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Title: Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Wells - A Description of Its Fabric and a Brief History of the Episcopal See
Author: Dearmer, Percy, 1867-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Wells Cathedral From St. Andrews Spring.]



              EPISCOPAL SEE

                  BY THE

     [Illustration: Arms of the See]



       _First Published October 1898_
     _Second Edition revised October 1899_

          W.H. WHITE AND CO. LTD.



This series of monographs has been planned to supply visitors to the
great English Cathedrals with accurate and well illustrated
guide-books at a popular price. The aim of each writer has been to
produce a work compiled with sufficient knowledge and scholarship to
be of value to the student of Archæology and History, and yet not too
technical in language for the use of an ordinary visitor or tourist.

To specify all the authorities which have been made use of in each
case would be difficult and tedious in this place. But amongst the
general sources of information which have been almost invariably found
useful are:--(1) the great county histories, the value of which,
especially in questions of genealogy and local records, is generally
recognised; (2) the numerous papers by experts which appear from time
to time in the Transactions of the Antiquarian and Archaeological
Societies; (3) the important documents made accessible in the series
issued by the Master of the Rolls; (4) the well-known works of Britton
and Willis on the English Cathedrals; and (5) the very excellent
series of Handbooks to the Cathedrals originated by the late Mr John
Murray; to which the reader may in most cases be referred for fuller
detail, especially in reference to the histories of the respective

                               GLEESON WHITE,
                               E.F. STRANGE,
                                 _Editors of the Series_


The writer about cathedrals nowadays is one who, reaping where he has
not sown, and gathering where he has not strawed, is indebted for most
that he says to the patient labours of other and wiser men. Nowhere
does one feel this more than at Wells. The admirable Somerset
Archaeological Society has gone on accumulating information about the
cathedral for more years than the present writer has lived. Professor
Freeman produced twenty-eight years ago, in his "History of the
Cathedral Church of Wells," a little book which has since been a model
for all works of the kind, and of which one can still say that no one
can understand all that is contained in the word "cathedral" unless he
has read it. Yet since that book was written much fresh material has
been discovered, and the theories then held as to the building of the
cathedral have been in great measure disproved. To Canon C.M. Church,
in his "Chapters in the Early History of Wells," and his papers read
before the Somerset Society, we are indebted for most valuable
statements of the new historical discoveries, and to his untiring
kindness I am myself beholden to a greater extent than I can express.

Wells so abounds in interesting detail, that the exigencies of space
have made it necessary to curtail the last chapter, which contains the
history of the diocese; a good deal of interesting matter has thus
been cut from my original MS. of this chapter, and many bishops have
been dismissed more summarily than they deserve. The need of dealing
properly with the cathedral itself must be my apology for the baldness
of this last chapter as it now stands. Those who desire a further
acquaintance with the history of the diocese cannot do better than
consult Mr Hunt's "Bath and Wells," in the excellent Diocesan
Histories series of the Society for the Promotion of Christian

To many other writers on the Cathedral Church of Wells,
acknowledgments and references will be found scattered throughout the
present volume. I must also express my thanks to Mr Philips, and
Messrs Dawkes & Partridge of Wells, for permission to reproduce their
photographs, and to Mr W. Heywood and Mr H.P. Clifford for their



CHAPTER I.--History of the Church                       3

CHAPTER II.--Exterior                                  20
   West Front                                          21
   Statuary, Central Doorway, the Tiers                30
   Western Towers                                      44
   Central Tower                                       47
   North Porch                                         47
   North Transept                                      51
   Walls, Parapet                                      52
   Chain Gate                                          52
   Chapter-House                                       54
   From the South-East                                 55
   Cloister                                            58
   Library                                             63
   Museum                                              64
   Vicar's Close                                       66
   Bishop's Palace, Great Hall, Barn                   67
   Deanery, Archdeaconry, etc., St. Cuthbert's         70

CHAPTER III.--Interior                                 73
   Nave, etc.                                          77
       Capitals                                        79
       Glass                                           84
   Bubwith's Chapel                                    85
   Sugar's Chapel                                      86
   Pulpit, Lectern                                     87
   Transepts                                           89
      Capitals                                         89
      Font, Monuments                                  95
   Transepts Chapels--St. Martin, St. Calixtus,
        St. David, Holy Cross                          98
   Clock                                              105
   Inverted Arches                                    107
   Tower, Screen, Organ                               110
   Choir                                              113
      Misericords, Glass                              120
   Choir Aisles, Monuments                            123
   Eastern Transepts, Monuments                       124
   Procession Path                                    128
   Glass in Choir Aisles and Chapels                  130
   Lady Chapel, Glass                                 133
   Chapter-House Staircase                            134
   Chapter-House                                      137
   Undercroft                                         141

CHAPTER IV.--History of the Diocese and Foundation    147


Wells Cathedral from St. Andrew's Spring              _Frontispiece_
Arms of the See                                              _Title_
The Cathedral from the South-East                                2
The Cathedral in the Seventeenth Century                        15
South Aisle of Nave                                             19
West Front--Bishop of Aethelhelm                                22
The West Front                                                  23
Ornaments in the West Front                                 28, 29
West Front--Christina                                           31
The Central Tower from the South-East                           45
The North Porch                                                 49
The Bishop's Eye                                                53
Doorway, South-East of Cloister                                 58
East Walk of Cloister                                           59
The Chain Gate, Entrance to Close, 1824                         65
The Bishop's Palace                                             68
The Nave                                                        75
A Capital--The Fruit-stealer's Punishment                       79
A Capital--Toothache                                            81
Specimens of Capitals                         82, 83, 84, 148, 149
View across Nave, showing Sugar's and Bubwith's Chapels         85
Sugar's Chapel--The Lectern and Pulpit                          88
Section of North Transept, and Elevation of South Transept      90
Capitals in Transept                                            92
The South Transept, from North Side of Nave                     93
The Font                                                        95
The Annunciation--Husse's Tomb                                 101
Priest in Surplice--Husse's Tomb                               102
The East End in 1823                                           103
The Inverted Arches                                            109
Choir, looking West                                            111
Choir, looking East                                            115
Procession Path and Lady Chapel                                129
Steps Of Chapter-house Vestibule And Passage Over Chain Gate   135
Chapter-House--Doorway                                         138
Chapter-House--Interior                                        139
Chapter-House--Vault                                           141
Chapter-House--Undercroft                                 142, 143
Section of Chapter-House                                       145
PLAN                                                           160

[Illustration: Wells From The South-East.]




"The Gothic Cathedral," wrote Froude, an author who held no brief for
the Gothic period, "is perhaps, on the whole, the most magnificent
creation which the mind of man has as yet thrown out." The Cathedral
Church of Wells, wrote Froude's predecessor in the same historical
chair, is "the best example to be found in the whole world of a
secular church, with its subordinate buildings." "There is no other
place," Professor Freeman went on to say, "where you can see so many
of the ancient buildings still standing, and still put to their own
use." And surely there is no place better fitted to be their home than
this beautiful old city of Wells, set in the midst of the fair western
country, the land of Avalon and Camelot, of Athelney and Wedmore.

This unique group of buildings does not, however, take us back earlier
than the close of the Norman period. Of what existed before, we have
but scant evidence. Tradition says that King Ina had, about the year
705, founded at Wells a college of secular priests, and therefore a
church of some sort. And when King Eadward the Elder, taking advantage
of the peace which his father Alfred had secured, fixed, in 909, the
new Somersetshire see by the fountain of St. Andrew at Wells, he seems
to have chosen that little city because there already existed therein
a church, large enough to serve as a cathedral in those times, and
tended already by a body of secular canons. Now that the ancient
church of St. Andrew was raised to this new dignity, it was probably
in the tenth century rebuilt in stone, with plain round-headed
windows, and perhaps a small unbuttressed tower to hold the bells;
for, when Giso became bishop in the next century (1061-1088), he
erected a whole cluster of quasi-conventual buildings, but we are not
told that he found it necessary to rebuild the church, although he
complained that he found it mean and its revenues small. Indeed, the
fact that Giso was buried under an arch in the wall on the north side
of the high altar, as his predecessor Duduc had been buried on the
south side, shows that he had not rebuilt the church.

On Giso's death, John de Villula at once swept away his buildings, and
set up a bishop's house on their site. John, however, made Bath his
cathedral church, and suffered the church of Wells to fall into the
decay from which it was rescued by the first "Maker of Wells," Bishop
Robert of Lewes.

The active episcopate of Robert of Lewes (1136-66) was as important an
era in the history of the church as in that of the chapter. In spite
of the anarchy of Stephen's reign, Robert set steadily to work; and,
while the neighbouring barons were battering each other's castles, the
bishop reared the first great cathedral church of Wells. How much of
the old Saxon building he left we cannot tell; but it was in a ruinous
condition, and he may have pulled it completely down, or he may have
left one part for later builders to deal with. In 1148 his new Norman
church was consecrated, a massive round-arched building, its nave
perhaps as large as the present one, and its choir under the tower
with a small presbytery beyond. This date may be taken as the
beginning of the present cathedral; for all the succeeding
reconstructions followed the lines of Bishop Robert's church. Yet the
Norman work has disappeared almost as completely as the Saxon, and the
font is the only object which can be claimed as undoubtedly
Romanesque. Of distinctly Norman mouldings there are none in the
church, and only a few fragments in other places. Seldom has one of
those strong Norman buildings so utterly vanished from sight. But many
stones dressed in the Norman fashion can still be traced by the expert
in the eastern part of the church (p. 74), having been no doubt used
up again by the later workmen; and there may be masses of undisturbed
masonry hidden in the walls.

Bishop Robert, as we know from one of his charters, did something also
for the order of his church. Mammon had gradually encroached upon the
sacred precincts, and the markets had come to be held in the
"vestibule," and in the church itself; the busy hum of the buyers and
sellers marred the quiet of God's house, and disturbed the people at
their devotions. Strong measures were necessary, and the bishop
ordered the market to be held at some distance from the church, while
at the same time, as an act of grace, he remitted the tolls that were
due to him as lord of the manor. Thus did he lay the foundation of the
liberties of Wells city while securing the sanctity of Wells

According to Bishop Godwin (1616), and the anonymous fifteenth century
MSS., called in Wharton's _Anglia Sacra_ the "Canon of Wells," there
was a blank in the history of the church between Bishop Robert, who
consecrated the Norman building in 1148, and Bishop Jocelin, whose
episcopate lasted from 1206 to 1242. Godwin, who exaggerated a passage
from the "Canon of Wells" (which that writer had produced by
exaggerating a single sentence of a preamble of Jocelin, p. 7),
declared that Jocelin found the church "as ready to fall," and "pulled
down the greatest part of it, to witte, the west ende, and built it
anew from the very foundation." This became the accepted view. But the
documents recently brought to light through the labours of those who
unearthed and deciphered the MSS. in possession of the chapter, have
proved that the energetic Bishop Reginald, so far from letting the
church go into ruin during his episcopate (1174-1191), did in reality
rebuild it himself. Much travelled, conversant with all kinds of
churches and cities in an age of great building operations, he was not
the sort of man to neglect his cathedral. And, as a matter of fact, he
is proved to have begun the present church by a charter recently
found, which is of a date prior to 1180, and therefore belongs to the
early years of his episcopate. In this important document, recognising
his duty to provide "that the honour due to God should not be
tarnished by the squalor of His house," he arranges in full chapter
for a munificent grant in support of the fabric, until the work be
finished[1]. Another charter of Reginald's time, which conveys a
private gift to the church, alludes to "the admirable structure of the
rising church," thus testifying to the successful progress of the
bishop's plan during his own lifetime. The part which he built, there
can be little doubt, included the three western bays of the choir
(which then formed the presbytery), the transepts, north porch, and
the eastern bays of the nave. That is to say, on entering the church
one is looking upon Reginald's work, and not Jocelin's; for, although
the rest of the nave was completed by Jocelin, it was done in
accordance with Reginald's original plan.

It is of great importance to remember this fact, since until recently
the nave, with the other parts just mentioned, was attributed by
Professor Willis, Professor Freeman, and most authorities to Jocelin.
Willis, indeed, bowed to what was then thought to be documentary
evidence against his own judgment; for he declared the work to be of a
style much earlier than that of Jocelin's time (p. 73). Now we know
almost to a certainty that the bulk of the cathedral belongs neither
to the late Norman period of Robert, nor to the Early English of
Jocelin, but to the period just between the two, that of Reginald de

During the episcopate of Reginald's immediate successor Savaric
(1192-1205), something further may have been done to the nave. But
there was small opportunity for church building during this bishop's
wandering and litigious life; and all we know for certain is that,
owing no doubt to the civil war, the intolerable exactions of papal
legates, and the quarrel with Glastonbury, the cathedral church of
Wells had fallen into a state of dilapidation when Jocelin became
bishop in 1206; and that it remained in this condition till King John
was dead: for Jocelin was an exile abroad, the property of the see was
confiscated, and its income paid yearly into the king's purse.

From the year 1218, when the land was again at peace, and a profitable
arrangement had been come to with the monks of Glastonbury, Jocelin
devoted himself to the fabric and chapter of Wells, up to the year of
his death in 1242. Grants of money and of timber, which are extant,
show that by 1220 the work was recommenced, and that it was in
progress in 1225. By 1239 the church was sufficiently advanced to be

Jocelin and his brother Hugh (afterwards Bishop of Lincoln) were
natives of the city they loved so well. They had both lived through
Reginald's episcopate--Jocelin as canon and Hugh as archdeacon of
Wells. After, when they rose to high positions as judges, and became
honourably rich, Hugh, who built much in Lincoln Cathedral, gave
largely of his great wealth to Jocelin for Wells, and Jocelin himself
spent all that he had upon the place where he had been brought up from

Thus Jocelin was in a real sense a "maker of Wells." But he was not
the only maker, for he must share the honour with two other master
builders--Robert, whose work is entirely gone, and Reginald, whose
work remains. He did not, as Godwin led us to suppose, pull down and
rebuild the whole church. But he loyally carried on the work of his
predecessor, and he executed the great work which has been always
rightly attributed to him, the present west front; this he joined to
Reginald's unfinished nave by building the three western bays in
strict accordance with the earlier style. The front belongs to the
fully-developed Early English style in which Salisbury is built,
agreeing exactly with the date of the consecration of the church by
Jocelin in 1239,--as was pointed out by Professor Willis, who was
puzzled by the great difference in its style from that of the nave,
which was then thought to belong to the same period. We know that
Jocelin was a frequent visitor to Salisbury while Bishop Poore was
building it; and thus all the lines of evidence combine to support the
unshaken tradition that Jocelin was the author of the west front.

A month before his death in 1242, Jocelin de Wells put forth a charter
for the increased endowment of the cathedral staff; and it was because
of a few chance words in the preamble that he came to be credited with
the construction of the whole. Having found the church in danger of
ruin, runs the passage, by reason of its age _aedificare coepimus et
ampliare--in qua adeo profecimus--quod ipsam consecravimus_. This,
which need mean nothing more than extensive building operations, is
the sole foundation for the tradition that Jocelin pulled down the old
church and built a new one.

The condition of the church at the end of the thirteenth century is
thus described by Professor Freeman[2]:

"By the end of the thirteenth century we may look upon the church of
Wells as at last finished. It still lacked much of that perfection of
outline which now belongs to it, and which the next age was finally to
give to it. Many among that matchless group of surrounding buildings
which give Wells its chief charm, had not yet arisen. The church
itself, with its unfinished towers, must have had a dwarfed and
stunted look from every point. The Lady Chapel had not yet been
reared, with its apse alike to contrast with the great window of the
square presbytery above it, and to group in harmony with the more
lofty chapter-house of its own form. The cloister was still of wood.
The palace was still undefended by wall or moat. The Vicars' Close and
its chain-bridge had not yet been dreamt of. Still, the church, alike
in its fabric and its constitution, may be looked on as having by this
time been brought to perfection ... The nave, recast in forms of art
such as Ina and Eadward, such as Gisa and Robert, had never dreamed
of, with the long range of its arcades and the soaring sweep of its
newly-vaulted roof, stood, perfect from western door to rood-loft,
ever ready, ever open, to welcome worshippers from city and village,
from hill and combe and moor, in every corner of the land which looked
to Saint Andrew's as its mother church. The choir, the stalls of the
canons, the throne of the Bishop, were still confined within the
narrow space of the crossing; but that narrow space itself gave them a
dignity which they lost in later arrangements. For the central
lantern, not yet driven to lean on ungainly props, with the rich
arcades of its upper stages still open to view, still rose, in all the
simple majesty of its four mighty arches, as the noblest of canopies
over the choir below."

"The eastern ending of the presbytery was," Mr Freeman proceeds, "rich
with the best detail of the thirteenth century, as can be learnt from
the fragments built up in the chapel of the Vicars' Close, and lying
about in the undercroft of the chapter-house, which are in the full
Early English style of the west front. The existing choir aisle walls
prove that a procession-path ran behind the high altar, with most
likely a chapel beyond it."

"The thirteenth century," he concludes, "had done its great creative
work, and had left to future ages only to improve and develop
according to the principles which the thirteenth century had laid
down. That is to say, the thirteenth century had done for the local
church of Wells what it did for England, what it did for Europe, and
for the world."

The choir, however, was not so cramped as Mr Freeman thought, for it
included one bay of the nave, as we now know from a notice of the
making of Haselshaw's tomb, which was dug at the entrance to the
choir; and, indeed, the marks where the screen was fixed are still
visible on the piers at this point. From the top of the screen the
great rood looked down the nave, and on each side of the doorway stood
an altar, that on the north dedicated to Our Lady, that on the south
to St. Andrew. The aisles of the choir were also screened off from the
nave, and outside their gates were two more altars--St. Saviour's on
the north, and St. Edmund's on the south. Thus the nave, where men
were ever coming and going, walking and talking, and in laxer times
buying and selling as well, was quite shut off from the more sacred
places. Yet here, too, were altars and shrines, and here came the
processions on Sundays and holidays.

Within the choir the chapter said their offices, the dean and
precentor facing east in their returned stalls, and the other
dignitaries in their allotted places, with the junior canons, vicars,
and those in minor orders below them, and the boys on the lowest forms
of all. Just beyond these stalls was the bishop's throne; and east of
the tower the presbytery stood open, with the tombs of the early
bishops, on either side, under the arches. The rest of the space
enclosed within the screen belonged more especially to the clergy; the
north transept was probably used as a chapter-house, when the
undercroft was yet unfinished, and its western aisle was used as the
chapter library. The chamber leading to the undercroft was the vestry,
and the stout walls of the octagon, when it was finished, protected
the vestments and treasures of the cathedral.

It is worth while to call to mind the kind of service for which the
church was built, with its aisles and chapels and screen. The usual
Sunday procession started from the north door of the presbytery,
preceded by two thurifers with censers, went round behind the
presbytery, the priest in his cope asperging the altars on his way,
then down the south choir aisle, and through the south transept into
the cloister. In the cloister-cemetery, the priest, with his
ministers, said the prayers for the dead, and then rejoined the
procession in the cloister Lady Chapel, where the first station was
made. Thence the procession returned to the great rood in the nave,
and there made the second station, the bidding-prayer being given out
to the people from the rood-screen, after which it re-entered the
choir. But on special occasions the ritual was increased; as, for
instance, at the procession of palms on Palm Sunday, or the Corpus
Christi Day procession, which is thus described by Mr J.D.
Chambers[3]: "The procession, some time before the mass, should
assemble in order at the step of the Choir (_i.e._ in the Presbytery),
a priest in Albe and silk Cope carrying the Corpus Christi in a
tabernacle or feretory under a canopy of silk raised over him and it
on four staves, borne by four clerks in Albes and Tunicles, with
lighted tapers. It should go out of the Choir down the Nave, and out
at the West Door of the Church, round the Church and Cloisters as on
Ascension Day"--_i.e._ round the outside of the whole church,
beginning with the north side and returning round the east end, and
through the cloister to the west door again, and thus back into the
nave. The colours of the vestments at Wells followed in the main the
custom of the neighbouring diocese of Sarum, but with some local
variations, such as are set down in the _Consuetudinary_ which
Archbishop Laud had copied from the late thirteenth-century MS. Indigo
and white were used on St. John's Day and on the Dedication Festival;
in Advent, indigo; at Passiontide, red, and on Palm Sunday, "except
one cope of black for the part of Caiaphas" at the singing of the
Passion; red, too, on Maunday Thursday, but with a banner of white.
Red was also used for Easter, Pentecost, and throughout the Sundays
after Trinity; while for Virgin Martyrs, red was mixed with white.
This mixture of colours was probably effected by the cantors wearing
different coloured copes; thus for confessors saffron _(croceus)_ was
mixed with green, _sicut honestius et magis proprie possunt adaptari
festo_; but St. Julian and some others had all saffron, while a few,
like St. Benedict, had all indigo. White is comparatively little in
evidence, but it was used at Christmas, and for commemorations of the
Blessed Virgin. Black was used for the commemoration of the dead.

To this vision of stately pomp, and changing colour, we must add in
our mind's eye the many chapels with their woven tapestries of flowers
and beasts and birds, their rich ornaments and sacred associations;
the majestic rood upon the screen, and the rich altars that stood
before it; the almost constant succession of services that went on
behind it, where the canons (each with his own book and candle) and
their vicars sat, and the pyx hung over the high altar; the sound of a
little bell from one of the chapels where mass was being said, the
glimmer of a hanging lamp, the gleam of a silver image, the shrines
here and there, with their frequent visitors; and, as years went on,
the subdued light from the gorgeous painted windows (that over the
high altar glowed then from east to west without obstructing organ),
the frescoes on some of the walls, the green and red and gold of the
later monuments; and over all the trail of incense and the sound of

After Jocelin's death the works came to a standstill, for the
sufficient reason that the chapter was "overburdened with an
intolerable debt," owing to the enormous expense of the litigation
with Bath Abbey over Bishop Roger's election (p. 153). This, however,
was the last attempt of the rival cathedral of St. Peter; and the
debt, which was at its worst in 1248 (the year after Roger's death),
was bravely met by a contribution of a fifth of the income of each
prebend, as well as by gifts and obits; so that towards the end of
William Bytton's episcopate the debt was nearly cleared, and in 1263
Bytton made over the sequestrations of vacant benefices to the fabric

In 1248 an earthquake had done much damage, shaking down the _tholus_
(either the vault, or the stone capping) of the central tower, as we
learn from Matthew Paris _(Hist. Angl._ iii. 42). Accordingly, in
1263, preparations were made for further building; and in 1286 we hear
of a chapter meeting, summoned by Dean Thomas Bytton, whereat the
canons bind themselves to give one-tenth of their prebends for five
years, "to the finishing of the works now a long time begun (_jam diu
incepta_), and to repair what needed reparation in the old works."

The reparation here mentioned refers in all probability to the roof
and piers of the transepts and eastern part of nave, damaged by the
fall of the _tholus_. The famous western capitals of the transepts,
with their frequent representations of the miseries of toothache, must
refer to the second William Bytton, who had died in 1274, and whose
tomb became famous for its dental cures (p. 125). No doubt, the
offerings at the shrine of this local saint helped considerably to
swell the funds for the building operations.

The works "now a long time begun" can hardly be anything else than the
chapter-house undercroft, the outer walls of which may have been built
some forty years before. Professor Willis, who had access to the
document, decided, on architectural evidence, that the undercroft must
have been already completed at this time, and his view may be safely
accepted (_Arch. Inst._, "Bristol" vol., p. 28). The passage to the
undercroft would seem to be the first result of the chapter's
undertaking; its ornament is of a more advanced type than that of the
undercroft itself, and one of its carved heads is swollen as by the
toothache, and tied in a handkerchief. There can be little or no doubt
that the "finishing" of the old works included also the building of
the chapter-house staircase, and, when that was finished, the raising
of the chapter-house itself (the _nova structura_ of the old
documents) upon the undercroft. The full Decorated style of the
chapter-house is separated by a considerable interval from the late
Early English of the undercroft, while that of the staircase, which is
geometrical Decorated of a character not very far removed from Early
English, must have been built before the chapter-house itself was

The self-sacrificing spirit of the chapter was supplemented by the
offerings which flowed in from the growing practice of endowing altars
for requiem services, as well as from the shrine of St. William
Bytton; and the building activity continued for the next fifty years
till the church had been brought, in all save its western towers, to
its final state of perfection. After the staircase to the
chapter-house had been completed, about the year 1292, the walls of
the chapter-house itself were built, probably by Bishop William de
Marchia (1293-1302) who seems to have covered it in with a temporary

Dean John de Godelee (1306-1333) was the last great builder of the
church of Wells. The power of the bishop in his own church is already
declining, as that of the chapter rises, and it is the dean now who
organises the works. In 1315 the central tower was raised, and by 1321
it was being roofed in. By 1319 the chapter-house was finished;
Godelee, with William Joy, the master-mason, had probably worked out
the old drawings and built the windows and vaulted roof. Next the Lady
Chapel must have been begun, for by 1326 it was finished. Somewhere
about this time the parapet, which adds so much to the external beauty
of the church, was also made.

But the raising of the central tower had, ere this, brought disaster.
In 1321 there was a grant from the clergy of the Deanery of Taunton in
aid of the roofing of the "new _campanile_"; in 1338 a convocation was
summoned because the church of Wells was so _totaliter confracte et
enormiter deformate_ that the instant and united action of its members
was required to save it (_cf._ Willis in _Som. Proc._ 1863). The
adding of the Decorated portion to the tower increased the weight so
much that the four great piers sank into the ground, dragging the
masonry with them and causing rents to appear at the apex of the
arches. The situation was most dangerous: it was met by the careful
repairing of the torn masonry and the construction of those inverted
arches which are so familiar a feature of the church.

Yet the work proceeded very rapidly under a great bishop, who for the
time eclipsed the rising power of the deans. Ralph of Shrewsbury
(1329-63) carried on the work of Dean Godelee, and in the early years
of his episcopate entirely reconstructed the choir. The scheme seems
to have been contemplated as early as 1325; for in that year each
dignitary arranged to pay for his own stall in the refitting of the
choir, because the old stalls had become "ruinous and misshapen." In
any case, it was Ralph who added the three new bays of the presbytery
which are so curiously joined to the old presbytery of Reginald, and
with it form the present eastern limb of the church. He then
constructed the beautiful retro-choir which connects the presbytery
with the Lady Chapel. The vaulting of the choir and the construction
of the great east window would appear to have been undertaken at a
later period of his episcopate; for the ceiling is of a more advanced
style than the lower work, and the tracery of the window is half
Perpendicular. When Bishop Ralph died, in 1363, he was buried in the
place of honour in front of the high altar, as the founder of the
choir which he had finished.

The finishing touches were given to the cathedral when Bishop Harewell
(_ob._ 1386) gave two-thirds of the cost of the south-western or
Harewell Tower, and when the executors of Bishop Bubwith (_ob._ 1424)
finished the companion tower on the north-west.

The other efforts of the fourteenth and fifteenth century builders
were given to those subordinate buildings which are the peculiar glory
of Wells. Even so magnificent a prelate as Beckington did nothing to
the actual fabric of the Cathedral (unless his tomb be so considered),
for the simple reason that there was really nothing for him to do.
Ralph of Shrewsbury had, besides his work in the church, finished the
palace (which Jocelin had begun and Burnell had enriched with the hall
and chapel) by the moat, walls, and gate-house. He had also begun the
Vicars' Close, of which the chapel was built by Bubwith, but the
executors of Beckington recast it in its present form. After
Beckington had employed his energies in erecting the beautiful
gateways with which his name is always associated, Dean Gunthorpe
(_ob._ 1498) built the deanery.

The following interesting eulogy of Bishop Beckington and his church
was written in the form of a Latin dialogue by Chaundler, who was
Chancellor of Wells in 1454:--

"You might more properly call it a city than a town, as you would
yourself understand more clearly than day if you could behold all its
intrinsic splendour and beauty. For that most lovely church which we
see at a distance, dedicated to the most blessed Apostle of the
Almighty God, St. Andrew, contains the episcopal chair of the worthy
Bishop. Adjoining it is the vast palace, adorned with wonderful
splendour, girt on all sides by flowing waters, crowned by a
delectable succession of walls and turrets, in which the most worthy
and learned Bishop Thomas, the first of that name, bears rule. He has
indeed at his own proper pains and charges conferred such a splendour
on this city, as well by strongly fortifying the church with gates and
towers and walls, as by constructing on the grandest scale the palace
in which he resides and the other surrounding buildings, that he
deserves to be called, not the founder merely, but rather the
splendour and ornament of the church."

[Illustration: The Cathedral. (From a Seventeenth Century Print.)]

The Reformation period left the cathedral cold and barren within, but
interfered little with its fabric; the only serious piece of
destruction (p. 57) being that of the magnificent Lady Chapel by the
Cloister, in 1552, by Sir John Gates, "a greate puritan, Episcopacie's
common Enemy." In other respects it was what Freeman calls a period of
systematic picking and stealing; as witness this passage from
Nathaniel Chyles:--"The Great Duke of Somersett, Unkle to Edward the
Sixt (whose title proved very fatall to this place and Bishopwrick)
was not only contented to get most of the mannours Lands and
possessions belonging to this Bishopwrick settled upon him and his
posteritie, but at last even the palace itselfe also." But the palace
and some of the property were recovered after Somerset's execution.

The bishop's palace suffered the ruin of Burnell's magnificent hall
through the prevalent lust for gain. Sir John Harrington writes in
terms of pardonable indignation:--"I speak now only of the spoil made
under this Bishop [Barlow]; scarce were five years past after Bath's
ruins, but as fast went the axes and hammers to work at Wells. The
goodly hall covered with lead ... was uncovered, and now this roof
reaches to the sky. The Chapel of Our Lady, late repaired by
Stillington, a place of reverence and antiquity, was likewise defaced,
and such was their thirst after lead (I would they had drunk it
scalding) that they took the dead bodies of bishops out of their
leaden coffins, and cast abroad the carcases scarce thoroughly

During the Commonwealth the choir was closed, and Dr Cornelius Burges,
who was appointed "Preacher" at the cathedral, bought the bishop's
palace and deanery for his private property. He, of course, despoiled
the palace, "pulling off not only the Lead thereoff," says Chyles,[4]
"but taking away also the Timber, and making what money he could of
them, and what remained unsold he removed to the Deanery improving
that out of the Ruins of the palace, leaving only bare Walls." At the
Restoration Burges was ejected, after a good deal of litigation, and
Bishop Piers returned to the ruins of his palace. Burges' sermons had
never been popular with the people of Wells, who annoyed him by
walking up and down the cloisters "all sermon time." When the trial
for his ejectment came on he published his "Case," in which he
justified his buying Church lands by alleging that he had lent the
State £3490, and, having a wife and ten children to provide for, he
took such land, etc. as the only means of repayment. Five of the
canons' houses were also obtained from Cromwell's Commissioners by the
Corporation of Wells, one or two of which were pulled down and sold
for old stone.

