London, Volume 5
CII.--The Temple Church. No. II.: Its Restoration.
CII.--The Temple Church. No. II.: Its Restoration.
of the most curious and interesting facts in the history of the human mind is the peculiar mode of its progression :--its alternating rise and fall-the preliminary retreat before every great advance, as if to derive fresh strength and impetus for the spring. And whatever the path, this characteristic still presents itself. In religion, Pagan Rome did not change to Christian Rome, and the worship of the God, till the believers in a multitude of deities had passed through the worse state of practical disbelief in any: in philosophy or morality, the Divine voice that taught the essence of both, in the words
was heard, and received into men's hearts, at a time when the Grecian and Roman conquerors, by their vast organized systems of slaughter, devastation, and pillage, had well nigh banished the very ideas of humanity and justice from the world, and made philosophy a by-word of scorn: in science, literature, and art--the great ones of antiquity found fitting successors in such men as (to refer only to our own country) Roger Bacon and Chaucer--the artists of their temples in the artists of our early ecclesiastical churches, but what a
|mighty and almost unfathomable gulf divided them--the dark ages, as we call a long period--centuries in which the light was certainly not that of noon-day. Yet, with all this, who doubts that progression is Nature's law--that we have progressed--that we shall continue so to do, however undulating or indirect the road? To apply these remarks to the subject that suggested them :--it may be observed, then, that Gothic architecture has had, for the last or centuries, a dark age of its own, from which it is now emerging; and that there needs only some decided impulse to be given to the public taste, in order not simply to restore what has been, but, in accordance with the law we have referred to, probably to enable us to make a still farther advance. Such an impulse, it is not unlikely, will be given by the restoration of the Temple Church.|
And why the Temple in particular? it may be asked: the grand combinations of nave and aisles, choir and transepts, chapels and porches, lofty spires and mighty towers, into magnificent whole, are already familiar to us in connection with our cathedrals: has the Temple Church anything to offer at once superior to these, and new? Certainly not: the answer is, that, for the time, we see in it what a Gothic building really was--a structure as pre-eminent for its rich harmonies of colour as for its beauty of architectural detail and grandeur of architectural design. Let those who have not seen the Temple think what such decorations must have been in the hands of the authors of our cathedrals to be worthy of both, and they will scarcely overrate the value of what the Benchers of the Temple have just restored to us, with a truly princely liberality.
The view we have given of the exterior renders description unnecessary; we will therefore only remark how strikingly accordant is its character with the character of its founders; who, accustomed to the union or fortress and church in the East, where it was most necessary that they should be at all times prepared to defend themselves from the Saracens, seem to have been unable or unwilling to lose the same associations, even when at home among their own Christian countrymen. Perhaps, too, there may have been a little pride in the matter: they were not disinclined to remind those countrymen of what they had done, and were, at the period of the erection, still doing for the cause of Christ, as they deemed it. To examine the eastern front, the only front the church possesses, the spectator must pass round the pile of buildings that is seen in our engraving thrusting itself upon the oblong portion and obstructing the view. Before we leave the exterior, we must notice the differences of style which prevail in the Rotunda and the Chancel-differences which are connected with a feature of the Temple Church that makes it of the most interesting and valuable structures we possess, apart from any other attractions.
