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Title: Bell's Cathedrals: Wimbourne Minster and Christchurch Priory - A Short History of Their Foundation and a Description of Their Buildings
Author: Perkins, Thomas, 1842-1907
Language: English
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A Short History of Their Foundation and Description of Their Buildings


M.A., F.R.A.S.
Rector of Turnworth, Dorset

With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author


London George Bell & Sons 1902
First Edition 1899
Second Edition, Revised, 1902


When writing the chapters of the present volume which treat of Wimborne
Minster, the author consulted the last edition of Hutchins' "History of
Dorset," which contains a considerable amount of somewhat ill-arranged
information on the subject, verifying all the descriptions by actual
examination of the building; similarly, when preparing the part of
this volume dealing with Christchurch Priory, he made some use of
"The Memorials of Christchurch Twynham," written originally by the Rev.
Mackenzie Walcott, F.S.A., and revised after his death in 1880 by Mr B.
Edmund Ferrey, F.S.A. He also consulted papers on the subject that have
appeared from time to time in various periodicals and MSS. that were
kindly placed at his disposal by the Secretary of the Society for the
Protection of Ancient Buildings.

He desires to express his thanks to the Vicars of the two churches
for permission to thoroughly examine every part of the buildings,
and to photograph them without let or hindrance; he also wishes to bear
testimony to the readiness shown by the clerks and vergers in imparting
local information and in facilitating his photographic work.

                                                                  T. P.

_October_ 1899.




CHAPTER I.--History of the Building                                3
  Date of Foundation                                               5
  The Norman Church                                             8, 9
  Alterations in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries      10, 11
  Alterations in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries        11, 12
  Modern Restorations                                             14

CHAPTER II.--The Exterior                                         16
  The Central Tower                                               16
  The North Porch                                                 22
  The East Window                                                 24
  The Sundial                                                     25
  The South Porch                                                 25
  The Western Tower                                               26

CHAPTER III.--The Interior                                        29
  The North Porch                                                 29
  The Aisles                                                  29, 38
  The Clerestory                                                  33
  The Central Tower                                               34
  The Transepts                                                   38
  The East End, Choir and Presbytery                              42
  Sedilia and Piscina                                             44
  The Beaufort and Courtenay Tombs and Brass of Aethelred     42, 47
  The South Choir Aisle and Etricke Tomb                          48
  The North Choir Aisle and Uvedale Monument                  50, 51
  The Crypt, Vestry, and Library                                  52
  Deans of Wimborne                                               59

CHAPTER IV.--St Margaret's Hospital                               60
  Dimensions of Wimborne Minster                                  64


CHAPTER I.--History of the Building                               67
  Foundation                                                      68
  The Norman Church                                               70
  Alterations in the Thirteenth-Fifteenth Centuries               71
  Modern Alterations                                              72

CHAPTER II.--The Exterior                                         76
  The Western Tower                                               76
  The North Porch                                                 80
  The North Aisle                                                 80
  The North Transept                                              82
  The Choir, Presbytery, and Lady Chapel                          84
  The South Transept                                              88
  The Nave                                                        88
  The Porter's Lodge, and Sites of the Domestic Buildings         89

CHAPTER III.--The Interior                                        92
  The Nave                                                     92-98
  The Aisles                                                      98
  The Transepts                                                  100
  The Rood Screen                                                105
  The Choir                                                      106
  The Choir Stalls                                           108-110
  The Reredos                                                    112
  The Salisbury Chantry                                          116
  The Draper Chantry                                             118
  The Lady Chapel, and the "Miraculous Beam"                     120
  St Michael's Loft                                              126
  The Shelley Monument                                           126

CHAPTER IV.--Deans, Priors, and Vicars of Christchurch           128
  Stratford's Injunctions                                        129
  Archbishop Arundel's Injunctions                               130
  The Norman Castle                                              131
  The Norman House                                               132
  Dimensions of Christchurch Priory                              134




Arms of Wimborne and Christchurch                        _Title page_
Wimborne Minster from the North-East                               2
Wimborne Minster in 1840                                           3
Wimborne Minster in 1707. (From a copperplate in the Library)     13
The Minster from the South-East before 1891                       19
The North Transept before 1891                                    21
The East Window                                                   23
The Western Tower                                                 27
The Interior, looking East                                        30
Pier and Arch-Spring, South Arcade                                31
Decorated Arch in the Nave                                        32
Clerestory Stage of the Central Tower                             35
The Tower Arches                                                  36
North Transept and Crossing                                       37
Thirteenth-Century Piscina, South Transept                        39
Choir Stalls                                                      40
West View from the Choir                                          41
The East Window                                                   43
Sedilia                                                           44
The Beaufort Tomb                                                 45
Brass of Aethelred                                                46
The Etricke Tomb                                                  49
Ancient Chest                                                     50
The Uvedale Monument                                              51
Entrance to Crypt                                                 53
The Library                                                       54
The Crypt                                                         55
The Font                                                          56
The Clock in the West Tower                                       57
St Margaret's Hospital                                            61


Christchurch Priory from the Bridge                               66
Christchurch Priory from the North-East                           77
Tower Door                                                        78
The North Porch                                                   79
The North Door                                                    81
The North Transept in 1810                                        83
The North Transept                                                85
South Aisle of Nave                                               87
The Nave in 1834                                                  93
The Nave                                                          95
North Arcade of the Nave                                          96
From the North Triforium                                          97
Bay of the Triforium, South Side                                  98
South Aisle of the Nave                                           99
The Montacute Chantry                                            101
North Aisle of the Nave                                          103
The Crypt                                                        105
The Rood Screen                                                  107
Stall Seats (3)                                                  108
Choir Stalls                                                     109
Miserere on Stall Seat (_circa_ 1300)                            110
The Choir                                                        111
The Reredos                                                      113
The Salisbury Chantry                                            115
Interior of the Salisbury Chantry                                117
The Draper Chantry                                               119
Piscina in the Draper Chantry                                    120
The Sacristy                                                     121
The Miraculous Beam                                              122
Tomb of Thomas, Lord West                                        123
The Lady Chapel                                                  124
St Michael's Loft                                                125
The Shelley Monument                                             127
Remains of the Norman House                                      133

PLANS                                                       136, 137


[Illustration: _By Rev. J. L. Petit._ WIMBORNE MINSTER IN 1840.]




Of the churches connected with the religious houses which once existed
in the county of Dorset, three only remain to the present day. Of some
of the rest we have ruins, others have entirely disappeared. But the
town of Sherborne, once the bishop-stool of the sainted Aldhelm, who
overlooked a vast diocese comprising a great portion of the West Saxon
kingdom, has its Abbey now used as its Parish Church. The great Abbey
of Milton, founded by Æthelstan, has handed down to us its choir and
transepts--rebuilt in the fourteenth century, after the former church
had been destroyed by fire--and this, though private property, is still
used for occasional services; and the minster church at Wimborne has
became the church of the parish of Wimborne Minster.

The town has been by many supposed to stand on the site of the Roman
Vindogladia, though this station has by others been identified with
Gussage Cowdown, or the circular encampment of Badbury Rings, about
three miles to the north-west of Wimborne Minster. Be this as it may,
the district was occupied by the Roman conquerors of our island; and
Roman pottery and other remains have been found in the neighbourhood,
including a small portion of pavement beneath the floor of the minster

The derivation of the name Wimborne, or Winborne as we find it sometimes
written, has been much disputed; but as we find the same word appearing
as the name of several other places which lie on the course of the same
stream, now generally called the Allen, though sometimes the Wim, it
is highly probable that the name is derived from that of the river.
Compound names for villages are very common in Dorset--the first word
being the name of the river on which the village stands, the second
being added to distinguish one village from another. Thus we find along
the Tarrant, villages known as Tarrant Gunville, Tarrant Hinton, Tarrant
Launceston, Tarrant Monkton, etc.; and along the Winterborne we find
Winterborne Houghton, Winterborne Stickland, Winterborne Clenstone,
etc.; and in like manner we meet with Monkton up Wimborne, Wimborne
Saint Giles, and Wimborne Minster along the course of the Allen. The
characteristic name of Winterborne for a brook that is such in winter
only, but is a dried-up bed in a hot summer is borne by two streams in
Dorset, each giving its name to a string of villages. May not the word
Wimborne or Winborne be a contraction for this same word Winterborne,
the "burn" of the rainy winter months, applied to the little stream of
the Allen, though it cannot now be said to be dry in summer?

The small town of Wimborne Minster stands not far from the junction of
the Allen with the slow-running Dorset Stour, in the midst of pleasant
fertile meadow-land, from which here and there some low hills rise. Its
chief glory has been, and probably always will be, its splendid church,
with its central Norman and its Western Perpendicular towers, its Norman
and Decorated nave, its Early English choir, and its numerous tombs and
monuments of those whose names are recorded in the history of the

The exact year of the foundation of the original religious house is
differently given in various ancient documents: the dates vary from
705 A.D. to 723 A.D. At this time, Ine was king of the West Saxons;
and one of his sisters, Cudburh--or Cuthberga, as her name appears in
its Latinised form--was espoused or married to Egfred, or, as he is
often called, Osric, the Northumbrian king, but the marriage was never
consummated, and the lady as soon as possible separated from him and
retired to the convent at Barking, and afterwards founded the convent at
Wimborne. Some say that she objected to the intemperate habits of her
espoused as soon as she met him; others, that having previously vowed
herself to heaven, she persuaded him to release her from the engagement
to him, which had been arranged without her wishes being consulted.
Her sister Quinberga is stated to have been associated with her in the
foundation of the religious house, and both were buried within its
precincts, and both were afterwards canonised; Saint Cuthberga was
commemorated on August 31st "as a virgin but not a martyr." A special
service appointed for the day is to be found in a Missal kept in the
Library of the Cathedral Church at Salisbury, in which the following
prayer occurs:--

"Deus qui eximie castitatis privilegio famulam tuam Cuthbergam
multipliciter decorasti, da nobis famulis tuis ejus promerente
intercessione utriusque vitae prosperitatem. Ut sicut ejus festivitas
nobiscum agitur in terris, ita per ejus interventum nostri memoria apud
te semper habeatur in coelis, per Dominum etc."

There is reason to believe that the earliest date given above for the
foundation (705 A.D.) is the most probable one, as Regner in his tracts
mentions a letter bearing this date written by Saint Aldhelm, and taken
from the register of Malmesbury, in which he includes in a list of
congregations to which he grants liberty of election the monastery at
Wimborne, presided over by the sister of the king. There is also some
evidence for the existence of a community of monks at Wimborne, as well
as of nuns. But of these original religious houses not a trace remains:
the very position of St Cuthberga's Church is uncertain; we cannot
be sure that the present building occupies the same site; the last
resting-places of the two royal foundresses are not even pointed out
by tradition. Probably the buildings were destroyed, the nuns slain or
driven out, when the raiding Danes overran Wessex in the ninth century.

The next historical event that we meet with in connection with Wimborne
is the burial of King Æthelred, the brother and immediate predecessor
on the throne of the great West Saxon king Ælfred. As there is doubt
about the year of the foundation by Cuthberga, so again there is a
conflict of testimony as to the date, place, and manner of the death of
Æthelred--the inscription on the brass (about which more will be said
when we come to describe the interior of the minster) not agreeing with
the usually accepted date for the accession of Ælfred, 871; but as the
brass is itself many centuries later than the burial of the king whose
likeness it professes to bear, its authority may well be questioned.
Anyhow, Æthelred died either of wounds received in some battle with the
Danes, in some spot which different archæologists have placed in Surrey,
Oxford, Berkshire, or Wilts, or worn out by his long and arduous
exertions while struggling with the heathen invaders; and his body--this
alone is certain--was brought to Wimborne for burial. It has been
conjectured that Ælfred, after he had defeated the Danes and established
himself firmly on the throne of Wessex, would naturally rebuild the
ruined abbey. He founded, as we know, an abbey at Shaftesbury; he is
recorded to have built at Winchester and London; he had undoubtedly a
taste for architecture, and he was a devout son of Mother Church, so
that it is by no means improbable that he would erect a church over the
grave of his brother: but no record of such building remains, and there
is no trace of any pre-Norman work in the existing minster.

The original church and conventual buildings having been swept away by
the Danes, whether Ælfred restored it or not is uncertain, but it is
certain that a house of secular canons was established at Wimborne by a
king of the name of Eadward; but again there is some uncertainty as to
whether this king was the one who is sometimes called the Eadward the
Elder, sometimes Eadward the Unconquered, son and successor of Ælfred,
or Eadward the Confessor. Anyhow, it became a collegiate church and a
royal free chapel, and as such it is mentioned in Domesday Book, and it
is noticed as a Deanery in the charters of Henry III. Leland, writing in
the reign of Henry VIII., says, "It is but of late time that a dean and
prebendaries were inducted into it." The deanery was in the gift of the
Crown, and we have a full list of the deans from 1224 up to 1547, when
it was dissolved. The ecclesiastical establishment consisted of a dean,
four prebendaries, three vicars, four deacons, and five singing men.
It will not be needful to give any detailed account of these, as most
of them, though in many cases they held other more dignified posts,[1]
either together with the deanery or after resigning it, are not men
who have made their mark in English history. A few only will here be
mentioned, who on account of some circumstances connected with the
fabric, or for other reasons, are more noteworthy.

    [1] It is noteworthy that they all held some other preferment
        during the time that they held the office of dean.

#Thomas de Bembre#, 1350-1361, founded a chantry and an altar in the
north part of the north transept, which was added at this time.

#Reginald Pole#, so well known in the history of the reigns of Henry
VIII. and Queen Mary, was Dean of Wimborne from 1517 till 1537. It is
remarkable that he was only seventeen years of age at the time of his

He was succeeded by #Nicholas Wilson#, who held the office of dean until
the dissolution of the deanery in 1547. To him a curious letter still
existing was addressed in 1538 by certain leading men of the parish,
though nothing appears to have been done in consequence of it. These
worthy men complain of the dilapidated state of the church, the want
of funds to carry out needed repairs, and suggest the taking from the
church "seynt Cuthborow's hed," and "the sylv' y^t ys about the same
hed," which they claim as belonging to the parish on the ground that
it was made by the charity of the parishioners in times past. "Our
chyrche," they say, "ys in gret ruyn and decay and our toure ys
foundered and lyke to fall and ther ys no money left in [~o] chyrche box
and by reason of great infyrmyty and deth ther hath byn thys yere in
oure parysh no chyrche aele, the whych hath hyndred [~o] chyrch of xx^ti
nobles and above, and well it is knowen y^t we have no land but onely
the charity of good people, wherfor nyed constraynyth us to sell the
sylv' y^t is about the same hed. Besechynge yo^r mastership to sertefy
us by y^r tre wher we may sell the said sylv' to repayr [~o]

    [2] In an inventory made in the reign of Henry VIII. we find
        mentioned an image of St Cuthberga, with a ring of gold, and
        two little crosses of gold, with a book and staff in her hand.
        The head of the image of silver with a crown on it of silver
        and gilt. On her apron a St James shell with a buckle of silver
        and gilt.

The names of many of the other ecclesiastics connected with the church
are known: among these, we need only mention William Lorynge canon, who
in the time of Richard II. caused the great bell called the Cuthborow
bell to be made; and Simon Beneson, sacrist, who left land, which is
called Bell Acre, towards the maintenance and repair of the bells.

Among other benefactors of the church was Margaret, Countess of
Richmond, mother of Henry VII., so well known at Cambridge under the
name of Lady Margaret, the foundress of Christ's and St John's Colleges.
She founded at Wimborne the original seminary connected with the
minster, which afterwards became by a charter of Elizabeth the Grammar
School of the town, and presented splendid vestments to the church. July
9th was until the Reformation kept at the minster as a festival to her
memory, with a special office and High Mass.

When the deanery was abolished, Wimborne Minster became a Royal
Peculiar, under the administration of three priest-vicars elected by the
Corporation. These served each for a week in turn. The Corporation had
the power of appointing one of the three vicars--who was known as the
"Official"--to hold courts and grant licences. The court was held in the
western part of the north aisle, the Official presiding, seated at a
desk, the two other vicars sitting one on each side of him, while at a
long table sat the churchwardens, sidesmen, the vestry clerks, and the

The arrangement by which the vicars served the church each in turn
continued in force until 1876. At that time one of the three vicars
retired on a pension; another removed to the chapelry of Holt,
three miles from Wimborne (which had previously been served in turn
by the vicars of Wimborne), a parsonage having been built for his
accommodation; and the third became sole vicar of the minster church
and the parish attached to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the history of the fabric we have to trust almost entirely to the
architectural features of the church itself, as documentary evidence is
unusually scanty.

Nothing of earlier date than the twelfth century can be seen in
Wimborne Minster, but we know pretty accurately, the extent and form of
the Norman Church; for, during the course of restoration undertaken in
the present century, the foundations of some parts of this church were
discovered beneath the floor of the existing building, and other pieces
of Norman work formerly concealed, and now again concealed beneath
plaster, were laid bare. There is one interesting feature about the
church worthy of notice--namely, that the builders who succeeded one
another at the various periods of its history did not, as a rule,
destroy the work of their predecessors to such an extent as we
frequently find to have been the case with the builders of other
churches: possibly this may have been due to the fact that at no time
was Wimborne Minster a rich foundation. There was no saintly shrine,
there were no wonder-working relics to attract pilgrims and gather the
offerings of the faithful and enrich the church in the way in which
the shrine of Saint Cuthbert enriched Durham, that of the murdered
archbishop enriched Canterbury, and that of the murdered king enriched
Gloucester. But, whatever the reason may have been, we can but be
thankful that the mediæval builders destroyed so little at Wimborne;
while we regret that modern restorers have not been as scrupulous in
preserving the work which they found existing, but have in some
instances endeavoured to put the church back again into the state in
which they imagined the fourteenth-century builders left it.

We may regard the arches and lower stages of the central tower as the
oldest part now remaining in its original condition. No doubt the Norman
choir was the first to be built, as we find that it was almost the
universal custom to begin churches at the eastern end, and gradually to
extend the building westward, as funds and time allowed. Here, however,
as in many other cases, the small Norman choir eastward of the central
tower in course of time was considered too small, and the eastern
termination had to be demolished to admit of the desired extension to
the east. Norman choirs, as a rule, had an apsidal termination to the
east, and it was not till Early English times that square east ends,
which were characteristic of the English church in pre-Norman times,
prevailed again over the Norman custom; and it is worthy of notice that
this rectangular termination towards the east end remains a marked
characteristic of the thirteenth-century work in England, Continental
church-builders having retained the apsidal termination till the
Renaissance. The side walls of the Norman choir extended two bays to the
east of the central tower, and the nave four bays westward of the same.
The transepts were shorter than at present, and the side aisles of the
nave narrower. There appear to have been two side chapels to the choir,
extending as far as the first bay eastward; beyond this to the east were
two Norman windows on each side: these windows, parts of which remain,
cut off by the Early English arches, were round-headed, and richly
ornamented with chevron mouldings. They were uncovered at the time of
the restoration, but are now again hidden by plaster. At the south end
of the south transept a low building seems to have existed: the walls
of this were raised when the south transept was lengthened in the
fourteenth century. The Norman masonry may be seen under the south
window of the transept, and a Norman string course runs round the sides
and ends of the present transept. The aisles of the nave were not only
narrower, but were also lower, than those now existing. It is also
probable that these aisles did not originally extend as far westward
as the nave. The windows of the Norman clerestory, which may still be
seen from the interior, though all similar in design, are not alike in
workmanship. The one over the narrow eastern bay on either side differs
from those over the three bays farther to the west. Moreover, a
continuous foundation has been discovered underneath the three western
arches of the Norman nave. Possibly there was at one time a solid wall
in this position, intended, however, from the first only to be
temporary, and this was removed when the aisles, still in Norman times,
were lengthened. The tower itself was not all built at the same time;
the upper stages are ornamented with an arcading of intersecting arches
indicating a somewhat later date.

