« PreviousContinue »
ence in their capitals which should be noted. The capitals to the arcades on the east side of the transept, to all four crossing piers, to the arches from the transept to the aisles of the nave, and to the eastern respond piers of the nave arcades, have octagonal abaci, but all the mouldings below the abaci are circular on plan. To all the other piers of the nave arcades, all the mouldings of the capitals are octagonal. It is certain that, when this first section was built, the intention was to build a nave different in some respects from that which was actually built. The arches from the transept to the aisles of the nave are at the same height as those of the arcades on the east side of the transept, and the corbel-table of the eaves on the west side of the transept shows below the roof of the nave aisles. Evidently it was intended that the aisles of the nave should be lower than they actually are. On the west face of the crossing, a weather-moulding indicates a roof-line of the same height as the existing roofs of the transept, and the crossing arches are designed to suit this lower roof. Evidently, therefore, the first intention was to build a nave without a clearstory, as in the transept. It has been suggested that such a nave was actually built, but this idea is decisively contradicted by the regular progression of design from transept to nave, and the work clearly progressed continuously, without any definite interruption or alteration.
The windows of the aisles of the nave illustrate the progression of geometrical tracery. The easternmost window of each aisle has tracery which is still of the simple early type, with the foliations bounded by circles. Westward the tracery patterns alternate. In the second, fourth, and sixth (from the east), there are three pointed trefoils, without any circle or bounding line, the foils forming the main lines of the tracery. In the third and fifth, the tracery is of what has been called the 'intersecting' type, and the spaces formed by the main intersecting lines are filled with pointed trefoils, and with quatrefoils not bounded by circles ;' these latter also occur in the simple two-light clearstory windows. Pointed trefoils and quatrefoils occur in the great west window of the nave, the transoms of which are later insertions. The west windows of the aisles already show the beginnings of the curve of contra-flexure.3 The jamb moulding of the aisle windows, both outside and inside, changes after the second window (from the east) on each
1 E. Sharpe, Decorated Window Tracery in England, pp. 48 and 82.
? Ibid, pl. 27, and p. 42.
side, and the section of the string under the windows changes
the north side at the west side of the north doorway. There are also some variations in the base mouldings of the arcade piers which may possibly have some bearing on the precise order in which the parts of the nave were built.
Some points of similarity may be noted between the nave of Howden and the aisles of the nave of York Minster which were begun in 1291. The alternate bays of the north aisle of Howden (first, third and fifth from the east), and the second bay (from the east) of the south aisle have a crochet cornice of French inspiration, which may be compared with that of the nave aisles of York. The crocketted gable moulding over the west window of Howden occurs over the aisle windows at York, and the wall-arcade inside the west end of Howden has mouldings which are very like those of the internal wall-arcade of the nave aisles of York.
The nave of Howden may have been begun somewhere about 1280,1 and in 1281 the canons of Howden were working a quarry in Tevesdale, near Tadcaster.2 The lower part of the west front may be attributed to the last decade of the thirteenth century, and the nave would seem to have been finished within the first decade of the fourteenth century. This is indicated by the arms of Anthony Bek (bishop of Durham, 1284-1311, and patriarch of Jerusalem, 1306), now placed in a window on the east side of the south porch ; this shield was formerly in the west window of the north aisle, 4 whence it was most unfortunately removed to make way for some modern glass. Bek died in 1311, and a window in this position would scarcely be glazed until the fabric of the nave was finished.
The south porch was a nearly contemporary addition to the south aisle of the nave. It is beautifully vaulted in two bays. Its doorway has a crocketted gable mould over the arch, and on the apex of the arch is the head of a king, which may be a representation of Edward II, who was at Howden in 1312.
Immediately after the completion of the nave, the small eastern arm which had been built some half-century before was replaced by the magnificent choir, the ruins of which show that it must
* The passage in the Chronicle of Lanercost quoted above would seem to imply a rather earlier date.
Yorkshire Inquisitions (Yorks. Arch. Soc., Record Series), i, 219.
3 The dexter half of the shield bears the patriarchal staff of Jerusalem, and
the sinister half the cross moline of Bek dimidiated.
