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The Progress of the Nation page 7

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doorways. - In small churches the doorways have frequently but little, except the mouldings, to distinguish them. These are carried without interruption down to the ground. They are commonly quite plain, but have sometimes hollows filled with the ball-flower or foliage. In cathedrals and large buildings the doorways are usually of large dimensions, and are often very deeply recessed. They are richly moulded, and the hollows filled with a profusion of ornament and foliage, among which the four-leaved flower and ball-flower are conspicuous. They have generally shafts, with capitals and bases; these shafts are not detached, as in the Early English, but cut in the same stone as the mouldings. Sometimes a series of niches with figures is carried round the door.

The finest examples we have of decorated doors are those of the west front of York, and the south door of the choir, Lincoln. A canopy, either single or double, sometimes flowing and sometimes straight-lined and richly crocketed, is often carved over the door.

porches are not numerous, but of great variety of form, and can in general be only distinguished by their mouldings and details. They have frequently a considerable projection, with windows in their sides and groined roofs. There is a very curious one at Over, in Cambridgeshire, which has clustered shafts and pinnacles at the angles. Wooden porches with ornamental barge-boards are not uncommon.

The buttresses of this style are usually very rich, The earlier ones are in general finished with a small gable or canopy reaching as high as the parapet, as at Merton College, Oxford, where the pediment is filled with a trefoil, and the gargoyle, or water-spout, of grotesque design, passes through just under it. Below this is a panel of window tracery, and the lower stage of the buttress has another pedimented head. This kind of buttress, though commonly plainer, belongs to the Geometrical period. A much richer variety of the same kind occurs at the west front of Howden, where there is a canopied niche with a figure in it; and the buttress terminates in a turret pinnacle, with open-work, tracery, and a crocketed spire. In the later period of the style the buttresses are in many cases enriched with canopied niches, with or without figures, in both stages. Sometimes they have a plain set-off instead of a pediment; but in all cases they may be known by their peculiar mouldings. They are also repeatedly set on the angles of buildings diagonally, which is not the case with the preceding style,

The pinnacles are numerous, and very fine. They are in general square, and set on diagonally; the sides are frequently panelled, and terminate in crocketed canopies, or gablets, from which rises the spire, which is also crocketed at the angles, and terminates in a finial. The foliage of the crockets and finials is loose and free, and has not the square, stiff form so observable in the Perpendicular.

The pillars of this style in small churches are occasionally octagonal or plain round; but in large buildings they are very various in section. They have, at times, a number of small shafts surrounding a central pillar; but these shafts are, like those of the doors, cut out of the same block, and not detached, as in the Early English style. In some instances the central mass is a lozenge, and in others a square set diagonally. In some cases, as at Exeter, it consists of a number of equal-sized small shafts set round a lozenge body. The small shafts are repeatedly filleted.

The bases have not the rounds and deep hollows which we find in the Early English, but are generally made up of rounds or roll mouldings.

The capitals are important, and form one of the most valuable marks of the style. They are often without ornament, and can then be distinguished only by their mouldings. Sometimes they have the ball-flower, and occasionally heads or human figures; but the most usual design is a wreath or ball of foliage. In the Early English style we see the stems of the foliage rising from the neck mould, or astragal, and turning over under the abacus of the capital; but in the present style we have most commonly a stem with its leaves wrapped round the bell of the capital and filling up the space like a ball. The one here given from. Selby is an excellent example of the general appearance of a rich decorated capital; but the foliage is infinitely varied. Sometimes it is long and flowing, encircling the whole capital of a clustered column; but in general it is a faithful copy of natural forms, the oak, the ivy, the maple, and the vine being the plants most generally copied; and this is done with great delicacy and grace. Decorated foliage, whether of capitals, corbels, or cornices, is greatly superior to that of any other style; and nothing can exceed the skill with which it is drawn and carved.

Arches. - These are not so acute as those of the Early English. The equilateral is the one most frequently used, but sometimes it is still lower. They are generally moulded, but the mouldings are in many instances bold quarter rounds, or filleted rounds, and sometimes the arches are merely plainly chamfered. In a few instances the mouldings of the arch are carried down to the ground without the intervention either of capital or impost. In large buildings vaulting shafts are carried up the pillars to support the groining of the roof, which is much more complicated than in the Early English. Numerous extra ribs are introduced, and richly carved bosses placed at the intersections, which give it much richness and variety. Many beautiful open timber roofs of this style still remain, both in churches and houses. Stone groining is imitated in wood in cases where it would not be safe to place the weight of a stone roof on the walls.

