Project Gutenberg's The Cathedral Church of Peterborough, by W.D. Sweeting
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Title: The Cathedral Church of Peterborough
A Description Of Its Fabric And A Brief History Of The Episcopal See
Author: W.D. Sweeting
Release Date: October 5, 2004 [EBook #13618]
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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CHURCH OF PETERBOROUGH ***
[Illustration: Peterborough Cathedral, From The South-east.]
THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF
A DESCRIPTION OF ITS FABRIC
AND A BRIEF HISTORY OF
THE EPISCOPAL SEE
THE REV. W.D. SWEETING, M.A.
WITH FIFTY ILLUSTRATIONS
LONDON: G. BELL AND SONS, LTD. 1926
First Published, February 1898
Second Edition, Revised, 1899.
Reprinted, 1906, 1911, 1922, 1926.
The chief authorities consulted in the preparation of this book are
named in the text. Besides the well-known works of reference on the
English Cathedrals, and the "Monastic Chronicles," there are several
that deal with Peterborough alone, of which the most important and
valuable are "Gunton's History" with Dean Patrick's Supplement,
"Craddock's History," the monographs by Professor Paley and Mr Poole,
and the Guide of Canon Davys. If I have ventured to differ from some of
these writers on various points, I must appeal, in justification, to a
careful and painstaking study of the Cathedral and its history, during a
residence at Peterborough of more than twenty years.
My best thanks are due to Mr Caster of Peterborough, for permission to
incorporate with this account the substance of a Guide, which I prepared
for him, published in 1893; and to Mr Robert Davison of London, for his
description of the Mosaic Pavement, executed by him for the Choir. I
desire also to express my thanks for the drawings supplied by Mr W.H.
Lord, Mr H.P. Clifford, and Mr O.R. Allbrow; and to acknowledge my
indebtedness to the Photochrom Company, Ld., and to Messrs S.B. Bolas &
Co., for their excellent photographs.
In this new edition the corrections are limited almost entirely to
alterations necessitated by lapse of time. In connexion with which I
have to thank Mr H. Plowman of Minster Precincts, Peterborough.
CHAPTER I.--History of the Cathedral Church of S. Peter 3
CHAPTER II.--The Cathedral--Exterior 36
The West Front 39
The Towers 44
The Porch and Parvise 45
The Bell-Tower 48
The Dean's Door 50
The Lantern-Tower 51
The North Transept 52
The New Building 55
The South Transept 55
CHAPTER III.--The Cathedral--Interior 57
The Choir 60
The Choir Stalls 67
The Pulpit and Throne 70
The Organ, Baldachino, and Pavement 72
The Screens 74
The Lectern 74
The New Building 76
The Transepts 77
The Saxon Church 80
The Nave 81
The Nave Ceiling 84
The West Transept 87
Stained Glass 88
The Parvise 90
Monuments and Inscriptions 91
CHAPTER IV.--The Minster Precincts and City 99
The Chapel of S. Thomas of Canterbury 100
The Knights' Chamber 101
The Deanery Gateway 102
The Infirmary and Cloisters 103
The Palace 106
The City and Guild Hall 108
The Tithe Barn 111
CHAPTER V.--History of the Monastery 112
CHAPTER VI.--History of the Diocese 127
The Cathedral, from the South-East _Frontispiece_
Arms of the Diocese _Title_
The Cathedral and Palace 2
The Cathedral; from the North, c. 1730 7
Remains of Saxon Church 10
Map, 1610 23
The West Front in the Seventeenth Century 25
Iron Railings, 1721 27
Finial of the Central Gable of the West Front 34
The West Front 37
Plan of Central Portion of the West Front 41
West Porch and Parvise 43
Gates to West Porch 44
South-West Spire and Bell-Tower 47
The West Front, restored according to Gunton, 1780 49
The Dean's Door 51
Apse and New Building, from the South-East 53
Plan of Monastery Buildings 58
The Choir 61
View from the Triforium South of Choir 63
North Transept and Morning Chapel 65
The Pulpit 71
Apse and Canopied Reredos 73
The New Building--Interior 78
The Transepts, looking North 79
Evangelistic Symbols, from Lantern Tower Roof 80, 81
Boss from Lantern Tower Roof 82
The Nave, looking East 83
The Choir and Nave, looking West 85
Head of S. Peter in Ancient Stained Glass 89
Part of the Monks' Stone 92
Saxon Coffin Lids in North Transept 93
Portions of Abbots' Tombs 94, 95, 96
South Aisles of Choir and Nave 97
South Side of the Close, 1801 99
Cathedral Gateway, 1791 101
Door to Palace Grounds from the Cloisters, 1797 104
Door way to Cathedral from the Cloisters 105
Archway from Cloisters, North-West 107
Church of S. John the Baptist and Guildhall 109
Rose Windows and Details of West Front 117
Tomb of an Abbot, possibly Abbot Andrew, 1201 120
Iron Railings, 1721 123
Details of Chasuble on Abbot's Tomb 129
Details of Albs on Abbots' Tombs 133
PLAN OF THE CATHEDRAL. 135
[Illustration: The Cathedral And Palace, From The South-west.]
HISTORY OF THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF S. PETER.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Peterborough remained one of
the most unchanged examples in the kingdom of the monastic borough. The
place was called into existence by the monastery and was entirely
dependent on it. The Abbot was supreme lord, and had his own gaol. He
possessed great power over the whole hundred. And even after the See of
Peterborough was constituted, and the Abbey Church became a cathedral,
many of the ancient privileges were retained by the newly formed Dean
and Chapter. They still retained the proclamation and control of the
fairs; their officer, the high bailiff, was the returning officer at
elections for parliament; they regulated the markets; they appointed the
coroner. Professor Freeman contrasts an Abbot's town with a Bishop's
town, when speaking about the city of Wells. "An Abbot's borough
might arise anywhere; no better instance can be found than the borough
of S. Peter itself, that Golden Borough which often came to be called
distinctively the Borough without further epithet." And again, "the
settlement which arose around the great fenland monastery of S. Peter,
the holy house of Medeshampstead, grew by degrees into a borough, and by
later ecclesiastical arrangements, into a city, a city and borough to
which the changes of our own day have given a growth such as it never
Situated on the edge of the Fens, some miles to the east of the great
north road, without any special trade, and without any neighbouring
territorial magnates, it is hardly surprising that the place seemed
incapable of progress, and remained long eminently respectable and
stagnant. In one of his caustic epigrams Dean Duport does indeed speak
of the wool-combers as if there were a recognised calling that employed
some numbers of men; but he is not complimentary to those employed, for
he says that the men that comb the wool, and the sheep that bear it, are
on a par as regards intelligence:
"At vos simplicitate pares et moribus estis,
Lanificique homines, lanigerique greges."
In another epigram he derides the city itself, calling it contemptuously
"Urbicula"; and he suggests, with a humour that to modern ideas savours
of irreverence, that this little city of S. Peter's, "Petropolis,"
unless S. Peter had the keys, would run away through its own gates.
The great development of the last half of the nineteenth century is due
to the railway works at New England, and to the Great Northern Line
making Peterborough an important railway centre. In 1807 the entire
population of the city and hamlets was under 3,500. In 1843 it was just
over 5,500, and when the railway was laid it was not much more than
6,000. It has since gone up by leaps and bounds. In 1861 the population
exceeded 11,000. By 1911 it had grown by steady increments to 33,578.
The private diary of a resident of about 1850 would read like an old
world record. The watchman in the Minster Precincts still went his
rounds at night and called out the time and the weather; sedan-chairs
were in use; the corn-market of the neighbourhood was held in the open
street; turnpikes took toll at every road out of the town; a weekly
paper had only just been started on a humble scale, being at first
little more than a railway time-table with a few items of local news at
the back; a couple of rooms more than sufficed for the business of the
In 1874 a charter of incorporation was granted, not without some
opposition; it had been, up to that time, the only city in England
without a mayor, except Ely and Westminster.
An account of the church which is now the cathedral church of a diocese
that was only constituted in 1541, must of necessity trace its history
for some centuries before it attained its present dignity, and when it
was simply the church of an abbey. Three centuries and a half of
cathedral dignity have not made its old name of Minster obsolete; it is
indeed the term usually employed.
The village was first known by the name of Medeshamstede, the homestead
in the meadows. There is no evidence that any houses were built at all
before the foundation of the monastery. There was probably not a single
habitation on the spot before the rising walls of the religious house
made dwelling-places for the workmen a necessity. As time went on the
requirements of the inmates brought together a population, which for
centuries had no interests unconnected with the abbey. The establishment
of the monastery is due to the conversion of the royal family to
Christianity. It was in the middle of the seventh century when Penda was
King of the Mercians, and his children, three sons, Peada, Wulfere, and
Ethelred, and two daughters, Kyneburga, and Kyneswitha, became converted
to the Christian faith. On succeeding to the throne, Peada the eldest
son, founded this monastery of Medeshamstede. The first Abbot, Saxulf,
had been in a high position at court; he is described as an earl
(_comes_); and most likely had the practical duty of building and
organising the monastery, as he is called by Bede the builder of the
place as well as first Abbot (_Constructor et abbas_). This was in the
year 654 or 655 (for the date is given differently by different
authorities), and Peada only lived two or three years afterwards. His
brothers in turn came to the throne, and both helped to enrich the
rising foundation. The elder of the two, however, had lapsed from
Christianity, and killed his own two sons in his rage at finding they
had become Christians; but afterwards stung with remorse he confessed
his offence to S. Chad, who had brought the princes to the knowledge of
Christ, and offered to expiate it in any way he was directed. He was
bidden to restore the Christian Religion, to repair the ruined churches,
and to found new ones. The whole story is told with great particularity
by the chronicler, and it was represented in stained glass in the
cloisters of the abbey, as described hereafter.
The church thus built must have been of considerable substance, if, as
recorded, Peada in the foundation of it "laid such stones as that eight
yoke of oxen could scarce draw one of them." It has nevertheless,
utterly perished. We read of the continued support bestowed by a
succession of princes and nobles, of the increasing dignity of the
house, and of the privileges it acquired; but there is nowhere a single
line descriptive of the buildings themselves. Gunton does indeed speak
of a goodly house for the Abbot constructed by King Peada; but he must
have been capable of strange credulity if he imagined, as his words seem
to imply, that this very house was in existence in the time of Henry
VIII. He writes thus: "The Royal Founder ... built also an house for
the Abbot, which upon the dissolution by Henry the Eighth, became the
Bishop's Palace. A building very large and stately, as the present age
can testifie; all the rooms of common habitation being built above
stairs, and underneath are very fair vaults and goodly cellars for
several uses. The great Hall, a magnificent room, had, at the upper end,
in the Wall, very high above the ground, three stately Thrones, wherein
were placed sitting, the three Royal Founders carved curiously of Wood,
painted and guilt, which in the year 1644 were pulled down and broken to
[Illustration: The Cathedral; from the North, c. 1730]
There is no doubt that this first monastery was utterly destroyed by the
Danes about the year 870. The very circumstantial account given in the
chronicle of Abbot John, derived from Ingulf, is well known; but as it
is entirely without corroboration in any of the historians who mention
the destruction of the monastery, recent criticism has not hesitated to
pronounce the whole account a mere invention. It is unnecessary,
therefore, to give it here. The account "may have some foundation in
fact," Professor Freeman admits, "but if so, it is strange to find no
mention of it in Orderic." But the discredit thrown upon the minutely
graphic story of Ingulf, does not of course apply to the actual fact, of
which there is ample evidence, that the monastery was burnt by the
Danes. Matthew of Westminster says:--"And so the wicked leaders,
passing through the district of York, burned the churches, cities, and
villages ... and thence advancing they destroyed all the monasteries
(_coenobia_) of monks and nuns situated in the fens, and slew the
inmates. The names of these monasteries are, Crowland, Thorney, Ramsey,
Hamstede, now called Burgh S. Peter, with the Isle of Ely, and that once
very famous house of nuns, wherein the holy Virgin and Queen Etheldreda
laudably discharged the office of abbess for many years."
The re-edification of the monastery, henceforth known as Burgh, is due
to Bishop Ethelwold, of Winchester, with the approval and support of
King Edgar. This was accomplished in 972. We have now reached a point
where all can take a practical interest in the subject, because portions
of this church are to be seen to this day. The exact site of the Saxon
church had always been a matter of conjecture until the excavations made
in the course of the works incidental to the rebuilding of the lantern
tower (1883-1893) finally settled the question. Many students of the
fabric supposed that the existing church practically followed the main
outlines of the former one, possibly with increased length and breadth,
but at any rate on the old site. It is now ascertained that the east end
of the Saxon church was nearly under the east wall of the present south
transept and the south walls of the south transepts of both buildings
were but a very few feet apart. The dimensions of the former church both
its length and breadth, were as nearly as possible half of those of the
existing one. A description of the present appearance of the remains
will be found in a later chapter (see page 80).
The Church of Bishop Ethelwold was not without its vicissitudes. Nothing
was more promising than its origin, and the circumstances of its
building. King Edgar and Dunstan, whom he had made Archbishop of
Canterbury, were very enthusiastic in extending the growth of monastic
influence in the country. No less than forty Benedictine convents are
said to have been either founded or restored by Edgar. Bishop Ethelwold
was entirely of one mind with the King and Archbishop, in the
ecclesiastical reforms of the day. Mr Poole well describes the
commencement of the work. "At Medeshamstede the ruins were made to their
hands, and they at once commenced the grateful task of their restoration
and appropriation. As usual, we find certain supernatural interferences
assigned as indications of the divine approval of the work. It is
related how Ethelwold was directed by God, in a dream, to go to the
monastery of S. Peter, among the Mid-English; how he halted first at
Oundle, supposing that to be the monastery intended; but being warned in
a dream to continue his eastward course, at length discovered the ashes
of the desolated Medeshamstede. It needs but little ingenuity to collect
from this that Ethelwold, having received some vague intelligence of the
present condition both of Oundle and Medeshamstede, started from
Winchester, determined on reaching either or both; and that being less
pleased with what he saw at Oundle than he expected, he extended his
progress to Medeshamstede." The Queen is said to have overheard the
Bishop's fervent prayers for the success of his object, and to have used
her influence with the King; but he probably required very little
persuasion to undertake what was so much to his taste. It may be
mentioned that if we accept the date 972 for the completion of the
re-building (the Chronicle gives 970 for its commencement), the very
same year witnessed that well-known scene on the River Dee, when King
Edgar held the helm of a royal barge as it was being rowed by eight
[Illustration: Remains of Saxon Church]
The King came to visit the monastery thus rebuilt under his direction.
The Archbishops, Dunstan and Oswald, with a large company of the
nobility and clergy attended at the same time. The King is said to have
inspected some old deeds which had been saved from the general
destruction a century before, and to have wept for joy at reading the
privileges belonging to the place. He therefore granted a new charter,
confirming all the old privileges and possessions. Since in this charter
no allusion is made to the triple dedication of the church, but S. Peter
alone seems named as the Patron Saint, it is not unreasonable to
conclude that the first church of Burgh monastery was dedicated to S.
Peter only, and that the dedication of the original minster to SS.
Peter, Paul, and Andrew, was not repeated. Edgar says that he renews the
ancient privileges "_pro gratia Sancti Petri_"; and that certain
immunities shall continue as long as the Abbot and the inmates of the
house remain in the peace of God, and the Patron Saint continues his
protection, "_ipso Abbate cum subjecta Christi familia in pace Dei, et
superni Janitoris Petro patrocinio illud (sc. coenobium) regente._" This
charter is noteworthy for the title the King gives himself, "_Ego Edgar
totius Albionis Basileus._"
For some time this establishment continued to flourish. But the
troublous times that followed the Norman conquest did not leave Burgh
undamaged. It plays a considerable part in the story of Hereward, the
Saxon patriot. Situated on the direct line between Bourne, his paternal
inheritance, and the Camp of Refuge near Ely, it was exposed to the
attacks of both the contending parties. Brando (1066-1069) had made
Hereward, who was his nephew, a knight; and the patriot might be
credited with a regard for the holy place where he had been girt at a
solemn service with the sword and belt of knighthood; but upon Brando's
death the abbacy had been granted to a Norman, doubtless with the
intention of making the place available as a military centre. Hereward
joined the Danes, who had again begun to infest the district, in an
attack upon the abbey. The accounts vary as to the time at which this
attack was made. One says that it was before Turold, the Norman Abbot,
had entered upon possession: another says that Turold had in person
joined Ivo Taillebois in an attempt to surprise Hereward and his men in
the woods near Bourne, but had been taken prisoner and only released
after paying a large ransom. When dismissed there seems to have been
something in the nature of an undertaking that the Abbot would not again
fight against Hereward; but as soon as he was free he organised fresh
attacks, obliging all the tenants of the abbey to supply assistance. In
revenge for this Hereward went with his men to Burgh, and laid waste the
whole town with fire, plundered all the treasure of the church, and
destroyed all the buildings of the abbey except the church itself.
Though Hereward spared the church and went away, yet very soon
afterwards the monks, possibly sympathising more with Hereward than with
their Norman Abbot (who had left them for a time), allowed themselves to
indulge in a drunken revel; and while carousing, a fire seized upon the
church and other remaining buildings, from which Gunton says they
rescued only a few relics, and little else. But, as Mr Poole has well
observed, "we must receive such accounts with some allowance; and, in
fact, neither was the abbey so despoiled, nor the church so destroyed,
but that there was wealth enough to tempt robbers in the next abbacy,
and fuel enough for another conflagration." The robbers in question were
foreigners who got into the church by a ladder over the altar of SS.
Philip and James, one of them standing with a drawn sword over the
sleeping sacrist. The plunder they carried off was valuable, but it was
recovered when the thieves were overtaken. The King, though he may have
punished the robbers, retained the goods so that they were never
restored to the abbey.
That Ernulf (1107-1114) should not have done anything towards improving
the church is a fact that speaks as plainly as possible of its being
already in good condition. Had there been anything like the desolation
that some accounts pretend, Ernulf would have spared no exertions in his
endeavours to put things right. He came from Canterbury, where he was
Prior, and where he had already distinguished himself as a zealous
builder; but all that is recorded as due to him at Burgh is the
completion of some unfinished buildings, the dormitory, the refectory,
and the chapter-house. We may feel confident therefore that the Saxon
Church built by Ethelwold remained substantially as first erected until
the time of Ernulf's successor; and that the remains to be seen to this
day were in their present position when Edgar and Dunstan visited the
These newly erected buildings were all that escaped a terrible
conflagration that occurred in the time of John of Sais (1114-1125).
Hugo Candidus, the chronicler, was an eye-witness of this fire, and has
left us an account of it. On the second day of the nones of August,
being the vigil of Saint Oswald, King and Martyr (4th Aug. 1116),
through neglect, the whole monastery was burnt down, except the
chapter-house, dormitory, refectory, and a few outside offices. The
refectory had only been in use for three days, having been apparently
opened (as we should say in these days) by an entertainment given to the
poor. The whole town shared the fate of the monastery. The Abbot was a
very passionate man, and being in a great rage, when he was disturbed at
a meal by some of the brethren who had come into the refectory to clear
the tables, cursed the house, incautiously commended it to the enemy of
mankind, and went off immediately to attend to some law-business at
Castor. Then one of the servants, who had tried unsuccessfully to light
a fire, lost his temper, and (following the evil example of his
superior) cried out, "_Veni, Diabole, et insuffla ignem_." Forthwith the
flames rose, and reached to the roof, and spread through all the offices
to the town. The whole church was consumed, and the town as well, all
the statues (or perhaps _signa_ may mean the bells) were broken, and the
fire continued burning in the tower for nine days. On the ninth night a
mighty wind arose and scattered the fire and burning fragments
_(carbones vivos)_ from the tower over the Abbot's house, so that there
was a fear that nothing would escape the devouring element.
The very next year John of Sais commenced the building of a new minster.
He laid the foundation on the 8th of March 1118. Much work was probably
necessary before a foundation stone could be laid; and Abbot John's
Chronicle, wherein it is said that the foundation of the new church at
Burgh was laid, on the 12th of March, 1117, may be speaking of the
actual commencement of the operations; and Candidus, who gives the later
date, and who was present, may refer to a ceremonial laying of a stone,
after the ground had been cleared and new designs prepared. The church
then begun is the minster we now see. The works commenced, as we find
almost universally the case, at the east end. The choir is here
terminated by an apse; and before the eastern addition was built in the
fifteenth century, this apse, with the two lesser ones at the ends of
the choir aisles, must have presented an appearance of much grandeur.
The Abbot who began the church did not live to see much progress made,
as he died in 1125. He is said to have worked hard at it, but how much
was finished we do not know. The next Abbot, after an interval of two
years, was Henry of Anjou, a kinsman of King Henry I. He appears to have
been a scandalous pluralist, restless and greedy, continually seeking
and obtaining additional preferment, and as often being forced to
resign. He was not the man to prosecute such a work as was to be done at
Burgh; "he lived even as a drone in a hive; as the drone eateth and
draggeth forward to himself all that is brought near, even so did
he." It is likely that for eight years after the death of John de
Sais nothing was done to advance the building. But the Prior of S.
Neots, Martin de Bee, who was appointed to succeed Henry, was
continually employed in building about the monastery; and in particular
he completed the presbytery of the church, and brought back the sacred
relics, and the monks, on Saint Peter's day into the new church, with
great joy. Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, was present; but there was no
service of consecration. According to the Saxon Chronicle this took
place in 1140; Abbot John says in 1143.
Before proceeding further with the architectural history of the
cathedral (as distinguished from the description of it, which will be
given in due course), it may be well to say a few words upon the
principles which have guided the writer in his treatment of the subject.
These cannot be better expressed than in a very pithy sentence uttered
by Professor Willis at the meeting of the Archaeological Institute at
this very place in 1861. "In all investigations of this nature, I am of
opinion that it is requisite to ascertain first whether there exist any
contemporary documents which may throw light upon the history of the
fabric, and then to let the stones tell their own tale." Now there is an
abundance of documentary evidence for our purpose; but recent criticism
has shewn that not all is to be relied upon as authentic. And the Latin
expressions for different portions of the building can, in many
instances, not be interpreted with certainty; while the absence of all
reference to some works of importance (the West Front, for example), is
very mysterious. Most of these documents had been studied in manuscript
by Gunton and Patrick, and the result of their studies was published in
1686. The work is entitled "The History of the church of Peterburgh ...
By Symon Gunton, late Prebendary of that church.... And set forth by
Symon Patrick, D.D., now Dean of the same." Gunton was Prebendary from
1646 to his death in 1676; Patrick was Dean from 1679 till his
consecration as Bishop of Chichester in 1689. Most of the documents in
question have since been printed. Two writers in the last half century
have published monographs on the cathedral, both of great value, both
treating the subject after Professor Willis's method. These are G.A.
Poole, formerly Vicar of Welford, whose paper on the Abbey Church of
Peterborough was published among the Transactions of the Architectural
Society of the Archdeaconry of Northampton in 1855, and the late
Professor F.A. Paley, a second edition of whose pamphlet, "Remarks on
the Architecture of Peterborough Cathedral," was issued in 1859. It by
no means detracts from the value of the method employed that the results
of the investigations of these two careful students of the fabric do not
accord with one another. Much must always be left to inference or
conjecture. Since they wrote many discoveries have been made which have
shewn some of their conclusions to have been inaccurate. But the rule
is a sound one, and indeed it is only by studying the documents and the
fabric together that one can hope to learn the history of any great
Thus, when the chronicle records that Abbot Martin completed the
presbytery, and that then the monks entered into the new church, we
should naturally understand that he built no more than the existing
choir and its aisles. But there can be little doubt that his work
included the eastern bays and aisles of both transepts. The style of the
architecture speaks for itself, "the stones tell their own tale," and
the most careful study, and the most painstaking investigations, have
failed to detect the slightest break in the continuity or character of
the work. This applies to the whole of the eastern part of the
transepts, excepting of course the alterations that were made in later
times. As Martin remained abbot till 1155, it is probable that he went
on with his building after the choir had been opened, and that this work
in the transepts was done in the latter part of his abbacy, but there is
no record of it.
