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DESCRIPTION OF THE ABBEY.
age: the tendrils creep along the walls, wind round the pillars, wreath the capitals, or, hanging down in clusters, obscure the space beneath. But instead of dilapidated fragments, overspread with weeds and choked with brambles, the floor is covered with a smooth verdant turf, which, by keeping the original level of the church, exhibits the beauty of its proportions, heightens the effect of the gray stone, gives relief to the clustered pillars, and affords an easy access to every part. Ornamented fragments of the roof, remains of cornices and columns, rich pieces of sculpture, carved stones and mutilated figures of monks and warriors, whose ashes repose within these walls, are scattered on the green sward, and contrast present desolation with former splendour.”
Although the exterior appearance of these ruins is not equal to the inside view, yet in some positions-particularly to the east—they present themselves with considerable effect. From a point on its left bank, and about half a mile down the river, the ruins assume a new character; and seeming to occupy a gentle eminence, impend over the river without the intervention of a single cottage to intercept the view. “The grand east window, wholly covered with shrubs, and half-mantled with ivy, rises like the portal of a majestic edifice embowered in wood. Through this opening, and along the vista of the church, the clusters of ivy, which twine round the pillars or hang suspended from the arches, resemble tufts of trees; while the thick mantle of foliage, seen through the tracery of the west window,* forms a continuation of the perspective, and appears like an interminable forest."
The Abbey is a cruciform structure, built, it is said, after the model of Salisbury Cathedral,t consisting of a nave, north and south aisles, transepts, and choir. Its length from east to west is two hundred and twenty-eight feet, and from north to south, at the transepts, one hundred and fifty feet. The nave and choir are thirty-seven feet in breadth ; the height of the central arch is seventy feet, of the smaller arches thirty feet; of the east window sixty-four feet, and of the west window forty-two feet. The total area originally enclosed by the walls of the abbey is said to have been thirty-four acres.
The exterior of the western front is singularly striking; but, on entering, as
*" Critics who censure the west window as too australi 10 archus, et inter quamlibet columnam sunt broad for its height, do not consider that it was not 5 virgæ longitudinis cujuslibet dictorum 10 arcuum : intended for a particular object, but to harmonize with item sunt in parte inferiori dictæ ecclesiæ ex parte the general plan ; and had the architect diminished australi 10 fenestræ de consimili operatione. Et 10 the breadth in proportion to the height, the grand fenestræ principales ex parte boreali ecclesiæ, et quæeffect of the perspective would have been considerably libet fenestra continet duas magnas panellas fenestratas. lessened."— Coxe.
Item, in le ovyrhistorye sunt consiiniliter 10 fenestræ † The following are the ancient admeasurements of principales, et quælibet fenestra continet duas panas the church and cloisters :
vitratas secundum proportionem, quamvis non secunLongitudo ecclesiæ Sancto Maria Tynterniæ con dum quantitatem fenestrarum totius ecclesiæ Westtinet 75 virgas. Item, in dicta ecclesia sunt ex parte monasterii apud Londoniam.– Willde Worc.
already observed, the scene that represents itself is indescribably grand and impressive. “When we stood at one end of this awful ruin,” says Gilpin, “ the elements of earth and air its only covering and pavement, and the grand and
venerable remains which termiriated both, perfect enough to form the perspective, yet broken enough to destroy the regularity, the eye was above measure delighted with the beauty, the grandeur, the novelty of the scene.”
The inner walls of the church are nearly entire ; most of the elegant and massive columns, as already noticed, which separated the nave from the south aisle are yet standing; and the four lofty and magnificent arches which formerly supported the central tower are nearly perfect. The columns that divided the nave from the north aisle have fallen; but their bases still occupy the ground, showing their number, shape, and dimensions.
Windows. The magnificent windows are little altered by time: and though somewhat obscured by a luxuriant and graceful drapery of ivy, the tendrils of which twine in their tracery, creep along the walls, encircle the columns, and form natural wreaths around the capitals, the forms of the principal objects are still so far preserved as to be easily discriminated. The tracery of the western
window, as already observed, is exquisite; while the eastern window, * high and graceful, and occupying nearly the whole breadth of the choir, with its slender umbilical shaft rising to a height of fifty feet, and diverging at the top into rich flowery traces, has quite a magical effect. The other windows, though less ornamented, are all in character, and have the same elegant design and finish.t
The floor, originally covered with encaustic tiles, is now enveloped in a thick smooth matting of grass, trimmed like a bowling-green, and here and there spotted with little heaps of mutilated sculpture, and striped with flat tombstones—all thrown open to the winds of heaven.
