London, Volume 5Knight, Charles
CXII.-The Churches of London: No. II.-Wren's Churches.
CXII.-The Churches of London: No. II.-Wren's Churches.
Interesting as many of the buildings that fall within the scope of the present article individually are, from their intrinsic merits, and the variety of historical and biographical recollections--to say nothing of less important matters-that belong to them, it is as a whole that we should look at them, if we would do justice either to them, to their architect, or to those.whose conduct degerves more admiration than it has received, the architect's employers. We must especially recall to mind the position of the citizens of London, if we would rightly understand or appreciate the noble qualities, of which the churches of London are the enduring memorials. Every stone marks a difficulty conquered--a sacrifice made on the part of those incapacitated in no ordinary degree for the making of sacrifices--an active exhibition of heroic hope, where men might have been not altogether without excuse, for a long period, of something much more nearly approximating in its characteristics to despair. We must remember--to review for a moment the successive stages of the great event in question--that
[n.178.1] We must remember the result :-- churches only saved out of the standing within the walls. We must behold the miserable inhabitants-all miserable!-rich and poor, young and old, weak and strong, reduced for the moment to common level--in their bivouacs in the surrounding fields and open country, where for months great numbers had to remain. We must above all weigh the utter ruin that many must have been plunged into by their losses, the difficulties requiring years of exertion and privation to overcome experienced by still more, the necessity for the husbanding of every penny of money, every thought and energy of the mind, on the part of all, to re-instate themselves in their former position. Houses the houseless could not but build, the commercial capital of the world could not from motives of the most evident self-interest remain long without its halls and warehouses, both piety and the habits of piety would naturally impel men to obtain some fresh places of worship; but when we find what an architect they did employ for their churches, what sums of money they did expend upon them, and how numerous were the buildings they did erect, it is impossible to repress a warm feeling of admiration at the conduct of our civic forefathers, or to resist the whispers of national pride that explain and concentrate the whole in appropriate word (and never may that word lose its magic!) as the conduct of-Englishmen. These things, to our minds, are the best parts of the history of our metropolitan churches.
Of course, impossibilities were not attempted; and such would have been the erection of these buildings immediately after the fire. They were content, no doubt, at , to worship God beneath his own beautiful sky, that temple not made with hands, and then, as conveniences and time presented, beneath places of temporary shelter; it is also to be remembered that the few existing churches would give accommodation to the greatest possible number of the members of those which had been destroyed: and thus we may presume to have passed the or years. The general character and direction of the earliest movement towards the erection of the present structures are not unhappily illustrated by the case of Allhallows, , as that case is shown to us by notices written at the time in the parish register. On the , the parishioners resolved they
in their own parish, and accordingly deputed persons to select a place, and build thereon a temporary structure. They next directed that the steeple should be viewed, to see whether it could be strengthened and supported; on the of the same month they ordered the walls of the body of the building to be coped with straw and lime, to preserve them from further damage. A lingering hope is here perceptible that the church might be repaired rather than rebuilt; but after the lapse of another year or so, when we may suppose the
| general business of London to have regained much of its usual regularity, they dismissed the idea as impracticable, or as unworthy, and agreed not only that the church should be rebuilt, but, in , that |
would join heart and hand in expediting the work. The means at the disposal of the parishioners in this, as well as in the other parishes, were various, but chiefly a portion of the duty on coals, set apart by the parliament for the rebuilding of London and the churches, an assessment on the inhabitants, and voluntary subscriptions; the whole, however, in a great number of cases, insufficient, as we may well suppose, to admit of any rapid progress; and hence continual difficulties. At Allhallows they were so greatly at a loss at period, that they endeavoured to raise upon their lands, but Sergeant Pemberton advised them that it could not be done without a decree of Chancery. From this position they were relieved apparently by the usual process, increased exertions on the part of benevolent individuals, for we find John Marsh, in , lending them the exact sum stated. The year after was also raised by a parochial assessment. These notices are imperfect, but show sufficiently the general history of the rebuilding of Allhallows, which is but an epitome of the rebuilding of most of the other London churches.