Of Abbot William of Waterville (1155-1175) we are told that in his time
were erected the transepts (_ambae cruces_) and three stages of the
central tower (_tres ystoriae magistrae turris_). This does not contradict
what has been said above as to the eastern part of the transepts being
built in Abbot Martin's time. For the walls and aisles to the east only
would be in position; and his successor might well be credited with the
erection of the transepts, if he built the ends and western walls, and
roofed in the whole. It is tolerably clear also that this same abbot
must have built the two bays of the nave adjoining the central tower. A
tower of three stages, presumably of the massive character that marks
all large Norman towers, must have had some western supports. Two bays
of the nave would act as buttresses; and it is easy to see the
difference between these two bays and the rest of the nave. Apart from
many minute points of difference which only an expert architectural
student could fully appreciate, there is one conspicuous variation which
all can see. This is in the tympanum of the triforium arches; in all
four instances we notice rugged ornamentation here which occurs nowhere
else in the nave.
Exclusive of the western transept we may assign eighty years as the
period during which the Norman Minster was being erected. And it is one
of the most noteworthy points in connection with its architectural
history, and one that has produced the happiest result in the grandeur
of the whole effect of the building upon the spectator, that each
successive architect carried on faithfully the ideas of his
predecessors. The whole work has been continued, as it were, in the
spirit of one design; and the differences in details, while quite
observable when once pointed out, are yet so unobtrusive that they
seldom attract notice. To mention one such instance, Mr Paley calls
attention to the different ornamentation on the windows of the south
transept when compared with those in the north transept, as well as to
the fact that on the south those windows have straight sides to the
inner surface of the wall, while those on the north have the sides
splayed. He justly argues, from these and other considerations, that the
south transept was built first.
To Abbot William of Waterville succeeded Benedict (1177-1193). Of him we
are told that he built the whole nave in stone and wood-work, from the
tower of the choir to the front, and also erected a rood-loft. He built
also the great gate-way at the west of the precincts, with the chapel of
S. Nicolas above it, the chapel of S. Thomas of Canterbury and the
hospital attached to it, the great hall with the buildings connected;
and he also commenced that wonderful work (_illud mirificum opus_) near
the brewery, but his death occurred before it could be completed. What
this last named great work was we do not know. It is at least possible
that the reference is to the western transept.
Considerable controversy has arisen as to the work in the church thus
attributed to Benedict. Both chronicles give him credit for building the
whole nave from the tower of the choir to the front. The wording,
however, of the two is so similar as to cause some doubt as to their
being independent authorities. Granting that some small portion of the
nave to the east, as before described, must have been built as a support
to Waterville's tower, the question remains, what is the front to which
this record alludes? There is of course no doubt that the words speak of
the nave only, exclusive of the front. But was this the present west
front, as now remaining, or was there previously a Norman front to the
church? There is much to be said on both sides. Mr Paley believes the
latter; Mr Poole, the former. And possibly the true solution may be
found in a combination of both theories, though at first sight that
seems impossible. That a west front in Norman times was designed, and in
part built, Mr Paley has shewn most conclusively. He indeed thinks it
was finished, but that is open to considerable doubt. The evidence on
which he proves that two western towers were at least designed is quite
conclusive; and the whole passage in which he discusses the matter may
be quoted. "Proceeding towards the west end of the nave, we observe a
very singular feature. The third pillar from the west end on each side
is considerably larger and wider than the others; and it also projects
further into the aisles. The arch also, springing from it westward, is
of a much greater span. The opposite vaulting shafts, in the aisle
walls, are brought forward, beyond the line of the rest, to meet the
pillars in question; so that the arch across the aisles is, in this
part, very much contracted, and, instead of being a mere groin rib, like
the rest, is a strong moulded arch of considerable depth in the soffit.
What appears at first sight, still more strange, the wall of the aisles
opposite to the wider nave-arch just mentioned, is brought forward at
least a foot internally, but again retires to the old level at the last
bay; so that in this particular part the whole thickness of the
aisle-wall is considerably greater. Not less remarkable is the
circumstance, that the half-pillars on each side of this wider arch
resume the complex form already described at the eastern end of the
nave, though they do not accurately agree either in plan or details....
Now it seems highly probable that it was at this very spot that it
[_i.e._, a Norman west front] stood, with two flanking Norman towers at
the end of the aisles. The wider nave-arch, with its massive and complex
pillars, was the entrance into the tower from each side of the nave. The
thicker aisle-wall opposite to it was, in fact, _the tower wall_. The
larger and heavier group of vaulting-shafts against the aisle-wall, and
the strong arch spanning the aisle across this point in place of the
groin-rib, were all parts of the tower.... The transformation of the
base of these two immense towers into a compartment of the aisle, so
similar to all the rest that its real nature has never been hitherto
suspected, is highly ingenious. It is only when once detected that the
anomalies above mentioned are at all intelligible."
These arguments prove to demonstration that the intention was to make
the Norman church end at the spot where now stand the third pillars of
the nave; and that the two western towers had begun to be built. As an
after thought another bay was added to the nave, with western transept,
and last of all the grand west front was another after thought. But they
do not establish the fact that the towers were ever finished, or the
Norman west front actually erected. The considerations adduced are
perfectly consistent with the theory that the additional length of the
nave was decided upon while the towers were still unfinished, and the
lower part of the towers transformed as Mr Paley has described. Thus we
combine the rival theories. For Mr Poole maintains that the point,
up to which Benedict's work was carried, must mean the front we now see.
One argument he advances appears unanswerable. Of the two
chroniclers, Swapham takes his history down to 1246; Abbot John ruled
from 1249 to 1262. Both these writers therefore, beyond all question,
were alive when the present front was finished. "Here are two people
writing after the present west front was erected, and for persons before
whose eyes the present west front appeared every day, and speaking of
the tower and of the west front as well-known limits to a certain work.
Surely they not only meant, but _must have meant_, the front that _then_
was, in other words, the west front as it is _now_."
The conclusion of the controversy may perhaps not yet have been reached.
But all the difficulties appear to be explained by understanding that
Benedict's work extended to the west end of the present nave, and that
he carried the whole building further west than was originally intended,
and managed to do this without destroying the lower part of the towers
which had actually been raised.
When, therefore, the Norman nave, as originally designed, was
approaching completion, the designers determined upon an extension of
the nave, and a much grander western finish to the church than had
before been contemplated. This idea included a dignified western
transept, the dimensions of which, from north to south, should exceed
the entire width of the nave and aisles. This would of necessity involve
the lengthening of the nave, because the monastic buildings came close
to the south aisle of the nave, at the point where the original
termination of the church was to have been, as may be seen by the old
western wall of the cloister, which is still standing.
The two next abbots were Andrew (1193-1200), and Acharius (1200-1210).
To one or both of these may be assigned the western transept. By their
time the Norman style was giving place to the lighter and more elegant
architecture of the Early English period, the round arch was beginning
to be superseded by the pointed arch, and the massive ornamentation
which marks the earlier style was displaced by the conventional foliage
that soon came to be very generally employed. Most wisely, however, the
Peterborough builders made their work at the west end of the nave
intentionally uniform with what was already built. Very numerous
indications of this can be seen by careful observers. The bases of the
western pillars, the change in the depth of the mouldings,
characteristic changes in the capitals in the triforium range, and
especially the grand arches below the transept towers, which are
pointed, but enriched with ornamentation of pronounced Norman character,
all point to the later date of this western transept.
At the west wall of the church all trace of Norman work disappears. The
arcade near the ground, the large round arch above the door, the great
west window and its adjacent arches (not, of course, including the late
tracery), are all of distinct Early English character. The whole of this
wall may be held to be an integral part of the west front, and not of
the transept which it bounds.
When we come to the most distinctive feature of the cathedral, the
glorious west front, we find we have no help whatever from the
chronicles. Nowhere is there the smallest reference to its building.
Other works raised by the Abbots of the period are named, but the noble
western portico is never once mentioned. Perhaps the rapid succession of
abbots after Acharius may account for this. The building must have
taken some years, and the credit of the whole cannot be given to one.
There were four Abbots after Acharius before the church was dedicated.
They were Robert of Lindsey (1214-1222), Alexander (1222-1226), Martin
of Ramsey (1226-1233), and Walter of S. Edmunds (1233-1245). During the
abbacy of this last the church was dedicated on the 4th of October 1237,
(according to the _Chronicon Angliae Petriburgense_), or on the 28th of
September 1238, according to Matthew Paris. The Bishop of Lincoln,
Robert Grostete, took the chief part in the ceremony, assisted by
William Brewer, Bishop of Exeter. The other chronicle calls the second
bishop suffragan of the Bishop of Lincoln, which may mean no more than
that he assisted on the occasion. The dedication took place in
accordance with the provisions of certain constitutions which had been
drawn up at a council held in London. No doubt the building had before
this been completed. This date agrees well with the period which all
architectural experts accept as the probable date of the erection of the
west front. It may have been, and probably was, finished some few years
before the dedication. The very fine gables at the north and south ends
of the western transept are of the same date as the west front.
Considerable changes in the fabric, as well as additional buildings,
belong to the latter part of the thirteenth century. The documents
mention two of these. In the time of Richard of London (1274-1295), but
before his election to the abbacy, while he was still sacrist, the
bell-tower was erected, in which were hung the great bells which were
called Les Londreis, because he was himself a Londoner, and had caused
them to be brought from London. A previous abbot, John of Calais
(1249-1262), had contributed a great bell to the monastery, which he had
dedicated to S. Oswald. On it was inscribed the rhyming hexameter _Jon
de Caux abbas Oswaldo consecrat hoc vas_. The other great work of this
period was a magnificent Lady Chapel, since destroyed, begun in 1272 by
William Parys, then Prior, who laid the first stone with his own hand,
and placed beneath it some writings from the gospels. He lived to see it
completed, and at last his body was interred within it. Its altar was
consecrated in 1290, as is recorded in the register of Bishop Oliver
Sutton. It is described as having been built of stone and wood, with a
leaden roof, and with glass windows. There was a statue of the Virgin,
and round the walls, or perhaps in the stained glass in the windows,
there were figures of those named in the genealogy, with a compendium of
their lives beneath each. The Prior contributed five pounds of silver
and upwards of his annual revenues towards the decoration of this
chapel. From an engraving in Gunton's History, which may be taken as
fairly representing its appearance, for it was standing in his time,
although the drawing is manifestly inaccurate and must have been
sketched from memory, we gather that the windows were of the same
character as four which are still to be seen, three of them in the
eastern chapels of the south transept, and the fourth on the north side,
near the site of the Lady Chapel. These are all of excellent geometric
work, and precisely of the date given. This chapel was built, as at Ely,
to the east of the north transept. The position of the roof can be
traced on the east wall of the transept; and it can be there seen how
the Norman triforium windows were originally arranged. These being
covered by the Lady Chapel, had not been altered like those in other
parts of the church.
Other works of this century, not mentioned in the annals, are the entire
removal of the lower stage of Norman windows in the aisles, these were
replaced by wide windows of five lights each; the addition of a parapet
to the apse; the erection of piscinas and other accompaniments to side
altars, at the east ends of the choir aisles.
For the rest of the architectural history we have no chronicles to guide
us, and are left to the stones themselves. But there is very little
difficulty in fixing at least approximate dates for all the later work.
The most important alteration in the fourteenth century was the removal
of the stages above the four great arches of the central tower, and the
substitution of a lighter lantern. When this was done, the great round
arches east and west of the tower were changed into pointed arches, but
those north and south were left unaltered. There is every probability
that some signs of insecurity had made themselves evident. We have seen
that three stages of the Norman tower were erected by Abbot William of
Waterville. Though not so stated we infer from this that at least one
more stage was afterwards added. In any case the tower must have been a
very massive structure, considerably higher than the present one. In the
early part of this century, in 1321, the great tower of Ely had fallen;
and its fate may have warned the monks of Peterborough to see that the
disaster was not repeated here. This alteration must have been made,
judging by the details of the architecture, in the second quarter of the
century. Above the lantern was a wooden octagon. The views that are
given of this hardly warrant the admiration that has been sometimes
expressed, or the regrets that have been uttered at its removal. It may
have been designed to carry a wooden spire, such as was afterwards
erected on the bell-tower. But most will agree with the criticism that
it was "a low and unsightly structure." It hardly rose more than eight
or ten feet above the top of the lantern, and the whole height of the
central tower, including the octagon, was less than the height of the
south-western spire of the front.
To this century belongs the transformation of the triforium windows all
through the nave and choir. Parapets were at the same time added above
the Norman corbel tables. The change effected in the apse was the most
noticeable; not only were the two upper tiers of Norman windows replaced
by Decorated ones of larger size, but the three lowest ones in the
centre were altogether removed, and their place taken by lofty archways,
when the new building was built. But we can judge of their appearance
from the two side windows which still remain; these, being not now
external, have had all the glass removed; but the mullions and tracery
are perfect, and even the iron-bars across are still there. At the inner
surface of the wall the five lower windows have very good hanging
tracery, of different designs.
The south-western spire of the west front is also of this period,
probably a little earlier in date than the lantern. This is of very
remarkable beauty, and very much more elegant than the corresponding
spire to the north. The triangular section of the pinnacles at the base
of the spire, the crockets with which they are enriched, and the open
canopies around, combine to produce a most graceful feature. To the
latter years of this century may be assigned the central porch, with
room above, inserted between the two middle piers of the west front.
Some regard this as a blemish; others as a distinct improvement. One
party maintains that it is "an unsightly encumbrance, in its present
position, seeing that it violates the uniformity of design displayed in
the west front"; the other party contends that it is "an extremely
judicious insertion, and that it really does, just as if it was intended
for that purpose only, restore its proper dignity to the central arch of
the facade." It was most likely built as a matter of structural
necessity, to secure the stability of the front. From a settlement of
the foundations, or from a failure of the two central piers, or from the
great weight of masonry above, for there are no western buttresses, the
whole must have been in danger of falling. Mr Paley points out that the
"construction of this elegant little edifice is extremely scientific,
especially in the manner in which the thrust is distributed through the
medium of the side turrets so as to fall upon the buttresses in front.
These turrets being erected against one side of the triangular columns,
on the right and the left hand, support them in two directions at once,
viz., from collapsing towards each other, and from falling forward. The
latter pressure is thrown wholly upon the buttresses in front, which
project seven feet beyond the base of the great pillars." The room above
is called by Browne Willis the Consistory Court. It is now used for the
[Illustration: Map, 1610.]
The alterations and additions during the Perpendicular period can be
detected at a glance. All the Norman windows which had remained
unaltered were now filled with tracery, not of particularly good design;
the great west window and the others in the west wall were similarly
treated; the conical tops to the transeptal corner turrets were altered
into battlements; the screens in the transepts were made, and, probably,
the groined wooden ceiling in the choir. The most important addition was
the New Building at the east end of the choir. This is often erroneously
called the Lady Chapel; but when this edifice was erected the Lady
Chapel to the east of the north transept, and for more than 150 years
afterwards, was still standing. The new building was begun by Abbot
Ashton (1438-1471), and finished by Abbot Kirton (1496-1528). The rebus
of each of these abbots can be seen in its decorations: an ash growing
out of a tun or barrel, and a church or kirk with a tun.
[Illustration: The West Front in the Seventeenth Century.]
In 1540 the reign of the abbots came to an end, and in 1541 the church
became a cathedral. For a hundred years the church itself, as well as
all the buildings attached to it, appear to have remained in their full
glory. There is no reason to discredit the account given of the
preservation of this church, when so many others were dismantled or sold
at the suppression of the monasteries. It was suggested to King Henry
VIII, after the interment here of Queen Katharine of Aragon, that it
would become his greatness to erect a suitable monument of her in the
place where she was buried; and in reply the King said he would leave
her one of the goodliest monuments in Christendom, meaning that he would
spare the church for her sake. We conclude, however, from what we know
of the state of the fabric in the reign of Charles I, that although no
buildings may have been demolished, yet the church itself was falling
into disrepair. No doubt the diminished resources of the establishment,
as well as the numerous demands upon the stipends (never large) of the
members of the chapter, most of whom had duties and claims elsewhere
besides having families to support, materially reduced the amount that
could be annually devoted to the sustentation of the fabric. In the time
of the civil war much wanton destruction took place. Nearly everything
in the nature of ornamentation or embellishment was destroyed. A full
account of the mischief wrought has been preserved. Without particularly
naming such things as books, documents, vestments, and the movable
ornaments, we find the damage done to the fabric itself was terrible
indeed. The organs, "of which there were two pair," were broken down.
All the stalls of the choir, the altar rails, and the great brass
chandelier, were knocked to pieces. The altar of course did not escape.
Of the reredos, or altar-piece, and its destruction, Patrick writes as
follows: "Now behind the Communion Table, there stood a curious piece of
stone-work, admired much by strangers and travellers; a stately skreen
it was, well wrought, painted and gilt, which rose up as high almost as
the roof of the church in a row of three lofty spires, with other lesser
spires, growing out of each of them, as it is represented in the annexed
draught. This had now no Imagery-work upon it, or anything else that
might justly give offence, and yet because it bore the name of the High
Altar, was pulled all down with ropes, lay'd low and level with the
ground." All the tombs were mutilated or hacked down. The hearse over
the tomb of Queen Katherine was demolished, as well as the arms and
escutcheons which still remained above the spot where Mary Queen of
Scots had been buried. All the other chief monuments were defaced in
like manner. One in particular is worth mentioning. It was a monument in
the new building erected to himself by Sir Humfrey Orme in his lifetime.
Two words on the inscription, "Altar" and "Sacrifice," are said to have
excited the fury of the rabble, and it was broken down with axes,
pole-axes, and hammers. So this good old knight "outlived his own
monument, and lived to see himself carried in effigie on a Souldiers
back, to the publick market-place, there to be sported withall, a Crew
of Souldiers going before in procession, some with surplices, some with
organ pipes, to make up the solemnity." This monument, as it was left
after this profanity, is still to be seen exactly as it remained when
the soldiers had done their work. The brasses in the floor, the bells in
the steeple, were regarded as lawful plunder. The same would not be said
of the stained glass, of which there was a great quantity. This was
especially the case with the windows in the cloisters, which were "most
famed of all, for their great art and pleasing variety." All the glass
was broken to pieces. Much that escaped the violence of these
irresponsible zealots fell before the more regular proceedings of
commissioners. By their orders many of the buildings belonging to the
cathedral were pulled down and the materials sold. This was the case
with the cloisters, the chapter-house, the Bishop's hall and chapel. The
merchant that bought the lead from the palace roofs did not make a very
prosperous bargain, for he lost it all (as Dean Patrick says, within his
own knowledge) and the ship which carried it, on the voyage to Holland.
[Illustration: Iron Railings, 1721.]
For some time nothing was done to repair the damage. At length the Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas, Oliver St. John, obtained a grant of the
ruined Minster, which he gave to the town for use as a parish church,
their own parish church having also gone to decay. This gentleman was
doubly allied to the Cromwell family, his first wife being
great-grand-daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell, of Hinchinbrooke, and his
second wife daughter of Henry Cromwell, of Upwood. He had been sent upon
a distasteful embassy to Holland, where he experienced many indignities;
and on his return, according to Mark Noble, "he protested, that all
the favour which he received in reward for this embassy, was, that he
obtained the cathedral of Peterborough, which was propounded to be sold
and demolished, to be granted to the citizens of that place." The
interest that he took in Peterborough arose from the fact that he
resided at Longthorpe Hall, about two miles off.
The burden of restoring the church to a decent condition being too great
for the inhabitants, they agreed to pull down the Lady Chapel, and sell
the materials. This was done, except that some portion of the woodwork
was utilised in repairs. The painted boards from the roof were made into
backs for the seats in the choir. An engraving of the choir as it
appeared in the eighteenth century shews these boards. They are mostly
adorned with the letter M surmounted by a crown, and the three lions of
England, in alternate lozenges. Until the Restoration the church was
served by a school-master of the Charterhouse, Samuel Wilson, appointed
by the London Committee. When the cathedral body was restored, further
repairs were gradually effected, and when Dean Patrick wrote, he says
that the church was "recovering her ancient beauty and lustre again."
But the same causes which operated to prevent very much being done for
years after the dissolution of monasteries, the absence of any special
fabric fund, and the inadequacy of the revenues, again produced the same
results. Browne Willis published his survey of this cathedral in 1742.
He says that considering the pillaging of the church by King Henry
VIII., and the subsequent despoiling by King Edward VI., and Queen
Elizabeth, "we may less wonder that so large a fabrick has not had more
care taken of it as it ought; for I cannot but say, that it is ill kept
in repair, and lies very slovenly in the inside, and several of the
windows are stopped up with bricks, and the glazing in others sadly
broken; and the boards in the roof of the middle Isle or Nave, which
with the Cross Isle is not archt with stone (but wainscotted with
painted boards, as at S. Albans) are several of them damaged and broken,
as is also the pavement; insomuch that scarce any cathedral in England
is more neglected." He proceeds to say that the Dean and Chapter had
recently set apart L700 for repairs, and intended to apply more money to
the same purpose when certain leases were expired.
While Willis was collecting information for his book, Francis Lockier
was Dean. In his time new seats were erected in the choir which were
"very plain and tasteless." They remained until 1827. A new organ was
also obtained. L1500 was spent on these alterations.
The record of other changes, until the time of Dean Monk, is meagre.
Dean Tarrant (1764-1791) collected the fragments of stained glass and
had them all inserted in the windows of the apse. He also repaved the
church, but most unfortunately without carefully preserving the ancient
inscribed monumental stones. An altar screen and organ screen, from
designs by Carter, were erected; but neither seems to have possessed
Dean Kipling (1798-1822) is chiefly remembered from his alterations to
the lantern tower. He erected unsightly turrets at the four corners and
removed the octagon. These turrets, commonly spoken of with derision as
"Dean Kipling's chimneys" were of unsuitable height, and poor detail;
they were terminated with battlements. They were happily removed when
the tower was rebuilt.
Dean Monk (1822-1830) inaugurated and carried out an extensive scheme of
reparation. The appeal to the public for subscriptions is dated 31st
July 1827. It states that the altar screen, choir screen, and all the
woodwork in the choir are unworthy of the structure to which they
belong: that the Dean and Chapter had substantially repaired the
exterior of the church at their own expense; that they had procured
plans from Mr Blore, and an estimate of upwards of L5000 for the
projected work. The members of the chapter in their corporate capacity
had given L1000, and had further individually subscribed L1050. The
result of this appeal was that by June 1828 a sum of L5021 11s. had been
The improvements effected before this appeal to the public was made are
enumerated by Britton. As has been intimated, the cost was defrayed by
Dean Monk and the Chapter from their own resources. The chief repairs
and restorations were these:--new roofs were put to the transepts and
bell-tower; columns, mouldings, and ornaments in various parts of the
church were renewed; several windows, till then blocked up with rubble,
were opened and glazed, and in some cases the stonework made good; the
pinnacles, spires, and shafts of the west front were carefully restored;
two Norman doorways, which had been obscured for ages, were exposed to
view. The work in the choir included new stalls and seats, pulpit, and
throne; an altar screen of clunch, filling up the lower part of the
apse; and an organ screen, also of clunch, with an open parapet, and
enriched with much diaper-work and many canopies, and adorned on the
west face with large shields of arms, very brightly coloured,
charged with the heraldic bearings of the principal subscribers. At
first there were only four stalls on each side of the entrance to the
choir; others were added, in front of the ladies' pews, when Honorary
Canons were created in 1844. This organ-loft did not occupy the place of
the former screen, which was where the monastic choir had always
terminated, at the second bay west of the tower, but was placed under
the eastern arch of the lantern tower. The former screen was called by
Rickman "a barbarous piece of painted wood-work." It was either sold, or
taken by the contractors as a perquisite; it ultimately found its way
into a little garden at Woodston, just across the river, where it was
transformed into a summer-house, or arbour.
