in Somersetshire. William of Malmsbury, in his tract "De 
Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae," (d) speaks (p. 310) of the erection of 
the larger church of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, which he attri- 
butes to Ina, King of the West Saxons; and he says, "that, as there were 
several churches there, he shall relate the truth as to their situation and 
founders. The first and most ancient was erected by twelve disciples of 
the Apostles St. Philip and St. James; and this was situated on the west 
side of the others. The second was built by St. David, Bishop of 
St. Asaph, on the east side of the old church, and was dedicated to the 
Virgin Mary. Twelve men, (e) who came from the north part of Britain, 
erected the third, which in like manner was situated on the east side of 
the old church. The fourth and largest was built by King Ina, and 
dedicated to our Saviour and the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. It was 


W Bedae, Hist. Abbatuni Wiremuth et Gyrw, p. 2!).">. 

( b > Eddii Vita S. Wilfredi, inter XV. Scriptores, cap. xvi., p. 59., a Gal.. 

< c ) Eddius, sibi supra, p. 62. 

( d > Inter XV. Scriptores a Gale, p. 310. 

The names of these pious pilgrims from the north were " Morgan, Cargur, Hadmor, or 
Cathmor, Merguid, Morviued, Morchel, Morcant, Boten, Morgan, Mortincil, and (ilasteing." 
William of Malmsbury, p. 310. 






on the eastern side of the others, :m<l founded and endowed for the soul of 
hi< brother Mules, who had been burnt at Canterbury by the inhabitants 
o! that eity, though on what occasion does not appear." 

"In this church, founded by Ina, there is no reason to suppose there 
was any variation of style from the mode of building before observed ; but, 
in addition to this, Mahnsbury has inserted a description of a chapel con- 
structed by the direction and at the expense of the same king, Ina, so 
singular as to require particular mention, and so splendid as not only 
apparently to surpass all former edifices in magnificence, but almost to 
exceed belief. (a) The following is the substance of his narration: the 
same king also caused a chapel to be constructed of gold and silver, with 
ornaments and vessels in like manner of gold and silver; and placed it 
within a larger, for the making of which chapel he gave 2640 pounds of 
silver. The altar consisted of 264 pounds of gold ; the cup, with the paten 
or dish, of ten pounds of gold ; the incense pot of eight pounds and twenty 
marks of gold ; (b) the candlesticks, of twelve pounds and an half of silver ; 
the covers of the books of the Gospel, of twenty pounds, and sixty marks of 
gold; the vessels for the water, and the other vessels of the altar, of 
seventeen pounds of gold ; the dishes of eight pounds of gold ; the vessel 
for the holy water, of twenty pounds of silver; and the image of our 
Saviour, and of St. Mary and the twelve Apostles, of 175 pounds of silver, 
and thirty-eight pounds of gold. The palls for the altar, and the priests' 
vestments ; were skilfully interwoven all over with gold and precious stones 
and this treasure, in honour of the Virgin Mary, the king bestowed upon 
the monastery of Glastonbury." 

About the year A. D. 770, the noble and accomplished Albert, (c) Arch- 
bishop of York, re-built the church of St. Peter in that city, originally 
founded by King Edwin, but then in a ruinous state in consequence of the 
effects of a fire which had occurred A. D. 741. The principal architects 
engaged in this structure were two members of his own church, and who 
had been educated by him namely, Eanbald, his successor in the see of 

() Hawkins's Hist of Gothic Architecture, pp. 57, 58,59. 

( b ) The expression in the original is " xx. mancis auri." Du Fresne, in his Glossary, says, 
" mancus is a mark, a certain weight of gold or silver." 

W " This Alhert was of a noble family, and a native of York ; in his younger days he was sent 
by his parents to a monastery, where, making a great proficiency in learning, he was ordained a 
deacon, and afterwards a priest ; being taken into the family of Archbishop Egbert, to whom he was 
nearly related in blood, he was by him preferred to the mastership of the celebrated school at York, 
where he employed himself in educating youth in grammar, rhetoric, and poetry, and taught also 
astronomy, natural philosophy, and divinity. He afterwards travelled, and visited Rome and the 
most eminent seats of learning abroad, and was solicited by several foreign princes to stay, but 
declined it ; and returning home, lie brought with him a fine collection of books he had met with in 
his travels, and soon after was made Archbishop of York." Bentham's Essay, p. M. 



York, ami tin- learned Alcuin; both kindred spirits, ami ardently de\nh<| 
to the work of their grout master. Frm tlie description of this chnreh 
preserved in the j>oetn of Aleuin, (t) who embalms in grateful verse the 
memory of his illustrious friend, it would appear to have presented many of 
atures of the more finished edifices of a later age; and the conclusion 
may be fairly drawn, that ecclesiastical architecture, even at this early 
period, had already attained a high degree of excellence. 

In the ninth century, the repeated irruptions of the Danes were attended 
with the most fatal destruction to the monasteries and churches in the 
kingdom. War, bloodshed, and desolation polluted the land ; the arts and 
sciences, the fair offspring of peace, languished ; religion and literature were 
fust sinking into contempt. (b) In the midst of these national calamities, it 
pleased Providence to raise up a deliverer in the person of Alfred the Great, 
who not only rescued his country from the thraldom of foreign oppression, 
but exalted the state to a greater than its former dignity. Though inces- 
santly engaged in the toils and tumults of war, having commanded personally 
in fifty-four pitched battles, he laid the foundation of institutions, which will 
render his name illustrious to the end of time. He was the creator of the 
navy of Britain, protector of her commerce, the munificent patron of letters 
and the arts, and above all the Nursing-Father of her Church. Under his 
paternal hand, Religion and the fallen fanes revived; Justice was enthroned 
in the heart of the constitution; literature and science re-kindled their 
expiring lights. In fine, he was the paragon of princes, a miracle of wisdom, 
patriotism, and virtue. Among his other accomplishments, this illustrious 
prince was distinguished for his knowledge of architecture, (c) and founded 
two monasteries, Athelney and Shaftesbury. He also rebuilt many of the 
churches which had suffered from the violence of the Danes, in which 

(*) " Ast nova basilica; mirae structura diebus 

Praesulis hujus erat jam coepta, peracta, sacrata. 

Haec nimis alta domus solidis suflulta columnis, 

Supposita qua; stant curvatis arcubus, iutus 

Emicat egregiis laquearibus atque fenestris, 

Pulchraque porticibus fidget circumdata multis, 

Plurima diversis retinens solaria tectis, 

Qua; triginta tenet variis ornatibus aras. 

Hoc duo discipuli templum, doctore jubente, 

/Kdificarunt Eanbaldus et Alcuinus, ambo 

Concordes eperi devota mente studentes. 

Hoc tamen ipse pater socio cum praesule templum 

Ante die decima quam clauderet ultima vita; 

Lumina prasentis, Sophias sacraverat almae." 

Alcuin's Poem, " De Pontificibus et Sanctis Ecclesise Ebor." a Gale. 
< b > Asser. de Rebus Gestis Alfredi, p. 27. 
M In arte architectonica summus." Malmesb. de Reg. Angl. 





pious example he was imitated by his son, Edward (who succeeded him, 
A.D. 900), Athelstan, and his successors. 
si/ But it was reserved for the peaceful times of King Edgar to complete 

the good work commenced by Alfred ; and he fulfilled the task with the 
most creditable zeal and assiduity. He conducted his improvements on so 
large a scale, tliat there was not a single monastery or church in England, 
but bore testimony to his liberality. (a) Among the most remarkable struc- 
tures of this reign was the famous abbey of Ramsey, in Huntingdonshire, 
founded A.D. 974, by Ailwyn, styled alderman of all England, with the 
assistance of Oswald, Bishop of Worcester, afterwards Archbishop of York. 
Having enumerated some of the most eminent of the ancient Saxon 
churches, with the names of their founders, it now remains to give a brief 
account of their architectural form and character. And first, with regard 
to their form ; this was originally derived from the Roman Basilica, or hall 
of justice ; many of which, on the establishment of Christianity by Con- 
stantine, were converted into churches, and furnished the models for future 
ecclesiastical erections. The interior of the Basilica, being divided by rows 
of columns, suggested the arrangement of the nave and aisles ; and in the 
semicircular recess at the extreme end appropriated to the tribune, origi- 
nated the apsis, or semicircular eastern termination of the Saxon and early 
Norman churches. Hence, in those days the terms basilica and ecclesia 
were used synonymously to represent the sacred edifice. (b) The church of 
St. Peter at York, founded by King Edwin, A.D. 627, was in the form 
of a square, or parallelogram. (c) On the same plan also, or rather of an 
oblong figure, with the addition of the semicircular apsis, was the old 
conventual church at Ely , (d) founded A.D. 673, and this was the general 
form of the earliest Saxon churches. The introduction of towers (e) and 
transepts was the improvement of a subsequent age, when by the adoption 
of the Latin cross, the figure most prevalent in Italy, the churches were 
rendered cruciform structures. Thus the abbey church at Ramsey, founded 


1 1 

() "Non fuit in Anglia monasterium sive ecclesia cujus non emendaret cultum vel sdificia." 
Monast Angl., vol. i., p. 33. 

W This is now universally designated by the appellation of " Church," the etymological deri- 
vation of which is as follows : " Temples dedicated to God were called in Greek, Kvptatca (in 
Latin, Dominicae), the Lord's houses.' From the word Kvptaicov, cometh the Saxon word Cyric 
or Kyrk, and, by adding a double aspiration to it, our usual word Chyrch or Church, as it were to 
put U3 in mind whose these houses are, namely, the ' Lord's houses.' " Spelman. 

(e) " Per quadrum ccepit aedificare basilicain." Beds, Hist Eccl., lib. ii., cap. 14. 

( d ) For a ground-plan of this church, see plate v., figure 7, Bentham'a Essay on Gothic 

() " The churches of Italy had towers in the eighth century, and probably soon after that 
period they were introduced into England." Milner. 