In the foregoing passages we must also look for no unimportant part of the materials from which we are to estimate the architect's greatness. Without dwelling upon the multitude of Wren's avocations at this time--the cathedrals, palaces, government offices, hospitals, civic halls, colleges, &c. &c., he was erecting or repairing, and which make it wonderful that he could have contrived to give us so many beautiful churches in the City, rather than depreciatory of his fame, that he should also have added some that are very insignificant-passing by this consideration, which Wren barely needs, there is another, which it would be unjust to his memory not to lay some stress upon, the pecuniary difficulties above referred to, which must have hampered him at every step of his labours, and often have materially affected the design itself, which it was the object of those labours to carry into effect. In criticising therefore his works, it is sometimes more germane to the matter to speak of the design that the parochial purse approved of, rather than of his; to lament the absence of appropriate decoration there, rather than in his buildings. The church of St. Mary Aldermary offers a striking example of the importance of these pecuniary influences. Would you learn how it was that this building became erected on the expensive model of the former , with its nave, and aisles, and clustered pillars, and surprisingly rich fan-groinings, not merely decorating but covering the ceilings, Malcolm will tell us that
Then, again, churchwardens of that day, as of this, held their opinions with a pertinacity at least equal to their information, and, we may be sure, often plagued and occasionally thwarted the architect. To refer, for instance, again to Allhallows, we read in their parish books of Wren sending about a , but the parish, or its officers, seem to have preferred a tower-so a tower it is. Communications of a more agreeable nature, be it observed, occasionally passed, such for instance as
| that referred to in the books of East Cheap, under the date of , |
and that in the books of St. Mary , , -
It was under the disadvantages referred to that Wren erected the structures which, as a whole, form the greatest monuments of his genius; for in them he appears as emphatically the inventor of a style of ecclesiastical architecture adapted to the wants of a Protestant community, to whose minds the older and, we may own, more beautiful Roman Catholic buildings were distasteful, from their connection with the faith from which they had only emancipated themselves after a long and bloody struggle. Of the exteriors of Wren's churches we have little to say, the principal spires and towers having been so completely shown by the design given in our volume, in the
and, beyond the spires and towers, there being so little demanding observation. The confined and frequently obscure position of the buildings rendered it impossible that fine architectural exteriors could be adequately enjoyed, so the architect declined giving them, but, instead, concentrated his energies and skill in the parts exposed to observation, by their height, as in the campanuli, and in the interiors. external peculiarities, however, must not be overlooked--the original and picturesque manner in which he has applied ornamented details from the Italian to the forms of the Gothic, and the grace with which he has placed his spires on the supporting towers. As to his interiors, perhaps variety of plan is the most striking characteristic. Looking over the entire number of churches () erected by Wren in the metropolis,[n.180.1] we perceive they may be divided into classes--the Domed; the Basilical (that is with nave and side-aisles divided by pillars from each other); and the Miscellaneous, consisting of some with single rectangular plans without columns, mere rooms, in short, apart from their decorations ;--some with a single aisle, formed to conceal the intrusions of the lower part of the tower on that side of the church;--and some with pillars, disposed within the rectangular area, to give it the appearance of a cross. The churches of each of these classes are generally in the Roman style, but with some noticeable exceptions--as St. Mary, Aldermary, and St. Alban's, , both of which belong to the Gothic--the latter, says Wren,
We may here be permitted to pause a moment over recollection of the old church of Mary Aldermary (that is Mary the of the churches so dedicated in London); Stow says that
He adds an explanatory marginal note, that this Richard was
and we think with great probability, if it be remembered with what affection the latter always speaks of the City, and how closely he was connected
|with its various broils in the reign of Richard II. In this very tavern, then, with its heterogeneous assemblage of people of almost every rank and pursuit, such as a tavern of the middle ages only could draw together, and attended by a interesting circumstances of manner and costume equally peculiar to the time, may the young poet have acquired some of the materials for his great poem, perhaps even the idea of the poem itself.|