Great admiration was universally expressed at the conclusion of this
work. It was esteemed a marvel of beauty. Harriet Martineau, in her
"History of England during the Thirty Years' Peace," thought the
re-opening of the choir a matter of sufficient national importance to be
recorded in her book. She writes thus: "A new choir of great beauty, was
erected in Peterborough Cathedral during this period, and the church was
made once more what it was before it was devastated by the Puritans."
All must admire the enthusiasm and devotion which brought this
restoration to a successful issue, although to the taste of the present
day it would all appear cumbrous and heavy.
In the time of Dean Saunders (1853-1878) the choir roof was painted
anew, and much valuable and important work was done towards securing the
stability of the fabric, by underpinning some of the walls, and in other
ways; but all the expense was defrayed out of the resources of the Dean
and Chapter, and no public appeal was made for assistance. Indications
of the insecurity of the lantern tower had begun to appear, one or more
fragments of the masonry having fallen from a great height; and for some
years before the tower was condemned as unsafe, a wooden stage had been
erected, above the four great arches, as a protection in case more
stones should fall. The great pier to the south cast had been, time out
of memory, bound all round with strong iron bands. As far back as 1593,
there is an entry among the cathedral accounts, which mentions that L47
4s. 9d. had been spent on "the great column near the choir repaired with
iron and timber." In 1882 the evidences of failure in the lantern stage
were found to be increasing, and its condition was pronounced dangerous.
Large gaps made their appearance towards the end of the year, and in
January 1883, the greater part of the tower was said to be in a "state
It was very soon realised that nothing short of rebuilding the tower
from the foundation would meet the case. The first stone was taken down
on April 5th, and the tower and two eastern piers were removed by
August. The western piers were soon afterwards condemned, and taken down
the following year. The chief corner stone of the new tower at the
north-eastern pier, was laid with full masonic ceremonial on May 7th
1884, by the Earl of Carnarvon, acting for the Prince of Wales. All the
stones, as taken down, were numbered, and every one that could be used
again was replaced in its original position. During this year there
commenced a controversy as to the correct way of finishing the building
of the tower. When the Decorated lantern was first built, the great
arches, east and west, to the choir and nave, were altered from the
round to the pointed shape. A few of the stones of the original Norman
arches having been brought to light during the work, some persons wished
round arches to be built as at first. Some stones of the Norman tower
were also found; and it was proposed to heighten the central tower by
one stage of work in the Norman style, using original stones where
possible, and placing the Decorated stage above it. Others again, wanted
a lofty central spire to be added. The matter was referred to Archbishop
Benson for his decision. In the result the whole was rebuilt exactly as
before, with the exception that the four corner turrets, erected by Dean
Kipling, were not replaced.
In 1886 the tower was finished. The transept ceilings were repaired in
this and the next year. All unsound wood was removed and replaced by
good oak. The diamond shapes are still to be seen, but the black, white,
and brown patterns have been improved away. The discovery of the site of
the Saxon church, which will be described hereafter, was made in 1883.
Steady progress continued to be made in securing the safety of various
parts of the church; and on July 11th, 1889, a temporary choir having
been fitted up, divine service was again held in the ancient ritual
choir, which extended two bays into the nave.
During the next two years many contributors to the general fund for the
restoration, and some others, made gifts of special objects for the
embellishment of the choir. By the end of May, 1892, the mosaic pavement
was almost completed, and the bishop's throne, the pulpit, the litany
desk, and eighteen stalls had been erected. These gifts were solemnly
dedicated at a stately service held on June 2nd, when, after the litany
and an anthem, the special service was taken by the Archbishop of
Canterbury at the altar, and after that _Te Deum_ was sung. A sermon was
preached by the Bishop of Durham, formerly Canon. The Archbishop and
Bishops wore their convocation robes.
Two years later the fitting up of the choir was very nearly complete,
four stalls only remaining to be supplied. At a second dedication of
gifts on May 10th, 1894, these additional gifts were in position; new
organ and case, canopied reredos, retable, iron screens inclosing the
four eastern bays of the choir, pillars and choir gates (part of a
design for an elaborate screen), eight stalls, extension of mosaic
pavement, fourteen sub-stalls and seats for lay-clerks and choristers,
altar-rails, and credence table. Up to this date, since the commencement
of the restoration in 1883, upwards of L32,400 had been expended upon
the fabric, besides more than L17,800 upon the internal fittings of the
choir. All the woodwork of the choir is now quite complete.
In speaking of the repairs carried out on the west front at the end of
the nineteenth century we touch on a matter which gave rise to no little
controversy. The insecure state of the west front had been known for
years. In the early part of 1896, a scaffold was raised in order to
enable Mr Pearson, the architect of the cathedral, to make a complete
examination of the front, special causes for alarm having lately been
detected. At first it was believed that underpinning the central piers
would secure the stability of the whole. This was done, as well as the
shoring and strutting to the gables of the two outer arches. The
clearing away of the dirt and rubbish, and the cleaning of the groining,
disclosed greater danger than had been expected, and the architect
recommended the rebuilding of parts of the gables. Before acting on this
advice the Restoration Committee took the opinion of Sir A.W. Blomfield,
and his report not only confirmed the opinion expressed by Mr Pearson,
but said further that much of the superstructure was so disintegrated,
that it was impossible to render substantial and lasting repair as it
stood, "and that the inner parts of the walls were such as would not
permit of the superstructure being preserved or successfully dealt with
by any of the well-known expedients frequently recommended and sometimes
employed with success." When it became generally known that the Dean and
Chapter intended to act upon the advice given in these two reports, the
knowledge created the greatest possible excitement. Other plans were
suggested; the mere removal of a single stone to make it more secure was
declared quite unnecessary; the taking down a gable to rebuild it was
denounced as Vandalism. Much strong language and many hard words were
used which had better be forgotten. It certainly seems difficult to
explain how the objectors to the course that had been decided upon could
write of the west front that it was "superficially, in a fair state of
preservation," or that it was "literally without a patch or blemish."
The present writer was for twenty years a member of the cathedral
foundation, and lived just opposite the west front. He made a special
study of the history and fabric of the cathedral. Hardly a year passed
without something falling down; sometimes a piece of a pinnacle,
sometimes a crocket or other ornament, sometimes a shaft. Old engravings
of the spires show the pinnacles broken. Many of the shafts are wanting.
Some have been replaced in wood. Many wholly new ones were put up by
Dean Monk. And concerning the north arch, which was notoriously the most
dangerous, Dean Patrick has recorded that Bishop Laney gave L100 toward
the repairing one of the great arches of the church porch "which was
faln down in the late times." Dean Monk also, in a memoir of his
predecessor Dean Duport, speaks of the efforts of the cathedral body
to repair the devastation caused by the civil war, and says "in
particular one of the three large arches of the West Front, the beauty
of which is acknowledged to be without rival, having fallen down, it was
restored in all its original magnificence." In an account of the
cathedral published by the writer thirty years ago, he says of this
arch: "Its present state looks dangerous from below. The stones in the
arch have some sad gaps. It is tied up by iron bands, and further
protected within by a great number of wooden pegs, not of recent
construction. When last observed it leant forward 141/2 inches." In 1893
he wrote: "there is no doubt that the security of the whole front is a
most serious question that before long must demand energetic action."
[Illustration: Finial of the Central Gable of the West Front.]
A very great preponderance of local opinion was in favour of the action
of the Dean and Chapter. When it came to moving the stones, after all
the rubbish was removed, it was found that the mortar had crumbled into
mere dust, and could be swept away; and that the stones themselves could
be lifted from their positions, without the use of any tool. What has
actually been done is this: the north gable has been taken down with the
outer orders of the archivolt for a depth of some feet, and rebuilt; the
innermost order has not been moved. Relieving arches have been put in at
the back. The gable is now believed to be perfectly secure. The cross on
the summit was replaced in its position on July 2nd, 1897. The south
gable was afterwards taken down and rebuilt, a very few new stones being
used to bond the masonry where a fracture had been found on the left
side of the great arch below. This is what has been called "the
destruction" of the west front.
Nearly every cathedral and large abbey church has some one conspicuous
feature by which it is remembered, and with which it is specially
associated in the minds of most persons. Nearly every one also claims
for itself to have the best example of some one architectural feature,
or the largest, or the oldest, or in some other way the most remarkable.
Occasionally the claim is indisputable, because the boasted object is
unique in the country; as is the case with the octagon at Ely, the three
spires at Lichfield, the situation and western Galilee of Durham, and
the almost perfect unity of design at Salisbury. Sometimes, if not
unique, there is no question as to the justice of the claim for
superiority; whether it be for a thing of beauty, like the cloisters at
Gloucester, or the Norman tower at Norwich, or the east window of
Carlisle, or the angel-choir at Lincoln; or for size or extent, when the
question narrows itself to a mere matter of measurement.
But it is not always by any means the fact that this prominent feature,
though it is the pride of the inhabitants and a source of admiration to
visitors, is really the most noteworthy thing belonging to the church.
This seems specially the case at Peterborough. Probably nobody speaks or
thinks of Peterborough cathedral without immediately associating it with
its glorious west front. Many believe that there is little else in the
building that is worthy of any particular attention. And yet nowhere in
the kingdom is there to be found a finer and more complete Norman
church. Arches, windows, mouldings, more elaborate and more grand may no
doubt be found elsewhere; but where else can we find, as here, choir,
transepts, and nave, with all the original Norman, from ground to roof,
with two insignificant exceptions, remaining unaltered? It is natural
to compare the three great East Anglian Cathedrals, as all have superb
work of the Norman period. But at Norwich the lower arches in the choir
have been rebuilt in the Perpendicular style, while the vaulted roof of
the nave, raised in the fifteenth century, is less in keeping with the
sturdy architecture beneath it than the wooden ceiling at Peterborough.
At Ely, beautiful as is the work in the octagon and choir, there is no
Norman work east of the transepts. Of course we are referring to the
main arches and pillars of the building, and not to the tracery of the
windows, or to alterations to the walls. The two exceptions mentioned
above are the pointed arches, east and west of the central tower, and
the removal of the three lowest windows in the apse.
[Illustration: The West Front.]
The greatest attraction to the world at large is undoubtedly =the West
Front=, which is seen in its full beauty on entering the close.
The following lines, from Morris's "Earthly Paradise," may fitly
introduce the subject.
"For other tales they told, and one of these
Not all the washing of the troublous seas,
Nor all the changeful days whereof ye know,
Have swept from out my memory: even so
Small things far off will be remembered clear
When matters both more mighty and more near,
Are waxing dim to us. I, who have seen
So many lands, and midst such marvels been,
Clearer than these abodes of outland men,
Can see above the green and unburnt fen
The little houses of an English town,
Cross-timbered, thatched with fen-reeds coarse and brown,
And high o'er these, three gables, great and fair,
That slender rods of columns do upbear
Over the minster doors, and imagery
Of kings, and flowers no summer field doth see,
Wrought in these gables.--Yea I heard withal,
In the fresh morning air, the trowels fall
Upon the stone, a thin noise far away;
For high up wrought the masons on that day,
Since to the monks that house seemed scarcely well
Till they had set a spire or pinnacle
Each side the great porch. In that burgh I heard
This tale, and late have set down every word
That I remembered, when the thoughts would come
Of what we did in our deserted home,
And of the days, long past, when we were young,
Nor knew the cloudy days that o'er us hung.
And howsoever I am now grown old,
Yet is it still the tale I then heard told
Within the guest house of that Minster Close,
Whose walls, like cliffs new made, before us rose."
It is rather a porch, or piazza, than a front; for it consists of a
paved walk of some extent outside the wall of the cathedral covered at a
great height by a vaulted roof which is supported by the wall and by the
three great arches. Mr Fergusson, in his "Handbook of Architecture,"
pronounces that "as a portico, using the term in its classical sense,
the west front of Peterborough is the grandest and finest in Europe":
and there are few that will not agree with him. Professor Freeman
says:--"The portico of Peterborough is unique; the noblest
conception of the old Greek translated into the speech of Christendom
and of England has no fellow before it or after it." Exclusive of the
spires, and the central porch and parvise, the dates of which have been
given previously, the whole is of the best and purest Early English
style. The effect is certainly improved by the middle arch being
narrower than the others. But if the gables above had been of unequal
angles, the result would have been far less satisfactory. Wisely,
therefore, these angles have been made equal, and all of the same
height: and the device of the architect to secure this, by making the
central gable rise from points somewhat higher than the others, is
admirable. It is to be observed also that the turrets, or large
pinnacles, that are placed between the gables, are not placed exactly
above the central line of the great piers beneath them, but are in each
case a little further towards the outer arches; and it will be seen,
immediately that this is pointed out, how much the upper part of the
facade is thereby improved. The two great piers may be roughly taken as
having for section an isosceles right-angled triangle, the right angle
being towards the west. The mouldings of the arches are supported by a
series of banded shafts, six on each side of each arch. In the spaces
between the shafts of the middle arch, but not of the others, are
crockets for the whole height, and the innermost cavetto is entirely
filled with dog-tooth ornament. All the shafts have floriated
capitals; and the great arches have similar mouldings. Four sets of
ornaments run round each arch; a continuous chevron, a richly floriated
roll, a roll with bands, and a series of billets. Between the arches
there rises a clustered shaft which reaches to the level of the highest
points of the arches: here these shafts combine with an ornamented
stringcourse which runs in a straight line along the entire front. In
each of the six spandrels are a deeply recessed quatrefoil, two
trefoiled arches (like the upper part of a niche), a pair of
lancet-shaped niches containing figures, and a beautifully designed
hexagonal ornament, with wavy edges, the cusps uniting in a central
boss. The pinnacles on each side of the middle gable are at first
square, then there are two octagonal stages, the uppermost pierced, and
finally a short spire. The lowest stage has a double lancet with
floriated capitals; the second has a lancet, also with floriated
capitals, filling up each face of the octagon; the last stage has
round-headed lancets, without capitals, entirely surrounded by zigzags.
[Illustration: Plan of Central Portion of the West Front.]
The gables are richly ornamented. At the head of each is a massive cross
of very fine workmanship. Along the edges of the gables are two rows of
billets and the wavy ornament. Just below the crosses are three large
statues, in niches of which the gable mouldings form the heads. That in
the centre is S. Peter, with a mitre, the right hand uplifted in
blessing, and two keys in the left hand; the other two are S. John and
S. Andrew. Below plain, straight stringcourses, at the foot of these
statues, are three rose windows of exceptional grace and beauty. The
central one has eight spokes radiating from a flat medallion enriched
with conventional foliage; these support trefoil-headed arches which
have their outer mouldings thickly covered with dog-tooth; the whole is
bounded by two circular bands, the inner one ornamented. The two other
rose windows have six spokes instead of eight, the trefoiled arches have
foliage, and the inner moulding of the bounding circles is continuously
waving. The spokes in all three windows have the dog-tooth on each side.
On each side of the lower part of these windows is a trefoil-headed
niche containing a figure. Below these, and resting upon the long
stringcourse that runs above the great arches, are sets of seven
trefoil-headed niches, with a half-niche at each end. Four of these
niches are pierced for windows, which have trefoils with pointed heads,
though the trefoil heads of the niches themselves are round at the
top. The three intervening niches contain figures. All these nine
figures have a nimbus; and as these, with the three under the crosses,
make up twelve, it is assumed that they represent the Apostles. The six
smaller statues, just above, are said to be kings; the twelve below,
benefactors. There are thus thirty statues in all, and most were no
doubt carved at the time of the erection of the front; but two or three
appear to be of earlier date, and may possibly have formed part of the
embellishments of the Saxon church.
[Illustration: Gates to West Porch.]
=The Towers north and south=, up to the height of the parapets, are of
the same date as the portion already described. They are ornamented with
blank arcading in six stages, of different dimensions and character; all
is in perfect harmony with the rest of the composition. The loftiest of
the stages of this arcading has a sub-division with round arches; and
the stage above the great stringcourse has round-headed trefoils so as
to be in keeping with the row of similar arches in the gables; but with
these two exceptions all the arches on the arcades of the tower are
pointed and without cusps. Of the spires which surmount these towers
that on the south is by far the more elegant. It has pinnacles at the
corners of square section, and then another set of triangular pinnacles,
resting on open arches connecting the corner pinnacles with the spire.
These triangular pinnacles are double the height of those at the
corners. All the pinnacles and canopies over the arches have crockets.
This spire is some few feet loftier than that to the north, though most
measurements of the cathedral have hitherto given them as being of the
The inner wall of the portico, forming the west wall of the cathedral,
is covered with elaborate arcading, and so also are the ends, north and
south. The designs are nearly a continuation of the arcading on the two
towers. There are five lofty windows, now filled with tracery inserted
in the Perpendicular period, the great west window having been enlarged
at the same time. The two side doorways are exceedingly good, and should
be carefully examined. The central doorway must have been of still
greater beauty; but the whole of the upper part of it is hidden by the
porch and parvise inserted beneath the central arch. This doorway is
divided by a fine pillar rising from a well-carved base, with a very
curious scene depicted on it. "It represents," writes Canon Davys,
"a Benedictine tortured by demons, and was doubtless intended as a
significant hint to the monks that a sacred calling demands a consistent
life." The portico retains its original Early English vaulting.
[Illustration: West Porch and Parvise.]
The =Porch= and =Parvise= beneath the middle arch was inserted, as has
been previously stated, as a support to the two great piers. It is
vaulted in two bays, the first being of the same dimensions as the inner
width of the portico; the western bay (of the same size) thus reaches
beyond the two great piers, and the corner turrets and buttresses in all
project about seven feet. This gives a very substantial support to the
piers. The whole composition is very fine, and quite worthy of the great
portico to which it is an adjunct. It must be left to each spectator to
decide for himself if it improves or diminishes the effect of the
whole. It is of late Decorated date, highly enriched with profuse
carving. The staircase turrets, as well as the great window are
embattled. Possibly there may have been pinnacles now lost. The spaces
north and south, and within the portico, have tracery on the walls
similar to the window. The groining is very fine. One of the central
bosses has a representation of the Trinity. The Father is represented as
the Ancient of Days, with a Dove for the Holy Spirit above the shoulder,
and the figure of the Saviour on the Cross in front. Freemasons are
recommended to look for a special symbol which they alone can understand
The floor of the portico is paved with gravestones, some apparently in
their original position. This place was at one time appropriated as a
burial place for the Minor Canons. Some of the stones, however, are
of mediaeval date, and it can be seen where the brasses have been
wrenched from them: some of these have been used again for later
inscriptions. One stone bears an incised cross originally filled with
some coloured composition. Some of the marble wall-shafts had fallen,
and their places had been filled by stone substitutes. Others had been
cheaply replaced by wood. The stone shafts still remain, but the wooden
imitations have all been replaced by new marble which was specially
quarried for this reconstruction.
Wood had also been used for the repair of the battlements on the gable
of the porch under the centre arch of the west front. These have, of
course, been reconstructed in stone. All the criticisms that have been
passed by amateur architects upon the front, as a termination to the
building, cannot be discussed here. It is clear, however, that the
existence of the portico does away with any objection that could be made
(as has been done with regard to the west fronts at Lincoln, Wells, and
elsewhere), that the front might be considered to hide rather than to
bring out the construction of the nave and aisles. It is true that the
side gables are not the gables of the aisles, and indeed the roofs that
are built against the gables are built only for them; but they are a
legitimate finish to the great arches, and to the vaulted roof of the
portico. Possibly the inequality of the great arches may be explained
when we reflect that the central gable is the honest termination of the
nave roof; the two central piers were therefore bound to be built so as
to give support to the existing nave roof, and to fit it. The position
of these piers being fixed, the outer ones might be as distant as was
desired, for the front must of course extend to the entire length of the
western transept. It has been commonly supposed that the three great
arches of the Lincoln front suggested the idea to the Peterborough
builders. If so, they improved upon their model. The central arch at
Lincoln even before the round arch was altered, must have been half as
high again as the side arches; and as they all are integral parts of the
wall, and therefore not open, they have somewhat the appearance of
magnified doorways that have been blocked up. At Snettisham, in Norfolk,
is a western doorway protected by a porch with three open arches; and
this has sometimes been mentioned when Peterborough west front is a
subject of discussion; not, of course, as a fitting comparison, but as
an illustration of the architectural method employed. At Snettisham,
however, the porch is a small erection even for the church to which it
gives entrance, and does not nearly extend to the entire width of the
[Illustration: South-West Spire and Bell-Tower.]
The following is the quaint description given in "Magna Britannia,"
published 1724:--"The western Front is very Noble and Majestick of
Columel Work, and supported by three such tall Arches, as England can
scarcely shew the like, which are adorned with a great Variety of
curious Imagery. The Form of Arches is by the modern Architects called,
The Bull's Eye, not Semicircular. The whole is one of the noblest pieces
of Gothick Building in England."
=The Bell-tower=, which rises from the western transept, immediately
behind the north gable of the front (p. 37), is a little later than the
front itself. It is of good workmanship, and quite in keeping with the
older part. There are rows of lancets in the belfry stage, and the four
corner pinnacles are very similar to the large pinnacles that are placed
between the gables of the front, but all the lancets are pointed, and
there are little gables above each. This tower was once surmounted by a
wooden spire. When this was erected does not seem to be known. It was
not of particularly graceful design, judging from views of the cathedral
taken when it was standing. It was removed in the early part of the last
century (see page 25).
[Illustration: The West Front, restored according to Gunton, 1780.]
Passing round to the north side of the cathedral we are at once struck
with the beauty of the termination of the western transept. The arcading
on the north side of the tower of the front is identical with that on
the west side; but to the east there is only arcading in the three upper
stages. Mr. Paley's remarks upon the great windows of the western
transept may be quoted. He says they "deserve particular
examination, not only because they are very early and fine specimens
of cusped and traceried windows--indeed, among the best in the
kingdom--but for a remarkable peculiarity in the jambs; whereof one side
is Norman, with the square capitals to the jamb-shafts both within and
without, and the other Early English, as are the arch-mouldings and
hoods round the whole arches, which were probably semicircular at first,
for at present the point cuts through a stringcourse inside. The frames
of the entire windows are later work, having no attachment or bonding to
the jambs, as is clearly manifested to the eye." These windows rise as
high as the top of those of the triforium. Above is a round-headed
window with a slightly smaller arch on each side, with cushion capitals.
The gable itself is designedly made to resemble one of the gables of the
west front. It is surmounted by a cross, and bordered by the wavy
ornament; it has a rose window; and beneath is an arcade of five
round-headed trefoiled arches supported by shafts, having at the inner
wall three lancet windows. The circular window is without tracery; it
has twelve cusps. At each side of the gable is a pinnacle, almost a copy
of those on the front, except that the lowest stage is here octagonal
instead of square.
On the north side of the nave is a single door, now called =the Dean's
door=, of good Norman work. On each side are three shafts with cushion
capitals slightly ornamented; and in the round arches above are
different mouldings of the style. The windows to the aisle, ten in
number, are very broad, of five lights each, under depressed arches. The
tracery and mouldings indicate that these were substituted for the
original windows towards the close of the thirteenth century. At the
same time it would seem that the walls above, in the triforium range,
were heightened, because the parapet at the top is of Early English
work, although the three-light windows beneath it are Decorated, and
were not inserted until the next century. At the foot of the triforium
range is the original Norman arcade of round-headed arches: below the
existing Decorated windows is now a blank space of wall, where at first
was the Norman window, rising somewhat higher than the arcade. What the
original arrangement was can be seen on the east side of the north
transept. The Norman clerestory range has been altered only by having
Perpendicular tracery put in the windows, and by the addition of a
Decorated parapet. The original corbel-table was allowed to remain.
