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Title: Lectures on the rise and development of mediaeval architecture; vol. 1

Author: Gilbert Scott

Release Date: January 31, 2020 [EBook #61255]

Language: English

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List of Illustrations
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Fig. 116.—Western Porch, Ely Cathedral.

The restoration of the Vescica Piscis is taken from a print in the British Museum, dated 1730.





Mediæval Architecture

Delivered at the Royal Academy

F.S.A., LL.D., Etc.




The right of Translation is reserved.


Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.


Only half of the following Lectures were delivered by me, as the Professor of Architecture, at the Royal Academy. The first seven were delivered while Professor Cockerell held the Chair; but, owing to his infirm state of health, I being then an Associate, was, in conjunction with Mr. Smirke, called in to relieve him of this duty. The eighth and ninth Lectures were prepared six years later, after Mr. Smirke had retired, and those which follow, when I had succeeded him in the Professorship.

The Lectures are naturally somewhat disconnected; and having been written both at various times and for audiences often changing, may be found in some instances to repeat the same facts and ideas, for which, as well as for too great a prolixity of style, I beg to apologise.

They were written with much zeal; and, thanks to my staff, and to my pupils, my sons, and others, they were magnificently and profusely illustrated; more so, perhaps, than any such Lectures had ever been before.


They have lain long in abeyance; but it seemed to me, that “for better for worse,” and notwithstanding the lapse of time, they ought to be published, and Mr. Murray has most kindly undertaken to do this for me.

In correcting them for the press, I have made only verbal alterations, or corrected accidental errors, or omitted a few harsh expressions. Where I wished to amplify, I have done so by notes. The illustrations have been mainly drawn by my friend and assistant, Mr. W. S. Weatherley, chiefly from those exhibited when the Lectures were delivered, with additions from my more recent sketches, and will be found to contribute largely to the elucidation of the text.

Geo. Gilbert Scott.

London, February 1878.

At the time of the sudden and deplorable death of Sir Gilbert Scott in March last, more than 200 illustrations had been made and engraved. The remaining ones are completed in conformity with his marginal directions.

Many of these were prepared by me for the Lectures ten years ago, and all have been compared with Sir Gilbert’s sketches, with the diagrams in the MSS., and redrawn. The engraving is by “Leitch’s photographic process.”

Some valuable woodcuts, lent by permission of Mr. Fergusson and Mr. Murray, have also been inserted among the letterpress.

W. Samᴸ. Weatherley.

20 Cockspur Street,
London, S.W.





The Claims of Mediæval Architecture upon our Study
Introduction—Art follows the course of civilisation—Three primâ facie claims Gothic Architecture has upon Study—Additional claim, that it is Christian Architecture—Objections to the title—Explanations of the term—Byzantine the earliest Christian style—Summary of the Historical claims of Mediæval Architecture—Its intrinsic claims—Abstract beauty—Advantages of an arcuated over a trabeated style—Facility in decorating construction, and in converting structural features into elements of beauty—Adaptability to varied climates—Unites all arts in one—Painted glass—Sculpture—Foliated sculpture—Gothic Architecture suited to the severest and most elegant styles—Beauty of external outline—Delicacy of mouldings—Religious solemnity of the interior of its temples—The spirit with which the study of Mediæval Architecture should be undertaken—How to be pursued—Practical objects for which it should be followed upPage 1

Sketch of the Rise of Mediæval Architecture
Anomalous state of things in Western Europe after the destruction of the Roman Empire—Art almost extinct—Saved by the Western Church and the Eastern Empire—Architectural elements of the new races—Charlemagne’s attempts to revive art—Primitive art in England and the north of France—Dawn of better things—Architecture of the tenth century—Schools of art and science—Bishop Bernward’s works—Origin of early styles in France and Germany—Early architecture of Rome—The arcuated and the trabeated systems—Development of Romanesque—Its leading characteristics—Romanesque and Pointed architecture {viii}not TWO styles, but ONE—Barrel vaults—Groined vaults—Oblong bays—Main arches of groined vaulting changed from the semicircle to the pointed arch—Flying buttresses—Groin ribs—The pointed arch arose from statical not geometrical or æsthetical motives—Wall ribs remain round long after the wider arches become pointed—Two modes adopted to avoid the difficulty of oblong groining over naves—Sexpartite vaultingPage 37

The Transition
Gradual refinement of Romanesque—French architects the earliest to systematise the pointed arch—The English before the Germans—The Italians from the Germans—Fully acknowledged in France 1140—Suger’s work at St. Denis—Carving in French churches—Corinthianesque outline of capitals—Distinctly Byzantine capitals—A route by which Byzantine foliage may have reached France—The importation indisputable—Its effects seen in Early English capitals—West front of Chartres—Fluting on basement of doorways—Cathedral of Noyon—St. Germain des Pres, Paris—Cathedral of Sens, prototype of the Choir and Trinity Chapel at Canterbury—Nôtre Dame, Paris—A new kind of foliage—The capital “à crochet”—English transition—Incipient specimens—Refined Norman—Pointed style, with reminiscences of Romanesque—William of Sens—William the Englishman—Influence of French work—Oakham Castle—Glastonbury Abbey—Cathedral of St. David’s—Temple Church, London—Chichester Cathedral—Tynemouth Abbey—Hexham Abbey—Unfoliated capitals—Round moulded capitals—Characteristics of English and French transition—The German transition—Practical lessons from studying these changes—Principles to which the transition was pioneerPage 69

The Thirteenth Century
Mediæval architecture usually classified under heads of centuries—Actual points of change do not coincide with these divisions—Auspices for the development of the Early Pointed style—Great works in England and France—Artistic disturbance in Germany—Progress in Italy—Energy pervades every branch of art—Perfected Early Pointed a natural growth from Romanesque—Leading characteristics—Columns—Bases of Columns—Capitals—Plan of the abacus—Circular plan—Whence this arose—Moulded capitals—Windows—Bases of buildings—Cornices and foliated bands—Doorways—French and English {ix}comparedPage 137

The Thirteenth Century—continued
St. Saviour’s, Southwark—Choir of Temple Church, London—Chapel at Lambeth—Westminster Abbey—Its Italian mosaic work, monuments, and ancient reredos—Chapel of St. Etheldreda, Holborn—St. Alban’s Abbey—Priory Church, Dunstable—Stone Church near Gravesend—Waltham Cross—Jesus Chapel, Cambridge—Ely and Peterborough Cathedrals—Warmington Church—West Walton Abbey—Crowland Abbey—St. Mary’s and All Saints, Stamford—Ketton, Grantham, and Frampton Churches—Lincoln Cathedral—Southwell Minster—Newstead Abbey—York Cathedral—St. Mary’s Abbey, and St. Leonard’s Hospital, York—Skelton Church—Beverley and Ripon Minsters—Fountains, Rivaulx, Whitby, Kirkham, and Guisborough Abbeys—Chapel of the Nine Altars, Durham—Hexham and Dryburgh Abbeys—Chapel of Holyrood—Elgin and Glasgow Cathedrals—Furness Abbey—Southern examples—Most great churches in France vaulted, not so in England—Universal excellence of workmanship from 1175 to 1400—Domestic architecture of France, Germany, Italy, and England—Influence of thirteenth century work on our artistic practicePage 170

The Rationale of Gothic Architecture
Contradictory opinions as to the character and origin of Gothic Architecture—True causes of its origin—The arch—The Romans eminently practical—Two defects in their architecture—Practical improvements—Use of small materials—Arches in rims—Sub-ordinating rims—Imposts—Pilaster capitals—Decorative columns—Romanesque arch decorations—Labels—Clustered columns—Weight of arches on columns—Doorways—Windows—Rejection of ancient rules of proportion—Efforts to improve construction and decoration in the twelfth century—Absolute demand for an arch of less pressure and for an abutment of greater resistance—Ribbed as distinguished from arris vaulting—Reasons for adopting the former—Pointed arch as effecting proportionPage 215

The Rationale of Gothic Architecture—continued
The bases of a thirteenth century church indicate the plan and construction of the vaulting—The system of mouldings—Windows, their development—Rationale of stained glass—A general principle of ornamentation common to all good {x}architecture—The roof—Secular buildings—Cloth market Yprès—Warehouses, Nuremburg—Windows in secular and ecclesiastical buildings—Trabeated architecture in its truest forms—Fireplaces—Chimney-shafts—Oriel and Dormer windows—Ceilings—Subordination of external design to internal requirements—Designs adapted to the materials most readily obtained—Conditions demanded of our future architecture—Gothic architecture well fitted to unite these conditionsPage 246
A Digression concerning WindowsPage 276

On the Practical Study of Gothic Architecture
Evident ignorance or neglect of those who practise Gothic architecture—Faithfulness of others—The styles should be learned from ancient buildings—Our knowledge to be continually revived and added to—Hints to students—The study of Lincoln Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, and examples in London—Libraries and museums in London—Foreign travel—Examples in Paris, and other parts of France—Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. etc.Page 290

On the Study and Practice of Gothic Architecture
Every-day business and practical work to go on hand in hand with the study of ancient buildings—How best to be accomplished—The study from books—Artistic and archæological portions cannot be wholly disconnected—Heraldry—A knowledge of the history of art absolutely necessary for the study of Mediæval architecture—Greek art the parent of Gothic sculpture—Ruined cities of Central Syria—Mahometan styles—Our own form of church the direct inheritance from the earliest Christian temples—Training as artists—Choice among specimens of different Mediæval periods and styles—Examples especially recommended—Practical studies of ancient buildings in connection with their structural and mechanical qualities—Vaulting—Timber-work—Stone-work, etc. etc.—The actual practice of Mediæval architecture—The repairs and restoration of ancient buildingsPage 331




Ely Cathedral. Western Porch Frontispiece.
1-14. Diagrams explanatory of the various systems of Romanesque Vaulting 52-63
15. St. Denis. Interior of one of the Apsidal Chapels 78
16. Do. Exterior of do.79
17. Do. Part of Capital from do.79
18. Greek. Acanthus, from the Choragic Monument to Lysicrates, Athens81
19. Roman Acanthus, from the Temple of Mars Ultor81
20. St. Denis. Scroll from82
21. Do. Part of a Cornice82
22. St. Mark’s, Venice. Capital from the church of83
23. St. John’s, Constantinople. Do. do.83
24. St. Frond, Perigueux. Do. do.83
25. Do. do. Fragment of do.83
26. Column of Marcion, Constantinople. Capital from84
27. St. Germain des Pres, Paris. Do.85
28. Lincoln Cathedral (north-west Portal). Capitals from85
29-33.Chartres. Enriched shafts from86
34. Cathedral of Noyon. Interior of one of the Apsidal Chapels89
35. Do. Exterior of do.89
36. Do. Plan of do.89
37. St. Germain des Pres, Paris. Two Bays of Choir92
38. Do. do. Western Doorway93
{xii} 39. Cathedral of Sens. Interior view94
40. Cathedral of Sens. View of Choir Aisles96
41-42. Do. Capitals from do.97
43-46. Nôtre Dame, Paris. Capitals from 98-100
47-48. Do. do. Carving from101
49. St. Leu, near Creil. Capital from the Apse101
50. Nôtre Dame, Paris. Capital from the West Front101
51. St. Eusèbe, Auxerre. Capital from101
52. Noyon. Capital from the Apse102
53. Laon. Capital from102
54. Sens. do.102
55. Nôtre Dame, Paris. Capital from102
56. Sainte Chapelle, Paris. do.103
57. Do. part of Capital from103
58. St. Remi, Rheims. Capital from103
59. Fountains Abbey. View across Nave104
60. Kirkstall Abbey. View of South Transept105
61. Durham Cathedral. The Galilee106
62. St. Mary’s Abbey, York. Vestibule of Chapter-house. View from Cloister107
63. St. Mary’s Abbey, York. Do. View from Chapter-houseTo face 108
64. St. Mary’s Abbey, York. Plan of Vestibule of Chapter-house108
65. York Cathedral. Archbishop’s Palace, Fragment of109
66. Ripon Minster. Bay of Choir To face 109
67. Ely Cathedral, South Transept. West end110
68. St. Cross, near Winchester. Capital from111
69. Canterbury Cathedral. View of Choir To face 112
70. Do. Do. Trinity Chapel112
71. Do. Capitals. William of Sens112
72. Do. Trinity Chapel. Capital. William the Englishman113
73. Oakham Castle, Rutlandshire. Capital from114
{xiii} 74. Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, Glastonbury. Exterior view115
75. Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, Glastonbury. Interior view116
76. St. David’s Cathedral. Internal bay of NaveTo face 117
77-78. Do. Capitals from118
79. Temple Church, London. View of Circular Aisle119
80. Chichester Cathedral. Do. Eastern partTo face 120
81. Tynemouth Abbey. The ChoirTo face 120
82. Hexham Abbey. South side of Choir121
83. Bridlington Priory Church, Yorkshire. Capital from122
84. Ripon Cathedral. Do.123
85. Fountains Abbey. Do.123
86. St. Cross, Hampshire. South Aisle of Choir124
87. Durham Cathedral. Chapel of the Nine AltarsTo face 140
88-91.Bases of Columns from Bridlington: St. Mary’s Abbey, York: St. Stephen’s, Caen: Veselay: and Westminster Abbey 150-151
92-93.Sections of early Bases152
94. Rollestone, Notts. Capital from154
95. Chartres. Specimens of carving from154
96. Southwell Minster. Capital, etc., from154
97. St. Quentin, Aisne. Capital with angular Abacus156
98. Canterbury Cathedral. Capital from Crypt157
99-102.Moulded Capitals from Salisbury, St. Alban’s and Westminster, with sections157-158
103-107.Base Moulds of Buildings164
108. St. Alban’s Cathedral. Ornament in Western Portals167
109. Do. Western Portals, south entranceTo face 167
110. Temple Church, London. View of Choir173
111. Chapel of St. John Baptist, Westminster Abbey. Conventional foliage177
112. Do. do. Natural do.178
113. Retabulum, or moveable Reredos, formerly belonging to the High Altar, Westminster AbbeyTo face 181
114. Iron grille, Queen Eleanor’s Tomb, Westminster Abbey181
{xiv} 115. Chapel of St. Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn. Side Windows183
116. Ely Cathedral. Western Porch.Frontispiece.
117. Ely Cathedral. Eastern Front190
118. Peterborough Cathedral. Circular Window, West Front192
119. Peterborough Cathedral193
120. Lincoln Cathedral. Rose-window North Transept197
121. Do. View from the South-east199
122. Do. South-east PortalTo face 198
123. Palais des Podestats, Orvieto, Italy. Domestic Windows206
124. Torre di Santa, Ninfa, Palermo. Do.206
125. Meslay, near Tours. Do.207
126. Cluny. Houses at. Do.207
127. Gostar. The Emperor’s House. Do.207
128-129. Cologne. Houses at Do.207
130. Gloucester. West Gateway, College Green. Do.208
131-133. From an old building called Canute’s Castle, Southampton. Domestic Windows208
134. Moyse’s Hall, Bury St. Edmunds. Do.208
135. Oakham Castle, Rutlandshire. Do.209
136-137. Diagrams of Arches223
138-140. Diagrams showing development of Piers224
141-143. Diagrams illustrating the development of the Clustered Column226
144. St. Trophimus, Arles. Cloisters, north side229
145. Bridlington Priory Church. Part of remains of Cloisters230
146-147. Diagrams showing the effect on proportion by the introduction of the Pointed Arch into Romanesque work243
148. Laon Cathedral. Respond in Choir Aisle248
149-151. Diagrams explaining the system of moulding248
152. Cloth Market at YprèsTo face 262
153. Warehouses at Nuremburg262
154-156. Diagrams concerning Windows278
157. St. Pantaleon’s Church, Cologne278
158. Burgh Church, Norfolk. Chancel, Window from279
{xv}159-164. Diagrams of Rere-arches280
165. Broughton Church, Oxfordshire. Window from283
166. Christchurch, Hants. North Transept, do.283
167. Stone Church, Kent. do.284
168. Chancel, Brecon Priory285
169. Winchester Cathedral. De Lucy’s work286
170. Furness Abbey. Bay of Chapter-house287
171. Chapel of St. Etheldreda, Holborn. West WindowTo face 287
172. Do. do. East do.To face 287
173. Salisbury Cathedral. Chapter-house288
174. Lincoln Cathedral. Easter Sepulchre305
175. Do. Capitals north side of Choir306
176-177. Westminster Abbey. Carved Capitals from311
178-179. Westminster Abbey. Angels, from the Triforium of the South Transept312
180. Westminster Abbey. Mosaic from the Tomb of the Children of Henry III. and Edward I.313
181. Temple Church, London. Capitals, West Door314
182. Montmartre. Capitals from319
183. St. Julien le Pauvre, Paris. Plan of Choir320
184. Do. View of Choir321
185. Do. South Aisle of Choir322
186. Do. Chapel, south side of Choir323
187-188. Nôtre Dame, Paris. Western Portals. Corbels from324
189-191. St. Martin aux Champs, Paris. Capitals from325
192. El Barah, Central Syria. Capital from336


Page 81, Fig. 19, for Temple of Mars, Ultor, read Temple of Mars Ultor.
“  94, line 26, for Choir at the Trinity Chapel, read Choir and the Trinity Chapel.
“ 170, Contents, line 6, for Stanford, read Stamford.
“ 175, foot-note, for Beavais, read Beauvais.



The Claims of Mediæval Architecture upon our Study.

Introduction—Art follows the course of civilisation—Three primâ facie claims Gothic Architecture has upon Study—Additional claim, that it is Christian Architecture—Objections to the title—Explanations of the term—Byzantine the earliest Christian style—Summary of the Historical claims of Mediæval Architecture—Its intrinsic claims—Abstract beauty—Advantages of an arcuated over a trabeated style—Facility in decorating construction, and in converting structural features into elements of beauty—Adaptability to varied climates—Unites all arts in one—Painted glass—Sculpture—Foliated sculpture—Gothic Architecture suited to the severest and most elegant styles—Beauty of external outline—Delicacy of mouldings—Religious solemnity of the interior of its temples—The spirit with which the study of Mediæval Architecture should be undertaken—How to be pursued—Practical objects for which it should be followed up.

IT is with feelings somewhat closely bordering upon trepidation that, availing myself of the liberty given by the regulations recently passed by the Council of the Royal Academy, I venture to address you on a subject which has never, till now, been more than incidentally touched upon within these walls; a subject, indeed, dear to my heart, and entwined among my inmost thoughts and affections, but one which, perhaps for that very reason, I feel it the more difficult to bring before you through the medium of a lecture. It may be at first sight imagined that love, of all the{2} human feelings, is that best calculated to aid in describing the beauties of its object, and in advocating its claims upon the admiration; but it is not so. We can hardly state the reasons why we love our parents or our brothers. We know that it is a feeling which has grown with our growth, and is a part of our very existence; yet it is probable that an acquaintance who has never shared in these warmer sentiments might describe their character and even their virtues more successfully than ourselves. If we seek to investigate them, we find the research all too cold and too methodical to accord with the tone of our feelings; and, like the poet who wished to sing of the Atrides and of Cadmus, the chords of our hearts respond only of love.

So it is with those who have harboured an early affection for the architecture of their native land. Strongly as I appreciate the intrinsic beauty of the monuments of classic antiquity, and the merits of very many works of the Revival, I should doubt whether it were possible for any unsophisticated youth, before studying their architecture as a science, to entertain towards its productions in this country any feelings bordering upon real affection. He may see in them much to admire—much to lead him to study the art which has produced them; and this study will, no doubt, often kindle those warmer feelings which ripen into love. But this is a very different feeling from that deep and filial affection which many a youth, untaught in art, but gifted by nature with a perception of its beauties, has entertained from his tenderest years towards the old churches of his neighbourhood,{3} and which has impelled him to walk from village to village, not only under the balmy influences of summer, but along muddy roads or snowy paths, and, with glowing heart but shivering hand, to sketch the humble porch, the unaspiring steeple, and the mutilated though venerable monument, with feelings of indescribable delight.

It is this instinctive affection which it is so difficult to reason upon, and to which cold investigation seems so uncongenial; yet most pleasant it is, in after life, to find ever new proof that our early feelings have not been misplaced; that those once callous warm up when they are led to examine; that those who, strange to say, disliked the architecture of their forefathers, are now forced to admit some of its beauties; that the style, once despised, has become gradually appreciated, and its study become the favourite pursuit of thousands—every county having its society organised to promote it; that in every country in which it once flourished (Italy herself not excepted), the same revived feeling towards it has arisen; and, finally, that this distinguished Academy has stamped it as equally classic with the architecture of the ancient world, and admitted it to an equal place in the instructions offered to her students.

Having found it impracticable, from previous engagements, to give, as had been kindly suggested to me, a short course of lectures during this season, I propose on the present occasion to limit myself to some introductory remarks on the study of Mediæval architecture, which I trust, with the kind permission of the Council, to follow up next year by one or two fur{4}ther lectures, both upon its original productions, and upon the bearing of the study of them upon our own practice and the architecture of the future.

I will commence by considering the different claims which Pointed architecture has upon our study.

The more carefully we examine into the subject, the stronger and the more numerous do we find these claims to be. To a casual observer, the interest we feel in the subject may appear to be the result of local prejudice or of arbitrary choice, and our Mediæval styles may seem to have no greater claim upon us than those of a hundred other periods or countries. The fact, however, is the very reverse—that Pointed architecture is marked out from others in the most signal and remarkable manner. I will briefly point out some of the circumstances which thus especially single it out.

In tracing the history of civilisation, we cannot fail to perceive that, from the earliest ages to the present, it has followed one not unbroken, yet connected stream, and though branches have struck off in different directions, it has ever had one main channel, which at each period represents the central mass of civilisation; this stream, passing now through this country and now through that, but its place being nearly always so marked as to leave no doubt as to where, in each succeeding age, the main seat of civilisation is to be found. Art has in regular succession followed in the same course—the main channel of civilisation and art having been the same, though each possessing its minor branches.

The earliest seats of mental culture were the great{5} valleys of Egypt and Mesopotamia. There, too, were the cradles of primitive art. The less enduring materials of the Eastern valley have deprived us of the remains of its earlier architecture, but the imperishable ruins of Egypt will tell till earth’s closing day how mighty was her primæval civilisation.

Persia seems to have succeeded to Egypt and Assyria as well in art as in dominion; but long before her political power had been overthrown, the stream of mental power had been transferred to Greece, whose arts and knowledge, partly indigenous and partly derived from Egypt and Assyria, so infinitely excelled all which had preceded them, that we are apt, and with reason, to view them as the only genuine art and civilisation of the ancient world.

Rome, succeeding Greece in external power, borrowed both her arts and literature, but, throughout her whole career, was as subordinate to her in these as she was predominant in power; and when that great catastrophe occurred which crushed to dust the mighty fabric of Roman domination, it was again in Greece that civilisation and art flowed on, and it was thence that those friendly streams proceeded which enabled the Gothic conquerors of Rome to reconstruct what they had destroyed, and among the débris of ancient art and knowledge to sow the seeds and to foster the growth of that richer and mightier civilisation which distinguishes the modern from the ancient world.

In all its earlier stages, the growth of civilisation in the modern, as in the ancient world, was marked by corresponding changes in its architecture. Each age{6} had its architectural style distinctly and strongly marked; a style which, though connecting itself unmistakeably with the long chain of ancient art that, though rudely broken in the West, had been continuous in the Eastern empire, was nevertheless so distinct from any former link in that chain as clearly to mark a new dynasty in human affairs, and to show that the stream which had passed successively through Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome, was now making wide and deep its channel among those Gothic nations whose progenitors had been viewed as the enemies of art and knowledge, and that the seat of art was henceforth to be established among those vigorous races which had destroyed that of the ancient world.

My object in going over this well-beaten path is to draw your attention to three very marked primâ facie claims which Gothic architecture has upon our study. Firstly, that, though we are in the habit of considering it antiquated, it is in fact the architecture of the modern as distinguished from the ancient world—that, just as the architecture of the earlier half of the world’s history culminated in that of Greece, which must ever be viewed as its most perfect and most glorious representative, so did the indigenous architecture of the newer world reach its culminating point in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries among the nations of Western Europe—the depositaries of a new civilisation. Secondly, that it is the architecture of the Germanic nations, through whose land the main stream of civilisation now runs, as of old it did through Greece, Egypt, and Rome. And, thirdly, that it is the latest original style of architecture which the civilised world has pro{7}duced; that the chain of architectural styles, commencing in Egypt, and passing on in continuous course through Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, and Byzantium, and thence taken up by the infant nations of modern Europe, and by them prolonged through successive ages of continuous progress, terminated in the style which we are treating of, and has never since produced another link of its own.

As, then, the architecture of Egypt claims our respect as the earliest link in the history of architecture, so are our own Mediæval styles especially marked out from all others as being its latest creation. That continuous stream of indigenous art which from the earliest ages of the world had unceasingly flowed onwards—now through this country, and now through that; now smoothly flowing on through a deep and copious channel, and now choked up with rocks, or spreading itself sluggishly and unhealthily through marshes and morasses, but ever progressing—seemed at the end of the period we are speaking of to turn back upon its course, and, instead of creating as heretofore ever new beauties of its own, to content itself with reproducing those of bygone periods: instead of illustrating, as it were, the collateral stream of civilisation which flowed on so mightily by its side, it accompanied it by images of that of an older world—of another family of nations—of another religion; and since then, though civilisation has rolled on in a continuous course, it has failed to produce any style of architecture of its own.

Mediæval architecture, then, is distinguished from all other styles as being the last link of the mighty chain which had stretched unbroken through nearly 4000{8} years—the glorious termination of the history of original and genuine architecture.

The next claim to which I will direct your attention is, that our style is, par excellence, Christian architecture.

This is a claim which it is so much the fashion of the day to dispute, and even to deride, that it demands somewhat careful investigation. Many who have no hesitation in using the terms Mahometan, Hindoo, or Buddhist architecture, and who do not in the least deny the influence of the various religions of the ancients upon their modes of building, see nothing but fanaticism in attributing any such influence to Christianity; or if they do not deny this influence, they view Pointed architecture as the special property of the Roman Church (though Rome herself boasts of having scarcely admitted it within her walls), and find no style to symbolise their Protestantism but that derived from the heathenism of the ancient world, and whose more recent type is to be found in the great metropolitan church of modern Rome.

Other more reasoning persons object that, as Christianity, in its purest ages, adopted a modified form of the ancient Roman style, and bent it to its uses, the Roman style became by that process a bona fide Christian architecture; and further argue that Pointed architecture, having derived some of its forms from the Saracenic, has thereby lost its title to being considered a purely Christian style.

To meet these objections, it is necessary to explain what we mean by Christian architecture.

There can be no doubt that nearly all forms of{9} architecture have taken their rise in the temple, whose form and character have been regulated by the religion for which it was erected. From the temple it has diffused itself throughout all classes of buildings, carrying with it, in a certain degree, the feeling it had already acquired. No one will deny this of the Egyptian, the Greek, or the Saracenic; and so inconsistent are people on such questions, that the very persons who would laugh at the term “Christian architecture” will almost in the same breath object to the use of our style for secular buildings, on the ground that it will make them look like churches!

Now, what we claim for Pointed architecture is, not that it is the only Christian style which has arisen or is likely to arise, but that it has been more entirely developed under the influence of the Christian religion, and more thoroughly carries out its tone and sentiment than any other style. It is not exclusively, but par eminence, Christian. The early Christians naturally adopted the style which was ready made to their hands. That this style, as they found it, was essentially Pagan, it would be absurd to deny; but it was the only one they knew; and, carefully avoiding the types of Pagan temples, they adopted one of its secular forms, and wholly adapted it to their uses. The buildings thus produced were unmistakeably Christian, but it would be absurd to say so of their style. This being nearly identical with that of their Heathen predecessors, it needed a long course of remoulding before it could justly be predicated of it that it was a Christian style—a style generated under the influence of Christian customs, to fulfil Christian requirements, and to harmonise{10} fully with the sentiments of the religion of those who made use of it.

The earliest style which may fairly be called Christian was the Byzantine. In the East no sudden revolution had affected art or civilisation, but the Greek empire, founded at the moment when Christianity became the established religion, went on quietly adapting its arts and institutions to its new religion. Art having already degenerated under the later Pagan emperors, and difficulties both from without and from within gradually weakening and undermining the power of the State, it was natural that the changing style should not have that full scope which would have been afforded it had the purifying influences of Christianity acquired full sway during the Augustan age. Painting, sculpture, and architectural carving had lamentably fallen off before they were transferred from the Heathen temple to the Christian church, and even the more mechanical features of Roman architecture had departed widely from their original purity of form. The task prescribed to the new religion was not to take the highest form of Pagan art as it had existed under Pericles or Augustus, and to mould it to its own uses and its own purer and holier sentiments: what she had to deal with was a mere wreck of its former self: all its early simplicity destroyed, its vigour enervated, its magic instinct for beauty gone, its artists fast falling back into barbarism; and that not the savageness of early but untutored art, but the effete and nerveless heartlessness of a race whose glory had departed. It was this lifeless body which Christianity had to awaken to new energy—this dull and spiritless lump out of{11} which she had to mould her future arts, and that at a time when the western half of the empire was about to be crushed to powder by the mighty storm of Northern barbarism, and the eastern portion itself weakened by gradual decay and by the incursions of the Goths, Huns, Persians, etc., and eventually by the tremendous inundation of the followers of Mahomet. That such a glorious result as Byzantine architecture should have been produced out of materials so lifeless, and through the agency of a decaying nation, speaks volumes for the power of religion over art.

Let us turn, however, to the Western empire. There the case is still stronger. With the same decayed and lifeless art as their nucleus, the people of Christian Rome had the additional disadvantage caused by the removal of the seat of government, and with it of the seat of art, to Constantinople; nevertheless, their first efforts were so successful, that though, in the words of Thomas Hope, “The architecture of the Heathen Romans, in its deterioration, followed so regular a course, that that which most nearly preceded the conversion of its rulers to Christianity is also the worst,”—the same author tells us that “the early Christian buildings, from their simplicity, the distinctness, the magnificence, the harmony of their component parts, had a grandeur which we seek in vain in the complicated architecture of modern churches.”

What course art would have taken had the Roman empire continued it is impossible to judge. It was destined to share the fate of the empire itself, and to be utterly overwhelmed by that mighty deluge which severs the ancient from the modern world; so that its{12} Christianisation, instead of being gradual and progressive, as in the East, became a complete reconstruction by the successors of those who had destroyed it, though aided in their work by the friendly hands of those who, in the Eastern empire, had kept alight the lamp of civilisation.[1] The architecture of the West, therefore, instead of being a mere translation of the old style from Pagan to Christian uses and expression, was a new creation, formed, it is true, out of the ancient débris, but nevertheless originated, carried on, and perfected by Christian nations and for Christian uses, and may, consequently, be said, even in a stronger sense than that of Byzantium, to be a distinct Christian style; and I suppose none would doubt that its culminating point, and that to which all its progress tended, was the Pointed architecture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

An argument against its claim to the title has been founded on the theory that the Pointed arch, which is, in some respects, the culminating feature of the style,{13} was not developed spontaneously by our Christian forefathers, but learned by them from the Saracens. As well might it be attempted to sever Grecian architecture from the mythology and traditions of the Greeks, merely because some of its details may find their prototypes in Egypt or Assyria, or to disconnect the native architecture of India from their religion, because its first inspiration seems traceable to the Fire-worshippers of ancient Persia! Even Saracenic architecture itself was an emanation from that of Christian Greece; so that if we are indebted to it for the Pointed arch (a question which I will not now attempt to investigate), she only paid back to the religion from which she had borrowed. No one, however, can study the tendencies of the late Romanesque without seeing that the Pointed arch was becoming every day more necessary to the development of the germ which the rising style contained. The gradually increasing predominance of the vertical over the horizontal, the increase in the height of pillars and jambs demanding a proportionate addition to the arch; the necessities of groined vaulting over oblong spaces, and a hundred other evidences, proved the Pointed arch to be the inevitable result of the already attained developments; and often had it, almost unconsciously, appeared in intersecting arcades. If its systematic adoption can with certainty be traced to the suggestive architecture of the East, surely this does not unchristianise the already Christian architecture of the soldiers of the Cross, who brought the idea home among the spoils won from their unbelieving foes! Is it not rather in the spirit of our religion to receive tribute and homage from all the nations of the{14} earth? And if it may be said of the Christian Church that

“Eastern Java there
Kneels with the native of the farthest west;
And Æthiopia spreads abroad the hand,
And worships,”

it is equally reasonable to expect of her material temples that

“The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind,
And Saba’s spicy groves, pay tribute there.”

The character of a style of art does not depend upon the mere material from which it has been fabricated, but upon the sentiments under which it has been developed. Were not this the case, all styles, excepting, perhaps, those in China and Central America, with a few others still more obscure, would be more or less connected with the religion of Egypt or of Nineveh; whereas, in fact, every race up to the sixteenth century, had so moulded the original materials upon which its arts had been founded as to render them expressive, in a great degree, of their own sentiments, and especially of their own religion; and more strongly than in any other case was it so with our own forefathers, when developing the latest of all styles of genuine architecture, and moulding it to harmonise with the sentiment of our holy religion.

The last of the historical claims of Pointed architecture to which I will call your attention is, that it is the native architecture of our own country, and that of our own forefathers. Here, again, I must define my meaning for the sake of meeting a class of{15} objectors who delight to attach a false and exaggerated meaning to an expression.

I do not, then, mean that Pointed architecture belongs to us in any different sense from that in which it belongs to France or Germany: I do not mean to revive the claims of our country to its origination, nor to assert in its behalf any pre-eminent share in its development. All I mean to urge is the simple fact that, by whatever members of our family of nations it was shared, it was, nevertheless, the architecture of our own country—just as much English as we are ourselves—as indigenous to our country as are our wild flowers, our family names, our customs, or our political constitution.

In England, as in France and Germany, the same Romanesque architecture had (with local varieties) grown up with the new civilisation; as it perfected itself it showed in each the same tendencies and the same yearnings, which Pointed architecture could alone satisfy. If it were so that these were at length met by suggestions from the East, it was our forefathers who fought there side by side with those of our neighbours, and the lessons learned and the trophies won were common property. It is possible that France was more rapid in making use of them, and it is certain that Germany was the most tardy in doing so; but in each the result had long been aimed at; in each it was the natural consequence of what had already been attained; and was therefore not the property of one, but the common inheritance of all; and each having attained it, carried it on and developed it in her own way, thus making it in every sense her own.{16}

I am, however, only urging this as a claim which our old architecture has upon our own study. If we investigate the architecture of Egypt, of Assyria, or of Persia, we find that it tells of races with whom we have no national or personal sympathy. If we go to the classic shores of Greece, though there we should be viewing the work of a race whose arts and literature are, more than those of any other people, the property of the world, we nevertheless fail to find anything to connect them in any special sense with ourselves. If we transfer our researches from Greece to Rome—though we now view the vestiges of that mighty empire whose world-wide sway stretched its iron sceptre over our own land, and though we find among them the germ of the arcuated architecture which forms the nucleus of our own styles—they are still severed from us by so wide a gulf that, were it not for the modern revival of their style, they would appear perfectly alien to our race and climate. All these studies must be followed up in distant lands, excepting only those few fragments of Roman work scattered here and there in our own and neighbouring countries—the evidences of universal empire, the footsteps and symbols of ancient servitude. How different is the study of Gothic architecture! Its original exemplars are at our own doors; the very churches, perhaps, in which from our infancy we have worshipped; the monuments of our own forefathers; the works of men bearing our own names, whose armorial badges we are still proud to use; who spoke, in its pristine form, our own language; who sat in our own Parliaments, were lords of still-existing manors, founders of still-surviving charities,{17} men who fought the battles of which we are still proud, and laid the foundations of our liberties and of all those institutions which render the name of England illustrious among the nations of the earth. Surely the architecture which grew up among men so nearly allied to us has a pre-eminent claim upon our attention!

I have thus traced out what appear to me to be the leading historical claims of the style we are treating of, and which I will recapitulate as being—

Istly. That it is the architecture of the modern, as distinguished from the ancient world.

2dly. That it is the architecture of the nations wholly or partially of Germanic origin, in whose hands the civilisation of the modern world has been vested.

3dly. That it is the latest link in the chain of genuine and original styles of architecture, a chain commencing with the first settlement of the human race, and terminating in Gothic architecture.

4thly. That it is, in a stronger sense than can be predicated of any other style, Christian architecture.

5thly, and lastly. That it is pre-eminently the architecture of our own forefathers and of our own land.

I will now proceed to direct your attention to some of the more prominent among its intrinsic claims.

Commencing, then, with its abstract beauty, I will not treat this as a comparative, but as a positive, quality. Differences of taste and education lead us to form varied estimates of the relative merits of the several styles of art, but the most devoted follower of classic{18} antiquity could scarcely question the absolute and intrinsic beauty of a Gothic cathedral. Every style of architecture has had its own glories. The mighty Hall at Karnac; the Hall of Xerxes at Persepolis; that model of symmetry, the Parthenon; the Coliseum at Rome; and that gorgeous congeries of domes which canopied the shrine of Holy Wisdom at Constantinople, all rank among the most noble of the works of man; but who is there so prejudiced as to deny the worthiness of those glorious temples which preside in august serenity over the cities of Northern Europe to an equal place in our admiration? Surely, if abstract beauty and intrinsic grandeur alone are considered, the cathedrals of Amiens, of Rheims, of Chartres, of Bourges, of Strasburg, of Cologne, of Lincoln, Salisbury, or York, with a hundred others, will not suffer by comparison with the works of any previous age? Nay, I am convinced that an unprejudiced umpire would go much further, and pronounce them in most respects far superior to the works of earlier ages; but my argument only requires that they should be admitted as their equals.

The next claim I will state is this—that as trabeated architecture was brought to its highest perfection by the Greeks, so the other great type of construction, arcuated architecture, was perfected by the Mediæval builders; the round-arch variety in the twelfth, and the pointed-arch in the two succeeding centuries. No one who gives the subject a moment’s consideration will doubt the enormous advantages of the arcuated over the trabeated system: indeed, with the materials we have at command in this country, the former style in{19} its purity is in most cases impracticable, as is shown by half our modern attempts at it being in reality arcuation plastered over to look like trabeation.

The peculiar advantages of the pointed arch (though I do not urge them to the exclusion of other forms) are its greater power of carrying weight; its lessened thrust; the facility with which it proportions its height to that of its supporting jambs, and the general feeling of the building in which it is used, whether more or less vertical in its tendency; and its great advantages in groined vaulting.

The next quality I will mention is the extraordinary facility of our style in decorating construction, and in converting structural and useful features into elements of beauty. The arch, its normal feature, supplies to it an endless store of beauty. The vault supplies another inexhaustible fund, and assumes forms unrivalled in any other style. The window, comparatively neglected by the ancient architects, and even hated by the Greeks, was, in the hands of the Gothic builders, a perfect treasury of architectural loveliness; and the introduction of window-glass, an invention nearly unknown to the ancients, became the source of an entirely new and most enchanting art, and one which exercised the most surprising influence upon architecture. The buttress, the natural but unpromising accompaniment of an arcuated style, became in their magic hands, a source of stateliness and varied beauty. The roof, unwillingly shown by the Classic builders, adds solemn dignity to the works of their Northern successors; while, if need be, its timbers are made to contribute liberally to the effect of the interior. The{20} campanile, a structure resulting wholly from practical necessity, became the greatest ornament of Christian cities, and supplied an endless variety of majestic forms, which had no parallels in ancient architecture; and generally, whatever feature, whether homely or otherwise, construction or utility demanded, was at once enlisted, and that with right goodwill and heartiness, among the essential elements of the design.

Carrying out the same spirit, no material was either too rich or too rustic to find an honourable place in the works of these truly Catholic builders. The varied marbles of the Appenines, the polished amethysts of Bohemia, the glass mosaics of the Byzantines, with gold and silver, enamel, brass, and iron, were all brought under tribute to make their richer works glorious; yet they were equally at home in the use of brick, or flint, or rubble, and did not despise even a homely coating of plaster, if only it were honestly and truthfully used. And, what is more remarkable, they excelled in the use of nearly every one of these materials, and varied their design with instinctive precision to meet every one of their individual conditions.

Carrying on the same spirit a step further, Gothic architecture shapes itself instinctively to varied climate and local tradition, and that without sacrificing its leading principles. It is true that its great normal types are found in Northern Europe, and that the north of France may, perhaps, be considered as its central province; yet how admirably does it shape itself to the varied conditions of Italy or Spain, to the valleys of Switzerland or the inhospitable shores of Scandinavia!{21} while in every country where it prevailed it assumes a national type, and in every province a local variety.

In the same way, again, it suits itself to every grade and every class of building to which it is applied. It is equally at home in the humble chapel of the rustic hamlet as in the metropolitan cathedral. The traveller through Lincolnshire is no less charmed by the village churches which rise in such profusion from its level surface than with the majestic minster, which, from its lofty site, surveys the whole county; nor are we, after wondering at the stupendous grandeur of York, the less disposed to be delighted with the little village chapel at Skelton; and even the rudest structures of the most obscure district possess a truthfulness and a sentiment which does more than compensate for their rusticity. To pass again to different classes of building, the Mediæval castles, though belonging to a class which the altered modes of warfare have rendered obsolete, are in their degree as noble and as thoroughly suited to their purpose as the sacred structures. The manor-house, the farm, and the cottage, show equal appropriateness of treatment. The timber street-fronts of Coventry or Brunswick; the brick houses of Lubeck or of the Lombard cities, or those of stone at Nuremberg—all evince the same power of meeting the conditions of purpose or material; while the vast warehouses of the commercial cities of Germany, the town halls of Flanders, and the tithe barns of an English village are, in their way, as admirable and as appropriate as the minster at Rheims or the castle at Carnarvon.

Again, Gothic architecture unites all arts in one,{22} more, perhaps, than has been effected by any other style, or, to say the least, fully as much so.

In its normal form a stone architecture, it does not make all other materials conform to this condition, but treats them each according to its own demands. It is almost equally successful in its timber roofs as in its stone construction, and equally perfect in wood as in stone carving; it treats iron and brass in a manner perfectly suited to the varying conditions; it brings in painted decorations of the richest or the simplest character, as best suits the building; it has introduced one all-pervading art entirely of its own—I mean painted glass; and no art perhaps ever contributed in so large a degree to the increase of architectural effect: its jewellery, enamels, ivory carving, embroidery, tapestry, and all other arts are in perfect harmony; and though it fell short of the Classic styles in the perfection of its figure sculpture, it possessed even here a solemn and severe dignity, hardly equalled at any period, and its draperies often exceeded in beauty those of the Classic sculptors.

In describing the sculptures at Wells Cathedral, our revered professor, who possesses, in a greater degree than any one whom it is my privilege to know, the happiness of being susceptible of enthusiastic emotion from the beauties of a rival school of art to that to which he has especially devoted himself, makes the following remarks:—

“Regarded in the right spirit, we shall wonder at the inexhaustible resources of the artist in delineating the various and opposite characters of his multifarious composition—in which no two are to be found alike,{23} and in each of which we find the appropriate idea—and the fulness of embodiment which sustains the dramatis personæ throughout, with an untiring energy of impersonation in costume, symbol, and action, which excites our warmest admiration.

“We have the sanctity of the Monk, the meekness and abstraction of the supreme Pontiff; the Archbishop; the pious energy of the Bishop in the act of benediction; the prudent Abbot; the devoted Anchorite; the haughty and imposing King; the stark conqueror fiercely justifying his usurpation; the placid and impassible Confessor administering his good old laws ...; the inspired Evangelist or the malignant sprite;—each and all discovering a racy energy of conception which the informed artist may envy.”

Again: “The Mediæval artist appealed sometimes to the imagination, and sometimes to the conscience; and thus gave a degree of sentiment to his works, which the moderns can scarcely attempt,—much less attain....

“But it is the moral understanding of the artist which is most affected by the contemplation of so vast an assemblage of Christian art, as contrasted with the Classical, contained in our museums or in ancient monuments. Habituated to the Grecian model, in which the pride of life, the sensuality of beauty, a superhuman energy, or an unreal Elysium are assumed, deluding with a beau-ideal, and disappointing to all human experience, he is brought here to the full admission of the realities and true conditions of human existence—probation by the sweat of the brow, and the grand achievement of eternal life. Art is here em{24}ployed to impress the great lessons of Truth, the warfare of the world, the subjugation of the natural to the spiritual man, the honest employment of the intellect in the great cause of religion.... No characters enter into this picture which have not been signalised by some great good to society, or some great triumph over all-absorbing self. Wisdom in its true sense, and varying energies of personal or intellectual strength, in a great cause, are the only passports to admission in these records.”

I need not apologise for quoting at so much length from him who has so often and so eloquently addressed you from this place, and cannot refrain from adding the following admirable reflections to which the work he was describing gave rise:—

“The poetic faculty, the fine sense of beauty, grace, and humour, are the gifts of nature: technical and mechanical skill may be acquired by academy and happy circumstances. The union of these qualifications, which is requisite to perfection in a work of art, is indeed a rare felicity: their separate existence is a melancholy fact, exhibited by the history of schools; in which, for the most part mechanism and technicality usurp the higher attainment, and the wide distinction between the professional practitioner and the inborn artist is made apparent to us. But the end of all sound criticism should be to recognise these distinctions; to seize the poetical conception, however encumbered with a faulty execution; and to appreciate in their true merit the more exalted and the rarer qualities; else the poet descends to the grammarian, and the intellectual artist to the handicraftsman.{25}

In foliated sculpture the Mediæval artists exceeded those of, perhaps, any other period. In their works you find the finest specimens of conventional or imaginary foliage,—founded on natural principles, yet not imitated from nature,—the best instances of the introduction of natural foliage, either wholly or united with the conventional,—and the most admirable examples of conventionalising nature, or, as Mr. Ruskin defines it, “bringing it into service,” so as to suit it to the material and to the forms, conditions, and purposes of architectural decoration, whether in relief or in painting. And not the least valuable of the lessons we learn from them is the acknowledgment of the mind and imagination of the art workman, who was not, as in classic architecture, employed to make for his capitals, or other features, an indefinite number of facsimiles of a single model, much less, as in most modern works, to copy in a hundred buildings a model which its author never meant to be used but in one; but after having acquired a due amount of skill in the arrangement and execution of his foliage, and a due knowledge of the general tone and feeling which the architect desired to express, was then left, under only general guidance, to the indulgence of his own inventive and artistic faculties, and thus rendered every capital, every boss, and every cusp a distinct and separate work of art, though all in harmony with the ideal of the whole design.

In variety of expression Gothic architecture is excelled by none, being equally capable of the sternest and most majestic severity, and the most exquisite and refined elegance, as well as of all the intermediate varieties.{26}

In beauty of external outline no other style of architecture approaches it; and in the variety, depth, and refined delicacy of the profiles of its mouldings it stands unrivalled. Time would fail me to tell of the wonderful manner in which our style shapes itself to every accidental requirement; grapples with every difficulty, and converts it into a source of beauty; disdains, on the one hand, all artificially effected symmetry, nor, on the other, fears to submit to the most rigid uniformity, should the conditions of the case require it, being equally noble in the castle, where no two parts are alike or, as in the Hall at Ypres, where scarcely any two are different; how it meets every emergency with the utmost frankness and honesty; how it disdains all deception; thus contrasting itself, not with other genuine styles, for none really systematically admit of shams, but with the despicable trickiness which our modern architects have learned from their own plasterers and house-painters. Nor have I time to treat of the boldness, freedom, and originality of its conceptions. But, above all, its great glory is the solemnity of religious character which pervades the interior of its temples. To this all its other attributes must bend, as it is this which renders it so pre-eminently suited to the highest uses of the Christian Church. It was this probably which led Romney to exclaim, that if Grecian architecture was the work of glorious men, Gothic was the invention of gods.

Having—I fear at too great length—sketched out the claims of Mediæval architecture upon your study, I will conclude with a few remarks as to the spirit with which that study should be undertaken, the man{27}ner in which it should be pursued, and the practical objects for which it should be followed up.

In the first place, I will premise that your studies should not be undertaken in a spirit of mere antiquarianism. We owe very much to antiquaries, and far be it from me to depreciate the value of their researches; on the contrary, I think that the enlightened system on which they are followed up is one of the things of which our age has to be proud, and one for which, as lovers of art, we have great cause for gratitude; nor do I wish to discourage the pursuit of such investigations by architects. It is, in some degree, a necessary accompaniment to their studies, and will always add interest to them. What I wish to suggest is that our own proper subject is art rather than antiquity. The fact that the types from which we have to study have grown old is accidental: their merits and their value are perfectly irrespective of their age, and would have been as great had they been erected in our own day; nay, more so, for then we should be following up, as in former days, the works of our own immediate predecessors, and should not be suffering, as now, from a great and unnatural hiatus in the history of our art. In the second place, our studies should not be undertaken in a spirit of mere philosophical investigation: that, too, is very useful in its place, and is an important element in the study of art, though somewhat too cold to suit the feelings which belong to the true artist.

I would suggest two classes of sentiments as especially suited to our own studies, somewhat opposite in their character, and each calculated to temper and correct any tendency to undue excess in the other. On{28} the one hand, I would urge that your studies should be the earnest following up of the genuine impulses of the heart;—that their primary characteristics should be warmth, enthusiasm, veneration, and love. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Never repress in yourselves, nor ridicule in others, the generous impulses of enthusiasm. They are the very soul of art; they are the fresh spring flowers of the youthful mind, the life-spring of every noble thought and action: without them art would cease to exist, and we should sink under the bondage of an iron age. Above all, cultivate these feelings now that you are young: guard and cherish them as you would the choicest and tenderest of flowers; for, depend upon it, the chilling blasts of advancing years, and the deadening contact of a hard and unsentimental world, will have sufficient tendency to nip the precious bud almost before it has time to burst into bloom. On the other hand, it is necessary that the exercise of this zeal, heartiness, and veneration, should be regulated by sound and discriminating judgment,—a perfect and unfettered freedom of thought, and an eye to real beauty of form and reasonableness of construction and design; so that our generous enthusiasm may not betray us into forming erroneous judgments.

However perfect a style of art may be, its productions are not all perfect nor all of equal merit; while every human art has had its period of rise, culmination, and decline; and, enthusiastic and heart-stirring as must be our feelings towards any art in which we hope to excel, and intense as may be our veneration for the skill and noble sentiment of its original masters,{29} these feelings should in no degree be permitted to blunt the sensitiveness of our own instinctive perception of beauty, whether positive or relative, nor to bias the freedom of our judgment as in the comparative truthfulness, propriety, or genuineness of the works of different periods or of different hands. We must keep a constant balance between our zeal and our judgment—not repressing the exercise of either, but giving each its full play, and exercising each in its highest and noblest degree.

I now come to the manner in which Mediæval architecture should be studied.

In the first place, though books and prints are very useful in their degree, let me impress upon you, in the strongest manner, that all real study should be at the fountain head. You may derive information as to the history of art from books, but knowledge of art itself must be derived from works of art. The knowledge derived from books and prints comes to you at second hand—you are seeing through other men’s eyes; the really useful information is that which you obtain at the first hand, and through your own eyes. If you learn a fact from a book, be never satisfied till you have proved it by your own observation; if you are impressed with the beauty of a building from a drawing or a print, make sure of its being really beautiful by examining it for yourselves. Investigate every theory, however rudimental, by actual examination of the data on which it is founded, so that none of your knowledge shall be merely taken upon trust from others.

