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CLOISTER, VESTRY, CHAPTER-HOUSE, ETC.
he observes five distinct clustered pillars, surmounted by the magnificent arches, described in these pages. At the commencement of the north and south transepts, he will examine the bases of the four massive columns which formerly supported the great central tower; the doors and windows of the transepts; the sepulchral fragments scattered along the smooth grassy parterre of the choir; then, at the north-west corner of the north transept, he will ascend a few steps of a spiral staircase leading to the top of the church; and, from the gallery which runs round within the wall, look down on the scene before and beneath him. Descending to the transept floor, he will enter a door near the angle where the nave and north transept unite; and entering a passage northward, through a richly ornamented doorway, he will observe the following apartments, viz. :
The Cloister on the left, forming a considerable quadrangle, the sides of which are of the same length as the nave of the church, on which it closely abuts, running parallel with it to the west doorway, and bordering the public road. Here, also, are some mutilated sepulchral effigies of ancient abbots, crosses, &c., from which the inlaid brasses have been sacrilegiously purloined. On the right hand of the visitor, as he enters, is the ancient
Hestry, or sacristy, an oblong chamber, divided into two compartments, the second of which opens by a doorway into the North Transept. Closely adjoining this on the north, is
The Chapter-house, of the same form and dimensions as the vestry, but not subdivided. Farther again on the right is a large hall, with the remains of five central pillars that supported the arched stone roof, supposed to be the ancient
Hospitium, or guest-chamber, already described in these pages. On the east of this, and running parallel with it, are the remains of offices or apartments—probably dormitories—the precise use of which has not been ascer
tained. Beyond, eastward, lay the Cemetery. Adjoining the Hospitium on ; the west, and connecting it with the Refectory, are several small buildings, with the remains of other dormitories on the upper floor. Immediately adjoining this, on the west, is the
Refectory, a spacious hall, in which the brethren, as already described, sat at table. The Lectern, or pulpit-desk, at which a reader presided during meals, is still visible about the middle of the west side. From the refectory, a tourniquet-door, for the passage of viands only, communicated with the kitchen; and close to this is the dole, where the indigent and wayfaring poor were daily supplied with victuals and refreshments. The kitchen runs parallel with the cloisters, and the west entrance of the church, along the public road leading to the ferry.
The Scale annexed to the Plan of the Abbey—as shown by the woodcut-will enable the reader to ascertain, with tolerable accuracy, the dimensions of all the compartments named.
Proportions.-Length of Chancel and Nave..........
.......................... 228 feet.
As a specimen of the marvellous connected with these ruins, we cannot resist introducing another characteristic
Legend.—A party of gentlemen —horresco referens—who had inspected the abbey, employed several labourers to dig in the orchard adjoining, in hopes of discovering some antiquities. Part of one day and the following night were spent in this employment, when at last they were successful, and two human skeletons were discovered. Next day the same party resolved to celebrate their discovery by a dinner in the abbey. But scarcely had they commenced their sacrilegious repast, when a thick darkness overspread the horizon ; deep thunder raised its tremendous voice, and shook the surrounding hills ; lightnings flashed
VIEWS OF THE ABBEY-TINTERNE VALE.
throughout the ruin in sheets of livid Alame; hail, succeeded by torrents of rain, deluged the plain, and
“ Peal on peal Crashed horrible, convulsing earth and heaven !" During this sudden and tremendous visitation, the indignant spirit of Strongbow—accompanied by the spectral forms of many whose death-sleep had been thus wantonly disturbed—arose from the grave, and fixed his eyes upon the petrified strangers. Then raising his gauntleted hand, he pointed to the abbey door—which at the sight had mysteriously opened—and sternly beckoned the impious visitors to depart! The awful signal was instantly obeyed ; and some crawling, others trembling—all pale and speechless, the daring adventurers rushed from his presence, they knew not how, and fled they knew not whither; while the savoury viands left behind them were instantly swept over the abbey walls in a whirlwind.
The Engraved Virms of Tiuterne Abbey. 1.- The West Entrance, * a beautiful specimen of Decorated Gothic; the principal feature of which is the great west window, of which all visitors and writers on this subject have expressed their unqualified admiration. The stonework of this magnificent feature is nearly entire; the five mullions, tall, slender, and elaborately moulded, retain their original forms; and, terminating in the rich flowing tracery that fills and completes the arch, appear as if they wanted nothing but the ancient painted glass to restore the window to its primitive splendour. The ivy inserting itself into every joint, and hanging in graceful festoons, seems more like artificial garlands woven in honour of a fête day, than as the sure emblem and evidence of dilapidation and decay. Beneath this window is the richly-carved double doorway leading into the nave. On the right hand is another window communicating with the southern aisle, surmounted by a window of three compartments, and two buttresses terminating in pinnacles, of which only one remains. On the left hand is the north aisle,
, in form and dimensions exactly corresponding with the former, but much less perfect. Closely adjoining this were the abbey cloisters, the remains of which have been noticed in a former page.