At the Restoration, the canons were at great expense to restore the
church from the ruinous condition into which it had fallen in Puritan
times, and they were liberally helped in their extremity by the clergy
and laity of the diocese. Says Chyles (_c._ 1680): "Since his
Majestie's and Churche's happy and blessed Restoration, what betweene
the Bishopp, the Deane, and Deane and Chapter, our Church and Quire is
once more in a beautifull and comely habitt (which God continue) such
as neither the Church of Rome has reason to upbraid us with a slovenly
or clownish Service, nor the Puritan and Nonconformist with a gaudy or
Superstitious. The good old Bishopp [W. Piers], who weather'd out that
Storme, and was restored to what was his Owne, gave those silk
Hangings which beautifie the Altar within the Railes." Dean Creyghton
gave the glass in the west window, the organ and the brass lectern,
and Dr Busby, who was treasurer of Wells as well as head-master of
Westminster, gave the silver-gilt alms dish and restored the library,
lengthening it by the addition of the southern part.

Chyles tells us, too, that there was morning and evening prayer in the
"Vicars' Chapell in Close Hall," at six, forenoon and afternoon, in
winter, and seven in summer, in addition to the cathedral services at
the "canonical howers." Before his time there had been only a morning
sermon on Sundays, and, in the afternoon, "the whole Cathedrall" had
been in the habit of going to St. Cuthbert's, returning with the mayor
and his brethren for the cathedral prayers at four; "but since his
Majesty's Restoracion one likewise in the Afternoones here is preached
by the said prebends _in theire turns_. Soe that here the Sermonizing
people may have their Bellyfull of preaching and forbeare crying out,
_They are starved for want of the Word_ and calling our clergy _Dumb

This time of peace did not last long, for in 1685 the whole of
Somerset was up in Monmouth's rebellion. The duke's followers came to
Wells, turned the cathedral into a stable, tore the lead off the roof
for bullets, pulled down several of the statues, broached a barrel of
beer on the high altar, and would have destroyed the altar itself, had
not Lord Grey, one of their leaders, defended it with his sword. Dr
Conan Doyle's description of the scene in his novel, _Micah Clarke_
(p. 292), is so vivid that it is well worth referring to.

The long and heavy peace which followed was marked by the gradual
pewing up of the choir and presbytery, and the intrusion of
pretentious monuments. Then, in our own times, came the revival,
bringing evil as well as good in its train. In 1842 the restoration of
the nave, transepts, and Lady Chapel was commenced at the instance of
Dean Goodenough, by Mr Benjamin Ferrey. He removed the thick layers of
whitewash which had been ingeniously applied to conceal the sculpture;
and the long rows of marble tablets which had disfigured the aisles
were shifted to the cloisters, whence, it may be hoped, they will one
day make a further journey towards oblivion.

The restoration of the choir by Mr Salvin, which lasted from 1848 to
1854, was unfortunately of a less blameless character. It was the
period of the Great Exhibition, when art reached the lowest depths to
which it has sunk in the history of the world.

We need not dwell upon the result; few restorations are more marked
with the complacent ignorance of that strange time. The old pews and
galleries in the choir, which had hidden the very capitals of the
piers, were indeed removed, but with them the medieval stalls were
destroyed and replaced by work of indescribable imbecility. No real
improvement in the choir of Wells is now possible till every trace of
Dean Jenkyns' restoration is swept away; but, alas! what he destroyed
can never be recovered.

In 1868 the report of Mr Ferrey[5] upon the west front was presented,
and shortly afterwards the work of repair was begun under his
direction. The report showed how extensive was the decay, and how
great the danger of complete ruin unless steps were taken to protect
the old work; and the work of repair was carried out with care and
reverence; though even here irreparable harm was done by the
substitution of the modern "slate pencils" for the old blue lias
shafts. Since then, many small matters have been attended to with
varying success. The Lady Chapel has been decently furnished and the
east end slightly improved. Much still remains to be done; but the
best motto at the present day is _festina lente_, and the safest rule
is to be progressive in all enrichment by removable furniture, and
conservative, very conservative, in all structural alteration. If the
hand of the restorer can now be stayed, the words will still be true
of Wells, which M. Huysmans used of another church:--_Ces siècles
s'ètaient reunis pour apporter aux pieds du Christ l'effort surhumain
de leur art, et les dons de chacun étaient visibles encore._


   [1] _Somerset Proceedings_, 1888, ii. 5.

   [2] _History of the Cathedral_, p. 98.

   [3] _Divine Worship in England_, p. 195.

   [4] Book ii. c. 2.

   [5] _Inst. Arch._ 1870.

[Illustration: South Aisle Of Nave. (See p. 83.)]



"In England," wrote Mr J.H. Parker, in his _Glossary_, "Wells affords
the most perfect example of a cathedral with all its parts and
appurtenances. It was," he continues, after an enumeration of the
parts of the church, "a cathedral proper, and independent of any
monastic foundation, but with a separate house for each of its
officers, either in the Close or in the Liberty adjoining to it. The
bishop's palace was enclosed by a separate moat and fortified, being
on the south side of the cloister, from which it is separated by the
moat; the houses for the dean and for the archdeacon are on the north
side of the Close, with some of the canons' houses; the organist's
house is at the west end, adjoining to the singing-school and the
cloister; the precentor's house is at the east end, near the Lady
Chapel. The vicars-choral have a close of their own adjoining to the
north-east corner of the canons' close, with a bridge across through
the gate-house into the north transept; they were a collegiate body,
with their own chapel, library, and hall." One need only add that all
these sentences can still, with one exception, be read in the present
tense to show that Wells possesses a beauty and interest which gives
it an unique place among cathedral foundations. There is no other
cathedral city in which so many of the old ecclesiastical buildings
remain, or on which the modern world has made so little impression.
The church itself, in Fergusson's opinion perhaps the most beautiful,
though one of the smallest in England, is but one part of a "group of
buildings, which," wrote Professor Freeman, "as far as I know, has no
rival, either in our own island or beyond the sea." The little city to
which these buildings belong is itself worthy of them, almost a part
of them, so quiet and venerable is it, so picturesque in its lovely
setting of green hills.

Were size the main distinction of a church, Wells would sink
comfortably into the second class; even in some of its best features
it has many rivals, but the peculiar charm and glory of Wells lies (to
quote again from Freeman's _History_) "in the union and harmonious
grouping of all. The church does not stand alone; it is neither
crowded by incongruous buildings, nor yet isolated from those
buildings which are its natural and necessary complement. Palace,
cloister, Lady Chapel, choir, chapter-house, all join to form one
indivisible whole. The series goes on uninterruptedly along that
unique bridge, which, by a marvel of ingenuity, connects the church
itself with the most perfect of buildings of its own class, the
matchless vicars' close. Scattered around we see here and there an
ancient house, its gable, its windows, or its turret, falling in with
the style and group of greater buildings, and bearing its part in
producing the general harmony of all." Thus, in the first place, the
group of buildings must be looked at as a whole from the north, from
the east, from the south-east; then the superb, unrivalled picture
from the rising ground on the Shepton Mallet road,[1] outside the
city, must be seen, and, when this little journey has been made, the
most hurried visitor must find time at least to peep into the vicars'
close, and walk round the moat of the palace. After some such general
impression has been gained, the study of the exterior of the church
will naturally begin with that part which is a peculiar distinction of
Wells Cathedral--the west front.

The WEST FRONT of Wells has been universally admired. Long ago, old
Fuller wrote--"The west front of Wells is a masterpiece of art indeed,
made of imagery in just proportion, so that we may call them _vera et
spirantia signa_. England affordeth not the like." This verdict is but
repeated by modern writers; the front is "quite unrivalled," says
Fergusson, and comparable only to Rheims and Chartres. Mr Hughes, in
Traill's _Social England_, goes farther and says[2] that "nothing fit
to rank with it was then being done in Northern Europe--for the
monumental porches of France, formerly supposed to be contemporary,
are now recognised as of a later date."

[Illustration: West Front. Bishop Aethelhelm (103). Drawn by H.P.

But there has been a discordant note in the general chorus of praise.
Professor Freeman, whose admiration for nearly everything in Wells was
so intense, could find little to praise in the west front of the
cathedral.[3] "It is doubtless," he wrote, "the finest display of
sculpture in England; but it is thoroughly bad as a piece of
architecture. I am always glad when I get round the corner, and can
rest my eye on the massive and simple majesty of the nave and
transepts. The west front is bad because it is a sham--because it is
not the real ending of the nave and aisles, but a mere mask, devised,
in order to gain greater room for the display of statues ... The front
is not the natural finish of the nave and aisles; it is a blank wall
built up in a shape which is not the shape which their endings would
naturally assume. It is therefore a sham; it is a sin against the
first law of architectural design, the law that enrichment should be
sought in ornamenting the construction ... not in building up anything
simply for the sake of effect." He then proceeds to criticise the way
in which the windows and doorways "are stowed away as they best may
be," as if they were felt to be mere interruptions to the lines of

[Illustration: The West Front.]

This latter objection to the doorways had often been made before, only
that the "rabbit-holes on a mountain side" of earlier critics became
"mouse-holes" with Mr Freeman. Mr E.W. Godwin, in a lecture in 1862,
had also found fault with the crowding in of the niches over the
central doorway, which he declared to be in the highest degree clumsy;
with the bald appearance given by the shallowness of the reveals in
the principal windows; and with the way in which "the solid work of
the base suddenly crops up at the very summit of the two central
buttresses, not altogether unlike the dog-kennel of modern Gothic."

Of these criticisms the most serious is Mr Freeman's general charge of
unreality. But why should not a stone screen be erected for the
display of statuary before the west end of a church, just as lawfully
as behind the high altar? And, if a screen may be allowed as an end in
itself, standing simply as a thing of beauty to glorify a building of
which it is not a structural part, then the front of Wells may stand,
like the reredos of Winchester, as the noblest example of its kind. It
has no need to simulate lofty aisles which do not exist, for it
covers, not the aisles, but the faces of the great towers themselves;
and, as a consequence, the portion of really blank wall which
stretches from them to the central gable is so small as to be more
than justified by the cohesion it gives to the whole. The whole effect
is singularly broad, but so is the space it covers within; for this
breadth is legitimately attained by the happy device of planting the
western towers beyond the aisles.

The massive front of Wells stands, therefore, on its own merits as a
west front, and not merely a west end--a great stone screen that, so
far from pretending to be a regular termination of the nave and
aisles, is actually carried, in all its sculptured magnificence, round
the sides of the two towers upon which it so frankly depends. It is a
screen built at a period different from, and, we may now safely
assume, later than, that of the nave, and built for the exhibition of
a noble legend in stone, which has ever since been the glory of a
county famed for its splendid churches.

Taking it then for what it is, and remembering that the lower tiers
were once filled with statuary, can we regret that the doorways
themselves were subordinated to the one grand design of accommodating
this great multitude of silent teachers? The great doorways of French
churches are magnificent in themselves, but that is surely no reason
why we should make it an axiom that a front cannot be fine unless it
have a great doorway. Striking as the effect of these foreign
entrances may be, there is no structural reason why a door should be
of an unwieldy size out of all proportion to the stature of the people
who use it, so that a smaller door has to be cut for ordinary use out
of the real door. It certainly, as even at Amiens, limits the
sculptor's opportunities; and in a country like England, where doors
can only be kept open for a few weeks in the year, great doorways
would be as inappropriate as closed doors are forbidding. As a matter
of fact, the usual entrance to Wells Cathedral in Jocelin's time was
not from the west, but through the cloister and the south porch. And
the central entrance of the west was made impressive, not by its size,
but by the exquisite nature of its carving, and the blue and scarlet
and gold with which it was coloured. It was not insignificant then. It
had the prominence of a jewel. Moreover, in French churches, where the
exterior is sacrificed to the internal effect, there is some wisdom in
concentrating attention upon the doorway. But in English churches--and
in Wells, perhaps, more than any other English church--the exteriors
are perfect in themselves, and the visitor need not be tempted to
hurry to their portals. After all, if the rabbit-holes on a
mountain-side looked as large as quarries, the mountain would not look
like a mountain.

There are, moreover, three faults in the front as it now stands which
cannot be attributed to its maker. In the first place, it is
undoubtedly a little formal, a little square, and this defect is
particularly marked in the photographs which one sees everywhere.
Unfortunately this picture, which is too small to show the detail,
gives no idea whatever of the general external effect of the church.
It gives the impression that Wells Cathedral is a glorified wall,
because the photograph cannot show the other parts upon which the
front depends. The architect, no doubt, intended the towers to be
carried higher or surmounted with spires, and though no trace of any
stone erection has been found on the tops of the present towers, they
may once have been crowned with wooden spires covered with lead or
shingle. One need hardly say how vast a difference such lofty towers
as exist at Laon Cathedral, or spires like those of Lichfield, would
make in the effect of the front. They would also account for the great
size of the buttresses, which seem to have been built with a view to
sustaining a great weight.

A disagreeable impression is also caused by the row of hip-knobs along
the coping of the central gable, and the pinnacle in their midst. This
collection of curiosities was probably added in the seventeenth
century, and the pinnacle may have been taken from one of the denuded
buttresses of the Lady Chapel to replace the gable cross which must
have originally stood here: at all events it is a later addition, as
was proved by an examination of the masonry. It would be an act of
justice to the memory of Jocelin if these trivial excrescences were

Perhaps one is even more distressed on first seeing the front by a
third fault--the weak and stringy effect of the long, thin, dark,
marble shafts. For this the restorer, Mr Benjamin Ferrey, must bear
the blame. He complained with justice that the original blue lias
shafts, when they were decayed, had been replaced by the ordinary
Doulting stone.[4] But, unhappily, he did not go back to the original
material, but fitted the whole front with a complete set of shafts of
Kilkenny marble, which is at once dark and cold. They absolutely
refuse to blend with the old, warm, grey stone, and stand out, stark
and stiff, like an array of gigantic slate pencils. Mr Ferrey was
possessed with the idea that the blue lias shafts (having only lasted
for a paltry half-dozen centuries) were not durable enough for the
work. He therefore used this marble, which, doubtless, will stand in
increased obtrusiveness when every stone of the cathedral has decayed.
He further was impressed with the strange notion that the hideous
Kilkenny marble is of the same colour as the exquisitely delicate grey
of the blue lias. The result is a sad warning to all restorers not to
be more clever than the original architect.

Let us, then, try to imagine the west front with its empty lowest tier
filled with graceful figures, its gable in its first simplicity and
surmounted by a cross, its towers of Early English form crowned with
lofty spires, its delicate shafts of their original material, and its
ranges of figures "all gorgeous in their freshly-painted hues of blue
and scarlet and purple and gold." Then we shall have some idea of the
front of Wells as Jocelin meant it to be and to remain.

[Illustration: Ornaments In The West Front.]

As for the colour, its effect can be gathered from the traces which
survive. There is ultramarine, gold, and scarlet in the tympanum of
the central doorway, where there are also the marks of metal fittings.
Ferrey found a deep maroon colour on the figures of the Apostles, and
a dark colour painted with stars in the Resurrection tier. One of the
chief glories of the front is the faithful care which is given
throughout to the smaller features. The mouldings (a succession of
rounds and hollows) are most bold and effective; the carving of the
foliage in caps and canopies, tympana, pedestals, and terminals is
singularly beautiful and free. This impression is deepened by a minute
examination; indeed, it is almost a matter of regret that some of the
finest work is at such a height as to be almost impossible to see; for
in all the earlier work at Wells the Lamp of Sacrifice burns brightly.
Mr Ferry pointed out an instance, which may be given here, of the care
with which minor matters were thought out:--In order that the lowest
tier might not look weak and yet might provide a sufficient shadow for
the statues, the backs of the niches are set at a slightly recessed
angle in the centre, and thus an effect of strength is given to the
angular jambs. Indeed, there may be differences of opinion as to the
general design of the west front, but there can be none as to the
supreme excellence of its detail. It is beyond doubt the most rich
example of Early English work to be found anywhere. The crown of its
glories, the justification of its form, did it need justification, are
the frail statues which line it, tier upon tier.

[Illustration: Ornaments In The West Front.]

Vertically the west front is divided into three main parts--the
centre, containing the three lancet windows of the nave and the main
doorway, is surmounted by a gable receding in stages with a pinnacle
at either angle; and the two lateral towers, the lower portion of
which form one continuous screen with the centre, broken only by the
boldly projecting buttresses, of which each division possesses two.
Horizontally the front divides itself naturally into four parts--the
plain base, which is high enough to contain the full height of the
small north and south doorways. One of the stones in this division,
about the level of the eye, and near the middle, which has evidently
been moved from some other place, bears the inscription, _Pur lalme
Johan de Putenie priez et trieze jurs de_ ... Next is an arcade of
niches interspersed with windows, the space above being pierced by
quatrefoils. The third division contains the three lancet windows, the
forms of which are repeated on the north and south, breaking the line
of the two historical tiers of niches which, with the Resurrection
tier, adorn this main division of the front. A bold string course
marks it off firmly and decisively from the fourth and upper division,
in which the three parts of the front become separate, the towers at
each side and the stepped gable, flanked by two graceful Early English
pinnacles, in the middle. The statuary is mainly confined to the
arcading of the second division, to the buttresses of the third, with
its continuous cornice of the Resurrection tier, and to the gable
front of the fourth; but the amount of it is largely increased by the
fact that the work is carried round three sides of the north-western
tower, which only touches the church on one side. The niches on the
sides of the south-western tower are almost empty.

THE STATUARY.--The statuary is not only the finest collection of
medieval sculpture to be found in England; but, separately, the
figures are with few exceptions finer than any others in this country,
while some of them are almost as beautiful as the greatest
masterpieces in Italy or France. It is strange that here, at the
outset of the Gothic period, the chief characteristics of the old
Greek spirit should be so apparent, the same restraint, the same
simplicity, the same exquisite appreciation of light and flowing
drapery: in other things there is difference enough, the form is less
perfect, the action is less free, though there is a deeper sentiment
and a higher power of spiritual expression; but in the essentials of
sublime statuary there is a singular agreement.

And, strange though it seems, it may well be that in these statues one
must look for the first signs of the influence of the Renaissance in
England. Romanesque work has but just died out, and already the old
spirit, destined in time to supplant the architecture which sprung
from it, is at work again. While the statues were being cut at Wells,
Niccola Pisano was reviving sculpture in Italy under the inspiration
of classical examples; and there can be little doubt but that it was
Italian sculptors who produced the statuary at Wells. Some of the
figures on the northern part of the front have been found to be marked
with Arabic numerals (_Somerset Proceedings_ 1888, i. 57, 62), and
these numerals, which did not become common in England till the
sixteenth century, were used in Italy long before, having been
introduced by Bonacci of Pisa (a fellow-citizen of Niccola) in 1202.
That they are found here before the middle of the century is a fairly
conclusive proof that the workers were Italians, and very likely from
Pisa itself. Jocelin, indeed, was English, but he had been in exile
from 1208 to 1213, when he had ample opportunity of studying the work
of the Italian artists. Pleasant as it would be to our national pride,
we can hardly believe that Englishmen produced what seems to be the
earliest example of such magnificent and varied sculpture in
north-western Europe. At Jocelin's death, in 1242, when the work had
been going on for some thirty years, Niccola Pisano was in his prime,
Cimabue was two years old, and forty years had yet to elapse before
the rival sculpture of Amiens Cathedral was executed.

[Illustration: West Front: Christina (185). Drawn by H.P. Clifford.]

Mr Ruskin, whose admiration of the work at Amiens is so intense, has
given almost as high praise to the sculpture at Wells, and has
presented sets of photographs of the statuary to various art schools.
The verdict of enthusiastic approval is, in fact, unanimous. Flaxman,
to his credit, in spite of his classicalism, was one of the first to
draw attention to the work. Whoever was the general designer of the
whole arrangement, he deserves as great praise as the sculptors
themselves. There must have been several sculptors, both because no
one man could have carved three hundred and fifty subjects (of which
one hundred and fifty-two are life-size or colossal), and because a
certain number of the figures in the fourth and fifth tiers are of
obviously inferior design. But one master-mind must have conceived and
directed the work. The height and lightness which is given to the
gable by the tall row of the Apostles, the solemn prominence of the
figure of our Lord above, the rich cornice-like effect of the small
Resurrection tier, the difference in height between the fourth and
fifth tiers, the concentration of the three lower tiers, the breadth
which the seated figures give to the face of the buttresses, the
arrangement of the statues and groups round the buttresses, which
makes it impossible for them all to be seen at once, all show that one
mind was busy, carefully subordinating the parts to the whole.

It may well have been Jocelin himself who planned the subject-matter
of the statuary with such admirable breadth and balance of mind. It is
easy to produce sermons in stones, easy to sermonise in very many
ways; but Jocelin did not preach. He just tried to embody the
Christian spirit at work in the world: God made manifest in man, the
great truth of the Incarnation; and this he did in what we should call
the most modern manner, though in truth it is medieval as well as
modern. He did not conceive of Christianity as confined within the
covers of the Bible, but he took all history, as he knew it, the
patient education of man in the Old Testament, the fulfilment of man's
aspirations and God's purpose in the New, from the birth of our Lord
to the founding of the Church, and the continuation of this church up
to his own time, with especial regard to the heroes, saints and rulers
of the Church of England. He made a "kalendar for unlearned men,"
which is both a _Biblia Pauperum_ and _Annales Angliae_, because the
annals of England were to him a new Bible. "Slowly the Bible of the
race is writ," a modern writer has said, "each age, each kindred, adds
a word to it." That was the spirit of Jocelin's design; only that,
through the pomp of mighty kings and fair women and honoured bishops,
he looked to the naked truth of the judgment time, when mitres and
crowns would remain but as signs of an awful responsibility, and the
divine justice, so tried, so obscured on earth, would be vindicated
before the angels who are quick to do God's will, and the twelve plain
men who turned the mighty currents of the world. Such was the spirit
of a man who lived in the days of St. Francis and St. Louis, Stephen
Langton and Roger Bacon.

Before commencing a detailed description of the statuary, one must
refer to Professor Cockerell, R.A., whose enthusiastic love of the
work led him to construct a theory which he published in 1851, as an
_Iconography of the West Front_. There can be little doubt that he was
right in his general idea; there can be equally little doubt that he
was wrong in nearly every application of it. Everyone now, for
instance, takes it for granted that the south side of the front is
mainly "spiritual," devoted to ecclesiastics, while the north is
"temporal"; and that the whole of the fourth and fifth tiers do
represent certain leading historical figures. But when we read
Cockerell's reasons for identifying these figures we recoil in dismay.
His knowledge of history is superficial, of costume he knows practically
nothing; his drawings are as inaccurate as his imagination is fertile,
and he states as obvious facts the wildest conjectures. Further
reference will be found to his book in our description of the fourth
and fifth tiers. It was at least an honest labour of love, and
Cockerell deserves the honour, as he had to endure the disadvantages,
of being the first in the field.

The CENTRAL DOORWAY may be taken before the lowest tier. Its soffit
contains an evident addition, as if the architect felt that it needed
emphasising by some enrichment. In the first of its four
deeply-wrought mouldings a series of niches, five on each side, with
small delicately-carved figures, has been inserted, evidently after
the arch was made; they are cut from a different stone (white lias),
and are skilfully fitted and grooved into the back of the large sunk
moulding. They add considerably to the effect of the arch, although
all the heads of the figures have been destroyed. It is characteristic
of Cockerell's random method of conjecture, that he declared these
figures to be representations of the Ten Commandments.

1. The tympanum under the arch and above the double opening of the
doorway contains a quatrefoil, in which is a noble sculpture of the
Madonna and Child. The head of the Mother and the upper half of the
Child are gone, but the drapery that remains is of quite perfect grace
and dignity. A serpent is under the feet of the Madonna, who is
sitting on a throne; angels censing are on either side without the
quatrefoil. A good deal of the old colour which once gave this central
group a peculiar brilliancy can still be traced on this protected
sculpture; the background was ultramarine, the mouldings red and gold.
The figures were also gilded in part, and there are marks on the wall
to show that a metal nimbus was once attached to it.

2. In a canopy above the arch is another sculpture of equal beauty,
though, owing to its more exposed position, the treatment is a little
broader. It represents the coronation of Our Lady; both the heads and
all the hands are gone. The two figures are both seated on one long
bench, and our Lord leans forward to place the crown upon his Mother's


In order to avoid any possible mistake I have taken each tier from
right to left, specifying the gaps, windows, and buttresses, to
facilitate identification, and commencing with the lowest tier. I have
also numbered the figures afresh, because of the confusion which has
hitherto caused great waste of time to every one who has attempted to
identify them. Cockerell's numbers are the only ones that are at all
accurate (and he omits the two figures on the extreme south of the
fourth and fifth tiers); but, as he recommenced his enumeration with
each series, they are not much use for purposes of identification.
There are mistakes and omissions in the enumeration of the
photographs, there are mistakes in the album in the cathedral library,
the photographs in the South Kensington Museum are hopelessly muddled,
and even the descriptions of the restorer, Mr Ferrey, are so arranged
that it takes days to identify them, while some of them elude one's
efforts altogether. I have, therefore, numbered the statues and groups
in a continuous order from bottom to top, so that comparison with
photographs will in the future be easy. In the case of work most of
which can only be seen from a distance, the study of photographs is
absolutely necessary for a full appreciation of their beauty, more
especially as in very many cases the photographs reveal the form which
the accidents of discoloration have partly concealed. Mr Phillips of
10 Market Place has an almost complete set of admirable photographs,
which he was enabled to take when the scaffolding was up for the
restoration of 1870-73: it is these which Mr Ruskin has so much

As there are so many statues, some of inferior interest and beauty, I
have ventured to put an asterisk (*) to those which I think no one
should fail to see; and, in almost every case, I have but echoed the
general verdict.

THE LOWEST TIER.--This tier contains sixty-two niches, forty-three of
which are empty, so fatally convenient has their position been for the
iconoclast. Of those which remain nearly all are on the north side of
the tower, so that at first sight the tier seems to be quite empty.
The loss here has been the greater because the figures were of the
finest kind, as well as the most easily seen: those remaining are
certainly of the most exquisite loveliness. Cockerell's theory that
this tier represents the heralds of the gospel, prophets and
missionaries, has nothing to support it.

It seems to me not unlikely that the tier was devoted to some of the
most popular saints in the calendar; the position, so near the
passer-by, would have suited this arrangement, and the front must have
been singularly deficient in saints if it were otherwise. The figures
which remain, a group of deacons, a group of bearded figures holding
books, and of women bearing religious attributes, might well stand for

3. _South Tower._ Male figure, much decayed, held by metal clamps.

4. Male figure, much decayed, held by metal clamps.

_Rest of figures missing along west front up to_--

5. _North Tower._ Male figure, much decayed, holds book.

6. A similar figure.


7. _North Buttress._ Male figure, which held some drapery in front.

8. _North Buttress._ Male figure, holding a vessel in right hand
covered with a cloth, the end of which was in left hand. [Cockerell
calls this St. Augustine, erroneously supposing this cloth to be the

9. Beautiful female figure,* drapery resembling a chasuble; hands

10. Female figure with flowing hair; hands gone.

11. Female figure, wimple round head, in left hand holds a vessel,
right hand is on the edge of the vessel, the fingers dipping in.

12. Female figure,* hood over head, holds in right hand the foot of a
chalice, and with her left the fold of her dress in front.

13. Tall male figure, bearded, holding closed book; in good

14. Male figure, bearded; hands gone.

15. _Buttress._ Male figure, bearded, with flowing hair; hands gone.

16. _Buttress._ Male figure, bearded, holding open book in left hand;
upper part moulding away.

17. Deacon* in dalmatic, alb, amice, holding open book in left hand,
right hand gone; drapery is wonderfully fine. (This and the remaining
figures are tonsured and shaven.)

18. Deacon,* a beautiful figure, (apparently in dalmatic), amice; left
hand gone.

19. Deacon, in girded alb, ends of girdle hanging down, wears the
folded chasuble (very rare in art) over left shoulder, maniple; holds
book with both hands.


20. _Buttress._ Deacon, in girded alb, amice, stole over left
shoulder, book in left hand. Besides ends of girdle, end of a stole is
visible on left side, as if a crossed stole had first been carved and
this end forgotten.

21. _Buttress._ Deacon,* stole worn over left shoulder, maniple, but
no amice and no girdle; wears instead of alb a surplice with full
sleeves--an unusual combination.

SECOND TIER.--The next tier (22-53) consists of thirty-two
quatrefoils, some of which are now empty. The rest contain half-length
figures of angels, holding crowns, mitres, scrolls, or drapery in
their hands.

THIRD TIER.--This, which we may call the Bible Tier, consists of
forty-eight quatrefoils, ranged close above the quatrefoils of the
second tier, and broken in the centre by the larger sculpture of the
Coronation of the Virgin (2). The subjects are all from the Bible,
those on the south from the Old Testament, dealing with the first
things, while those on the north and on the north and east sides of
the northern tower are from the New Testament, and represent the life
and mission of our Lord. The iconoclasts seem to have concentrated
their attention on those earlier New Testament groups, which would
contain the figure of our Lady, and they have made the Crucifixion
almost unrecognisable. The figures are about two feet high.


54. The Death of Jacob.

55. Isaac blessing Jacob, who leans over him.

56. Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca, probably.

57. Noah sacrificing on Ararat. Very fine.

58. The Ark. A curious structure, raised pyramidally in four tiers,
with open arcades, in which birds and beasts are seen. Below is the

59. Noah building the Ark.* He is in workman's dress, and wears a cap;
he is working at a bench, beneath which are his tools. Behind is the
ark, and an "Early English" tree.

60. God decreeing the Deluge.* In great wrath Jehovah approaches a man
who sits pensively on a hill-side: from behind the man's head springs
a demon. The figure of Jehovah is admirably expressed.


61. Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, who is bound on a bundle of
wood. Cockerell called this the Sacrifice of Cain, which certainly
suits its position better.

62. Adam delves and Eve spins. Fine.


63. Jehovah in the Garden. A draped figure, addressing two figures
naked and ashamed.

64. The Temptation. The serpent's body is coiled round the tree near
Adam, and his head hovers above with an apple in the mouth. Adam is
already eating the fruit.

