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the south door, with a descent of six steps into the interior of the church.
St. Michael's Chapel adjoins to this transept, and is succeeded by the original building of Lanfranc; the eastern transept, and, indeed, the greater portion of the edifice, from hence to the eastern extremity, is of Norman architecture, and is curiously ornamented with semicircular intersecting arches, having pillars richly sculptured with various devices. The end of the east transept has a large circular window, and several others, and below are two entrances to the Crypt.
The Chapel of St. Anselm, which adjoins to the eastern transept, is followed by Becket's Crown, which is of a circular form, and terminates the building to the east. The northern side of the Cathedral may be described as possessing a general uniformity of appearance with the south, but is encumbered and hidden by various buildings.
The Great Tower is a most chaste and beautiful specimen of the pointed style of architecture, being equally admirable in its proportions, workmanship, and symmetry. The angles form octagonal columns, which are terminated by clustered pinnacles, of the most elegant execution. Each side of the tower has two ranges of double-pointed arches, finely ornamented, and in the space between the upper and lower windows is a series of tasteful embellishments; the battlements are elegantly pierced.
The view on entering the Cathedral is such as to excite the admiration of every spectator; and must be seen to be justly appreciated. Its principal characteristics are lightness and beauty, but strength and grandeur are not omitted. The towers are open at the lower part to the nave and aisles, and the vaulting is wrought into beautiful tracery. The Nave is separated from its aisles by eight columns on each side, exclusive of the immense masses which sustain the Central Tower. Above each of the large arches which spring from these columns are five blank arches, over which are the windows giving light to the Nave. The aisles are nearly uniform; the windows large and elegant, and the whole aspect of the building airy and graceful.
The columns which support the Tower are also
ornamented in a superb manner; and its interior being open to the height of 130 feet, lighted by elegant windows, and adorned with rich pendants and beautiful fan-work, produces a very grand effect.
From the Nave a triple flight of steps leads to the Choir, through a most beautiful stone Screen, containing the statues of six Kings, in canopied niches, over which is placed the excellent Organ, originally erected in Westminster Abbey for the Commemoration of Handel.
The elegance which is observable in the Nave, is continued in the Western Transept, the northern division of which is called the Martyrdom, this being the spot on which Becket fell when attacked by his assassins*. The great window at this end of the
* The turbulent and ambitions spirit of Becket had involved him, during several years, in continual disputes with the King; and the latter, who was in Normandy, having allowed some strong expressions of displeasure to escape him in the presence of his courtiers, four knights, named Fitz Urse, Moraville, Tracy, and Brito, hastened over to England, having bound themselves by oath to compel the Archbishop to submit, or to put him to death. On their arrival in Becket's presence, on December 29, 1170, a long and violent altercation ensued, and they intimated to him that in case of refusal his life was in danger. This threat, however, had no effect on him; he assured them that he was " more ready to suffer martyrdom than they could be to slay him;” and upon their charging his servants not to suffer him to flee, “ Flee!” exclaimed he, indignantly, “ I will never flee from any man living!” The knights now departed, but returned, armed, in the afternoon; and not finding the Archbishop in his palace, sought him in the Cathedral, where he was preparing for the evening service. His friends, perceiving their approach, would have closed the gates, but Becket forbade them, saying, “ You ought not to make a castle of a church; nor did I come hither to resist, but to suffer." He then proceeded to the high altar, and the knights, rushing into the choir, cried out, “Where is Thomas Becket? where is that traitor? where is the Archbishop ?" He descended the steps of the altar, and replied, “ Here am I, the Archbishop, but no traitor. What would you have with me? I am ready to suffer, in the name of Him who redeemed me with his blood. God forbid that I should fly for fear of your swords!” They again commanded him to submit, but he refused; and Tracy, seizing him, endeavoured to drag him out of the Church, intending (as he afterwards confessed) either to carry him a prisoner to the king, or to kill him in a less sacred place; but Becket, clinging to one of the pillars, resisted all their efforts, and applying an opprobrious epithet to Fitz Urse, the latter became so much enraged as to aim a blow with his sword at the head of the Archbishop, which only slightly wounded him, but nearly cut off the arm of a priest who interposed. Becket upon this bowed his head, and clasping his hands, recommended his soul to God and the saints; in this posture he received a second wound, without the slightest motion, word, or groan; at the third, he fell dead before the altar of St. Benedict; and all the assassins now pressing forward, a piece of his scull was struck off by Brito, and Moraville, with wanton barbarity, scooped out the brains of the victim, and scattered them over the pavement. Thus,” says Lord Lyttelton, “in the fifty-third year of his age, was assassinated Thomas Becket; a
transept, as well as that at the south, is richly ornamented with painted glass, containing portraits of Edward IV. (by whom it was presented) and his family; with numerous figures of Apostles, Saints, and Bishops, coats of arms, &c.; its present splendour is, however, far inferior to that which it exhibited previously to the Civil War, as may be learned from the narrative of R. Culmer, commonly called Blue Dick, one of the preachers appointed by the Parliament, and the principal agent in its destruction*.