The effigy of a knight in chain armour, a pavache shield, and crossed legs, is supposed to be that of Strongbow, first Earl of Pembroke, already noticed, but more probably that of Roger Bigod, as Strongbow is historically known to have been buried in Dublin. This interesting relic, that had escaped the ravages of time and the hostile spirit of revolution, was at last, as Mr. Thomas informs us, wilfully mutilated by a native of the village.
* Latitudo orientalis fenestræ ante magnum altare, virg. Item, tota eccles. continet 14 archus in una continet 8 pannas glasatas cum armis Rogeri Bygot, parte et 14 archus in altera parte. Item, pars fenesfundatoris. Et in orientali parte duarum elarum tra borealis principalis 14 panellas glasatas. Item, orientalium, in earum duabus fenestris, quælibet fenes. latitudo dictæ fenestræ tam ex boreali quam oppositæ tra constat ex tribus panis vitreatis sine armis. Item fenestræ ex parte meridionali continet iii. virgas. Item longitudo Chori constat ex iiii. arcubus ultra quanti- the fermarge chyrch continet in longitudine 34 virgas, tatem areæ quadratæ campanilis principalis in medio id est 60 steppys meas—quæ sunt 34 virgæ,et in laChori quæ continet · virgas. Sic in toto lon- titudine viii. virgas. Item, capitulum in longitudine gitudo Chori cum area campanilis continet virgas. Item, continet 18 virgas, in latitudine 9 virgas. Memorand., altitudo voltæ totius ecclesiæ ab area ecclesiæ continet xi. quod 24 steppys, sive gressus mei, faciunt 12 virgas. Anglicè vetheyms, et quilibet vetheym constat, &c. Item, 50 virgæ faciunt 85 gradus, sive steppys meas. pedibus seu .. virgis. Longitudo de le Crosse -Will. de Worc. 83. yle, id est brachiorum ecclesiarum, tam ex parte me In all its parts, according to Dugdale, this church ridionali quam boreali continet 50 virgas, id est 150 is a copy of Salisbury Cathedral, built only a few pedes. Item, quadratura spacia areæ campanilis in years previously. medio Chori ecclesiæ scitæ continet in longitudine 12 † Paper on the Abbey. Tinterne, which is coeval virgas. Item, dicta quadratura campanilis continet in with Westminster Abbey, has a remarkable similarity latitudine 12 virgas. Item, fenestra principalis meri- in its whole plan and style of architecture, and was, in dionalis atque Septentrionalis vitrea continet vi. fact, a repetition in miniature.— Dallaway's Arts, p. 36. pannas glasatas magnæ altitudinis.— Will. de Worc. 1 A burge-builder at Tinterne severed the head from ed. 1778, Cantab. [with various blanks.]
the trunk, and defaced the features, legs, and shield, Cloisters.-Ecclesiæ de Tynterna: Memorand, leaving it in its present mutilated state.— Tinterne and — The Cloyster is 37 virgæ in longit. et in lat. 33 its Environs.
The next relic is a group of the Madonna and Child, much disfigured, but with sufficient evidence of its having been the work of a skilful artist. Mr. Bartlett considered it to be of very graceful design and execution.
Near the eastern window is the sculptured head of a friar, with the tonsure, but otherwise quite disfigured.