During a genuine and natural state of art, every{30} one learned it from, and developed it upon, the works of his immediate predecessors. This natural course having been broken up, the most reasonable substitute for it is to study the actual works which surround us, and which were produced while art was still genuine and unbroken. We have not to visit distant shores, and to investigate obscure fragments,—the works of races which have vanished from the face of the earth: we are surrounded on every side by original examples of the arts which we would study; they are the productions of our own country and our own race. The temples from which our authorities are derived are not those of an ancient and bygone nation, but those in which we ourselves worship, and within and around whose hallowed walls sleep the remains of our own forefathers. We study no outlandish or exotic architecture, but that of buildings which from our infancy we have been taught to venerate. We have, then, no excuse if we neglect to obtain our knowledge from the fountain head.

The choice and order of the particular buildings which we select for our studies must depend much upon accidental circumstances; but, as a general rule, I would advise each student to begin with those which are readiest to his hand. If your home is in the country, visit, study, and sketch from your own parish church, and from those immediately surrounding you, widening your circle as you proceed; generally studying the simpler specimens before you venture upon the more magnificent. If you live in London the case is different. The humbler specimens have mostly perished, but the earnest student will still find out many{31} of which the public are ignorant. Here, however, you must for the most part attend to the more magnificent works, and reserve the humbler for your rural excursions; and, above all, you must diligently study the glorious abbey church of Westminster—internally, perhaps, the finest in England, but which, from its proximity, is made nothing like so much use of as it ought to be. Though the village churches round London have suffered more than almost any others, you would still do well to make pedestrian excursions among them, and carefully sketch what remains of them; and by extending your excursions to Waltham and St. Alban’s, to Eltham and Hampton Court, you will find objects of study of the highest merit and the most thrilling interest. I would, however, recommend, as the most profitable mode of following up the subject, more lengthened excursions; as, for instance, pedestrian tours through particular counties or districts, walking from village to village, and carefully sketching everything worthy of note to be found in it, whether ecclesiastical or domestic. This should be repeated over and over again in different districts. If you wish to direct your attention to the nobler productions of architecture, you must seat yourselves down in some cathedral town, and follow it up patiently from day to day, till your time is exhausted. A hasty view to these noblest of structures is of but little use.

Especially would I entreat your attention to those beauteous but melancholy ruins which still mark the sites of ancient monastic institutions. You may find in them the finest and best studied examples of your art—works designed and carried out, not in the bustle{32} and busy hum of cities, but under the quieting influence of learned retirement: they are the works of the most thoughtful spirits of their age, and have received their utmost study and consideration. Not only are they intrinsically among the most beautiful specimens you can visit, but their present condition is calculated to impress them the most deeply upon the imagination and memory.

It is well to visit these remains alone; to stay long at them; to study them thoroughly, and not to repress the emotions to which they are calculated to give rise. I would also plead for them on another ground. There are many of them fast mouldering away or tottering to their fall. A few years more, and many of them will have perished. Lend, then, a friendly hand while they still exist, and rescue from oblivion their noble details by making careful and measured drawings of every part; so that, when the reality is no more, the truthful representation at least will be preserved.

I need hardly say that no works of art can be really profitably studied without drawing from them. The memory will not retain its impressions by mere abstract study and observation. I would not advise hasty and careless sketching, unless your time is so short as to render more impossible, but would urge upon you the necessity of carefully and assiduously drawing whatever strikes you as worthy of it, making measured drawings whenever you can, and noting down your impressions as to the merits or the defects of the work. So study what you see as thoroughly to learn it,—as if no one had ever made drawings of it before. Never buy prints or photographs of it as substitutes for your{33} own work; though they are most useful when you have done all you can for yourself. In this way you will in a few years obtain a good knowledge of the architecture of your own country, and this is the best preparation for studying the contemporary works of other lands.

I would never encourage a student to go too early abroad. Study well our own examples first, and follow up foreign ones later.

When you go abroad, begin with France. It is the great centre of Mediæval art. Perhaps the best course is to take Normandy first, as being most allied to our own country; but still more important is the district round Paris—the old royal domain—which seems to be the heart from which Gothic architecture diffused itself throughout Europe. The architecture of this central district, particularly in works of the thirteenth century, demands the closest and the most diligent study; it is the great standard and type of the style, and, without a good knowledge of it, your studies would be not only incomplete, but defective at the most vital part.

After France, I would recommend Germany. Pointed architecture in Germany is a direct emanation from France, far more so than is the case with that of our own country. Yet it has a character of its own which it is well to study, and the later Romanesque of Germany, which is contemporary with the early Pointed architecture of France and England, is replete with beauty and suggestiveness.

Italy should come after France and Germany; and the study of its Mediæval works is, in my opinion,{34} necessary to the completeness of the course I am suggesting. It should, however, be undertaken with much caution, without which it is apt to lead astray. I have above recommended you never to repress the generous impulses of enthusiasm; I fear, however, I must here make an exception to my rule. On first visiting Italy, the scenes are so new and so exciting, and the effects of the climate and the beauty of the atmosphere so intoxicating to the feelings, that we are apt to view everything through an exaggerating medium. Without repressing noble and generous emotions, I would still suggest that a rigorous watch should be kept over the undue effect of merely external influences. “Put a knife to thy throat if thou be a man given to appetite.” With proper safeguards, however, on this head, southern Gothic is one of the most useful and delightful branches of the studies which lie before you, and supplies many a hiatus which would otherwise exist.

I hope, however, on some future occasion, to say more on this subject. For the present, I will close my remarks on the manner in which Gothic architecture should be studied, by saying that it is not mere architecture which you will have to attend to: painted decoration, whether in its nobler or humbler branches, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, metal-work, jewellery, enamelling, seals, carved ivories, embroidery, and a hundred other subsidiary branches, possess an almost equal claim upon your attention; and many of these must be followed up in museums and public libraries, in collections of archives, and in the sacristies and treasuries of monasteries and cathedrals, where, for the most part, they lie hidden and{35} unknown to the busy world around. Nor would I leave you to suppose that the objects of your study should be either exclusively, or even, perhaps, mainly, ecclesiastical. You must search out with the utmost diligence the remnants of civil, secular, and domestic buildings of the same ages: without this your studies would be imperfect indeed! The caprice of individuals and the love of living in new houses, have rendered these remains most imperfect and fragmentary; yet the fragments are strewn on all sides of us, and demand to be carefully collected, and not a village you pass will fail to supply you with some contribution.

Finally. What are the special objects for which this course of study should be undertaken? They are, I think, threefold.

First. For the mere sake of acquainting ourselves with one of the most remarkable phases in the whole history of art, and that which belonged to our own race, country, and religion. It is one of the most striking characteristics of our day that in it alone, of all periods of the world’s history, the arts of all preceding times are studied and their history understood; and strange would it be if, while traversing every land to glean vestiges of its bygone arts, we should neglect to acquaint ourselves with that noble style which prevailed among our own forefathers, and whose glorious monuments surround us on every side.

The second object is one of a more practical nature. These noble monuments, the pride and glory of our land, have, through the lapse of time and the barbarous hand of modern Vandalism, become in many cases so decayed and mutilated as to demand at our hands the{36} most careful and judicious reparations. This cannot safely be undertaken by any but those who have as perfect knowledge as is possible of their architecture, and who are able to trace out with precision the history and changes they have undergone, and whose feelings are such as to lead them to deal tenderly and lovingly with them. This alone is a sufficient object to induce a careful study of our Mediæval architecture.

There remains, however, a third object to lead us to this study, but it is one on which so much difference of opinion exists, that I must avoid on the present occasion doing more than naming it. I refer, of course, to the revival of Pointed architecture now going on. The promoters of this great movement do not desire to revive a departed art, however glorious, exactly as they find it in its original remains. Such may naturally be the character of their first essays, but it is not their ultimate wish. Their view is rather this: that, feeling deeply the fact that we have long since ceased to possess an architecture which can be said to belong to our race or our age, and fully agreeing with those who desire to see a new development of our art to meet these demands, they feel that the most probable foundation for such a development is the native architecture of our own race and country, and that the thorough study of its principles may tend in time to promote the formation of an architecture of the future, which will be more thoroughly our own than that, however meritorious, which has been founded upon traditions of the ancient world.{37}


Sketch of the Rise of Mediæval Architecture.

Anomalous state of things in Western Europe after the destruction of the Roman Empire—Art almost extinct—Saved by the Western Church and the Eastern Empire—Architectural elements of the new races—Charlemagne’s attempts to revive art—Primitive art in England and the north of France—Dawn of better things—Architecture of the tenth century—Schools of art and science—Bishop Bernward’s works—Origin of early styles in France and Germany—Early architecture of Rome—The arcuated and the trabeated systems—Development of Romanesque—Its leading characteristics—Romanesque and Pointed architecture not TWO styles, but ONE—Barrel vaults—Groined vaults—Oblong bays—Main arches of groined vaulting changed from the semicircle to the pointed arch—Flying buttresses—Groin ribs—The pointed arch arose from statical not geometrical or æsthetical motives—Wall ribs remain round long after the wider arches become pointed—Two modes adopted to avoid the difficulty of oblong groining over naves—Sexpartite vaulting.

IN the introductory lecture which I had the honour of reading before you last year, I endeavoured to give an outline of the varied claims of the architecture which was developed in our own and neighbouring countries during the Middle Ages, upon the study both of architects and lovers of art at the present day.

I will not recapitulate what I then said; but, presuming that by honouring me with your presence this evening you admit the subject to be well worthy of your attention, will crave your indulgence while I en{38}deavour, at the risk of appearing to be going over a trite and almost exhausted subject, to give a brief outline of the rise and development of the architecture whose claims upon your study I then attempted to advocate.

My object is rather to trace out the re-awakening of art in the eleventh and following centuries from the slumber in which it had so long lain, than to chronicle its changes during the chaotic ages which followed the final catastrophe of the ancient world. Like the contemporary fable of the Seven Sleepers at Ephesus, its changes during this dreamy interval were but the turnings of the slumberer from the right side to the left, and little need is there to investigate such sluggish and disconnected movements. Our concern is rather with living and energetic art; and if we stop at all to inquire into its semi-dormant condition, it is rather for the sake of judging what were the elements of life which it retained, than from any really practical interest which attaches to its productions.

It is hardly possible to conceive of a state of things so utterly anomalous and contrary to all historical precedent as that of Western Europe after the deluge of Northern barbarism had annihilated the mightiest empire the world ever saw, and almost swept from the face of the earth the arts and literature which it had taken the whole period of human history to generate. Like the giant-slayers of old romance, the barbarous conquerors must have been filled with awe in contemplating the stupendous proportions of their now lifeless victim; and while wandering amidst the mighty monuments of the people they had overthrown, they must{39} have been inspired with deep veneration for their intellectual power, and with ardent longings to inherit some portion of their skill—aspirations which, if we may judge from some of the structures erected by Theodoric, there can be little doubt would have been realised had not every wave as it subsided been succeeded by a fresh torrent of barbarism. The lamp of art was only saved from utter extinction by two surviving institutions—the Western Church and the Eastern Empire; the one seeming to absorb each succeeding wave of conquering barbarism, and the other to supply to each those elements of civilisation by which its fury was in its turn to be abated.

As might be expected from the circumstances of their position, the architectural efforts of the new races were founded on the basis of the Roman monuments, with whose vestiges they were on every hand surrounded, aided by friendly and continuous importations of the still living art of the Eastern Empire. Their elements were the Christianised Roman of the Western Basilica, and the newly-developed architecture of the Byzantine Church. Long, long, however, was it before any distinctive style was developed out of these elements. The efforts of Theodoric must be considered as rather Byzantine than Gothic; and for three centuries so little, if any, was the progress, that we find Charlemagne, the re-founder of the empire, actually despoiling the palace of the early Gothic king to use its architectural fragments in his own structures!

There can be no doubt, however, that the efforts {40}made by Charlemagne for the revival of art would have soon produced some great results had he been followed by successors in any degree worthy of him; but so far from this, the nations he governed seem to have fallen back into almost worse barbarism than before, while the incursion of Northmen, Huns, and Saracens long repressed every effort after better things. We know little of the actual state of architecture during this melancholy period. The notion of Charlemagne having found a distinctive style of architecture in Lombardy, and having transplanted it to the banks of the Rhine, seems to be little more than a myth, though I think it not improbable that the Lombards had already taken some steps towards the formation of a new style.[2]

It is dubious whether a fragment of the structures erected by the Lombard kings now exists from which we may ascertain their style;[3], and though it is possible that the subsequent architecture may have been influenced by them in some degree, it is certain that the models which the Frankish emperor more especially followed were rather found in Byzantine Ravenna than in barbarous Lombardy, and the few remains of his architecture seem to be imitations of either Classic or Byzantine structures.

In England the works of this period were a very rude and unintelligible imitation of those of the same period at Rome, united with a strange translation into stone of their own timber structures, and occasionally{41} enriched with that primitive kind of ornamentation which it is customary to call Runic.[4]

In the north of France it would not appear that the humbler class of churches were much better than those of which we find the remains in our own country. The remnants of one of the churches erected at that period on the site now occupied by Nôtre Dame at Paris, are debased Roman with Corinthian capitals; but the few remains of smaller churches—such as the old church at Beauvais—are not very unlike the Saxon structures in England. Of the latter it is but fair to state that the fragments which remain nearly all belong to merely rustic churches, and are hardly fair specimens of their style; they afford, however, sufficient proof of the rude state of art, though we have the witness of contemporary and succeeding historians to the fact that they were supposed and intended to be in the Roman style—meaning thereby, not that of ancient Rome, but that which prevailed at the period, and which we usually designate as the Basilican style.

The dawn of better things may be dated from the commencement of the tenth century, and may be mainly attributed to the consolidation of the German empire under the three first Othos (936-1002) and their immediate successors, and more especially to the fact of these emperors having had Lombardy equally with Germany, Switzerland, and portions of France under their sway, and thus in some degree uniting in one that vast expanse of country which extends from the banks of the Po to those of the Elbe.{42}

Though Charlemagne had been the first to establish this mighty empire, and that on a yet grander scale, and may claim the title of the founder of modern civilisation, the seeds he had sown scarcely began to take root till the days of his German successors of the tenth and eleventh centuries. I say German successors, because the kings of France were his successors as Frankish kings, the others as German emperors; and from this time forward we find a sort of contest or competition ever going on, both in politics and arts, between those who represented him in those two capacities.

From the commencement of the tenth century we find one style of architecture for a time spreading over the plains of Lombardy, the valleys of Switzerland, and that of the Rhine, and extending itself over Saxony and all the civilised parts of Germany.

I do not say that the style was absolutely identical; but still it was essentially the same. It was promoted by the same all-pervading political influence; and there can be no doubt that the same ecclesiastics, and even the same artists, were engaged in carrying it out; and that even among those most remote from one another a constant interchange of views as to taste and construction was ever going on, while the differences which we observe would arise rather from those of climate, material, and proximity to the relics of ancient art, than from any essential or intended difference of style.

The force of the influence brought to bear at this period upon the furtherance of art may be judged of from the accounts we have of the schools of art and science established so far north as Hildesheim (in the{43} neighbourhood of Brunswick and Hanover), by Bernward, Bishop of that see, at the close of the tenth and the commencement of the eleventh century. Bernward was tutor, and afterwards chancellor, to Otho III., and there are extant portions of an elaborate treatise on geometry from which he instructed that prince. He was himself skilled in many arts, as wall-painting, the illumination of MSS., mosaics, working in metals, cutting and setting precious stones, as well as in architecture itself; and it is said that “whenever he found a youth with a feeling for art, he took him into his laboratory, and instructed him with the greatest kindness in giving the required forms to stubborn metals, hard stone, wood, and ivory. The most artistic of these young men he always took with him when he travelled, especially when he went to Italy, that their taste might be improved by seeing masterly works of art, and hence be enabled to execute similar works at home.” Bernward rebuilt his cathedral and erected the church of St. Michael at Hildesheim (still existing); and of his works in metal there remain the gates and the spiral column (of which casts may be seen at the Crystal Palace), as well as the great corona, in the cathedral. I have dwelt the longer on these particulars because we happen to have more complete records of Bernward than of most of his contemporaries in art, and because the sphere of his operations was at a point so distant from the recognised centres of art; and when it is recollected that he was cotemporary with the erection of many of the great Romanesque cathedrals of Germany—as Mayence, Spire, and Bamberg, and of multitudes of less important churches (at the dedication of many of{44} which he was present), and further, that he lived earlier than the erection of the Cathedral of Pisa, the Church of St. Mark at Venice, or St. Zeno at Verona—it will be seen at once how early and energetic was the architectural movement in Germany under those emperors who were also kings of Italy; and we need not wonder at the immense hold which the architecture, thus generated, had over the national mind of Germany.

It is probable that about the same period a style somewhat analogous to the Lombardo-Rhenish, though more strongly tinctured with Classic detail, was growing up in Provence and the other southern provinces of France, spreading itself northward, and thus meeting the German variety on the borders of Switzerland and in Burgundy. The dates, however, of buildings in those districts seem too indefinite to be argued upon with confidence, though it is certain that at a date somewhat later a very noble and refined variety of Romanesque, but with a strong Classic admixture, prevailed there.

About the same time the development of a distinctive style was promoted in the North by an apparently adverse cause. The Northmen, under Rollo, having ravaged and possessed themselves of an extensive province in the north of France, and having soon afterwards joined the Christian Church, set themselves vigorously about the task of repairing the sacrilege which, in the days of their ignorance, they had committed: nearly every ecclesiastical edifice in their new dominions had been destroyed, and never, perhaps, had a new and vigorous people a more perfect carte blanche for generating a new phase of architecture. We ac{45}cordingly find that they soon covered their land with edifices; at first, it is true, rude and simple,[5] but subsequently possessing elements of dignity and massive grandeur of a very high order.

Of the central district of the Frankish monarchy at this period we have few architectural relics. The weakness of the Carlovingian monarchs, and the almost entire dismemberment of their dominions, left them, probably, little able to carry out great works; yet it cannot be doubted that the active genius of the race—surrounded as they were by the Romanesque developments of Lombardy, Provence, Rhineland, and Normandy—could not have failed to have produced works fully proportioned in merit to those of their neighbours, though during the period of subsequent greatness they were not deemed worthy to be retained.

We now arrive at the period at which the real subject of which I have undertaken to treat commences; and it may here be well to give a few moments’ consideration to the intrinsic nature of the art at this time being generated.

The early architecture of Rome,—locally occupying a position between the Greek colonies to the south and the Etruscan cities to the north,—partook, as it would seem probable, of the characteristics of both, and was more especially marked by the union of the Greek orders and their trabeated structure with the arched{46} construction shadowed forth by the buildings of Etruria. The whole history of Roman architecture seems to evince a competition ever going on between these rival systems. It was at first an unequal contest, for the arcuated system had never, when first taken up by the Romans, had the advantage of being treated as the vehicle for architectural decoration—it was as yet mere construction; while the trabeated system had passed through a refining process of two thousand years’ duration, and had been brought by the Greeks to the highest pitch of beauty and perfection. The Roman structures display every step in this contest, some of their greatest structures being purely arcuated and merely constructive, others as purely trabeated—mere imitations of Grecian architecture; but the majority uniting both in different proportions, the Grecian element being very commonly little more than a decorative overlaying of the arched reality. As time moved on, the arched construction steadily gained ground: not only were openings arched over, but wide spaces vaulted both with domes, continuous cylindrical vaults, and those of the groined or intersecting form.

During the later ages of Pagan Rome, though architecture as a decorative art was on the wane, the triumph of arched construction became more and more complete. Columns hitherto used to support horizontal entablatures were employed directly to carry arches, the architrave being bent into a semicircle instead of lying horizontally upon the column; while spaces of gigantic span were covered with groined vaulting, some reaching to a width never since attempted.{47}

In the Eastern empire the dome became subsequently the favourite form of vault, though, in each division of the empire, the arching over entire buildings in all its branches was practised with the greatest skill and success.

During the dark interval which followed the Gothic invasions, though constructive skill was immensely reduced, the preponderance of arcuated over trabeated architecture became yet more complete. The Greek element having during the later Roman period become merely decorative, and therefore no more than an artificial adjunct, it was natural that the overthrow of the ancient civilisation should at once sweep it away as a useless luxury, and that the real and useful portions of architecture should alone survive, though the actual skill in using them would be reduced. We find, accordingly, that during this interval architecture became purely arcuated, though in Western Europe the more difficult forms of arcuation, such as the vaulting over of large spaces, were usually avoided. This art, however, was never forgotten nor lost, but simply disused from diminution of skill, and the grand characteristic of the reawakening of architecture was the revival of these more difficult systems of construction; so much so, indeed, that nearly every structural change which we trace from the tenth to the thirteenth century arose, more or less, from the endeavour first to revive and then to carry on to higher and higher perfection the construction of arches and vaulting, and to elevate it from mere construction into the highest place among the means of producing beauty of decoration and sublimity of effect.{48}

In the south of Italy the architecture continued all along to follow, in the main, the character of the Roman Basilica; and for a long period, it is probable, as I have before stated, that most of the Northern churches were rude imitations of this type; but gradually, in the countries north of the Po, a new form came over the architecture, which ever after distinguished Northern from Southern buildings, and which may be designated by the family name of Gothic, not only as being the progenitor of the style which has generally received that title, but as being actually in a great degree the style of the nations of Gothic extraction as distinguished from those of Roman parentage. This style has generally received the name of Romanesque, or Romane, to distinguish it from the pointed-arched style which succeeded it, but is by Mr. Fergusson more philosophically termed the round-arched Gothic, while he transfers the term Romanesque to the Christianised Roman or Basilican style. This is far more correct than the usual nomenclature; but as the latter is established by custom I shall not depart from it, but shall, for convenience, designate this round-arched Gothic style—as distinguished from the Christian Roman and from the Pointed style—by the customary name of Romanesque.

Of this style the following may be enumerated as the leading characteristics:—

1. Subordination of the arches.

2. Subdivision of piers to meet the subordination of arches.

3. Introduction of systems of moulding and decoration proper to subdivided arches.{49}

4. The use of shafts or colonettes as means of decoration and accentuation.

5. The entire relinquishment of Classic proportions in the columns, which are henceforth proportioned in thickness to their load, irrespective of their height.

6. A system of decoration of its own, founded on Roman and Byzantine, but worked up into a new character, more or less independent of the original type, according to the locality, and to its removal from or proximity to antique monuments.

7. Great thickness of walls to resist the thrust of vaulting, aided by flat, pilaster-like buttresses in the principal planes of pressure.

8. In many cases—indeed, as a general rule—an air of gigantic massiveness in the entire construction.

9. The vaulting at first exactly accords with that of Roman buildings, embracing the barrel vault, the groined vault, and the dome, in nearly all the hitherto attained varieties. The arches always either semicircular or segmental.

The above characteristics are chiefly of a mechanical nature. The style possesses, however, sentiments of an infinitely nobler kind than anything which these mere material elements could impart. It possesses a sternness and dignity almost unearthly—a majestic severity of sentiment which seems, as it were, as if intended to rebuke the unpitying barbarity of the age, and to awe its rude and lawless spirits into obedience to the precepts of the Divine law. Its aspect is religious to the utmost extreme; but it expresses the stern uncompromising severity of religion rather than its more winning and elevating attributes—the asceticism{50} of St. John the Baptist, the rebuker of sin and the preacher of repentance and of righteousness, rather than the spirituality of St. John the Evangelist, the preacher of Christian love, devotion, and praise. The sentiment they would express seems not so much “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” as “Fear before Him, all the earth;” and the task they prescribe to their ministers to be rather to proclaim “the day of vengeance” than “the acceptable year of the Lord”—less to “bind up the broken-hearted and comfort all that mourn,” than to “lift up their voice like a trumpet, and show the people their transgressions.”

This stern simplicity is not, however, universal, for from the first the Romanesque architects occasionally indulged in even rich ornamentation, and, at a later date, often carried it to profusion; yet, even in the richest decorations, they continued grave and severe—their lines were hard and precise, their foliage strong and harsh, and their figure sculpture (unless intended to be grotesque) was the very image of sternness—rude in art, but often of great dignity of expression; and though in an age like ours, of technical perfection and flippant criticism, it often provokes a smile, it was, in its own simple and untechnical age, well calculated to produce wholesome and solemnizing impressions.

This is the style of which we should first treat when attempting to trace the history of Mediæval architecture. It is a mistake to imagine Pointed architecture to be severed by a great gulf from the Romanesque—the Pointed Gothic from the Round: it is its legitimate offspring, or rather itself in a more advanced{51} stage of its development. The change from the round-arched to the pointed-arched Gothic is no change of essential principles; it is but the carrying on to their inevitable results of the principles of refinement, purification, elevation, the perfecting of the construction, and the softening down of the asperity of expression, which were going on during the whole of the Romanesque period. Nearly every characteristic of Pointed architecture finds its type, or its perfected model, in the Romanesque. They are not two styles, but one—the earlier and the later phases of the same architecture; the latter being only the carrying on to perfection of the progression which had, during every moment of its dominion, and in every province of its empire, been uniformly going on in the former.

Though the refining process went unceasingly on during the whole history of Romanesque architecture and affected all its features, it would appear that the constant endeavours to bring to perfection its various systems of vaulting were among the greatest causes of the change from the Round to the Pointed style, I will, therefore, endeavour to give a concise outline of the changes in this branch of construction during the period under consideration.

The churches of Western Europe up to this time, like the early basilicas, were for the most part covered with timber roofs; and the task which the Romanesque builders proposed to themselves was to convert them into vaulted churches.

The most normal and readily invented vault is that of the continuous barrel or demi-cylindrical form, covering an oblong building from end to end, and the{52} most readily conceived idea, where the building has to be roofed over such a vault, is to fill in the space between the arch and the triangle of the roof solid, and make it at once the ceiling of the room and the support of the roof covering. Such a vault, however, has considerable outward thrust, and, being heavily loaded at the crown, would require walls of great thickness to stand against it. Let us suppose it applied to the nave of a basilica in place of the timber roof, and it is obvious that, being balanced on two ranges of columns, it could not stand for a moment without some very effective contrivance in the construction of the aisles to buttress up the walls and pillars on which this barrel vault is to rest.

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Fig. 1.

In the Baths of Diocletian, the Basilica of Maxentius, and other great Roman halls, this was met by cross walls pierced only by small archways, and placed at intervals, dividing the aisles into chambers, each of which was covered by a short barrel vault at right angles to that over the central space (Fig. 1). This, however, would be inconsistent with the uses of a church, and, indeed, applies to a groined rather than a barrel vault, though a very similar expedient was sometimes used by the Romanesque builders, by covering the aisles with cross barrel vaults, as those above described, supported by arches across the aisles, instead of by cross walls (Fig. 2). Another system was to cover the aisles by a half or little more than a half longitudinal barrel{53} roof, forming a continuous arched buttress to the continuous central vault (Fig. 3). This gave them a perfectly vaulted building of trustworthy construction, provided only that the aisle walls were of sufficient strength. The barrel vaults were often both strengthened and their monotony relieved by arched ribs added to their thickness over each pillar of the nave, and repeated over the aisles, while these planes of extra strength were carried through to the exterior in the form of buttresses of small projection against the aisle walls (Fig. 4).

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Fig. 2.

Fig. 3.

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Fig. 4.

The builders of such churches were not, however, ignorant of the principles of the groined or intersecting vault formed by the inter-penetration of two demi-cylinders, and so largely used by the Romans. They did not use them in such buildings, because their main vault rising into the roof, they could not, under the same roof-plane, introduce the intersecting vaults,—though this had been effected in Roman structures by a series of cross gables over the cross vaults. In churches of the same kind, however, we find the{54} groined vault used to carry a gallery in the aisles, all the rest remaining as before (Fig. 5).

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Fig. 5.

It would appear that the obvious mechanical advantages it offered led at an early period, in the south of France, to the substitution of the pointed for the round arch in the great vault of churches of this construction; but I will suppose for the present the semicircle to be strictly adhered to. The great defect in such a church as I am supposing would be want of light in the nave from the absence of clerestory windows; and as such windows had been in use from the days of the earliest basilicas, this loss would be fully appreciated.

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Fig. 6.

The first idea for obviating it was to lower the springing of the vault for the sake of bringing the thrust to bear upon a portion of the wall more capable of resisting it, and, by raising the nave relatively to its aisles, to obtain space for a range of small windows between the roof of the aisle and the springing of the main vault (Fig. 6). This, however, was a most unsatisfactory arrangement—it compromised the security of the structure, and gained but a very miserable range of lights.{55}

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Fig. 7.

This difficulty led to the somewhat unpalatable measure of lowering the springing of the main vault so much as to bring its crown below the level of the walls, and to convert it from a barrel into a groined vault. The springing being then level with the impinging line of the aisle roofs, a good abutment was obtained, while the cross vaults afforded ample space for clerestory windows (Fig. 7). I called this an unpalatable expedient for two reasons:—Ist, Because it involved the loss of the entire height of the roof as a part of the interior; and, secondly, because it led to the relinquishment of the incombustible construction, by rendering it impossible to make the vaulting to form the actual roof, and the consequent necessity for a timber roof above it. In a Northern climate, however, this was not an unmitigated loss, for a vault immediately under the roof-covering is always damp, and extremely difficult of repair; and we shall see that the loss of height was soon compensated for by a subsequent invention, while the substitution of a groined for a barrel vault not only introduced a beautiful in place of a comparatively dull form, but did away with the illogical characteristic of a continuous vault supported by detached pillars; the load being now collected together into points immediately over its supports. The same cause would naturally lead to{56} the abandonment of the half-barrel vaulting of the aisles, the need of abutment being now not continuous, but in detached points. The aisles were consequently covered with groined vaults, a cross wall being raised upon their transverse arches, or arcs-doubleaux, which served as buttresses to the main vault, or would even carry external buttresses against the clerestory wall. The blank wall in the nave, caused by the space between the groining and roof of the aisles, was subsequently occupied by a gallery, so well known as the “triforium.”

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Fig. 8.

Fig. 9.

A difficulty here presented itself, which I must state before proceeding further, as much stress had been laid upon it, and it unquestionably exercised a strong influence upon the subsequent arrangements. It is this: the simple groined vault being formed by the intersection of demi-cylinders, demanded that the space covered by it should be divided into perfect squares. Now, the aisles of a church being usually about half the width of the nave, it follows that the groining of both cannot be square. If those of the aisles are so, those of the main vault must be about twice as wide as they are long (Fig. 8); while if these are made square, those of the aisles will be twice as long as they are wide (Fig. 9). The first alternative was that most usually adopted north of the Alps, though the second{57} was more frequent in Italy. The difficulty was how to groin these oblong bays. It was not, however, a new difficulty; it had occurred in Roman structures, where it was met by the simple expedient of raising the springing of the narrower vault so high, that its crown was level with that of the wider one. This answered the purpose, but it produced a most unpleasant line of intersection, reducing the vault, in fact, for a portion of its height, to a mere strip of the arc-doubleau, and giving a winding intersection for the remainder of the height, as two cylinders of unequal diameter do not intersect in a plane. The mathematical solution of the problem would have been to make the section of the narrower vault, an upright semi-ellipse; but this does not appear to have been at any period adopted, or, if at all, in exceptional cases only. The pointed arch would have been an approximate expedient, and its introduction has been very ingeniously attributed to this difficulty,—a theory to which I shall have again to allude.

Another solution of it would be to make all the arches semi-circles, but to raise up the crown of the vaults of a smaller diameter in a curve to meet the others, thus making it (roughly speaking) a portion of an annulus instead of a cylinder.

This had one great disadvantage: that it cut off a considerable portion of the space for the clerestory windows; or, if the level of the main vault was raised to obviate this, it became impossible to have a tiebeam to the roof. The system actually adopted in most instances would appear to have been a union of that last named with the Roman mode of stilting the{58} narrow vaults, the difference of height being made up partly by raising its springing, and partly by elevating the crown (Fig. 10).

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Fig. 10.

While these perplexities, however, were under consideration, several others arose, every one of which led to the introduction of features essential to the perfecting both of the style and construction. The first was the desire to elevate the central vault to a higher level, both for the sake of compensating for the loss sustained when it was brought down below the roof, and also to obtain a greater space for the clerestory windows. This involved, again, the difficulty as to abutment, through its raising the springing of the vault above the roof of the aisles. We have seen that, where reduced to a similar difficulty with the barrel vault, the architects of the south of France had at an earlier period resorted to the pointed vault as having less outward thrust: the same expedient was now had recourse to for groined vaulting, the main arches of which were now—towards the middle of the twelfth century—changed from the semicircle to the pointed arch. When the elevation of the clerestory above the aisles was but moderate, this was often found sufficient; but the construction was precarious, and in many instances failed, and a more perfect mode of meeting the case was required.

What was demanded was the power to elevate the clerestory with the main vault to any reasonable height{59} above the aisle, without endangering the stability of the structure.

Here the recollection of an earlier expedient came to the rescue. It will be remembered that the early barrel vaults were buttressed by half barrel vaults over the aisles, thus doing away with the clerestory. A continuous vault demanded a continuous abutment; but, now that the pressure was concentrated into detached planes, it became sufficient that the abutment also should be in those planes; and though the continuous semi-vault would do away with clerestory windows, detached semi-arches would have no such effect. The thought accordingly occurred of erecting the arc-doubleau of the old semi-vault in open air as a buttress to the main vault of the groined church; and hence that much-admired, and, of course, also much-depreciated feature—the flying buttress. The pressure being concentrated upon points, it became also necessary to fortify those points by attached buttresses of considerable projection, such as we henceforth find to have become a leading external characteristic of Mediæval structures. The wall, in fact (where the system was carried to its extreme limits), became a mere curtain, needed rather for enclosure than for strength, and capable of being pierced with windows to any required extent; a liberty which the contemporaneous development of stained glass caused to be unhesitatingly taken advantage of.

I must, however, return to the vaulting, having overstepped my chronology by not yet noticing another most important invention. I mean the introduction of groin-ribs—those narrow arches erected under the lines{60} of intersection of the vaults. The early groins had no ribs excepting the transverse ones, or arcs-doubleaux; the edges at which the vaults cut one another were left bare, and were the weakest parts of the construction; often but faintly marked, and not necessarily lying in planes. In more complicated vaults, such as now became necessary, this system could scarcely be continued; and the introduction of a stone rib, under every intersection, may be viewed as the crowning fact in the development of vaulting.

It is impossible to lay too much stress upon its importance, for it changed the entire geometrical system. Up to that time the construction of groining was wholly governed by the forms of the vaulting surfaces; the intersections being allowed to take their chance, and to present any irregularity of figure, while the wide surfaces of vaulting were apparently carried on mere pins’ points at the springing—correct enough as a mathematical figure, but ill calculated for strength. Now, however, the intersecting lines assumed the government of the construction, and the form of the surface was made to accommodate itself to them. They were always in planes,[6] and always true figures—usually arcs of circles; but the panels of vaulting became often irregular in their configuration, and could be twisted to meet contingent requirements without offending the eye; while the ribs, all meeting in a solid springer at the foot, brought down the pressure, and deposited it firmly upon the points of support.{61}

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Fig. 11.

It will be seen from the above that the pointed arch was not introduced into Mediæval structures from mere caprice—merely from seeing it elsewhere and taking a fancy to its form,—but from the necessities of construction, from its increased strength and diminished thrust. It was at first used for the main arch only of the greater vault. The same reason soon led to its introduction wherever great weight was to be carried, as under towers, etc.; but for all small arches the semicircle was long retained. I have alluded to the very beautiful theory that it was introduced for the side arches of oblong groins, simply as a means of obtaining arches of equal height with only half the span with those of the main vault. True it is, that, at a later date, it became most useful for this purpose. But a careful study of the monuments in which it is first systematically used clearly shows that its introduction was from statical, and neither geometrical nor merely æsthetical motives; for in the face of that theory we find the narrower arch or wall-rib remaining round long after the wider arch had become pointed (Fig. 11). Such is the case in nearly all the earlier of the French transitional churches, as at Noyon and at St. Germain des Pres, and we see the same at Canterbury. In most of these buildings the narrow arch is stilted and the crown of the cross vault raised up as before described, thus losing a part of the clerestory wall, a disadvantage obviated when the pointed arch became more frankly acknowledged.{62}

Although, however, the pointed arch was actually adopted from simple necessities of construction, its advantages in all points of view soon became apparent. In an essentially arcuated style it becomes necessary not only to have the command of a form of arch capable of carrying the greatest weights and of requiring the least abutment, but it is essential to have at command an arch of variable proportions. It carries absurdity on the very face of it that, while able to give our piers a greater or a less degree of height at pleasure we should have no such power over the arch they sustain; not to mention the numerous cases in which we have to bring together arches of unequal span, and which nevertheless demand an equal height. The rules of harmony imperatively demand that the arch should be equally capable of modification in its proportions of height to width, with all other features of the architecture.

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Fig. 12.

In the above outline of the history of vaulting I have, for the sake of simplicity, omitted two modes actually adopted to avoid the difficulty of oblong groining over naves. The first, which was common in German round-arched churches, was to make the vaulting of the nave simply to comprise two bays of the aisles, thus bringing the main vault equally into squares with those of the aisles. The second was the use of what Dr. Whewell has entitled sexpartite vaulting, and which is common both in France, Germany, and England (Fig. 12). It adopts the system{63} last named, but subdivides the double bay by a triangular slip of vaulting (Figs. 13, 14). The real solution arose, however, from the free and simple use of the pointed arch, which gave the result which is seen at Westminster[7] and in nearly all the vaulted churches of the thirteenth century—the simple groined vault with arches of equal height, though the side arches are sometimes stilted, not from necessity, but merely to afford greater space for clerestory windows.

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Fig. 13.

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Fig. 14.

On this plain and practical result M. Viollet le Duc (of whose admirable essay on vaulting, together with those of Dr. Whewell and Professor Willis, I have made free use) makes the following striking remarks:—

“It had required fifty years for the architects of the end of the twelfth century to arrive, from the still Romanesque vaults of Autun and Vezelay, at this great result; and from this moment the entire construction of religious edifices was derived from the disposition of the vaults; the form and dimension of the pillars—their spacing; the window-openings—their width{64} and height; the position and direction of the buttresses—the importance of their pinnacler; the strength, the number, and curvature of the arched buttresses; the disposing and the carrying off the rain water; the system of covering,—all proceed from the combination of the vaulting. The vaults govern the ossature of the monument to a point to which it would be impossible to raise it otherwise than by commencing rigorously to plan them previously to laying the first courses of the structure. This rule is so well established that if we see a church of the thirteenth century destroyed to the level of the bases, and of which the plan alone remains, we can with certainty trace the plan of the vaults, and indicate the direction of all the arches and their thickness. At the end of the fourteenth century the rigour of the system is still more absolute; we can trace, in examining the base of an edifice, not only the number and direction of the arches of the vaults, and know their strength, but the number of their mouldings and even their profiles. In the fifteenth century it is the arches (mouldings) themselves which descend to the floor, and the pillars are only vertical fasces formed of all the members of these arches. After this, we demand how is it that serious men have been able to repulse, and still do repulse, the study of the architecture of the Middle Ages as having been only produced by chance?”

It will be seen from what I have above stated that the order in which the pointed arch was successively adopted for different parts of a building, and the motives which led to its adoption, may be roughly classified under the heads of Statical, Geometrical,{65} and Æsthetical, or positions in which it was demanded for soundness of construction, for the mathematical agreement of parts, and for harmony and beauty of effect.

The first head embraces all wide-spanned arches, especially those I have pointed out as the first in which it made its appearance: the transverse arches of wide vaulting, also arches carrying towers, and others bearing great weight on their crown, and all which are defective in abutment, or demand the addition of buttresses (for remember that, though buttresses were rendered sources of beauty, they originated in necessity, and the aim was to keep their projection within bounds, rather than unduly to increase it). The second, or geometrical class, includes, primarily, the narrower arches of oblong vaulting; for, even had the transverse section continued round, the pointed arch must soon have suggested itself for the narrow arches of the sides; and though for a time the idea did not occur, the necessity of it is only the more apparent in the want of harmony, the undue stilting, and the loss of clerestory space which arose from its neglect. Under the same head come all other cases of irregularly formed vaulting in which the sides differ in width, and arches of varied proportion are therefore needed. Of the same kind are many other cases in which arches of different widths are in the same range, and where—though the statical view would demand that the widest span should have the strongest arch—geometrical agreement suggests the contrary; as, for instance, in the choir of St. Germain des Pres, at Paris, and many others, where the side arches are all round; but those of the apse, being narrower, are pointed. These two pressing necessities having once established the use of{66} the pointed arch in a large number of the most important positions, a natural feeling for harmony would come in to suggest its use in many others. First we may mention windows under the narrow compartments of groining—as in clerestories, apsidal chapels, etc.,—where, as soon as the pointed arch was used for the vaulting, the round-topped window would present a certain degree of discord, as we see at St. Cross,[8] and at St. Joseph’s Chapel[9] at Glastonbury. Then again, as windows became more elongated, the round arch became ill-proportioned to the jambs; and generally, as the architecture acquired a more aspiring tendency, the pointed arch was found more congenial with its spirit; so that, little by little, from being an exception, used from mere constructional expediency, it became the prevailing feature of the style; the semicircle being reserved for those positions only in which want of space forbade the more elevated form. Still, however, it was never abandoned, and in every period of Pointed architecture we find it occasionally making its appearance, used from motives of convenience alone, as the pointed arch had at first been by reason of its strength.

After this it will be seen of how little importance it is to inquire whence the form is derived; for it was introduced not as a matter of taste, but of utility—not as a change of style, but to meet the practical requirements of that already in use. The pointed arch was, in fact, as early (or thereabouts) in its invention as the round;—it is foreshadowed in the works of the Egyptians, the Pelasgi, and the Etrurians; it was used by the Romans, and, I believe, by the Byzantines and other{67} Oriental Christians, and by the Sassanian Persians, and was from an early period the prevailing arch among the Saracens. It is absurd, then, to suppose it unknown to the inhabitants of Western Europe, who were in constant communication with the East; and the most natural thing to expect was that, as soon as they wanted it, they would make use of it; though there is nothing unreasonable in the supposition that they were especially reminded of it, in consequence of the two circumstances of the Crusades and Norman Conquest of Sicily. In the case last named, indeed, the conquerors had at once adopted it, simply because it was the prevailing arch of the country, and, as Mr. Gally Knight remarks, “with no scientific object, and without any reference to the vertical principle.”

The wonder which has been expressed at the introduction of the pointed arch reminds me of a very homely tale, which I must apologise for repeating before so grave an assembly. An unimaginative individual, on visiting the Falls of Niagara, was greatly perplexed at the astonishment expressed by his companions; and on one of them exclaiming to him—“Is it not a most wonderful fall?”—replied, “Wonderful? no! I see nothing wonderful in it. Why, what’s to hinder the water from falling?” Much the same reply is applicable to the wondering inquiries after the source of the pointed arch. When the builders of the twelfth century found they wanted it; when they had seen its form in the first proposition of Euclid; when they had actually used it hundreds of times in their intersecting arcades; when they knew that it was constantly used in the East, with which they were connected by trade, science, pilgrimage, and{68} war; and when they knew that their brethren had used it in Sicily, and their fellow-countrymen in Provence; we may well ask, with our unsentimental friend, “What was to hinder them from using it?”

Simple, however, and obvious as were the means, the result was magical! It is not the materials of art to which its expression is due, but the sentiment—the heart—the soul of those who use it. This particular form of arch had long been used without one hint at such expression resulting from it. It had been highly conducive to beauty, but little, if at all, to elevation of sentiment: when, however, it came into use as an aid to the upward strivings of the architects of Northern Christendom, as an element placed in the hands of men who had been labouring for centuries, with all their energy, to render their architecture expressive of the ennobling sentiments of religion—it became, in their hands, a means of perfecting that solemnity of expression which the Romanesque buildings possessed in so wonderful a degree, and of adding the most exalted sublimity to its hitherto stern and rigid grandeur; just as the simple action of gravity gives to the Niagara Falls a sublime and overwhelming majesty; such as the same cause acting under different conditions has no tendency to produce.

I must apologise for having occupied so long a time on these merely preliminary and, perhaps, not very interesting topics. I hope in my next lecture to be able to give an outline of the transition as it showed itself in the different countries, and also to point out and illustrate the changes in the decorative and more purely artistic features of architecture by which it was accompanied.{69}


The Transition.

Gradual refinement of Romanesque—French architects the earliest to systematise the pointed arch—The English before the Germans—The Italians from the Germans—Fully acknowledged in France 1140—Suger’s work at St. Denis—Carving in French churches—Corinthianesque outline of capitals—Distinctly Byzantine capitals—A route by which Byzantine foliage may have reached France—The importation indisputable—Its effects seen in Early English capitals—West front of Chartres—Fluting on basement of doorways—Cathedral of Noyon—St. Germain des Pres, Paris—Cathedral of Sens, prototype of the Choir and Trinity Chapel at Canterbury—Notre Dame, Paris—A new kind of foliage—The capital “à crochet”—English transition—Incipient specimens—Refined Norman—Pointed style, with reminiscences of Romanesque—William of Sens—William the Englishman—Influence of French work—Oakham Castle—Glastonbury Abbey—Cathedral of St. David’s—Temple Church, London—Chichester Cathedral—Tynemouth Abbey—Hexham Abbey—Unfoliated capitals—Round moulded capitals—Characteristics of English and French transition—The German transition—Practical lessons from studying these changes—Principles to which the transition was pioneer.

IN my last lecture it was my endeavour to illustrate the mechanical and structural portion of the process by which the Romanesque, or round-arched Gothic, became changed into the Pointed style—a change which I showed to have resulted primarily from causes purely constructional, and arising from the mere necessities of the case, though subsequently carried on into parts, in which the change in the form of arch, though not statically necessary, was demanded from reasons of geometrical and æsthetic harmony. I further showed that the change was not, by any means, that abrupt revolu{70}tion which it is often described as having been; that a large proportion of the distinctive characteristics of Gothic architecture are common to its round-arched and pointed-arched varieties; that these two forms of architecture are hardly to be called two styles, but rather the grand divisions of one style—the latter being the natural and logical result of the progression ever going on in the former, during every moment of its prevalence, and in every country where it prevailed.

The portion of the subject, however, on which I then treated, was only the mechanical framework of the style—its mere ossature, to use M. Viollet le Duc’s expression, or—as a celebrated palæontologist, who did me the honour of being present, said—the “backbone” of the subject. My object this evening is to overlay this skeleton with the muscles and sinew, and with the external expressions of its inner life; to show that those dry bones lived; or, in other words, to show the changes in the decorative features of the architecture, and in the sculptural art which accompanied it. I have further to trace out the transition as exhibited in the structures of different countries—and especially of France, England, and Germany;[10] and in a general manner to inquire both into their peculiar characteristics and into the order of their chronological precedence.

The tendency I have so often mentioned to refine and to elevate the character of the Romanesque architecture is common to all the countries where it pre{71}vailed. In all we find the severe simplicity of its earlier productions gradually and steadily relaxing throughout the whole period of its history; the rudeness of its early decorations disappearing in favour of a more artistic treatment; its ponderous massiveness becoming lightened; its low proportions changed for more lofty ones; and the general asperity of its character becoming softened down; so that in its later stages it seems often to possess nearly every feature of the succeeding style, excepting the pointed arch and the elevation and lightness which followed its introduction, though it also possessed features which its successor speedily discarded. I especially refer to those systems of ornamentation—most of them of Oriental origin—by which the Romanesque buildings may usually, irrespective of their arches, be distinguished from those of the succeeding periods.

The pointed arch having, as I have before shown, been first introduced in the vaulting,[11] where its particular statical advantages were most required, it naturally follows that the change would commence earliest in those countries in which the builders set themselves most actively about the solution of the problem—the steps of which I somewhat at length traced out in my last lecture; I mean the conversion of the basilica, with its timber roofs, into a completely vaulted structure; and I think there can be no doubt that that country was France.

This, however, would not be the only condition on which the probable precedence among the different nations, in taking the step which was necessary to{72} generating a perfect form of arcuated architecture, would depend. It seems necessary that it should not be a country already so thoroughly provided with noble churches as to preclude the probability of a great architectural movement, nor one which had already made so determined an effort in perfecting its national style as to have become too much enamoured of its successes to be in a position to strike out boldly in a new line: indeed, it should be a people of so active a spirit, and with so strong a tendency to progress and to change, as to render it improbable that they should ever settle down in quiet contentment with their own attainments. The question as to where the great stride forward was to be expected would naturally lie between France and Germany—the dominions of the two great successors of Charlemagne in his kingly and his imperial capacities. Neither Italy nor England were so likely: the former, from her too great proximity to Classic monuments; while the latter—though her political power was equal to that of France, her continental possessions most extensive, and her architectural strivings most vigorous—had too newly risen from the position of a conquered country to take the first place in such a movement, and was also the less likely to do so from the fact of her builders having for the most part avoided the vaulted construction (on a large scale at least), from which the first advance was largely suggested.

The matter lay, then, between France (I mean the actual centre of the Frankish monarchy, of which Paris was the focus) and Germany. The latter, however, had already made her great architectural movement, and was (and not without cause) becoming self{73}satisfied with her achievements. She had generated a glorious style, and covered her land with monuments of which she might well be proud; while the part of France immediately under the royal power had not yet been able to erect structures of a magnitude worthy of her position as the great representative state of Western Europe. The immense influence gained just at this time by the French monastic establishments, as well as their schools of learning and science, and still more the increase of the regal power under the wise government of Louis VI., and by the annexation of the southern provinces through the marriage of his successor, brought about the commencement of the great building period in France, a little before the middle of the twelfth century, and the active genius of the people decided the rest. The consequence was that, though the refinement and perfecting of the Romanesque architecture went on uniformly in all the countries I have named, and though its transition into the Pointed style is as distinctly national in England and Germany as in France, the precedence as to the time at which the grand advance was made must be unhesitatingly awarded, I will not say to France (for some parts of it were particularly tardy), but to that district of France round Paris, the focus of the royal power—that portion of it, in fact, which was immediately under regal government, as distinguished from that of the great vassals of the Crown. We must further in justice admit that, though each country had its own transition, founded directly upon its own national and even local variety of Romanesque, each was also in some degree tinged and influenced by the{74} early developments arrived at in the royal domain of France.

I wish to be as specific as possible on this point, for the sake of steering between two exaggerated views. The one view is this: Seeing the transitional style of each country to be distinctly national—a logical and consistent transition from their own local Romanesque—to conclude from this that the result was absolutely independently arrived at, though a considerable chronological interval may have intervened. The other is the conclusion that, as the central French architects had been the earliest in systematising the pointed-arched developments, all other countries had simply followed in their wake, and done no more than follow the fashions set at Paris. The truth lies between these contradictory views. The communication ever going on throughout Europe caused each country to know pretty perfectly what was going on in others; their Romanesque in each was about on a par as to advancement, and in each the want of the pointed arch must have been nearly equally felt. Each, then, had its national and logical transition; but the French having outstripped the others as to time, many of their minor developments were adopted ready-made (if I may say so): so that though each transition is clearly national, and distinct from that of other countries, we nevertheless find, both in Germany and England, features which have as clearly been borrowed from the French.