Adjoining to the east side of this transept is the Chapel of the Virgin, generally called Dean's Chapel, from its being the burial-place of several Deans of this Cathedral. The entrance is by a light and elegant stone Screen, richly ornamented. This chapel, which was built by Prior Goldstone, about 1450, is one of the most beautiful specimens of the pointed style of architecture in this kingdom, although on a small scale. The vaulting of the roof is designed in admirable taste, and the execution is equally excellent. The east window is also peculiarly elegant. The founder is supposed to have been buried in this chapel, but the precise spot of his interment is unknown.
man of great talents, of elevated thoughts, and of invincible courage; but of a most violent and turbulent spirit; excessively passionate, haughty, and vain-glorious; io his resolutions inflexible, in his resentments implacable.'
* This holy Vandal relates the transaction, and his own share in it, in the following terms:
“ The commissioners fell presently to work on the great idolatrous window on the left hand as you go up into the choir, for which window (some affirm) many thousand pounds have been offered by outlandish papists.In that window was the picture of God the Father and of Christ, besides a large crucifix, and the picture of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove ; and of the twelve apostles: and in that window were seven large pictures of the Virgin Mary, in seven glorious appearances; as of angels lifting her into heaven, and the sun, moon, and stars, under her feet; and every picture had an inscription under it, beginning with Gaude Maria, as · Gaude Maria, Sponsa Dei;' that is, Rejoice, Mary, thou Spouse of God. There were in this window, many other pictures of Popish saints, as of St. George, &c.; but their prime Cathedral saint, Archbishop Becket, was most rarely pictured in that window, in full proportion, with cope, rochet, mitre, crosier, and in pontificalibus." He adds, “ A minister" (himself) “was on the top of the city ladder, near sixty steps high, with a pike in his hand, rattling down proud Becket's glassy bunes, when others then present would not venture so high.” Gostling relates, that while he was thus employed, “ a townsman, among those who were looking at him, desired to know what he was doing. • I am doing the work of the Lord,' replied Culmer.• Then,' said the other, •if it please the Lord, I will help thee !' and he immediately threw a stone, with so good a will, that if the Saint had not ducked, he might have laid his own bones among the rubbish that he was making.”
Opposite to this chapel is that of St. Michael, possessing no claims to particular notice; and above this is a room formerly employed as an armoury, but latterly as a singing school for the choristers.
The Choir is of spacious dimensions, and its roof is
supported by pointed arches, springing from lofty and slender columns, variously ornamented, and alternately circular and octagonal. Over the larger arches is a range of double arches, and, above these, the windows which give light to the body of the Choir.
The Cathedral having been much damaged during the Civil War, was repaired at a great expense soon after the Restoration, when the Choir was elegantly, but not uniformly, fitted up, the Dean's and Prebendal Stalls, &c. being ornamented with Corinthian columns; as is the Archbishop's Throne, erected near the middle of the south side of the Choir, at the cost of Archbishop Tennison, in 1704. The Altar Screen, also of the Corinthian order, with fluted columns, and a beautiful pediment, was bụilt in consequence of a legacy of £500 left for that purpose by Dr. Grandorge, a prebendary. The centre, being filled with plate glass, affords a fine view of the eastern extremity of the Church.
The Eastern Transept has many of the characteristics of the Norman architecture, and appears to have been rather repaired than rebuilt after the fire of 1174. Several of the windows are filled with painted glass, but this having been collected from various parts of the Church, does not always match so well as might be wished; the general effect, however, from the great brilliancy of the colours, is striking and beautiful.
In this part of the Cathedral are the Treasury, Vestry, and Audit-Room; in the first of which are deposited many charters and muniments, in large wooden chests.
Behind the Choir is the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, in which formerly stood the magnificent shrine of Archbishop Becket; the expense of this building was defrayed out of the oblations of the devotees, and the pavement around still exhibits proofs of their number, being worn into hollows in several places. His remains were removed hither from the Crypt, where they had at first been interred, in 1220, the fiftieth year after his death, and the Pope granted a Jubilee on the occasion, which was repeated every fifty years, until 1520. Immense numbers repaired to these holy festivals; in 1420, as appears from authentic records, upwards of 100,000 pilgrims visited the city, and made offerings to a vast amount.
The tomb of Becket was an object of devotion to all ranks; Louis VII. of France, our own monarchs, Henry II., Richard I., and John, with a long train of princes, archbishops, nobles, and persons of every degree, crowded hither, with presents, which so enriched the Shrine, that at the time of the Dissolution, when the bones of the Saint, so long revered, “ were burnt by order of the Lord Cromwell,” Stow informs us, " The timber work of the shrine, on the outside, was covered with plates of gold, damasked with gold wier; which ground of golde was againe covered with jewels of gold, as rings, in number ten or twelve, cramped with golde wyer into the said ground of gold, many of those rings having stones in them; broaches, images, angels, pretious stones, and great orient pearls. The spoile of which shrine, in golde and pretious stones, filled two great chestes, such as sixe or seaven strong men could doe no more than convey one of them at once out of the Church.”
This chapel is surrounded by a semicircular aisle, opening to Becket's Crown, a circular building terminating the Cathedral to the east. This building is, in part, of the same date as Trinity Chapel, and corresponds with it in the shape of its arches, zigzag mouldings, &c. The upper portion, however, is of much later erection; being left unfinished at the time of the Dissolution, it was not completed till early in the eighteenth century, and what was then done cannot be said to surpass the more ancient part in beauty. The windows are filled with painted glass, but in many places sadly mismatched. The venerable Stone Chair, in which the Archbishops have been, during a long series of years, enthroned, stands here; and is remarkably plain and simple in its appearance.
An extensive Crypt runs beneath the greater part