The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas

1827

St. Mary's Church.

The early history of this venerable fabric is enveloped in obscurity. Weever in his

Funeral Monuments,

on the credit, as he states,

of British story,

refers to a tradition of the Temple having been of those originally founded by Dunwallo Mulmutius, as a place of refuge and sanctuary for thieves and other offenders, about the year of the world ; and Dunwallo himself, with other British kings, is reported to have been buried here. This, however, is only traditional; the authentic history of the church can be traced to as early a period as , in which year it was dedicated in honour of the blessed Virgin, by Heraclius, patriarch of Jerusalem; who, at the above time, was entertained by the knights templars, whilst on a mission from pope Lucius III. to Henry II. in order to invite that monarch to ascend the throne of Jerusalem.

This edifice narrowly escaped destruction in the great fire of ; in it was repaired and beautified, and a curious wainscot screen was set up. In , the south western part, which had suffered by fire, was rebuilt. It has been since that time

394

partially repaired in various parts; the last and most extensive was in the years and , under the direction of R. Smirke, esq.

 

The plan of this church, as represented in the preceding page, exhibits distinct portions of buildings. The western most consists of the ancient circular church, formerly insulated, and constituting the only church of the extraordinary militant churchmen by whom it was created. The eastern portion is a long square, made in breadth into aisles by ranges of pillars, in each range. In the centre of the outer circular wall of the western pile of building is a magnificent receding semicircular arched doorway; the various mouldings springing from pillars with capitals approaching to the Corinthian order, the intervals between which are filled with mouldings of the zig-zag and lozenge varieties; near the jamb are small costumic statues, supposed to represent king Henry II. and his queen; the whole is in fine preservation and presents a magnificent specimen of Norman architecture; it owes its present state to the protection it receives from the porch of pointed architecture in front of it, which, although less ancient than the building, probably succeeded to an older porch. In the wall south of this porch are lofty roundheaded windows, the archivolt mouldings springing from columns attached to the jambs with elegant capitals; the easternmost has a freshness almost unequalled, owing to the circumstance of their being concealed for years by an attached chapel hid behind buildings in former times, and destroyed in . The piers between the windows are occupied by buttresses, and the elevation is finished with a block cornice and parapet; nearly the whole of this side had been built after a fire in , by sir Christopher Wren, in the Italian style; it has recently been restored under the directions of R. Smirke, esq. and a doorway with a Doric frontispiece walled up. An inscription on the parapet records these repairs as follows:--

HVJVSCE AEDIS SACRAE

PARTEM AVSTRALEM SIBI

PROPRIAM

RESTITVI CVRAVIT

INTERIORIS TEMPLI HOSPITVVM

JOHANNE GVRNEY ARMIGERO

THESAVRARIO

MDCCCXXVII.

The northern side is nearly concealed by adjacent houses. The circular clerestory contains windows assimilating with the aisle, but of a subordinate character; like the lower portion, it has been partially restored, and a block cornice and parapet substituted for the former battlements. The chapel which stood on the south side was an addition to the original plan; it was a curious specimen of architecture, in stories, the lower in the same style as the circular church, the upper the lancet architecture of the portion now to be described. The eastern church is united to the other part

395

already particularized at the eastern portion; this has been restored, and its gables, of which rises above every; aisle are finished with crosses. In the north eastern angle is an attached octangular staircase turret. The south side has recently been restored in Bath stone; it is made into divisions by-well proportioned buttresses, each division containing a handsome triple lancet window, the central rising above the others; the archivolts are moulded and spring from columns attached to the jambs; the elevation finishes with a block cornice and parapet. The east front is in divisions, also made by buttresses, containing in like manner lancet windows; the ashlaring is modern, having been restored with Portland stone in ; the points of the gables which correspond with the western front are crowned with urns; the north side, which abuts on a burying-ground, resembles the southern already described; it retains many of its original features; and has only been repaired in brick work. The annexed engraving shews a south west view of the church as repaired by Mr. Smirke in
. By the late alterations a passage has been formed from the west side--of the church to the court on the south side. The circular part of the church on the south side now appears in its original state.