The English—though it would appear likely, from their adherence to open timber roofs, that they would have felt the want of the pointed arch less than the Germans, who more usually vaulted their naves,{75}—nevertheless outstripped their more phlegmatic kinsmen in its adoption. This may have arisen from two causes—the constant use in England of central towers, the frequent failures of which, when supported by round arches, would have given them another reason to desire one of greater strength; and also their intimate connection with France and the vast domains in that country which came under the rule of our kings.

It is true that (with the exception of Anjou and Maine) the provinces held by Henry II. were those in which the Romanesque style held out the longest; yet the fact that the two countries were at the time almost as one—the English provinces of France being larger than, perhaps, either England itself or the independent domain of the French king—their ecclesiastical systems intimately united—the French language spoken by all the higher orders in England, who held possessions perhaps of almost equal extent in both countries—it is hardly probable that the state of architecture should be greatly different in England and in France.

The Normans, however, and the Aquitainians had both a strong affection for their own Romanesque styles, which had in each country more strongly marked characteristics than that of the royal domain of France; and this predilection seems to have kept back their strivings for a short time, and to have produced a similar effect in England—which, nevertheless, was the next country to royal France—and the parts immediately around it, to make the change towards the Pointed style, leaving Germany to come on at the close of the century, when we had already matured our Early Pointed or Early English style, and Italy to{76} adopt it still later, and through the medium of the Germans, as a return for the Lombardic Romanesque which three centuries earlier she had imparted to Germany; “As if,” to use the eloquent words of Mr. Petit, “that mighty river, that bore the tide of Roman civilisation into the heart of Europe, had infused into the nations through which it flowed a veneration for Roman memorials; with a wish to preserve and perpetuate them, by establishing, according to the principles of their construction, a kindred and lasting style of their own:” but, as I may add, on finding at length those principles to be imperfect, desired to send back to the source of this early civilisation those more advanced developments and increased beauties which these nations had generated from them.

Having thus roughly indicated the national order in which the transition showed itself, I will proceed to describe its characteristics and its productions in these different countries, beginning with France.

I have before mentioned that in the south of France there is reason to believe that the pointed arch was used for barrel vaults from an early date; and in the celebrated domical churches of Perigord and Angoumois it is used below the pendentives of the domes, as well as in the section of the domes themselves: this, if the usually adopted opinion be correct, would bring it into the centre of France early in the eleventh century. It is certainly found in the royal domain from the commencement of the next century, but it is from about 1140 that we must date its systematic introduction as a fully acknowledged architectural element.

I will not pretend to say what is the earliest work{77} in which it is thus admitted, nor attempt to investigate the commonly received opinion which attributes the launching of the new style (if such it should be called) to Suger, the celebrated Abbot of St. Denis. As, however, the architectural progress at this period was clearly most active within the influence of the court of Paris, and as Suger was not only one of the wisest and greatest men in the kingdom, but was a great minister of state, it is not unnatural that his personal influence upon art should be powerful. In the year 1140 he had rebuilt the nave of his church, and also the west front, as it existed previously to the wretched restorations which have rendered nearly worthless the most valuable landmark in the history of the transition. So far as we can now judge of it, it presents a very early transitional character, the round and pointed arch being almost indiscriminately used. Of the three portals, the central one has a round arch; the others are very slightly pointed. Their character is gorgeously rich, the shafts being either elaborately carved with surface ornamentation, or having full-length figures attached to them, and the arches replete with sculpture, agreeing, indeed, precisely in character with those of the west front of Chartres and some others. The parts which are original are beautifully executed, and the capitals are of that perfectly Byzantine variety of the Corinthianesque type which I shall shortly have to describe more in detail. In the interior, the arches of the vaulting, and those carrying the towers, are all pointed, but contain some strictly Romanesque features. On the whole, the work has a decidedly Romanesque appearance, but, nevertheless, has the pointed arch so freely used in it as to show that it was anything but the first essay.{78}

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Fig. 15.—St. Denis. Interior of one of the Apsidal Chapels.

In the same year (1140) Suger laid the foundations of the eastern end of the church, which, as it is said, “with stupendous celerity” he had so far completed by the year 1144, as to permit of its consecration; the king, with his capricious queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and a multitude of the great men of the country, being present at the ceremony.{79}

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Fig. 16.—St. Denis. External Sketch of one of the Apsidal Chapels.

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Fig. 17.—St. Denis. Part of Capital from one of the Apsidal Chapels.

Of the church of Suger the two ends with portions of the transepts are all that now remain; the whole of the intermediate portion, forming little less than the entire church, were rebuilt from the ground in the succeeding century, including even the pillars of the apse; so that we are not able to ascertain the design of an internal bay of his church. What remains of the eastern part embraces the pillars round the ambulatory of the apse, with all the apsidal chapels, including also their crypts. Of one of these chapels I exhibit an internal (Fig. 15) and external (Fig. 16) sketch. From these it will be seen that though the crypt—from want of height as much as from any other cause—has round arches, the upper chapels are purely pointed, and are very elegant in their design. The pillars are cylindrical, with Corinthianesque capitals (Fig. 17), the windows and vaulting pointed, and the whole, though obviously early, has very little of a Romanesque air, much less so than our own transitional specimens of a much later date, and, what is more remarkable, less than many French churches of twenty years later. The chapels, however, in the crypt are{80} much more Romanesque, all their arches being round, and their vaulting without ribs, though the details agree with those of the chapels above.

The principal remnant beyond what I have here mentioned is the doorway of the north transept. This is pointed, and generally has a more advanced air than those in the west façade, though on examination the details differ but little. There are full-length figures attached to the shafts, and angels carved in the arch mouldings, as those of the western portals and as those at Chartres; and such parts of the foliage as have not been renewed are most beautifully carved in the same Byzantine style. Of the same character also are a number of capitals from the monastic buildings preserved in a neighbouring shed.[12]

I will now crave your indulgence while I make a digression on the subject of the carving in French churches of this period. No one can have failed to notice the Corinthianesque outline of the capitals which prevail in France from early in the twelfth to the end of the thirteenth century. It has, indeed, been remarked by writers on the subject, that this Corinthian character greatly increased just before the period of the transition. Though the effects of importations of Byzantine taste are evinced in the Romanesque ornamentation throughout the whole period of its duration, it seems generally to have come in the form of manufactured goods, woven fabrics, jewellery, etc., etc.; and though the patterns, both of Byzantine and other{81}

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Fig. 18.—Greek Acanthus, from the Choragic Monument to Lysicrates, Athens.

Fig. 19.—Roman Acanthus from the Temple of Mars Ultor.

Oriental manufactures, are to be traced in the Romanesque ornaments, and were the origin of many of those most familiar to us, actual architectural features of Classic form, such as capitals, do not seem to have been very directly copied, excepting where the remains of antique buildings were at hand to offer models. The Romanesque capitals of earlier date are, in many cases, of types belonging to no other style, though in others they betray a distant descent from the Roman; and the cushion capital, and perhaps others, seem derived from Byzantium; but generally their forms differ much from the original, till we approach the period of which I am treating, when suddenly they assume an almost Classic form—the acanthus being freely used, and that of a variety resembling that of ancient Greece (Fig. 18), as distinguished from Rome (Fig. 19); and the same Greek leafage being found in cornices (Fig. 21), scroll-work (Fig. 20), and almost every other position in which it could be used. Not having travelled in the south of France, I will not venture to be very dogmatic as to the cause of this sudden change. I{82} fancy, from such drawings as I have seen, that this Byzantine capital prevails a good deal in the south of France, but I am not able with certainty to distinguish it from the capitals directly imitated from Classic remains around.[13] M. Viollet de Duc views them all as being of this origin, calling them Gallo-Romaine, as distinguished from the Romanesque capitals found side by side with them. I view those, however, I am treating of as distinctly Byzantine, and the following facts suggest a route by which the purely Byzantine foliage may have reached the north of France.

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Fig. 20.—Scroll, St. Denis.

Fig. 21.—Part of a Cornice, St. Denis.

The Church of St. Mark, at Venice, was erected between the years 977 and 1071, and its capitals are, many of them, precisely of the kind I am naming (Fig. 22), and are also identical with many at Constantinople (Fig. 23). No one who has had a training in drawing the Corinthian capital will fail to recognise at Venice that variety of the acanthus by which he has been accustomed to distinguish the Greek from the Roman Corinthian. According to M. de Verneill, the Church of St. Frond, at {83}

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Fig. 22.—Capital from the Church of St. Mark, Venice.

Fig 23.—Capital from St. John’s, Constantinople.

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Fig. 24—Capital from St. Frond, Perigueux.

Fig. 25.—Fragment of Capital from St. Frond, Perigueux.

Perigueux, was built at nearly the same time, in the centre of France, but under the influence of Venetian merchants. This church is a direct imitation of St. Mark’s at Venice; but besides the distinctly Byzantine forms which characterise this and the numerous family of churches which imitate it, it contains capitals of exactly the same kind as those at Venice (Figs. 24, 25); and from shortly after this time we find them becoming prevalent in districts{84}

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Fig. 26.—Capital from the Column of Marcion, Constantinople.

the other Byzantine features of the Perigordian churches are not followed. I give a series of capitals from Constantinople (Figs. 23, 26), Venice (Fig. 22), and Perigueux (Figs. 24, 25), which can be compared with those I exhibit from St. Denis (Figs. 20, 21), St. Germain des Pres (Fig. 27), etc., etc., to show how indisputable and how direct is the importation, though, unlike the works of Classic architects, we find no two capitals alike. They have other points of resemblance to the Corinthian capital, as the cauliculi, and a rudimental relic of the concave-planned abacus. This we find also in Pisan architecture, and in that of the Moors in Sicily, and probably in all styles which were influenced by the Byzantine; and it was, no doubt, derived from the practice, which arose when the Corinthian capital began to be used directly to bear an arch (and that overhanging the column), of placing a strong square block over the more delicate abacus, to defend it against the fracture to which it would otherwise have been subject. These features will be found in nearly every church of the transitional period in the part of France of which I am speaking, and probably in nearly all parts.[14]{85}

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Fig. 27.—St. Germain des Pres, Paris.

The Corinthianesque foliage became the originator of the magnificent capitals which pervade the finest French works of the thirteenth century, though the foliage became entirely altered; and in our own country, though the Byzantine original is seen, I believe, only in the work of William of Sens, at Canterbury,[15] the effects of it are visible in the outline of many{86} of our finest Early English capitals, though these are so distinctly national, and differ so much in treatment from those in France.

Nearly contemporaneous with Suger’s work is the west front of the Cathedral of Chartres, one of the very noblest productions of the style. It is not, I believe, exactly known when this façade was either commenced or completed, but the towers were actively progressing in 1145. The three central portals are of peculiar magnificence (Figs. 23, 30, 31, 32, 33); they are too elaborate for me to venture upon illustrating them by drawings.

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Figs. 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.—Enriched Shafts from Chartres

The figures in the jambs are, as was usual at the period, in the same block with the shafts themselves, and their extraordinary elongation, and the long upright{87} folds of their draperies were, no doubt, intended to harmonise with their position as parts of columns. The heads are of peculiar dignity and grace. These doorways are probably the finest remaining of the transitional period. Their excessive richness contrasts strikingly with the severe though noble simplicity of the remainder of the façade, and displays not only that tendency to lavish all the resources of art upon the doorways, which so especially characterises French art, but also illustrates, in the most striking manner, the absolute independence of the architecture of mere ornamentation, and, at the same time, the freedom with which it avails itself of it; the rich doorways and the severely plain towers being equally glorious specimens of the style, and neither suffering in the least by juxtaposition with the other.

I will just call attention to the singular ornamentation of the pedestal or basement of the doorways, by means of fluting, etc. This was common in France at that period, though I am not able to trace it to its source. It is almost identical with that of the western doorway of St. Germain des Pres,[16] and we find it carried out with still greater richness in the somewhat later doorways which flank the western façade at Rouen.

The capitals in this façade (at Chartres) are of the kind I have above described. The southern tower and spire are most noble in their composition, and are hardly exceeded in beauty by those of any subsequent period.

The next example I will allude to is the Cathedral{88} of Noyon. The date of this cathedral is unknown; but the old church having been destroyed by fire in 1131, and the Bishop (Beaudoin), who shortly after succeeded to the see, being an intimate friend of Abbot Suger, it has been put down almost as an historical certainty that he commenced rebuilding the church not long after the erection of that of St. Denis, and that the designs were made under the advice of Suger. I am not prepared either to subscribe to this implicitly or to dispute it. On first examining the church, my impression was adverse to this theory; but St. Denis itself looks so much later than it is, and the apparent anomalies in the dates of this period are so perplexing, that one is disposed to hesitate before disputing a theory supported by such men as Viollet le Duc. If, however, the idea be correct, I should limit the early date to the lower portion of the choir. The same intermixture of the round arch with the pointed obtains throughout the cathedral; but not only are the mouldings of later section in the western parts (as M. le Duc points out), but the capitals which prevail in the upper storeys of the choir itself are of a kind which I cannot think so early as the date assigned.

The capitals of the lower storey (or the aisles and apsidal chapels), are of the Corinthianesque description, intermixed with others of interwoven stalks, etc., and are eminently beautiful.

I give a sketch of one of the apsidal chapels, both within (Fig. 34) and without (Figs. 35, 36), as a parallel to those at St. Denis. The comparison will certainly tend to confirm the theory as to its date, as the preval{89}ence of the round arch gives it an appearance of even earlier age; but we shall see from other examples that this evidence is not wholly to be relied on.

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Figs. 34, 35.—Cathedral of Noyon. Interior and Exterior of one of the Apsidal Chapels.

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Fig. 36.—Cathedral of Noyon. Plan of one of the Apsidal Chapels.

The plan of this church is exceedingly beautiful, having apsidal terminations, not only to the choir (Fig.{90} 36), but to each transept. In this it is supposed to have been imitated from the noble transepts at Tournay, with which see Noyon was connected till the year 1153, almost the very year to which both of these works have been attributed, though the transepts at Tournay are still purely Romanesque, and that of the very grandest and boldest kind, excepting only the pointed vaulting; while those at Noyon (which, however, are somewhat later than the choir) are of very light and almost flimsy construction, and though containing many round arches, are, in their whole aspect, of the Pointed style.

The church at Noyon is of a construction to which I barely alluded in my former lecture—that in which the aisles are of two storeys, both of which are vaulted.

It is customary to call this second storey a triforium, but I should rather term it a gallery, for the triforium proper occupies the interval between the roof and the vaulting of the aisles, a space which occurs over these galleries; so that a church of this construction has four storeys—the aisle, the gallery, the triforium, and the clerestory; the triforium being, as its name seems to import, the third storey, though in churches of the more customary type it is only the second. This construction was very common at this period in France and Germany, though in England I recollect only one instance—the choir of Gloucester—which, however, is so altered as almost to conceal its construction.[17] The vaulting at Noyon is pointed, but its side cells are, I think, in every case round. The exterior of the apsidal{91} chapels at Noyon is not unlike those at St. Denis, though without its crypt. Like it, it has columns used for buttresses, an idea inherited from those of earlier date—as those at Nôtre Dame du Pont at Clermont, at Issoire, and many others.

There are noble portals on the east sides of the transepts in which the carved foliage is of the most gorgeous description, and which were formerly replete with sculpture, every vestige of which is now gone, having been most carefully cut out at the Revolution.

On the whole, this church is one of the best studies of the transition, though defective in one important element—a date.

The next example I will notice is the Church of St. Germain des Pres at Paris, an example of special value from its possessing the element which we lack at Noyon. It was dedicated in 1163, or nineteen years after St. Denis.

The comparison of St. Germain with St. Denis leads to one of the most curious questions connected with this part of architectural history; for during this interval of nearly twenty years no progress whatever would appear to have been made; indeed, to judge from the buildings, one would be disposed to transpose their dates; for while the eastern part of St. Denis, in 1144, is purely pointed (the crypt alone excepted), St. Germain, in 1163, has round arches used in most prominent positions, though in other respects exactly agreeing in detail; and this in a most important church in the royal city itself.

How is this long stagnation to be explained?

I will not pretend to answer it positively, but I{92} would suggest the following solution:—Two years after Louis VII. and Queen Eleanor attended the consecration of St. Denis, they set out on a great Crusade—the one at the head of 10,000 warriors, the other of a troop of Amazons she had levied from among the ladies of her court. The Amazons and their inordinate amount of baggage led to the destruction of the army at the battle of Laodicea. The king returned to his dominions impoverished and humbled, shortly after which his Amazonian consort, obtaining a divorce, deprived him at one stroke of half of his dominions, and transferred the rich Provençal dower to Henry II., the English king. I would suggest, then, whether this sudden stoppage in the development of architecture may not be accounted for by the equally sudden exhaustion of the resources of the French kingdom, as the early commencement of the improved style has been in a measure attributed to its previous increase in prosperity?

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Fig. 37.—St. Germain des Pres, Paris. Two Bays of Choir.


The sculptural art at St. Germain des Pres seems exactly on a par with that at St. Denis and Chartres. The capitals are either of the Byzantine Corinthianesque, or are filled with animals (natural and grotesque), or consist of a union of both. They are exceedingly fine examples of their style, and I have selected one[18] of them as a type of the style. The design of the interior of the choir, though severely simple, is exceedingly fine, and in some degree original. I exhibit a sketch of two of its bays (Fig. 37).

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Fig. 38.—St. Germain des Pres, Paris. Western Doorway.

The western doorway (Fig. 38) seems to have very closely resembled those at Chartres; but the whole of the sculpture has been removed, excepting from the tympanum, which still bears the representation of the Last Supper; and the shafts, which, we are informed, bore full-length figures—alternating, in all probability, with smaller ones richly diapered, as at St. Denis, Chartres, and Bourges—have been exchanged for plain ones. The capitals are of rich Corinthianesque foliage, amongst which are represented grotesque birds, harpies, etc. The basement or pedestal{94} is fluted exactly as at Chartres. On the whole, this church deserves much more attention than it seems generally to have received.

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Fig. 39.—Cathedral of Sens. Interior View.

I now come to an example of peculiar interest to ourselves;—that cathedral which it is customary to suppose to be the parent of our own Pointed architecture; and which, though I by no means subscribe to that opinion, possesses an interest sufficiently deep as being, without question, the prototype of the glorious choir and the Trinity Chapel at Canterbury,—the metropolitan church of all England—and as having, through{95} them, exercised a powerful influence, and given a certain degree of French colouring to the immediately succeeding developments throughout the length and breadth of our land. I need hardly say that I allude to the cathedral of Sens.

I am ashamed to say I had not seen this noble church till a short tour I have made during the present winter,[19] and with reference to the present lecture. I had unconsciously entertained a certain feeling of jealousy towards it, arising from the exaggerated opinions constantly expressed as to the entire dependence upon it of our Pointed style; but my first exclamation on entering its nave was, “Well, if our Gothic churches are all derived from this, they had, to say the least, a glorious parentage!”

Though a cathedral of the second magnitude, and much injured by subsequent alterations, I know few which have a nobler or more impressive aspect. Even the soaring interior of Amiens, which I chanced to visit the day after, did not efface from my mind the sterner grandeur of Sens.

The interior is extremely simple (Fig. 39), and rather obtains its impressive effect from the magnitude of its leading features, and still more from the noble sentiment which must have pervaded the mind of its designer, than from anything which can be specifically defined in words. Its nave is of unusual width, being 49 feet from centre to centre of the pillars, which are alternately vast clustered piers of about 11 feet 6 inches diameter (a large portion of which runs up to the vaulting), and coupled columns of nearly three feet diameter each. The triforium is somewhat too small—the only{96}

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Fig. 40.—Cathedral of Sens. View of Choir Aisles.

fault in the composition—and the clerestory windows have, unfortunately, been renewed at a later age. It is generally stated that the whole of the vaulting was renewed with them: this, however, is incorrect; the only parts renewed were the side cells, which, as is proved by evidence I need not here go into, were round-arched, and came low in the clerestory wall, thus diminishing the height of the windows—a defect which led to their reconstruction. Not only are the{97} ribs of the original section, but the bosses are clearly of the same early age, which, I think, is sufficient to disprove the idea of the vaults having been rebuilt. The vaulting of the aisles has round transverse arches, and the aisle windows, as well as the wall-arcading, are round-arched (Fig. 40). The carving is of the same kind with that I have so often described, and most of it is severely simple. Some of the capitals to the wall-arcading are very rich, and many of them contain grotesque animals, birds, etc., finely carved (Figs. 41, 42).

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Figs. 41, 42.—Sens. Capitals from Choir Aisles.

The west portals were, probably, the latest part of the original church, and have since been altered by the substitution of tympana of later date; but the sculptured art they contain is some of the very finest of its period, many of the figures being of classic beauty, and of far more than classic expression. This church was dedicated in 1167, though (with the sole exception of the portals) its character would have led one to place it earlier than St. Denis.

Two years before the consecration of Sens was commenced the great crowning work of the French transition—Nôtre Dame at Paris.[20] Its erection{98} occupied the remainder of the century, while that of the western façade reaches over the first quarter of the succeeding one. I will not attempt a description of what this most noble church was in its original condition: it will be found clearly particularised in M. Viollet le Duc’s Dictionary—a work which should be in the hands of every architectural student. I will rather confine myself to its influence upon sculptured foliage.

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Fig. 43.—Nôtre Dame.

On its first commencement no advance was made upon the Byzantine carving of St. Denis; indeed, the capitals in the eastern gallery look almost more archaic than their predecessors of twenty or thirty years’ earlier date. It is curious, however, that the capitals of the large columns below these galleries are in a decidedly more advanced style. This M. le Duc ingeniously attributes to the employment of artists of different ages, and to the preference given (in an age of advancement) to the younger ones, leading to the more important capitals being committed to their hands. I should, however, be inclined to account for it differently, by supposing the smaller and more detached capitals to have been carved before they were{99} fixed, and those of the great pillars left to the last thing before the removal of the scaffolding. I can appreciate this by my own experience, for in the church I am building at Hamburg there will be some ten years’ interval between the carving of the triforium and of the pillars which support it; during which interval I am horrified when I recollect that all but one of the artists have died from the destructive effects of the stone dust, and that one has been saved only by my having requested him to relinquish carving and to content himself with making models for others to work from—a system which, under other circumstances, is one of the advisableness of which I entertain doubts.

The capitals, however, in the nave are those which best display the enormous advance now being made. I should not have dwelt so long on the merely antiquarian fact of the importation of the Byzantine{100}

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Figs. 44, 45, 46.—Nôtre Dame, Paris.

Corinthian into France, had it not led to this glorious result. In the nave of Nôtre Dame every vestige of this Greekesque foliage is got rid of, its general outline alone excepted;[23] and a kind perfectly new and most truly noble is subtituted, founded slightly on reminiscences of the true Romanesque foliage previous to the Oriental importation, retaining the outline suggested by the acanthus leaf, but worked up into a form which had never before been hinted at, and which was destined to effect a great revolution in this branch of art. From this time forward (till the end of the thirteenth century) the French carving is noble and effective in the very highest degree—at first gradually approaching natural forms without directly imitating them, but eventually adopting frankly the productions of nature as its guide, but so far conventionalising them as to fit them perfectly to their position, and to make them produce a contour{101}

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Figs. 47, 48.—Nôtre Dame, Paris.

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Fig. 49.—St. Leu, near Creil.

Capital from the apse.

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Fig. 50.—Nôtre Dame, West Front.

Fig. 51.—St. Eusèbe, Auxerre.

harmonising with, and adding the utmost beauty to, the features of the architecture to which they are applied. I exhibit specimens of this class of foliage in Nôtre Dame (Figs. 47, 48). I will also call attention to a drawing of one of the capitals from the apse of St. Leu, near Creil (said to have been executed a little after a great accession of wealth to the abbey in 1175, M. le Duc says about 1190), as a specimen of the same advance in foliaged carving, and to some of the capitals from the west front of Nôtre Dame (about 1220) as examples of{102} its success just before the systematic introduction of natural foliage.

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Fig. 52.—Noyon. Capital from the apse.

Fig. 53.—Laon. Capital.

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Fig. 54.—Sens.

Fig. 55.—Nôtre Dame.

At this point I ought to mention the introduction (though of somewhat earlier date) of what the French call the capital “à crochet.” I exhibit a sketch showing its origin from a plain unruffled leaf, which accompanied the Byzantine acanthus (Fig. 51). This plain leaf may be seen in a simple form in the apsidal columns at Noyon, in a more advanced state in the nave of the same church, and at Laon (which, however, is a good deal later), and pretty well developed at Sens, and at Montmartre. In Nôtre Dame the capital à crochet assumes a considerable{103} importance, and in the west front is used in its most perfect purely conventional form; while a little later, as at the Sainte Chapelle, it is decked and entwined with natural leaves in the most elegant manner imaginable. No feature which arose during the French transition is so universal in its influence on the architecture of other countries. In France its use is often carried to a vicious excess; but, used in moderation, it is a very valuable element in the architecturalisation of foliage.

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Fig. 56.—Sainte Chapelle.

Fig. 57.—Sainte Chapelle.

Fig. 58.—St. Remi, Rheims, W.E.

I have to apologise, as well for the length to which I have prolonged my remarks on the French transition, as for the very meagre outline with which the limits of a lecture have compelled me to satisfy myself. I will reserve a few remarks suggested by what has passed so hastily in review till I have described some of the English examples.

The English transition was so complete in itself, and all its stages so perfect and so consecutive, that were it not for our knowledge of that of France, and for the interpolation—if I may say so—of the almost purely French work at Canterbury, one would be loath to believe that it had been influenced by any other{104} than the natural and spontaneous working out of the development of our own Romanesque.

It may be divided into several stages, though they are often intermingled in the same work.

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Fig. 59.—Fountains Abbey. View across Nave.

First, those buildings which are strictly Romanesque, excepting only that pointed arches are partially{105} used. Such is the nave of Fountains Abbey. The date of this is unknown; but it was in all probability erected between 1140 and 1150, thus agreeing in age with St. Denis. Next comes Kirkstall Abbey, commenced in 1153, and, though it appears to have taken thirty-three years to complete it, retaining the same character throughout—purely Romanesque—and that of a stern and severe variety, but with the pointed arches to its more important parts. Buildwas Abbey belongs to the same class, commenced probably a few years after the foundation of the abbey in 1135, its earlier parts thus probably agreeing in age with Fountains.

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Fig. 60.—Kirkstall Abbey, South Transept.

These examples would appear at first sight to date back our transition as early as that of France; but this would scarcely be a fair conclusion, for, without doubt, many French examples of the same kind—mere Romanesque with the larger arches pointed—exist in France of an earlier date than that of Abbot Suger’s work. I will therefore pass over these merely incipient specimens.

The next class is the extremely refined Norman,{106}

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Fig. 61.—Galilee, Durham.

with or without pointed arches—such as the Galilee at Durham, where, though the date is clearly transitional, the ornaments are Norman of a delicate character, very different from Fountains and Kirkstall, and showing a later date. This was the work of the celebrated Bishop Pudsey, the great promoter of the transition in the north. He commenced in 1155 (as I{107}

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Fig. 62.—St. Mary’s Abbey, York. Vestibule of Chapter House. View from Cloister (restored).

believe) with his chapter-house—a purely Norman work—and closed with the erection of Darlington Church, nearly as purely Pointed;[24] his episcopate spreading over about forty years. Of this class the examples in the north of England are most numerous, but are so intermixed with decidedly Pointed work as somewhat to confuse the classification. It is common, in fact, to find a building nearly purely Pointed, but with doorways of this class; of which there is a notable,{108} but not very early instance, at Jedburgh, where the doorways are perfect gems of refined Norman of the highest class and most artistic finish, while the interior of the church is purely Pointed.

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Fig. 64.—St. Mary’s Abbey, York. Plan of Vestibule of the Chapter House.

One of the most remarkable specimens of this class is at St. Mary’s Abbey, at York, in the vestibule of the chapter-house. I give a restored view of one of the entrances, partly from remains in situ, and partly from fragments preserved in the Museum. The date of this most exquisite work is unknown; but I should suppose it contemporary with the later years of Archbishop Roger, the great promoter of the transition in that diocese, and who presided over the see from 1154 to 1181. He rebuilt the choir of his cathedral, of which the noble remains of the crypt were

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Fig. 63.—St. Mary’s Abbey, York. View of Vestibule from Chapter-House (restored).

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Fig. 66.—Part of Choir of Ripon Minster, as built by Archbishop Roger de Pont l’Evêque.


discovered a few years back, of a very refined Norman style. He also built the palace on the north side of the cathedral, of which a most beautiful fragment remains (Fig. 65). This fragment, though simple, and with round arches, agrees exactly in its detail with the doorway at St. Mary’s, even to the exact diameter and height of its shafts and capitals, and was, no doubt, executed by the same persons.

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Fig. 65.—Archbishop’s Palace, York.

Roger, also, as has been proved by Mr. Walbran, built the choir at Ripon, of which I give a bay (Fig. 66). Of the same class, and in the same diocese, may be mentioned the west end of Selby Abbey and the Church at Old Malton; Roche Abbey, and of the same date are probably the stately remains of Byland{110} Abbey—one of the noblest relics of the age, and of which the choir was clearly built on the plan of that of Roger at York.

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Fig. 67.—Ely Cathedral, South Transept. West end.

In the south I will first mention the Church of St.{111} Cross, near Winchester, which seems to be intermediate between the above-named classes; it is Norman, of a grand and severe, but, at the same time, highly refined character, but with pointed arches to all principal parts; its foliage is untinged by French taste, but is of a very refined and elegant character; it is as massive as the earlier specimens, without their heaviness—impressive, without becoming oppressive; it is, in fact, the most perfect and the purest type of the indigenous English transition. Unfortunately, its date is unknown, for though founded in 1136, and the hospital actually commenced in that year, it is impossible to give so early a date to the church. It was founded by Henry de Blois, brother to King Stephen, who held the see of Winchester from 1129 to 1171, and it is but reasonable to suppose that the earlier parts of the church were completed during his lifetime.

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Fig. 68.—St. Cross, near Winchester.

Contemporary with the close of this structure is the great western tower of the Cathedral at Ely, erected by Bishop Ridel, between 1174 and 1189, in a very grand and effective style, for the most part purely English in character, but occasionally displaying the influence of French examples in the use of the crochet capital.

This brings me to the great type of the third class—those buildings which are unquestionably in the{112} Pointed style, but retain sufficient reminiscences of their Romanesque origin to distinguish them from the fully-developed Early English. I allude to the choir (Fig. 69) and Trinity Chapel (Fig. 70) at Canterbury. I may here save myself and you much time by referring you to Professor Willis’s admirable architectural history of this cathedral, a book with which every architectural student should be familiar. I will only mention that the splendid late Norman choir having been destroyed by fire in 1174, the monks committed its restoration to William of Sens, who had, in all probability, been engaged on the recently-completed cathedral in that city. He carried on the works till disabled by an accident in 1179, when he left them in the hands of his assistant, called, by way of distinction, William, the Englishman, who brought them to a close in 1184 or 1185.

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Fig. 71.—Canterbury Cathedral, Capitals. William of Sens.

The work of the first William is almost purely French, and, though far more elaborate than that at Sens, very strongly resembles it. He had, however, the good judgment to Anglicise it in a slight degree, as we see in the liberal use of the zigzag and other

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Fig. 69.—Canterbury Cathedral. Choir.

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Fig. 70.—Canterbury Cathedral. Trinity Chapel.


Norman ornaments. His capitals are some of the Byzantine character of Sens, and others in the newly-developed style of Nôtre Dame at Paris, and are very finely carved (Fig. 71). The arches are not all pointed, the pier arches, wall ribs, and triforium arches being round.

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Fig. 72.—Trinity Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral. Capital. William the Englishman.

William the Englishman discarded the Byzantine foliage, and adopted, almost exclusively, the Nôtre Dame type and the capital à crochet, which he carried out with extreme beauty. His work is far more beautiful than that of his master, though from the resemblance of the plan to that of Sens, and from the use of doubled columns, it must have been laid down by the French William. I know no work of the age finer than those of these two architects. One thing I will remark about the second architect, that he made his crypt, in which he worked unfettered by the designs of another, more English than the superstructure, using there (as he did also in one or two other places) the round abacus, subsequently so characteristic of English work.

The influence of the French work thus introduced into England is distinctly marked, and there is no difficulty in tracing it wherever it exists; but it is by no means such as to supersede the national type. Perhaps{114} the most pervading symptom of it is the prevalence henceforth of the crochet capital, though even that seldom assumes a form wholly French, but receives a distinctly English and often a local modification. The most palpable instance (and almost the only one of this direct kind which I remember) of the imitation of Canterbury work is seen in the hall of the castle at Oakham, built by Walkelin de Ferrers, probably, as Mr. Hartshorne says, between 1180 and 1190. In this the capitals, though with some originality, are obviously of French character, and probably founded on those of the Trinity Chapel.[25]

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Fig. 73.—Oakham Castle.

Immediately after Canterbury, and probably in part contemporaneous with it, was the magnificent Abbey Church of Glastonbury. It appears to have been erected chiefly between 1180 and 1190, though finished a little later. I am not aware whether the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea (which stands at the west end, like the Galilee at Durham) was built earlier than the church:[26] at first sight it would convey that impression, all the arches, except those of the vaulting, being round. In its details, however, it{115}

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Fig. 74.—Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, Glastonbury. Exterior View.

resembles those of the church, where the arches are all pointed. This chapel is of exquisite beauty, and its details in the highest degree refined; indeed, nothing could exceed the studious care with which every feature and the profile of every moulding is carried out. The English type is adhered to in the retention, in an exceedingly refined form, and in great variety of decorations founded in the chevron, and in the use of intersecting arcades. The external buttresses assume{116}

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Fig. 75.—Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, Glastonbury. Interior View.

a form of peculiar elegance and originality; the base moulds are of noble form, wholly differing from those in France. The turrets at the angles are of great beauty. The whole shows symptoms of a perfect knowledge of French developments, but the only distinctive imitation of them is in the capitals, which display, in many instances, the crochet form, but with a beauty and freedom of treatment peculiarly their own, differing not only from the French examples, but from the great majority of English ones, and exercising a strong local influence, extending from Somerset along the north side of the Bristol Channel, and reaching even the distant Cathedral of St. David’s. The church agrees in its details with the chapel, but its remains are grievously fragmentary. The triforium was united

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Fig. 76.—Cathedral of St. David’s. Internal Bay of Nave.


with the pier arcade in a manner I do not recollect in any other Pointed church, though it is seen on a round-arched form at Oxford, and in the early portion of Jedburgh Abbey. The piers are beautifully clustered, as is suggested by the multifarious destinations of their parts, one portion being to carry the vaulting of the aisles; a second, the lower tier of pier-arches; a third, the upper tier; and a fourth, the higher vaulting. It is distressing to think how little of this most glorious church remains. It was probably unequalled by any transitional church in England, but has actually—even up to our own day—been used as a stone quarry!

I should have mentioned that in the chapel the pointed vaulting is used in its fully-developed form—both main arches and side cells being pointed.

Of the same age is a great part of the Cathedral of St. David’s, of which I give an internal bay (Fig. 76). It was commenced in 1182, just after William of Sens relinquished his work at Canterbury. Its character is decidedly more Romanesque than that of Glastonbury. The arches are generally round, and the vaulting seems to have reversed the early custom, being round in the main arch, and pointed in its side cells. The ornaments of the chevron type are used, as at Glastonbury; there is the same refined and studious detail, and the same class of capital is occasionally used, though the majority are formed on the Norman cushion capital. This form of capital had undergone a long series of changes; at first the cushions were single on each face and the profile convex; then they became gradually multiplied, but still convex below; then the outline became concave;{118} subsequently the cushions from semicircles became a much greater portion of a circle, appearing like a series of rolls bent into a concave outline, with deep hollows between them. This occurs frequently at St. David’s. The next step is to decorate the circular ends of these rolls. This is done at St. David’s, sometimes with foliage, sometimes with little figures, as in medallions, and, as a last step, before the final rejection of the type, the whole roll is converted into foliage together. At St. David’s all these later steps are exhibited in a very curious and interesting manner. Some of them may be seen in the choir of Lichfield Cathedral, and at Hereford in the eastern chapel.

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Figs. 77, 78.—St. David’s.

At St. David’s the triforium is united with the clerestory, something as at St. Germain des Pres.[27] The clerestory has two bays to one arch below, and has had sexpartite vaulting; not, as usual, embracing two bays, but two of these semi-bays. It is interesting to find in this most remote of the cathedrals of South Britain, and only just verging out of the Romanesque, a degree of originality and of refinement equal to what is met with in our best examples.


The circular portion of the Temple Church in

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Fig. 79.—Temple Church. View of Circular Aisle.

London is exactly contemporary with Canterbury, having been consecrated in 1185, the year when that work was completed. It is somewhat less advanced in style, possibly from a preference felt among the{120} Templars for the Romanesque. The pillars and main arches, with the vaulting generally, it is true, are quite advanced Pointed, and are exceedingly beautiful; but the triforium consists of an intersecting arcade, as at St. Cross, and the windows are quite Norman; while, on the other hand, the wall-arcading is pointed. The capitals are of several varieties; most of them are of the simple water-leaf form so prevalent in the north of England, while others are founded on the cushion and the crochet forms.

It is exceedingly vexatious that the dates of buildings of this period are so difficult to be ascertained.

Even where we know by whom they were erected, their founders were often so long-lived as to render the information perfectly indefinite. Thus, Pudsey presided over the see of Durham for forty years, Roger over York for nearly thirty years, and Henry de Blois over Winchester forty-two years; and Walkelin de Ferrers, who built the hall at Oakham Castle, held the manor from 1161 to 1201.

Among the later works of the transition may be mentioned the eastern part of Chichester Cathedral[28] (Fig. 80), a most beautiful example, of which I give an internal view; and a yet nobler specimen is the eastern portion of Tynemouth Abbey (Fig. 81). Of this I give a restored view, in which I have supplied one of the bays which have fallen, and also the vaulting, with its curious termination,

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Fig. 80.—Chichester Cathedral, Eastern Part.

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Fig. 81.—The Choir, Tynemouth Abbey.


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Fig. 82.—Hexham Abbey. South side of Choir.

against the east end. This, again, is a dateless work. Though externally the flat Norman buttress is retained, it possesses internally no Romanesque features, but is purely Pointed and thoroughly developed in every part, though retaining what in England is the great distinguishing characteristic of the transition—the square abacus. The details are exceedingly rich and beautiful, while the vast thickness of its walls gives to the interior a massive grandeur seldom equalled. Its situation is ungenial, being on a dull promontory and close upon the shore, so that every blast from the German Ocean whistles through its arches; yet, chilling as its position is, no one{122} of taste can visit it without finding his heart warm up with admiration of its noble and beautiful architecture, which is excelled by few, if any, examples of its period.

In the same northern district is Hexham Abbey, a noble example of what may called the transition from the transition into the developed Early English (Fig. 82). Farther north, again, we have noble examples at Kelso, Jedburgh, and Dryburgh: the first having the round arch nearly throughout; the second, as I have before said, famed for its exquisite doorways; and the last having doorways equally refined, but remarkable rather for their chaste simplicity than for their richness of detail. I ought also to mention, among other northern examples, the Abbey of Furness and the sister church of Cartmel; also the noble refectories at Fountains and Rivaulx.

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Fig. 83.—Bridlington, Yorkshire. Capital found in wall.

To attempt, however, an enumeration of English examples would be an endless task. So far from being a mere exotic, the country appears to have been absolutely saturated with transitional buildings: and these, so far from showing any of that inaptitude which would accompany the use of a mere imported style, actually evince a degree of originality and a revelry (if I may use such a term) in the new art which is perfectly charming, and display beauties wholly different from any I have seen in other countries.{123} Not only is this the case in works on a grand scale, but in the smallest village churches, in which we find the style reduced to its simplest elements, yet exhibiting a sense of beauty and a studious attention to detail which is quite surprising. One of the features of these simpler productions is the plain unfoliated capital—such as those at Fountains Abbey—but which, from its simplicity, is of frequent use in village churches. Nothing could be more severely plain, yet it possesses a degree of beauty equal in its way to that of the most gorgeous capitals. We see from the examples I give from Ripon and Fountains, how this passed off into the round moulded capital which is so peculiar a characteristic of the English Early Pointed.[29]

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Fig. 84.—Capital, Ripon.

Fig. 85.—Capital, Fountains.

The distinctive characteristics of the productions of the English, as compared with the French, transition, are somewhat difficult to define, inasmuch as they begin in a manner the very reverse of that in which they terminate; for at first they evince themselves in a stronger resemblance to the preceding Romanesque,{124}

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Fig. 86.—St. Cross, Hampshire. South Aisle of Choir.

while they terminate in a style differing from it more decidedly than was the case with the perfected Early Pointed architecture of France. The early transitional works of the royal domain of France appear to an English eye more advanced than they really are, because the Romanesque of that district had less of those characteristics which, to our eye, distinguish the style, than those either of England or of other parts of France. The designs of the archivolts—as M. Viollet le Duc says, were sparing in ornament but liberal in mouldings; and if we compare Early Pointed examples with the preced{125}ing Romanesque of the same district of France, we shall find that the changes were comparatively slight. In England the change was at first equally slight; but the Romanesque being rich in characteristic decorations, it follows that, to us, our early transition appears more Romanesque than that of France. Compare, for instance, St. Cross with Sens; the proportion of round to pointed arches in each differs but little. At Sens even the vaulting of the aisles is round, while at St. Cross it is pointed; nor do they differ much in their relation to the preceding Romanesque of the same districts, as will be seen by comparing my sketch of an internal bay at Sens with some I give of corresponding portions of French Romanesque churches; yet Sens, being absolutely devoid of those Romanesque ornaments in which St. Cross is so rich, strikes our eye as being more advanced.

We had, in fact, much more to be got rid of in our Romanesque than they had in and about the Isle of France.

The remarkable converse of this is, that at the close of our transition we had not only thrown off this excess of Romanesque characteristics, but had gone beyond the French in altering those of a less palpable kind, and introducing details distinct from those of the preceding style. Thus our arch mouldings became far more rich and more studied in their profile than those in France, which continued to be little more than the repetition of a roll between two hollows, while ours were composed of numerous and beautiful members; the proportions of our windows became much more graceful than those customarily used in France, and the basement mouldings were better. On the{126} other hand, we were far less liberal in the use of sculpture, and we generated a purely moulded capital, which the French can scarcely be said to possess—thus, if I may say so, giving ourselves the choice of a Doric, as well as a Corinthian, variety in our columns; and, finally, we relinquished the square form of the abacus, and made our capitals for the most part round; so that, at the end of our transition, we had departed much more widely from our own Romanesque than the French had from theirs; and while the early French transitional works look more advanced than those of a corresponding stage in England, the case is reversed at its close, when the English examples appear more advanced than the French, as may be seen by comparing the interior of the Galilee at Ely with the western portals of Nôtre Dame, which are of some years’ later date.[30]

I will close my outline of the English transition by referring to four examples which mark the limits of its duration, by showing how soon the true Early English attained its perfect development. The examples I cite for this purpose are the following:—

Ist. The choir and eastern transepts at Lincoln, which were completed by Bishop Hugh before the close of the twelfth century, and which, though of early character, are decidedly not transitional, but developed Early Pointed.

2d. The western portals at St. Alban’s, built by William de Cella between the years 1195 and 1205.[31]{127}

These are among the most beautiful Early English works in the kingdom, and have no Romanesque reminiscences, nor any French characteristics, except the crochet capital, which is magnificently developed beneath round abaci.

3d. The eastern chapels at Winchester, built by Bishop de Lucy about 1204. These have no striking feature, excepting that they are pure “Early English,” and even show suggestions of tracery.

4th. The Galilee porch at Ely, built by Bishop Eustacious, who held the see from about 1195 to 1214, and which is one of the most magnificent specimens of the fully-developed style in the country.[32] It has the crochet capital gorgeously enriched, not with French, but English conventional foliage; while the arch mouldings are filled with the most exquisite foliage of pure Early English character.[33]

Thus we see that though the French preceded us in the commencement of their transition, our own was, with very trifling exceptions, equally national with theirs, and that it was not only completed as soon, but that it was carried through to a style more distinctive, and fully as national as the glorious Early Pointed of France.

On this subject I will only add one remark: Early as were the first French developments compared with ours; long as was the interval of stagnation between St. Denis and St. Germain des Pres; many as were the steps between the stages of the transition in both{128} countries, and many more before we had developed out of it that Pointed style we know as the “Early English,” with its lancet windows and round abaci; the whole was, nevertheless, carried through within the period of one lifetime. Not only were the transitions of France and England carried on to perfection under contemporary monarchs, but that queen who was present at the consecration of Suger’s precocious monument, who caused that subsequent stagnation by her frivolity, and who perhaps witnessed the completion of St. Cross during her long captivity at Winchester, actually lived there long enough to have seen the fully-developed Early English of De Lucy’s chapels in the neighbouring cathedral.

The length to which my remarks on the French and English transition have been necessarily extended has compelled me to limit what I hoped to have said on that of Germany to a very few observations.

I have already mentioned the extraordinary tardiness of the Germans in relinquishing their much-loved Romanesque. I am not prepared, as in the case of French and English buildings, to trace out the first appearance of the pointed arch, and I have no doubt that there are numerous instances of its use at an earlier date; but there is nothing like a transition into the pointed-arch style till the commencement of the thirteenth century—after it had been completed both in England and France. Nevertheless, the German transition is as distinctly national and as evident an offspring of their own Romanesque as that of France or England; indeed, it is so peculiar as to appear, at first sight, to have little in connection with the archi{129}tecture of either of those countries, and is usually spoken of as being only a slight variety upon German Romanesque. Let any one look at a few of its leading productions—as St. Martin, St. Gereon, and a few others at Cologne; the churches at Neuss near Dusseldorf, Limburg on the Lahn, Zinzig, or Gelnhaussen; the western façades at Andernach, Xanten, St. Sibald at Nuremberg, and at Halberstadt, the east end of Magdeburg, or at the representations of the cloisters (now destroyed) of St. Gereon, or Altenberg, or at any of the multitudinous list of German churches of the first quarter of the thirteenth century—and he will at once see that they present as natural and logical a transition from their own national Romanesque as the works of Suger do from that of the royal domain of France. The use of the crochet capitals in some of the later examples is the solitary instance of any direct imitation of the already perfected transition in the neighbouring countries.

The great misfortune of the German transition was that it occurred so late that, before they could perfect it, the French had passed into the second stage of their developed Pointed, and had worked out the great problem of window tracery. The consequence was that German patience at length gave way;—they relinquished their transition just as they were perfecting a Pointed style of their own, and, throwing themselves almost wholly into the hands of the French, passed at one step from their own curious and characteristic art into the fully-developed style of Amiens and Beauvais.

Mr. Fergusson laments this as having prevented the development of a perfect round-arched style; but{130} it must be recollected that the round-arched style of Germany had been almost entirely relinquished previously to the succumbing of their national architecture before the dominant star of France: the loss, then, we have to lament is not that it prevented a more perfect round-arched development, but that it suspended, when on the eve of being perfected, the formation of a really national German variety of the pointed-arched style; and though they did much to remedy this, it unquestionably rendered their architecture for the next century in some degree a German version of French style.

I have, however, dwelt so long upon the mere history of the transition that I have had no time to extract any useful practical lessons from the changes in art we have been tracing out. What, then, are the leading lessons they suggest?

Ist, They show us how absolute must have been the necessity in generating a perfect arcuated style, to cast away the slavery—I will not say of the round arch, for it is one of the most genuine and useful forms—but of the adherence to one unchanging form in the arch, admitting of no variation in its proportion of height to span, nor any change of form suited to its statical duties, or its geometrical or æsthetical position.

2d, They suggest encouragement in the task of working out a style suited to the exigencies of our day, by showing how vast are the results to be anticipated when not only the artists, but when the rulers, the nobles, the ecclesiastics of a country thoroughly set themselves to the task with one heart and one mind, and work on together with all their zeal, energy, and{131} perseverance, till they have insured the great object of their designs. Would that we could see some equivalent effort in our own country and in our own day!

In the age we have been treating of, the previous architecture, though in a great degree original, retained elements derived from the degenerated Roman, and others belonging to the ages of darkness and barbarism which succeeded; but, by the effort we have been chronicling, both these elements were thrown off, and the style came forth like gold tried in the fire—pure and refined.

3d, We may learn a lesson of patience from what we have reviewed. Those of us who have been endeavouring to generate a style on the basis of the architecture of our own family of nations, have been often taunted with the slowness of our progress. Now, it is scarcely twenty years since we set earnestly about the task; and, rapid as the transition in the twelfth century appears, we have seen an interval of twenty years in its history in which we can trace no progress at all; which, with all our deficiencies, can hardly be said of us during a corresponding period. Let us, then, take courage, and press forward in spite of temporary discouragement, and in the end a like success may crown our labours.

4th, It has often been spoken of as a vice to be too fond of studying transitional styles. This may possibly be true as regards taking them as our models; but I hold the very contrary to be the case as to selecting them as special objects of study. They are the very periods of intellectual energy—the moments of the most intense effort of the human mind. From{132} them we learn what zeal, what determination, what strength of will, what unity of purpose, what patient perseverance are required in working out a great good. The result of the mighty struggle was that, freed from every barbaric or lifeless element, our architects commenced the next century with their course clearly open before them, everything in their power, and no hindrance to the attainment of their object. Would that we could say this of ourselves, whatever may be our views as to style!

5th, Then, again, in the style itself of the buildings we have been considering there is much for us to learn. They possess a masculine grandeur, a noble sturdiness of character, an independence of ornament united with a grateful acceptance of its aid, which would supply a wholesome element to any style. A perfected style is often defective in these characteristics. It is toned down to too perfect a symmetry—a too nicely weighed balance of parts: the whole may suggest nothing but harmony, yet the parts are too much lost in the whole; there is too much of the satiety of attainment, and not enough of the excitement of the effort after perfection. The first developments of Pointed architecture produce an excitement on the mind which more perfected examples do not give rise to, and it seems to me that they contain elements which we should not do amiss to instil into our works, as I may have occasion to suggest more practically, if I should continue my course of lectures in this place.

6th, There is something to be learned from the curious history I have traced out of the re-introduction of one classic element—the Corinthian capital—at the{133} moment when all other relics of the architecture of the old world were about to be thrown off. It is a kind of parallel to the revival of classic literature at the same period, on which M. Viollet le Duc remarks:—“It is precisely at the moment when the researches into antique letters, sciences, philosophy, and legislation were pursued with ardour—during the twelfth century—that architecture abandoned the last remnants of antique tradition, to found a new art whose principles are in manifest opposition to those of the arts of antiquity.” “Are we, then,” he proceeds, “to conclude from this that the men of the twelfth century were not consistent with themselves? Quite the contrary; but that which distinguishes the Renaissance of the twelfth from that of the sixteenth century, is this—that the former penetrates into the antique spirit, while the latter allows itself to be seduced by the form.”

The Corinthian capital stood alone among the details of ancient architecture, as being founded on principles of beauty common to all ages. It was foreshadowed in the works of their earliest predecessors, the Egyptians, and had suggested the forms for the capitals used in all succeeding styles, whether by the Byzantines, the Sassanians, the Saracens, or the Gothic conquerors of Rome. It was, then, consistent that, while about to purge their arts of mere dead rudimental relics of ancient art, this one feature should be revived as a nucleus for development. The same may be said of the pointed arch, if the theory be true of its Saracenic suggestion. It had been invented in very early times, perhaps earlier than even the round arch, though its uses were not then appreciated. The{134} Romanesque builders had adopted many dead forms of ornament from Saracenic and Persian manufactures, and the introduction of this one really living feature at the moment when the exigencies of the style demanded it (whether the idea occurred to them spontaneously or by suggestion) was the signal for throwing off, as effete and useless, all the Orientalisms which they already had in use.

