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On viewing the INTERIOR, it will be found that the six fine lancet lights of the south side of the nave occupy the space of three opposite arches, and are made, by two shallow pilasters, into three corresponding compartments. These coupled lights—the first approach to a ramified window—are divided in height by a plain and original transom. Some fragments of the coeval STAINED GLASS remain in them, the principal pattern being a red quatre-foil,enclosing a mascle,-placed between two vertical borders. The triforium, or gallery from the Dormitory of the Canons to the church, crossed the base of these windows; the passage still remaining by which they entered and left the nave.
The opposite side of the nave is divided from its aisle by one cylindrical column placed between two of octagonal form. Above these are four single and plain lancet lights, based on a ponderous string course. On the outside, they are not divided by buttresses, but connected by a dog-toothed string-course passing over the heads, with an elegant and characteristic foliated boss at the point of springing.
THE NORTH AND ONLY AISLE OF THE NAVE has been renewed from the ground in the Decorated period, and is economically rather than unskilfully plain. It has three windows, with tracery of elegant design, and a deeply-moulded doorway towards the west end, surmounted by a trefoil-headed niche.
Of the STAINED GLASS, with which these windows appear to have been finished, there is left, only, in the tracery, fragments of a ruby border, enriched with cinquefoils and fleurs-de-lis; some red roses; and the heads of two kings, which, though evidently coeval with the stone-work, and characteristic of the period, were inadvertently supposed by Dr. Whitaker to have been "a compliment to the unhappy monarch for whom two of the Cliffords successively fought and died."
The space of one arch at the east end of this aisle is enclosed by a wooden lattice, in the Perpendicular style, except that part which abuts on the pier of the tower, where there is a low wall. This was a CHANTRY CHAPEL, founded, no doubt, soon after the translation of the house by one of its chief benefactors, the Mauleverers of Beamsley; and retains that character by an altar stone, now prostrate on the floor, and the piscina-a plain semicircular-headed recess, of which the basin has been partially destroyed. At the east end are eight large rough stones, above 7 feet long, laid side by side, and risen above the floor about 20 inches. These cover
the VAULT OF THE CLAPHAMS, of Beamsley, who, according to tradition, were interred there upright; but though we may "look down" through the "chink in the fractured floor," we shall miss "the griesly sight," which, if it ever existed materially, I am sorry to say has long since disappeared.
"Pass, pass who will, yon chantry door,
And, through the chink in the fractured floor
A Vault where the bodies are buried upright;
Is John de Clapham, that fierce Esquire,
A valiant man, and a man of dread
In the ruthless wars of the White and Red;
Who dragged Earl Pembroke from Banbury Church,
At the opposite side of the nave was another altar; the PISCINA plain round arch and square basin—remaining.
The wooden SCREEN, which divided the nave from the transept, has been removed, since the dissolution, the space of one arch from the western pier of the central tower. It is a plain specimen of Tudor open-work, surmounted by a heavy cornice of quatrefoils; of which, nevertheless, Prior Moon need not lose the credit.
He may be thanked also for the Roof, a good specimen of carpentry, painted, like many coeval works, with broad lines of vermilion. The beams rest on figures of angels, one of which holds a staff like that exhibited by the statue in the tower, and stands on a crescent or moon; evidently an allusion to the Prior. The cornice is painted in panels, with flowers and heads much faded; and three sculptured bosses of similar design adorn the centre beam. One of these is sagely conjectured, by the country people, to represent the devil; and certainly the great enemy of mankind can have little cause to rejoice at the comparison.
When the nave was retained, after the dissolution, as a place of worship, a wall was raised under the arch by which it communicated with the central tower, and two windows were inserted in it. The upp part, which was merely of lath and plaster, was completed in masonry by Mr. Carr, the late amiable and respected incumbent of Bolton, who, after a faithful discharge of his duty for fifty-four years, died in 1843, and rests immediately below, among scenes and objects he had loved in life, and tended and appreciated so well.
We must now leave the nave, and, in the usual routine, pass to the CENTRAL TOWER. This structure might, originally, have been raised the height of its square above the roofs; but the arches alone now remain. They are of unequal width: that of the choir being 28 feet and very obtuse; that of the transept but 18 feet, and, consequently, elegant and acute.
It is probable, from the progressive character exhibited in the tower, that the SOUTH TRANSEPT was, originally, erected before the other. It was afterwards rebuilt, but is now totally rased, except the west wall, which retains two very beautiful decorated windows, and a doorway, of like character, leading to the Cloister-court. When this transept was cleared of rubbish, several years ago, a floor of plain tiles was found, nearly perfect, but depressed by the lapse of graves; and, towards the north-west corner, a curious, but worn sepulchral memorial of grit stone. It bears a rudely-incised figure of an Austin Monk, with his hands joined in the attitude of prayer, and this brief record :
Hic jacct d'n's Xpofer Wod quo'd'm P'or.
by which the tenant of this lonely tomb is identified as Christopher Wood, the eighteenth Prior of the house, who resigned his office on the 10th of July, 1483.
