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sor, consisted only in an increase of dimensions, and consequent stateliness of character. However insufficient such a method of .explanation may be deemed by the rigid enquirer, it is certainly difficult to elicit a solution inore satisfactory.
It is said by Mr. Hawkins, that “ an augmentation of dimensions can, by no mode of reasoning whatever, be termed a new style of architecture, or even a new mode of composition or building; and no rational man would ever think of affirming, that the churches of St. Peter, at Rome, and St. Paul, at London, were of different styles, because they were not of the same size."* But some license of phraseology must be allowed to persons, probably intent on a mode of expression complimentary to the existing dynasty. An enlargement of dimensions, and attendant increase of architectural display, in the sacred structures of every populous neighbourhood, were manifest throughout the kingdom, in the time of William of Malinsbury; and the accession of almost universal dignity of proportions, might, perhaps, warrant the term of novelty, even though the ground-plan and the ornamental arrangement retained the same character, or were subject to only few alterations.
Mr. Millers, a pleasing writer on the propitious subject of Ely cathedral, presents the following remarks and objection :-"Enlarged dimension is the only criterion which has been established, between the Saxon and Norman styles. It has been thought too vague, and certainly is so ; for it is perceptible only in larye edifices, such as cathedral and conventual churches, which have transepts, side aisles, and arches, tier above tier. But there are many parish churches, built in the Norman age, which, from the simplicity of their form, and the smallness of their dimensions, have been taken for Saxon buildings; and which having none of the grander Norman features, it is extremely difficult to discriminate."- Such small parochial churches, in recluse situations, act, however, merely as exceptions to a positive rule ; and Mr.
• History of the Origin of Gothic Architecture, p. 113.
Millers himself coincides with the prevailing opinion, by observ. ing, in the same page, that "the Normans were fond of stateliness and magnificence, and though they retained the other characteristics of the Saxon style, by this amplification of dimensions, they made such a striking change as might justly be entitled to the denomination which it received at its first introduc. tion among our Saxon ancestors, of “a new kind of architecture."*
A writer in the Archæologia,t “ submits (with great deference to the Society of Antiquaries,) whether the novum genus ædificandi of William of Malmesbury, applied to the architecture of the Conqueror's reign, does not imply something more than extent and magnificence; and whether, to complete the idea of a new style, we ought not to take in the pointed arch and Gothic ornaments ? The answer is obvious, as it is contained in every building known to have been erected in the time of the Conqueror.
It will be recollected that the Normans of Duke William's time, although confessedly one of the most warlike, enterprising, and polite nations, then existing in Europe, did not evince any peculiar spirit of magnificence in thus enlarging the size of sacred structures. The practice of such an augmentation was general upon the continent, in the eleventh century; and it is probable that the inhabitauts of Britain were precluded from parti. cipating in the improvement, solely by the distracted state of their country, until a temporary calm was afforded by the reign of Edward the Confessor. I
• Description of the Cathedral church of Ely, &c. by G. Millers, M.A. p. 26.
+ Mr. Ledwich, Archäol. Vol. VIII. p. 198. The tenth century had proved generally unfavourable to the progress of the arts. It is said that ecclesiastical architecture experienced, on the continent, a signal interruption during that period, in consequence of a strange delusion which subdued the understanding of the great mass of the people." It was belioved,” [writes Mr. Whittington, in his Historical Survey,] " that
In our examination of the ecclesiastical architecture of the Anglo-Saxons, we have seen that the style prevalent throughout all Europe was nearly similar in the same ages; and would appear to have been universally copied (with progressive variations, incidental to national temper, or advancement in art] from the architectural fashion observable in the churches of Rome, the emporium of all kinds of intelligence in those dark centuries. The heterogeneous character of this debased mode, in which the mason worked up, in one building, the discordant fragments of diverse noble structures, is likewise noticed in that preceding section.
Imitating from the same source, it appears that the Normaus, previous to their triumphant migration into Britain, had no obvious dissimilarity in architectural manner from the AngloSaxons, or from any other coeval Christian nation. It would be very gratifying to ascertain, from positive data, any peculi.
the thousand years mentioned in the Apocalypse, would be completed at the close of the tenth century, and that the end of the world would happen at that time. So strong and so general was this impression, that scarcely a single building of note was undertaken during this period; and the churches already erected, were suffered to fall into decay.”