Reversing the order of the classes enumerated we will now refer to the miscellaneous; in division of which, the churches with simple rectangular plans, with more or less regularity of outline, may be enumerated St. Lawrence, Jewry, and Allhallows, ; ill another, consisting of churches with pillars introduced into the area to give the effect of a cross, , Ludgate, and St. Anne and Agnes, ; and a , the churches with a tower introduced into corner, and a continuous aisle to conceal the awkwardness that would otherwise be apparent, St. Margaret Patten's, and St. Bennet, . Greatly do the churches of this class vary in the extent and beauty of their decoration, from , , at the lower end of the scale up to St. Lawrence, Jewry, at the higher, which, with all its simplicity of design, is of the handsomest of Wren's structures; the chaste elegance of the exterior and the noble style of decoration adopted in the interior are equally worthy of admiration. There is a vestry attached to it scarcely less beautiful, where the painted compartment of the richly stuccoed ceiling represents the apotheosis of St. Lawrence. Among the monuments is to Tillotson, some of whose best sermons were delivered here. The affixed name
is, of course, derived from the Jews, who resided in the neighbourhood from the period of the Conqueror's coming to England, who brought many of their nation with him from Normandy; a locality, which in effect, through the operation of a law which prevented them from burying their dead anywhere but in the plot of ground known as the Jew's Garden, now , must have been their only place of residence in this country till the reign of Henry II. They then, after petitioning parliament, obtained permission to purchase ground for a cemetery outside the walls of any place in which they dwelt. They were expelled by Edward I., who graciously allowed them to carry away enough to bear their travelling charges, but kept their treasure, to an immense amount, in his own hands. It may be doubted whether this was so politic a mode of treatment in the long run as his father's; at all events it must have been very convenient to a sovereign to have always at command such a mode of paying his debts as that referred to in the following regal proclamation- of the richest things of the kind in history:
In the is the church of St. Olave, with a tablet to Alderman Boydell, bearing a long inscription that does but justice to this enlightened and generous patron of art. Of the other churches of this class we may mention a few for the sake of the incidental matters of interest connected with them. In St. Edward the King, a church also beautiful, in spite of the extremest simplicity of plan, from the picturesque effect of the dark oak pews, pulpit, and galleries, so admirably contrived and so richly carved, and which is
| remarkable for having its altar on the north, are some handsome modern stained glass, and pictures, Moses and Aaron, by Etty. In the old church of St. Stephen, , was the monument of Anthony Munday, the great literary and mechanical architect of civic pageants for a long period of years, a dramatic writer, and an antiquary, who published the edition of Stow's |
with additions professedly received from Stow himself; and in another old church, that of St. Mildred, Poultry, whose inscription told us,--
Tusser's disposition must have been somewhat changeable. Fuller describes him as
Inigo Jones was buried, at the age of (as estimated), in St. Bennet, ; it seems strange, therefore, to read of his death being by any cause, yet it is said that he did die prematurely through the vexations and anxiety brought on him by his loyal tendencies in politics and his Roman Catholic in religion: on the latter ground he was subjected to a heavy fine in . He died in , The church of Allhallows the Great may be mentioned for its beautiful carved oak screen, with very slender twisted pillars, supporting a rich entablature, in the centre of which is an eagle with outspread wings; the whole most exquisitely carved. The feeling that brought this picturesque piece of decoration here, is that it is pleasant to have to record. The Merchants of the Steel-yard, it is well known, occupied the adjoining precincts, and in early times probably used the church; their descendants, the Hanse Merchants of the last century, as supposed (for the time is uncertain), sent over this screen as a token of their remembrance of the old connection. With the church of St. Michael's, Paternoster Royal, the name of Whittington is inseparably associated; there it was he founded his magnificent college, with its Master, Fellows, Masters of Arts, clerks,
and choristers, and bestowed on it the rights and profits of the church which belonged to him. Malcolm mentions a portrait of him as being in the possession of the Mercer's Company, which goes some way towards confirming the truth of feature of the popular biography of him: it bears date , the inscription, . Whittington, and exhibits clearly enough by his side. The history of his monument is disgraceful. An incumbent of the parish, Mountain, in the reign of Edward VI., dared to open it with the view of finding buried treasure, and being disappointed contented himself, we suppose, with the leaden enclosures, which were at all events taken away at the time: in the ensuing reign the parishioners re-wrapped the body in lead. The whole, including the monument, unfortunately disappeared in the fire. The modern church possesses a work of art of high value-Hilton's admirable picture of Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Jesus, who is reproving Judas for his envious complaint that the ointment was not sold and the money given to the poor, in the beautiful passage
