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NOTES OF THE MONTH.
Notes of the Month.
ALL archæologists will be pleased to hear that at last some steps have been taken to preserve the very curious paintings on the backs of the stalls in Carlisle Cathedral, executed under Prior Gondibour in 1484. One represents the legend of St. Augustine, another that of St. Anthony, a third that of St. Cuthbert, and the fourth the Twelve Apostles. Two of these, those representing the legend of St. Anthony and the Twelve Apostles, were long covered with whitewash (probably at the Reformation), and were brought to light by Dr. Percy (Dean of Carlisle 1778-82). The others, if ever whitewashed, were uncovered in Dr. Todd's time (Prebendary of Carlisle 1685 to 1728).
Two of these legends, St. Augustine and St. Anthony, were most beautifully copied in water-colour by Mr. Thomas Carlyle, a local artist, organ-builder, and carver, father of Mr. Robert Carlyle, a well-known artist. These copies are now in possession of Mr. William Forster, of Houghton Hall, near Carlisle. Copies were also made, some fifty years ago, by Mr. M. E. Nutler; these were purchased by the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle some fifteen years ago at the sale of the library of Mr. Cowen, of Dalston and Carlisle. Other copies were made at a later date by Lady Frances Harcourt. These various copies serve as milestones on the road to ruin of these curious paintings, and their progress down that road has been regarded with curious equanimity and in
difference by some, at least, of the authorities. This progress during the last twenty years has, under a régime of gaslights and cokestoves, been most rapid, and recent investigation showed that the paint was parting from the woodwork in large scales. Canon Richmond took the matter in hand, and, acting on advice from his father, Mr Richmond, R.A., called in experts, who syringed the paintings with fine parchment-size, which soaked in behind the flakes, and thus secured them to the woodwork. For the present these curious paintings, or as much as remains, are safe, but it is necessary that they should be protected with glass. This, we are glad to hear, the Chapter contemplates doing.
The fabric fund of Carlisle Cathedral has recently been freed from the charges imposed upon it for the restoration of the fratery by the late Mr. Street, and signs of activity on the part of the Dean and Chapter are apparent. Sir Arthur Blomfield has been called in to advise upon a new lodge at the Castle Street entrance, and the model of a font occupied the west end of the nave for a few hours, and not a little startled some people by its lofty and towering cover, which, rumour says, is to be of wrought-iron. Carlisle Cathedral is justly famed for beautiful woodwork of various periods: its traditions are, so to say, of woodwork. The late Mr. Street made a huge mistake in intruding a stone pulpit (the Paley memorial pulpit) into Carlisle Cathedral, and we do hope Sir Arthur is not going to repeat the error and introduce an iron font-cover! We should suggest, further, that some opportunity should be given to the inhabitants of the diocese of expressing an opinion on anything that may be proposed to be done in their cathedralthe possession of funds to spend may lead the authorities into mischief.
throwing open his church to the members." "The society is under great obligations to Rev. for allowing them to see the church." It cannot be too often insisted on that the parish churches of England do not belong to the parsons, still less to the squires or patrons, but are the churches of the people.
In the grounds attached to the house of Minsteracres, situate about midway between the Tyne and the Derwent, are three Roman altars, each about five feet high. Two of these altars are stated in the Lapidarium Sept. to be letterless, but Mr. Robert Blair, F.S.A., during a recent visit in July, found that this was not the case, as two of the altars bear traces of inscription, though in only one case can any sense be made of the letters. The inscription on this one is in well-formed though faint letters, and is NVMINIBVS. AVG. COH. T. On one side of this altar is carved in good relief the sacrificial patera, and on the other the prefericulum, each in a sort of wreath. The second altar has on one side a figure of a Roman soldier helmeted (a Mars) in high relief, with a spear in one hand and a shield in the other; beneath the latter a bird, probably a goose. The third altar has not the least trace of an inscription. Near the altar is a group of three female seated figures, holding fruit, etc., in their laps. The figures are, as usual, headless. All these objects come from the not distant Roman station of Ebchester, situate near the point where the Watling Street crosses the river Derwent, and on the south side of that river, which there divides the counties of Northumberland and Durham.
large slab inlaid with the brass effigy of a lady, C. 1390-1400, a little over 5 feet 1 inch in length. She is represented as attired in the nebulé headdress, sideless mantle, mittened sleeves, etc., and has at her feet a dog with a collar of bells. The execution of the brass is of the best description of the period. There has been no male figure, but the slab bears indents of a fine triple canopy, having on either side the effigies of four saints under small canopies. On each side of the central pediment of the canopy is an effigy on a bracket. On one side that of an angel with a scroll, probably the Annunciating Angel; on the other that of a female figure, probably the Blessed Virgin. each side of the lady's head is the indent of a large shield, and round the whole composition the indent of a marginal inscription. It is supposed that the lady commemorated was one of the Welby family, formerly for many centuries owners of property in Gedney, and some of whom have monuments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the same aisle, but more precise indentification is needed. Adjacent to the slab described is a large altar-tomb, bearing on its slab the indents of a very large shield and of the four evangelistic symbols, apparently c. 1408, which may possibly be the memorial of the husband of the lady above referred to.
