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THE GIFT OF

FLORENCE V. V. DICKEY

TO THE

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES




THE DONALD R. DICKEY

LIBRARY
OF VERTEBRATE ZOOLOGY



MELROSE ABBEY,



WITH



IRotes Descriptive ant> Historical.



BY J. WASS,

Custodian of the Abbey.



FOURTEENTH EDITION.



EDINBURGH :

WILLIAM RITCHIE, 16 ELDER STREET.
1 890.






PHOTOGRAPHS

OF

MELROSE ABBEY, ABBOTSFORD, and DRYBURGII,
and the SCENERY of the TWEED VALLEY,

By Messrs WILSON & Co., Aberdeen, and Mr INGLIS, of
Rock House, Gallon Hill, Edinburgh.

ALSO,

Photographs of MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, SIR WALTER
SCOTT, and ROBERT BURNS.

Carte-de-Visite Size, 55. per dozen ; Cabinet, Mounted, 125.;
Unmounted, IDS. per Dozen ; Royal, Unmounted, 155. per
Dozen ; Imperial, Unmounted, 2os. per Dozen.



Sent free by Post on receipt of the amount.

ALSO,

A large variety of FANCY WOODWORK by BROWN, of
Lanark, with views of the ABDEY and AKBOTSFORD.



The Abbey can be seen daily (Sundays excepted) all the year
round, and it is only three minutes' walk from the railway
station, at which all trains stop.



MELROSE ABBEY,



WITH



motes descriptive ant) Ibistorical



BY J. WASS,

Custodian of the Abbey.



FOURTEENTH EDITION.



EDINBURGH :

WILLIAM RITCHIE, 16 ELDER STREET.
1890.



MELROSE ABBEY.



THE GROUND PLAN ILLUSTRATED.



VISITORS on entering St Mary's are respectfully
requested to keep to the right hand all round.

Nos. I to 8 Chapels facing south aisle.

9 and 10 Door of stair, and John Murdo's inscription.
1 1 and 12 St Bridget's Chapel and statue, still standing.
13 Chapel.
14 Tomb of Michael Scott, the "Wizard," according

to the "Lay."

IS Tomb of Sir Ralph Ivers or Evers, killed at
Ancrum Moor, 1545, and probably "Latoun
lies here also.

1 6 Chancel,
i

17 Tomb of Alexander II. (petrified tombstone).

1 8 Rest of the heart of Robert the Bruce.
19 and 20 William Douglas, "the dark Knight of Liddes-
dale"; Douglas the hero of Otterburn, or
" Chevy Chase " ; and many of this heroic
and illustrious race, were interred here.

21 Chapel, north-east end destroyed.
22 and 23 St Stephen's Chapel.

24 Entrance to Sacristy. Under the lower step is
the tomb of Queen Johanna, wife of Alex-
ander II.

25 Font at foot of Abbot's staircase.

26 Cloister door. To the left of it, on the wall, the
inscription, "Here lies the race of the House
of Zair " (Yair). Opposite are the tombs of
the ancient family of Karr, Kar, Ker, Kerr,
of Kippilaw.

567073



flfeelrose Hbbe\>*



MELROSE ABBEY is in form like all
ancient churches, such as that venerable pile
Westminster Abbey, and St Paul's Cathedral, and St
Peter's at Rome symbolical of, and represents the
cross, and stands due east and west, and was dedi-
cated to St Mary. Visitors on entering this ancient
monastery cannot help having their admiration riveted
by its former greatness, and by the exquisite beauty of
the foliage tracery, grotesque corbels, and other orna-
mental sculpture. The workmanship is unexampled,
and must excite wonder, " notwithstanding the march
of intellect " of the nineteenth century. Melrose Abbey
unquestionably affords one of the finest specimens of
Gothic sculpture and Gothic architecture which this
country can boast of; and though it may not be the
most entire, it may fairly rank among the most beauti-
ful of all the ecclesiastical ruins which lie scattered
throughout this reformed land.