The NORTH TRANSEPT is perfect, except the eastern wall of the aisle, which is entirely demolished. It is divided from this part by two chamfered arches, rising from an octagonal pillar, with a boldly moulded capital. Except this work, and perhaps the inner half of the other walls, the whole transept may have been rebuilt in the Decorated period. At all events, a large ramified window was then inserted in the north wall; two in the west; and two, with ungraceful triangular heads, but very good tracery, over the arches on the east side.
The side aisle, which was divided from the transept by a wooden lattice as high as the capital of the column, communicates with the choir by its original semicircular arch; and near its side remains an equally uninteresting piscina—a mere round-headed recess, like those in the nave.
THE CHOIR.-Except a portion of the interior of the lateral walls, and fragments attached to the piers of the tower, this interesting part of the structure displays that scientific beauty which has vindicated the Decorated style as the perfection of Gothic architecture. It has neither aisles nor triforium, but each side is occupied
by five tall lights, all now, but one, divested of their exquisite tracery. In the east window a few fine flowing fragments still cling to the arch.
The internal effect of the choir is considerably improved, if not in classical, certainly in picturesque effect, by an arcade of semicircular but intersecting arches, which are continued from its junction with the aisles of the transept to the steps of the altar. They are in two tiers-the western series of nine arches on each side being elevated a little above the other. To amend the irregularity as well as to harmonise this decoration-which the rebuilders in the fourteenth century took some pains to retain-with the general effect of the choir, these skilful and ingenious men inserted a bold and flowing trefoil cornice above the lower range, which brought it level with the base moulding of their windows and the crown of the upper arcade. The mouldings of the archivolt, as well as the capitals of the shafts, are of good character, and the latter are ingeniously diversified.
Beyond this arcade, in the north wall, is an arched RECESS, about 9 inches deep, 9 feet 6 inches in height and width, and flanked by two paneled shafts. It is difficult to say whether this work, which was respected by the rebuilders of the choir, though rude and ungeometrical in the curvature of the arch, has been originally intended for a tomb for the Paschal play of the Resurrection, or for a real interment. It may, indeed, ultimately, have served both purposes; for the plinth, which is continued round the back from the bases of the shafts, retains traces of grout-work, which has been superinduced on it, to the height of 2 feet 6 inches, if not half-way up the recess. Whitaker says a skeleton was once found beneath the arch, and part of a filleting of brass, with the Longobardic letters NEVI; from which he presumed it might pertain to Lady Margaret Neville, whose funeral is mentioned in the Bursar's account of 1318.
Not far from hence is laid the corner of a blue marble SLAB, which is said to have been found in the rubbish, near the arch; but which may be considered to be a fragment of the tomb of John Lord Clifford, K.G., who was slain at Meux, 10 Henry V., and, according to the Chronicle of Kirkstall, was brought home and interred at Bolton. A corresponding fragment, now laid on the opposite side of the choir, is, I believe, the stone which Whitaker observed in the wall of an out-house at Bolton.
A little westward is a large sepulchral slab, much shattered,
which has borne an elaborate memorial or effigy in brass, with a circumscription. It probably covers one of the later Priors, for the outline of a pastoral staff may, apparently, be traced on it.
In their usual position on the south side of the choir are the remains of four SEDILIA and a Piscina of Early-English character, much mutilated; though, when Johnston saw them in 1670, they remained in tolerable perfection. Little more, however, is now left than the bases of the stalls, enriched with a trefoil panel, enclosed in a triangle, alternately reversed in the design. A small portion of three of the niches alone is left, though sufficient to show that the work has been covered with armorial shields, placed in a perpendicular series, double on the back, but single on the sides; the intermediate space being adorned with the rose, which was introduced in the stalls of the Chapter-house, and many EarlyEnglish works. As the relief is very slight, the charges of the few remaining shields are totally obliterated. The description of what Johnston observed is recorded in the History of Craven; but it seems to afford no decisive evidence as to the period of their erection, unless the appearance of the shield of Castile and Leon is required to carry back the style beyond the close of the thirteenth century.
On the south side of the choir were two CHAPELS, which extended half its length, and were coeval with its original construction. As the roofs rested on corbels placed in the wall of the church, the portion of it below was suffered to remain when the choir was rebuilt; though, from the appearance at the angle of the adjoining transept, the outer wall of the chapel was then renewed. The dedication of the western chapel, which has been entered from the transept, is forgotten. The other has, unquestionably, been "the last resting-place of the Lords of Skipton, and patrons of Bolton." It communicates with the choir by a doorway, rebuilt together with it, and a contiguous arch, which, having been left in a rude state at its original erection, was then also decorated in the inner surface with blank tracery; and assimilated further with the character of the choir, by the addition of a triangular canopy, of which the outline and finial remain. Under the arch, I doubt not, was laid the effigy of the "Lady Romillè," which Johnston saw in 1670, but which is now entirely lost; and, in the recess in the wall below, I feel equally confident, were deposited the remains of that great patroness of the house, when called to her everlasting reward.
We shall now complete our survey of the ruins most effectually