Obrazy na stronie

feet six inches in length, and five feet in width, has also been inlaid with brass, but for whom this was intended is not known.

The Chapter House runs parallel with the south side of the choir, and is entered from the eastern transept by a very elegant pointed arch, adorned with sculpture of the richest description, representing human heads, flowers and fruits, in alternate succession. Other parts of the arch exhibit whole-length figures, supposed to be those of Henry I., Matilda his queen, the Bishops Gundulph, Ernulph, Laurence de St. Martin, and Hamo de Hethe, by the latter of whom this arch is believed to have been erected. Above these are figures of the Saviour, attended by angels, rising from clouds; and the whole is surrounded by a rich border of vine leaves, &c. The Library, which is kept in the Chapter House, contains many rare and valuable Manuscripts, particularly those ancient compilations called the "Textus Roffensis," written by Bishop Ernulph, who died in 1124; and the " Custumale Roffense," by John de Westerham, Prior of this Church, who died in 1320. Both these ancient works are not only important with respect to the church and see to which they particularly relate, but also highly interesting on account of the information they afford on the Saxon laws and monarchs, the amount of Peter pence payable to the Pope from the various Cathedrals in England, &c.

The remains of the ancient Chapter House and Cloisters, on the south of the present church, exhibit some very beautiful Norman arches and ornaments, but much dilapidated.

On the north side of the Cathedral, between the two transepts, is Gundulph's Tower, a massive building, whose walls are ten feet thick; it is supposed to have been erected, by the bishop whose name it bears, for a bell tower, but is not now used for that purpose.

Before quitting this Cathedral it may be observed, that it has been undergoing a course of reparation during several years, and that much has been done, although much still remains to do. The central tower has been rebuilt, and adorned with four handsome pinnacles instead of the low paltry spire which formerly covered it; the original altar piece has been rescued from the screen which so long obscured it,

and we trust will be restored to somewhat like its pristine beauty; the eastern transept has been in part rebuilt, and many other improvements have been made, in a style which does credit to the taste of those intelligent persons by whom they have been carried into effect. We hope, in due time, to see the western front renovated, the nave better paved, and some minor improvements made; and then this Cathedral, although, from the style of its architecture, it can never rival the elegant fabrics of Canterbury and York, may aspire to a respectable rank among those of the secondary order *.

Two of the three gates which originally led into the precincts, still exist; the Cemetery Gate, near the west end of the Cathedral, and the Prior's Gate, on the south; they possess no particular claim to notice. Many remains of the monastic buildings may be traced in the walls of the adjoining edifices, and the present Deanery is erected on the site of the Prior's apartments. The Bishop's Palace has entirely disappeared, and the spot on which it stood is occupied by a row of modern houses.

The CASTLE of Rochester, of more remote origin than the Cathedral itself, attracts the notice of the traveller by its venerable and majestic appearance. Tradition ascribes its erection to Julius Cæsar; and although it may be true that the stay of that celebrated warrior in this island was too short to admit of his being its founder, yet the numerous coins, and other antiquities discovered within its walls, as well as its excellent situation for the purposes of defence, evidently prove it to have been built by the Romans.

During the Saxon Government it was several times repaired, but having suffered much from the Danish assaults, and subsequent neglect, William the Conqueror caused it to be completely restored, and garrisoned with 500 men. The turbulent Odo, Earl of Kent, was here besieged by his nephew, William Rufus, and, after holding out several weeks, was compelled to submit, and was afterwards banished

* It is a singular fact, that, while almost every other Cathedral has been illustrated to profusion, a view of that of Rochester could not be procured at any print shop in London. The engraving in a preceding page was made from a drawing taken expressly for the purpose, and gives an accurate idea of the present appearance of the edifice.

for life from the kingdom. The Castle having suffered considerably during this siege, the King, who suspected Bishop Gundulph and the Prior of the monastery of having secretly abetted the resistance of Odo, inflicted an appropriate punishment on them by ordering them to repair the damage done to the building, and to erect a new Keep, or great tower, at their own expence. This was accordingly done, and the exterior walls of the edifice raised by the prelate, still remain nearly in a perfect state.

