The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
Tomb of Henry the Seventh.
Its grand brazen enclosure would, with a very trifling alteration, form an outside plan for a magnificent palace in the Gothic style; the double range of windows terminating by a projecting arched cornice, the frieze of quatrefoils and the embattlements are all suited to such a building; and the portal would be an exquisite window for the hall, a little shortened.
Although brass is not easily broken, and the ornaments are firmly fastened, yet we may find strong traces of devastation and theft in the vacant niches and injured decorations; the little slender pillars, the badges of a greyhound, dragon, portcullis, &c. &c. are introduced with great taste throughout the design, which must he admitted to be worthy of the monarch's splendid chapel. The form of the altar-tomb admits of so little variety, that we are nearly confined to saying the effigies are very well executed, as are the angels at the corners. The bas-reliefs on the sides are finely drawn; but the circles of leaves are too thick, and the pilasters too excessively crowded with ornaments and emblems.
On the north side of the tomb is the following inscription:--
On the south side,
On the frieze,
Let us now, says Mr. Malcolm, attempt a more detailed description of this wonderful piece of architecture, where some new perfeclions may be discovered after the fiftieth examination: and , the gates of brass. The great gate is divided into perfect
|squares, and imperfect ones; these contain pierced crowns and portcullisses, the king's initials, fleur-de-lis, an eagle, thistles Springing through a coronet, their stalks terminating in feathers; lions, a crown, supported by sprigs of roses; on each division of that gate is a rose, and between them dragons: some of which are broken off, as are also or of the roses. The smaller gates contain squares each, with the above emblems. The pillars between the gates are twice filletted, and the capitals are foliage. The animals, badges of the king, hold fanciful shields on them, but have lost their heads, and are otherwise mutilated. The angles of the arches are all filled with lozenges, circles, and quatrefoils, with a rose in the centre of the quatrefoil. busts of angels, habited as bishops and priests, crowned, extend across the nave; the corner ones are hidden by the canopies over the respective stalls of prince Frederick, and the king's stall, bearing the flag of England and France; this canopy has no crest. Between them are portcullisses, roses, and fleur-de-lis, all under crowns, more or less broken. From hence to the roof is filled by a great window of many compartments, so much intersected and arched, that a description would not be comprehended. The lower part is blank. The upper part contains figures in painted glass, crosses, or crowns, and fleur-de-lis; single feathers of the prince of Wales's crest, red and blue mantles, crowns and portcullisses, crowns and garters, crowns and red rose; and roses or wheels full of red, blue, and yellow glass; but little light passes through this window, it is so near the end of the abbey, and covered with dust. Several fragments of pinnacles in glass remain in the arches of the lower divisions, which were parts of the canopies over saints.|
The side aisles have arches hid by the stalls; the clustered pillars, in number, between them support great arches on the roof, each of which have pendant small semi-quatrefoil arches on their surface, and rich pendants or drops; there are small drops in the centre.
windows, very like the western, fill the spaces next the roof; in all of them are more or less of painted glass, of lions, fleur-de-lis, and red, yellow, and blue panes, having quatrefoil arches, with embattlements. Under the windows the architect and his sculptor have exerted their utmost abilities; and exquisite indeed are the canopies, niches, and their statues, which they have left for our admiration: there are between each pillar; trios of -part pinnacled buttresses form the divisions: the canopies are semisexagons; their decorations and open-work are beautifully delicate; over them is a cornice, and a row of quatrefoils; and the battlement is a rich ornament of leaves: the statues all stand on blank labels; and, although the outline of the pedestals are alike, the tracery and foliage differ in each: beneath those is the continuation of half-length angels, before described on the west wall.
As many of my readers are most probably unacquainted with the legends of Roman Catholic saints, I shall describe the statues as they stand, without appropriating them; those who are conversant in legends will name them from their emblems: the to the north-west are cardinals and divines; the next a figure with keys on his hat; the holding a mitre; the a prelate, whose hand is licked by a dog, St. Roch; the a fine studious old man, St. Anthony, reading, a pig at his feet; the next a prelate blessing a female figure kneeling before him; the next compartment a bishop reading, with a spindle in hand, a king, and a bishop wresting the dart from death, who lies prostrate under his feet; under the window, a priest uncovering the oil for extreme unction; St. Lawrence, with the gridiron, reading; a venerable old man, with flowing hair, bearing something (decayed) on a cushion; a priest, and the a female, probably a prioress.
On the south side, commencing at the great arch which separates the nave from the chancel, a king reading, an oldman reading, playing on a flute, St. Sebastian naked bound to a tree, and a figure with a bow. Further on, a bishop with his crosier in the left hand, with his right he holds a crowned head placed on the corner of his robe; a queen, a bishop with a crosier and wallet, a king with a sceptre; with a head in his left hand, St. Dennys; the a bishop. Under the window, the statue is removed, a bishop reading; St. George and the dragon; a mitred statue supporting a child with a tender and compassionate air; the filth a priest in a devout attitude. The last division, a female holding a label; a cardinal reading; with a label; another cardinal; also another reading.