It is an object of uncommon attraction, and pos-
sessed of infinite grace, fine in its general aspect as in
its minutest details. The beauty of Melrose Abbey,



however, is not that which proceeds from the flush of
health, but from the fatal though flattering symptoms
of decay ; not the beauty of summer, but the melan-
choly grace of autumn :

" So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for soul is wanting there ;
Its is the loneliness in death
That parts not quite with parting brea'.h,
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
The hue which haunts it to the tomb ;
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay."*
The eye is not dazzled in the contemplation of the
ruins of Melrose Abbey (by its perfect splendour), but
riveted in admiration of the mouldering fragment that
shadows forth the matchless whole which it has been,
and whose merits we are, from this imperfect speci-
men, completely disposed to allow.

" Within the pile no common dead

Lay blended with their kindred mould ;
Theirs was the hearts that prayed or bled,
In cloister dim or death-plain red,
The pious and the bold.

High the resolves that fill the brain,
With transports trembling upon pain ;
When the vale of time is rent in twain,

That hides the glory past,
The scene may fade that gave them birth,
But they perish not with the perishing earth,

For ever they shall last.

Thus even where Death his empire keeps,

Life holds the pageant vain ;
And where the lofty spirit sleeps,

There lofty visions reign.

* Byron.



In hours of loneliness and woe,

Which even the best and wisest know,

How leaps the lightened heart to seize

On the bliss that comes with dreams like these !

As fair before the mental eye
The pomp and beauty of the dream return,

Rejected Virtue calms her sigh,
And leans resigned on Memory's urn."



SOUTH AISLE AND NAVE.

Entering at the west end of the Abbey, imme-
diately to the right are the side chapels (numbers upon
ground plan, i, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), and which formed
the outer portions of the south aisle. Three of these
chapels have been roofless for generations, and their
separating walls are only slightly visible above-ground,
but the roofs over the fourth and fifth are still entire.
The remains of the rood or organ screen cross the
nave on a line with the division of the fifth and sixth
chapels, and from here to the transept the church is
quite roofed over from north to south. The aisles,
both north and south, are still covered by the original
groined roof. In 1618 part of the ruin was fitted up
as the parish church, and continued to be used for that
purpose until 1810. The roof over the nave on the
north side, reaching to and supporting the original
groined roof, is the work of 1618. There are still in
each of the side chapels the piscinae in which the
vessels used during mass were afterwards washed.
The first six of the chapels in the south aisle have
been used since the Reformation as burial-places by
noted families in the neighbourhood. No. i on the



8

ground plan is that of the Bostons of Gattonside,
whose ancestors in olden times held their land of the
Abbey of Melrose, and were closely related by marriage
to some of the dignitaries of that church. High on
the wall to the west is the following eloquent and
impressive inscription :

THE DUST OF MANY GENERATIONS OF THE
BOSTONS OF GATTONSIDE IS DEPOSITED IN THIS
PLACE. WE GIVE OUR BODIES TO THIS HOLY
ABBEY TO KEEP.

No. 2. In this chapel the names of those interred
are not given.

No. 3. In this there is an upright stone with an
inscription upon it, not legible now, but it has been
copied, and reads thus,

fjie jattt fconorabtts bir * * *



No. 4. In this is the burial-place of the " Pringles
of Yair," and contains six compartments. Two inter-
ments have taken place with the last seven years.
Upon the left on the wall the sculpture bears date
1830, and was executed by a local craftsman. On
the floor are two inscriptions worthy of note. The
front one to the left reads thus,

HEIR LIES OF GUID MEMORIE DAME MARGARET
KER, FIRST WYFE . TO . JAMES . PRINGIL . OF .
WODHOUS . AND . EFTER . HIS DECEIS . MAREIT
SIR . DAVID HOME . OF WODDERBURNE .
KNYCHT . QUHA . DECEISSIT . THE . 24 . OF .
FEBRUARE . ANNO . D . 1589.