says Mr. Cottingham,
already, in this exterior, and more particularly in the comparative lightness of those Norman windows, we can trace of the stages of the advance. We now descend the steps of the porch, that strange, low, shut--in corner which forms the principal entrance-grown, however, larger-looking of late; and the deeply recessed, broad, semicircular Norman doorway is before us, with its foliated
|capitals and other carved ornaments, exhibiting another stage in the architectural progress. Most elaborately rich and beautiful it is, too, with its numerous pillars below, and circular wreaths above, its sculptured heads and half figures, where, mingled together, we see kings and queens, and pious monks at prayer. It is often thought, by those best qualified to appreciate the spirit in which our ecclesiastical artists worked, that in all they did there was a higher object than that of merely fulfilling the ordinary requisitions of art, even though that were so admirably accomplished. What, for instance, can be finer than the entrance through this low and comparatively dark porch into the light and airy upward sweep of the Rotunda, with the vista opening beyond through the chancel? How it in every way enhances them, and more particularly in size, the precise feature which it was most desirable to enhance.[n.19.1] But was this all? Had not the architect a still greater design in view when he built this lowly porch? did he not desire to suggest that lowliness of spirit with which man should enter the house of his Maker--was it not an emphatic direction to the haughty and stiff-necked, the ambitious and the powerful, that they were all as nothing here that they must as they passed through this gateway? Above all, was it not to remind them to whom all the splendour beyond was dedicated-that the lofty arches and fretted roof were His, not theirs--that if their hearts swelled, it should be with penitence, and hope, and reverential love, not with vain self-gratulation?|
But it is time we enter; and as we do so, we may notice, in passing, with what admirable judgment the transition from the dull commonplace buildings of the neighbourhood, up to the scene of consummate splendour that surrounds the altar at the distant extremity, and which is already attracting our eyes towards it, has been managed: , there is the richly-sculptured, but uncoloured and therefore quiet-looking gateway; next comes the Round, with the black marble pillars relieved against the light colour of the surrounding walls, the single painted window facing us as we look upwards, and the various-coloured roof with its light blue cinquefoils spotting the delicate ground all over it, the deep red borders following and marking the airy play of the groinings, and the central ornainent with its large blue flowers and gilded boss set in a circular frame-work of decoration; lastly, there is the view onward into the chancel, where the roof, thrown into such fine perspective, draws the eye unresistingly along a maze of the most delicately beautiful but glowing hues, which seem, at every fresh crossing of the arches, to grow more and more intense: it is hard to resist the impulse of at once stepping forward and throwing 's self into it, to luxuriate heart and soul on so novel and captivating a scene; but it is better to proceed regularly: we will examine what is immediately about us. We are in the far-famed Round, and shall find it no difficult matter to pause awhile.
In our former paper on the Temple Church [n.19.2] we gave an engraving of the valuable and well-known effigies preserved in it. These had become so greatly injured by time, neglect, and by attentions of a kind infinitely worse than neglect,
| that all their minute and beautiful details of sculpture and costume were lost; and they were also extensively mutilated and fractured; in consequence, it was difficult to determine what could be done with them in the recent restoration. It was painful to see them in so unworthy a state, and at the same time it was feared they were too far gone for any process of re-edification. Mr. Edward Richardson, however, a sculptor, undertook to experimentalize on the worst-and perhaps originally the most beautiful of the figures: the here on the right, nearest the central walk, of the pair. Setting out with the principle of adhering rigidly to the idea of restoration of that which could be proved to have existed--not of making what he might fancy ought to have existed-he determined, as he has kindly explained to us, to remove no portion of the surface, however isolated or small, except in extreme cases of necessity, and that he would supply none of the missing parts except on the most precise authority drawn from the effigies themselves: which he hoped to find. He set to work in the following manner:--, with a finely-pointed tool he removed the crust of paint, whitewash, and dirt that enveloped the effigy, which in parts was a quarter of an inch thick; the tediousness of this operation may be judged when we state that the surface he was so careful not to injure was more like a honeycomb in many parts than any surface that had been originally smooth. He now found, as he had anticipated, ample evidence of the character of those little but valuable points of costume and expression which had been unintelligible before. The next thing was to secure the original surface from further decay (to which the exposure to air would have made it peculiarly liable), by forcing into the stone some chemical preparation, which hardened in the pores. All the minute holes were now stopped with a cement which perfectly imitated the material of the effigy; the artist, as he well expresses it, working in this manner from |
over the whole. There remained but to add the missing portions, which, among others, included the lower part of the legs and feet: this was done in the same material as the effigy, and joined by the cement. The result may be told by the order issued by the Benchers to Mr. Richardson, to restore the whole of the effigies; or, still better, in the words of an eminent architect, who observed, when he beheld it in its present state,