 

The interior displays of the most interesting specimens of architecture in the country; the circular church forms a vestibule to the other, and its area is unincumbered; in the centre is a peristyle of clusters of columns with leaved capitals, from which spring the same number of acutely pointed arches, forming a circular aisle; round the entire building, above the points of the arches, is a story, consisting of an arcade of small intersecting circular arches, with openings at intervals to the vault over the aisles; the upper or clerestory is composed of round headed windows, the archivolts resting on columns, from the inner column, of every main cluster rises a smaller column to the roof, sustaining on their capitals transom ribs, which severally unite in a common centre ornamented with a boss; the dado of the windows- in the aisles has a series of stalls above a continued seat; the arches are pointed and spring from columns with exceedingly curious capitals; on the spandrils of every arch a singular grotesque head. The entire of the ancient work has been wantonly destroyed at the last repair for the sake of restoring the same with modern stone work, although no pretence of decay in the old work existed as an excuse. On the south side was a door leading to the curious chapel destroyed at the last repair, and in the sill of of the windows on the same side, is a repetition of the same inscription as on the exterior. The roof of the aisle is strongly vaulted with stone and filled in with chalk; the ribs spring from the main cluster and from corresponding pillars attached to the side walls. Above the great doorway is a closed up circular window, and below it is a stone with the following modern copy in Saxon capitals of an ancient inscription discovered and destroyed in :--

396

+ ANNO . AB . INCARNATIONE . DOMINI . M.C.L.X.X.X.V. DEDIGATA

HEC . ECCLESIA . IN . HONORE . BEATE . MARIE A. DNO .

ERACLIO . DEI . GRA . SCE . RESVRECTIONIS ECCLESIE .

PATRIARCHA . IIII. IDVS . FEBRVARII Q EA . ANNATIM

PETETIB . DE . IIVNTA . S. PENITETIA . LX. DIES . INDVLSIT.

to the more modern portion of the church is worthy of attention; it is made by singularly formed pointed arches admirably accommodated to the junction of the circular with the square plan. The columns of the choir are clustered with uniform capitals, from which springs the stone vaulted roof, which is groined in the simplest manner with arches and cross springers; at the points of intersection are gilt bosses; the whole is a beautiful specimen of the lancet or Salisbury variety of pointed architecture. The aisles are not of equal width, the centre being wider than the others. The fittings up of the church are of dark brown oak in the usual style of Wren's decorations. The altar screen is unusually plain. The pulpit and desks are arranged in the middle of the centre aisle; the former is octangular, with a magnificentcarved sounding board, the latter is suspended from the ceiling. Both the pulpit and sounding board are enriched with the elaborate carving of Grinlin Gibbons.

The organ screen is elaborately carved of the Corinthian order; it was erected in ; on the entrance to the south aisle are the arms of the Inner Temple, and to that of the north those of the Middle Temple. The organ occupies the centre; it is considered of the finest instruments in England. In several of the windows are the ancient arms of England, viz. lions' passant guardant on heater shields.

The body of the choir is paved like a parish church; the benchers and members of the inns of court have seats for themselves on their respective sides of the church.

A mean modern font stands in the circular aisle near the west door.

The dimensions of this elegant church are as follows:

 ft.in.
Extreme length, including the circular part1500
Ditto in the clear1400
Diameter of circular church580
Length of choir820
Breadth of ditto580
Height of vaulting ditto370

The monuments are very numerous. The , in point of interest, are the splendid groups of sepulchral effigies which occupy the central portion of the area in the circular church; which are, in point of curiosity, almost identified with the building.

397

 

 

These ancient sepulchral monuments lie in groups, within the circular area. They are generally reputed to represent knights templars. From the crowded manner in which these memorials of departed greatness are now arranged, there is little doubt of their having been removed from the places they originally occupied; most probably from tombs or pedestals which once stood here, but which at some remote period have been destroyed.

This conjecture,

says Mr. Brayley,

is corroborated by the fact of an excavation having been made, during the repairs in

1811

, under the northernmost group, for the purpose of discovering whether any vault or coffins were beneath, and it was then satisfactorily ascertained that there was neither

one

nor the other.

