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a scroll, the inscription of which is now illegible; also two or three angels' heads of good design, and a piece of "Tabernacle work," which might serve in a museum as a specimen illustrative of the lowest point to which the art of glass-staining ever sank.
Near the pulpit is an altar-stone, in the floor of the south transept. The register begins 1599. Owing to lack of time we were not able to look much into it, but it evidently contains a great deal of interesting, and perhaps important, matter. Many of the entries are very carefully made at great length, in Latin; several of them by Cosin. From 1629 to 1644 the names of sponsors are entered, and occasionally later. Some of the baptisms of Cosin's children occur; they were not baptised by himself. Their sponsors were in some cases canons of the neighbouring cathedral church of Durham. Daniel Brevint, afterwards Dean of Lincoln, whose works are largely quoted in the Bishop of Oxford's "Eucharistica," was rector from 1662 to 1695, and his name of course occurs during that period. One can hardly realise, after the "repairings" and "beautifyings" of the last century, and the "restorations of our own day, that at Brancepeth we may see a church looking as nearly as possible as it did when it was seen by these worthies, to whom we look back as the old divines of the English Church."
The tower need not detain us long. It opens into the nave by a very plain Early English arch. The stairs are of singularly rude construction, but at the same time most convenient and durable. They consist simply of prismatic logs of oak, made by sawing square beams diagonally, nailed close together on to slanting oak timbers, so as to form solid steps, and furnished with hand rails. These steps, which even a lady in crinoline might ascend, reach in successive flights all the way up. One wonders in these days of iron and deal, where all the oak came from; but the probability is, that previous to the reign of 'King Coal," there was an almost unlimited supply in the immediate neighbourhood. There are six bells, of good tone; three having disappeared mysteriously a long time ago, have been lately replaced by the liberality of the Viscountess Boyne. The other three bear date M.DC.XXXII., and have Latin inscriptions to the effect that the rector and parishioners had them re-cast, and also Latin sentences from the 150th Psalm, &c.1
There is nothing particular to remark about the exterior of the tower, save its very rude Early English character. Passing on to the rest of the exterior of the church, we come to the north porch, which
2. Canite tuba in Sion congregate populum. Rector de Branspeth parochiani et alii fieri fecerunt.
3. Laudate Dominum in clangore tubæ. Rector et parochiani de Branspeth refecerunt. A.D. MDCXXXII.
4. Laudate Dominum in tympano et choro. Rector, &c., as before.
5. John Warner and Sons, London.
6. Cast by John Warner and Sons, London.
1859. On side, incised, 1, 5, and 6, have Royal
was built by Cosin. It has a pointed doorway at each side, with carved keystones in the arches-the acme of debasement. The walls are adorned with panelled pilasters, with Ionic capitals. Cosin's armorial bearings and the cherubs of the period also bear their part. Nor must we forget the parapet, which is embattled at the sides, and rises into a semicircle in front, with the usual stone balls. There is nothing about the outer walls of the aisles, clerestory, or transept, calling for particular remark; but the basement mouldings of the chancel are exceedingly beautiful, similar to those of Bolton Abbey, figured in Parker's edition of Rickman.
In one of the buttresses is a mutilated sculpture of much earlier character, apparently representing the Holy TRINITY in a vesica, with angels in the spandrels. The Sancte-bell cot remains in the usual situation at the east end of the nave. The parapet, which surrounds every part of the roofs, is quite plain.
There is a church stile of singular construction, consisting of an ascending and a descending set of stone steps, with iron bars and grating at the top for scraping the feet upon. Doubtless the faithful of Willington, Tudhoe and Brandon, and the other outlying places, have found it very useful after their long walks to church, in "soft" weather. From the character of the stonework, it seems to be very old; the mouldings about it are similar to those of the parapet of the church. Built into it is an early grave-slab, bearing a plain cross patée, with knob on centre. A similar one was found when the foundations of the church were recently improved, and with a number of thirteenth and fourteenth century gravestones is now in the castle chapel.