The second inscription, at the back to the right,
reads thus,

HEIR LYES ANE HONORABLE VOMAN CRISTIN
LUNDIE SPOUS TO JAMES * *

QUYTBANK SCHO DECEISSIT 19 . JULY . 1602.
LAMENT FOR SYN AND STYL THOU MURN FOR
THE CLAY ***** YE MAN TURN.

No. 5. The next division forms the burial-place of
the " Scotts of Gala " and the " Pringles of Gala-
shiels ; " their ancestors an honourable and ancient
family. A monumental stone put up only recently, in
memory of the late Major Scott of Gala, is very finely
chiselled in imitation of the carving in the cloisters.
The effigy of one of their ancestors, the Baron of
Smailholm, is to be seen here wrapped in his grave-
clothes. Near this figure is an inscription which
reads thus,

HEIR LEIS ANE HONOURABIL MAN ANDRO
PRINGIL FEUAR OF GALLOSCHIELS QUHA
DECESIT YE 28 . OF FEBRUARE AN. DOM. 1585.

No. 6. The keystones of the roof and capitals of
the pillars are worthy of much attention. David
Fletcher, minister of the parish, lies buried here. A
Latin inscription, on the wall to the right, says that he
was a faithful pastor, as well as other things. It is
dated 1665. This person ultimately was made Bishop
of Ross.

No. 7. In this chapel are carved representations of



10



three heads. The one in the centre, from its size,
was most probably the centre boss under the roof of
the tower. Those right and left of it represent the
heads of David I. and of his wife Queen Matilda,
The window in this chapel is worthy of attention.

No. 8. In this chapel, standing upright, is an ancient
kneeling stone ; on the side of it, towards the west, are
carved four horseshoes ; * and on the top is an inscrip-
tion in Saxon characters, which reads thus,

* rale pro gnima drat. $ttn. gierarii.

Which is, "Pray for the soul of brother Peter the
treasurer."

High up on the west wall of this chapel is the
following inscription :



it: a: |)ti : gtiigfo.

The capitals of the. pillars of the south aisle are all
in excellent preservation and of exquisite workman-
ship. They generally represent wreaths of flowers
and leaves of well-known plants, with a correctness
which does not fail to elicit remembrance of the
subjects of imitation.

SOUTH TRANSEPT.

The finest specimen of carving is seen here, on the
capital of the pillar which bounds the south aisle on

* They were thought to possess a charm, and to be capable of
counteracting evil and covetous wishes.



II

the east which separates the aisle from the nave, and
is pronounced to be so by connoisseurs. This carving
represents the "curly greens," or kale, grown in
every garden almost in Scotland, and is as delicately
executed as the natural leaf. The pillar on which
appears this beautiful specimen of monastic taste and
skill rises on the north side to another capital, at
the spring of the beautiful and lofty arch which, with
three others, supported the central tower. From the
south transept, where this carving is generally best
seen, can also be observed, high up in the wall of the
north transept, a small round window, the tracing of
which is entire. This window is said to represent
the "Crown of Thorns." About three feet below
the sill of the grand south window, along the wall,
is continued a narrow gallery or passage, which is
lighted by the clerestory windows. This passage led
from north to south of the chancel round the whole
church. The bases of the balustrade of this part of
the passage are quaintly carved figures of musicians,
and are said to represent the angelic choir. There is
a door in the west side of this transept ; immediately
over it in the centre are the compasses and fleur-de-lis
on a shield. At each side of these, and a little down
the north side of the door, is an inscription, which is
as follows :

SA GAES YE COMPASS EVEN ABOUT, SA TRUTH
AND LAUTE DO BUT DOUTE. BEHALDE TO YE
HENDE Q JOHN MORVO.

