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Years 1399-1485 page 6

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The castles erected during this period are few. The wars of the Roses brought the force of cannon and gunpowder against the massive old erections of the barons of past ages, and many a terrible stronghold was demolished. But there was, from the commencement of these wars, little leisure for rebuilding, or for building new ones. The proprietors, for the most part, were killed or reduced to ruin, and the workmen shared the same fate, so that labour became too scarce and dear for such great undertakings. Scotland was affected by similar circumstances. The castles of this period bear unmistakable traces of the perpendicular style, which was prevalent in the ecclesiastical architecture of the age. "Windsor, that portion of it built by William of Wykeham, though much altered, retains some marked and good features of this age. The exterior of Tattershall Castle, in Lincolnshire, remains nearly unaltered. All the castles of this time blend more or less of the domestic character, and tending towards that style which prevailed in the next century under the name of Tudor. Another great change in the castellated architecture of this period was the use of brick in their construction. Bricks, though introduced into Britain by the Romans, had gone almost out of use till the reign of Richard II.; now they were in such favour that the castles of Tattershall, Hurstmonceaux, and Caistor were built chiefly of them, as Thornbury Castle was in the next century. Hurstmonceaux, in Sussex, was erected in 1448 on the plan of Porchester Castle. It was a stupendous building, of which the ruins now remain, forming a regular parallelogram of 180 feet square, flanked by seventeen octagon towers, and with a fine machicolated gateway forming the keep. Tattershall, in Lincolnshire, built in 1455, is erected in the style of the ancient keep, $ huge square tower with polygonal turrets at the angles. Caistor, in Norfolk, erected about 1450, was remarkable for two very large circular brick towers at the northern angle, one of which remains.

But the castles and the mansions of this period possessed frequently so many features and qualities in common, that some of them are actual hybrids, the uniting links of the two kinds of houses. They had alike towers, battlements, and moats, and the chief apartments looked into the interior quadrangle as the safest. Oxburgh Hall, in Norfolk, is one of this mixed class. Though called a hall, it is moated, and has a massive gateway of a remarkable altitude. Raglan. Castle, built in the reign of Edward IV., has more of the true castellated style; Warwick and Windsor, more of the union of the two styles. At the same time, such castles as had their gateways battered down and rebuilt at this period present in them all the older characteristics of castellated buildings. Such is the gateway of Carisbrook Castle, built in the reign of Edward IV., and the west gate of Canterbury, built towards the close of the fourteenth century, which retain the stern old circular towers, lighted only by mere loopholes and ceillets.


The style of ecclesiastical architecture prevailing through this century, and to the middle of the next, is that called the Perpendicular. It appears to have commenced about 1377, or at the commencement of the reign of Richard II., just twenty years prior to this century; and it terminated at the Reformation, in the reign of Henry VIII. The Reformation was anything but a reformation in architecture. That great convulsion broke up the period of a thousand years, during which, from the first introduction of Christianity into this island, this peculiar character of architecture, often called Gothic, but more properly Christian, had been progressing and perfecting itself. The Saxon princes and prelates, evidently copying the Grecian in their columns, but adding curves and ornaments unknown to the Greeks, and introducing principles of pliancy, and of long and lofty aisles, from the suggestions of the forests, in which they were accustomed to wander, and the linden groves which they planted, originated a new school of architecture, in many particulars far exceeding that of the classic nations. No church took up and perpetuated this noble Christian architecture more cordially and more inspiredly than the Catholic. Over the whole of Europe, wherever the Roman Church prevailed, it erected its churches and monasteries in a spirit of unrivalled grandeur and beauty. In architecture, in music, and in painting, it acquitted itself royally towards the public, however it might fail in spirit, in doctrine, or in discipline. The remains of painted windows, to say nothing of the productions of such men as Raphael, Michael Angelo, Guido, and a host of others, who drew their inspiration from the devotions of that church, are sufficient to excite our highest admiration; and the sublime anthems which resounded through their august and poetical temples, through what are called the dark ages, were well calculated to enchain the imagination of minds not deeply reflective or profoundly informed.