We can scarcely suppose that such a fantastical persuasion was alone sufficient to produce a total disregard of the arts through several successive ages ; but the regleet of church architecture in those years is unquestionable. Ac. quiring vigour from temporary interruption and apathy, the spirit of architectural improvement certainly burst forth, with very memorable splendour, shortly after the expiration of the year so much dreaded as that of mundane dissolution. The information on this head afforded by a contemporary Benedictine monk, is thus agreeably conveyed by the author quoted above." The Christians at the beginning of the eleventh century, relieved from their mistaken apprehensions, hastened 10 rebuild and repair their ecclesiastical structures : the various cities and provinces, especially of France, vied with each other, on this occasion, in a display of enthusiastic devotion. On all sides new and more stately edifices of religion arose ; and the world, according to the expression of a contemporary writer, seeming to cast off its ancient appearance, every where pat on a white mantle of churches." Wbittington's Historical Survey, &c. p. 46. Glaber Rodulphi Hist. lib. ii. C. 4.
liarities, however minute, in buildings erected by the Normans in their own country before their invasion of this island. The most laborious writer produced by this nation, on the architectural antiquities of Normandy, is Dr. Ducarel; and his work, in the absence of one more completely satisfactory, has met with much antiquarian notice.
It is stated by Dr. Ducarel, that the circular arch, with a correspondent massiveness of general character, prevails throughout the most ancient ecclesiastical buildings of Normandy. The chapel of St. Thomas l’Abbatu he supposes to be the oldest structure which he inspected; concerning the date of which no records are preserved. This chapel furnishes a solitary instance [as far as regards Dr. Ducarel's observations) of a richly ornamented style of sacred architecture in Normandy. He describes the pillars of the interior as differing much from all others which he noticed in that country. The capitals are“ ornamented with the figures of imaginary animals,” and display a studied diversity.
But the ornamented style conspicuous in this ancient building, he believes to have been discarded before the period of the Norman conquest of England. A short time previous to that event, “ the Normans seem to have entirely disused what, till then, they had considered as ornaments, and which were still retained by the Saxons. From thenceforward they used the round-arch, with mouldings divested of all ornaments whatsoever, except occa. sionally a zig-zag, which they sometimes introduced."'*
The abbey of St. Stephen, at Caen, was founded by William the Conqueror; and that of the Holy Trinity, in the same city, by his Queen, Matilda. The churches appertaining to these foundations are adduced by Dr. Ducarel, and hy subsequent authors, as the most strongly-marked and important examples of the architectural fashion of Normandy, in the latter years of the eleventh century. Both these buildings are of noble dimensions," and sufficiently
• Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 102.
shew, by their good proportion, that the architect was a perfect master in his profession. All the arches of these two churches, as well those which form the doors and windows, as those which divide the nave from the aisles, are round, excepting only the arches of the inside of the choir of the church of St. Stephen, which having been greatly damaged by the Calvinists in 1562, has since been repaired, and the arches thereof made pointed, according to the manner of the time in which it was repaired. The plain round arch may, therefore, be deemed the fashion of the Conqueror's age, and agreeable to the simplicity then used. It is further observable, that neither of the two abbey-churches of St. Stephen and the Trinity have any kind of ornaments about them.”*
The church of St. Stephen, above-mentioned, was commenced under the direction of Lanfranc, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. “The body of this church,” says Dr. Ducarel, “ is a plain stone edifice, entirely free from ornaments of any sort, either within or without. It is built in the form of a cross; and the inside consists of a nave and two side aisles, separated by two rows of pillars, surmounted with semicircular arches. The tops of all the windows, and doors, of the church, are, likewise of the same form. The middle part of the inside of the transept very much resembles the work of the cross part of the abbey.church of St. Alban's, in Hertfordshire, having the same kind of little arched work towards the top.”+
The abbey of the Holy Trinity “ was founded for Benedictine nuns, by the Duchess Matilda, about the same time that Duke William began to erect that of St. Stephen. In the year 1082, she endowed it with so much munificence, that William de Poitiers makes no scruple of saying that she enriched the church much more than any King, or Emperor, had ever done in the preceding times. The church of this abbey is a plain neat building, 2 B
." Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 102-103.
. Ibid. p. 51.