[Illustration: The Dean's Door.]
=The Lantern-tower= has on each face two large windows with transoms, of
three lights. The tracery is that known as net-tracery. Between these
windows is a blank window, if the term may be allowed; the tracery
exists, but there never was a window; it is in four divisions; while
between the windows and the corner turrets are similar traceries of two
parts. The whole is surmounted by a parapet above a plain arcade. The
corner turrets are octangular. As at present finished at the top there
is undoubtedly an appearance of their being incomplete.
The west side of the =North Transept= is a very excellent specimen of
Norman work; and we find less change here than in any other part of the
cathedral that belongs to the same period. The tracery of the windows is
Perpendicular, but the windows themselves are otherwise unaltered: at
the top of all is a Decorated parapet, which is here composed of a
series of quatrefoils; and the parapet to the corner turrets is not
Norman. As there is no aisle on the west side of this transept, there
has been no alteration in the wall, as was the case with the nave
The north end of the transept is similar; but the shallow buttresses
between the windows rise to a greater height, and there is another
arcade above the upper tier of windows, and a blank arch in the gable.
The gable has crockets, and a cross at the apex. The lower Norman window
in the aisle here is unlike any others on this side of the church, but
there are four others like it on the south. The upper aisle window here
is of three lights, with a large pointed trefoil above them instead of
The east wall of this transept is specially worthy of note. We can trace
the lines of the roof of the Lady Chapel which formerly stood to the
east of the wall; and beneath this are two bays of the original
triforium range, showing two of the simple Norman windows. Between these
and the roof are six Early English lancets. Below are the upper parts of
the two great arches which were constructed as an entrance to the Lady
Chapel. When the Lady Chapel was pulled down in the seventeenth century
these were converted into windows filled with late tracery in imitation
of Perpendicular work, and the lower part was walled up, except that a
doorway was constructed. This was afterwards blocked up for many years,
and only reopened during the recent restoration works. The same
alteration has been effected in the western part of the choir aisle, the
arches towards the Lady Chapel having been in like manner made into
windows. The lower window nearest the tower is a very graceful geometric
window of three lights, exactly like the three in the south transept;
the window above is of the same period as all the other Decorated
windows of the triforium range.
Between the Lady Chapel and the north aisle of the choir was a passage
(to which the two great arches were open), and at the eastern end of it
was a small vaulted chapel, the remains of which are clearly to be seen,
including the broken piscina. Above this were chambers, concerning which
Gunton has preserved a tradition that they were "the habitation of a
devout Lady, called Agnes, or Dame Agnes, out of whose Lodging-Chamber
there was a hole made askew in the window walled up, having its prospect
just upon the altar of the Ladies Chappel, and no more. It seems she was
devout in her generation, that she chose this place for her retirement,
and was desirous that her eyes, as well as ears, might wait upon her
publick Devotions." He says also that little is known of her except that
she was a benefactress to the church, and that a wood she bestowed upon
it is still called by her name.
[Illustration: Apse and New Building, from the South-East.]
At the extreme east is the =New Building=. Its side walls are built in
continuation of the walls of the choir aisles, and it has a square end.
It is lit by thirteen large windows, all of the same design, of which
the five at the east end, and the two most western of the sides, are of
four lights each, the remaining four having three lights each. Between
each pair of the latter there is no buttress; there are thus in all
twelve buttresses, six being at the east end. These are massive, having
to support the heavy fan-tracery within. Each buttress has a seated
figure at the top, commonly believed to represent an Apostle; but the
outlines are much worn, and it is not possible to distinguish them by
any symbols they may bear. There is a very handsome open parapet,
adorned with ornaments and shields bearing letters or monograms.
The parapet of quatrefoils, which runs round the sides of the transepts
and choir, is not continued in the apse; an Early English parapet, with
five circular medallions cusped, having been erected previously. The
Decorated windows of the apse are particularly fine. The arcade beneath
the upper tier, unlike the arcade in similar positions in other parts of
the church, is here intersecting.
The three beautiful geometric windows in the east wall of the =South
Transept=, which have three circles in the heads with five cusps, are
most likely of exactly the same design as the windows in the demolished
Lady Chapel. At the south end of this transept is a Norman door, and
outside are the remains of a short covered passage which communicated
with the cloisters. These will be described hereafter.
The south side of the nave differs only from the north side in its
having two doorways from the cloisters, in the superior elegance of the
south-west spire, and in the unfinished state of the south-west tower.
The portion of this tower above the roof Mr Paley pronounces, from the
details of the windows on the east side, to be of much later date than
the other tower; and he adds that it is hard to see how the roof of the
transept was terminated before this stage was built to abut it. Both
towers are longer from east to west than from north to south.
Of the two doorways from the cloister to the cathedral, that at the east
end of the north walk, which is called the Canons' door, is a fine
specimen of Norman work. The arch is of four orders supported by
nook-shafts with plain cushion-capitals. The innermost order has a very
uncommon moulding--large chevrons with a fleur-de-lis in the angles. The
outermost order has a double zigzag moulding, and a double-billet hood
moulding surrounds the whole arch. The other archway at the west end,
called the Bishop's door, is an insertion of the thirteenth century,
with bold tooth-ornament on each side.
The plan of the =Monastery= given on page 58 has been taken from one
prepared by the late Precentor Walcott of Chichester, and communicated
to "The Building News," in 1878. In this plan the choir is represented
as it was arranged in olden times, and not as it appeared after it was
shortened by the erection of the organ-screen under the eastern arch of
the tower in Dean Monk's time. The position of the ancient buildings is
also indicated, though some of them, as the Lady Chapel, Dormitory,
Chapter-house and Infirmary Chapel, have long been destroyed. The
various portions will be understood by the following references.
(1) New Building. (2) Reredos, or Altar-screen. (3) Screens. Recent
discoveries have proved that the choir aisles originally ended, or at
least were designed to end, in apses. (4) High Altar. (5) Entry to
passage to Lady Chapel; a small chapel to the east. (6) Lady Chapel. (7)
Door to it from north transept aisle. (8) Chapel of S. John. (9) Chapel
of S. James. (10) Chapel of S. Oswald, the Holy Trinity Chapel above it.
(11) Chapel of S. Benedict. (12) Chapel of SS. Kyneburga and Kyneswitha,
sisters of Peada and Wulfere, the original founders of the monastery.
(13) Choir. (14) Sacristy. (15) Choir-screen. (16) Front of rood-loft.
(17) Nave. (18) Gate to grave-yard. (19) Gate to Prior's lodging. (20)
Minster close. (21) Gatehouse to Abbot's lodging, with the Knights'
chamber above. (22) Chancel of the chapel of S. Thomas of Canterbury.
(23) Great gateway of the close. (24, 25) Doorways from the cloisters.
(26) Slype. (27) Parlour. (28)Chapter-house. (29) Porch. (30) Dormitory.
(31) Cloisters. (32) Lavatory. (33) Refectory. (34) Dark entry. (35)
Gong. (36) Kitchen. (37) Abbot's lodging. (38) Prior's lodging. (39)
Infirmarer's hall. (40) Chapel to Infirmary, dedicated to S. Laurence.
(41) The chancel, and (42) the nave of this chapel. (43) Hall of
Infirmary, the inmates occupying the aisles. (44) Door to Infirmary.
(45) Precinct wall and stables. The building close to the south side of
the Infirmary, not numbered in this plan, is an ancient residence now
used as a dwelling for one of the canons in residence. The small
building south-west of the front is an old vaulted room, now used as a
clerk's office, originally believed to have been the Penitentiary. The
old abbey gaol has escaped notice, though it in part remains. Its door
is immediately to the right upon entering the close through the great
[Illustration: Plan of Monastery Buildings.]
=The Interior=.--With few exceptions, to be noticed in due course, the
whole of the interior of the cathedral is in the Norman style, and many
judge it to be the most perfect specimen in England. The plan consists
of a nave of ten bays, with aisles, and a western transept; transepts of
four bays with eastern chapels, the south transept having also a groined
chamber to the west, extending for its whole length; a choir of four
bays, terminating in an apse, nearly semicircular, with aisles; and
beyond the apse a large square-ended addition for more chapels, having a
groined stone roof of fan tracery, now known as the New Building. The
ritual choir, as distinguished from the architectural choir, extends two
bays into the nave. This arrangement is a return to the ancient one used
by the Benedictines, the choir in Dean Monk's alterations having been
limited to the portion east of the central tower.
As we enter at the west door we see at a glance the entire length, and
the whole beauty of the admirable proportion of the several parts. While
many may wish that the great arches of the tower which can be seen from
the west end had never been altered from the round form of the Norman
builders, few will regret that the Decorated arches which took their
place were retained when the tower was rebuilt, instead of having new
arches in the Norman style substituted. The want of colour which is so
marked a defect in many English cathedrals is not so conspicuous here,
because of the painted ceiling.
The Norman work being in the main so complete, it will be best to begin
the description where the building itself was begun, at the apse. At the
west door we stand where the work was finished. We know when the
building commenced, in 1117, but we do not know exactly when the whole
was finished to the western wall; but, speaking roughly, though not very
far from the truth, we may say that the minster took eighty years to
complete. This may be slightly more than was actually taken. During that
time the work was not continuous: there were some Abbots who appear to
have done little or nothing towards extending the works, and sometimes
accordingly there was an entire cessation from active operations.
Including the west front, we should have to assign nearly 120 years to
the completion of the building.
=The Choir=.--Up to the commencement of the apse the choir is of four
bays. The pillars are alternately round and with eight or twelve sides;
all have cushioned capitals, indented to agree with the mouldings above;
all had a shaft on the inner side rising to the roof, to support the
wooden groining, but the lower parts of some of these shafts were cut
away to make room for the woodwork of Dean Monk's choir. The
ornamentation throughout is plentiful, but we see nothing but the
billet, the chevron, and the hatchet moulding, all indicative of early
work. The triforium has two recessed arches, beneath the principal arch,
divided by a plain shaft. It is specially to be noticed that all the
tympana in the triforium range are differently ornamented. In each bay
of the clerestory range are three arches, one large and two small ones;
the capitals to the shafts have the plain cushion (as in the triforium)
and from these shafts a narrower arch connects them with the outer wall.
There is a passage here all round the choir. Below the triforium a
stringcourse of chevrons runs all along.
[Illustration: The Choir.]
Between the choir bays and the apse is solid wall, rather longer than
the distance between the central lines of adjoining piers. Here are two
massive half-pillars, reaching to the roof, undoubtedly meant to be
crowned with a round arch like those to the transepts; and this seems to
shew that the intention was to vault the apse with stone. The apse is by
far the best large Norman apse remaining in this country. At Norwich,
where is the only possible rival, the lower part only is semicircular
and original, the whole of the upper part being of Decorated date, and
pentagonal. This apse is in five divisions, separated by clustered
shafts which rise to the roof. Originally there were three tiers of
round-headed Norman windows; the nine windows in the centre were
enlarged and filled with very good tracery in the Decorated period, and
the lower windows also on the other two sides. When, in the
Perpendicular age, the new building was added, the three lowest windows
were removed altogether and the wall beneath them, leaving three open
arches. The inner wall surface of the five lowest windows has been
filled with elegant hanging tracery of fourteenth century date, the
designs being all different. In some cases this tracery is placed just
below the Norman stringcourse, but in others the stringcourse has
been removed to make room for it. There was no necessity to convert the
two lowest side windows into arches; and they accordingly remain there
to this day; but being no longer exposed to the outer air all the glass
is gone, though the notches that held it, and the strong bars that
protected it, have been suffered to stay. There was never any ambulatory
round the apse outside; we can still see, from the new building,
portions of a stringcourse which was external, as well as other
evidences that the apse was the end of the church. It is also known that
there was a highway at the east end of the church, almost touching it.
In the stage corresponding to the triforium are to be seen on the walls
the remains of painted coats of arms, the shape of the shield suggesting
that they are as early as the thirteenth century; some also have been
cut in half by the later Decorated alterations.
[Illustration: View from the Triforium South of Choir.]
The choir roof is vaulted in wood. In the time of Dean Saunders it was
repainted with gold and colours. From the character of the bosses, and
the capitals where the wood is joined to the tall shafts rising from the
pillars in the choir, and from the general ornamentation, it is manifest
that this was constructed towards the end of the fifteenth century. It
was at one time painted all over yellow and white. The carving of the
different bosses is well worth attention. There has not been discovered
any mark or initials that might help us to assign a positive date. We
can see, among other designs, the cross keys of the patron Saint; the
Saviour on the Cross accompanied by S. Mary and S. John (this is in the
central line, near the tower); three lilies; three fishes with
intersecting tails. The roof over the apse is flat. It has been
decorated from a design by Sir G.G. Scott, with an emblematical
representation of Christ as a Vine, the Disciples being half-figures in
medallions among the foliage. An inscription bearing upon the subject
forms the border. The general effect will be like, though not identical
with, the original painting in this place. This was one of the
decorations of the church that excited the fury of the soldiers and
others who dismantled the minster in the civil war in the seventeenth
century. "This is the Idol they worship and adore" was the cry of some
of the party; upon which muskets were discharged, and the picture wholly
defaced. The description of the design is given in these words:
"Over this place" (that is, the altar-screen) "in the Roof of the
Church, in a large Oval yet to be seen, was the Picture of our Saviour
seated on a Throne, one hand erected, and holding a Globe in the other:
attended with the four Evangelists and Saints on each side, with Crowns
in their hands; intended, I suppose, for a Representation of our
Saviour's coming to judgment."
[Illustration: North Transept and Morning Chapel.]
The flat roof of the apse being lower than the roof of the choir, the
space between the levels is filled with twelve painted figures.
The whole of the internal fittings of the choir (speaking now of the
ritual choir) are new, and are part of the recent restoration. The new
woodwork began to be placed in position in 1890. There is indeed a
little old work, which was in the old choir before it was altered in the
early part of this century. When removed, some of the front desks had
been placed in the morning chapel, though much of the projecting tracery
work was taken off. It was realised, when the existing stall-work was
being designed, that these would be very suitable for use in their old
position. Accordingly, all that could be so used have been placed again
in the choir, with their traceried panels restored; and the new work is
made of the same character. The =New Stalls= are of the finest oak, with
miserere seats; the backs have rich tracery, with raised shields,
moulded groined ceilings, and carved bosses at the intersection of the
ribs. They are surmounted by octagonal canopies, in three stages, the
uppermost containing a niche for a carved figure to each stall, while
other figures, of much smaller size, are to be seen below. A few have at
the back the armorial bearings of the donor, or some other symbol, such
as the masonic emblems in those given by the Freemasons of England. The
names of the cathedral officers and others to whom the different stalls
are assigned, have been inscribed on the label at the head of each; the
donor's name is recorded on the seats.
With the exception of the first figure, the whole of the larger figures
at the top of the canopies have some special connection with the
monastery or the cathedral. Beginning at the Dean's stall, and
proceeding eastwards, the statues on the south side represent the
Two at the summit of the Dean's stall, SS. Paul and
1. S. Peter, the Patron Saint.
2. Saxulf (656), the first Abbot.
3. Adulf (971), Abbot, afterwards Archbishop of York.
4. Kenulf (992), Abbot, afterwards Bishop of Winchester.
5. Leofric (1057), Abbot.
6. Turold (1069), Abbot, appointed by William the Conqueror.
7. Ernulf (1107), Abbot, afterwards Bishop of Rochester.
8. Martin de Bee (1133), Abbot when the choir was dedicated.
9. Benedict (1175), Abbot. He built the greater part, if
not all, of the nave.
10. Martin of Ramsey (1226), Abbot.
11. John of Calais (1249), Abbot. He built the infirmary,
probably the refectory, and part of the cloisters.
12. Richard of London (1274), Abbot. He built the north-western tower.
13. Adam of Boothby (1321), Abbot.
14. William Genge (1396), first mitred Abbot.
15. Richard Ashton (1438), Abbot. He began the new building.
16. Robert Kirton (1496), Abbot. He finished the new
building, and built the Deanery gateway.
17. John Towers (1638), Bishop. Previously Dean (1630).
18. Thomas White (1685), Bishop. Nonjuror.
19. William Connor Magee (1868), Bishop, afterwards Archbishop of York.
20. Simon Patrick (1679), Dean, afterwards Bishop of Chichester,
and finally of Ely.
21. Augustus Page Saunders (1853), Dean.
22. John James Stewart Perowne (1878), Dean, afterwards Bishop of
The upper figures on the north side are these:--
Two at the summit of the Vice-Dean's stall, Kings Wolfere
1. Peada, King of Mercia, founder of the monastery.
2. Cuthbald (675), second Abbot.
3. Edgar, King of Mercia and Wessex, restorer of the monastery.
4. Ethelfleda, his queen.
5. Brando (1066), Abbot.
6. Hereward, the Saxon patriot (1070), nephew of Abbot
Brando, and knighted by him.
7. John deSais (1114), Abbot. He commenced the building
of the existing choir.
8. Hedda (died 870), Abbot, murdered by the Danes.
9. Robert of Lindsey (1214), Abbot. He holds a model of
the west front, probably built or begun in his time.
10. Godfrey of Crowland (1299), Abbot. He bears a model
of the gateway to the palace grounds.
11. William Ramsey (1471), Abbot. He was one of the
donors of the brass eagle lectern still in use.
12. William Parys (died 1286), Prior. He built the Lady Chapel.
13. S. Giles, the famous Benedictine Abbot, with his tame
hind beside him.
14. Hugo Candidus, the chronicler.
15. Henry of Overton (1361), Abbot.
16. Queen Katherine of Arragon.
17. John Cosin (1640), Dean, afterwards Bishop of Durham.
18. Simon Gunton (1646), Prebendary, the historian of the church.
19. Herbert Marsh (1819), Bishop.
20. George Davys (1839), Bishop.
21. James Henry Monk (1822), Dean, afterwards Bishop of
Gloucester and Bristol.
22. Marsham Argles (1891), Dean. Previously Canon
The dates in the above lists, unless stated otherwise, are the dates of
appointment. With the single exception of Henry of Overton, of whom very
little indeed is known except that he was abbot for nearly thirty years,
the selection that has been made appears to be very good. In some way or
other all the persons represented are eminent. The authorities are to be
congratulated upon their including in the series several dignitaries of
the last century.
The smaller figures on the south side are all characters from the New
Testament; those on the north side are taken from the Old Testament. The
carving on the sides of the two westernmost stalls is of great interest.
The panels on the south represent the miraculous preservation of the arm
of S. Oswald. This arm was one of the greatest treasures of the house,
and was reputed to be the cause of many cures. The legend is given
hereafter in the notice of Abbot Elsinus, the great collector of relics.
In the corresponding position on the north side is represented the story
of S. Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester. On the back of the stalls in the
south aisle are two pieces of tapestry, picturing the release of S.
Peter and the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful.
The carving on the =Pulpit= and =Throne= will repay careful study. In
the niches at the base of the pulpit are four abbots, chiefly connected
with the erection of the building. They are John de Sais, who holds a
model of the apse, Martin de Bec, William of Waterville, and Walter of
S. Edmunds. Round the main body of the pulpit are four saints in niches,
SS. Peter, Paul, John and James, each easily identified by what is held
in the hand. Between these niches are wide panels carved with subjects
associated with preaching. Abbot Saxulf preaching to the Mercians;
Christ sending forth the Apostles; S. Peter preaching after the descent
of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The throne is raised on three steps. Above the canopy is a lofty spire.
On the sides of the seat are SS. Peter and Paul. On the book board are
symbolical representations of the virtues of Temperance, Wisdom,
Fortitude, and Justice. In the lower tier on the canopy are six figures:
Saxulf, first Abbot; Cuthwin, first Bishop of Leicester; John de Sais;
Benedict; S. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, his hand resting on the head of
his tame swan; and John Chambers, last Abbot and first Bishop of
Peterborough. In the upper tier are four Bishops: Bishop Dove, the
theologian; Bishop Cumberland, the philosopher; Bishop Kennett, the
antiquary; and Archbishop Magee, the orator.
One of the statues over the stalls, that representing S. Giles, has also
a figure of a hind; in the representation of S. Hugh of Lincoln on the
throne we see a swan. The hind was really a type of solitude and purity
of life, and as such is found in many ancient carvings and paintings
accompanying various Saints. There is also a legend specially connecting
this creature with S. Giles. In a retreat in a forest in the diocese of
Nismes, the recluse, with one companion, is said to have lived on the
fruits of the earth and the milk of a hind. Some dogs that were out
hunting pursued this hind, and she took refuge in the dwelling of the
Saint. The sportsman, Flavius Wamba, King of the Goths, treated him with
every mark of respect, and gave him land wherewith to endow a monastery.
Of S. Hugh's swan a long account is given in the "Vita S. Hugonis
Lincolniensis" published in the Rolls Series. A swan never before seen
at the place flew to the Bishop at his manor at Stowe directly after he
had been enthroned at Lincoln. He became passionately attached to the
bishop, but exhibited no liking for anyone else, he considered himself
bound to protect his master, driving other people away from him, "As I
myself," writes Giraldus Cambrensis, "have often with wonder seen,"
with his wings and beak.
[Illustration: The Pulpit.]
=The Organ= was rebuilt in 1894 by Hill and Son at a cost, including the
case, of L4,400, and at the expense of the late Mr. W.H. Foster of
Witley, Surrey, though his name, at his own wish, remained undisclosed
during his lifetime. The action is now controlled by electricity.
The Great, Swell, Solo, and Pedal Organ (except the two stops Bourdon
and Bass Flute of the last) are placed in four bays of the north
triforium of the nave; the choir organ and the two Pedal stops are in
the first bay of the north aisle, and the Console in the second bay
behind the stalls. There are 68 speaking stops and 4,453 pipes as
Great Organ (Compass CC to C in Alt.) 17 stops 1,342 pipes.
Choir " 11 " 671 "
Swell " 17 " 1,330 "
Solo " 11 " 720 "
Pedal " (Compass CCCC to F) 12 " 390 "
[Illustration: Apse and Canopied Reredos.]
=The Canopied Reredos= or =Baldachino= was given by the eight surviving
children of Dean Saunders as a memorial of their parents. The retable
was given by the Old Boys of the King's School. The reredos is a
magnificent erection, and renders the east end of this cathedral one of
the most dignified in the kingdom. The dais on which it stands is
thirteen feet square, and the summit reaches to the height of
thirty-five feet. Four large marble columns stand at the corners, from
the capitals of which spring cusped arches, the spandrels being enriched
with mosaic; while at the angles, above the columns, are figures of the
Evangelists in niches. The large central panel in front has the figure
of Our Lord; at the back is S. Peter. The material is Derbyshire
alabaster; the work was executed by Mr Robert Davison, of London.
=The Mosaic Pavement=, also the work of Mr Davison, was the gift of the
late Dean and Miss Argles. The following description of it is from the
pen of Mr Davison.
