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the highest testimonies that could be offered to their memory. But to secure posthumous fame, liberality to the church was the surest channel, and of those erected to the great benefactors of Tewkesbury several remain in good preservation. The most interesting are those of Isabel, Countess of Warwick; of Hugh, Lord le Despenser; of Sir Edward le Despenser; of Sir Guy d'O'Brien; of Abbot Cheltenham; of Abbot Wakeman, &c. But the first in right of precedence, though not in beauty of design or workmanship, is the tomb of the founder, Robert Fitz-Hamon, to whose life the reader's attention has been already directed. It stood originally in the Chapter-house, where he was buried in 1107; but in 1241 it was removed to its present situation in the church, where his bones were deposited with great solemnity in a tomb of grey marble, and afterwards enclosed with an altar-chapel by the Lord Abbot Parker. During the improvements which were made in the church about the end of the last century, this tomb was opened and examined, when the mortal relics, after an interval of more than six centuries, were brought once more to the light. At the head of the stone coffin, between two and three feet long, was a circular sheet of lead, in the inner fold of which were deposited the thigh-bones and one arm entire, and which were, beyond doubt, the last earthly remains of the venerable founder. It was originally ornamented with the founder's effigy and other ornaments in brass; but these were all abstracted during the course of open spoliation which, subsequent to the dissolution of religious houses, mutilated or destroyed many of the finest sepulchral antiquities in the kingdom. The inscription which formerly, in short and simple phrase, directed the stranger to the founder's tomb, was cut round the frieze of the chapel :-" In hac capella jacet Dns. Robertus Filius Hamonis, hujus loci fundator.”—Antiq. of Tewkesb.
The Chancel (p. 169), where this tomb, with several others, is still shown, exhibits a combination of magnificent features. It is supported by six pillars of noble proportions, and over these are seven windows of stained glass, richly ornamented with effigies and armorial bearings of the ancient Earls of Gloucester.
There the lone MONK would muse and read,
And meditate on sacred lore;
With raised hands seeming to implore
Tall arches pointing overhead,
Its gloom through distant colours shed,
That whether living shape or dead,
Le Despenser's Chapel, or that dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, is a beautiful specimen of the style called Gothic. The roof is elaborately carved, supported on slender pillars of marble—now much destroyed. It was originally adorned with representations of our Saviour and his apostles, and emblazoned with armorial bearings of the families with which the Despensers claimed relationship. Under a canopy of state, on the same side, is another--consisting of three compartments, each diminishing as it ascends, till the last terminates in a point-with the effigies of Lord and Lady Despenser, in white marble. The whole of this shrine is richly carved, and, with its arches and pinnacles gradually tapering off in the form of an obelisk, is a very elegant and beautiful object, and well illustrates the florid style so prevalent in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was founded by the Lady Isabella Despenser, the Countess of Warwick already mentioned, in honour of St. Mary Magdalen. The countess died in the Minories, London, in 1439, and was buried at the right hand of her father in the choir.— See, ante, p. 179.
The chapel of the Holy Trinity, on the south side of the chancel, was erected by the Lady Elizabeth, to the memory of her husband, Edward le Despenser, whose figure as an armed knight, with the bearings of the family emblazoned on his surcoat, occupies the top in a posture of supplication. What remains of these chapels is sufficient to show how highly they must have been ornamented, particularly the roof, upon which great taste and ingenuity have been displayed.
Nearly opposite the Despenser monument, and in the aisle surrounding the chancel, is the tomb of Guy d'O'Brien, already mentioned in the genealogical descent of the manor, as the second husband of the Lady Despenser. It is of open tabernacle-work, and under the arch is a recumbent figure of a knight in armour, with the arms of the O'Briens (Lords of Thomond) and the Montacutes,
Not far from the preceding, is the chapel of St. Edmund the Martyr. The monument is supported by an arch, under which, according to the fashion of those days, is a monk in the last stage of emaciation, stretched upon a shroud, and serving as a moral lesson to his brethren and all spectators, that to such complexion they must come at last.
It is richly ornamented with Gothic ornaments, all minutely carved; and is understood to have been designed and executed by Wakeman, who was Abbot of Tewkesbury at the dissolution of the abbey; but he was not buried here. In a small chapel adjoining that of the Holy Trinity before mentioned, is the tomb traditionally known as that of the twelfth abbot, who presided in this monastery twenty years, and died in the middle of the thirteenth
century. In Willis's time, says Dyde, there appears to have been an effigy of this abbot, as that author mentions, that "under this arch are the effigies of a man lying in full proportion, which,” he adds, “is said to have been for Robert Fortington, the last abbot."
Near this are the tombs of two other abbots; one a monument of dark marble, with the inscription in Saxon letters, of “Johannes Abbas hujus
loci ;” and another in the south
On the south side, at the Abbots'
The tomb is close to a rich-pointed doorway
in the south transept, called the Abbot's entrance, which communicated with the adjoining cloisters.