These interesting effigies are in number, and some are much mutilated and defaced. They are disposed in rows, between the north-eastern and south-eastern columns, and are inclosed within iron railings. The figures have been sculptured out of blocks of freestone, feet in thickness, and are lying on platforms of similar stone. The attitudes vary; but the figures are all recumbent, and represent knights, armed , in mail armour, with surcoats. only is bare-headed, and wears a monk's cowl. Their shields are of the heater, or Norman form, but differ in size; of them is so remarkably long, that it extends from the shoulder to the middle of the leg. Their heads, which, with a single exception, repose on cushions, are mostly in hoods of mail. wears a kind of casque. Most of their swords have been broken; in consequence of which of the knights has been described as in the act of drawing a dagger.

of the effigies are cross-legged, a position acknowledged to indicate that they were intended either for actual crusaders, or for other knights who had assumed the cross, and been engaged in the holy war against the infidels in Palestine.

Not a single figure of the northernmost group can be decidedly appropriated; but the , or that which is cross-legged, most probably represents Gilbert Marshall, earl of Pembroke, who was killed by a fall from a horse, at a tournament near Ware, in , and whose remains were deposited near those of his father and brother in this edifice. Camden says, that

the statues of William, and his sons William and Gilbert, all marshals of England and earls of Pembroke, were still to be seen in this Temple;

and on of them was this inscription, in letters almost effaced: , and on the side, The knight is in a peculiar attitude, apparently trampling on a dragon, most probably in allegorical reference to the Christian's triumph over Satan.

The principal figure in the southernmost group is said by Mr.

398

Gough to be that of Geoffrey de Magnaville, who was made earl of Essex by king Stephen; and, on his creation, augmented his family arms, which were quarterly or and , with an escarbuncle, which charge is still apparent on the shield, and is the only instance of the bearing of arms on a sepulchral monument. This turbulent lord was killed in an attack which he made on the castle of Barnwell. As he died under sentence of excommunication, the templars did not dare to give him Christian burial, but wrapping his body in lead hung it on a crooked tree in the orchard of the Old Temple, London (in ) the remains after the excommunication had been removed by absolution, found a resting place in the new church of the Temple, on the spot where it now lies, or near it.

The next effigy is that of the famous William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, who died in . On his shield is a lion rampant, forming a part of his arms.

The figure is supposed to represent Robert Ros, a templar, who, dying about the year , bestowed upon the order the manor of Ribston, in Yorkshire; but Mr. Gough, on the authority of bishop Tanner, assigns this figure to the lord Ros, who was buried here in the Henry III. anno . On the shield are water bougets, the bearing of the Ros family.

The last figure is supposed to be intended for William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, who died .

Adjoining the last effigy is a coffin-shaped slab, rising to an edge in the centre. It has been assigned to William Plantagenet, son of Henry III. who died in his infancy, and was buried here about .

The next monument which claims attention is a pontifically habited figure, at the east end of the south aisle of the choir.

 

He is extended on an altar, with a crosier in his lift hand, and is living the benediction with his right hand. This ancient monument has been assigned to the patriarch Heraclius, who died at Acre, in

399

the year ; but there is no proof existing that that ecclesiastic's remains were ever brought to this country. Mr. Gough, with greater probability, conceives it to be the effigy of Sylvester de Everdon, bishop of Carlisle, and some time chancellor of England, who was undoubtedly buried in this edifice in . At the repair in , an entire skeleton was discovered beneath this effigy, within a leaden envelope, placed in a stone chest, or coffin, of about feet in length and feet in height. Fragments of garments, and portions of a crosier were found, but no episcopal ring.

In the south-east corner of the church is a fine marble bust of the late lord Thurlow; beneath is the following inscription:

Edvardvs. Thvrlow. baro . Thvrlow . a. Thvrlow. svmmvs. regni . cancellarivs . hic. sepvltvs. est . vixit . annis lxxv. mensib . x . decessit . anno . salvtis. hvmanae. MDCCCVI . idibvs. Septembris. vir . alta. mente . et. magna. praeditvs. qvi. nactvs. praeclarissimas . occasiones . optime . de . patria meredi . ivra eccesiae. regis. civivm . pericvlvm. vocata. firmo . et . constanti. animo. tvtatvs . est.

In the south aisle, above the effigy of the bishop before noticed, is a plain oval tablet to the memory of the hon. Daines Barrington, who died , aged .