65. God placing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

66. The Creation of Eve.

67. The Creation of Adam. The figure of the Almighty in each of these
three is magnificent, especially in the last.


OVER CENTRAL DOORWAY. 2. Coronation of the Virgin (p. 34).

_Here follow eighteen New Testament subjects._

68. St. John the Evangelist*; he is winged. A book rests on the back
of an eagle. The idea of inspiration could not be more finely

_Empty._ (Perhaps the Annunciation was here.)

_Empty._ (Perhaps the Visitation.)

69. The Nativity. Mutilated.







70. Christ among the Doctors: the Holy Child is a very small figure on
a pedestal. A most expressive group.

71. St. John Baptist, clothed in camels' hair, in the wilderness. (An
angel appearing from the clouds, broken off since 1862. The fragment
is now in No. 72).

72. Figures in critical attitudes. Perhaps the Sermon on the Mount.


73. Christ in the Wilderness, probably.

74. Figures in intent attitudes. Perhaps the Mission of the Apostles.

75. Five figures seated at a table. Perhaps the Anointing of Christ's

76. Figure on a Mount surrounded by many figures. Perhaps the Feeding
of the Five Thousand. NORTH SIDE OF TOWER.

77. Christ, sitting, with other figures. Perhaps the Feeding of the
Four Thousand.

78. The Transfiguration.* A fine composition, two of the Apostles
crouching in the foreground.

79. The Entry into Jerusalem. Under the city gate two men strew
clothes and branches: from the walls and tower many people are

80. The Betrayal. Chief priest with mitred head-dress in centre:
winged devil holds up the train of right figure. On left a figure
holds open a money-box.

81. The Last Supper.* The Virgin kneels to receive the Communion from
her Son: St. John's head rests on His bosom. The drapery is very fine.
Underneath are a bottle and a basket.


82. Christ before Pilate.

83. Christ bearing the Cross. Mutilated.

84. The Elevation of the Cross. Much mutilated.

85. The Deposition. Much mutilated.


86. The Resurrection. An angel on either side, guards below.

87. Pentecost: the Birthday of Holy Church. A dignified group of

FOURTH AND FIFTH TIERS.--The fourth and fifth tiers contained at least
120 figures (about a dozen of which are gone), varying in height from
7 ft. 10 in. to 8 ft. 1 in., a few running as high as 8 ft. 10 in.
They no doubt represent the kings, bishops, and heroes of English
history from Egbert to Henry II. Cockerell was probably right in his
general interpretation of the series, but it is easy to prove that he
is wrong in many of the names he gives. It is not so easy to suggest
any better, and therefore his names have stuck to the figures, since
people naturally like to know them by something more interesting than
a number. I shall therefore adopt his nomenclature, with the admission
that equally good grounds could be given in almost every case for some
other theory. Besides Mr Ferrey's account (_Inst. Brit. Arch._, 1870),
quoted in inverted commas, Cockerell's descriptions, inaccurate as
they are, have been consulted, and also Mr Planché's criticism of

The word _Buttress_ means that the figure (generally a sitting one) is
on the west face of the buttress in question. Bishops ("Bp."), unless
otherwise stated, wear the usual vestments--mitre, chasuble, dalmatic,
tunicle, stole, maniple, alb, and apparelled amice. Kings ("K.") and
Queens ("Q.") wear crowns. A favourite attitude is described as
"holding cord"; this cord being the lace or cord of the mantle, which
crossed the chest and prevented that garment from falling off the
shoulders. The mantle seems to have had an uncomfortable tendency to
slip down, and thus it became a habit constantly to pull the cord
forward, whence the frequency of this attitude. This cord was wrongly
described by Cockerell as a necklace, with which it has, of course, no
connection. The word "trampling" refers to another common feature in
these tiers; kings are generally represented as trampling on a small
figure under their feet, to signify their success over their enemies.
The figures of the fifth tier are rather taller than those of the
fourth. The first twenty figures on our list, those of the fourth tier
up to King Ina, may represent the twenty bishops of the diocese from
Athelm to Jocelin, in direct order, since the corresponding series of
the fifth tier contains figures which cannot be those of bishops. I
have, however, kept to Cockerell's names to avoid confusion.

FOURTH TIER.--88. _South Tower_--_Buttress_--Sitting Bp.; much
decayed, supported by metal clamps.

89. Bp. Savaric. Much defaced, head grotesquely so.

90. Bp. Robert. Much defaced, head grotesquely.


91. _Buttress._ Bp. Reginald de Bohun, sitting; somewhat decayed.

92. Bp. Ethelweard, good drapery, well--preserved; no hair or beard.

93. Sighelm, good drapery, well-preserved; ring of curly hair and

94. Alfry, in hood; large curly beard.

95. Etheleage, monastic dress, cowl and scapular; large curly beard.

96. Bp. Asser. Short and stout figure, in attitude of benediction.

97. Bp. Heahmund. Short and stout figure, in attitude of benediction.

98. _Buttress._ Bp. Wolfhelm. Fine seated figure, in attitude of

99. Bp. Ealhstan. Stout common-place figure; rather mutilated.

100. Bp. Wilbert. Stout common-place figure; rather mutilated.

101. Bp. Denefrith. Stout common-place figure; better preserved.

102. Bp. Ethelnod. Stout common-place figure; better preserved.

103. _Buttress._ Bp. Aethelhelm, first Bishop of Wells* (reproduced on
p. 22). Noble figure, sitting in attitude of benediction.

104. Bp. Herewald, in attitude of benediction.

105. Bp. Forthere, head bent slightly forward.

106. Bp. Ealdhelm. A fine figure. _Central Window (South)._

107. K. Ina, looking over right shoulder, hand gone. (These central
figures, Ina and Ethelburga, are supposed to be of later date than the
rest.) _Central Window._

108. Q. Ethelburga. Wears the long kirtle with girdle, from which are
hung an ink-bottle and aulmoniere. _Central Window (North)._

109. K. Egbert, trampling, bearded; cloak falls in a graceful sweep
from right to left.

110. K. Ethelwulf, bearded. A very short figure, but raised on high
stone (crouching figure?) higher than the others.

111. K. Ethelbald; decayed.

112. _Buttress._ K. Edgar, sitting, flat cap on head.

113. K. Ethelbert, smooth face, trampling; apparently holds fragment
of sceptre in right hand, cord of mantle with left.

114. K. Ethelred I., smooth face, trampling, gracefully draped cloak,
holds fragment of sceptre apparently in right, and something
indistinct in left hand.

115. K. Edwy, left arm raised, holding cloak, which is over right

116. K. Edward the Martyr, bearded, holding cup (his usual symbol) in
left hand, trampling. This is one of the most likely ascriptions.

117. _Buttress._ K. Edmund, sitting, right arm uplifted, left resting
on knee. Fast decaying.

118. K. Ethelred the Unready, bearded, short figure, trampling, but
the trampled figure leans easily on its elbow.

119. K. Cnut, bearded, short figure, trampling, but the trampled
figure is apparently still struggling.

120. Q. Osburga,* in long supertunic, with ample sleeves, falling in
folds over the feet. The tight sleeve of her kirtle appears on left
arm, which holds cord of mantle. Head and neck in the wimple which was
not in thirteenth century distinctive of nun's dress. Book in right

121. Q. Emma, in flowing supertunic with ample sleeves, and wimple;
hands gone.

122. Harold I., no head covering, trampling; hands touching girdle.

123. Harthacnut, like II old, but hands and part of face gone.

124. _Buttress._ K. Edred, sitting, right hand on knee, left raised to
cord, drapery crossed.

125. Q. Edgitha, mantle falls round over left foot.

126. Edmund Ironside.* Knight in surcoat over chain armour, hauberk
but no helmet; right arm and left hand gone, but head turned to left
and attitude is that of drawing or sheathing his sword.

127. Harold. Knight, hauberk and surcoat of mail, cylindrical helmet,
shield on left side; delapidated.

128. _North Side of Tower. Buttress._ Edward the Confessor, in cap;
sitting in attitude of judgment (Planché), left hand resting on right
ankle, this leg being crossed over left knee.

129. Prince Richard.* Crowned figure of great beauty, bearded, head
slightly bent to left with a melancholy expression; hands gone.

130. Robert Curthouse,* bearded, the right hand draws aside part of
the surcoat, exposing right leg in curious hose; left leg covered by

131. K. Rufus,* bearded, right hand holds cord of mantle, left holds
border of mantle across his body.

132. Q. Matilda, flowing hair, holds mantle in left hand.

133. Emperor Henry, crowned, holds cord of mantle, with right hand
fingering end of his girdle.

134. K. Stephen, right hand holds cord of mantle, left on girdle.

135. K. Henry II., end of cloak thrown over shoulder, holds the fold
with both hands; in good preservation.

136. _Buttress._ K. William the Conqueror, sitting in menacing
attitude, elbows projecting, and hands upon knees.

137. Prince Henry. A dignified figure; hands gone.

138. Prince Geoffrey. Beautiful figure, head gone, holds cord of
mantle, loose sleeves, and good drapery. (Ferrey is wrong in calling
this a female figure.)

139. Q. Maude the Good, flowing hair, left hand on girdle of
supertunic, dress fastened at neck with "a beautiful jewel" (Ferrey).

140. Adelais. Graceful figure, with flowing hair.

141. _Buttress._ K. Henry I., sitting in defiant attitude, right arm
akimbo, left knee raised, foot on pedestal.




142. K. John.* A beautiful figure.

143. Henry III., no crown, standing, but right knee raised to suit the
weathering of aisle roof.

FIFTH TIER.--144. _South Tower. Buttress on the south side._ Sitting
Bp., supported by metal clamps.

145. Bp. J. de Villula; hands gone, much decayed, clamped.

146. Bp. Gisa; hands gone.

147. Bp. Duduc*; right hand gone, book in left.

148. _Buttress._ Bp. Lyfing; decayed.

149. Bp. Merewit; hands gone.

150. Bp. Brihtwine; hands gone.

151. Aethelwine. Fine figure with long wavy beard spreading at end,
hood and mantle, aulmoniere at girdle.

152. Burwold, tall bearded figure in hood, satchel (?) hanging from

153. Bp. Aelfwine.* Beautiful figure in cowl, curly hair and beard,
finely draped habit with loose sleeves.

154. Bp. Sigegar, book in left hand.

155. _Buttress._ Bp. Brithelm, head turned to right; decayed.

156. Bp. Cyneward.

157. Bp. Wulfhelm. A fine figure.

158. Bp. Elfege. A fine figure.

159. Edfleda, flowing hair, in supertunic or surcoat with long and
wide sleeves, head covered with veil, which hangs behind, no wimple.
Nothing conventual to suggest Edfleda.

160. _Buttress._ K. Edward the Elder. Fine figure, right hand on
knees, left on cord of mantle.


161. Edgitha. Very tall figure, right hand on cord, left holds end of


_Central Window (South)._

162. Q. Edgiva, kirtle only, with crown and veil, no wimple.

_Central Window._

163. Ethilda. Wears supertunic over her kirtle, veil and wimple.

_Central Window (North)._

164. Hugh. A sword hangs from his girdle on left side.

165. Elgiva.

166. Q. Edgiva; hands gone.

167. _Buttress._ K. Ethelstan, defiant attitude, right foot on stool,
wears brooch.

168. K. Charles the Simple. A squat figure with very big head,

169. Otho, close-fitting tunic, over which is mantle with handsome


170. Guthrum. Knight in surcoat, mail hauberk and chausses, shield on
left side.

171. _Buttress._ K. Alfred, seated; both hands gone, front decayed,
and clamped.

172. Earl of Mercia.* Knight in helmet with cross-slit, holding right
hand up and shield upon left arm; the surcoat turned over below the
waist shows a suit of mail. Well preserved.

173. St. Neot (more probably St. Decuman, as St. Neot was not
beheaded). Bp. holding with both hands the upper part of his head,
which has been cut off across the brows.

174. Ethelfleda,* the Lady of the Mercians. A striking and beautiful
figure with flowing hair, long veil hanging below the waist,
supertunic held by brooch, but without sleeves, the tight sleeves of
her kirtle being visible to the shoulders.

175. Ethelward. Woman with flowing hair, veil; hands gone.

176. Grimbald. Priest; hands gone.

177. St. Elfege, Archb.; hands gone; a noble figure.

178. _Buttress._ St. Dunstan, upper part decayed.

179. Turketul. Short figure, trampling, in very pointed cloak, big
head in cap.

180. John Scotus.* A beautiful figure, with exquisitively fine drapery
that looks as thin as gauze.


181. _North Side of Tower.--Buttress._ Robert, Archbishop of
Canterbury, standing, holding book in right hand, left hand gone; no

182. Q. Elgiva, drapery falls from left shoulder, is folded over right
arm; book in left hand.

183. Q. Edgitha. Tall, gaunt figure; veil falls in long folds to knee,
right arm close to side, left hand holds cord.

184. Q. Edburga, circlet round head, brooch on her breast, holds
drapery in right hand.



185. Christina, Abbess of Romsey.* Beautiful female figure, holding
box in left hand: "her dress is peculiar": one end of veil is caught
over right shoulder, the other falls down in front on right side (p.

186. Wulston of Winchester, bearded, "with distended ears"; right hand

187. _Buttress._ Archb. Aldred of York, sitting; "mitre modern," it is
conical in shape.

188. Edgar Atheling. Knight, spurred, in surcoat only, with sword
girded outside, no mail, but close-fitting cap and fillet on head: the
fillet was used for the large cylindrical helmet to rest on. He
carries what may be a palmer's hat (Cockerell points out that Edgar
went on a pilgrimage); but Planché says it must be a small Saxon
buckler, as pilgrims did not carry swords. It certainly looks like a

189. Robert the Saxon. Knight in hauberk, without mail, but feet
spurred, cap on head, shield and sword.

190. Falk of Anjou. Knight in hauberk and chausses of mail, hood of
hauberk enclosing whole head except a portion of the face: on head is
the thick fillet. He covers his body with a shield. His surcoat is
deeply jagged.

191. Robert of Normandy. Knight, in hauberk and complete suit of mail,
in good preservation, shield with boss on it held down: he wears
cyclindrical helmet, his eyes and nose being visible through the slit.

192. _Buttress._ B. Roger of Salisbury, sitting, without mitre.



193. Female figure, holding drapery with right arm, left hand on side.

194. St. Nicholas, the patron saint of baptism, stands in water up to
knees, holding a child in each arm. This ascription is approved by
Planché. (He is commonly called by children "the pancake man," the
conventional water suggesting round cakes).

195. Female figure, in good preservation, but clamped in a sloping
position, drapery good.

THE RESURRECTION TIER.--The sixth tier (195-283) consists of a series
of small canopies which run continuously under the cornice that
finishes the main division of the front. Above and around, the
spandrels are filled with beautiful foliage most boldly undercut. Each
of the eighty-eight canopies (of which thirty are on the north side)
contains a figure, or group of figures, representing the Resurrection
of the dead. In spite of a rather defective anatomy, these figures are
singularly impressive, "startling in significance, pathos, and
expression," are Cockerell's words. They are naked--crowns, mitres,
and tonsures alone remaining to distinguish their office. They awaken
by degrees, heave up the lids of their tombs, and draw themselves up
slowly, as if scarcely yet awake. Some sit in a strange dreamy posture
with folded arms, some seem expectant, others are in attitudes of
fear, hope, defiance, and despair. There are none of the grotesque
accessories which are too common in ancient representations of this
subject, but the awful feeling of a great awakening shivers along this
range of naked, grey, stone figures. It is probably the earliest
representation of the subject in art; it is certainly the most
profound and spiritual.

THE ANGELS' TIER.--This is immediately above the Resurrection Tier,
and occupies the lower part of the gable only. The angelic figures
stand in nine low niches with well-moulded trefoil heads that rested
on blue lias shafts; the two niches on the returns of the buttresses
also contain angels, which are represented as blowing trumpets. In all
probability the nine figures symbolise the nine orders of the heavenly
hierarchy, and I have ventured to give the names which the attributes
and position suggest to my mind as the most likely. Mr Ferrey's
account is quoted in inverted commas: it must be remembered that he
had the advantage of a close inspection from the scaffolding.

284. Thrones. "Angel holding an open book," two wings, long robe,
facing to his right.

285. Cherubim. "Seraph," with four wings, "apparently holding a
banner," decayed.

286. Seraphim. "Seraph," with four wings, "entirely feathered, with
bare legs and feet," face gone.

287. Dominations. "Angel wearing a helmet," in vigorous attitude, two
wings, "too dilapidated to make out what its attributes are."

288. (_Central Figure_). Powers. "Beautifully robed, holding a
sceptre," two wings: the dress is very ample and majestic.

289. Virtues. "Robed in a short tunic, with an ornamental border, the
legs are encased in armour," wears "a jewelled cap," two wings.

290. Principalities. "A Seraph, entirely feathered, holding a vessel
shaped like a bowl," with flames issuing out of it, the legs and feet
being also enveloped in "wavy lines of flames: probably the avenging
angel"; four wings.

291. Archangels. "Apparently holding a crown in the right and left
hands, close to his breast," long robe covering the feet; two wings.

292. Angels. "Carrying a regal or small hand organ," in left hand,
four wings, decayed; apparently bearing a wand in right hand.

THE APOSTLES' TIER.--The next tier, that of the Apostles, who are thus
raised above the angels, contains twelve figures of imposing design,
later in style than the rest of the statuary. The figures are hollowed
out at the back so as to press less heavily on the tier beneath. The
arrangement of these niches is very happily managed, so as to avoid
any monotony in the range of twelve similar niches; for, besides the
natural division formed by the small attached shafts between the
figures, an additional projecting shaft in every third division forms
the tier into four large bays with three figures in each. The capitals
of these niches are remarkable, the graceful foliage being disposed in
a very free manner, in some cases growing upwards, in others bent
down, but always true to the outline of the capital. Of the figures
themselves the central one, in the place of honour, and taller than
the rest, is St. Andrew. The others are not all so easy to name, the
attributes of some having disappeared; and, although Cockerell gave
names to them all (some of which were certainly wrong), we may content
ourselves with the following list, which at least is accurate so far
as it goes:--

293. No symbol in hand, which is covered with drapery. (Carter's
drawing represents a staff or spear, but he is quite unreliable,
though it is occasionally possible that the attributes he draws did
exist when he saw the figures a century ago.)

294. Book (?) in right hand, a vessel or bag of cylindrical form is
apparently suspended from the left arm. Perhaps St. Matthew with his

295. Holds something, which may be the fuller's club, in which case
the figure is that of St. James the Less; forked beard.

296. Club (?) in hand, long curly hair and beard. There is something
near the knee, which may be a palmer's hat. (Carter drew this figure
as St. Bartholomew with knife and skin.)

297. Carter drew this figure as St. Peter with the keys.

298. St. Andrew with his cross; he is so tall that his head fills the
upper portion of the canopy.

299. St. John holding the chalice, which has large bowl and short
stem; wavy hair. This is the only figure not bearded.

300. St. James the Greater. Staff in right hand, large satchel on left
side hung from hand over right shoulder, book in left hand (the book
of the Gospels with which St. James is always represented, in addition
to the pilgrim's stiff and scrip). He wears a high cap.

301. Perhaps St. Paul (who is often represented among the Twelve),
with sword and book.

302. St. Philip holds drapery in right hand. Ferrey says the five
loaves can be distinguished.

303. Long hair and head-dress like a veil bound by a fillet round the
brows, forked beard, book in left hand, girdle.

304. This figure occasioned much controversy, owing to Carter having
drawn it with a crown. Cockerell therefore attributed it to St. Peter,
and said that the crown showed Bishop Jocelin's papistical tendencies!
Planché scoffed at this, remarking with truth that none of the
Apostles are ever represented with crowns, but he caused even greater
confusion by suggesting that the figure stood for a Saxon king, and
that the tier, in spite of the Apostolic number, did not represent the
twelve Apostles. If he had looked at the actual figures instead of
Carter's drawings he would have seen that there is no crown at all. In
the photographs this is still clearer, the Apostle's head being
evidently covered by nothing more imposing than his own long hair or a
veil like that of the preceding figure.

THE UPPERMOST TIER.--The whole magnificent series was fitly crowned by
this group (305), of which only the lower part of the central figure
remains. That, however, sufficiently attests the noble character of
the rest: it represents our Lord seated in glory within a
vesica-shaped niche. The feet are pierced. It seems to have been
mutilated by Monmouth's followers, for it still bears the marks of
their bullets. The two figures in the niches on either side must also
have been destroyed at this time, for they are shown in a print in
Dugdale's _Monasticon_. Ferrey cannot have seen this print when he
suggested that the figures were of angels censing, for they are there
given as representing Our Lady (new covenant) and John Baptist (old

THE WESTERN TOWERS.--The projection of these towers beyond the aisles
of the nave gives its great breadth to the west front, which is 147
feet across, as against the 116 feet of the almost contemporary
cathedral of Amiens, which is twice its height. It is an unusual
arrangement, of which there is no exactly similar example except at
Rouen. Above the screen the towers are Perpendicular, the southern
tower having been completed towards the end of the fourteenth, and the
northern at the beginning of the fifteenth century. They are thus
later additions to the original design of the front, and make it more
difficult for us to realise the effect that was first intended.

These two towers are very nearly alike, but the southern, or Harewell,
tower is some forty years the earlier of the two, and belongs to the
earliest days of the Perpendicular style, Bishop Harewell having died
in 1386. The northern tower was built with a sum of money left for the
purpose by Bishop Bubwith, who died in 1424, and his arms are carved
high up on a buttress upon the north side, those on the west being a
modern copy. In one of its two western niches is a figure of the
bishop in prayer. Both the towers have two belfry windows on each
side, tiny battlements, and a stair-turret on the outer western angle;
in both the buttresses are carried up, with but slight reduction in
bulk, two-thirds of their height and then finished with small
pinnacles. There are, however, certain slight differences between the
two towers; their height is not exactly equal, and there are no niches
on the earlier one. The south tower contains a peal of eight bells;
that on the north is traditionally considered "rotten," but to all
appearance it is sound enough.

[Illustration: The Central Tower From The South-east.]

THE CENTRAL TOWER is Early English to the level of the roof. The two
upper stages are Decorated, but there is a curious inter-mixture of
styles in them, owing to the repairs that were made after the
settlements of 1321. The chapter seemed determined to allow no
possibility of another accident, for besides the inverted arches and
buttresses of the interior, the original high narrow windows of the
upper part of the tower have been fortified by later insertions, by
way of bonding and stiffening the structure, which had been so
endangered by the sinking of its piers below. There are, however, no
signs of any rents in the Decorated part. The tower has square angular
turrets, and is divided vertically into three main compartments, each
division being marked by a small pinnacle, and the turrets by large
compound pinnacles. It is an interesting tower to ascend, the rents in
the wall being plainly discernible; and from the summit there is a
fine view of Wells and of the valley in which the city stands.

The NORTH PORCH is perhaps the finest piece of architecture at Wells,
though it generally receives far less attention than it deserves. It
is certainly the oldest part of the church, and must have been the
first work which Bishop Reginald undertook, about 1185; in style it
retains much of the Norman influence. The mouldings of the noble
entrance arch are numerous and bold, and twice the Norman zig-zag
occurs, though enriched with leaves in a manner that suggests the
coming Gothic. A weather moulding, exquisitely carved with deeply
undercut foliage, covers the arch. Its capitals on the east side
contain figures among their leaves representing the martyrdom of St.
Edmund the King: the first three of the caps have the saint in the
midst, crowned, and transfixed with a number of conventionally-arranged
arrows, and his enemies, two on either side, drawing their bows; the
fourth cap shows an executioner cutting off the saint's head; in the
fifth the head is found by the wolf; the sixth has been partly cut
away, but the body of the wolf and the heads of two figures remain.

In the spandrels above are two square panels containing a cockatrice,
and another strange beast. The gable is filled with an arcade, the
central member of which is corbelled off to make room underneath for
three little lancet windows which light the parvise chamber within.
The buttresses of the porch have slender shafts at the angles, which
are finished off with foliage of a remarkably free and graceful kind;
it should be noticed as an example of those subtle touches that are so
abundant in this porch. On the buttresses are pinnacles with an
arcade, at the top of which little openings cast a shadow that gives a
lightness to the whole effect. A smaller pinnacle is at the apex of
the gable, and underneath it an ornament of twisted foliage.

Nothing could well surpass the interior of this porch; the delicacy,
and refinement which are shown in every detail are the more amazing
when we consider that the architect and his masons had only just
emerged from the large methods of Norman building. A range of three
arcades on either side is divided in the midst by three shafts boldly
detached from the pear-shaped moulding round which they are grouped.
These shafts carry the ribs of the groined vault, and divide the porch
into two square bays. Their capitals are very boldly undercut, and
bear distinct traces of Romanesque influence; indeed, the volutes of
the cap on the west side give it almost the appearance of a very
freely-carved Corinthian capital. Those at the angles are of like
fashion, except that on the north-east, which has fuller and freer
foliage, wherein stands a man shooting with his bow at a bird, the
whole most vigorously conceived.

[Illustration: The North Porch.]

In the uppermost arcade the little touch of foliage that is worked on
to the junction of the mullions (which are made up of four pear-shaped
mouldings) illustrates the love of delicate things that is so
characteristic of this architect. Below is a projecting double arcade,
behind which, against the wall, is a third row of arches: the outer
mouldings intersect and the abaci of the outer caps are finished off
in a carefully restrained curl of foliage; those on the soffit are
deeply undercut, by means of which a very black shadow is secured. All
the capitals are carved with the stiff-leafed foliage; and in the
spandrels are grotesque beasts, full of character. The string-course
below is finished with dragons who bend round and swallow the end of
the string, their tails (on the west side) twisting right along the
moulding. It is significant of the free way in which the masons were
employed, that the carving varies very much on the two sides. The
grotesques in the spandrels above mentioned are finest on the east
side, but the dragons of the string course are best on the west side,
where their expressions, as they bite the moulding, are full of life
and humour. On this western side, too, the foliage which fills the
spandrels of the lowest arcade is at its best; it is indeed the purest
and truest piece of decorative work in the whole cathedral. Each
moulding in this beautiful porch, from the filleted ribs of the groins
to the bands round the shafts, and the moulded edge of the stone
bench, is most carefully thought out, and adapted to its position, in
a way that every architect will appreciate. The double doorway which
leads into the church has an unusual and most effective moulding on
its jambs, very large and simple, with slight projections worked upon
it: the inner moulding of the enclosing arch, however, is a boldly
projecting zig-zag, the supporting capitals of which have two figures,
one in a cope, the other a bishop in a very pointed chasuble. The
central pillar is of much later date. Above is a square recess filled
with later masonry, where perhaps a figure was once inserted.

Most happily, the North Porch has been spared from the restorer's
hand. It is a unique and most beautiful example of early work; any
restoration of it would practically destroy it, and would be an
unpardonable crime. The hungry eye of the modern vandal is sure to
seize on this piece of virgin work, sooner or later; for its very
purity will tempt him. We only hope that when that day comes the
Chapter will be faithful to their trust.

The GABLE END of the north transept, which must be very near to the
north porch in date, is a very similar example of the early work. It
is flanked by turrets which are capped with pinnacles; both turrets,
pinnacles and wall are rich with arcading, the effect of which is
especially charming in the gable, where, by a happy device, the
weather moulding is made to curve suddenly over the two topmost
arches, filling the angle at the apex of the coping, and leaving a
little space between it and the two arches to be occupied by foliage.

The general character of the WALLS is distinctly Transitional; the
buttresses are almost as low, broad, shallow and massive as in Norman
work; and the windows, though now filled with Perpendicular tracery,
are so broad that, were they but round-headed, they would look more
Norman than much real Norman work.

The richness of exterior effect is much increased by a most graceful
Decorated PARAPET, which is carried all round the church on the wall
of both nave and aisles. As for the masonry as a whole, with the
exception of the west front nothing could be sounder and more
skilfully executed. Mr Britton's opinion was that "perhaps there is
not a church in the kingdom of the same age where the stone has been
so well chosen, better put together, and where it remains in so
perfect a state: this deserves the particular notice and study of

The CHAIN GATE, one of the peculiar glories of Wells, is really a
bridge over the roadway, built by Bishop Beckington and his executors,
to connect the chapter-house staircase with the vicars' close. Freeman
spoke of it as a "marvel of ingenuity," yet perhaps its excellence
consists rather in its simplicity. A covered way was needed to the
close, but the road lay between, and so a bridge was built; the bridge
had to rest on something: three arches were therefore made, one large
for carts, and two small for foot-passengers; a further space had to
be spanned between the road and the staircase: the bridge was
therefore continued on the same level, but, as the ground here was
lower, the arch on this side was built on a lower level. Furthermore,
the two ends of the bridge not being exactly opposite to one another,
the bridge had to turn at a slight angle where it reaches the road. It
is just such simple adaptation of means to an end that gave his chance
to a medieval architect; it is this that gives what is called its
picturesqueness to an ancient town, it is this that makes nature so
picturesque. A modern architect would have built his bridge in a
straight line across the road, and have pulled down something to avoid
the irregularity; he would not have had the sense of proportion which
alone was needed to make utility supremely beautiful. The builder of
the Chain Gate just used his opportunities to their very best. He saw
that but a small thing was wanted, that the close must not be dwarfed;
so he kept the work little and delicate, rich and light: he made its
chief beauty to lie in its _bijou_ character. Yet he preserved its
dignity by the wide opening of the central arch, the height of which
is emphasised by the smallness of the two arches on either side. But
although the two small arches effect so much by their contrast with
the large one, the harmony of the gateway is preserved by the
panelling above them which marks this part of the bridge off from the
rest. On the south of the gate is a blank wall, supported by a
buttress which was wanted here, and so here was put. On the south of
the buttress is the lower arch which is so admirable a foil both to
the height of the main gateway and the delicacy of the windows. A
correctly-minded architect would not have tolerated this blank wall
and irregularly-placed arch; but substitute what you will for the
wall, or alter the height of the arch, or replace both by an arcade,
and the dignity of the little gateway is gone. It may further be
noticed that the builder kept the upper and lower stages very
distinct, and made the upper storey as clearly a bridge as the lower
is a gateway: the charming little windows run in a continuous range
over blank wall, gate, and all, but they are grouped closer together
over the gate. A battlemented parapet finishes the top of the bridge.
Niches are placed in the midst of the two windows over the gate; they
contain graceful statues of St. Andrew and other saints. In the wide
moulding of the string course there are angels, curiously placed in a
horizontal position, as well as the stags' heads of Beckington's arms.