In the thirteenth century the east end of the choir seems to have been
removed and the presbytery added: its date is pretty clearly determined
by the east window, in which we notice some signs of the approaching
change from the Early English simple lancet into the plate tracery of
the Decorated period. Rickman gives its approximate date as 1220. During
the fourteenth century the nave aisles were widened and extended farther
west, and at the same time two bays were added to the nave itself. The
Norman chapels on either side of the choir were lengthened into aisles,
not, however, extending as far to the east as the thirteenth-century
presbytery; arches were cut in the Norman choir walls to give access
to these new aisles. The transepts were lengthened, the south one by
raising the walls of the Norman chapel mentioned above, which, it has
been conjectured, was used as the Lady Chapel, the north transept by
the addition of Bembre's chantry.

During the fifteenth century the western tower was built 1448-1464,
and probably at the same time the walls of the nave were raised; and
the roofs of the nave aisles, which had been much lower than now, so
as not to block up the Norman clerestory windows, were raised on the
sides joining the nave walls above the heads of these windows, and a new
clerestory was formed in the raised wall. This contains five windows on
each side, each window being placed over one of the piers of the nave

During the Early English period, probably by John de Berwick, who was
dean from 1286-1312, a spire was added to the central tower. This was
for long in an unsafe condition, and at length, in 1600, it fell. The
following is the description given by Coker, a contemporary writer:
"Having discoursed this longe of this church, I will not overpasse a
strange accident which in our dayes happened unto it, viz. Anno Domini
1600 (the choire beeing then full of people at tenne of clock service,
allsoe the streets by reason of the markett), a sudden mist ariseing,
all the spire steeple, being of a very great height, was strangely cast
downe, the stones battered all the lead and brake much timber of the
roofe of the church, yet without anie hurt to the people; which ruin is
sithence commendablie repaired with the church revenues, for sacriledge
hath not yet swept awaye all, being assisted by Sir John Hannam, a
neighbour gentleman, who if I mistake not enjoyeth revenues of the
church, and hath done commendablie to convert part of it to its former
use." Other accounts mention a tempest at the time of the fall. It is
not unlikely that the tower was weakened by the alterations in the
fourteenth century, when wider arches were cut in the west walls of the
transepts, in consequence of the widening of the nave aisles. The fall
of the spire, which fell towards the east, demolished the clerestory
windows of the choir on the south side, and their place was supplied by
a long, low Tudor window oblong in shape and quite plain. The windows,
however, on both sides have been entirely altered, and those now
existing in the clerestory are small lancets of modern date.

The spire was not rebuilt, but the heavy looking battlement and solid
pinnacles which still remain, and detract considerably from the beauty
of the tower, were added as a finish to it in the year 1608. It is
curious that the churchwardens' books, in which many entries occur
detailing repairs and other work connected with the spire, make no
mention of its fall.

The western tower was also a source of trouble. It was built, as has
been already mentioned, during the latter half of the fifteenth century,
the glazing of the windows being completed in 1464; but as early as 1548
it was thought necessary to brick up the west doorway, and notices of
unsoundness of the tower occur frequently in the church books. In 1664
we find the following entry made:--"Paid in beere to the Ringers for a
peale to trye if the Tower shooke £0 1s 0d." As we read this entry, we
cannot help wondering if the large amount of beer which a shilling would
purchase in those days was given to the ringers so as to give them a
fictitious courage and blind their eyes to the possible danger of
bringing the tower down upon their heads. In 1739 the Perpendicular
window in the western face of the tower was taken out and a smaller oval
one put in its place, with a view to the strengthening of the wall by
additional stonework. The modern restorer, however, has again put a
window of Perpendicular character in place of the oval window inserted
in the last century, using to aid him in his design, sundry fragments of
the original tracery found embedded in the walls.


Before the nineteenth-century restorations, the pulpit, probably late
sixteenth-century work, stood in the nave against the middle pillar on
the north side, and the nave and choir were separated by a screen of
three arches on which stood the organ. The central arch had doors.
On either side of the choir were a set of canopied stalls: these
canopies were removed in 1855 to make the chancel aisles available for
a congregation. As the canopies interfered with both sight and sound,
the floor of the choir was lowered to only three steps above the nave,
and the stalls reduced to four on each side, with a view to make room
for restoring the Norman steps indicated by traces on the wall under
the floor, which led up to the high altar of the Norman church. The
arrangement of steps was then three from the nave to the choir, four
from the choir to the next level to the east, and seven from this to the
presbytery, and one more to the altar platform. In 1866 further changes
were made: the stalls were increased to the present number to provide
sufficient accommodation for the choir, the additions being made out of
old woodwork. The level of the floors was also rearranged; five steps
now lead up from the nave to the choir, seven to the presbytery and one
more to the altar platform, the altar itself being raised yet another

During the restoration carried on from 1855 to 1857, great changes
besides those already mentioned were made in the interior: the whitewash
and plaster were removed from the walls, a west gallery was taken down,
the nave re-seated, the organ transferred from its position upon the
screen to the south transept, and much mischief was done from an
archæological standpoint, a thing which seems almost inseparable from
any nineteenth-century restoration.

An examination of the masonry shows clearly that all the exterior walls
east of the transepts save the east wall of the presbytery, which is
somewhat out of the vertical, the top hanging forward, have been if not
entirely rebuilt at anyrate completely refaced, and this work was no
doubt done at the restoration at the middle of the nineteenth century.
The doorway in the middle of the north choir aisle is entirely modern;
the doorway which formally occupied this place was provided with a small

How far this rebuilding and refacing were rendered necessary by the
condition of the walls at that time it is now impossible to say. The
fact that the walls of the nave aisles were not similarly treated may
have been due to want of funds, or it may be that the architects
employed found them in a better condition than the walls of the choir
aisles, and so preserved them, though they considered the latter beyond
the possibility of preservation without the extensive renewing that
evidently took place.

The room containing the chained library was at the same time refitted.
New shelves and rods were provided, but the old chains were used again.

The restoration of 1855-1857 did not extend to the transept; but
these were taken in hand in 1891, with the usual result--namely, the
destruction of some existing features, such as the seventeenth-century
tracery of the north window,[3] to make room for a nineteenth-century
window in Decorated style, which, however, differs altogether from any
window in the minster; the walls were raised about two feet and a roof
of higher pitch put upon them, which necessitated alterations in the
gables. A sundial which stood at the summit of the south gable was taken
down, and this in 1894 was erected on a pillar built in the churchyard,
a short distance from the south wall of the western tower. The transept
previous to the restoration with the sun-dial on its gable is shown in
the illustration on p. 19.

    [3] This tracery is shown in the illustration on p. 21. The original
        foliation seems to have been cut away, and the intermediate
        mullions extended to the points of the two lights. This may
        have been done with a view to economy in reglazing the window.
        The modern window is shown on page 37.

A small chamber to contain the hydraulic apparatus for the organ has
recently been added to the east side of the south transept.



Wimborne Minster does not occupy a commanding position--it stands on
level ground, its two towers are not lofty, the western only reaching
the height of 95 feet and the central 84 feet--but it has the advantage
of having an extensive churchyard both on the south side and also on the
north, so that from either side a good general view of the building may
be obtained. A street running from the east end of the church towards
the north gives the spectator the advantage of a still more distant
standpoint, from which the towers, transepts, choir, and porch group
themselves into one harmonious whole, the long line of iron railings
bounding the churchyard being the only drawback. The first impression is
that there is something wrong with the central tower; the plain heavy
battlement, with its four enormous corner pinnacles, seems to overweight
the tower, and as each side of the parapet is longer than the side of
the tower below, the feeling of top-heaviness is increased. The central
tower has no buttresses, but the western has an octagonal buttress at
each corner, and these decrease in cross section at each of four string
courses; so that this tower seems to taper, and by contrast makes the
central tower seem to bulge out at the top more than it really does.

But Wimborne Minster does not stand alone in giving at first sight a
feeling that something is wanting to perfect beauty. In nearly every
old building which has gradually grown up, been altered and enlarged
by various generations, as need arose, each generation working in
its own style, and often with little regard to what already existed,
incongruities are sure to be discernible. But what is lost in unity
of design increases the interest in the building, historically and
architecturally regarded. And it is worthy of notice that at Wimborne,
more than at many places, the enlargers of the church have contented
themselves with adding to the building without removing the work of
their predecessors more than was absolutely necessary. A very cursory
glance at the exterior of the building as one walks round it is
sufficient to show that the church as it stands offers to the student of
architecture examples of every style that has prevailed in this country
from the twelfth century onward, and he will especially rejoice at
seeing so much fourteenth-century work. He will, as he passes along the
narrow footway beneath the east end of the choir, regret that more space
is not available here to get a good view of the most interesting Early
English window. If a small tree were felled, and the wall of a garden
or yard on the side of the footpath opposite to the church pulled down,
so as to throw open the east end of the choir, it would be a great
improvement. But this regret can be endured, as, though the window
cannot be well seen, it is there, and by changing one's position a
pretty accurate idea of its interesting features can be formed; but
far keener is the regret that any lover of antiquity must feel when
he notices, as he examines the church more closely, how busy the
nineteenth-century restorer has been, how he has raised walls, altered
the pitch of roofs, and inserted modern imitations of thirteenth and
fourteenth century work, removing features which existed at the
beginning of this century to make room for his own work; how he has
banished much of the old woodwork in the interior, altered the position
of still more, and generally been far less conservative of the work of
former generations than the mediæval enlargers of the minster were.
However, his work is now done--nave, towers, and choir were thoroughly
restored about fifty years ago, and the transepts in 1891. No further
work is contemplated at present. In fact, there seems nothing more that
could well be done.


The church is built partly of a warm brown sandstone, partly of stone of
a pale yellow or drab colour, the two kinds being in many places mixed
so as to give the walls a chequered appearance. This may be noticed both
outside and inside the building. In some of the walls the stones are
used irregularly, in others they are carefully squared. The red stone is
to be met with in the neighbourhood: some of that used for raising the
transept walls in 1891 was obtained from a bridge in the town that was
being rebuilt; and from marks on some of those stones it appeared that
before being in the bridge they had been used in some ecclesiastical
building, so that they have now returned to their original use. There
is little ornament to be seen outside, save on the upper stage of the
tower; in fact, the whole building excepting the arches of the nave and
the tower may be described as severely plain in character. The college
was never wealthy, hence probably it could not employ a number of
carvers; then again it was not a monastic establishment, so that there
were no monks to occupy their time in the embellishment of the building,
carving, as monks often did, their quaint fancies on bosses and
capitals. We miss the crockets and finials, the ball-flower, and other
ornaments that we meet with in so many fourteenth-century buildings; but
the very simplicity of the work gives the church a dignity that is often
wanting in more highly ornamented structures. The small number of the
buttresses in the body of the church is noteworthy; save at the angles
there are only five--namely, two on each nave aisle, and one on the
north choir aisle. At each of the eastern corners of the choir aisles
the buttresses are set diagonally, as also are those on the northern
corners of the north porch. There is a buttress on each of the side
walls of the north porch, and two set at right angles to each other
at each of the two corners of the north transept, and also at the
south-west corner of the south transept; beneath the east window of the
choir there is a small one. The buttresses at the corner of the choir
project but slightly. The central tower has none, but the west tower has
an octagonal buttress at each corner. The central tower attracts notice
first. From the outside at the angles a small portion of the plain wall
of the triforium stage may be seen, against which the roofs of the choir
and transepts abut; the nave roof, however, hides all of this stage at
the western face: above this face is a band of red-brown sandstone, and
above this the clerestory stage. In each face are two round-headed
windows with a pointed blank arch between them. There are six slender
shafts to support the outer order of moulding over the two windows and
the blank arch, and two of a similar character to support the inner ring
of moulding over each window. At each corner of the tower up to the top
of this stage runs a slender banded shaft. This stage is finished by a
string course, above which the tower walls recede slightly, the walls of
the upper or belfry storey being a little thinner than those below. This
stage, perfectly plain within, is the most richly-ornamented part of the
tower outside: it is the latest Norman work to be found in the minster,
and probably may be dated late in the twelfth century. An arcading of
intersecting round-headed arches runs all round this storey. Seven
pointed arches are thus formed in each face; between these arches stand
slender pillars with well carved capitals which show a great variety of
design. Five of the seven arches on each face were originally open, save
possibly for louvre-boards placed to keep out the rain; now all but the
central one on each face are walled up, and the centre one is glazed.
This filling up was not all done at the same time, as the varying
character of the stone shows. The work was no doubt begun in order to
strengthen the walls when the spire was added, and was continued from
time to time as the necessity for further strengthening arose. Above
the stage was a bold corbel table, and this is the upper limit of the
Norman work. There can be little doubt that the Norman builder, here as
elsewhere, finished his tower with a low pyramidal roof with overhanging
eaves to shoot off the rain. This covering may have been of lead, but
possibly of stone tiles or wooden shingles. About a century later this
Norman roof was removed to make place for a loftier roof or spire. Of
its character and material and height we know nothing--there is no
description of it; and though the minster is represented on an old seal
with one spire-crowned tower, yet the representation of the rest of the
church is so conventional that it cannot be regarded as an authentic
record of the actual appearance of the steeple. It is curious that, as
it stood for about three hundred years and fell only in the later years
of Elizabeth's reign, no drawing remains to show us what this spire was
like. But it passed away, doing some damage to the building in its fall,
and that is the only record it has left behind; but we can well picture
to ourselves how much importance must have been added to the minster by
this spire, which must have been a conspicuous object for many miles
round. The present heavy, ugly battlemented parapet spoils the general
effect of the tower; and though we are adverse to the sweeping away of
any features of an old building, even when the features are inharmonious
and even ugly--because this is, as it were, tearing a page of stone from
the book of the history of the building--yet we must confess we could
have regarded the loss of the seventeenth-century parapet and pinnacles
with much less regret than other features which the restorer has
tampered with.

[Illustration: THE NORTH TRANSEPT BEFORE 1891.]

The #North Porch#, which was evidently always intended to be, as it
is to this day, the chief entrance into the church, consists of two
bays marked externally by buttresses on each side: the inner order of
moulding to the arch giving access to this porch springs from two shafts
of Purbeck marble; the outer orders are carried up from the base without
any capitals or imposts. The height of the crown of the inner arch above
the capitals from which it springs is somewhat less than half the width
at the bottom, and the radius of the curvature of the arches is greater
than the width. Over the arch is a square-headed two-light window,
lighting the room over the entrance. The roof differs from all the other
roofs of the church since it is covered with stone tiles, while the
others are covered with lead. There are buttresses set diagonally at the
two northern angles of the porch.

Between the porch and the transept are three two-light Decorated
windows. The tracery of all these is alike, but differs from that of
the two windows to the west of the porch. The most picturesque feature
of the north transept is the turret containing the staircase by which
access is obtained to the tower. This, before the church was enlarged
in the fourteenth century, formed the north-west angle of the Norman
transept: projecting towards the north, its base is rectangular. This
rectangular portion rises nearly to the level of the tops of the aisle
windows, above this level the turret is circular, and rising above the
transept roof is capped by a low conical roof of stone tiles. Two string
courses run round it, one at the bottom of the circular part, and one a
little higher up. This turret was once known as the "Ivy Tower," from
the ivy that grew on it, but this was all removed at the time when the
transept was altered in 1891. At that time the side walls were raised
about two feet, and the roof was raised to the original pitch of the
Norman transept, and at the same time the tracery of the north window,
which was of a very plain and clumsy character, seventeenth-century
work, was removed and the existing tracery inserted. Much
picturesqueness has been sacrificed to make these changes. The portion
of this transept to the north of the turret was added about the middle
of the fourteenth century to form the chantry founded by Bembre, who
was dean from 1350-1361. This part contains, besides the large window,
two smaller two-light windows, which look out respectively to the east
and west. The tracery in these is almost entirely modern. Beyond the
transept is the wall of the north choir aisle. This stands farther to
the north than the wall of the nave aisle; in fact, it is in a line with
the original north end of the Norman transept. In this wall, close to
the transept, is a small round-headed doorway. And, farther to the east,
is another larger pointed doorway between the second and third windows
of the choir aisle, counting from the transept eastward. This doorway is
enclosed by a triangular moulding very plain in character, but none of
it is original. The three windows are each of two lights. The tracery
of these three is alike, but differs from that of the windows in the
nave aisle. The east window of the north aisle is of five lights. The
enclosing arch is not very pointed--much less so than in the narrower
windows of the aisles--and each light runs up through the head of the
window. These and the corresponding south choir aisle windows are late
Decorated work.

[Illustration: THE EAST WINDOW.
(From Parker's "Introduction to Gothic Architecture.")]