To the left, higher on the wall, is another inscription,



12

which tells who this John was, and what he had to
do with the Abbey at Melrose. It is as follows :

JOHN MOROW : SUM TVME : CALLIT :
WAS : I : AND BORN : IN PARYSEE :
CERTAINLY : AND HAD : IN : KEPPING :
ALL : MASON : WORK : OF :' SANTAN :
DRUYS : YE : HYE : KYRK : OF : GLASGU :
MELROS : AND : PASLEY : OF :
NYDDYSDAYLL : AND : OF : GALWAY :

I : PRAY : TO : GOD : AND : MARY : BAITH :

AND : SWEET : ST : JOHN : KEEP : THIS : HALY :
KIRK : FRAE : SKAITH :

John Murdo, or Murdoch as the name probably
should be, is claimed as the first Master of the
Freemason Lodge at Melrose, which with Kilwinning
is said to be the oldest in Scotland.

To the east of this transept, and separated from it
by three pillars, is St Bridget's Chapel, and a statue
of that saint is still standing on a pedestal in a niche
near one of the windows.

Sir William Douglas of Lothian was buried before
St Bridget's altar ; and William, Earl of Douglas, left
money for masses to be said continuously for his
soul.*

Next to St Bridget's Chapel, and between it and
the chancel, is another aisle, which was used as a
separate chapel, and it is supposed that originally
there were sixteen altars in the Abbey. In this
corner is, according to the " Lay of the Last

* Chart. Mel.



Minstrel," the grave of the famous wizard, Michael
Scott. At the foot of the grave is a figure, the head
of which is one of the bosses ; this the uncritical are
pleased to regard as the very likeness of the Wizard
himself This individual, by his " dark magic," it is
said, divided the Eildon Hill into " three," as you now
see them in the vicinity of the Abbey. Next to the
Wizard's grave, on the left, is the grave of Sir Ralph
Ivers or Evers, one of the English commanders slain
at the battle of Ancrum Moor. The inscription on
the stone, not very legible, runs thus,

ORATE : : : ANIMA IVOORS DE CORBI-RCEG.

On the opposite side of a footpath at the head of
these graves, on the north-east side of a heap of
fragments, is a stone which was used as a favourite
seat by the late Sir Walter Scott, when he came to
contemplate the magnificent eastern window, and to
feast on the grand and varied beauty of the scene.

THE CHANCEL.

The choir, or chancel, displays the finest architec-
tural taste. The elegance and beauty of the eastern
window, whether viewed from without in unison
with the rest of the building, or from within in con-
junction with the slender shafts of shapely stone
which so gracefully support the roof of the edifice,
are equally striking, and well merit the poetical
tribute paid by Sir Walter Scott, whose " Lay " has
been frequently carried to the high altar, and perused
by the pale moonlight, at the fabled grave of the
wizard Michael Scott, even at the " witching time of



14

night." Sir Walter Scott, in describing this part of
the building, says,

" The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone

By foliaged tracery combined ;
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand
'Twixt poplars straight the ozier wand

In many a freakish knot had twined,
Then framed a spell, when the work was done,
And changed the willow wreaths to stone."

The original beautifully fretted and sculptured stone
roof of the east end of the chancel is still standing ;
and, rising high, under the floor repose the ashes of
many of the illustrious dead. Alexander II. was
buried here ; and also " Waldevus," the second abbot
of the monastery. Waldevus was much beloved, and
was a man of holy life, and had a remarkably gentle
and lenient disposition. The body of Douglas, the
dark Knight of Liddesdale, otherwise called the
Flower of Chivalry, who was slain by a kinsman in
Ettrick Forest, whilst hunting, during the reign of
David the Second, was brought here for interment,
after lying one night in Lindean Kirk. James, Earl
Douglas, slain by Hotspur (Earl Percy), at the battle
of Otterburn in 1388, was also interred here, with
great military pomp and every honour that could be
paid by the abbot and monks. In 1544 the English,
under Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun, spoiled
the tombs of the Douglases, and for this insult, in the
following year, they suffered severe retribution at the
battle of Ancrum Moor.