Lastly, in St. Michael's, , after a strange series of vicissitudes regarding its preservation, was buried the head of the Scottish monarch who fell on Flodden field. The battle was fought on the , and
| the body of James was found on the same day by Lord Dacre among the slain, and recognised not only by him but by the deceased king's own chancellor and others; it is difficult to understand, therefore, how there could ever have been any real doubt on the matter. Stow, in his account of the church, gives the subsequent history. The body was |
In the churches on the ancient plan, the Basilical, with their nave and side aisles, and central recess for the altar, and occasionally with their clerestory above, we have to deal with a much more important class of architectural productions. The churches of St. Magnus, Bartholomew by the Exchange (now lost), Bride, Bow, Andrew, , Dunstan's in the East, and Michael's, , all belong to this division, of which they are the most distinguished ornaments. St. Magnus, it appears from Malcolm, has been rebuilt, but, we presume, without material alterations of Wren's design, It now presents a noble interior, in spite of the appearance of want of solidity produced by the slender columns, and exceedingly broad intervals between. The church is further distinguished by of the handsomest altar-pieces of its kind in London, and by the circumstance that Miles Coverdale was rector of the church till , when he resigned it. The parishioners, within the last few years, have erected a handsome memorial of his presence among them. St. Bartholomew's, with remains of its ancient tower, and a body remarkable for its simple harmony of proportion, claimed a nearer connection with this translator of the entire edition of the Bible published in the English language, for he was buried beneath its communion-table. Bride Church, with its most beautiful of steeples, and its sumptuous though not very accurate copy, in stained glass, of Rubens's great picture, the Descent from the Cross, has a fine but not in any way remarkable interior; we may therefore pass it with a brief notice of the eminent men who have been interred in the old or in the existing structure; such as-Wynken de Worde, the assistant and successor of the great printer whom Pope, in his Dunciad, when describing the altar raised by Bays for the immolation of his unsuccessful writings, thus mentions--
Sir Richard Baker, author of the
who died in distress in the neighbouring ; Nicholls, the author of the
and above all, Samuel Richardson, with his wife and family, the illustrious rival of the Fieldings and Goldsmiths. Bow Church is perhaps,
| of all the buildings we have mentioned, the most distinguished for breadth and grandeur of effect. It is an adaptation from Wren's favourite classical authority, the Temple of Peace, at Rome. Among other peculiarities, the happy mode of introducing the galleries may be noticed. The memorials of the dead are numerous here, and include a large marble monument by Banks, to Bishop Newton, with an inscription, in which is the passage-- |
As to the tower of Bow Church, that object of universal admiration for its beauty may challenge equally universal attention to its history, which is so full of matter that we almost hesitate in our limited space to refer to any of the details, lest we should be tempted too far. From its foundation below--a Roman causeway, discovered by Wren during the erection--to the belfry above where hang the bells, which have become a bye-word; from the exterior balcony over the door, with its recollections of Queen Philippa's awkward accident, to the interior with its associations of murder and siege, the pile, either in itself or in its ancestors, has scarcely separate portion that has not also its own separate story. There was formerly a stone building near the site of the present tower, erected for the use of the royal family to witness the great public processions that so often in old times passed through , and in consequence of Edward's queen, whilst standing, with the ladies of her court, on a temporary wooden scaffold to witness a magnificent tournament, having fallen
upon the knights and others beneath. The King would have punished the artisans who had raised so insecure a structure; but the Queen interceding, he contented himself with the erection of a proper building, of which the balcony over the door facing is a kind of memento. The murder committed in the interior of the old tower was that of Lawrence Ducket, a goldsmith, who had dangerously wounded Ralph Crepin, and taken shelter here, but being suddenly seized in the night was strangled, and hung up so as to give the idea of his having committed suicide. Some time after a boy, who had been an unnoticed spectator of the whole, revealed the truth, and the assassins and their accomplices, in number, were hung, a woman
burnt, many rich persons