Unfortunately the churchyard does not extend to the east of the church.
A narrow footway, bounded to the east by cottages and garden walls,
renders it impossible to photograph the east window of the choir. This
is a most interesting one; and has been figured in most books on
architecture. It consists externally of three lancets enclosed in a
peculiar way by weather moulding; this rises separately over the head of
each lancet, and between the windows runs in a horizontal line and is
continued to the square corner buttresses. Within this moulding, and
over the heads of each lancet, there is an opening pierced: the central
one is a quatrefoil, while the other two have six points. These openings
are a very early example of plate tracery, which was fully developed in
the Early Decorated style. This window belongs to the Early English
period, and may be dated about 1220. There will be occasion to refer to
this window again when speaking of the interior of the church. The south
choir aisle has a five-light east window closely corresponding to the
window of the north aisle, and on the south two three-light windows. In
these, as in the east aisle windows, the lights are carried up through
the heads. There is no doorway giving access to this aisle from the

The angle between the choir aisle and south transept is filled up with
the vestry and the library above it. The south wall of this projects
beyond the wall of the south transept. This vestry is of Decorated date,
possibly rather later than the other Decorated work in the minster. The
upper storey forms the library. Its walls are finished at the top by a
plain parapet which conceals the flat roof. At the south-western angle
is an octagonal turret staircase, capped by a pyramidal roof rising from
within a battlemented parapet, and terminating in a carved finial. This
is of Perpendicular character. From the sharpness of the stone at the
coigns it would seem that very extensive restoration, if not absolute
rebuilding, of the walls was carried on in this part of the church.
The south transept is rather shorter than that on the north side; but,
unlike it, all the walls up to the level of the window are of Norman
date. The string courses on the western side are worthy of close
attention. One which runs under the south window is continued round the
Perpendicular buttresses at the south-west angle, and then again joins
the original course on the western face and runs to within a few feet
of the nave aisle, where it abruptly terminates. Above this for several
feet the walls have the same character as below; then the character
changes, and this change probably marks the junction of the Norman with
the Decorated work, which was added when the Norman chapel, which
occupied the lower part of what is now the south end of the transept,
was incorporated in the transept. Vertically above the termination of
the string course just mentioned, but at a considerably higher level,
another string course abruptly begins and runs along the wall, until it
passes within the roof of the nave aisle. The south end of this shows
the length to which the original Norman transept extended before the
walls of the chapel to the south were carried up in the fourteenth
century to form the addition to the transept. In the southern wall of
this new transept was placed a large five-light decorated window. In
this, as in several of the other Decorated windows already described,
the lights run up to the enclosing arch above. The tracery of this
window, as it now exists, dates back only to the time when the church
was restored in the middle of the nineteenth century. Up to 1891 the
side walls were about two feet lower than at present, and the gable more
obtuse. At the summit of the old gable stood a block of masonry carrying
a sundial; this, when the transept was altered, was removed, the new
gable being finished with a cross. A pillar was built in the churchyard
to the south of the western tower in 1894, and on it the block from the
transept bearing the sundial was placed. This sundial has two dates on
it--1696 and 1752, marking, no doubt, the year of its original erection
and of some subsequent repair. It is noteworthy that the figures used in
these two dates differ in character,--the eighteenth-century carver who
incised the later date not thinking it incumbent on him to make his
figures match those of his predecessor. The three aisle windows between
the south transept and the south porch are two-light Decorated windows
with tracery, some of it original, corresponding to that of those on the
opposite side in the north aisle.

The #South Porch# is small, and the side walls do not project far
from the aisle. Above the arch is a carving of a lamb much weathered,
and on the gable stands a fragment of a cross. The gates beneath the
outer arch are kept locked save on Sundays, as are frequently the gates
in the railings surrounding the churchyard to the south of the minster,
which is divided from the churchyard on the north side by the church
itself and by railings at the east and west ends of it. To the west of
the porch are two more two-light windows, corresponding in character
with the windows opposite in the north aisle. The clerestory windows
of the nave are of Perpendicular date, fifteenth-century work, and have
not any beauty. Each has three foliated lights under a round-headed
moulding. Above each of these three there are two lights, all enclosed
within a rectangular label. The nave roof is higher than the choir roof.
Its aisles have lean-to roofs, whereas the choir aisles are wider and
have gable roofs: hence the clerestory windows of the choir, modern
lancets, are not visible from the outside.

The #Western Tower# is of four stages, with octagonal buttresses at
each corner, decreasing in cross section at each course. Of these the
north-eastern one contains the stairs leading to the top of the tower,
the others are solid. These are crowned with sharp pyramidal turrets.
In the lowest stage on the western face is a doorway which for some time
was stopped up to strengthen the tower, but which was opened again at
the general restoration. Above this is the west window of six lights,
Perpendicular in character but of nineteenth-century date. The third
stage--the ringing room within is lighted by four small windows: that in
the west wall is a quatrefoil, those on the north and south have single
lights foliated at the head; the original one in the east wall was
covered when the nave roof was raised, and a plain opening was made in
the wall farther to the south. Above this is the belfry, with two pairs
of two-light windows on each face: these are divided by transoms, and
the arches at the tops are four centred. These windows are, of course,
not glazed, but are furnished with louvre-boards. The tower is finished
with a battlemented parapet. Just outside the easternmost window on the
north face, and below the transom, stands a figure now dressed in a coat
of painted lead, representing a soldier in the uniform of the early part
of the nineteenth century. He holds a hammer in each hand, with which he
strikes the quarters on two bells beside him. He is known by the name of
the "Jackman" or "Quarter Jack." There are no windows at the west ends
of the nave aisles; but, as on the south side so on the north, there are
between the tower and the porch two two-light Decorated windows in the
wall of the aisle.

[Illustration: THE WESTERN TOWER.]

The level of the churchyards, as in the case with most old
burying-grounds, is considerably above the level of the floor of the
church. Hence steps have to be descended on entering the porches, and
again in passing from the porches into the church. On the south side
some levelling of the ground has been done, and the upright head-stones
have been laid flat, but the altar tombs have been allowed to remain as
they were. There are few trees in the churchyard to impede the view of
the building; those there are, are as yet small, and serve only to
pleasantly break the bareness of the ground without hiding the
architectural features of the building.



The North Porch, which no doubt from the days of its erection in the
fourteenth century has formed the chief entrance into the church, is
opposite to the westernmost Norman bay of the nave arcading. The porch
itself is vaulted in two bays, the vaulting springing from slender
shafts of Purbeck marble which rest on the stone seats on either side of
the porch. The bosses in which the ribs meet are carved with foliage.
Over the porch is a small room to which no staircase now leads; one
which formerly led to it was removed in the seventeenth century. This
room is lighted by a small two-light Decorated window facing north.


The two #Aisles# are of the same length as the nave, and are
divided from it by an arcading on either side, each containing six
pointed arches. The easternmost arches consist of two plain orders, and
are much narrower than the rest. These arches spring on the east side
from brackets on the western face of the tower piers: the bracket on the
north side is plain, that on the south side is ornamented with a kind of
scale carving. These bays were probably of the same date as the tower,
and it is not unlikely that the arches were at first like those of the
tower, of the usual round-headed form. If they were altered when the
remainder of the nave was built, the wall above was not removed. The
piers which support the western side of these arches consist each of a
semi-cylindrical pillar set against a rectangular pier, on the other
side of which another semi-cylindrical shaft is set to support the next
arch; the next two pillars on each side are cylindrical, perfectly plain
in the shafts with very simple bases and capitals. The latter may be
seen in the illustrations, the former are concealed by the pews. It
will be noticed as a peculiar feature that a little piece of the outer
moulding, facing the nave, of the first large arch on the south side is
differently carved from all the rest: first, counting from the bottom
upwards, are three eight-leaved flowers--these are succeeded by three
four-leaved flowers, all on a chamfered edge; above this the moulding
is not chamfered, and the outer face is decorated with shallow zig-zag
carving. The second member of the moulding consists of chevron work
somewhat irregularly carved, the projecting tooth-like points not being
all of the same size; in the centre is a roll moulding, from each side
of which chevron ornamentation projects, the points directed outward
perpendicular to the plane of the arch. These pillars and arches are
noteworthy in that the piers are of considerable size, and above them
are pointed arches. This would indicate a rather late date in the Norman
period for this portion of the church; probably it was built at some
time during the last quarter of the twelfth century. With the third wide
bay the twelfth-century church terminated, the two arches to the west
of these being characterised by ornamentation of the Decorated period.
At this time, as has been already explained (p. 10), the aisles were
widened and the inner edges of the roofs raised above the clerestory
windows of the Norman church. Four such windows, round-headed, each
placed over the point of an arch, may be seen on either side of the
nave; but the eastern one on each side differs from the other three
in being of heavier character and rougher workmanship. The external
mouldings of these can be well seen from the aisles: towards the nave
they are splayed and plain. The wall above the fourteenth-century arches
does not contain any windows on the same level as those of the old
Norman clerestory; but above them, stretching all along each side of
the nave, may be seen the windows of the present clerestory. These are
Perpendicular in style, and are five in number on each side, each window
being placed over one of the piers of the nave arcading. These windows
are square-headed, and have at the bottom three lights, each light being
sub-divided into two at the top. It is believed that this clerestory
was formed when the walls were raised, at the same time as the western
tower was erected--namely, at the end of the fifteenth century. But
to return to the Decorated arches at the west end of the nave. The
pier at the eastern side of the easternmost of these consists of the
semi-cylindrical respond of Norman date, a piece of masonry which was
part of the west wall of the Norman church; and then on the western
side of this an added semi-cylinder, on the capitals of which may be
seen the ball-flower ornament. The pier on either side, between the two
fourteenth-century arches, is octagonal, with a very plain capital (one
of these is shown in the illustration on page 57); the arches themselves
are also plain, consisting of two members with chamfered edges. The half
pillars at the western side of the western arch have been imbedded in
the octagonal buttresses of the west tower, which project into the



The height of the nave roof appears to have been altered on several
occasions. There may be seen from the interior of the nave, on the
west wall of the lantern tower, two lines running from the level of
the tops of the Norman clerestory windows: these make an angle of about
forty-five degrees with the horizontal, and, no doubt, are traces of the
weather mouldings marking the position of the exterior of the roof of
the nave in Norman times. Probably the roof visible from the interior
was flat and formed of wood, and ran across in the line of the string
course above the tower arch, at a level slightly above the heads of the
clerestory windows. A round-headed opening above this string course
probably gave admission to the space between the outer and inner roofs.
At a somewhat higher level, we have a slight trace which probably marks
the junction of the fifteenth-century roof with the tower. This roof
was of oak and very plain--at the restoration the pitch of the roof was
raised and carried up to such an extent as to cut off the bases of the
clerestory windows of the lantern tower; the inner roof itself is of
pitch-pine, with hammer-beams of the character which finds such favour
with nineteenth-century architects.


The #Central Tower#, the oldest and probably most interesting part
of the church, consists of four stages, of which the three lower ones
are open to the church. The lowest of these was undoubtedly part of the
original Norman church; the second or triforium was soon added. Above
this comes the clerestory, the pointed arch between the round-headed
windows indicating a somewhat later date; and above this there is a
chamber perfectly plain within, and not open to the church below. The
outside of this is decorated with an arcading of intersecting arches,
which indicates a somewhat later date. These intersecting arches form
seven pointed arches on each side--five of these were originally open to
allow the sound of the bells, which were formerly hung in the tower, to
pass out; but to add strength to the walls all but the middle ones on
the east face were at various periods walled up. At one time the tower
was surmounted by a spire, possibly of wood covered with lead; this is
supposed to have been erected by John de Berwick, who was dean of the
minster from 1286 to 1312. The squinches which supported this spire may
still be seen in the upper stage just described. Descending from this
stage by a spiral staircase in the north-west angle, we find ourselves
in the clerestory already mentioned. In each face there are two
round-headed windows widely splayed on the interior, with shafts in
the jambs; between each pair of windows is a pointed arch, in each
angle of the tower is a slender shaft encircled by three bands at about
equidistant intervals: a passage cut in the thickness of the wall runs
round this stage. Again descending, we reach the triforium level. Each
of the walls of this stage has two pointed sustaining arches built into
the wall to support the weight of the superincumbent masonry; each of
these encloses four semi-circular headed arches with shafts of Purbeck
marble. The capitals of these are rudely carved, and between the
relieving pointed arches are carved heads, that on the north side being
the most noteworthy. The passage behind the arches is very narrow, the
total thickness of the walls being only 4 feet 6 inches. At the centre
of each face are the openings which formerly led into the spaces between
the roofs and ceilings of the nave, transepts, and choir of the Norman
church. That on the north side now leads into a stone gallery, erected
in 1891 in the place of a dilapidated wooden structure, which runs first
westward to the angle between the tower and north transept, then along
the west face of the transept until it reaches a door leading into the
stair turret, which may be seen from the exterior. At the bottom of this
is a door opening into the transept. This stair turret projects slightly
into the transept. The lowest stage of the tower consists of four arches
and four massive piers. The arches have two plain orders. The piers have
double shafts supporting the central order, and single shafts supporting
the outer orders. The four arches are not of the same width, those on
the east and west being wider than those on the north and south. In
order to get the arches to spring from the same level and also to reach
the same height at their heads, the wider arches are of the shape known
as "depressed," while the narrower ones are of the "horse-shoe" type.
The choir being somewhat narrower than the nave, the walls on each side
take the place of the shaft which would have supported the outer order
of the eastern arch. The capitals and bases of these arches are very
plain, in fact nowhere in this church can the elaborately-carved
capitals so often met with in late Norman work be found. This central
tower was undoubtedly gradually raised stage by stage, as the character
of the architecture indicates: probably during each interval the part
already finished was capped by a pyramidal roof.

[Illustration: THE TOWER ARCHES.]


The #Nave Aisles# were widened in the fourteenth century, the
Norman walls being removed and their roofs raised; a single stone of the
weather moulding, which may be seen on the west face of the north
transept, shows the height and slope of the roof of the Norman aisle.
The windows of the aisles on either side are two-light Decorated
windows; the three on either side to the east of the north and south
porches are of the same character, while the two on each side to the
west of the porches are also alike but differ in their tracery from
those to the east. The south porch is much smaller than the north, and
is very plain; it is composed of two solid walls projecting six feet
from the wall of the aisle.

The #Transepts#, as has been described in the preceding chapter,
were lengthened in the fourteenth century--the southern one by the
incorporation of some low Norman building, thought by some to have been
the Lady Chapel, the walls of which were raised; the northern one by the
addition of Bembre's chantry. This has caused the north transept to be
somewhat longer than the south. The original Norman transepts seem to
have been of the same length on either side. Bembre, who died in 1361,
is supposed to have been buried here. A stone slab lay until 1857 in the
centre of the pavement,--on it was a representation of a full-length
figure of a man dressed in a robe like a surplice; but when the pavement
was renewed this stone was allowed to remain exposed to sun and rain in
the churchyard until the surface was weathered to such an extent that it
is now impossible to make out with any certainty what is upon it. But
the description given by Hutchins of the arms on the shields which were
sculptured on it does not agree with the Bembre arms, so that it could
hardly have been the tombstone of this Dean who founded the chantry.
The window at the end of the north transept is modern restoration work.
Before 1891 the tracery was of a very plain character, as may be seen
from the illustration (page 21). It is supposed that damage was done to
this window at the time when the tower fell, and that the plain tracery
was inserted after that event. During the restoration in 1891, the old
plaster was removed from the walls, and in doing this a Norman altar
recess was discovered in the east wall of this transept; the southern
end of this had been cut away when the choir aisle was widened in the
fourteenth century. In this recess traces of fresco may be seen. A
piscina stands to the north of this altar recess, and is of Decorated


The #South Transept# has a five-light Decorated window at its southern
end, with modern tracery in imitation of the old, each light running up
through the head of the window. A very fine Early English piscina, with
the characteristic dog-tooth moulding, stands in the south wall. An
altar occupying a position similar to the one in the north transept used
to stand in this transept also, but the pointed arch over the recess
shows that it was of later date.

[Illustration: CHOIR STALLS.]

The most elaborate part of the church is that which lies to the east of
the central tower. The great height to which the altar is raised above
the level of the nave gives it a very impressive appearance from the
west end; and, again, the view looking westward from the altar level is
much enhanced by the height from which it is seen.


The #East End# is purely English work, and this shows that in the
thirteenth century the church was extended about 30 feet towards the
east. The junction of the Early English with the Norman wall is marked
by a cluster of slender shafts rising from the ground. The alterations
which were made in the Norman walls at the time of this eastward
extension have been already described (p. 11).

It now only remains to describe the #Choir# and #Presbytery# as they
stand at the present time. Immediately to the east of the tower on
either side are two pointed arches of two plain orders rising on their
western sides from plain brackets in the tower piers, and supported on
the east by engaged shafts with roughly-carved Norman capitals. Next
to these come the Early English inserted arches, pierced as already
described through the Norman wall and cutting away the lower part of two
previously existing Norman windows on each side. The arches are of three
plain orders, with chamfered edges, resting on clustered shafts; beyond
these the new thirteenth-century work begins. Beyond the clustered
shafts mentioned above, which mark the commencement of the Early English
work, is a lofty arch on either side opening into the choir aisles; over
each of them is a pair of small lancet windows widely splayed inside.
Between the piers of these arches a wall is carried, its top being about
midway between their bases and capitals. On the southern wall stands the
Beaufort tomb, on the northern the Courtenay tomb; and below this the
walls are pierced with arches, beneath which are flights of nine steps
leading on to the crypt beneath the presbytery. It is not improbable
that after the eastern extension the altar stood at the east end of the
Norman part of the choir, and that under these two Early English arches
was the ambulatory or processional passage which is so often found to
the east of the high altar. Beyond the ends of the choir aisles on
either side of the presbytery is a lancet window. The east window is
worthy of the closest observation. Its exterior appearance has been
already described (p. 24). Within, it consists of three openings widely
splayed; the thin stone over the central lancet, beneath the surrounding
moulding, is pierced with a quatrefoil opening; over the two side
lancets the corresponding openings have six foliations; between the
three lights and outside the outer ones, flush with the wall, are
clusters of shafts of Purbeck marble, from which spring mouldings
enclosing the lights in a most peculiar fashion: these follow the curves
of the tops of the lancets, but before meeting they are returned in the
form of cusps, and then are carried round the upper foliated openings.
The upper part of each of these mouldings forms about three-quarters
of the circumference of a circle. The characteristic Early English
dog-tooth ornament is carved round the moulding of the central light,
those round the other lights are not thus decorated. The whole group is
surrounded by a label following the curves of moulding, with carved
heads at its terminations and points of junction. The six cusps of the
moulding are ornamented by bosses of carved foliage.

[Illustration: THE EAST WINDOW.]

[Illustration: SEDILIA.]

To the south side of the presbytery, between the south window and the
Beaufort tomb, the triple #Sedilia# and the #Piscina# are situated: each
of these is covered by a canopy of fourteenth-century work. These were
extensively repaired at the time of the restoration. The Beaufort altar
tomb is the finest monument in the church. On it are two recumbent
figures carved in alabaster, and although there is no inscription it is
certain that they represent John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and his
wife Margaret. John Beaufort was son of another John Beaufort, Earl of
Somerset, who was brother of the celebrated Cardinal Beaufort, and son
of John of Gaunt by his mistress Catherine Swynford, a family afterwards
legitimatised by Parliament. This second John Beaufort distinguished
himself in the French wars of Henry IV., who in 1443 gave him a step in
the peerage, creating him Duke of Somerset. His wife Margaret was, when
he married her, widow of Oliver St John, and it is thought that after
the death of her second husband in 1444 she married again. This John and
Margaret, Duke and Duchess of Somerset, are famous on account of their
daughter the Lady Margaret, so well-known for her educational endowments
and for the fact that after her marriage with Edmund Tudor, the Earl
of Richmond, she became the mother of that Henry Tudor who overthrew
Richard III. at Bosworth, and was crowned King as Henry VII. Here
on this altar tomb their effigies remain in a wonderful state of
preservation, their right hands clasped together, angels at their heads,
his feet resting on a dog, hers on an antelope. He is completely clad
in armour, the face and right hand only bare--the gauntleted left hand
holds the right hand gauntlet, which he has taken off that he may hold
the lady's hand. She is clad in a long close-fitting garment. Each of
the two wears around the neck a collar marked with the letters SS. At
the apex of the arch above their tomb hangs his tourney helm.

[Illustration: THE BEAUFORT TOMB.]