I>v Ailwyn, A. D. 1*7-4 , \\a~ adorned with two t<>wers, (,) one in the west front, 
and the other in the mtariOCtiOB o the cross; thus, also, tin- ancient ptthc 
dral at Canterbury displayed these grand appendages surmounting the 
extremities of the south and north transepts. 15 * 

With regard to the mode of building adopted by our Saxon ancestors, 
as no entire edifice of that age at present exists, and even the vestiges of 
their architecture are so little known, it would be difficult minutely to 
iK -ciibe its peculiar characteristics. That the style was not an indigenous 
production, but of exotic origin, is proved by the fact of its having been 
imported from Rome ; and history expressly records that both St, Benedict 
Biscop and St. Wilfrid made frequent journeys to that city, and engaged 
Roman workmen (c) to execute their buildings in England. At that period 
the ancient Roman architecture, having gradually declined since the Augustan 
era, had become greatly debased from its original purity, yet upon such 
models as Rome could then furnish was the Saxon style founded. Hence 
the form of the Saxon arch, (d) which was uniformly semicircular the mas- 
sive pier, for the most part, either circular or square and the generally 
plain and unadorned character of Saxon masonry. Such may be regarded 
among the more prominent features of this, the earliest style of English 
ecclesiastical architecture. 

Time, however, and the hand of man which builds to-day, and destroys 
to-morrow have left so few memorials of this distant age, that it is rather 
from the description of these religious edifices, preserved in ancient monastic 
records, than from any authentic remains of the original structures them- 
selves, we may hope to obtain an adequate idea of their pristine greatness and 


() " Duae quoque turres ipsis tectorum culminibus eminebant, quarum minor versus occidentem, 
in fronte basilicas pulchrum intrantibus insulam a longe ppectaculum praebebat; major vero in 
quadrifidae structure medio columnas quatuor, porrcctis de alia ad aliam arcubus sibi invicem 
connexas, ne laxe defluerent, deprimebat." Hist Ramesiensis, inter xv. Scriptores, edit per Gale, 
cap. xx, p. 399. 

( b ) "Sub medio longitudinis aulas ipsius (Ecclesiae Cantuariensis) duoe erant turres prominentes 
ultra ecclesiae alas ; quarum una, quae in austro erat, sub honore B. Gregorii altare dedicatum 
habebat, et, in latere, principale hostium (ostium) ecclesiae, quod Suthdure dicitur. Alia vero 
turns in aquilonali plaga, e regione illius, condita fuit in honore B. Martini." Eadiner, apud 
Gervaa. Dorob. " De Combust et Reparat Ecc. Dorob." 

to Beds, lib. iv., c. 2. " /Edificia mirabile quantum expolivit arbitratu quidem multa suo, sed 
et coementariorum, quos ex Roma spes munificien'tiae attraxerat, magisterio." Will. Malm. De 
Pontif., lib. iii. " Architectos sibi mitti petiit qui, juxta morem Romanorum ecclesiam de lapide 
ingenti ipsi facerent" Beds, lib. v., c. 22. 

W Sir Christopher Wren, speaking of the old abbey church at Westminster, built by King Edgar, 
thus records his opinion of Saxon architecture: "This, 'tis probable, was a good strong building, 
after the manner of the age, not much altered from the Roman way. We have some forms of this 
ancient Saxon way, which was with piers, or round pillars (stronger than Tuscan or Doric), round- 
headed arches and windows." Letter to the Bishop of Rochester, in Wren's " Parentalia." 




renown. Thus the church erected by St. Wilfrid at Hexliain, (a) in the latter 
end of the seventh century, was celebrated as a miracle of art, and de cla red 
to be superior to any other similar edifice on this side of the Alps. This 
famous church stood nearly to the end of the twelfth century. The descrip- 
tion of it left by Richard, Prior of Hexham, who flourished about A.D. 1 180, 
is val uable, as presenting a picture of one of the most perfect of the ancient 
Saxon churches. 

() " Profunditatem ecclesias (Hagustaldensis) cryptis et oratoriis subterraneis et viaruin 
anfractibus inferius cum magna industria fundavit Parietes autem quadratis et variis et bene 
politis colunmis sumiltos et tribus tabulatis distinctos, immensae longitudinis et altitudinis erexit. 
Ipsos etiam et capitella columnarum quibus sustentantur et arcum sanctuarii historiis et imagi- 
nibus et variis celaturarum figuris ex lapide prominentibus, et picturarum et colorum grata 
varietate, mirabilique decore decoravit Ipsum quoque corpus ecclesiae appenticiis et porticibus 
undique cireumcinxit, quaj miro atque inexplicabili artificio per parietes et cocleas inferius 
et superius distinxit. Denique citra Alpes nullum tale tunc temporis reperiri poterat " Ilicard. 
Prior. " de I tat Hagust. Ecc," c. iii. ; Twysden, x Scrip. " Neque ullam domum aliam citra 
Alpes montes talem (sicut Hagustaldensem) aedificatam audivimus." Eddius, " Vita S. Wilf.," 
c. xxii. ; see also Will. Malm. " De Pontif.," lib. iii., p. 273. 


Section 88* 

Kcclcsiastical Architecture from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation Passicn of the Normans 
for this Art Their magnificent Structures The Norman Style Its characteristics Intro- 
duction of the Pointed Arch Norman enrichments Preservation of Norman doorways 
Examples of the Norman 8tyle in its early and pure state -In its mixed or transition state 
Description of the east end of Canterbury Cathedral The Karly Pointed Style Its beautiful 
and simple charac'.er Architectural details Examples of the Early Pointed Style The Deco- 
rated Style -Its splendid and gorgeous character This Style the perfection of the Art- 
Architectural details Examples of the Decorated Style Decline of the Art The Florid or 
Perpendicular Style Its costly and overloaded character Architectural details- 
Examples of the Florid or Perpendicular Style Destruction of the Art completed 
by the ruin of the Monasteries Debased style Present revival of the ancient 
styles Aspirations for the future. 

N the establishment of the Normans in England, after the 
successful termination of the invasion by William, a new 
era arose in architecture, and express mention is made by 
our historians of a new style of building, (a) introduced 
immediately preceding this period by King Edward the 
Confessor, and applied by him to the construction of the 
abbey church at Westminster. This church, in which he 
was buried, (b) was consecrated on Innocents' day, 28th of 
December, 1065, only eight days before the death of the 
royal founder; and remained for nearly a century afterwards the grand 
model for many of the ecclesiastical erections in the kingdom. Edward, (c) 
the last of the Saxon line, though born in England, had been educated in 
Normandy, and during his residence there imbibed so strong an attachment 
to the habits and customs of the foreign court, that after his accession t< 

() " Ecclcsiam sedificationis genere novo fecit." W. Malnish. 

(b) Defunctus autcm Rex bcatissiinus in crastino sepultus est Londini, in Ecclesia, quani ipse 
novo compositionis genere construxerat ; a qua post, mult i Ecclesias construentes, cxemplum adopti, 
opus illud expensis cemulabantur sumptuosis." Matt. Paris' Hist, p. 1. 

(c) < Hex Kdwardus natus in Anglia, scd nutritus in Normannia, et diutissime inimoratus, pene 
in Gallicum transient, adducens ac attrahens de Normannia plurimos, quos v.iriis (figmtatlbtu 
promotes in immetisum cxaltabat ccepit ergo tota terra sub rcge, et sub aliis Normannis introduces 
Anglicns ritus dimitterc et Francorum mores in multis imitari." Ingulphi Hist., p. u'2, edit Gale. 





the throne he introduced thflBB into this country. Hence, also, his extreme 
partiality to the natives of France and Normandy, very many of whom he 
advanced to the highest dignities, and there is every reason to believe t hat 
the Normans supplied both the architects and materials for his structure. 

The passion of this warlike race for ecclesiastical architecture forms a 
prominent feature in their character. Even during the few years that the 
Conqueror reigned in Normandy, previously to his invasion of England, he 
founded two sumptuous churches and abbeys, and his nobles nearly forty; 
each vicing with the other in the magnificence of their respective 
structures. Indeed, at this period Normandy could boast, in her abbeys 
of Bee and Caen, the most splendid schools of literature and the arts, and 
more particularly of architecture, that could be found in Europe ; the 
former of these producing those great architects, Lanfranc and Anselm, 
successively Archbishops of Canterbury, and Gundulph, Bishop of 
Rochester. With such examples, it is by no means surprising that the 
Norman prelates and abbots left so many memorials of their skill and 
ability in the science ; for, in less than half a century after the Conquest, 
there was scarcely a cathedral or conventual church which was not restored 
or rebuilt by one of their order. (a) 

In the construction of these churches they affected a magnificence 
altogether unknown to the ancient Saxons, laying out the ground-plan of 
their edifices on a much grander scale, (b) and carrying up the columns and 
arches to a far greater altitude. To impart additional beauty to the 
masonry, they covered the walls with a series of semi-circular arches, and 
to enhance the real loftiness of the building, three successive tiers of these 
arcades were frequently ranged one above the other. "Within the ample 
interior, beneath the flooring, crypts or subterranean cha^ls, although 
previously used in a few of the chief Saxon churches, were now more 
generally introduced. 

Notwithstanding, however, these vast improvements, and the consequent 

() " At one and the same time these vast and costly works were carrying forward by Mauritius 
in London, Lanfranc at Canterbury, Thomas at York, Walkelyn at Winchester, Gundulph at 
Rochester, Remigius at Lincoln, William at Durham, St Wulstan at Worcester, Robert at Here- 
ford, Herbert at Norwich, St. Anselm at Chester, Roger at Sarum; in short, by almost every prelate 
of every then existing cathedral in England. The abbots would not be outdone by the bishops ; 
accordingly, far the greater part of the rich and ample monasteries, such as St Augustine's at 
Canterbury, St Alban's, Evesham, Glastonbury, Malmsbury, Ely, St. Kdmuiulsbury, &c, were 
rebuilt in the whole, or in a considerable part of them, with a zeal and an emulation in their builders, 
which had never before bcn equalled in any age or country of the world." Milner, pp. 43 and 44. 