But the chief deposit, here also, is the " heart of



15

King Robert Bruce," brought back from Spain by
Sir William Keith, after Douglas had made an unsuc-
cessful attempt to carry it to the Holy Land. In the
king's last letter to his son, written about a month
before his death, he commanded that his heart should
be buried in " Melrose Abbey." But subsequent to
that he wished rather that it might be sent to
Palestine, and buried in the Holy Sepulchre. Sir
James Douglas was entrusted with the sacred deposit,
and set sail with a numerous and splendid retinue.
He encountered the Saracens in Spain, and being too
brave to retreat, he was overpowered by numbers and
killed. The body was recovered, and brought back
for burial in the midst of his ancestors ; and the
heart of the master he loved and served so well, was
interred, agreeably with the former wish of the king,
under the high altar of Melrose Abbey.

On the roof of the church the carving is very
beautiful. The keystones are ornamented with subjects
taken from Scripture history ; on the centre stone is
one supporting the crucifix \ and on the surrounding
stones are figures with swords and staves, and some
with crosses. The intersections of the groins are
ornamented with large beautiful knots of flowers.

Looking from the chancel can best be seen the
only portion of the central tower, the western side of
which alone is remaining. It is said that the pillars
supporting the tower on the east were torn down by
the English during the incursions of the Earl of
Hertford in 1545. The three chancel windows are
very beautiful ; the one to the south is singularly so,
and, seen from the north of the choir, the tracing



i6

represents the three crosses, and suggests to the
memory that scene on the hill of Calvary.

On the north, as well as on the south side, there
are two aisles between the chancel and transept, which
were also used as side chapels. The outer corner of
the first has been replaced by a wall of modern
masonry. From this point looking westward the fine
sharp pointed arch of the north aisle (which is
narrower than the south aisle) cannot fail to attract
attention. From the second aisle, which was a chapel
dedicated to St Stephen, the statues of St Peter and
St Paul, high on the west wall of the north transept,
can very well be seen ; St Peter to the right with
book and keys, and St Paul on the left with a sword
in front. Both they and their canopies are in a good
state of preservation. Three pillars separate this aisle
from the

NORTH TRANSEPT.

Placing your eye at the base of the centre pillar,
and carrying it up to a little above the foliated capital,
may be seen the likeness of a left hand lightly grasp-
ing a bunch of flowers. It forms the bracket for
supporting the groins of the roof. Of this hand
Lockhart has thus written : " Were it cut off and
placed among the Elgin Marbles, it would be kissed
by the cognoscenti as one of the finest of them all.
It would shame the whole gallery of Boissere's."

The lower door with circular arch in the north
transept leads down to the sacristy by two steps.
Partly concealed by the lower step is the tombstone of




17

Johanna, queen of Alexander II. There is the follow-
ing inscription :

>t lit facet |o|nnura : b : $oss.

Traditionally this was called the wax cellar, where
it is supposed the tapers and other things used in
religious worship were kept. The other rounded
doorway higher up in the wall to the left, and formerly
reached by stairs, the marks of which are still seen on
the western wall, was that by which the monks came
into the church. An oblong niche in the north wall,
one corner resting on the doorway last mentioned, is
ornamented with running flowers of great beauty, and
has fourteen pedestals for statuettes, and was said to
have represented our Lord, the Twelve Apostles, and
the Blessed Virgin.

This church, like all of the Cistercian Order, was
dedicated to Mary.

NORTH AISLE.

The narrow north aisle is conspicuous for the neat-
ness of the pointed roof, and the row of massive pillars
from which it springs. The capitals of the pillars, the
corbels, and the keystones of the roof, are all beauti-
fully carved, and are as fresh as if the sculptor had
newly laid down the chisel. They represent leaves,
foliage, and flowers, and are most chastely executed.
Just beyond the cloister door, which is reached imme-
diately on entering the aisle, on the wall, is an ancient
inscription, which Washington Irving so much ad-
mired ; it reads thus,

HEIR LYIS THE RACE
OF YE HOVS OF ZAIR.



i8

Directly opposite this inscription, in the north aisle,
are seen the tombs of the ancient family of Karr,
Kerr, Ker, &c., of Kippilaw.*

THE CLOISTERS.

