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allowed bim, and was permitted to reside in the Prior's Lodgings at Somersford. The house was found to be " welle furnished with juellys and plate, whereof some be meete for the King's Majestie's use;" but only a single book was discovered in the Library; a fact which does not give a very high idea of the literary attainments of the inmates; unless we suppose that “ honest” Master Draper had connived at the removal of other works, considering that the Commissioners might be satisfied with the
juellys and plate.” The site of the Priory was bestowed on Stephen Kirton and his wife; but in 1541, the Priory Church and its appurtenances were granted to the inhabitants of the town for ever, and by this measure it was preserved from the ruin which has overwhelmed the other monastic buildings, of which scarcely a vestige now remains, excepting a part of the wall which once enclosed the Priory, and the Lodge, since converted into a mill,
hon 25419 is an extensive building, being 311 feet in length, and 60 in breadth; the transept is 124 feet long, and the tower, which is placed at the west end, is square and well proportioned, and 120 feet high. It still exhibits considerable portions of the work of Flambard *,
* We are informed by Messrs. Britton and Brayley, that “ according particularly in the nave, and in the north transept; the former of which has a double row of square massive pillars, with semicircular arches, adorned with zigzag mouldings; above these is a second range of pillars and arches; and a third, of more modern erection, in which are windows. The roof is of timber; but, although very ancient, is believed to be but a substitute for the original stone vaulting. A square tower is traditionally reported to have stood at the intersection of the cross aisles with the nave and chancel. To the east of this the building is of a more modern date; the windows are ornamented with tracery, and the upper part is adorned and strengthened by flying buttresses. The interior is handsome, the vaulting of the roof exhibiting a variety of small busts, and the sides of the Chancel being wainscoted with oak, curiously carved. Thirtysix stalls for the Canons still remain; three of these have canopies, and beneath the benches may be seen a series of grotesque and satirical representations, apparently intended to expose the arts used to delude the people by the Mendicant Friars in the thirteenth century.
The Altar-piece exhibits a singular specimen of ancient carving in wood, representing the Genealogy of Our Lord, by a tree springing from the loins of Jesse, who is shown in a recumbent posture; the whole consists of a great number of figures, much mutilated, but deserving of notice, as, perhaps, the most ancient piece of wood-carving in the kingdom, being considered by Mr. Warner as coeval with Bishop Flambard, and consequently more than 700 years old.
to a monkish legend connected with the history of this Church, the building of it was expedited by the assistance of Heaven, a supernumerary workman being always observed during the hours of labour; though at the times of refreshment, and receiving wages, only the stated number appeared. By bis aid, every thing prospered till the fabric was nearly finished, when, on raising a large beam to a particular situation, where it was intended to be fixed, it was found to be too short; no remedy appeariog, the embarrassed workmen retired to their dwellings. On returning to the Church the ensuing morning, they discovered that the beam had been placed in its right position, and was now extended a foot longer than was requisite. Speechless with surprise, the additional workman occurred to their thoughts; and on recovering their tongues, they agreed, that no other than Our Saviour could have thus assisted them; and on this account, concludes the story, was the edifice dedicated to Christ. The miraculous beam is still pointed out by the finger of Credulity.”
To the north of the Altar is the beautiful Chapel erected by Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, in the reign of Henry VII, and intended for her own sepulchre. The roof is groined and carved in the most elegant style of that age; and it must have been beautiful indeed until the barbarous Commissioners, after the execution of the Countess, according to their own statement, “ defaced it, and clerely delete all the armes and badges."
At the east end of the Church is a spacious Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, in which an elegant altar and two tombs, supposed to contain the remains of Lady Alice West, who died in 1395, and her son, still exist. Over this Chapel a large room, called St. Michael's Loft, has been used as a School Room ever since the Restoration. In different parts of the Church are a number of monumental slabs, most of which have been covered with brasses, principally in memory of the Priors and Canons of the Church; these have been defaced, as has a fine monument in memory of Sir John Chidiock, (who was slain in the Wars of the Roses,) exhibiting his effigy, and that of his lady, in alabaster. There is no other Church in this town, but the number of persons accommodated in this, has been lately increased by 200 additional sittings, half of which are free; and £100 has been granted towards the expense by the Society for the Enlargement, &c. of Churches.