< b ) "The dimensions of their structures were, in general, much larger than those of Uic Saxons been. For example, the celebrated Abbey Church of Abingdon was only one hundred and twenty 
feet long; whereas the magnificent Normans were not satisfied, either in their cathedral or grand 
abbatial churches, with a length of less than from three to five hundred feet" Milner, p. 47. 



I UK l'.(Vl.K.SIA8TICAI. A : MITH 111; I n| IN(iI.\ND. 

spirit of progressiva emulation, improvement- OODtidcTCld M remarkable in 
their day M to merit thr appellation of a new stylo of building, it must 
beobscr\cd. that tlio (li-tiii^iii-liiiiir characteristics of tins style present BO 
strongly marked or striking difference from those of the preceding, In 
Loth styles, the Saxon and early Norman, the ma.-sive circular arch and 
column constitute the essential features; and even the Norman arcade 
it-elf. the favourite decoration of this age, is only a multiplication of the 
circular areh, an indefinite number of single arches being simply combined 
or intersected according to the taste of the builder. 

From the unwearied efforts of these architects, constantly aiming at a 
higher degree of excellence, before the middle of the twelfth century, a 
singular change was produced in architecture, and one which exercised 
a mighty influence over the future destinies of the art. This was the 
introduction of the pointed arch, which immediately, from the period of its 
first appearance, began gradually to supersede the heavy semicircular one, 
so that by the close of the same century the latter mode was entirely 
discontinued. It is supposed by some, and not without a strong appearance 
of probability, that the pointed arch derived its origin from the circular 
intersections in the Norman arcade, the characteristic mural ornament of 
that style. Thus constructed, it appeared at first in basso-relievo, as on 
the north side of Durham Cathedral, and on the facade of the church at 
Lincoln ; but it was soon likewise seen in alto-relievo, as in the remains of 
Archbishop's Lanfranc's work in Canterbury Cathedral, and in the abbey 
churches of Glastonbury and Ramsey. One of the earliest specimens of 
the open pointed arch occurs in the church of St. Cross, near Winchester, 
built by the munificent prelate of that see, Henry de Blois, King Stephen's 
brother, and previously Abbot of Glastonbury. (a) 

The Norman style, dating from the Confessor's church, at Westminster, 
A.D. 1065, prevailed in its pure state till the introduction of the pointed 
arch, with which it subsequently became so blended and intermingled, both 
in its characteristic form and peculiar features, that it assumed a mixed 
character. In this transition state, almost constituting a distinct style, (b) it 
continued to the close of the twelfth century. 

The early Norman buildings are remarkable for their general massive- 
ness and plain appearance; but, at a later period, they are found emit lied 
with a profusion of ornamental mouldings surrounding the heads of the 
doorways and windows. Of these, the favourite and most frequent 

4 Milner support* this view of the case by the above-cited illustrations, p. SO. 
( b > Mr. Bloxam treats this as a distinct style, under the title of the Semi-Norman stvl< . 






decoration is the chevron, Off zigzag moulding, and next to this the beak- 
head. In both of these mouldings, the consecutive series of minute 
projecting angular points form a grateful relief to the solid rotundity of 
the arch in which they repose. A variety of other mouldings also occur, as 
the lozenge, the star, the nailhcad, the cable, the billet, the stud, the double 
cone, the embattled frette, and the medallion, all of which, together with 
the corble-table, are characteristic of this style. (a) The capitals of piers 
and shafts Avere frequently ornamented with grotesque devices of animals 
and rude foliage. 

The doorways of this style are remarkable for their depth and richness, 
being frequently composed of a succession of receding semicircular arches, 
forming one entire grand arch of entrance. In consequence of a singular 
custom prevailing with the architects who succeeded the Normans, many 
of these ancient doorways have been preserved, when every other vestige 
of the church coeval with it has long since disappeared, and the site 
occupied by a structure of a later style. It may be, these were so preserved 
from a feeling of reverence for the original founder, and a laudable desire 
to retain some memorial of his piety ; or perhaps they spared the venerable 
portal, when they remembered it was beneath its time-worn brow that their 
fathers, then mouldering around, had so frequently passed into the conse- 
crated house of prayer and praise. 

Examples of the Norman style, in its pure state, exist in the 
undercroft of Canterbury Cathedral, the work of Archbishop Lanfranc, 
between A. D. 1073 and 1080; in the crypt and transepts of Win- 
chester Cathedral, built by Bishop Walkelyn, between A. D. 1079 and 
1093; in the Abbey Church of St. Albans, built by Abbot Paul, 
between A. D. 1077 and 1093; also in the north and south aisles of 
the choir of Norwich Cathedral, the work of Bishop Herbert, between 
A. D. 1096 and 1101. In the transepts of Peterborough Cathedral, 
built by Abbot Waterville, between A. D. 1155 and 1175, and in the 
Galilee Durham Cathedral, built by Bishop Pudsey, A. D. 1180, we 
perceive a considerable advance in the use of mouldings and other orna- 
mental details. The latter is remarkable for a loftiness and lightness 
of construction, that strikingly contrast with the extremely massive 
character of an earlier date. (b) 

Examples of the Norman style, in its mixed or transition state, exist in 

W For all these varieties, with the names of the churches in which they are found, see Bloxam, 
plates, pp. 82, 87. 
(0) Bloxam, p. 91. 




the Church of the Hospital of St Cross, N founded A. D. 1132 or 1136, 
in the remains of Build was Abbey Church, Salop, erected between 1136 
and 1139, and in those of the abbey churches of Malmsbury and Foun- 
tains, Yorkshire. A Beautiftd example exists also in a portion of the west 
front of the ruined abbey church of Croyland, Lincolnshire, consisting of 
four tiers of the ornamental Norman arcade, ranged in diversified succession 
one above the other. 

But of this style, St. Joseph's Chapel, (b) Glastonbury, now in ruins, 
supposed to have been erected in the reign of Henry I., is, perhaps, the 
richest specimen remaining, and is remarkable for the profusion and beauty 
of its sculptured detail. 

The ancient Temple Church, dedicated A. D. 1185, presents a curious 
instance of this style. Here we behold piers, composed of four clustered 
columns, and approaching closely to those of the next style, supporting 
pointed arches, over which is carried the circular intersecting arcade, and 
above this again, the old round-headed Norman window. 

A valuable illustration of the progress of improvement, during the reign 
of the Norman style, occurs in the eastern part of Canterbury Cathedral, 
consisting of Trinity Chapel, and the circular adjunct, called "Becket's 
Crown." These were commenced building in A. D. 1175, after a calamitous 
fire, which had destroyed the east end of the choir, in the preceeding year. 
Of this restoraton, Gervase, a monk of Canterbury, and himself an eye- 
witness, has left a long and circumstantial account. His comparison of 
many of the features of the new structure with those of the former one, 
raised about a hundred years previously by Archbishop Lanfranc, is so 
curious as to deserve notice. He says that the pillars of the new choir 
were of the same form and thickness with those of the old choir, but nearly 
twelve feet longer; that the former capitals were plain, while the latter 
were delicately carved; that there were no marble columns in Lanfranc's 
work, but an incredible number in that which succeeded it ; that the vault- 
ing of the side aisles of the choir was formerly plain, but now groined and 
fixed with key-stones; that the old choir was covered with a ceiling of 
wood, ornamentally painted ; while the new one was elegantly arched with 
hard stone for its ribs, and light toph stone for the interstices ; finally, that 

() "The date of this work is A. D. 1132, according to Godwin, Grose, and others; or else 1136, 
according to Bishop Louth, who had examined the records of this foundation, and Rudborne, the 
monk of Winchester, in his * Historia Major. Wintoniensis.' " Milner, p. 82 (in a note). 

' w "'Abbot Herlewin, who died in A. D. 1120, began to rebuild the whole of Glastonbury 
Abbey, as Malmsbury informs us('De Antiquit Glaston. Eccl.'). Six years after this date, 
Henry de Bloi* became abbot of it Hence it is not unlikely that the intermixed pointed and 
circular work (cf St Joseph's Chapel) was executed under his directions." Milner, p. 81 (in a note). 



there was only one triforium, or gallery, round the ancient choir, while 
there were two in the modern one. With this description of the intelligent 
monk, recorded nearly 700 years since, the present appearance of the ><-! 
end of this venerable cathedral exactly corresponds.* a) 

The commencement of the thirteenth century is celebrated in the annals 
of ecclesiastical architecture as the era of a new style, possessing the intrinsic 
merit of entire originality, and founded on principles peculiar to itself. The 
]>oi)itcd arch, having now established its ascendancy, came forth, as it were, 
from the prison-house of Norman bondage ; and, claiming unrivalled homage, 
demanded a support more congenial to its aspiring character and lofty pre- 
tensions. Accordingly, the massive semicircular column, on which it had 
hitherto rested, was exchanged for the slender pillar of Purbeck marble, 
surrounded with marble shafts a little detached ; and these shafts, encircled 
with horizontal bands, were each crowned with a foliaged capital, which, 
clustering together, formed one rich capital for the entire pillar. The 
windows, at the same time, were constructed long, narrow, and lancet - 
headed ; two of these being frequently united under a single pointed arch of 
larger dimensions, and the space between the heads ornamented with a 
trefoil, quatrefoil, rose, or other similar decoration. In the upper story, 
three lancet windows were placed together, the head of the central light 
being gracefully elevated above those of the adjoining one on each side. 
These windows were also ornamented with very long and slender marble 
shafts detached. In the closely connected series of windows in the transept 
of the Abbey Church at Westminster, each separate, yet all comprised under 
a general dripstone, we perceive the first approach to that division of the 
entire window by mullions which subsequently prevailed. The doorways 
of this style, all pointed, were frequently as finely recessed as those of the 
Norman, and contained a greater number of bands and shafts ; the architrave 
mouldings being enriched with the tooth ornament peculiar to this style, 
and occasionally with open-work flowers. In the sculptured foliage of this 