"Passing into the choir from the west, the pavement between the stalls
is of tesselated Roman mosaic, in an effective geometrical pattern of
squares, and oblongs of red, green and white marbles. The first bay of
the chancel is also in Roman mosaic, but of more elaborate design, the
central portion being a framework of interlacing cream bands, forming
diamond shaped panels alternating with circles, the centres of these
panels being varied reds and greens; the framework surrounds four large
panels of Pavonazzo d'Italie, each in six slabs. This is a beautiful
marble of feathery purple grey veinings on a creamy white ground. This
central part is flanked on each side by a broad band of the same
Pavonazzo, which separates it from the large side panels of a bold
design of squares of red, green and cream placed diagonally, interlaced
by white bands; upon these panels stand the pulpit on the north side,
and the bishop's throne on the south. This bay is approached from the
choir by the first marble step which is in Frosterley, a marble with
beautiful madrepores of light colour on a dark ground. The next bay is
of similar design to the first, but is approached by two steps of
Levanto marble of reddish brown tint with small veinings of white. The
third and fourth bays are in a marble mosaic called _Opus Alexandrinum_,
composed of various rich marbles of brilliant reds, greens, greys,
yellows, and creams, divided into the main design by bands of
Pavonazzo. The design of the third bay is divided into three equal
panels, in the centre of which are four large slabs of Cipolino, a
charming marble of a light green tint in broad wavy lines on a lighter
ground, which are framed in by a combination of small panels of mosaic
of varied rich patterns of triangles and squares, which are again
enclosed by a broad border of mosaic of white squares on a ground of
light green Vert de Suede. The step up to this bay, and also the step to
the next and to the altar pace, all of which stretch the full length of
the chancel, as well as the three steps to the altar dais, are in
carefully selected Pavonazzo. The design of the fourth bay is a system
of interlacing bands, forming alternately large and small octagons,
between which are squares and oblongs. The small octagons are rich
plaques of marble, while the large ones are divided radially into eight
panels. All these parts are filled with mosaic of varying patterns and
colours. At each end of this bay is a long panel of overlapping circles,
filled in with rich mosaic. The panel on the altar pace and the three
panels on the altar dais are in the same mosaic, each of a different
design; the long plaques of marble in the upper panel are red and green
of rich dark marbles. The two panels at the side of the dais are in opus
sectile, a design of hexagons of Pavonazzo, with diamonds of Vert des
Alpes between them. The broad band of red, the whole length of the
chancel on the outsides of the pavement, is of Levanto marble, forming a
finish to the work."
=The Screens=, enclosing the four eastern bays of the choir, were given
as a public memorial to Dean Argles. They are of very admirable
wrought-iron. The same may be said of the choir gates. The former are
the work of White & Son, of London; the latter of Singer & Son, of
Frome. The short pillars that support the choir gates, and the
unrelieved backs of the returned stalls, have at present the
unsatisfactory appearance of all unfinished work. A drawing of the
complete design is exhibited in a frame on an adjacent pillar.
The single ancient object among the fittings in the choir is the brass
eagle Lectern. This was given to the monastery by William Ramsey, Abbot,
and John Malden, Prior; it is consequently of late fifteenth century
date. An inscription recording the names of the donors, in two Latin
lines, was engraved round a projection in the middle of the stem.
Centuries of hard scouring have obliterated this; but the upper and
lower ends of most of the letters can just be traced. An expert can
satisfy himself that the inscription as preserved by Gunton is
practically correct. It seems to have been this, though it is not
possible to vouch for every letter.
_Haec tibi lectrina dant Petre metallica bina
Iohes Malden prior et Wills de Ramiseya_.
Besides the donors already named, the following became contributors for
special objects, many of them having in addition given substantial
assistance in money to the restoration fund. The choir pulpit, Bishop's
throne, and the cost of cleaning the whitewash from the nave were given
by Dean Argles. Enlargement of foot-pace, and extension of mosaic
pavement, by Mrs Argles. Decoration of ceiling of lantern tower, and new
frames for the bells, by Mr H.P. Gates, Chapter Clerk. Litany desk, by
Mrs Rigg. Altar ornaments, by Canon Alderson. The 44 stalls were given
by Archbishop Magee, Lady Elizabeth Villiers (7), Lady Louisa Wells, Mr
H.P. Gates, Friends of Canon Clayton, Family of Canon Pratt, Hon. Canon
Willes, Hon. Canon Twells, an ex-chorister of the cathedral, Mr James
Bristow, Mr. W.U. Heygate, Mr S.G. Stopford-Sackville, Mrs Yard, Mr J.D.
Goodman, Miss Pears, Mrs Perry Herrick, Mrs W.L. Collins and Mrs H.L.
Hansel, Mr Albert Pell, Mrs Dawson Rowley, The Mayor and Corporation, Mr
F. James, the Freemasons of England (3), Friends of Lady Isham and Miss
Perowne (2), Rev. W.R.P. Waudby, Mr G.L. Watson, Major-General Sotheby,
Mrs Hunt, Rev. A. Redifer, Mr J.G. Dearden, Mrs Percival, the Misses
Broughton, Rev. S.A.T. Yates (in memory of Mr Charles Davys Argles),
Rev. W.H. Cooper, Mr T.A. Argles, Mrs Argles.
The choir aisles are vaulted; the section of the vaulting ribs is much
heavier than in the aisles of the nave, and shews an earlier date. It
has recently been discovered that these aisles, contrary to what was
usually believed, were terminated with apses and were not square-ended.
In the south aisle is traced on the floor the position of the old
semicircular ending. The windows here were altered at the same time as
those in the nave aisles: but in the north choir aisle the windows were
taken out and arches formed leading to the passage between this aisle
and the Lady Chapel, the most western arch being Perpendicular: in the
seventeenth century, when the Lady Chapel was pulled down, these arches
were again filled up with masonry and windows. The third window in this
aisle has escaped alteration in form; but Perpendicular tracery has been
The eastern ends of both aisles were altered in Early English times.
They have now a groined roof of one bay of that period, and very
handsome double piscinas. The aumbry on the north side in the south
choir aisle has been glazed, and is utilised as a cupboard to hold some
curiosities. In the north choir aisle there is an approach to the
morning chapel through a screen; but in the south choir aisle the
corresponding space is filled by a Norman monumental arch.
=The New Building= built beyond the apse is a very noble specimen of
late Perpendicular work. It was begun by Abbot Richard Ashton
(1438-1471), and completed by Abbot Robert Kirton (1496-1528): the works
seem to have been suspended between these periods. The roof has the
beautiful fan tracery, very similar on a smaller scale to that at King's
College Chapel at Cambridge. The building is of the width of the choir
and aisles together. It contained three altars at the date of the
suppression of monasteries, "upon each altar a Table of the Passion of
The central bay has been recently fitted up for early celebrations of
the Holy Communion. The junction of this addition with the original
Norman apse is admirable, and should be specially noticed. Parts of the
original external stringcourse of the apse can be seen. The
ornamentation on the bosses of the roof, and in the cavetto below the
windows, and round the great arches from the choir aisles, is very
varied. It must be sufficient here to indicate some of the designs. Most
need little explanation, but a few are hard to understand. On the roof
may be seen the three lions of England, a cross between four martlets,
three crowns each pierced by an arrow, and another design. The smaller
designs include four-leaved flowers, Tudor roses, fleurs-de-lys, the
portcullis, some undescribable creatures, crossed keys, crossed swords,
crossed crosiers, crosses, crowns, crowns pierced with arrows, crowned
female heads, an eagle, the head of the Baptist in a charger, an angel,
mitres, three feathers rising from a crown, S. Andrew's cross, and
perhaps others. There are also some rebuses, and some lettering. On the
north wall, in six several squares, are the letters of the name Ashton
interwoven with scrolls; the letters AR before a church, and a bird on a
tun occur more than once. This certainly refers to Abbot Robert Kirton;
but what the bird means is not clear. In the moulding over the large
arch to the south choir aisle are four sets of letters. They form the
last verse of the psalter. The words are contracted: they stand for
_Omnis spiritus laudet Dominum_.
=The Transepts=, including the arch to the aisles, are of four bays,
and, as has before been pointed out, are of precisely the same character
as the work in the choir. The central piers here are octagonal. All
round the Norman portion of the church, below the windows, is an arcade
of round arches with simple round mouldings and plain cushion capitals:
in the transepts these have not intersecting heads, as in the choir and
nave. The western sides of the transepts have no proper triforium, but a
passage runs along in front of the windows in the triforium range. The
chapels to the east have Perpendicular screens. In the north transept
those three chapels were made into one which was used for early service,
and called the morning chapel. We read in the chapter records of a minor
canon being appointed to read the prayers at 6 o'clock, and once at
least the hour is named as 5 o'clock, in the morning. This chapel was
fitted up with some of the desks from the choir; and, judging from a
number of names and initials that had been cut upon the desks, it has
been conjectured that it was at one time used for the chapel of the
King's School. At the north end is a desk for the reader or readers made
out of two Early English stalls; there are three double shafts with
admirably carved wooden foliage in the capitals. A very fine little
Norman door leads to the staircase to the triforium. It should be
mentioned that in the triforium is arranged an excellent series of
stones, fragments, mouldings, and various ornaments, found in different
places during the recent restoration.
[Illustration: The New Building--Interior.]
The series of basins of Alwalton marble was found, during the recent
underpinning of the west front, in use as foundation stones; they appear
to be of late Norman date. One window in the north transept aisle and
all three in the south have fine geometrical tracery. The three chapels
in the south transept were used as vestries until a few years ago, when
the space beneath the bell-tower and part of the north aisle of the nave
was converted into a large vestry for both clergy and choir. In the
chapel here nearest the choir there remains the lower part of the newel
staircase which led to an upper chapel. On the west side of the south
transept has been erected a building which has in its time served many
different purposes. It can hardly be called an aisle, as there is only
access to the transept by a single ogee-headed doorway, which is a
Decorated insertion. This building is of late, almost transition, Norman
date; and is not very many years later than the transept itself. It can
be seen from the cloister court that it had originally three gables. The
roof is vaulted. In an inventory of goods made in 1539, printed in
Gunton, there is one chapel described as the "Ostrie Chapel," which is
believed to refer to this building. In a plan drawn in Bishop Kennett's
time and dedicated to him, the south part is called "The Hostry Chapel,
now the Chapter-House," and the north part is called the "Chapel of St.
Sprite or the Holy Ghost." In some plans it is called the vestry. It has
also been employed as a muniment room, as a Chapter-house, and (as now)
as a practising room for the choir.
[Illustration: The Transepts, looking North.]
Near the south-western pier of the central tower access can be obtained
to what remains of the =Saxon Church=. It was when the foundations of
this pier were reached, in 1883, that the first indications of an
earlier building were brought to light. First a solid piece of wall was
discovered, and soon after a substantial piece of plaster attached to
the wall, running north and south, which has since proved to be the
eastern wall of the north transept of the Saxon Church. The workmen also
came upon a plaster floor, on which were remains of burnt wood, reddened
stone, and other evidences of a conflagration. As the work of excavation
proceeded at intervals, fresh discoveries were made. The walls of the
north transept, choir, and part of the south transept, can be traced.
Just outside the eastern wall can be seen portions of two Saxon tombs
which were originally in the grave-yard.
The width of both choir and transepts is about 23 feet. The choir was
not apsidal. The south wall of the south transept was just beyond the
wall of the existing building; the extreme east end was almost exactly
underneath the pillars in the present transept; the west wall of the
south transept of the Saxon church was under the practising room; the
nave extended into the cloister court. Near the south end of the
excavations was discovered a portion of a Saxon altar _in situ_. No
remains have been found of the nave (see plan, p. 9).
[Illustration: Evangelistic Symbols, from Lantern Tower Roof.]
The roofs of both transepts are flat, and, except where rotten boards
have been replaced, original. They are now uncoloured, but formerly were
painted in black and white diamond patterns. All the windows at the
north and south ends are Norman, with Perpendicular tracery.
[Illustration: Evangelistic Symbols, from Lantern Tower Roof.]
The lantern tower has a fine groined roof, carefully restored and well
painted. In the centre is a representation of the Saviour; eight
coloured shields have the emblems of the Passion; four have the
[Illustration: Boss from Lantern Tower Roof.]
=The Nave=, notwithstanding the years it took to build, the change of
architecture that was coming into use as it was being finished, and the
alteration in plan that was decided upon towards the end, is a very
complete and almost uniform structure. There are ten bays, all having
round arches; in the triforium each large arch has two smaller ones
beneath it; and in each bay of the clerestory is one high arch and two
smaller ones. The triforium arches in the two easternmost bays, on both
sides, have the hatchet ornamentation in the tympanum; this may either
mark the limits of the old Benedictine choir, or may simply suggest
earlier work. Almost the only indication of distinct later work, as we
proceed towards the west, is in the different forms of the bases of the
piers. The arcading of the aisles curiously changes towards the west in
both aisles, but not at corresponding points; the change consists in
the reversing the interlacing of the arches. The third pillars from the
west end on either side are not really, strictly speaking, pillars at
all. They were built as supports to two western towers which it was
intended certainly to erect at this point, even if they were not at
least in part built. There are many other little details in the
neighbourhood of these piers, all confirming Mr Paley's discovery with
respect to these contemplated towers, one at any rate of which he thinks
was actually erected. The pillars are cylindrical with numerous attached
shafts. In addition to the changed form of the bases, careful observers
can detect proofs of later work in the capitals of the shafts in the
triforium. In front of each pier a shaft rises to the roof; and on these
the original ceiling rested. On some of the piers in the south aisle,
near the west end, may be seen several very curious masons' marks. In
the nave is a very massive pulpit given in 1873 by the family of Dr
James, for forty years Canon, bearing an inscription to his memory. It
is from the design of Mr Edward Barry, and was meant to be in keeping
with the Norman architecture of the nave. The central shaft is of
Devonshire marble, the main body of the pulpit of red Dumfries stone,
and some of the smaller pillars are of green Greek marble. At the angles
are four large figures of the Evangelists. There is a wooden eagle
lectern, carved by the late Rev. R.S. Baker, behind the choir-stalls on
the south side.
[Illustration: The Nave, looking East.]
=The Nave Ceiling= is very curious and remarkable. If originally flat,
and supported on the tall shafts last mentioned, it would be just above
the great arch of the central tower before that was altered from the
round form. It is supposed that this was the case; and that when the
pointed arch was substituted the central compartment of the ceiling was
raised, and the two outer ones made to slope as we see it now. But if
the Norman roof was flat, its outer compartments would manifestly not be
broad enough to fill the space now occupied by the sloping sides. And
yet there is no alteration in the style of ornamentation: nor are the
diamonds, which are divided by the line where the slope joins the
horizontal portion, unduly elongated, as would seem to be necessary in
the part nearest the wall. Some change was clearly made when the
Decorated arches were built; for above the Norman cornice on which the
roof was originally laid, there is now a length of painted wood
containing coats of arms obviously of later date than the ceiling. It is
not possible to pronounce with certainty on the question. But
considering (1), that the whole ceiling was certainly raised in
consequence of the superior height of the tower arch (2), that no
difference can be detected between the centre compartments and those at
the side in the patterns, and (3), that additional height has been
secured by the Decorated boarding above mentioned, the most probable
solution seems to be that the whole is the original Norman work,
practically unaltered, and that it was never flat, but had always
sloping sides as at present. All agree that the style of the painting is
perfectly characteristic of the period. The divisions are of the lozenge
shape; in each lozenge of the central line is a figure, and in each
alternate one of the sides. The middle set has more elongated lozenges
than the others. The borders are black and white, with some coloured
lines, in odd zigzag patterns. The figures, which are mostly seated, are
very quaint and strange. Some are sacred, some grotesque. We can see
S. Peter with the keys, kings, queens, and minstrels; we find also a
head with two faces, a monkey riding backwards on a goat, a human figure
with head and hoofs of an ass, a donkey playing a harp, a winged dragon,
a dancing lion, an eagle, and other curious devices.
[Illustration: The Choir and Nave, looking West.]
=The Font= stands between the first and second piers on the north side
of the nave; the basin is of a local marble of thirteenth century date,
but the lower part is modern. For many years it was used as a flower pot
in one of the prebendal gardens, whence it was rescued by Dean Monk and
ultimately restored to its original use in the south end of the western
transept. It was placed where it is in 1920. Another font had been
erected in 1615, as appears by an entry in the cathedral register of
that date, when the son of one of the prebendaries was baptized "in the
new font in the bodye of the Cathedral Church here."
=The West Transept= extends beyond the aisles. The huge pointed arches
covered with Norman mouldings are very remarkable. The arcading which
goes round the lower part of the aisle walls was continued round the
east sides and the ends of this transept, but it has all been hacked
away, and the walls now are flat. The position of the arcade is very
plainly to be seen. The south end in 1921 was again restored to its
former use as a chapel by the Dean of Winchester, Dr. Hutton. The north
end of this transept is used as a vestry. It is screened off, with the
adjacent bays of the north aisle, by some of the woodwork that has been
removed from Dean Monk's choir. From these specimens the general
character of the whole can be easily gathered.
The west wall has no trace of Norman work. The arcade by the ground
consists of pointed arches, though the great doorway has a round arch;
all have Early English mouldings. The great doors themselves are of the
same date, as shown by the carved capital at the top. The west window,
with its Perpendicular tracery, is set inside an Early English arch,
which has two lofty lancets by the side; and in looking at it from the
east it can hardly be detected that this arch is not the very framework
of the window. The very lofty lancets on the east of the projecting
parts of this transept, as well as the decoration of the arches in the
triforium above the aisles, should be noticed.
The number of =Altars= in the church was considerable. They were of
course all served by members of the foundation. but they had not
separate endowments like chantries in a parish church. Nor does any one
appear to have been associated with any company or guild. There were,
besides the High Altar and that in the Lady Chapel, three in the new
building, one in the little chapel between the choir and Lady Chapel,
one in each choir aisle, two (SS. John and James) in the north transept,
four (SS. Oswald, Benedict, and Kyneburga, and the Holy Trinity) in the
south transept, two (the Ostrie Chapel and that of the Holy Spirit) in
the building west of the south transept, one in the rood-loft, most
likely four against pillars in the nave (a bracket on a pillar on the
north side marks the position of one), and apparently one in the south
part of the west transept. If this enumeration is correct there were not
less than twenty-two. There seems also to have been an altar in the
hearse over Queen Katherine's tomb; and, though no mention of them
occurs, we should suppose there must have been one on each side of the
entrance beneath the rood-loft.
Two altar-stones only have been found. One is marked on a plan made
about 180 years ago as being laid down in the choir a little to the east
of where the eagle lectern now stands. It was subsequently taken up,
sawn into three pieces, and placed beneath the arch leading from the
western transept to the south aisle. Some twenty-five years ago it was
again removed from the pavement and is preserved elsewhere. The five
crosses are large and deeply cut, and are in the form of
cross-crosslets. The other has been taken up from the pavement in the
eastern chapel. It is a very curious example, and one that might well
escape notice. The stone is of the usual size, and uninscribed. It is
much worn by constant treadings, and the five crosses are nearly
obliterated, though quite distinctly to be seen. But instead of there
being, as usual, one in each corner of the stone, or nearly so, all the
five are towards the centre of the stone, within a space of about two
square feet. There is also an extra cross on the front edge. This stone
is now used for the altar in S. Oswald's Chapel, in the south transept,
refitted in 1900.
Of =Stained Glass= the only ancient examples are some fragments that
have been collected from different parts of the church, mostly as it
seems from the cloister, and put together in two central windows in the
apse. These are well worth observing with care. No scenes of course can
be made out, but the faces, when examined closely, are found to be
singularly good. Most of the pieces formed portions of a window or
series of windows representing incidents in the life of S. Peter. This
is apparent from the few words that can still be made out on the labels,
which are all fragments of texts referring to that Saint. The large
west window is in memory of soldiers of Northamptonshire who fell during
the South African War, 1899-1902; the window has five lights in two
tiers; in the upper are representations of King Peada, S. Paul, S.
Peter, S. Andrew, and Bishop Ethelwold; in the lower, S. George, Joshua,
S. Michael, Gideon, and S. Alban. Brass plates below give the roll of
[Illustration: Head of S. Peter in Ancient Stained Glass.]
Five windows of the eastern chapel have now been refilled with-stained
glass, one facing north to the late Dean Barlow, 1908; another behind
the altar was given by Canon Argles (afterwards Dean) in memory of his
father-in-law, Bishop Davys. In the south-east corner the east window is
to the memory of Dean Butler, 1861, and the south one to Canon Alderson;
the churches pictured are S. Mary's, Lutterworth, All Saints', Holdenby,
and a view of the south-east of this cathedral. The next window is in
memory of Canon Twells, author of several hymns, including "At even ere
the sun was set." In S. Oswald's Chapel is a very beautiful window given
in 1900. In the north choir aisle is a memorial window to Thomas Mills,
Hon. Canon, 1856. In the south transept some in memory of Payne Edwards,
LL.B., 1861; Sir Chapman Marshall, Kt., Alderman of London, whose son
was Precentor here; and James Cattel, cathedral librarian, 1877. In the
north transept are several given by Mr G.W. Johnson, two in memory of
his father and mother, one to the Prince Consort, and some unconnected
with any names; there are also two in memory of George John Gates, 1860,
and John Hewitt Paley "juvenis desideratissimi," 1857.
The architecture of =The Parvise=, over the western porch, has been
already described. It now contains the library, removed to this place
from the new building by Dean Tarrant. The collection was begun by Dean
Duport, who presented books himself, and obtained more from the
Prebendaries and other persons; it was afterwards enriched with the
whole of the valuable library of Bishop Kennett, and part of Dean
Lockier's, and has since had many considerable additions. The
manuscripts are not numerous, the chief being the very important book
known as Swapham. The greater part of this has been printed by Sparkes.
His publication includes Abbot John's Chronicle, The History of Burgh by
Hugo Candidus with its continuation by Swapham, the Chronicle of Walter
of Whittlesey, and two other works. There are also kept here some of
the fabric rolls of the monastery. Bishop Kennett's library contained a
most valuable collection of tracts and pamphlets published in the latter
part of the seventeenth century. There are also some books of much
earlier date, a few of great rarity. A memorandum written in the Book of
Swapham above mentioned tells us that the Precentor, Humphrey Austin,
had hidden it in 1642 in anticipation of coming troubles. But Cromwell's
soldiers found it, and would probably have destroyed it; the Precentor,
however, under pretence of enquiring after an old Latin bible, found out
where it was, and redeemed it for the sum of ten shillings.
=Monuments and Inscriptions=.--We proceed to speak of these, treated as
a single subject, instead of describing them at the various parts of the
building where they are to be found.
At first sight it is thought that this cathedral is singularly deficient
in monuments of interest. To a certain extent this is the case. There
are no memorial chantries, such as add to the beauty of many of our
noblest churches; no effigies of warriors or statesmen; no series of
ancient tablets or inscriptions that illustrate the history of the
neighbourhood; not a single brass. With few exceptions all the monuments
and inscriptions that remain commemorate abbots or other members of the
monastery, or, after the Reformation, bishops, and members of the
cathedral foundation and their families. While of famous persons known
to have been buried within the walls, such as Katherine of Arragon, Mary
Queen of Scots, the Archbishops Elfricus and Kinsius of York, Sir
Geoffrey de la Mare, Sir Robert de Thorpe, and others, no memorials
worthy of their fame and importance are in existence. The wanton
destruction during the civil war in great part explains this; but it is
sad to remember that numbers of mediaeval inscriptions in the floor were
hidden or destroyed during some well-meaning but ill-judged alterations
in the eighteenth century.
First in interest and importance is that known as the Monks' Stone, now
preserved in the new building. It is generally thought that this was
constructed in commemoration of the massacre of Abbot Hedda and his
monks in 870, by the Danes. It was not till nearly a century later that
any attempt was made to rebuild the monastery. But Mr Bloxam read a
paper at Peterborough in 1861 in which he disputed the authenticity of
this monument, which had been previously regarded as one of the most
ancient monumental stones extant. He pronounced it to be Norman, and not
Saxon work, and some centuries later in date than the massacre of the
monks. He considered the figures did not represent the slain monks and
their abbot, but Christ and eleven disciples. It has been further
conjectured by Bishop Westcott that it may have been part of the shrine
erected over the relics of S. Kyneburga, when they were removed from
Castor to Peterborough in the former half of the eleventh century. A
fragment of sculpture in the same style is built into the west wall of
the south transept. Even if the latter years of the ninth century are
deemed too early a date for the stone, at any rate the style of the
sculpture and ornamentation seems much earlier than anything we can now
see in position in the building itself. May it not have been erected
when the minster was reconstructed at the end of the tenth century? It
was formerly in the churchyard; sometimes testators (like Dr
Pocklington) desired in their wills that they might be interred near it.