[Illustration: The Bishop's Eye.]

Passing under the Chain Bridge a good view of the CHAPTER-HOUSE is
obtained. It is a massive, buttressed octagon, the lower stage marked
by the small broad barred windows of the undercroft, the next by the
rather squat traceried windows of the house itself, while under the
cornice is an open arcade. The gargoyles are interesting. A parapet,
different in design and inferior to that of the church itself,
finishes the building. From this part of the road, there is a good
view of the cathedral in one of its most characteristic aspects;--the
Lady Chapel, the low buildings of the north-eastern transept and
retro-choir, the chapter-house in the foreground, all lying on ground
below the level of the road, and over the Chain Bridge a glimpse of
the north transept gable and the north-west tower.

A queer corner, hidden by a thick tree, is formed between the
chapter-house and the choir aisle; in spite of the obscure position, a
fine gargoyle of the head and shoulders of a man, carved in unusually
colossal proportions, is placed here at a low altitude, to carry off
the water that must gather at the junction of aisle with undercroft
passage. Through the walls that rise high on either side a capital
glimpse of the tower can be had.

From the same road, opposite the prebendal house (now allotted to the
Principal of the Theological College), which has a picturesque
Perpendicular doorway with a window above, the grouping of the Lady
Chapel with the rest of the church can be well seen.

The rich and light appearance of the EAST END is due not only to the
charm of its tracery, which contrasts so well with the network of the
Lady Chapel windows, and to the parapet which rises slightly in the
centre, but also to the three lights which pierce the gable; of these
the upper is diamond-shaped, and thus the masonry that is left has the
appearance of a stout Y cross.

FROM THE SOUTH-EAST.--One of the most interesting views of the
exterior is from the lovely grass-plot on the east of the cloisters,
where once stood the cloister Lady Chapel, and where the vicars were
formerly buried. It is being again used as a cemetery, which is
unfortunate, since there are few things more irreligiously dismal than
a modern burial-ground, and already a cluster of marble and granite
monuments has arisen to spoil one of the most peaceful and unspoilt
places in Wells. If monuments there must be (and why need we so
advertise the dead?), let them at least be quiet and humble and
beautiful: those ostentatious erections of hard and polished stone
ruin the grey walls before which they stand; their frigid materials
are too obtrusive for Christian modesty, too enduring for human
memory. May we not yet hope that this spot will be spared the fate of
the cloister garth?

From here the Lady Chapel is well seen as quite a separate building,
joined to the rest of the church only in its lower part, and with its
own parapet round all its eight sides; its form harmonises most
charmingly with the square presbytery behind it, and with the lofty
chapter-house, like itself octagonal. A further beauty is added by the
solitary flying buttress which stands out at the south-eastern corner;
though certain rents in the southern wall show that the buttress was
built for reasons of the gravest utility. On the south side of the
chapel there is a little door, covered by what looks at first like a
kind of porch, but it is really the passage of a small vestry (p. 132)
which was built up against the wall; the roof of the vestry was a
little higher than that of the passage, and must have leant against
the wall just under the window, as is proved by its gargoyle near the
passage door. This vestry was fatuously destroyed in the early part of
this century by an official who did not even know that it was medieval
work till the soundness of the masonry proved almost too much for his

The junction between the earlier and the later presbytery is well seen
from here--too well seen, in fact, for it is awkwardly managed. The
later choir windows, with their crocketed ogee hood-moulds, are a good
feature, and so are the flying buttresses; but the high-pitched roof
of the earlier aisle is discontinued at the break in order to give
room for these windows and buttresses; and the effect of this sudden
termination of an aisle roof half-way along a building is not
pleasant. In the earlier part, too, the later windows have been
clumsily inserted some distance below the Early English dripstone, as
if only the internal effect had been considered. The same may also be
said of the window in the south transept gable: the gable, by the way,
is a much plainer affair than that of the north transept.

Here stood the two CLOISTER LADY CHAPELS, but unfortunately their
sites were not marked on the grass after the excavations were finished
three years ago. Thus nothing can be seen from here of the earlier
chapel, and, of the later, only the doorway and the Perpendicular
panelling against the cloister which marks its western end, and the
commencement of the walls. A small quatrefoiled hagioscope may be
noticed in the library above the cloister; it, no doubt, commanded a
view of the high altar of the chapel.

The earlier _Capella B.M.V. juxta claustrum_ is often referred to in
the chapter documents, and was a favourite centre of devotion. It
became a kind of family chapel for the numerous clan of Byttons, after
the first bishop of that name was buried there; it was also sometimes
used as a chapter-house. The Early English doorway which led to it can
still be seen in the cloister wall, on the right of the present
doorway; it is partly covered by an I.H.S. of later date, made with
the instruments of the Passion. The excavations of 1894, when the
foundations were laid bare under Mr Buckle's direction, showed that
this chapel consisted originally of a plain oblong building, earlier
even than the north porch in date (_i.e._ before 1185), which was
afterwards (c. 1275) enlarged by the addition of an aisle on either
side. The excavations showed that arches were used at this time to
replace the western part of the older walls, and thus to throw the
ancient chapel open to its new aisles. The original chapel, then, if
it was not actually part of Bishop Gisa's buildings, spared when John
de Villula destroyed Gisa's cloister, seems to have been built not
long after Gisa's time, and at least on the site of Gisa's chapel.
This would account for its orientation, which was in a more northerly
direction than that of the cathedral, and probably was the same as
that of the pre-Norman church. Excellent plans of the foundations both
of this and the later chapel are to be found in the _Somerset
Proceedings_ for 1894, where the whole matter is discussed in detail
by Canon Church and Mr Edmund Buckle.

The later chapel on this site was built by _Bishop Stillington_
(1466-91): it followed the orientation of the cathedral, and was of
much larger size than the former building, being about 107 ft. in
length. It consisted of a nave, transepts and choir, with fan-tracery
vault, of which some fragments have been lately fixed in the cloister
wall. Most profusely ornamented and panelled within, as can be seen by
the west end against the cloister wall, it is considered to have been
the _chef d'oeuvre_ of the Somerset Perpendicular, surpassing even
Sherborne and St. Mary, Redcliffe.

But its glory was not to be for long. Stillington was buried in this
"goodly Lady Chapell in the Cloysters," says Godwin, "but rested not
long there; for it is reported that divers olde men, who in their
youth had not onely scene the celebration of his funeral, but also the
building of his tombe, chapell, and all did also see tombe and chapell
destroyed, and the bones of the Bishop that built them turned out of
the lead in which they were interred." This was in 1552, when Bishop
Barlow and the chapter made a grant to that barbarous scoundrel, Sir
John Gates, of "the chappie, sett, lyinge and beynge by the cloyster
on the south syde of the said Cathedral Church of Wells, commonly
called the Ladye Chapple, with all the stones and stonework, ledde,
glasse, tymbre, and iron ... the soyle that the sayd chappie standeth
upon only excepted." The condition was that the rubble should be all
cleared away, and the ground made "fayre and playn," within four
years; but before this period had elapsed, Sir John's head had gone
the way of the Lady Chapel.

[Illustration: Doorway, South-east Of Cloister.]

The CLOISTER in its more prominent features is Perpendicular, having
been rebuilt in the fifteenth century. Nevertheless the outer walls
are of Jocelin's date, together with the doorway leading into the
palace (see illustration on this page); and the lower part of the east
cloister wall, including the two small doorways therein, is said by Mr
Buckle to be undoubtedly earlier than Jocelin's time, and contemporary
with the north porch, _c._ 1185. Thus we have still the original plan
at least of the thirteenth-century cloisters. This plan is
characteristic of a non-monastic church, where the cloister is not the
centre of a common life, but merely an ornamental convenience which
might or might not be added, and when added might be of any fashion
that was desired. There is no walk on the north side, no refectory or
dormitory, and the plan is not square, as would be the case with a
conventual building, but an irregular parallelogram, while the eastern
walk is built up against the south end of the transept instead of
against its western wall.

[Illustration: East Walk Of Cloister.]

The inner part of Jocelin's cloister was probably a wooden penthouse
like that of Glastonbury. At all events, it has entirely disappeared.
The eastern alley was built by the executors of Bishop Bubwith, who
died in 1424. That on the west, with its rooms, was built by
Beckington (1443-65) and his executors. That on the south was
completed soon after by Thomas Henry, the treasurer. Beckington, by
the way, showed a reckless disregard of the earlier work by carrying
his cloister right up against the south-west tower, and completely
concealing the beautiful arcading of that part. Beckington's
executors, in the time of Bishop Stillington, also built the singing
school over the western cloister. Bubwith's executors built the
northern part of the library over the eastern cloister; but the
southern part was added at a later date. The square windows were
inserted later still by the famous Dr Busby, about 1670. The fourteen
bays of lierned vaulting over the east alley, and one on the south,
were executed in 1457-8 by John Turpyn Lathamo, at the cost, we find
from the fabric roll, of ¾d. per foot, or £6, 11s. 3d. for the
whole, though an additional ten shillings was presented to him for his

Each alley consists of thirteen bays in the Perpendicular style; the
windows are now all unglazed, of six lights, with transoms and
tracery; between the windows are buttresses to support the rooms
above, which extend, however, only over the east and west alleys.
Turpyn's vaulting is of a curiously decadent character, which reminds
one of the Jacobean Gothic of Oxford and Cambridge. The ribs spread at
the start to enclose a trefoiled panel, and they curve into one
another when they meet at the bosses. In the rest of the south walk,
however, the bosses are square, and receive the ribs in the usual
manner; in the west walk they are still square, and more varied in
their ornament, bearing Beckington's initials, arms, and rebus,
arranged in several different ways. Beckington's arms, which occur
also on the gateways, are argent on a fess azure, between in chief
three bucks' heads caboshed gules, and in base as many pheons sable, a
bishop's mitre or. His rebus is a fire _beacon_ lighted, a _tun_
holding the fire.

Two small stone pent-houses, of which the purpose is uncertain, are
built up against the windows of the fourth and sixth bays of the
eastern alley. The vault of this alley was built without reference to
the fine Early English doorway into the transept, one side of which it
hides, the weather moulding being cut away. This doorway is mentioned
in an Act of the Chapter of 1297, but it was probably made by Jocelin
before he built the cloister wall, which comes uncomfortably near to
the door, as if it were an afterthought. The companion doorway from
the western alley, which was the usual entrance to the cathedral in
the thirteenth century, has been similarly defaced by the vault. Three
annual fairs used to be held in the cemetery, till Bishop Reginald set
apart for the purpose the new ground which is still the market-place.
The traditional entrance to the church by this south-western porch may
have been due to the fact that the citizens gathered for secular
business on the south-western side. At the south end of the eastern
alley is the Early English bishop's doorway, which no doubt led
straight to the palace in the days when there was no moat to obstruct
this route. The door was originally hung to open inwards; a beautiful
moulding was destroyed to hang it in its present position. There is a
bracket of later date over this doorway.

The cloister-garth, which is hideous with modern tombstones, is
traditionally called the _Palm Churchyard_, no doubt because of the
yew which grows there. Yew trees, so common in churchyards, are still
commonly called palms, because their branches were used for the
procession on Palm Sunday. This churchyard was anciently the
burial-place of the canons, the ground east of the cloister (now used
again as a cemetery) being reserved for the vicars, while the space
before the west front was the lay burial-ground.

An admirably contrived _dipping-place_ was still standing in the Palm
churchyard, near the second bay of the east cloister, within the
memory of living persons, but now no trace of it remains above ground.
A water-course, held within a channel of carefully-worked masonry,
runs under the eastern cloister from St. Andrew's well, and passes on
to fall ultimately into the old mill-stream. The oblong building over
it that formed the dipping-place was entered at the south end, and a
few steps (with aumbries for the linen at either side) led to the
washing-place at the little stream. An arch covered this spot, where
the water ran through two low arches on either side and was bridged in
the midst by a pavement. The place was used for washing linen, and the
water required for the cathedral was drawn here before the modern
supply pipes were introduced.

THE LIBRARY is over the east walk of the cloister, and is entered from
the south transept. It is a charming old-world place, full of ancient
volumes, many of which are of great interest. A passage runs from end
to end, along the east side of the long room, the other side being
mainly occupied by the old desks, benches and bookcases, which project
at right angles to the wall, many of the book-chains still hanging on
them. There are said to be over three thousand volumes, including the
bulk of Bishop Ken's library, a collection of early editions of his
works, and his copy of Bishop Andrewe's "Devotions." There are also
several books (including one Aldine "Aristotle") with MS. notes and
autograph of Erasmus. The collection of old charters, which have
recently been made to throw so much light on the history of the
cathedral, is also preserved here. Some of the most interesting
charters are displayed in glass cases; one of them, Edgar's grant to
Ealhstane, is specially venerable for the signature of St.
Dunstan--_Ego Dunitan Ep._--which occurs third among the witnesses to
the document.

Two precious relics of medieval times are also kept here. One, which
is generally called a lantern, was till lately hung in the undercroft.
There is no trace of its ever having been used as a lantern, and it is
probably the wooden _canopy of the pyx_ which hung before the high
altar. The Blessed Sacrament was in medieval times reserved, not in a
tabernacle, but in a hanging pyx of precious metal; and this graceful
wooden canopy probably contained the pyx. There are only two other
possible examples of the pyx-canopy (at Milton Abbas and Tewkesbury),
and both are of later date than this, which is thirteenth century.
Woodwork of this period is so rare that, even were it not a
pyx-canopy, it would be of extreme interest. It is cylindrical in
form, divided into three storeys of open tracery, and crowned with a
cresting of three-lobed leaves. Its height is 3 ft. 11¼ in., its
internal diameter 14½ inches. It is made of oak, certain parts of a
later restoration being of deal. Mr St. John Hope (_Proc. of Soc. of
Antiquaries_, 1897), thus enumerates the traces of colour: "The whole
of the body and its upper and lower rings have been painted red, with
gold flowers or other devices upon the transverse bands. The slender
dividing shafts seem to have been coloured blue. The leaves of the
cresting have apparently been painted white, but the circular boss in
the middle of each leaf was entirely red." Two pairs of iron rods,
with a ring and swivel hook, serve to suspend it in a steady position.

The other relic is the thirteenth-century _crozier_ which was recently
found in a tomb in the cathedral, and probably belongs to the time of
Savaric, though there is no evidence, beyond its style, for describing
it as his crozier. It was dug up in a stone coffin in the western
burial-ground of the cathedral in the time of Dean Lukin (1799-1812).
It is thus described in the _Catalogue_ of the Burlington Fine Arts
Club exhibition of enamels, June 1897: "A complete crozier, [the
staff] wooden (modern), with enamelled head one foot in length.
Limoges, thirteenth century. The volute is a serpent with blue scales
and serrated crest, enclosing a winged figure of St. Michael and a
dragon studded with turquoises. The knop is encased in pierced
repoussé open work formed of dragons, and the socket ornamented with
thirteenth-century foliated scrolls in these slightly spiral bands,
separated by jewelled dragons whose tails form three rings under the
knop." St. Michael is represented in the act of attacking the dragon
with his spear.

A little MUSEUM has been formed in one of the rooms over the western
cloister. It contains a collection of seals, Mr Buckle's plans of the
cloisters and the Cloister Lady Chapel excavations, and many other
objects of interest.

The principal buildings in connection with the cathedral are the
vicars' close, the bishop's palace, the deanery, the archdeaconry, and
the canon's houses. There are also Beckington's fine gates,--the Chain
Gate by the vicars' close, Brown's, or the Dean's Gate, near the
deanery, the Penniless Porch, leading from the Market Place to the
cathedral; and the Bishop's Eye, leading from the Market Place to the

[Illustration: The Chain Gate, Entrance To Close, 1824]

Most deservedly famous is the unrivalled VICARS' CLOSE, which contains
the houses built by Bishop Ralph and his successors for the
vicars-choral. Passing through the gate, one sees the two long ranges
of quiet and lovely houses, fronted by their little gardens, with a
roadway betwixt them. Nothing can surpass this arrangement for its
peaceful seclusion and constant charm, not even the square quadrangles
and cloisters of Oxford, and yet, so convenient is it, that no better
model could be chosen should there ever come any general return to the
old collegiate life; for a settlement, for a model factory, one can
imagine nothing better even now. There are forty-two houses,
twenty-one on either side: each consisted originally of two rooms, one
above the other, with a staircase; for the vicars were single men. Now
that the vicars-choral are married, many of them live in the town, but
all the theological students are lodged here, and there are always a
few rooms to be let to those visitors who are wise enough to stay in
this charming place.

The tall chimneys rise up through the eaves of the little houses;
octagonal at the top, they are perforated like a lantern, with two
openings on each side. On them are shields bearing the arms of the
see, of Bishop Beckington and his executors, Swan, Sugar, and Pope,
sugar-loaves and swans abounding in the decoration.

At the farther end of the close is the tiny chapel (finished by
Bubwith, and finally consecrated in 1489, after Beckington had added
the wooden ceiling and the chamber above), where compline is still
said by the theological students. It is one of the most beautiful
things in Wells--a jewel, like so much of its period--and it has been
well decorated in sgraffitto and colour by Mr Heywood Sumner. An
interesting feature of its exterior is that some of the old Early
English carving was worked in with the masonry of the wall, by way of
decoration, and very effective it is. A passage at the side leads to
the Liberty, where are some of the prebendal houses.

Over the entrance, and leading into the bridge of the Chain Gate, are
the hall and its offices, which are approached by a fine staircase. In
the hall is a painting of much interest, which represents Bishop Ralph
seated on his throne, the vicars kneeling before him; the petition
which he holds runs--_Per vicos positi villae, Pater alme rogamus, Ut
simul uniti, te, Dante domos maneamus_; and the answer, which has the
episcopal seal, is--_Vestra petunt merita, Quod sint concessu petita:
Ut maneatis ita, Loca fecimus hic stabilita._ On the right are
seventeen figures with ruffles, evidently added in Elizabethan times;
corresponding inscription has also been added--_Quas primus struxit_,

There is also a pulpit over the fireplace, which is large, with good
mouldings and an inscription, _In vestris prec[=i] habeat^s
comedat[=u] do[=m] Ricard[=u] Pomroy quem salvet Ihs. Amen_. On the
hearth are a pair of fine fire-dogs.

Just outside the entrance to the vicars' close is a beautiful ORIEL
WINDOW, which has been much copied in modern times. It springs from a
corbelled head, from which foliate four cinquefoiled panels. The
window now has only three square-headed lights, the centre one being
large. Under its sills are rich panels, and it is capped by a slight
crenelated cornice with a boldly-carved drip, from which springs a
conical roof surmounted by a fleur-de-lys.

The beautiful BISHOP'S PALACE was mainly built by Jocelin, who died in
1242. It consists of three sides of a quadrangle, the bishop's house
being on the east, the chapel on the south, the kitchen and offices
running alongside the moat on the north: on the west side there was
formerly a gate-tower and a wall having a cloister within which led to
chapel and hall. In addition to these buildings the great hall, now in
ruins--forming, with the walls and outhouses, an outer court--was
built to the south-west of the chapel. The whole group of buildings
stands on a piece of ground, rich with trees, surrounded by a lovely
old wall and moat, the single approach being by the bridge and the
gate-house, which has Renaissance windows and retains the slit for the
portcullis and the drawbridge-chains. Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury
constructed the gate-house and fortifications, which form an irregular
pentagon, with a bastion at each angle, and an extra one in the
south-east side. The bastion in the western angle (on the south of the
gate-house) contains two storeys, of which the lower, called the
cow-house or stock-house, was used as a prison for criminous clerks.
The moat is fed by a stream from St. Andrew's well hard by.

[Illustration: The Bishop's Palace.]

The palace itself is a most interesting example of medieval
architecture, and remains very much in its original condition. It is
oblong in plan, and divided lengthwise by a solid wall, running
through both storeys from end to end, at about one third of its width;
the long outer chamber formed by this wall on the ground floor is
divided into the entrance hall of three bays (containing a fireplace,
_temp._ Henry VIII.), and the passages to staircase and to chapel at
either end. The wider chamber within the wall is lighted by plain
lancet windows, and has a row of slender Purbeck pillars down the
middle, which, with the corbels on the wall, carry a groined vault:
this, the "crypt," or undercroft, was probably used as a storage-room;
it is now the dining-room. To the north of this hall is a square
chamber with a pillar in the centre; and to the east of the chamber a
small room projects beyond the ground plan of the building, with a
space at one end (probably a closet) now walled up.

On the first floor the great chamber (68 by 28 feet) stood over the
undercroft, while on its north was the bishop's private room, both
open to the roof, and to the east of this, his private chapel. The
gallery above the entrance hall was formerly divided into three
chambers, the two larger of which Mr Buckle thinks were used as a
lobby and a wardrobe. The windows in the gallery were restored by Mr
Ferrey in 1846, but nothing is new except the marble shafts and bases.
The two windows at the north end of the great chamber are evidently
later additions, as they have fully developed bar-tracery, while the
other windows in the chamber consist of pairs of trefoil-headed
windows with a quatrefoil in plate tracery above them.

The GREAT HALL, which is now but a beautiful ruin, was built by Bishop
Burnell, who died 1292. It was a magnificent chamber, 115 feet by 59½,
with high traceried windows. It was divided into nave and aisles
by rows of pillars to carry the roof and the passage at the west end
led between buttery and pantry to the kitchen; over these rooms was a
large solar, and on the north side a porch with staircase at the side
leading to the solar. Both hall and palace are well and fully
described by Mr Buckle in the _Somerset Proceedings_ for 1888. Bishop
Barlow had the hall dismantled, employing Sir John Gates for the
purpose; the walls, however, were left standing until Bishop Law's
time, when they were partly demolished in order to make the ruin more

The chapel is very similar in style to the hall, and was built very
shortly afterwards; it is at present defaced by bad decoration and
fittings. The carving is very fine and varied; some of the capitals
retain the old stiff-leaf foliage, while in some the leaves grow
freely round the bell in the Decorated manner. The vaulted ceiling is
also an excellent example of the transitional work of the period. The
west window is of later date, and has been twice restored--once by
Bishop Montague (1608-16), and again in the present century. On the
north side, at some height from the ground, are the indications of
what may have been a gallery used as a private pew.

Bishop Beckington (1443-66) added the northern block of buildings, now
considerably altered, the kitchen and various offices, _le botrye,
cellarium, le bakehous, ad lez stues ad nutriendos pisces_, in William
of Worcester's words, as well as the gate now called the Bishop's Eye,
_aliam portam ad introitum de le palays_, and the parlour (_parlurum_)
and guest-chambers adjoining the kitchen. This block lies very
prettily alongside the moat.

Unfortunately the palace, which had so wonderfully escaped the brutal
adaptations of the eighteenth-century architect, was restored in 1846
by Mr Ferrey, and its west front completely altered. The upper storey,
the porch, the buttresses were all added by Mr Ferrey; not to mention
the tower at the north and the turret at the south, and the
conservatory. Bishop Bagot, at whose order the work was done, also
rebuilt the kitchen and offices; in fact, he did what he could to
destroy the unique character and beauty of a block of buildings
without parallel anywhere.

THE BISHOP'S BARN, which stands in a field near the palace is
remarkable for its length (110 ft. by 25½) and the number of its
buttresses. Simple in character, stately in proportions, it is a
striking instance of the perfect sense of fitness which marked the
medieval builders: in fact, it is the exact opposite to what a modern
builder would erect if asked to provide a barn in the Gothic style.

THE DEANERY, rebuilt by Dean Gunthorpe (1472-98), is an almost perfect
specimen of a fifteenth-century house, in spite of the modern sash
windows and other alterations which deface it. As at the palace, the
principal apartments were on the first floor; and of these the chief
is the hall, an excellent example of the more comfortable late
medieval arrangement. Two handsome oriel windows with vaults of
fan-tracery are at the upper end, not quite opposite to each other,
where the sideboards used to stand; and at the lower end a stone arch
carries a small music-gallery, with three small windows opening to the
hall. Under this arch is the lavatory, a stone niche, in which a small
cistern was suspended, with a drain at the bottom; so that the diners
could put their hands under the tap of the little cistern as they
passed into dinner.

Over the hall are guest chambers with fine windows; and behind the
partition at the back of the dais is another chamber with a large
window, which Mr J.H. Parker thought to have been the chapel.

Fuller description of the various ecclesiastical buildings can be
found in Mr Parker's paper in the _Somerset Proceedings_ for 1863.

THE ARCHDEACONRY was built in the time of Edward I., but the front of
the house has been entirely modernised. The hall is larger than that
of the deanery, and occupies the whole height of the building, having
a very fine early fifteenth-century open timber roof.

THE CHOIRMASTER'S HOUSE, at the east end of the cathedral, is a fairly
perfect example of a fifteenth-century house, retaining its beautiful
porch unspoiled. The roof and upper part of the windows of the hall
remain, but are disguised and concealed by modern partitions. It is
now the residence of the Principal of the Theological College.

An organist's house once communicated with the singing-school, which
is over the western cloister; it was much defaced in the eighteenth
century, and entirely removed a few years ago.

THE CANONS' HOUSES, which lie in the Liberty to the north of the
cathedral, have been either entirely rebuilt, or much spoilt by

THE SCHOOLHOUSE is partly of the fourteenth century, with wings added
in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; it retains some features of

BISHOP BUBWITH'S ALMSHOUSE is near St. Cuthbert's Church. It was much
spoilt in the fifties: the original plan was a great hall, with a
chapel at the end of it, and cells along the side for the almsmen.
These cells were open at the top so that there was plenty of fresh
air, and if an almsman became ill or infirm, he could hear the service
chanted daily in the chapel without leaving his bed. At the west end
of the hall is a building of two storeys built by the bishop's
executors, given to the citizens of Wells as a Guildhall, and used for
that purpose till about 1779. Here is preserved a very fine money
chest of the fifteenth century, painted with a scroll pattern, and
resting on a stand inscribed with curious doggerel of the date 1615.

ST. CUTHBERT'S CHURCH, which is kept open during the daytime, is thus
described by Mr J.H. Parker in the _Builder_ for 1862 (p. 655):--

"It was originally a cruciform church of the thirteenth century with a
central tower, and with aisles to the nave; but of the church all that
remains in the original state is a part of the north aisle. The
central tower has been removed, the church entirely rebuilt in the
fifteenth century. The pillars and arches of the nave have been
rebuilt in the fifteenth century also, and the pillars lengthened
considerably. The arches, with their dripstones, preserved and used
again on the taller pillars, and most of the capitals have had the
foliage cut off. The aisle walls, the clerestory, and roof, are all
Late Perpendicular, about the time of Henry VII.; but the beautiful
west tower is evidently earlier than the clerestory and roof, and has
the mark of the old roof on the east side of it, coming below the
present clerestory. This fine tower, which is certainly one of the
finest of its class, and which Mr Freeman considers, I believe, to
rank only second to one other [Wrington], is said to have been built
in the time of Bishop Bubwith, or about 1430; and this appears to me
probable. The character of the work is rather Early Perpendicular, and
the groined vault under the belfry appears to be an imitation of the
Decorated vault of the cathedral."


   [1] The road should be followed for about a quarter of a mile out
       of the town; at this point a path leads over a stile and through
       a coppice to the best point of view.

   [2] Vol. i. 421.

   [3] _History of the Cathedral_, 125.

   [4] The Doulting stone, of which the cathedral is built, comes
       from the St. Andrew's quarry at the little village of
       Doulting, where Bishop Ealdhelm died. It is inferior oolite,
       and very like Bath stone, which is the greater oolite. The
       exterior shafts were blue lias, and those within either blue
       lias or Purbeck marble, though there are one or two shafts of
       red Draycot stone in the western responds of the nave.

   [5] _Cathedrals_, iv. 98.



The earlier architecture of Wells Cathedral presents so many puzzles,
that the most skilled experts have differed widely both from each
other, and, as we know now, from the truth. There are four distinct
varieties of Early English work, covering a period of about a century
from the time of Bishop Reginald, whose episcopate began in 1174; and
yet, until Mr Bennett deciphered the old charters, which have at
length settled the problem, all the work was attributed to Jocelin,
for nothing was known of Reginald's building, and some of the best
judges were even convinced that the west front was built before the
nave. The difficulty was mainly caused by the unusual character of the
architecture of the nave; "unlike that of any ordinary English
building, and belonging to a style on the whole fifty years earlier"
than the west front, as Professor Willis said, who gave it a name of
its own, and called it the Somerset style. Thus the theory came to be
that two bodies of masons had been employed--an ordinary English
company for the front, and a local Somerset company for the nave,
transepts and choir, who worked in a local variation of the prevalent
Early English style. In this way, an attempt was made to overcome the
difficulty of attributing to Jocelin work which Mr Willis had himself
pronounced to be "only a little removed from the early Norman style."
Mr Freeman, too, had allowed that the north porch might be earlier
than Jocelin; and, long before, Britton had said that there would be
little hesitation in ascribing the church to the transitional period
of Henry II. (1154-89) on architectural evidence, were it not for
Godwin's assertion, that Jocelin had entirely pulled down the old
church and built a fresh one.

But now we have got behind Godwin, and have found from contemporary
evidence that Bishop Reginald commenced the present church. Thus we
are able to divide the Early English work into no less than four
periods, (1) The three western arches of the choir, with the four
western bays of its aisles, the transepts, and the four eastern bays
of the nave, which are Reginald's work (1174-1191), and so early as to
be still in a state of transition from the Norman. It is a unique
example of transitional building, and Willis calls it "an improved
Norman, worked with considerable lightness and richness, but
distinguished from the Early English by greater massiveness and
severity." The characteristics of this late twelfth-century work are
bold round mouldings, square abaci, capitals, some with traces of the
classical volute, others interwoven with fanciful imagery that reminds
us of the Norman work of Glastonbury; while in the north porch, which
must be the earliest of all, we even find the zig-zag Norman moulding.
(2) The rest of the nave, which was finished in Jocelin's time--that
is to say, in the first half of the thirteenth century--preserves the
main characteristics of the earlier work, though the flowing
sculptured foliage becomes more naturalistic, and lacks the quaint
intermingling of figure subjects. (3) The west front, which is
Jocelin's work, and alone can claim to be of pure Early English style.
(4) The chapter-house crypt, which is so late as to be almost
Transitional, though, curiously enough, it contains the characteristic
Early English dog-tooth moulding which is found nowhere else except in
the west window. From this, we reach the Early Decorated of the
staircase, the full Decorated of the chapter-house itself, the later
Decorated of the Lady Chapel, the transitional Decorated of the
presbytery, and the full Perpendicular of the western towers.