[n.20.1] Thus these effigies, which are the best authorities we possess for military costume from the reign of Stephen to that of Henry III.-which are as works of art so surprising, that of our greatest sculptors said the other day he could not understand how they could have been executed in that period-and which, lastly, are so interesting in their connection with the early history of the building, and with that greater history in which some of them at least figured so conspicuously, are restored to us in their habits as they lived: for there is no doubt whatever that such representations were accurately imitated from the countenance, figure, and garb of the originals. only exception has to be made-absence of colour. It was discovered in the process of restoration, that the figures had been all more or less painted; some only slightly, so as to relieve the sculpture, but of them, the effigy of William Pembroke the younger, was richly coloured throughout, having a surcoat of
|crimson, armour of gold, and a cushion or pillow enamelled with glass. The effigies, when placed in the church, lay side by side in broad row across the central avenue, their heads towards the east, as was proved by the interesting discovery of the coffins in the recent excavations. These were in number; of them lead, the others stone of immense size. There was a beautiful carved cross on of the latter. Other discoveries, not without interest, were made at the same time. In noticing the history of Geoffrey de Magnaville, in our former paper, we stated that, on account of his dying excommunicated, the Templars, who attended him on his death-bed, not daring to bury him in consecrated ground, hung his coffin on a tree in their garden till absolution was obtained, and then buried him in the porch before the western door; and there he was recently found; for there can be no doubt that of the broken sarcophagi discovered beneath the pavement of the porch was his. Fragments of a sarcophagus were also discovered just within the doorway crossing beneath the walk of the aisle. The arrangement of the effigies was a matter of much consideration and experiment before their present position was decided on. They now lie on each side the central avenue, and parallel with it, in a double line; those on the right being, , William Marshall, the younger, sheathing his sword, of the bold barons who made John alternately shiver with fear and burn with rage; then, by his side beyond him, his great father, the Protector Pembroke, his sword piercing the head of the animal at his feet. Passing on to the pair, foremost is the exceedingly graceful but unknown figure before mentioned, on which the restoring process was tried; and the , another son of Pembroke's, Gilbert Marshall, in the act of drawing his sword. The probable feeling of the artist in this gesture is very beautiful. His father and his brother were men who had performed great things, and it is easy to see that their respective gestures are meant to signify as much; but Gilbert, when on the eve of going to the Holy Land, was killed by the accident of his being thrown by a runaway horse at a tournament in , which he himself instituted in defiance of the mandates of Henry III.: the sculptor, therefore, desired to show what he would have done but for his premature decease. Of the corresponding figures on the left are unknown, and the is that of De Magnaville, the burly warrior in front of the western pair. The remaining effigy, an exquisitely beautiful work, is that of Lord de Ros, another of the barons to whom we owe Magna Charta: this lies on the extreme right against the wall of the aisle, but in the same cental line of the church as the other figures, whilst in a corresponding position on the extreme left is the coped stone shown in the engraving before referred to.|
Let us now step from the central to the side walks, or, rather, from the Round into the lower-roofed aisle which surrounds it, and, having marked the stately marble pillars which rise at intervals to support the groined roof with its gilded bosses; the stone seat on which these pillars are based, and which runs along the bottom of the wall throughout the entire church (no doubt the only seat to be found here in olden times); having admired the low but richly-sculptured arcade also rising from the seat, and stamping lightness and beauty on the wall above, where the pointed arches, and pillars with Norman capitals to support them,
|show once more the progress of the struggle between the styles, and the approaching victory of the former; then the heads which decorate this arcade:--but here, as the eye runs along the row, it is at once arrested by the startling countenances which meet its glance, and by the endless variety that they exhibit. Again and again do we perambulate the entire circle of the aisle, for they also accompany it the whole distance, to gaze upon those novel, expressive, and powerfully characteristic faces. Setting out from the doorway along the left aisle, we presently come to (the ) that, once beheld, is never to be forgotten: anything so intensely full of agony, so ghastly in its horror, we never beheld. Then, to notice only the more remarkable of those countenances which pass before our eyes, we have those of a pale student; a female of distorted beauty; a cynic full of suffering, but expressing at the same time his marvellous contempt for it; a head on which an animal has fastened and is tearing the ear; a jester; numerous serio-comic indescribables after another; a fine placid philosopher, with a look, however, of earnest surprise; horned and demoniac grotesques; and against the wall of the archway leading into the left aisle of the chancel, a female with the most touching expression of grief and utter desolation conceivable; you feel the tears are falling, though you do not see them: it is evidently a mother enduring some more than mortal anguish. Such is the left half-circle of this wondrous sculpturesque phantasmagoria. Crossing to the right, and so back again along that half circle to the door, we find a striking and unsatisfactory change. The heads have in numerous instances little of the peculiar qualities of those we have noticed; a circumstance partly explained by the modern interpolations visible at a glance among them, and still more by the answers given to our inquiries on the subjects of these heads. It appears that at the time of an earlier repair of the Rlound (-) many of the heads were greatly decayed, and here and there some entirely missing. It is worthy of notice how the restorers of that day acted in comparison with the restorers of this. , an able mechanic, but without the slightest pretension to artistical skill and knowledge, was set to work on the heads of the side last mentioned, and they were copied as we now see them. Some little attention had probably been called to the subject in the mean time, and the consequence was, that the restoration of those on the opposite or north side was conducted with greater care, but still it was thought quite unnecessary that a sculptor should touch them. That done, of course the old heads seemed to the parties of no further use, so they went off to the builder's yard, bad, good, and indifferent, and were there used will it be believed?