The mouldings and ornaments are quite as important in this as any other period, as a means of distinguishing one style from another, and fixing the date of a building. The mouldings have lost the boldness of the Early English, but they have gained a greater neatness. The rounds are not so wide, and have frequently one, two, or sometimes three small fillets running along them. Another moulding, very peculiar to this style, is a round, the upper half of which projects over the lower; it is called the roll-moulding. There are also two ornaments which belong almost as exclusively to the Decorated as the zigzag to the Norman, or the tooth ornament to the Early English. These are called the ball-flower and the four-leaved flower, of which we give examples. They are used, particularly the ball-flower, in cornices, capitals, corbels, in the mouldings of doors and windows, and in every place where ornament can be used. The ball-flower is even used as crockets on the spire of Salisbury Cathedral; and the mullions and tracery of some of the windows in Gloucester Cathedral are completely filled with it.

diaper-work is very extensively used in this style in the backs of niches, on buttresses, and for covering spaces where other ornament could not well be used.

Towards the end of the reign of Edward III. a great revolution in architecture was in progress. The change was first indicated by the introduction of straight lines among the flowing tracery of the windows, by which the beautiful freedom of their design was much impaired. This was followed by the foliage and other ornamental parts becoming more stiff and formal, and losing their truthfulness to nature.

It is curious to see how this idea of the perpendicular line and of a tendency to general squareness of form seems to have taken possession of the minds of the architects of the period; and it can only be attributed to the inherent love of variety and a desire for novelty. All things showed the approach of a change, which certainly was not the work of one man, but the effect of a pervading idea, until William of Wykeham embodied and improved it, and brought out the new or Perpendicular style, which will be the subject of a future chapter. '

Of the domestic buildings of the fourteenth century many good specimens yet remain. They were almost all built more or less for defence; and the more exposed the situation, the more were the defences increased, until it is difficult in many cases to say whether a building should be considered a house or a castle. The saying that "An Englishman's house is his castle" was at this time literally true. They were mostly moated, and contained but few rooms, one of which was much larger than the rest - the hall.

Of the military strongholds, or castles, properly so called, many of the finest we possess were built during this period; among which may be mentioned Carnarvon, Chepstow, Kidwelly, Pembroke, Windsor, Clifford's Tower, York, Warwick, &c. The masonry of these is of the most perfect description; the courses, as at Clifford's Tower, York, being laid regularly through the whole extent of the building; thus showing that in castellated as well as in every other branch of architecture the Edwardian period stands pre-eminent.


The art of sculpture was necessarily inseparable from ecclesiastical architecture. In our churches of the feudal ages the sculptured canopies, chantries, tracery, and statues are of singular merit and great poetic beauty, in many instances, and in none more than in those of this period. They make a marked advance on the prior period. Both in the Early English and the Decorated orders we have exquisite specimens of sculpture, spite of the huge destruction of the Reformation and the ravages of time. At York, Ely, Lichfield, Durham, Wells, and Westminster Abbey we can yet admire the labour of the sculptors of the eras of Henry III. and Edward I. In the cathedrals of Glasgow and Aberdeen, as well as in the splendid remains of Elgin and Holyrood, we have yet traces of it. The foliage, the trefoils, and quatrefoils of this period are peculiarly free, natural, and simple. In the Decorated order, at decaying Croyland and Tintern, the nave at York, in the magnificent choir at Lincoln, at Beverley, Ripon, and Carlisle, as well as in the beautiful ruin of Melrose, and a few churches in Scotland, we ought not to pass over the sculpture. On many of these graceful works the monks themselves are said to have laboured, and Walter de Colchester, sacristan of the abbey of St. Alban's, is expressly celebrated by Matthew Paris as an admirable statuary.

We are assured, too, that painting was carried to a great extent in adorning our palaces and churches in this period, though we find scarcely any trace of it left. Henry III. kept several painters constantly at work, whose names are recorded, and who executed many beautiful paintings at his various palaces at Westminster, Winchester, Woodstock, Windsor, Kenilworth, &c. Bishop Langton painted the history of the wars and life of Edward I. on the walls of the episcopal palace at Lichfield. Edward III. collected by royal order painters from all quarters to decorate his palace at Westminster; and Fox, in his "Acts and Monuments," tells us that the principal churches and chapels had not only portraits of the Madonna and the saints, but the walls were extensively decorated with paintings. So that, whatever its merits, painting was much in demand in this period.


Of this art as practised at this period we can only speak historically, for no proofs appear to have come down to us of the actual written music of the times. According to Sir John Hawkins, in his "History of Music," though we had good writers on music in the fourteenth century, it is not till the fifteenth that we are enabled to judge of what the music of our ancestors was by actual notation. We know that both the ancient Gauls and Britons were extremely fond of music, and that at all the banquets of the nobles their minstrels accompanied their songs on the harp. The minstrel in most European countries was a union of the poet and musician. He composed his own music and sang it. For this cause he was the welcome guest at all great houses. The fame of the scalds of the North and the troubadours of the South is familiar to all readers the world over. But in our country every great baron kept his train of minstrels - as well as our monarchs - who composed songs in honour of their martial deeds, and sang them to the harp at their tables. Matilda, queen of Henry I., was, according to William of Malmsbury, so fond of music, that she expended all her revenues upon them, and oppressed her tenants to pay her minstrels. John of Salisbury declares that the great of his time imitated Nero in his extravagance towards musicians. He says they prostituted their favour by bestowing it on minstrels and buffoons.