Having now completed our survey of this interesting structure, we would fain express the hope that the intended "restoration " may not involve so much destruction as "restorations" too often do. The chancel is so beautiful an example of the transition from Decorated to Perpendicular, (about A.D. 1400), that every moulding and every window should be preserved. Any destruction of the fine window tracery would be a barbarism far worse than any perpetrated by good John Cosin. If we do not produce anything equal to the works of the medieval architects, at least let us not destroy them. If we must adopt "foreign Gothic" in our new churches, so as to get the greatest possible "effectiveness" at the lowest possible price, do let us preserve as much of our national architecture as possible. If we have some windows left that have not had their tracery knocked out, with a view to the introduction of transparent pictures, or sash windows, or plate glass, or heathenish monuments, by all means let us bequeath them to posterity, carefully repairing them, if necessary, but not demolishing them.
The ancient altar-stones mentioned above ought to be reverently preserved under the present altar-" it pitieth one to see them in the dust"—and they are too much mutilated to be available for their proper use, even if there were not other difficulties in the way. One thing is worth noticing, and that is, that these old English altar-slabs have not a bit of stone let into them consecrated by the Pope, as the modern
Roman altars have. Doubtless in the days of our forefathers, the Bishops of Durham were as highly honoured in these parts as the Bishops of Rome, and their consecration was held to be amply sufficient.
The wood effigies of the Nevilles might perhaps be moved from their present inconvenient situation, and set on one of the plain high-tombs in the South Chapel, with a record of their removal.
The oak fittings of the body of the church would not be very easy to deal with satisfactorily. The great object, of course, should be to preserve as much as possible of their character, while adapting them to the public worship of the Church. The bench ends, which are really handsome of their kind, and quite sound, (will our 19th century "stained deal" last as long, and look as well?) might doubtless be incorporated in new stalls. And, by a little ingenuity, the pulpit and desk together might be made into a new and more convenient pulpit, the priest's stall in the chancel being the proper place for saying the prayers.
The panelling round the piers and side walls would, of course, have to come down, and some of it, together with other curiosities, might be preserved in some spare part of the church.
Unsightly as Cosin's porch is as an architectural work, yet, after all, there is a quaintness and "unexpectedness" about it, which is rather refreshing now-a-days, when even our schismatical meeting-houses are built in the neatest and cheapest of Gothic. And perhaps it would be a pity not to preserve it, as well as the font-cover, for the sake of him who built it. The latter might be made to look tolerably well, as regards its general effect, if the paint could be removed.
It is very much to be hoped, of course, that, in the event of the church's being reseated, there will be no more of that unjust appropriation of seats which would seem to have been practised in this parish at so early a period. This has hitherto been a great evil in the Church of England, that the rich and the poor have not been permitted to "all equal be within the Church's gate ;" and it is also most desirable that the organ should be removed into one of the side chapels, and the choir occupy the almost deserted stalls in the chancel.
Let us hope that the present guardians of this ancient church will show the same loving care in its repairs which their predecessors did in its original building, and in the furnishing of it with all appliances for public worship, and that while guided by better ecclesiastical taste than were some who have gone before them, they will manifest equal zeal for the "beauty of holiness."
NOTE. This paper appeared some weeks back in the Newcastle Daily Journal, and is now reprinted with additions and corrections, for some of the most valuable of which the writer is indebted to his friend W. H. D. Longstaffe, Esq., F.S.A., of Gateshead.
ON WORCESTER CATHEDRAL RESTORATION.
To the Editor of the Ecclesiologist.
DEAR SIR,-Will you allow me to make a few additional remarks on the notes which you have appended to my communication on Worcester Cathedral in the last Ecclesiologist.