-as cart-wheel crutches; that is, to put under the wheels occasionally to prevent their slipping backwards. Such was the result of the inquiries made after them during the recent restoration of the Church! And now as to the general idea of the sculptor in these heads. It is impossible to go carefully through those on the north side without perceiving that, with but few exceptions, they all express an idea of pain, varying from the lowest animal manifestations up to the highest and most intellectual. On the south side, on the contrary, the predominant expression is placid or serene; and those of a different character, which are of original design, were probably removed from the opposite side, and the very ones substituted from this side, which there form so marked and corresponding an|
|exception to their neighbours. But many of these are evidently of original design, but copied, in ignorance not merely of the sculptor's object, which might have been excusable enough, but in opposition to the manifest rule that all the heads should be different. Thus, in the centre of the side, are heads-a queen, some merry personage, and then a king. The expression of the king's countenance is very fine, and in harmony with the gloomy character of his numerous companions; whilst his queen's, on the contrary, has almost a simper upon it. Crossing to exactly the opposite spot on the south side, we find a precisely similar group, only that both king and queen are here accordant and serene-evidently showing, apart from the similarity of the queenly faces, that the other queen has been copied from this, to fill up a vacant space, which the knew not how else to fill. And what is the idea that we think these heads were intended to convey, and which, if perfect, and arranged as we believe them to have been, they would now convey to every ?-It is that of Purgatory on the side, and the relief from it, by the prayers and intercessions of the Church, on the other. It may be thought some corroboration of this supposition to point out that the lofty corbel heads, on each side the wall of the entrances into the aisles of the chancel, which are original, are so decidedly and carefully contrasted as to make it certain the sculptor had some idea of the kind indicated. The peace that passes all understanding is as unmistakably stamped on the head on side of the arch, as the unendurable agony of eternal torture is on that on the other. In both arches the condemned faces are Saracenic: of course mere Purgatory was not enough for them. A curious, and, to artists at least, an interesting discovery, looked at in connection with the frequent custom of the Greeks even in the purest period of sculpture, was made during the restoration: some of the heads just mentioned had glass beads inserted for eyes. We may observe, in concluding our notice of the heads in the Rotunda, that the best of them are evidently bad copies of masterly originals-giving us the character and expression, which could not be well missed, though they have no doubt been sufficiently adulterated, and giving us no more. We may see how much we have lost in the exchange by a glance at the only other original head, of the beautiful little seraph with flowing hair, on the corner of the wall between the Rotunda and the south aisle. This was discovered but a week before the opening of the church. Traces of colour are still perceptible; and we learn from Mr. Richardson that the cheeks had been delicately tinged with the natural hue, the lips with vermilion, the pupil of the eye with blue, whilst the hair had been gilded. It was, as usual, thickly encrusted with layer upon layer of paint, dirt, and whitewash, so thickly indeed as to have escaped discovery till the period mentioned. But such was the state of the building generally only short years ago. As we now turn from beautiful and stately object to another, with a growing sense of delight, to see how the parts and the whole mutually harmonise with and enhance each other, it is difficult to recall the medley scene they have displaced. The painted window above was not then in existence, and that exceedingly elegant sculptured wheel-window over the entrance was closed up; the roof was flat, and. the groining of the aisles was concealed in whitewash; every marble pillar (then unknown to be marble) the same; monumental barbarisms of the worst periods of English sculpture (now happily removed to the triforium above) were let|
|into the very body of the pillars, and also encumbered the arches; the noble threefold entrance, from the Round to the chancel, instead of enhancing-by the momentary interruption of the view, and by the new combinations at the same time formed--the superior architectural beauty we are approaching, as at present, was most carefully hidden by a glass screen extending right across; and above, in the central archway, was the organ revelling in classical decorations; lastly, the very bases of the pillars in the chancel were entirely hidden by the great pews, and the pavement of the church throughout was considerably higher than the original|
|level. On examination of the pillars in the Round, when they had been cleaned, it was found that they were so decayed that new ones were indispensable; and great as the expense necessarily was, the Benchers determined to make no unworthy shifts, but to replace them as they ought to be replaced. Accordingly a person was sent to Purbeck to make arrangements for the opening once more of its celebrated quarries. This little circumstance shows the spirit in which the|
