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was the daughter of Costus, the half-brother of Constantine the Great. As she grew up she minded not foolish things, but loved learning, and, having had a vision, came to despise all earthly things, and her delight was to study Holy Writ and the Christian faith. At that time Maximin ruled over Egypt, and was made Cæsar. He was very cruel to his subjects, and persecuted the Christians. Katherine went boldly to him and showed him how foolish it was to adore statues made by the hands of man. Confounded by her arguments, he kept her prisoner, and commanded all his learned men to confute her, failing which they should be burnt to death. Her arguments convinced them one and all of the truths of Christianity, and, boldly declaring their belief, they went to the flames. Then the emperor had a fearful engine made, with four wheels, two armed with spikes to tear her flesh downwards and two with saws to move upwards. But at Katherine's' prayer, the machine was, in a miraculous manner, struck, and was broken to pieces, killing or wounding the executioners. Eventually Maximin ordered her to be beheaded. Then the angels carried her body to Mount Sinai, and there buried it, and wondrous oil flowed in after times from her tomb, and gave healing to those that were in pain.*
The four panels now inserted in the pulpit were first placed in the re-table over the altar in the ancient chapel. After the services were discontinued, and the chapel abandoned, they were very likely removed to Lydiate Hall, where at all events they had remained for an extended and unknown period until the erection of the
* For a fuller description, with illustrations, see the paper by Father Powell in Trans. Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, n.s., x. 157. The same volume contains a paper on Lydiate Hall, by Mr. Henry Taylor, with view and plan.
new church in 1854, when they were removed thither. The panels are of slightly varying size, eighteen or twenty inches by ten or eleven. The first shows Katherine, with four philosophers, who came to dispute with her; Maximin, urged to persecution by a dragon or evil spirit resting on his head; a jailer thrusting one of the philosophers into the flames, and two vindictive and merciless dwarfs fanning the flames. The second shows the incident of the breaking of the spiked engine— Katherine standing unhurt under the protection of our Lord, while the executioners are being struck. The third shows Katherine kneeling calmly before she submits to the headsman. And the fourth shows her entombment by the angels. Above two of the panels are canopies of most delicate and exquisite tracery.
The manufacture of alabaster reliefs of this kind for church altars was common during the fifteenth century, the period to which those at Lydiate are referred. Nottingham appears to have been one of the chief centres of the manufacture, the material being quarried from Chellaston, in Derbyshire. "Alabaster tables," "re-tables," and "alabaster tabernacles with images are common items in ecclesiastical inventories of the fifteenth and early part of the sixteenth centuries, and a considerable number of them in a more or less frag-. mentary state still exist.* A strong uniformity of design is to be seen in them, and in most cases they have been produced by one school of carvers. Many particulars as to them will be found in a paper by Professor Middleton in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society for 1891.
* An instance of the exportation of "images of alabaster" from the port of Dartmouth towards 'the parts of Great Seville," A.D. 1387, will be found in Select Cases in Chancery, 1364–1471, Selden Society's Publications,
In the centre of the pulpit in which these carved panels are placed is now set the statue of a bishop, supposed to be St. Cuthbert. The statue is believed to have come from the neighbouring church at Halsall, which was dedicated to that saint. In the adjoining presbytery, Father Powell had laid out for inspection some priestly vestments; a pewter chalice, found in the priest's hiding-place in the hall; a pre-Reformation small silver chalice, a pre-Reformation processional cross, and several other articles of interest.
Carefully mounted in an album, in due order and with translations opposite, were the Scarisbrick deeds belonging to the Marquis de Castéja. They formed a fine collection, commencing about A.D. 1180, and the older specimens were in beautiful condition and clearly legible. Among them was a deed transferring a serf apart from land, a form very rarely met with.
The hall was next visited. It was found sadly dilapidated, fast going to ruin. Like the chapel, it was built by Laurence and Katherine Ireland, whose initials are placed in the spandrels of the doorway, though it is not improbable that earlier houses may have stood on the same site. The hall is of timber, and originally formed a quadrangle, but the eastern side was pulled down about 1770, when the moat also disappeared. White and red roses carved above the porch commemorate the happy termination of the Wars of the Roses at the time of erection.
The great hall is an apartment about thirty-two feet long and eighteen feet wide. There is no great opentimbered roof, but a flat ceiling, which at the time of its erection was becoming more common. The room is lit by a continuous range of windows along its two sides, wite walls below the sills having been wainscotted, the
upper portion being enriched with the linen panel ornament. At the southern end of the room stood the high table, surmounted by an elaborately carved and moulded canopy, which still exists. It is divided into thirty-six panels by moulded oak work. At the intersection of these moulded ribs are elaborately carved bosses of quaint and fanciful character. At the back of the high table are the usual family rooms, and above them is a fine withdrawing-room with panelled walls, richly carved, and with a ceiling ornamented, like the rooms below, by moulded oak beams. Amongst the carvings in the wall panels, which are said to have been brought from the eastern apartments, are representations of Edward VI. and Henry VIII. and his wives. In this now-dismantled room are some curious old candlesticks, a crossbow, and other antiquated furniture.
Above the great hall was a large apartment, apparently intended as a dormitory, but for many years used as a chapel. Several hiding places for priests have existed in this apartment. One is still accessible by means of the rafters. In it were found, in 1863, a chicken bone, perhaps the remnant of the last solitary meal of some hidden priest, and a pewter chalice now kept in the presbytery. Another curiously contrived hiding place, entered by a sliding panel, was discovered in 1841.
The Cemetery Cross in the burial ground attached to the Church of Our Lady at Lydiate was pointed out as an old wayside cross found about half a mile away, where it had lain buried for three hundred years after probably some centuries' service in its original position. Wayside crosses were formerly numerous in the neighbourhood. The base of one still remains at the corner of Green Lane. Another, at the corner of Hough Lane, was removed in the last generation. The remains of a fourth
are clearly seen in a field belonging to Lydiate Hall farm, near where the road formerly passed. Vestiges of three others were until recently visible, and an eighth was near Downholland Bridge on the road to Halsall.
This last-named road was taken by the party on leaving Lydiate. After a drive of three miles and a half through Downholland and Haskayne they reached the village of Halsall, where they were met by the Rev. Canon Blundell, the rector. The ancient parish is somewhat extensive, including the dependent townships of Downholland, Lydiate, Maghull, and Melling, and its church has accordingly been of some importance. It is dedicated to St. Cuthbert, and possesses an octagonal tower, surmounted by a spire. From the south side of the tower extends a wing which, until recent years, formed the free school, given for the purpose (as appears by a Latin inscription over the door) by Edward Halsall in 1593. A new school having been provided, the room is now used as a vestry. The church, which dates from the middle of the fourteenth century, has in recent years been carefully and reverently restored by Canon Blundell, and presents a fine specimen of the work of the Decorated period. The aisle and north and south walls of the nave have been newly built on the old foundations and exactly on the old lines, and some of the old oak beams in the roof have been replaced by new. There is a fine chancel arch and a rood loft. In the chancel are oak stalls, six on each side, some of them entirely renewed, but in each case an exact reproduction of the old. There are miserere seats with grotesque carvings ei the usual kind. Two brasses of the Halsall family, one by em bearing the date 1589, are affixed to the north wit.e w On the south of the chancel is an altar tomb with