(Stow's expression), the church interdicted, and the doors and windows filled with thorns, till the whole was properly purified. This was in . Rather less than a century before, Bow Church became the scene of an event of infinitely greater, indeed of national importance. When Richard I. was engaged in the Holy Land, his officers at home, in collecting funds for his supply, levied an extraordinary taillage upon the City of London. A corrupt practice, it seems, had crept into the local government, of apportioning the respective shares of each citizen unfairly, the managers of course sparing themselves, who were the best able to bear the exaction, at the expense of their poorer fellow-citizens. A citizen of Saxon descent, called from his long beard, William by the Normans, but properly, William Fitz-Osbert, who had already favourably distinguished himself by his devotion to the cause of the people, chiefly of the same descent as himself, now stood forth, and denounced, in most eloquent language, the wrong attempted to be perpetrated. Failing to convince the Norman rulers, he crossed the seas to Richard, from whom he returned with a promise of redress. This was too much for the patience of his adversaries; it
| was bad enough that he should fill the people, as he had done, with |
but that he, a Saxon, should dare to interfere between them and the monarch, was monstrous; so Hubert Walter, Grand Justiciary of England, adopted a mode of prevention almost ludicrous, for the contrast between the smallness of the object, and the sweeping and reckless nature of the means, that of forbidding any man of the commonalty of London from quitting the City. Some traders, going, according to custom, to the great fair then held at Stamford, were the victims of this exquisite specimen of an executive government; they were thrown into prison, and it became evident that the prohibition was to be really carried into effect, at whatever cost. Then began the poorer citizens to combine themselves into an association for their common defence, and their numbers swelled so fast that when their leader, William Longbeard, was cited to appear before a parliament convoked by the chief functionaries of the realm, they accompanied him in such immense multitudes, that no dared to proceed with the charges against him. Other modes were now resorted to; skilful emissaries introduced themselves into the councils of the disaffected, and worked upon their minds by every method that could be devised; the members of the government alternately conciliated and threatened, with similar views, until the conspirators began to hesitate--to doubt each other's fidelity, and at last to allow the government quietly to obtain as hostages the children of a great number of families. Of course the power of the conspiracy was then broken, and the government, relieved of its fears, exerted itself to get possession of the ringleader, that it might be utterly annihilated. persons undertook the dangerous task; for some days they watched all his motions, having at hand a concealed band of armed men, to seize him when they should give the signal. An opportunity at last offered; he was walking along with only followers; they approached carelessly till he was within reach, then suddenly threw themselves upon him, and endeavoured to hold him whilst the armed men rushed from their place of concealment to their assistance. But Longbeard's hand was as ready as his tongue, and in instant the foremost of the assailants was pierced to the heart; in the next Longbeard was fighting his way with his little band towards Bow Church, or, as it was then called, St. Mary at Arches. He succeeded in getting safely into the tower, which he barricaded, and then maintained so stoutly, that after days spent in ineffectual attempts to force it by ordinary means, they were compelled on the to resort to fire. Driven forth by the flames, Longbeard and his fellow unfortunates were speedily overpowered and bound. In this state he was stabbed by a son of the man he had slain days before, and thus wounded, tied to the tail of a horse and dragged to the Tower, where the Archbishop sentenced him to the gallows. In the same terrible plight he was drawn to Smithfield, and hung with the others. The terrible Saxon Longbeard seemed destined to be an eternal plague to the ruling Normans. Not long after his death a system of Smithfield pilgrimages began, that promised to rival in popularity those of the Canterbury martyr. People from all parts came to the spot where the
had breathed his last, and where miracles attested the horror of Heaven at the deed that had been committed. The Archbishop could not even drive away by force
|these credulous worshippers, till he had established a permanent guard on the spot, and scourged and imprisoned numbers of both men and women. The present tower has been rebuilt, though on the model of the original, as seen in the following view.|
| The tower of St. Andrew's, , of the date of Henry VI., displays Wren's restoring hand in so unfavourable a light that we willingly pass to the interior, the architect's own composition, that we may admire the air of magnificence he has given to it. All the accessories tend to enhance this effect--the gildings, the paintings, the stained glass, which in the chancel reach to a high point of splendour. St. Andrew's may almost be called the poets' church, from the number of that glorious but unhappy fraternity that have been in way or another connected with it, from the time of Webster, the author of the |