|Benchers undertook and carried on their task. As to the pavement, it was found, on digging down to the original level, that it had been formerly tessellated; and, in consequence, we have got rid of the staple ornament for modern churches, when we wanted to make them very fine, as at St. Paul's--the black and white checquer-and have obtained this warm and beautiful surface instead, formed of encaustic tiles. The ground is a dark-red or chocolate, but so elaborately covered with the amber or yellowish ornaments, as to make the latter the prevailing hue. The patterns form, , divisions of various breadth (the widest in the centre of the central avenue), extending, side by side, from the entrance-door to the farthest end of the chancel: within each division there is no alteration of pattern, but the divisions themselves, as compared with each other, present considerable differences. The most striking are those next to the broad central , where, as we pace along, we have the lamb on side of us, and the winged horse on the other--the emblems of the Societies to which the church belongs. The former is founded on the device of St. John; the latter, it is supposed, on the interesting story related in a former paper, of the poverty of the Knight Templars at the outset of their career, when knights rode horse. Among the other ornaments of the pavement are a profusion of linked-tailed animals in heraldic postures: lions, cocks, and foxes; tigers, with something very like mail upon their shoulders; basilisks, and other grotesques. There are also copies of designs of Anglo-Saxon origin--as figures playing musical instruments; and illustrative of the story of Edward the Confessor--the Evangelist John and the ring--a design which at once tells us from whence the materials for the pavement have been borrowed, namely, the Chapter House, . formed by the tiles is as strong and imperishable as it is beautiful. The tiles are perforated all over with small holes on the under side, consequently when they are laid on the cement prepared to receive them, and pressed down, the latter rises into these perforations, and, hardening there, binds the whole indissolubly together.|
It is a remarkable and somewhat happy coincidence, although that does not seem to have been yet noticed, that the revival of the art of decorating our public buildings should have been begun in that very church where it is highly probable the art may have been witnessed in all its splendour in England, but which, at all events, was founded by men who were among the introducers of that art into this country. When the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land, we know that they brought with them a confirmed taste for Eastern magnificence.
had not been showered before their eyes in vain; and among the Crusaders, the Knights Templars, rude as was the simplicity in which they delighted at the outset of their career, great as was their then contempt for luxury and wealth, very much altered their minds, to say the least of it, after a few visits to the Holy Land. To this circumstance doubtless may be attributed the Eastern character of the decorations of the period, as on the dome here above us, for instance.[n.25.1] Our ecclesiastics, being at perfect liberty to hang
| up, as in yonder archway, a Saracenic head or to all infidels, and as a kind of preliminary counterbalance, would no doubt accept, and turn to their own purposes, and, we must own, we think very sensibly, whatever infidel genius might have sent them across the seas. They who knew so well the effect of appealing to man's entire rather than to his partial nature only were not likely to reject any means that offered. From the moment he entered the sacred building, they took possession at once of his eye, ear, heart, and mind; and no wonder that afterwards they could turn him towards what point they pleased of the theological heaven. Of course this was a glorious field for abuses, and abuses sprung up with a strength and luxuriance that not only overpowered the flowers Art had strewed abroad, but almost concealed the goodly temple of Religion itself. Then it was that the early Church reformers arose in their strength, by . The |
Puritans, as in our -sided vision we call them, because, seeing the Herculean task before them, they went to their work with the hands and heart of a Hercules, cutting away, might and main, on all sides; marking every step with their blood, as they waged unequal war with the multitudes ready to defend what they sought to destroy, but still pressing on till the whole-confession and indulgence, bulls, pardons, and relics, or by whatever name the noxious growths were known--were rooted up ;--and with them the flowers went too. Well, we have at last a pure soil to raise them upon once more; for the successors of the Puritans (a times worse than them, for they debased art, whilst the others at worst only kept it in abeyance) have gone into the same final receptacle of all error-oblivion. And so, commending the fine passage here following, from the writings of an eminent Protestant divine, to the consideration of those, if there are any such, who still doubt the value, in a spiritual sense, of such exhibitions as the Temple Church now affords, we shall proceed forward into the scene that for the last hour has been drawing our eyes, at intervals, most wistfully towards it. Bishop Home says,
We could hardly suggest a better way of preventing the imagination of a reader from conceiving the true character and effect of the oblong portion of the Temple Church than by giving a careful and accurate architectural description, the process would be so unlike that which informs the spectator who is on the spot. The view impressed at once upon the eye of the latter is what is desiderated for the former--is what words of the most general, rapid, and suggestive character can very inadequately convey-and is what systematic description cannot give at all. We need hardly, therefore, say we shall not attempt the latter course; and as to the alternative, we cannot but feel how such glowing and various beauty as that before us becomes chilled in the very attempt to resolve it into words. Yet, if the imagination can be stirred
| by external influences, it should be, indeed, active here. As we enter, let us step into the corner on the right. The impression is of a mingled nature: a sense of the stateliest architectural magnificence, supporting and enveloped by the richest and most playful combinations of fairy-like beauty of decoration, each lending to each its own characteristics in the making of so harmonious a whole. Thus, the marble pillars, of a dark rich hue, beautifully veined, seem to flow rather than to tower upwards to meet the gay but delicate arabesqued roof, until, above the capitals, they suddenly expand their groins like so many embracing arms all over it, receiving at the same time from the roof a sprinkling of its own rich store of hues. See, too, how those magnificent arches, spanning so airily the wide space from pillar to pillar, and viewed from hence under so many combinations of near and remote-aisle, centre and aisle-those Atlases of the structure, see how content they are to serve as frameworks for the pictures seen through and above them, and, like all true strength, to look only the more graceful in their strength for the flowery chains which have been twined around them. The entire architecture of the Church, indeed, which is esteemed |
