Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

his countrymen committed in the preceding year; and Exeter, for what reason is unknown, was doomed to experience a more than common share of his vengeance. He besieged this city during two months, and when he had obtained possession through the treachery of the governor, a Norman, the inhabitants were exposed to every suffering that the barbarity of the infuriated victors could invent: men, women, and children, were sacrificed in an indiscriminate massacre, and the city was almost totally destroyed by fire. Scarcely had it recovered from this terrible infliction, when it was again exposed to the horrors of war: shortly after the Norman Conquest, the arbitrary conduct of William drove the Saxons into numerous insurrections; or, rather, his authority had never been fully acknowledged in the more remote districts of the Island; Exeter, encouraged by the presence of Githa, mother of the late King Harold, refused to admit a Norman garrison, and the spirit of resistance soon spread throughout the counties of Devon and Cornwall. The King hastened to suppress this revolt, which he shortly effected, and was prevailed on to pardon the inhabitants, on their payment of "a grievous fine;" but he erected a citadel here, in which he placed a garrison, “and took an othe of all the citizens to be his liege subjects."

In the reign of Stephen, Exeter was seized by the partisans of the Empress Maud, but was soon retaken by the King. It suffered during the Wars of the Roses; and in the time of Henry VII was besieged by Perkin Warbeck, who was so valiantly resisted by the citizens, that he was compelled to retire, after making several furious assaults: the King shortly afterwards visited the city, and, "with many commendations," gave the sword he then wore to be borne before the Mayor on state occasions. In 1549, when the Dissolution of the monasteries had produced a formidable insurrection in this county and that of Cornwall, Exeter was attacked by the insurgents, who were at length defeated by Lord Russel, after having continued the siege thirty-five days; during which the citizens suffered greatly from want of provisions. During the Civil War, the Queen of Charles I resided here some time, and gave birth to a daughter, Henrietta, afterwards Duchess of Or

leans; and the city was again besieged during two months by the Parliamentary army under Fairfax; when it was taken the Castle was demolished.

Exeter, both previously to the Conquest, and since has been distinguished by many valuable privileges; under the Saxon monarchs it was exempted from the payment of taxes, except when London, Winchester, and York, paid them. John confirmed all the ancient immunities of the citizens, and granted them a new Charter of Incorporation. Succeeding kings ratified these grants, and made new ones; and Henry VIII constituted the city a county of itself, independently of Devonshire. The Corporation is composed of a Mayor, 24 Aldermen, a Recorder, Sheriff, and inferior officers; they have the power of hearing and determining civil and criminal causes. Thirteen corporate bodies of various trades, also exist within the city, who are governed by officers annually elected. Two Members have been sent from hence to Parliament from the earliest period of national representation; the right of election is vested in the freemen and corporation.

The most remarkable public building in Exeter is

[merged small][graphic]

This magnificent edifice was founded in 932, by King

Athelstan, but it appears doubtful if any portion of the original building now remains. The episcopal seat was originally fixed at Crediton, but was removed to Exeter in 1049, and it is believed that not any part of the present Cathedral is of earlier date than this period; while several authors ascribe even the most ancient part now existing, the massive Tower on each side, to the third Bishop, Warlewast, who was placed in the see in 1107. The building was repaired and enlarged by succeeding prelates; Bishop Quivil, towards the close of the thirteenth century, converted the two Norman towers into transepts, and built a part of the Choir, which was not completed until 1318, in the time of Bishop Stapylton, who expended very large sums in its erection and decoration, particularly in filling the windows with stained glass. Bishop Grandison extended the Nave, erected the west front, the magnificent Screen which projects before it, and an elegant Chapel for his own interment. Other prelates contributed in a smaller degree to the building or embellishment of the Cathedral, but it is neither easy nor necessary to point out their respective shares in this great work.