It has been usually stated that the stone was erected by Abbot Godric of
Crowland, who died in 941. Unvarying tradition has associated it with
the Danish massacre; its dimensions almost exactly agree with the
earliest records of the stone said to have been so erected. The
cruciform nimbus round the head of one figure leaves no doubt that it
was designed for the Saviour; but this had been recognised many years
before Mr Bloxam wrote.
[Illustration: Part of the Monks' Stone.]
In the north transept, below the level of the floor, and protected by
wooden doors, are several richly ornamented slabs or coffin lids, of
undoubted Saxon date; and they form a series which may be considered one
of the very best in England. They are in their original position, the
spot on which they lie being outside the Saxon church and they were then
in the grave-yard. They were discovered in 1888. The interlacing work,
and other carvings, are deeply cut and in excellent preservation.
[Illustration: Saxon Coffin Lids in North Transept.]
The six recumbent effigies of abbots are the very best series of
Benedictine memorials in the country. Attempts have been made to
identify them from the character of the carvings. But as four are
certainly of thirteenth century date, and one late in the twelfth
century, and as thirteen abbots ruled during that period, it may be
pronounced impossible to name each one. One only, manifestly the latest
in date, and also in poorest preservation (being carved in clunch), has
the mitre; this is now temporarily placed in the New Building; there is
little doubt that it represents John Chambers, the last Abbot and first
Bishop. All the other five abbots are represented in alb and chasuble,
holding a book (signifying, it is said, the statutes of the Benedictine
order), in the left hand; while in the right hand is a crosier. In one
instance this is not very clear. Four have their feet resting on
fanciful creatures, which, in three cases, hold the lower ends of the
crosiers in their mouths. Two of these crosiers, at least, are turned
outwards: this is contrary to the commonly received opinion that the
turning inward symbolised the domestic rule over a monastic house. The
head of one abbot rests on a square cushion. Four of these effigies are
in the south choir aisle; one of them being beneath the Norman
sepulchral arch raised to commemorate three abbots, John de Sais, who
died in 1125, Martin of Bee, in 1155, and Andrew, in 1199. It seems
unlikely that the one placed beneath the arch should represent one of
those three, although usually assigned to the latest, Andrew. The next
two in the aisle were found in the ruins of the old chapter-house, and
brought into the church. The date of the easternmost is known. It is
more richly ornamented than the rest, and the entire coffin is above
ground, with handsome quatrefoils and other carving. This commemorates
Alexander of Holderness, 1226. It was found under the woodwork of the
old choir which was removed in 1830, beneath the second arch, on the
north of the choir. The coffin contained the body, in a large coarse
garment, with boots on, and a crosier in the left hand. The boots were
what are called "rights and lefts," and in fair preservation. The head
was gone. A piece of lead was found inscribed "Abbas: Alexandr:" The
remains were gathered together and re-interred beneath the present
position of the coffin. At the same time in all likelihood the effigy
that was already on the spot (one of those that had been found in the
ruins of the chapter-house) was removed to one of the chapels in the
south transept; from which place it was afterwards moved to the New
Building immediately behind the apse, where now is the monument to
Bishop Chambers; and now it has been put on a stone plinth on the spot
where the coffin of Abbot Alexander was found, under the mistaken
impression that it was the figure found there in 1830.
[Illustration: Portion of Abbot's Tomb.]
The other prae-Reformation memorials are very few. Two have lately been
found concealed by the paving, Abbot Godfrey, 1321, moved from the choir
to the north aisle, and sub-prior Fraunceys, at the east end of the
south nave aisle. In the morning chapel is an early stone with
inscription in capitals, and three stone coffin lids; other fragmentary
inscriptions remain in S. Oswald's chapel, in the north choir aisle, and
under the bell-tower.
In the floor on the north side of the choir, near the altar rails, is a
stone with modern inscription recording the burial places of Elfrieus
and Kinsius, both Archbishops of York: the former died in 1051, the
latter in 1060. An old guide-book says that "on the north side, in two
hollow places of wall, were found two chests about three feet long, in
each of which were the bones of a man: and of whom appeared by a plate
of lead in each chest, whereon the name of the person was engraved,"
these names being those given above. The chronicle expressly records of
Kinsius, "_jacet tumulatus in scrinio juxta magnum altare in parte
[Illustration: Portion of Abbot's Tomb.]
Queen Katherine of Arragon was buried in the north choir aisle, just
outside the most eastern arch, in 1535. A hearse was placed near,
probably between the two piers. Four years later this is described as
"the inclosed place where the Lady Katherine lieth," and there seems to
have been a small altar within it. Some banners that adorned it remained
in the cathedral till 1586. About the same time some persons were
imprisoned for defacing the "monument," and required to "reform the
same." The only monument, strictly so called, of which there is any
record, was a low table monument, raised on two shallow steps, with
simple quatrefoils, carved in squares set diamond-wise. Engravings of
this shew it to have been an insignificant and mean erection. A few
slabs of it were lately found buried beneath the floor, and they are now
placed against the wall of the aisle. One of the prebendaries repaired
this monument at his own cost, about 1725, and supplied a tiny brass
plate with name and date, part of which remains in the floor. This
monument was removed in 1792. A handsome marble stone has quite recently
been laid down to the Queen's memory above her grave, with incised
inscription and coats of arms.
A tablet has been erected in the south choir aisle to record the fact
that Mary Queen of Scots had been buried near the spot. Recent
explorations have proved that the exact spot was just within the choir.
The funeral took place on the first of August, 1587. Remains of the
hearse between the pillars were to be seen so lately as 1800. On Oct.
11, 1612, the body was removed to Westminster Abbey, by order of King
James I., the Queen's son. A photograph of the letter ordering the
removal, the original of which is still in possession of the Dean and
Chapter, is framed and hung on an adjacent pillar.
[Illustration: Portion of Abbot's Tomb.]
In the south choir aisle is a fine monument with a life-size effigy of
Archbishop Magee in his robes. It is carved in pure white marble. On the
side are impaled coats of arms and an inscription. The likeness is
[Illustration: Portion of Abbot's Tomb.]
The other tablets and inscriptions hardly require detailed descriptions.
In the New Building is the mutilated monument to Sir Humfrey Orme: no
names or dates remain; at the top are the words _Sanguis Iesu Christi
purgat nos ab omnibus Peccatis nostris_. Near this is an elaborate
erection to Thomas Deacon, 1721, a great benefactor to the town. On a
stone to John Brimble, organist of S. John's College, Cambridge, 1670,
we read that he was _Musis et musicae devotissimus, ad coelestem evectus
Academiam_. Among many inscriptions some interesting items will be
found. John Benson, 1827, was the "oldest Committee Clerk at the House
of Commons." Humfrey Orme, 1670, was _A supremo Ang'iae senatu ad
superiorem sanctorum conventum evocatus._ On the memorial to Bishop
Madan, 1813, are the lines:--
In sacred sleep the pious Bishop lies,
Say not in death--A good Man never dies.
[Illustration: South Aisles of Choir and Nave.]
On the tablet to Bishop Cumberland, 1718, are four Latin lines from
Dean Duport's epigram upon the Bishop's confutation of Hobbes. In the
south choir aisle, on the tablet to Dean Lockier, 1740, is the only
instance of the arms of the Deanery impaling another shield, on a
monument. Near this is a wooden tablet executed in good taste, recording
the fact that the iron screens are a memorial to Dean Argles, whose
munificent gifts to the cathedral are well known. The Norman arch at
the west end of this aisle has a modern painted inscription, believed to
be an exact copy of the original:--
_Hos tres Abbates, Quibus est Prior Abba Johannes
Alter Martinus, Andreas Ultimus, unus
Hic claudit Tumulus; pro Clausis ergo rogemus_.
Near this is a tablet to Roger Pemberton, 1695, with a line from Homer
in Greek, "The race of men is as the race of leaves." In the north choir
aisle John Workman, Prebendary, 1685, is described as _Proto-Canonicus_,
probably meaning that he held the first stall. The tablet to Frances
Cosin (d. 1642), wife of the Dean, afterwards Bishop of Durham, was not
erected till after the Bishop's death in 1672. He prescribed in his will
the words of the inscription. On the large tablet above the piscina is a
punning motto, _Temperantia te Temperatrice_, the person commemorated
being Richard Tryce, 1767.
Two tablets of interest in connexion with the Great War are to be seen
in the south aisle of the nave, one in marble to Nurse Cavell, and the
other in bronze to the "lonely Anzac," Thomas Hunter, an Australian who
died in Peterborough from wounds received in France.
Last of all we must speak of the one memorial which is usually looked at
first, the famous picture of Old Scarlett, on the wall of the western
transept. He is represented with a spade, pickaxe, keys, and a whip in
his leathern girdle; at his feet is a skull. At the top of the picture
are the arms of the cathedral. Beneath the portrait are these lines:--
YOV SEE OLD SCARLEITS PICTVRE STAND ON HIE
BVT AT YOVR FEETE THERE DOTH HIS BODY LYE
HIS GRAVESTONE DOTH HIS AGE AND DEATH TIME SHOW
HIS OFFICE BY THEIS TOKENS YOV MAY KNOW
SECOND TO NONE FOR STRENGTH AND STVRDYE LIMM
A SCARBABE MIGHTY VOICE WITH VISAGE GRIM
HEE HAD INTER'D TWO QVEENES WITHIN THIS PLACE
AND THIS TOWNES HOVSEHOLDERS IN HIS LIVES SPACE
TWICE OVER: BVT AT LENGTH HIS ONE TVRNE CAME
WHAT HEE FOR OTHERS DID FOR HIM THE SAME
WAS DONE: NO DOVBT HIS SOVL DOTH LIVE FOR AYE
IN HEAVEN: THOVGH HERE HIS BODY CLAD IN CLAY.
On the floor is a stone inscribed: "Ivly 2 1594 R S aetatis 98." This
painting is not a contemporary portrait, but a copy made in 1747. In
1866 it was sent on loan to the South Kensington Museum.
[Illustration: South Side of the Close, 1801.]
THE MINSTER PRECINCTS AND CITY.
There are many objects of great interest to be seen in the Minster Yard.
This name is not unfrequently given to the whole of the territory
belonging to the Dean and Chapter surrounding the church. The correct
title is, however, as given above, the Minster Precincts; and it is by
this name that the parish is described, for the Abbey Church, like a few
others, is a parish church, as well as the Cathedral of the diocese.
Although without churchwardens, this parish still appoints its own
overseers of the poor. Old residents distinguish the Close from the
Precincts, limiting the use of the former expression to the area west of
the Cathedral. Contrary to what all would expect, the great gateway to
the west is not the boundary of the Precincts, for they extend a little
further west, and include one or two houses beyond the gateway.
This ancient entrance to the monastic grounds naturally first arrests
the attention. It was built by Abbot Benedict in the last quarter of the
twelfth century. Though it has been much altered, a considerable part of
the original structure remains. As we see it from the Marketplace we
observe a fifteenth century look about it: on closer inspection we see
that a late Decorated arch has been built in front of the Norman arch,
and that a facing of the same date has been carried above. Here is an
arcade, with the alternate panels pierced for windows. On each side of
the gateway are also good Norman arcades; the doorway in the arcade to
the north opens into a residence, that on the south gives access to the
room above. This was originally the Chapel of S. Nicolas. On the
eastern side of the room is a three-light window, manifestly a late
insertion, and adapted from some other building. It is said to be part
of a shrine which formerly was in the Cathedral, a portion of which
still remains in the new building. This statement has been repeated over
and over again; but it is difficult to see any resemblance between the
The chapel over the gateway has been put to various uses since the
dissolution of monasteries. In 1617 it was assigned to the porter as
part of his residence. At a later period it was let. It has served the
purposes of a muniment room, a Masonic lodge room, a tailor's workshop,
a practising room for the choristers, a class-room for the Grammar
School. In the flourishing days of the Gentlemen's Society, when members
met and read papers, and kept up a considerable literary correspondence
with learned men in various parts of the kingdom, its meetings were held
here; and it is now used as a Record Room for the Diocese of
On the left hand, as we pass through the gate, is all that remains of
the =Chapel of S. Thomas of Canterbury=. It is the chancel of a much
larger building. Originally the chapel was begun by Waterville and
finished by Benedict: it was therefore of Norman date. The present
chancel was built in the latter part of the fourteenth century. While
the east window, with its graceful net tracery and very elegant cross
above, might suggest an earlier date, yet a glance at the side windows,
which are distinctly of transitional character, tells us that 1360 or
1370 may be assigned as the period of erection. About 1404 the abbey
gave the materials of the nave of this chapel to the town, to assist in
rebuilding the parish church on the present site; but the chancel had
been too recently built to be removed. Since the establishment of the
Cathedral the chancel seems always to have been used as the Cathedral
Grammar School, until the year 1885, when the School was removed to new
buildings in the Park Road. It was next used as a museum by the Natural
History and Archaeological Society, until their collection outgrew the
room and they removed to larger premises in Queen Street (see p. 111).
For a time it was a Needlework School of Art, and now it is a Rovers Den
in connexion with the Scout movement.
All the other ancient buildings on the west, the Plumber's Office, the
Sister House, the Treasurer's Office, have long disappeared. The Minster
Almshouses, adjoining the wall of the Deanery garden, are the only
buildings on the north side. They have no ancient features.
[Illustration: Cathedral Gateway, 1791.]
The door immediately to the right of the great gateway as we enter the
close leads to a vaulted chamber which was once the gaol. A few steps
bring us to a very magnificent gateway, leading to the Palace grounds,
over which is a chamber, called the =Knights' Chamber=. This is of Early
English date, with a fine groined roof. The gates and postern are placed
at some distance from the outer archway, adding greatly to the dignity
and effect of the whole composition. The delicate arcading of the sides,
and the excellent clustered shafts, are good examples of the period:
unfortunately the bases of the shafts are now hidden by accumulation of
earth. On the north and south faces are long niches with figures: three
on the north are said to be King Edward II., and the Abbot and Prior of
the period; those on the south are Apostles. The chamber above is used
for meetings, etc.
Much of the line of buildings to the east of this gateway is modern, but
it harmonizes excellently with the ancient work. Near the Cathedral is
some mediaeval work, and the office at the end, on the ground floor,
has a good stone groined roof. This is believed to have been the
The _Deanery Gateway_, at the north-eastern corner of the close is a
fine specimen of architecture. In the spandrels above the great
four-centred arch are two coats of arms, one with the keys and
crosslets, the other with swords and crosses. These are now the arms of
the See and the Cathedral respectively: but it is difficult to say what
was their special significance when this gate was erected. Are we to
suppose that the Abbot and Prior used different armorial bearings before
the Reformation? Above the smaller door is a boldly carved rebus of the
Abbot in whose time the gate was erected, a church on a tun, Robert
Kirton (Kirkton). His initials in stone are also carved beneath the
parapet. Several of the details are well worthy of attention. We find
the Tudor rose and portcullis: the arms of S. Edward and of S. Edmund,
the Martyr King; an early instance in stone of the Prince of Wales'
feathers; and the triangular symbol of the Holy Trinity. The date is
Through an open archway to the east we enter the burial ground. Until
1804 this was the only place of burial for the whole city. On the left
is the Deanery, but nothing of antiquity is to be seen from the
exterior. In the hall are some good fragments of old glass, some of it
probably part of the original embellishments of the house, though some
may have been brought from the Cathedral, and some is again quite
modern. Some panels of early date, brought from another room, have also
lately been put up in the hall. The churchyard has been planted with
trees and shrubs, and is well kept. It has, however, become much more
publicly used than was the case in the last century, owing to a
thoroughfare for foot-passengers which has been opened at the
north-western end of the close; and the usual results of such publicity
have followed in the treading down of the turf and in the damage
inflicted on the shrubs. One of the most striking views of the Cathedral
is seen from the north-eastern corner of the precincts, near the house
known as "The Vineyard." This was the house occupied by the officers who
came down to superintend the spoliation of the building in 1643. This
view takes in the whole of the great length of the Cathedral, the
bell-tower and the north-western spire forming a very effective group.
Passing round the east end and proceeding to the south we come to the
ruins of the =Infirmary=. Here we may see some very excellent Early
English work, most elegant and graceful. It was erected about 1260. The
plan was similar to a large church with aisles. The nave was used as the
hall, the aisles were the quarters of the inmates, and the chancel was
the chapel of the institution. Many of the main arches remain, and the
details of the ornamentation and mouldings will repay careful study. At
the west end is a very perfect piece of arcading. The large arch, seen
above a low wall to the east, was the arch leading to the chapel; in
exactly the same position as the chancel arch in a church. At each side
of this arch is a lancet never pierced. The main arch is now blocked up,
forming a wall to one of the prebendal houses. The dining room of this
same house was the Infirmarer's house, and has much very interesting
Early English work. To the south of the Infirmary is another ancient
house, though much modernised.
Before entering the Cloister court we pass through the old slype, once a
simple vaulted passage, but now open to the sky. It was the means of
communication between the Refectory, which was situated to the west, and
the Chapter House, which was on the east side of the Cloister. Quite
recently some of the arches on the west side have been opened to view,
and interesting tracery brought to light.
The =Cloister Court= is always called the Laurel Court. The origin of
this name is not known. The northern part of the area covers the site of
the nave of the Saxon church; but though search was made, during the
recent works, for remains of the old foundations, nothing was
discovered. On the south and west sides are to be seen remains of the
arches and groining, but the appearance of the south wall of the
cathedral suggests that there could not have been any covered alley to
the north, so completely have all evidences of such an erection been
removed. But it is known that there did exist an alley there, when the
Cloisters were complete; for Gunton, describing it, says "The Cloyster
about four square, in length 168 yards, in breadth 6 yards." The
windows, contrary to the usual practice, were all glazed, and they
contained a very fine series of painted glass, all destroyed in 1643.
Gunton gives the subjects:--"The windows were all compleat and fair,
adorned with glass of excellent painting: In the South Cloyster was the
History of the Old Testament: In the East Cloyster of the New: In the
North Cloyster, the Figures of the successive Kings from King Peada: In
the West Cloyster, was the History from the foundation of the Monastery
of King Peada, to the restoring of it by King Edgar." Each light had two
lines of verse at the foot, explaining the subject matter of the glass
above. All the verses in the windows of the west alley are given; and
from this we gather that there were nine windows there of four lights
each. Although Gunton only gives the verses belonging to the west
cloister, yet as he said previously that "every window had at the bottom
the explanation of the history thus in verse," it is supposed that
similar legends appeared in all the other alleys of the cloister. The
verses are very quaint.
[Illustration: Door to Palace Grounds from the Cloisters, 1797.]
[Illustration: Door way to Cathedral from the Cloisters.]
The archway at the south-eastern corner is very elegant, the open
quatrefoil above the round arch and below the pointed arch being
especially good. The south wall indicates that there were two sets of
cloisters here, as the remains of early English arcading are to be
clearly seen. Towards the west was the lavatory, the remains indicating
work of late fourteenth century date. It is on record that Robert of
Lindsey (1214-1222) erected a lavatory in the south cloister: this would
be contemporary with the Early English work remaining in this wall, and
with the archway to the slype; but it must have been removed when the
cloisters were enlarged, and another lavatory, of which we see the
remains under three arches, built in its stead. The Refectory was
immediately to the south of this wall: some beautiful carving is to be
seen in the Bishop's garden. The south-western doorway gives access to
the Bishop's grounds. The depth of the hollows behind the carved foliage
above the door is remarkable.
In the west wall are remains of a Norman cloister; there are three
arches and a door. From the architectural character it seems almost
certain that these are older than any part of the present Cathedral.
William of Waterville (1155-1175) "built the Cloister and covered it
with lead." Canon Davys conjectures that this Abbot in reality repaired
and made sound the old cloisters that had been built by Ernulf
(1107-1115), "whose recent additions to the buildings of the monastery,
we learn, alone escaped the fire, which consumed the other parts of the
Abbey in the time of John de Sais." One of these arches has the cheese
moulding; and on each jamb is a small incised cross, a very few inches
long. If these are consecration crosses they are the only ones that have
been noticed in any part of the Abbey.
On the wall of the building west of the south transept are some stone
brackets. These shew that after the destruction of the ancient cloister
a covered way of some kind was erected here. Marks can also be seen, in
the masonry, which indicate that the building once had three gables. Two
of the Norman buttresses of the south nave aisle have very curious
terminations, which might well puzzle any observer. They are fireplaces
for the use of plumbers. Passing through the Norman doorway at the
north-western corner of the Laurel Court, we come into a narrow passage
leading to the Minster Close.
[Illustration: Archway from Cloisters, North-West.]
In the =Bishop's Palace=, besides the remains of the Refectory, which,
though so scanty, shew what a beautiful building it once was, there is
very little worthy of note. The hall is a vaulted chamber, of no great
height, with piers to support the roof; most of it is part of the
Abbot's dwelling, and of thirteenth century date. The Heaven's Gate
Chamber, previously noticed, built by Abbot Kirton (1496-1528), lies to
the south-east of the hall. The chapel was erected by Bishop Magee soon
after he came to the diocese.
=The City.=--The mother church of S. John the Baptist is the only parish
church in the city of mediaeval date. Until 1856 it was the only parish
church in the place. Originally the church stood east of the Minster.
But, following what seems to be almost a universal law, the main
population spread westward as the number of inhabitants increased, and
the earlier buildings were left to the occupation of the poorer class.
An insignificant little house in the old town is traditionally said to
have been the Vicar's residence. It has some evidence of antiquity about
it. The present church was built early in the fifteenth century. It was
opened in 1407 with much solemnity by Abbot Genge. It is a spacious and
dignified building, having a nave of seven bays; and there are two bays
to the chancel, besides the sanctuary. The west tower is good, but
hardly of sufficient dignity for such a church. The interior was
reseated, and new roofs were added in 1883; they were designed by the
late Mr. Pearson.
In 1891 the south porch was restored in memory of Dr. James, a former
vicar. The arches under the tower which had been bricked up for many
years were underpinned and repaired; and in 1909 were again opened to
the church. By 1919 the fittings were almost complete, several rich
stained glass windows and beautiful oak screens had been given as
memorials. A carved reredos, oak panelling and seats, and a marble
pavement have been fitted in the Sanctuary. The organ was rebuilt and
enlarged by Messrs. Harrison of Durham.
Towards the west end of the church in the north aisle is a tablet to
William Squire by Flaxman; close by is a large picture of King Charles I
and two curious specimens of early embroidery are also to be seen; they
were once portions of altar-cloths, or of copes. In each case the work
is in the form of a cross, about two feet long. Each has the figure of
the Saviour on the Cross; but the details are not identical.
[Illustration: Church of S. John the Baptist and Guildhall.]
=The Guild Hall=, in the Market Place, is an effective little building,
dated 1671. The lower part is open, and is used for the butter market.
While sufficient for the transaction of borough business 100 years ago,
it is altogether inadequate now to the requirements of a corporation.
Until a very few years ago there was a mediaeval building at
Peterborough of the greatest interest. This was the old =Tithe Barn= of
the Abbey, situated in the Manor of Boroughbury, on the Lincoln Road. It
was much the finest in the kingdom. Unhappily the "enterprising builder"
has obtained possession of it, and it has been pulled down, the
materials, all Barnack stone, having been employed in building houses.