seems to give the idea of its having thrown off the air of antiquity which time has not unnaturally imparted to it, and to start into a youth, lustrous with all those peculiar graces which youth alone possesses. The lancet windows of the opposite side, beautiful alike in themselves and in relation to the architecture around, but undecorated, alone fail to add their tones to the general glow of splendour; though they still look so beautiful that could fancy they borrowed a reflection from the latter; and, as we turn to the perfect blaze of colours and gilding at the east end of the chancel, it might be supposed that the wealth that would have been reasonably sufficient for the whole of the windows, has been concentrated in those at the sides of and above the altar. In examining the smaller parts of which this sumptuous whole is composed, the attention again is naturally attracted to the ceiling, as was no doubt the case originally; for, in taking down the plaster and paint covering, not only were traces of decorative painting found, but also rich ornaments worked in gold and silver. The chief objects which stand out from the elaborate but everywhere light and graceful arabesques are the small circular compartments scattered over the entire roof, in each of the natural divisions formed by the groins, and containing alternately the lamb on a red ground and the flying horse on a blue. These are varied in the aisle, where we see the banner half black and half white,
[n.27.1] and with the letters B E A V S E A N, for Beauseant. their equally dreaded war-cry. This banner was changed in the reign of Stephen for the red Maltese-like cross on a white ground, which forms another of the devices; and a is copied from the seal of Milo de Stapleton, a member of the order, which still exists in the , attached to a charter of the date of : this represents the cross of
| Christ raised above the crescent of the Saracen, with a star on each side. As we now move on towards the painted windows of the east end, we perceive, among other interesting minutiae, the pious inscriptions, in Latin and in antique characters, that every here and there decorate and inform the wall with their stern threatenings to the wicked, their sweet and elevating consolations to the weary and heavily laden, their admonitions to all to remember the uses of the glorious structure--the end of all the solemn pomp around. That long inscription commencing in the north-west corner against the entrance to the aisle, and running all down that side, across the east end, then again along here at our back, till it finishes on the wall of the entrance archway close to the spot from which it started, is the |
Drawing still nearer to the western extremity, is it fancy only that suggests the sense of growing richness--an effect as though the whole compartment beyond the last pillars was lit up by some peculiar but unseen radiance? The general character of the decoration evidently has not changed. As we look, however, upon the roof attentively, we perceive that, whilst with the most subtle art the eye has not been warned of any sudden or striking alteration, the whole has been altered, the hues have grown deeper--the arabesques more elaborate--the whole more superb: yet still as remote as ever from garish or unseemly display: as fitting a prelude to the gorgeous eastern windows that illumine the compartment, as they are both suitable accessories of the altar beneath-resplendent in burnished gold-exquisite alike in its architecture and sculpture; whilst all-roof, windows, and altar, form most appropriately in every sense the culminating point of beauty of the Temple Church; the grand close of the beautiful vista through which we have advanced. The central or chief window is-most rich in its storied panes, containing, as it does, a numerous series of designs from the life of Christ, conspicuous among which appears the Crucifixion. The variety and sumptuousness of the details are beyond description. Over all the immense space occupied by the window, you can scarcely find piece of unbroken colour inches square: how great then the artistical skill that can combine such minute fragments into so splendid a work; and, would suppose, how tedious the process! Here we must venture to suggest a fault, or what appears to us to be , and we find that others have also noticed it. The prevailing colours are blue and ruby, with-less prominently-green. It is, we believe, generally admitted that of the principles of the ancient artists was vivid distinctness of colour: here, on the contrary, the blue and red mingle into something very like purple. This is less perceptible in the side windows, and not at all in the in the centre of the church facing the organ-loft. We have heard that this is owing to the use of a particular kind of red in the , and which was not used in the last. This window is, in consequence, more brilliant-looking and pure in its masses of colour; and though these are confined to the figures of the angels playing antique musical instruments, in each sidelight, and in the middle , the remainder of its ornaments consisting chiefly of mere dark pencilled scrolls, covering the entire surface, yet so striking is the contrast, so chaste and beautiful the result, that if we were asked whether it be really true that the Art so long lost is reviving among us, we should desire to give no better answer than a reference to this window. But, hark! there wanted
| but influence to complete the spell that seems to possess this place, and all who enter, and it comes. A few preluding notes, the big drops as it were of rain amid sunshine, and out bursts the divine tempest of harmony from the mighty organ. Roof, walls, windows disappear; the Temple is for the moment nothing-we are borne up by the magnificent volume of sound, the willing sport of the elements, tossed to and fro. But divine is the power that moves-the voice so potent to stir stirs not idly; from the glorious turmoil steals out the lowest and gentlest of tones; you would catch it-you listen, and lo! its whisper is already ascending from your heart. But alas! some visitor, deaf to the |
recalls us to earth, to reflect how near we had been to heaven.