Rigordus says: - "The courts of princes are filled with crowds of minstrels, who extort from them gold, silver, houses, and vestments by their flattering songs. I have known some princes who have bestowed on these ministers of the devil, at the very first word, the most curious garments, beautifully embroidered with flowers and pictures, which had cost them twenty or thirty marks of silver, and which they had not worn above seven days."

Of the estimation in which minstrels were held by the Anglo-Saxons, we have a striking proof in King Alfred assuming the guise of one to explore the Danish camp. It proves that not only were the minstrels then admitted everywhere, but that the highest personages were skilled in music. Sixty years after Alfred's adventure, Aulaff, the Danish king, made use of the same stratagem to examine the camp of our King Athelstan. The Normans were perhaps still more addicted to music and minstrels. They brought with them all the songs sung to the glory of Charlemagne and Roland, and in the conqueror's army was the celebrated Taillefer, who, at once minstrel and warrior, asked leave to command the onset, and died fighting valiantly and singing the old songs of France.

Richard I. was not only extremely fond of minstrels, but was a distinguished one himself, and every one knows the story of his being discovered by his minstrel Blondel, in his prison in Germany. Edward I. would have lost his life by assassination during the crusades, but his harper hearing the struggle, rushed in and dashed out the assassin's brains with a tripod. We could accumulate a whole volume of such facts all through our history; but one, which shows, too, how well the musicians were rewarded, is, that Roger or Raherus, the king's minstrel in the reign of Henry I., in the year 1102, according to Leland, founded the priory and hospital of St. Bartholomew in West Smithfield, became the first prior, and so remained till his death.

The first Earl of Chester gave a freedom of arrest on any account to all minstrels who should attend Chester Fair, and the last earl was rescued from the Welsh, who besieged him in Rhuddlan Castle, by a band of these minstrels and their followers, who rushed away from the fair for that purpose.

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Pictures for The Progress of the Nation page 7

A Scandinavian God
A Scandinavian God >>>>
Shipping of the Year 1269
Shipping of the Year 1269 >>>>
Prior of Southwick's Chair
Prior of Southwick's Chair >>>>
Parliament assembled for the Deposition of Richard II
Parliament assembled for the Deposition of Richard II >>>>
Siege of a town in the Fourteen Century
Siege of a town in the Fourteen Century >>>>
King and Armour-bearer
King and Armour-bearer >>>>
Ciborium >>>>
Crozier >>>>
Costume of a Bishop
Costume of a Bishop >>>>
Effigy of Jocelyn, Bishop of Salisbury
Effigy of Jocelyn, Bishop of Salisbury >>>>
Part of the First Chapter of St. John's Gospel
Part of the First Chapter of St. John's Gospel >>>>
Author, and Copyist writing
Author, and Copyist writing >>>>
Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon >>>>
Matthew Paris
Matthew Paris >>>>
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer >>>>
The Queen's Cross, Northampton
The Queen's Cross, Northampton >>>>
Building of St. Alban's Abbey
Building of St. Alban's Abbey >>>>
Window, from Meopham
Window, from Meopham >>>>
Window, from St. Mary's, Beverley
Window, from St. Mary's, Beverley >>>>
Decorated Capital, from Selby
Decorated Capital, from Selby >>>>
Ball-flower, with Boll Moulding and Hollow
Ball-flower, with Boll Moulding and Hollow >>>>
Four-leaved Flower
Four-leaved Flower >>>>
Ruins of Croyland Abbey
Ruins of Croyland Abbey >>>>
Edward II. and the Minstrel
Edward II. and the Minstrel >>>>
Dance of Fools
Dance of Fools >>>>
Dancing Bears and Monkey
Dancing Bears and Monkey >>>>
Woman Churning, and Blind Beggar
Woman Churning, and Blind Beggar >>>>
Blacksmith of the Fourteenth Century
Blacksmith of the Fourteenth Century >>>>
Penny of Edward I
Penny of Edward I >>>>
Penny (supposed) of Edward II
Penny (supposed) of Edward II >>>>
Groat of Edward III
Groat of Edward III >>>>
English Merrymaking
English Merrymaking >>>>
Bed of the Thirteenth Century
Bed of the Thirteenth Century >>>>
Effigy at Dunmow
Effigy at Dunmow >>>>
Abbot's Chair
Abbot's Chair >>>>
Pilgrim >>>>
Saddle of the Time of Edward II
Saddle of the Time of Edward II >>>>
Stocks >>>>
King at Table
King at Table >>>>
Shoes of the Time of Edward II
Shoes of the Time of Edward II >>>>
Tilting Helmet
Tilting Helmet >>>>
Mourning Costumes
Mourning Costumes >>>>
Head-dresses of the Time of Henry III
Head-dresses of the Time of Henry III >>>>
Stool-ball. Fourteenth Century
Stool-ball. Fourteenth Century >>>>
Horsemen Tilting
Horsemen Tilting >>>>
Card-playing >>>>

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