It was of good thirteenth century work, and in perfect condition. On the
east side were two large porches, by which a waggon fully laden could
enter the barn. The roof was supported by very massive timbers rising
from the ground, the whole arrangement resembling a wooden church with
=The Museum= in Queen Street is noted for its collection of Roman and
Saxon antiquities from the city and district; amongst the former are the
noted coffin tile stamped LEG IX. HISP.; the vase showing a coursing
match with the hare and hounds in relief, coins, pottery, brooches, and
other jewellery. The Saxon specimens consist of pottery, jewellery, and
weapons chiefly exhumed at Woodston, about one mile south-west of the
The interesting collection of bone, wood, horn, and straw marquetry work
made at Norman Cross (5 miles) by the French prisoners during the years
1797 to 1814, is unique. MSS. of the Northamptonshire poet, John Clare,
are preserved in this institution, together with a large number of other
HISTORY OF THE MONASTERY.
The inhabitants of the Fen country, when first distinguished by a
special name, were known as the Gyrvii. Their district included the
south part of Lincolnshire, the north part of Northamptonshire, and the
greater part of Cambridgeshire. The southern Gyrvii were a province of
East Anglia; the Gyrvii of the north appear to have been allied to the
East Anglians, and perhaps inclined to become united with them; but they
were ultimately absorbed in the great Midland Kingdom of Mercia. Bishop
Stubbs, speaking of the early Fasti of Peterborough, says: "Mercia,
late in its formation as a kingdom, sprang at once into a great state
under Penda; late in its adoption of Christianity, it seems from the
period of its conversion to have taken a prominent place at once among
the Christian powers. The Chronicle places the conversion in 655, and a
very few years saw it the best governed and best organised province of
the Church. In less than thirty years it was divided into five dioceses,
amongst which the place of the Fen country is more clearly definable.
The bishopric of Lindsey occupied the north of Lincolnshire, reaching to
the Witham: a line drawn from the south point of Nottinghamshire to the
Cam would probably represent the western border of the Gyrvii; the
border of Cambridgeshire was the boundary of the dioceses of Elmham and
Dunwich. The Fen country thus falls into the eastern portion of the
great Lichfield diocese, which for a few years after 680 had its own
bishop at Leicester, but was not finally separated from the mother see
The date given above for the conversion of Mercia, 655, is the date of
the laying of the foundation of the monastery of Medeshamstede. Penda
had been succeeded on the throne of Mercia by his eldest son, Peada; and
he, in conjunction with Oswy, brother of King Oswald, determined to
"rear a minster to the glory of Christ and honour of Saint Peter."
=Saxulf= (656-675), was the first Abbot. In Bede no mention is made of
royal patronage, and the whole credit of founding the abbey is given to
Saxulf. Another account represents him as having been a thane of great
wealth and renown, and that this abbey was dedicated by him "as the
first fruits of the Mercian church." He was made Bishop of Lichfield in
675, but continued to take an active part in the affairs of the abbey.
He died in 691.
=Cuthbald= (675), is named in the Chronicle as having been second Abbot.
One of this name, possibly the same, was ruling the monastery at Oundle
in 709, when S. Wilfrid died there. Nothing further is known of him; and
nothing at all of =Egbald=, who appears in the usual lists as his
The chroniclers give for the fourth Abbot one Pusa. But Bishop Stubbs
has proved that =Bothwin= was Abbot from 758 to 789; and concludes that
the introduction of Pusa into the list is a mistake, if not a mere
Abbot =Beonna= came next, probably in 789 or very soon afterwards.
"Possibly this Beonna is the same who was made Bishop of Hereford in
823, and died in 830."
=Ceolred= succeeded, and in the year 852 signs a grant of land as Abbot.
Patrick conjectures that he became a bishop, but does not name his
diocese. There is no certainty about the dates at which these early
abbots entered upon their office; and possibly some names have been
altogether lost. But all accounts agree that the last Abbot of
Medeshamstede was =Hedda=; and that he perished when the monastery was
destroyed and its inmates killed by the Danes in 870. A graphic account
of the circumstances attending this attack is given by Ingulf; but as
authentic historians like Orderic and Malmesbury have no reference
whatever to the occurrences described by Ingulf, Bishop Stubbs
unwillingly is obliged to consider his version to be a pure romance. But
of the fact itself, the utter destruction of the monastery, there is no
question; nor of the fact that all the inmates, or nearly all, perished.
We read that at Crowland some monks escaped the general slaughter, and
met again, after the departure of the Danes, and elected a fresh abbot.
They then came to Medeshamstede, and buried the bodies of those that had
been murdered, in one vast tomb. It has been commonly supposed that the
Monks' Stone, before described, was the stone erected at the time in
commemoration of the disaster. The arguments against this supposition
have been already given.
The Fen monasteries remained desolate for 100 years. During that period
the lands were constantly being seized by different intruders. It was
not till the time of Alfred the Great, who came to the throne in 871,
that the invasions of the Danes were finally checked, and tranquillity
restored to the kingdom. Security being assured, the people began again
to improve their public buildings and the religious houses. Crowland was
the first in the neighbourhood to be restored. This restoration was
effected by Thurketyl. Instigated probably by his example, Ethelwold,
Bishop of Winchester, encouraged and supported by King Edgar, rebuilt
the monastery of Medeshamstede after the old model. The rebuilding was
completed in 972; and the name of Burgh was given to the place, and the
old name went altogether out of use.
The first Abbot, after the re-establishment of the monastery, was
=Aldulf= (971-992), formerly Chancellor to the King. He is said to have
accidentally caused the death of his only son, and feeling that he could
no longer live happily in the midst of earthly vanities, he endowed this
monastery with all his possessions, and was appointed to govern it.
Gunton declares that the prosperous and wealthy condition of the abbey
under the rule of Aldulf caused its name to be improved into
Gildenburgh, the Golden Borough. At this time most of the neighbouring
woods were cut down and the land brought into cultivation. Aldulf became
Bishop of Worcester after remaining twenty years at Burgh; and in 995
was made Archbishop of York. He died in May 1002, and is buried at
Worcester. He held indeed the See of Worcester with that of York till
He was succeeded at Burgh by =Kenulf= (992-1005). He is described as
famous for his wisdom and learning, and as having governed his abbey
"most admirably and sweetly." In 1005 he was made Bishop of Winchester,
not without suspicion of a corrupt purchase (_episcopatum nummis
nundinatus fuerat_), and died the following year.
The next Abbot, =Elsinus= (1006-1055), was remarkable chiefly for the
number of relics he collected, designing thereby to increase the fame
and wealth of the monastery. Dean Patrick thinks that before Elsinus
there was an abbot named KINSINUS, whose name he found in one record;
but he adds that if he were really abbot it could at most have been for
a few days or months. The list of relics gathered together by Elsinus is
extensive. At least eighty are enumerated. It speaks volumes for the
credulity of the age when we find in this list such things as the
following:--A portion of Aaron's rod that budded; a portion of one of
the five loaves that fed the five thousand; a shoulder-blade of one of
the Holy Innocents; two pieces of the Virgin Mary's veil; part of the
stone paten of the Evangelist S. John. The great relic of the house was
the arm of S. Oswald. The date when this was acquired is not certainly
known, some thinking that this period is too early a date to assign to
its acquisition. Bede relates "that this Oswald, King of
Northumberland, was very free and liberal in giving of alms to the poor;
and one day whilst he sate at meat, one of his servants told him of a
great number of poor people come to his gate for relief; whereupon King
Oswald sent them meat from his own table, and there not being enough to
serve them all, he caused one of his silver dishes to be cut in pieces,
and to be distributed amongst the rest; which Aydanus, a Bishop (who
came out of Scotland to convert, and instruct those Northern parts of
England), beholding, took the King by the right hand, saying, _nunquam
inveterascat haec manus_, let this hand never wax old, or be corrupted;
which came to pass. This arm was first deposited at Bamburgh, a
religious place in Yorkshire. Walter of Whittlesey writing the story
thereof, tells that it was brought to the monastery of Burgh by
Winegotus of Bebeberch, but saith not when, therefore I cannot
conjecture better than that it was by the procurement of this Abbot
Elsinus. It is said that this arm wrought many cures upon several
diseased folk; and that it was of such fame in the days of King
Stephen, as that he himself came to Peterburgh purposely to see it; and
offered his ring to S. Oswald, and also remitted to the monastery the
sum of forty marks wherein it was indebted unto him." It is specially
recorded in the Chronicle that this abbot took advantage of the poverty
of an abbey in Normandy, the district having been afflicted with a
grievous famine, and purchased from it the body of S. Florentinus, with
the exception of the head, for one hundred pounds of silver.
He was succeeded by =Arwinus= (1055-1057), a monk of the house, but he
resigned the government in two years. Next came =Leofric= (1057-1066), a
very eminent man, said to have been of royal descent. He was nephew to
Leofric, Earl of Coventry. In the time of this abbot, William of
Normandy invaded England, and Leofric was for some time with the English
army. But in consequence of ill health he was obliged to leave it and
return to his monastery, where he died the same year. He is highly
praised in the Chronicle as "_pulcherrimus Monachorum, flos et decus
=Brando= (1066-1069), succeeded, and greatly offended King William by
applying to Edgar Atheling for confirmation of his appointment. He was
uncle to Hereward, the Saxon patriot, and created him knight. At his
death a Norman was appointed, =Turold=, of Fescamp (1069-1098); but "he
neither loved his monastery, nor his convent him." During the interval
between Brando's death and Turold's arrival, a partial destruction of
the monastery took place. This has been already described. Some account
for Hereward's share in the attack and in the carrying off of the
treasures by supposing that he meant to restore them when the rule of
the Norman Abbot came to an end. When Turold arrived at Peterborough he
brought with him a force of 160 well-armed Normans. Joining the forces
of Ivo Taillebois he attacked the Camp of Refuge near Ely. The attacking
party was repulsed by Hereward, and Turold taken prisoner, and only
liberated upon paying a heavy ransom. Soon afterwards the Abbot is said
to have received into the monastery two monks from beyond sea, "who
secretly stole away, and carried many of the Church Goods with them." At
length he was made Bishop in France, and the monastery trusted they had
seen the last of him. But he was ignominiously expelled in four days,
and was permitted, upon paying a large sum of money to the king, to
resume his abbacy.
[Illustration: Rose Windows and Details of West Front.]
Another uncle of Hereward's, =Godric= (1099-1103), brother of Brando,
became the next abbot. The monks had purchased from the king the right
to elect their own abbot; and Godric, being considered by this
transaction to have committed simony, was (with the neighbouring abbots
of Ely and Ramsey) deposed by a council held under the presidency of
=Matthias= (1103-1105), was brother of Geoffrey, the Chief Justice, who
was drowned at the foundering of The White Ship, when Prince William,
the King's son, was lost. After the death of Matthias there was a
vacancy of three years, until =Ernulf= (1107-1114), Prior of Canterbury
came. He became Bishop of Rochester, and died in 1124.
=John de Sais= (1114-1125), probably came from Sees, in Normandy; though
he is sometimes called John of Salisbury. In 1116 nearly the whole town
was consumed by a fire that lasted nine days. It began in the bakehouse
of the monastery and completely destroyed the church and most of the
abbey buildings, the Chapter House, Refectory and Dormitory alone
escaping. In March 1118 (or, as then written, 1117), the commencement
was made of the building that now exists. Abbot John died in 1125; and
again the King kept the abbey in his own hands for more than two years.
=Henry of Anjou= (1128-1133), where he was Abbot, was a kinsman of the
King. He had numerous preferments abroad; and after five years here was
forced to resign and to betake himself to Anjou.
=Martin de Vecti= (1133-1155), had been Prior of S. Neots. Gunton
considers he came originally from the Isle of Wight, Vectis; Dean
Patrick thinks he derived his name from Bec, in Normandy. He was a great
builder, and was very industrious in repairing the abbey, and especially
=William of Waterville= (1155-1175), was chaplain to King Henry II. He
devoted himself to the building of the church, and the portion
attributed to him has been indicated in a previous chapter. He was also
very attentive to the management of the estates of the monastery, and to
acquiring new ones; but his business capacity seems to have brought him
into some disrepute and to have raised some enemies, who accused him to
the King; and by the King's order he was deposed in the Chapter-house,
as Dean Patrick relates "before a multitude of abbots and monks;
being neither convicted of any crime, nor confessing any, but privily
accused to the Archbishop by some monks." It is recorded that he
appealed to the Pope against the sentence of deprivation, but without
=Benedict= (1177-1193), was Prior of Canterbury; and, towards the end of
his life, Keeper of the Great Seal. He had a heavy task at the beginning
of his rule in restoring discipline, which had become lax, and in
reforming many evil customs that had crept into the house. He was an
author, and produced a work on the career of S. Thomas of Canterbury,
whose murder had taken place only seven years before Benedict came to
Peterborough. He gave many ornaments and vestments to the church, and
brought several relics; and in particular some of Thomas a Becket (and
those we can certainly believe were more authentic than most relics),
among which are mentioned his shirt and surplice, a great quantity of
his blood in two crystal vessels, and two altars of the stone on which
he fell when he was murdered. He was, as might be expected, very zealous
in completing the chapel at the monastery gate which his predecessor had
begun to raise in honour of the martyred Archbishop. Dean Stanley
speaks of Benedict's acquisition of the relics as "one of two memorable
acts of plunder ... curiously illustrative of the prevalent passion for
such objects." He says Benedict was probably the most distinguished monk
of Christ Church, and after his appointment to Peterborough, "finding
that great establishment almost entirely destitute of relics, he
returned to his own cathedral, and carried off with him the flagstones
immediately surrounding the sacred spot, with which he formed two altars
in the conventual church of his new appointment, besides two vases of
blood and part of Becket's clothing." Benedict, though a member of the
house and probably within the precincts, was not actually present at the
Archbishop's murder. Besides his building operations (he built nearly
all the nave of the church) he was very attentive to the landed property
of the house, successfully recovering some estates which had been
=Andrew= (1193-1201) had been Prior. He was "very mild and peaceable,
and made it his endeavour to plant and establish peace and tranquillity
in his flock." Several fresh acquisitions of land were made in his time,
and the monastery was very flourishing.
=Acharius= (1201-1214) came here from S. Albans, where he was Prior. He
devoted himself entirely to the administration of his office, managing
the affairs of the monastery with the greatest care and judgement. He
left behind him a reputation for "order, honesty, kindness and bounty,
that from him posterity might learn how to behave themselves both in the
cloister and in the world."
[Illustration: Tomb of an Abbot, possibly Abbot Andrew, 1201.]
=Robert of Lindsey= (1214-1222) succeeded. This was four years after the
death of his predecessor, during which period King John had kept the
monastery in his own hands. This expression, which is of frequent
occurrence, must be understood to mean that the king took possession of
all the revenues belonging to the Abbot, and probably much more from the
property of the monastery, the expenses of which would be materially
lessened by the mere fact of there being no Abbot. Robert had been
Sacrist here, and when he was advanced to the highest office he effected
many improvements in the furniture and ornaments of the church, and in
the buildings, not only of the monastery itself, but also of the manors
and farms belonging to it. One alteration he effected is worth special
mention; many of the windows of the church previously stuffed with reeds
and straw, were glazed. The civil wars in this reign brought desolation
to many religious houses: but we do not read that Peterborough suffered.
Robert is said to have written a history of the monastery. He died in
1222. He had attended the fourth Lateran Council at Rome, in 1215; and
had fought in person for King Henry III. at Rockingham.
=Alexander of Holderness= (1222-1226), the Prior, was next appointed.
Dean Patrick gives, from Swapham, an account of a noteworthy agreement
that was made for mutual benefit between this Abbot and the Abbot of S.
Edmunds Bury. The convents "by this league were tied in a bond of
special affection, for mutual counsel and assistance for ever. They were
so linkt together, as to account themselves one and the same convent: so
that if one of the abbots died, the survivor being desired was
immediately to go to his convent; and there before him they were to make
a canonical election; or if already made, they were to declare it in his
presence. If the friars of either place were by any necessity driven
from their monastery, the other was to receive them, and afford them a
familiar refuge and aid: with a place in their Quire Chapterhouse and
Refectory, _secundum conversionis suae tempus_." This abbot is said to
have been much beloved by the monks. He died in 1226.
=Martin of Ramsey= (1226-1233), one of the monks, was chosen to succeed
Alexander. He remained only six years. After his death another monk,
=Walter of S. Edmunds= (1233-1245), was elected. He was a great builder.
It was during his time that the minster was solemnly re-dedicated. This
abbot made no less than three visits to Rome. On the third occasion he
was summoned in consequence of some irregularity in an appointment to
the living of Castor; but he seems to have managed his case very
adroitly, and to have escaped all censure by assigning an annuity of L10
a year to the Pope's nephew. Another account, however, represents the
abbot as being so distressed at the indignities he suffered at the Papal
Court, that, being unwell before he went there and his infirmities being
increased by his journey, he died very soon after his return to England.
"He left the abbey abounding in all good things; stored with horses,
oxen, sheep and all cattle in great multitudes, and corn in some places
for three years." He died in 1245.
=William de Hotot= (1246-1249), another monk of the house, succeeded
Walter. He held the office only three years, when he resigned and was
assigned a residence at the manor of Cottingham, afterwards exchanged
for one at Oxney, a few miles only from Peterborough. It is said that
his resignation was caused by complaints being made of his enriching his
own kinsfolk, "whereof he had great multitudes swarming about him," at
the expense of the monastery. But the injury he did could not have been
very considerable, for his body was brought to Peterborough to be
buried, and he had an honourable commemoration in the Church's calendar.
=John de Caleto= (1249-1262), that is, of Calais, came here from
Winchester, where he was prior. He was related to the queen. As one of
the Chief Justices he went on circuit. But he seems to have taken the
side of the Barons in the civil war, and is said to have held the office
of treasurer to them for the last two years of his life. He was seldom
in residence at Peterborough, but appointed a very efficient deputy, who
afterwards succeeded him as abbot.
=Robert of Button= (1262-1274) fought in the battle of Northampton
against the king. The king, coming to assault the town, "espied amongst
his enemies' ensigns on the wall the ensign of the Abbey of Peterburgh,
whereat he was so angry that he vowed to destroy the nest of such ill
birds. But the town of Northampton being reduced, Abbot Robert, by
mediation of friends to the king, saved both himself and church, but was
forced to pay for his delinquency, to the king 300 marks, to the queen
L20, to Prince Edward L60, to the Lord Souch L6, 13s. 4d." When the
fortune of war changed and the Barons were victorious at Lewes, "then
did the other side fleece the Abbot of Peterburgh for his contribution
to the king." After Evesham again the king repeated his exactions, and
the unfortunate abbot had to pay enormously. The total amount that he
paid on these several occasions is put down at a sum which seems almost
impossible, being upwards of L4320. This abbot attended the Council of
Lyons in 1273, and died abroad as he was returning to England. He was
buried abroad; his heart, being brought to Peterborough, was interred
before the altar in one of the chapels in the south transept.
=Richard of London= (1274-1295) is said to have been born in the parish
of S. Pancras. He was a monk of the house, and while sacrist had erected
the Bell-tower and given two bells. A great deal of litigation was
carried on in his time, and he and the abbey were fortunate in having in
one of the monks, William of Woodford, a man of great skill and
judgement, to conduct the different cases before the courts. So
uniformly successful was he and so wisely did he act as coadjutor of
Richard when he became very old and infirm, that he was elected to the
abbacy on the death of Richard of London in 1295.
=William of Woodford= (1295-1299) only lived four years after he became
abbot. After him came =Godfrey of Crowland= (1299-1321), the celerarius
of the monastery. He is very highly praised in the chronicles for the
various services he rendered to the abbey. More than once he was at the
heavy charge of entertaining the king and his court, and he contributed
largely to the expenses of the war with Scotland.
[Illustration: Iron Railings, 1721.]
=Adam of Boothby= (1321-1338), one of the monks, was a man of great
"innocence and simplicity" His revenues were much employed in
contributions to the king's expenses and in royal entertainments; and
his energies devoted to divers legal difficulties connected with manors,
wardships, repairs of bridges, rights of hunting, and the like. Of the
last eleven abbots, whose rule extended over a period of 124 years, all
but one had been monks of the place.
=Henry of Morcot= (1338-1353) in all probability was also one of the
monks, but this is not so recorded. And the same may be said of all the
remaining abbots, but the historians do not say so until the time of
William in 1471. At the same time it is never said that any of them came
=Robert of Ramsey= (1353-1361) ruled for eight years, and nothing else
is known about him.
=Henry of Overton= (1361-1391) was abbot during the commotions in King
Richard II.'s reign. The tenants with others rose up against the abbey,
intending to destroy it. The Bishop of Norwich "coming to the assistance
of the monastery with a strong power, forced the villains to desist from
their enterprise: nay, dispersed them, and took some of them, and killed
others; the rest, taking the church for sanctuary, which they intended
to have destroyed, were there run through with lances and swords; some
of them hard by the altar, others by the walls of the church, both
within and without."
=Nicholas= (1391-1396), =William Genge= (1396-1408) the first mitred
abbot, =John Deeping= (1408-1438) in turn succeeded. Nothing remarkable
is told of them. The name of the last and the names of the next two are
really the names of places; but the prefix "de" seems now to have been
discontinued, and the place-name to have become a surname. Abbot John
resigned his office the year before he died.
=Richard Ashton= (1438-1471) took great pains about the regulation of
the services in the church, and drew up a customary out of the ancient
usages of the place.
=William Ramsey= (1471-1496) appears to have devoted his time to the
management of the estates and to upholding the territorial privileges of
the house. If the epitaph formerly to be seen on a brass on his tomb is
to be believed, he was a man prudent, just, pious, esteemed by all,
chaste, kind, and adorned with every virtue.
=Robert Kirton= (1496-1528) has left several proofs of his energy in
building, signing, as it were, the stones with his autograph. His
rebus, a kirk on a ton, sometimes accompanied by the initial of his
Christian name, is to be seen in the New Building, which he completed,
on the Deanery gateway, and on the graceful oriel window in the Bishop's
Palace. The chamber to which this window gives light still retains the
name originally given of "Heaven's Gate Chamber." Much other work done
by him towards the beautifying of the church and buildings has perished.
The last abbot was =John Chambers= (1528-1540). One incident of
considerable interest is related as having taken place in his first
year. "Cardinal Wolsey came to Peterburgh, where he kept his Easter.
Upon Palm Sunday he carried his palm, going with the monks in
procession, and the Thursday following he kept his Maundy, washing and
kissing the feet of fifty-nine poor people, and having dried them, he
gave to every one of them 12d. and three ells of canvas for a shirt; he
gave also to each of them a pair of shoes and a portion of red herrings.
On Easter day he went in procession in his cardinal's vestments, and
sang the High-Mass himself after a solemn manner, which he concluded
with his benediction and remission upon all the hearers." This abbot was
a native of Peterborough, and was sometimes known as John Burgh; and on
the brass placed on his tomb he was called "Johannes Burgh, Burgo
natus." A monumental effigy was also erected to him, "made of white
chalkstone"; and this is almost certainly the figure now placed
(temporarily) at the back of the apse. This abbot was B.D. of Cambridge
and one of the king's chaplains. It was during his time that Queen
Katherine of Arragon was interred in the minster. The well-known story
that the building was spared by the king out of regard to the memory of
his first wife is told by Dean Patrick in these words:--"There is
this traditional story goes concerning the preservation of this church
at the dissolution of abbeys: that a little after Queen Katherine's
interment here (which Mr G. mentions), some courtiers suggesting to the
king how well it would become his greatness to erect a fair monument for
her, he answered, 'Yes, he would leave her one of the goodliest
monuments in Christendom,' meaning this church, for he had then in his
thoughts the demolishing of abbeys, which shortly after followed." Abbot
Chambers surrendered the monastery to the king in 1540, and was
appointed guardian of the temporalities, with a pension of L266, 13s.
4d. and 100 loads of wood. The king divided the whole property of the
abbey into three parts, retaining one-third for himself, and assigning
the other parts upon the foundation of the see to the Bishop and Chapter
respectively. If the annual value of the portion he reserved for his own
use may be taken to be exactly one-third of the possessions of the
abbey, the entire property must have been worth as nearly as possible
L2200 per annum. The last abbot became the first bishop.
