British Archaeological Association. Central Commit.

The Archaeological journal (Volume v. 34) online

. (page 34 of 54)
Online LibraryBritish Archaeological Association. Central CommitThe Archaeological journal (Volume v. 34) → online text (page 34 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the same place suddenly changed without an interval. I
will not, however, venture to assign it to any particular
bishop. The bowing down of the vaulting upon the side
wall, which necessitated the arcading over the windows,
has an early look, yet, by no means, so early as to class it
with Transitional work. I should call this w^ork a fine
design of the earlier period of Early English, though the
details of the crypt seem too late even for this.

The next work I will call attention to is the clerestory
of the presbytery. This is a specimen of very advanced
Early English, the windows of which have what Professor
Willis ha,s named "plate tracery." It is not improbable
that the original clerestory and vaulting had become
damaged by the setlement of the tower ; for one can
hardly otherwise account for their having put themselves
to the expense and inconvenience of reconstructing so
important a part of the building. This raises the
question, whether the central tower had been erected
(or at least above the roof-line of the church) by Norman
builders, or whether, as has been supposed, it was first
built by Giles de Bruse, the first bishop in the thirteenth
century ; a question to wdiich I shall have by-and-by to
revert.

The style and details of this clerestory are peculiarly
elegant. Curiously enough, its architect did not lose
sight of the design of the Lady Chapel. His overhanging
cornice is a beautiful translation of that of the Lady
Chapel into a more advanced phase of the style, and the
interyectiug arcade of the upper part of the walls of the



334 HEREFORD CATHEDRAL,

older work — the result there of construction— is imitated
by arcading of another design in the presbytery without
any such necessity — merely, as it would appear, because
they liked the look of it. On the whole, this work is a
perfect specimen of the later form of Early English.
Would that we had the smallest clue to its date or its
promoter ! It may have dated about 1240 to 1250.

Wo now arrive at a yet more marked era, in tlie archi-
tecture of our cathedral. The pointed style made its
debut here in the transitional work of De Vere — transi-
tional from the Ilomanesque or Norman. We now reach
a second transition — that from Early English to Deco-
rated, or from first to middle Pointed. The windows
of the Lady Cliapel are strictly lancet-shaped ; those
of the clerestory of the presbytery have plate tracery ;
but those of the part to which we now come, — the
north transept,— have bar tracery, that is to say, tracery
pierced in all its little spandrils and corners, so as
not to look like a flat surface, perforated by ornamental
openings, but rather like an ornamental pattern, produced
by bending about the muUion or stone bar, so as to
produce the pattern required. This invention was the
Magna Charta of Gothic architecture, setting it free from
all the trammels of its earlier years. This development
had begun earlier in France than in England. We see it
strongly suggesting itself in the later parts of Salisbury,
about 1240 ; but it seems to have been first systematically
adopted in this country — as the rule — in Westminster
Abbey, begun in 1245, while we have in the Chapter-
house at Westminster, which we know to have been
finished in 1253, large four-light windows with perfected
tracery.

The north transept here is throughout of this type.
It does not look so early as the Westminster Abbey work
in all respects ; but that, having been a royal foundation,
is likelij to have taken the precedence of others in the
march of development. Lincoln cathedral is perhaps the
most parallel case, where the eastern limb was added in
this style, between 12G0 and 1280. The nave at Lichfield
and that at Newstead are equally parallel to it, but I do
not know their dates. The history of the see at about



HEREFORD CATHEDRAL. 335

this period is remarkable, and throws more perplexity
perhaps than light upon the orioin of this great work.

It was held from 1240 to 1268 by Peter de Aqua-
blanca, a very turbulent foreigner, who came over in the
train of William de Valence, half-brother of Henry III,
of whose escapades we read so much in Mathew Paris,,
who, indeed, is equally uncomplimentary to our bishop.
Aquablanca was a favourite of the king, but hated by the
clergy. He was absent from England from 1250 to 1258 in
the Holy Land and elsewhere. In 1264 the king, passing-
through Hereford, found there neither bishop nor clergy,
and the church in a ruinous state; and was thereat so sorely
enraged that, forgetting his former favouritism, he severely
re2:)rimanded the bishop by letter, threatening that, if he
did not quickly return and mend his manners he would
take the temporalities into his own hands, Aquablanca
thereupon returned, but only to be taken prisoner and
robbed of his wealth by the insurgent barons, who im-
prisoned him in the castle at Ordelay. He died in 1268
of a terrible complication of diseases, of which one was
leprosy.