Much of the masonry in the transepts, choir, choir aisles, and even in
the eastern transepts, bears the peculiar diagonal lines which are the
marks of Norman tooling. This does not, of course, prove that any part
of Bishop Robert's church is standing, for medieval builders were
notoriously economical in using up old masonry, but it does show that
there are more remains of his work in the building than was generally
supposed. A characteristic feature in this Norman tooling is that if a
rule be laid along its lines, they will be found to be very slightly
curved, a feature which is due to the fact that Norman masons dressed
their stones with the broad curved blade of an axe.

[Illustration The Nave.]

The plan of the church is remarkably complete, symmetrical, and
well-proportioned. Nave, transepts, choir, each flanked with its
aisles, combine to form with the Lady Chapel and chapter-house a
cathedral church which, though not of the first magnitude, is the most
complete and typical in England. The ground plan itself, as set out in
all technical severity on page 160, possesses an unusual attraction
for the eye. It is free both from mutilation and excrescences; and yet
all the picturesque external grouping, and internal mystery, which the
afterthoughts of Gothic architects so often lend to a building, are
secured, in the case of Wells, by the carefully-placed chapter-house
and the beautiful arrangement of the Lady Chapel. The transepts of the
choir are very happily carried far enough east to be internally
subordinate to this chapel, which arrangement, with the apsidal form
of the chapel itself, adds much to the beautiful proportions of the
church. A third transept is given to the west end of the nave by the
two towers.

The length of Wells Cathedral from east to west is 383 feet within the
walls, and 415 without. The length of the nave is 161 feet, its
breadth 82 feet, and its height 67 feet. The length of the choir is
117 feet, and its height 73 feet. The transepts are 135 feet within
and 150 feet without.

THE NAVE.--The general effect of the nave is that of length rather
than height, and this is mainly due to the continuous arcade of the
triforium which leads the eye from end to end of the building instead
of from floor to roof. If this be compared with the older work in the
transepts, it will be seen at once by how simple a device this radical
change in the effect has been produced. Instead of being carried down
right across the triforium, as in the transepts, the triple vaulting
shafts are cut off above the arcade so as to be little more than
corbels, and the space thus gained is used to give one additional
opening to each bay of the triforium. In the transepts the triforium
is composed of pairs of lancet arches separated by vaulting shafts,
the triforium of each bay being a distinct composition over its pier
arch; but by the time the architect had come to the nave, a new idea
had occurred to him, and he made the triforium in one continuous
arcade, unbroken from east to west, evidently with the deliberate
intention of producing a horizontal rather than a vertical effect. The
arrangement has undoubtedly a character of its own, and "there is no
nave in which the eye is so irresistibly carried eastward as in that
of Wells."

In spite of this method of securing an effect of length, the builders
managed to make the most of the small height of their church. The
manner in which this was done forms an interesting example of the
subtle feeling of proportion which early architects possessed. The
clerestory was made unusually lofty, and the comparative lowness of
the triforium both adds to the soaring effect and prevents the
horizontal appearance being overmastering. This is increased by the
bold vaulting of the ceiling, and the way in which the lantern arches
fit into the vault.

But, homogeneous as the nave appears, a little examination will
clearly reveal the break which marks the separation between the late
twelfth-century work of Reginald de Bohun and the thirteenth-century
continuation of Jocelin. The earlier work, as we have seen, consisted
of the four eastern bays, which, with the present ritual choir and
transepts, formed Reginald's church; and, as a matter of fact, at the
fifth bay (the next bay westward of the north porch) the marks of
change are so evident that all writers upon the cathedral have based
their theories upon it. The earlier masonry in the spandrels on the
east of this point consists of small stones indifferently set: the
later masonry is made up of larger blocks more carefully laid
together; in the earlier part there are small heads at the angles of
the pier arches, in the later there are none, while the small heads in
the angles of the earlier triforium arcade give place to larger heads
in the later; the tympana, which fill the heads of the lancets in this
arcade, also are mainly ornamented in the earlier part with grotesque
beasts, while in the later they contain foliage, with two exceptions.
Again, the medallions which decorate the spaces above the triforium
are sunk in the earlier masonry, but, in the later, they are flush
with the surface and not so deeply carved. Even more noticeable is the
difference in the capitals, those of the western bays being lighter,
freer, and more undercut, though less interesting and hardly as
beautiful as those of the earlier part. With the exception of these
differences, however, which are doubtless due to the freedom enjoyed
by medieval workmen, the original design of the nave was faithfully
adhered to, the square abaci, even, being retained, though the
circular abacus had become a leading characteristic of the true Early
English of Jocelin's period. Certainly it is an unusual instance of an
architect deliberately setting himself to complete the works of an
earlier period in faithful accordance with the original plan; and we
may well be grateful to him for his modesty.

[Illustration: A Capital--the Fruit-stealer's Punishment.]

All the carving is most interesting and beautiful: the caps and
corbels of the vaulting-shafts; the little heads at the angles of the
arches, which are vivid sketches of every type of contemporary
character; and the carvings in the tympana, above referred to, which
are best in the seventh, eighth, and ninth bays (counting from the
west end), those on the north excelling in design and execution, while
those on the south are more grotesque. But the CAPITALS of the piers
are the best of all, and the most hurried visitor should spare some
time for the study of these remarkable specimens of sculpture,
vigorous and life-like, yet always subordinated to their architectural
purpose. Those in the transepts are perhaps the best (p. 89), but the
following in the nave should not be missed:--

_North Side, sixth Pier._--(By north porch) Birds pluming their wings:
Beast licking himself: Ram: Bird with human head, holding knife (?).

_Eighth Pier._--Fox stealing goose, peasant following with stick:
Birds pruning their feathers: (Within Bubwith's chapel) Human monster
with fish's tail, holding a fish: Bird holding frog in his beak, which
is extremely long and delicate.

_Ninth Pier._--Pedlar carrying his pack on his shoulders, a string of
large beads in one hand.

Toothless monster, with hands on knees.

_South side, seventh Pier._--Birds with human heads, one wearing a

_Eighth Pier._--Peasant, with club, seized by a lion: Bird with
curious foliated tail: (Within St. Edmund's chapel) Owl: Peasant with
mallet (?).

The lofty clerestory windows are divided into two lights by
Perpendicular tracery of late fourteenth or early fifteenth century
date, which extends to the level of the passage, the lower part being
filled with masonry. The windows were not, however, altered in shape
when the tracery was inserted. In the tracery are very slight traces
of the old glass.

The triforium passage is capacious enough to form a large tunnel,
which gives a good effect to its lancet openings. The small iron
rings, which are prominent enough to be rather tiresome to the eye,
were recently inserted for the use of those engaged in cleaning the
walls. Within the passage additional arches may be seen, inserted to
strengthen the arcade at the commencement of the later work and in
other places.

The groined ceiling has carved bosses at the intersection of its ribs.
The red pattern is a restoration of the old design which was found on
the removal of the whitewash, but the restorer seems to have missed
the right tints.

There is a music-gallery in the clerestory of the sixth bay on the
south side; it is composed of three panels with quatrefoils containing
plain shields, and is finished with an embattled cornice. Another
gallery, perhaps for an organ, must have been supported by the two
noticeable brackets on the spandrels of the fourth bay of the same
side. One may conjecture that it was of wood, and was reached from the
triforium. The brackets are carved in the shape of very large heads of
a bishop and a king, both supported by smaller heads, and of an
extremely benevolent expression. The hair of the king has that curious
formal twist with which we are familiar on playing-cards. As some of
the small heads in the chapter-house have the same style of hair,
these two brackets probably belong to the end of the thirteenth

[Illustration: A Capital--toothache.]

Sir John Harrington in the _Nugae Antiquae_ (ii. 148) says of these
two heads that "the old men of Wells had a tradition, that, when there
should be such a king and such a bishop, then the church should be in
danger of ruin." At the time of the Reformation it was noticed that
the head of the king bore a certain resemblance to Henry VIII., and
that the king held in his hands a child falling, who, it was said,
could be none other than Edward VI. The peculiarity of the bishop's
figure is that he has women and children about him. "This fruitful
bishop, they affirmed, was Dr Barlow (p. 156), the first married
bishop of Wells, and perhaps of England. This talk being rife in Wells
in Queen Mary's time, made him rather affect Chichester at his return
than Wells, where not only the things that were ruined but those that
remained, served for records and remembrances of his sacrilege."

The west end of the nave is covered in its lower portion by an arcade
of five arches with Purbeck shafts, the middle one being wider than
the rest, to contain the two smaller arches of the doorway. The three
lancet windows were re-modelled in Perpendicular times by the
insertion of the triple shafts, which have the casement mouldings and
angular caps of the period; but the dog-tooth moulding of the arches,
the medallions in the spandrels, and the little corbel heads of the
Early English work remain. A Perpendicular parapet along the sill of
the window marks the gallery which, pierced through the splays,
carries the triforium passage round the end of the nave. A string
course runs along the bottom of this gallery and forms the bases of
the triple shafts; the bases are supported on corbels which die off
upon the sloping wall below. This wall conceals a curious gallery, the
purpose of which is not known; it is entered by steps from the
triforium, and lighted by round openings which can be seen in the
central quatrefoils of the west front; when these quatrefoils were
filled with sculpture it would have been difficult to detect the
existence of the dark gallery.

[Illustration: Specimens Of Capitals.]

Two small transepts at the west end of the nave are formed by the
western towers, which project in this church beyond the aisles. These
transepts are connected with the aisles by an arch, the lower part of
which is closed by wooden doors. That on the north was used as a
chapel of the Holy Cross, and of late years as the consistory court:
it is now the choir-boys' vestry; that on the south served as a porch
in the days when the usual entrance to the church was by the Early
English doorway which leads into it from the cloister; it is now
appropriated to the bell-ringers. They are both of strikingly
different style to the rest of the interior, as they were built in
pure Early English style, at the same time as the west front, of which
the towers form, of course, an integral part. Their shafts are of blue
lias, the capitals richly carved; their groined vaults have a circular
opening to admit to the upper storey of the tower, which has its
corbels ornamented with foliage, although they cannot be seen. Over
the doorway in the south chapel an arcade is curiously fitted into the
available space beneath the vault.

[Illustration: A Capital.]

THE AISLES OF THE NAVE (see p. 19) are of the same character as the
nave itself, the later part having been resumed at about the same
time, and at the same place. Among the capitals the following in the
north aisle may be specially mentioned:--

_Fifth Shaft._--Peasants carrying sheep, etc., a dog in the midst.

_Ninth Shaft._--Man in rough coat, which falls before and behind
rather like a chasuble, carrying foliage on his back. A very good

_Tenth Shaft._--(By arch of vestry) Man carrying what seems to be a
hod of mortar and a mason's mallet.

_Opposite side of arch_, at end of the string course: Peasant in hood
carrying a staff. On the caps opposite are two heads with tongues on
their teeth (see p. 92).

The windows, both of these aisles and those of the transepts, were
filled with Perpendicular tracery at about the same time as the
clerestory windows. The date of this addition must have been before
Bishop's Bubwith's time, for the library which that prelate built over
the cloister blocks the south window of the west aisle of the south
transept. A stone bench runs along all the aisles.

[Illustration: Specimens Of Capitals.]

GLASS OF THE NAVE, TRANSEPTS, AND AISLES.--Most of the glass of the
west window was collected abroad, during his exile, by Bishop
Creyghton, while he was yet dean (1660-70). The main part of it is
devoted to the life and death of St. John Baptist, and is of excellent
early sixteenth-century work, for under the fantastic figure of the
executioner is the inscription _Sancti Johannis Decollatio_ 1507. The
two other lights containing the large figures of King Ina and Bishop
Ralph are, however, of later date, and to judge by their costume they
should belong to Creyghton's own time; moreover, on the southern one
are Creyghton's arms. Apparently the compositions at the extreme top
and bottom of the middle light are much later; a little handbook on
the cathedral by Mr John Davies, the verger in 1814, states that the
then dean and chapter re-arranged and restored the window in 1813;
these additions must belong to that time, and according to him they
were brought from Rouen. Their ugly reds and blues certainly do not
blend with the earlier glass, as do the figures of Ina and Ralph, but
considerably mar the mellow and delicate effect of the whole. There
are only a few slight fragments of old glass in the other windows.
There are also two modern windows at the west end of the aisles.

[Illustration: View Across Nave, Shewing Sugar's And Bubwith's

BISHOP BUBWITH'S CHANTRY CHAPEL.--Two chantry chapels stand opposite
each other under the ninth pier-arches of the nave. They are alike in
general characteristics, though there is an interval of sixty years
between them. The chantry of Bishop Bubwith (_ob._ 1424), who built
the north-west tower, is formed by a hexagonal screen between the
piers, the three eastern sides being filled with a reredos that gives
the chapel a square appearance within. The screen is composed of the
most light and elaborate tracery, its corners surmounted by a crest;
it is open above, but has a rather coarsely-carved canopy over where
the altar stood. Doorways, whose jambs are too delicately carved to
have ever carried doors, give free access and a clear view of the
interior from either side. Altogether it was an ideal place for votive
Celebrations, when but few worshippers were present. The niches over
the altar have been hacked level with the wall, and the little pillar
piscina is also defaced. The triple shafts of the pier at the western
end are corbelled off, the corbel being carved with Bubwith's arms
(argent, a fess engrailed sable between twelve holly leaves vert, 4,
4, 4, and 4, arranged in quadrangles) impaled with those of the see.
The altar here was formerly dedicated to St. Saviour.

SUGAR'S CHANTRY.--In the ninth bay of the nave, on the south side, is
the chantry of Treasurer Hugh Sugar. Before its erection, the altar of
St. Edmund of Canterbury, who was canonised in 1246, stood here; and
perhaps, when it comes to be used again, it will be maintained in
honour of that most attractive scholar saint. Speaking of these
chantries, which were endowed in such profusion in the later Middle
Ages, Canon Church (_Somerset Proceedings_, 1888, ii. 103) says: "The
belief in the communion of saints, living and dead, and the desire for
continued remembrance after death, and for the intercessions of the
living, led practically to the endowment of chantries and obits,
whereby not only was the church enriched, and the services of many
priests provided for, but also attachment to the church of their
fathers was greatly strengthened, as being the common home of the dead
and the living." That attachment, one would think, is hardly likely to
be revived by this beautiful chapel and its fellow being put to base
uses. At present it serves as a kind of booking-office, where visitors
deposit their sixpences and sign their names, while the other is
stored with hassocks, and becomes the resting-place of any brooms,
pails, and dustpans that are in use.

St. Edmund's (or Sugar's) chapel is hexagonal, like that of Bishop
Bubwith, but its tracery, frieze, and reredos are more elaborate. The
canopy over the altar is vaulted with lace-like fan-tracery. Five
niches, now empty of their figures, form the reredos; their sumptuous
pedestals and canopies are in excellent condition. Attached to the
frieze without, on either side, are six demi-angels, with delicate
wings and extremely curly hair, bearing shields, with representations
of the Five Wounds, the Lily of the Annunciation, between angels'
wings; the arms of the see (a plain saltire surmounting a pastoral
staff in pale between two keys addorsed, the bows interlaced on the
dexter, and a sword erect on the sinister); the arms of Glastonbury
Abbey (a cross flory, in dexter chief a demi-virgin with child
proper), the arms of the vicars (a saltire), the initials H.S., and
Sugar's arms, originally a "canting coat," three sugar-loaves, and in
chief a doctor's cap. Sugar's initials and arms also occur under the
canopy. It is the fashion to consider this chapel inferior to its
fellow, merely because it is later in date, but a little impartial
study will show that it is much the better of the two. The tracery,
though less uncommon, is more graceful, that over the doorway
especially being far better contrived; the cornice is better
proportioned, and is not spoilt by the untidy trail of foliage which
runs round that of Bubwith's chapel; the canopy, too, fits in with the
curve of the tracery, while that of the others projects clumsily
across it.

THE PULPIT.--From the west end of this chapel steps lead into the
stone pulpit which adjoins it. This pulpit was built in Henry VIII.'s
reign, by Bishop Knight, who died in 1547. It is a low, but
well-proportioned, structure, resting on a basement, and fronted with
panelled pilasters; it is surmounted by an entablature. In front are
the bishop's curious arms, which occur more distinctly in the glass of
the north choir aisle--Per fess, in chief a demi-eagle with two heads
and sans wings issuing from a demi-rose conjoined to a demi-sun in
splendour in base. On the frieze is the inscription--_preache. thov.
the. worde. be. fervent. in. season. and. ovt. of. season. reprove.
rebvke. exhorte. w^t. all. longe. svfferyng. &. doctryne. 2. Tim[=o]._
A board along the top, covered with red baize, impairs its beauty at

[Illustration: Sugar's Chapel--the Lectern And Pulpit.]

THE LECTERN, which stands near, is composed of a massive double desk,
surmounted by ornamental work, containing the arms of the see. It
rests upon a ball and turned stem and base, and is entirely of brass.
Bishop Creyghton, who had it made when he was yet dean, inscribed it
on both desks with his arms and this legend:--_Dr. Rob^{t.} Creyghton
upon his returne from fifteen years Exile, w^{th} o^r Soveraigne Lord
Kinge Charles y^e 2^{d.} made Deane of wells, in y^e yeare 1660, gave
this Brazen Deske, w^{th} God's holy worde thereon to the saide
Cathedrall Church._ The Bible referred to still rests upon it, bearing
the same date; it is bound up with the Prayer Book, and contains
initial letters and a frontispiece, but it stops at the book of Job.

Opposite the lectern are two sixteenth-century panelled wooden stalls,
with round finials, all bearing the same device on both sides--a Tudor
rose with _I.H.S._ in the centre, and the letters _m.d.l.i.i._ (1552)
on the five petals. These excellent examples of simple and effective
woodwork were found amongst some lumber in 1846, and now form part of
the temporary choir stalls that are used for the nave services.

On the south side of Bubwith's chapel, and partly covered by it, is a
slab, 10 ft. long, covering the grave of Bishop Haselshaw, with the
inscription, _Walterus de Haselshaw Ep. 1308_. On the west of Sugar's
chapel, another slab bears the inscription, _Radulphus Erghum Ep.
1401_. In a slab near the entrance to the choir there is the matrix for
a brass of a lady, with mitred head-dress of the period, _c._ 1460,
beneath a canopy. The style suggests that it may belong to Lady Lisle,
whose tomb possibly stood here.

THE TRANSEPTS are both of the same architectural character, and were
evidently built before the nave. They have less ornament, the
medallions and the carved tympana of the nave being alike absent,
although there are the same small heads at the angles of the pier
arches. The triforium, too, is different; each bay consists of two
large openings, devoid of ornament, instead of three narrower ones,
and is separated from the next bay by the vaulting-shaft which reaches
down to the string-course of the pier arch (see p. 77). Some of the
carved work, however, of the capitals and corbels is of a later date
than that of the nave, which may be due to the capitals having been
left uncut till after the nave was finished, or to damage done by the
fall of the _tholus_ in 1248. Apparently the corbels of the vaulting
shafts are later than those of the nave, they are certainly more
elaborate. Of the capitals those on the west side of both transepts
are of one style and abound in representations of the toothache. The
capitals on the east side are different from those on the west of the
third pier on this side of the south transept, and that is of a style
that suggests the Decorated period. Those on the west are certainly
the best, and some of the following are the finest in the church, and
perhaps in England:--

NORTH TRANSEPT, _first Pier._--(Inside the Priest Vicars' vestry) A
prophet (?) with scroll on which there is no name: Man carrying goose.
(Outside) Head with tongue on teeth.

_Second Pier._--Aaron, writing his name on a scroll: Moses with the
tables of stone.

_Third Pier._--Woman with a bandage across her face.

Above this cap the corbel consists of a seated figure, naked, with
distorted mouth and an agonised expression.

[Illustration: Section of North Transept, and Elevation of South

SOUTH TRANSEPT, _second Pier_ (from the south end).--Two men are
stealing grapes, one holds the basket full, the other plucks grapes,
holding a knife in his other hand: The farmers in pursuit, one carries
a spade and the other a pitchfork: The man with the fork, a vigorous
figure, catches one thief: The man with the spade hits the other
(whose face is most woe-begone) on the head (illust. p. 79).

_Third Pier._--Woman pulling thorn out of her foot: Man with one eye,
finger in his mouth: Baboon head: Cobbler; this figure shows very
plainly the method of shoemaking at this time; the cobbler, in his
apron, sits with the shoe on one knee, his strap passes over the knee
and round the other foot, his foot is turned over so as to present the
side and not the sole to the strap: Woman's head with long hair.

_Fourth Pier._--Head perfectly hairless: "Elias P." (the prophet) with
hand on cheek as if he too has the toothache: Head in hood, with
tongue on the one remaining tooth.

It may be well here to say a word about the general classification of
these earlier capitals, since their date is a matter of great
architectural interest. I would venture to divide them into five

1. Those of the three western bays of the choir: simple carved foliage
of distinctly Norman character, as in the north porch: these belong to
the time of Reginald (1174-1191).

2. The four eastern bays of the nave and its aisles. Some of these may
belong to the first period, though later than the choir: they are more
advanced in the foliage, and teem with grotesque birds and beasts.
Some, however, of the caps in these bays are of quite different
character (p. 80); they contain _genre_ subjects of perfectly
naturalistic treatment, very different to the St. Edmund of the north
porch capital, but exactly similar to the figure caps of the
transepts. They must therefore have been carved later than the death
of Saint William Bytton.

3. The western bays of the nave. These, which are of much less
interest, belong to the period of Jocelin's reconstruction
(1220-1242). They are characteristic examples of rich stiff-leaf
foliage, freer than that of the earlier work, but much less varied and
without either human figures or grotesques.

4. On the eastern range of transept piers. These would seem also to
come within Jocelin's period, with the exception of the third pier of
the south transept.

5. On the western range of transept piers (p. 89), with which must be
classed those later caps already referred to in the nave under group
2. Their date is settled by the fact that they abound in unmistakable
representations of the toothache. Now Saint William Bytton died in
1274, and his tomb became immediately famous for cures of this malady.
In 1286 the chapter decided to repair the old work, no doubt because
the offerings at his tomb had brought money to the church; this part
of the church had been damaged ever since the fall of the _tholus_ in
1248. The caps must therefore have been carved during the episcopate
of Burnell (1275-1292). Mr Irvine, indeed, suggests that the figure of
the woman taking a thorn ("bur") from her foot may contain a reference
to Bishop Burnell. The undercroft passage, with its curious corbels
and bosses, was probably also a part of the old work then completed,
as it contains one "toothache" head. Although the introduction of such
finished figure-subjects into the capitals suggests this lateness of
date, they are still completely Early English in style, and a great
gulf is fixed between them and the Decorated caps of the chapter-house
begun by Burnell's successor, William de Marchia (1293-1302).

[Illustration: The South Transept From North Side Of Nave.]

[Illustration: Capitals In Transept]

THE FONT is of peculiar interest as the one surviving relic of Bishop
Robert's Norman church. Whether it also stood in the still earlier
Saxon church is still an open question: it is as likely to be of
pre-Norman as of Norman date, and the fact that whatever ornament
there may have been in the spandrels of its shallow arcades has been
hacked off, makes conjecture unsafe. Its unusual position in the south
transept may be due to the Bishop Giso's quasi-conventual buildings on
the south of the church, which would have made this transept the most
common entrance to the cathedral at the time of the Conquest. A
Jacobean cover rests upon the font, and with it forms a charming
combination of pre-Gothic and post-Gothic Romanesque design.

[Illustration: The Font. (Drawn by W. Heywood.)]

At the south end of the south transept is the tomb of Bishop _de
Marchia_ (_ob._ 1302). The effigy lies in a recess, and is covered
with a canopy of three bays, the ogival arches, finished in sumptuous
crockets and finials, painted red and gold, the spandrels being
alternately green and red, powdered with a little pattern, the cusps
and mouldings scarlet and crimson and green and gold, with a dark
colour in the shadows. The effigy of the bishop is one of the best in
the cathedral, but even more lovely are the three little figures so
charmingly supported on foliage at the back of the tomb--two angels
and a bishop between them. The heads of these three figures have been
wickedly destroyed, but parts of the chains of the angels' censers
remain. Of the two beautiful angels which hold the cushion the heads
fortunately remain. Along the plinth of the tomb are six heads which
are quite unique in their treatment; three are bearded (one of these
is bald); one is shaven, tonsured, and turned half round in a
strangely naturalistic manner; another is also shaven, and the
remaining head is that of a woman in a veil. Two large faces are
carved on the east and west ends of the tomb, both with long wavy
hair--one of a woman, the other with a wavy beard. The central boss of
the vaulting is carved with five roses, which are coloured green,
their foliage, like all the foliage in this tomb, being gilt on a red
ground with the red edges showing. The little angels at the back had
gilded robes with red lining, and blue wings; the little bishop wore a
red chasuble with green (or blue) dalmatic, and red tunicle over his
white alb; the lappets of his mitre, which have survived, were red,
and traces of dark blue are on his shoes: there seem to have been
patterns on the various vestments, and the colours can still be seen
where their sleeves overlapped. Modern lettering has been cut across
the back of the tomb and coloured, by way of contrast to the ancient

Under the battlemented cornice of the curtain-wall to the west a row
of heads is painted in fresco on a red ground, which seems to be part
of the same scheme with the curious heads on the plinth of de
Marchia's tomb: one of these, a woman in a dark-coloured hood, is
especially distinct. No doubt, the whole wall was originally painted.
The sill of the window over the tomb seems to have been used for some
special purpose: there is a passage cut through the splay of the
window, through which the sill may be reached, which is not the case
with the corresponding window of the north transept. The passage is
reached from a staircase concealed behind the curtain-wall, which is
reached by an ogee-headed doorway (with cusps in the head, finial, and
two small heads to its very beautiful mouldings). This staircase also
leads to a chamber on the level of the passage, but on the west side:
the interior of the chamber can be seen from the ground, as its old
wooden door is kept open. It is supposed by some to have been a
watching chamber in connection with the tomb. There can, indeed, be
little doubt that these arrangements had something to do with de
Marchia's tomb, or that the ornamented doorway in the curtain wall of
the same date as the tomb, together with the frescoes on the wall,
were connected with the strong efforts that were made at this time for
his canonisation. Perhaps the sill was used for the display of his
relics, and the chamber was the ordinary resting-place of the
reliquary, for which purpose the door and the absence of windows would
have fitted it.

Next to de Marchia's tomb on the other side, the monument of Joan
Viscountess _Lisle_ (_ob._ 1463) gives a good illustration of the
change of architecture in a hundred and fifty years. The crockets are
less free, and straight lines and square members abound; the fine ogee
curve of its single arch is weakened by the rather weedy cusps, its
shafts have become tiny mouldings, and their capitals mere knops. It
is coloured, too, all over, in green and red and yellow, but heavily
in comparison with its neighbour. The colour has been unusually well
preserved, owing to the fact that the tomb was plastered over, and not
discovered till 1809. There is no effigy, but a brass of apparently
recent date bears this inscription:--_Hic jacet Joanna Vicecomitilla
de Lisle una filiarum et haeredum Thomae Chedder, armiger quae fuit
uxor Joannis Vicecomitis de Lisle, filii et haeredis Joannis Comitis
Salopiæ et Margaretæ u[=x] ejus unius filiarum et haeredum Ricardi
comitis Warwici et Elizabethae uxoris ejus filiæ et haeredis Thomæ de
Berkley militis, domini de Berkeley, quæ obiit xv^{mo} die mensis Julii
A[=n][=n] D^i MCCCCLXIII._ Lady Lisle's husband was killed at the
battle of Chastillon (1453), when he was serving under his father, the
famous Earl of Shrewsbury. The painted designs above the three niches
should be noticed, and also those of the moulding and fleurs-de-lys at
the side. The monument was evidently used as a chantry chapel; but it
did not originally stand here. The brass by the north side of the
screen (p. 89) may mark the site.

The eastern aisles of the transepts are divided off into chapels by
two Perpendicular stone screens, that of the south transept having a
doorway in it for each chapel. These chapels are thus dedicated,
beginning from the south--St. Martin, St. Calixtus, St. David, Holy
Cross. From the last-named chapel the chapter-house is reached through
an Early English doorway, and a similar doorway (now partly blocked by
Biconyll's tomb) led from St. Martin's to a small building, supposed
to have been a vestry, which once stood outside. In the south transept
there are also--a small door to the tower, a small door with ogee head
(p. 96), a rather larger doorway with modern lintel leading to the
library (two shafts just above this door have been cut off, and faces
very roughly cut on their extremities by way of corbel), and the large
doorway leading to the cloister. The principal windows belong to the
original work, having been merely filled with Perpendicular tracery.
The windows of the south-east aisle contain Decorated tracery, but the
tracery of the north-east aisle is not good.

The western aisle of the south transept is open; that of the north
transept is cut off by a Perpendicular stone screen, which is solid in
the southern bay, and through carved in the northern. The latter is,
however, boarded up, and used as the vestry of the priest-vicars, the
other being the vestry of the vicars-choral. From the priest-vicars'
vestry a door leads into a small chamber now used for the water
supply, and over the doorway there is a small and pretty figure of a
woman under a little niche.

There are a very few fragments of Early Perpendicular glass in some of
the upper lights of the nave and transept windows. There are also two
modern windows at the west end of the nave, and one in the south
transept, of which I have been unable to discover the actual
designers' names.