Near this are elegant marble slabs: the is to G. Rous, esq. who died , aged ; the is to H. C. Litchfield, esq. who died , aged ; and the last records sir J. C. Hippesley, bart. LL.D., F. R. S. and F. S.A. He died May , aged .

On the north side of the choir is an altar tomb, with a recumbent effigy, habited in a black gown and ruff, with hands clasped in prayer. Above the effigy is a semicircular arch, the soffit richly pannelled. It is to the memory of that eminent lawyer and antiquary, Edmund Plowden, esq. of Plowden, in Shropshire, who died , aged .

Nearly adjoining is a neat marble slab to the memory of sir George Wood, knight, and of the barons of the exchequer. He died .

More westward is a monument of marble, with finished columns of the Corinthian order. It is to the memory of sir G. Treby, knt. chief justice. He died , aged .

At the west end of the same aisle is the figure of a man kneeling at a desk, with hand on his breast, and the other opening a book. He is habited in a gown and ruff of the time of Elizabeth. There is no inscription recording the deceased, but a few lines of Latin poetry.

Against the west wall of the gallery is a neat monument to James Howell, esq. the author of

Londinopolis,

&c. He died in .

On the north side of the altar is a neat marble slab to the memory of the late John Hatsell, esq. clerk of the house of commons, who

400

died . This slab also records the decease of his father and grandfather. Adjoining is a similar slab to sir Robert Chambers, kilt. chief justice of the supreme court of judicature, Bengal. He died , aged .

In the circular part of the Temple church, the following monuments are deserving of notice:

On the north side is a neat tablet by Flaxman, representing a female mourning over an urn; it is to the memory of W. Moore, esq. who died . A sarcophagus with square formed head, in which is a bust of the deceased, to S. Mead, who died April , aged .

Nearly adjoining is a neat marble tablet, with cariatidal figures of Hope and Charity, to A. Campion, esq. obit .

On an altar tomb on the same side of the church, is a fine figure of John Hiccocks, esq. a master in chancery. He is represented reclining with a roll of paper in his hand, and habited in the dress of the time. He died , aged . Behind the figure are pilasters of the Corinthian order supporting an arched pediment and urn.

Against the wall at the entrance to the south aisle, is a neat tablet to the learned John Selden, , died .

before the Inner Temple hall is regularly and excellently paved: and, facing the south, is always dry. This advantage attracts many visitors, who pass their leisure hours in conversation there with their friends, and in admiring the trees, walks, flowers, and moving scenes of the river; but a more inviting and retired promenade is that of the , where a stream of water is forced to a considerable height, and falls again into a neat circular basin, surrounded by rails, and very beautiful trees, through which the antique walls and buttresses of the Middle Temple hall have an highly picturesque effect, whence the eye descends down a flight of steps to a handsome railing, enclosing a garden filled in the most pleasing manner by large groups of trees arranged near excellent gravel walks, bordered by flowers. Such are the embellishments peculiar to the precincts of the Temple. Of the quadrangular passages and alleys nothing recommendatory can be said with propriety, as they are certainly suited only to absolute conveniences, without pretension to good light or good air.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Britton's Public Buildings of London, vol. i. p. 139.

[] Engraved in the annexed plate, fig. 9.

[] Figs. 1 to 5.Sepulchral Effigy. Temple ChurchSepulchral Effigy. Temple ChurchSepulchral Effigy. Temple ChurchSepulchral Effigy. Temple ChurchSepulchral Effigy. Temple Church

[] Fig. 6.Sepulchral Effigy. Temple Church

[] Fig. 7.Sepulchral Effigy. Temple Church

[] Fig. 8Sepulchral Effigy. Temple Church

[] Fig. 9.Sepulchral Effigy. Temple Church

[] Fig. 10.Sepulchral Effigy. Temple Church

[] Sepul. Mon. i. 221.

[] Engraved in Smith's Antiq. of London.

[] Also engraved in the same work.

[] It was in this garden, according to Shakspeare, that those unhappy badges of distinction, the white and red rose, originated. The brawl to-day, Grown to this faction in the Temple garden, Shall send between the red rose and the white, A thousand souls to death and deadly night. Henry VI.

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 Title Page
 Dedication
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda
 Postscript