who was parish clerk, down to the late Henry Neele, interred here, after his suicide in a state of temporary insanity. Under the date of , as Malcolm was informed, the parish register records the christening of the poet Savage, by direction of Earl Rivers, who, according to the mother-Lady Macclesfield's-own confession of unfaithfulness to her husband, was the father. Disowned as he grew up by both his unnatural parents, unaware even who they were, till accident discovered them to him, suffering generally from poverty, and almost unceasingly from his own ill-regulated passions; there are few literary lives more truly melancholy than that of Savage. We need not wonder that (in Johnson's words), he was
terrible event with him seemed ever to be the precursor of another, each increasing in intensity. The killing a man in a tavern broil leads to sentence of death, and that to a mother striving to intercept the pardon bestowed upon him, and the whole to the publication of
in which poetry was prostituted to the most awful purpose, perhaps, on record--that of holding a mother up to the reprobation and contempt of the world. Yet, if ever there was a man deserving pity, it was Savage; and he obtained more than that from who was little
| inclined, by habit or principle, to confound right and wrong. The friendship of Johnson and Savage is of the most touching and beautiful things in literary history. If greater sufferings were needed than he experienced generally through life to expiate his faults, the circumstances of his death, in a jail at Bristol for debt, in , may surely be deemed sufficient. As in poet's history we have wandered by a melancholy path from St. Andrew's to Bristol, by that of another still more saddening, on account of the loftier nature concerned, we may return. years after Savage's death in Bristol there was born in the same place who, coming to London with the romantic notion that talents of a generally high order as a writer, and powers unsurpassed at the same age as a poet, should be sufficient to supply his moderate demands of food, clothing, and raiment; possessing at the same time too much pride to turn his muse into a lackey to dangle after patrons, found himself, after the most indefatigable exertions, literally starving. Suicide and the workhouse burying-ground of St. Andrew's complete his history, at the age of . The parish register of , shows the following entry-- |
the mistake, of course, regarding the name of a pauper being very excusable. The only thing that surprises us is the addition by a later hand, of the words
Had not that fact better be forgotten at St. Andrew's?
With respect to the churches of St. Michael, , and St. Dunstan, East, of the most curious results of Wren's studies in combining the Italian and Gothic styles is exhibited in the history of the former, which had a body erected in the Italian style to the fine old Gothic tower spared by the fire, and then, years later, when the tower was pulled down, a reversal of the former process in the erection of a Gothic tower to the Italian body. Fabian was buried here. The tower-of-St-Dunstan's is an imitation of that of St. Nicholas at Newcastle, built in the century, a circumstance that of course lessens the architect's merit in giving us so elegant and fairy-like a thing. Wren's biographer, Elwes, gives the following anecdote on the authority of an anonymous friend:--
--J. J. Mr. Elwes says the part of the story is evidently incorrect, and that Wren would hardly have attempted what he doubted; he then relates as evidence
that the architect being informed night that a dreadful hurricane had damaged all the steeples in London, at once replied,
The last story, however, rather supports than contradicts the ; the speech of the is but the smile of the other put into words; and both may be referred to
| a similar origin, some-misunderstood-peculiarities in the mode of erection; it is to be observed also, that doubts during experiments and after, are very different things. The body of the church built by Wren has now gone, it having been rebuilt in harmony with the steeple, by Mr. Laing, in the years to . At the east end, a large and beautiful window has been preserved, which is understood to have been an exact copy of Wren discovered in the re-building. Among the events which have been recorded as preserving the features of old times and customs, better than any regular descriptions could do, is of some interest connected with St. Dunstan's, thus given in |
