Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Winchester Part 4

On the end wall of the ambulatory, to the left of the entrance to the Chapel of the Guardian Angels, is a fine monument, somewhat mutilated, to Ethelmar or Aymer de Valence, half-brother of Henry III., who was so unpopular a bishop at Winchester. Only his heart is in the cathedral, having been conveyed hither from Paris, where his body was buried. The facts are commemorated by the following inscription on the presbytery wall:--

Corpus Ethelmari Cuius Cor Nunc Tenet Istud Saxum Parisiis Morte Datur Tumulo Obiit A.D. 1261.

When Winchester was attacked by the so-called religious zeal of the Puritans, Ethelmar's heart was disturbed, as is recorded by a writer of the period, who says that "when the steps of the altar were levelling with the rest of the ground one of the workmen accidentally struck his mattock on this stone and broke it; underneath which was an urn wherein the heart of this Ethelmar was, being enclosed in a golden cup, which thing ... being conveyed to the ears of the committee-men they took the cup for their own use, and ordered him to bury the heart in the north isle, which he accordingly did." The heart, he goes on to say, was "so entire and uncorrupt" that it was "as fresh as if it had just been taken from the body, and issued forth fresh drops of blood upon his hand. This I had from the mouth of the workman himself, whom I believe." The slab which once covered the heart shows, within the symbolic vesica, "in a trefoil canopy the half-length figure of the Bishop, mitred and in his episcopal robes, his uplifted hands holding a heart, his pastoral staff represented as resting on his left arm." Below are his arms and the inscription in Lombardic letters, + _Ethelmarus. Tibi Cor Meum Dne._

[Illustration: THE LADY CHAPEL. _Photochrom Co. Ltd., Photo._]

[Illustration: DETAIL OF LADY CHAPEL.]

The #Lady Chapel#, due in part to De Lucy and in part to Priors Hunton and Silkstede, is of rectangular shape, the easternmost portions being added about 1524. It should be noticed that in De Lucy's work the central aisle is but little higher than the laterals, which still have their eastern walls, whereas the actual material of the Lady Chapel east wall was erected by Hunton. The north and south walls exhibit De Lucy's Early English arcades and lancets, while they become Perpendicular at the eastern end, and the east window is of the same period. This large seven-light window shows "transom and tracery of a peculiar kind of subordination, or rather inter-penetration of patterns, well worth a careful study" (Willis). The stone work of the interior is quite plain, but a large portion of the wall space is concealed by some richly-carved wooden panelling added by Bishop Fox. Seats, desks, and screen are also of fine workmanship. Where the walls are not hidden by wood-work are the very faint remains of some curious old mural paintings of the miracles of the Virgin, executed under the direction of Prior Silkstede in 1489.

These frescoes are decidedly archaic, but they are extremely interesting. Starting from the south side the nineteen pictures represent:--

1. Miracle of an image of the Virgin bending its finger to prevent a young man taking off a ring which he had placed on the image that it might not be lost or injured while he played at ball. By this the young man was won to monastic life.

2. Protection and honour conferred by the Virgin on an ignorant priest, who knew and could sing only one mass, which was in honour of her.

3. Prior Silkstede kneeling before Virgin, saying: "_Benedicta tu in mulieribus_." Beneath is the following:--"Prior Silkstede also caused these polished stones, O Mary, to be ornamented at his expense."

4. Jewish boy, after receiving the Eucharist, thrown into a furnace by his father, but delivered from the flames by the Virgin.

5. Famous portrait of the Virgin, carried in procession by Pope Gregory to allay a fearful pestilence. During the procession the destroying angel is seen sheathing his sword.

6. A widow receives back her son who had been kidnapped, and thereupon restores the silver image of the child Jesus, which she had taken from the image of the Virgin on losing her son.

7. Virgin assisting woman taken ill on pilgrimage.

8. Virgin enables boys, with ease, to raise that which strong men could not.

9. Nun brought to life to confess a sin not confessed before death.

10. Virgin saves a monk from drowning, and from two evil spirits, with instruments of torture, one who had lived an immoral life.

11. Two Brabancons seized by devils and killed for throwing stones at an image of the Virgin.

12. Deliverance at sea effected by the Virgin.

13. Mass of the Virgin celebrated by Christ himself, with saints and angels, on an occasion when the priest was unable to do so.

14. S. John's (of Damascus) arm restored; thereby establishing his innocence of having corresponded with unbelievers.

15. Virgin delivering from the gallows a thief who had always venerated her.

16. Virgin commanding the burial of a clerk of irreligious life in consecrated ground, because he had been her votary.

17. Virgin assisting a painter to paint the devil "as ugly as he knew him to be," in spite of all the devil could do to prevent him from completing it.