This is one of the most interesting discoveries of a long-hidden brass that has been made for many a year. Information has reached us that there has been a disposition shown to floor over the brass again, or, at the best, to muralize it. The former fate would be an outrage, the latter, in this case, altogether unnecessary. There is abundance of spare space in the large church of Gedney, and no injury could possibly result from its occupying its present position in situ on the pavement. We understand that the chief person concerned in the present rebuilding_and restoration of this aisle is the Rev. Dr. Bellamy, President of St. John's College, Oxford, and Vice-Chancellor. Surely, if his attention is drawn to the matter, the brass will be allowed to remain in its original position.
Still another of the celebrated perpendicular church towers of the West of England is
reported to be in a dangerous condition, and is about to be restored under the direction of the diocesan architect, Mr. J. D. Sedding. The tower of the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Chewton-on-Mendip, 126 feet in height, is one of the finest in that "county of towers," Somersetshire. One of the best authorities on the Gothic architecture of the county, Prof. E. A. Freeman, described this as "a superb tower," and as "nearly perfect," the battlements and parapet, with massive square turrets at the angles, being "neither top heavy as at Taunton, nor too small as in some other examples." It is beautifully situated on the Mendip Hills, a few miles north-east of Wells, near one of the sources of the Bristol watersupply, and the source of the river Chew.
At a short distance from Welshpool, on the Oswestry road, there once stood the large Cistercian abbey of Ystrad Marchell, or Strata Marcella, founded by Owen Keveliog in 1172. All traces of the buildings have long ago disappeared, but the site still retains the name of Abbey Bank, and some slight ridges on the surface seem to indicate the position of the buried ruins. Into these banks it is now proposed to dig. Mr. Morris Charles. Jones, F.S.A., the capable secretary of the Powys Land Club, who, as far back as 1871, gave full historic details as to the abbey in the volumes of the Montgomeryshire Collections, has secured the co-operation of Mr. Stephen W. Williams, whose investigations at Strata Florida, whence Strata Marcella was colonized, have often been referred to in these pages.
that he noted in that city, and which he rightly conceives has some bearing on the low side-window question and the sanctusbell theory: "Passing by the east door of the north transept of Wurtzberg Cathedral Church, I heard in the quiet bit of street at that angle the loud jangle of small bells. Instantly two market - women dropped on their knees, and there remained in that position for some moments. I entered the doorway, and found myself near to an altar, immediately to the left of the chancel arch, where mass was being said, the canon being just concluded. Close to the doorway by which I had entered, and at least 6 feet away from the altar-rails, was a projecting semicircle of ornamental ironwork, to which three little bells were attached. From this ring of bells, which was attached to the wall quite out of reach, depended a broad red bell-pull, on which were embroidered the words 'Heilig, Heilig, Heilig.' This was clearly the old sanctus bell pertaining, I fancy, to one or more altars of this transept, and had just been pulled by the server, with the result of adoration outside as well as inside the church. Its position obviously intended it to have that effect, for it was not nearly as convenient for use by the server as the handbell or bells in use at other altars of this church, but seems to be retained as an old custom."
More attention has been given of late to the Roman station of Little Chester, a suburb of Derby. Mr. George Bailey, of Derby, who
has written on the subject, and who has beautifully illustrated the medieval Prebendal houses that stood upon the site for the
Derbyshire Archæological Society's Journal, is now compiling a list of the coins that have been discovered at different times at Little Chester, with illustrations of some of the better examples. A pot of coins was found by the workmen at Strutt's Park about three years ago, and many of them were appropriated by the men. A man who has been wearing two on his watchchain has recently parted with them to Mr. Bailey, and as they are early examples, we are glad to make use of the blocks illustrating these two coins that Mr. Bailey has kindly sent us. The one is a denarius of the Roman Republic struck B.C. 81; and the other a coin of Tiberius Cæsar,
The wonderful Passion Drama, which is being acted Sunday by Sunday throughout this summer at Ober-Ammergau with such intense devotion and reality, is far truer this year to antiquarian detail than has been the case in previous decades. Although every one of the 750 performers are natives of the village, the commune has not despised outside help and suggestions in the scenery, dresses, and other requirements of the play. The result has been still further to enhance the profound effect and the solemn grandeur of the varying scenes. The stage, only the middle part of which is under cover, is so large that it affords eight distinct places for action-the great front space, the middle stage, the two streets, the two balconies of the palaces of Pilate and Annas, and the two arcades at the sides through which the chorus enter. The buildings on the stage are erected strictly in the style peculiar to the period represented, and in the larger scenes, such as the Triumphal Entry, or the Way of the Cross, with the large moving groups in constant picturesque action, it is actually difficult for the spectator to overcome the impression that he is really in the old Jerusalem of New Testament days.