You agree with me in protesting against the contemplated destruction of the ancient canopies of the stalls, but think that in "two" cases it would not be objectionable to "leave the parcloses open in order to render the choir aisles available for congregational use." I am perfectly willing to allow that when there is a constant and persevering cry for more room in our churches "such an admission appears to be merely consistent and truthful." I admit its truth as regards our parish churches, but deny it as regards our cathedrals.
The cathedral seems to me the diocesan parish church on six days in the week, but not on the seventh. Rather it seems to me that it is a church in which the daily worship of GOD is performed in order that the townspeople may benefit by it if so minded, and that the inhabitants of the adjacent neighbourhood who come in occasionally may always find a place in which to attend divine service. Lastly, as a standing witness of the perpetual worship of the Most High in His sanctuary. Admit these as facts, and there is evidently no occasion for throwing open the parcloses, for the aisles would not be filled. They are not thrown open in Roman Catholic churches on the Continent, where the people worship in cathedrals much more than with us. I will venture to affirm from my own experience, that the choir on six days in the week is quite sufficient to hold any congregation who will frequent it. But then the reply will be, but must not room be made for an increased Sunday congregation? To which I would reply that in most episcopal cities the cathedral (Ely or Wells hardly excepted,) is not the church of the diocese on that day. If it is to be constituted as such, let Mr. Beresford Hope's plan be completely carried out. Attach a certain number of the parochial clergy to the cathedral, dispense with as many parish churches as you can, and make them a part of the cathedral body, with "marriages" and "burials" performed in it. When that takes place we may and must throw aside all æsthetical principles, take away roodscreens, stalls, and everything of the kind. It would then be the Sunday cathedral church for the whole city. But surely it would hardly be advisable to try to render it such, as things are constituted at present, i.e., until the whole system is radically altered. And I think it may be very much doubted whether such a change would be at all desirable. It is no doubt delightful to see a well filled nave on Sunday afternoon, as in this city, but we must remember that it is too often a violation of the parochial system. A young clergyman has informed me that the much larger part of his congregation leave his church for the cathedral on the afternoon of Sunday. Others, no doubt, make the same complaint. Now Worcester has several large churches beside the cathedral, and it
may be fairly asked whether it is for an anti-parochial system like this that the Dean and Chapter would pull their church to pieces.
Regarded in an aesthetical point of view, I think there are few persons who would not candidly admit that there is additional solemnity in divine service when performed in a portion of the cathedral divided off from the rest of the building, and which affords some degree of comparative seclusion for prayer. If our cathedrals are to be preaching places only, by all means let us Spurgeonize them at once, and remove screens, reredos, tabernacle work, in fact anything that prevents the church from being one grand open space, clean swept out. This seems to be the Euthanasia which is destined for Worcester Cathedral.
I will lastly merely mention that the very fact of ascending to the choir by steps, shews plainly that it was never intended to be amalgamated with the rest of the building. May I not also say, that should this Wyatt-like principle prevail, we must bid adieu to stone carving, or wrought iron work, all which would be utterly out of place. As for myself, I never enter this cathedral without feeling how much the " beauty of holiness" is increased by a sanctuary. My objections then to these proposed alterations are that they are1. Utterly destructive of all solemnity in divine service in our cathedrals.
2. Injurious to the parochial system, which never intends that the cathedral should draw away congregations of other churches.
3. Subversive of architectural detail and tasteful ornamentation in wood, iron, or stone.
4. Calculated to make the temple of GOD not a house of prayer, but a house of preaching merely.
5. Totally without precedent and unknown to the Gothic churches of England and France, till the wish came to fill the cathedrals in violation of the parochial system of the Anglican Church.
6. Evil in their influence upon the building of new churches, when the chancel would be esteemed a needless addition in conformity with the example set by the mother church.
These reasons I must candidly say are so convincing, (at least to my own mind,) that I know not how they can be answered. I am not acquainted with Mr. Scott, but I trust that they will present themselves to his mind before he enters on the Worcester choir "restorations." Trusting you will excuse this long letter, I remain, dear sir,