18. The Annunciation--over door, which formerly led to a particular sacristy.

19. How, by praying to the Virgin, a robber-knight was delivered from the clutches of the devil.

The altar is flanked on the north by a memorial of Bishop Brownlow North, representing him kneeling in adoration. The vault above, though not so elaborate as that of Langton's chapel on the right hand, is a fine example of lierne work, and the shafts are noticeable for their capitals and bases. Among the devices are T and the syllable HUN, followed by the figure of a tun; and T and the syllable SILK, followed by the figure of a horse; signifying Thomas Hunton and Thomas Silkstede respectively.

[Illustration: BISHOP LANGTON'S CHAPEL. _S.B. Bolas & Co., Photo._]


The southern window of the Lady Chapel has recently been filled with a memorial window to the late Bishop Thorold, whose tomb lies in the cathedral precincts just below the new window. In pre-Reformation times this window, like those on the north and east, was glazed with fine painted glass, of which a few fragments still remain in the tracery. The remaining portions of the old work have been worked in with the new by Mr C.E. Kempe, the designer and executor. The memorial glass presents scenes in the life of Christ, while above appear S. Birinus, Pope Honorius, S. Swithun, S. Alphege, and other saints. The dedication ceremony took place on August 7, 1897, two years after the burial of Bishop Thorold at Winchester.

Of the two chapels which flank the Lady Chapel, that to the north is the #Chapel of the Guardian Angels#, once the chantry of Bishop Adam de Orlton, of whom no memorial here exists, though he is buried in the chapel. This compartment is sometimes called the Portland chapel, owing to the fact that it contains on the south side the tomb of Richard Weston, Earl of Portland, who was treasurer to Charles I. A recumbent bronze statue by Le Sueur adorns the tomb, while in the wall above are four tabernacles, three of which contain mutilated busts, probably representing members of his family. A mural monument of Bishop Peter Mews, who is also interred here, is marked by a crozier and mitre. On the north side, too, there is in the wall an aumbry with a shelf, having a curious square head within a trefoil. The early vaulting of this chapel has, between the ribs, figures of seraphim, which are very fresh in colour.

[Illustration: QUEEN MARY'S CHAIR. _Photochrom Co. Ltd., Photo._]

The corresponding chapel to the south is #Bishop Langton's Chantry#, though the work is partly De Lucy's, including the walls and the early vaulting shafts. The defaced front-screen and the oak-panelling all round are very rich examples of late Gothic, and the stone vaulting has been compared in point of elaboration with that in the chapel of Henry VII. at Westminster. On the groining, at the junction of the ribs, is carved Bishop Langton's rebus, consisting of the musical sign for a "long" upon a tun, while his motto _Laus tibi Christe_ also occurs. It is supposed that the magnificent carved vine on the upper part of the oak-panelling which runs round the chapel originally formed the rebus of Langton's see, the tun from which it sprang being now lost. The woodwork, which is certainly one of the most striking things in the cathedral, is unfortunately mutilated, as is also part of the heraldic work on the entrance door. At the east end of the chapel above the former altar there is a row of seven tabernacles, under which is a cornice which was originally gilt and painted. The statues which once occupied the tabernacles are no longer extant. The central tomb here is that of Bishop Langton himself. Queen Mary's chair now stands in this chapel; it is in a wonderful state of preservation for its age, and the woodwork is still sound.

The entrance to the #Crypts# is in the north transept, as was noted above. They are three in number, the main division stretching from the eastern tower-piers to the first piers of the retro-choir. It consists of a central room divided by a row of five columns in the middle, with an apsidal eastern termination, and is flanked by two aisles with square eastern ends. The well here is said to be considerably older than the building above it. From this opens out a narrower crypt, which also has five columns down the centre, while its apse reaches to the eastern end of the retro-choir. These crypts cannot, as some have supposed (and the tradition still survives), form part of the old Saxon church, since it has been fairly established that the site of this was not that of the present building. The plan of the chambers is in perfect accord, as Willis says, with that of Norman churches in general. The main crypt shows by its circular apse what was the form of the east end in the old Norman church. The actual work is strikingly like that of the transepts, the peculiar thin square abacus, combined with a round capital, being a noteworthy point in both these portions of the building. The third crypt, which is narrow like the second, is rectangular in shape, and its vaulting rests on columns. It is Early English in architecture, and is contemporary with De Lucy's work in the upper part of the church. In 1886 the crypts were to a great extent cleared out to their original level, a vast quantity of rubbish being removed. Many fragments of early work still remain, though in too mutilated a form to indicate where they originally stood.