And thankful may we be that in this, as well as in the other arrangements, the Benchers of the Temple are actuated by the right feeling, as they are gratifying that feeling by a judicious liberality. The choir, consisting of voices ( men and boys), is to be permanent, and brought as speedily as possible to a high state of excellence. The organ, it is generally known, is of the finest in this country, and has an amusing history attached to it. About the end of the reign of Charles II. the Societies determined on the erection of an organ; the great builders of that time were Schmidt, or Father Smith (for--the correct appellation being too hard, we presume, for English ears-so he was called), and Harris. Of course they were rivals; and as each desired to have confided to him the erection of an organ which was to be supreme in its excellence, and as each was supported by numerous patrons and partisans, the Benchers were somewhat puzzled how to decide. Their solution of the problem was worthy of the acknowledged acumen of the profession. They proposed to the candidates that each should erect an organ in the church, and that they would then keep the best. The proposal was accepted, and in months organs appeared in the Temple. Did any of our readers ever witness the debut of rival prima donlias at an opera--the crowded tiers upon tiers of faces, the eager anticipation, the excitement, the applause replying to applause? Some such scene, modified only by the peculiarity of the place, appears to have attended the debut of the organs. , Blow and Purcell performed on appointed days on Father Smith's great work. The getting such coadjutors must have rather startled Harris; but there was still Mons. Lully, and he did full justice to his organ. Which was best? The Smithians unanimously agreed Smith's; the opposite party remained in opposition, and equally single-minded. Month after month the competition continued, for the space of a year, when Harris challenged Smith to make certain new reed stops within a fixed period, and then renew the trial. This was done, and to the delight of everybody. But a choice wwas more difficult than ever. Each was evidently the best organ in the world except the other. The matter began to grow serious. Violence and bad feeling broke out, and the consequences to the candidates became in many ways so injurious, that they are said to have been
Lord Chief-Justice Jefferies was at last empowered to decide, and we have now before us the organ he favoured--Smith's! We have already mentioned the former position of this instrument, its present was only adopted after a long and anxious deliberation, in which gentlemen of no less importance than Messrs. Etty, Sidney Smirke, Cottingham,
| Blore, Willement, and Savage took part; and, certainly, the decision is not unworthy of the collective wisdom. It now stands in a chamber built behind, and rather larger in every way than the central window on the northern side; an arrangement that left the noble view unobstructed which we have shown in a previous page, and which required no other adaptation of the window than the mere removal of the glass, and the walls of division between the lights. The classicalities have been ruthlessly swept away, and you now see its gilded and gailydecorated pipes rising majestically upwards towards the Gothic pinnacles which crown it, rich in fretwork, and beautifully relieved against the painted roof of the light chamber behind. In a little vestry-room beneath are the bust of Lord Thurlow, who was buried in the Temple vaults, and the tablet of Oliver Goldsmith, who was buried in the churchyard. The last was set up at the expense of the Benchers, a few years ago, as graceful and honourable, as it was, of course, a spontaneous acknowledgment of the poet's burial in their precincts. These, with other memorials, will be shortly removed into the gallery surrounding the upper part of the Round, where Plowden, the eminent lawyer, lies in effigy beneath a semi-circular canopy- of those heavy masses of stone, paint, and gilding, obelisks, death's heads and flowers, that so delighted our Elizabethan forefathers, accompanied by various others of the same kind. At the back of the seats occupied during service by the Benchers' ladies, on a black stone against the wall, we read the inscription--Joannes Seldenvs--a name that needs little comment. |
says Wood (
He died in . Of the remaining details of the church, we can only enumerate the carved benches, with their endless variety of heads, animals, and of flowers and fruit, copies from similar works preserved in our cathedrals; the sumptuous accessories of the altar, as the crimson velvet cloth with its gold embroidery; the ambry and piscina discovered on the removal of the