II.-The Vale of Tinterne, f as it is seen from a point–in the woods covering the left bank of the Wye-called the Devil's Pulpit. This engraving
conveys a most correct, beautiful, and comprehensive view of the abbey, and its circumjacent scenery. In the backgrounds is seen the hill country stretching westward towards Monmouth. On the left, crowning an eminence that overlooks the village and abbey, stands the church of Chapel-hill, with the characteristic feature of an immense yew-tree expanding its gloomy branches over the cemetery. Beneath is seen the public road from Chepstow running westward, and branching off in the village to right and left; the latter branch running along the hills towards Raglan, and the former following the course of the Wye to Monmouth. To the right, under the wooded rocks which appear to overhang its channel, the Wye is seen making a curve like a horseshoe, so as to form a peninsula, the outer rim of which, as described in the text, is lined with houses that rise one above the other, and planted here and there with tall poplars, and refreshed with numerous springs and rivulets, that, after murmuring down the rocks, throw their crystal tribute into the Wye. Here the river is seen enlivened with passage-boats, by means of which a daily communication between the villages above and below the abbey is kept open for the conveyance of market produce, or the convenience of passengers.
In the foreground lies the glory of the scene—the abbey and its appendages --the latter much curtailed; but once, as history informs us, enclosing the goodly space of thirty-four acres. The view looks down upon the conventual church, showing the nave and transepts in their cruciform proportions, with the magnificent east window opening upon some rich productive orchards, the ground of which was consecrated in former times as the abbey cemetery. Stretching along the river eastward is a luxuriant tract of pasture land, called the Abbots’ Meadows, already described. Nothing can be more soothing and tranquil than this scene, embosomed, as it is, among sylvan landscapes, and bordered by a river whose smooth yet swift-flowing waters are heard in the calm summer evening like distant music.
“ And ever, as the summer sun goes down,
Sends forth its melody."
* See page 38–39, passim.
VIEW FROM THE FERRY.
the central tower, it takes in the west window, the window of the north aisle, the nave, and on the right, the doorway leading into the cloisters-of which an engraving is here given-with the massive clustered pillars, lofty and delicately moulded arches, in which an airy lightness, combined with strength and solidity, strike the spectator with feelings of awe and admiration, to which it is hardly possible to give expression
“Silence sublime, and stillness how profound;
Yet every arch, with clustered ivy hung,
Seems to address thee in thy native tongue;
And how they fell beneath their Vandal foes.” In the centre are the two sepulchral slabs, already described in another portion of the text; and on the left, leaning against the base of one of the pillars, is a mutilated statue, supposed to be that of Roger Bigod, or Gilbert de Clare, as shown in the woodcut, page 41. In various parts of the chancel, choir, and transepts, as well as in the nave and aisles, many dilapidated fragments are collected in heaps; among which the visitor will distinguish pieces of elaborate carving, particularly some ingenious and fancifully sculptured bosses, the connecting ornaments of the richly-groined roof that once overhung this gorgeous temple, and echoed back the anthems of its assembled choir.
IV.- from the Ferry, * on the opposite or left bank of the Wye. On the foreground is the landing-place, from which a road, † or bridle-path, winding along the wooded heights, already noticed in our description of the Devil's Pulpit,' presents many picturesque, and some romantic points of view. The river is here the boundary line between the counties of Monmouth and Gloucester, or, anciently, between England and South Wales. Directly opposite, and terminating the causeway leading up from the ferry, is an archway, the ancient watergate of the abbey. Through this gate the monastery received its supplies from the barges that daily ascended and descended the river, or lay at anchor under the protection of the abbey; for here, we were told, there is depth of water-which is increased at every tide-sufficient to float vessels of seventy tons burthen. The grove, which occupies the space between the water and the abbey walls, consists chiefly of apple and pear-trees, which form a continuous girdle of orchards round the abbey church, and are particularly luxuriant and productive, on the site of the ancient burial-ground. The ring of offices with which the abbey was originally enclosed on nearly three sides, has almost disappeared, leaving only the foundations, upon which, from time to time, mean
See page 63, passim. † Running across the neck of land, it shortens the distance between the Abbey and Tinterne Parva.