The #stained glass# at Winchester can, perhaps, best be treated separately from the windows which it occupies. Most of the information may be found summed up in a paper addressed to the Archaeological Association in September 1845, by Mr C. Winston. Two circles of Early Decorated glass are to be seen in the west window, but they are merely composed of coloured pieces arranged in geometrical patterns. The general arrangement of the great window is, as has been already said, kaleidoscopic, the fragments which compose it being too scattered to admit of being put together again in their original form. The effect, however, is striking, particularly at some distance from the west end.

There are remains of the original glass in the west windows of the aisles and in the first window from the west in the south aisle, but the Edingdon windows in the north aisle have lost their glass. The glass in the above windows consists of the heads of canopies, though in the west window some of the original figures are still to be seen. This is the earliest Perpendicular glass in the cathedral, and may date from Edingdon's time. Next in date is the glass in the other windows of the nave aisles and clerestory windows, a little later than that in the west window, and of the same character as that at New College, Oxford, in the north, south, and west windows. Of this glass, apparently four figures and part of their canopies have been removed to the first window from the east in the choir clerestory. The heads of the three westerly windows, to the north of the choir clerestory, showing canopy-work and cherubim, come next in date, with eight canopied figures in the upper tier of the two easterly windows on the south of this clerestory. The latter seem to have come originally from some other window, being too short for their present situation. Their date may be about the end of the reign of Henry VI. The east window of the choir may be a little earlier than 1525, and has introduced in it Bishop Fox's arms and motto, _Est deo gracia_. This window has been much disturbed, the top central light being filled with glass of Wykeham's period, while little of Fox's glass seems to be in its original position. To Fox also may be attributed part of the aisle windows north and south of the choir, and some canopies in the side windows of the choir clerestory. Some late glass, much mutilated, may be seen in the east window of the Lady Chapel. Warner says of the two large windows, that "the great east window is remarkable for the beauty of its painted glass, which contains the portraits of saints, and of some bishops of this see; it is whole and entire, the west window is magnificent, but much inferior to this."

[Illustration: ONE OF THE MORTUARY CHESTS IN THE CHOIR SCREEN (see "Mortuary Chests" in Chapter III).

(From a Drawing by Reginald Blomfield in his "History of Renaissance Architecture in England." Bell, 1897.)]



The West Saxon kingdom, of which S. Birinus became the first bishop, included the counties of Surrey, Berkshire, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, and Somerset. When Birinus was consecrated by the Bishop of Milan, he was not assigned any exact territorial jurisdiction, as was only natural, seeing that he was a missionary to a little-known land. He met, however, with a rapid success, and in 635 performed the baptism of Cynegils, king of the West Saxons, on the day of his marriage to the daughter of the Northumbrian king. The town of Dorchester on the borders of Mercia was immediately assigned to Birinus as a bishop's seat. But when Aegelberht had succeeded him, the next king, Cenwalh, made a division of the kingdom into two distinct dioceses of Dorchester and Winchester, the new creation being assigned in 661 to Wina; who, however, succeeded to the whole of the original diocese, as Aegelberht appears to have left England in disgust. Eleutherius, Wina's successor, continued to hold the still united offices at Dorchester, and it was not until Hedda became bishop, about 679 A.D., that Winchester was really made the seat of a diocese. Even Hedda continued to rule all from Winchester, and not before his death was a permanent division of sees carried out. Winchester retained Surrey, Sussex, and the Southampton district; while the other counties were assigned to Sherborne--Dorchester, which belonged more properly to Mercia, having been taken away, as there was no longer the same need of an inland centre to the see, with four bishops now in Mercia. Sussex was also taken from the Winchester diocese during the episcopacy of Daniel, Hedda's successor, and by way of compensation he was only able to add the Isle of Wight, hitherto unattached to any see. When the West Saxon kingdom became, in the ninth century, practically the kingdom of England, Winchester, of course, assumed a very important position. S. Swithun, who was chosen as bishop in 852, had great influence with King Ethelwulf, and his cathedral correspondingly became an object of veneration. The see suffered, however, from the Danish raids which occurred during the next two reigns; but with Bishop Athelwold its prestige was quite restored. To him is due the establishment of a Benedictine monastery at Winchester, the previous convent having been one of secular (and non-celibate) canons. With the supremacy of the Danes, we find Cnut both elected king and subsequently buried at Winchester. Edward the Confessor, moreover, was crowned in the cathedral on Easter Day, 1043, so that Winchester maintained its position well up to this date. Further invasions of the Northmen then very much wasted the south coast, and gradually Winchester began to yield its pride of place to Westminster.