[n.188.1] What a contrast to this state of things is the bill now before parliament, where the Church steps forward to renounce the last few vestiges that remain to it of the power which caused such scenes to be exhibited in our streets and churches! Among the remaining buildings of the Basilical style may be mentioned St. Andrew Wardrobe, with its striking monument by Bacon to Romaine; St. Augustine, where the fraternity of the same name were accustomed, as Strype tells us, to meet on the eve of St. Austin, and in the morning at high mass, when every brother offered a penny, and afterwards was ready either to eat or to revel, as the master and wardens directed; St. Sepulchre's, with its exceedingly beautiful antique porch and its dreadful associations with the neighbouring prison; and, lastly, St. James, , where Wren has exhibited the most consummate union of beauty and fitness in the interior, and, as a kind of practical antithesis, left the exterior destitute of these or any other valuable qualities. The church was founded, chiefly through the agency of the Earl of St. Albans, as a chapel of ease to during the latter part of Charles's reign, but made parochial in the reign of Charles's successor, James. There are many features of the interior that will repay the visitor's attention, but more particularly the marble font, carved by Gibbons, an exquisite specimen of art. The support of the basin consists of the trunk of the tree of knowledge, with the branches and foliage of which it is partially covered, and by the side of the tree
|are of the most gracefully sculptured figures that can be well conceived, representing Eve offering to Adam the apple. In this church was buried the footman, bookseller, and poet, Dodsley.|
In the last class of Wren's churches that we have to notice, the Domed, the genius of the architect shines out more clearly than in either of the others, as being works of greater pretension than the class, and not, like the other (the Basilical), apt to suggest by its form thoughts of the still more beautiful, ancient style that they superseded. At the head of this division stands the far-famed , , into the interior of which no can have ever entered for the time without obtaining a higher opinion even of the architect of . Proportion, harmony, and repose are its pervading characteristics; and, with exception--the walls left almost in their primitive nakedness--he seems to have felt the influence of his own beautiful work lead him into a greater degree of delicacy in all the subordinate features of decoration to harmonise therewith, than is usual with him. Hence the perfect effect produced. Hence the opinions of of our most accomplished architectural critics, that all things considered its equal in its style is not to be found in Europe: hence the observation,
[n.189.1] The dimensions of are only feet inches from east to west, within the walls, and feet inches from north to south, the ground plan forming therefore nearly a parallelogram. Of the incidental features of the church, the most remarkable is West's picture of the death of St. Stephen, which is placed against (thereby concealing) the central eastern window. The exterior, as usual, Wren has treated as though scarcely condescending to notice its existence; till the aspiring steeple attracts his regard, when he puts forth his strength, and makes it his own. St. Benet Fink, with its external walls in the form of a decagon, and worthy of notice if it be only for the ingenuity exhibited in the conquest over the difficulties attending a confined and irregular position, is another church of this class; as are also , , with the oldest piece of metropolitan antiquity, the well-known London stone, let into its exterior walls, and St. Antholin's, or Anthony's; neither of which, however, require any more particular architectural notice. Near to the last-mentioned building, the Scottish commissioners were located during their residence in London just before the outbreak of the Civil War, and there was a passage from the house into the gallery of the church; the minister of which was a Puritan.
The noble historian, whilst covertly satirising the folly or credulity or
that could alone in his opinion bring such assemblages together, tells us something that requires still greater faith or absurdity to believe, namely, that the service was flat and insipid: a cause unlikely to produce such effects; incredible, if we consider the fiery fanaticism which every where characterised the parties in question. But taste is often made the scapegoat of opinion. The Cavaliers, whose opinion Clarendon has here most probably perpetuated, would of course like the men as men very little, their business in London less (to negotiate a treaty with their monarch, backed by an irresistible army in the northern counties), their increasing intimacy with the English reformers, religious and political, least of all; for it was tolerably evident by this time that in the forthcoming struggle the Scotch would play an important part, and very possibly have the power in their hands to turn the scale decidedly in favour of king or people. Apart from the novelty (a most refreshing to many) of seeing and sharing in a more simple mode of worship than had been permitted since Laud's ascendancy (of whose proceedings the consecration of Katharine Cree in our last number offers a striking example), this no doubt was the origin of such assemblages. To the English reformers it was all but a matter of life and death the part these men at St. Antholin's would take. Strafford's trial was pending, Laud had been just arrested, the tide of the revolution was rolling on, but as yet with a force which the King might possibly be able to contend with successfully; we may imagine, then, the importance of that army on the frontiers, of that declaration made by of the commissioners, Baillie, respecting the negotiations, which, said he,