There are statues belonging to the great arch before mentioned, on each side; of those are a continuation of the niches, and the others over them; the statues consist of a prelate before a desk, with a lion fawning on him; another reading. Above, religious, about the same employment; those are on the south: on the opposite side, of the figures is gone, the other is a bishop giving the benediction, the upper ones, reading statues of old men.
The chancel is semi-octagonal, and consists of sides; the windows are like the others, the eastern has a painting of an old man in fine colours; the angels, niches, and enrichments are continued round; the statues are a female saint kneeling, a coronated female, a monk with a boy singing by his side; mutilated; a figure bearing a cross in his right band, and reading, another with a spear and book, St. Thomas; a fine animated statue consecrating the contents of a chalice; a pilgrim; reading.
It is with difficulty the eastern figures can be seen, from the cross lights; but the is St. Peter,
The south-east side bas a statue reading, another in meditation; a giving the benediction, and bearing what cannot be
|discerned; the next a female, an old man; a pilgrim, a female, holding a tower on her left hand, and reading, and a saint with his book, supported by a cross.|
These statues are all so varied in their attitudes, features, and drapery, that it is impossible to say any are alike; the disposition of their limbs is seen through the clothing; and the folds of their robes fall in those bold, marked lines, which is the characteristic of superior sculpture and painting. Why cannot some of our artists follow this art, instead of dividing their drapery like rolls of parchment tied together at end?
The arch which forms the division between the nave and the chancel is bounded by clustered pillars, its intercolumniation is another proof of the consummate skill of the great architect; the variety and beauty of the divisions I shall attempt to describe, from the base upwards. niches are the ornaments, but the statues are gone. Their pedestals are octagonal; the shafts adorned with arched pannels, and the frieze with foliage, fighting dragons, grape vines, and shields with roses; the niches are surmounted by pointed arches foliaged and embattled. On the pillar between them, angels bold a rose on the north side, and a portcullis on the south; the portcullis broken; and the figures broken by the wooden canopies: these last are supported on the sides by greyhounds and dragons. crowns in alto relievo over them have been nearly beaten to pieces. Each niche has slender pillars on their backs, with delicate groins, roses, &c. but they differ; other decorations consist of oak branches and acorns. Above the great arch over the niches are pannels and quatrefoils, and a frieze of branches and roses, with a cornice and battlements. The next compartment has the arms of Henry VII. under an arch, with the dragon and greyhound as supporters; angels issue from the side pillars, and suspend the crown over the arms; but they have been under the fangs of the destroyer on both sides. Another frieze of branches, with a foliaged battlement crosses the intercolumniation; higher are lozenges with squares, each containing circles, and in them quatrefoils; the next are the angels, and niches over them, which have been noticed before; the arch across the roof is filled with pannels in ranges, divided at intervals by ovals and quatrefoils, containing badges; the extreme lines of the arches are indented with small arches.
The east ends of the side aisles are formed into beautiful little chapels, before which is the basement of their screens; the screens gone. The lower part is a range of circles, and quatrefoils, roses, and fleurs de lis; higher are arches, and quatrefoils, with a frieze of dragons, greyhounds, and sprigs, the top embattled, but almost worn smooth. From this other ornaments, forming the top of these circular screens, once arose.
They both bad grand altar-pieces; and, wonderful to tell, they have been but little injured; the marks of the altars are visible still;
|over them are arched pannels, surmounted by quatrefoils, on which is a row of angels, with the king's badges, and above superb niches, whose ornaments and canopies are extremely rich. On the top of the middle is a seated lion, and on the right the greyhound; to the left a dragon; the centre niche in the south chapel is empty, but the right contains a statue, about feet high, of a venerable man, who reads from a book, resting on the hilt of a sword. A mitred figure on the left was probably intended for St. Dionysius; for he supports with much veneration a mitred head, which has been cut off. These are both noble figures, with excellent drapery, and faces full of expression; the reading figure is almost as fresh as when new; the sides of the chapel and the whole of the lower parts of the building, have waved windows, whose ichnography is thus ; the west-ends are similar to the east, from the pavement to the angels, above which, they are pannelled, and terminate to the shape of the roof in foliaged arches. These windows have been restored.|
The ceiling consists of several circles pannelled; and in the centre is a lozenge within a lozenge, containing a circle, and quatrefoils round a lozenge, on which is a rich fleur de lis.
The enormous quadrangular tomb of Lewis, duke of Richmond, with his and his lady's recumbent effigies, almost fills the chapel. He died , the duchess on the . The figures are finely cast; but the statues of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Prudence, caryatides supporting the canopy, are most excellent, and their drapery wonderfully correct; the artist, to avoid the appearance of too great weight, has most absurdly pierced the canopy into a number of fantastic thin scrolls, and a crest within the garter. Fame on the top is too vehement; but the flaming urns are close copies of the antique; a clumsy black pyramid and urn, to the memory of the infant Esme, duke of Richmond, defaces the east end of the chapel. The unburied coffins of Spanish ambassadors were removed from this chapel several years ago.