In the centre, between the transepts, is another broad stone slab, supposed to cover the ashes of the founder; but the fall of the tower, and the continual dropping of loosened fragments—until the ruin became an object of interest and consideration—have not left one of the sepulchral tablets or inscriptions entire. Many fragments may be discovered among the rubbish, but to reunite the scattered members were a very hopeless task. In the southern aisle is the only sepulchral antiquity that bears a legible inscription. It is elaborately carved in black or slate marble, with a cross finely sculptured on its surface longitudinally, and near its base three trouts,* so entertwined as to form the symbolic triangle, with the figure of a salmon on the right and left. The inscription, in black letter, along the top of the cross, is simple
“Vic jacet humatus Johann: Willino." The sepulchral brasses have all disappeared. For a century and more after the Dissolution, the Abbey appears to have been abandoned to every species of wilful depredators, who defaced the altars, ransacked the graves, and carried off without molestation whatever was curious or portable. In the same aisle, close to the wall, and now preserved with great care,
is the lately-discovered pavement of encaustic tiles, with escutcheons of the ancient Clare and Bigod families intertwined. The figures on these coloured tiles represent flowers, animals, and knights in full career at a tournament. This pavement was probably that of a private altar, belonging to the founder, or benefactor of the Abbey. In the process of clearing away the vast accumulation of rubbish, many of the ancient memorials were removed in fragments; and of the few that remain, not one, probably, now covers the dust over which it was originally placed. Leaving the
grassy lawn-like floor of the Abbey, the ascent to the top is still practicable by means of a spiral staircase in an angle of the northern tran
• In the early Church, " a fish was generally used by forming the initials of the most important titles of our Christians as a symbol of the Great Founder of their blessed Lord :"-1.X. 8. 7 2. – Pompeinna. faith, the letters of the Greek word, izour (a fish),
'Ιησούς Χριστός, Θεου Υιος, Σωτηρ
HISTORIANS OF THE ABBEY-REED.
sept. Those who conclude their survey of the ruins by this experiment, will be amply rewarded for any fatigue it may occasion. At the time of our visit, however, in the month of August last year, some unexpected obstacle prevented the custodier from gratifying our curiosity by a view from the summit: for the steps were either so unsafe or deficient, as to make the experiment rather hazardous.
Mr. Thomas, from whose notes we have already quoted, and whose late professional residence near the Abbey rendered him familiar with all its minutest features, tells us that the prospect it commands is highly picturesque; and in turning from the outward landscape, to look down into the cloistered depths below, the view of clustering pillars, lofty arches, mullioned windows, and flowing tracery, is indescribably grand and impressive.
The broken summit of the walls, throughout its whole outline, is adorned with a profusion of shrubs and flowers, that, with interlacing leaves and tendrils, cover the mouldering coping like a fragrant mantle. Where the labour of man appears to decay, nature has put forth her vigour and beauty, and transformed those roofless walls into a wild botanic garden. Here, and amidst the débris immediately adjoining, Mr. Thomas * found a luxuriant crop of shrubs and flowers, all of different families, some of them rare, and in number between forty and fifty.
Reed, in his 'Remains,' gives the following eloquent and highly poetical description of the Abbey by moonlight:—“The great tree or vegetable rock, or emperor of the oaks, if you please, before which I bowed with a sort of reverence in the fields of Tinterne, and which for so many ages has borne all the blasts and bolts of heaven, I should deem it a gratification of a superior kind to approach again with an 'unsandalled foot,' to pay the same homage, and to kindle with the same devotion. But I should find amidst the magnificent ruins of the adjoining Abbey, something of a sublime cast, to interest and give pregnancy to my feelings. I must be alone. My mind must be calm and pensive. It must be midnight. The moon, half-veiled in clouds, must be just emerging from behind the neighbouring hills. All must be silent, except the wind gently
* The naturalist will not leave the area of the Abbey exuviæ of the plant-lice form their food. - Thomas's without noticing an alder-tree in the northern transept, Tinterne, p. 26. covered with aphides, to which a long train of black b He enumerates the following as indigenous in ants have for some years been observed continually the fruitful vale of Tinterne :- Delphinium consolida, coming and departing through the sacristy door, and Aquilegia vulgaris, Saponaria officinalis, Eriophorum pacing along the pediment of one of the lofty columns polystachion, Galanthus nivalis, Narcissus pseudoto the root of the tree. This is the only procession narcyssus, Allium Carinatum, Ornithogalum Pyrennow visible in the Abbey, and is formed, not for devo- naicum, Acorus calamus, Euphorbia Cyparissias, Anetion, but for a lowlier, yet not less imperative purpose mone pulsatilla, A. Appenina, A. nemorosa. - the alder-tree is their refectury, and the sweet