Under the corresponding arch on the opposite side is a similar tomb, but
without any effigy. The fragment of an inscription tells us that it is
the tomb of one who was once the wife of Henry Courtenay, Marquis of
Exeter, and mother of Edward Courtenay. She was Gertrude, daughter of
William Blount, Lord Mountjoy. Her husband was beheaded in 1538,
together with the aged Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, whose chantry
may be seen in the Priory at Christchurch, though she was laid to rest
in what Macaulay describes as the saddest burying-ground in England, the
cemetery of St Peter's, in the Tower. Gertrude, Lady Courtenay, was
herself attainted at the time of her husband's execution, but was
afterwards pardoned and died in 1557. The tomb was opened in the last
century from idle curiosity, and some one attempted to raise the body to
a sitting posture, with the result that the skeleton fell to pieces. The
tomb was also damaged by this foolish opening.

[Illustration: BRASS OF ÆTHELRED.]

Three small carved figures at the bottom of the hood moulding of the
arches over these monuments deserve attention. The one on the west
side of the southern arch represents Moses with the tables of the law.
Probably there was another such figure at the eastern end of the same
moulding, but this would have been cut away when the sedilia were
inserted. The opposite arch has a figure on each side.

Just at the east end of the Courtenay tomb is a slab of Purbeck marble,
reputed to have once covered the grave of Æthelred. In it is inserted a
fifteenth-century brass, with a rectangular plate of copper bearing an
inscription, represented in the illustration (p. 46). A brass plate with
a similar inscription, though the date on it is given as 872, was found
in the library. Possibly the original brass and inscription were taken
up in the time of the civil wars and hidden for safety, and the
inscription having been lost, the copper plate now on the tomb was made
when the brass was replaced, and the original plate was afterwards found
and was placed for safety in what is now the library. _Copper_ nails
were used to fasten the brass to the floor, which perhaps serves to show
that the engraved _copper_ plate was made at the time when the brass was
replaced on the slab. A little piece of the left-hand bottom corner has
been broken off, and the top of the sceptre is missing. There are no
rails before the altar, but their place is supplied by three oak benches
covered with white linen cloths (these may be seen in the illustration
on p. 43). The use of the "houseling linen" dates back to very early
times. The word "housel" for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper has gone
out of use, though most of us are familiar with the line

  "_Unhouseled_, unanointed, unanelled,"

in which the ghost of Hamlet's father describes the circumstances of his
death. The word "unhouseled" in this means that he died without
receiving the sacred elements before his death.

The benches are a relic of Puritan times: there is an entry dated 1656
in the churchwardens' accounts respecting the payment of £1 "for making
and setting up the benches about ye communion table in the quire." These
were at first used as seats, on which the communicants sat to receive
the bread and wine. In after times their use was modified. These
benches, ten in number, were placed on the steps leading up to the
altar, and it was customary for the clerk on "Sacrament Sundays" to go
to the lectern after morning prayer, and, in a loud voice, give notice
thus: "All ye who are prepared to receive the Holy Communion draw near."
Those who wished to communicate then went into the chancel and sat on
these benches or in the choir stalls, waiting their turns, and kneeling
on mats until the clergy brought them the bread and wine. Up to 1852
there was a rail on the top step, at the entrance of the presbytery,
on which the houseling linen hung. The rail, which was of no great
antiquity, was removed at that date, and three of the oak benches
were retained to supply its place; these are now used as an ordinary
communion rail, but are always covered with the "fair white cloths."

The #South Choir Aisle#, known as the Trinity Aisle, has at its east
end a five-light window, each light of which runs up through the
head; the south wall is pierced by two three-light windows of similar
character. The wall opposite in the western bay, against which the organ
now stands, is blank, as on the outside of this the vestry stands with
the library above it. At the east end of this aisle was the chantry
founded by the Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond, whose father and
mother lie in the tomb already described beneath the nearest arch on the
north side of this aisle. The altar of this chantry, as well as all the
other altars in the church, numbering ten in all, have been swept away,
no doubt at the time of the Reformation. But recently the east end of
this aisle has been fitted up with a communion table for use at early

In this aisle is to be seen, under the second window from the east,
the marble or slate painted sarcophagus known as the Etricke tomb.
Anthony Etricke of Holt Lodge, Recorder of Poole, was the magistrate
who committed for trial the ill-fated Duke of Monmouth, who, after
his flight from Sedgemoor, was captured in the north of Dorset near
Critchell. It is said that in his old age he became very eccentric, and
desired to be buried neither in the church nor out of it, neither above
ground nor under; and to carry out his wish he got permission to cut a
niche in the church wall, partly below the level of the ground outside,
and then firmly fixed in it the slate receptacle which is now to be
seen. Into this he ordered that his coffin should be put when he died.
Moreover, he had a presentiment that he should die in 1691, and so
placed that date upon the side of the sarcophagus. He, however, lived
twelve years longer than he expected, so that when his death really
occurred the date had to be altered to 1703. The two dates, the later
written over the earlier, are still to be seen. On the outside of the
sarcophagus are painted the arms of his family. The whole is kept in
good repair, for so determined was the good man that his memory should
be kept alive, and his last resting-place well cared for, that he gave
to the church in perpetuity the sum of 20s. per annum, to be expended in
keeping the niche and coffin in good order. When the church was restored
in 1857 the outer coffin was opened, and it was found that the inner one
had decayed, but that the dust and bones were still to be seen, these
were placed in a new chest and once more deposited in the outer coffin.

[Illustration: THE ETRICKE TOMB.]

In this aisle is also to be seen an ancient chest, not formed as chests
usually are, of wooden planks or slabs fastened together, but hewn out
of a solid trunk of oak. The chest is over 6 feet long, but the cavity
inside is not more than 22 inches in length, 9 inches in width, and 6
inches in depth, hence it will be seen how thick and massive the walls
are. Originally it may have contained some small relics, and probably is
much older than the present minster itself. It was afterwards used as a
safe for deeds. In 1735 some deeds were taken from it bearing the date

Formerly, there stood on this aisle the tomb of John de Berwick, dean of
the college, who died in 1312. At his tomb once a year the parishioners
met to receive the accounts of the outgoing churchwardens and to elect
new ones. The altar tomb was removed about 1790, the slab at the top of
it being let into the floor.

[Illustration: ANCIENT CHEST.]

The #North Choir Aisle# is a foot narrower than the corresponding south
aisle: it has three windows each with two lights instead of two of three
lights. This is known as St George's aisle. In the east wall is a
piscina of Perpendicular date. Two doors lead into this aisle--one at
the corner, where the walls of the aisle and transept meet, and one
between the two easternmost windows. The principal objects in this aisle
are two bulky chests, one containing the title-deeds of some charity
lands in the parish of Corfe Castle. This is fastened by six locks, each
of different pattern,--each trustee of the charity has a key, of his own
special lock,--so that the chest can only be opened by the consent of
the whole body. The other chest contains the parochial accounts; this
once had six locks, but now has only two.

In the south-eastern corner of this aisle lies a mutilated effigy of a
mail-clad knight with crossed legs. This is said to have been removed to
the minster from another church when it was destroyed. Whom it represents
is uncertain, but traditionally it is known as the Fitz Piers monument.

[Illustration: UVEDALE MONUMENT.]

In this aisle is the monument of Sir Edmund Uvedale, who died in 1606.
The monument was erected by his widow in "dolefull duety." It is in the
Renaissance style, and was carved by an Italian sculptor. The old knight
is represented clad in a complete suit of plate armour, though without a
helmet. He lies on his right side, his head is raised a little from his
right hand, on which it has been resting, as though he were just awaking
from his long sleep, his left hand holds his gauntlet. Above the tomb
hangs an iron helmet, such as was worn in Elizabethan times, and which
very probably was once worn by Sir Edmund himself.

Between the eastern ends of the choir aisles, and beneath the eastern
end of the presbytery, is the #Crypt#. This is a vaulted chamber, the
vaulting being supported on two pairs of pillars, thus forming three
aisles, as it were, running east and west, each containing three bays.
The western bay is of somewhat later date than the central and eastern;
the wall against which the westernmost of the pillars once stood was
removed, but the piers were allowed to remain, backed up by a new piece
of masonry built against them to support the new vaulting. The crypt
is lighted by four windows, equal-sided spherical triangles in shape;
two look out eastward, one northward beyond the chancel arch, one,
correspondingly placed, to the southward. The centre of the east end is
a blank wall. Against this the altar stood--a niche, probably a piscina,
still may be seen. On each side of the place where the altar stood there
are two openings into the choir aisles. The exteriors of these are of
the same form and size as the crypt windows, but they are deeply splayed
inside, and probably were used as hagioscopes or squints, to allow those
kneeling in the choir aisles to see the priest celebrating mass at the
crypt altar.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO CRYPT.]

[Illustration: THE LIBRARY.]

The #Vestry# stands in the south-east angle between the transept
and choir aisle; it is a vaulted building dating from the fourteenth
century, and is lighted by two windows, one looking to the east, the
other to the south. A small door at the south-west corner opens upon the
staircase leading to the #Library#--a chamber situated above the vestry.
The collection consists chiefly of books left to the minster by will
of the Rev. William Stone, Principal of New Inn Hall, Oxford, a native
of Wimborne. They were brought from Oxford in 1686, under the care of
the Rev. Richard Lloyd, at that time Master of the Grammar School at
Wimborne. The books are chiefly works on divinity; some additions were
subsequently and at various times made to the original collection. The
books were attached to the shelves for safety's sake by iron chains, the
upper end carrying rings which slid on rods fastened to the shelf above,
the other end to the edge of the binding of the books. Hence the volumes
had to be placed on the shelves with their backs to the walls. The room
in which the books were placed was formerly known as the Treasury; it
was refitted in 1857, but the old chains are still used. It would occupy
too much space were any attempt made to give a list of the books. The
oldest volume is a manuscript of 1343, "Regimen Animarum," written on
vellum, and containing a few illuminated initials. A "Breeches,"
Black-Letter Bible, dated 1595, is another book worth mentioning; also
a volume of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World. A hole was burnt
through 104 of its pages. It is said that Matthew Prior, the poet, was
reading it by candle light and fell asleep, and when he woke was much
distressed to find that the snuff from his candle had done the mischief.
He did his best to repair the damage, by placing a tiny piece of paper
over the hole in each page, and inserting the missing letters with pen
and ink. The book has since been rebound, leaves taken from another copy
having been bound in between the damaged pages.

[Illustration: THE CRYPT.]

[Illustration: THE FONT.]

The lower part of the west tower is used as a baptistery; this is
separated from the nave by a screen, formed of fragments of the old rood
screen. In the centre stands the octagonal late Norman #Font#, supported
by eight slender shafts of Purbeck marble, and a modern spirally-carved
central pillar of white stone, through which runs the drain to carry off
the water.


In the inner southern wall of this tower, rather low down, is fixed a
curious old #Clock# made by Peter Lightfoot, a Glastonbury monk, in the
early part of the fourteenth century. The earth is represented by a
globe in the centre, the sun by a disc which travels round it once in
twenty-four hours, showing the time of day; the moon by a globe so
fastened to a blue disc that it revolves once during a lunar month; half
of this is painted black, the other half is gilt, and the age of the
moon is indicated by the amount of the gilded portion visible--when the
moon is full the whole of the gilt hemisphere is shown, when new the
whole of the black. This clock still goes, the works being in a room in
the tower above. It requires winding once a day. The same clock also
causes the Jack outside the tower to strike the quarters.

In the #Belfry# is a peal of eight bells. The tenor weighs about 36
cwts., the treble 7 cwts.

The tenor bears this inscription:

            ANNO DOMINI 1629.

The seventh bell is dated 1798.

The sixth bell 1600, and is thus inscribed: "SOUND OUT THE BELLS, IN GOD

The fifth 1698, "PRAISE THE LORD."


The third was originally the smallest bell of the peal, and bears the
and the words, "THIS BELL WAS ADDED TO YE FIVE IN 1686, Samuel Knight."
The two smaller bells are of recent date.

The #Lectern# bears date 1623. The stone pulpit is modern (1868).
The old wooden pulpit, whose place it has taken, has been removed to the
church at Holt.

The earliest mention of an #Organ# is in 1405, but the earliest
authentic record is of one set up by John Vaucks, Organ Master,
in 1533. A memorandum in the churchwardens' accounts speak of him
setting up a pair of organs on the rood loft. In the year 1643, we have
records of the sale of organ-pipes and old tin. After the Restoration
in 1664, we have a record of the purchase of a new organ for £180.
This was repaired, enlarged, and rebuilt at various times, and at the
restoration, when the rood screen was unfortunately destroyed, the organ
was placed in the south choir aisle.

All the lower windows are now filled with painted glass; all of which,
with the exception of a few fragments, is nineteenth-century work.


  Martin Pattislee or Pattishull            appointed 1224
  Ralph Brito                                   "     1229
  John Mansell                                  "     1247
  John de Kirkby                                "     1265
  John de Berwick                               "     1286
  Stephen de Mawley                             "     1312
  Richard de Clare                              "     1312
  Richard de Swinnerton                         "     1334
  Richard de Merimouth                          "     1338
  Richard de Kingston                           "     1342
  Thomas de Clopton                             "     1349
  Reginald de Bryan                             "     1349
  Thomas de Bembre (founder of the chantry)     "     1350
  Henry de Buckingham                           "     1361
  Richard de Beverley                           "     1367
  John de Carp                                  "     1398
  Roger Tortington                              "     1408
  Peter de Altebello                            "     1412
  Walter Medford                                "     1416
  Gilbert Kymer                                 "     1427
  Walter Herte                                  "     1467
  Hugh Oldham                                   "     1485
  Thomas Rowthel                                "     1508
  Henry Hornby                                  "     1509
  Reginald Pole                                 "     1517
  Nicholas Wilson                               "     1537

  COLLEGE DISSOLVED                             "     1547



About a quarter of a mile to the north-west of Wimborne stands the
chapel of #St Margaret's Hospital#. The date of the foundation of
this hospital is uncertain; tradition has it that it was founded by
John of Gaunt, son of Edward III., but this is without doubt wrong,
as documents--the character of which seem to indicate an early
thirteenth-century date--have been found, from which it appears that
this hospital existed at that time, and was set apart for the relief and
support of poor persons afflicted with leprosy. This disease was at one
time so common in England that a great number of lazar-houses were
erected in the country, and many were well endowed; but when, after a
time, the disease became less violent, many abuses crept in, persons not
really suffering from the disease pretended to be lepers in order to get
pecuniary benefits, and hence in many cases the leper hospitals were
suppressed, or converted to other purposes. At the present day we find
in many places, as here at Wimborne, that they are used as almshouses.


This hospital, however, was not one of the well-endowed. It appears from
a deed, dated in the sixteenth year of Henry VIII., that the hospital
was chiefly maintained, not by endowments, but by the gifts of the
charitable who were willing to contribute to its support; and to
encourage the benevolent to give, the deed recites that "Pope Innocent
IV, in the year 1245, by an indulgans or bulle did assoyl them of all
syns forgotten, and offences done against fader and moder, and all
swerynges neglygently made. This indulgans, grantyd of Petyr and Powle,
and of the said pope, was to hold good for 51 yeres and 260 days,
provided they repeated a certain specified number of Paternosters and
Ave Marias daily." The date of this indulgence proves the antiquity of
the hospital, as it shows that it was in existence before the middle
of the thirteenth century. A chantry was also founded in the chapel
here by John Redcoddes of one priest to say masses for his soul. To this
chantry, according to a deed dated in the sixteenth year of Henry VI.,
many tenements in Wimborne belonged. In later times the Rev. William
Stone, who has been mentioned before as the founder of the Minster
Library, by his will left his lands and tenements in the parish of
Wimborne Minster to be applied to the benefit of almsmen only who should
live in St Margaret's Hospital.

There is a further endowment, but how it came to this hospital has not
been discovered. The advowson and tithes of the Rectory of Poole were,
in the reign of James I., granted to the Mayor and Corporation of Poole
for forty years, on the corporation undertaking to find a curate to
discharge the duties lately discharged by the vicar, and to pay a rent
to the crown of £12, 16s. per annum. In the reign of Charles I., the
advowson and tithes were granted to two men, Thomas Ashton and Henry
Harryman, and their heirs for ever, on the same conditions; but they are
now again held by the Corporation, who pay out of the revenues--to St
Margaret's hospital £9, 16s.; to the churchwardens of Wimborne Minster,
for the maintenance of the Etricke tomb, £1; and to the fellows of
Queen's College, Oxford, to be spent in wine and tobacco on November
5th, yearly £2.

The Redcotte chantry possessed sundry vestments, the gift of Margaret
Rempstone, in the thirty-fifth year of Henry VI., and plate, an
inventory of which exists. This plate, on the dissolution of chantries,
was given by the parishioners to the king, Edward VI. The hospital or
almshouses stands on the high road from Wimborne to Blandford; the
chapel joins one of the tenements occupied by the almsmen. These
tenements are nine in number; three are inhabited by married couples,
three by men, and three by women. Some of these cottages are of half
timber, and thatched, others of modern brick. The chapel, at which there
is now a service every Thursday afternoon, conducted by one of the
minster clergy, is a plain building, which has been recently refitted,
but remains, as far as windows and walls are concerned, in its original
state. There are three doors in the north wall; the heads are pointed,
and it is noteworthy that in the central door, that generally used
for access to the chapel, the two sides of the arch are of different
curvatures, so that the point of the arch is nearer to the right-hand
side. The edge of the wall is chamfered round the doorways. The east
window has a semicircular head, and plain wooden tracery dividing it
into two lancet-headed lights with an opening above them. There is a
window in both the south and north walls, near the east end, each of
two lights; the south window is widely splayed inside; the head of each
light has one cusp on each side. The head of each light of the north
window has two cusps on each side. Farther to the west, on the south
side, is a single narrow lancet, widely splayed, and still farther to
the west is a semicircular opening with wooden tracery. The general
character of the masonry would indicate that local workmen were employed
in building this chapel, and that little was spent in ornamenting it at
the time of the erection. There are, however, some traces of frescoes
on the inside of the walls, both geometrical patterns and figures. The
pointed doorways and the lancet window on the south side would indicate
the thirteenth century as the date of the original building, and this
agrees with the documentary evidence mentioned above for the foundation
of the hospital. The roof is an open one of massive wooden rafters, with
the beams running across at the level of the wall plates.