In the north chapel the figures over the altar are, a fine statue holding a book, with a tame lion at his feet, and on each side a priest; where the altar stood is a black tablet, to whom is not legible. The preposterous monument of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, who was stabbed at Portsmouth, August , has demolished all the decorations at the west end.
The windows contained painted glass of the arms of Edward the Confessor, Henry the , his initials, a crown on a tree, with the red rose and fleur de lis; but little now remains, being newly glazed. The north-east recess is like the chapel in its roof and windows; and on the west end the decorations of niches and statues are perfect. The centre is St. Sebastian; on the left a soldier, and the right a martyr, with an imperfect instrument of torture on his neck. A monument by Scheemakers stands where the altar
| did, and was erected to the memory of John Sheffield, duke of Buckinghamshire, who died at the age of , ; in addition to the titles and employments usually held by persons of his rank, be bears the name of an author, and that of the friend of poets. Dryden was honoured by him with a monument, and Pope with the care of his works for the press; his creed I shall introduce from the tomb:
Thus Englished by Dart:
On the verge of the sarcophagus :--
The tomb is of the handsomest in the abbey, and the figure of the duke (in Roman armour) is well imagined. It consists of a sarcophagus, on which are the recumbent figures of the duke and his duchess in their robes of estate. Near the angles of the tomb are pedestals surmounted by lofty obelisks, and, by the side of them, sitting in mournful attitudes, are Mars, Neptune, Pallas, and Benevolence. On different parts of the tomb are boys, skulls, cyphers, &c. Behind them are groups of armour and military ensigns, and, in the middle, upon an elevated bracket, is a figure of Fame, with medallions in alto relievo of the deceased children of the duke.
The eastern recess is like the others in every respect, and once contained statues; the middle on the south side is gone; those on its sides are venerable prelates; opposite is St. Peter, and Edward the Confessor, with (probably) his queen. As the figures just mentioned are much decayed, as well as some on the south side, were they not removed from an ancient building, perhaps the chapel of St. Mary taken down to make room for the present structure? The materials are not the same, nor is the workmanship like the others.
The south-east recess is perfect, with the marks of an altar. The oaken stalls destroy half of the beauty of the chapel; for by them we are deprived of the arches of the aisles, with their rich ceilings. They are much inferior to the stone work, but parts of them are certainly finely imagined, though others are heavy and incongruous. On the tops of the pinnacles the helmets, crests, and swords of the knights of the Bath are placed, and from the band of angels, large banners of the same companions are suspended so close together as to bide each other, and destroy a complete view of the chapel. When an installation takes place, the sovereign's seat is on the right side of the nave, at the west end; the knights are
|seated in the upper ranges, and the esquires on those next the pavement; the arms, names, and titles, engraved on brass plates, are fastened to the backs of the stalls. The seals are fixed to the wall by hinges; when they are down, nothing is to be seen; upon turning them back, we find those improper representations, which were the disease of the times when they were carved. Many of them possess an irresistible whimsicality of thought, most ludicrously expressed; such as apes gathering nuts; another drinking, a bear playing on the bagpipes; figures with their hands tied across their knees; a woman flagellating the exposed posteriors of a man; another beating a man with a distaff; a man distorting his mouth with his fingers; a giant picking the garrison of a castle out over the walls; an ape overturning a basket of wheat; a figure seated on a , an ape pulling it away; the figures are much broken; a fox in armour riding a goose; a cock in armour riding a fox; a devil carrying off a miser; and many others too indecent to describe: some are serious; for instance, the judgment of Solomon, David and Goliah, &c. Those which represent flowers, as many are in the state of preservation, are all of wood.|
To give an accurate description of the roof of the nave is nearly impossible; when we reflect on the geometrical precision necessary to put together such a mass of stone, formed into hanging arches, pendants, &c. we must at once pronounce both the architect and mason adepts in their professions. Each pendant is formed into pannelled rays, with a beautiful ornaments, and the whole, when viewed from either end of the chapel, presents a crowded, yet distinct and grand whole.
The east end of both the aisles have had altars, and over them the same kind of beautiful niches and ornaments that adorn the recesses in the nave; the statues on the north are a king, St. Lawrence, and a saint who had succeeded in taming a dragon; the middle niche in the south aisle is empty; on the left is a female coronated, resting a book on the hilt of a sword, with the point of a prostrate man's cap; the other, a female with her hands in prayer on a long staff, on which is a cross, with the ends in a dragon's jaws. Both of the west ends have large windows, full of intersecting arches, with many panes of painted glass; and those on the sides have scraps still remaining; they are representations of the red rose, fleur de lis, a rose half red, and half white, port-cullis, and the initials The entrance is through beautiful arches, whose ceiling, as well as those of the aisles, is rich in the ornaments so often mentioned.
At the west end of the north aisle is an enclosure (party hidden by the press, in which is kept the effigies of queen Elizabeth) whose sides are adorned with pannels, and a frieze and battlements of much beauty, which has probably been a sacristy, or vestry, for the use of the chantry priests. The aisle contains the
 Alluding to the finding of Richard's Crown at Stoke, near Bosworth-field.