However, the town remained a place of considerable importance, for, as Mr H. Hall says in his "Antiquities of the Exchequer," "although Westminster possessed an irresistible attraction to a pious sovereign through the vicinity of a favoured church, Norman kings, engrossed in the pleasure of the chase and constantly embroiled in Continental wars, found the ancient capital of Winchester better adapted for the pursuit of sport, as well as for the maintenance of their foreign communications through the proximity of the great mediaeval seaport, Southampton." This traffic between London and the two Hampshire towns passed through Southwark, which always had a close connection with Winchester, remaining even to this day in a modified degree. The Norman bishops, if they found Winchester no longer the chief town of England, certainly added to the glory of the church by the erection and beautifying of a new cathedral. Immediately after the death of Walkelin, the first bishop of the conquering race, there was a vacancy in the see which lasted for nine years, owing to the vexed question of investiture. When Giffard was finally installed, he displayed considerable activity. Among his other works, he built the town residence of the bishops of Winchester at Southwark. Bishop's Waltham remained the principal residence until its destruction by Waller in 1644, after which Farnham Castle took its place.

Rumour says that there was a suggestion made of raising the see of Winchester to the rank of an archbishopric during its tenure by that foremost of fighting churchmen, Henry de Blois, who certainly desired the elevation. At any rate, Fuller says of Henry that he "outshined Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury." The Pope's consent, however, was not secured. Henry paid considerable attention to the temporal affairs of his see, rebuilding the castles at Farnham and Wolvesey, and founding the Hospital of St Cross. He translated also the bodies of the old kings and bishops from the site of the Saxon crypt, the remains without inscriptions being placed in leaden sarcophagi, mixed in hopeless confusion. After Henry's death there occurred another vacancy in the see, ended at last by the admittance of Toclive in 1174 A.D.

With De Lucy's accession in 1189 we reach another epoch of building activity, for not only was this bishop busy himself, but also under his guidance there was instituted in 1202, as the Winchester annalist records, a confraternity, to last for five years, for repairing the cathedral. De Lucy's work at the eastern end of the building is described elsewhere. We should not omit to notice, when considering the position of Winchester, that Richard, on his return from captivity in 1194, was re-crowned here on the octave of Easter Day.

Bishop de Rupibus, De Lucy's successor, introduced preaching friars into England, and set up at Winchester in 1225 a Dominican establishment, while a few years later the Franciscans were also established here. Both institutions have since vanished.

The middle of the thirteenth century was marked at Winchester by continual struggles between king, monks, and Pope, as to the right of electing the bishop of Winchester. Some record of these struggles will be found in the list of bishops of the see. The contest about the election of De Raleigh lasted five years, and the king only finally accepted the monks' choice after the Pope and the king of France had also lent their influence on his behalf. In 1264-7 the town rose up against the prior and convent, burning and murdering under pretext of assisting the king, the bishop being a partisan of De Montfort. After the battle of Evesham the cathedral was laid under an interdict by the Papal legate, Ottoboni, and this was not removed until August 1267.

With Wykeham's importance in the story of Winchester we have dealt elsewhere. His successor, Beaufort, greatly enlarged the foundation of St Cross, adding to it his "Almshouse of Noble Poverty." It is a remarkable fact that these two bishops and Waynflete, the founder of Magdalen College, Oxford, between them occupied the see for no less than 120 years. The history of this period, as far as the cathedral is concerned, is mainly architectural and therefore uneventful in comparison with that of the earlier times. The intervals whose history is less stirring, however, fortunately leave far better marks on the actual buildings than do the more eventful epochs; and the fact that Cardinal Wolsey once was Bishop of Winchester could not be gathered from the cathedral itself. Indeed, he never visited the town at all during the course of his episcopate--a circumstance which is, perhaps, hardly to be regretted.

In 1500 Pope Alexander issued a Bull separating the Channel Islands from their former see of Coutances, which was now no longer English territory, and attaching them to the see of Salisbury. "This was afterwards altered to Winchester," says Canon Benham, "but from some cause which does not appear, the transfer was never made until 1568, after the Reformed Liturgy has been established in the islands." The cathedral itself received architectural additions during this period from Bishops Courtenay and Langton, their priors, and Bishop Fox. When in Henry VIII.'s reign the former town of Southwark had either been conveyed to the city or had become the king's property (the latter being such parts as had previously been the holding of Canterbury), the "Clink," or the Bishop of Winchester's Liberty, was not interfered with.

The result of this was that the Clink became the home of the early play-houses--the Globe, Hope, Rose, and Swan--since within the city bounds actors were not allowed to carry on their profession. In Mr T.

Fairman Ordish's "Early London Theatres" the extent to which the first theatres flourished in the Winchester Liberty may be clearly seen.

Chapter end

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