The great difticulty, if Aquablanca built this beautiful
transept, is to imagine how he came to have either the m ill
or the way ; either inclination or time for such a work. The
interval between his accession in 1240 and his absence in
1250 seems too early for its architecture. It would better
suit the presbytery clerestory. He could not have built
it, one would think, during his absence in the Holy Land,
while only six years intervened between his return and
the king's reprimand for leaving his cathedral in a ruinous
condition, which seems inconsistent with the fact of so
noble a work being in hand. Nor can we suppose he had
time or money for it after being seized by the barons.
Yet, that he had a hand in it is certain; His exquisite
tomb — which we may be sure that no one would erect to
such a man but himself — bears so close a resemblance to
the architecture which overshadows it as to leave no
doubt that they are by the same hand ; indeed, I can
point out details of the transept and the tomb which are
identical, except in scale.

Need we, however, always suppose the bishops to be
the originators of every work ? Surely the deans and



336 HEREFORD CATHEDRAL.

chapters had a hand in many, and we know that in
secular cathedrals the greater and lesser chapters were
often severely taxed for the works in their cathedrals.

Now, we have clear proof that the central tower
(whoever built it) had been giving way and crushing this
transept ; and it requires no stretch of fancy to think
that the Chapter, though deserted by their Bishop, would
set about the remedying of tliis serious danger. Perhaps
the Bishop aided the funds, for we have no record, I
think, that he was parsimonious, and he would naturally
be stirred up by the royal reprimand ; anyhow, he built
his own monument in connection with the new work.
Perhaps in 1264 it had fallen into neglect through the
civil war, or perhaps was only then begun. The building
itself shows evidence that it was not completed at one
effort ; for the lower stage of the buttress adjoining the
nave was pushed severely out of the perpendicular by the
continued subsidence of the tower, while its upper parts
were built and remain vertical ; and at the same level we
find, in the north-eastern buttresses, a decided change of
design ; the lower stage having the bases of intended
shafts, which were not carried out above. I shall shew
also later on that the upper finish of these buttresses is
twenty years later in date.

I conclude therefore that the lower part of the transept
was carried out — probably by the Chapter — in Aqua-
blanca's time, but that its continuation and completion
were during the three succeeding episcopates, extending,
probably, to about 1288.

The great faults of this design are the remarkable
straight-sided form of the arches and the thinness of the
details of the triforium, but, with these exceptions, it is
an exquisite architectural design, deserving to be classed
on equal terms with those I have enumerated. I mean
Westminster, the "Angel Choir" at Lincoln, and the naves
of Lichfield and Newstead ; nor is Aquablanca's tomb
surjDassed by any of its period. He and his master William
de Valence, however careless their lives, took care that
their bodies should be sumptuously housed when dead.
I may mention that we find work of [)recisely the same
architcctiu'e in parts of Ledl^iuy Chiu'ch. We now arrive
at another period in the history Ijotli of the sec and the
cathedral.



HEREFORD CATHEDRAL. 337

Aqiiahlanca's successor, De Breton, was a man of clia-
ractei' and ability, and though we hear nothing of him
respecting the building, there can be no doubt that
during the six years of his rule the north transept
was proceeding towards completion. His successor,
Thomas de Cantilupe, was a man of great family,
great political jDosition, and great piety. He was
Chancellor of Oxford, and Lord Chancellor of England.
We do not know of any architectural works in which,
during the seven years of his episcopate, he was specially
interested ; but I think the transept was still in hand, as
I find the marks of his successor's hand on its topmost
stones. Cantilupe produced, however, greater impres-
sion on his cathedral after death than during^ his life ; for
dying in Italy in 1282, he was at once pronounced by his
chaplain and secretary, Richard de Swinfield, who suc-
ceeded him, to be a saint, though the Popes hesitated
another thirty years in formally assenting to it. Swin-
field, after interring his flesh in Italy, brought his heart
and his bones back to England ; the former was deposited
in the church of the college of Bonnes-hommes at Ashridge,
in Buckinghamshire, and the latter in the Lady Chapel
at Hereford. Some five years later the bones were en-
shrined and translated to the chapel of St. John the
Baptist, in the aisle of the new north transept ; partly, I
dare say, built by himself, but not till then completed.
The shrine, some sixty years later, was removed into the
Lady Chapel. The document which records its trans-
lation also states that where it was, it interfered with the
fabric of the church. I have not seen the ijmssima verba,
and am not able to judge how it so interfered ; but, in
the absence of explanatioii, I fancy that the concourse of
pilgrims in the centre of the church produced inconve-
nience, possibly through some repairs going on owino- to
the pressure of the tower. It remained there apparently
till the sixteenth century, when it was brought back to
its old place. Leland saw it in the Lady Chapel in
Henry VIII's time, but Godwin saw it where it is in
Queen Elizabeth's time.