() " Dictum est in superioribus quod post combustionem illam Vetera fere omnia chori diruta 
sunt, et in quandam augustioris forma? transierunt novitatem. Nunc autem qua; sit operis utriusqtie 
differentia dicendum est. Pilariorum igitur tarn veterum quam novorum una forma est, una et 
grosMtudo, sed longitudo dissimilis. Elongati sunt enim pihrii novi longitudine pedum fere 
duodecim. In capitellis veteribus opus erat planum, in novis sculptura subtilis. Ibi in cbori 
ambitu pilarii viginti duo, hie autem viginti octo. Ibi arcus et cetera omnia plana utpote sculpta 
secure et non scisello, hie in omnibus fere sculptura idonea. Ibi columpna nulla marmorea, hie 
innumera?. Ibi in circuitu extra chorum forinces plana? , hie arcuate sunt et clavatae. Ibi murus 
super pilarios directus cruces a choro sequestrabat, hie vero nullo intersticio cruets a choro dims* 
in unam clavem quae in medio foruicis magna? consistit, qua? quatuor pilarii* principalibus innititur, 
convenire videntur. Ibi caelum ligneum cgregia pictura decuratum, hie fornix ex lapide et tofo levi 
decenter composita est. Ibi triforium uuum, hie duo in choro, et in ala ecclesia* tercium." Dt 
Combust, et Re ar. Cant Ecclesia?. 


iHHHms8? .-.* -flfetfaft -f- #lMtfc"*Mfr 



ugc, n remarkable stiffness predominates in the composition, contrasted with 
the flexile character ami more natural tonus exhibited at a latt-r period. In 
some of the large churches double doorways were introduced Ifith \ery 
fine effect, among which may he instanced the grand we-tcin portal- of 
Salisbury and Wells Cathedral.-. Finally,' with regard to the remaining 
principal improvements developed in this style, it may he remarked that the 
vaultings were constructed with a greater degree of lightness and elegance. 
and the pediment or canopy, which hitherto had simply covered the arch, 
now ro.-e to a considerable height above it 

In A. D. 1195, the rebuilding of Lincoln Cathedral was commenced, 
under the direction of its bishop, St. Hugh, who was so intent upon the 
work that, as Matthew Paris informs us, he carried mortar and stones on 
his own shoulders for the use of the masons. (a) . This zealous prelate dying 
A. D. 1200, the work was not entirely finished till about fifty years after- 
ward-, in the episcopacy of Robert Grosetete. With the exception of the 
west front, erected by the Norman bishop, Remigius, the towers, the 
groining, the screens, and certain other decorations added in the fourteenth 
eentury, this entire cathedral and chapter-house are in the simple and 
beautiful early Pointed style. 

In A.D. 1 202, Worcester Cathedral, having sustained considerable injury 
from a fire, was restored in its choir after the style of Lincoln ; it was dedi- 
cated A.D. 1218. 

In the same style also, and probably of the same date, with the exception 
of the western and eastern facades, is Beverley Minster. 

In A.D. 1202, the wealthy prelate, Godfrey de Lucy, began to rebuild 
the eastern part of his cathedral at Winchester, in the style of the choir of 
Canterbury Cathedral, and this extensive work is visible at the present day. 

In A. D. 1227, Archbishop Walter de Grey began to rebuild York 
Cathedral in the prevailing style, and completed the south cross-aisle, as it 
is now seen. 

Between A.D. 1214 and A.D. 1242, the west front of Wells Cathedral 
was erected by the munificent prelate Joceline. As a monument of the 
sculpture of the thirteenth century, before the revival of the arts in Italy, it 
i-. probably, unrivalled by any similar production in Europe. (b) 

W Matt Paris, ad ann. 1200. 

W The west front of this cathedral displays a grand series of scriptural and historical subjects, 
all crowned with a sublime representation of the Resurrection the archangels sounding the last 
trump the tombs giving up their dead the Saviour throned in judgment, attended by angels nd 
the twelve apostles. For a description of the historical subjects, see Mr. Cockerell's letter in the 
Athenaeum, Dec. 1842, No. 789. 

The late eminent sculptor Mr. Flaxman in his lectures bestows high commendation on the 
beautiful compositions, and bold but graceful sculpture of this front. 




In A. L). 1234, Hugh Norwold, Bishop of Ely, took down the circular 
a~t end of the ehuivli. and laid the foundation of his new building, now 
called the Presbytery, which he finished A.D. 1250. 

In A.D. 1245, King Henry III. ordered the east end, tower, and 
transept of the Abbey Church at Westminster, built by Edward the Con- 
fessor, to be taken down, and rebuilt in a more elegant form. The north 
transept and part of the adjoining nave of the church remain in almost the 
same state in which he left them. 

But the finest specimen of this style, as an entire structure, and which 
" may be justly accounted one of the best patterns of architecture in the age 
wherein it was built, (a) exists in Salisbury Cathedral, begun by Bishop De 
Poore in A.D. 1220, and finished by Bishop Bridport in A. D. 1258. This 
cathedral possessed one great advantage over all others, that it wa 
entirely new foundation : thus the original design, once adopted, was steadily 
adhered to throughout the whole progress of the work ; hence the beautiful 
order, correct symmetry, and regular proportion that reign over every part 
of this unique pile. 

During the reign of Edward I., son of Henry III., ecclesiastical archi- 
tecture acquired a new character. Then arose that spirit of ornamental 
grandeur, which breathed an air of gorgeous magnificence over the creations 
of architectural genius. In the sumptuous and stately edifices of this and 
the succeeding age we behold the highest purity of design enriched by t la- 
greatest splendour of decoration ; and yet these ornaments though fre- 
quently in themselves exceedingly rich, and introduced to profusion are so 
skilfully disposed, that they neither weary the eye by an excessive extrava- 
gance, nor impair the distinctness of the original composition. Hence this is 
generally denominated the Decorated style. The sharp lancet arch of the 
preceding age was superseded by the graceful equilateral, ornamented in 
the head with cusps, so as to form trefoils, cinquefoils, and septfoils. The 
pediments over the arches were purfled, that is, adorned with foliage, called 
crockets, from the corbel on which they rested up to the elegant finial in 
which they terminated. Pinnacles richly purfled, and crowned with finials, 
adorned the summit of nearly every buttress and the sides of every arch. 
The spandrels also of ornamental arches were filled with beautiful foliage. '" 
The columns no longer appeared with their surrounding shafts di tai-lu-d, 
but displayed those decorations closely united and bound together, forming 
one entire, compact, and elegant column. The windows, hitherto consisting 
of an arch divided by a simple mullion, and surmounted with a trefoil or 

W Wren's " Parentalia." 

W As in the church at Ely, formerly the Lady chapel of tht cathedral. 


nit lid ii \m ICAJ UM mil' H in ' ^ND. 

single rose, were considerably enlarged, and port i iud by mullions into 
numerous lights; these nuillioiM bnUMjhlBg into tia.rr\, moulded into tonus 
M't geuufteiliflal constitution, or wrought by flowing lines into a variety 
of fanciful figures. 1 *' Thus tin peat windows of York and Kxthr Cathe- 
drals are of eight and BUM lights cadi, and are probably the largest windows 
remaining. The head of that at York is constructed in the form of a 
beautiful flower. The plain niches of the thirteenth century became, in t lie 
fourteenth, gorgeous tabernacles; and these were filled with statuary, which, 
both in the design and execution, displayed an admirable advancement in 
the art of sculpture. The vaulting of the roof, hitherto composed of simple 
intersecting arches, was now highly decorated ; the ribs branching out into 
a profusion of rich and varied tracery, more splendid even than that dis- 
played in the magnificent windows of the same period, and the points of 
union where they met adorned with knots and bosses of elaborate sculpture. 
During this period many fine towers and spires were erected, lb) and in some 
instances spires were added to towers already existing. Buttresses, crowned 
with lofty pinnacles, flanked the towers of new churches, and the flying 
buttress was called forth from its concealment in the roof of the side aisles, 
to form an ornamental support to the upper walls of the nave. 

As Salisbury presents a perfect model of the purity and elegance of 
the preceding style, so York displays the most complete specimen of all the 
i .rant it- of the present. For grandeur and simplicity of design, her minster 
is incomparably superior to the cathedrals of this or any other age. Over 
every part of the august pile ornament,is liberally bestowed, yet, still only 
jus an accessory, to heighten and enhance the original architectural design. 
The nave of this church, as it now stands, was built between the years 
A.D. 1290 and A.D. 1330, and the choir about thirty years later than the 
last-named period. 

About A. D. 1320, Bishop Langton added the Lady Chapel to his 
cathedral of Lichfield, groined the nave and choir, and added the mag- 
nificent western facade. (c) 

About the same period the greater part of the nave of Westminster 
Abbey Church was rebuilt 

() Of these two descriptions of decorated window tracery, the geometrical composed of circles, 
trefoils, and quatrefoils is the oldest Such are the windows in the nave of York and the eastern 
choir of Lincoln ; such also the majority of the windows in Exeter Cathedral, which contains as rich 
a variety of windows as any cathedral in England. Of flowing tracery the most beautiful and 
distinctive feature of the Decorated style the minsters of York and Beverley and Newark church 
display elaborate and exquisite examples. 

**) Among these may be particularly remarked the spire of Grantham church, Lincolnshire, and 
the tower and spire of St. Michael's, Coventry. 

W Thomas de Chesterfield " Ang. Sacr." et Godwin " De ProBSul." 