In every country we find, moreover, a different style in all these arts - music, painting, and architecture; demonstrating the exuberance of genius turned into these channels during long centuries, when all others, except warfare, seemed closed. Our own country had its distinctive style in these matters, and in architecture this Perpendicular style was the last. During its later period it considerably deteriorated, and with the Reformation it went out. In England sufficient power and property were left to the Anglican Church to enable it to preserve the majority of its churches, and many of its conventual buildings: in Scotland the destruction was more terrible. There public opinion took a great leap from Catholicism to the simplicity and sternness of the school of John Knox; and in consequence of his celebrated sermon at Perth, in which he told his congregation that to effectually drive away the rooks they must pull out their nests, almost every convent and cathedral, except that of Glasgow, was reduced to a ruin.

Of the Perpendicular style we have many churches throughout the country, and still more into which it has been more or less introduced into those of earlier date in repairs and restorations. Every county, and almost every parish, can show us specimens of this style, if it be only in a window, a porch, or a buttress. Rickman is of opinion that full half the windows in English edifices over the kingdom are of this style. Whilst our neighbours on the Continent were indulging themselves in the flamboyant style, and loading their churches with the most exuberant ornament, as in the splendid cathedrals of Normandy and Brittany, our ancestors were enamoured of this new and more chaste style. There are writers who regard the perpendicular lines of this style as an evidence of a decline in the art. We cannot agree with that opinion. The straight, continuous mullions of the Perpendicular are - combined with the rich and abundant ornaments of other portions of the buildings, as the spandrils enriched with shields, the finely-wrought and soaring canopies, and crocketed finials, the canopied buttresses, the groined roofs and fan-tracery of ceilings - a pleasure to the eye, when chastely and richly designed.

They are the windows of this style which at once catch the observation of the spectator. The mullions, running through from bottom to top, give you, instead of the flowing tracery of the Decorated style, a simple and somewhat stiff heading; but the stiffness is in most windows relieved by the heading of each individual section being cuspated, and the upper portions of the window presenting frequent variations, as in the grand western window of Winchester Cathedral. Some of these windows, with their cinquefoils and quatrefoils, approach even to the Decorative. Amongst the finest windows of this kind are those of St. George's, Windsor, of four lights; the clerestory windows of Henry the Seventh's Chapel, of five. The east window of York Cathedral is of superb proportions. The window of the Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick, is extremely rich and peculiar in its character. Those of the Abbey Church of Bath have the mullions alternating, by the perpendicular line being continued from the centre of each arch beneath it.

The mullions in this style are crossed at right angles by transoms, converting the whole window into a series of panels; for panelling in the Perpendicular style is one of its chief characteristics, being carried out on walls, doors, and, in many cases, even roofs and ceilings. Take away the arched head of a window, and you convert it at once into an Elizabethan one.

Every portion of a Perpendicular building has its essential characteristics: its piers, its buttresses, its niches, its roofs, porches, battlements, and ornaments, which we cannot enumerate here. They must be studied for themselves. We can only point out one or two prominent examples.

Many of the buildings of this style are adorned with flying buttresses, which are often pierced, and rich in tracery, as those of Henry VII.'s Chapel. The projection of the buttresses in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, is so great that chapels are built between them. Many of these buttresses are very rich with statuary niches and wrought canopies. Pinnacles are used profusely in this style; but in St. George's, Windsor, and the Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick, the buttresses run up, and finish square.

Panelling, as we have said, is one of the most striking features of the Perpendicular style. This is carried to such an extent in most of the richly-ornamented buildings, that it covers walls, windows, roofs; for the doors and windows are only pierced panels. St. George's, Windsor, is a fine example of this; but still finer is Henry VII.'s Chapel, which, within and without, is almost covered with panelling. King's College Chapel, Cambridge, is another remarkable example, which is all panelled, except the floor. The roof of this chapel is one of the richest specimens of the fan-tracery in the kingdom. Amongst the most graceful ornaments of this style are the angels introduced into cornices, and as supporters of shields, and corbels for roof-beams, rich foliated crockets, and flowers exquisitely worked, conspicuous amongst them being the Tudor flower.