TRANSEPT CHAPELS.--ST. MARTIN'S, where the obits of Savaric and
Jocelin were celebrated, is separated by a solid Perpendicular screen
from the adjoining chapel of St. Calixtus. It is now used as the
canons' vestry. Partly blocking the old Early English doorway is the
tomb of _Biconyll_, who was chancellor in 1454. His will, with a good
deal of information about him, is given in the _Somerset Proceedings_
for 1894, by Mr A.S. Bicknell, a descendant. The name was originally
Bykenhulle (A.S. for Beacon Hill), and has been spelt in forty-seven
different ways. His effigy lies on the tomb, dressed in cassock, long
surplice, and _cappa nigra_ or choral cope. The ends of the almuce can
be seen in the opening of the cope, and its hood hangs over the

ST. CALIXTUS' chapel is enclosed on the side of the choir aisle by
part of the beautiful ironwork from Beckington's tomb. The doors of
this and St. Martin's chapel are also made from the same iron screen.
Within the chapel, and near the screen, in strange contrast to it,
stands one of those indescribable stoves which disfigure the church,
its chimney, as usual, driven through the vault. The east end of the
chapel is occupied by the canopy which formed part of Bishop
_Beckington's_ tomb till the restoration of 1850, when it was, by an
inexcusable act of vandalism, taken down and fixed up in this place
(p. 125). This canopy did not cover the tomb, but stood at its foot so
as to form the eastern part of a chantry chapel, the tomb being on its
south side and the iron screen enclosing it where it jutted into the
choir on the north side. It will be noticed that its northern angle
was sloped off so as not to present an awkward corner on the side of
the choir. The reredos, for such it really is, is a most elaborate and
charming piece of work; "pretty" is perhaps the word that describes it
best, if "pretty" be taken in its very best sense. Here there is
nothing of the suave grace of de Marchia's tomb, nothing of the vigour
and truth of the transept capitals, nothing of the noble delicacy of
the north porch, which was a delicacy of intellect, while this is a
delicacy of execution. It is certainly decadent; even by the side of
Sugar's chapel it is over-refined and a thought effeminate, but, with
the colour that still covers it fresh and bright, it must have had all
the fascination of a splendid piece of jewellery, where profusion of
ornament is more desired than structural grace. The cornice is
particularly rich with a finely-carved vine ornament, and with two
angels, their long outstretched wings minutely feathered, who bear
shields having representations of the sacred wounds. The tabernacle
work behind the altar is gone, like the altar itself, with the
exception of the small niches which formed the sides of the central
composition, but the little canopy of the central niche remains to
give us a slight idea of its workmanship. The short wings of the
reredos have panels and traceried openings, and, on the south, a
piscina which looks almost too tiny to be real. The top has a toy-like
vault of fan-tracery with little pendants.

On the south side of St. Calixtus' chapel is _Dean Husse's_ alabaster
tomb (_ob._ 1305), which bears some of the best carved work in the
cathedral. The effigy itself is good: it represents the Dean clad in
the same choir vestments as the figures on the panels below. These
panels should on no account be missed. The first on the left
represents the Annunciation with a grace that is not less delightful
for the strain of exaggeration which pervades it. The Blessed Virgin
(see illustration on p. 101), a lovely figure in long, close-fitting
kirtle and mantle thrown gracefully over her shoulders, turns round
from the desk at which she is kneeling, and throws out her arms with a
quaint gesture of surprise; her crown and nimbus are both of enormous
size. A very small Gabriel dashes down from the top corner, bearing a
scroll which takes up the whole of the panel; he is preceded by a Dove
with very long rays. The next three panels (passing over these with
shields) contain three figures of clergy, two of which hold books, and
all their short staves. They wear the cassock, long surplice, and a
long, graceful choral cope, somewhat like the modern academic gown in
shape, the rounded ends of the hooded almuce reach to the knee and are
held at the chest by a cord with tassels. There is no better
representation of medieval choir vestments in existence than these
three figures. The last panel is a curious representation of the
Eternal Father holding the crucifix; this remarkable figure has a
_very_ long face, great masses of curly hair, a huge crown, and _very_
long hands.

The two chapels of the north transept can only be reached through the
choir aisle, no doubt because the way to the chapter-house was through
them. The first was probably ST DAVID'S chapel. Here should be noticed
the capital of the easternmost shaft of the second transept pier--a
head with curly hair and handsome smiling face. This shaft is
corbelled off, and the corbel through carved in the shape of a lizard
eating the leaves of a plant with berries thereon; it is a charming
study. The tomb of Bishop _Still_ (1543-1607) in this chapel is under
a handsome canopy of warm-coloured marbles, with black columns and
red, blue, and gold decoration. The effigy is dressed in rochet and
chimere, over which is a red robe lined with white fur; a ruff is
round the neck, a close-fitting black cap covers the head and part of
the ears, and the rochet is finished at the wrists with a plain black

In the chapel of the HOLY CROSS the monument of the intruding Bishop
_Kidder_, Ken's successor (p. 158, _ob._ 1703), stands on the site of
the altar, whither it has been removed from its original position on
the south side of the choir. Standing in all its chilly
pretentiousness so near to Still's tomb, it well illustrates the
immense decline in monumental art which took place during the
seventeenth century. The bishop's daughter, who erected the monument,
is represented reclining, as, with one arm outstretched, she looks at
two urns which are supposed to contain the ashes of her father and
mother; underneath is a very long Latin inscription.

[Illustration: The Annunciation--Husse's Tomb.]

Against the north wall and close to the entrance to the chapter-house
stands the tomb of Bishop _Cornish_ (_ob._ 1513). He was chancellor
and precentor of Wells, and suffragan bishop under Bishop Fox of Bath
and Wells and Bishop Oldham of Exeter, his title being Bishop of
Tenos. Part of the inscription remains:--_Obiit supradictus d[)u]s
Thomas Tinensis Ep[)u]s tercio die mensis Julii anno ... MCCCCCXIII
Cujus Anime p_[_ropitietur Deus A_]_men_. The three panels on the
front bear shields--T with a sheaf of corn, Cornish's arms (on a
chevron between three birds' heads erased a mitre) and C with a sheaf
of corn; on the side panel are the arms of the chapter, the arms, that
is, of the see without the pastoral staff. Against the wall within the
canopy are some matrices of small brasses, in which the kneeling
figure of a bishop, a scroll, and two plates for inscriptions can be

[Illustration: Priest In Surplice--Husse's Tomb.]

From several peculiarities in Cornish's tomb, I am convinced that it
was also used as the _Easter Sepulchre_, where the Host was laid
during the concluding days of Holy Week. These sepulchres were often
made in connection with a tomb, and the usual place for them was
somewhere on the north side of the choir. The position here in the
chapel of the Holy Cross (which is an appropriate dedication) would be
particularly convenient for the purpose. The chapel was easily reached
by the clergy without their having to go into the public part of the
church; it was thus as safe a place as the choir itself, and at the
same time was much more open to the people, who could pay their
devotions from the transept, and through the open stone screen could
see the candles burning round the sepulchre.

[Illustration: The East End In 1823.]

Just where it could be best seen from the transept, on the eastern end
of the upper storey of the tomb under the canopy, is a carving of the
Resurrection. A wide arch is cut in the stone; within this is carved a
square opening, not through-cut, but farther recessed, to represent
the mouth of the sepulchre; in front of the square recess is the
figure of Christ, issuing from the tomb, clad only in a long mantle,
which He holds across His body; the hair is long, the face mutilated,
and the hands gone. At the left is the kneeling figure of a bishop,
the head gone, but part of the staff remaining in the hands. There is
a great crack (now filled with mortar) round these two figures, as if
the attack of the iconoclasts had been made with heavy tools. A
pedestal at the right-hand corner of the square recess seems a later
insertion, as it is loose and does not exactly fit; probably it was
added soon after the tomb was made, to hold a small silver figure of
an angel, or of a soldier, as there is a little hole (now filled with
mortar) at a height above it convenient for rivetting a metal figure.

The Sepulchre proper would have consisted of a small coped chest, in
shape like a reliquary, round which would be painted the incidents of
the Passion. The slab of the tomb, being without the usual recumbent
effigy, would have formed the place on which this "coffer" rested,
this being the usual method when a tomb was used for the purpose. On
Good Friday, the Host, often in a specially-made pyx, was with much
ceremony laid in the coffer, together with the altar-cross, and there
was kept, surrounded by candles and guarded by watchers, till Easter
Day. We know that there was a special provision at Wells for one
candle to burn continuously within the Sepulchre "_I cereus in
sepulchro cum corpori Dominico qui continue ardebit donec Matutinae
cantentur in die Paschae_" (_MS. Harl._ 1682, _fo._ 5). There is a
small hole in the east wall of this chapel, close to the tomb and a
little below the level of of the slab whereon the coffer would have
rested; this may have held a sconce or some ornament. But the _cereus
in sepulchro_ was probably a large candle within the chapel, and in
accordance with general usage, there would have been other candles
burning upon cressets. There are two other holes in the north wall, a
few inches to the east of the top of the tomb, which may have held
rods for the curtains that were used in much profusion for the
adornment of Easter sepulchres. While the coffer stood on the slab it
would have hidden the carving of the Resurrection; but on its removal
on Easter Day, the carving would have stood in full view of the
people, bright, no doubt, with colour and surrounded by lights. It
will further be noticed that the tomb stands eighteen inches away from
the east wall, the space being now filled with modern masonry; this
was probably in order to leave ample room for the sacred ministers in
their vestments; had it stood close against the wall the ceremonial
could not have been conveniently carried out.

Near the tomb is the doorway, with a fine old oak door, which leads
into the chapter-house; and above the tomb is a window which was
blocked up when the vestibule was built, and a bracket set in the

THE CLOCK is a great favourite with visitors, who generally congregate
in the north transept at the striking of the hour and laugh gently to
one another when the quaint performance is over. "Jack Blandiver"
(this is the name given him by the country people for some
undiscovered reason) kicks his bell at each quarter in the most
life-like manner, his feet trembling afterwards with the exertion; but
at the hour, after Jack has sounded his four quarters, as the big bell
begins to toll, the four "knights" above the clock rush round in
contrary directions, and charge each other with so much ferocity that
one unfortunate is felled at each encounter, and has barely time to
recover his upright position before he is again and again knocked down
with resounding clatter upon his horse's back. The other three fight
twenty-four times a day unscathed.

The clock was thus described by Mr Octavius Morgan, F.R.S., in the
_Archaeological Journal_ for 1883:

"In the Cathedral of Wells is what remains of the ancient clock which
once belonged to Glastonbury Abbey. This very curious timepiece is
said to have been originally executed by Peter Lightfoot, a monk of
the abbey, but at the cost of Adam de Sodbury, who was promoted to the
abbacy in 1322. It appears to have been originally placed in the south
transept of Glastonbury Abbey Church, where it continued till the
Dissolution, when, tradition says, it was carried to Wells and placed
in the north transept of the cathedral with all its belongings--viz.
the figure which strikes the quarters with his heels on two little
bells within the church, and the two "knights" which perform the same
service with their battle axes on the outside. The inside figure
strikes the hour on a bell before him with a battle-axe in his hands.
The face of the dial is 6 feet in diameter, contained in a square
frame, the spandrels of which are filled with angels holding in their
hands the head of a man; the outer circle is painted blue, with gilt
stars scattered over it, and is divided into twenty-four parts,
corresponding with the twenty-four hours; the horary numbers are in
black-letter characters on circular tablets, and mark the hours from
twelve at noon to midnight, and from thence to midnight again (noon
and midnight being marked by a cross instead of a numeral). The hour
index, a large gilt star or sun, is attached to the machinery behind a
second circle which conceals all except the index. On the second
circle are marked the minutes, indicated by a smaller star; a third
and lesser circle contains the numbers of the days of the month, which
is marked by a point attached to a small circular opening in the
plate, through which the phases of the moon are shown. On the opposite
side is a female figure, with the motto _Semper peragrat Phoebe_.

"An arched pediment surmounts the whole, with an octagonal projection
from its base like a gallery, capped with a row of battlements,
forming a cornice to the face of the clock. A panelled and
battlemented turret is fixed in the centre, round which four figures
mounted on horses revolve in opposite directions, as if charging at a
tournament, when set in motion by a communication with the clockwork,
to be made at pleasure; these are commonly called _knights_, but their
costume is only that of ordinary persons. The movement is at a
distance from the dial, and connected with it by a long horizontal
rod; the dial work was close at the back of the dial. The revolving
figures on horseback are moved by a separate weight, and are set in
motion by the freeing of a detent. The old boarding at the back [in
the vestry of the vicars-choral] is painted black, with a diaper
scroll of foliage with red and white roses. The female figure on the
dial, representing the moon, is always kept upright by a balance
weight; the quarter-boys inside, who strike the quarters, are much
later, having _knee-breeches_.

"The outside dial has now two hands; it was once like a star with only
one hand. The bells outside are struck by two figures in armour,
_temp._ Henry VIII., probably put up when it was removed from

"The clock seems to have remained without alteration after it was then
put up, till the present modern movement, made by Thwaites & Reed of
Clerkenwell, was, in the time of Dean Goodenough, substituted for it,
and the old original movement was taken and deposited in the crypt
under the chapter-house, where it remained uncared for, for many
years, during which time, 1853, I visited and examined it, made notes
of it, and took drawings of it. The great wheel has ninety teeth, and
the pinion, a lantern-pinion, had nine leaves, or rather bars; the
second wheel had sixty teeth; the remainder of the works were all
disjointed and bent, and remained unheeded." The whole is now fitted
together, and in a going condition, in the mechanical museum at South

The _Antiquary_ for August 1897 ("Some Mediaeval Mechanicians")
reminds us that, as the clock was in constant use at Glastonbury for
about 250 years, and then at Wells for another 250 years, and as the
old movement is now still working at the South Kensington, "as though
its life were interminable"--it is probably the oldest piece of
working mechanism extant.

The same article says of these old works: "It will give an idea of the
labour involved, when it is stated the mechanism of the clock occupies
a space of about 5 feet cube (125 cubic feet), that the structure is
wholly of forged iron; that the numerous wrought-iron wheels, some of
which are nearly 2 feet in diameter and about ½ inch thick, besides
having to be made truly circular and concentric, had all their teeth
cut out and trimmed to workable shape by hand; and that the heavy
wrought-iron frames, etc., are fastened entirely by means of mortise,
tenon, and colter, no screws being used in the whole structure. The
pinions are of the lantern form, with octagonal cheek-plates on square
spindles, and the pendulum of modern form beats seconds."

THE INVERTED ARCHES.--Undoubtedly the first thing that the stranger
notices in Wells Cathedral, and the last that he is likely to forget,
is the curious contrivance by which the central tower is supported. Of
the three pairs of arches (the upper arch resting inverted upon the
lower) which stretch across the nave and each of the transepts, that
in the nave is seen at once, and lends a unique character to the whole
church. At first these arches give one something of a shock, so
unnecessarily frank are they, so excessively sturdy, so very English,
we may think. They carry their burden as a great-limbed labourer will
carry a child in a crowd, to the great advantage of the burden, and
the natural dissatisfaction of the crowd. In fact, they seem to block
up the view, and to deform what they do not hide.

That is the first impression, but it does not last for long.
Familiarity breeds respect for this simple, strong device, which
arrested the fall of the tower in the fourteenth century, and has kept
its walls ever since in perfect security, so that the great structure
has stood like a rock upon the watery soil of Wells for nearly seven
centuries, with its rents and breaks just as they were when the damage
was first repaired. The ingenuity, too, of these strange flying
buttresses becomes more and more evident; the "ungainly props" are
seen to be so worked into the tower they support, that they almost
seem like part of the original design of the first builders. One
discovers that it is the organ, and not the arches, that really blocks
the view, and one marvels that so huge a mass of masonry can look so
light as to present, with the great circles in the spandrels where the
arches meet, "a kind of pattern of gigantic geometrical tracery."
Indeed, I think no one who has been in Wells a week could wish to see
the inverted arches removed.

Professor Willis, who had made a most careful investigation of the
masonry, thus describes the cause and the construction of the inverted
arches (_Somerset Proceedings, 1863, i. 21_):

"It is evident that the weight of the upper storey of the tower
completed in 1321 had produced fearful settlements, the effects of
which may still be seen in the triforium arches of the nave, and
transepts next to the tower, which are dragged downwards and deformed,
partly rebuilt, filled up, and otherwise exhibiting the signs so often
seen under central towers, of a thorough repair. The great piers of
the tower are cased and connected by a stone framework, which is
placed under the north, south, and west tower-arches, but not under
the east. This framework consists of a low pointed arch, upon which
rests an inverted arch of the same form, so as to produce a figure
somewhat resembling a St. Andrew's cross, to use the happy phrase
applied by Leland to a similar contrivance introduced for a similar
reason [but at a later date] into the central tower arches of
Glastonbury." To this description there only needs to be added a
mention of the circles which occupy the spandrels, and help to prevent
the whole structure from seeming a mere inert mass of masonry. To
appreciate the work fully, it should be looked at from some spot, such
as the north-east corner of the north transept, whence the three great
pairs of arches can be seen together. The effect from here is very
fine, especially when the nave is lighted up, and strong shadows are
cast. The extreme boldness of the mouldings, the absence of shafts and
capitals and of all ornament, give them a primitive vigour, and their
great intermingling curves, which contrast so magnificently with the
little shafts of the piers beyond, seem more like a part of some great
mountain cavern than a mere device of architectural utility.

[Illustration: The Inverted Arches, From The North Transept.]

At the same time as the arches were built, flying buttresses were
inserted further to secure the tower, and they can be seen blocking up
the triforium and clerestory of those bays, in nave, choir, and
transepts, which adjoin it. Other repairs were necessary, for the
pier-arches of the same bays in nave and transepts were completely
shattered, and had to be replaced by the present ones, the
queer-looking capitals of which contrast so oddly with the earlier
work. It is instructive, also, to compare the lightness of these
fourteenth-century mouldings with the boldness of those, wrought at
exactly the same time, of the great inverted arches.

THE TOWER.--Besides its inverted arches and other signs of repair, the
tower is mainly noticeable for its Perpendicular fan-tracery vault of
fifteenth-century date. This vault hides the lantern with its arcades,
and thus destroys one of the elements of distance and mystery which,
before the advent of the more prosaic Perpendicular period, had been a
characteristic of Gothic architecture. Nothing else but the desire for
uniformity can account for this unjustifiable addition; for there can
have been no intention of hanging bells in the lantern when there were
already two western bell-towers. The lantern, with its cracked
masonry, can be seen during the ascent of the tower (p. 47).

The shafts of the eastern tower arches were corbelled off at some
height from the ground, in order to allow the stalls of the first
ritual choir to be set flat against the wall. This shows that Bishop
Reginald, when he rebuilt the church, kept to the old Romanesque
arrangement and made his choir under the tower, reserving his three
bays of what is now the choir for the presbytery--a very dignified
arrangement. The square holes for fixing the wooden screen of this
earlier choir can still be traced on the aisle walls in a line with
the ninth piers of the nave.

THE SCREEN was built in the fourteenth century; but Salvin altered and
spoilt it by bringing forward the middle portion to carry the
unsightly organ. Mr Freeman objected very strongly to the choir being
shut off from the nave by this screen, and urged the authorities to
pull it down and throw the whole church open from end to end. The
remedy suggested by Mr St. John Hope, on the other hand, is that a
second screen should be erected under the western arch of the tower,
against which the nave or rood altar should stand, with seats for the
choir on either side. Such a screen as this was certainly used in
conventual churches, and would be more in accord with the spirit of
medieval architecture, which was content to sacrifice the grandeur of
great space in order to gain the qualities of seclusion and mystery,
and inexhaustible variety.

Two things, at least, are certain. The long-established custom of
crowding the Sunday congregation into the choir should be abolished,
and the organ should be modified or removed. Magnificent Sunday
services could be held in the nave, either with a second screen and
altar or without a screen at all; but, as the former plan could be
tried without any destruction of old work, it should be tried first.

[Illustration: Choir, Looking West.]

As for the organ, the cathedral will always be defaced while it
remains as a whole in the midst of the screen. Musical experts could
no doubt distribute it so that it would no longer be an offence to the
eye, and yet would sound more effectively than at present. Perhaps
galleries for the swell, pedal, and great organs might be built above
the pier-arches in the western bay of the choir on either side, and
the consol, with the choir organ, might remain on the screen. Some
fragments of tabernacle work on the triforium level would thus be
hidden, but it is unremarkable work, exactly similar to that of the
adjoining bays, and, moreover, it was so blocked and patched when the
tower was strengthened that it would not be a disadvantage to hide it.
As it is, the organ, unsightly in shape, and garishly painted, blocks
up the view of the splendid east window, and makes the nave a mere
vestibule to the choir. The inverted arches are generally thought to
block up the church, but were the organ removed it would be found that
they do not.

THE ORGAN is a modern instrument by Willis. Dean Creyghton, a musician
whose services are still sung in the cathedral, built the old organ in
1664, and S. Green of London repaired it in 1786, but only one
diapason remains of the old stops. The case also disappeared, the
present one being among the ugliest in England. There are three
manuals; thirteen speaking stops on the great organ, ten on the swell,
nine on the choir, and eight on the pedal organ. The swell organ is
rather small, but has been recently improved; the pedal organ is the
best feature of the instrument. The wind is supplied by hydraulic
machinery. There are four pneumatic pistons, six couplers, and seven
composition pedals. The organist now sits on the south side, so that
he can see his choristers, whether they sing in the choir or the nave.

THE CHOIR.--The western part of the choir should be particularly
noticed. For, while the three eastern bays which form the presbytery
are Late Decorated, the three western bays of the choir are
twelfth-century work of Bishop Reginald's time, being, in fact, the
oldest part of the interior. That they were finished before Reginald's
other work in the transepts and nave is not only likely from the
general custom of medieval architects, but is made probable by the
carving of the capitals, which is less advanced than that in any other
part of the church.

It will be noticed, however, that, though the three arches remain of
the earlier bays, the two easternmost _piers_ of the old part are
Decorated, like those in the three later bays; and some of their arch
mouldings have been cut away in order to fit the new capitals. The
reason for this peculiar combination of a new pier with an old arch is
an interesting one. The original pier marked the east end of
Reginald's church, and it was taken from under its arch because, being
at the junction of the east wall with the side walls, it was a large
compound pier quite unfitted to stand as one of an arcade. The three
bays then formed the presbytery of the church, and the choir was
placed, Norman fashion, under the tower. A further evidence of this
being the original east end of the church is presented by the two
early buttresses outside at this point, which are much wider than any
of the others. But there must have been an ambulatory beyond the east
end of the old church, since Reginald's work is carried a bay farther
east in the choir aisles. There may, too, have been a small chapel

Speaking of the contrast between the three early bays and the later
work, Freeman says: "The new work, though exceedingly graceful, is
perhaps too graceful; it has a refinement and minuteness of detail
which is thoroughly in place in a small building like the Lady Chapel,
but which gives a sort of feeling of weakness when it is transferred
to a principal part of the church of the full height of the building.
The three elder arches are all masculine vigour; the three newer
arches are all feminine elegance; but it strikes me that feminine
elegance, thoroughly in its place in the small chapels, is hardly in
its place in the presbytery."

Certainly, the mouldings of the later arches will not bear comparison
with those of the earlier. The suave strength of the transitional
mouldings forms a most instructive contrast to the less effective
minuteness of the decadent work. The same is true of the capitals:
those of the later period have little architectural significance, and
many of them are further weakened by the fact that not the capital
only, but the adjoining part of the shaft as well, is cut out of white

With the exception, however, of the three pier-arches themselves,
there are few signs of the twelfth-century work. For, when the new
presbytery was finished, the clerestory over the old arches was
altered, and the triforium cased with tabernacle work (though not in
quite so rich a style), so as to bring them into harmony with the
fourteenth-century work, and to fit them to carry the new vault. The
tabernacle work of the presbytery must have been completed first; for
no attempt was made to keep it at the same level with the old part,
which, when the builders determined to adapt it to the new, caused a
very marked break at the juncture.


There is, strictly speaking, no triforium, the space being occupied by
the rather florid tabernacle work, the effect of which is, of course,
considerably impaired by the absence of statuary. The niches in the
presbytery are deeper than those in the choir; they spring direct from
the pier-arches, having no spandrel, and they contain richly-foliated
brackets, which rest on triple shafts. This part is also marked by
triple vaulting shafts of Purbeck, which are carried down to the

The clerestory windows contain flowing tracery of an advanced and not
very good type. In some the plain mullions are carried on through the
head of the window and intersect each other.

Above the tabernacle work of the east end is the east window of seven
lights, the last bit of the fourteenth-century reconstruction, the
last flicker of Decorated freedom. Its curious tracery is still
beautiful, doubly so for the glass it enshrines, but the rule and
square of Perpendicular domination have already set their mark upon
it; the two principal mullions run straight up to the window-head, and
part of the tracery between them is rectangular.

The inhabitants of Wells are, or were, exceedingly proud of the
"vista" into the procession-path and Lady Chapel, which is afforded by
the three dainty pointed arches of the east end. So proud were they
that they would suffer nothing to stand behind the high altar but a
low stone wall, barely higher than the altar itself, an arrangement
which, it is hardly necessary to point out, defeated its own end by
reducing the whole effect to absolute baldness. Mr Freeman wisely
pointed out the need of a respectable reredos, remarking that the
original founders never dreamed of the Lady Chapel acting as a
"peep-show to the choir." A Lady Chapel, he added, was built specially
not to be peeped into, but to be a thing apart from the great whole of
the church, from the high altar westward. After a while, a reredos was
offered to the church, and approved by Mr J.D. Sedding, who was then
the cathedral architect; but there was much opposition, and the scheme
was dropped. Dean Plumptre, with characteristic temerity, went so far
as to appeal to the witness of the _vox populi_ that the open view was
the best. Since then, wiser counsels have prevailed, and a curtain
(small and dingy, it is true, but still a curtain) now hangs behind
the altar. While giving a measure of dignity to the east end, it, of
course, emphasises, as every architect must have known that it would,
the charm of the "peep" into the chapels beyond.

A larger reredos would further enhance the peculiar charm of the east
end. There can, indeed, be little doubt that the ancient reredos was
of tabernacle work, so as to carry on the effect of niches of the
triforium storey. Their present disconnectedness can be no part of the
original plan, and a reredos full of statues, which was high enough to
group adequately with the rich canopies above could have been the only
way to secure dignity and unity of effect. Till an architect is found
capable of mastering so delicate a problem of proportion as such a
reredos must present, we may well be content with a larger and
brighter curtain. The low east wall, with its ugly cresting, warns us
not to embark too rashly upon modern stonework.

The lierned stone vault, with its heavy, angular ribs, is of a very
unusual kind. Mr Freeman described it as "a coved roof, such as we are
used to in woodwork in this part of England, only with cells cut in it
for the clerestory windows." The restorers have gilded the bosses, but
the space between the ribs is smoothed in a way that gives the
appearance of there being no masonry in the construction. One can
hardly judge the ceiling, therefore, by its present appearance, which
is not further improved by the green wash with which some of the
clerestory windows are covered.

The general appearance of the choir suffers pitiably from the
ill-advised restoration of 1848 and the following years. Before that
time its aspect must have been curious and encumbered; but the
judicious removal of the pews and galleries, and the restoration of
the truncated oak canopies of the stalls, would have made matters
right at a small cost, and without the destruction of any old
woodwork. As it was, everything was ruthlessly swept away. The
tabernacled stalls, which eighteenth-century vandalism had respected,
vanished utterly before the restoring mania of the Gothic revivalist,
even their traditional position and order being changed.

The result is just what might have been expected. The place has been
completely modernised. Chilly stone canopies cover the stalls; they
are of the kind of workmanship which forty years ago was considered
excellent. That is to say, they are covered with frigid, ungainly, and
pompous ornament, cut with mechanical regularity, and without one
trace of feeling or one line of beauty from beginning to end. Below,
and between them, the choir is encumbered, much as it was before 1848,
with rows of stalls, which are continued in the presbytery almost up
to the tawdry brass altar-rails. Two more pale ghosts of medieval art
front each other in complacent parody of the work their makers could
not even copy--the pulpit and the bishop's throne. The former is Early
Victorian; the latter is worse, it is a restoration of Perpendicular
work so relentless that not a sign of the original conception remains.
Plate-glass fills the tracery at the sides, and the door is a piece of
solid swinging stone. On the completion of this terrible work, the
restorers seem to have felt dimly the want of colour, which previously
had been so abundant. They therefore proceeded to furnish with that
peculiar musty red which used to cast a gloom over our childhood--red
cushions on the seats, red cushions on the desks, red hassocks on the
floor, red edges to the books, hot red in the bishop's throne, dull
red on the altar, before the altar, and behind the altar, it is all
red but the chilly white stone, and the all-pervading woodwork of the
seats, which adds the muddy gloom of oak that has been stained and
varnished to the miserable poverty of the whole.

The cause of all this desolation was just the ignorance of its
promoters as to the functions of a cathedral. The choir was looked
upon as a select church for the leading families of the town, and the
seats in it were appropriated; the nave was a vast empty space that
was never used for worship at all. Hence the organ on the screen,
hence the setting back of the stalls, so that the choir might be
widened, and more seats "rammed, jammed, crammed," to use Freeman's
indignant words, into the space. Instead of the long continuous range
of stalls which formerly existed, there are now groups of five under
each arch, with the result that ten of the prebendaries are without
accommodation. Such is the heavy legacy of blunders with which the
dean and chapter are burdened. It will take many a year before the
choir can be redeemed from its unfortunate state; but the present
arrangement of the altar is a great improvement on its position only a
few years ago, and no doubt similar measures will in time completely
efface the traces of 1850.