108 ^^^ 




Between A. D. 1327 and 1360, Exeter Cathedral was groined, and tin 
heavy circular arches and pillars transformed into light pointed arches and 
clustered columns, by its munificent prelate Grandison. (,) 

Between A. D. 1381 and 1413, the former being the period of the 
installation of Archbishop Courtney, and the latter that of the demise of 
his successor, Archbishop Arundel, the nave of Canterbury Cathedral was 
rebuilt. (,) 

During the same period, Winchester Cathedral arose in the pointed 
style, under the transforming hand of the celebrated William de Wykeham, 
who re-constructed its nave on the same principles as those so successfully 
applied at Exeter. The massive Norman pillars and arches were not taken 
down, but the former were enclosed with an appropriate casing, and the 
latter exchanged the circular for the pointed head. 

The remains of Melrose Abbey (founded by King David, A.D. 1136), 
abound in beauties of the Decorated style, and display exceeding richness, 
variety, and precision in the sculptured details. 

But one of the most exquisite specimens of this style, and a perfect 
architectural gem, existed in St. Stephen's Chapel, the late House of 
Commons, erected by Edward III. in A.D. 1348. 

The monumental crosses at Northampton, Geddington, and Waltham, 
erected by Edward I. to the memory of his queen, Eleanor, who died 
A.D. 1290, as also the magnificent tomb of his brother, Edmund Crouch- 
back, in Westminster, who died A.D. 1296, present elaborate illustrations 
of this style. 

But human arts, like human genius, are liable to declension and decay. 
Like the fairest summer fruits, they have their spring-time and their 
rottenness. Even so with this sublime art of sacred architecture. We 
have traced it like some noble tree, springing from the Saxon soil of our 
ancestors, fostered with Norman culture ; and, under the benignant tutelage 
of princes, prelates, and pious dignitaries, expanding its branches over all 
the land; putting forth rich blossoms, and bearing richer fruit the earth 
luxuriating in its shade, and the heaven regaled with its fragrance until at 
length, in the fulness of years and glory, it fell, crushed beneath the costly 
load of its own exuberant and o'ercharged perfections. The purity and 
simplicity, that breathed such an air of reverence and devout majesty over 
the earlier creations of the art, had now entirely disappeared. The awful 
character of the sublime fell before the magic fascinations of the beautiful. 
Grandeur of conception and correctness of design were sacrificed to the 

W Godwin " De Proesul. 

I bill. 




inordinate passion tor decorative display, Hence the prodigal lnxni MBoe 
of ornament that [>i\ nihil, even to -atiety; and the.-e ornaments were 
frctpiently N incorporated with the main building M to form CHonflll 
parts of the structure itself, instead of occupying their proper and subor- 
dinate position as accessories to heighten and enrich the original design. 
Hence also the fatiguing repetition of minute details, and the interminable 
nrifll of panelling. To such an extent was the use of this last ornament 
carried, that the interiors of most rich buildings were literally covered with 
it even the doors and windows were nothing but pierced panels, and tin- 
very roof (a) reflected the same idea, only in different forms. The flowing 
lines that imparted so much gracefulness to the rich tracery of the pre- 
ceding style, were now superseded by straight perpendicular lines; from 
the perpetual recurrence of which, this is generally denominated the Perpen- 
dicular style, or, in reference to the extreme profuseness of its ornament, 
the Florid. The windows of this period were enlarged beyond all due 
proportion, in the late buildings completely filling up the spaces between 
the buttresses, and the east and west windows frequently occupied the 
entire breadth of the choir and nave. In all of these the horizontal transom 
was now generally introduced, and occasionally ornamented with small 
battlements. The doorways, shorn of their aspiring pediments and purfled 
buttresses, were now inclosed within large square architraves, the principal 
ornament of which appeared in the spandrels. 

But it was chiefly in the elaborate construction of the splendid roofs of 
this age, tliat the ingenuity of the architect was most conspicuous, and on 
these he seems at once both to have lavished and concentrated all the powers 
of his art. The eye of astonishment was bewildered to behold enormous 
masses of stone, called pendent capitals, suspended in mid-air, and instead of 
supporting the immense groins in which they were fixed, supported by them. 
The tracery also of this vaulting, in some instances was multiplied into so 
many minute ramifications, and so overloaded at the points of intersection 
with knots, bosses, and armorial bearings, that the beauty of the design was 
entirely destroyed, and an air of heaviness and obscurity imparted to the 
whole. "Finally, ingenuity more than sublimity was now affected, and 
curiosity more than devotion gratified. Thus, the royal chapels and mor- 
tuary oratories, built in the reigns of the last two Henrys, are seen covered 
over with tracery and other carvings of the most exquisite design and 

() Jhe vaulted roofs of this style are more complicated in detail than those of earlier date, and 
in plain vaulting, as distinguished from fan tracery, the groining ribs are more numerous ; they often 
diverge at different angles, forming geometrically shaped panels or compartments." Bloxam's Gothic 
Architecture, p. 196. 







execution, but which fatigue the eye and cloy the mind by their redun- 
dancy. Hence, the judicious critic, after admiring their ingenuity, fails not 
to sigh for the chaste grandeur of York Minster, or even for the unadorned 
majesty of Salisbury Cathedral, instead of them. (4) The prevailing arch of 
this style was the obtuse, four-centred, or Tudor arch, and the mouldings, 
springing from the base, frequently surrounded the entire arch, without any 
capital intervening sometimes a single -haft and capital were introduced, 
the other lines flowing without interruption. The chief source of ornament 
consisted of panel-work, which, as before observed, was carried to an 
unbounded extent, completely covering, with its uniform tracery, the inte- 
rior of some buildings, and the exterior of others. Thus of the former, 
Sherborne Church, Dorsetshire, and of the latter, Beauchamp Chapel, 
\\ arwick, and the west front of Winchester Cathedral, are examples. The 
exterior also of many towers, as the Abbot's Tower, Evesham, and that of 
St. Xeot's Church, Huntingdon, was similarly ornamented. In the two 
last-mentioued instances, the panel-work tracery extended even to the faces 
of the external buttresses. In decorative detail the panelled or sunk quatre- 
foil was a favourite ornament, being frequently formed into rich bands (b) 
surrounding, at successive stages, the body of the structure, or introduced 
as pierced panelling into the embattled parapet. The rose, (l) adorning the 
spandrels of arches, and the Tudor flower, the latter composed of a series 
of strawberry leaves, with alternate trefoils intermingled, and forming a 
most beautiful enriched battlement, together with the angel corbel, were 
ornaments peculiar to this period. 

Of this style, and illustrative of its latest character, the extreme Florid, 
to which the preceding observations more particularly apply, the most 
splendid examples are King's College Chapel, Cambridge, (d) founded by 
King Henry VI. ; St. George's Chapel, Windsor, founded by King Edward 
IV. ; and the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey, generally called Henry 
VII.'s Chapel, founded by that monarch. These three celebrated structures 
were finished about the same period; and the same noble architect, (e) who 

W Milder, p. 114. 

f*' Thus the tower of St Mary Magdalene's Church, Taunton. Thus also the tower of the parish 
church at Huish Episcopi, near Langport. 

(') The well known badge of the houses of York and Lancaster, differing only in colour. 

In the will of King Henry VI., dated A. D. 1447, we find specific directions given for the 
size and arrangement of King's College Chapel, Cambridge; and no less than five different inden- 
tures are preserved (the earliest dated A. D. 1513, the latest A. D. 1527), containing contracts for the 
execution of different parts of that celebrated structure. The will of King Henry VII., dated 
A. D. 1509, contains several orders and directions relating to the completion of the splendid chapel 
adjoining the Abbey Church, Westminster." Bloxam, p. 211. 

W Sir Reginald de Bray, prime minister to Henry VII. 



Hi \l Alton : I] I ROLAND 

designed the ehapel at \\* * .-t mi n ~t i , vm dao ejrtwuted with tin- completion 
>t' that at Windeor< 

It i- remarkable of tlioc <li:i|uls that they hear a itlikmg atlinity to other, lmt are t thr MUM time in many respeets totally dillerent. Of' 
the same clalxmite WMMB'UCtion arc the ehapels of Prince Arthur at 
Worcester, of Cardinal Beaufort and the Bishops Waynfhte and Fox at 
Winchester. Of this M\le also are many buildings in the finest pf O t O r - 
vatton : and among the counties of England, Somersetshire*"' stands pre- 
eminent tor the number and beauty of her parochial edifices erected during 
tin- Ig6h A- tin- early Pointed and Decorated may be respectively consi- 
dered the prevailing styles of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, so the 
Florid or Perj>endicular may be designated that of the fifteenth and early 
part of the sixteenth centuries. 

The suppression of the monasteries, attended with the confiscation of 
their revenues and the destruction of their churches, completed the down- 
fall of ecclesiastical architecture. Yet, however opposed to the spirit of 
the present day, monastic institutions have not been altogether unblest. (b) 
In the earliest times, they were the heralds and harbingers of civilisation, 
and throughout the long Gothic night that overspread Europe, they were 
the repositories of literature and science the sanctuaries of the precious 
oracles of Divine truth. Finally, they were the grand almoners of Heaven's 
bounty not doling out the miserable pittance of cold charity from man to 
man, but dispensing the freewill offerings of the Church the noble trea- 
sures of consecrated munificence to the children of affliction, adversity, 
and sorrow; blending oblations with their prayers, and binding up the 
broken-hearted in the spirit of love. 


() "Most of the churches in Somersetshire (which are remarkably elegant) are in the style of 
the Florid Gothic. The reason is this: Somersetshire, in the civil wars between York and Lan- 
caster, was strongly and entirely attached to the Lancastrian party. In reward for this service, 
Henry VII., when he came to the crown, rebuilt their churches. The tower of Gloucester Cathedral, 
and the towers of the churches of Taunton and Glastonbury, and of a parochial church (St Cuthbert's) 
at Wells, are conspicuous examples of that fashion. Most of the churches of this reign are known, 
besides other distinctions, by latticed battlements and broad open windows." Warton, Spenser's 
Fairy Queen, vol. ii. p. 259. 