The cloisters formed a quadrangle on the north-
west side of the church. The door of entrance from
the cloisters to the church is on the north side, close
by the ^ west wall of the transept, and is exquisitely
carved.' The foliage upon the capitals of the pilasters
on each side is so finely executed, that a straw may be
passed through the interstices between the stalks and
the leaves. It was through this door the aged monk
in the " Lay " is said to have conducted Sir William
of Deloraine, when he came at the request of the
Lady of Buccleuch to take the Book from the grave of
the Wizard. The chasteness and beauty of the carv-
ing in the cloisters is greatly admired. In the Gothic
nature is profusely imitated, and hence the endless
variety and beauty of the designs. In the ornamental
frieze running along above the arches of the east wall,
no two of the ornamental figures are alike ; roses and
lilies, and thistles and ferns, and heaths in all their
varieties, and oak leaves and ash leaves, and a thousand
beautiful shapes besides, are chiselled with such in-
imitable accuracy, and such grace of nature, that can-
not be surpassed. We cannot do better than again
quote from Mr Lockhart : " There is one cloister in
particular, along the whole length of which there runs
a cornice of flowers and plants, entirely unrivalled, to

* See Appendix.



19

my mind, by anything elsewhere extant. I do not say
in Gothic architecture merely, but in any architecture
whatever." At the top of the east wall, at the corner
of the building, is the likeness of the figure of an
angel in the act of flying away with a message from
the church ; and about five feet to the right of this is
represented the head of a negro, grinning with un-
mistakable satisfaction and delight. The roof that
covered the cloister stalls is quite gone. Two rows of
holes in the walls, east and south, show how the roof
has been supported, and most probably was very much
like that now to be seen at Westminster Abbey.
Seven of the stalls which were used by the higher
dignitaries of the church still remain ; these are
covered by a panelled arcade of great beauty. Beyond
the arch, west from the doorway, is an undivided seat,
which was used by the common monks. The orna-
mented arch at the west end of this seat is supposed to
have been the centre of the range. From this point,
looking through the upright windows high in the wall
that bounds the cloisters on the east, a fine view is
obtained of the ornamented clerestory windows in
the east wall of the north transept. There is less in
the cloisters to divert the eye than elsewhere, and the
beholder's sense of ruin and desolation is consequently
greater there than in any other part in or about the
Abbey. It would appear that the stones of the floor
in front of the seats cover the ashes of many of the
departed.

" The pillared arches were over their head

Beneath their feet were the bones of the dead."
Within the Abbey lie the remains of many a gallant



20

warrior and venerable priest, and it would be difficult
indeed to say whereabouts in the Abbey the dead
have not been buried.

From the cloisters, the ornamentation on the only
portion of the central tower now standing can best be
seen. It is said that Oliver Cromwell, from the heights
of Gattonside, on the opposite side of the Tweed,
attacked the Abbey with his cannon. By some this is
not thought so ; but whether true or not, there are
certainly marks on the north wall that would very
well bear out the supposition. Re-entering by the
"steel-clenched postern" of the "Lay," this entrance
to the church was in ancient times called the Valley
Gate. Queen Victoria, escorted by the late noble
proprietor of the Abbey, His Grace the Duke of
Buccleuch, came into the Abbey by this entrance, and
the flower - bordered walk leading north from the
cloisters has since been called the Queen's Walk.

Crossing the church to the grand south entrance,
the visitor cannot help being impressed with all the


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Online LibraryJ WassMelrose Abbey, with notes descriptive and historical → online text (page 1 of 2)