  Extreme length, exterior, E. to W.                     198 feet
  Extreme width, exterior, N. to S.                      102   "
  Length of Nave, interior                                67   "
  Width of Nave, interior                                 23   "
  Height of Walls                                         40   "
  Length of Nave Aisles, interior                         70   "
  Width of Nave Aisles, interior                          13   "
  Length of North Transept, interior                      42   "
  Width of North Transept, interior                       18   "
  Height of Walls, interior                               30   "
  Length of South Transept, interior                      33   "
  Width of South Transept, interior                       18   "
  Height of Walls                                         30   "
  Length of Choir, interior                               32   "
  Width of Choir, interior                                21   "
  Height of Choir Walls                                   28   "
  Length of Presbytery                                    30   "
  Width of Presbytery                                     21   "
  Length of North Choir Aisle                             53   "
  Width of North Choir Aisle                              21   "
  Length of South Choir Aisle                             53   "
  Width of South Choir Aisle                              20   "
  Length of Side of Central Tower (square), interior      31   "
  Height of Central Tower                                 84   "
  Length of Side of Western Tower (square), exterior      31   "
  Height of Western Tower                                 95   "
  Length of North Porch, N. and S., interior              15   "
  Width of North Porch, E. and W., interior               14   "
  Length of South Porch, N. and E., interior               6   "
  Width of South Porch, E. and W., interior                7   "
  Length of Vestry, N. and S., interior                   15   "
  Width of Vestry, E. and W., interior                    14   "
  Length of Baptistery, E. to W., interior                18   "
  Width of Baptistery, N. to S., interior                 19   "

  AREA                                                10,725 sq. feet.






On the promontory washed on the one side by the slow stream of the
Dorset Stour, and on the other by the no less sluggish flow of the
Wiltshire Avon, not far from the place where they mingle their waters
before making their way amid mudflats and sandbanks into the English
Channel, stands, and has stood for more than eight hundred years, the
stately Priory Church which gives the name of Christchurch to a small
town in the county of Hants. The massive walls of its Norman nave, its
fifteenth-century tower, and its great length--for, from the east wall
of its Lady Chapel to the west wall of its tower, it measures no less
than 311 feet--make it a conspicuous object from the Channel, especially
after sundown, when its form, rising above the low shore of Christchurch
Bay, is silhouetted against the sky. It is one of the finest churches
below cathedral rank that is to be found in England. It is a perfect
mine of wealth to the student of architecture, containing examples of
every style from its early, possibly Saxon, crypt to the Renaissance of
its chantries. Here we may see the solid grandeur of Norman masonry in
the nave, with its massive arcading and richly-wrought triforium; the
graceful beauty of the Early English in its north porch and in the
windows of the north aisle of the nave; the more fully developed
Decorated in the windows of the south aisle of the same; and
Perpendicular in the tower and Lady Chapel.

The crypts beneath the north transept and the presbytery may have
belonged to the original church, but of that which is visible above
ground the oldest part was due to Flambard, of whom more hereafter.
When the first church was founded we cannot tell. Here, as in many other
places, the origin is lost in the haze of antiquity and legend. Here,
as at many other places, we find the original builders choosing one
site, and the stones that they had laid during the day being removed by
night by unseen, and therefore angelic, hands to another. It was on the
heights of St Catharine, about a mile and a half away from the present
site, that the human builders strove to raise their church. It may be
that this hill, still marked by the ramparts of an ancient encampment,
was not holy ground on account of its former occupation by heathens,
though in after time, a chapel, built in the early part of the
fourteenth century, existed there; but, anyhow, not on this hill, but on
the flat lands of Saxon Tweoxneham, a name which passed into the forms
of Thuinam and Twynham, that the great Priory Church was destined to
stand. But not even when the human builders began to erect the church
on the miraculously chosen ground did supernatural interposition cease.
A stranger workman came and laboured at the building: never was he seen
to eat as the other workmen did, never did he come with his fellows to
receive his wages. Once, when a beam had been cut too short for the
place it was to occupy, he lengthened it by drawing it out with his
hand; and when the day for consecration came, and the other workmen
gathered together to see their work hallowed by due ceremonial, this
stranger workman was nowhere to be seen. The ecclesiastics came to
the conclusion that this was none other than the carpenter's son of
Nazareth, and the church which had in part been builded by the hands
of the Christ Himself in later days became known as Christchurch.

But, if we disregard these legends, we do not at once find ourselves
on sure and certain ground. The foundation has been attributed to
Æthelstan, but this is hardly likely, as, in a charter dated 939, he
gives one of the weirs on the Avon at Twynham to the Abbey Church of
Middleton, now Milton Abbey in North Dorset, which he would be hardly
likely to do if he had founded, or were thinking of founding, a
religious house at Twynham; and as he died in 940, not much time was
left for any foundation after this grant. Again, we find King Eadred
granting land and fishing near Twineham to Dunstan. However, in the
time of the Confessor, mention is made of the canons of Holy Trinity
possessing lands in Thuinam. It must be remembered that it had been
intended, according to the legend, to dedicate the church to the Holy
Trinity, and no doubt this was done, although it was afterwards
identified especially with the second Person.

In Domesday it is stated that the canons of the Church of the Holy
Trinity hold lands in the village, and also in the Isle of Wight
opposite. Certain it is that in the days of Eadward the Confessor there
was a church at Twynham dedicated to the Holy Trinity, held by a
collegiate society of secular canons. This church was swept away by
Ranulf Flambard, the notorious justiciar and chaplain of William II.,
whose evil deeds, contrary to the oft-quoted passage from Mark Antony's
speech in Julius Cæsar, are now generally forgotten; while the good
deeds that he wrought,--the nave of this church, and the still grander
nave of Durham Cathedral Church, Durham Castle, "Norham's castled
steep," and Kepier Hospital, built while he held the most important
diocese in the North of England,--live after him, and have shed a glory
on his name. Evil he was in moral character without doubt, but a
glorious builder nevertheless. Though he oppressed the clergy, though it
was through his instrumentality and by his advice that sees were kept
vacant for years, and when filled, only given to those who were able and
willing to pay large sums to the king, yet it is rather as a great
architect than as an ecclesiastic that we, who gaze with delight and
admiration on his work that has come down to us, will regard him. It is
said that, as his end drew nigh, he realised the amount of evil he had
done, and strove to make his peace with heaven and restitution to some,
at least, of those whom he had wronged. He died in 1128, and his body
rests in the great Cathedral Church of St Cuthbert that he had done so
much to raise. But it was in the earlier part of his career, before
he received the bishopric of Durham in 1099, that he probably began
the work at Christchurch with which we are at present concerned.[4]
He was succeeded there by Godric, who is called Senior and Patron
and afterwards Dean; but Flambard seems still to have exercised some
authority over him, illegal probably, but none the less real. We find
him granting to Godric, for the work of building, all the offerings
made by strangers and pilgrims, and when a canon died his share of the
revenues of the college was devoted to the same object, the vacancy not
being filled up by the appointment of any new canon.

    [4] Sir Gilbert Scott, however, thought that the Norman nave of
        the Cathedral Church at Durham was commenced before Flambard
        became bishop, and that the new church at Christchurch was
        begun after that date, so that the work at Christchurch was
        copied by him from what he found already commenced at Durham
        when he went there.

The length of Godric's tenure of office is uncertain. On his death Henry
I. appointed Gilbert de Dousgunels dean, having appropriated to himself
the accumulated fabric fund. Henry I. granted the patronage of the
church to Richard de Redvers, Earl of Devon, who appointed his chaplain,
Peter, a Norman of Caen, dean. This dean seems to have diverted the
funds from the work of completing the church, but his successor,
Randulphus, carried on the work again, so that in his time the church
and the conventual buildings were roofed in. In the time of Hilary, in
the year 1150, the secular college of canons was converted into a Priory
of Augustinian Canons. This change was made with the consent of Baldwin
de Redvers, in accordance with the wishes of Henry of Blois, brother of
King Stephen, and at that time Bishop of Winchester, who is well known
from the fact of his founding the Hospital of St Cross, near Winchester.
Hilary, two years before this change was made, had been consecrated
Bishop of Chichester, and subsequently became one of the episcopal
opponents of Thomas Becket. Henceforth, until the dissolution in the
reign of Henry VIII., the head of the religious community at
Christchurch was a prior, who was, according to a charter granted by
Richard de Redvers in 1160, elected by the canons. There were, in all,
twenty-six priors, and their names have come down to us, but with only
the most meagre notices of the architectural work which was carried on
by each of them. Extensive, however, it must have been; and from what we
see of the church itself, it would seem as if building operations must
have been almost constantly in progress.

In all probability there was, according to the usual plan of Norman
churches, a tower at the junction of the nave and transepts, and beyond
this an apsidal choir. But there is no documentary record of such a
tower ever having been built or fallen, although its existence is
rendered probable by a carving of a church with tower and spire on
Draper's chantry, and by a similar representation on a seal, and in
two other parts of the building. It is probable that the original
choir extended westward beyond the transept, as at Westminster to the
present day.

As has been stated above, the Norman church was commenced by Flambard
towards the end of the eleventh century; and of the work so begun, the
earliest existing remains are the arcading of the nave, the triforium,
and the transepts with the eastern apsidal chapel attached to the south
transept. Next to this in order came the walls of the aisles of the
nave, and the cloisters and chapter-house, which, however, have
disappeared; cloisters would come to be considered a necessity as soon
as the secular canons were superseded by regulars. The early English
clerestory of the nave seems to have been built in the time of the third
prior, Peter, about the beginning of the thirteenth century. To the end
of same century may be approximately assigned the vaulting of the nave
aisles, the north porch, and a chapel attached to the north transept.
Alterations of an extensive nature seem to have been begun in the
fourteenth century; for to this date belong the rood screen, placed
farther to the east than the old division between the ritual choir of
the canons and the western part of the nave, which was probably given up
to the lay dwellers in the parish,--and the splendid reredos. The Lady
Chapel also was completed certainly before 1406, probably eleven years
earlier. The fifteenth century saw the western tower built and the choir
commenced and a great part of it finished, though the vaulting seems not
to have been completed until the early part of the sixteenth century, as
W. E. the initials of William Eyre, who was prior from 1502 to 1520, are
to be seen on the bosses and the arch of the south choir aisle. Somewhat
later still is the chantry at the east end of the south choir aisle,
built by the last prior and dated 1529, and the chantry built by the
last of the Plantagenets, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, daughter of
the Earl of Clarence and mother of Cardinal Pole, who at the age of
seventy was executed by Henry VIII. in 1541.

Shortly before the dissolution in 1536 Prior Draper addressed a
petition to Henry VIII. which is still in existence in the Record
Office, praying that he would spare the Priory church, basing his
request upon the desolate character of the district, the poverty of
the house, and the fact that the church was not only a place for poor
religious men, but also a parish church to the town and hamlets round
about, whose inhabitants numbered from fifteen to sixteen hundred, that
there was no place where any honest man on horseback or on foot might
have succour or repose for the space of eight or nine miles, "but only
this poor place of Christchurch, to which both rich and poor doth repair
and repose." He goes on to say how it was of late years a place of
secular canons, until the king's antecessors made it a place of canons
regular, that "the poor, not only of the parish and town, but also of
the country, were daily relieved and sustained with bread and ale,
purposely baked and brewed for them weekly to no small quantities
according to their foundation, and a house ordained purposely for
them, and officers according duly given attendance to serve them
to their great comfort and relief." But all the pleading was in vain.
Commissioners were appointed, who presented their report to Lord
Cromwell December 2, 1539. They say that "we found the Prior a very
honest and conformable person, and the house well furnished with jewels
and plate, whereof some be meet for the king's majesty's use." Then
follows a list of the treasures of the abbey, of the yearly value of
the several endowments, and of the officers of the Priory, thirteen in
number besides the Prior. Prior Draper retired on a pension, and the
site of the domestic buildings was conveyed to Stephen and Margaret
Kirton. The domestic buildings themselves gradually disappeared, but the
whole of the church was handed over to the parish as a church, the grant
to the churchwardens being made by letters patent 23 October 32 Henry
VIII. It conveyed to them "the choir body, bell-tower with seven bells,
stones, timber, lead of roofing and gutters of the church and the
cemetery on the north side." Since then the church has been served by
vicars, the patronage being in the hands of the dean and chapter of
Winchester until the nineteenth century, when the advowson was purchased
by Lord Malmesbury. The living is now in the gift of the Bishop of

During the present century much restoration has been done. The nave was
vaulted in stucco in 1819; the west window was taken in hand in 1828;
the pinnacles of the tower and the upper part of the turret containing
the stairs were renewed in 1871; and constant repairs have been going on
up to the present time; and the principle that has guided the restorer
has been, when any stonework has been removed to put in its place as
exact a copy of the old as possible,--a principle that cannot be
approved of, as it will lead, when the newness of the modern work has
been toned down by time, to confusion between the genuine old work and
the modern imitation of it. It is far better, when there is no question
of stability but only of appearance, to leave the old stonework, even
though much decayed, as it is, unscraped, untouched by the chisel, and
where strength is needed to put in frankly nineteenth-century work,
which could never by any possibility be mistaken for part of the
original building.

One of the most glaring instances of injudicious restoration is to be
met with in the apsidal chapel attached to the eastern side of the south
transept. This work was carried out by the Hon. C. Harris, late Bishop
of Gibraltar. The arcading is a nineteenth-century imitation of Norman
work; the pavement is glaringly modern. Of what interest, it may well be
asked, is such work? Who would care to visit Christchurch to see it? The
nineteenth-century carver cannot possibly produce work similar to that
of the carver who lived in the twelfth century,--the conditions of his
life are altogether different, his training bears no resemblance to that
of the old artist, his work is a forgery, and a most clumsy one too. In
this chapel we see this reprehensible practice carried to its fullest
extent, but there are many other parts of the building which have
suffered. Most of the arcading on the exterior of the transept is modern
imitation, and the tracery of the windows of the south choir aisle has
been entirely renewed; no old stones, though many might have been used,
have been reset in their original position. The arcading of the south
aisle of the nave has been terribly tampered with. Possibly under the
influence of time many of the shafts had partially crumbled, and the
surface of the carved capitals had perished, so that the original design
could not be made out; but that was no reason for cutting away the
ornamental work to make way for modern decoration which may or may not
bear some slight resemblance to what was there before. Some of the piers
of the nave arcading have also been partially renewed. By an act of
much-to-be-condemned vandalism the sub-arches of the two eastern bays
of the south triforium of the nave were cut away to make room for
faculty pews; recently a glaring white pillar has been introduced into
the westernmost of these two bays, and two sub-arches built. If the
same kind of work is carried out in the other, we shall see in all
probability an attempt to copy the unique scale decoration which still
exists on the tympanum under the corresponding principal arch on the
north side, cut with modern tools with all the lifeless rigidity of
modern work. Another mistake which has been made, is the scraping off of
the plaster from the interior walls of the chamber known as St Michael's
Loft, over the Lady Chapel, and the re-pointing of the stonework. Old
builders invariably covered their rubble walls with plaster, but the
modern restorer for some reason seems to hate plaster and prefers, to
show the coarse stonework which the builder never intended should be
seen, and to emphasise the roughness by filling up the joints with
conspicuous pointing. This, however, is not so destructive as much of
the work which has been condemned above, because at any time the walls
could be recovered with a thin coat of smooth plaster laid on with a
trowel, but not "floated,"--that is, not brought to a smooth surface
by a long straightedge.

A large and old building such as this Priory Church will need almost
constant repairs to keep it sound and safe, and the income from
visitors' fees is quite sufficient for this purpose. It is, however,
much to be feared that restoration and reconstruction will form far too
large a part of the work done in this building. Every new ornamental
stone, to make room for which some original stone is displaced, detracts
from the value of the building from an archæological point of view; and
though there may be some, or even many, who prefer the trim and smug
appearance of modern work to that of the old, instinct with life, full
of the thoughts of the builders and workers in wood and stone, whose
bones have mouldered into dust in the garth of the vanished cloisters,
and whose very names have in many cases been forgotten, yet we hope that
those who have this priceless treasure in their keeping may recognise
ere it is too late, that the result of a continuance of the process of
restoration commenced about the middle of the nineteenth century will
be the gradual conversion of a splendid memorial of bygone ages into a
modern sham, and they themselves will be regarded, when true love of art
becomes general, with the same indignation as that which they themselves
feel with regard to those who pulled down the roof of the south transept
and cut out the columns and sub-arches of the triforium in days before
the Gothic revival set in. And the modern restorer has less excuse than
the destroyer of a hundred years ago. If, like the vandals of the
Georgian period, they had been blind to the beauties of architectural
art, they would have had no sin, yet since they profess to see,
therefore their sin will remain and their names will be held in
perpetual reproach and everlasting contempt.

The foregoing historical sketch of the building has perforce been
somewhat vague in dates, for, in the absence of documentary evidence, it
is not easy to fix from architectural considerations alone the date of
any particular piece of work within a limit of some twenty years or so.
The out-of-the-way position of the Priory of Christchurch--for no great
road ran through the town, and though it is near the sea there is no
convenient harbour near it--has brought it to pass that it is scarcely
mentioned in any mediæval chronicles. Its own fabric rolls and annals
have been lost. Here and there, however, the date of a will or the
inscription on a monument has enabled a more definite date to be arrived
at. The dates also of the dedications of some of the many altars are
known--viz. that of the Holy Saviour, used by the canons as their high
altar, and that of St Stephen, dedicated by the Bishop of Ross in 1199;
that of the altar of the Holy Trinity, which stood in the nave, and was
the high altar of the parish; and those of the altars of SS. Peter and
Paul, SS. Augustine and Gregory and all the Prophets, dedicated by
Walter, Bishop of Whitherne, on November 7, 1214; that of the altar of
St John the Baptist and St Edmund, dedicated on December 7, 1214, by the
same bishop; and that of the altar of SS. Michael and Martin, dedicated
by the Bishop of the Isles in 1221.



The exterior of the church of Christchurch Priory may be well seen from
several points of view. The churchyard lies to the north of the
building, extending beyond it both to the east and west. On the south
side, where all the domestic buildings of the Priory once stood, there
is a modern house and private grounds. All that belongs to the church is
a path running under the walls as far as the east corner of the
transept, where a garden door stops farther progress. Several glimpses
of the building, however, may be obtained on the way down to the Stour,
and seen from the south side of this river, the church rises above its
surroundings, and forms a conspicuous object. A good general view on the
north-east may also be obtained from a bridge over the Avon. From this
point of view the great length of the church is apparent; on the
right-hand side may be seen the ruins of the Norman keep of the castle
on its artificial mound, and nearer to the bridge the remains of a
twelfth-century Norman house. From the churchyard, also, the whole north
side of the church may be seen at once, and many striking features will
be noticed. Among these, the circular staircase attached to the
transept, with its rich diaper work; Norman arcading of interlacing
arches running round the transept; the large windows of the choir
clerestory, so wide and closely set together that the whole wall seems
as though composed of glass--through which, and the windows of the
opposite wall, the light of the sky can be seen; and lastly, the upper
storey of the Lady Chapel with its row of windows of a domestic type.


[Illustration: TOWER DOOR.]