From this we may learn not to shrink from adopting into our developments external suggestions from whatever source, provided only that they approve themselves to our eye and our intellect as legitimate sources of beauty, or aids to construction, and as capable of being harmonised with the style we are working out. Let us throw them boldly into the fining-pot, and if we are skilful manipulators, the gold will remain and the dross be thrown off.

Another thing we may learn is, that the mere precedence of one nation in the working out of a style does not deprive the developments of neighbouring countries of the claims of nationality. The English transition began a little later than the French, and it is, as we have seen, distinctly marked in its character and its results, so that no one can ever mistake an English building for a French one.

The German transition came on after the English and French were perfected, yet is (if anything) even more national than our own; while the Italian Gothic, though an absolute importation, and often defective in detail, has more strongly-marked national characteristics than any other.[34]{135}

When, however, we use the term “national,” we do not usually refer to these local varieties, but rather wish to express the general fact that, in our own country and amidst the family of European nations, those styles which were generated during the rise of our own civilisation are more national than the revived architecture of the ancient world. Each country has its own local variety; but the whole is one style, and that style is our own. While reviving this style, then, though we make in each country our own phase of it our groundwork, we must not permit either the narrow prejudices of friends, or the taunts of critics, to lead us into the folly of rejecting any of the really noble and valuable elements of our style, in whatever country they may have been generated.

I will close my too protracted lecture with a quotation from that admirable writer and accomplished architect I have so often referred to.

He thus describes the leading practical principles of the architecture to which the transition we have been tracing out was the pioneer:—

“From the commencement of the thirteenth century architecture developed itself after a method completely new, in which all the parts deduced themselves—the one from the other—with an imperious rigour. Now, it is by the change of method that revolutions in sciences and arts commence. The construction commands the form; the piers destined to bear several arches divide themselves into as many columns as{136} there are arches; these columns are of a diameter more or less substantial, according to the load which will rest upon them, rising side by side with them to the vaults which they have to sustain, their capitals assuming an importance proportioned to this charge. The arches are slight or thick, composed of one or more ranges of voussoirs, as dictated by their function. The walls, becoming unnecessary, in great structures disappear completely, and are replaced by window-openings decorated with stained glass. Every necessity becomes a motive of decoration. The roofs, the leading off of the water, the introduction of light, the means of access and circulation to the different stages of the building—even less important matters, such as iron-work, lead-work, ties, props, the means of warming and ventilation, not only are not concealed, as is so often done in our buildings since the sixteenth century, but are, on the contrary, frankly acknowledged, and contribute, by their ingenious combination and the taste which ever presides over their execution, to the enrichment of the architecture.[35] In a beautiful edifice of the commencement of the thirteenth century, splendid as we may think it, there is not an ornament to be spared, for each ornament is but the consequence of requirement satisfied.{137}


The Thirteenth Century.

Mediæval architecture usually classified under heads of centuries—Actual points of change do not coincide with these divisions—Auspices for the development of the Early Pointed style—Great works in England and France—Artistic disturbance in Germany—Progress in Italy—Energy pervades every branch of art—Perfected Early Pointed a natural growth from Romanesque—Leading characteristics—Columns—Bases of Columns—Capitals—Plan of the abacus—Circular plan—Whence this arose—Moulded capitals—Windows—Bases of buildings—Cornices and foliated bands—Doorways—French and English compared.

IN the two lectures I delivered during the last session, my object was to trace out the development of Pointed architecture from the Romanesque nucleus of the preceding age; to show how far this was the result of constructional necessities and the natural progression of art, and how far it was aided and furthered by external influences; and to illustrate the unity and grandeur of the artistic movement which, in so short a time, generated an art at once so original and so truly noble. My object on the present occasion will be to give a general sketch of that art when it had arrived at its culminating point, or rather during that wonderful century through which it reigned triumphant, rejoicing in the full attainment of the object of its strivings, and, proceeding from strength to strength and from beauty to beauty, filled the countries of Western Europe with creations at once new to art, and in many respects nobler than anything the world had previously seen.{138}

Though it is convenient to classify our Mediæval architecture under heads of centuries, its points of change do not, in reality, coincide with such a division. It would, perhaps, be nearer to the fact if we classed the last quarter in each century with that which follows: thus, in this country the Norman style would be supposed, roughly speaking, to occupy the interval between 1075 and 1175; the Early Pointed style from thence to 1275; the Middle or Decorated periods from 1275 to 1375; and so on.

On this view of the case, a great deal of what I treated of in my last lecture belongs artistically to the present one, and a portion of what I am embracing under the head of the thirteenth century would better go with the fourteenth. As, however, I should wish to be as comprehensive as possible in defining the period of the unimpaired integrity of the style, I gladly extend it to the very end of the century, and will not quarrel with those who would dip a little into the succeeding one; for, though I prefer the strength and boldness of the works of the earlier part of the century, the style can hardly be regarded as complete if deprived of the more delicate productions which characterise its close.

In my last lecture I showed how, both in France and England, the last quarter of the twelfth century was occupied in bringing the earlier phase of Pointed architecture from a state of mere transition to one of full development and consistency, and how that the works of this period of especial earnestness in onward striding are characterised by a masculine vigour, scarcely equalled at any other stage.{139}

We have now to view the Early Pointed style at the period of the full attainment of its aims, and when its endeavours were rather to amplify and to extend its means than to construct a style.

The thirteenth century commenced under the most favourable auspices for the development of the newly-created architecture. In France, both the secular and the ecclesiastical powers were in the highest state of prosperity; and if in England such was not the case with the Crown, and we were checked by a bad and mean-spirited King, it is clear that both the Barons and the Church were in a state of high prosperity, for, from the very opening of the century, we find works on the grandest scale to have been everywhere undertaken. Whether in the castle, the palace, the cathedral, the monastery, or the parish church, we find the newly-developed style to have been put largely into practice, so that scarcely a building of note fails to show the impress of the youthful art. Every great church must have its share of it; thus, at Canterbury, though they had just completed the eastern half in the style of the transition, the cloisters were added in the perfected manner. At York, again, the choir had been rebuilt in the last half of the preceding century; but the perfected style must have its sway, so the Norman transepts were rebuilt in it. At Lincoln the transformation of style had commenced under St. Hugh before the close of the twelfth century, and before 1280, but small vestiges of the Norman structure remained. At Ely the century commenced with the building of the western porch, which was followed up by the magnificent eastern arm of the cathedral. At St. Alban’s the{140} gigantic Norman church had not been completed much more than half a century before its western façade was demolished and recommenced in the new style, in which one-half of the nave partook; and before the thirteenth century was finished the choir had also been rebuilt. At Durham the Norman church received the magnificent addition of the Chapel of the Nine Altars: at Fountains a similar addition was made, with an entirely new choir and many noble appendages. Wells Cathedral was almost rebuilt in the new style. Indeed, it is scarcely possible to single out any great church which does not more or less evince the influence of the great architectural movement which ushered in the thirteenth century. Its most complete work is the cathedral at Salisbury; and among its later creations we may enumerate the eastern portion of Westminster Abbey, the whole of Tintern Abbey, and the greater part of the once sumptuous church of St. Mary’s Abbey, at York; while its last decade produced some of the most exquisite gems of art, such as the tombs of Crouchback, of De Luda, and of Archbishop Peckham; the chapel of Ely Place, Holborn, and the Eleanor Crosses; so that, taken as a whole, the century can claim most of the noblest, as well as of the most elegant, productions of English art.

In France its pre-eminence is, if possible, yet more manifest. The century opened there under the fully established power of Philip Augustus, the most powerful monarch who had ruled France since the days of Charlemagne. In the days of his predecessor the English King had governed more French provinces than the King of France himself; but now the English

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Fig. 87.—Chapel of Nine Altars, Durham.


were almost entirely expelled, and this mighty monarch reigned without a rival. In his days commenced an almost general rebuilding (wholly or in part) of the cathedrals, excepting such as were of very recent date. The west façade of Nôtre Dame at Paris, the greater part of Rouen, of Rheims, of Amiens, of Coutance, of Bourges, the eastern half of Le Mans, and a list far too long to be enumerated, owe their grandeur to his reign, or those immediately following.

Towards the middle of the century the same work progressed gloriously under the auspices of St. Louis, and though slackened from actual satiety towards the close of the century, it was not really checked till the commencement of the English war.

As in England, the works thus produced evince masculine grandeur of the highest order at the commencement, and the most delicate beauty at the close of the century, while during its middle portion the two are united in the works of St. Louis. In Germany the works of this century evince great artistic disturbance. The change from the round to the pointed-arch style had been there resisted, while both in France and England it had been worked out to maturity. At the opening of the century, German architecture consisted of a highly-refined variety of Romanesque, with the partial use of the pointed arch, chiefly where suggested by constructional necessities. This, during the first quarter or more of the century, developed itself into an Early Pointed style, strictly German, and holding out promises of great force and originality—promises which were frustrated by the sudden inroad of French Gothic about 1250, after which, though Germany{142} took a course still very much her own, it was one in a great degree severed from her noble early tradition, and emanating from the French graft rather than from the original stem.

Italy received her Pointed architecture from France and Germany, and mingled it freely with her Classico-Lombardic traditions. The union produced many noble and many incongruous developments. The lessons they offer must be used with caution; but Italy being the land of ancient art, the land of sculpture, of painting, of rich marbles, of mosaic work, and of municipal and other civic edifices, the graft of Northern art upon so prolific a stock has, as may readily be imagined, produced varieties which the circumstances of Northern nations would have rendered impracticable in its native lands; and the suggestions they offer, if judiciously used, are well calculated to add copiousness to the style in the hands of its modern revivers. Of this I may have occasion to say more hereafter.

The thirteenth century was to Mediæval art what the Periclean and Augustan ages were to the Greek and Roman; and in each case, though war and bloodshed are in themselves hostile to art, there can be no doubt that the excitement of the human mind, resulting from great national struggles, has tended to produce that advance in art which followed, in one case, the glorious assertion of national independence; in another, the conquest of the world; and in a third, the romantic and unselfish efforts of the Crusaders.

It was a period of deep-seated mental excitement, of a prodigious upstirring of the human intellect. Our learned men at the present day may smile at the quaint{143} and imperfect erudition of these early periods of our civilisation, but they should remember that they were our days of youth, of warmth, and of rising vigour, while the more perfected literature of our own age may possibly be found to superadd to its maturity a few symptoms of old age.

This youthful energy pervaded every branch of art; everything seemed to experience a new, a generous, and vigorous impulse. All Europe became filled with the productions of the newly generated art; every city became a repertory of noble and sublime architecture, and every town and village became possessed of productions equally beautiful, if more modest in their pretensions; while the intervening country was studded over with castles and monastic establishments, in which the same majestic art displayed itself in ever-varying forms, each suited to meet their different requirements.

Nothing is more difficult than to describe a perfected art. My last two lectures traced out the gradual construction of Pointed architecture, and its transition from the preceding style. This was comparatively easy; but to describe it when it had attained perfection is far less so.

The fact is that there is neither in France nor in England any very marked difference between the styles during the later period of its transition, and when perfected beyond that unity and consistency of parts which indicate maturity. In France, particularly, this is the case; for neither had the style there continued long to evince its transitional state by the retention of strictly Romanesque features—unless the square abacus can be so designated—nor did it, when perfected, throw{144} off, as in England, that one detail which to our eye seems a relic of transition. The later transition and the earlier perfected specimens seem in France to be the same art, a little more developed and more homogeneous, rather than to have many describable points of difference. In England the change of the abacus from the square to the round form makes the distinction more marked, so that English examples at the opening of the thirteenth century always appear later and more advanced than contemporary French ones. I instanced in my last lecture four early examples of perfected Early English: the eastern transept of Lincoln, completed about 1200; the eastern chapels at Winchester, about 1204; the western portals at St. Alban’s, finished about 1205; and the western porch or Galilee at Ely, finished about 1214. None of them show any remains of transitional character, and all having the English round capital in full development, appear to the English eye more advanced than such works as the western portals of Nôtre Dame at Paris, which are, if anything, somewhat later in date. In this country, in fact, the form of the abacus is the distinguishing feature between the transition to the perfected style, while in France there is no such distinction to be found. The difference is more one of feeling, which the practical eye perceives at once without being able to define.

Though I speak of the Early Pointed as a newly-generated art—as it in effect was—it must never be forgotten that it is a distinct and natural growth from the pre-existing Romanesque. The more I study old examples the more obvious does this appear. Take either France or England alone, and you may from{145} either construct, ad libitum, unbroken catenæ of examples, showing step by step the natural and logical growth of the new style out of the old; and that without any essential imported element (for the Byzantine capital, which was the parent of the Gothic one, was an accidental, though a happy, importation).

This progressive growth was but the practical realisation of three great aims towards which the Romanesque architects were ever striving—the perfecting of their arcuated and vaulted construction, the increase of the altitude of their proportions, and the general adding of refinement and elegance to their details. Thus, if you take the internal bay of a Norman cathedral, and simply set yourself the task of increasing its height in a given proportion, the result will be a Gothic bay, for the arches cannot participate in the increased elevation without becoming pointed. If the details are further refined, it becomes an ordinary transitional design; and if the process is carried on a little farther, it becomes a perfected Early Pointed work—the distinction between transition and perfected Early Pointed being merely the carrying on of the process by which the former was generated out of Romanesque. This fact, which all who look closely into it must see, was what led a talented writer to say that Early Pointed was only Romanesque improved. He meant this as an argument against it as compared with the still succeeding styles; but I confess, for my own part, while feeling strongly the truth of the observation, and highly appreciating the importance of some of the subsequent developments, I do not the less admire the glorious productions of the Early style from{146} seeing in them the evidences of the vigorous stock from which they have sprung.[36]

It will be seen, by enumerating the leading characteristics of Pointed architecture, that the great majority of them were already perfected, or, at least, brought to that reasonable and consistent state of development which stops short of excess and exaggeration, at the commencement of the thirteenth century.

The pointed arch had obtained universal predominance, though without involving the rejection of the semicircular or the plain segment, where circumstances called for them; the general predominance of the vertical line was acknowledged, without running into the excess of underrating the horizontal; lofty and aspiring proportions prevailed, though not to the extent of exaggeration, and without unreasonably asserting their claims in works of a humbler class; the subdivision of arches into orders, and the clustering of the pillars, so as to satisfy the eye that each member of the arch was severally supported, had arisen during the Romanesque period, and was now carried out still more systematically and with greater elegance; and the system of making the bases and capitals face in the direction of the insisting arch-rib, which had also arisen early, was (in France at least) very generally adhered to. The distinction between constructional and decorative pillars—one of the great characteristics of the Gothic style, both Round and Pointed—was carried to{147} its fullest extent; the vaulting system was perfected, though retaining its normal simplicity; and the corresponding system of buttress (solid or arched) and pinnacle, which are the necessary accompaniments of a perfect arcuated style, had been brought to perfection; the continuity of line was acknowledged sufficiently to suggest a feeling of natural growth of the parts one from another, from the bases of the shafts to the bosses of the vaulting, but without that sacrifice of force and of all salient points which became the vice of later styles.

The principle of rendering the useful features ornamental was fully developed; as an instance of it—the doorways, the only parts of the exterior which must of necessity be seen from close at hand, were rendered magnificent beyond all former precedent, and became the vehicles of noble sculpture, and the great exponents of the objects of the building, whether religious or secular. The windows now became great characteristic objects, not only from their richly painted glass within, but as leading architectural features, both within and without. The bell towers became glorious structures, rendering the cities conspicuous throughout the whole surrounding district, and making every village a distinct and beautiful point in the landscape. The same principle obtained in all secular structures. The castles of the nobility became truly noble structures, glorious for the stern grandeur of their external aspect, and for the massive beauty of their internal architecture; the gates and defences of cities partook of the same severe grandeur; while the street fronts, the town halls, and other civic buildings, displayed{148} architectural characteristics, modest or grand, as suited their several purposes. In Italy, where municipal institutions were more developed, noble street palaces were erected; and everywhere the architecture, whether viewed in the mass or in its details, was suited, as by an unerring instinct, to the objects on which it was exercised.

The decorative system of the architecture had also been brought to great perfection. The mouldings were refined without losing boldness or strength—in fact, were strong or delicate, as suited their position; the foliated carving had arrived at very high perfection, and was of a kind perfectly new—the magnificent creation of the artistic mind; sculpture was often profusely used in connection with architecture, and if not of that perfectly studied symmetry which satisfies the academic critic, it evinces a boldness of conception, a quickness of invention, and an unaffected grandeur of sentiment, which our modern sculptors would do well to emulate, while it is eminently suited, by its rigid lines and severe force, to architectural purposes.

It would be absurd to attempt, in a single lecture, to give any detailed description of the architecture of this great period; nor is it necessary, as no style is so familiar to those whose attention has been at all turned to such subjects; I will, however, take a few of its leading points, and call attention to some of their characteristics.

I will begin with the Column. In no feature is the difference between Classic and Gothic architecture so strongly marked as in the column. In the former, one general idea alone prevailed—the round shaft{149} with a capital, and with or without a base. In the latter this normal type is equally admissible and equally honoured, but, in addition to it, an almost endless list of forms are introduced. In the first place the round column is converted at pleasure into the octagonal or other polygonal form—this is a mere variety of the normal type; then either the round or the polygon is flanked by four smaller shafts, attached or detached, and these subsidiary shafts may be increased in number, subordinated one to another, both in size and salience, and may be all attached, all detached, or the attached and detached shafts may be used alternately or in any other order in the same pillar.

Then, again, instead of the cylindrical pillar, we may have four cylinders united in one, and these may in their turn be made the nucleus round which detached or attached shafts may be grouped: or we may have two or more separate cylindrical main shafts carrying the load, and may group subordinate ones round them; and again, we may take other forms of nucleus—as the square, the canted square, or a pier with receding orders—and place our shafts round them; and, finally, we may form groups in which no specific form of nucleus is to be traced, but which consist of shafts arranged with reference to the superincumbent arch alone.

The number of changes which may be rung on these varieties of pillar are absolutely endless, though it is not desirable to indulge too much in the more intricate forms of grouping, but, as a general rule, to keep to forms which are naturally suggested by the{150} duties the pillar is designed to perform. When detached subsidiary shafts are used, it is somewhat unnatural to joint them in their length without introducing some visible means of tying them to the main pillar within. This necessity gave rise to the use of the moulded band, which forms so beautiful a feature in the pillars of this period. It is sometimes made of brass, but more usually of stone or marble.

The bases of columns throughout the Romanesque period were most usually founded on some traditional variety of the Attic base. The resemblance is often obscure, but in many cases very close.

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Fig. 88.

Fig. 89.—St. Stephen’s, Caen.

Towards the end of the Romanesque period very great attention began to be paid to the sections of base mouldings, and in transitional works they are often more beautiful than at any other period. The difference between these bases and the ordinary Attic base is of the same kind which distinguishes Greek from Roman moulding. It is an extreme delicacy of curve, the substitution of elliptical sections for circular, and a wonderfully studious grouping of the hollows, rounds, and arrises, so as to produce a refined and delicate contrast and gradation of light and shade, without{151} destroying the strength necessary to the main supporting feature. In this they showed a high appreciation of what is in all architecture a difficult problem—the uniting the conflicting claims of the lower part of a building, as on the one hand demanding the greatest strength of character as supporting the whole structure, and on the other a delicate finish, as the part open to the closest inspection.

The bases have usually one more part than a Classic base, having in most cases a projecting sub-plinth, either chamfered or moulded. In earlier instances the plinth and sub-plinth are both square in plan; and here, again, we obtain a feature of great beauty which antique architecture did not possess. I mean the beautiful leaves or bosses of foliage which spring out of the lower torus to cover the projecting angles of the plinth.

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Fig. 90.—Veselay.

Fig. 91.—Westminster.

This projection is often reduced by making the torus overhang the square plinth in the centre of its sides, and a little projecting corbel is often put to carry{152} this overhanging, as well as the leaf to cover the angles of the plinth.

At a later period the square plinth gave way to the octagonal, and in England and Normandy often to the round form.

In early work the bases often faced about diagonally as the caps, to indicate the direction of the arch-ribs to be supported.[37]

In France the elliptical section of the lower torus continued much longer than in England, and the upper torus was often converted into a kind of ogee, and both in France and England the scotia was usually very narrow and deep—so much so, indeed, as to hold water. In England another kind of base is frequent, in which a bead is substituted for the scotia.

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Figs. 92, 93. Westminster Abbey.

In some rich work the plinth is clothed with foliage.

I have said a good deal of the history of the capitals of the Early Pointed period in my last lecture. I particularly showed that about the period of the transition a great change took place in France in the form of the capitals, in which the old Romanesque form was almost universally abandoned in favour of one of a distinctly Byzantine origin, which I suggested came, in all probability, by way of Venice, at the time of the erection of the Byzantine churches in Aquitaine; and that though the domical{153} construction of churches then brought into France does not appear to have extended northward of the Loire, the Byzantine capital of the Corinthianesque type was adopted quite into the north of France, and became the parent of the exquisite capitals and foliage which, in the next generation, pervaded the architecture both of France and England, and, a little later, of Germany.

I also showed that the peculiar stalk or crocket, which became so constant a feature in early Gothic capitals, took its origin from a plain unraffled leaf frequent in the Byzantine capitals,[38] which in their turn may have been suggested by unfinished leaves, which are of very common occurrence in capitals of that period.

During the first half of the thirteenth century these crocket capitals were brought to very high perfection, the stalk or crocket either appearing in its most normal form, or being more or less clothed and concealed by foliage. In the latter case it forms a strong background to the leaves, giving them the apparent stiffness and strength necessary to their position. These usually turn over in a bunch of foliage, which is distinct from the leaves which clothe them, so that there is no inconsistency, but the reverse, in the clothing foliage being natural, while the terminal bunch which completes the crocket is conventional.[39] Towards the middle of the century the natural and conventional foliage were very much used together, the{154} former being often a light playful overlaying of stronger leading forms; but afterwards, in French work, and still later in English, natural foliage became the rule and conventional the exception.

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Fig. 94.—Rollestone, Notts.

Fig. 95.—Chartres.

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Fig. 96.—Southwell Minster.

The capitals which prevailed during this century form the most magnificent series which any style of architecture can boast. Whether the foliage is natural, conventional, or both united, the artistic power evinced is truly delightful; and when it is recollected that no two capitals are ever found exactly alike, the fertility of invention they display is perfectly wonderful.

It would be hopeless in such a lecture as this to {155}attempt to go through, even in the most cursory manner, the endless varieties of capitals—from the stupendous masses of noble foliage which crown the apsidal columns at Rheims, whose single shafts are nearly six feet in diameter, to those of the delicate colonettes which decorate the mullions of windows. This one feature alone would form an ample subject for an entire lecture, or almost for a series of lectures. I will confine my present remarks to the great characteristic differences which distinguish French from English capitals during the thirteenth century.

This great distinction lies in the plan of the abacus; for while in France the square form of the preceding style continued, the English architects very soon substituted the circular plan.

It is a curious question how and when this arose. In both countries the round abacus was, in some instances, used from an early period; but this was chiefly on great cylindrical columns, with low capitals, such as those in the nave of Gloucester Cathedral, though even in France the round form occasionally occurs to subordinate shafts, as at St. Omer; but, as a general rule, both countries used the square or the angular form till late in the transition, when the English commenced the free adoption of the round, first alongside of the other, and afterwards to its almost entire exclusion.

So early as the erection of the crypt under the Trinity Chapel at Canterbury, by William the Englishman, about 1180, we find the round moulded capital; and in the altar recesses in the eastern transept we find the round abacus on foliated capitals; though, I{156} confess, I doubt its belonging, in this last-mentioned instance, to the original work.

Much difference of opinion now exists as to the comparative merits of these two forms. By some the square abacus is assumed to be the great symbol of force and vigour; while by others it is said to be inconsistent with the true principles of Gothic architecture. Perhaps the question might be solved by deciding that both are beautiful, both vigorous, and both consistent with Gothic architecture, and, therefore, that both should be admitted on equal terms as portions of our general matériel.

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Fig. 97.—St. Quentin, Aisne.

The advantages of the angular abacus are, that it allows of the capitals indicating the direction of the arch-ribs, and assuming irregular forms suggested by them (Fig. 97), which the round form forbids; that it allows of the use of square orders, and, consequently, of simpler and more effective arch mouldings than can be placed in the round abacus, on which the mouldings have to be somewhat crushed in their section, and their parts multiplied, to bring them nicely on to the round support; and that the angles indicate the direction towards which the main stalks of the foliage should tend. There can be no doubt, on the whole, that it produces the most vigorous effect; and I must plead{157} guilty to an un-English preference for it, though I also greatly admire its competitor, whose advantages are the beautiful form which the round moulding takes as seen in perspective from below, and its less disturbance of the continuity of line.

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Fig. 98.—Capitals from Crypt under Trinity Chapel, Canterbury.

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Fig. 99.—Capital. Salisbury.

Fig. 100. Sections of moulded Capitals, St. Albans.

Another great characteristic of English architecture is the moulded (unfoliated) capital. This is almost wanting in French architecture; and I strongly contend that the invention of this capital, which we may almost claim for our own country, is one of extreme value, and supplies what would be otherwise a great hiatus in the style. Among its earlier instances is that I have already mentioned in the crypt at Canterbury (Fig. 98). It is there in rather a plain and normal form, nearly resembling a capital denuded of its foliage, but with the space below the abacus and the bell somewhat increased, for the sake of strength. The fully-developed moulded capital differs from this in having a considerable overhanging moulding, which is the substitute for, and the representative of,{158} the foliage of the richer capital (Figs. 99, 100). Though this overhanging moulding is uniform in type, the varieties it assumes in detail are endless, and the groups of mouldings in these capitals are among the most beautiful in the whole range of Gothic architecture; and the addition of this beautiful feature to our rich treasury of forms of capital is of infinite value.

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Figs. 101, 102.—Capitals, Westminster Abbey.

The abacus of the moulded capitals is not necessarily round. There are many instances of its being square, and still more of its being octagonal—a form which is continued through the later periods of English architecture.

I ought to have mentioned that in its normal condition the abacus is in a separate stone from the rest of the capital, though convenience frequently suggests its being in one.

When marble shafts, however, are used, it is far better that the same material be used also for the abacus.

Next in importance to the column as a characteristic of the style, we must place the Window. Indeed, it has generally been made to take the precedence of it, and is no doubt that by which the date of a building is most readily ascertained and its style defined.{159}

The Romanesque windows were simply openings with round heads, the jambs and arches being either perfectly plain, moulded, with or without enrichment, or the jambs shafted. These windows were most usually isolated, but were here and there grouped into couplets, triplets, etc., or made to form portions of continuous arcading.

In the early days of the transition the windows remained unaltered, otherwise than as to the general refinement of their details. Later on the arches were made pointed, and their proportions somewhat elongated; and even in the fully-developed Early Pointed style—properly so called—the window differs little in principle from that of the Romanesque period, though, in fact, it assumes a widely different form, through its carrying towards their ultimate results the principles of grouping begun during the previous style, and those of refinement and elongation incident to the transition.

It is in carrying out these principles to a still greater extent that the Early Pointed of England differs from that of France. It is really the same style, and no important feature can be pointed out in the one country which is not to be found in the other; but just as the Germans, by dwelling longer on the Romanesque style, rendered it more refined and perfect than elsewhere, so the English, by the continued retention of the unmullioned window, systematised its use in a manner not equalled in other countries. I see no difference of principle in the fenestration of the Early French and the Early English Pointed styles: in both the principle was the decoration and combination of single lights. Nor do I see that in England{160} this was done in a manner essentially differing in any respect from what was common in France. The great difference was the far greater width of the French openings, which often rendered their windows inelegant in proportion, while it offered a noble field for stained glass. The characteristic of the English windows, on the other hand, was narrow and tall proportions, and a greater amount of enrichment of the jambs and arches, though none of these are, by any means, constant features. Sometimes we find in English works lightness carried to a vicious extreme, as in the beautiful but frail eastern transept at Worcester; though in a majority of instances it retains a masculine firmness and solidity, as in the east end of Whitby.

Time would fail me to illustrate the magnificent combinations of this early class of window to be found in cathedrals and monastic churches—as the east end of Ely, the west at Llandaff, or the north transept at York; nor would it be possible to enumerate the simple and impressive village churches to which, in their humbler forms, though with equal artistic merit, they lend such a charm. The style is too well known in England to need minute description, and its merits too fully acknowledged to need enforcement from me.

I will rather proceed to consider that great invention which may be considered to complete the series of developments which constituted Pointed architecture: I mean the mullioned and traceried window; not that I consider it as in all points better than its predecessor, nor that in our own revival it should supersede it; but that, as a matter of fact, Gothic architecture would{161} have been imperfect without it. Like almost every other feature of Pointed architecture, the traceried window grew out of the Romanesque.

In all periods of Romanesque we find occasionally two or more arched openings comprised under one enclosing arch. The arrangement is more frequent in belfry windows and triforium openings than elsewhere, but occurs in ordinary windows, especially in secular buildings. The space intervening between the large arch and the two or more placed below it was, even as early as this, occasionally pierced with circles or other forms of opening. Here, then, we have the elements of the mullioned window before even the introduction of the pointed arch. In the same situations it gradually developed itself, step by step, during the Early Pointed period, so that we have in triforium arcades and in other positions a pretty full development of what is called plate tracery before its use became frequent for ordinary windows. The case was pretty much the same both in France and England, though on the whole the love of placing two openings under one arch was greater in France; thus, we see in the aisles at Chartres two plain lights under one arch with a circular opening, and above, in the clerestory, a very large circle in the head with somewhat complex subordinate piercings. The same is the case at Bourges, where three lights are often comprised under one arch, with a single circle in the head.

The next great element which aided in producing tracery windows was the wheel, or other richly-pierced circular window. This, again, originated under the Romanesque style, as we may see at Barfreston{162} and elsewhere. It is, in fact, a very close approach to tracery, and when placed in the space between comprising and comprised arches, it almost completes the change. All that is wanted is the piercing of the intervening spaces in forms whose outlines are parallel to the main piercings, so as to form what Professor Willis calls bar tracery. This was, I fancy, commenced in France—though there are very early traces of it in England—and was done at first in a partial and clumsy manner, as in some windows at Le Mans and Tours, but soon was systematised.

I do not see that in any of the previous steps the French were in advance of the English architects, but in this last step I think they were so, and this led them to a much earlier abandonment of the single window and its combinations; so that for some time the French were using tracery windows, while we were rendering more perfect the unmullioned system—not from want of knowledge of the other, but rather from a preference for a system in which we were producing more beautiful combinations than our neighbours had attained.

It is not a very profitable question to inquire by how many years the French may have been in advance of us in this development, and it is so exceedingly difficult to get at positive dates of the erection of buildings in either country, that it would be impossible if desired. The fact, no doubt, is, that for many years the two kinds of window were contemporaneous. Thus, traceried windows may have been in use at Rheims and Amiens, while the older kind was being used at Bourges and Chartres.{163}

It is said that in England the fully-developed bar tracery was first used in Westminster Abbey, which was commenced in 1245; but this is merely an assumption; and it is clear that it was used in the eastern part of St. Paul’s, a part of which was consecrated in 1240. The east window of Netley Abbey looks very early, but I do not know its real date, but believe it is said to have been finished in 1249; while the eastern windows at Lincoln look too thoroughly developed to be very early specimens, though known to have been erected between 1256 and 1280. In any case the change had fully established itself in England during the third quarter of the century.[40]

There can be no doubt that, whichever class of window we prefer, this invention was of immense practical utility. It rendered possible what was never attained before—the formation of windows of any width which might be wanted, without injury to the beauty of the building. This is, in fact, the great use of the mullion, to enable you to use wider windows than you could use without it—indeed, to render their width unlimited; and the consequence of the invention was the introduction of windows in some cases not less than 30 feet or more in width, and 60 or 70 in height, and that without appearing to make any unseemly gap in the walling, which would otherwise have been the case with a window of one-sixth of the size.

After the system was once introduced, it seems to{164} me to have been often more beautifully carried out in England than in France; indeed, I hardly know in France windows of equal beauty with those at Lincoln, Tintern, or St. Mary’s Abbey at York.

At a later period excess of tracery became the great vice of the style, but while kept within bounds, it unquestionably was a great element to its perfection; and though it must always be remembered that a building of any amount of beauty and dignity can be designed without it, it would be placing upon ourselves a very foolish restriction if, merely from an individual preference for the earlier and sterner style, we were to debar ourselves from the use of so convenient and reasonable an element.

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Figs. 103, 104, 105, 106, 107.—Base moulds of Buildings.

One feature in which the English works of this period appear to me to be peculiarly excellent is the base moulds; I do not mean of columns, but of the building itself. I have never seen any in France to equal many of our own in the quality of appearing eminently fitted to support the whole structure, or in the artistic arrangement of their parts.{165}

Against this we may balance on the other side the French cornices and foliated bands, which are one of their most beautiful characteristics. They usually consist of two courses—a hollow projecting moulding containing the foliage, capped by a weather moulding—the equivalent respectively of the bell and abacus of the capital; indeed, in many cases forming the continuation of the capitals of window jambs across the intervening piers. We have in many cases cornices equivalent to these—as at York, Howden, and the nave of Lichfield; but they are, on the whole, a much less English than French feature. The foliage they contain is usually of great beauty, and eminently suited to its position.

The great glory, however, of the French churches is their doorways; and beautiful as are those of our own, they make no kind of pretension to vie with those of our neighbours in magnificence. In this respect the architects of the two nations seem to have gone on quite contrary principles; for the French, even in buildings on a secondary scale, introduced portals of prodigious size and extreme richness, while the English, even in buildings on a grand scale, often made their doorways very inconspicuous. Compare, for instance, the façades of Amiens and of Wells: in one the portals are everything, so that you can recollect little else; in the other they are nothing, and you can scarcely recollect their existence; while, in the façade above, the English example is the richer of the two; and the illustrative sculpture which in the one case is expended on the portals, is in the other diffused over the entire front. In England a magnificent portal is{166} of rare occurrence; in France one looks for it as a thing of course. Nothing more glorious than the great French portals can be conceived: the lofty and deeply-receding jambs are divided in their ample height into two portions, the pedestal or basement of which is richly decorated either with diaper-work or with sculptured medallions, or, as at Amiens, with both; and the upper stage contains colossal figures of apostles or other holy men of old, who appear to view with severe and solemn benignity the entering crowd, and to express, by the gravity of their countenances, the caution, “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God.” In the tympanum are sculptured scenes from Scripture history, the lives of saints, our Lord surrounded by the evangelistic symbols, or perhaps the awful scenes of the final Judgment; and the mouldings of the arch are probably filled with angelic figures, as if the guardians of the faithful worshippers; while this impressive array of imagery is placed in a setting of the noblest and most perfect architecture, and that on a scale well suited to the sublimity of the sentiments expressed.

The portals of Nôtre Dame at Paris, of Amiens, and of Chartres, may be instanced as among the most striking examples; but all great churches of the end of the twelfth and of the thirteenth century have the same truly glorious approaches, well calculated to solemnise the minds of those entering by them, and to prepare the way for the overwhelming dignity of the interior.

The nearest approach which we have in England to this class of doorway is the south entrance to the

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Fig. 109.—Western Portals, south entrance, St. Alban’s Cathedral.


eastern part of Lincoln—a truly noble portal;[41] but on the whole, though of a different class, the most dignified approach to any English cathedral is the western porch of Ely.[42]

St. Alban’s has had three magnificent western entrances. The smaller ones have been wonderful works of art, though now ruined.

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Fig. 108.—St. Alban’s Cathedral. Ornament between Shafts, Western Portals.

The north porches of Salisbury and Wells are very noble; indeed, many of our great churches have portals which we should deem magnificent, could we forget those of France, and which we know to be eminently beautiful, however they may be surpassed in magnificence.

In almost all other parts the English cathedrals of this age are often richer than the French, as in the clustering of the columns, the richness of the arch mouldings, the beauty of their wall arcading, the importance and detail of the triforium, etc.; while, on the contra side, they have to yield greatly to the French in altitude, and in many cases in general scale, as well as in the amount of sculpture with which they are enriched.

My object in drawing these comparisons is not a wish to lay any claim to superiority for either, nor to shake the claims of our neighbours to general precedence, as I view Paris to have been, in a certain sense,{168} the centre and metropolis of Mediæval art. It is rather to show that these were the arts of a great period, not of a single people; that all were labouring together in perfecting a great and glorious development of art, each knowing well what others were doing, each according to their means taking care to keep up to the standard already attained, and to add to the public treasury developments of their own; each making it his great endeavour to do his own work as well as it could possibly be done according to the means at command, and each people vying with its neighbours, not in the spirit of petty jealous competitors for praise, but each striving, with a noble and glorious emulation, to do the utmost in its power to further the great art which all had contributed in generating.

Having given, in this and my two preceding lectures, a rough and very imperfect sketch of the rise and perfecting of Gothic architecture, it is not my intention any further to pursue the subject historically; but—assuming the thirteenth century to be the great period of the style—I should wish, in any future lectures I may give, to illustrate and discuss its principles, and the many sections into which it divides itself, whether geographical varieties or the leading features of the buildings themselves. I may not be able to carry out this intention, but in my next lecture, the last of the present session, I purpose—after alluding to some of the most remarkable works of the period and with some slight description of their characteristics, and after calling attention to the all-pervading character of the art as it bore upon secular and other buildings,{169} upon the allied arts, and upon the ordinary arts of common life—to found upon what we have had in review before us some general suggestions as to the practical lessons we ought to learn from what we have been considering, and the influence it ought to have upon our own artistic practice.{170}


The Thirteenth Century—continued.

St. Saviour’s, Southwark—Choir of Temple Church, London—Chapel at Lambeth—Westminster Abbey—Its Italian mosaic work, monuments, and ancient reredos—Chapel of St. Ethelreda, Holborn—St. Alban’s Abbey—Priory Church, Dunstable—Stone Church near Gravesend—Waltham Cross—Jesus Chapel, Cambridge—Ely and Peterborough Cathedrals—Warmington Church—West Walton Abbey—Crowland Abbey—St. Mary’s and All Saints, Stamford—Ketton, Grantham, and Frampton Churches—Lincoln Cathedral—Southwell Minster—Newstead Abbey—York Cathedral—St. Mary’s Abbey, and St. Leonard’s Hospital, York—Skelton Church—Beverley and Ripon Minsters—Fountains, Rivaulx, Whitby, Kirkham, and Guisborough Abbeys—Chapel of the Nine Altars, Durham—Hexham and Dryburgh Abbeys—Chapel of Holyrood—Elgin and Glasgow Cathedrals—Furness Abbey—Southern examples—Most great churches in France vaulted, not so in England—Universal excellence of workmanship from 1175 to 1400—Domestic architecture of France, Germany, Italy, and England—Influence of thirteenth century work on our artistic practice.

IN my last lecture I gave a hasty outline of the developed architecture of this great period.

I will now endeavour to give an equally hasty glance at some of its more marked creations, beginning—as in duty bound—at home. Their number, however, is so great, that one is perplexed to know where to begin, or in what order to take them. Perhaps the most profitable way will be to imagine the student to live in London, and to commence with the works of this century, which he may study within a walk of his home.{171}

Let us begin, then, with the church of St. Saviour—formerly St. Mary Overie—in Southwark.

When I first knew this Church the whole of it was standing: externally, it is true, the aspect it presented was not very pleasing, for it had been cased almost throughout with red brick, and the Lady Chapel was little else than a ruin. The choir was then in course of restoration. The interior was a most noble structure, and was almost perfect, and nearly all of this century, though some small portions westward were earlier, and the south transept possibly a little later. The whole was on a very symmetrical design, that of the nave being very much the same with the choir.

Its character may easily be judged of from what remains. It was nobly massive and grand, not of lofty proportions, but still such as to satisfy the eye. The pillars were alternately round and canted squares, flanked with attached shafts; the triforium consisting of arcades, interrupted only by the vaulting shafts. At the east end is a beautiful Lady Chapel, vaulted on light clustered pillars.

The restoration of the choir was carried out by the late Mr. George Gwilt, aided by his sons; and it is impossible too warmly to praise the zeal and ardour with which they pursued the work, their study of the style then so little understood, or the untiring pains they took to render their restoration accurate. All these ardent lovers of ancient art are now deceased, and I feel a melancholy pleasure in bearing witness to their merits. I was intimately acquainted with one of the sons, and never did I meet a man more enthusiastically devoted to the style on which his artistic{172} education had been founded. He absolutely adored everything which was Early English; and, in carrying out restorations—in one of which he aided me—so faithfully did he reproduce the whole work, that nothing could induce him to alter even the positions of the jointing of the ashlar work.

The pains which Mr. Gwilt took in restoring the choir disgusted the heartless parishioners, who, on proceeding to the transepts, placed the work in other hands; but, on the Lady Chapel being undertaken by private individuals, Mr. Gwilt nobly undertook the work gratuitously, and carried it out with the same care he had bestowed on the choir.

Shortly after this, a report having arisen that the nave roof was decayed, a surveyor was employed to examine it, who, recklessly condemning it as unsafe, it was taken off, and none put on in its place. The walls, being of chalk, became shattered by exposure to the frost of several winters; and when the restoration of the nave was proposed to the parishioners, that enlightened body of men negatived it, and, taking down the glorious old structure, erected the present abject monstrosity in its place.[43]

Happily, however, the interiors of the choir and Lady Chapel are still perfect. Let us hope and pray that their widowhood may not be of much longer duration, but that a reproduction of the noble nave may be substituted for its unworthy supplanter.{173}

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Fig. 110.—Temple Church, London. View of Choir.

I should mention that the nave was entered on the south side by a very noble double doorway, of great height and depth, though when I knew it its decorative features had perished. I will only add that if measured drawings of this church are in the possession of the family of Mr. Gwilt, it would be most desirable that they should be deposited among public archives, to await the time when they must be wanted as a guide to the re-erection of the lost portions. In{174} the meantime let me beg of you to study well what remains.[44]

Next in importance, and probably in date, comes the choir of the Temple Church, which was consecrated in 1240—a more fortunate building than the last, and not needing from me any chronicle of its restoration. It is, in idea, a magnified transcript of the Lady Chapel at St. Saviour’s, being, like it, vaulted throughout upon pillars of equal height, and is probably about the most perfect specimen in England of this beautiful mode of construction.

The only other important instance I recollect in London of the earlier portion of our style is the chapel at Lambeth—a very good Early English chapel, though somewhat dishonoured by plaster vaulting, the ribs of which I myself saw being prepared for by a core of spikes and tar-cord. Let us hope that this is the last instance of such construction, especially of its introduction in a time-honoured building like this!

We now come to one of the noblest of England’s temples—the Abbey Church of Westminster; and you will readily excuse me from dishonouring this truly glorious temple by attempting its description in the course of a hasty catalogue like that I am now giving. As you all know, it was commenced in 1245 by King Henry III., and the eastern portions finished about 1269. This makes it contemporary, in a certain sense, with Amiens; for though the latter was commenced in 1220, it was not completed till 1288. There can be no doubt that the cathedral at Amiens was, at the{175} time of its erection, viewed as the most perfect development of the style; for it is clear that it was made, in many instances, the model on which the designs of other churches were formed.

Cologne Cathedral, for instance, was commenced in 1248, during the erection of that at Amiens, and is manifestly a free copy of it so far as concerns its earlier portions;[45] and though Westminster Abbey is by no means built on the model of Amiens, it was probably influenced by it. That prodigious pile, carried forward through so long a series of years, would be a great object of interest to all contemporary church-builders; and Henry, who was much in France, would naturally send the architect of his own sacred mausoleum to see the great work of his day.

Westminster Abbey is a church built on a French ideal, but with English detail—a great French thought expressed in excellent English.

The windows are of the perfected bar tracery, which had not yet been much used in England; but in other respects I cannot find a distinctively French detail—or scarcely any—in the building, excepting the work of a single French foliage carver. Even the plan, which is purely French in idea, is carried out in a manner quite different from that of any French church I have seen.

In the architecture the union of the manners of the two nations is most happy. The pillars are nearly like those of the great French cathedral, but the side shafts, instead of being attached, are separate shafts of Purbeck{176} marble, the nucleus and the capitals and bases being all of the same beautiful material. The use of this hard stone led to that of moulded unfoliated capitals, in which they lose in effect when compared with those at Amiens; but the nobler material would more than compensate for this.

The triforium is far superior to that at Amiens both in design and detail, and the whole internal design, though inferior in size and altitude, is to my eye far more pleasing; and when its varied materials retained their colour, and the Purbeck marble, which pervades every part, preserved its polish, there cannot be a doubt as to the superior magnificence of its effect.

The parts, too, are much better proportioned, with perhaps, the one exception of the too acute form of the main arches; the wall arcading is much more beautiful, and the details generally more richly moulded. We have, then, here, at our doors, a building whose interior is equal to that of any existing Gothic building, and we have no excuse if we do not avail ourselves of so noble an opportunity of study.

Of the exterior I will say nothing. All its old features had perished by the end of the seventeenth century, when they were vilely renewed, and this base restoration is now in its turn decayed.

The chapter-house is a splendid but melancholy relic, little more than a ruin, and that not like those ruins which seem to do honour to the memory of their bygone glory by the picturesque loveliness which graces their decay. It is choked up with presses, chests, galleries, huge sacks of parchment, and every possible obstruction and disfigurement. Its beautiful{177} windows—which filled the entire width of its sides—are walled up, and its elegant vaulting destroyed. Just enough remains to render its restoration practicable. I have, with great labour, traced out all the old details, and only wish for the chance of restoring it in some degree to its pristine beauty.[46] I should mention that the splendid encaustic floor is still perfect, and that very fine specimens of wall painting still remain. The vestibule and staircase by which it is approached are beautifully designed, and the doorway from the cloister is among the most splendid relics of English art. The latter is in a dreadful state of decay, but I am happy to say that it has just been stereotyped in its present state by the application of an invisible solution, which will prevent the further progress of disintegration, and which has set and hardened the crumbling particles, which the gentlest touch would have before displaced.

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Fig. 111.—Conventional Foliage, Chapel of St. John Baptist, Westminster Abbey.

The foliated carving in Westminster Abbey unites the two great types which characterise this century—the conventional and the natural—and contains some of the best of each. I commend it to your careful study, and will mention that all within reach has been indurated in the manner I have just alluded to. What remains of the figure sculpture is also of great merit,{178} especially four angelic figures in the triforium of the transept,[47] and two full-length figures in the chapter-house, one of which I had the great happiness of discovering.

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Fig. 112.—Natural Foliage, Chapel of St. John Baptist, Westminster Abbey.

The internal proportions of the church seem to me to surpass those of any other I have seen. They appear to be generally founded upon the equilateral triangle, and a comparison of this with many other churches will confirm the truth of what I have heard has been stated by an ancient Freemason—that the square will furnish good proportions, but the equilateral triangle much better.

The introduction of Italian mosaic-work[48]—both porphyry mosaic on the pavement, and glass mosaic on the tombs of the builder and rebuilder of the Abbey—is a fact of great interest, as showing the high estimation in which the arts peculiar to Italy were then held, so much so as to lead to the bringing to England of two master mosaic-workers—Odorico and{179} Pietro[49] (each, no doubt, with his staff of workmen)—to carry out the two branches of the art. Both artists were from Rome, as the inscriptions still testify; but their work was put together here, as is proved by the use of Purbeck marble, both as the groundwork of the pavement and for the architecture of the tombs. This architecture is not very elegant in its details, excepting only the beautiful spiral pillars, and some of the surface patterns prepared for the mosaic; and the introduction of an art so inferior to their own, for the sake of the rich inlaying it contained, still more strongly proves their appreciation of the merits of the mosaic art. Let us follow the example more wisely, and when we import any foreign specialty, let us not bring with it any of the demerits which chance to accompany it, but unite it with the best art we are masters of.

I know few, if any, churches which possess the same internal beauty as Westminster Abbey. More modern art has done its worst to ruin it, but its intrinsic loveliness overrides every such attempt, and reigns triumphant over every disfigurement. One characteristic it possesses almost alone—I mean the virgin privilege of perpetual exemption from the brush of the whitewasher. It probably owes this unique happiness to its{180} having been built on the principles of constructive polychromy. It has materials of at least four varieties of colour, and these, in some degree, systematically and artistically used; and this fact has been sufficient to keep the whitewasher at bay. We are told that it is un-English and fantastic to care anything about the colours of our materials; but let it never be forgotten that the churches which could boast of the chaste dignity of their unvaried stone colour, have been, both at home and abroad, made over periodically to the tender mercies of the monochromist, while this, at least has been spared,—and that on account of the “un-English” phantasy of using more than one natural colour in its construction. These colours are now nearly concealed by smoke, but they still show modestly through, and still aid in rendering the tone more solemn and striking than that of any church I have seen, excepting that very different one—St. Mark’s at Venice.

Among the monuments in the Abbey belonging to this century I will mention—in addition to the Italian works already alluded to—the effigy of William de Valence, an oak figure plated with enamelled copper, the enamels on which are of magnificent workmanship; the beautiful bronze effigies of Henry III. and Queen Eleanor, with the marble altar-tomb of the latter, and its beautiful iron grille (Fig. 114); the pretty little altar-tomb of some of the royal children, and the gorgeous monuments to Edmund Earl of Lancaster, and Aveline, his countess: the latter have been among the most splendidly decorated works of their day, and are worthy of the very closest study, both by the architect and the architectural painter.

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Centre compartment.

Fig. 113.—Retabulum, or moveable Reredos, formerly belonging to the High Altar, Westminster Abbey.

The paintings, except the merest fragments, have gone from the panels to the right of the centre compartment.


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Fig. 114.—Part of wrought-iron grille, Queen Eleanor’s Tomb, Westminster Abbey.

I will call attention to one other object in the Abbey—I mean the remarkably ancient retable or movable reredos formerly belonging to the high altar. It is a wonderful work of art, and I call attention to it especially in this place, because it contains the most beautiful specimen of very early painting remaining in this country. The pictures are probably by an Italian artist, several of whom are known to have been brought over about this time; but I confess I have seen no work of its age in Italy which I thought equal to it, an opinion confirmed by an Italian professor of architecture to whom I once showed it. It is, I believe, contemporary with the early days of Giotto.

I will now pass on to a far humbler building, and one very little known or visited; I mean the Chapel of St. Etheldreda, in Ely Place, Holborn.

This was the chapel of the splendid town palace of the Bishops of Ely, and was built by Bishop De Luda soon after 1290. The destruction of the palace you will, I dare say, recollect to have been celebrated by{182} Pugin in his “Contrasts.” It was sold during the last century, and the present untempting-looking street built on its site—a place where one would as little expect to find a gem of ancient art as the ripe strawberries which Dickon of Gloucester saw growing there and begged for.

The chapel is in a wretched plight; its side windows have lost both tracery and mullions, its west window is in great measure boarded up, the cradled roof plastered, the whole galleried around and fitted up with pewing which would disgrace a tabernacle of the last century; yet through all this its beauty still shows. The chapel is, as was so usual with private chapels, elevated on an overground crypt, so as to bring it to a level with the principal apartments of the palace. Curiously enough, this crypt is not vaulted, but has over it the original floor of massive timber.