4 W. H. D. Longstaffe records that he saw it there in 1859, and he gives an illustration of it in his paper on The Old Heraldry of the Percies (Archæologia Eliana, iv, 167).
have been one of the finest things of its time in England. Like the nave, it is of six bays, and of much the same length, but unlike the nave, it possessed the great merit of being vaulted throughout. In the aisle windows, the tracery moulds are similar to those of the nave aisles, but the tracery is more advanced. As in the windows of the nave aisles of York, there are three quatrefoils, not enclosed in circles, but here the upper quatrefoil has its lower foil of ogee shape, and the trefoiled head of the middle light is also ogeed at its apex. On the outside, these windows have crocketted gable moulds. The character of the work indicates C. 1310-1315 as probable for its beginning, but its completion must have extended well into the second quarter of the fourteenth century-nearly contemporary, in fact, with the later part of the choir of Selby, which had been begun while the nave of Howden was being built. The bay-design of the choir of Howden, too, resembled that of the choir of Selby; no triforium stage, but a wallpassage below the clearstory windows, with a quatrefoiled parapet in front of it. This and the splendid east elevation can be well studied in the drawings in Sharpe's Parallels. His restoration (on paper) shows flowing tracery in the three-light windows at the ends of the aisles, and the flowing tracery of the great east window, of seven lights, still retains something of geometrical character. All three windows have crocketted gable moulds, and the niches which flank the upper window in the great gable, with the remarkable “finial,” and the great flanking turrets, combine to give rare distinction to this rich elevation.
The alteration of the aisle on the east side of the north transept closely followed the choir, and consisted in the extension of the central chapel eastward. The window in the westernmost bay of the north aisle of the choir is of two lights (the others have three lights), in order to clear the eastern wall of the transept aisle, before this extension was carried out.
We come now to the works with which the name of Walter Skirlaw is connected. William de Chambre tells us that Skirlaw built the very beautiful (perpulchram) chapter - house attached to the church of Howden. Skirlaw only became bishop of Durham in 1388, and the building of the chapter - house must have been contemplated, at any rate, before that time, for in 1380 Henry of Snaith, canon of Lincoln, Beverley, and Howden,
1 The cells of the aisle vaults were built of brick (as in the slightly later vault of the nave of Beverley Minster).
2 His!. Dunelm. Script. Tres (Surtees Soc. ix), p. 144.
bequeathed £10 to the chapter - house of Howden. Skirlaw, who was one of his fellow-canons at Beverley, was one of his executors. The chapter - house, which is octagonal and was vaulted, is approached from the south aisle of the choir, through a short passage. Its position is usual for churches of secular canons (Beverley, York, Southwell, Lichfield, Wells, Manchester). The windows are of three lights, with ogee crocketted hoodmoulds externally, and with a wall arcade below them internally, the back of which is richly panelled with quatrefoils below the ogee heads of the arcade. The stone rings for the rain water pipes are noteworthy. The niches in the upper parts of the angle buttresses contain shields, one of which bears the Nevill saltire.
The small chapel to the east of the passage between the chapter - house and the south aisle of the choir, was added afterwards, and was probably the chapel of the chantry of St. Cuthbert, founded by Skirlaw. His arms can (or could) be seen in the parapet of the east gable, 4 and on the stop of the hood-mould on the west side of the south window. The staircase and the small chamber over the passage to the chapterhouse are also additions to the original design.
Another work with which Skirlaw's name is associated is the fine central tower. William de Chambre says that Skirlaw built the tower (campanilis) of Howden, of great height, which he made for a refuge for the inhabitants if a flood chanced to happen (!). This refers to the tall and stately stage above the roofs, but it was evidently not finished when Skirlaw died here in 1406. In his will of 1403 he left £40 to the fabric of the bell - tower of Howden church. On the inside, the hoodmoulds of the windows stop on angels; each pair of angels in the middle of each side holds a shield, with the following arms : east, Skirlaw; south, Metham ; west, Langley?; north, Nevill.8 The upper stage of this fine tower is a later addition, probably of the end of the fifteenth century.
1 Test. Ebor., i, III.
2 On the buttress between the eastern and south-eastern faces. R. Nevill, son of Ralph earl of Westmorland, held the Laxton (or Skelton) prebend at Howden in 1416 (Hutchinson's Durham, iii, 453). Another shield, now very indistinct, may possibly be Pollington. See also De la Pryme's Diary (Surtees Soc., liv), p. 194.
3 Confirmation by the Chapter of Durham, 1 Sept., 1404. See also York. shire Chantry Surveys (Surtees Soc. xcii), ii, 559
Noted by me with the then vicar, the Rev. W. Hutchinson, in 1887.
5 Hist. Dunelm. Script. Tres, p. 144. 6 Test, Ebor., i, 306.
? Cardinal Langley (Skirlaw's successor), bishop of Durham, 1406-1437.
8 See note 2 supra,
Two other works of the latter part of the fifteenth, or early part of the sixteenth, century, close the story of the fabric. One was the alteration of the aisle on the east side of the south transept, by extending the two chapels eastward. The south window of this extension is a modern copy of the adjoining thirteenth-century window. The other was the addition of the school, on the south side of the two western bays of the south aisle of the nave, to the west of the south porch. Its basement is vaulted, and the upper room is still used as a school.