In 1215 this Castle was besieged and taken by King John, who put nearly all the common soldiers to death, in revenge for their obstinate resistance. In the following year it surrendered to the Dauphin of France; but again submitted to Henry III., who committed its custody to Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent. In 1264 it was invested by Simon de Montfort, at the head of the confederate Barons, but was relieved by the King, after a great part of the city had been burnt, the Priory and Cathedral plundered, and the latter used as a stable by the horsemen of the rebel army. From this period nothing of importance occurs in the history of the Castle, except that during Wat Tyler's insurrection it was attacked, and a prisoner released by the insurgents; and about 1472 its walls, as well as those of the city, were repaired by order of Edward IV.; since that time they have been utterly neglected, and owe their preservation from total ruin to the solidity of their construction, as attempts have been made to pull them down, which were defeated by its being discovered that the expense and labour necessary to effect this barbarous enterprise, would not be compensated by the value of the materials obtained.

The Castle is finely situated, on a considerable eminence rising abruptly from the Medway, and its walls, which formed an irregular oblong, of about 300 feet in length, were defended by several towers, some round and others square, all of which are now verging to decay. The Keep, however, is still nearly perfect, and affords a very interesting specimen of the military architecture of the Normans. It is upwards of 100 feet in height, and the walls, which form a square of about 70 feet, vary from eleven to thirteen feet in thickness, and are strengthened at the angles by towers, three

of which are square, and one circular, rising about twelve feet above the rest of the building. It was divided into three floors, but these, as well as the roof, have been entirely destroyed; the entrance was on the first floor, by a flight of steps in a smaller tower, now fallen to ruin, and was guarded by every precaution which skill and prudence could suggest. The ascent to the top is by two circular winding staircases in the angles of the building, and the view from

hence is noble and extensive.

There were formerly four Churches in Rochester, but two of these, St. Clement's and St. Mary's, have been destroyed; two still remain, dedicated to St. Nicholas and St. Margaret. The former of these, erected about 1421, is situated in the cemetery on the north of the Cathedral. It is a neat building, with a tower at the north-west corner, and has been recently repaired, in a handsome but incongruous manner, the roof and altar being of Grecian architecture, while the rest of the edifice retains its original Gothic. It has a curious ancient font.

The Church of St. Margaret is pleasantly situated on an eminence near the river, and has a well-built tower at the west end.

The Grammar School, founded by Henry VIII., maintains two masters, and twenty boys, called King's Scholars. It has eight exhibitions at the Universities, bestowed by its founder and subsequent benefactors.

The Free School, founded by Sir Joseph Williamson in 1701, and endowed by him with £5000 for its support, is principally devoted to the instruction of youths intended for the naval service, and many of the future defenders of their country here received the rudiments of education.

St. Catherine's Hospital was originally endowed in 1316 by Simon Potyn, member of parliament for this city, for the reception of persons afflicted with the leprosy. At present it is occupied by twelve poor persons, each having a separate apartment, with a yearly allowance of money, firing and candles.

Watts's Alms-House was founded in the year 1579 by the individual whose name it bears, and who was Recorder of this city, for the reception of "six poor travellers, or wayfaring men, who not being rogues or

proctors, shall receive, for one night, lodging, entertainment, and fourpence each." The estates bequeathed in support of this charity have very much increased in value of late years; and the surplus, after payment of the groats (for" lodging and entertainment," it appears, are no longer given,) is appropriated in aid of the poor's rates. The building is in the High Street, of respectable exterior, and was repaired at considerable expense in 1771, when an inscription, stating the nature of the institution, in the above terms, was placed in the front.

Here is also a National School, on the Lancastrian plan, and several other charitable institutions of a minor description.

The Town Hall is a handsome brick building, supported by coupled stone pillars, of the Doric order, and was erected in 1687. The market is held in the area below the Hall, and the City Gaol is at the back. The Hall itself is a handsome apartment, 47 feet long and 28 wide, ornamented with a richly decorated ceiling, executed at the expense of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, and contains full-length portraits of William III., Queen Anne, Sir Joseph Williamson, and several other eminent persons connected with the city. The Clock House is a very neat brick building, raised at the sole charge of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, about 1700.

The City Walls included a very small space, not more than half a mile from east to west, and only half that distance from north to south. Some considerable remains of them are still to be met with, from which it appears that they were about four feet thick; the last Gate was pulled down in 1770.

The Bridge is a handsome stone structure, about 570 feet long, having eleven arches, with a neat parapet and balustrade. The original Bridge was of wood, erected in the reign of King Edgar, which existed, although with many repairs, until the time of Richard II., when Sir Robert Knolles and Lord Cobham, having acquired great wealth in the French wars of the preceding reign, determined to appropriate a part of it to the building of a stone bridge here, instead of the wooden one, which was in a state of great dilapidation. The present edifice was accordingly completed about 1394, and these generous

« PoprzedniaDalej »