The east and west windows, of five lights each, are among the finest of their period and size.[50] The side windows, denuded of their tracery, retain, internally, their beautiful jamb mouldings, and the wall between them has a graceful canopied and crocketed panel to each intervening pier, which gives the sides a very rich effect. I had long and often lamented their mutilated condition, and was one day trying to get at some clue to the design of their tracery, by examining the scars where it had been amputated, when the thought struck me that the two westernmost of them being blocked up by the adjoining houses, might, if opened out, be found to retain their decorative features. I applied for{183} permission to do this; and what was my delight, on removing the material which obstructed them, to find the old window—mutilated, indeed, and shattered—but still retaining every element needful to the restoration of its design!

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Fig. 115.—Side Windows, Chapel of St. Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn.

The doorway to the chapel is very beautiful, and its foliated ornament well worthy of study. The internal dimensions are about 90 feet by 30—a favourite size, it would seem, and not differing much from the dimensions of St. Stephen’s Chapel, that at Temple Balsal, or the Sainte Chapelle at Paris (reckoning the latter in French feet).

The architecture of the chapel is nearly allied to{184} that of a series of sepulchral monuments I alluded to in my former lecture, and some of them again in this. One of these is that of its own founder at Ely; the second and third are those of Edmund and Aveline, at Westminster Abbey; and the fourth is that of Archbishop Peckham, at Canterbury. All these date between 1290 and 1300, and are works of exquisite beauty and of the richest decorative art.

I will now lead you on a short excursion out of London, to a glorious old temple which was, in the days of my pupilage, considered to be within walking distance, and can now be reached in less than an hour by railway. I mean the venerable Abbey Church of St. Alban.

You probably know the general history of this church: founded over the tomb of the protomartyr of England, within ten years of his martyrdom, and rebuilt on a larger scale by Offa, King of Mercia, it was again rebuilt of its present enormous dimensions by the earlier of the Norman abbots, using the materials excavated from the ruined city of Verulam.

The Roman brick was not a material very suggestive of ornamental architecture, and we accordingly find the original portions to be plain and massive in the extreme, but, nevertheless, highly impressive and interesting. In the work of a later Norman abbot we find this unshapely material cased with stone-work, and of richly decorative details; but the church in general retained its severe simplicity undisturbed till the accession of Abbot John De Cella, in the reign of King Richard I.

This worthy abbot was more a man of taste than{185} of business, and his temperament more sanguine than calculating. He had no sooner taken possession of the abbacy than he embarked on a magnificent project for rebuilding the western façade of his abbey church; only a prelude, probably, to the reconstruction of the whole in the new style.

The massive brick front, with its flanking towers, would have formed an excellent nucleus for his work; but his ardent spirit would not submit to such an expedient, and he at once took down the vast façade, and that before he had collected money for the new one. The consequence was that he had scarcely got his new work out of the ground before his funds were exhausted. His first builder turned out a rascal, and he had to discharge him; the stone he used was destroyed by the frost; and, mishap after mishap following his undertaking. The worthy man was led, as is so common with bad men of business, to bend his proud spirit to a paltry trick; and, as a means of raising the wind, he sent one of his monks about the country with a man whom he declared to have been raised from the dead by the agency of the relics of St. Amphibalus, and begged money on the strength of the miracle. But all would not do, and after ten years’ labour, during which the old historian tells us that all the funds he procured were merely like rivers flowing into the sea, which was no fuller for receiving them, he could not bring his work above the level of the masons’ shed; and, at length, giving it up in despair, contented himself with more humble undertakings.

He was succeeded by Abbot William De Trumpington, a man who united with the taste for building,{186} inherent in the age, a more moderate ambition and greater aptitude for business. He resumed the suspended works, but moderated their costliness; and making all the details plainer, and giving up or postponing the flanking towers, he was not only enabled to complete the rest of the front, but also to carry on the new work a long way down the nave, and subsequently to make many other alterations.

Now, I beg you to go and examine these works, and, in doing so, to bear in mind their history. You will find—as the chronicler tells us—that just about the height of a mason’s shed, there is a sudden change in the work. Up to that height the details are very superior, and far richer than above. Below, we find traces of the artist; above, of the constructor and man of business, though not to the forgetting of art. Thus, round the piers below are bases for marble shafts; somewhat higher are the marks where their moulded bands have been broken off; but above, their capitals are wanting—

“For William’s shears had cut the bauble off.”

The three portals I alluded to in my last lecture are the work of the unfinancial artist;[51] the range of pillars, etc., down the nave, of the not inartistic man of business. Both are noble works. Trumpington’s works are bold and massive, and his details good, though simple; but for beauty of design we must award the palm to his less thrifty but more spirituel predecessor: indeed, I know few works equal in design to what he commenced; and had he been able to carry it out, this{187} façade might have vied with that of Wells. Unhappily there are, externally, little remains of the work of either of the abbots.

Late in the century the choir, also, was in great measure rebuilt. Its character is less forcible than the earlier works, yet exceedingly beautiful.

The eastern chapels—which opened by five arches into the church—were at the same time commenced, but only in part carried out, the Lady Chapel having been stopped short after rising a few feet from the ground, and the chapels which opened from the choir having suffered considerable alterations from their first design. They are now virtually in ruins, but their details are of exquisite beauty. The windows have tracery of very high merit, and the wall arcading—now almost entirely destroyed—has been quite charming.

These works form a continuous series, from the last days of the twelfth to the end of the thirteenth century, and are admirable illustrations of the architecture of this great period.

I will dip seven years into the succeeding century to mention the exquisite fragments of the substructure which carried the shrine of the protomartyr. They have recently been exhumed in opening a walled-up arch. They are of Purbeck marble, and, in spite of the stubborn material, are most wonderfully carved, the leaves being so much undercut as in places to be quite detached.[52]{188}

This venerable church possesses claims upon the student residing in London second only to those of our own Abbey of Westminster. I recommend it to your special and diligent study, and you will, I am sure, never blame me for my advice.[53]

On some of your visits there, pray go on to Dunstable, where you will find a noble priory church, in the later Norman style, whose western portal was probably in its day the finest in the kingdom; but owing to the friable clunch of which it was constructed, has lost the greater part of its decorations. The west front contains excellent work of the thirteenth century. It is a great architectural enigma, which I believe I have solved, but I will not spoil it for you by explaining my conjectures.

I begin to see, however, that I have embarked on an endless task, and have got half through my time without getting through the home district. I will therefore leave it, with a request that you will not consider Stone Church, near Gravesend, the worse for having become somewhat hackneyed. It is a mutilated work, but what remains of it is as exquisite an example of a period about agreeing with that of Westminster Abbey as can, perhaps, anywhere be found.

As I cannot pretend to give you a complete architectural itinerary, I will imagine—not seeing my way to a better—a northern tour in search of works of the{189} age I have been treating of; and giving a passing look at Waltham Cross, in which I once delighted, though now, I confess, its so-called restoration has rather damped my enthusiasm, and hastily looking in at Jesus Chapel at Cambridge, a very excellent specimen of Early English, let us proceed to Ely. I have repeatedly alluded to the two great works in our style which it contains: the western porch, built between 1197 and 1214, is by far the noblest in this country. It is peculiar in its size and position, more of a narthex, perhaps, than a porch, or rather the western arm of the cross formed by the western transept. Externally, it is covered with decorative arcading in four ranges. It is of two storeys, the upper one having formed a spacious chamber. The angle buttresses are of that beautiful kind which are almost peculiar to this period, being of the form of clustered pillars.

The two portals—the outer and the inner—are, in their leading forms, alike; they are double, and of very lofty proportions. Their heads were formerly filled with the Vescica Piscis, possibly containing sitting statues; but this—why, it is impossible to divine—was taken out in both instances, and a wretched piece of flowing tracery, in plaster, substituted by Bernasconi, to the no small detriment of the doorways.

The inner doorway is an exquisite work of art, the mouldings being most beautifully foliated. The sides of the porch are arcaded in two stages in a most beautiful and artistic manner, and probably contained sculpture. The capitals are among the finest to be found in any English building. The porch measures internally 40 feet by 30 feet.{190}

The other great work of this century, at Ely, consists of the six eastern bays, with the eastern front. They were commenced by Bishop Northwold in 1235, and completed in 1251.

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Fig. 117.—Ely Cathedral, Eastern Front.

It forms one of the finest specimens of the Early English style. The noble development of its triforium{191} is an inheritance from the Norman church, with whose levels it was made to range. The liberal use of Purbeck marble adds vastly to the beauty of the work: the pillars are entirely of this material, including even their richly foliated capitals, as are the long and elaborately carved corbels which carry the vaulting shafts.

The carrying out of the whole—its proportions, its details, its mouldings, the massive strength of its construction, united with just a sufficient degree of lightness, the great elegance of its vaulting, and the grandeur of its eastern façade—render it one of the most valuable objects of study which we possess. The tomb of its founder is a wonderful work of art—a canopied effigy surrounded by statuettes, angels, and even subjects, all in a single block of Purbeck marble.

There are other works of our period at Ely, and fine ones; but we must not linger there, but proceed onward to Peterborough.

If the three great arches which form the west front here are to be viewed as portals, I was certainly wrong when I said that English portals were small and inconspicuous. These are, in fact, of such vast elevation as to deprive them of that title. The whole may be viewed as a vast portico, it is true, but the doorways are within it, and of moderate dimensions, while above them, and still below the arches, are considerable windows. It is, in fact, a design which stands quite by itself, and can scarcely be judged of by ordinary parallels.

I confess that to my eye it has always appeared as a glorious conception, though one not often to be repeated. Had its flanking towers been completed in{192} the same style, the two great towers which backed it up completed with their spires, and the odd little chapel which has been thrust into its central arch been omitted, I know few fronts to which it would yield in grandeur, and none in originality.

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Fig. 118.—Circular Window, West Front, Peterborough Cathedral.

Peterborough once possessed a noble work, in the latter part of the century, in its Lady Chapel, but only a few fragments remain. Its mutilated cloister, the gateway to the bishop’s palace, and the ruins of the infirmary, are beautiful works of this period. I know few cathedrals which, externally, I more enjoy than Peterborough. In old coaching days I used often to pass through at between four and five in the morning,{193} and if daylight permitted, I made it a point of conscience to run round the cathedral while the mail bags were in course of arrangement; and never will the impression it produced on my mind be effaced.

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Fig. 119.—Petersborough Cathedral.

We come here into a country replete with village churches, many of which are in our style. Warmington, for instance, between here and Oundle, is an almost perfect thirteenth-century church, and I only{194} mention it as one specimen, for time would fail me to enter upon even an enumeration. Off to the northeast, too, there is West Walton, with its splendid and unique detached tower—an almost unequalled example; and nearer at hand are the mournful and tottering relics of the sister Abbey of Crowland, the details of whose Western front are hardly to be surpassed, and are the more interesting as having been evidently the work of the architect to the eastern part of Lincoln Cathedral. Even the stone is from Lincoln, though it is a material not used in the district.

As you go from Peterborough to Lincoln, whichever road you take, there are endless series of village churches, as well as others of greater pretensions. Stamford is rich in work of this age, but I will only allude to the churches of St. Mary and All Saints. Close by is the beautiful Early English tower of Ketton. Grantham possesses the most stately steeple (next only to Salisbury) in the kingdom; and on another road I may mention Frampton, as having the most perfect of all simple Early towers and spires that I know. But let us hasten on to the crowning glory of the district, whose lordly towers preside in serene majesty over the whole surrounding country.

No English cathedral is, externally, so imposing as that of Lincoln, nor do I recollect any abroad which, as a whole, surpasses it; and nearly the whole of its sublime architecture belongs virtually to this century, though in actual date it begins a few years earlier, and ends a few years later.

It is the custom to speak of Salisbury as the great typical example of the Early English style, and its{195} unity and completeness may warrant the claim; but both for the grandeur of the whole and the artistic beauty of every part, and also as a complete exponent of English architecture throughout the whole duration of its greatest period, Lincoln far surpasses it. Its leading features form a perfect illustration, and that on the grandest scale, of the entire history of our architecture, from the last years of the twelfth to the early part of the fourteenth century.

As I have so often mentioned, the Pointed style commences here with the choir, the smaller transept, and perhaps the chapter-house,[54] all of which seem to have been erected before the year 1200 by Bishop Hugh. It is commonly stated that his architect was a Frenchman from Blois; and M. Lassus broadly states that he reproduced at Lincoln, in 1188, the design of a church commenced at Blois in 1138. I am not able to speak as to the authorities on which these statements are founded, but I must say that the internal evidence afforded by the building itself gives it, so far as I can judge, little or no support. In the first place, an eastern transept, in addition to that at the main crossing, is much more frequent in England than in France; whether the cathedral of Blois (now destroyed) possessed this I do not know. In the second place, the polygonal chapter-house is an equally English feature. In the third place, one of the most remarkable characteristics of this work is the nearly universal use of the round abacus—that distinctively English detail—and that at a period somewhat earlier than that of its customary predominance. The general distribution of{196} the parts seems to me rather English than French, and though the work displays some idiosyncrasies, I do not see in them anything to indicate a French origin, unless it be in the capitals of the main pillars; indeed, it is a work in which distinctively English characteristics appear in a somewhat advanced state of development. As to its being a reproduction of a work commenced at Blois in 1138, the assertion carries with it its own refutation; for, in an age of restless progress, is it likely they would take the trouble to bring over a foreign architect of so retrograde a taste as to ignore the artistic progress made in his own country during half a century? In fact, the wonder of the work is being so much in advance of its age, and that advance is not in a French but an English direction. The Church of St. Nicholas, at Blois, is in the Early Pointed style of the latter half of the twelfth century, but bears not the least resemblance to this; it is of the same character which is usual in French transitional works, and its carving is strictly Byzantine, not a trace of which have I observed in Bishop Hugh’s work. If, then, a French architect was engaged here, he must not only have made over the details of his work wholly to Englishmen, but have studiously followed English forms in the general features.[55]

The rebuilding of the cathedral seems to have been followed on systematically westward by the two successors of Bishop Hugh, till the completion of the nave by Bishop Grostete, about 1240.

The nave is by far the finest portion of the work{197} as then completed, and is, probably, on the whole, the grandest example of the Early Pointed style in this country. It exhibits our Early English style in its highest state of development: massive without heaviness, rich in detail without exuberance, its parts symmetrically proportioned and carefully studied throughout, the foliated carving bold and effective, there seems no deficiency in any way to deteriorate from its merits.

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Fig. 120.—Rose-window, North Transept, Lincoln Cathedral.

The west end is unique, being a vast and almost unperforated wall covered over with range upon range{198} of decorative arcading, flanked by two vast stair turrets, and backed by two noble towers, the completion of which was, however, delayed till a much later period. It always strikes me as a very impressive front, but I find that it does not strike all eyes so favourably. I would call attention to the beautiful chapels to the right and left on entering from the west, with their light and elegant columns contrasting most agreeably with the massive piers of the nave; also to the noble rose window in the north transept, perhaps the finest in England (Fig. 120).

The most gorgeous part, however, of the cathedral is its eastern portion. This was added between the years 1256 and 1282, and is consequently a little later than Henry III.’s work at Westminster. It agrees with it in style, but carries out the principle of window tracery on a far grander scale. It is, in fact, the most splendid work of that period which we possess, and, did it not lack internal height, I do not think it could be exceeded in beauty by any existing church.

The sculpture with which it was once profusely enriched was of a very high order, the foliated carving perfectly exquisite, the mouldings and other details of the most perfect character. The east window is probably the finest in the kingdom, as is the east front in general, after allowing a certain abatement for the error of having false gables to the aisles.

I have already mentioned the exquisite portal, the sculpture in which is superb (Fig. 122).

The student of Mediæval art ought to make a long sojourn at Lincoln, and study its treasury of art at his leisure; not forgetting, by the by, the beautiful remains

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Fig. 122.—South-east Portal, Lincoln Cathedral.


of the chapel to the bishop’s palace hard by the cathedral.

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Fig. 121.—Lincoln Cathedral, View from the South-east.

In passing northward from Lincoln, a profitable digression may be had to Southwell, whose noble choir seems to be an emanation from Lincoln, and its far-famed chapter-house from York; and to Newstead, whose beautiful west front and lovely carving agrees in style with the eastern portion of Lincoln.{200}

Yorkshire is especially the land of minsters and abbey churches. To attempt here a description of them would be vain; a Yorkshire tour is one of the richest treats the student can look forward to, and one to which he ought to be liberal in his allowance of time. At York itself the transept is among the finest examples of the earlier part of the style, and the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey of its later portion. I know few works so enchanting as the latter. It agrees in date with the east part of Lincoln, and is not unlike it in detail. It is a mere wreck, but worthy of the closest study, and the shattered fragments which lie on every side offer melancholy facilities to the student. The chapter-house of the cathedral is a little later, and has been well called a “Domus Domorum,” though I would not willingly admit its superiority to those of Westminster or Salisbury.

The neighbouring village church at Skelton—said to have been built by the same hands as the transept of the cathedral, and the ruined chapel of St. Leonard’s Hospital in the gardens round the abbey—show how unerringly the same style fitted itself to works of the most stupendous or of the humblest scale.

This great county is filled with the noble productions of the thirteenth century. The minsters of Beverley and Ripon owe much of their beauty to it; and scarcely one of the abbey churches, whose lovely but mournful ruins add a charm so melancholy to the secluded valleys of Yorkshire, fails to show the work of the great period.

I cannot attempt even a cursory description. Go, I pray you, and study for yourselves: go to Fountains{201} Abbey, and study well its choir and eastern chapels, with their massive pillars, the tallest perhaps in England, and the remains of its wonderful abbatial hall, exposed to view by the recent excavations, and its many other wonders; but do not be satisfied with a passing visit: take up your quarters at Ripon, and follow up your studies from day to day. A week is but a short allowance for so rich a school of art. Then go to Rivaulx and Whitby, twin works, it would seem, of the same accomplished architect. I cannot award the palm to either—they are truly a “par nobile fratrum,” and it is fair to prefer whichever of them we have seen the last. Their great point of difference is that the choir of one has been vaulted, and that of the other has shown its timber roof; but in glorious architecture they are equal, and almost unequalled. As you go from York to Whitby you pass a small fragment of the Abbey of Kirkham: stop and look at it: small as it is, it is one of the best designed pieces of work I ever saw. If from Whitby you cross the moors to Guisborough, you will see what was probably the work of the very end of the century—the stupendous east end of that abbey, with its east window exceeding even that at Lincoln in height.

If you go on to Durham, the Chapel of the Nine Altars will rivet your attention;[56] and farther yet at Hexham,[57] at Dryburgh, and far on through Scotland, to the Chapel of Holyrood, and the glorious remains of Elgin Cathedral, and that noble temple yet{202} preserved unruined at Glasgow, you will find a long series of the art of this wonderful age.

In returning, pray look in at Furness Abbey, where you will find an absolute gem of our style in the ruined chapter-house.[58] It has been of the same construction with the Temple Church, and of exquisite beauty.

I have passed over the whole series of southern examples—as Hythe, Shoreham, Winchester, Boxgrove, Wells, Llandaff (one of its most original productions), Worcester, Lichfield, Hereford, and a hundred more examples, all of which supply proofs of the wonderful perfection of the architecture of this century.

But a mere catalogue is both useless and wearisome.

I ought also to have called special attention to the circumstance, that while in France nearly every great church is vaulted, such is not the case in English works: they seem to have acted with perfect freedom in this respect, and their churches, even the largest of them, have frequently had open timber roofs, and suffer little by the variety.

One thing cannot fail to strike every one who closely studies our old architecture. In early Norman buildings we often find rude and clumsy workmanship; in works from the middle of the fourteenth century, on to the extinction of Gothic architecture, we frequently meet with the same—the work of rude, untutored hands, evidently unable to do justice to their style; but from about 1175 to the end of the thirteenth{203} century, and nearly fifty years later, we scarcely ever meet with this inequality. The art seemed to be all-pervading. Certain buildings may have been plain to a degree, and rustic in their object and material, yet you rarely find anything you can call rude in workmanship or unskilful in treatment. It was a great period, and its greatness seemed to pervade even the most secluded districts, and the workmen everywhere to have felt a pride in keeping up to the period of their art in which their lot had been cast. Nor need we wonder at this, for everywhere were buildings going on; scarcely a village church escaped the notice of the builders of this wonderful age. The whole country was engaged in the one work of building, and that with an ardent feeling to render their work worthy of the style they had generated.

And let us not imagine that the architecture of the age developed itself only in cathedrals, abbeys, or churches of any kind; all other buildings evince the same spirit: a barn of the thirteenth century shows the nobleness of the pervading style as clearly as even the cathedral itself, and what remains of their domestic architecture tells the same tale. Everything was done well, in good taste, and in accordance with reasonable and practical requirements and the means at command.

Nor was it to architecture alone that the arts of the period were devoted: we find the same art expended on stained glass, on metal-work of all sorts, on enamels of the most magnificent character, on the illumination of manuscripts, the painted decoration of the buildings, on jewellery, on ivory-carving, on embroidery, on{204} woven fabrics, tapestry, seal-engraving—in fact, on every branch of decoration; every one of which arts were carried out with a degree of skill and instinctive taste truly amazing. All these branches should, however, be treated of separately.

In my enumeration of buildings I have limited myself to our own country; but we all know that in France the same great facts are, if possible, yet more wonderfully proved. The architecture of the thirteenth century, in France, is rendered illustrious by an endless category of buildings, the most glorious perhaps which the world has produced.

Germany, though her style is broken harshly by the cause I have before alluded to, nevertheless furnishes, whether in the native variety of the former or in the adopted one of the latter half of the century, a series of buildings of which any country might well be proud.

In Italy the style was certainly imported from the North; but was it an unnatural transplantation? I should say by no means so. Had not Italy her own Romanesque, which she had in some degree exported to Northern countries? and have I not shown that Pointed architecture was a natural and logical development from Romanesque? Why, then, should it be accounted foreign to the land from which Romanesque itself had sprung?—and if the growth of Pointed architecture was aided by ideas culled from Byzantium and the East, why should those ideas be less suited to Italy than to France or England, whose communications with the East were far less direct? Did not she take part in the same Crusades? nay, did not the Byzantine{205} element in French art actually come there through the medium of Italy? Let us not, then, deny to her a fair participation in the architecture of the age. We had it before her, it is true, but let us not on that account say that it is none of hers.

The great fault in the Mediæval architecture of Italy lies in its details, such as its mouldings, etc., which evince too much of their antique original: its great value lies in its use of materials of varied colour, of inlaying, mosaic-work, and other decorative arts, inherited also from the past. These arts ally themselves well with our style, though the Classic mouldings do not so; and in our judgment of Italian work we should never lose sight of this; we may otherwise be led either to reject real merit from the offence which incongruous detail offers to our taste, or we may be led to accept what is bad and spurious, because gilded over, and its demerits concealed by beautiful art, which would appear to greater advantage if united with purer architecture.

Another cause, however, which gives great value to the Mediæval art of Italy, arises from the somewhat accidental circumstance that her internal position was such as to require town buildings very much of the kind which we want now. The consequence is that Italy was, even in those early days, the land of street palaces, and that we find yet remaining there numberless buildings of a class which we find but rarely in other countries, and those treated in a manner very parallel with what we often require at the present day. Not, let it be borne in mind, that they are treated in a manner essentially different from the coeval works in{206} more Northern countries, but rather that there were more of them, that these were on a larger scale, and that more of them have remained to our own day.

It is a mistake to suppose that the secular architecture of Italian cities essentially differed from that of the same period elsewhere. If you will carefully look through any book showing specimens of the domestic architecture of France in the thirteenth century, you will find that it closely resembles that of Italy, except in having purer details. The same kind of window, for instance, which, from habit, people have got into the way of calling Italian or Venetian, prevailed in France and Germany, and is often found in England.

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Fig. 123.—Palais des Podestats, Orvieto, Italy.

Fig. 124.—Torre di Santa, Ninfa, Palermo.

I give you a series of Italian (Figs. 123, 124), French (Figs. Figs. 125, Figs. 126), German (Figs. 127, 128, 129), and English (Figs. 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135) win{207}dows of early date, where you can scarcely distinguish the one from the other; indeed, you would seldom be able to detect an Italian window at all, if divested of the accidental clothing of its non-essential details. This establishes the unity of the style; yet the fact remains that works of the kind are more abundant, larger, and more developed in Italy, and that they may consequently be studied there to great advantage as an aid and expletive to what we learn elsewhere.

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Fig. 125.—Meslay, near Tours, France.

Fig. 126.—From Houses at Cluny.

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Fig. 127.—The Emperor’s House, Gostar.

Figs. 128, 129.—Houses at Cologne.

This brings me to the concluding subject of my lecture—the question of what lessons we should learn{208} from what has passed in array before us, and what effect it ought to have on our own artistic practice.

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Fig. 130.—Window, West Gateway, College Green, Gloucester.

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Figs. 131, 132, 133.—From an old building called Canute’s Castle, Southampton.

Fig. 134.—Moyse’s Hall, Bury St. Edmunds.

It would be hopeless to enter upon the general question of the revival of styles. I will suppose that question to have been disposed of for us, and limit myself to considering what is the most reasonable course to follow in conducting such a revival, or rather in carrying on the development of a style upon a{209} revived basis such as that of the architecture we have been considering.

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Fig. 135.—Oakham Castle, Rutlandshire.

Now, such a revival, to begin with, is hardly to be viewed as a deliberate act. A man would scarcely be bold enough to make up his mind, à priori, to revive a style of architecture: circumstances must have gradually led to such a course, and it must have been set about gradually, and almost unconsciously, to give it a chance of success. We may, in looking back upon what has taken place, construct a very good theory for it all; but no such theory really led to it—it came about very much of itself. We may, by thought and by studying our position, do a little in finding good reasons for an existing movement; but the movement itself must have arisen from some more hidden and deep-seated cause, or it would have died away long ago. What, then, does this deep-seated feeling demand, and with what will it be satisfied?

It craves spontaneously after a great style of art, which it sees to have been once the birthright of our race. It demands that we should—I will not say simply revive that style of art, but that we should revivify it: not that it should be reproduced as a splendid pageant, to be re-enacted for the sake of gratifying our romantic or antiquarian predilections, but that we should rekindle its actual life; and having done so, should not only think, and design, and invent in that{210} style, as the living medium for the expression of our artistic aspirations, but that we should cause it to take root, to spring forth, to germinate and ramify—to shape itself to all the demands of our age, and to adapt itself to its materials, its discoveries, its inventions, and its science; in short, to become in every sense a living, a vigorous, a growing art.

Now, to further such an object, what is the best manner in which we can make use of the lessons to be learnt from the past creations of that style?

One of the lessons I think we should learn is to work in the same free and liberal spirit in which our forefathers worked: not to do what they did, but as they did. If we, on the one hand, shut ourselves up in our own country, and, reproducing the style we find to have prevailed here, sulkily rejecting the lessons to be learned from neighbouring lands, we may produce a servile reproduction of what was done by our predecessors, but shall be acting anything but as they acted. If, on the other hand, we travel widely, and, giving free license to our individual preferences or momentary fancies, we import now this style, and now that—here building in a French, there in an Italian variety of our style—we shall in each case be doing what was done in one or another province of Mediæval art, but shall be equally far from doing as the old artists did: the one course involves servility, the other adds to it frivolity.

The great principle on which the Mediæval architects of each country instinctively acted was, while adhering in the main each to the dialect of the great art which happened to be current amongst them, to improve it by the free importation of ideas and adop{211}tion of hints from whencesoever they might be derived, but especially from the dialects of the same artistic language. Thus, for instance, the Pointed architecture of the royal domain of France is, as a whole, a logical sequence of the Romanesque of the same district; yet no scruple was felt at importing into it the Byzantine capitals and foliage, which had come to them through the medium of Venice; and to this foreign importation they owed some of the greatest beauties of their architecture; nay, if the Oriental origin of the Pointed arch be true, they went further, and engrafted upon their traditional art a feature learned from the infidels they were combating. Again, the English Pointed may be traced step by step from the preceding style, yet they had no hesitation about introducing into it details developed by the French. The Germans carried the principle too far: giving up their own traditional variety of Pointed architecture, they adopted the French developments ready made; yet, having done so, they worked them up in a manner quite their own: while in Italy, the new style having been brought in upon the pre-existing Romanesque, they soon elaborated it into a dialect as distinctively characteristic as those of other European countries. Besides this, no nation had any scruples about employing artists belonging to another; so that the advancement made by each became in a degree the common property of all; and even the woven fabrics and other manufactures imported from the far East were allowed to offer suggestions to the European decorator.

To follow out the same principle, we ought, while{212} especially making ourselves masters of the architecture of our own country, and using it as the groundwork of our revival, nevertheless to view the style as a whole, and, while not forsaking our own provincial dialect, to make ourselves masters of the entire language. We should not wish our revived art to be indistinguishable from that of our forefathers. It should certainly reflect some of the characteristics of our own age, one of which is our enormously-increased habits of locomotion; and as we visit all the districts where our style prevailed, nothing can be more natural than that our revived art should show the effects of our more extended sphere. Knowing, as we do, that France was the central district—the very heart—of Mediæval art, should we not be insane not to study well her glorious monuments, and, having studied them, to enrich our own style by the many lessons we may learn from them? It has been suggested that we should do this, with a special regard to those of the provinces of France which were once subjected to the English kings. I would not reject the historical interest which this connection naturally gives rise to, and I doubt not that those provinces are rich in instruction; but I would not on that account neglect the fact that it is the royal domain of France—the district of which Paris is the centre—which was the special focus of our art. Look again at the ancient cities of Germany—perfect storehouses of old architecture: let us never be so suicidal as to reject the lessons they offer! “So far,” some may, however, say, “is all very well; but, for goodness sake, do not cross the Alps! Ruskin has driven you all mad about Venetian, Veronese, and{213} Florentine architecture: be more of men than to be led astray by popular writing. You cannot but see that Italian Gothic is very corrupt, though somehow or another very captivating. Listen not, then, to the siren’s song; reject the enticing bait, nor pollute the pure stream of Northern art with the corrupted waters of the South.”

I admit that there is some ground for such a caution:—there is a mysterious fascination about Italy, which has led astray many who have visited it before they had grounded themselves firmly upon a Northern foundation; but is this a reason for rejecting all the lessons she offers? Was not Italy the land of ancient art, of painting, of sculpture, of mosaic-work? Is she not the land of marbles and richly-coloured material, and the land of ancient municipal institutions, and of the edifices to which they gave birth? Her Romanesque architecture was the parent stock of our own; and if our Gothic was in its turn the stem from which hers sprang, surely its transplantation into so prolific a soil offers the greatest possible primâ facie grounds for expecting a rich variety to spring forth from it—and such has been the result. It is for us to use it with judgment: rejecting what is in its own nature defective; not bringing into the North any features which are the result of a Southern climate, but judiciously culling such suggestions as will with advantage unite themselves to our English nucleus; and especially let us take advantage of the lessons it affords us in the use of rich materials of mosaic and fresco painting, and in any suggestions it offers for the perfecting of our secular architecture. Only let us do so with judg{214}ment, never forgetting that it is in England that we are working, and that if we borrow ideas from France, from Germany, or from more southern lands, those ideas must be expressed in English—a language in art, as in literature, of whose antecedents we find abundant cause to be proud.

Let us also remember that, though we must be ever learning, it is not by this alone that an art is to be generated; that we must act for ourselves, as well as learn from others; and that it is to our own vigorous and manly exertions we must trust to make the art we are reviving shape itself to the necessities and the spirit of the age we live in.{215}


The Rationale of Gothic Architecture.

Contradictory opinions as to the character and origin of Gothic Architecture—True causes of its origin—The arch—The Romans eminently practical—Two defects in their architecture—Practical improvements—Use of small materials—Arches in rims—Sub-ordinating rims—Imposts—Pilaster capitals—Decorative columns—Romanesque arch decorations—Labels—Clustered columns—Weight of arches on columns—Doorways—Windows—Rejection of ancient rules of proportion—Efforts to improve construction and decoration in the twelfth century—Absolute demand for an arch of less pressure and for an abutment of greater resistance—Ribbed as distinguished from arris vaulting—Reasons for adopting the former—Pointed arch as effecting proportion.

IN my former lectures I have endeavoured to trace out the history of that course of transition by which the rude arcuated architecture which prevailed in Western Christendom, during the dark ages between the fall of the Roman empire and the rise of modern civilisation,—commonly known as the “Romanesque” style,—first emancipated itself from its semi-barbaric character, and became a consistent round-arched style, and subsequently, by a perfectly logical series of changes, resulting from the suggestions partly of scientific construction, and partly of artistic refinement, developed itself into that new, original, and beautiful style which has in more modern times received the very absurd, but now unavoidable, name of Gothic architecture.

Having traced this development up to what I consider to be its culminating point—the form which{216} it arrived at towards the end of the thirteenth century—it had been my intention, before I proceeded farther with the historical view of the subject, to have given a series of short practical treatises on several of the more important elements of the style whose history I have traced out; as, for instance, on the principles of Gothic vaulting, on tracery, on the system of mouldings belonging to the style; on roofing; on architectural carving and sculpture, etc., etc. Circumstances, however, having rendered it impracticable for me just now to devote to it the time which would be necessary to do justice to these subjects, I purpose on the present occasion to content myself—at the risk (I may say with the certainty) of repeating what I have already stated—with an inquiry into the rationale of the style of architecture of which I have been treating.

Such an inquiry is the more necessary from the extraordinary contrariety of opinion which we find to exist as to the real character of the style, as well as the external and internal causes of its development. Such opinions assume the most contradictory forms. One class of them may be denominated the religious view of the question. Under this head one party describes it as Christian, and another as Roman Catholic architecture. One attributes to its various parts a deep symbolisation of Christian truth; another discovers in them nothing but the mystic arcana of Romanism; while another cuts the knot by protesting that it is Mahometan architecture. A second class of opinions assumes an ethnological form. Under this head some have thought the style especially English; some pre-eminently German; some, again, in the{217} most exclusive and straitened sense of the term, French; and others (in the widest sense) Teutonic; while the entanglement is again cut through by the champions of the Saracenic claim.

Then comes a political class of disputants. One declares the style to be nothing more or less than the visible exponent of feudalism. If the system of Durandus were applied to this view, we should perhaps have the orders of the arch shown to represent the divisions of feudal aristocracy.—The point of the arch to be the king; the outer voussoirs the great, and the inner the lesser, vassals; the clustered pillars to be the bishops surrounded by their clergy; the ashlar stones the freemen; the rubble stones the villains and serfs; the mortar to be the bond of union or of slavery by which the whole system was cemented together; and the painted glass to be that clerical monopoly of learning by which the pure light of knowledge was imparted through an artificially-coloured medium. Others have, however, shown that the style developed itself just when feudalism was giving way, and just among those very communities who were most resolutely exerting themselves for its overthrow; and that, in England especially, it synchronises with the foundation of those institutions to which we owe our liberties and our greatness; while our knot-cutting friends would contemptuously pooh-pooh the whole question by saying that it had nothing to do either with feudalism or Magna Charta, but was simply the natural result of the Crusades.

Again, as to its more practical characteristics; one party claims for it the most unbounded liberty, another{218} denounces it as curbing the free following of practical and artistic requirements. The very same party sometimes describes it as excluding the light of day, and sometimes as offering no protection against the glare of sunshine. In fact, without going farther into these contrarieties, it may be sufficient to say that among those who have not gone much into the subject no opinions are too inconsistent either with one another or with facts to find ready advocates.

My object in this and the succeeding lecture will be to show that the style originated in no occult influences; that, if it can be called either Christian, Teutonic, French, English, German, or Western European, it is so only in a plain, straightforward, and historical, and not in any hidden, exclusive, or mysterious, sense; but that it, in fact, arose from the application of plain common sense to plain practical requirements; that many of these requirements were not peculiar to the period, but belong to all time; that many were not limited to a race or climate, but are common, with certain modifications, to different races and countries; and that the application of the same class of common sense to altered requirements would produce results by no means militating against those thus arrived at, but, on the contrary, tending to enrich, to amplify, and to add new life, variety, and harmony to the art which it had first suggested.

To judge of the practical reasonableness of a style of building, it is not enough to prove that it answers its purpose; we may pre-suppose that all civilised people would effect as much as that—indeed, that all people would do so who can construct at all; for if{219} uncivilised, their aim would be more simple and more readily attained.

The question is, whether the purpose is provided for by means consistent with common sense, with the laws of nature, with the properties of the materials at hand, and without an expenditure of labour and material disproportioned to the result. In this I do not restrict the question to merely utilitarian results, but admit the artistic element in a degree proportioned to the rank and purpose of the edifice. I would also wish to guard myself against being understood to imply that the superior reasonableness of a style of architecture proves a higher state of civilisation among the people who use it. Inventions are often accidental, and independent of high civilisation. Thus, though an arch is a more rational means of spanning a wide opening than a single block of marble, the early Romans who used the arch were probably much less civilised than the early Greeks, who were ignorant of it.

The Egyptians and the Greeks used most nobly the means of spanning openings with which they were best acquainted, and for which their numerous quarries of granite and marble supplied them so liberally with the materials; but such a mode of construction is manifestly costly, dependent upon natural facilities of the most exceptional kind, and extremely limited in its application. The use of the arch obviates all these difficulties, and consequently a mode of construction which admits the arch is more rational than one which does not. Roman architecture, in short, than Greek.


The Romans were, in fact, eminently a practical race, and their architecture is in its construction in a high degree practical and rational; they by no means limited themselves to the use of costly and bulky materials, but united in their structures the use of all the materials of which their world-wide dominion gave them command, and were equally successful in employing in them the most stupendous masses of marble, as at Baalbec, the granite of Egypt, or the flint-nodules of Kent; and never hesitated at spanning the widest structure with vaults of domes of such solidity as almost to defy the ravages of the elements and of time.

The two great defects in the rationale of their architecture were—first, that, as the conquerors of the world, the resources at their command were so unlimited that economy of material seems to have been almost dismissed from their consideration, and their principle of statics seems to have been rather that of passive and inert resistance than of equilibrium of forces; and, secondly, that, having adopted the artistic features of Greek architecture, they attempted to unite them with their own totally different system of construction, in a manner which cannot always be said to be consistent with reason.

When the nations of modern Europe began to emerge from the chaos of centuries, and to generate for themselves a new civilisation, their aim, as regards architecture, seems rather to have been to recover that of ancient Rome, than to generate a new style for themselves; but their limited resources, and unfamiliarity with what is now denominated “Classic” art, freed them from the tendency to follow their great{221} masters in the two defects which I have mentioned. True, they often built with needless massiveness; but this was not the result of profuseness, but of want of experience; and when they imitated or re-used the details of Roman architecture they applied them with more regard to practical utility then to Classic precedent.

At first the Romanesque builders were at a low level both as to constructive and artistic skill; but all their efforts being directed to practical improvement, they, in course of time, succeeded in generating a very consistent round-arched style, in which every feature may be said to have resulted, in a greater or less degree, from practical reasoning on immediate requirements and on their experience of preceding defects.

The observations I have to offer on the developments thus reasoned out are intended to apply mainly to those of the countries north of the Alps, but may in many points be found to be of general application.

One of the first practical principles aimed at throughout the whole range of Mediæval architecture was so to arrange their designs as to facilitate the use of small materials, and to render themselves independent of the accident of having quarries at command which would supply vast blocks of stone. It happened that in the great seats of early art this was of less consequence, for Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Italy contain such quarries in tolerable abundance, though even the Romans resorted to concealed arches for the security of their architraves; but in Northern Europe, though building-stone in most parts abounds, it is quite exceptional to find it at once in blocks of great{222} dimensions and of strength which would render it a trustworthy covering to openings of any considerable bearing. With all our increased facilities at the present day, we never find the trabeated system carried out in its integrity when on a large scale; either the middle stones of architraves are suspended by concealed arched joints, as is the custom here, or are visibly arched-jointed, as in France, or the entire architraves consist of brick arches plastered over, to mimic the construction they affect but cannot follow. Even in our Gothic buildings, where every facility exists for the use of moderate-sized stone, it is often with much difficulty that blocks of a size suited to all purposes can be obtained. Thus with the Houses of Parliament, after the whole kingdom had been ransacked by a geological commission, not only was the quarry they recommended summarily rejected as incapable of furnishing stone of any reasonable size, but the second quarry, which was adopted in its place, and which produced an admirable material, was, after a time, abandoned, and a third selected, the productions of which have, in other respects than size, proved so lamentably inferior. The fact is that it is only here and there that we find quarries uniting quality and size which suit even our moderate requirements; and if such is the case now, with all our mechanical advantages and facilities of transit, how much more must it have been felt in days when the mechanical appliances of the ancients had been in a great measure lost, and the Roman roads broken up, while the means which were to supply these deficiencies were yet in their infancy.{223}

While, then, at all times and everywhere, it is a desideratum to a rational system of construction that it should offer every facility for the use of ordinary and easily-obtained material, such was the case in a more than usual degree in those early ages of modern art.

Though the universal use of the arch by the Romanesque builders obviously promoted this object, it would not of necessity lead to its fullest attainment. Arches may be, and often are, constructed of enormous blocks of stone; and it had to be studied how to make good construction with small materials.

The most obvious means of doing this was by building the arches in rims, as we do our brick arches—a deep arch, consisting of several distinct arches laid one over the other, each forming the centre on which the next is built (Fig. 136). By this mode of building an arch of any degree of strength may be built of stones of the most moderate dimensions. This system, consequently, became general in the Romanesque buildings.

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Fig. 136.

Fig. 137.

Now, a deep arch so constructed, and built square through the wall, has a heavy clumsy appearance, and forms a dark and cavern-like recess. You may ornament the voussoirs and vary their colour as you please, but still it is heavy, wanting in play of light{224} and shade, and obstructive to the free passage of the rays of light. This was early felt and early obviated.

In an arch built in several rims, it is not necessary that any but the outer rim should be of the full width of the wall. This suggested the system of sub-ordinating the rims, or recessing them, one behind the other, so as to divide the arch into what are called orders (Fig. 137).

This gives us at once a new and beautiful mode of arching, economical, and adapted to all varieties of material, giving great play of light and shade, offering the greatest freedom for the admission of light, and suggesting (as we shall see) a perfectly new system of decoration.

This division of the arch into receding orders necessitated a corresponding form in the piers which supported it.

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Fig. 138.

Fig. 139.

Fig. 140.

The first means of relieving the plainness of this block form was the introduction of an impost at the springing, defining the line which separates the pier from the arch (Fig. 138). Afterwards the orders of the jamb would receive pilaster capitals (Fig. 139), and finally decorative columns would be inserted in{225} their place (Fig. 140), thus completing the general idea of the pier and arch as made use of during the Romanesque period.

The arch itself was at the same time subjected to various systems of decoration suited to its normal construction.

It is clear that the extreme angles of the orders contribute but slightly to their strength. These might, therefore, be rounded, chamfered, or moulded at pleasure. It became common to form them into large rolls between two hollows, and also to cut the order into various mechanical or other forms, as zigzag, etc. etc., according to the fancy of the architect, from which arose the whole system of Romanesque arch-decoration; and as the junction of the arch with the wall above was but slightly marked by the change in the direction of the joints, a small projecting moulding was introduced between them, which we call the dripstone or label, which not only drew the line more emphatically but also served to prevent the water which ran down the face of the walls from discolouring the arch-mouldings.

It will readily be seen that this logical and reasonable mode of constructing arched openings would, when applied to arches carried on pillars, lead to the clustered column.

If the wall was not thick, the arches might certainly continue to be of one order, and the most natural mode of supporting them would then, as heretofore, be single columns. Where, however, the wall was so thick as to give it a clumsy look if the arch ran square through it, it would be divided into two orders, and would assume{226} at its springing a cruciform plan. The impost must break round this figure; and though the column might still remain (and often did remain) round (Figs. 141, 142), the abacus only assuming the cross form, the most natural thing would be to form a complex pillar composed of four shafts united in one, each apparently supporting its own order of the arch (Fig. 143).

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Fig. 141.

Fig. 142.

Fig. 143.

If the arch were divided into three orders, a more complex form suggested itself, containing eight shafts; and as the system was carried out, many other combinations arose not necessary to enumerate.

Thus we see that the adoption of the arched system of construction, unbiassed by any pre-existing laws of art, but aided only by the very rational desire to utilise the materials most abundantly provided by nature, led to two of the most important characteristics common to Romanesque and Gothic architecture, viz., the sub-ordinated arch and the clustered column, with the whole system of decoration derived from them; than which no two features can be pointed out which have been more richly fruitful of architectural forms the most original and beautiful.

Again, in the mode of bringing down the arch upon columns, the Romanesque builders exercised a{227} sound discretion. The Greeks and Romans in their trabeated construction, reasonably enough, made their architraves only as wide as the upper diameter of their columns, so that whatever projection the capitals had beyond the shaft, they had the same beyond the architrave also. When, however, you substitute two arches for two architraves, you bring down the weight by two opposite forces; its footing on the capital, therefore, requires as much steadiment as possible.

The Romans, as many of their modern followers, were for a time so inconsistent as not only to limit the arch, like the architrave, to the thickness of the upper diameter of the column, but actually interposed, without a shadow of use, a bit of entablature between the column and the arch; thus, instead of doing all they could to give steadiness to the spring of the arch, they made it as tottering in its construction as possible. This was corrected by the Romans of the Lower Empire, and the arch was placed by them, as reason would dictate, directly upon the capital, or (still more sensibly) on a strong flat impost laid on the capital; and for this most reasonable step they have in after ages been pronounced barbarous! The Romanesque architects, taught by common sense rather than by precedent, followed their example. If they imitated or re-used the Corinthian capital, they laid upon its fragile abacus a more trustworthy impost, and to give greater steadiment to the foot of the arch they made it somewhat wider than the diameter of the column—a practice which pervades Mediæval architecture, and contributes greatly both to its good construction and its beauty.{228}

The system of constructing doorways is directly derived from what I have already described—as many recesses being given to the jambs as the arch has rims, and these decorated with columns if thought good. The head is often filled in with a tympanum supported by corbels in the jambs, both as a field for sculptured decoration, and to make the door itself square instead of arch-formed. If this is not done, the inner arches are made to spring from a higher level, to allow the doors to open without catching against them.

The windows show the same regard to reason. The inside is nearly always widely splayed, to spread the light equally in the room. The external recess depended partly on the degree of architectural character aimed at, and partly on the depth required for the arch. Where the openings were but narrow, and the resources small, one arch-rim would suffice; and this would often be chamfered at the edges, to prevent obstruction to light.

If the opening were wider, and so required a deeper arch, or if the architectural effect aimed at were greater, we find two or more such orders as the above, with, perhaps, columns supporting the outer ones; the receding orders, in either case, doing away with undue obstruction of light or view; the sill always well sloped, to throw off the water, and having usually a string-course below, to prevent it from running down and discolouring the walls. In all this, strict regard to practical reason and utility is manifest; every step is argued out on the basis of construction and requirement, and every decoration is founded on, and results from, the conclusions come to on these practical grounds.{229}

In domestic architecture, if a window were beyond the width of a single casement, a small pillar was often interposed, and the inner order of the window was divided into two arches, while the outer one, if there were any, was in one, the casements or shutters falling into rebates in the back of the column, by which a window of double width, which would not otherwise be conveniently attainable was produced. In window-like openings in which glazing was not needed—as in triforiums, cloisters, and screens—this system was used for beauty where not demanded for the same reasons as in windows, and the subdivisions were often increased to three or four under one comprising arch.

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Fig. 144.—St. Trophimus, Arles. Cloisters, north side.

In other instances of the same kind, where light arcading was needed, as in cloisters, and the wall was too thick to rest upon a single capital, two small{230} columns were placed one behind another, or a sort of bar or double corbel placed on the capital of a single pillar to support the springer of the arch, for the sake of avoiding the use of thick piers, which were not needed for strength, and would obstruct view and light; and all these practical contrivances were made elements of beauty and varied effect.

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Fig. 145. Priory Church, Bridlington. Part of remains of Cloisters.

Another legitimate exercise of reason on the part of the Romanesque builders, was the rejection of the fixed rules of proportion observed by the ancients between the diameter and height of their columns. These rules were good in their place, but they had been worked out for a totally different system; and we know that the ancients themselves were anything but as slavish in their adherence to them as their modern imitators. In a purely arcuated system, however, it became clear that such rules were out of place and inconsistent with reason. Circumstances, in a majority of cases, prescribed the height of a column, from reasons wholly irrespective of the question of its load. It followed, then, that the diameter must be regulated rather by the load than the height, so that every{231} variety of proportion became admissible. Take, as an example, the crypt under the choir of York minster. Its height being prescribed by circumstances, and the portion of it required for the vaulting being fixed by the width of the arched bays, it followed that the height of the columns was also rigorously defined; but some of these columns had to carry those of the church above, and with them the whole superstructure, while others had no load but the vaulting of the crypt and the floor of the church. Surely, then, the simplest exercise of reason dictated that their diameters should vary with their load, irrespective of their height. The system of clustering columns both helped to moderate the extremes of such variation in proportion, and, at the same time, introduced still wider liberty; for, though a pier destined to carry a vast load might be subdivided, and its apparent proportions thus lightened, the individual shafts of which it was composed, not having each its own proper load, might be viewed as decorative only, and be made exceedingly thin for their height. The use of such thin shafts did not, however, originate in the Middle Ages. Canina shows in his work on Domestic Architecture Decorated with Ornaments of a Light Form, that it was frequent among the ancients, though not often adopted by modern Classic architects. Even for really constructive pillars it is admissible where the material is of remarkable strength, as in the case of metal columns, and, in a less degree, with those of marble or granite where the load is very small; but it is especially so where the columns are of a decorative rather than a functional character, in which case it is not only lawful,{232} but correct, to show this by making them of slender proportions. The liberty, however, which I here defend, must, as all other liberty, be kept within reasonable bounds, and must be regulated by a correct eye and sound judgment.

Another sound exercise, as I think, of reason and liberty, which was universal among the Romanesque and Byzantine architects, was the departure from the rule of the ancients that all capitals and other recurring objects of a like nature should be worked to one and the same pattern. It may be that the unity of a colonnade, united by a single and unbroken entablature, demanded this. I am not finding fault with it in Grecian or Roman architecture; but where the capitals are separated by arches, or did not form a continuous range at all, the effect would be most painfully monotonous if the sculptured capitals were all alike, as if cast in a mould by the hundred. We accordingly find it established as a universal law that, though moulded or other mechanically-formed capitals might, if you please, be alike, no such slavery should be imposed upon the sculptor; but that he should have the fullest scope, within the reasonable limits suggested by the requirements and the general balance and harmony of mass and outline, for the freest exercise of his own imagination.

Now, though these and other developments of the Romanesque period were founded on a thoroughly practical and logical course of reasoning, it by no means follows that a perfected form of arcuated architecture had yet been arrived at, any more than that{233} the decorative system had been brought into a thoroughly refined or artistic form.

Towards the middle of the twelfth century the efforts of the architects were redoubled towards the attainment of these two objects; and the advancement made, both in correcting defects in construction and refining the decorative system, were most strenuously followed up, and all improvements made were founded strictly on reason. The great constructive difficulty met with arose from the powerful outward pressure of the round arch when of great span or carrying any great load, and especially so when used in situations where it was difficult to give it any very massive abutment.