A systematic examination of the exterior may best be begun with
the #Western Tower#. This is of fifteenth-century date, and is set
partially within the church--that is to say, its builder did not add
it to the west of the church, making an archway through the previously
existing west front, but pulled down the whole west wall of the nave,
leaving, however, the west walls of the aisles, and carried the north
and south walls of the new tower as far back into the church as the
space occupied by the western bay, thus leaving two spaces at the
west end of the aisles, one now used as a vestry, the other as a kind
of lumber-room. In the west face of the tower is a doorway under a
rectangular label; in the spandrels are two shields, bearing the arms of
the Priory, and of the Montacutes and Monthermers, Earls of Salisbury.
The doors are modern. Immediately above the doorway is a large window
with three tiers, each containing six lights. The head of the window
above these is of an ordinary Perpendicular character. The tracery was
restored in 1828. Above this window is a niche containing a figure of
Christ. The upper stage, which contains the bells, has two two-light
windows in each face, each light being divided by a transom. These
windows are not glazed, but are furnished with louvre-boards. The tower
is crowned with a pierced battlemented parapet having pinnacles at
the corners and at the middles of each side; within this rises a low
pyramidal roof. The stair turret runs up at the north-east angle of the
tower; this is octagonal, and is crowned with a parapet and crocketed
pinnacles; the upper part of this turret and the pinnacles were renewed
in 1871. The tower is strengthened by two buttresses at right angles
to each other at each of the two western angles. On either side of
the tower, as already explained, may be seen the west end of the nave
aisles; these have windows with Perpendicular tracery, and on the north
wall of the north aisle is a plain, round-headed doorway cut through the
wall in modern time, with a Perpendicular window over it.

[Illustration: NORTH PORCH.]

Next comes the #North Porch#, with a chamber above it--here, as in
many other churches, the chief entrance into the building. Its great
dimensions, both in length and height, however, are remarkable; it
projects 40 feet beyond the aisle wall, and its own side walls rise
nearly to the height of the clerestory of the church. Its south end
does not extend beyond the wall of the aisle, so that there is a space
between the upper part of the porch and the clerestory. The upper part
above the porch proper contains, as mentioned above, a lofty chamber,
probably originally the muniment-room. This is lighted by two pairs
of narrow single-light windows on either side, and by a similar pair
in the north face beneath the obtuse-angled gable. This room is, no
doubt, a later addition. The entrance into the porch is a beautiful,
deeply-recessed archway of thirteenth-century date, with numerous shafts
of Purbeck marble on either side. Within the porch the side walls are
divided into two compartments, each of which is composed of two pointed
arches beneath another larger pointed arch, with a cinquefoil in the
head. On the west side, near the outer archway, is a cinquefoiled
recess, with shafts of Purbeck marble and foliated cusps. This is
said originally to have contained a desk, at which the prior met the
parishioners and signed deeds. A stone seat runs along each side of
the porch walls. The double doorway which leads into the church is very
beautiful and rich Early English work. From six Purbeck marble shafts on
either side spring the orders of the enclosing archway; the heads of the
double doorways themselves are cinquefoiled arches with foliated cusps.
At the jambs, and dividing the two doors, are clusters of Purbeck marble
shafts, with moulded capitals. In the tympanum is a quatrefoil, the
upper part of which projects so as to form a canopy. This was, no doubt,
intended to contain some carved subject, possibly the Doom. Very
extensive restoration was carried out in the groining and porch
generally, in 1862.

[Illustration: THE NORTH DOOR.]

The wall of the #North Aisle# between the porch and the transept is
divided into six compartments by Early English buttresses with gabled
heads. This wall was built in Norman times, as may be seen from the
small round-headed windows which light the clerestory, but was in
Early English times faced with fresh ashlar, which conceals the Norman
arcading of intersecting arches which ran along this wall. The triforium
windows on this side are not, though they are on the south side,
regularly arranged; there are none in the two western divisions, while
between the easternmost buttress and the transept there are two. Six
late thirteenth-century windows were cut through this wall--these are
all of similar design; they consist of two lights under a comprising
arch, with a circle in the head. The clerestory windows are of plainer
character. Each window consists of two simple lancets set under a
recessed arch without any hood moulding; the tympana also above the
lancet heads are not pierced or decorated in any way; in fact, the whole
clerestory is remarkably plain. Between the windows are flat buttresses.
The aisles are covered with lean-to roofs of lead, the nave itself with
a tiled roof of medium pitch. The gable at the east end of the nave, and
indications on the east face of the tower, show that the pitch of the
roof was once higher, and that it must have been lowered at some time
after the tower was built in the fifteenth century.

[Illustration: THE NORTH TRANSEPT IN 1810.
(From Britton's "Architectural Antiquities.")]

The #North Transept# is most interesting. Its west wall contains
two round-headed windows with billet moulding, the northern one blocked
up; and at the north-west corner is a cluster of cylindrical shafts
running up to about the same height as the walls of the aisle. Why they
terminated here it is hard to say; they may mark the termination of the
original Norman wall. This wall may not have risen above this height,
or the upper part may have been taken down and rebuilt when the large
Perpendicular window was inserted in the north end of the transept. At
the north-east corner of the transept stands a richly-ornamented turret
of Norman date. Round the lower part of this the arcade of intersecting
arches which runs round the whole transept is carried; above this, round
the turret, runs an arcading of semicircular-headed arches springing
from pairs of shafts; above this the wall is decorated with diaper work;
and finally, another arcading, this time of round-headed arches rising
from single shafts, encircles the turret. The turret is capped by a
sloping roof of stone attached to the transept wall. This turret is
worthy of close attention, because it shows how the Norman builders
hated monotony; each stage has its own decoration unlike that of
any other; and, moreover, there are variations in the shafts of the
arcading--some are plain, some decorated in one way, some in another.
The same love of variety may be seen here that lends so great a charm
on a larger scale to Flambard's glorious nave at Durham. No doubt this
north transept had attached to its east wall an apsidal Norman chapel
similar to that which still exists on the eastern side of the south
transept, but this had to make way for an addition of two chapels, which
we may assign, from the character of their architecture, to the latter
end of the thirteenth century. The northern chapel is lighted by a
three-light window with three foliated circles in the head, which is
rather sharp pointed, and the southern one by a two-light window with
one foliated arch. These are beautiful examples of plate tracery. Above
these chapels is a small chamber lighted by a window of similar
character. This is supposed to have been the tracing room, where the
various architectural designs for the building were drawn.

To the east of the transept may be seen the #Choir# and #Presbytery#,
with its four clerestory windows; the #Choir Aisle#, also with four
windows; the #Lady Chapel#, with the octagonal turret-staircase leading
into Saint Michael's Loft above it. It will be noticed that there is no
window in the aisle under the western clerestory window of the choir,
as the space where this would have been found is occupied by the two
chapels to the east of the transept, and also that the aisle extends
beyond the choir and flanks the western part of the Lady Chapel. The
whole of this part of the church is of Perpendicular character. The
windows of the choir aisles are low, the arches are depressed, and the
curvature of each side of the arch is so slight that they appear almost
straight lines. The body of these windows contains four lights; in the
head, each of these is subdivided into two. Between the aisle windows
are buttresses, which, with the exception of the one opposite the east
wall of the choir, which terminates in a gable, have pinnacled cappings;
and from each of these, save the gabled one, a flying buttress is
carried over the roof of the aisle and rests against the choir wall.
The aisle roof is flat, and at the top of the outer wall runs a plain
parapet pierced with quatrefoil openings. The clerestory windows are of
great size and are set close together. The choir roof is flat and is
quite invisible from the exterior. There can be little doubt that a
parapet at one time ran along the tops of the clerestory walls, but
this has disappeared. The Lady Chapel has on either side three large
Perpendicular windows; the arches of these as well as those of the
clerestory have pointed heads. The western half of the central window
of the Lady Chapel is blocked up by the later-built octagonal turret
containing the staircase to Saint Michael's Loft. The staircase
commences in an octagonal turret at the north-east corner of the choir
aisle,--this rises above the aisle roof,--the stairs are then carried
above the east wall of the choir aisle and then into the octagonal
turret, which runs up the wall of the Lady Chapel and the loft above,
and rises to some height above the parapet. There is a similar staircase
on the south side, but the turret does not rise quite so high above the
roof. There are five square-headed two-light windows on either side of
St Michael's Loft, the lights being divided by transoms, the upper parts
foliated. At the east end is a three-light window without any transom,
with an obtuse arch under a dripstone. The loft has a parapet all round
it pierced with quatrefoil openings. Some of this parapet, at any rate,
is modern, as, in a photograph of the north side taken in 1884, the
parapet is only shown to the east of the turret. As restoration work
is constantly going on at the church, the money paid by visitors for
viewing the interior (sixpence a head, which produces over £500 a year)
being devoted to this object, the parapet will doubtless in course of
time be extended along the walls of the choir, and will certainly add to
the beauty of the church; and as nothing will be destroyed to make room
for it, such an addition will not be open to the same objection as much
of the work done by restoration committees.

[Illustration: THE NORTH TRANSEPT.]

The buttresses at the east angles of the Lady Chapel are set diagonally,
and rise in five stages; the upper stage of each is square, in section,
with the faces parallel to the walls of the church, and reaches a higher
level than the parapet, and is finished with a flat cap. The large east
window is a Perpendicular one of five lights. From the base of the
south-east buttress runs a wall dividing the burying-ground from the
gardens of the house, to the south of the church, which stands on the
site of the domestic buildings of the priory. The portion of the wall of
the Lady Chapel beneath the eastern-most window on the north side is
modern. Here Mr Ferrey, the architect, by whom much of the restoration
was carried out, discovered traces of an external chantry and the marks
of an arcading corresponding to that still remaining on the inside.

[Illustration: THE SOUTH AISLE OF NAVE.]

The object of the chamber above the Lady Chapel is uncertain,--in
1617 it is described as "St Michael's Loft," in 1666 the parishioners
described it as "heretofore a chapter-house," when petitioning the
bishop to allow it to be used as a school. But if it was ever used as
a chapter-house, it could only have been for a short time, as there is
evidence that there was a chapter-house to the south side of the choir
in the twelfth century, and that this remained as late as 1498. The
south side of the Lady Chapel and choir correspond very closely with the
north side, but there are several differences to be noticed between the
south and north transepts. On the eastern side of the #South Transept#
the Norman apsidal chapel still remains. This has a semi-conical roof
with chevron table moulding under it, and two windows--one of original
Norman work, the other a three-light Early English window. A sacristy
of Early English date stands to the east of the apsidal chapel, and
occupies the space between the apse and the south choir wall. At the
south-east corner of the transept there is a circular stair turret
corresponding to some extent with the turret at the north-east angle
of the north transept; this, in the second stage, becomes octagonal in
section, and rises above the parapet of the transept. In the south face
is a depressed segmental window, much smaller than the corresponding
window on the north side, under a gabled parapet. The pitch of the roof
of the south transept is much higher than that of the north transept,
and the upper part of the transept does not abut against the walls of
the church. Two tiers of corbel brackets on the south wall, and traces
of two Norman windows seem to indicate that here, as elsewhere, a slype,
with a room above it, intervened between the south end of the transept
and the chapter-house. This slype was generally a passage connecting the
cloister garth with the smaller garth to the south of the choir which
was often used as a burying-place for the abbots or priors, as the case
may be, and was the place where the monks or canons interviewed visitors
and chapmen. The room above was often used as the library. The south of
the #Nave# is decidedly inferior in interest to the north. The cloisters
have entirely disappeared, but a series of round-headed arches, formed
of stucco, may conceal a stone arcading similar to that hidden by the
Early English facing of the north wall. The small round-headed windows
giving light to the triforium are more regularly arranged than on the
north side; there is one, and only one, in each division between the
buttresses. There were, as usual, two doors in this wall: one for the
canons, in the wall opposite to the west of the cloister, one close to
the transept for the prior; both are now blocked up. The prior's door,
in the injunction of Langton, 1498, is directed to be kept locked, save
when on festivals a procession passed through it. This doorway is of
early thirteenth-century work; it is round-headed, and is French in
character. There is a legend that a party of French monks, terrified
by a dragon which rose out of the sea, possibly an ancestor of the
sea-serpent of more modern days, put in to Christchurch haven, and were
entertained by the canons, with whom they abode for many years; possibly
this door may be of their workmanship or design. In the south wall a
large aumbry or cupboard, in the thickness of the walls, may be seen;
in this possibly the canons kept the books that they had brought from
the library for study. What the windows in this aisle were we cannot
say--originally, no doubt, Norman, for the westernmost window is still
of this style; but the others, which were widened either in Early
English or Decorated times, are now all filled with nineteenth-century
tracery of Decorated type. The buttresses between the windows, unlike
those on the north side, are flat Norman ones. Towards the west end of
the aisle a passage has in modern times been cut through the wall, and
when this was done remains of a staircase which, no doubt, led to the
dormitory, were discovered. The clerestory, on this side, is of the same
plain character as on the north side.

In a line with the south wall, but some little distance to the west,
still stands a house which was once the porter's lodge, close to the
site of the gatehouse. The porter's lodge was built by Prior Draper
II. in the sixteenth century. The remains of the domestic buildings are
very scanty--some old walls near the modern mill, occupying, no doubt,
the site of the mill where the canons' corn was ground; some vestiges
of the fish ponds; some few traces of walls and foundations, are all
that have come down to modern days. From the similarity of arrangement
in the buildings of religious houses, however, we can, with great
certainty, assign the sites for the various parts--the dormitory over
the cellarage, to the west of the cloister garth; the refectory to south
of it; the calefactory, chapter-house, slype, to the east; and the
prior's lodgings to the south of the choir, forming the lesser garth;
the barns, bakery, and brew-house to the south-west of the church,
near the porter's lodge and gatehouse. The prior had a country house
at Heron Court, a grange at Somerford, and another at St Austin's, near
Lymington. It must be understood that the choir was the church of the
canons, and, as was common in churches served by Augustinian canons, the
nave was used for the services which the laity of the district attended.

It is noteworthy that whether owing to the purity of the air, so
different from that which exists in the large cities where so many of
the cathedral churches stand, or from the goodness of the stone, most of
the Priory Church is in most excellent preservation. Carving which, we
are assured, has never been retouched with a chisel since it was first
cut, remains as sharp and clearly cut as though it were the work of
the nineteenth century; possibly some of its excellence is due to the
preservative effect of the whitewash with which it was once covered, and
which has been cleaned off with water and a stiff bristled brush.

The stone of which the north side of the nave is built came from
Binstead; the limestone columns from Henden Hill; the Norman round
turret and the choir is built of Portland stone; while Purbeck marble
shafts are used in the north porch, and of the fine white stone from
Caen in Normandy, the Salisbury and Draper chantries in the interior
are constructed. These, though now about four hundred years old, are
absolutely sharp in all the carving. There is a tombstone to the north
of the porch which bears a curious inscription as follows:--"We were
not slayne but raysd, raysd not to life but to be byried twice by men
of strife. What rest could the living have when dead had none agree
amongst you heere we ten are one. Hen. Rogers died Aprill 17 1641."
This inscription has been variously explained. It is said by some that
Cromwell, afterwards Protector, was at Christchurch, and dug up some
lead coffins to make bullets for his soldiers, and flung the bodies out
of ten such coffins into one grave; but this is manifestly incorrect.
Oliver Cromwell was never at Christchurch, though Thomas Cromwell
probably was, and here, as elsewhere, the two have been confounded.
In many cases poor Oliver has had to bear the blame for destruction
caused to churches by his less well-known namesake, the great destroyer
of religious houses in the days of the eighth Henry. But neither of
them had anything to do with this tomb, nor were the Parliamentary
forces guilty of tampering with the coffins of the dead in the parish
burying-ground at Christchurch. The very date precludes the idea, for
the civil war did not begin till more than fifteen months after the
date carved on this stone; and we may give the Roundheads credit for
more sense than to be digging up coffins to make their bullets with,
when there was abundance of lead to be had for the stripping on the roof
of the Priory Church. A far more probable explanation is that which
states that the ten bodies here interred were those of ten shipwrecked
sailors, who were first buried on the cliffs near the spot where they
were washed ashore; but the lord of the manor, when he heard thereof,
waxed exceeding wroth, and a strife ensued between him and one Henry
Rogers, Mayor of Christchurch, the former insisting on their removal to
consecrated ground, the latter objecting to the removal, probably on the
ground of expense; but in the end the lord of the manor had his way. But
the mayor, to save the cost of ten separate graves, had them all buried
in one, and placed this inscription over their remains as a protest
against the conduct of the lord of the manor in moving their remains
from their first resting-place.

The graveyard at the present time is neatly kept and well cared
for. The headstones have not, as they have been in many other
places, tampered with; and though many of the alterations made in the
restoration will not gain the approval of archæologists, yet some have
been judiciously done, and some that are in contemplation will certainly
have the result of rendering once more visible beautiful mediæval work,
long concealed by ugly modern additions.