In the church of St. Mildred, , which is small, without columns, but beautiful from the elegance of the arches which support the dome, and of the cornice of the latter, we meet with a later reminiscence of the Civil War in connexion with the memorial of Sir T. Crisp, which refers to the exertions of his father, Sir Nicholas Crisp, in the royal cause, involving, it is stated, losses exceeding in .amount ;
a fact that should never be forgotten, since there are so very few of the kind in the history of the
The Sir Nicholas Crisp referred to was a wealthy merchant of London, who had been driven from thence by a parliamentary prosecution, and joined the King at Oxford. He is said to have been Charles' chief agent for the receipt of foreign succours, as well as the manager of no inconsiderable part of a similar business at home. Whilst the King was in the lines at Oxford, Crisp was most indefatigable in his vocation, a perfect Proteus in the shapes he assumed to elude the inquiries or interference of the parliamentarians: day he was to be seen as a porter, with a basket of fish on his head, watching the arrival of vessels; the next, as a mounted butter-woman between her panniers, on the road to head-quarters. In he set on foot a
| plot to secure a large body of secret adherents in the metropolis, ready at any time to start into sudden activity, by obtaining from the King a commission of array, which Crisp was to fill up with the proper names. The plan was, however, discovered by Parliament, about the same time that it discovered the poet Waller's, and the not unnaturally became intimately blended together in the minds of the people. The only remaining churches that we shall notice are those of Mary Abchurch, and Mary at Hill. The former exhibits in the interior a large and handsome dome supported on a medallion cornice, and is adorned with paintings by Sir James Thornhill, according to Mr. Britton, whilst, in the Pictorial England, Isaac Fuller, of the indigenous scholars of the Verrio school, is mentioned as the painter. The Corinthian altar-piece is decorated by some of the finest carvings of the finest of masters in the art, Gibbons, whose name we have had occasion to mention so frequently in connexion with the churches of London, that cannot help wondering where he found time to execute his manifold commissions. The delicacy of the carvings of reminds of the story of the pot of flowers carved by the same artist whilst living in Belle Sauvage court, |
we mention not so much for the sake of the architecture of the present structure, as for the opportunity of giving another illustration from the history of the former of the magnificence of the old churches of the metropolis. had no less than altars, each with its chantry priest regularly and permanently attached, and brotherhoods, comprising of course a still larger number of religious. This gives us a pretty fair glimpse of the magnitude of the former establishment of St. Mary; the inventory of the apparel for the high altar, only, with the date -, gives us more than a glimpse of its splendour. It occupies great part of quarto pages in Malcolm, and includes such items as altar cloths of russet cloth of gold; curtains of russet sarsenet, fringed with silk; a complete priest's
which comprised, it appears, copes, chasubles, albs, stoles,
fanons, and girdles ;[n.191.1] another suit, of white cloth of gold; a , of red cloth of Lucchese gold; vestments of red satin, embroidered with lions of gold, and of black velvet, powdered with lambs, moons, and stars; canopies of blue cloth of bawdekin, with
and of red silk with green branches and white flowers, powdered with swans of gold between the branches; copes, streamers, and mitres, for the boy-bishop and his followers
How inadequate, after all, are the most glowing descriptions of our romancists to convey to us a sufficient idea of the scenes that must have been presented in our ecclesiastical buildings or centuries ago!
The costs of erection of Wren's churches of course varied greatly in accordance with their great differences in plan and amount of decoration. Some were built for less than , as those of St. Anne , St. Matthew , and St. Nicholas Cole Abbey; many for about or ,
|among which may be enumerated St. Bartholomew, St. Peter , and St. Edmund the King; whilst , St. Bride, , and St. Lawrence Jewry, cost nearly , and , Bow, above In contrast with these last stands the most beautiful of all Wren's ecclesiastical structures, , which was erected for ; a significant proof how little the true architect's fame need depend upon the mere amount of funds at his disposal-upon the extent of space he has to cover--the quantity of brick or stone to pile.|
[n.178.1] Rev. T. Vincent- God's Terrible Advice to the City by Plague and Fire.
[n.180.1] That is, including two not burnt in the fire, as St. Andrew's, Holborn, and St. Clement Danes, and one new church, St. James, Westminster.
[n.188.1] Londinum Redivivum, v. iii. p. 444.
[n.189.1] Britton and Pugin's Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London.
[n.191.1] The amice was an under garment, over which was worn first the alb like a robe or surplice, then the girdle and stole; the fanon or maniple was a towel held by the priest during mass; the chasuble was a kind of smaller cope.