The cases of failure from this cause were most frequent; so much so, that besides the numerous instances recorded of buildings wholly or in part falling from the failure of the arches, we find among the buildings still remaining abundant evidences of the insufficiency of the round arches for their load, and of the abutments to resist their pressure. In ordinary architecture we cannot, as in bridges, viaducts, etc., give our arches an unlimited abutment proportioned to the pressure, whatever it may be; we are limited in our means of doing this by innumerable causes: thus, in a central tower, if the arms of the cross have aisles, the natural abutments of the tower arches are reduced to the frail aid of a continuous arcade upon detached pillars; and even if there are no aisles, the abutting walls are perforated with windows. The abutments, again, of a chancel arch are perforated either by arches or windows, while the gable over the arch loads it{234} heavily at its weakest point. The abutment of an arch, again, has often to impinge upon a pier at half its height, as in the case of a nave arcade abutting upon the detached piers of a central tower. In all such situations the undue pressure of the round arch was found to be most prejudicial. Still more strongly was it felt where the nave was spanned by stone vaulting. The Romans had got over this, as in the Baths of Diocletian, by breaking the continuity of the aisles by vast abutting walls across them. But in a church this was impracticable. Its uses demanded continuity of aisle and moderation in the size of the pillars. Failures often occurred from these adverse causes, and the ingenuity of the architects was naturally directed to obviating the defect.

I have, in a previous lecture, described the series of tentative experiments, all of them dictated by constructive and practical requirements, by which it was attempted to avoid these difficulties. I will not weary you by recapitulating them. The two obvious desiderata were an arch of less pressure and an abutment of greater resistance; and these were the two objects aimed at in most of the succeeding developments. The first demand was met by the pointed arch; the second by the systematised use of the buttress, whether of the solid or arched description. It was perfectly well known that the outward thrust of an arch diminished as its height increased; that the resisting power of an abutment depended mainly on its extension in the direction of the pressure; and that where sufficient extension of abutment could not be obtained without inconvenience or dissight, the deficiency might be{235} compensated by loading it from above: and by arguing on these three facts the constructive characteristics which distinguish Gothic from Romanesque, or the pointed-arched from the round-arched Gothic, were logically worked out.

The strictly mathematical mode of increasing the height of an arch would, I suppose, be by using a semi-ellipse, its major axis being vertical. The form is, however, most unpleasing to the eye and troublesome in execution, from its constant variation of curvature, so that by far the most natural and practical means of effecting the object is the adoption of an arch of two centres, or what is commonly called the “pointed arch.” We accordingly find, as I have shown by ample evidence in a previous lecture, that this form was in the first instance used just in those situations in which a reduction of outward pressure or an increased power of bearing weight were of the greatest importance. I have shown that this form was not adopted at first as a matter of taste, of fashion, or of fancy; nor even, as has been suggested by a highly talented writer, as a means of meeting the difficulties arising from the varied heights of the arches of vaulting, but simply from structural and mechanical necessity. It matters not whether the form was new or old, whether it occurred to them without external suggestion, or whether they saw it in the East, in their own intersecting arcades, or in the first proposition of Euclid. It was not the seeing of it in any such manner which caused its introduction, but the simple fact that they had arrived in the course of their constructive development at a practical problem of vital import{236}ance, which absolutely demanded the pointed arch for its solution.

The first situations in which the pointed arch was substituted for the semicircle are the wide spanning arches of vaulting and the arches carrying central towers and gables. We next find it in the wide arches of nave arcades; and it is not, as a general rule, till it became customary in those positions where it was demanded for practical reasons, that it began to be used as a matter of taste in other positions.

Having secured the first object—an arch of reduced pressure—the second, viz., the abutment of an increased resistance, was attained by the systematic development of the buttress—a feature very much neglected by the Romanesque builders; and, as the vaulting of a lofty nave could not be directly supported by the ordinary buttress, the arched or flying buttress was introduced, spanning the aisles and conveying the pressure to the buttresses beyond. That this was introduced for utility only, and not from taste, is proved by the attempts in early instances to conceal it; so that we may with certainty conclude that all these beautiful features of Gothic architecture originated not from taste or caprice, but from reasoning upon practical and urgently pressing constructional requirements, and that the beauties to which they gave rise proceeded from the application to them of the great principle of Gothic architecture, the decoration of constructive or useful features.

Let us, however, suppose for a moment that our building is not vaulted, but has timber roofs; there still remains an advantage in the use of the pointed{237} arch. If it has, for instance, a central tower, the demand for an arch of reduced thrust is still greater than if the church had been vaulted, for the arms of the cross, from their reduced weight, are less effective as abutments.

The chancel arch, again, demands height, and the more so if it be wide, as in our own day is necessary. The nave arcades are better pointed than round, as are any others carrying any considerable weight. Buttresses remain necessary at the ends of the arcades, and are desirable as a steadiment to the outer walls, particularly where roofs without a direct tie are made use of, and are further useful as permitting the introduction of larger windows than might be safe without them. In all cases, indeed, where roofs or floors are so constructed as to concentrate pressure upon points, it is clear that buttresses are desirable; and when the efficient size cannot be given them without inconvenience or dissight, it is equally clear that the deficiency may be readily compensated by loading them with lofty pinnacles. It is wrong to use buttresses without any object but appearance, but there are numbers of cases where they are of great advantage, besides those in which we know them to be indispensable. If so many of our arched and vaulted buildings in these days were not mere pretences in lath and plaster, we should have more practical experience of the need of the buttress and of the pointed arch. I was once told by the English Commissioner in Scinde that the European engineers had difficulty in making the native builders there believe that any but a pointed arch will stand.{238}

Let us now inquire as briefly as may be into the rationale of ribbed vaulting as distinguished from the arris vaulting of the Roman and earlier Romanesque builders.

A groined vault does not of absolute necessity demand the use of ribs any more than the plain waggon-head vault. Even the latter was from an early period frequently divided into compartments or bays by transverse ribs, which were useful as a means of giving it rigidity; but in groined vaulting these were of nearly constant use, both for the same reason, and because the vault, being reduced at its springing to so narrow a footing, required this additional strength. The arrises, however, or diagonal lines of intersection, were always left without ribs.

Why, then, was the custom changed? For two important reasons. The first was this: that the intersection forms naturally a feeble line, both from the difficulty, particularly with the rough materials usually employed, of making its construction sound; from its forming an arch of greatly increased width without corresponding increase of height: and from its reduction at the springing level to a pin’s point.

The second was of a more intricate nature, and requires to be explained more in detail. When the two intersecting vaults of a groin are similar and equal in their section, or when the section of one is the mathematical resultant of that of the other, the line of intersection falls in a plane. When vaulting, however, became general, all sorts of irregularly-formed spaces would have to be so covered, and would present problems of considerable difficulty, in which it would be{239} impossible in all cases that the vaulting surfaces should be portions of cylinders or regular cylindroids, and in which the intersecting lines could not, without much twisting of the surfaces, be brought to fall into planes.

The introduction of the diagonal rib met both of these difficulties. It strengthened the weak angle and gave it a substantial footing; and it at the same time gave to the lines of intersection a certain degree of independence of the vaulting surfaces; so that, instead of the surfaces governing the intersection, they were thenceforth governed by the ribs, and the latter could be made to fall into planes, and to avoid unsightly forms even in vaulting spaces of the most irregular and abnormal forms.

The substitution of the rib for the arris worked as great a revolution in the principles of vaulted construction as did the pointed arch itself. Nothing in the way of vaulting was now impracticable or unsightly; the architect was absolutely master of his work, and could do what he liked with it. The facilities it offers are quite marvellous in the eyes of the modern practical man when once they are opened to them. I have myself found one of the most practical men I ever met with, who had for years taken the leading management of the business of the greatest builder of our day, though hitherto uninitiated in Gothic construction, almost in ecstasies at finding a difficult problem in vaulting he had been puzzled over for days and making models of in vain, solved in an instant by seeing the absolute liberty of action exercised in a similar case in Westminster Abbey. The old builders themselves perfectly luxuriated in their newly-discovered liberty:{240} not only could they vault spaces of any conceivable plan, every dimension of it varying, and the difficulties increased by the necessity of pushing up windows in its sides in all kinds of difficult positions, but they could make the result so pleasing and apparently so straightforward and natural, that not one observer out of a thousand ever finds out that there was any difficulty to be got over at all. Sometimes, indeed, we find them rejoicing so much in their freedom as to set themselves needless puzzles for the very luxury of solving them. There is a most remarkable instance of this in the crypt under Glasgow Cathedral, where the pillars which support the floor have been placed in a variety of intricate positions for no reason, apparently, but to produce curious perplexities in the vaulting and create strange problems, for the mere pleasure to be derived from their solution and the beauty of the puzzle when solved.[59]

It has been argued that the Gothic vault is less refined than some of the previous forms, because less strictly mathematical; that a refined system of construction should in all cases possess an exact mathematical solution, though the builder may, when once master of the true theory, depart from it in execution; that the work, in short, though irregular in execution, should be perfect and mathematically accurate in its theoretical type.

I agree with this doctrine in the main; but I hold that the Gothic vault complies with its conditions.

The square groined vault, with semicircular arches, is perfect in its theory, and gives elliptical arches for its arris lines. The same, if vaulted with the pointed{241} arch, is equally true in theory, for the diagonal ribs may be pointed arches, formed each of portions of two ellipses. The oblong vault, again, is perfect if the wide arch is a semicircle, the narrow one a vertical semi-ellipse, and the arrises horizontal semi-ellipses of the same height; but the ancients generally chose to stilt the narrow arch instead of using the vertical ellipse, and by doing so threw the diagonal arris out of the plane and out of shape; but the theoretical form remained, nevertheless, perfect. In like manner, if the same figure be vaulted across its widest span by a pointed vault, and if the narrow vault have a pointed arch composed of two portions of ellipses, and the intersections be of the same figure as resulting geometrically from the intersection of the two vaults, the theoretical form is perfect. Now, if in either case the architect thinks the elliptical pointed arches inferior in beauty to those composed of parts of circles, and by using ribs finds himself enabled to throw the error resulting from the substitution of the latter form into the vaulted surfaces where it will be invisible, surely he is only using that discretionary power of introducing irregularities upon a perfect theory which is claimed as his right; and this is exactly what the Gothic architects introduced.

The fact is that, besides its unpleasing form, especially when the major axis is vertical, the use of the ellipse entails such an annoying series of difficulties as greatly to increase the trouble and consequent cost of execution. The constant change of curvature, the troublesome methods of striking it, and of finding the{242} true lines of the arch-joints, not to mention the mathematical fact that the same joint line is never true both for the extrados and intrados, and that, if the rib-mould remains unchanged in depth, the extrados and intrados cannot be both true ellipses at all; all these furnish quite sufficient practical reasons for its rejection in cases where not only is there no necessity but an abstract mathematical idea to be satisfied by its use, but the beauty of the work is greatly improved by dispensing with it.

Though the pointed arch was introduced from purely constructive reasons, there was another of a more æsthetical nature, which rendered its adoption more general when once introduced. It was a double one; not only did the general tendency towards lofty proportions render it necessary to make use of an arch more in harmony with the general feeling of the architecture, but the rejection of a fixed code of proportions for pillars and other parts demanded for the arch an equal power of varying its own proportions. The semicircular arch is absolute and invariable, and though the use of smaller segments would meet the case in one direction, there were no means of proportioning it to features of increasing height. This was attempted both in Romanesque and Byzantine works by the expedient of stilting, but this is, after all, more a semblance than a reality. As in cases already cited, the mathematical solution of the problem is the ellipse; but only imagine anything so unpleasing as a series of elliptical arches placed the length-way upwards! Good taste would not suffer it. But the pointed arch at once met the difficulty. To illustrate my meaning, I will{243} beg you to take an internal bay of a Norman cathedral (Fig. 146), and to suppose yourselves to have to increase its height throughout in the ratio of one-third (Fig. 147).

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Fig. 146.

Fig. 147.

You first, after setting out your widths as in the original, increase the whole height and that of each storey by one-third; you then increase the pillars and the jambs of the triforium and clerestory windows in the same proportion: this brings you to a stand, for the arches, being semicircles, are invariable. Either you must leave them unaltered and throw all the extra height into the wall above them, or you must stilt them each to the extent of one-third of their height unless you can make use of an elastic arch which will change{244} its proportion at pleasure. The ellipse occurs and meets the case, but it offends your eye. At length, however, the pointed arch suggests itself, and gets rid of the whole difficulty. So similar are a Romanesque and an Early Pointed bay in all other respects, that the change of proportion which I have described seems at once to effect the whole change in style.

Had the constructional motive alone existed, the pointed form would have been confined to arches of considerable span; but the demand for a variable arch adding æsthetic to the constructional claim, caused its speedy adoption in positions where strength alone would not have demanded it, though the semicircle, the plain segment, and the segmental pointed arch, were, at all subsequent periods of the style, used side by side with the true pointed form.

I have been the more particular in showing the true reasons for the change in the form of the arch, because the great majority of writers treat it purely as a matter of taste and of altered fashion; indeed, some excellent writers on the history of Mediæval architecture have strangely imagined that the pointed arch had a greater outward thrust than the round, and that the increased projection of the buttresses was necessitated by its use, instead of the two being simultaneously introduced as a double means of avoiding the evils experienced from the great thrust of the round arch and the small buttresses by which it had, during the Romanesque period, been accompanied.

I will now close my present lecture, but hope in the next to carry on the same inquiry into a number of other details, as well as into the general spirit and{245} principles of the architecture of which I am treating, and to add some practical remarks on the application of the rationale thus traced out to our present revival of the style, and such developments as it may give rise to.{246}


The Rationale of Gothic Architecture—Continued.

The bases of a thirteenth century church indicate the plan and construction of the vaulting—The system of mouldings—Windows, their development—Rationale of stained glass—A general principle of ornamentation common to all good architecture—The roof—Secular buildings—Cloth market Yprès—Warehouses, Nuremburg—Windows in secular and ecclesiastical buildings—Trabeated architecture in its truest forms—Fireplaces—Chimney-shafts—Oriel and Dormer windows—Ceilings—Subordination of external design to internal requirements—Designs adapted to the materials most readily obtained—Conditions demanded of our future architecture—Gothic architecture well fitted to unite these conditions.

IN my last lecture I traced out the rationale of a number of the leading features, both of Romanesque as distinguished from Roman architecture, and subsequently of Gothic as distinguished from Romanesque. I will endeavour to avoid wearying you by carrying the inquiry into too great a multiplicity of details, but I must, nevertheless, ask your indulgence while I pursue them somewhat further than I have yet done.

Nothing would, perhaps, do more to show the reasonableness of the various developments in question than to trace out the details of the vaulting system; to show the varieties it exhibited in different countries and provinces and at different periods, the various modes adopted for effecting a given purpose and the many mechanical and other difficulties to be contended with, and the methods adopted of meeting them. This{247} is, however, so extensive and so intricate a subject, that, if I had devoted these two lectures exclusively to it, I could barely have done it justice. I will, therefore, at present content myself with referring those of you who are anxious to make yourselves acquainted with it, to an admirable and elaborate essay on the subject by Professor Willis, in the Transactions of the Institute of British Architects, and to the article “Construction,” in the fourth volume of Viollet le Duc’s Dictionary. No one who has not gone carefully and practically into the subject can have any idea of the amount of forethought which it demands; so much so that, as Viollet le Duc says, the design for a vaulted building has to be commenced at the top and worked downwards; and we may often form a pretty correct idea, from the bases of a thirteenth century church, of what was the plan and construction of its vaulting.

This principle of designing each part from the first with reference to its ultimate intention is very strongly marked in French works of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and in those of the transitional period in England. The form, not only of the capital, but even of the base of each shaft, usually indicates the direction of the arched rib or order which it is destined to carry.

This was, however, lost in English works on the introduction of the circular abacus, and I must say that much expression and emphasis was lost with it. Not only, indeed, did the abacus in French work face or point in the direction of the arched rib, but its plan was often made to fit to it in the most direct manner, and even the direction of the principal stalks of the foliage had reference to the supported rib (Fig. 148).{248}

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Fig. 148.—Laon Cathedral. Respond in Choir Aisle.

The system of moulding, again, follows out the same laws of reason. An arch-moulding, for instance, is founded on what is supposed to be the original section of the order or rib. Thus, if the normal section of the rib be square, the section of the mouldings is made to fit to that figure (Fig. 149); if chamfered or a part of an octagon, the mouldings, again, fit to it (Fig. 150); the abacus in each case taking the normal plan of the ribs.

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Fig. 149.
Fig. 150. Fig. 151.

As to æsthetical forms, the mouldings were studiously arranged so as to produce in some parts the greatest contrasts, in others the most elegant gradations of light and shade. The heaviness of large roll mouldings was often relieved by fillets or by raised edges or “keels,” by which diversity was gained without loss of mass (Fig. 151).

Hollows, again, were relieved by the insertion of sparkling ornaments, such as the toothed ornament, the rosette, the ball-flower, the four-leaved flower, and many others; and in other instances by the introduction of bands of foliage. The{249} sections of moulding differed entirely from those of Roman architecture, being far more free and less mechanical, and at once more delicate in feeling and more carefully studied with reference to light and shade. They resembled Greek mouldings, in fact, far more than Roman.

Enriched mouldings differed from the usual practice in antique work in this respect, that the enrichment was added to instead of being cut out of the original moulding; its practical use being to strengthen the hollows rather then to enrich the rounds. In this respect the practice of the Romanesque builder had been different; and perhaps a union of the two systems would be better than a close adherence to either.

Mouldings which receive much rain, as copings, cills, tops of cornices etc., were very much more sloped than in Classic work, so as to throw off the wet more rapidly. The custom in modern Classic buildings, where the stone is not very hard, of putting lead on the upper surface, as well as the damage often sustained when this is neglected, show the reasonableness of this increased slope. They had to do with a more rainy climate, and generally with softer stone, than the ancients, and they designed their work accordingly. The under sides, again, of projecting mouldings, as string-courses, drip-stones, water-tables, cills, etc., were carefully designed so as to prevent the wet from running round them. Base mouldings round buildings were designed in such a manner as both really and apparently to give it a substantial footing, and at the same time to add greatly to its beauty; many of them{250} are as noble combinations as could easily be conceived.[60]

In short, it may be asserted, without fear of contradiction, that in no style of architecture has a system of moulding been generated so full of variety and so capable of suiting itself to every position; and not only to provide for the practical demands of each position, but to give to each just that kind of effect which it most demanded.

Let us now proceed to consider the window. In the days of ancient Greece, and in the earlier days of Rome, windows were necessarily kept in a very undeveloped form, through the non-existence of window glass; so much so, that in Classic architecture the window seems a thing shunned as an unhappy necessity; and the imperfect manufacture and dearness of this material, no doubt, influenced, in a considerable degree, the architecture of the later Roman and the immediately succeeding periods. In churches and other vaulted buildings, another cause would lead to the use, during the last-named (i.e., the Romanesque) period, of as small windows as would just answer the purpose. The unaided thickness and the whole length of the wall being relied on for the abutment of the vaulting, it naturally followed that perforations were as much avoided as possible, as tending to reduce the abutting mass. Accordingly, as buttresses increased in projection, greater and greater openings in the curtain wall were ventured on, simply because there was strength sufficient to admit of them, till, when Pointed architecture received its full develop{251}ment, and the pressure of the vaults was entirely concentrated upon the buttresses, the whole intervening space might, if needful, be converted into windows.

Simultaneously with this change, the increasing use of stained glass necessitated a corresponding increase in the area of window opening, so that we have one development facilitating, and the other rendering necessary, the constant enlargement and multiplication of the windows.

The primâ facie mode of obtaining increased window light would be by widening the openings; but as this, if carried too far, would at once injure the beauty of the window and cause inconvenience in glazing it, the more usual course adopted was to increase the number. Hence the couplets, triplets, and more numerous groups of the Early English windows. These groups, when placed in a side wall and under a level roof-plate, would naturally assume the form of arcades of equal height; but when under a gable, an arched roof, or a vaulted bay, they increased in height towards the centre,—thus giving us the two most familiar forms of grouping. The sections of the jambs were arranged (as in the earlier period) in the manner best suited to the admission of light—care being taken externally to avoid deep shadows upon the glass, and internally, to disperse the light as readily as possible through the building.

In domestic buildings, where windows have to serve the double purpose of admitting the light and facilitating external view, they were not usually grouped as above described, but were made wider in their openings, the unpleasant effect which might otherwise{252} arise from it being obviated, and the glazing and opening of the window rendered more easy by the use of thin mullions or pillars dividing the window into two or more lights. This system offered advantages so obvious that it was very soon adopted for churches also; so that, instead of obtaining increased light, as heretofore, by the indefinite multiplication of comparatively small windows, it became customary now, for the first time in the history of architecture, to make windows of any size which their position or utility might dictate; the whole end of a church and the entire bays of its flanks being occupied, if need be, by single windows.

Now, nothing could be more rational than this development. The mode of glazing in use was most conveniently applicable to spaces of moderate width. It is true that by the more extended use of iron it was then, as it has often been in modern times, applied to openings of 6, 8, or even 10 feet in width; but narrower spaces were much more convenient. The lights, however, at Westminster Abbey (which is one of the earlier buildings in which this kind of window is systematically used in this country), are 4½ feet wide, and in France they are generally much more. The prevailing practice of placing a massive pier between each of such lights was obviously imperfect. The concentration of pressure upon the buttresses now allowed of openings of almost any size; what, then, was more reasonable than to make extensive openings, and then to subdivide them by light mullions into compartments at once sightly and convenient? That this practice has sometimes, from caprice, been carried to a vicious excess in no degree militates against its{253} rationale; indeed, with all our modern facilities for glazing and opening our windows, we continually find the same expedient resorted to for convenience, and invariably so when any extraordinary amount of light, and consequent width of window, is needed.

The next question which would arise is, how is the arch to be filled in? This we find done at first by a plate or tympanum of stone as thick as the depth of the mullions, each light being arched, and the tympanum pierced at pleasure with such openings as suited the builder’s taste; and, later on, we find these piercings connected together into those systematic groups which we call tracery; thus converting the window into a perfectly novel and most beautiful architectural feature.

As I shall have more to say on the subject of windows when we come to secular architecture, I will limit myself to two remarks. One is this; that in positions in which there is not much height, where there is no great load to be sustained, and where the termination of the wall internally and externally is horizontal, the Mediæval architects by no means held themselves bound to the arched form, but reserved perfect liberty to put square heads to their windows; the other is a passing remark on the rationale of stained glass. I do not conceive it to be simply a decoration or a means of adding rich colouring, but that it also arose from an unconscious feeling that it was necessary to the perfect effect of an architectural interior that it should be self-inclosed. In a living-room one wishes not only for admission of light, but for facility of looking out at the windows; and this necessity prevents us from seeing the windows well as{254} architectural features, because the focus of the eye has constantly to be changed in passing from the window itself to the view beyond. In a church, on the contrary, you do not wish to look out at the window, and it is better that it should be filled with a medium only semi-transparent, and which, being at about the same distance from the eye with the surrounding architecture, at once does away with the necessity of a change of focus, and supplies a beautiful decoration to the medium by which that object is effected.

I have not yet noticed one of the leading features of the style, and one in which it assumes a character most peculiarly its own: I mean the roof.

All previous styles of architecture with which we are acquainted, having originated in Southern countries, had roofs of a low pitch. I have no doubt that in many of those countries there were occasions in which a higher pitch would have answered better; but as the lower line harmonised better with the generally horizontal lines of their architecture, and was found to answer, they naturally adopted it. The Romanesque architecture of Southern Europe had also somewhat low roofs, and when first imported into Germany the roofs were by no means high. Gradually, however, as men forgot its connection with Italy, and viewed it as belonging to themselves, they would naturally use with it the form of roof they had found most serviceable and were most accustomed to in their ordinary buildings; and thus the high roof of the North became engrafted upon the Romanesque style, and became conspicuous feature in external architecture. Happily this change harmonised well with its general character.{255} The arch seemed to suggest a higher pitch of roof than did trabeated construction, and when greater height was generally introduced, and the pointed arch took the place of the round, the high pitch of the roof would be found better to harmonise with it.

I view, then, the high roof as partly the result of climate and partly of the æsthetic tendency of the style. But is it to be considered as an essential characteristic of Gothic architecture? By no means. The true characteristic of the style is liberty; and in the roof, as in every other feature, perfect freedom is reserved; so that we find roofs varying from almost perfect flatness to a very high pitch, a preference being given, cæteris paribus, to the high roof where there was not some decided objection to its use.

In internal construction also the roof was founded on rational principles, good construction being always considered before beauty, but the latter made very generally to result from it.

Gothic timber roofs would form a subject which could hardly be done justice to under one or two lectures, so I will not go farther into them now. Modern carpentry has shown us how to construct roofs with less timber than was used in these structures (there was then less necessity for the economy of timber), but we have never done anything to compete with the noble pieces of ornamented carpentering bequeathed to us by our Mediæval forefathers. As to covering of roofs, I may just mention, in passing, that though the Mediæval builders made use of every material which it is customary to use for this purpose, there are several which cannot be made use of with any but a high{256} pitch, and are therefore unusable with low roofs such as are used in other styles, as, for instance, plain tiles, ordinary stone slate, shingle, and thatch.

The next point in the rationale of Gothic architecture is one which I by no means claim as its peculiar property, inasmuch as it is common to all good architecture, though certainly our style is somewhat pre-eminent in its adoption of it. I refer to that general principle of ornamentation which trusts mainly for beauty to the useful and constructive features of the building, rather than to those which are introduced directly for appearance.

Thus, in a noble Gothic building, the ornamental character arises from a greater or less richness in the doorways, in the windows, the buttresses, the cornices, parapets, or other parts needful for the uses or construction of the building. This belongs to all noble architecture, but is more thoroughly, I think, carried out in Gothic than in other styles, and perhaps less so in modern Italian, especially in what is commonly called Paladian, than in any other. I do not lay claim to it as an argument in favour of one style above another, for all ought to possess it alike; but the absence of it in a very great deal of modern architecture is at least a proof that much reformation is needed among ourselves; and the strong degree in which it was adopted as a maxim by the Gothic architects is a proof of the reasonableness of the principles on which they acted.

There are, of course, in all styles of architecture decorations of a merely gratuitous kind, and when largeness of means leads to profusion, they are likely{257} to be carried to excess; but in Gothic architecture of the best periods the beauty of a building (after good proportion, outline, etc., are secured) depends not on this deliberate ornamentation, but on the artistic treatment of the necessary features. Whatever parts were dictated by practical necessity were the chief objects on which decoration was expended, and to which the architect trusted for the beauty of his building.

More especially was it, par eminence, a window style. Of all the objects provided for, the admission of light was the first and chiefest; accordingly, the window was made, both within and without, the leading source of beauty. It is by the design of the windows that we define the gradations of style. It is chiefly by the windows that we describe a building, and the first question asked about a Gothic building generally relates to its windows. On them, therefore, was expended a large portion of the architectural decoration. How marvellous, then, is the inconsistency which we meet with!—people with one breath objecting to Gothic architecture—the offspring of Northern climes—as not admitting light enough, and urging the use of Southern architecture to obviate the imagined defect; and then telling you of the beauties of a modern building,[61] the great characteristic of which is, that its principal façade has no windows at all!

Next to the windows, the doorways claim the most careful attention. Indeed, in some respects, they had the precedence, inasmuch as of all parts of a building{258} the doorway is that which challenges the closest inspection. The decorations, consequently, of doorways are those which contain the greatest amount of actual sculptured art. It is a great principle to place sculpture where it will be best seen; and as every one who enters a building must of necessity obtain a close view of the doorways, they were naturally made the great vehicles for sculpture. In France especially, every part of the doorway frequently is sculptured. Take, for example, the western portals of Amiens: the pedestal or basement of the jambs is decorated with medallions, illustrating Bible history by bas-reliefs; the jambs contain colossal statues of saints; the central pillar of the great double doorway contains the chief statue; the tympanum is filled with subjects, and the orders of the arch with angelic figures; so that the entire doorways are alive with sculpture.

The buttresses, again, those naturally uncouth projections—mere inert masses to resist the pressure from within—are rendered beautiful by their stately proportions and architectural details, the niches and statues which adorn their receding stages, and the aspiring pinnacles by which they are crowned.

The stone roof-plate, enriched with mouldings and foliage, and, perhaps, supported on sculptured corbels, becomes the crowning horizontal feature; and the parapet—the defence of the workmen engaged on the roofs—is pierced into tracery, or forms a miniature arcade, giving delicacy and lightness of effect to the generally massive structure; while the bell-tower, raised high to make its voice heard from afar, becomes the culminating ornament of the whole exterior. So com{259}pletely was it the recognised principle of the architecture to render the useful and constructive parts sources of decoration, that, where any deliberate decoration was made use of, it was often formed of imitations of constructional features, such as window tracery, arcades, gables, pinnacles, columns, etc.

I am not prepared to say that this is in itself to be applauded; indeed, I think it ought, at the least, to be kept within moderate limits; but it nevertheless owed its origin to the firm hold which the principle of rendering construction the leading source of decoration had upon the architects. Being accustomed to decorate construction, they got into the habit of using constructive forms as decorations.

My illustrations have hitherto, perhaps, for the most part, been taken from churches, but the same principle of common sense applies equally to secular structures. Each is treated in a manner suited to its class and purpose. Those classes and purposes differ, as a matter of course, in a majority of cases, from their correlatives at the present day, as they did in different periods of the Middle Ages themselves, and in the different countries of Europe, at any given period; so that the mere fact of such differences existing is no argument against any lesson we may learn from them. I presume, for example, that no great analogy can be established between a Roman villa and one of the nineteenth century in England, and not much between an Italian Renaissance palace of the fifteenth century and a London mansion of the nineteenth. Even in Germany and in France at the present day the houses differ greatly from those in England. The question{260} of the rationale of a style is rather whether it is so flexible and so essentially founded on common sense and reason that it will readily shape itself to meet practical demands, however varied they may be.

Now, it is scarcely possible for a building of the Middle Ages and one for a kindred purpose at the present day to differ more widely in their requirements than did different buildings of the same age; and if the most varied demands of one period are equally met by a given style, why should we fear that the same style would fail to meet variations proceeding from a change of manners and habits?

Take, for example, a Gothic fortification and a Gothic town hall. Can any requirements be more totally different? In one the great object was to shut off all communication from without: external windows must be either wholly avoided or reduced to mere eyelet-holes. In the other the walls are perforated with windows to the greatest extent which the strength of the structure would admit. In one the entrance must be guarded by all possible contrivances; in the other it must, as it were, open its arms widely to invite the incoming citizens. In the one the whole expression is one of stern exclusion and frowning defiance; in the other of busy concourse and festive hilarity. Now, is it possible for these widely differing demands and contrary expressions to have been more perfectly embodied than they are in the feudal castle, and in the halls of the manufacturing cities of Flanders and Germany?

Take, again, the domestic buildings of a convent, and those of the citizens of a great commercial town.{261} Both, it is true, were human residences, and must provide for the common wants of our nature. Yet in one the great principle of the foundation was ascetic gravity and religious mortification; in the other the objects aimed at were hospitality, cheerfulness, and family enjoyment: and in each case the objects were perfectly provided for, as well as expressed in the aspect of the building. Why, then, should we imagine that because our ideas of family comfort are more perfect than in the days of our forefathers, the style of architecture which they so successfully applied to purposes differing so widely one from another will refuse to accommodate itself to a more complete form of one of the same purposes? Yet people continually tell us that Gothic architecture is feudal and monkish! Of course the castle was feudal and the convent monkish: it would have been strange if they had not, seeing that one was built for the feudal lord and the other for monks. But was the town hall or the city residence monkish? Were the warehouses of Nuremberg or the market-halls of Flanders feudal? The idea carries absurdity on the face of it. They were, in fact, built by those very communities who had used their utmost endeavours to overthrow feudalism, and were ever most strenuously opposing its authority and influence.

I have in this, and more especially in my last lecture shown you that the development of Gothic architecture itself was founded, step by step, upon common sense and upon practical considerations. In like manner were these made the great principles which guided its application.


In all classes of building, whether ecclesiastical, military, monastic, civic, domestic, commercial, or rustic, though the architecture was in reality one and the same, the treatment was absolutely and imperatively commanded by the purpose, and the expression followed by instinct. As I have said on other occasions, a Mediæval barn is as good and as true in its architecture as a cathedral; both are essentially in the same style, yet one is as obviously a barn and as absolutely subservient to the requirements of a barn, as the other is a church. One has no windows, but slits of some 4 inches wide, and yet looks as Gothic as the other, which has more window than wall.

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Fig. 153.—Warehouses at Nuremburg.

Take, again, two commercial buildings—as the great Cloth Market at Yprès and the huge warehouses at Nuremburg—one for exhibiting manufactures, the other for stowing away goods. The first is, internally, a continuous room or gallery some 30 or 40 feet wide, and (measuring along its several ranges) about 600 or 700 feet long; its entire sides occupied by continuous and uniform ranges of large windows, and the exterior unbroken to express the unity of the interior, and its

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Fig. 152.—Cloth Market at Yprès.


lower storey subdivided into rooms of a small size for more varied uses; and with all this unbroken uniformity, it would be hard to find a more wonderfully striking building. The other, being for stowage, demanded multitudinous storeys and numerous supports. The storeys within are not, perhaps, more than 8 or 10 feet high, and the floors are carried on oaken pillars. The windows, being more for ventilation than light, are small and square, and closed by shutters instead of glass. The crane houses are made noble structures of timber, but no ornament is admitted, excepting to the doorways and perhaps the gables. The whole speaks its purpose so unmistakably that I do not suppose any one ever yet asked what it was; and though a mere unmasked and almost unadorned warehouse, it stands forth and asserts—and not in vain—its claims upon public admiration amongst the admired monuments of that truly interesting city.

To go into the various classes of secular buildings, and to show the consistency of their treatment, each with its own proper requirements, would fill a volume, and a volume, if it did any justice to the subject, well worth reading. I must not now go farther. I will, however, point out a few developments demanding our notice. I have before alluded to several points of difference between the windows of secular and ecclesiastical buildings. These differences were carried farther and farther according to the demands of the particular building in hand. The windows were wide or narrow, more or less numerous, subdivided or undivided, arched or square-headed, and, if arched, had high or low arches, strictly according to the demands{264} of the rooms within; and whatever those demands were, the architecture was subordinated to them. Some buildings had windows few and far between; others were nearly all window; and of course there were all intermediate varieties. Some buildings were vaulted in every storey, giving good examples of really fireproof construction; others were fireproof through one or two storeys, and timbered above; and others, again, had timber floors throughout. In secular structures we find trabeated architecture in its truest form—not stone beams, which, when extended beyond very narrow limits, go against the nature of the material, but real beams of wood, used in a thoroughly sensible and constructive manner. I would particularly call attention to the fact that beams were not merely run into walls—where, the moment the ends so immured decay, down comes the floor; but they were aided by stone corbels, and not only so, but by timber corbels, lying on them; or if the bearings were very great, braces were added, which will carry the beams even when the ends are rotted off.

This is trabeated architecture in a very genuine form. I dare say both Greeks and Romans may have used it so, too; but as their timbers have gone to dust, the Renaissance has lost its precedents, and has too often imitated stone construction in wood, or in more modern works, in lath and plaster; for wood, having disappeared from among the precedents, has of late been to a great extent eschewed as a visible architectural material.

Then, again, we have another common-sense development—the fireplace. The Romans had a number{265} of good methods of warming their buildings; but the straightforward, honest fireplace—the social palladium of the Englishman—we owe, I believe, to the Mediæval builders—the men who are said to have known nothing of modern comforts. There are fireplaces in old Norman castles—Conisborough, for instance—as good as in a Belgravian house, and the chimney-pieces were often a great deal handsomer. With the fireplace came that other modern feature, the chimney-shaft. Look how consistently with common sense, and with the principle of decorating what was demanded by utility, that was treated!

The oriel window or bay window was another Mediæval invention, and it would be difficult to find a feature more conducive to comfort and cheerfulness. It is often very sensibly translated into other styles; but, like the fireplace and the chimney, it belongs to the style of those “comfortless” ages of which we are treating.

The dormer window is another invention of this window age. The high roof was not to be thrown away—it must be utilised by being formed into attic storeys; windows, therefore, must be contrived wholly or in part in the roofs. Hence that highly picturesque and useful feature, which, though like the oriel, now translated into other styles, was invented in the middle ages, and, like all their inventions, originated in common sense.

I have spoken of the construction of floors, but omitted to notice the ceilings. Great scope was given to variety in their treatment. Sometimes all the timbers were shown, and, perhaps, decorated with{266} colour, the wood-work being more or less ornamented, as the character of the building demanded. For lofty rooms this often gives a noble covering; in other cases, the beams and binding joists are shown, and the intervening spaces panelled; in others, again, the whole is panelled, and in each case any amount of decorative painting used which might be desired. There is no doubt that the ceilings in Gothic buildings were, in many cases, the types which suggested those of the earlier Renaissance buildings before people began to imitate stone construction in plaster, and to make quasi-constructive features in hollow cradling. In the middle ages, either constructive parts were exposed to view, or the decorations which concealed them were designed simply as decorations, without in any degree professing to be constructive—plain honest common sense being the ruling principle, as it ought to be, and once was in other styles.

One of the most striking ways in which this principle of common sense is displayed is in the absolute freedom exercised in planning, or, more correctly speaking, the absolute subordination of external design to the practical requirements of the interior. There was no love of irregularity for its own sake among the Mediæval builders; on the contrary, they had no objection at all to general uniformity where the circumstances of the case did not suggest a departure from it; and where irregularity was demanded for use, they did not carry it beyond what the demand required; but when the practical requirements naturally led to irregularity, they fearlessly followed them, without any of that morbid striving after forced uniformity which{267} characterises—I will not say Classic works, for the ancients also acted on more natural principles—the great majority of modern buildings. That they did not capriciously strive after irregularity is proved by such buildings as the great market halls of Bruges and Yprès, the latter of which has a front of 450 feet long, without one deviation from uniformity, simply because the practical requirements in each wing were identical. That, when the internal requirements but slightly differed, they carried irregularity no farther than the demands of reason suggested, is proved by such fronts as that of the ducal palace at Venice, and of a very great number of street houses and palaces in different countries, where the normal idea is uniform, but the windows placed to suit rooms of varying size; but that, when the practical requirements had no reference to uniformity, they fearlessly acted on them, without any of those sickly repinings which would so sadly disturb the peace of the modern architect, still more without any torturing of the internal arrangements to make them fit to a preconceived elevation (which is the usual practice in these more enlightened days), is abundantly proved by many of the noblest works which our forefathers have bequeathed to us.

Now, far be it from me to say that this honesty of treatment belongs exclusively to Gothic architecture. It does not. It is the leading principle of all true architecture; and I have no doubt, indeed we have indisputable proof, that it was acted on by the Greeks and Romans, as well as by our own forefathers. The contrary practice seems to be an error rather of our own age than of the genuine periods of Classic art;{268} but when the defenders of the revived Classic art use it as an objection against Mediæval architecture, we then have a full right to point out its true principles, and to show that it is an exercise of common sense so obvious and reasonable, that any style of art which refused it would stand self-condemned, as rejecting the plain demands of reason; and, though I do not hold that Classic architecture stands so condemned, it would be so if we were to admit against it the accusations of some of its own advocates. At any rate, it is fair on the part of Gothic architecture to say that in this great principle of the subordination of external design to internal requirement, it not only follows the great styles of architecture which preceded it, but that, in the opinion of its opponents, it carries out the great utilitarian principle even to an excess.

There can be no doubt that the principle is pre-eminently in harmony with the genius of Gothic architecture; more so, probably, than with any other; and if those who think it a vice desire to saddle it exclusively on our style, they cannot complain if we, who hold it to be a virtue, at the least, claim for that style the lion’s share of the credit.

I do not for a moment dispute that there is room for excess, even in acting on a principle so reasonable. If we were to make it an excuse for careless planning; if we were so affected as to seek excuses for irregularity when the arrangement, if carefully considered, offered none; or if we neglect reasonable means of avoiding them when it can be done without any injury to the arrangement, we are clearly open to the charge of excess; but, on the other hand, if we were to avoid{269} irregularity by making two essentially different parts look alike, at the sacrifice of their practical demands; if we place windows in inconvenient or unsightly positions in the interiors of our rooms, for the sake of making them match some windows in an opposite wing, or to form a regular range, disagreeing with internal divisions; if we make sham windows where none are wanted, or omit real ones where they would be useful; or if we torture and displace our rooms to obtain uniformity; or play any of the thousand tricks which are too current amongst us to make our exteriors uniform where our interiors are the contrary; surely we are guilty of a far more culpable excess in the opposite direction, for the exaggeration of common sense is unquestionably a more venial sin than its renunciation. However this may be, Gothic architecture, whether rightly or wrongly, looks to internal requirements as paramount to external regularity; places its windows rather with reference to the rooms within than to the elevations without; and rejoices in making the exterior express in some degree the changes of purpose in the internal arrangement: but it does not reject uniformity where compatible with truth and utility, nor refuse to admit of careful artistic combinations of parts, so long as they are made subservient to, or at least do not militate against, practical requirements. As I have said before, I believe that in this it only reflects, and carries out more perfectly, the principles of true Classic art; and that, if these principles are often forgotten or rejected, it is in the main an abuse of modern date. It is, however beyond all{270} question inherent upon that form of revived Classic art with which we are surrounded.

The same may, in fact, be said of truthfulness in minor things. It would be unjust to father the contemptible and endless fallacies of our own day upon Classic architecture. It is true that they pervade and saturate many of the modern productions of that style, and that the revival of Gothic architecture has somehow led to their exposure; but the truthfulness which we are proud to claim as one of its great and leading stars, we freely yield as the property, not of one style, but of all noble architecture.[62]

Did time permit, I might follow up the rationale of the style under consideration as evinced in the judicious employment, treatment of, and the mode of workmanship applied to, different materials as well as different branches of artistic decoration. The Mediæval architect adopted the material he could most readily obtain, and adapted his design to suit its peculiar qualities.

If he used block-stone throughout his work, or united it with rough walling-stone or rubble, or if his building were of brick, or flint, or pebbles, he studied to use them so as to look well and to aid the effect by their variety; as instances of this I will refer to the exquisite stone and flint structures in the eastern counties, and the interstratification of block stone with the thinnest rubble in some of the oolitic districts; to the{271} domestic brick architecture of Norfolk, or Northern Germany, and of Lombardy, to the timber structures of innumerable districts and cities; to the variously-coloured stones in the buildings in Auvergne; and last, but not least, to the magnificent marble structures, with their inlayings and mosaics, which delight us when in Italy. The great principle was how best to utilise the materials which Nature had provided: where Nature had been chary in her gifts, even external plaster was not despised, but truthfully made use of; where she had been lavish, even precious stones were used as building materials, as at Prague, where there is a chapel whose interior is faced with a kind of rubble-work of polished amethyst, the stones being cut through, but otherwise unshaped, the irregular jointings being covered with embossed gilding.

In metal-work each metal was treated on its own merits and its own natural characteristics.

In decoration—frescoes, mosaics, tapestry, needlework, embossed leather, metal-work, enamels, etc., were profusely used when funds permitted. Indeed, nothing was rejected, either on the score of homeliness or expense, provided it suited the work in hand and the means at command.

But what, I may be asked, is the utility of tracing out evidences of a fact so probable on the face of it as that our forefathers acted upon reason when engaged on so practical a thing as architecture? I would reply that its utility is twofold. In the first place, we have too much lost sight of the rationale of architecture, and of the necessity of acting upon it. I do not wish to rip open old sores, or to object against other errors of{272} which we are all of us guilty. Let us each examine ourselves, and ask ourselves how far we act upon truth and reason in our designs; and if compelled to admit our derelictions, a review like that on which we have been engaged may not be otherwise than useful—quite apart from any question about what style we are working in.

In the second place, it is an undoubted fact, that we are at a transitional period of our art, that we are dissatisfied with the present and aiming at an altered future, and that some of us are following up that aim on the basis of a revival of the style of which I have been treating, while there is a vis inertiæ in art which is not easily overcome, but yields reluctantly to change; how important, then, is it to us to know that the style we are reviving was itself based, as all good architecture must be, on the firm rock of common sense, and how essential to our success that we should place our revival on the same basis! Shall we, then, secure this object by doing only what our forefathers did? By no means; rather, as I have urged in a former lecture, let us do as they did: that is, act upon reason. They thoroughly suited all their works to their varied objects. Let us do the same, how much soever more varied our requirements may be. They made their houses comfortable to the extent of their habits; let us make ours so to the greatly increased extent of our own habits. They welcomed every invention as it arose: let us do the same by the inventions of our own prolific age. They utilised every material which presented itself to them: let us do so by all the materials which modern science{273} or ingenuity has placed at our command; only let us do all this truthfully and consistently with reason; for example, if we meet with an invention suited to the surface decoration of rooms but devoid of constructive strength, let us use it as a surface decoration, and not, as is too commonly done, make troughs and pipes of it, and pass them off for beams and columns! If we admire a vaulted construction, by all means let us use it, but do not let us emulate the vaulting of Diocletian’s Baths and Westminster Abbey or the domes of the Pantheon or St. Sophia in lath and plaster! If we want plaster casts of ancient monuments, let us place them in our museums, but, for goodness sake, let our buildings themselves be real!

The conditions to be demanded of our future architecture, whether destined to be based upon the Classic or the Gothic Renaissance, or whether they are to continue ever, as now, to assert side by side their rival claims, are:—a perfect and unhesitating fulfilment of practical demands, whether of construction, convenience, or comfort; an equally unhesitating adoption of the materials, inventions, and mechanical and constructive appliances of the age; a capability of reasonable economy or of judicious magnificence in all degrees and proportion; a character at once noble and in harmony with the country and climate, and with national associations; a perfect freedom of treatment, united with perfect truthfulness; and a free admission of the sister arts in their highest and most perfected forms. How happy would it be for art if we could proclaim an armistice between rival styles, while the advocates of each devote heart and soul to the realisa{274}tion of these conditions, so obviously demanded by reason and common sense!

That Gothic architecture is in its spirit well fitted to unite these conditions, I think may be judged by much that I have shown you in this and the preceding lecture. It lays claim in a pre-eminent degree to the character of Freedom. Free in its use of arcuated or trabeated construction, as may best suit each particular case; free in the form of its arches, which, in addition to those used in other styles, take other and excellent forms, which enable them to assume all possible proportions of height to span; free in its vaulting, which has peculiar facilities for adapting itself to every possible space and span; free in the proportions, as well as infinite in the varieties, of its columns; free as air in the sculpture it applies to their capitals, as well as to other architectural uses; free in the pitch of its roofs; in the size, number, form, and grouping of its windows; and, above all, absolutely free in its planning, in which the practical requirements of the interior have undisputed sway irrespective of external design—it seems as if it could not be otherwise than suited to an age in which freedom is the great point to be aimed at in all we undertake. Convinced that such is the case, let us devote ourselves, heart and hand, to the task; let us bring all our energies to rendering the style we select as our groundwork really and absolutely subservient to the wants and to the spirit (so far as it is a healthful and a truthful spirit) of our age; let us apply to the work all our reasoning powers, and ground all we do upon common sense. But let me not be mistaken: this cannot be done by a mere ab{275}stract effort of the mind: let me, therefore, urge upon you who are students to exercise your reason and common sense in another way, and to be assured of this, that you cannot succeed in the practice of art, unless, in addition to all the practical considerations I have had occasion to allude to, you make yourselves, in the strictest sense of the word, ARTISTS.{276}

A Digression concerning Windows.

In the foregoing Lectures, having only brought the history of our Architecture down to the close of the thirteenth century, I have neglected that of the later styles, and, consequently in great measure, the development and progressive changes in window-tracery. This has, however, been so amply treated of in many books and essays that it is not a matter with me of much regret. I confess I had intended to have supplied the omission in subsequent lectures, but circumstances prevented.

It would have been an agreeable task to have followed up the history of window-tracery and the many details which accompanied it, through the remaining two and a half centuries of the reign of Gothic architecture—to have shown how it grew from the purely geometrical system of Westminster, Newstead, and the “Angel choir” at Lincoln into the sweeter tracery of the “Easter aisle” at St. Albans, and of St. Etheldreda’s Chapel in Holborn; and on again into the yet softer loveliness of the Lady Chapel at Chichester, the halls at Penshurst, Mayfield, the gatehouses of Battle Abbey and of St. Augustine’s at Canterbury, and the Chapel of St. Anselm and De Estria’s work at the cathedral there; and then again into the more flowing tracery of Alan de Walsingham’s work, till it fell into debility by its too sensuous ramifications, and was brought back{277} again to vigour by the stern perpendicular work of Wykeham; and how that, in its turn, became softened down, into such works as Crosby and Eltham Halls, and again into the exuberance of the Tudor style. All this would be very pleasant, but would necessitate the treating of all contemporary variations of detail, and would swell my lectures out into another volume: more than this, I have given no such lectures. It has been my task to show the principles on which Gothic architecture was founded, and on which it attained its leading developments, rather than to follow them out to their ultimate results, on attaining which much which led to them was thrown aside, as scaffolding is taken down when a structure is completed.

I feel it necessary, however, while neglecting the more usual course of chronicling the history of window-tracery, to supplement my lectures at this point with some remarks on the general construction of windows—applicable more or less to all periods of Mediæval architecture.

The most normal form of a window in an arched style is simply an opening straight through the wall covered by a barrel arch. This is, however, obviously defective in its fitness for diffusing light in the interior, a deficiency which, though slight in the case of a large window in a thin wall, becomes serious when the window is narrow and the wall thick. The simplest method of meeting this is to splay the jambs and arch of the window, at, for example, an angle of forty-five degrees, so as to allow for the spreading of the rays of light within.

In English architecture of pre-Norman days, this{278} was most frequently done, both within and without, by placing the glass a long way from the outer face, or perhaps in the mid-thickness of the wall (Fig. 154). This had the advantage of splaying the head or arch as well as the jamb, which allowed more high light to enter; an advantage often increased by splaying the exterior of the arch more than the jambs, giving it a bonnet-like shape, and so obtaining still higher light (Fig. 155). Windows thus splayed inside and out, may be seen in the Castle Church at Dover—some few of these are not arched but had oak lintels, splaying upwards at about forty-five degrees (Fig. 156). The bonnet-headed window may be seen at Holy Trinity Church, Colchester; Clapham Church, Bedfordshire and many other buildings.

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Fig. 154.

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Fig. 155.

Fig. 156.

Fig. 157.

The deeply splayed window may also be seen in{279} part of St. Pantaleon’s Church at Cologne (Fig. 157), which is a work of the tenth century, and in the aisles of the Basse-œuvre at Beauvais, a church of at least as early a date, so that it may be viewed as a feature common during these early periods of Romanesque which preceded that from which our Mediæval styles were developed. During the rise of the Norman style, a different system was more usually adopted, the splay of the jambs and arch being mainly internal. A series of humble village churches at the back of Dover Cliffs have windows in which the glass was flush with the exterior, and all the splay put inside; many both in Normandy and in this country differ from this only in having a very small external splay, and even when the exterior is shafted the inner splay often comes close to the face of the recessed order.

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Fig. 158.—Chancel, Burgh Church, Norfolk.

This excessive flushness is less frequent as the style advances, and in Early English, though sometimes, as in the beautiful chancel at Burgh in Norfolk, (Fig. 158) the glass is sometimes brought extremely close to the outside: it is usual to have at least a few inches of splay around it.