(k) The names of Iona and of Lindisfarn will be illustrious, to the end of time, as sanctuaries of 
learning and of piety. The one was a solitary and barren rock in the Western Ocean ; the other an 
obscure island at the mouth of the Tees. And yet, from these insignificant spots it was, that the 
lights of literature and religion were seen to issue forth into the thick darkness which enveloped the 
northern regions of our empire. Such was the ardour of study, and such the holy rigour of discipline, 
which distinguished the monks of Iona, that their habitation was honoured as an island of saints, and 
their episcopal jurisdiction acknowledged over all the northern parts of Britain and of Ireland. Of 
Lindisfarn, what more need be said, than that it fostered the virtues and the industry of the venerable 
Bede, and was the scene of his vast and immortal labours ?" Le Bas' Life of Wiclif, Introduc- 
tion, p. 51. 





The ruin of ecclesiastical architecture being thus computed by the devas- 
tation of the monasteries, a mixed and barbarous style succeeded, arising, 
in a great measure, from the introduction of semi-classic details from Italy 
in the sixteenth century, as the monumental tombs and other works of that 
age abundantly testify. Purity and propriety were alike discarded, and an 
incongruous mixture of debased English and Roman architecture prevailed, 
until at length every true feature of the ancient ecclesiastical styles was 
obliterated, and every real principle of the art neglected or forgotten. 

It is gratifying, however, to record that, within the last few years, a 
better taste has begun to display itself. After the lapse of three centuries, 
the spirit of ancient art has revived; and the principles upon which that 
art was founded, are now more perfectly understood. Thus a new era has 
dawned upon the destinies of Christian architecture, and a mighty impulse 
has been given to the study of its venerable antiquities. Under the 
enlightened influence and happy auspices of the Camden, (a) in connection 
with other societies, and aided by the labours and genius of distinguished 
architects, what may not be expected? 

Is it too much to hope that a school may yet arise, whose productions 
shall rival the glories of that Augustan age of ecclesiastical architecture 
the fourteenth century? What has been once may be again. It is a 
glorious and consoling thought, that the energies of human intellect, 
although liable to declension and decay, are also equally capable of re-invi- 
goration and replenishment. Imperishable in its nature, and allied to the 
infinite, may it not hope to receive new and perpetual supplies from the 
inexhausted fountain of all perfection. With immortality for her birth- 
right, how can Genius ever die ? And when consecrating her best powers 
to the service of the King of kings, and laying her richest trophies at the 
foot of the Cross, is it possible that " Ichabod " shall be ever written on 
her brow ? 


M These remarks were written in the spring of 18+4. Since that period this society, so bright in 
promise, has suspended for n time its antiquarian labours. 




1 1 a \ i xo given a brief history of the rise, progress, and decline of 
I leelesiastical Architecture in this country, it has been thought desirable to 
add a few observations on the terra " Gothic," so frequently, yet so impro- 
|>erly, applied to this mode of building. In order, however, to preserve a 
correct idea on the subject, it must be borne in mind that the architecture 
in question consists of two grand divisions, the one characterised by extreme 
massiveness, solidity, and plainness the other by excessive lightness, delicacy, 
and ultimately profusion of ornament ; that the former of these, comprising 
the Saxon and Early Norman styles, prevailed until the introduction of the 
Pointed style, which latter terminated in the rich varieties of the Decorated 
and Florid ; and that the Saxon was founded upon the debased Roman, and 
copied, even in its minutest members, from Roman originals. If, then, to 
either of these divisions the term "Gothic" could possibly apply, it must be 
intended for that more ancient one, derived from Rome during the period 
that the Goths held possession of Italy, that is, in the Gothic age. Hence, 
upon this hypothesis the term " Modern Gothic" has been applied to the 
latter division. 

But it will appear, upon a closer examination of the subject, that both of 
these terms are manifestly incorrect, for during the brief period the Goths 
maintained their power in Italy, this country held no communication with 
Rome, and they left no structures behind them which could serve as models 
for any future style of architecture. Moreover, the Goths are not celebrated 
in history for the least invention or improvement they were ever known to 
achieve in art or science. Indeed, the only art which they condescended to 
cultivate, and which they assiduously practised, if it may be so termed, 
was the art of destruction, and in this they succeeded beyond admiration. 
In fine their commission extended solely to destroy, not to create, and this 
injunction they fully executed, with most religious fidelity, both in the 
letter and the spirit. 

Of an equally ferocious and unlettered character were the Northern 
Goths, who invaded Spain A.D. 409, and yet it is to those barbarians "with 
the assistance of Saracen architects," that Bishop Warburton ascribes the 
invention of the light, luxuriant Pointed style (the second chief division), 
and assumes th:it the idea was lx>rrowcd from the groves, in which tlnir 










pagMS forefathers wore accustomed to worship. But these Northern invaders 
were driven out of the Peninsula A.D. 713, and this style did not appear 
in any part of Europe until 400 years afterwards. Moreover, the resem- 
blance between a cathedral aisle and the vista through an avenue of trees is 
purely fanciful, and founded upon no geometrical principles. Doubtless, 
the idea of a pillar was originally derived from the trunk of a tree ; but this 
is more applicable to the simple pillar in a Grecian temple than the cluster 
column of a Christian cathedral 

Sir Christopher Wren says, " What we now vulgarly call the Gothic, 
ought properly and truly to be named Saracenic architecture, refined by the 
Christians, which first of all began in the East, after the fall of the Greek 
empire'. The holy war gave the Christians who had been there an idea of 
the Saracen works, which were afterwards imitated by them in the West." 
Thus tliis eminent architect attributes the origin of the Pointed style to the 
Saracens, and supposes it to have been imported into this country during 
the Crusades, but he produces no evidence in support of this opinion. 

That the light Pointed style was not introduced by those who returned 
from the first or grand crusade, A.D. 1099, is proved by the fact that the 
old massive Circular style continued to prevail, both in cathedrals and abbey 
churches, after that period. Of this, the cathedrals of Exeter, Rochester, 
and Chichester, built in the latter style, furnish the most incontestible 

Moreover, among all the ancient structures of the East, open to the 
survey of the traveller, and many have been most accurately delineated, no 
indication has yet been discovered in the least degree favourable to this 
hypothesis, neither has any resemblance been traced between Saracenic and 
Pointed Arcliitecture. 

Ascending, however, from names to things from the fictions of fancy 
to the investigation of truth a point of higher interest stands connected 
with this subject, which, although it has frequently attracted the attention 
both of antiquaries and architects, has hitherto failed to receive a satisfac- 
tory elucidation. This refers to the exact period of the first appearance 
of the pointed arch, as existing in a separate and independent form, eman- 
cipated from the trammels of Norman captivity, and becoming intrinsically 
the parent germ of Pointed Architecture. Dr. Milner attributes the dis- 
covery of the Pointed arch to Henry de Blois, and instances the church of 
St. Cross as furnishing the earliest example of its appearance. His words 
are: (,) "It is probable that the first open pointed arches in Europe were 

Milner, p. 81. 








the twenty windows constructed by that great patron of Architecture, 
Henry de IMois, bro th er of King Stephen, and of Winch* ,~ter, in 
tin- choir tt* the church <>t' St. Cross, near that city, which structure he 
certainly raised between the years 1132 and 1136." 

Previously, however, to either of these periods, and to his elevation to 
the see of Winchester, Henry de Blois had been appointed Abbot of 
(ila-tonbury, and during his presidency had made considerable additions 
to the buildings of that monastery. Now it is a singular fact, that in the 
walls of a Norman chapel, still existing there in ruins, and attributed 
to him, which was evidently an enlargement of the more ancient Norman 
chapel erected by his predecessor, Abbot Herlewin, are clearly visible the 
remains of wide and lofty open pointed arches, designed for windows ; but 
which appear to have been originally struck out on so vast and incongruous 
a scale, in comparison with the uniform and harmonious proportions of the 
windows in the older structure with which it was incorporated, that these 
arches were subsequently reduced by the insertion of new masonry at the 
sides to more appropriate dimensions, but still retained the pointed head, 
Hence it may be fairly inferred, from the faulty and unskilful construction 
of these windows, that the use of the pointed arch was at this period but 
imperfectly understood in its application to perforated masonry, if, indeed, 
this were not in itself an entirely novel attempt at its introduction. More- 
over, if this chapel ascribed to Henry de Blois was built by him before his 
promotion to Winchester, it is evident that these pointed arches must be 
older than those in the church of St. Cross, designated by Milner as 
" probably the oldest in Europe." 

If the foregoing observations should be considered to throw any new 
light upon the point in question, it is hoped that these grounds will be 
examined, and the hypothesis, if {founded on truth, receive the sanction of 
authority. For our own part, we have endeavoured to approach the 
subject in a spirit of cautious yet candid inquiry ; and far from indulging 
in rash assertion or unwarrantable presumption, are content to leave it still 
a problem but yet a problem whose solution may be nearer at hand than 
has been heretofore conceived. 

It now only remains for the writer of the foregoing chapter to crown 
this labour of love, by the expression of his most grateful acknowledgments 
far the assistance he has derived from the pages of Milner and Benthani, 
whose invaluable treatises on Ecclesiastical Architecture, have laid all true 
lovers of the sacred art under the deepest and most lasting obligations. 