that formerly covered the lower part of the wall; the arch with the effigy of the bishop beneath it who is mentioned in our former paper, in the south-east corner; the penitential cell, also there referred to, which is on the side of the circular stairs leading up to the Triforium, in the wall of the archways between the Rotunda and chancel; and lastly, the portraits of the kings which decorate the upper part of these arches, namely--Henry I., Stephen, Henry II., Richard I., John, and Henry III., monarchs who were all, more or less, benefactors to the Temple; with the reign of the of whom the order started into existence, and with the last, virtually terminated. Henry's successor, Edward I., gave unequivocal evidence of his desire to help himself to a little of the Templars' wealth, instead of conferring some of his own on them; and successor suppressed them, A.D. . We must add, that those who would know to whom we are indebted for the painted windows throughout the church, the roof, and, indeed, the decorations generally, will see in the northern window of the at the east end, if they look carefully, the following words:
The chief architectural works were commenced from the plan and under the superintendence of Mr. Savage, and (through some private differences) completed by Mr. Decimus Burton and Mr. Sidney Smirke. The carvings are by Mr. Nash. Already the public are
|admitted freely on the afternoons of Sunday, and it is not improbable that, eventually, daily service will be performed here, which, of course, would be also open to them.|
Reverting to the topic of our introductory remarks-progress, and the probable effect of the present restoration-whither may we hope its influence will guide us? The state of our cathedrals will at once occur to every : what a world of whitewash is there not to be removed, what exquisite chapels and chapterhouses to be restored, even in a mere architectural sense-witness the disgraceful state of the chapter-house of , for instance; what piles of monuments to be carried up into the Triforiums, before even the peculiar features of the Temple restoration--the decorative--are begun. But, supposing all this accomplished, are we to rest there? Let us answer the question by imagining, for a moment, what might be done within some given period, under favourable circumstances. To begin with the Temple. Whilst we may be certain that we have by no means reached the pinnacle of mere decorative splendour allowed by the severest taste, we have yet to call to our aid in such structures the highest artists--more particularly the sacred painter, with his solemn frescoes from Holy Writ, to which all other decorations should be but the mere adjuncts. The stranger wandering from such a building as this will find it stands not alone; that Art has asserted and established its universality. If he walks into the hall of the neighbouring University (we beg the reader still to accompany us in imagination), he finds a series of grand designs illustrative of the objects of the institution; he sees Theology, Jurisprudence, and Philosophy, each surrounded by her disciples--the messengers unto the world of all that the world has most reason to cherish. From the University to the Gallery of Art; with its long external range of statues of the great masters whose works are within, with its exquisite pediment, showing all the processes of sculpture, from the modelling of the clay and the hewing of the marble, up to the last touching of the finished production.--Within he finds the accumulated stores, arranged with the most consummate skill, every work carefully placed, so as to be well lighted, and beautifully relieved against the back or surrounding walls-he finds the whole informed by harmonious spirit above all, he finds that each department reveals its own artistical history, from the earliest to the present time, by the quality and sequence of the works. Looking still farther, he perceives that, from the prince to the peasant, there is a comparatively universal sense of enjoyment in and appreciation of these things. Whilst the King, if he has a palace to build, says to the architect,
and obtains accordingly such a work as has seldom or never before been seen, the people on their parts are stopping here in crowds, parents with their children, soldiers, mechanics, young and old, to examine the paintings of the public arcade; as they pass through it on their ordinary business; works by the rising painters of the day, the men of young but acknowledged genius, who are preparing themselves for the highest demands that can be made upon them, in this series, illustrating all the great events of the national history. Again--
interrupts a reader,
Very possibly. The ideas, so hastily suggested here, may be too gigantic for accomplishment in the great capital of the great British Empire; not the less, however, has all that we have described, and a times more than could be gathered from our remarks, been done in the capital of the little kingdom of Bavaria, and in years! All honour to the poet-king, Ludwig the , and to the artists with whom he feels honoured in connecting his name.
[n.19.1] Dimensions of the church: Rotunda, 58 feet in diameter; Chancel, 82 feet in length, 58 in width, 37 in height.
[n.19.2] No. LXX., The Temple Church: its History and Associations.
[n.20.1] Mr. Richardson is preparing for publication elaborate drawings of the effigie in their restored state.
[n.25.1] It may be observed here, once for all, that the decorations throughout the church are strictly in accordance with the period of the erection.
[n.27.1] Favyne (Theatre of Honour); referred to in Mr. Willement's account, in The Temple Church, by William Burge, Esq.