It has ever since been undoubtedly acknowledged as
the substmcture of the shrine of Cantilupe, or St. Thomas
of Hereford, till quite recently, when a doubt luis by a



338 HEREFORD CATTIRDRAL.

high authority, yet as I venture to think without sufficient
grounds, been thrown upon it. The objections to it are, I
think, the following : — First, it seems strange that, having
first been erected in St. John's Chapel, and afterwards
translated to the Lady Chapel, it should, when despoiled of
its relics and its treasures, find its way back after two cen-
turies to its old place. Secondly, its eastern end is plain,
whereas in the Lady Chapel it would be exposed to view
all round. Third, the paucity of ecclesiastical and the
abundance of military emblems displayed in the work ;
for what, it is said, have the fourteen figures of knights
which surround the lower stage of the monument to do
with a bishop or a saint ? It has consequently been
suggested that it may be the substructure of St. Ethel-
bert's shrine.

I do not, however, think that these objections have
much force as against the unbroken tradition of its
belonging to the Cantilupe shrine. That tradition has —

First, the advantage of possession, which forms, to start
with, "nine points in the law."

Secondly, there is the fact that on the marble slab round
which f he whole is constructed, and to which it is accu-
rately fitted, is the matrix of the brass effigy, or at least
the bust, of a bishop, and that slab is semee with the two
cognizances of Cantilupe, the leopard's head, and the fleur-
de-lis ; the latter, it is true, not issuing from the mouth
of the former, but separate, a liberty which, I dare say,
an antiquarian herald would condone.

Thirdly, the plainness of the east end would naturally
result from the monument having been first prepared for
the place it occupies (or nearly so), not for its subsequent
position in the Lady Chapel.

Fourthly, it is objected that we ought to find some work
agreeing with the period (1350) of its translation to the
Lady Chapel ; but, curiously enough, such is the case, for the
two arches of the iq^per range at the head differ in
character from all the others in belonging to the later
Decorated style. The original arches were probably
broken by some accident during the removal, for we
found in the floor near the monument a broken fragment
of two original arches, which is now fixed for preservation
against the foot.



HEPtEFORD CATHEDRAL. 339

Finally, tlie objection to the military figures vanishes
instantly, Ijefore the explanation given by Mr. King in
his history of the cathedral — that they represent knights
templars, of whose order Cantilupe was provincial grand
master.

We may, therefore, safely rest satisfied in the old
tradition, that this is the hond fide substructure of the
shrine of St. Thomas of Hereford, which was first set up
by Bishop Swinfield in this place in 1288; afterwards
translated by Bishop Trelick in 1350 to the Lady Chapel,
and finally, removed to its old place, after having been
deprived of the precious shrine it supported, and of the
relics which that shrine contained.

But how, it may be asked, did they know its old place
after its absence of two centuries ? I would reply that
Leland knew of this old position not long before its
return to it, and that Dingley, in the seventeenth centur}^
and Stukely, in the eighteenth, tell us of a painting in
fresco of Cantilupe on the wall, at the foot of the monu-
ment, which would have remained all the time as a
witness of tlie old position.

From its removal to this position, until Dean Mere-
wether's time, was another interval of three centuries ;
yet, when he cleared away the Hbrary from the Lady
Chapel, about 1842, he found in the floor the mark of
Cantilupe's shrine. It consisted of a curl) of stone level
with the floor, fitted on its inner side to the shape of
the shrine, and on its outer side, sunk or rebated to
receive the encaustic tiles of the pavement. Many of
these tiles remained cemented to the stone frame, and
were deeply worn ])y the feet and knees of pilgrims.
The dean had them removed and placed near the shrine
in the north transept, from which position they were, in
1857, transferred for safe custody by Mr. Havergal to
the present library, where these interesting relics may
still be seen.