Here are several charitable institutions; a Free Grammar School, mentioned above; various other Schools; a Poor House, which is conducted on an excellent and economical plan; and several Benefit Societies, which owe their origin in a great measure to the patronage of Mr. Rose, but are of course supported by the poor themselves.
Christchurch has returned two Members to Parliament from 1571; it had been summoned much earlier, but was excused on account of “the poverty of the Burgesses.” The electors are the Corporation, consisting of a Mayor, Recorder, six Aldermen, two Bailiffs, and 20 Common-Councilmen. The population, in 1821, was. 4644; and many
of the poor find employment in the salmon fisheries, for which the coast is famous; two very large breweries are also established here; and a number of women and children are occupied in knitting silk stockings, and in the manufacture of watch-spring chains. A good Market is held here on Monday, and two annual Fairs, principally for cattle and horses.
Christchurch Bay is extensive, but too shallow and dangerous to be frequented by vessels of considerable burden. Its danger principally arises from a bar or ledge of sand, extending from Hengistbury Head, a bold promontory which forms the western termination of the Bay*, to St. Christopher's Cliff, in the Isle of Wight; and which occasionally shifts, either in consequence of the additional body of water poured down by the Avon and Stour, when swollen by a succession of heavy rains; or when sea storms, accompanied by southerly winds, arise.
ST. CROSS, OR ST. CROIX. This venerable and interesting establishment, which is situated on the Itchin, about a mile west from Winchester, has retained more of its ancient character than any similar institution in this country. According to Dr. Milner, “ the lofty tower, with the grated door, and Porter's Lodge beneath it; the retired Ambulatory; the separate cells; the common Refectory; the venerable Church; the black flowing dress, and the silver cross, worn by the members; the conventual appellation of brother, with which they salute each other; in short, the silence, the order, and the neatness, that here reign, seem to recall the idea of a Monastery to those who have seen one, and will give no imperfect idea of such an establishment to those who have not had that advantage."
But, notwithstanding the resemblance, this never was a Monastery, but an Hospital for the aged and infirm, originally founded by Bishop Henry de Blois, about 1132, for the maintenance of 13 poor men, who were to reside here, and the relief of 100 others, who were each to receive a loaf, three quarts of beer, and “ two messes" for dinner, which was to be partaken in a hall built for that purpose, and thence called Hundred Mennes Hall. A Master, Steward, Chaplain, Clerks, and Choristers, also formed part of the establishment. When Wykeham became Bishop, he found that the revenues of this excellent charity were much misapplied; and after long contention with the persons who had perverted them, he at length succeeded in re-establishing the institution on its original basis. Cardinal Beaufort increased its funds so much as to provide for the support of two additional priests, and 35 poor residents, with three sisters, who were to attend upon the sick; he also rebuilt a great part of the Hospital.
* Across the narrowest part of this Promontory is an ancient encampment, in length about 630 yards, with a ditch and double rampart; at the northern end is a large barrow, in which human bones and an urn have been found. This fortification is attributed to the early Saxon invaders.
“ The present establishment of St. Cross,” says Milner, " is but the wreck of its two ancient institutions; it having been severely fleeced, though not quite destroyed, like so many other Hospitals, at the Reformation. Instead of seventy residents, as well clergy as laity, who were here entirely supported, besides 100 out-members, who daily received their meat and drink, the charity consists at present but of ten resident brethren, and three out-pensioners, exclusive of one Chaplain, and the Master. It is true, however, that certain doles of bread continue to be distributed to the poor of the neighbourhood; and what is, perhaps, the only yestige left in the kingdom, of the simplicity and hospitality of ancient times, the Porter is daily furnished with a certain quantity of good bread and beer, of which every traveller, or other person whosoever, that knocks at the Lodge, and calls for relief, is entitled to partake gratuitously.”
The buildings of this Hospital are extensive, and formerly composed two courts, but a part of the inner quadrangle has been demolished. In the first court is the “ Hundred Mennes Hall,” now used as a brewhouse; and on the south the handsome and lofty Gatehouse erected by Beaufort, whose statue, in his Cardinal's dress, is seen kneeling in an elegant niche above the gate. Some other niches, which once contained statues, are now empty; but the cornice still displays the busts of John of Gaunt, Henry IV and V, and William of Wykeham, as well as a variety of armorial bearings and devices. “The centre boss in the groining of the gateway is carved into à curious cross, composed of leaves, and sur