In transitional work, as in Norman, the internal splay, often of very great width, usually runs round the arch concentrically; but in developed Early English,{280}

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Fig. 159.

Fig. 160.

Fig. 161.

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Fig. 162.

Figs. 163, 164.

and in subsequent styles, a special variety of internal arch is introduced suited to those numerous cases in which the glass-plane is far nearer (as it is in a majority of instances) to the outer than the inner face of the walls. The simplest form of this internal window-arch takes the form of a barrel (pointed) arch, springing so much lower than the spring of the outside arch as to allow it to span the increased internal width without rising unduly higher than the outside arch, as was the case when the splay was continued round the inner arch. This arch of necessity formed an intersection with the inside splays. Its edge was usually in the plainest specimens, relieved by a chamfer (Fig. 159), which was often exchanged for a moulding (Fig. 160); but a far more agreeable finish was a rib dropping down a little from the arched soffite, its edges being either chamfered or moulded with or without a label over it (Fig. 161). This, if the arch were made slightly{281} segmental, would die into the jamb-splay, or it might be carried on a corbel (Fig. 162) or a shaft (Figs. 163, 164), thus forming a very agreeable and picturesque internal finish to the window.

This rib is usually termed a rere-arch.

Professor Willis, in his paper on the Architectural Nomenclature of the Middle Ages, calls it a “Scoinson Arch,” from a French word “escoinsons.” He also quotes the term “arrière voussure,” probably meaning the arch behind the rib.

Professor Willis’s general description, which I had not referred to when I wrote the above, is as follows:—“An arch is placed so as to carry the inner surface of the wall. In simple examples, like the present, this rib is plain, and dies against the jambs, but in superior buildings is richly moulded, and a shaft, with base and capital and side-mouldings, are added to the edges of the jamb. But this arrangement is mostly distinct from the window-tracery. This arch is of different and larger span from that of the window-head, because the spreading or embrasure of the jambs increases the opening inwards. It is also of a different curvature, and the decoration of the two disconnected and separated by the plain splayed sides of the window-opening, connecting the two, and resting at one end on the tracery, and at the other on the rib, is a narrow vault or voussure, which again is not necessarily of the same curvature as the sustaining arches, but which carries the core of the wall above.”

He says farther on:—“We may therefore call the said vault, rib, and shaft; the rere-vault, rere-rib, and rere-shaft of the window.” He also remarks that, “in{282} the thick walls of Mediæval structure, the tracery and its glazing are commonly placed much nearer to the outer surface of the wall than to the inner.” This last observation calls our attention to a great and important distinction by which nearly all Mediæval windows may be classified—viz., those which have their glass-plane at or near the mid-thickness of the wall, and those which, as the Professor says, have it “much nearer to the outer surface than to the inner.”

This distinction was, as I have shown, of early date; being in its earlier ages rather distinctive of “Saxon” from Norman windows. The class, however, in which the glass was nearer the outer than the inner side had, up to about the year 1200, its inner arch concentric with its outer one; but the invention of the rere-arch and its accompaniments obviated this, and established a hard and obvious distinction between these two great classes of windows.

The custom of sometimes placing the glass at the mid-thickness of the wall was in no degree given up, but, on the contrary, was continued through all styles; but, when adopted, the older system of making the inner concentric with the outer arch was nearly always continued, marking more distinctly the great difference between the two classes of window. The choice between them became a mere matter of taste and of outlay; all styles acknowledging both as equally admissible and correct.

The two systems may be distinguished as rere-arch windows and through-arch windows—i.e., those in which the inner is distinct from the outer arch, and those in which the same arch runs through the wall,{283} showing itself more or less similarly on its outer and inner faces.

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Fig. 165.—Broughton Church, Oxfordshire.

Fig. 166.—Christchurch, Hants. North Transept.

In thick walls and rich work there is often another order of through-arch within the tracery order, or rather the outer order re-appears within. The rere-arch is occasionally cusped, as in a window at Broughton, Oxfordshire (Fig. 165), and the intervening space is sometimes groined, as in some windows at Salisbury and Christchurch (Fig. 166), or richly panelled, as in some at Westminster. In some instances the place of the rere-arch is occupied by distinct tracery, like a second window in advance of the real one. This consists in most instances of perfect bar tracery, while the window itself is of plate tracery; as may be seen in some of the windows at Stone Church, Kent (Fig. 167), and as once existed on a much larger scale in the chapter-house at{284} Tintern. I may here mention that the tracery of a window is always viewed as an arch-order; and, though the corresponding order in the jamb is in the solid with the jamb up to the springing, the tracery, like other arch-orders, is severed by a continuous joint from the order above it.

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Fig. 167.—Stone Church, Kent.

The most normal type of the through-arch window is that in which the glass is placed in the middle of the thickness of the wall, and the interior of the window is a mere repetition of its exterior. This is not, however, by any means necessary or constant; for the glass is often either less or more recessed, and the inner mouldings, etc., are not always similar to the external ones, so that the existence or non-existence of a separate internal arch is the more clear distinction. Some, however, of an intermediate character, are to be found in which an inner arch, separate in design, is nevertheless concentric with the outer arch. In others the separate existence of the inner arch arises from the existence of a triforium passage, which in clerestory windows leads to some changes of design from the normal type. In others the rere-arch is not only concentric, but is so close upon the outer arch as to be almost one with it. The two classes are, however, for the most part easily distinguished.

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Fig. 168.—Chancel, Brecon Priory.

One of the earliest instances which I recollect of the rere-arch is in the eastern part of Tyne{285}mouth Priory.[63] This is in the transitional style, and the strongly-marked separation of the inner from the outer{286} arch is largely owing to the vast thickness of the walls. The glass plane is perhaps four times as far from the inside as from the outside.

A fine series of specimens is in the chancel of Brecon Priory (Fig. 168), where the separation between the outer and inner arch, and the depth of the glass from the inner face are also very great. Most of the early English windows found in churches of an ordinary type are of this class. Among Early English buildings in which the windows are mostly of the “rere-arch” variety, may be mentioned Salisbury Cathedral, Whitby Abbey, the Temple Church (eastern part), the Chapel of the Nine Altars at Durham,[64] Trumpington’s work at St. Alban’s, the choir of Brecon Priory, the eastern Chapels at Winchester (Fig. 169), the chapter-house at Oxford, the choir of Fountains Abbey, etc. Among those of the same style in which the “through-arch” window prevails, may be mentioned the transepts at York, the choir aisles at Carlisle, Rievaulx Abbey, the chapter-house at Furness Abbey (Fig. 170), much of the work at Lincoln, Kirkham Abbey, etc.

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Fig. 169.—Winchester Cathedral. De Lucy’s work.

Among buildings transitional between Early English and Decorated, or very early Decorated, may be named as having mainly rere-arch windows, Westminster Abbey (excepting the chapter-house), Tintern Abbey, the eastern parts

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Fig. 172.—Chapel of St. Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn. East window.

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Fig. 171.—Chapel of St. Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn. West window.


of St. Alban’s Abbey, the beautiful Templars’ Church at Temple Balsal, the Chapel of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely in Holborn (Figs. 171, 172), the choir of Dorchester Abbey, the Bishops’ Hall at Wells, the choir of Merton Chapel at Oxford, etc.

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Fig. 170.—Furness Abbey, one bay of Chapter-House.


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Fig. 173.—The Chapter-House, Salisbury Cathedral.

Among those of a like period in which the through-arch window prevails, may be named the chapter-houses at Westminster and Salisbury (Fig. 173), the later parts of Lincoln, the choir aisles at Selby and Guisborough, the choir of St. Mary’s Abbey at York,{289} most of the Decorated work at York Minster, Exeter, etc. In later Decorated work the same freedom of choice prevails, as it does also in “Perpendicular” buildings, though, as we come down to later dates, the “through-arch” becomes, on the whole, more prevalent.

Taking all styles together, the rere-arch, or in earlier works the wider internal splay, is greatly more frequent, probably because less costly than the other form; and though, when the “through-arch” is used, the glass is usually set deeper from the external face than when there is a rere-arch, and is frequently near the centre of the wall, such is often not the case, as in the eastern windows at Kirkham, where the internal depth is much the greater, and, in a few instances, where it is less, than the external. On the whole, it may be said that the rere-arch system tells most internally, while the other offers greater freedom for external depth of jamb and arch mouldings. Both are equally at the choice and command of the architect, who can use both, if he pleases, in the same building, and to condemn either would be like blotting out an essential element of architecture.{290}


On the Practical Study of Gothic Architecture.

Evident ignorance or neglect of those who practise Gothic architecture—Faithfulness of others—The styles should be learned from ancient buildings—Our knowledge to be continually revived and added to—Hints to students—The study of Lincoln Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, and examples in London—Libraries and museums in London—Foreign travel—Examples in Paris, and other parts of France—Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. etc.

AS it is six years since I last delivered a lecture in this place, and nine years since the first of the short series which I gave, it is in the highest degree improbable that any one of the students whom I have the pleasure of addressing was present on any of those occasions. Had that series been a complete one, I might possibly have done better by, in some degree, repeating it; but as it was not so, and as there is an inconsistency in offering supplementary lectures to a new audience, I have adopted the expedient of printing my former lectures, and distributing them to the architectural students, and of re-exhibiting the illustrations which accompanied them; so that, knowing that those who have thought it worth while may have read what I have already said, I am free to proceed as if my audience were unchanged.

I will here mention that I only come before you at all owing to my friend Mr. Smirke (who for five years has so ably and indefatigably fulfilled the duties of Professor of Architecture), having felt it necessary, for{291} this year at least, to retire from those duties, and to my having been asked to do something—be it ever so little—to prevent the class of architecture from falling into abeyance for the year. I have, therefore, undertaken two lectures, as a mere apology during the interregnum for the more onerous duties of a professor, and I must beg to be excused if the manner in which I perform this temporary duty is of the same dubious kind with the duty itself.

In my former lectures I endeavoured, first, to state the claims of Gothic architecture upon our special study and attention; I next, in a series of four lectures, traced out with some minuteness the history of its development from the earlier and ruder forms of Romanesque—through the various processes of refinement which brought that style to its highest state of perfection—and, through the great process of transition by which it became gradually and systematically changed into the Pointed style: not, as I showed, from a mere change of taste or fashion, but from strictly logical and practical causes, accompanied by an ardent unresting determination to raise the art to the highest perfection which the circumstances of the age would permit; and I then showed how the Pointed style—when once generated—developed itself into the perfected and glorious architecture of the middle of the thirteenth century.

I did not follow out the history of Gothic architecture in its succeeding stages, as my object was rather moral than merely historical, and I desired rather to exhibit the glorious earnestness of a people, who, while developing a new civilisation, pressed ardently forward,{292} side by side with it, the generation of a new style of architecture, than to give a history of the successive changes through which that architecture passed. When, therefore, I had traced out the style to its culminating point, I quitted mere history, and closed with two lectures on the rationale of the style, showing how every form which characterised it in its best days was dictated, not by fashion or caprice, but by reason.

Being now, after a lengthened interval, called upon to add two lectures to my series, I take for my subjects the practical study of Gothic architecture, and its actual practice and adaptation to the requirements of our own day.

Commencing, then, with the study of the style, nothing seems at first sight so obvious as how to gain knowledge of such a subject; indeed, you may feel puzzled to think what there is to say on so simple a matter. “Surely,” you might say, “if a person wants to obtain a knowledge of a subject so thoroughly investigated, so popular, and brought so prominently before the public as for many years past has been the case with Gothic architecture, there is no difficulty in the world about it, nor is it worth while to waste an hour in listening to a lecture on so patent a question.” How is it, then, we may ask in return, that such a multitude of architects erect Gothic buildings, one glance at which is sufficient to show that they are ignorant of the style in which they are pretending to work?—that we see at every turn attempts at advanced development of the style which betray an utter innocence of all acquaintance with its A B C?—and that worst of all, we find the precious remnants of Mediæval{293} art restored—Oh, shame on the misnomer!—by men who have never given thought enough to the subject to enable them to appreciate, even in the faintest degree, the value of the treasures committed in such false confidence to their keeping, or to form the most distant idea of their own ignorance? Surely, this is enough to prove that the study of Gothic architecture is not understood, or is grievously neglected by those who assume a knowledge of and presume to practise it.

And the converse is equally true: that the success, more or less perfect, of many others proves that the true road is known, and by a certain number is faithfully followed. My object in what I have to say is more, perhaps, to urge upon each of you to be of that number than to make any but what will appear most trite and self-evident suggestions as to what the true road is in which I ask you to walk.

In the first place, it is self-evident that Gothic architecture is only to be learned from the old examples. I notice, absurd as it may seem, that many young architects appear to think that it may be learned from books and by looking at modern buildings, and really pay little attention to the original sources of all our information. True, it is the part of every student to make use of all the resources within his reach, and it would be absurd to undervalue the aid of books; it is also wise to look at the works of such modern architects as are worthy of confidence; but there is no source from which the style can be really learned but the ancient examples, and to these it is impossible to devote too great an amount of study.

I would next observe that this study of old examples{294} must be continuous. It is not a course of study to be followed up for a certain time and then brought to a close, but must be continued indefinitely throughout your whole course, so as to be ever reviving and ever adding to your knowledge. In the study of Classic architecture, though it is from the original examples that knowledge and inspiration are drawn, these examples are so far removed from us, in this country at least, that it is as a rule only possible to study from them once or twice during a whole life. The case is, happily, very different with the examples of Mediæval art: we are surrounded by them wherever we go;—they are the early monuments of our own country, the works of our forefathers, and our study of them is not the work of one strong effort at a single period of our lives, but a constantly renewing study, a fountain to which we may return again and again whenever we feel to need its refreshing influences. This, though an inestimable advantage, may prove a temptation to negligence, as we are apt to let go opportunities which are ever at hand, so that we must not trust to these desultory sippings for our main supply, but must drink deep and long when we have the opportunity; and more especially I would urge upon you to do so now—in the days of your youth, while yet unencumbered by the cares of business, while your feelings are fresh and your thoughts unshackled. This is the time for laying in the great stores of knowledge which must be the main supply of your future lives, and without which the scant and hasty draughts obtained on chance opportunities will be of no avail, but after which they will be the means of constantly refreshing and adding ever{295} new life to the knowledge already possessed. We may say of this as of other branches of study,

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”

The conditions under which the study has to be pursued seem in some degree to preclude its being followed in a strictly systematic manner. We are obliged to study buildings, of whatever date, as they may come in our way; and every building we visit is likely to be of many periods and to have undergone alterations more or less radical; so that we are almost forbidden to systematise our studies on any principle, chronological or otherwise. We must, in fact, take our examples pretty much as we happen to find them; and the best method when we set out on a sketching tour is, probably, to devote our attention to a particular district, and to follow it up, town by town and village by village, as convenience or previous information may suggest, visiting and thoroughly studying all objects worthy of it which come in our way.

Nothing can be more delightful than these excursions. If you know beforehand what you are likely to meet with, the very anticipation of what each day will bring before you will add zest to your appetite for architectural enjoyment; while if you do not know what objects of interest may lie in your course, the very speculation will give relish to the search.

Here, perhaps, you come to the site of some famous monastery, less happy in its days of ruin and desertion than some which have become the favourite haunts of the artist. It has, perhaps, been for ages the stone-quarry of the district, and now only some one{296} gable-end with its lofty lancets shows the noble scale of the ancient church. Here, it may be, nothing stands aboveground but the bases of the pillars; farther on the wall rises to the height of the window-jambs, and shows the arcading of the walls; and there the aisle wall retains the doorways leading through into the cloister—now a farm-yard—on the eastern side of which you find the three beautiful arches, the central one of which formed the approach to the chapter-house, and round this cloister you still trace the plan of the refectory and other monastic buildings. But, scanty and now humble as are the ruins, you find the details to be of the highest order of artistic refinement. The bases of the lost columns are profiled with the most studied delicacy, the few remaining doorways are perfect models of rich though unostentatious detail, the archways, perhaps, of the chapter-house entrances are of the most elegant and studied beauty. On tracing out and measuring the plan, you find its arrangement and proportions to be of the most perfect kind; and, though so little comparatively stands in situ, the ground is strewn here and there with masses from the superstructure, from which you may trace out the design of much which has fallen down, while the fences and agricultural buildings around are perfect storehouses of mouldings, capitals, and fragments of tracery or of groining, from which you can study the detail almost as profitably as from a perfect building.

In the next village you find, perhaps, a church of the humblest dimensions and of the most unambitious architecture, yet you trace in its simple details the proofs of its having been erected by the monks of the{297} neighbouring convent, and you feel that, plain and unpretending as they are, they were designed by as masterly a hand as the abbey church itself, and deserve to be as carefully studied and as minutely sketched and measured. Again, farther on, you find a church of noble scale, in which you trace the work of many periods. The internal pillars and arcades show a period just emerging from the Romanesque, though its rudeness has been quite cast aside, and its mouldings are, on the contrary, of the greatest refinement. The chancel, perhaps, is of more advanced Early Pointed, the aisles, the clerestory, and the tower of later periods; and the screens and the few remaining old seats are specimens of the oak-work of the fifteenth century. Here and there in corners you find encaustic tiles, in some of which you recognise patterns you had observed in the site of the ruined abbey. In the upper parts of the window-lights and scattered among the plain glazing you find fragments of glass which would do honour to any age, and such as our glass painters would do well to study, instead of turning them out with scorn to make way for a memorial to some recently departed squire.[65] The sedilia in the chancel, and the piscinæ both there and in the aisles, are any of them alone objects worthy of the most careful study, and every doorway and every window possesses more or less claim upon your attention.

In another place you find less, perhaps, to interest you in the church, for it has passed through the hands{298} of some architect famed in the county for his successful destructiveness, but you find other objects of interest. There is an old manor-house which, though mostly of Jacobean date, retains traces of early and scarce periods of domestic architecture. Nor are its later portions unworthy of your study: its brick chimneys have a beauty about them which modern architects have striven in vain to emulate; the half-timber gable fronts are models of timber construction; within there are remnants of oak panelled ceilings, of wall linings, of doors perhaps with moulded oak door-cases, of simple but well-designed chimney-piers, and all sorts of little odds and ends, all worthy of being carefully and minutely noted, whatever may be their age; for our old house architecture is often most valuably suggestive, even down to very late periods. The cottages around, too, seem to do homage to the more dignified residence, by showing here a good timbered gable-end, there a well proportioned brick chimney; indeed, I would advise the architectural tourist never to despise the cottage architecture of our villages, but to note as they pass every fragment which has escaped the hand of time, for they are most useful and instructive, and, you may depend upon it, they will not much longer exist.[66]

In another village you will, perhaps, find that the church has been the burial-place of some famous{299} family of olden times. Under low arches in the aisles, and now almost hidden by the high pewing, you find the cross-legged effigies of the earlier members of the house, perhaps of oak, and hollowed out beneath, to prevent their warping out of shape; and if you examine these effigies, you will find them far from being the rude specimens of sculpture which our modern critics may suppose. You find in their attitude a dignity and stern nobility which our sculptors would find it not so very easy to emulate, while the chain armour, with its rigid lines, and the linen surcoat, with its more delicate foldings, are executed with a truthfulness and feeling which show that the man who worked them possessed both the soul and the hand of an artist. These are worthy of being carefully drawn, though to do this well demands much time. I have heard of Stoddart giving a week to one such figure! There are, perhaps, in the same church, one or two female effigies whose drapery and pose remind you of that of Queen Eleanor at Westminster, and one or two brasses well worthy of being copied, rather than rubbed off; for the object of these tours is not only to obtain possession of representations of the objects of art which you meet with, but to practise and tutor your hand and eye by practically studying from them.

Then, again, as you pass through the county, you find other objects equally worthy of note; as, for instance, the old bridges which here and there the county magistrates have permitted to remain, and which travellers but rarely see because they pass over them. The village or churchyard cross, the lych-gate, some{300}times even the dovecote—all have claims upon your attention; and where a church is generally humble, and perhaps denuded by the mutilations of older ignorance or of modern conceit, there may yet remain a doorway, a pillar, a window or two worthy of attention. In one place it will be the tower which most excites your interest; in another the timber roofs; in a third you may luxuriate in carved screen-work, in chancel stalls, and rich nave seating; and in a fourth the great attraction may be the painted glass. In one tour you may take a homely series of churches like those of Essex, which, under an unpretending exterior often contain some of the most useful and valuable work; or going on farther in the eastern counties, you may visit the fine churches of Suffolk and Norfolk, with their noble timber roofs, their beautiful seating, and in many cases their richly and artistically coloured and embossed screens; or, taking another direction, you may follow the noble course of churches of Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire, with their charming towers and spires. Indeed, in whatever direction you go, some new and differing characteristics will reward your labour; and in every one I would urge upon you to sketch everything which strikes you as worthy of notice, whether in the church, the castle, or the cottage, not omitting the humble brick chimney-shaft, or the brick or stone or timber gable, or even the stamped plaster of the eastern counties.

In all this course of study you will be much facilitated by the remembrance of your practical office work. You will remember puzzling questions which have occurred to you while making working details, and{301} watch to find them solved in original work. How is the gable of an aisle connected with the eaves? and how with the parapet? How are timber overhanging eaves brought in contact with a stone gable? and how is the same done with stone eaves, or where the eaves are wood, and the roof timbers show through the gable?[67] All sorts of little questions such as these will have occurred to you in practice, and rested as doubtful points on your minds, but may be solved in many natural and pleasant ways while travelling among old examples—except, indeed, where the modern “restorer,” innocent as a babe of all such doubts, has levelled everything to his own office tariff. In such tours, be most careful accurately to sketch all the scarcer classes of examples you meet with, such as remnants of thirteenth and fourteenth century roofs and other wood-work, fragments of painted glass, specimens of iron-work, early screens and stalls, choice specimens of carved foliage or figure sculpture, traces of wall decorations, illuminations of screens, etc., and colouring on roofs. The unsparing hand of the so-called restorer has devastated and is still eagerly devastating whole districts, and clearing them of these invaluable records of ancient art; and this alone, independently of their high intrinsic value, renders it doubly important that the few remaining relics should be carefully represented. And be it ever remembered that such representations, to be really valuable, should not be mere hasty memoranda, but, if possible, careful measured drawings.{302}

I have hitherto supposed your sketching expedition to be one of a purely rural kind, and the examples from which you study to be mainly on the scale which we find in villages. I will now transfer the imaginary tourist to the opposite extreme, and suppose him to be devoting himself to one of our greatest cathedrals, as, for example, Lincoln. Here the case is greatly changed, for he will get no great good unless he seats himself down, determinedly and long, and goes through a lengthened course of careful and minute study, not necessarily of the entire cathedral, but at least of the parts selected for special attention. It is best at once, on your arrival, to take lodgings near at hand, and to enter into some arrangement with the verger for your admission at all reasonable hours, obtaining, if needful, a carte blanche from the authorities to go where you like, and at proper times to do what you like.

Should you set yourselves the task of tracing out and studying, step by step, the course of architectural change from the Norman Conquest to the close of the Mediæval periods, there are few places more suited than Lincoln for the purpose: indeed, I only remember a single link up to the middle of the fourteenth century which is missing from the chain, and that not wholly so.

In the towers of two churches in the lower city you have specimens of what may be fairly called Saxon, though of the date of the Conqueror; for when he drove out the old inhabitants from the upper city, to make way for his cathedral and castle, they erected for themselves churches in their own old architecture below the hill, while his people were at work in “the new manner of building” above. Of that “new man{303}ner” you will find specimens looking anything but new (excepting for the endeavours of the present chapter to impart that look to them[68]) in the west front; and if their surface shakes your faith in their authenticity, you will find within some parts, once external, but for six centuries enclosed in an early English appendage, which you will not doubt to be the work of old Remigius.

In the central doorway you have Norman of later date, and in the side ones truly exquisite specimens of the latest and most refined period of Romanesque, just before its transition into the Pointed style; and you will find the same work extending upward through the lower stages of the towers.

Here occurs, so far as I recollect, the only hiâtus. I do not remember any of that early variety of the Early Pointed of which the special characteristic is the square abacus, and on which I have dwelt so much at length in former lectures, such as that which prevails in Byland Abbey, and is seen in such high perfection in the entrance to the chapter-house of St. Mary’s Abbey at York.[69] The two late Norman doorways I have just mentioned tread close upon it, and the work which I shall next mention follows so closely after it as to differ only in the shape of the abacus, but the exact style is absent, its place being supplied by an almost unique variety of Early Pointed, which I would advise you specially to study. I refer to the work of Bishop Hugh, which forms the staple of the eastern transept with its appendages, the choir, and half of the east side of the great transept. At first sight this{304} work looks like the fully-developed Early Pointed, and its date, which closes in 1200, seems an anachronism; but on closer inspection it will be found that this antedate quality is limited to the abaci of the shafts, which are nearly all circular. In every other particular the details agree with their date, and belong clearly to the early variety of the style. The mouldings are of that peculiarly beautiful and studied profile which we find at no other period, and are worthy of your most careful study; indeed, I know of no work which will better repay the laborious and accurately measured drawing of its details.

I had intended to have gone carefully into a description of the varied beauties of Lincoln. I recollect, however, that in one of my early lectures I dwelt long on this cathedral, and I must not repeat myself; but having spent lately nearly a week in the careful study of its details, I wish, from personal and recent experience, to urge its claims upon you. As I said in the lecture referred to, you will find in the nave one of the finest examples we have of the fully developed and typical Early English, and in its eastern parts perhaps the very finest of its latest form. The Easter Sepulchre is a fine specimen of Early decorated of about the period of the Eleanor Crosses, and the sleeping soldiers beneath it are charming pieces of sculpture; the choir screen is an excellent specimen of later Decorated, and the stall-work of fine early Perpendicular work.

In studying these various authorities, each among the highest of its class, I would suggest that they, particularly the productions of the three great periods{305}

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Fig. 174.—Easter Sepulchre, Lincoln Cathedral.

of Early Pointed architecture, should be followed out systematically and relatively; comparing them part by part, by means of drawings not only carefully measured, but plotted down accurately on the spot. Thus, I would compare bay with bay of each period both within and without, and then follow up this more general comparison by comparing the details, as, for example, pillar with pillar, base with base, capital with capital, string-course with string-course, and so on through the arch-moulds, the triforium, the windows,{306} the vaulting, the wall arcading, and other features. By such a comparison you would obtain a very accurate knowledge of the whole course of thirteenth century architecture, as exemplified by one of the finest series of works that this or any other country can boast.

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Fig. 175.—Capitals, north side of Choir Lincoln Cathedral.

You must not, however, rest here: you must draw artistically and carefully from the more decorative portions of the several works. There is a perfect study of carved foliage in each of the divisions of the work. There are noble portals,[70] one of which, in particular, is itself worthy of a special visit to Lincoln, and of the devotion to it of a considerable amount of time. There is also a great amount of very fine figure sculpture, not only in the triforium of the “angel choir,” but in the portal just mentioned, and on a few of the buttresses around it. These merit your most careful drawing, as they are some of the finest examples in this country. There is also a good deal of beautiful figure carving of a rather later date in the wooden bosses in the cloister, and some of a still later age in the stall work of the{307} choir. I have already mentioned the sleeping soldiers under the Easter Sepulchre.

There are also a few remains of early wall painting. The largest amount is to be found in a chapel at the south-western angle of the nave, where a wall, the result of an alteration almost contemporary with the Early English chapel, has been richly decorated with bands of foliage, etc. These are now oddly intermixed with some decorations of the seventeenth century, but are readily distinguishable, and are a very useful series. Traces of decoration may also be found in the vaulting of the church itself and elsewhere. The stained glass in the circular window of the north transept is very fine, and merits close study, as also do the remains of that which once filled windows of the eastern part of the church, as well as remnants in other parts. All these, and a hundred other features, should be most carefully and studiously drawn from; indeed, there are few cities in Europe from which so vast an amount of information and instruction can be drawn—lessons not limited to the cathedral, but extending throughout the town, and consisting of domestic as well as ecclesiastical buildings.

I have only taken Lincoln as a specimen. The same course applies cæteris paribus, to all of our cathedrals. Look, for instance, at Canterbury.[71] What a magnificent and instructive series of objects of study does it offer! The Early Norman of Lanfranc and his immediate successors; the gorgeous later Norman{308} of Conrad, including, probably, the beautifully ornamented shafts in the north-eastern part of the older crypt, and in the cloister-like building lying to the north of the same; the work of William of Sens (without studying which no one can thoroughly understand the English transition), and that of his English successor and pupil, which carries on the change a little farther. The charming developed Early English in the walls of the cloister; the early Decorated of Peckham’s tomb and the later Decorated of the lower stage of the chapter-house, of the enclosure of the choir and of St. Anselm’s Chapel; followed up as they are by fine works of later styles and accompanied by collateral work of the greatest value, both around the cathedral itself, in the remains of St. Augustine’s Abbey, and in other buildings in the city; form of themselves the groundwork for a course of study which would, if earnestly pursued, give the student a complete foundation on which all his future knowledge might well be based.

A comparison of William the Englishman’s work with that in the Castle Chapel and Castle Church at Dover would be interesting, as probably showing the works of the same hand; and a comparison of these, on another occasion, with the more thoroughly English work of the same period at St. Cross, and other buildings in which the English and French transition seem to work hand in hand, as Glastonbury and the rather later work at Chichester, followed up, again, by a study of the Northern transitional examples, would give a pretty perfect knowledge of this most instructive, perhaps, of all periods of English architecture.{309}

I will not, however, weary you with barren bills of fare and outline tours, but will content myself with saying that the same course of close all-gathering study must be followed up wherever you go, whether making a tour of village churches or of the great northern abbeys, or seating yourselves down before a majestic cathedral.

Architecture properly so called, wood-work, metal-work, decorations, stained glass, and every form of art and workmanship, must be studied as if you had to perform like work for yourselves; and you must make yourselves perfect masters of it in every way; and, moreover, you must study the object and meaning of everything so as in every way perfectly to understand its motive, whether ritual, constructive, iconographic, artistic, or simply utilitarian.

I will make one other suggestion as to your English studies. You cannot be always making tours, but you need to be always studying. Do not, then, neglect those objects which surround you while at home. You have at your doors, if you live in London, abundant objects to occupy such incidental hours as you may have at your command.

To begin with, you have Westminster Abbey, the study of which may supply your leisure moments for life. What an inexhaustible fund of material of all kinds we have here! Of the earlier periods we have objects which—if not artistically important—possess at least a deep antiquarian interest; for we retain extensive remnants of that work of Edward the Confessor which a contemporary writer tells us was the very first erected in England in the “new manner of{310} building;” meaning the Norman Romanesque as distinguished from the Saxon, which latter, curiously enough, had been viewed by those who practised it as being Roman. Then, we have the Late Norman of St. Catherine’s or the Infirmary Chapel. These are but incidental objects of interest, but how different is the case with the abbey church itself!

We have there the foremost work of its period in this country—a work distinctly intended to surpass all others, and in which the most advanced developments of its period were introduced. True, the exterior has been pared down and renewed in the last century till little is left but its mass and proportions which invites your study; but what an interior! I know of none more beautiful. Its uniformity may at first sight make it seem unprolific in variety of detail; but I would only say, try it, by commencing a systematic series of sketches, carefully measuring every part, making accurate sections of the mouldings and studied drawings from the foliage and the remains of the figure sculpture; and you will soon find that it is a mine of the most valuable examples of every kind of detail. Its workmanship, too, is of a very superior kind, and suggests lessons to those who carefully examine into it of the utmost importance. The chapter-house is as valuable an example as the church and its vestibule, and the early portions of the cloisters offer studies of the utmost value always open to the student.

The comparison between the works of Henry III. and of Edward I. form an interesting study, as showing the one step onward in the second stage of the work.{311}

Of the age of this second work, you have several gorgeous specimens in the monuments of Queen Eleanor, of Crouchback, and of his Countess Aveline. The two latter are invaluable studies of coloured decoration in its most sumptuous form, and I specially commend them to your attention.

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Fig. 176.—Westminster Abbey.

Fig. 177.—Westminster Abbey.

Of foliated carving you have admirable specimens, both of the most refined form of the conventional kind, and of the earliest form in which natural foliage was made use of (Figs. 176, 177). You have, in the tombs of Eleanor, Crouchback, and Aveline, and in the bosses of Edward I.’s work, the same carried on into a more systematic form; and I may here mention that generally the bosses in the vaulting are worthy of most careful study. Then, again, you have noble examples of figure sculpture in the earlier monuments, especially those of Henry III., Queen Eleanor, Crouchback, Aveline, and Aymer de Valence. Also some admirable relics of it in connection with the architecture; as, for example, in the angles of the triforium of the transepts (Figs. 178, 179), in the bosses of the western aisle of the north transept, and over the doorway of the chapter-house. Of later figure-sculpture there is{312} an endless catalogue, winding up nobly with Torrigiano’s works in Henry VII.’s Chapel.

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Fig. 178.—Angel Triforium of the South Transept, Westminster Abbey.

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Fig. 179.—Angel Triforium of the South Transept, Westminster Abbey.

Of enamel-work you have splendid relics in the monument of William de Valence and in the shields on Edward III.’s. Of mosaic-work, whether of porphyry or enamel, you will find abundant examples, as you so well know: of the finer forms of painting you will find most exquisite relics in the wonderful retabulum of the altar[72] (now preserved in the ambulatory of the choir) and in the chapter-house; of iron-work you have a splendid example over the tomb of Queen Eleanor; and of bronze-work (though late in date) in the exquisite gates of Henry VII.’s Chapel and in his tomb, with its surrounding screen, also in the accompaniments{313} of the bronze effigies already alluded to; while of later styles of architecture you have as splendid a series as this country can produce, ranging from the very earliest perpendicular in the cloisters, dating not much after the middle of the fourteenth century, to the gorgeous chapel of Henry VII.

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Fig. 180.—Mosaic from the Tomb of the Children of Henry III. and Edward I., Westminster Abbey.

With such a storehouse of art at your doors, you need never want work. You have, however, in London many minor works of great value. To place them in chronological order: you have the chapel of the Tower, a work dating back almost to the Conquest;[73] St. Bartholomew’s Priory Church in Smithfield, a beautiful specimen of the later Norman;[74] the Temple Church, consisting of one of the finest{314}

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Fig. 181.—Temple Church, London. Capitals, West Door.

examples of the transitional[75] united with one of the finest of the fully-developed Early Pointed style; the remains which the modern Vandals have left us of St. Saviour’s Church, a noble Early Pointed work; the chapel of Lambeth Palace, in the same style; Ely Place Chapel, a work contemporary with the Eleanor Crosses;[76] the crypt of St. Stephen’s, Westminster; the hall of Lambeth Palace; Westminster Hall, and many an interesting object of minor importance. You have, if you want a day’s or a week’s trip, St. Alban’s Abbey, a never-failing and inexhaustible treasury; Waltham Abbey, with what remains unspoiled of the Cross; Stone Church, Hampton Court, Eltham Palace, Croydon Palace, Beddington Hall, Eastbury House, the ruins of Nether Hall, the Rye House, and many old churches now brought within an hour’s ride of London;{315} not to mention the rapidly failing relics of the old churches of Middlesex, now the mere sport of destructive and ignorant committees, and—with shame I say it—sometimes of equally destructive but more culpable, because only wilfully ignorant, clergymen.

But London supplies other facilities for the study of Mediæval art in addition to its ancient buildings. In the first place, I may mention its libraries, in which the student may devote his spare hours in studying every work which has ever been published bearing upon the subject. The library of the British Museum (including the print-room and the manuscript-room) contains everything of that kind which the student could desire, and I strongly recommend you to gain the privilege of admittance and to make full use of that privilege. Your own library, too, at the Royal Academy, and those of the Institute of British Architects and of the Department of Art at South Kensington, offer every facility for study. I would especially mention that last named as being open in the evenings, and as being one of the most complete libraries of works on art in existence. The Architectural Museum[77] and the South Kensington Museum are absolutely invaluable as aids to the student; so that you have ample employment for the dead season of the year in which sketching tours are impossible, and it is your own fault if you do not make full and ample use of the privileges you possess; for, believe me, they are such as in former times it was impossible to obtain. I need hardly{316} mention the British Museum, which, though not rich in Mediæval works, is the repository of those wondrous stores of Greek and other art which the Mediæval artist knows as well how to value as those who devote to them their more exclusive study.

You will perhaps wonder that I have said nothing as yet of foreign travel. I have delayed this intentionally, and for this reason: the facilities for travelling abroad are now so abundant, and so great a stress has of late years been laid on the study of foreign examples, that there is great danger of the student rushing headlong into foreign travel before he has made himself acquainted, in any but the most superficial manner, with the architecture of his own country.

You may possibly be disposed, after reading my former lectures, to say that, as most of the developments of our art seem to have originated abroad, it would be more systematic to study them in the first instance where they originated, and then to trace their ramifications in other countries. I would reply that, though when writing on a subject one is obliged to be systematic, it is by no means necessary that we should be rigorously so in our studies. Effects have in all sciences to be examined into before their causes are discovered, and it is often better that each student should for himself go through the process of tracing back familiar developments of art through the long course of circumstances which led to them, rather than, beginning at the original germ (which he must learn from others), to proceed—in a course not his own—till he arrives at the result with which he is familiar from its being at his own door.{317}

However this may be, I hold it to be most unnatural for the English student of Gothic architecture to plunge into the study of its productions in other lands before he has made himself perfectly acquainted with those of his own. Our language is mainly derived from German and French, but who would wish his children to be taught those languages before they could speak correctly their mother tongue? We love Gothic architecture in the first instance, not because of the buildings we have heard of or seen pictures of as existing in foreign countries, but from those which we see around us—our own village churches, our own cathedrals, and a hundred objects which we have known from our childhood. From these we learn the native language of the art, and it behoves us to pursue the study of that language, and to perfect ourselves in it, before we turn our attention to foreign dialects, even though they may be of older date than our own.

When, however, you are well grounded in our own architecture, nothing can be more delightful or more instructive than to follow up your studies in foreign countries; though here, again, you must ever keep a watch over yourselves—a guard to your patriotism—lest you should be tempted to forget or to undervalue your mother tongue.[78]

The first country to visit is unquestionably France. A question may occur whether it is best to begin with the old royal domain—the great central province of the Pointed style, the fountain-head of our art—or with{318} Normandy as the connecting link between ourselves and that fountain-head. On this question I would not offer any very strong opinion, though I incline towards the former. I do not think that, after the Romanesque period, the developments of the French came to us in any very great, or at least any very exclusive, degree through Normandy; and we know that very shortly afterwards that link of communication was cut off by our loss of that province, and that immediately after this the architecture of Normandy became more distinctly French, and that of England more exclusively English. I think, therefore, that you would be better prepared to understand the architecture of Normandy by having first studied that of the central province of France.

This, however, is a secondary question. The great matter is, wherever you go, thoroughly to study, thoroughly to sketch; not to hasten over the ground to get through an extensive programme, but to seat yourselves down where you find good material, and work on patiently at it. Where you begin is comparatively of little matter, excepting that it is undesirable to take the abnormal before the normal—the mere dialect before the language.

If you begin at Paris, as the great centre, you will find, amidst the Napoleonic modernisms of that centre of fashion, a very perfect series of typical Mediæval remains, over-restored and otherwise often sadly damaged, but nevertheless of the utmost value. I have mentioned most of them in my former lectures, but I will just enumerate them to refresh your memory, and roughly in chronological order.{319}

I know little of purely Romanesque date unless it be the eastern part of the abbey church of St. Martin. This is curious and worthy of attention. The earliest object, however, of paramount importance is the older part of the church of St. Denis. I have said a good deal about it before, and will now content myself with pressing its importance as the grand typical example of transition. The Byzantine foliage here displays itself in a most marked form. You will find it in the string-courses and other parts of the west end very finely developed.[79] The great portal of the north transept is a noble specimen of this early style. The foliated carving on it is of very high merit. The eastern chapels, both of the church and crypt, are well worthy of the closest study, and there are many fine remains both stowed away in the churchyard and preserved in a temporary museum close by. These, however, do not all belong to this church, some having been brought here, under what circumstances I do not know, from St. Germain des Près. I will just mention that you must get permission to sketch (so long as the works of restoration are going on) from M. Viollet le Duc, and, having obtained, pray use it to the utmost.

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Fig. 182.—Capitals, Montmartre.

Next in date, so far as I know, comes St. Germain des Près. Here you will find, {320}especially in the choir and its aisles, a most noble series of studies of the Byzantinesque foliage. The architecture, too, is very excellent; but you will perceive that the present form of the triforium is altered from the original.

Perhaps about the same age is the church of Montmartre. Here the Byzantinesque foliage is nearly all of the plain unraffled form, and is very curious and worthy of study.

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Fig. 183.—St. Julien le Pauvre, Paris. Plan of Choir.

In the same class may be placed the little church of St. Julien le Pauvre, now the chapel of the Hôtel Dieu. The choir and its aisles form a perfect work on a very small scale in the transitional style, with Byzantinesque foliage. The church is but little known, but is well worthy of attention. It shows how mistaken is the idea that the Early French style is not suited to small buildings. The clear width of the side bays is actually under four feet, and the other dimensions in proportion, yet the whole not only has not a miniature, but has a decidedly dignified air, while its details offer{321} considerable varieties, even the two apsidal chapels being wholly different in their design and plan. What remains of the nave and the fragments of the fine western portal are good specimens of the succeeding style.

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Fig. 184.—St. Julien le Pauvre, Paris. Choir.

We now come to the church of Nôtre Dame, which offers an almost perfect series of objects of study from the same period on into the fourteenth century. In the eastern parts is transitional work with Byzantine foliage, showing some very curious varieties. One of the western portals, too, contains two exquisite corbels belonging to its predecessor of the transitional period (Figs. 187, 188). The nave with its truly glorious portals is a most noble illustration of two immediately succeeding periods;{322} as fine, indeed, in its details as anything can be. The iron-work of one of the west doors is unequalled. The upper portions of the façade go off into later yet still noble work. The transepts, now sadly over-restored, belong to the latter half of the thirteenth century, and have been fine though somewhat attenuated works.

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Fig. 185.—St. Julien le Pauvre, Paris. South Aisle of Choir.

The porte rouge is a model of a small and elegant doorway, while the eastern chapels, which nevertheless possess great elegance, show how the massive and mas{323}culine Early French style had become thinned down before the close of the first quarter of the fourteenth century.

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Fig. 186.—St. Julien le Pauvre, Paris. Chapel, south side of Choir.

The refectory of the abbey of St. Martin aux Champs is a most noble apartment of the first half of the thirteenth century, and some of the foliated carving is among the finest of its period (Figs. 189, 190, 191) while the{324}

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Figs. 187, 188.—Corbels, Western Portals, Nôtre Dame, Paris.

Sainte Chapelle, said to be the work of the same architect, carries on the style a little farther, and is too well known to need any remark from me.[80] Of later architecture there are also many specimens, though my tastes and leisure have not allowed me to go much into them. There are also several minor works of the early styles, of most of which I do not remember the names. The Hôtel Cluny, itself a charming specimen of the domestic architecture of the fifteenth century, contains, besides{325} its invaluable collection of movables, a most interesting mass of fragments of architectural detail well worthy of several days’ careful devotion.

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Fig. 189.—Capital, St. Martin aux Champs.

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Figs. 190, 191.—Capitals, St. Martin aux Champs.

Quitting Paris, no city in France has, perhaps, stronger claims on your attention than Chartres. I will not go into any description of what you will find there, further than to say that it contains some of the very finest and richest examples both of the transitional and of the fully-developed Early Pointed styles. You might seat yourselves down there for a month and work hard every day, and be glad to go again and again and do the same, and yet find{326} ample scope for study. In all these works the figure sculpture claims equal attention with the architecture, and no place offers a nobler field for this study than Chartres. A short run farther brings you to Le Mans, where the same two styles are again gloriously displayed, the one in the nave and the other in the choir, etc.; but this takes us out of the regions of the old royal domain and trenches on the Angevine district.

Between Paris and Amiens, and both near to and wide of the road to the right and left, you will find an admirable series of village churches worthy of being made the object of an entire tour, while among them are many more gorgeous monuments, as the abbey church of St. Luc d’Esserent with its exquisite series of capitals, and the cathedral and other churches of Senlis. Amiens and Beauvais need no recommendation from me, nor need I call your attention to that glorious group consisting of Noyen, Soissons, Laon, and Rheims, with the Château de Coucy, the monastery of Ourscamp, etc. This group should be the subject of a distinct tour, though too extensive to be thoroughly studied in one of short duration.

I should have mentioned that at Creil, which you pass in going to almost any of these places, are the ruins of the exquisite transitional church of St. Evremont, another instance of the way in which the early French builders fitted their architecture to works of small size. I know few more valuable examples of its period than this.

In another direction you reach Sens—a church so closely allied with the English transition—and Auxerre—a mine of fine detail, and farther on the venerable{327} abbey of Vezelay, and several others less in scale but of great interest; but here again we get out of our province: only let me beg you, if you go to Vezelay, to give plenty of time to the chapter-house, a truly exquisite work of the transitional period.

Each district of France, however, has its own special objects, all interesting and instructive, and all claiming your careful study, though the central district bears most directly upon ourselves, excepting only Normandy, with its Romanesque identical with our own, and its host of charming village churches, which remind one so much of those of England. Wherever you go, be particular to give attention to the rarer objects, such as timber roofs of early date, chancel stalls, wall decorations, with those relating to groining, etc., to metal-work, jewellery, shrines, illuminated manuscripts, and more especially to stained glass; and, perhaps, almost more than all, to figure sculpture. I would also suggest that you should generally give preference to objects which are really beautiful rather than to those which are odd and extravagant. I confess I have not myself seen much of the latter class in France; but some of my friends who have a keener eye have, if one may judge of causes by effects, come home loaded with eccentricities such as I have failed to meet with.

Germany is almost as delightful to the architectural tourist as France itself, and is much more so in one respect. I mean the general retention of the movables of churches, even to the jewellery.

The architecture in Germany which is, perhaps, the most valuable is that of the transition, which, as I{328} have before pointed out, took here a line of its own. After this, the most valuable is, perhaps, the brick architecture of the North. The timber buildings, however, are almost equally important, were it not that it is a material not much in use for external architecture in our own day.

The movables, however, are the richest inheritance of the German churches, and to these I would recommend your devoted attention. They form a special and most important subject of study, and one for which no country offers such facilities. Besides the more ordinary objects, such as chancel fittings, reredoses, bronze gates, metal and other screens, lamps, coronæ, fonts (whether of stone or of brass), tabernacles for the reservation of the host, ancient organs, paintings, and a hundred others of parallel classes, almost every great church has its Schatzzimmer, or treasury, and these usually contain valuables of the highest interest and of the most splendid art. These are not always easy of access, and it is difficult to obtain permission to sketch in them; but it is worth every exertion to do so. The treasuries at Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne are known to every traveller, and their claims upon the student are apt to be passed over from very familiarity; but a few days devoted to each would be invaluable. I know no ancient work more glorious or more exquisite, so far as it remains intact, than the shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne. I have on two occasions obtained permission for a brief period to draw from it, and have been filled with wonder at the exquisite art which a close examination unfolds. At Hildesheim are numberless objects of early art of the same class. At Bruns{329}wick, again, are a few; while the treasury of the cathedral at Halberstadt is a complete museum of Mediæval art. Sacred vessels, reliquaries containing the finest early workmanship, books with glorious jewelled covers, mitres of all degrees of richness, tapestries from the earliest periods, altar coverings both of embroidery and linen of early periods, and exquisite works of every class we can imagine are to be found in that charmed enclosure.[81] At Marburg there are also many such objects, and among them the shields of the old Teutonic knights and the perfectly wonderful shrine of St. Elizabeth. I do not refer to the beautiful stone structure which contained it, and which is figured by Moller, but to the gorgeous jewelled shrine which it contained. All through Germany, however, the case is the same: wherever you go you find the great churches replete with the movable works of Mediæval art. It is for you to study them with the care which they deserve.

I have in a previous lecture said a good deal about the study of Italian architecture, and I will not now repeat it. Suffice it to say that Italy is the land in which to study the use of rich materials, of mosaic-work, and of architectural decoration in its highest forms. It is the land in which to give the finishing touch to your architectural training, to learn the last and loftiest lessons—those which show us how to link architecture with the sister arts in their highest perfection. If you are artists when you go there, you may be much more advanced artists when you return. We{330} learn, too, there much that is most useful in respect of the domestic architecture of towns. It is, however, a seductive country, and we have to keep on our guard there, and not to forget that we are members of a Northern nation.

Mr. Street has told us a great deal that is deeply interesting about Spanish architecture, so I will not (as I have never seen it) enter upon that subject; and will close what I have to say on foreign travel by urging you to the diligent use of it, but urging you also when you return home, not to forget that you are Englishmen, and that English is your proper language. I would also advise that your foreign tours should be followed up or alternated with English ones, so that your own native architecture may always be kept prominently before your mind.

I have offered to you in this lecture what may appear to you but the dry bones of the subject. In my next I hope to follow it up by suggestions, both as to the spirit in which this course of study should be undertaken, and the personal training both of the mind, the eye, and the hand necessary to fit you for such studies; and as to the practical uses which you should subsequently make of the lessons you will have thus learned.{331}


On the Study and Practice of Gothic Architecture.

Every day business and practical work to go on hand in hand with the study of ancient buildings—How best to be accomplished—The study from books—Artistic and archæological portions cannot be wholly disconnected—Heraldry—A knowledge of the history of art absolutely necessary for the study of Mediæval architecture—Greek art the parent of Gothic sculpture—Ruined cities of Central Syria—Mahometan styles—Our own form of church the direct inheritance from the earliest Christian temples—Training as artists—Choice among specimens of different Mediæval periods and styles—Examples especially recommended—Practical studies of ancient buildings in connection with their structural and mechanical qualities—Vaulting—Timber-work—Stone-work, etc., etc.—The actual practice of Mediæval architecture—The repairs and restoration of ancient buildings.

IN my last lecture I gave you an outline of the course of study requisite to obtaining a knowledge of Mediæval architecture, so far as this is to be done by the studying and sketching from ancient buildings. I purpose, in this, to carry on the same subject into other particulars, and also to offer some suggestions as to the actual practice of the revived style.

I might have appeared, in what I have said, almost to presuppose—what is improbable, if not impossible—that those whom I have been advising as to their studies have the entire command of their time, and are comparatively free from the demands of every-day business. I not only do not suppose, but should be as far as possible from desiring, this; for I am convinced that those whose usual occupations are not such as to{332} familiarise them with the demands and the difficulties of practical work, and with the questions which are ever being suggested by actually working out the details of architecture for practical use, are not prepared to profit in the fullest degree from the study of old examples. This study, and the practical work to which it is the only key, must go on hand in hand. There are numberless intricacies and niceties; problems long since solved; difficulties ingeniously met; clever ways of making accidents, which in their own nature would cause a blemish, the means of adding beauty; numberless instances in which decorative or other treatment was the result of some practical reason which would at first sight appear to be merely a matter of taste; and a thousand other instructive and important matters which would be entirely passed over or fail of approving themselves to the understanding of the student who is not prepared to appreciate them by the suggestion to themselves of the same problems, the same difficulties, the same little knots to be untied, the same little intricacies to be unravelled, and the same calls for clever contrivance to meet accidental circumstances arising in their own daily practical work.