The Church is dedicated to St. Peter, and consists of a Nave, and two side aisles; two Transepts, formed by the ponderous Norman towers already mentioned; a Choir, with its aisles; a Chapter House; ten Chapels; and a Consistory Court. The whole length of the building is 408 feet; the width is 76; and the height 69; the towers are 130 feet high. On approaching the Church, the eye is at once arrested by the magnificent Screen extending before the west front, and the magnificent Window above it, vast in its dimensions, just in its proportions, elegant in its tracery, and glowing with the richest tints of painting: the Screen is divided into three parts by projecting buttresses; in the centre is the principal entrance, and a smaller doorway on each side, which differ from each other in their style of architecture. The whole is profusely ornamented with statues, niches, buttresses, and tracery, exhibiting in every part a richness of design, and a beauty of execution, which confer the highest honour on the architect who contrived, and the munificent prelate at whose expense it was erected. On entering the


Nave, the finely vaulted roof, the massive clustered columns, the storied windows, richly dight," all tend to inspire the mind with that feeling of religious awe which the ecclesiastical edifices of our forefathers are so well calculated to produce.

The Screen which supports the Organ, and separates the Nave from the Choir, is adorned with several niches, containing some curious ancient paintings, representing events in sacred history: the Organ is said to be one of the finest instruments of the kind in this country, and was erected in 1665. The Choir is 128 feet in length, and is handsomely fitted up; the Bishop's Throne is of exquisite workmanship, and forms an elegantly carved assemblage of niches, pinnacles, and other ornaments; it is of wood, and 52 feet high: at the commencement of the Civil War it was taken down, and carefully concealed until the Restoration, when it was re-erected. The Altar is adorned by three stone seats or stalls, with highlyfinished canopies, which are said to have been occupied by Edward the Confessor, his Queen, and Leofric, the first Bishop of the See, on the installation of the latter in 1049.

Behind the Altar is St. Mary's, or the Lady Chapel, 61 feet long, which by some authors is considered to be the original Saxon Church, erected by King Athelstan: but the style of its architecture does not warrant us in assigning to it so remote an origin. This Chapel is now used as a Library; and within the walls of the Cathedral are nine other Chapels, most of which are adorned with a variety of elegant sculptures, particularly that of Bishop Grandison. It is gratifying to observe that the windows of this Cathedral still contain a considerable quantity of painted glass; the great east window was repaired in 1390, and exhibits a variety of figures; and the west window, which is 37 feet high and 27 broad, was fitted up in an elegant manner in 1766; it is ornamented with figures of St. Peter, the patron of the Church, of the other Apostles, a great number of armorial bearings, &c. and is one of the finest specimens of the art produced in modern times..

Within this Cathedral are interred nearly thirty of its Bishops, including Leofric, who died in 1073, and many other distinguished personages; several of

the tombs are handsomely decorated, but not any require particular notice.

The exterior appearance of the building is very remarkable, from the circumstance of the towers filling the place occupied by the transept in other Cathedrals. These Towers are of massive Norman architecture, and very similar in their general aspect, although, on a more minute inspection, several minor differences will be discovered. The north tower has an ancient clock, of curious construction; and it also contains the celebrated Great Bell, which weighs 12,500lbs.; in the southern tower are eleven other bells, ten of which form a peal. The Chapter House is an elegant apartment, built about 1430.

The Cathedral establishment consists of a Dean, four Archdeacons, a Chancellor, Treasurer, Precentor, and 24 Prebendaries, beside Choristers, Vergers, &c. The See extends over the Counties of Cornwall and Devon, and, as has been already stated, was fixed in this city in 1049. It has been held by many distinguished prelates, of whom several have been already mentioned as contributing to the building, or decoration, of the Cathedral; the present Bishop is Dr. Phillpotts, who was nominated to the see in November, 1830.

[ocr errors]

On the south-east of the Cathedral is the Bishop's Palace, a venerable structure, built or enlarged in the time of Edward IV, by Bishop Courtenay: attached to it are extensive gardens, and the whole is enclosed by a lofty wall. Exclusive of its Cathedral, Exeter has, within its walls, and in the suburbs, 20 Churches, which are for the most part small and ancient, but devoid of any claim to particular notice: a new Church has recently been built. Here are also several Meeting-houses for Protestant Dissenters, a Roman Catholic Chapel, and a Jewish Synagogue.

The Charitable Institutions of this city are very numerous; among them are the Devon and Exeter Hospital, founded by Dean Clark in 1740, for the relief of the sick poor; Wynard's Hospital, sometimes called God's House, built and endowed for the maintenance of twelve aged persons, by William Wynard, Recorder of Exeter, in the reigns of Henry V and VI; several Schools for educating and clothing the children of the poor; two others, in which the scho

« PoprzedniaDalej »