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HE spectator who should be introduced into a Quakers' 
meeting-house, after having witnessed the rich and solemn 
adornments of a well-appointed cathedral church, might 
be well pardoned the supposition that he was in the temple 
of a different worship, and one the principles of whieh 
were greatly at variance with that whose sanctuary he 
had just left. The grand and dignified proportions ; the " dim reli- 
gious light" streaming in through the " storied windows," hallowed by 
the pictured martyrdom of Evangelist and Apostle; the clear but deep 
notes of the organ, pealing along the almost boundless extent of vaulted 
arches; the exquisite tracery of roof and cloister; the clustered pillars 
shooting up in the twilight of the clerestory, and then expanding into 
fan -like foliage, so far over head that the eye aches with the upward 
gaze: the magnificent altar, with its illuminated tablets and its costly plate; 
the beautifully sculptured screens and pulpits and sedilia ; the statues 
of saints and cherubs, now canopied in carved niches, now smiling or 
frowning from frieze and pillar; the floor paved with marble in quaint 
devices, interspersed with ntill quainter brasses; the monuments, some- 






times simple :\ml sometimes sublime, of the mighty dead; all, in 
fact, that makes worship sensuous, without making it sensual, liave dis- 
appeared; the link that bound, M it w i it. the soul and the l>ody in one act 
of devotion is snapped, ami an attempt is made to establish a purely 
spiritual worship, in which the senses are to have no share. The machinery, 
if we may use the term, by which such attempt is made, is worthy of our 
notice; and the Society of Friends, to which we have already alluded, 
have, as far as practicable, consistently carried out their design. It is to 
be seen in the studiously plain, unadorned structure in which they meet in 
their silent and contemplative worship, and the mystic quietism which 
distinguishes their creed. Hence, then, we have two totally distinct 
systems of worship; the one which regards spirit alone, and the other 
which attempts to influence the spirit by means of the senses: the one 
which attempts to purify the devotion, by abstracting it from all earthly 
objects; the other, which hallows earthly objects, by regarding them in a 
symbolical point of view, gathering them within the sphere, and making 
them accessory to the strength of its devotion. Hence the consecration of 
the fine as well as the useful arts, Painting, Poetry, Sculpture, Music, as 
well as Architecture, to the service of religion; and hence the renun- 
ciation, more or less complete, of similar aids to devotion on the part of 

The observer of our older churches cannot but observe that there still 
exist many features therein, of which he cannot at once discover the use ; 
he sees that, according to our modern system of worship, they are certainly 
of no use ; and if he be possessed with a love of what churchwardens call 
beautification, he may, perhaps, wish them removed or bricked-up, covered 
with lath-and-plaster, stucco, Roman-cement, whitewash, or something else 
equally abominable. Perhaps he may be a " zealous Protestant," and iden- 
tify everything in an old church, which he does not comprehend, with 
idolatry and the Inquisition, and the council of Trent, and the burning of 
Ridley, and the creed of Pope Pius IV. But possibly he may be an inquirer 
into antiquity, he may desire to know the meaning of the now obsolete 
features, and at what period of the Christian church they were introduced, 
and as the answers to such inquiries will tend to throw a strong light on 
the spirit as well as on the form of our more ancient worship, wc -Kail 
endeavour to throw together, in a small compass, some information on the 
ornaments and furniture of our early churches. 

First, then, as to ornaments, strictly so called. There are few parts of 
an ecclesiastical building which may not be made, we do not say merely 
susceptible of ornament, but in themselves ornamental; roof, pillars, wall-. 






windows, floors, arches, capable as most of them are of an indefinite variety 
and combination of form, may each tend to the harmonious and solemn effect 
so common in old, so rare, alas ! in new churches. We shall say nothing 
of pictures, first, because there is, right or wrong, a considerable prejudice 
gains! them; and secondly, because, except as altar pieces, we do not think 
that the lights and shadows of churches afford fit places for their display. 
No one who has seen the paintings of Murillo in the cathedral of Seville, 
can fail to notice how entirely they are lost. The eye is wearied with the 
details of that transcendant edifice, and will not rest on anything merely 
accessory; the light falls upon them in an unfortunate and inartistic manner, 
and the windows being all richly painted, mingle their own colours with 
those of the canvas ; in a word, were there no other objection this one would 
be sufficient, that pictures and painted windows are altogether inconsistent 
one with another. Statues might, indeed, be well introduced, and he would 
merit something of the age who would fill up the vacant niches in our 
churches with figures such as those which once adorned them. Between 
the windows of the clerestory in the church of St. Mary Magdalene are 
canopied niches, once occupied by statues of the apostles ; and in the second 
pillar on the north side of the centre aisle is a superbly decorated niche of 
the same character, in which once stood the figure of St. Mary Magdalene 
herself. Now seeing as we do that admirals and generals, with or without 
apparel, captains, colonels, majors, and lieutenants, in the same variety of 
costume, and attended by every species of heathen god, and personified 
Christian and Pagan virtue, sea-dogs, sea-horses, tritons, and Britannia in 
every possible attitude, adorn (?) the interior of that particularly Protestant 
church, St. Paul's, in London, there seems but little room to object to the 
restoration of such as those which once looked solemnly down on the wor- 
shippers at St. Mary's, and the more so when we find at St. Paul's the 
figures of the apostles, though here, it is true, banished to the outside. 

Another ornament which is in admirable keeping with the character and 
proportions of a Gothic church, is the painting or staining of the windows. 
The earliest stained glass known to exist in this country is that in the aisles 
of the choir at Canterbury, and it is no less remarkable for its effect and 
beauty than for its antiquity. Like all very ancient stained glass, it may 
be known by the extraordinary depth and brilliancy of its ruby and blue 
tints, which in later times have never been equalled, and scarcely \-r 
approached. It is hardly possible, under ordinary circumstances, to judge 
of the enormous amount of colouring matter burnt into the ancient stained 
glass; the modern admits as much, or nearly as much, light as the plain, 
while an ordinary room with windows of ancient stained gla*s would be 




VI KMTl UK \N!> <>i:\.\MKNTS OK ( ill l:< 111 9 

scarcely, even in the b ri gUteel noontide, light enough for its usual porf) 

It il in such buildings as La Sai/itr C/iti/xl/r :it Paris Of Kind's College. 

Chapel at Cambridge, where tall clustered column- i np por t the mot*, and 
whan Ihe wall- ippeer-oonpoeed of stained glass that its power of enbduing 

light may be seen ami felt at once. That which has been already noticed 
at Canterbury must be referred to the early part of the twelfth century. 
It can scarcely be said that the art ever made progress, for the earliest are 
among the best specimens extant ; but as years advanced, attempts were 
Made gradually to depict scenes on a larger scale, and to make first a com- 
plete picture in a window, and then a series of pictures in the windows of 
a building: but from all that we have left to us, we are induced to think 
that this can be done only under very rigid restrictions, and that that window 
painting is of the most effect in which the architectural features of the 
wi nd o w itself are most strictly observed. We need not say how utterly 
ridiculous was the attempt made in several instances to transfer the paint- 
ings of West to the windows of churches: had the paintings themselves 
been worth the transfer, the plan must have failed to produce a good effect ; 
and as it is, they do but provoke a most unfavourable comparison with the 
spirit in which the monkish artists executed their work. The roof, as well 
as the windows of a church may be rendered subservient to ornament as 
well as to use whether it be of stone, as most of our cathedrals, and the 
inimitable chapel of King's College, Cambridge, or whether it be of wood, 
of which a very beautiful specimen exists in St. Mary Magdalene's Church 
religious symbols, portraits of illustrious persons, armorial bearings, richly 
blazoned, all find their appropriate place in such a roof, and the study of 
such details has afforded many a valuable hint to some of our best antiqua- 
ries. The discussion, however, of roofs would lead us far from our intended 
path, and we shall, therefore, proceed in the next place to make a few 
observations on the flooring of churches, as to the mode in which they may 
be made subservient, like the roofs and windows, to ornament. With regard 
to appearance, which is all with which, at present, we have to do, it evidently 
matters nothing what is the material used, provided the requisite effect be 
obtained ; hence, encaustic tiles, a covering of elastic gum, marble, brass, 
may be in turn advocated, without interfering with our subject; but we 
must more especially notice the ancient brasses so frequently found let into 
the walls and flooring of old churches, and which have, when well kept, so 
peculiarly excellent an effect. These monuments of antiquity, long neg- 
lected, have lately called forth a newly-awakened interest, and the Cambridge 
Camden Society has done much, both to make them known and to reaeM 
them from destruction. 




1 22 



Hitherto we have spoken only of the essential parts of the building, we 
shall now speak of that which is more especially ornament, such as corbels, 
brackets, the termination of arches in heads or foliage, of these latter there 
are some admirable specimens, though of modern workmanship, in the church 
of St. Mary Magdalene, particularly the i>ortraits of Henry VII. and 
Archbishop AVarham, which make the terminations of the chancel arch. 
Not unfrequently the water-courses of old ecclesiastical buildings are 
enriched with grotesque figures, sometimes representing a chase ; on those 
of Henry VII. 's Chapel, for instance, are represented demons in all possible 
shapes of horror and absurdity, hunting human souls. Another mode in 
which grotesque figures are used, is in what are called gargoyles, or water- 
spouts; these frequently present the figure of a man vomiting, or something 
else equally delicate and pleasing. 

We now pass to the furniture of churches, and this naturally divides 
itself into that which was in use before the Reformation and is now obsolete, 
and that which prevails in our own day. The first consists chiefly of a high 
altar and subordinate altars, aumries, piscina?, sedilia, Easter sepulchres, 
rood-lofts, reredos, hagioscopes, sancte-bells, niches, brackets, and screens ; 
the second of pulpits, desks, lecterns, communion table, with its appropriate 
plate and linen, fonts, and eagles. 

First, then, as to the more ancient or high altars; these were ordered, in 
the reign of Edward VI., to be broken down, and Ridley describes himself 
as breaking down a portion of the wall behind the high altar at St Paul's ; 
and at the same time orders were given that all altars should be taken away, 
and a "decent table" provided, to be placed in the middle of the church. 
Custom has gradually, without legislative enactment, replaced the table at 
the east end of the church, and railed it in from the rest of the chanceL (,) 
At the same time as the high altars were demolished, the chancels them- 
selves, formerly raised two or three steps above the rest of the church, were 
generally levelled, so that we now seldom find the chancel raised more than 
one step above the floor of the nave. In addition to the high altar (raised 
that the elevated host (b) might be seen by the whole congregation, and 
gorgeously decorated, according to the means and taste of the parishioners 
and clergy) there were subordinate altars to favourite saints, where incense 
was burnt and candles kept lighted by pious votaries: these were all destroyed 
at the time of the Reformation, though the places in which they stood are 

<) That part of the church in which the chief religious offices are performed. The word is derived 
from the Latin, cane t Hi, railings or lattice-work, because it was separated by a screen from the rvst 
of the church. 