I will not attempt to describe the architecture of the
shrine, as it may be itself inspected, but I will . mention
two or three circumstances about it : — First, it is quite
in the style suited to its reputed date of 1287 or
1288. Secondly, it is hond fide the support of a precious
shrine, to receive which, its upper surface is sunk about
vol,. XXXIV. 2 X



340 HEREFORD CATHEDRAL.

one and a half inch, and in the corners of this sinking are
still the irons by which that shrine was fixed. Thirdly, its
details are so peculiar that a like piece of work by the
same man may be readily recognized.

This brings us to the next architectural question :
What other works did Bishop Swinfield carry out during
the three and thirty years of his episcopate ? I think I
can detect some, at least, of his works. I have already
stated that he finished the top of the buttresses of the
great north transept. This is proved by their peculiar
gabling, similar to that to the stair turret of the north
porch, which I shall presently shew to be his.

There is, leading from the north porch into the i^ave, a
doorway of remarkable design, especially as to the cusping
of its arch. Of what age is that doorway ? It (w^th the
outer doorway of the same porch) contains both the con-
ventional foliage of the Early English period and the
crisp natural foliage of the Early Decorated, so admirably
exemplified in Cantilupe's shrhie. This affords a primd
facie suggestion of its being by the same hand ; but it
does not exhibit the studding which characterises the
mouldings of the shrine, suggesting their inlaying with
gems.

Now, at a church some fifteen or sixteen miles away,
that at Grosmont, is a beautiful piscina, whose mouldings
are studded or gemmed like those of the shrine, while its
arch is decorated with cusping closely resembling that of
the ]3orch doorway. The one shews it, as I think, to be
])y tlie same hand with the shrine, the other to be by the
same hand with the doorway; ergo, the doorway was by
the same hand with the shrine.

Again, the coursing of the stone-work shows the porch
and the entire aisle (so far as the original work remains)
to be one and the same work ; in confirmation of which
we find the little capitals in the windows, both within
and without, to have the same union of Early English
and crisp Early Decorated foliage. It follows that the
porch and the whole north aisle of the nave were built by
Swinfield, and that in his earlier years, about J 288-90,
when he constructed the shrine.

Again, the south aisle, though less ornate, is clearly
of the same age or thereabouts ; consequently Swin-




1 Z 3 1- S 6

Doorway of North Porch.




I FOOT
Piscina at Grosmont.



UTTINC. Sc



HEREFORD CATHEDRAL. 341

field rebuilt both tlie aisles of the nave. The north
aisle does not course with the north transept, yet
its base mould imitates it, though on another level.
ProT)ably the Norman aisles had given way, but Swin-
fieldhad another object in view. The old aisles were low,
as we see by the w^eathering of the older roof against
the side of the north transept. The new aisles were made
so lofty as almost to include the triforium, as is shown in
Hearne's view of the nave when in ruins after the fall of
the west tower.

Did Swinfield, however, stoj:) here ] I think not ; for,
though later in the style, the aisles of the presbytery are
in the main a carrying on of the design of those of the
nave, and the same may be said of the north- east transe]»t.
I should therefore call the style of the nave aisles " Eaiiy
Sndnfield," and that of the presbytery aisles and the
north -east transept " Late Swinfield," the latter term
applying to the vaulting of the whole ; for the foliage in
the corbels of that to the nave aisles is not of the crisp
kind of the earlier, but the softer type of the later variety
of the style.

In the north-east transept is the monument which
Swinfield, no doubt in his later days, erected to himself
In it we first find a profusion of the ball flower ; and the
foliage which ornaments the surface within the arch is of
the softened form of his later style.

It is not improbable that we owe to him also that
series of recessed monuments and effigies, by which so
many of his j)i'edecessors are commemoi'ated, in the walls
of the presbytery aisles, though some of the effigies may
be of later date, especially those wliich are not placed in
these wall recesses.

This brmgs us down to the period of his death m 131G,
with, however, the reservation of the question whether
or not he had a hand in the rebuilding of the central
tower, which Professor Willis seems to have thought.