Some of the finest steeples in the country belong to this style. First and foremost stands the unrivalled openwork tower of St. Nicholas, Newcastle-on-Tyne. This forms a splendid crown in the air, composed of four flying buttresses, springing from the base of octagonal turrets, and bearing at their intersection an elegant lantern, crowned with a spire. Prom this have been copied that of St. Giles's, Edinburgh, that of the church of Linlithgow, and the college tower of Aberdeen. Boston, Derby, Taunton, Doncaster, Coventry, York, and Canterbury boast noble steeples of this style.

The arches of the Perpendicular are various; but none are so common as the flat, four-centred arch. This in doors, and in windows also, is generally enclosed by a square plane of decoration, appearing as a frame, and this mostly surmounted by a dripstone; the spandrels formed betwixt the arch and frame being generally filled by armorial shields, or ornamental tracery. In some doorways there is an excess of ornament. The Decorative style in this country, or the florid abroad, has nothing richer. Every part is covered with canopy-work, flowers, heraldic emblems, and emblazoned shields. Such is the doorway of King's College Chapel, Cambridge; and such are the chapels of Henry V. and Henry VII. at Westminster.

The groined roofs of the Perpendicular style are noble, and often profusely ornamented. The intersections of the ribs of these groined roofs are often shields richly emblazoned in their proper colours. The vaulted roof of the cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral is studded with above 800 shields, of kings and other benefactors; and the whole presents a perfect blaze of splendour. Some of these groined roofs are adorned with a ramification of ribs, running out in a fan-shape, circumscribed by a quarter or half-circle rib, the intervals filled up with ornament. The cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral present, perhaps, the first specimen of the fan-tracery roof; and after that King's College Chapel, Cambridge, Henry VII.'s Chapel, and the Abbey Church at Bath. The Red Mount Chapel at Lynn, in Norfolk, is a unique and very beautiful specimen of the Perpendicular, not only having a richly ornamental roof of this kind, but, though much injured by time, displaying in every part of it design and workmanship equally exquisite. Henry VII.'s Chapel and the Divinity School at Oxford have pendents which come down as low as the springing-line of the fans.

A simpler roof, but quaint and impressive in its appearance, is the open one - that is, open to the roof framing. Here, as all is bare to the eye, the whole framework of beams and rafters has been constructed for effect. The wood-work forms arches, pendents, and pierced panels of various form and ornament. Such are the roofs of Westminster Hall, Crosby Hall in Bishopsgate, Eltham Palace, the College of Christ Church, Oxford, and many an old baronial hall and church throughout the country.

Specimens of this style of architecture in whole or in part will meet the reader in every part of England,

Wales, and Scotland; and it should be remembered that it is an especial and exclusively English style, no other country possessing it. In Scotland Melrose Abbey and Roslyn Chapel present fine specimens of the Perpendicular, the latter one displaying some singular variations, the work of foreign artists.

When we descend from the military castle to more domestic architecture, we find the large houses of the gentry

or nobility, though totally incapable of resisting cannon, yet frequently battlemented, flanked with turrets, and surrounded by the flooded moat. The large houses of this period were generally built round one or two quadrangles. These buildings often possessed a great variety of exterior detail: a great arched gateway with the armorial escutcheon above it; projections, recesses, tall chimneys, flanking buttresses, handsome oriel windows, and pointed gables, terminated by some animal belonging to the emblazonry of the family. They were commonly adorned with fanes, in the form of the military banner of the chief, duly emblazoned in proper colours. Within, the great hall, with its open groined roof, the kitchen, and the buttery, cut the principal figure. At the upper end of the hall was the dais or raised part, on which stood the table of the lord and his immediate family or particular guests; and below the great salt-cellar sat the remainder of the establishment. At the lower end was commonly a music gallery. The fire was still frequently in the centre of the hall, and a hole in the roof to permit the smoke to escape, as at Penshurst, where the front of the music gallery is true perpendicular. In other houses there were large open fireplaces, the mantlepieces of which were frequently richly carved with the armorial shields of the family.

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