The great east window of Selby Abbey, well known to antiquarians as one of the finest painted glass windows of the fourteenth century, is at present being releaded and carefully restored by the firm of (late) Ward and Hughes, London, at the expense of Mr. William Liversidge, of Selby, the earnest and indefatigable promoter of the restoration of
the abbey now in progress. In consequence of its having gone greatly to decay, in 1845, the glass of the lower lights was taken down and stowed away in boxes in the abbey, but the tracery lights remained in situ. Those specially interested, either in this window or the subject of it, should see an excellent series of articles in the Selby Times, by Mr. James Fowler, F.S.A., "On Representations of the Tree of Jesse."
In the edition of the Flores Historiarum recently issued in the Roll Series, there is (vol. i., p. 531) a curious bit of folklore introduced, supplementary to a story told by William of Malmesbury and Matthew Paris. It is one of sundry tales scattered through the chronicles, showing traces of pagan dances which the Church had difficulty in putting down. The incident belongs to the year 1002, and is said to have occurred at the village of Colesize-wherever that may be-in Saxony. At Mass time fifteen men and three women came into the cemetery of the church dancing and shouting and singing. They disregarded the priest when he bade them stop. He implored God and St. Magnus to make them dance and sing on continually for a twelve month. The avenging prayer was heard, and the whole year through this weird wandering-Jew-like dance and song went on. When the time of the curse had expired the participants were released, but most of them died then or soon after. Of course a moral has to be tagged on to the story-it is a stern lesson of the dangers of disobedience. Neither Malmesbury (who gives a certificate under the hand of an eyewitness and performer) nor Matthew Paris particularizes the offending song whose dissonance disturbed the Mass. They only say that they were profane ditties-seculares cantilenas. But the compiler of the Flores, not Matthew of Westminster, now relegated to the cold shades of never was, says expressly, "This was their song:
Equitabat Bovo per silvam frondosam
Quid stamus, cur non imus ?" One would fain learn if elsewhere old romance tells aught of Bovo riding through the leafy wood and making the fair Merswynd his bride.
It may be news to some of our American readers to learn that there was once a New York in Scotland. It was a village near Strontian, some 20 miles from the Point of Ardnamurchan in Argyllshire, built about 1730 to accommodate the lead miners of the York Buildings Company.
What bids fair to be a hot controversy has arisen in Dumfriesshire over the armorial bear
ings of the county. Not having had arms
of a great link in time and history, and it is pitiful that it should be left so far under the control of two or three self-willed and uninformed country gentlemen. Happily, Mr. Balfour Paul is a Lyon King who can smile at the local omnipotence of rural squires. He will see that Dumfriesshire gets its due.
OUTSIDE the gate of St. Isaia in Bologna, some ancient Italian tombs have been ex
plored; in one of which, near the bit of a horse, of uncommon type, has been found a horse-shoe just like those used to-day, the nails and shoe being of iron. The occurrence is unusual in prehistoric tombs of that neighbourhood.
At Borgo Panigale, in the same province, a Roman tomb has been found, containing elegant vases in glass, and the figure of a lion made of some artificial paste, with vitreous surface, like those found in the tombs on the Esquiline.
hitherto, a shield had to be devised for the Motes of the Month (Foreign). seal to be used by the new County Council. A committee was appointed to see to the matter, and in due course reported. There was no discussion, and the report was adopted recommending a shield consisting of the orle or the escarbuncle (it is not clear which) of Balliol, the saltire and chief of Bruce, and the heart of King Robert-all surmounted by a crown royal. The tout ensemble was to symbolize the close connection of the county with both the rival houses of Bruce and Balliol, and thus with the Scottish Crown. It seems to have been taken for granted that the Lyon Office-the standard and sole authority on matters heraldic—had either suggested or sanctioned these arms. Strong objection was taken by one antiquary of the county, after the proceedings of the Council had been reported in the newspapers, on the ground, chiefly, that the outstanding fact of Dumfriesshire history was that the county of old never had anything to do with the Balliols, and did not want anything to do with them; that, indeed, to put the cognizance of Balliol on a par with that of Bruce on a shield for the county, was a downright insult to the best traditions of a warlike shire. Nothing came of the first protest, but it has now leaked out that the Lyon Office had all along condemned the Balliol-Bruce shield as unheraldic. It is, therefore, probable that the matter will not again run the risk of being smuggled over altogether by an unhistoric committee. It
is, however, a little discreditable that these things should be disposed of without the advice and assistance of persons who have made the local antiquities a study. The arms are probably the solitary thing which will last down the ages as a memorial of this particular County Council; it is the forging
At Corneto, an Etruscan tomb has been opened, in which was found a very fine ancient bowl, cratera, on which is represented the rape of Europa. The other tombs opened had already been rifled; but amongst the remains of painted vases left by the Roman or modern depredators, is an ancient amphora, on which is the figure of Jupiter about to give forth to the world the Goddess of Wisdom.
At Rome, excavations are still being made under the Basilica of SS. John and Paul. Pieces of red granite columns, and architectural remains have been found in making the sewer in the new Via Cavour, near the area of the Foro Transitorio; while in the works of the Tiber Quay, near the demolished theatre of Apollo, a tufa platform with Attic bases of marble columns prove that a temple once stood upon that site.
* * * In dragging the Tiber a piece of silver has been brought up from the bed of the river,