The man, on the other hand, who is always at practical work, without studying much from old examples, becomes dull and normal, or flighty and crotchety, according to the bent of his own mind; while, if he constantly supplies and revivifies his practical work by study from original examples, and fits his mind to receive these lessons by his practical work, he is prevented from becoming dull and lifeless by the constant suggestions of brightness and life which{333} he receives, or from becoming crotchety and over fanciful by the reasonableness which he finds to pervade the objects which he studies, and the evident aim which they evince rather to chasten and conceal—to subject to the doctrine of reserve—their clever contrivances than to flaunt them obviously to public gaze.

To carry out this mutual co-operation of practical work and the study of old examples, I would recommend you always to note down any puzzle you fall into in your work, and any doubt as to how a perplexity is to be met or difficulty to be got over, and any uncertainty which may occur to you as to the best mode of treating a particular feature; so that, when you next go out sketching, you may have a list of questions for which you have to seek for practical answers from the old architects themselves, still speaking to us and instructing us through their works; and in the same way you may have, ever and anon, answers suggested by the old men to questions which you have not yet thought of asking, but which in your practical work you will soon find to arise. This playing of practice and study into each other’s hands will add vastly to the pleasure and profit of both, and will keep up a zealous and lively interest in your minds which will make your return to business only second in enjoyment to your setting out on a sketching tour; the one keeping alive by practical use the pleasure and interest of the lessons learned by the other.

I must now say a word, which perhaps ought to have come at the beginning of my last lecture, about preparation of another kind for this class of study.

I need hardly dwell upon the obvious necessity for{334} having acquired at the outset, and for constantly continuing to acquire, a knowledge from books of the subject you are studying.

At the beginning of this century it was wholly unknown; since that time it has gradually become better and better understood; and it is clear that, to carry on this cumulative process, each generation of students must take as their basis the full amount of knowledge yet attained, and—riding as it were on the crest of the wave—must add their own progress to that attained by their predecessors. I will not attempt to enumerate books. If you are anxious to follow up the subject, you will already have found them out or will soon do so. I will mention, however, that you must not limit your reading to English works, for the French have done, I think, even more than our own countrymen to elucidate the subject; and among English writers let Professor Willis take a leading place as your instructor.

But what you have to learn from books is not architecture alone. I will not stop to insist on the necessity of general reading, just as every one should follow up: some of the usual classes of general reading are, however (if it were possible) even more directly important in their minute details to architects than to others: I would more especially instance historical knowledge, and all that tends to illustrate the changes which have influenced civilisation, and through it have borne more or less directly upon art.

Though antiquarianism is very distinct from art, and though the architectural student should be always on his guard against the danger of reversing the relative positions of the artistic and the archæological{335} portions of his studies, it is nevertheless manifest that the two can never be wholly disconnected. You must, therefore, follow up antiquarian studies so far as they have a direct or a real bearing upon your main pursuit.

I would mention, in passing, that there is one antiquarian science which is a special link of connection between the present and the past: I refer to Heraldry, a branch of study which we too much neglect, but which has very strong claims upon our attention.

Then, again, you must always study the meaning and object of every ancient building which you are examining, that you may know how far its practical characteristics bear upon or are alien to such as belong to our own day. In ecclesiastical works this becomes a practical and necessary study; for, though the ritual uses and customs have greatly changed, many of them hold good in our own day, either directly or in some modified or parallel form, which connects the study of the ritual arrangements of ancient churches more or less directly with our own. The study, then, of ecclesiastical and ritual history and antiquities is one of those directly necessary to the church architect; though, as in the case of antiquarianism, he must avoid the danger of making it in any degree take the place, instead of assisting and guiding his study, of architecture itself.

I would here take the opportunity of urging upon those who purpose devoting themselves especially to Mediæval architecture the necessity of making themselves acquainted, in some reasonable degree at least, and the more thoroughly the better, with the whole range of the history of art. It is only by means of such knowledge that we are able to comprehend the{336} true position which Mediæval architecture takes in the long stream of art history.

The classic styles are the parents of the Mediæval styles, and without a good knowledge of them the Gothic architect is unable to understand his own architecture. More than this, however: Greek art—properly so called—is the parent of Gothic sculpture, whether foliated or relating to the human figure; and in respect of the latter it is (next to nature) the best corrective of its faults. I urge upon you, therefore, the study of Greek sculpture of the best early schools, as a direct means of perfecting that of your own works.

Then again, with Roman architecture, and the course of its decadence: how replete is its history with anticipatory suggestions as to the rise of the new architecture which after a long period of darkness sprang up from its decayed roots! And equally instructive is the study of Byzantine architecture—that “light in a dark place” which was destined to shed its rays so beneficently on the rising, but yet embryo, arts of the Middle Ages.

A most interesting addition has recently been made to our knowledge of this style by the researches of the Count de Vogüé among the ruined cities recently discovered in the mountains of Central Syria.

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Fig. 192.—El Barah, Central Syria.

These cities seem to have been in prosperity up to the moment of the Mahometan conquest of Syria, but to have been suddenly de{337}serted, as in one day, on the approach of the Arabian armies, and since then to have remained untouched but by the elements and earthquakes; so that they hand down to us the earlier Byzantine architecture (as practised in Syria) in the most perfect and instructive manner. In these wonderful cities we have not only the churches, but nearly every description of Byzantine building, either nearly perfect, or—when thrown down by earthquakes, as is often the case—with the parts still lying as they fell, so that the entire design can be perfectly understood.

These remains supply the connecting link between the Byzantine and the old Classic styles; but it is the later buildings, such as St. Mark’s at Venice, which give the link at the opposite end of the chain, connecting it with the churches of Aquitaine, and through them with our own Romanesque and transitional works; while the various productions of Byzantine art of the same period, with which Western Europe was so liberally supplied, became the germs from which much of the ornamentation of our own earlier works originated. All this it behoves the Gothic architect to study; nor should he neglect the parallel supplies of suggestions from the Mahometan styles—themselves the offspring of the Byzantine. But still more incumbent is it on him to follow out that direct catena by which, in Western Europe, the Roman style passed through the Early Basilican phase in Southern Italy, the Lombardic in Northern Italy,[82] and the various{338} derivative forms of Romanesque in Southern France and Rhineland, as well as in the less familiar European countries.

In all these varied courses of gradual change it is yet more interesting, and far more profitable, to trace out—as distinct from all questions of architectural style—the ritual and practical changes through which the basilica, so early adopted as the great type of the Christian Church, became the parent of the typical form made use of to our own day and for our own churches, and those by which the later-introduced Greek cross was perfected into the form of the Byzantine churches, and the less usual circular type into that of a series of exceptional churches both in the East and West. The first of these catenæ, in particular, is most interesting to ourselves, as showing that our own form of church is our direct inheritance from the earliest Christian temple: and, though we may do well to consider how far the series of changes through which it has reached us may be advantageously followed up by any additional modification to meet the true demands of our own day, yet God forbid that we should so far forget the claims of our long descent as to let go this precious inheritance of our fathers![83]

There is, however, another more direct kind of preparation, on which I desire most urgently to insist.{339} I mean your personal training as artists. True it is that your sketching tours will be a great means of promoting this; but this will not do alone: you must constantly strive to train your eye and your hand to artistic perception and skill. You should take lessons from first-rate teachers both in drawing and in colouring; you should take some means of training yourselves in drawing the human figure and in animal drawing, and even in modelling if opportunity permits. These means ought unquestionably to be afforded to the architectural students by this Academy as a special and most important and essential part of their training. That such is not the case at present is, I believe, the result of the cramped and insufficient housing which has been allowed us, and I do trust that this hindrance will soon be removed.[84]

You should further practise yourselves in drawing and modelling from natural leaves and flowers, and, side by side with this, in drawing from fine examples of sculptured foliage, whether natural or conventional, for which last-named object you have great facilities offered by the Architectural Museum; and all this, I would suggest, can be going on during the winter months when you cannot sketch from actual buildings. Without this training you will find yourselves at a great disadvantage in studying for original works; your attempts at drawing sculpture, whether figures or foliage, will disgust and dishearten you, and even your sketches from purely architectural objects will be both dispiriting to yourselves at the time, will fail to express the true feeling of the works themselves, and will{340} convey no agreeable impressions when you revert to them in after years.

You will have gathered from incidental remarks as I have proceeded that I have not supposed you to limit your attention and study to architecture properly so called. Time does not allow me to go farther into the subject of collateral arts; but let me say that, as architecture unites all arts in one, so you must gather into her garner the spoils to be collected from the study of every art by which architecture may be ennobled and enriched.

I have said nothing in the course of the foregoing remarks as to the choice or preference you would have to exercise among specimens of different Mediæval periods and styles, but I have said enough to show that I do not suppose your studies of the old buildings in our own and neighbouring countries to be limited to one selected period, nor even to what can be strictly called Mediæval works, as much that is useful can be gathered (particularly in domestic work) from buildings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is absolutely necessary, too, that you should understand and be familiar with all the varieties of our old architecture, because, though you may not follow them in your own works, you may be frequently called upon to restore them, though this reason is hardly necessary to lead you to master the whole range of Mediæval art.

Still, however, you cannot choose but follow more lovingly the works of the periods which most approve themselves to your minds as the days when art was the most vigorous, noble, and full of deep and true sentiment. For my own part, though I am less exclusive{341} than many of my friends, I must confess that I find a difficulty in sketching, unless with a directly practical object, from works either so early as to be rude or so late as to be enervated. And while I beg you to make yourselves masters of the whole range, I am far from asking you to check the genial current of the soul by endeavouring to love all varieties alike, or to give equal attention to those which are and those which are not in harmony with your inner feelings.

I have dwelt much, in my earlier lectures, on the study of the vigorous and onward-striving works of the transition: and I confess that to me this is the most captivating period. I have already sufficiently indicated the leading examples of it, though you will find it interspersed with other styles all over the country. I think myself that no style is more calculated to excite a grandeur of sentiment, but none seems to me to have been so little studied from English examples, or rather, I should have said, from British examples, for it is as finely developed in Wales and in Scotland as it is in England. I have said a good deal about studying it as a historical phase of the style, but this, though necessary, is in point of fact a very secondary matter. You must much rather study it artistically, with reference to its intrinsic merits and its noble beauty, and morally, as illustrating the elevated sentiment and noble earnestness of those who, while pressing forward a new style of art, generated at every step such glorious productions.

I have said less, perhaps, and spoken with less enthusiasm of the fully-developed Early Pointed style, not from a lower appreciation of its merits, but because{342} it seems rather a breathing-place—a point of attainment—in the march, than especially a point of noble pressing onward. Nor need I enumerate the special objects of study belonging to the period. They are sown broadcast over our own and neighbouring lands, and form the staple of our most magnificent, and a large proportion of our humble, Mediæval remains. No tour, however, is more prolific of instruction in this style than that of the northern abbeys, and this tour may be repeated again and again with ever fresh delight, and extended with great profit over the borders and far away into Scotland.

After this we come to another transition, and—the period of rest being at an end—we find again much of the same earnest striving as during the earlier transition. I would recommend a very special amount of study to be devoted to this style—for it is not reasonable to suppose that traceried windows are to be banished from our revival; and loving, as most of us do, the vigour of the earlier periods, this second transition—the connecting link between the earlier and the middle periods—offers most valuable material for our own developments: indeed, I cannot conceive of a more promising course of corrective training for those among us who have followed early and foreign work till it has grown into an actual mania, than to set themselves the task of following up, nolens volens, the minute study in all its details of a carefully selected series of work of this second English transition.

For such a course I would especially recommend the following examples:—

The greater part of Netley Abbey; all the eastern{343} portions of Westminster Abbey; the eastern arm of Lincoln Cathedral;[85] the chapter-house[86] and cloisters at Salisbury; all that remains of Newstead Abbey; and the nave of Lichfield Cathedral. Of a period a shade later I would recommend the nave of St. Mary’s Abbey at York; the whole of Tintern Abbey; the chapter-houses at Southwell and at York, and the eastern parts at St. Albans. The two latter are, however, productions of the completed style rather than of the transition, and to give a list of objects of study in that style would be almost hopeless, for the country is filled with them. Nor do I admire so exclusively the earlier work as to exclude from the better half of our Mediæval range yet later specimens of the Middle Pointed. I cannot but think the gateways of St. Augustine’s at Canterbury, of Battle Abbey, and of that of Bury St. Edmund’s; the halls of Mayfield, Penshurst, and the lost hall at Worcester; the lost chapel and the still existing crypt of St. Stephen’s; the choir at Winchelsea; the Lady Chapel at Chichester; and a long list of other buildings of the earlier part of the fourteenth century, to be works claiming our high regard and admiration, and I consequently recommend them also to your careful study.

The very latest phase of the Decorated style is often weak, but I will not suppose you to be so much so as to be unable to sever its beauties from its faults, or to be in danger of condemning or admiring good and bad alike; and a yet more vigorous discretion is{344} needed in studying from the works of the succeeding ages, though, all through, you will find not only objects of high intrinsic merit, but constant suggestions capable of being advantageously translated into a more vigorous style.[87]

A still more important subject I have as yet but incidentally touched upon. I refer to the practical character of your studies of ancient examples, as viewed in connection with the actual structural and mechanical qualities of the examples themselves, and the learning from ancient examples the principles of Mediæval construction and practical art, and their bearings upon our own constructive and practical operations. Thus, for example, you must give special and systematic study to the principles of vaulting as exemplified by Mediæval buildings. I have, in one of my lectures, recommended, as a prelude to such study, your reading Professor Willis’s paper on the subject in the Transactions of the Institute of British Architects and M. Viollet le Duc’s in his Dictionary. You will be the better prepared after this to work the subjects out for yourselves. It is a particularly difficult matter to study, both in its own nature and because the work is usually out of reach. You should watch for opportunities offered by scaffoldings being raised under vaultings, and make accurate measurements. You must study not only the lines and their setting out, but the stone{345} cutting and jointing, and all kinds of practical questions, the very existence of which you cannot understand till you have given much attention to the subject. Then, when you have obtained a perfect insight into these questions, you will do well to consider whether there are or are not practical faults in the old work which we should do well to remedy. So in timber-work we should master the old system of construction, and then think how far it is perfect and where open to improvement, and also how far the old system as applied to oak is suited to our own constructions in fir, and what are the practical variations suggested by the material. And so on through stone-work, iron-work, brass-work (whether cast or wrought), lead-work, silver-work, and jewellery. You must not content yourselves with studying and sketching from the work as an architectural or decorative design, but must dissect and investigate it, and find out its construction, and how far that construction has modified or suggested its design, or how far this may result from not only the construction, but the nature of the material.

In respect of the metal-work and other kinds of decorative art, you will find great advantage from carefully reading Mr. Burges’s lectures, given some time back before the Society of Arts.

By thus following up your studies from all points of view, whether antiquarian, historical, artistic, ritual, utilitarian, or practical and mechanical, you will obtain that perfect understanding of Mediæval art which is necessary to enable you to carry on its revival and practice both with knowledge and intelligence.


I now come to the actual practice of the lessons learned by such a course of study as I have been endeavouring to shadow forth.

As I said on a former occasion, I will not go into the general question of the revival of Gothic architecture, but will assume it as a fait accompli, and proceed to consider some questions as to the practical carrying of it out.

One point which has given rise to much difference of opinion is the question of what period and variety of Mediæval architecture we should best take as the groundwork of our own developments.

When, during the long interval between the cessation of Mediæval architecture and our own day, it was temporarily returned to in any special instance, it seems to have been viewed rather as a dormant than an extinct art, and the style chosen was always its latest phase; as if it had only to be re-awakened at the point at which it had fallen asleep. And in the same manner, in our own day, nearly all the earlier works of the revival were in the latest form of the style, as if the revival was the mere prolongation of a chain, and to be attached to its last link.

This was the traditional phase in the revival. The interval had, however, been too lengthened to allow this imagined connection with the old but disused chain to hold good. People began to investigate and to philosophise and to write books about the style. All phases soon began to be equally known, and people could not help entertaining preferences. Rickman had awarded the palm to the Decorated; others preferred the Early English; and after a time all agreed that the latest link was the worst, and must not be{347} adopted as the starting-point. Some tried Norman, some Early English, some Decorated. The Cambridge Camden Society seemed at first to favour Early English; but soon they laid their ban upon it, and preached a crusade against all but the sacred “Middle Pointed,” and even defined with minute accuracy the precise period of that style which they would stamp with their approval. It was to be the earliest phase of the later form of Middle Pointed; or, as a friend of mine jokingly defined it for them, the “Early late Middle Pointed.” Some, however, preferred the “late Early,” some the earliest Middle Pointed; and though a few still strayed into the heterodoxy of “First Pointed,” or even into deadlier errors, it came, after a time, to be a generally received opinion that the Middle style was the best groundwork for us to go upon, and that it might fairly be viewed that this had been so completely revived and re-adopted as to become the style of our Gothic Renaissance.

Though there was a good deal of nonsense current about it at the time, as if it were almost an article of religious faith, an “Articulus stantis aut cadentis Ecclesiæ,” there was, I must say, a great deal of common sense in the choice.

The early transitional style, though gloriously noble and vigorous, could not reasonably be re-adopted as a groundwork inasmuch as it was a transition, and that from a state of things with which we have a little or nothing in common. The developed Early Pointed had very strong claims, but failed of being what Dr. Whewell calls “complete Gothic.” Its fault was that there were certain features which, once known, could not{348} be rejected, but which the Early Pointed had not. Its merits were positive and of the highest order; its defects were purely negative. The later Pointed had been pretty generally voted to be the production of the decline of the style, and the later half of the Middle Pointed showed unquestionable evidences that during its period the way for that decline had been preparing. The Early Middle Pointed was thus come to by an exhaustive process, as being at once “complete” and not on the decline, though some felt (and I confess to being of the number) that it might with advantage be invigorated by importing into it a good deal of the detail, and, even, perhaps, some whole features of the earlier style.

This general conclusion having been tacitly consented to, people naturally came to think that we ought to adhere to it as closely as might be, and for this reason: that the principle of a revival was only defensible in an extreme case, and nothing could defend it from the charge of frivolity if the revivers went on the principle of now reviving one style and now another; but that if all by general consent should determine on reviving one and the same style, as the groundwork for the future development of a style of our own, the revival would become invested with reality, reason, and vigour. The choice, then, of one style, and the adherence to it as a groundwork, seems to me to have been right, and I am very much disposed to believe that the choice come to, though its enforcement at that time bordered on fanaticism, was right also; at least in the main.

This promising theory, not to mention occasional{349} tokens of rebellion at the somewhat tyrannical way in which it was attempted to be pressed, received a rude shock some ten years back through the competition for the erection of the cathedral at Lille. We had been in the habit in this country of speaking rather pityingly of the error of the French revivalists in selecting an earlier type for their groundwork than we had adopted; but the programme of this great European competition prescribed this early style, and our talented countrymen who won the palm leaped over the traces to such an extent, as absolutely to luxuriate in the till now forbidden art, even beyond what was demanded by the conditions, and beat the French out of the field in the intensity of their following out of the Early French style.

This was received with unlooked-for indulgence by those whose laws it set at nought; but so marked a condonation seemed to have been viewed as an act of emancipation, for, from that time forward, every one began to do that which was right in his own eyes.

There was at once a violent revulsion of feeling in favour of the earliest periods; and at the same time the long pent-up feelings of favour to the continental styles, excited by Mr. Ruskin and by foreign travel, were given their full swing, and for a time nothing could be early enough—nothing foreign enough—to satisfy the emancipated cravings. We all felt this, and acted on it in a greater or a less degree, and those who chose the less degree were heartily despised by those who chose the greater.[88] As time, however, rolled on,{350} and cool reflection began to assert her sway, we again remembered that we were Englishmen, and that there was an English language in architecture, and we began again also to recollect that the course of Gothic architecture did not cease to create noble productions in the very period of its coming into existence. Some, on awakening to this consciousness, ran at once into the opposite extreme—condemning every lesson they had learned abroad, eschewing the early styles to which they had so recently sworn exclusive allegiance, and despising (according to prescribed custom) all who did not go so far in their new direction as they did themselves; but, on the whole, people now seem likely to settle down into a via media, in which I trust that common sense will be found to reside.

I would not have gone through this list of peccadilloes but for the purpose of warning you against their repetition. We have, I hope, “sown our wild oats.” Let us now take a steady and sensible course.

During the state of chaos which I have alluded to, our revival has suffered seriously from the follies, not so much of its own champions, as of a number of pretenders who had never studied the subject at all, but who, taking advantage of a period of disorder, palmed off upon the public designs, especially in domestic architecture, which—really the offspring of ignorance—were put forward as that of the prevailing taste—as original developments founded on something very early and very foreign; so early, indeed, and so foreign as to have never and nowhere existed. These{351} productions have disfigured our streets and done more than anything to bring discredit on our revival.

Let us now consider what is the course which it becomes us to take in the selection of our groundwork.

I think that our experience of the last few years has suggested to us: first, the expediency of returning in some modified degree to the rule from which we had departed, of adopting as our normal type the architecture of one period, and that not the very earliest though still an early period; but, secondly, the desirableness of not making our self-imposed rule too strait; of, thirdly, making our revival distinctly English; though, fourthly, not refusing to enrich and amplify our English revival with the spoils of our foreign study.

I would, then, suggest that, while your basis should be the earliest form of what has been called “complete Gothic” (such, for example, as that of Westminster Abbey, the eastern part of Lincoln, Newstead Abbey, and the nave of Lichfield), this should be taken rather in a representative than in a literal sense; that your revived style and its developments should, in short, be based on the earlier and more vigorous half of Mediæval architecture, which earlier half should be represented by its central point, as a nucleus round which it rallies, and into which the beauties of the whole may be collected; that the point chosen should be inclusive of much which preceded and followed it, and exclusive of nothing with which it will consistently amalgamate. Nor would I condemn as latitudinarian an occasional departure, either forward or backward, from this point de départ; only asking that the early{352} styles may be, in a certain degree, viewed as one in our revival, rather then split up into many, and their details, with proper judgment and self-restraint, be considered capable of being united, when occasion seems really and distinctly to call for it, in one work, or the earlier and less early forms be used, as may be preferred, for buildings intended to express more of vigour or of delicacy. I would not, however, advocate too free a use of this liberty, and would therefore propose that the early “completed” style, of which Westminster Abbey is our great type, should be always viewed as our central and normal type and rallying-point.[89]

Then, again, I would recommend a return, loyally and unreservedly, to English types. That is to say, that when there is nothing to call for a deviation from it, we should design as a matter of course in English. In doing this, however, I would act as a well-instructed and sensible English writer would act. He would (except under extraordinary circumstances) write in his own language, but would never be so suicidal as to refuse to enrich his mind, and through it his writings, by the study of foreign literature. He would, however, express thoughts thus learned in English; any passage adopted from foreign writers he would probably translate into English, excepting only where its ipsissima verba were of the essence of the quotation. So with the English architect. The architecture of his own country should be his normal type, but it would be madness for him to refuse the lessons he can learn abroad. The results of these lessons should,{353} however, for the most part be translated into English, unless such translation would destroy their vigour and their meaning. He should, as I have often observed, do—not necessarily what, but—as the old architects did. It is patent that our Norman, our transitional Pointed, our traceried windows, and many of our minor details partake more or less of a foreign origin. True, they were not really imported from abroad, but our architects and those of France were working hand in hand and mutually aiding in the development of their common architecture; but our old builders never scrupled, nay, earnestly sought, to gather ideas wherever they went; and yet their productions, replete as they were with the riches gathered in foreign travel, were so unquestionably English that we detect any departure from them at once as a foreign interpolation. Let us endeavour in the same manner so to work in our foreign gatherings as not to disturb the homogeneous character of the whole, much less to suggest the idea that we are designing in a foreign dialect. We then need not fear even to learn and make use of the rich arts of Italian decoration, and still less the more kindred lessons taught us in France by the men who worked side by side with our own old architects.

We are all too apt to run into extremes. We run wildly into early or late, foreign or English work, according to the rage of the moment; and perhaps hate that which we last doted on, and despise in their turn all who hold opinions we once held ourselves or shall soon entertain. I do not condemn in toto a little of this tendency to mania, as it keeps up our zeal, but I would wish to restrain it and bring it within the range{354} of reason; and I think that such a broad and liberal rule as I have suggested will tend to this end, without imposing a galling restraint or narrowing either our range of study or the wholesome variety of our practice.

In our own earliest style, and in the French examples down to a far later date, there is one feature which I confess I have a great love for—I mean the square and angular abacus. I think it is probably the feeling for this feature which has, more than any other, led to our tendency to follow French types. I would mention, however, that it is not necessarily a foreign feature, as it is found in our own earlier style, and sometimes (as in the side chapels of the nave at Chichester) is continued later; nor is it necessarily a very early form, as it was in France continued to a comparatively late date. I do not, therefore, see that we need deny ourselves its use. I would only moderate it, and use it and our own more typical round abacus, and our own moulded capital, as frequently as, and on at least equal terms with, the other.

In the form of arches, though keeping to typical forms as a rule, I would not deny myself the use of the round arch nor the plain segment where there is any practical reason for their introduction, only I would not use the abnormal forms frivolously or without a reason. I would assert the greatest liberty in such matters, yet restrain myself by common sense in the exercise of the liberty I claim.

I would again advise (particularly in the use you make of your foreign studies) the avoiding of queer, odd-looking features, for which there has of late been{355} so eager an appetite. I believe that most of those we see in modern works are pure inventions for the sake of novelty and apparent cleverness. The little stumpy columns with gigantic capitals, and all the thousand-and-one pieces of quirkiness which one sees, are things which, I confess, I have rarely if ever found in old work in any country or of any period. We have really become so French of late, in our own imagination, that no Frenchman would recognise his native style as seen in our exaggerations of it. All this is a vulgar vice, and should be repudiated as a person of taste would all that is loud and vulgar in dress or in anything else.[90]

All this has led to much neglect of our own examples, and, when we use them, to our going too much in the contrary direction; and, from want of familiarity with the endless variety they contain, we have got into the way of confining ourselves to their most typical forms, whereas a careful study of our old examples would supply us with an infinity of varieties of the most charming kind.

It has for years been a question sub judice, whether architectural foliated carving, etc., ought to represent natural or purely conventional forms. I am not going to open up this controversy, but I think it right to urge upon you in your studies to follow up both, and to aid them by careful study of the actual objects of nature which are suggestive either of one or the other. The period I have recommended as our central rallying-{356}point was just that at which the two kinds of foliage were used together and on equal terms. My own opinion is that no art can be a living one which founds its ornamentation wholly upon a bygone conventionalism. This does not, however, prove that we ought directly to copy nature as it comes before us. If we demand conventionalisms, though we may adopt those of our predecessors, we ought to be able to conventionalise for ourselves.

For my own part, as I equally admire several of the forms of foliated ornament I find in the range of works I claim as our types, I am content to use them each in their turn; but I cannot reject nature as the great guide, though the more we are able so far to conventionalise her productions and to “bring into service,” and suit them to the uses to be made of them, the better will our work be.

In sculpture I hold that we ought to be able to follow what is good and noble in the form of that art which belonged to the finest period of our architecture, and yet to unite it with the most perfect art which can be produced. Greek art unites perfectly with Gothic, but both demand the spirit and soul of the true artist, aided by the use of what he sees in actual life. I confess, however, that so little opportunity is allowed us for cultivating this art in connection with architecture, and so small the funds at our disposal, that we have fallen into the sin of putting our sculpture into the hands of men of a very inferior class—extemporised, in fact, from amongst our ordinary carvers; and the only wonder to me is, not that they do so badly, but so well as they do. This is a noble subject on{357} which to follow out a new and higher aim, and the students of the Royal Academy might especially devote themselves to its realisation. I fear that we older architects shall not succeed, but we may claim aid of you who have better opportunities; and I would, as a help, suggest a course of study from the finest and purest Greek side by side with the best Gothic sculpture, endeavouring to unite their qualities, and to add to them what is to be gathered from the study of nature—not only the usual study of the human figure, but rather the importing into sculpture touches of nature and fact as they come before us.

To this also we need to add the study of animal sculpture, a point in which such artists as we are able to employ are usually, though not always, equally behind-hand.

Much the same may be said of figure painting when used in connection with architecture. We ought only to employ those who are really artists, but these should train themselves especially for the subject; and if the architect could fit himself for the work, so much the better, if he really does it well; though this can never become again the general practice.

I have said a little in my last lecture on the study of the old examples and fragments of painted glass which you fall in with; I would wish more formally and urgently to press this upon you.

The foreign fever, from which we are but now recovering, has told most severely upon this class of art; for not only has English stained glass been neglected as our practical guide—not only has the study of it been almost wholly abandoned—but its{358} very conservation has been little cared for; and not only in the churches which contain beautiful fragments have they been contemptuously neglected as guides to the characters of new windows introduced, but they have been constantly and systematically expelled from the windows in which they exist, and for which expressly they were designed, to make way for new glass, designed without any reference to their character. We have long been in the habit of abusing, and justly, the village glaziers who turn out the beautiful fragments of ancient glass which occupy the heads of lights and the openings of tracery, to make way for uniform quarry glazing; but our glass painters are daily doing the same thing without remorse, and are the more inexcusable inasmuch as they cannot plead ignorance, and if they chose could make the design of their new windows a restoration of the old, and retain the old fragments in their proper places. It usually happens, however, that they never see the windows for which they prepare the glass, and are culpably innocent of all knowledge of whether they or others in the church retain remnants of the works of those who are, or ought to be, their masters.[91]

I have, in more than one instance, known that some of our best glass painters, when called on to introduce windows into our finest minsters, have completed their work without any knowledge of the fact that there remained exquisite remnants of the ancient{359} and coeval glass belonging to windows corresponding with those they were supplying, and that of the finest periods of the art; and have consequently failed to assimilate their work to what was intended by the original builders.

The clergy, too, are often greatly to blame in this. Their eagerness for new glass often expels from their minds all care for the old. I have heard of a good-natured[92] archdeacon in one of the southern counties, who is ready to give to any friend specimens of the ancient glass he has supplanted by new in his “restored” church.

All this makes it incumbent on you to note and carefully to draw every fragment of stained glass which you meet with where it is exposed to be lost or neglected; and I would further urge on you the systematic and minute study of the better known examples, so that your knowledge of glass painting, as of architecture, may be based upon English examples. Our glass painters are open to the double charge of adhering to old precedent too religiously in its weakest point, and too lightly in its strongest; for though their works are far from being generally very close followings of the actual decorative designs of old glass, and particularly of English glass, they affect to follow the grotesque drawing of the old glass painters, and often greatly exaggerate it. I would rather reverse this, for the decorative portions of old glass are so perfect that it is impossible to surpass their beauty, while the figure drawing, though often full of deep{360} and noble sentiment, is usually quaint and even grotesque.[93]

In respect, however, of the figure drawing, I am very far indeed from advising the repudiation in toto of the ancient manner. It is only the correction of the drawing that I advocate. I would adhere rigidly to the principle of representing the figures mainly (though not wholly) by means of sharp hard outline. We know from the Greek Vases (if, indeed, any proof were wanting where the fact is so obvious) that an outline may be as absolutely artistic as a finished painting. I would further adhere to the general sentiment and artistic style of the old glass, but I would urge that the sentiment and style should be followed out with as perfect drawing (were it possible) as an old Greek artist would have brought to bear upon it. As an imaginary illustration of what I mean, I would endeavour to realise what the result would be if pencil outline copies of the best thirteenth century figure subjects were placed in the hands of such a man as Flaxman, or any really high-class artist, capable of appreciating their sentiment and well versed in Greek art of the noblest period, for the purpose of simply correcting their drawing without changing their sentiment and motive. It is just such drawing as one may suppose to result from such a process that I would wish to see in our modern{361} church windows. In secular works I would not oppose some departure from the rigidity of such a style, nor a little further addition of shading and high finish, though never to the concealment of the outline; and in both I would avoid all that is grotesque or over-quaint (excepting in subjects or figures which demand it, and where it is of the essence of the motive), as these qualities introduced into serious subjects are, to say the least, contrary to the general spirit of the age, and are, therefore, false and unreal.

In painted decorations on walls, etc., much greater liberty may be allowed. We have not here the material limiting the class of art made use of, and the treatment may therefore suit itself freely to the conditions suggested—first, by the purpose of the building; secondly, by its scale of decorative character and the limits of cost; and thirdly, by the more or less functional nature of the surface occupied. We may, in fact, vary from outline pure and simple to perfectly finished paintings, and from a severe and solemn treatment to any reasonable degree of lightness and freedom, according to the conditions: ever remembering that the more functional the surface, the less must be the apparent relief. A painting in a panel may have any amount of shadow and distance, while that occupying a wall, a pier, or a vault must be kept sufficiently flat as to avoid disturbing the functional character of the object which is the ground of the painting.

A great deal has been said about development in architecture, and a good deal of harm has resulted from it: not that development is to be objected to—far from{362} it; but because true and genuine development will never be the result of direct and deliberate effort.

The true developments we have to look for are such as will be continually forced upon us by the necessities of new materials, new modes of construction, new requirements, and the altered habits and feelings of the age in which we are living; by the different modes of decoration which will from time to time offer themselves to our notice, and the importing into English architecture arts which had previously been peculiar to that of other countries and perhaps to wholly different styles. The conditions also prescribed by works in different climates—as in India, in North America, or in Australia—demand special development.

The frank and natural meeting of these new demands and new facilities will of itself produce developments enough to distinguish the works of our revival from those of old times, without our affecting to alter those elements of our style which are not naturally affected by any such conditions. I have said so much, however, on these subjects elsewhere, that I will not venture to crowd their multitudinous details into this lecture: only suggesting, in passing, that domestic architecture by its absolute demands must of necessity suggest very many new developments; that another wide field for novelty of treatment is offered by the wrought iron construction and fire-proof construction of our day; and that there still remains to us the solution of the noble problem of the introduction and naturalisation of the dome as a feature of our revived style.

I will now say a very few words on another branch{363} of the practice of a Gothic architect: that which relates to the repairs and restoration of ancient buildings.

What I have said on the study of ancient examples as the one and only source of knowledge of architecture, of necessity carries with it the assertion of the value of those examples, whether of a higher or of a humbler class, and the condemnation of those who would deprive us of these monuments of ancient art or tamper with their genuineness or integrity. Yet, strange to say, a large number of the architects who take in hand the so-called restoration of our ancient buildings seem utterly devoid of all feeling for their value as authentic works of olden time. I know no subject connected with architecture more mournful and distressing than the way in which our old churches are but too generally dealt with. Many of our large towns contain one or more architects who systematically prey upon the surrounding churches, more or less ruining everything they touch, and that without remorse, and combating with the utmost energy every remonstrance against their destructive habits. Nor are they alone to blame. The clergy too often love to have it so. If they can get their churches made smart, they often seem to care little about the destruction of their antiquities; and thus, between them and their architects, whole counties are becoming denuded of a great part of the points of interest in their churches. Nay, the man who commits the greatest devastations often earns the greatest amount of commendation; and one who venerates an old building and seeks to preserve its antiquities has to fight for every inch of ground against the opposition of the parties interested in the{364} work. These destructive tendencies are not limited to the minor features of churches, but often involve the whole buildings, or large parts of them, in destruction, and that without a shadow of necessity. One of these destroyers of churches is called in, and at once condemns all he does not fancy or which can be shown to be out of repair; the clergyman appeals to the neighbourhood for funds to meet the sad state of things portrayed by his architect; the whole or part of it is destroyed, and no regard to its former design is paid in its reconstruction. This is going on all over the country, with the applause of local magnates and the laudations of the local papers: the architect and his patrons glory in their success, while the country is robbed, one by one, of its invaluable and irreplaceable antiquities.[94]

Even the societies formed for the study of our antiquities fail to lift up their voices sufficiently against this fearful Vandalism, while many who should be the guardians of our ancient churches use specious arguments in confutation of the protests of those who dare to denounce the atrocities which are perpetrated.

I have expressed myself pretty fully on the subject elsewhere, and have spoken also about the spirit in which we should undertake such additions to old churches as absolute necessity demands; and I am happy to say that the Institute of British Architects{365} have issued most judicious and strongly-worded codes of suggestions as to the treatment of old buildings, so that I trust the public will at some time be awakened to the monstrous course which is being too generally followed. I go over the ground on this occasion because I suppose myself to be addressing many of those to whose keeping our churches and other old buildings will be at a future time committed. I desire to warn you at the outset against following the steps of those whose misdeeds I have been proclaiming; and I close these lectures with an earnest entreaty that you will enter upon practice with a solemn vow to yourselves to be the determined and consistent protectors and conservators of those precious relics of former days, now consecrated by antiquity, and from which alone you learn the art which I am urging you to study.

“It were a pious work, I hear you say,
To prop the falling ruin, and to stay
The work of desolation. It may be
That ye say right: but, oh, work tenderly:
Beware lest one worn feature ye efface;
Seek not to add one touch of modern grace;
Handle with reverence each crumbling stone,
Respect the very lichens o’er it grown;
And bid each ancient monument to stand,
Supported e’en as with a filial hand.
’Mid all the light a happier day has brought
We work not yet as our forefathers wrought.”



[1] I fancy Mr. Freeman, who has perhaps more right than any living author to a dogmatic opinion on this question, would think that I have gone too far in this statement; and that the course of architecture was less broken at this period than I imagined when writing the above. In Italy, I have since come to the opinion, the history of architecture was fairly continuous, in spite of Gothic invasions, etc. Although the architecture at Pavia, etc., called by Mr. T. Hope “Lombardic,” has been proved to be of dates far later than he supposed when giving it that name, I feel convinced that truly Lombard architecture does exist, and that of a type naturally succeeding and carrying on the style of the earlier Basilicæ. At Lucca, for instance, though little attention has been paid by writers on its churches, to anything earlier than the Pisan work of the twelfth century, a careful examination will show that many of them have a nucleus (and some far more) of a much earlier date, reaching back to the time of the Lombard kings (G. G. S. 1878).

[2] See note on this subject in the previous lecture. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[3] Ibid.

[4] Mr. Freeman, in vol. v. of his “Norman Conquest,” has treated admirably of the architecture of this period, under the name of “Primitive Romanesque.” (G. G. S. 1878.)

[5] I do not know whether the western bays of the Church of S. Pierre, adjoining the Abbey Church at Jumiéges (which bays seem to have belonged to the original chapter-house), belong to the older building destroyed by the Normans, or to that rebuilt in 930 by Guillaume Longue-Epeé. They are in style not Norman, but refined “Primitive Romanesque.” (G. G. S. 1878.)

[6] There is an exception to this in the vaulting of curved spaces, such as the circular aisle round an apse in which the ribs assume a waved plan. (G. G. S.)

[7] See views of St. Faith’s Chapel, vol. ii. Lecture XIII.

[8] St. Cross, See Lecture III., p. 320.

[9] Interior View of St. Joseph’s, See Lecture III., 116.

[10] The length to which the Lecture has extended itself has rendered it necessary for the present to pass over the German transition with very slight notice. (G. G. S.)

[11] I ought to couple with the vaulting all wide-spanned arches; but in a vaulted building they naturally go together. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[12] There is some uncertainty as to the building to which these fragments belonged. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[13] A better acquaintance with southern buildings does not wholly remove this difficulty. The Greek and Roman types seem to be a good deal mixed in them. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[14] From a careful examination of the old capitals removed from the church of St. Frond during the “Restoration,” I observe that they are scarcely so distinct in their Byzantine character as those later specimens which I have been speaking of. This makes me suspect that throughout the twelfth century actually Byzantine carvers were employed in France. Without this I cannot account for the continuance of the Byzantine feeling in all its purity for so long a time. (G. G. S.)

[Image unavailable]

Fig. 28.—Capitals from the north-west Portal, Lincoln Cathedral.

[15] We find the Byzantine feeling every here and there strongly developed in our own transitional examples. I will mention as an instance the north-west portal of Lincoln Cathedral, where it is beautifully exhibited. (Fig. 28). (G. G. S.)

[16] See page 93, Fig. 38.

[17] The same construction appears to have also existed both at Tewkesbury and at Pershore. (G. G. S.)

[18] See page 85, Fig. 27.

[19] 1858.

[20] It is curious to observe precisely the same art as in the eastern part of Nôtre Dame exhibited in the tiny, but exquisite choir, close by, of St. Julien le Pauvre.[21] Another small but highly valuable example is the beautiful ruined church of St. Evremont at Creil. An example of this style, which I have not seen much noticed in books, is the cathedral at Geneva. I am unacquainted with its history, but should suppose that a considerable interval occurred between its lower and upper stages, the latter being of perfected Early Pointed, while the former is as admirable a transitional work as I have anywhere met with. It partakes in some parts of that classic tendency which is displayed in the earlier parts of the cathedral at Lyons.

To follow out the subject through the South of France would not only be useless in illustrating the English transition, but would, compressed into the smallest space, be a subject for an entire lecture. I cannot, however, abstain from just alluding to the noble manner in which the style adapts itself to Domed architecture at Angoulême and throughout its neighbourhood, and to the Quasi-domed architecture at Le Puy. The latter has been illustrated in an excellent paper by Mr. Street, read before the Institute of British Architects. The southern form of the transition must have been nobly exemplified by the church of St. Gilles near Nismes, before that charming church became ruined in the religious wars of the sixteenth century. The entire plan of the church still remains intelligible, as does most of the superstructure; and it is difficult to imagine anything more noble. The three western portals are better known, and are truly magnificent. Parallel to them are the western portal and the cloister of St. Trophimus[22] at Arles. The church at St. Gilles retains the date of its commencement, 1116, which, however, seems too early for its architecture. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[21] See Lecture VIII., p. 320, Figs. 183, 184, 185, 186.

[22] See Lecture VI., 229.

[23] The carving of the more advanced style here described belongs probably to the beginning of the thirteenth century. M. Viollet le Duc seems to think that the western façade was not begun till about 1218; but I think it must have been earlier, because the corbels and upper jamb-stones of the south-western portal, unlike the rest, are of exquisite Byzantine workmanship. (G. G. S. 1878).

[24] A more careful examination shows that far the larger part of Darlington is of later date, using up, as would appear, details prepared by Pudsey, who died before the church had made any great progress. (G. G. S.)

[25] There is work of the Canterbury type in the double chapel to the keep of Dover Castle, and interpolated work by the same hand in the church hard by, in which Saxon work is re-used as material for transitional work. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[26] The dates are given in Professor Willis’s excellent paper on the Abbey. They are from 1186 onwards. The older Abbey was burnt down in 1186. The Chapel now known as that of St. Joseph, but which was really the Lady Chapel, was first rebuilt, and the church followed immediately afterwards. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[27] The clerestory and triforium of St. Germain des Pres have undergone some alterations from the original forms. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[28] This work at Chichester was executed at the close of the century, after the fire of 1186; but Professor Willis has shown that some early Pointed work of a very marked character, which exists in the western part of the Lady Chapel, must have been erected previously to that event.

[29] This unfoliated capital I have since noticed in the Church at Tulle in Limousin, where simplicity was suggested by the material—granite. (G. G. S.)

[30] I read a paper on the English Transition, especially viewed in reference to its English and French elements, before the Archæological Institution at Canterbury in 1875. See their Journal. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[31] For illustration see Lecture IV., Fig. 109.

[32] For illustration see Lecture V., Fig. 116.

[33] It is fair to say that Professor Willis doubted the date given to this Galilee. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[34] In the church of St. Francis at Assisi, a German and an Italian architect worked together. The former imported into the work a German version of the French Pointed style, while the latter retained the semi-classic Romanesque of his own country—the two indefinitely commingled. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[35] The last sentence, though expressing a general truth, must not be taken too literally; for, though it is the great principle of Gothic architecture to decorate construction, this may be effected simply or richly, and with or without sculpture or carving, according to the requirements of the case. (G. G. S.)

[36] I remember conducting for the first time M. Reichensperger through Westminster Abbey, being surprised at his objecting to some details as “Bysantinisch.” This arose from his having mentally adopted later styles as his models, in which no trace of Romanesque origin remains. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[37] See Lecture VII. page 248.

[38] See capital from S. Eusèbe, Auxerre, Lecture III., page 101; also capitals from Montmartre, Lecture VIII., page 319.

[39] See capitals from Nôtre Dame, Saint Chapelle, etc., Lecture III. pages 102 and 103.

[40] I have since discovered that the great four and five light windows of the chapter-house at Westminster were finished in 1253. These are of the fullest development, and have cusped heads to their lights. (G. G. S.)

For illustration, see Interior of Chapter-House, Lecture XIV. Vol. ii.

[41] For illustration, see Lecture V., Fig. 122.

[42] For illustration, see Lecture V., Fig. 116.

[43] I remember, in the report of one of the parish meetings, Mr. Barclay having proposed the restoration of the glorious old nave, an intelligent parishioner exclaiming, “What! keep them great elephants’ foots?” (G. G. S. 1878.)

[44] I am glad to learn that the drawings are preserved, and that they will, D.V., be published by Mr. Dollman. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[45] Or rather, in some respects, of Beauvais. The two were, no doubt, jointly referred to by the Cologne architect. (G. G. S.)

[46] Since writing this I have had the privilege of restoring it, and in these days of ante-restoration I am glad that so clear a record had been kept of its previous condition. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[47] See Lecture VIII., p. 320, Figs. 178, 179.

[48] See Lecture VIII., p. 320, Fig. 180.

[49] Much discussion has taken place as to who this Pietro—“Petrus Romanus Civis”—was. Virtue, as quoted by Walpole, says it was Pietro Cavallini, but he was only a child when this work was done. The ciforium in the Church of St. Paul without the Walls bears this inscription; †HOC OPUS FECIT ARNOLFUS CUM SUO SOCIO PETRO!! Monsegnor Xavier Barbier de Montault, who wrote a chapter for Mr. Parker’s work on Rome, says that this was Pietro Cavallini. If so, he was probably the father of the more celebrated artist. The date of the work last named is 1285, being sixteen years later than that at Westminster.

[50] For east and west windows, see “Digression concerning Windows,” inserted between Lectures VII. and VIII.

[51] For illustration, see Lecture IV., Fig. 109.

[52] More recently, on opening out other walled-up arches, etc., the greater part of this substructure has been found. The fragments—about 2000 in number—have been fitted together and built up in their old place. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[53] Since this was written, the church has gained additional interest through the opening out of the wall paintings, which probably formed a sort of reredos over each of the small altars which stood against the Norman piers in the nave. (G. G. S.)

[54] This is really somewhat later. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[55] This notion has since been entirely disproved, and the architect proved to have been a member of an English family. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[56] For illustration, see Lecture IV., Fig. 87.

[57] See Lecture III., p. 320, Fig. 82.

[58] For a bay of this chapter-house, see “Digression concerning Windows,” inserted between Lectures VII. and VIII.Fig. 170.

[59] See Lecture XV., vol. ii.

[60] For illustration, see Lecture IV. p. 164.

[61] The practical and universally acknowledged success of the Assize Courts at Manchester, as compared with those at Liverpool, speaks volumes as to the rationale of our style. (G. G. S.)

[62] It is amusing to observe the triumphant tone with which modern writers delight to parade the bits of untruthfulness which they chance to find in ancient Classic and other structures. I wonder whether the old architects would enjoy the compliment if they could see works of our day. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[63] For illustration, see Lecture III., Fig. 81.

[64] See Lecture IV., Fig. 87.

[65] The manner in which our glass painters turn out these fragments—more precious than gold—to make way for their (often vile) memorial windows is only paralleled by the ruthlessness with which they tear away the iron-work which once sustained the painted glass. (G. G. S. 1878).

[66] There seems to be a perfect crusade going on against these relics which give such a charm to our villages, though nothing shows more painfully the contrast between the tastefulness of former times and the tastelessness of the present than a comparison between these despised remains and the structures by which they are constantly being replaced. (G. G. S.)

[67] Or how were stone gables made to fit themselves to a thatched roof? (G. G. S. 1878).

[68] A practice now happily long discontinued. (G. G. S. 1878).

[69] See Lecture III., pp. 107, 108.

[70] See Lecture V., Fig. 122.

[71] To follow up these studies well, it will be desirable to have an introduction to the authorities, which may exempt you from a galling system of espionage for many years prevalent in this cathedral. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[72] See Lecture V., Fig. 113.

[73] See Lecture XII., vol. ii.

[74] See Lecture XIV., vol. ii.

[75] See Lecture III., Fig. 79; and Lecture V., Fig. 110.

[76] See Lecture V., p. 320, Fig. 115; also “Digression concerning Windows” inserted between Lectures VII. and VIII.

[77] It is melancholy to think how our privileges are neglected! The Architectural Museum itself is a perfect mine of the finest objects of study; yet how insufficient are the uses made of it. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[78] Since I wrote this—eleven years ago—the tide has turned. We are too apt to follow rages and mere fashions. We were, when I wrote, becoming too French; we have since got to think of French architecture with a self-righteous horror. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[79] For illustrations, see Lecture III., p. 82, Figs. 20, 21.

[80] Many original capitals from the Sainte Chapelle are lying in the open air in the gardens of the Hôtel Cluny. The most precious morsels which can be conceived! (G. G. S. 1878.)

[81] When I wrote this, they were double-locked in the old schatzzimmer, but they are now displayed in the triforium gallery. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[82] I mean the Romanesque architecture of Lombardy: not that of the Lombard Kings, which was probably a mere version of the Basilican. See note on this subject to Lecture I. (G. G. S. 1878).

[83] The small secular Basilica, called the “Basilica Jovis” built, I think, by Domitian on the Palatine Hill, proves more clearly than any other building I know how directly our churches are derived from the old Halls of Justice. The recent excavations have shown both the marble cancelli which parted off the apse, and the altar within it for the administrative oath. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[84] Surely we may claim it now! (G. G. S. 1878.)

[85] For illustrations, see Lecture V. p. 199, Fig. 121.

[86] For illustration, see “Digression concerning Windows,” inserted between Lectures VII. and VIII.

[87] So rapidly do fashions change that, though when I wrote the above I expected to be found fault with for speaking so well of late styles, I am now far behind the age! Sixteen years earlier I had done the same at the risk, nay, with the certainty, of being pronounced a heretic by some of the very persons who now think the latest Mediæval art the best, and that far later than Mediæval better still. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[88] Those who most despised the less foreign and the less early men, are, in many cases, those who have subsequently rejected all that was foreign, and all that was early; if not yet, all that is Mediæval. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[89] I fear my love of the early styles has led me to be unfaithful to my theory. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[90] The French variety of our style has not only been vulgarised by exaggeration, but still more by ignorance and incapacity. The hideousness of the capitals constantly palmed off as French would surpass belief if we were not used to it! (G. G. S. 1878.)

[91] I must mention, as noble exceptions to this, the restoration, by Mr. Hardman, of the east window of Okeover Church, Derbyshire; and of two windows in the north aisle of Gloucester Cathedral, which are works deserving the highest praise. (G. G. S.)

[92] I fear this term only applies to him in respect of his liberality in this particular. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[93] I cannot but feel that our glass painters fail grievously in real progress. Even those who are really acquainted with their art too frequently so scamper over it as to render their figures and subjects mere caricatures. The majority really know nothing about their art, and these are the favourites with the public! Another section, who really understand what art is, and are able to practise it, proudly set at naught its harmony with the architecture in which it is set. (G. G. S. 1878.)

[94] If the local and other architects who feel themselves to be open to this charge would reconsider their ways, and determine henceforth to devote themselves to the conservation of all the antiquities which pass through their hands, they would earn and receive the hearty support of all who love and value our ancient buildings, as well as securing the gratitude of future generations. (G. G. S.)

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