Of the old woodwork the MISERICORDS have alone escaped destruction.
Sixty-four of these remain, fifty of which belonged to the prebendal
stalls of the upper row, though they were removed from their proper
position at the restoration. Sixty of the seats are now in the lower
rows of the stalls, the other four are preserved in the library. It is
enough to say of them that no finer examples of wood-carving can be
seen in England. The following description of the wonderfully fresh
and varied subjects was supplied by Mr St. John Hope for a paper read
by Canon Church before the _Society of Antiquaries_ in March 1896:--

   _South side, first row._--1, a goat (broken); 2, a griffin
   fighting with a lion(?); 3, a man in hood and drawers riding with
   his face to the tail of a barebacked horse; 4, a hawk preying on
   a rabbit; 5, a mermaid (unfinished); 6, two popinjays in a fruit
   tree; 7, an ape carrying a basket of fruit on his back (broken);
   8, a double-bodied monster; 9, a dog-headed griffin; 10, two
   goats butting (unfinished); 11, a monkey holding an owl
   (unfinished); 12, two dragons interlocked and biting each other's
   tails; 13, an ewe suckling a lamb (unfinished); 14, a wyvern and
   a horse fighting. _South side, second row._--15, a mermaid
   suckling a lion; 16, a man holding a cup? (broken), sitting on
   the ground, and disputing with another man holding a pouch; 17, a
   cat preying on a mouse (unfinished); 18, a monster with bat's
   wings; 19, a griffin devouring a lamb; 20, a puppy biting a cat;
   21, a man in a contorted position upholding the seat; 22, a
   serious-looking dog; 23, a cat playing a fiddle; 24, a man seated
   on the ground and thrusting a dagger through the head of a dragon
   with feathered wings; 25, bust of a bishop, in amice, chasuble,
   and mitre (unfinished); 26, a peacock in his pride; 27, a fox
   preaching to four geese, one of which has fallen asleep (broken);
   28, a cock crowing. _North side, first row._--29, a lion dormant;
   30, a dragon with expanded wings, asleep; 31, a man with his left
   eye closed, wearing a cloak and squatting on the ground with his
   hands on his knees; 32, a fox running off with a goose in his
   mouth; 33, head of a man with donkey's ears; 34, two monsters
   with male and female human heads, caressing (unfinished); 35, a
   man on his back upholding the seat with his right hand and right
   foot; 36, a lion with the ears of an ass; 37, a hawk scratching
   its head; 38, a sleeping cat (unfinished); 39, a woman with
   dishevelled hair and agonised expression, crouching on the ground
   with the right hand on her shoulder, the other extended; 40, a
   dragon with hairy belly biting his back; 41, two ducks addorsed,
   one with his beak open; 42, two dragons fighting (unfinished);
   43, a bat's head (unfinished). _North side, second row._--44,
   head of a man with bushy hair and beard, with a lion's leg
   growing out of each side; 45, a man in tunic and hood, lying on
   his side and clasping his hands; 46, a man in girded tunic, with
   his head downwards, upholding the seat with his back and left
   hand; 47, head of a lady with hair in a caul on each side,
   covered with a veil confined by an ornate fillet; 48, a
   gentle-looking lion; 49, a bat displayed; 50, head of an angel,
   with amice round neck and expanded wings; 51, a lion; 52, two
   doves about to drink from a ewer standing in a basin
   (unfinished); 53, a squirrel with a collar round his neck, trying
   to escape from a monkey who holds him by a cord; 54, a
   wood-pigeon feeding; 55, a man riding on a lion, to whose
   buttocks he is applying a whip; 56, a boar and a cat with cloven
   feet, walking in opposite directions; 57, an eagle displayed
   (unfinished); 58, head and shoulders of a man who upholds the
   seat with his hands; 59, a rabbit regardant; 60, a two-legged
   beast regarding its tail, which is formed of three oak-leaves on
   one stem. _In the Library._--61, a man in hood and loose tunic,
   kneeling on the ground and thrusting a spear down the throat of a
   dragon; 62, a boy in gown, with long, wavy hair, lying on his
   side and drawing a thorn out of his left foot (of coarse late
   seventeenth-century work); 63, a dove or pigeon feeding her
   young; 64, a sorrowful-looking king sitting cross-legged on a
   cushion between two rampant griffins, who are secured by straps
   buckled round their necks.

GLASS IN THE CHOIR.--Over the high altar is a superb specimen of the
Jesse window. It is so intricate, that at first nothing can be
distinguished in the glow of jewelled colour but the twining branches
of the vine, and a little time is needed to enter into the spirit of a
window that is all the more enduring for not being very obvious. The
following excellent description by Canon Church (in a sermon preached
in the cathedral on May Day 1890) will make the legend easy to

"In the central light are the foremost figures of the Bible story. At
the base is the recumbent figure of Jesse with name inscribed, with
head resting on hand as in meditation. From that figure, as from the
vine stem, issues upward the leading shoot, bearing upon it the
figures of the Virgin Mother crowned with ruby nimbus, and the Holy
Child with gold nimbus, both under a golden canopy. Above, in line, is
the Crucifixion. On either side, the waving tendrils of the vine
shoots intertwine themselves in rings of light round figures of those
who prepared the way for the advent of the Word Incarnate. On the
lower tier, in line with Jesse, are, we may believe, the ancestors of
Jesse. Amminadab and Obed are inscribed on two of the pedestals--others
are nameless. Stately figures they are in face and form, in flowing
mantles of green, and ruby and gold, like Arab chiefs, some with the
Arab head-covering such as is worn to-day--figures such as some artist
in the last crusading host might have seen and designed, so different
from the conventional portraiture of Bible characters.

"In the second tier are the Kings and Prophets chosen to represent the
heralds of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Word Incarnate. Three
kings--David with his 'immortal harp of golden wires'; Solomon, with
Temple model in his hand, in robes of emerald, and ruby, and gold, are
on either side of the central Figures; and Jechonias, the link in the
pedigree between the royal David and the captive exile. Three
Prophets--Abraham, misplaced indeed in order of time, but most fitly
in place as 'the father of the faithful, unto whom and through whom
the gospel was before preached to the Gentiles' (Gal. iii. 8); Hosea,
and Daniel. All these are clad in the magnificence of Oriental
drapery, the colours of each pair on either side of the central light
answering like to like. Some are looking upward, some are pointing
with outstretched hand towards The Child, towards the Crucified One.

"There in central light in the mid-panel of the window is the Virgin
Mother and the Holy Child, The Child born in Bethlehem the home of
Jesse, not in David's royal Palace, the flowering shoot of the stem of
Jesse. Now from His throne on His Mother's knee He looks out over the
world and as with outstretched arms to embrace. A ray of white light
on the Mother's head gives a natural halo of purity to Her 'the highly
favoured' 'with grace replete,' whom all generations have called
'blessed,' as she looks down wondering on the Holy Child.

"A subdued and sadder colour seems to veil the subject of the highest
panel in the central light. There is the green Cross in the
background, and upon it are affixed the attenuated arms and the bent
form of the Crucified--the head drooping on the breast. On either side
of the Cross stand, the sorrowing Mother on the right, in attitude of
calm resignation, very different from the conventional garb of
mourning, and the exaggerated expression of grief in so many
paintings; on the other hand St. John, in sadder colours and the gloom
of grief. Again above, in two of the smaller six-cusped lights, are
figures rising from the tomb, and in the two at the side are angels
blowing trumpets calling to judgment. At the head and apex of the
window are outstretched wings as of the Holy Spirit like the Dove
brooding over the world re-created by the Word made Flesh, giving
Himself for our redemption."

The clerestory windows contained a figure under a canopy in each of
the lower lights. Four of these old windows remain. One light in the
north-east window contains a St. George, thus described by Mr C.
Winston (_Arch. Soc., Bristol vol._): "He is clad in a surcoat which
reaches to the knee. He wears a helmet, avant and rerebras,
shin-pieces and sollerets of plate, or rather cuir boulli; the rest of
his person is defended with mail, on his shoulders are aiglettes." In
the next window are St. Egidias with very distended ears, and St.
Gregory in a tiara. There are also two modern windows; a glaring one
by Willement has St. Dunstan and St. Benignus, who were both abbots of
Glastonbury and St. Honorius; another, by Bell, has Augustine,
Ambrose, and Athanasius.

THE AISLES OF THE CHOIR are entered from the transepts by ogee arches,
which have crockets and finials, and are flanked by a pair of
pinnacles on either side. The aisles are of the same character as the
choir itself, as they were vaulted when the choir vault was made, and
new windows of the Decorated style were inserted in the western bays
as well as in the newer part. There is a stone bench along the aisles
on both sides, and on the north side some very fine specimens of Early
English carving lie on the bench. The vaulting is lierned with four
bosses at each intersection. The foliage of the third group of
capitals on the north side consists of a single leaf which runs
horizontally round the caps.

Two old wooden doors, with fine hinges, close the entrance to the
presbytery on the north and south sides.

The body of Bishop Jocelin lies buried in the midst of the choir,
where he was laid in the place of honour as a founder. Bishop Godwin
relates that the tomb was "monstrously defaced" in his time, and all
traces of the burying-place were lost until, in 1874, an ancient
freestone coffin was found under the pavement in the midst of the
choir. Its covering stone had been broken, and the bones within
disturbed; but on its discovery the stone was renewed, and the
inscription _Jocelinus de Welles, Ep._ 1242 cut on it.

THE SOUTH-EAST TRANSEPT is the chapel of St. John the Evangelist, but
it is mainly occupied by a stove, one of those characterised by Mr
Freeman as "the most hideous stoves with which human perversity ever
disfigured an ancient building." Odds and ends are also kept here, in
accordance with the extraordinary idea, not yet quite extinct, that a
chapel is a place where rubbish may be shot. There is, nevertheless, a
decorated piscina in the east wall to remind one of its former
purpose. Against the south wall is the tomb of the learned _Dean
Gunthorpe_ (1472-98), who built the present Deanery, and gave to the
cathedral a silver image of our Lady, 158 oz. in weight. His initials
occur on the panels, I.G. on a blue ground, and also his arms, which
include guns, in allusion to his name. There are traces of colour,
especially a strong light blue on the panels. Unless one has good
nerves, it is advisable not to look at the window, which was given by
the students of the Theological College under Canon Pindar, its first
Principal. The middle of this unfortunate chapel is encumbered with a
monument to _Dean Jenkyns_ (_ob._ 1854), the ornamentation of which may
be taken as marking the lowest point to which the debasement of Gothic
design has descended. A row of tiles round it serves to make it more
conspicuous, and its unhappy prominence is further secured by a low
brass railing of unutterably bad workmanship. It was Dean Jenkyns who
restored the choir, and Professor Freeman remarks that on his tomb "is
written, with an unconscious sarcasm, _Multum ei debet ecclesia
Wellensis_," words which, he slily points out, seem to be borrowed
from Lucan's address to Nero, the destroyer of Rome, _Multum Roma
tamen debet_, etc.

thirteenth-century effigies of earlier bishops, there are in this
aisle two ancient monuments of great interest. In the second bay is
the tomb of _Saint William Bytton_ (1267-1274), a low slab of Purbeck
marble, with the figure of a bearded and fully-vested bishop, in the
act of benediction, cut upon it. This is the oldest incised slab in
England; and it was at this tomb that the offerings were made which
helped to finish the church. Godwin says that "many superstitious
people (especially such as were troubled with the tooth-ake) were wont
(even of late yeeres) to frequent much the place of his buriall, being
without the North [a mistake for south] side of the Quier, where we
see a Marble stone, having a pontificall image graven upon it."

It may have once been more raised than now, and four small plugged
holes in the masonry of the wall opposite suggest the existence of
some arrangement in connection with the devotions here. In the
restoration of 1848 the tomb was discovered between the second and
third piers of the south choir aisle. It is thus described by Mr J.R.
Clayton, an eye-witness on the occasion:

"On the coffin being opened in the presence of Dean Jenkyns, it
contained a skeleton laid out in perfect order, every bone in its
right place; an iron ring, and a small wooden pastoral staff in two
fragments; a leaden tablet, 10 in. by 3-1/3, with inscription most
beautifully rendered in Lombardic characters.

    _Hie jacet Willelmus de Button secundus Bathoniensis
    et Wellensis episcopus sepultus XII.
    die Decembris anno domini MCCLXXIIII_."

It was noted at the same time that "the teeth were absolutely perfect
in number, shape, and order, and without a trace of decay, and hardly
any discoloration." From this one would infer that the saint was
famous in his lifetime for his beautiful teeth, and that it was for
this reason that his aid came to be invoked after his death by those
suffering from toothache. It is certainly curious that men now living
should have discovered his teeth to be still in such perfect
preservation. His contemporaries would, no doubt, have called it a

A little farther east is the remarkable tomb of _Bishop Beckington_,
surrounded by an exquisite iron screen of the same period. Its canopy
formerly projected into the choir, being large enough to form a small
chantry; but, when the choir was so stupidly restored, the canopy was
dragged from its place, and set up in St. Calixtus' chapel, where it
still is (p. 99,) a hard-looking stone screen being built between the
tomb and the choir in its stead. The tomb is divided into two parts,
the arcade which forms the canopy of the lower effigy supporting the
slab on which rests the figure of the bishop. The carving is very
beautiful, and the delicately-wrought wings of the angels, which
spread over the arches so as to fill the spandrels, are especially
fine. Traces of colour are strong on the tomb, as they are on the
canopy from which it has been divorced, so that one can form some
little idea of what the whole must have been like in its first

The effigy of the bishop rests upon it, the old and wrinkled face
(best seen from within the choir) bearing deep traces of that active
public life which did so much for the city and the church. Below, in
strange contrast to the gorgeous vestments, which have still the
remnants of the painted pattern on them, lies a corpse, almost a
skeleton, in its open shroud. At first one's feeling is that of
repulsion, but it is lessened when we remember that Beckington himself
had the tomb made, and consecrated it before a vast concourse of
people, saying mass for his own soul, for those of his parents, and of
all the faithful departed in the January of 1452. Thus for thirteen
years did this great and famous prelate live with his tomb standing as
a witness to all that, under those sumptuous robes of office which we
are told he wore at its consecration, he knew himself to be but as
other men, and could wait humbly for his end.

A little farther east is a large and rather clumsy effigy of _Bishop
Harewell_ (_ob._ 1386), whose name and arms are suggested, in the
playful fashion of the time, by two hares at his feet. Harewell is
known to have been a portly man.

To the west of Beckington's monument an altar tomb in reddish
alabaster has been placed in memory of _Lord Arthur Hervey,_ the late
bishop, with an effigy by Mr Brock. It may be hoped that it is the
last of its kind, since there is little room for more tombs, and great
need of other and more useful forms of memorial.

_Bishop Drokensford's_ tomb, at the entrance to the south-east
transept, is of unusual design, the ogee heads of its panels being
through-cut from side to side. Only the bases remain of its canopy,
which was taken down in 1758, as it was thought to be in danger of
falling. There is a good deal of colour on the tomb; the chasuble is
red with green lining, its orphreys are painted on the stone. The
apparel is also painted on the alb, the orphreys and ornaments on the
mitre, and a lozenge-shaped pattern on the cushion. Two shields are
emblazoned over and over again on the spandrels, the ground being
alternately red and green with white sprays of foliage; the coat with
four swans' heads, couped and addorsed, is Drokensford's. He was
bishop when Dean Godelee's great works were going on, and he gave
money towards building the central tower.

effigies, which were made probably by Bishop Jocelin, lies here, with
a modern inscription, to _Bishop Giso_. There are four others, to
_Æthelwyn, Leofric, Duduc_, and _Burwold_, all having the same
characteristics, in the ambulatory chapels and opposite aisle.
Graceful and solemn as they are, they seem rough in outline, as if
they were carved by a hand used to calculating for the distant views
of the west front, and almost weather-worn, by the side of the more
highly-finished effigies in marble and alabaster which are near them.
In the year 1848, when these monuments were set back and placed on
their present ugly bases, they were found to contain boxes with bones
therein, and leaden tablets with the name of each bishop inscribed
upon them.

A different monument is that of _Ralph of Shrewsbury_ (_ob._ 1363),
whose marble effigy, scored by the names of long-departed vandals,
affords a good example of the episcopal ornaments, the mitre, gloves,
maniple, the apparel round the neck, and the vexillum round the
crozier. The tomb formerly stood surrounded by a grating, in the midst
of the presbytery, for Ralph was the "finisher" of the church. But it
was afterwards moved, and, says Godwin, it "lost his grates by the
way." At the entrance to the little transept is the tomb of _Dean
Forrest_ (_ob._ 1446), similar to that of Drokensford in the opposite
aisle, but more mutilated. The canopy is gone, but fragments of it are
in the undercroft of the chapter-house.

THE NORTH-EAST TRANSEPT is the chapel of St. John Baptist, and
contains a Decorated piscina. On its east wall is a sculpture of the
Ascension, which formerly was fixed in the east cloister above the
I.H.S. in the fourth bay. St. Andrew with his cross may be noticed
among the Apostles. There are traces of blue in the background, and of
red in one of the cloaks. Most noticeable among its monuments is the
handsome marble sarcophagus and effigy _of Bishop Creyghton_, who gave
the lectern. The figure is vested in cope, mitre, and alb, a fact
which is worth noting, as the bishop lived in the reign of Charles II.
There is also an effigy of _John de Myddleton_ or Milton, who, after
being chancellor for a very short time, became a friar and died in
1337. The plain tomb of _Bishop Berkele_ (_ob._ 1581) bears a curious
inscription, which assumes more than the character of its subject
would seem to warrant: _Spiritvs, ervpto, salvvs, gilberte novembre,
carcere principis en(c) aethere barkle, crepat. añ: dãt ista salutis._
Which may thus be translated, "Thy soul is safe, Gilbert Barkley,
having broken from its prison in the beginning of November, it speaks
from the sky. These words give the year of its safety," The words
referred to are in the middle part of the tomb--

        _Vixi, videtis præmium:
    83 Lvxi, redux quieascibus.
        Pro, captua gendo præsulis
        Septem per annos triplices_

The figures 83 at the side of _Vixi_ and _Lvxi_ suggested to Mr J.
Parker that the letters stood also for figures thus--vi (6) xi (11) lv
(55) xi (11), the total being 83, which was the age at which Berkeley
died. The quatrain may be translated--

    "I have lived, you see my reward:
    I have shone, returning to my rest.
    Having held the office of bishop
    For seven times three years."

The east end of the north aisle forms a roomy chapel which is
dedicated to St. Stephen, and contains a piscina of the same type as
those in the neighbouring chapels. Its east window has five lights,
and that in the side wall has three, with good reticulated tracery;
the principal mouldings are already assuming the large flat hollow
form which was to become characteristic of the Perpendicular style.
The chapel of St. Catherine on the south side corresponds to it

[Illustration: Procession Path And Lady Chapel.]

THE PROCESSION PATH, or, to use the uglier and more accurate word, the
Retro-choir, is a rectangular space between these chapels and the
transepts, on the north and south, and the Lady Chapel and presbytery
on the east and west. This space is vaulted; and the vault is carried
by four slender piers of Purbeck marble, with attached shafts, in the
midst, by a group of Purbeck shafts on each of the two piers which
lead into the Lady Chapel, and by the light blue Purbeck shafts of the
eastern arches of the presbytery. As two of the middle piers (which
are set diagonally from north-east to south-west, and from south-east
to north-west) are in a line with the pier-arches of the choir, while
the other two, though in a line with those of the Lady Chapel (which
themselves project into the Path), are without those of the choir, a
complicated system of vaulting and a charming arrangement of piers is
the result. Indeed, this exquisite group of piers has never been
surpassed, and nothing can be found that better illustrates the
subtlety and extreme refinement of the last stages of Gothic
architecture at their best. At whichever point one stands fresh beauty
is apparent. It is merely a device for connecting Lady Chapel with
choir, while leaving a wide path free for processions, yet what a gem
of perfection has been drawn from the need! As one sits at the corner
near the south wall of the Lady Chapel, one can best appreciate the
range of vaulting, which, though it is doubled here, is of the same
height as that of the aisles, running faithfully round to cover the
ambulatory which encircles the choir, while on either side the pillars
soar upward to the higher vault of the Lady Chapel and the yet higher
ceiling of the choir. Opposite are the painted fragments of glass in
the north choir aisle, seen through the arches of the presbytery, and
the windows over the range of tabernacle work in the choir itself. On
the left the south aisle can be seen stretching onwards, across the
bright break of the transept, to the west end, and on the right are
the gorgeous windows of the Lady Chapel. Everywhere the slender
pillars stand, and the mouldings branch away from their rich capitals,
each doing its appointed work, calculated and exact, in what would
seem at first but a lavish profusion of marble shaft and moulded
stone. Yet we can hardly now imagine what it all was like before the
richly-decked altars were torn down, the painted windows knocked to
fragments, the canopies, tombs, and images defaced or destroyed.

The vault is lierned with richly-carved bosses still warm with the
marks of gilding; both on the bosses and the capitals the foliage is
of the crumpled character suggestive of the oak-leaf.

Unlike the piers of the Lady Chapel, the bases here are of marble,
though the plinths are of stone. Two grotesque heads, lower than the
bosses, at the north and south-western angles, hold three ribs in
their mouths, the ribs, which end there in seeming futility, being
used to cover an awkward corner of the vaulting.

GLASS IN THE CHOIR AISLES AND CHAPELS.--A good deal of glass in a more
or less fragmentary condition survives in the eastern portion of the
church. It is fine work of the first half of the fourteenth century.
In the south aisles there is good glass in all the upper lights; the
third window has later glass in the lower lights, which bears the date
1607, and consists of coats of arms and a series of small square
pictures of foreign type. The east window of St. Catherine's chapel is
composed of fragments fitted together at random; in the upper lights
of the south window are rather coarse heads of St. Aldhelm, St.
Erkenwald, and other saints: two of them should be noticed for the
early form of papal tiara. In the corresponding chapel of St. Stephen
both the east and north windows are the same, the north window even
containing a second head of St. Erkenwald; the other saints are
inscribed--"St. Stephanas Papa" (the Pope Stephen, who died 257), "S.
Blasii Epi" (St. Blaise), and "S. Marcellus Papa"; in the topmost
light of both windows is a small figure of Our Lord.

In the north aisle, the first window (counting from the east) contains
a St. Michael; the next a crucifix and a figure of St. Mary Magdalen,
with some sixteenth-century coats (including the curious arms of
Bishop Knight, p. 87) in the lower lights. Similar coats are in the
third window, which has a figure of St. John Baptist. The fourth
window contains modern glass erected in honour of Bishop Ken (p. 157),
as a memorial to Dean Plumptre, who died in 1891. In the centre Ken is
represented in full pontifical vestments, below him angels are
supporting his arms impaled with those of the see; over his head is
the favourite superscription of his letters, "All glory be to God,"
and at his feet his rule of life "_Et tu quæris tibi grandia? Noli
quærere_" (Jer. xlv. 5). The left-hand panels represent St. Paul
teaching Timothy (because Ken wrote the "Manual for Winchester
Scholars," and the "Exposition of the Catechism"), Christ's charge to
St. Peter; the right panels represent St. Paul before Agrippa and St.
Peter in prison (because Ken was one of the seven bishops imprisoned
by James II.). The two lower panels represent labourers going to their
work singing _Benedicite_, and a priest and choristers chanting _Nunc
Dimittis,_ in allusion to Ken's morning and evening hymns.

THE LADY CHAPEL was finished in 1326, before the presbytery was added
to the present choir, and thus it belongs to the middle of the
Decorated period. In plan it is octagonal, the three western sides
consisting of the three arches by which it is opened to the rest of
the church. It could, in fact, stand perfectly well as a detached
building like the Lady Chapel at Gloucester, and doubtless it did so
stand while the presbytery was a-building; but its connection with the
church itself allows its apsidal west end to be cunningly combined
with the beautiful pillars which support the vault of the ambulatory.
The arrangement by which these three western sides project into the
ambulatory is more easy to see than to describe; from the west side of
the piers which support them spring the vaulting ribs of the
retro-choir, while on the east side of the piers the shafts rise much
higher up to carry the loftier vault of the Lady Chapel. As the chapel
is not a perfect octagon like the chapter-house, but is elongated from
east to west, this vault was difficult to manage, and its lines are
somewhat distorted in consequence. The vault springs from triple
shafts between fine traceried windows of five lights, and its ribs
meet in a boss containing a beautiful figure of our Lord seated on a
throne with outstretched arms; the colour and gilding are well

Professor Willis said that "the polygonal Lady Chapel and the vaulted
work which connects it with the presbytery is a most original and
unique piece of architecture, of pure and beautiful design." As to the
first part of this sentence there can be no difference of opinion, and
all will agree as to the fineness of the general effect of the chapel;
yet there may well be two opinions as to the purity of the work. I
confess that the following criticism (_Builder_, Aug. 1862) from a
lecture of Mr E.W. Godwin seems to me to be not entirely without
justification:--"With the single exception of the way in which the
vaulting is managed, I look upon this Lady Chapel as no better than
the other work of the same date. There is a weakness about the
constant recurrence of the same form in the tracery of the windows;
the lines of the vault are, in some cases, clumsy to a degree; and the
capitals have lost their constructional character altogether. The
growth and vitality, the change and joyfulness, so visible in the
earlier caps, especially those with figures, are no longer to be seen.
Leaves are now stuck on; or, at the best, wreathed round the bell of
the capital; and so the _function_ of the capital--the upbearing
principle--is lost." So much for its defects. The peculiar excellence
of the chapel is that it gives that apsidal ending to the church which
adds so much to its beauty both within and without, and yet does not
interfere with the square end of the presbytery.

The Lady Chapel has been fitted up for the use of the Theological
College, and its furniture contrasts favourably with that of the
choir. A litany desk, stalls, and credence-table in oak have recently
been given, and a retable carved by Miss Neville; the altar cross,
however, is too stunted for its position. The eagle lectern, in spite
of its dark appearance, is modern, of Dean Goodenough's time. The
doorway on the south side led to the old vestry, so wantonly destroyed
in the present century: now that the chapel is in daily use the need
of the vestry is much felt, and a cupboard in St. John's chapel has to
serve for a makeshift. The gas-brackets are of later and more pleasant
work than those elsewhere.

Mr Ferrey discovered fragments of a reredos at the east end of the
chapel, and set them up as best he could to form the present reredos:
the original arrangement seems to be lost, for some of the pedestals
are on the level of the floor, while some of the niches at the top are
cut in half. Mr Ferrey restored the whole chapel at the same time, and
paved it with tiles.

GLASS IN LADY CHAPEL.--The large windows of this chapel are all filled
with beautiful fourteenth-century glass, but alas! in a marred
condition. The side windows contain fragments packed together anyhow.
The eastern window was made up out of old pieces by Willement at Dean
Goodenough's restoration, and its colour almost completely spoilt by
modern insertions. The harm, however, is not irreparable, for the
figures are almost entirely genuine, and the bad effect is mainly due
to Willement's blue background. A careful examination would easily
separate the new from the old, and it would be quite easy at the
present day to remove the bad work and replace it by glass that would
carry out the old harmony of colour. The lower lights are filled with
two tiers of figures in canopies, David and other patriarchs in the
upper tier, and the following well-chosen series in the lower:--The
Madonna in the midst, on her right the Serpent and Eve, on her left
the Brazen Serpent and Moses. The upper lights of this window contain
angels bearing the instruments of the Passion, which are unspoilt, as
are also the busts of patriarchs in the north-east window, and of
bishops in that on the south-east. Three of the topmost lights contain
emblems of the Evangelists, the fourth is lost. One inscription
remains, _Ista capella constructa est_ ... but the date is gone.

A tall and light monument stands between the Lady Chapel and St.
Catherine's; its crocketed finials, filled with tracery, rise almost
to the ceiling. The canopy is open at the sides and western end, but
the eastern end forms a niche; this part has been restored in colour
and gilding, it is powdered with _fleurs-de-lys,_ and bears a shield
containing the _Agnus Dei_. No other part shows any trace of colour.
The base is much higher than that of an ordinary tomb, and the canopy
seems to have been somewhat altered at Ferrey's restoration.

The spot where the altar of St. Catherine and All Virgins stood is now
"Sacred to the memory of John Phelips Of Montacute in this county
esquire. Descended from a line of ancestors, Whose names for two
centuries and a half abound in the annals of the county, He succeeded
at an early age to the paternal estates, And sustained the wonted
hospitality of his house. He soon became a most active and intelligent
magistrate," etc., etc.

THE CHAPTER-HOUSE STAIRCASE is entered by the doorway in the eastern
aisle of the north transept. There are few things in English
architecture that can be compared with it for strange impressive
beauty; the staircase goes upward for eighteen steps and then part of
it sweeps off to the chapter-house on the right, while the other part
goes on and up till it reaches the chain-bridge; thus the steps lie,
worn here and there by the tread of many feet, like fallen leaves, the
last of them lost in the brighter light of the bridge. Here one is
still almost within the cathedral, and yet the carts are passing
underneath, and their rattle mixes with the sound of the organ within.

The date of the staircase is clearly somewhere between that of the
chapter-house and that of the church itself. It is later than the
church, for it is built up against the transept buttresses, and it
contains some of the best examples of simple geometrical tracery,
while there are nothing but lancet windows in the church of Reginald
and Jocelin. But the simple geometrical tracery of its two four-light
windows prove that it was finished before the chapter-house was begun.
The arches of these windows are rampant, to follow the level of the
stairs; their beautiful circular tracery is massive, deeply-moulded,
and filled with remnants of rich glass; their shafts of blue lias have
naturalistic capitals which are in striking contrast both to the Early
English carving in the church and the full Decorated of the
chapter-house itself. Below the windows is a stone bench rising in
steps with a foot-pace of similar construction; this arrangement adds
much to the effect of the staircase, though it is marred by a modern

Before the Chain Gate was made, the vestibule ended with a graceful
window of four lights similar to those at the side. The upper part of
the window remains, but the lower part is occupied by a Perpendicular
doorway, and the whole now forms a screen which, by breaking the
light, adds considerably to the charm of the staircase. Through this
doorway, where they are cut away to allow the door to open, the steps
continue for two stages, but in a narrower flight. Here the windows
are Perpendicular, and the vaulted ceiling has given place to a wooden
roof, for this is the Chain Gate, as light and pretty within as
without. It was only an after-thought, a matter of convenience, thus
to connect the chapter-house with the Vicars' Close, and the screen
that now breaks the light had for a century and a half been the
outside window, just as the blocked window of the transept had been
the outer light for the fifty years before the staircase itself was
thought of. It was just a practical matter-of-fact device; but what
magnificent utilitarianism, what an inspired after-thought!

[Illustration: Steps Of Chapter-house Vestibule And Passage Over Chain

The main gallery of the Chain Gate is shut off by a door which, if it
were kept open, would make the prospect even more beautiful than it
is. Two corbels which support the vaulting-shafts of the lower
staircase should be noticed; they both represent figures thrusting
their staves into the mouth of a dragon, but that on the east (wearing
a hood and a leathern girdle round his surcoat) is as vigorous in
action as the figure on the west side is feeble. A small barred
opening in the top of the east wall lights a curious little chamber,
which is reached from the staircase that leads to the roof.

THE CHAPTER-HOUSE is entered by a double-arched doorway, the small
vault between the arches having an odd boss composed of four bearded
heads. There are marks in the wall which lead one to think that the
doors were hung in a wooden screen under this vault. The old doors are
now used in the house of the Principal of the College, where they were
identified by Canon Church. They have little slits in them, through
which those in the chapter-house could speak with those without, who
no doubt waited for admittance on the stepped stone bench of the
staircase. Grooves in the two inner shafts of the doorway seem to have
been made for the insertion of some light screen, by which the
entrance was divided into two passages for ingress and egress. The
absence of doors certainly adds to the rather cold unfurnished
appearance of the chapter-house in its present condition.

[Illustration: Chapter-House--Doorway.]