Swinfield's successor w^as Adam de Orleton, who
held the see from 1317 to 1327, when he was trans-
lated to Worcester and subsequently to Winchester.
Two years after his accession, that is to say in 1319,
one of the most remarkable circumstances in the whole
architectural history of this church occurred. The Dean



342 HEREFORD CATHEDRAL.

and Cliapter, backed by the sanction of the Bishop of
SaUsbuiy {the reason of which will immediately appear)
petitioned the Pope to sanction the appropriation to the
fabric of the chiu'ch of the tithes of the parishes of
Shinfield and Swallowfield in the County of Berks and
Diocese of Salisbury, on the following grounds. — " That
they (the Dean and Chapter) in past times, wishing to
restore the fabric of the Church of Hereford, upon an
ancient foundation, which, according to the judgment of
masons or architects, who were reputed to be expert in
their art, was thought firm and solid, had caused to be
built many superstructures in sumptuous work, to the
honour of the house of God, on the construction of which
they had expended twenty thousand marks sterling, and
more ; and that owing to the weakness of the aforesaid
foundation, that which had been built upon it now
threatened ruin so severely that, according to similar
judgment, there was no remedy to be had, unless the
said fabric of the church were to be totally renewed. On
account of which, and the expenses caused by the prose-
cution of the canonization of Thomas de Cantilupe of good
memory. Bishop of Hereford, they were oppressed with
various burdens of debt." The Pope in a bull dated the
following year, 1320, grants their request, accompanying
it with the assurance of a s^^ecial devotion to "the blessed
Thomas the Confessor, whose venerable relics the church
contained," and whose canonization he had so tardily
gi'anted only in the same year, the thirty- eighth from
his decease.

Now, this opens many and very complicated questions.

First, what Avere the buildings which had thus been
erected on ancient foundations? Not the eastern chapels,
for they were built on new foundations. Not the new
aisles, for they had not given way. I can only conceive
of its being the tower and the north transept, though,
it is true, they may have casually thrown in other
parts not exactly tallying with the premises, as a make-
weight, just as they clearly exaggerated the circumstances
in other respects, or we should now have no remains
anterior to the bull of 1320.

Second, what was done with the fimds thus obtained ?

Third, was the existing tower built previously and



HEREFORD CATHEDRAL. 343

caused the failure, or was it rebuilt in consequence of
that failure ?

Fourth, had the Norman builders erected a tower ?
and, if not, had one been subsequently built, and by
whom ?

I will begin with the last questions.

There can be no doubt, from Professor Willis's descrip-
tion, that a tower had existed before the present one, for
its weight had hent doivn the courses of stonework in the
old parts below, which bending has been corrected in the
later superstructure. This tower could hardly have been
Norman, or it would not have been said to have been
erected on ancient foundations ; nor could it be the
present tower, for that did not probably fail seriously till
long subsequently. It was therefore of intermediate age.
It was older than the north transejDt, for it had pressed
hard upon that before it was raised to half its height.
It ma,y or may not have been older than the rebuildmg of
the clerestory of the presbytery. Its having bent that
clerestory down by half a foot at least, looks at first siglit
as if the tower was of subsequent date ; but, on the other
hand, I can hardly think that the clerestory would have
been rebuilt at all had the older one not have been
ruined by the subsidence of the tower. I am, therefore,
inclined to place it earlier, and this gives a colourable
ground for the idea that it may have been built by De
Bruse, whose later e^^j holds in its hand what appears
to be the model of a tower.

The architecture of the present tower is of a type common
in the district. It seems intermediate between Early and
Late Decorated, and is surcharged with baU-flowers. In
this it agrees well enough with Swinfield's monument.
It also agrees with the architecture of the south aisle at
Leominster, to whose date I find no clue, and with a
north chapel at Ledbury, built in honour of St. Catherine
Audley, Avho lived there as an anchoress in the days of
Edward II.

It further agrees in style with the south aisle at
Gloucester cathedral, built by Abbot Tliokey about 1318.
It looks, however, just a shade later than this, so I con-
clude that it was set about as soon as they began to
receive the funds granted them in the bull of 1320 ; and



344 HEREFORD CATHEDRAL.

this is confirmed by the circumstance that the piers were
strengthened, and at least one adjoining arch of the nave



Online LibraryBritish Archaeological Association. Central CommitThe Archaeological journal (Volume v. 34) → online text (page 34 of 54)