It is remarkable that of the two queens buried at Peterborough, the body
of one has been removed to Westminster by the orders of her son, and
that a similar removal had been previously designed for the body of the
other. Queen Katherine's daughter, Queen Mary, left directions in her
will that "the body of the virtuous Lady and my most dere and
well-beloved mother of happy memory, Queen Kateryn, which lyeth now
buried at Peterborowh," should be removed and laid near the place of her
own sepulture, and that honourable monuments should be made for both. It
would have been a singular coincidence if this intention had been
HISTORY OF THE DIOCESE.
The Abbey Church was converted into the Cathedral of the newly-founded
diocese of Peterborough by deed bearing date September 4, 1541. The
counties of Northampton and Rutland were the limits of the new see. The
king's original plan for the establishment of bishoprics out of the
confiscated estates of monastic establishments was too generous to be
put into practice. He designed the foundation of no less than twenty-one
new sees. In this scheme Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire were
assigned to the diocese of Peterborough; and, considering the situation
of the new cathedral, this would have been a more satisfactory
arrangement than the one which was ultimately carried out. The only
change that has been made in the limits of the diocese is that, in the
year 1839, the county of Leicester was detached from the see of Lincoln
and joined to Peterborough.
As has been said above, the first bishop was =John Chambers=
(1541-1556). He was consecrated in the minster on the 23rd of
October 1541, by Thomas (Thirlby), Bishop of Ely, Robert (Blyth), Bishop
of Down, last Abbot of Thorney, Suffragan of Ely, and Thomas (Hallam or
Swillington), Bishop of Philadelphia, Suffragan of Lincoln. Strype has
an account of his costly funeral. The two memorials to him in the church
had been erected by himself in his lifetime.
=David Pole= (1556-1559) is generally held to have been a relative (some
say a nephew) of Cardinal Reginald Pole. He was Dean of the Arches. He
was not consecrated till August 1557, and so held the bishopric less
than two years, being deprived by Queen Elizabeth in June 1559. He lived
quietly in London till his death in 1568.
=Edmund Scambler= (1560-1584) in the Roman index of books prohibited is
called Pseudo-Episcopus, no doubt because there was another Bishop of
Peterborough, Pole, still living. He alienated many of the lands and
manors of his bishopric to the queen and to her courtiers; and as a
reward he was translated to Norwich, where he died ten years later.
=Richard Howland= (1584-1600) was Master of Magdalene, and afterwards of
S. John's, Cambridge. He was present at the funeral of Mary Queen of
Scots. He was buried at the upper end of the choir, but no stone or
monument exists to his memory.
=Thomas Dove= (1600-1630) was Dean of Norwich. He was "a lover of
hospitality, keeping a very free house, and having always a numerous
family, yet was so careful of posterity that he left a fair estate to
his heirs." He was buried in the north transept. "Over his body was
erected a very comely monument of long quadrangular form, having four
corner pilasters supporting a fair table of black marble, and, within,
the pourtraiture of the bishop lying in his Episcopal habit." This was
destroyed in 1643. There was a long Latin inscription in prose and
verse, and among the verses these occur:--
"Hoc addam: Hie illa est senio argentata Columba
Davidis, coelos hinc petit ille suos."
This monument was erected by the bishop's eldest son, Sir William Dove,
Kt., of Upton.
=William Peirse= (1630-1632) was promoted from the Deanery. He only
remained here as bishop two years, when he was translated to Bath and
Wells. "A man of excellent parts, both in divinity and knowledge of the
laws: very vigilant and active he was for the good both of the
ecclesiastical and civil state." He was silenced during the civil war,
but restored in 1660. On his tombstone, at Walthamstow, it is said
"_Templum Cathedrale Wellense reparavit, Episcopale Palatium
exaedificavit, coelis maturus terris valedixit an. aet._ 94 _salut_.
=Augustine Lindsell= (1632-1634) was Dean of Lichfield. He was
translated to Hereford after being bishop here two years, but died
within a few months.
=Francis Dee= (1634-1638) was Dean of Chichester. "He was a man of very
pious life and affable behaviour." He founded scholarships and
fellowships at S. John's College, Cambridge, of which he had been
Fellow, for boys from the King's School, Peterborough, of his name or
kindred. In 1637 Archbishop Laud reported to the King that "My Lord of
Peterborough hath taken a great deal of pains and brought his diocese
into very good order." He left by will L100 to the repairs of the
Cathedral, and the same amount to the repairs of S. Paul's. He was
buried in the choir, near the throne.
=John Towers= (1638-1649) was one of the King's chaplains. He was
promoted from the Deanery. He protested, with eleven other bishops,
against the opposition that was made by the Parliamentary party to their
taking their seats in the House of Lords, in which protest it was
declared that all laws, orders, votes, or resolutions, were in
themselves null and of none effect, which in their absence from Dec.
27th 1641, had been passed, or should afterwards be passed, during the
time of their enforced absence. For this they were committed to the
Tower, and kept there four or five months. Being set free he was allowed
to return to Peterborough, but his revenues were taken away. Living here
in a state of continual alarm, he betook himself to the king's forces at
Oxford, where he remained until the surrender of the place. Coming back
here in 1646 his health failed, and he died about three weeks before the
king was beheaded. He was buried in the choir.
[Illustration: Details of Chasuble on Abbot's Tomb.]
No successor was appointed until the Restoration. =Benjamin Laney=
(1660-1663) was then made Bishop. He was Dean of Rochester, and had been
Master of Pembroke, Cambridge. He was translated to Lincoln in 1663, and
to Ely in 1667. He died in 1675, and is buried at Lambeth.
=Joseph Henshaw= (1663-1679) was Dean of Chichester. He died suddenly on
March 9, 1679, on his return from attending service at Westminster
Abbey. He was buried at East Lavant in Sussex, where he had been rector.
=William Lloyd= (1679-1685) was translated from Llandaff, and was
further translated to Norwich in 1685. He was deprived of his see as a
Nonjuror in 1691. He lived at Hammersmith till his death in 1710. He was
the last survivor of the seven deprived bishops. It is singular that his
namesake, William Lloyd, bishop of S. Asaph, should have been one of the
seven bishops committed to the Tower by King James II. in 1688; but he
had no scruples about taking the oaths to the new sovereigns, and became
afterwards Bishop of Lichfield, and ultimately of Worcester.
=Thomas White= (1685-1691) was one of the seven committed to the Tower,
and also one of the seven deprived in 1691 as Nonjurors. He attended Sir
John Fenwick on the scaffold. This bishop, with his predecessor, Bishop
Lloyd, the deprived Bishop of Norwich, were two of the consecrators of
the Nonjuring Bishops, Hickes and Wagstaffe. There were really ten
bishops (including Archbishop Sancroft) who refused the oaths to William
and Mary; but the Bishops of Worcester, Chichester, and Chester died
before the time fixed for the deprivation. Bishop White lived in
retirement after he left his diocese. He died in 1698, and his funeral
is mentioned in Evelyn's _Diary_, under date June 5th: "Dr White, late
Bishop of Peterborough, who had been deprived for not complying with
Government, was buried in St Gregory's churchyard or vault, at St
Paul's. His hearse was accompanied by two Nonjuror bishops, Dr. Turner
of Ely, and Dr. Lloyd, with forty Nonjuror clergymen, who could not stay
the office of the burial, because the Dean of St Paul's had appointed a
conforming minister to read the office, at which all much wondered,
there being nothing in that office which mentioned the present king."
Lathbury remarks on this retirement from the grave, that it was a
singular circumstance, and contrary to the practice of the Nonjurors in
many other cases.
=Richard Cumberland= (1691-1718) had a reputation as a philosophical
writer. The only memoir of him is to be found in the preface to
_Sanchoniathon's History_, a posthumous work, in which his chaplain
(and son-in-law) thus describes his appointment:--"The king was told
that Dr Cumberland was the fittest man he could nominate to the
bishopric of Peterborough. Thus a private country clergyman, without
posting to Court--a place he had rarely seen--without suing to great
men, without taking the least step towards soliciting for it, was
pitched upon to fill a great trust, only because he was fittest for it.
He walked after his usual manner on a post-day to the coffee-house, and
read in the newspaper that one Dr Cumberland of Stamford was named to
the bishopric of Peterborough, a greater surprise to himself than to
anybody else." His chaplain speaks of the bishop's character, zeal, and
learning in terms of unqualified praise. One of the bishop's sons,
Richard, was Archdeacon of Northampton, and father of Denison
Cumberland, Bishop of Clonfert and of Kilmore. This last named married a
daughter of Dr Bentley, the famous Master of Trinity College, Cambridge,
and one of their sons was Richard Cumberland, the dramatist. Bishop
Richard Cumberland is buried in the Cathedral, and a tablet to his
memory remains in the New Building.
=White Kennett= (1718-1728) had been Dean. He was a most industrious
writer, many of his works, which are upwards of fifty in number, being
most laborious. His manuscript collections in the British Museum are
also of great value. He is best known from his antiquarian tastes and
studies, and for having directed the attention of his clergy to the
value of parish registers. It would seem that before his time no
transcripts of parish registers were ever sent to the Bishop's Registry
at Peterborough. The earliest transcripts now to be found date only from
the beginning of his episcopate, except that, in a few instances, some
incumbents appear to have sent the entries for six or eight years
previously. Notwithstanding the efficiency of his predecessor he "found
the irregularities of the diocese great and many." The Cathedral service
was negligently conducted, many clergy were non-resident, some small
benefices had been left unfilled. Many other abuses were discovered from
time to time. Bishop Kennett was most active and conscientious in
administering his office, and thoroughly re-organised the diocese; but
his strong political partisanship made for him a great number of
enemies. The enmity he raised came to a culminating point while he was
still dean. An altar-piece representing the Last Supper had been
painted for Whitechapel Church. In this Judas was painted turning
round to the spectator, and was intended to represent Kennett. We do not
know whether the likeness in itself was sufficiently good to be
recognised, but the intention was sufficiently indicated by a black
patch in the centre of the forehead, just under the wig. Kennett always
wore such a patch, to hide a scar which had remained after being
trepanned in early manhood. Judas is, moreover, represented as
clean-shaven, being the only figure so drawn except the Evangelist S.
John. Great scandal and excitement were caused by this picture, and it
was removed. It ultimately found a home at S. Albans Abbey, where it may
still be seen (patch and all), but no longer in the position it once
occupied over the high altar. Bishop Kennett died in 1728, and is buried
in the New Building.
=Robert Clavering= (1728-1747) was consecrated Bishop of Llandaff in
1725, and translated to Peterborough in 1728. He is buried here, but no
=John Thomas= (1747-1757) was Canon of S. Paul's. He was translated to
Sarum in 1757, and to Winchester in 1761. He was preceptor to Prince
George, afterwards King George III., who used to visit him at Farnham
Castle. In the early part of his episcopate he had a namesake on the
bench, John Thomas, formerly Dean of Peterborough, who was made Bishop
of Lincoln in 1744, and of Sarum in 1761; and during the latter part
another namesake, John Thomas, Bishop of Rochester from 1775 to 1793.
Bishop Thomas of Winchester died in 1781, in his 85th year, and is
buried in his cathedral.
=Richard Terrick= (1757-1764) was Canon of S. Paul's. He was translated
to London in 1764, and died in 1777.
=Robert Lamb= (1764-1769) had been Dean. He is buried at Hatfield, where
he had been rector.
=John Hinchcliffe= (1769-1794) is an instance of a man, rising from an
inferior station to positions of the greatest eminence. His father was a
stable-master in London. Proceeding from Westminster School to Trinity
College, Cambridge, he obtained a Fellowship there. He afterwards,
through a gentleman of wealth to whom he was tutor, secured some very
influential friends, and became Head Master of Westminster School,
Chaplain to the King, and Master of Trinity. This last appointment he
continued to hold with his bishopric until 1789, when he was made Dean
of Durham. A memoir published at the time of his death describes him as
learned, assiduous in his duties, obliging in his manners, and honest
and sincere in his religious and political principles. He died in 1794,
and is buried in the cathedral.
=Spencer Madan= (1794-1813) was a prebendary and king's chaplain, and
first cousin to the poet Cowper. He came back to Peterborough from
Bristol, to which see he was consecrated in 1792. He is buried in the
[Illustration: Details of Albs on Abbots' Tombs.]
=John Parsons= (1813-1819) was Master of Balliol and Dean of Bristol. He
was a man of great mark and influence at Oxford, where he died and was
buried. There is a monument to him in the chapel of Balliol.
=Herbert Marsh= (1819-1839) was the author of many controversial works.
He was translated to this see from Llandaff, where he had been bishop
since 1816. He was buried in the New Building--the last bishop interred
in the cathedral.
=George Davys= (1839-1864) was Dean of Chester, and had been preceptor
to Queen Victoria. He was buried in the Cathedral Yard; the Queen sent
one of her carriages with servants in state liveries to attend the
funeral as a mark of her affection and esteem.
=Francis Jeune= (1864-1868) had been Dean of Jersey, Master of Pembroke,
Oxford, and Dean of Lincoln. His eldest son was the well-known judge.
Bishop Jeune is buried in the Cathedral Yard.
=William Connor Magee= (1868-1891) was Dean of Cork. He was translated
to the Archbishopric of York, but died within a very few months, May
5th, 1891. He is buried in the Cathedral Yard, where a massive cross of
Irish marble has been erected over his grave. In the south choir aisle
of the cathedral there is also a recumbent effigy, the likeness to the
deceased prelate being most remarkably good. His career is so recent and
his eminence so well known that it is unnecessary to speak of them.
=Mandell Creighton= (1891-1897) had been Canon of Windsor, and
previously of Worcester. He was translated to London when Bishop Temple
became Archbishop of Canterbury. He died in 1901, and is buried in the
crypt of S. Paul's; an inlaid marble slab copied from the one over his
grave is in the south choir aisle of the cathedral.
=Hon. Edward Carr Glyn= (1897-1916), Vicar of Kensington, Chaplain to
the Queen; resigned 1916.
=Frank Theodore Woods= (1916), Vicar of Bradford, Yorks, 1912-1916, is
the present bishop.
[Illustration: PLAN OF THE CATHEDRAL.]
Interior length, 426 feet.
Interior height, 78 "
Nave length, 228 "
Nave width, 35 "
Nave and Aisles, 79 "
Transept length, 185 "
Transept width, 58 "
Area, 41,090 sq feet
DEANS OF PETERBOROUGH CATHEDRAL.
1541 Francis Abree, B.D.
1543 Gerard Carleton, B.D., Canon of Westminster.
1549 James Curthop, M.A., Canon of Christ Church.
1557 James Boxall, LL.D., Archdeacon of Ely, Warden of Winchester, Dean of Norwich, Dean of Windsor.
1560 William Latimer, D.D., Archdeacon of Westminster.
1585 Richard Fletcher, D.D., Bishop of Bristol, of Worcester, and finally of London.
1590 Thomas Nevill, D.D., Master of Magdalene, and afterwards of Trinity, Cambridge, Canon of Ely, Dean of Canterbury.
1597 John Palmer, D.D., Prebendary of Lichfield, Master of Magdalene, Cambridge.
1607 Richard Clayton, D.D., Archdeacon of Ely, Master of Magdalene, and afterwards of S. John's, Cambridge.
1612 George Meriton, D.D., Dean of Bucking, Dean of York.
1616 Henry Beaumont, D.D., Dean of Windsor.
1622 William Peirse, D.D., Prebendary of S. Paul's, Canon of Christ Church, Bishop of Peterborough, and afterwards of Bath and Wells.
1630 John Towers, D.D., Bishop of Peterborough.
1638 Thomas Jackson, D.D., Prebendary of Winchester, President of Corpus, Oxford.
1640 John Cosin, D.D., Prebendary of Durham, Archdeacon of Cleveland, Master of Peterhouse, Dean of Durham.
1660 Edward Rainbow, D.D., Master of Magdalene, Cambridge, Bishop of Carlisle.
1664 James Duport, D.D., Master of Magdalene, Cambridge, Professor of Greek, Prebendary of Lincoln.
1679 Simon Patrick, D.D., Canon of Westminster, Bishop of Chichester, and afterwards of Ely.
1689 Richard Kidder, D.D., Prebendary of Norwich, Bishop of Bath and Wells.
1601 Samuel Freeman D.D.
1707 White Kermett, D.D., Archdeacon of Huntingdon, Prebendary of Lincoln and of Sarum, Bishop of Peterborough.
1718 Richard Reynolds, LL.D., Prebendary and Chancellor of Peterborough, Bishop of Bangor, and afterwards of Lincoln.
1721 William Gee, D.D., Canon of Westminster, Prebendary and Dean of Lincoln.
1722 John Mandeville, D.D., Archdeacon and Chancellor of Lincoln, Canon of Windsor.
1725 Francis Lockier, D.D.
1740 John Thomas, D.D., Canon of Westminster and of S. Paul's, Bishop of Lincoln, and afterwards of Salisbury.
1744 Robert Lamb, D.D., Bishop of Peterborough.
1764 Charles Tarrant, D.D., Canon of Bristol, Dean of Carlisle, Prebendary of Rochester, Prebendary of Sarum.
1791 Charles Manners Sutton, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, Dean of Windsor, Archbishop of Canterbury.
1792 Peter Peckard, D.D., Prebendary of Southwell, Master of Magdalene, Cambridge.
1798 Thomas Kipling, D.D.
1822 James Henry Monk, D.D., Professor of Greek, Cambridge, Canon of Westminster, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.
1830 Thomas Turton, D.D., Professor of Mathematics, Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge, Prebendary of Lincoln, Dean of Westminster, Bishop of Ely.
1842 George Butler, D.D., Headmaster of Harrow.
1853 Augustus Page Saunders, D.D., Headmaster of Charterhouse.
1878 John James Stewart Perowne, D.D., Prebendary of S. David's, Canon of Llandaff, Margaret Professor of Divinity, Cambridge, Bishop of Worcester.
1891 Marsham Argles, D.D., Canon of Peterborough.
1893 William Clavell Ingram, D.D., Hon. Canon of Peterborough.
1901 William Hagger Barlow, D.D., Prebendary of S. Paul's Cathedral.
1908 Arnold Henry Page, M.A.
[Footnote 1: "English Towns and Districts," 1883, pp. 103, 130.]
[Footnote 2: A few other cathedrals which were originally churches of
monasteries are still called Minsters, as York (nearly always),
Canterbury (occasionally), Ripon, Southwell, and perhaps more. Lincoln
Cathedral though often called a Minster was a Cathedral from the first,
and was never attached to a monastery.]
[Footnote 3: Gunton, p. 4.]
[Footnote 4: "Ingulf and the Historia Croylandensis." By W.G. Searle,
M.A., Camb. Antiq. Soc., 8vo. xxvii. p. 65.]
[Footnote 5: Searle: Ingulf, p. 63.]
[Footnote 6: "On the Abbey Church of Peterborough." By G.A. Poole, M.A.
Arch. Soc. Archdeac. Northampton, 1855, p. 190.]
[Footnote 7: Poole, p. 193.]
[Footnote 8: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, anno 1128.]
[Footnote 9: "Remarks on the Architecture of Peterborough Cathedral." By
F.A. Paley, M.A. 2nd Ed., 1859, p. 21.]
[Footnote 10: The two eastern pillars of the nave are circular; and the
third pillar from the tower, on both sides, is "composed of nook-shafts
set in rectangular recesses against the body of the pier."]
[Footnote 11: Some of Mr Poole's reasoning, as to the different parts of
the nave to be attributed to different abbots, depends upon an
assumption that the Saxon church was on the site of the present one, and
that some part of the nave was still existing in a ruinous condition
while the present choir and tower were being built. Recent discoveries
have proved that this assumption is groundless, for the nave of the
Saxon church was beyond the south aisle of the existing nave.]
[Footnote 12: Poole, p. 204.]
[Footnote 13: Paley, p. 54.]
[Footnote 14: Poole, p. 216.]
[Footnote 15: The engraving that accompanies this description represents
a dignified altar-piece, but seems taken from a rough drawing, or
possibly from memory. On the altar were two tapers burning, an alms
dish, and two books. The Abbot's chair, of stone, is to the south,
[Footnote 16: "Memoirs of the Protectoral-House of Cromwell," ii, 18.]
[Footnote 17: These shields, which were of metal, are now arranged on
the walls of the library.]
[Footnote 18: Where the author has often seen it. It was at last
destroyed in a fire.]
[Footnote 19: Museum Criticum, viii, 672.]
[Footnote 20: "Handbook of Architecture," 2nd ed., 1859, p. 869.]
[Footnote 21: "English Towns and Districts," 1883, p. 29.]
[Footnote 22: Guide, p. 48.]
[Footnote 23: Sir William Feeld, Peticanon, in his will dated 1558,
desires that his body may be buried in the Gallery before the church
door, where all his fellows are buried. "Gallery" here is probably a
corruption of "Galilee."]
[Footnote 24: Paley, p. 30.]
[Footnote 25: Gunton, p. 91.]
[Footnote 26: Patrick's Supplement to Gunton, p. 334.]
[Footnote 27: King Ethelred resigned his crown and became Abbot of Bardney.
He is here figured with a mitre.]
[Footnote 28: As well as one other, probably the one now under one of
the arches on the north of the choir.]
[Footnote 29: Archaeological Journal, 1861, p. 196.]
[Footnote 30: Gunton, p. 12.]
[Footnote 31: Properly Northumberland. See Bede's Eccl. Hist. iii. 6.]
[Footnote 32: Patrick, p. 284.]
[Footnote 33: Historical Memorials of Canterbury, p. 184.]
[Footnote 35: Patrick, p. 330.]
[Footnote 35: Stubbs' _Episcopal Succession_, p. 79.]
[Footnote 36: Gunton, p. 82.]
[Footnote 37: P. 12; quoted in the account of Bishop Cumberland in the
_Penny Cyclopeia_, viii. 229.]
[Footnote 38: A full account of this famous picture with an engraving is
given in _Northamptonshire Notes and Queries_, iv. 209.]
Abbots, account of, 112-126.
Benedict, Abbot, 16.
Bishops, account of, 127-134.
Canons' door, 56.
Ceiling of nave, 84; of choir, 64.
Chapel of St. Thomas, 100.
Church of S. John Baptist, 108.
Cloister Court, 103.
Danes, ravages of, 6, 8, 11.
Dean's door, 50.
Diocese, history of, 127.
Edgar, King, 8-10.
Ernulf, Abbot, 12.
Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, 8.
Fire of 1116, 12.
Gateway of Monastery, 99. of Deanery, 102.
Glass, stained, 88.
Gunton, Prebendary, historian, 6, 14.
John of Sais, Abbot, 12-13.
Katharine of Aragon, Queen, 24, 26, 95.
Knights' Chamber, 101.
Lady Chapel (destroyed), 20, 52.
Laurel Court, 103.
Magee, Archbishop, monument, 96.
Martin, Abbot, 15.
Mary Queen of Scots, burial, 95.
Monastery, foundation of, 5.
Monastery, history of, 112.
Monastery, plan of, 51, 52.
New building, 24, 55, 76.
Norman church built, 13, 15
Palace, Bishop's, 106.
Patrick, Dean, 14.
Parvise, 45, 90.
Pavement of choir, 72-74
Porch, western, 22, 45, 90.
Puritanical destruction, 26.
Reredos, destroyed, 26.
Restoration, first, 28; recent, 31-35.
Saxon church, 8-10, 18, 80.
Saxulf, Abbot, 5.
Scarlett's monument, 98.
Screens of choir, 74.
Spire of south-west tower, 22.
Transept, north, 52; south, 55; interior, 77.
Transept, western, 87.
Tower, central, 21, 29-32, 51.
Towers, western, 17, 44.
West front, 19, 33, 39-44.
William of Waterville, Abbot, 15.
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