A rapid walk round the interior of the Priory Church shows that it
practically consists of three main portions, almost entirely divided
from each other--the #Nave#, the #Choir#, and the #Lady Chapel#. The
solid rood screen, pierced by one narrow doorway, forms an effectual
division between the nave and choir, while the stone reredos and the
wall above it, running right up to the vaulting, entirely separates the
latter from the Lady Chapel. In mediæval times the choir was reserved
for the use of the canons; the nave was the parish church with its own
high altar; the rood loft was an excellent point of vantage from which
a preacher could address a large congregation. In those times pews had
not been introduced; open benches may have existed. At present the nave
is occupied by pews; these with their cast-iron poppies were erected in
1840, and were then higher than at present. Still, even in their present
form, they hide the bases of the pillars, and might with much advantage
be swept away, and their places taken by open benches or movable chairs.
The pews in the transepts are of older date; these, together with
the galleries above them--that in the south transept supporting the
organ--are a sad disfigurement to the church, and it is to be hoped that
they will be soon removed; they hide some splendid Norman work. The case
of the north gallery is worse than the south, as a staircase leading to
it disfigures the beautiful Early English chapel attached to the east
side of the transept. This gallery, however, contains some faculty pews.
All the owners of these, save one, consented to its removal; but one
stood out against it, and, having the legal right to prevent any
alteration, has up to the present time kept the gallery intact. But as
he has recently died there can be little doubt that no long time will
now elapse before this disfigurement to the church will be a thing of
the past. There seems little need for the gallery, as there is ample
accommodation on the floor of the church for any congregation that is
likely to assemble within the walls. Many alterations, some of which are
certainly improvements, have already been made. In an engraving, dated
1834, the organ is represented standing on the rood screen, probably the
best place for it; and the four eastern bays of the nave are seen to be
partitioned off by a wooden screen with a rod for curtains. On a level
with the capitals of the pillars, to the west of this partition, stands
the font. At this time also the triforium was boarded off in order to
shut out draughts and cold; but this boarding has happily been swept
away, the partition across the nave has been removed, and an oaken
screen with glazed panels runs across the church, cutting off the
western bay from the remainder of the nave. The font, a modern one,
now stands under the tower; a modern pulpit on the south side, under the
crossing, where also desks for the clergy and choir have been placed. It
is now the custom on Sunday mornings to read the whole of the service up
to the end of the Nicene Creed, in the nave; after the sermon is over,
the communicants alone enter the choir to receive the sacrament. The
choir is also used for week-day services. The Lady Chapel is not used.
The nave is Early Norman work, and was chiefly built during the reign
of William II.; the clerestory, however, was added at the beginning of
the thirteenth century by Peter, who was prior from 1195 to 1225. The
original nave was probably covered by a flat wooden ceiling, the Early
Norman builders rarely venturing to span any wide space by a stone
vaulting. The present vaulting is of stucco, and was added by Garbett
in 1819. The roof was altered in Perpendicular times more than once, as
indications of a higher pitched roof than the present one exists on the
east face of the fifteenth-century tower. As springing stones for a
vaulted roof exist, it is probable that a stone roof was at one time
contemplated; but possibly the idea was abandoned on account of the fear
that the walls, unsupported by any exterior flying buttress to resist
the thrust, would not have borne the weight. It will be remembered that
such buttresses are to be met with along the walls of the choir, which
is covered with a stone vaulting. The nave consists of seven bays. The
pillars of this arcading, unlike those of Flambard's nave at Durham,
are not cylindrical, but consist of half columns set against piers
rectangular in section. The capitals are of the early cushion shape;
some of them seem to have been subsequently carved with ornamentation
which bears some resemblance to classical forms. The wall spaces above
the semicircular arches, and below the chevron string-course which runs
beneath the triforium, are decorated with hatchet-work carving, as will
be seen from the illustrations. The triforium on either side consists,
in each bay, of two coupled arches supported by a central pillar,
enclosed by a comprising arch with bold mouldings and double columns,
separated by square members. The most beautiful bay is the easternmost,
on the north side, where the wall surface above the smaller arches,
and beneath the enclosing arch, is carved with a kind of scale-work.
Possibly the opposite bay, on the south side, was as richly ornamented,
but the lower arches and the central column no longer exist, as they
were cut away to make room for a faculty pew in 1820. These two bays
were included within the original Norman choir. The central shaft, on
the north side, is twisted. Two of the central shafts, on the south
side, are richly ornamented--one with twisted decoration, the other with
a projecting reticulated pattern. The shaft and sub-arches of the second
bay from the east on this side is a modern renewal, as here also the old
work was destroyed in 1820 to make room for a pew. The north triforium
can be reached by a staircase continued up into the tower, entered from
the western part of the aisle; access to the south triforium can only be
gained by the use of a ladder. The north triforium deserves examination.
It will be found that pointed arches have been added at the back, and
buttresses have been built against the back of the wall behind the
arches; the floor is rendered uneven by humps necessitated by the Early
English vaulting of the aisle below--probably the aisles were originally
covered with a barrel roof. At the east end of the north triforium an
arch may be seen, which once opened out into the transept; this is now
walled up, and traces of painting may still be seen on it. There is
a passage under the clerestory, to which access may be obtained by a
passage across the transept; this was, no doubt, made in order that
the shutters of the windows might be opened or closed, according to the
state of the weather. From the staircase which leads up to the north
triforium a passage leads into the chamber over the north porch. This is
a large room, about 40 feet in length from north to south, and is now
used as a practising room for the choir; it is fitted with benches and
a grand piano, and has a modern wooden gallery running along its south

[Illustration: THE NAVE IN 1834.]

[Illustration: THE NAVE.]

[Illustration: NORTH ARCADE OF NAVE.]



The #South Aisle# is much more elaborately decorated than the north.
Along the south wall runs a fine Norman arcade, the arches ornamented
with billet and cable moulding. The window in the western bay is the
original Norman one; the others were altered either in Early English or
Decorated times, and are now filled with modern tracery in the Decorated
style designed by Mr Ferrey. In the third bay is a holy water stoop, and
in the fifth a large aumbry or recess, entered by a door; in this used
to be kept the bier and lights used at funerals. Along the walls of each
aisle runs a stone bench. There is no arcading on the wall of the north
aisle. The vaulting of both aisles is Early English, dating from the
time of Peter, the third prior, who, as previously stated, built the
clerestory. The tracery of the north aisle windows is transitional in
character between Early English and Decorated.

[Illustration: THE SOUTH AISLE OF NAVE.]


The #Transepts# are much encumbered by modern pews and galleries,
and it is only by careful examination that much of the beautiful work
that they contain can be seen. The arch opening from the south aisle
into the transept is Early English, and the skilful junction of Early
English and Norman work at this point is deserving of attention.
This transept was at one time covered by a stone vaulting, which was
destroyed at the latter end of the eighteenth century and in the
beginning of the nineteenth. Some of the bosses taken from this may be
seen, piled up with the old font and other fragments, at the west end of
the north choir aisle. The west wall of the transept contains a Norman
window. A doorway into the slype remains in the wall, and communicates
with a wall passage. At the eastern side of the transept an arch opens
out into an apsidal chapel, but pews block up the entrance. This chapel
has been so completely restored that it has a thoroughly neat and modern
appearance, and has lost all its archæological value; round it runs a
Norman arcade, and on the north side an aumbry may be seen. The north
transept retains its Norman arcading, which, fortunately, has not been
touched by the restorer's hand; how long it may escape is doubtful,
as it is much mutilated. Still, as it is simply decorative, and not
necessary for the stability of the wall, it would be well to leave it
untouched, as genuine old work, even though it may have suffered at the
hand of time or of former generations, is, from a decorative point of
view, infinitely preferable to any modern reproduction. There are
two small windows in the west wall to light the wall passage to the
clerestory, which is reached by a gallery running across the base of
the north window. In the north wall, behind the back of the pews, is a
thirteenth-century recess. From this transept access is gained to the
circular staircase leading downward to the crypt and upward to the small
chamber above the eastern chapels. This is popularly known as Oliver
Cromwell's harness room, and marks are shown on the wall supposed to
have been holes for the insertion of pegs whereon he hung his harness;
but as the Protector never came to Christchurch, all this is purely
mythical. On one of the walls Mr Ferrey, the architect, found a design
for a window; this he copied, and used when designing the tracery of the
window he inserted over the prior's door at the east end of the south
aisle of the nave. This tracing chamber is lighted by a two-light window
with a quatrefoil in the head in the eastern wall. The two chapels below
are beautiful examples of transition work from the Early English to the
Decorated style; they were built by the De Redvers, Earls of Devon, the
last of whom died in 1263. The eagles of the Montacute and Monthermer
families appear in this chantry. There are two windows in the eastern
wall. The larger, on the north, consists of three lights, with three
circles in the head; the foliation of these outside the glass forms
cinquefoil openings; the smaller window is of a similar character, but
consists of two lights only, with a single foliated arch above them. An
archway, widely splayed, on the western side, opens into the transept,
and another archway opens into the choir aisle; this has a panelled
pier, standing a little apart from the eastern side, designed to support
the arch, which probably was found to be giving way. The shafts along
the eastern wall, the capitals of one of which is carved with a number
of heads said to represent the twelve apostles, should be noticed; the
vaulting ribs are also interesting, especially the joggled ribs seen
over the window. A stone altar stood in one of these chantries until
1780. These chapels are sadly disfigured by a mean staircase which leads
into the transept gallery; it is devoutly to be hoped that before long
this may be removed, and the exquisite beauty of the chapels seen
without any inharmonious and irritating feature such as this staircase
undoubtedly is. Below the transept is an Early Norman crypt; it is
thought by some, from the rudeness of the work, that it may be of
earlier date than the existing church, and that it belonged to the
original church which Flambard destroyed to make room for his more
splendid edifice. In it were discovered a number of human bones, which
were reinterred in the churchyard. It has a plain barrel roof, divided
by broad flat arches rising from pilasters.

[Illustration: THE NORTH AISLE OF NAVE.]

It has often been debated whether or not the church ever possessed a
central tower. There is no documentary evidence bearing on the question.
It may be said that if a tower existed and fell, or was pulled down for
any reason, some record would have remained; but the records connected
with the building are fragmentary, and it by no means follows that the
absence of record proves the non-existence of such a tower. In the case
of Wimborne Minster the churchwarden's accounts contain no record of the
building or of the fall of the spire, yet we know from outside testimony
that such a spire did fall in 1600, and that a representation of it
occurs on a seal. So here at Christchurch a seal is in existence on
which the church is represented with a central tower of two storeys, the
lower plain, the upper lighted by two round-headed windows and capped by
a low pyramidal spire or roof with a tall cross on the summit. This is
exactly what one would expect to find: a central tower is almost always
found in Norman churches, especially collegiate churches; and the
pyramidal roof was almost certainly the usual form in which these early
towers were finished. The battlemented parapets which we so often meet
with in Norman towers are in all cases more recent additions. Moreover,
the massive arches and piers at the corners indicate that a tower was
contemplated, even if it were never built. In the east gable of the nave
as it at present exists, two round-headed windows may be seen. It is
highly probable that this gable once formed part of the east wall of the
tower, and when the tower was removed this wall was converted into a
gable. Everything to the east of the crossing being of late fourteenth
or early fifteenth century date, indicates that extensive alterations
were made at that time; and if a tower and spire had previously existed,
it must have been removed before this date. In the centre of the carving
over the doorway leading into the Draper chantry, dated 1529, there is a
representation of a church with a central tower and spire. Of course, no
such steeple existed at the time this chantry was built, but it may have
been a copy of some then existing representation of the building as it
had appeared in former times. There are also two other carvings of
angels carrying a model of a church with a central tower--one near the
Salisbury chantry, one on the choir roof.

[Illustration: THE CRYPT.]

The nave is divided from the choir by a splendid rood screen 16 feet 6
inches high, 33 feet long, and 9 feet thick. The western face of this
projects beyond the line joining the east walls of the two transepts;
its eastern face rests against the eastern piers intended to support the
central tower. It was extensively restored by Mr Ferrey in 1848, who
considered that it may have been removed from some conventual church
after the dissolution of the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII. and
re-erected here. But there does not seem to be any real grounds for
supposing that it was not expressly built for this church. Its character
indicates a date somewhat late in the fourteenth century. In the centre
is a narrow doorway and a passage into the choir; from the north side
of this passage a flight of steps leads to the top of the loft. The
base of the screen is plain; above this is a row of thirteen panelled
quatrefoils on each side of the doorway--each containing a plain shield,
over these a string course, then two rows of canopied niches, the upper
row consisting of twelve, the lower, owing to the doorway occupying the
central space, of only ten. The lower niches have pedestals, each formed
of four short columns with detached bases but with large capitals, which
meet one another above; these capitals are richly carved with foliage.
No doubt, on the level space thus formed statues at one time stood.
Woodwork screens with glazed doors and panels, made from an oak screen
which formerly was placed across the south transept, run across the
western ends of the choir aisles, so that when the doors of these and of
the rood screen are locked, the eastern arm of the cross is entirely
shut off from the rest of the church.

[Illustration: THE ROOD SCREEN.]

[Illustration: STALL SEAT. South Side.]

[Illustration: STALL SEAT. North Side.]

[Illustration: STALL SEAT. North Side.]

The #Choir# is entirely Perpendicular in character, and it seems to
have been begun in the time of Henry VI. but not to have been completed
until the time of Henry VII., and some of the carving of the stalls
is of still later date. Leland says of it, "Baldwin, Earl of Devon,
was the first founder, and his successors to the time of Isabella de
Fortibus,[5] and at present the Earls of Salisbury are regarded as
founders." Four large clerestory windows on either side light the choir.
The wall beneath these is continued downwards to the floor, but under
each window a low obtusely-pointed depressed archway is cut leading
into the aisles. Between the bottom of each clerestory window and the
heads of these arches the wall is panelled as with window mullions
and tracery, so that the appearance from the inner side may be best
understood by imagining that each window extended from floor to roof,
but that the upper part alone is glazed, the lower cut away for the arch
leading into the aisle, and the lower lights beneath the transom blocked
up with masonry. These lower arches are more or less blocked up.
The Salisbury chapel blocks up the north-eastern one completely; the
sedilia, no doubt, occupied the opposite one, where now a modern altar
tomb may be seen. The next on each side to the west is open, and flights
of steps under them lead down to the aisles; the woodwork at the back
of the choir stalls close the remaining two on the inside, and on the
outside chantry chapels, opening one into the north one into the south
aisle, stand under the second arch on each side counting from the rood
screen. The upper stalls number in all thirty-six, fifteen on either
side, and six with their backs to the rood screen. There is, also,
a lower range of stalls on the north and south. The prior's and
sub-prior's stalls on either side the doorway in the screen looking
east are canopied, as also is the precentor's at the east end of the
south side. The arms of the stalls are quaintly carved with various
grotesque figures, as are also the misereres; the upper parts of the
panels behind the upper stalls are also carved in low relief; above
these is a projecting cornice decorated with pinnacles. The stalls are
late Perpendicular work, the wainscoting behind the stalls being later
still, as we can see from the subjects carved on the upper part of each
panel. Some of the misereres are, however, very old--one dates back to
about 1200, another to 1300, others are of later date, and most of them
belong to the same period as the stalls. The older ones were found lying
about in the lumber of the church, and have been placed in recent years
in some of the stalls the seats of which had been lost or stolen.
The older seats may have belonged to the original Norman choir. As the
term "miserere" may not be understood by all our readers, it may be
well to quote from Parker's "Glossary of Architecture" the following
description:--"Miserere, Misericorde, Patience, or Pretella, is the
projecting bracket on the under-side of the seats of stalls in churches:
these, where perfect, are fixed with hinges so that they may be turned
up, and when this is done the projection of the miserere is sufficient,
without actually forming a seat, to afford very considerable rest to any
one leaning upon it. They were allowed as a relief to the infirm during
the long services that were required to be performed by ecclesiastics
in a standing posture. They are always more or less ornamented with
carvings of leaves, small figures, animals, etc., which are generally
very boldly cut. Examples are to be found in almost all ancient churches
which retain any of the ancient stalls--one of the oldest remaining
specimens is in Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster; it is in the style
of the thirteenth century." When Parker wrote the last sentence the
still older miserere now to be seen at Christchurch had not been

    [5] She lived in the latter half of the thirteenth century.

[Illustration: CHOIR STALLS.]

[Illustration: MISERERE ON STALL SEAT. (_Circa_ 1300.) NORTH SIDE.]

It is curious to notice the absence of reverence on the part of the
mediæval canons, according to our modern notions, that these quaint
carvings indicate. One might have expected that inside the church the
subjects would have always been of a sacred nature, rude perhaps, and
grotesque from their rudeness. Such carvings are found in many places,
but here at Christchurch we have satirical subjects, caricatures of
contemporaries, some indeed of so objectionable a character that they
have been removed of late years. A few examples of these carvings will
be given. On the arm of one of the stalls a fox is represented preaching
to a flock of geese, a cock acting as clerk. On one of the misereres we
have a pair of devils somewhat resembling monkeys tempting an angel, a
goose bringing an offering on a plate to a quaint figure, a man with
a hatchet employed in carving, a man with a hole in the back of his
garments fastened with a pin, besides various animals, fishes, mermaids,
and monsters. On the wainscoting we have the heads of Henry VII., Henry
VIII., Catharine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Cardinal Campeggio, the King of
Scots, and the Duchess of Burgundy, who assisted Perkin Warbeck in his
attempt to gain the crown of England, and two canons disputing over a
cup, which is placed between their faces. This last carving probably has
some reference to the granting of the cup to the laity in time of Henry

[Illustration: THE CHOIR.]

The vaulting of the choir is of a somewhat unusual character: the
pendants are especially worthy of notice. It is difficult to describe
the manner in which they are placed, but the illustration shows their
character and position. The short connecting ribs of the vaulting form
a stellated cross over the presbytery. Some colour may still be seen on
the carved work of this portion of the church, and the initials of
William Eyre, prior 1502-1520, appear on the bosses.

[Illustration: THE REREDOS.]

The east wall of the presbytery contains no window, but is occupied by
a beautiful stone reredos carved with a representation of the tree of
Jesse. It is divided into three tiers with five compartments in each,
the central one wider than the two on either side; the space above it
and beneath the vaulting is occupied by a wall, in which a doorway now
blocked up may be seen. The outer compartments of the lowest tier
contain doors leading to a platform behind the reredos; between them
stands an oak altar, the gift of A. N. Welby Pugin in 1831. Above the
altar in the central compartment Jesse lies asleep, on the left hand
David plays upon his harp, on the right sits Solomon deeply meditating.
Above Jesse we have in one carving an amalgamated representation of the
birth of Christ and the visit of the Wise Men. On the left hand sits the
Virgin Mary with her Child, fully clothed in a long garment, not wrapped
in swaddling clothes, standing in her lap; behind her stands a man,
probably Joseph; and before her kneels one of the Wise Men offering
his gift of gold in the form of a plain tankard; on the right behind
him stand his two fellows, one carrying a pot of myrrh, the other
a boat-shaped vessel, probably intended for a censer containing
frankincense. On a bracket above the head of the kneeling Wise Man,
the shepherds kneel in adoration; nor are the flocks that they were
tending forgotten, for several sheep may be seen on a hill-top above
their heads. Thirty-two small figures may be counted in niches in the
buttresses dividing the compartments; crockets, finials, and pinnacles
decorate the various canopies over the carvings. This reredos is
apparently of late Decorated date, and therefore earlier than the
fifteenth-century choir. Possibly it was an addition to the Norman choir
before this was removed to make room for the existing one. Mr Ferrey
was of opinion that it may have once stood across the nave between the
second piers from the east, thus forming a reredos for the western part
of the nave, which was used as the church of the parish. Below the
presbytery is a Norman crypt, now converted into a vault for the
Malmesbury family. It has already been mentioned that there are doors
on either side of the altar, leading to a kind of gallery or platform
behind the reredos; these were designed to allow certain ceremonial
compassings of the altar, and it is possible that steps led down from
the platform to the ambulatory. On the east side of these doorways
there are corbel heads under the arches, and the walls of the platform
are panelled. Within the altar rails is a slab bearing the name of
Baldwin IV., the seventh Earl of Devon. On the south side is the
monument of Lady Fitzharris, who died in 1815; it is a statue by Flaxman
representing the Lady teaching her two sons from the Bible. Farther to
the east is the altar tomb of the Countess of Malmesbury, who died in
1877, occupying the place of the sedilia; and on the north the exquisite
chantry of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, the last bearer of the royal
name of Plantagenet, whose tragic fate and horrible execution is one
of the foulest stains on the memory of Henry VIII. She was the daughter
of "false, fleeting, perjured Clarence" and of the kingmaker's eldest
daughter Isabella, and was mother of the celebrated Reginald Pole who,
being ordained deacon at the age of sixteen, was appointed Dean of
Wimborne a year later, and rose in time to the high rank of
Cardinal-Archbishop of Canterbury, and played an important part in
history in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Mary. She erected this lovely
chantry as her last resting-place, wishing to lie after her troublous
life in this quiet spot, but it was not so to be. Her son, by the
publication on the Continent of a violent attack on Henry VIII.,
incensed the king to such an extent that he laid his hands on all the
kindred of the Poles he could find in England; some were tried and
executed, others attainted without trial, among them the Countess of
Salisbury, who was at the time over seventy years of age. She refused to
lay her head upon the block, and the headsman hacked at her neck as she
stood erect; her body was not allowed to be buried in the chantry which
she had erected for herself,--so far did the spite of Henry go,--but she
lies among the ambitious and unfortunate, the aspiring, and unsuccessful
of many a sect and party in the cemetery of St Peter's Chapel in the
Tower. Hers was an ill-starred race. Her grandfather was slain at
Barnet, 1471; her father murdered by his brother Edward IV., 1478; her
own brother, the Earl of Warwick, imprisoned by Henry VII., and
subsequently beheaded on Tower Hill, 1499; her eldest son, Lord Montagu,
was executed for high treason; and Margaret herself met a like fate on
May 27, 1541.