The room itself ("a glorious development of window and vault" it has
been called) is one of the best examples of that type of chapter-house
which belongs mainly to the thirteenth century, and is a peculiar
glory of English architecture. Of octagonal plan, its vaulting ribs
branch out from sixteen Purbeck shafts which cluster round the central
pillar, typifying the diocesan church with all its members gathered
round its common father, the bishop. Each of the eight sides of the
room is occupied by a window of four lights, with graceful tracery of
an advanced geometrical type. These windows, which are among the
finest examples of the period, have no shafts, but their arch
mouldings are enriched with a continuous series of the ball-flower
ornament. Most of the old glass, in which ruby and white are the
predominant colours, remains in the upper lights.

[Illustration: Chapter-House--Interior.]

Under the windows runs an arcade which forms fifty-one stalls,
separated into groups of seven by the blue lias vaulting-shafts at the
angles, but in the side which is occupied by the doorway there are
only two stalls, one on either side of the entrance. Two rows of stone
benches are under the stalls, and there is a bench of Purbeck round
the base of the central pier. The arcade strikes one as too shallow:
its canopies, which rest on blue lias shafts, are ornamented with
feathering, crockets, finials, and an interesting series of small
heads. Some of the heads wear crowns, mitres, hoods, and square caps;
others are grotesque, though I cannot detect the "jesters" to which
some writers refer. Some of the heads have the same formal twist in
the hair as those of the large corbels in the nave (p. 81). The heads
on the side opposite the door are all (with the exception of one
modern head in plaster) covered with the early form of papal tiara, a
conical hat with a crown round its rim. On this side, in the middle
stall, is the bishop's seat, and here are traces of colour; the little
heads are still pretty with pink cheeks and painted eyes and hair, and
above the canopy the saltire of St. Andrew is discernible.

Thus the bishop still retained, at least in theory, the head-ship of
the chapter. The dean sat on one side of him, the precentor on the
other, and the rest in due order from the archdeacons and officers
down to those in minor orders. Even the boys of the school were
admitted to part of the meetings, and they stood on the floor round a
desk which was in front of the chief pastor. "There every morning,"
says Canon Church (_Chapters in Hist, of Wells_, p. 333), "after the
prayers of the third hour and the morning mass, the chapter of the
whole body was held for the daily lection and commemoration of
brethren departed, for maintaining discipline, hearing complaints,
passing judgment, inflicting punishment; for ordering the services of
the day and of the week--for sitting in council and drawing up

Beautiful as is the general effect of the chapter-house, it must be
admitted that its detail is inferior to that of the staircase, which
is just one stage earlier in the development of architecture. Nor can
its capitals be compared for a moment with those in the nave; the
lighter form of structure doubtless calls for a lighter cap, but these
are distinctly untidy in their decoration. The crockets are very near
having that wholesale look which has caused nineteenth-century
architects to make so much of this easily debased ornament. The
arrangement, too, by which the fine doorway rises into a window of
unmodified pattern seems a rather awkward compromise, especially as
the line of the staircase roof cuts slantwise across the lights. One
cannot help thinking that an earlier architect would have departed
from his uniform pattern at this point, and have inserted a window or
arcade better adapted to the position, with the addition, perhaps, of
sculpture in the vacant space.

Between the roof and the vault there is a curious chamber which
reminds one of the crater of a volcano, and the impression is
increased by the sponge-like stone, which has some resemblance to
tufa. The open arcade under the roof has served to keep the woodwork
in remarkably sound condition.

[Illustration: Chapter-House--Vault.]

THE UNDERCROFT.--Much of the external beauty of the chapter-house, as
well as the charm of its staircase, is due to its unusual height above
the ground. It rests upon a vaulted chamber or undercroft, which is
popularly called the crypt, though that term is not very accurate, as
the chamber is not sunk underground, but stands almost on a level with
the floor of the church. The innumerable springs in the soil of Wells
do not, indeed, admit of a subterranean building. The undercroft was
finished before the chapter-house staircase was begun; perhaps its
walls were built at the end of Jocelin's episcopate; at any rate it
was finished by 1286, and represents the last development of the Early
English style. It was used as the treasury, where the vestments,
ornaments, registers, and other precious things, both of the bishop
and chapter, were kept, and, to increase the security of its massive
walls, the sacristan had to sleep within them every night.

[Illustration: Chapter-House--Undercroft.]

It is reached by a dimly-lit, impressive passage, which is entered
from the north choir aisle through a doorway with deeply-sunk
mouldings and carved capitals. Two heads, slanting inwards in a rather
awkward manner, support the curious pediment-shaped canopy over the
doorway. At the commencement of this fine passage, just within the
doorway, is a small vault supported on extremely odd corbels, as if
the mason had taken advantage of the obscurity to wanton with his
craft. One is a large head with enormous cheeks, apparently suffering
from acute neuralgia; a handkerchief, under which a few
comically-stiff curls escape, covers the head and is tied under the
chin; another represents two dragons biting each other, with a head
upside down beneath them; another, which reminds one of the worst
eccentricities of modern crockery, is formed by a hand holding a
foliated capital. I suppose that the head with swollen cheeks is
really another testimony to St. William Bytton's power over the
toothache. The undercroft itself was finished before 1286, perhaps
some time before; but the more advanced sculpture of the passage looks
as if that part were built in the "toothache" period--that is to say,
some ten years or so after Bytton's death in 1274.

[Illustration: Chapter-House--Undercroft.]

Certainly the bosses of the vault in the passage beyond the doorway
are of a character that suggests the transition to Decorated which was
in progress at this time. They are elaborate, and, with one exception,
through-carved. The first from the door represents a head, the next an
_Agnus Dei_, the next two grotesque heads joined together, then
apparently the Serpent tempting Eve, then an ox, dragons, two small
grinning heads, with animals apparently biting them on one side. The
corbels are carved into heads, some crowned, others reversed with the
shaft in their mouths. On the right-hand side, as one enters the
undercroft, a pretty stone lantern projects from the wall; of the
little mullions which form its face, one is set far enough from the
wall to admit of the insertion of a lamp.

Two heavy wooden doors at the entrance leave no doubt as to the
purpose for which the undercroft was built. The outer door is the most
massive; it is studded with nails, and has two great bolts and a huge
lock: on the outer side a kind of escutcheon is formed round the
keyhole by a heart-shaped piece of iron, surmounted by a cross; on the
same side there is an iron bar, and the hook to hold it across the
doorway. A deep hole has been worn in the pavement by the feet of
those who pulled open the door. The inner door is lighter, and
ornamented with beautiful elaborate hinges: on this side are deep
sockets in the wall, into which the inner bars were run.

In the undercroft itself the walls are impregnably thick, the windows
narrow, with wide splays. The vaulting, somewhat later in style than
the walls, is an admirable piece of construction, well-fitted to bear
the weight of the lofty chamber above. It is also remarkable,
Professor Willis points out, for the way in which the arches are
disposed without the introduction of ribs. From the round shafts which
are grouped about the octagonal pier in the centre spring the vaulting
ribs, the extremities of which rest upon eight round pillars; and
another set of vaulting ribs spans the space between these pillars and
the eight walls, where they rest upon twelve shafts between the lancet
windows. Could anything be more simple and secure in construction, and
more varied in effect?

Here, on one of the capitals and on a moulding near the door, we meet
with the dog-tooth moulding usually so characteristic of the Early
English style. The piscina in the doorway should be noticed for its
carving of a dog gnawing a bone.

[Illustration: Section Of Chapter-house.]

A large aumbry is formed by a recess in the thickness of the wall. The
parapeted structure opposite is a modern coal-hole, for which some
other place might surely be found. There are several stone coffins in
the undercroft, and a good many fragments of carved stone, some of
which are very fine. Here also is a cope-chest of the usual shape,
which allows the copes to be put away with only one fold. Near it
there is a large oblong chest covered with iron bands. An iron door
which is also kept here is thus described by Mr H. Longden
(_Archaeological Journal_, 1890, p. 132): "It is made of slabs of iron
nailed to an oak frame-work, and liberally braced across with hinges
and diagonal cross-straps, stiffening the door in the best way known
at the time. This is not an iron-plated door, but an iron door; it is,
in fact, a 'safe' door of the time, and is an uncommon instance. It
must be remembered that the slabs of which this door is formed were
all beaten out of lumps of iron, and that iron was not then made, as
now, in plates, bars, or rods, but ... The lump of iron had to be
heated and drawn out on the anvil at a great expenditure of time and
labour. Much of the charm of old work arises from the irregularity of
the shapes, never quite round, or square, or flat, which the iron
took, and we miss this in the neat and mechanically-finished work of
the present time."



Legend, which in every ancient city is raised to the dignity of an
article of faith, places the origin of Wells diocese in the remote
past; and the visitor is required to believe that Ina, King of Wessex,
the first great West Saxon lawgiver, the ruler who finally established
the English supremacy in the south-west, was also the founder of the
see of Wells. He is said to have planted a bishopric at Congresbury,
and in 721 to have removed the see to Wells with the help of Daniel,
the last British bishop. The story, however, rests upon no good

Before the middle of the seventh century the heathen invaders were
converted by St Birinus, and by the time of Ina Wessex was divided
into the dioceses of Winchester and Sherborne, the latter including
Somerset, Dorset, and part of Wiltshire. This was all that Ina did
towards establishing the diocese of Wells; and it did not go very far,
for the special boast of the diocese is that it consists of one
county, Somerset, and of nothing else. And so it is that the honour of
possessing Ealdhelm, the first bishop of Sherborne, who tramped about,
an open-air preacher, in his diocese, belongs to Salisbury and not to
Wells; although Doulting, where Ealdhelm fell sick and died sitting in
the little wooden village church, is the very place whence afterwards
the stone was quarried for the building of Wells Cathedral.

It was under that great warrior, Edward the Elder, that the diocese of
Sherborne was divided, and the Sumorsaetas received a bishop of their
own, whose stool was placed in the church of St. Andrew at Wells.

It is quite probable that the above tradition grew around Ina's name
owing to his having really established a church with a body of priests
attached to it; since we find in a charter of Cynewulf, dated 766, a
mention of "the minister near the great spring at Wells for the better
service of God in the church of St. Andrew." This charter is probably
spurious, but it may for all that enshrine an historical fact,
especially as it does not pretend to the existence of a bishopric. If
this be the case, then Edward, who wanted a fairly central church for
a diocese which had no important town, must have found Wells very
convenient for his purpose. For while Glastonbury, besides being in
those days an island, had an abbot of its own, this little body of
secular priests would be ready to receive the bishop as their chief,
and to become his chapter. At all events, the year 909 saw Wells with
a bishop of its own.

[Illustration: Specimens Of Capitals.]

AETHELHELM or ATHELM, _Bishop of Somerset, or Wells_ (909-914), a monk
of Glastonbury according to tradition, was the first Somersetshire
bishop; he is said to have been an uncle of St. Dunstan: he was made
Archbishop of Canterbury in 914.

It will be convenient to weave the history of the foundation of Wells
with that of the bishops. So here, at the outset, the reader must bear
in mind that from the beginning the cathedral church was served by
"secular" clergy, by priests, that is, who were bound by no vows other
than those of their ordination, who did not live a community life, but
had each his own house, and generally at this time his own wife and
family. Wells Cathedral was not "built by the monks," and its chapter
was never composed of monks; though some of the bishops belonged to
religious orders, it kept up a pretty constant rivalry with the
"regular" clergy of Glastonbury and Bath. It belongs in fact, to the
cathedrals of the old foundation, whose constitutions were not changed
at the Reformation; and its chapter has continued in unbroken
succession, from the days when Aethelhelm first presided over his
little body of clergy in the church of St. Andrew, down to our own
time. But at first that chapter was informal enough, nor was it
finally incorporated and officered till the time of Bishop Robert in
the twelfth century. The number of canons does not seem to have been
fixed, though in the next century we hear of there being only four or

[Illustration: Specimens Of Capitals.]

The next five bishops are all little more than names to us. WULFHELM
succeeded Aethelhelm in 914: also translated to Canterbury; AELFHEAH
(923), WULFHELM (938), BRITHHELM (956-973), and CYNEWARD (973-975).

SIGEGAR (975-977), a pupil of St. Dunstan, and abbot of Glastonbury,
was succeeded, or perhaps supplanted, by AELFWINE, in 997-999.

AETHELSTAN, or LYFING; translated to Canterbury 1013.

AETHELWINE and BRIHTWINE shared the episcopate, either as rivals or
coadjutors. Brihtwine was last in possession. MEREWIT, also called
Brihtwine, succeeded in 1026.

DUDUC (1033-1060), a German Saxon. Cnut had given him the estates of
Congresbury and Banwell, which he left to the church of Wells; but
Harold took possession of them.

GISA (1060-1088), a Belgian from Lorraine, found his see in a sad
condition: the church was mean, its revenues small, and its four or
five canons were forced, he says, to beg their bread. He at once set
to work to increase the revenues; and from Edward the Confessor, from
his queen, Edith, then from Harold, and afterwards from William the
Conqueror, he obtained various estates for the support of his canons.

He also changed the way of living of the canons, and built a cloister,
dormitory, and refectory, thereby forcing them to live a common life,
much as if they were monks--an unpopular innovation which was
supported by the appointment in the foreign fashion of a provost to be
chief officer, the canons choosing for this post one Isaac of Wells.

JOHN DE VILLULA, _Bishop of Bath_ (1088-1122), a rich physician of
Tours. He put an end to the semi-monastic discipline of Gisa by
pulling down his community buildings and erecting a private house of
his own on the site. And he removed the see of Somersetshire from
Wells to the Abbey of Bath.

GODFREY (1123-1135).

ROBERT OF LEWES (1136-1166), the second founder of the cathedral; he
made the constitution of the chapter, he rebuilt the old Saxon church,
and he started Wells as a borough by the grant of its first charter of
freedom. Of a Fleming family, though born in England, he was a monk
from the Cluniac house of St. Pancras at Lewes; and to another and
more famous Cluniac monk, Bishop Henry of Winchester, King Stephen's
brother, he owed his advancement. In the very year of his consecration
he began the recovery of Wells from the low estate in which John de
Villula and his rapacious relatives had left it. He restored their
property to the canons, and, in order to secure it, he divided it off
from the property of the see by a charter of incorporation. He
assisted at Henry II.'s coronation in 1154, and at the consecration of
Thomas à Becket in 1162.

Bishop Robert arranged the quarrel with Bath by settling that Bath
should take precedence of Wells, but that the bishop should have his
throne in both churches, and be elected by the two chapters

By the charter which incorporated the chapter of Wells, Robert also
settled portions of the estate, or prebends, on the twenty-two canons,
and founded the offices of dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer,
sub-dean, provost, and sub-chanter, all of which, except the two last,
still exist.

After an interval of eight years, REGINALD DE BOHUN or FITZ-JOCELIN,
the Archdeacon of Sarum, was consecrated Bishop of Bath (1174-1191).
Immediately afterwards he induced the monk who was soon to become
famous as St. Hugh of Lincoln, to leave the Grande Chartreuse, and to
come to England as prior of the first English charter-house. He built
the greater part of the present nave transepts and choir; for this end
he made large gifts to the fabric fund, and collected gifts from
others. He also extended the privileges of the town, and increased
both the endowment and the number of the prebends.

SAVARIC, _Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury_ (1192-1205), a relation of
the Emperor Henry VI. In 1191 he started with Richard I. for the Holy
Land. At Messina, though not yet in priest's orders, he obtained
private letters from the king sanctioning his appointment to any
bishopric to which he might be elected. Bishop Reginald was a kinsman
of his, and, on his election to Canterbury, he obtained the vote of
the convent of Bath for Savaric. The Justiciar gave at once the royal
sanction, in spite of the protests of the canons of Wells, who had not
been consulted. Savaric had meanwhile wisely established himself at
Rome, and was able to obtain the Pope's consent. He was consecrated
priest one day and bishop the next, but he still remained abroad.

Savaric, supported by the authority of King John, broke into
Glastonbury with soldiers, starved and beat the monks, and, with great
violence, established himself in possession.

His biography was compressed in a clever epigram:--

    "_Hospes erat mundo per mundum semper eundo,
    Sic suprema dies fit sibi prima quies,_"

admirably translated by Canon Bernard:

    "Through the world travelling, all the world's guest,
    His last day of life was his first day of rest."

Yet he was the first to institute the daily mass of Our Lady, as well
as that for the faithful departed, in Wells Cathedral.

JOCELIN TROTEMAN DE WELLES, _Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury,_ and
after 1219 _Bishop of Bath_ (1206-1242), is, after Ken, the most
famous of Wells worthies. He came from a local stock, and spent all
his time and money on the cathedral church, first as canon, then as
bishop for thirty-six years. In 1208, when Pope Innocent III. laid
England under an interdict, the bishop published it in his own
diocese, and then fled the country, leaving his estates to be seized
by John. On John's submission to the Pope in 1213, he returned, and
two years later stood by Stephen Langton at Runnymede, putting his
name as Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury to _Magna Charta_. When John
was dead it was Jocelin who administered the oath to Henry III. at his

In 1219 Jocelin made terms with Glastonbury, which Savaric had seized,
giving up the abbacy and the title in return for four manors. He
founded a hospital, re-endowed the Lady mass which Savaric had
instituted, increased the number of prebends (the estates, that is,
which each maintained a canon) from thirty-five to fifty, provided
houses for the canons, and a regular endowment for the vicars-choral,
started a grammar school in addition to the choristers' school, and
enclosed the bishop's park. But most of all is he famous for having
rebuilt the church which Savaric's vagaries had let fall into
dilapidation, and for having added to it the noble west front. So
extensive were his repairs that in 1239 a reconsecration was
necessary; and three years later he died, "God," says old Fuller, "to
square his great undertakings, giving him a long life to his large
heart." He was buried in the midst of the choir as a founder of the
church; and as this interment marked out Wells as the chief church in
the diocese, the monks of Bath were not told of his death till after
he had been buried.

ROGER, _first Bishop of Bath and Wells_ (1244-1247). On Jocelin's
death in 1242, the monks of Bath made a last effort to recover the
supremacy which had drifted from them. Contrary to the agreement which
had been made, they pushed through their own candidate, Roger, without
consulting with the Wells chapter, and snatched the regal sanction and
papal confirmation for their nominee before the chapter of Wells could
make a move. At last, the Pope, after much litigation, decreed that,
in order to avoid any further vacancy, Roger's election should be
confirmed, but that henceforth the chapter of Wells should have an
equal voice in the election of the bishop, who was to use the title of
Bath and Wells. Roger was buried in his old abbey of Bath; he was,
however, the last bishop to be there interred. The words of Peter
Heylin are henceforward true of the see:--"The diocese of Bath and
Wells, though it hath a double name, is one single bishopric. The
bishop's seat was originally at Wells, where it still continues. The
style of Bath came in but upon the bye."


WALTER GIFFARD (1265-1266), a statesman-bishop, took the king's side,
and, after the victory of Evesham, was rewarded with the
chancellorship and the archbishopric of York.

WILLIAM BYTTON (THE SAINT) (1267-1274). When Robert of Kilwardy,
provincial of the Dominicans, was made archbishop, he chose Bytton, on
account of his saintliness, to consecrate him; and so great was the
impression made by his holy life that he became the object of popular
canonisation at his death. Miracles were worked at his tomb, and
crowds flocked to it with offerings, especially such as were afflicted
with toothache.

ROBERT BURNELL (1275-1292), the greatest lawyer of his day, chancellor
of Edward I.; built the hall of the episcopal palace.

WILLIAM OF MARCH OR DE MARCHIA (1293-1302), had been treasurer in
1290. Two unsuccessful efforts were made to obtain his canonisation.

WALTER DE HASELSHAW (1302-1308), successively canon, dean, and bishop.

Under JOHN OF DROKENSFORD (1309-1329) the chapter obtained a strong
confirmation of their rights as the result of a violent quarrel with
the bishop, who had claimed the power of visiting the churches under
capitular jurisdiction.

RALPH OF SHREWSBURY (1329-1363), Chancellor of Oxford, put the
finishing stroke to the constitution of the cathedral by founding the
College of Vicars. He was a great supporter of the friars, and left
them a third of his property. Among his good deeds he disafforested
the royal hunting ground of Mendip, and thus did great service to the
people, "beef," as Fuller has it, "being better pleasing to the
husbandman's palate than venison." At his death he was buried in the
place of honour before the high altar, for it was under him that the
last great building operations in the church of Wells were completed.

JOHN BARNET (1363-66), translated from Worcester, was soon again moved
to Ely. After JOHN HAREWELL (1367-86), who helped to build the
south-west tower, and WALTER SKIRLAW (1386-88), RALPH ERGHUM
(1388-1400) was translated from Salisbury, and founded at Wells the
much-needed college for the fourteen chantry priests, which was
destroyed under Edward VI., and of which the memory is preserved in
"College Lane." There were now, therefore, three distinct corporations
at Wells--the Chapter, the College of Vicars, and the College of
Chantry Priests. HENRY BOWETT (1401-1407) was promoted to York.

NICHOLAS BUBWITH (1407-1424) is remembered by the almshouses at Wells
which he endowed, by his provision for building the north-west tower,
and by his chantry chapel. There was at this time another hospital
called the Priory, which has now disappeared. He was one of the
English envoys at the Council of Constance. Mandates were sent him by
the archbishop for the prosecution of the Lollards, but there is no
record of any proceedings having been taken, till JOHN STAFFORD
(1425-43) had succeeded him, when one William Curayn was compelled to
abjure and receive absolution for some very reasonable heresies.
Stafford was translated to Canterbury.

THOMAS BECKINGTON, or Bekynton (1443-65), was first tutor, then
private secretary to Henry VI., and Keeper of the Privy Seal. His many
works at Wells are noticed in our other chapters; in his will he
states that he spent 6000 marks in repairing and adorning his palaces.
After his death, the mayor and corporation showed their gratitude by
going annually to his tomb (p. 125) to pray for his soul.

ROBERT STILLINGTON (1466-91) was a minister of Edward IV., and one of
Richard III.'s supporters. Accused in 1487 of helping Lambert Simnel,
he was imprisoned at Windsor for the rest of his life. RICHARD FOX
(1492-94), Keeper of the Privy Seal, translated to Durham. OLIVER KING
(1495-1503), Chief Secretary of Henry VII. A dream moved Bishop Oliver
in 1500, to rebuild Bath abbey in the debased Perpendicular style with
which we are now familiar.

The celebrated ADRIAN DE CASTELLO (1504-1518) obtained first Hereford
and then Wells, as a reward for political services. As he never
visited his diocese, his affairs were managed by another famous man,
Polydore Vergil, who was archdeacon, and furnished the choir of Wells
with hangings, "flourished," says Fuller, "with the laurel tree," and
bearing an inscription, _Sunt Polydori munera Vergilii_. Adrian, who
was born of humble parents at Cornuto in Tuscany, had been made a
cardinal in 1503 by the infamous Pope Alexander VI., and both his
archdeacon and himself are prominent figures in Italian history of the

CARDINAL WOLSEY (1518-23) was appointed to the see, which he held
together with the archbishopric of York; he was therefore Bishop of
Bath and Wells only in name, and was soon put in the enjoyment of the
richer sees successively of Durham and Winchester. He was followed by
JOHN CLERK (1523-41) and WILLIAM KNIGHT (1541-47). The abbey of Bath
was now suppressed, so that the bishop's seat was now at Wells alone,
and (excepting that the style "Bath and Wells" remained) the see was
restored to its original condition before John de Villula migrated to

WILLIAM BARLOW (1549-54) was translated from St. David's without even
the form of a _conge d'elire_. In return for this and certain money
payments he made over a large portion of the episcopal property to the
greedy Duke of Somerset; he also secured the episcopal manor of Wookey
for his own family. The other cathedral estates were similarly
treated. Barlow fled at the accession of Mary, but was caught and
imprisoned in 1554. He had in Henry's time recanted some Lollard
tracts which he had written, and now under Mary he recanted once more.
On the accession of Elizabeth, he (p. 81) accepted the poorer see of

GILBERT BOURNE (1554-59) had been Bonner's chaplain. At Elizabeth's
accession he was deprived and imprisoned in the Tower. After 1562 he
was kept in nominal custody, and died in 1569.

GILBERT BERKELEY (1560-1581) succeeded him. THOMAS GODWIN (1584-90),
the historian of Wells, succeeded Berkeley.

Another three years' vacancy was followed by the appointment of JOHN
STILL (1593-1607). He and his successors, JAMES MONTAGUE (1608-16),
translated to Winchester, ARTHUR LAKE (1616-26), a wise man and "most
blessed saint," were mostly occupied in the fight with Puritanism.
William Laud was bishop here for two years (1626-28), but his history
belongs to London and Canterbury, whither he was translated. LEONARD
MAWE (1628-29), WALTER CURLL (1629-32), translated to Winchester, and
WILLIAM PIERS (1632-70) followed. The latter, who put down the Puritan
"lectures," and ordered all the altars in his diocese to be set
against the east wall and railed in, lived to see all his work undone
and then restored again at the accession of Charles II. ROBERT
CREYGHTON (1670-72), who had been dean, succeeded him. He was a great
musician (p. 113), and his gifts of ornaments to the cathedral have
been already mentioned. PETER MEWS (1673-1684) was translated to

THOMAS KEN (1685-90), the best and most famous of all the Somerset
bishops, has left so great a name in the see, and figured in so many
stirring events, that one can hardly believe that he was only given
five years in which to use his influence upon history. Before he was
made bishop, however, he had already given proof of that quiet courage
which was more than once to thwart the will of princes. In 1679 he
went to the Hague as chaplain to Mary, the wife of William of Orange.
Here he expressed himself "horribly unsatisfied" with William's
unkindness to his wife, and he incurred the Prince's anger by
persuading Count Zulestein to marry a lady whom he had seduced. Soon
after, when he was living at Winchester, he refused to allow the royal
harbinger to use his prebendal house for the lodging of Nell Gwynn, on
the occasion of Charles II.'s visit there in 1683. Charles, with
characteristic generosity, thought all the more highly of him, and
when he was told of the vacant bishopric, said no one should have the
see but "the little black fellow who refused his lodging to poor
Nelly." Before the year was over, Charles was on his death-bed, and
summoned Ken to his side. The bishop persuaded the king to send the
Duchess of Portsmouth from the room and to call in the Queen. He then
absolved him, although Charles would not receive the communion.

After the Monmouth rebellion (p. 17) he, with the Bishop of Ely, was
sent to tell the Duke of his fate; he remained with the wretched man
all through the night before his execution, and accompanied him on the
scaffold. He then returned to his see, used all his influence on
behalf of the unhappy peasants, and by his personal intervention,
saved a hundred prisoners from death. He strongly opposed the
Romanising policy of James II., and preached several sermons which had
a large share in the formation of public opinion. He was one of the
seven bishops who were committed to the Tower for petitioning the king
against the order to the clergy to read the second Declaration of
Indulgence. The incidents of that wonderful trial are familiar to all
Englishmen, and it is notable that one of the richest dissenters in
the city begged to have the special honour of giving security for the
high church bishop of Bath and Wells.

But when the revolution came, Ken was found among those who were
called non-jurors, because they regarded their oath of allegiance to
James as still binding. He was consequently, in 1690, deprived of his
see. He made a public protest in the cathedral against his
deprivation, and continued to sign himself _T. Bath and Wells_, but he
had to live in retirement, and with an income of only £20 a year. He
died in 1710, and was buried in Frome Church at sunrise, in allusion
to his morning hymn ("Awake, my soul, and with the sun"), and to his
habit of rising with the sun.

Ken was in every way a great saint, and, like all the saints, he was
distinguished by his love for the poor, and his care for their
education. Among his customs it is recorded that he used to have
twelve poor men to dine with him on Sundays, and that he was wont to
go afoot in London when the other bishops rode in their coaches. He
wrote many books, among them his "Manual of Prayers for the Use of
Winchester Scholars." "His elaborate works," says Macaulay, "have long
been forgotten; but his morning and evening hymns are still repeated
daily in thousands of dwellings."

RICHARD KIDDER (1691-1703) became bishop on the deprivation of Ken, Dr
Beveridge having declined the offer of a see, the rightful ruler of
which had been unjustly removed. Kidder did not, however, long enjoy
his usurped position; for, on the night of November 26th, 1703, a
great storm--the same that destroyed Winstanley in his lighthouse on
the Eddystone--blew down a stack of chimneys in the palace, and thus
killed both the bishop and his wife as they lay abed.

GEORGE HOOPER (1704-27), an old friend of Ken, was next offered the
see, but he urged the reinstatement of the rightful pastor. Queen Anne
offered to restore Ken to his bishopric, but he importuned Hooper to
accept, and from that time ceased to sign himself by his diocesan
title. Hooper had preceded Ken, in 1677, as Princess Mary's spiritual
adviser at the Hague, where he had won her back to the services of the
church, and he had also been with Ken at Monmouth's execution. Almost
as lovable and holy, he was more learned than his friend.

Hooper was succeeded by JOHN WYNNE (1727-43), EDWARD WILLES (1743-73),
and CHARLES MOSS (1774-1802); all three were typical eighteenth-century
prelates, rich and mostly non-resident.

RICHARD BEADON (1802-24), was translated from Gloucester.

GEORGE HENRY LAW (1824-45), a son of the Bishop of Carlisle, and
brother of Lord Chief-Justice Ellenborough, was translated from
Chester, and is said to have been an active prelate till his latter
years. Hon. RICHARD BAGOT (1845-54) came to Wells as a place of
retirement after the worries which he had gone through, as Bishop of
Oxford, during the Tractarian movement.

ROBERT JOHN, LORD AUCKLAND, was translated from Sodor and Man in 1854.
At his death in 1869, he was succeeded by LORD ARTHUR CHARLES HERVEY,
who died in 1894. The present bishop is DR G.W. KENNION, who was
translated hither from the Australian diocese of Adelaide.



1. Words and phrases which were italicized in the original have been
   surrounded by underscores ('_') in this version. Words or phrases
   which were bolded have been rendered in ALL CAPITALS.

2. Obvious printer's errors have been corrected without note.

3. Inconsistencies in hyphenation or the spelling of proper names, and
   dialect or obsolete word spelling, have been maintained as in the

4. The original of this text contains characters not available in
   the Latin-1 character set. These occur only in quotations from
   monumental inscriptions. The characters have been coded as
   follows. The notation [=x] means "letter x with a macron above."
   There are instances of macrons over i, u, m, n, o and x. The
   notation [)u] means "letter u with a breve"; it occurs twice.

5. The caret is used to show the superscript for abbreviations (i.e.
   Rob^t is Rob with a superscript small t in the original text, an
   abbreviation for Robert). If multiple letters are superscripted,
   they are surrounded by curly braces (i.e. w^{th}).

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