W The sacrament, from the Latin, hottia, a victim. 







plainly traceable by the neighbouring pi aci and other similar indicationa; 
tlm- there was an altar without doubt at the eastern end of the southern 
ai-le in St. Mary's Church. The more ancient altars were, for the most 
part, slabs of granite, and though in the year 1599 a great number were 
(1. 'M roved, and nearly all that remained at the time of the great rebellion 
tell heneath the sacrilegious hands of the Puritans, yet the braekt t< on 
which they were supported are occasionally, though rarely, to be found, and 
the altars themselves have sometimes been rescued from the position of 
flag-stones in the chancel ; they may be distinguished by the crosses carved 
at the corners and in the centre, which crosses were, it is however to be 
observed, turned to the earth when the altars themselves were used for 
paving stones. The most striking ornament of an old church is the chancel 
screen, and of these we have some remaining of great beauty ; those which 
are called rood-screens are also sometimes of stone, but more often of carved 
wood. There is a remarkable stone screen in Broughton Church, Oxon, 
and a wooden one of great antiquity in that of Stanton Harcourt, in the 
same county. The date of such screens is usually of the fourteenth or 
fifteenth centuries, but there is room for belief that even in the thirteenth 
century they began to be introduced. During Lent a veil was hung over 
the screen, to prevent the congregation assembled in the church from seeing 
what was carried on in the chancel during that season of mysteries. The 
chief use, however, of the screen was to support the rood-loft, a gallery 
running across the church, and approached by a staircase at one side : these 
rood-lofts are rarely of earlier date than the fourteenth century, and they 
are still more unusual to find remaining than the screens which formed a 
part of them ; yet in Somersetshire are some in a considerable state of per- 
fection; we would especially instance that at Long Sutton and that at 
Kingsbury Episcopi. The use of the rood-loft was to support the holy 
rood, from which its name, together with such other images, principally 
those of St. John and the Virgin, as the church might possess. The rood 
itself was a cross with the figure of the Saviour upon it, sometimes of the 
size of life, and exhibiting considerable skill and beauty of workmanship. 
On each side of the rood were the images of St. John and the Virgin IWarv, 
represented as in attendance on the cross, and the appearance of the whole, 
the rood with its loft and screen dividing the church from the chancel, was 
very striking. Another screen is occasionally met with, called the ren <lo>, 
or altar-screen, a back to the altar of carved stone or wood, and sometimes 
exceedingly rich in its decorations. These nearly all fell victims to puri- 
tanical rage ; they are now, therefore, very uncommon : perhaps the most 
beautiful of those which still remain in this country is that in the Lady 




Chapel, Southwark, which is exquisitely carved in stone; the whole building 
hat lately been carefully restored, so that the reredos may there be seen to 
great advantage. Wo shall say but little about organ screens, for in most 
of our cathedrals the organ occupies the place of the ancient rood, and the 
old rood-screen serves as an organ-screen. In parish churches, when the 
different position of the organ prohibits such an appropriation, the organ- 
screen is generally constructed so as to harmonise as little as possible with 
the details of the church ; if the latter be early English, the organ-screen is 
usually composite, with wreaths of oaken flowers and bulls' heads, trumpets 
placed saltier- wise and the king's arms (those of George II. or George III.) 
in gold and emblazonry. Here too is the favoured spot for announcing 
donations of bread and coals to the poor, beautifications (!) of the church, and 
the illustrious names of Messrs. "John Hun and William Vandal, church- 
wardens," all in gold, till a new era substitutes the names of other decorators 
in their turn. 

Of niches and brackets we have already spoken, and we, therefore, pass 
on to the piscina, (a) a small arched recess, sometimes double, as a beautiful 

example in the chapel of Jesus College, 
Cambridge, exhibits it, but more usually 
single, as the two instances in the church 
of St. Mary Magdalene. The position of 
the piscina is various, but it is most generally 
found at the eastern end of the southern 
wall, and at the right hand of the altar in 
the east walk They have circular orifices 
at the bottom, and drains communicating 
with the outside of the church, and their 
use was for pouring away the water used in 
rinsing the chalice, and washing the prit -t> 
hands ; hence they are also called water* 
drains, stoops, or lavatories. A great variety 
of style will be found in piscina', the head of 
some being richly decorated ; in other cases 
they are merely holes in the wall. Piscinas 
were first introduced into our churches about 
the year 1190. 
When a recess without a drain is found at the ri^ht hand of the altar it 
is called a credence, and its use was to place thereon the elements before 

- A M\ |K>ml, from the sacnii \\nihol, <X&f, a I 




FURNITURE AND ORNAMENTS OF (III K< ion at the Kncharist. In MOM ehnrehr.-. though not often, we 
may observe in the north wall, and within the altar rails, a recess, low and 
shallow, under a flat arch, and sometimes highly deeorated. This recess is 
called the Enter sepulchre, and its use. was to receive the aliment! 
consecrated on Maumlay Thursday, until the celebration of high mass on 
r Sunday. It is possible to imagine that the Easter sepulchre wa.- 
used in other rites typical of the resurrection. The most beautiful now 
remaining is in the church of Heckington, in Lincolnshire. These must 
not be confounded with the smaller aumbry, or locker, which is usually 
a plain square or triangular-headed recess in the north wall, occasionally 
fitted with a shelf and door, and intended to hold the church plate, &c. It 
is but rarely that aumbries exhibit any attempt at decoration ; they may be 
best known by their position, and are sometimes found set diagonally in the 
north-east corner. 

The sedilia, or seats, form a not unfrequent and very striking feature 
in the decoration of the chancel. They are generally three in number, 
either of equal height, or descending in regular gradation towards the west, 
and when they occur they are found invariably in the south wall, a little to 
the west of the piscina; in some instances, canopies of exquisite workman- 
ship over the arches by which they are surmounted mark the taste and the 
wealth of the builder ; while in others there is no more than a horizontal 
moulding. The usual number is, as we have already said, three; but there 
are sometimes, in large churches, more: thus, at Rothwell Church, Nor- 
thamptonshire, there are four, and at Southwell Minster, five. There arc 
also small churches with two, as at Milton, Kent ; or even one, as at Chalk 
Church, in the same county ; but three was the more usual number, for the 
priest, the deacon, and the sub-deacon. Sedilia are rarely of greater anti- 
quity than the thirteenth century, previous to which period the priest sat 
on a chair, or stool, as at present 

We may just mention a few other peculiarities in the chancels of some 
of our older churches. The first of these is a small square hole in the 
extreme east end of the southern wall, placed almost close to the ground, 
and resembling an aumbry; the second, an arched recess on the western 
side of the sedilia, resembling them in appearance, but of greater width, 
and surmounted with an arch of a different character ; the third is a small 
low window close to the chancel arch, usually stopped up with stone or 
brick, but visible from the outside. A corresponding one may, in a few 
rare instances, be discovered in the northern wall. 

Lastly, we come to the hagioscope, or, as it has been called, squint. 
This is, or rather these are, small oblong slits in the chancel wall, in order 





that those sitting in the nave or transepts might see the host when elevated, 
the word signifies to see what is holy. The hagioscope itself is of rare 

occurrence, so much so, indeed, as to be omitted 
in the "Glossary of Architecture," and when it 
is found, its purpose is not often understood. We 
cannot dismiss the host and its elevation without 
noticing the sancte-bell. Outside the church, 
at the eastern end of the nave, the observer may 
sometimes see a small turret, like a dove cote, 
which occasionally, though not often, contains a 
bell; this is called the sancte-bell, and it was 
rung at the elevation of the host, in order that 
those without might fall down on their knees 
and worship the elements, now changed, accord- 
ing to the superstitious creed of Rome, into the real body and blood of 

The more modern furniture and ornaments of churches will require but 
a short notice. A large volume might be written upon fonts and their covers : 
all that we shall say here will have reference to the proper situation of the 
font in a church ; it should be near the porch, to typify that by baptism is 
the entrance into the church, and those, therefore, who place the font in the 
body of the church, or still more, who advance it to the chancel, not merely 
offend against ecclesiastical propriety, but symbolically against sound doc- 
trine. Of pulpits, too, we shall say but little ; some of the most ancient and 
beautiful in this country are of stone, and others, of later date, of carved 
wood, by Gibbons, and other equally skilful, if not equally celebrated, 
artists of that time. The desk had its origin at the Reformation, and 
as the object of it was to put the officiating minister in such a position 
with regard to those whose devotions he was to lead, it is obvious that its 
usual situation is that which is at once most effective and most correct. In 
some churches we see two pulpits of equal height erected, one for the reader, 
and one for the preacher; and in others the still worse arrangement, by 
which pulpit, reading desk, and clerk's desk, all are so placed as to prevent 
the congregation from either hearing or seeing the minister during the 
communion service. Reading desks did, as we have already said, originate 
at the Reformation, but lecterns and eagles, for the reading of the lessons, 
may be found of much earlier date. 

Of the communion table, with its plate and linen, we have left ourselves 
no space to say much, and the rarity of ancient plate makes it less nec e s s ary 
to enlarge. In Somersetshire there exists some of that which has escaped 

* * 





PORNITi in wi> oit\ if ( iiriunKs 

the ravage- >t' the ^rt-at rebellion, ami we may especially notice a chalice 
with a I'uviT belonging to tin- church at Ihninster. 

Let us indulge a hope thai these few remarks may be the mean 
however small an extent, of bringing the subject of ancient church orna- 
ments before the notice of. some who may have it in their power to stop the 
beeom of destruction, already "reforming away so many of our ecclesiastical 
antiquities" from the face of the earth. 







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University of Toront 








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