Her chantry is built of Caen stone, and the decoration is of Renaissance
character. It is conjectured to be the work of the Florentine sculptor
Pietro Torrigiano, who died in the prison of the Inquisition in Spain in
1522. He was engaged on Henry VII.'s tomb in Westminster, and other
works ordered by Henry VIII. at Westminster and Windsor, from 1509 till
1517; and if this chantry at Christchurch is his design the date must
lie between these two years. Two four-light windows with battlemented
transoms look out on either side; to the west of these two doorways
lead, one to the presbytery the other to the north aisle; on the east
wall are three canopied niches, beneath which an altar stood or was
intended to stand; the ceiling is richly carved with fan traceries and
bosses; the latter have been mutilated--by order, it is said, of Henry
VIII. A letter from the King's Commissioner thus describes the work
done:--"In thys churche we founde a chaple and a monumet curiosly made
of cane stone p^rpared by the late mother of Raynolde Pole for herre
buriall, which we have causyd to be defaced and all the Armis and Badgis
to be delete." On the north side are twelve tabernacles. This chapel
stands on a richly carved panelled basement, and all the walls are
covered with minute carving; but here, as elsewhere, in late work we
find the same forms repeated again and again, and we miss that wealth
of fancy which gives each boss or capital carved by the earlier workers
such a life and individuality. The side of this chapel that faces the
north aisle is more elaborate than that facing the choir, and is
necessarily more lofty, as its base rests on the floor of the aisle,
which is lower than the floor of the presbytery. On the west face is
one of several memorial tablets to members of the Rose family, who are
buried in this aisle.

In the north choir aisle, at the western end, may be seen a kind of
small museum of fragments from various parts of the church, collected at
the time of the restoration, among them some bosses from the vaulting of
the south transept, destroyed about a hundred years ago, and fragments
of a Norman font. The vaulting of this and the corresponding aisle on
the south side is of the same character as that of the choir, but is
somewhat plainer, and is not decorated with crosses or pendants.
On the south side of this aisle is a late Perpendicular chantry, built
in accordance with the will of Sir William Berkeley, dated 1486, to
commemorate himself and his wife. Part of the inscription ... ARMIGERI
MARGARETE QUE CONSOR ... can still be read on the frieze; on its flat
ceiling are painted two large roses, one white, one red; it contains two
brackets for cruets; over the entrance to it is placed an oval memorial
tablet to one John Cook, who died in 1787. Eastward of this is the
Salisbury chapel already described. On the north wall of the aisle is a
monument, consisting of an altar-tomb with a front of carved quatrefoils
and a purbeck slab, dating about 1550. The canopy over it is later, and
the coat of arms beneath it is that of Robert White of Hadlow, Kent, who
is commemorated on a board at the west end of the church as a benefactor
who left £100 in land for the poor in 1619, thus fixing the date of this
portion of the tomb. The scroll beneath the arms has the initials R. W.,
and the motto "Suffer in Tym." A chantry is formed at the eastern end of
the aisle by the western end of the north wall of the Lady Chapel. It
contains an altar tomb with the recumbent figures of Sir John Chidioke,
a Dorset knight, slain in 1449 in the Wars of the Roses, and his wife.
This monument has occupied its present position only from 1791,--it
previously stood in the north transept.

[Illustration: THE DRAPER CHANTRY.]

The east end of the south choir aisle is occupied by the chantry chapel
of John Draper II., the last of the priors and titular bishop of
Neapolis in Palestine, near the ancient Shechem in Samaria; it is dated
1529, and is formed by a screen of Caen stone stretching across the
aisle. There is a central doorway with a depressed arch at the top, and
canopied niches over it, and on either side are two transomed four-light
unglazed windows under arches of the same character as that over the
doorway; along the top of the screen runs a battlemented parapet. Within
the chantry, on the south wall, is a very beautiful piscina, the finest
in the church. Just outside the screen is a square-headed doorway.
Along the south wall of this aisle, as along the north wall of the
corresponding north aisle, a stone bench-table runs. On the north side
the panelled wall on which the Countess of Malmesbury's altar tomb
stands is decorated with carvings of angels; the largest of these holds
a shield with a death's-head. Farther to the west, beyond the steps
leading down from the choir, is a Perpendicular chantry, known as the
Harys chantry; it has open tracery above cusped panels, canopied niches,
and a panelled bench table. Robert Harys was rector of Shrowston, and
died in 1525; his rebus, a hare under the letter R, may be seen on the
panels. On the opposite side of the aisle is the doorway leading into
what is known as the #sacristy#. This is a thirteenth-century addition
to the church, and is of irregular shape, as it is wedged in, as it
were, between the apsidal chapel on the east side of the transept and
the south wall of the choir aisle. In the south wall are triple sedilia
with Purbeck shafts and foliated heads; in the north wall is a square
opening or squint.


[Illustration: THE SACRISTY.]

Behind the reredos is an ambulatory or processional path; from this may
be seen, over the archway leading into the south aisle, the end of the
"miraculous beam," lengthened, according to the legend, by Christ, when
He appeared as a workman and took part in the building of the original
church. How this came to be preserved, and how it came to occupy a
position amidst the latest work in the church, is not recorded. The Lady
Chapel is very beautiful Perpendicular work; it had its own altar and
reredos under the east window. The reredos is much mutilated, but
besides the part that is still attached to the wall, there are many
loose fragments now set up on the altar. This is a slab of Purbeck
stone, 11 ft. in length and 3 ft. 10 ins in breadth. On the north and
south sides of the altar are the tombs of Thomas, Lord West, and Lady
Alice West, his mother. These tombs are of Purbeck marble and of a form
by no means uncommon in the churches of Wessex. The ten shafts
supporting the canopy of the tomb on the north still remain; from the
other tomb such shafts as it had have disappeared. Thomas, Lord West,
died in 1406, his mother in 1395: these dates fix within reasonable
limits the date of the building of the Lady Chapel. Thomas West, in his
will, directs that his body should be buried in the "_New_ Chapel of Our
Lady in the Mynster of Christchurch." It is noteworthy to remark that
the original arcading is cut away to make room for this monument, so
that the chapel had been finished before he died. Both Sir Thomas West
and his mother were benefactors to the church. Besides other bequests of
money towards the building fund and for perpetual masses, each of them
gave about £18 for the singing of 4500 masses within six months of the
day of their deaths. On the south side of the chapel is the original
doorway leading into the canons' burial-ground; a corresponding door is
to be seen on the north side. The splays of the arches of the windows
are elaborately ornamented with panelling. The arcading under the
window, a series of ogee arches, is worthy of notice. The tattered
colours of the "Loyal Christchurch Volunteers," one of the earliest
regiments of volunteers, which was enrolled in 1793, hang at the
entrance to the Lady Chapel. The vaulting is of the same character as
that of the choir, with curious pendants in the form of church lanterns.

[Illustration: THE MIRACULOUS BEAM.]


[Illustration: THE LADY CHAPEL.]

[Illustration: ST MICHAEL'S LOFT.]

#St Michael's Loft# is reached by long flights of steps running up the
turrets described in the last chapter. It is a plain, low room with a
low-pitched tie-beam roof of oak. It was once a chapel, as the piscina
in the east wall clearly shows. The site of the altar is now occupied by
a disused desk of the character familiar to us in our own school days
some half-a-century ago; it is a sort of pew with doors, within which
the master sat enthroned and ramparted. This room was used as a public
grammar school from 1662 till 1828, and subsequently as a private
school, which was finally closed in 1869. The boys went to this school
and returned from it by the staircase on the north side which has an
entrance from the churchyard; the stairs on the south side were used
when anyone had occasion to go into the church or to go from it to the
room above.

An upper chamber or chapel is an uncommon feature in England. Remains of
staircases give rise to the conjecture that there was a similar chapel
over the Lady Chapel at Chester, and somewhat similar erections are to
be met with on the Continent; but Christchurch Priory is unique in
possessing such a perfect specimen. The dedication of the upper storey
to St Michael, the conductor of souls to Paradise, is appropriate.
Churches built in elevated positions were frequently dedicated to him,
and few if any mediæval churches dedicated to this archangel are to be
met with on low-lying ground.

Under the western tower stands a modern font. The fragments of a
Norman font, with carvings representing various incidents in the
life of Christ, may be seen, preserved in the north choir aisle. The
fifteenth-century successor has been removed to Bransgore Church, four
miles off.

Against the north wall of the tower stands the monument of the poet
Shelley, the work of the sculptor Weekes. Needless to say, it is but
a cenotaph. The "heart of hearts," "Cor Cordium," and the ashes of the
poet cremated on the Tuscan shore, lie far away, hard by the pyramid
of Caius Cestius, in the grave where the loving hands of Trelawney laid
them in 1823. Here we have an ideal representation of the finding of the
drowned body--not a pleasing one, but less ghastly than the reality; and
below the inscription which tells his name and the number of his years
and the manner of his death, the following stanza from his own "Adonais"
may be read:--

   "He hath out-soared the shadow of our night:
    Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
    And that unrest which men miscall delight,
    Can touch him not and torture not again;
    From the contagion of the world's slow stain
    He is secure, and now can never mourn
    A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain,
    Nor, when the spirit's self has ceased to burn
    With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn."

The choice of Christchurch Priory as the site for this monument was due
to the fact that the poet's son, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, who erected
it, lived at Boscombe Manor, between Christchurch and Bournemouth.

The tower contains a peal of eight bells. These are all old; the fifth
and sixth bells have fourteenth-century inscriptions round their crowns,
the others appear to have been cast early in the fifteenth century.




   1. Ralf Flambard, afterwards Bishop of Durham.
   2. Godric.
   3. Gilbert de Dousgunels.
   4. Peter de Oglander.
   5. Randulphus.
   6. Hilary, afterwards Bishop of Chichester.


   1. Reginald, 1150.
   2. Ralph.
   3. Peter, 1195. He built the clerestory and carried out other Early
      English work.
   4. Roger, 1225.
   5. Richard.
   6. Nicholas de Wareham.
   7. Nicholas de Sturminster.
   8. John de Abingdon, 1272.
   9. William de Netheravon, 1278.
  10. Richard Maury, 1286.
  11. William Quenton, 1302.
  12. Walter Tholveshide, 1317.
  13. Edmund de Ramsbury, 1323. During his time Bishop Stratford's
      Injunctions were issued, 1325. See page 129.
  14. Richard de Queteshorne, 1337.
  15. Robert de Leyghe, 1340.
  16. William Tyrewache, 1345.
  17. Henry Eyre, 1357. He became blind in 1367 and was allowed a
  18. John Wodenham, 1376.
  19. John Borard, 1398. During his time Archbishop Arundel issued
      Injunctions, 1404. See page 130.
  20. Thomas Talbot, 1413.
  21. John Wimborne, 1420.
  22. William Norton.
  23. John Dorchester.
  24. John Draper I., 1477. Bishop Langton's Injunctions were issued
      during his tenure of the priory.
  25. William Eyre, 1502. During his time the choir was completed.
  26. John Draper II. He surrendered the priory to Henry VIII.'s
      commissioners, 1539, and was allowed to retain Somerford Grange
      for life, and received a pension of £133, 6s. 8d. He died in
      1552, and was buried in the nave near the entrance to the choir.


By the council of Arles 1261, religious orders that held parish churches
were bound to supply vicars to officiate. These were appointed by the
canons, and were taken from their own body.

The names of many of these are known. The 13th was Robert Harys, whose
chantry stands in the south choir aisle; he died in 1325. In the time of
the 15th, William Trapnell, the church was granted by Henry VIII. to the
parishioners, 32nd year of Henry VIII. In the time of the 17th, Robert
Newman, an inventory of the property was made by order of Edward VI.'s
commissioner. John Imber, the 21st vicar, was expelled by the Parliament
from 1647-1660, but was restored to his preferment in the same year as
Charles II. gained the throne. The present vicar is the 32nd.


1. Every canon save the seneschal and cellarer must attend Matins, High
Mass, and the Hours. The seneschal, if present in the priory for two
nights together, must attend one Matins, and the cellarer must be
present at service on alternate nights at least.

2. Six canons must be enrolled for celebrating Our Lady's Mass; the
prior must celebrate on all great feasts at High Mass, and on Saturdays
at Our Lady's Mass, and must wear a surplice not a rochet.

3. Canons in priests' orders must celebrate daily, those who are not
must repeat eleven Psalms with a Litany or Psalter of Our Lady every

4. Four confessors must be appointed to hear the confessions of the

5. Latin or French must be the languages spoken.

6. No one save the prior or officers, without special leave, must ride
or leave the Priory.

7. Two-thirds of the canons must dine daily in the refectory; the door
must be kept by a secular watchman whose duty it is to remove servants
and idle people from the door during dinner; the almoner must prevent
any canon carrying his commons to the laundry-people or people of the

8. All the canons must sleep in the dormitory, each in his own bed.

9. The infirmary must be visited daily by the prior or sub-prior.

10. Two canons must act as treasurers, and a yearly account must be

11. The common seal must be kept under four locks, and documents sealed
in full chapter, not as heretofore during Mass.

12. Canons must not play at chess or draughts, nor keep hounds or arms
(save in the custody of the prior), nor have a servant (save when on a
journey), nor write nor receive letters without leave. The prior may
keep hounds outside the priory buildings.


No. 1. Ordered the destruction of an old hall and an adjoining chamber
known as the sub-prior's hall after the departure of Sir Thomas West its
then occupier, as noblemen were in the habit of occupying it to the
great disturbance of the order and the keeping open of gates which ought
to be closed.

No. 2. Enjoined the building of a house for the proecentor, and a new
chamber for the sick.

No. 3. Ordered the setting apart of a chamber for recreation apart from
the infirmary (it may be supposed that the canons during recreation
hours were noisy, thereby disturbing the sick).

No. 4. Directed the provision of separate studies for the canons. It
would appear that nobles, such as the Montacutes and Wests, put the
priory to such great expense by taking up their abode, together with
their retainers, in the domestic part of the buildings.


Very little of the castle erected by Richard de Redvers, who died in
1137, remains; but on an artificial mound at no great distance to the
north of the Priory Church stand fragments of the east and west walls of
the square Norman keep, about 20 feet high and 10 feet thick. The castle
belonged to the De Redvers, Earls of Devon, till they were alienated to
the crown in the 9th year of Edward I. (1280), the last earl having died
in 1263, though the last female descendant lived till 1293. In 1331,
Edward III. granted the castle and land to William de Montacute, Earl of
Salisbury; after the execution of John de Montacute in 1400 for the part
he took in the plots against the new king, Henry IV., Sir Thomas West,
who lies buried in the Lady Chapel, was appointed constable. He died in
1405, then Thomas, Earl of Salisbury, held the castle till 1428. After
this it was held by various persons, and we find a constable of the
Lordship of Christchurch as late as 1656. The manor held by the De
Redvers, and then by the Montacutes, passed through various hands. Among
the holders we may notice the Nevilles, hence the connection with the
Priory of the ill-fated Margaret, the kingmaker's granddaughter, who was
Countess of Salisbury in her own right, the Earl of Clarendon, Sir
George Rose, and the present owner, the Earl of Malmesbury, who obtained
it in 1862.

In early days the bailiff of the de Redvers regulated all markets,
fairs, tolls, and fines, and had the right of preemption and sat as
judge in the tenants' court. Edward I. relieved the burgesses of
Christchurch from all arbitrary exactions, and established a fixed
fee-farm rent instead. The castle was taken for the Parliament by Sir
William Waller with 300 men on April 7, 1644.

A little to the north-east of the castle stand the remains of one of
the few Norman houses that have come down to the present time. It is
thus described in the first volume of "The Domestic Architecture of the
Middle Ages" by Turner and Parker, pp. 38, 39. This volume was published
in 1851. "At Christchurch, in Hampshire, is the ruin of a Norman house,
rather late in the style, with good windows of two lights and a round
chimney shaft.[6] The plan, as before, is a simple oblong; the principal
room appears to have been on the first floor. It is situated on the bank
of the river near to the church, and still more close to the mound,
which is said to have been the keep of the castle; being between that
and the river, it could not well have been placed in a situation of
greater security. Whether it formed part of another series of buildings
or not, it was a perfect house in itself, and its character is strictly
domestic. It is about seventy feet long, and twenty-four broad, its
walls, like those of the keep, being exceedingly thick. On the ground
floor are a number of loop-holes: the ascent to the upper storey was by
a stone staircase, part of which remains; the ground floor was divided
by a wall, but the upper storey seems to have been a long room, lighted
by three double windows on each side; near the centre of the east wall,
next the river, is a large fireplace, to which the round chimney before
mentioned belongs. At the north end, there appears to have been a large
and handsome window of which part of the arch and shafts remain, and
there is a small circular window in the south gable. From what remains
of the ornamental part of this building, it appears to have been
elegantly finished and cased with squared stones, most of which are,
however, now taken away. There is a small projecting tower, calculated
for a flank, under which the water runs; it has loopholes both on the
north and east fronts, these walls are extremely thick. By the ruins of
several walls, there were some ancient buildings at right angles to this
hall, stretching away towards the keep. This was probably part of the
residence of Baldwin de Redvers, Earl of Devon, to whom the manor of
Christchurch belonged about the middle of the twelfth century."[7]

    [6] Since rebuilt.

    [7] Grove's "Antiquities," vol. ii. p. 178.


This building is much overgrown with ivy, which by a comparison of the
illustration given in the work just quoted with its present condition,
as represented in the photograph here reproduced, has increased
considerably during the last fifty years. It is due to the memory of the
Rev. William Jackson, who was vicar of Christchurch from 1778 to 1802,
that it should be recorded that he saved this valuable relic of Norman
domestic architecture from destruction. He was evidently imbued with a
spirit of love for antiquity by no means common a hundred years ago, and
far too rare even at the present day.


  Extreme length                       311 feet.
  Length of Nave                       118  "    9 inches.
  Width of Nave                         58  "    5    "
  Height of Nave                        58  "
  Length of Transept                   101  "    2    "
  Width of Transept                     24  "    4    "
  Length of Choir                       70  "
  Width of Choir with Aisles            60  "    6    "
  Height of Choir                       63  "
  Length of side of Tower, E. to W.     27  "    9    "
    "        "        "    N. to S.     22  "    4    "
  Height of Tower                      120  "
  Length of Lady Chapel                 36  "    4    "
  Width of Lady Chapel                  21  "    1    "
  Length of St Michael's Loft           58  "    3    "
  Width of St Michael's Loft            19  "    7    "

  AREA                              18,300 sq. feet.




       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

  Page  5: "commemerated" corrected to "commemorated."

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