On the north side, and under an arch not unlike the preceding, is a recumbent figure of the unfortunate Lord Wenlock, whom, in a moment of fierce exasperation, Somerset struck down with his battle-axe in the field adjoining : but his body, as Leland reports, “was removed to some other place."
Under the Tower is a brass plate with an inscription to the memory of Edward, Prince of Wales, only son of Henry the Sixth, the circumstances of whose death will be more particularly noticed hereafter. The spot where he was interred, however, is a mystery; it is merely stated that, in the common
* Here her deare Devonshiere, noble Covrtney, dyed ;
Her faithful friend great SOMERSET here fell. -- DRAYTON.
fosse, dug for the reception of the other victims, in the abbey, the body of the unfortunate prince was included.*
No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet, nor in shroud, they bound him. The epitaphs in the church are numerous—some curious, and all more or less illustrative of feelings by which, in general, the mourners were actuated, and of times when a mixture of classic taste and monkish superstition was the chief characteristic. Out of the many, that which follows is selected as a specimen. It is taken from a brass plate, on a stone in the body of the church, and has often been copied. (Histor. and Antiq. of Tewkes.) “ In hoc Tumulo sepulta jacet Amia uxor Johannis Wiatt, Tewkesburiensis generosi, quæ spiritum exhalavit xxv August., Ao. Dni.” [Year effaced.] It is an acrostic-Amie Wiatt.
In cujus obitum versiculos perlegito subsequentes.
A me disce mori, mors est sors omnibus una;
Mortis et esca fui mortis et esca fores.
Et capiet cineres urna parata cinis.
Vita pijs mors est; mors mihi vita pia.
Ardua fac: non est mollis ad astra via.
Teque vocat Sponsus, Spiritus atque Pater. N.B. The Area consists of a grand principal aisle or nave, a transept or cross aisle, and two spacious side aisles, somewhat lower than the main body of the church, and separated from the nave by two rows of massive pillars. Also a handsome semicircular aisle surrounding the chancel, from the north to the south ends of the transepts, in which are the vestry (where the abbey records were formerly kept), several recesses and chapels dedicated to the founder, the benefactors, and other persons of distinction, with several Gothic tombs of splendid execution. We recapitulate these as the chief features of the Area.
Taking his position in the centre of the chancel, the stranger commands the most imposing features in the church; the rich groined roof, the bold massive pillars, the richly-sculptured tombs, the painted windows, blazoned shields, emblematic groups and Gothic inscriptions—all strike the mind with feelings of deep solemnity, and carry us back into the gorgeous imagery of the middle ages. Well may we exclaim with Quintilian—“En morti sacratos lapides !"-See, ante, p. 169.
Ejus corpus, cum reliquis interfectorum cadaveribus, in proximo Cænobio monachorum ordinis Divi Benedicti humatur.
There, in their sepulchres of costly art,
The Chapter-house. This appendage to the Abbey-in which was the original tomb of the founder—is considered from the best evidence to be coeval with the building. Chapter-houses were introduced by the early Norman prelates, and formed an indispensable adjunct to every cathedral and monastery subsequently erected under their superintendence. They were not, however, built as merely necessary to the conventual establishments, and for assembling the members of the church at their elections, but they were likewise the depositaries of deceased superiors and noble benefactors. Here Fitz-Hamon, the great benefactor, or rather founder of Tewkesbury Abbey, was buried, as already mentioned, but afterwards removed to a more sacred dormitory within the church. The approach to the Chapter-house was uniformly through the cloisters, and in certain instances, as at Chester and Bristol, it had a large vestibule. That of Tewkesbury is now used as a school. The windows are lancet-pointed, and round the base and walls are pannellings and arcade mouldings after the Norman style.--See Discourses on Architecture, with the Analysis of Conventual Churches.
On the outside of the south wall is “a very beautiful arch, now closed, which opened a communication between the south aisle and the remaining abbey and cloisters. From the style of the remaining arches in the side walls, the latter appear to have been extremely handsome. In the south wall, near the vestry door, is the tomb of Alanus-aiready named—the friend and biographer of Thomas-à-Becket, who died in 1202. The body is “ deposited in a coffin of Purbeck marble, laid under a very plain semi-quatrefoil arch.” The coffin was opened in 1795; when the lid was taken off, the body appeared surprisingly perfect, considering that it had lain there nearly six hundred years. The folds of the drapery were very distinct, but from being exposed to the air, the whole very soon crumbled away, and left little more than a skeleton. The boots, however, still retained their shape and a certain degree of elasticity, and hung in large folds about the legs. On his right side lay a plain crosier of wood, neatly turned, the top of which was gilded, having a cross cut in it. It was five feet eleven inches in length and remarkably light. On his left side lay the fragments of a chalice.-Sepulch. Antiq.