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suffered at this time, none perhaps is more to be deplored than the wreck which was made of the sepulchral memorials with which the conventual churches were so richly adorned. In support of the reasons already given it can be shown from the Testamenta Eboracensia, and other authentic sources, that most persons of the higher rank were buried within the walls of the monastic houses rather than in their parish churches. At the time of the Dissolution one or other of the neighbouring families could generally count the founder of the house amongst their ancestors, and show a long line of memorials which represented in stone, alabaster, or brass, the effigies of their fore-elders, reaching back to the days of the Norman lords.
It may not be out of place to give here a few instances of salvage from the general wreck. Of the total number of monastic houses originally standing more than half have entirely disappeared; in some cases, and in those of important houses, too, even the site is either unknown or only vaguely indicated in the surviving name of some field, lane, or country house. Of the rest, the most part are in ruins, indicating in a greater or lesser degree the original grandeur of the structures. It is amongst these fragmentary ruins, and amongst the conventual churches which, either as a whole or a part, are still in use, that we must seek for any vestiges of that noble array of memorials of the dead which they once contained.
Westminster Abbey, as the Royal burial place, has fortunately retained most of its mediæval tombs, though now shorn of some of their ornaments and accessories. Tewkesbury Abbey comes next, as still containing a larger number of high tombs than any other conventual church in England not of cathedral rank, excepting Westminster alone. These are ranged between the piers of the choir, round the apse, and in the choir-aisles; the grandest of them occupying the most favoured positions in front of the altar, and between it and the stalls. Some few important tombs also remain in situ at St. Albans, Gloucester, Hexham, Cartmel, and other churches formerly monastic. In other cases tombs, and more often the effigies from them, were moved into parish churches at the time of the Dissolution. The monument of Sir Martin de la See now in the chancel of Barmston Church, on the authority of a MS. in the Bodleian, came out
of the choir of Bridlington Priory Church.2 At Coverham Abbey are to be seen two complete effigies and some fragments of a third belonging to the Nevill tombs formerly there.3 An immense tomb formerly in Egglestone Abbey, now removed to Mortham Tower, is thus described by Dr. Whitaker. "To a close adjoining to Mortham it has already been hinted that Mr. Morritt has removed from Egglestone Abbey one of the tombs mentioned by Leland; and when I have given the dimensions it will be granted perhaps that it was the larger of the two, and therefore not belonging to a Rokeby but a Bowes. The vast slab, which must have contained the inscription, is unfortunately gone, but the length of the sides is eleven feet, the width of the ends five feet eight inches, the depth two feet five inches, and the thickness one foot. The shields which surround it are perfectly plain, though it is probable they were intended to be charged with armorial bearings."
Fountains Abbey affords an instance of lay burial in the well-preserved and very beautiful effigy, of the time of Edward I., probably that of Roger de Mowbray, who died at Ghent, in 1298, and was buried at Fountains. Between the second and third columns to the west of the high altar is an empty stone coffin in situ, which represents some important burial in the choir.
In the Museum at St. Mary's Abbey, York, is a mailed effigy which came from the Abbey Church.
Three other great Yorkshire monastic churches now in ruins, Whitby, Byland, Rievaulx, have yet to be cleared of a vast accumulation of fallen stones and rubbish before the evidences as to tombs can be seen. Jervaulx and Roche have yielded indications of having had handsome tombs within their choirs. Bridlington has lost its choir, and Selby has of late been singularly unfortunate in that its only altartomb can no longer be regarded as a tomb. Only last year the excavations at Watton Abbey produced the fragments of a knightly effigy of the 14th century, and some pieces of the arched canopy that covered it, but little inferior in detail, if it was in size, to the magnificent Percy shrine in Beverley Minster.
2 Prickett's Priory Church of Bridling.
ton, p. 125.
3 Whittaker's Richmondshire, vol. i.,
4 Ibid. p. 187.
The Guisborough monument was composed of six slabs of carboniferous limestone, often called blue marble; it is of hard and close grain and well adapted to be worked with minute details, while it suffers but little from weathering or disintegration. The method of construction is shown by the plan. The slabs forming the base, the sides, and the cover, are of great size and thickness. The base slab lies in the floor of the chancel near the south wall and to the west of the chancel door. It appears to have been reduced in size, and as it is now partly covered by modern seats its original dimensions can only be arrived at by comparing it with the other parts of the tomb when put together. The whole of the central area of the slab was sunk to the depth of half an inch, and this area is only roughly tooled over. The margin, four and a quarter inches wide, round the four sides shows that the original length of the slab was nine feet nine inches, and its original breadth four feet six inches.
Its thickness cannot now be determined, and that shown on the drawings is merely assumed. In the portion which can be seen are two holes eight inches from the edge, and three feet three and a half inches apart. These have contained dowels for holding the side slabs in position.
The top or covering slab is now used as the top of the communion table, but there can be no doubt that this is not its original office, and that it is really part of the cenotaph. Its general form is shown on the drawings, but it should be explained that the absolute proof of its former use is in the appearance of its under surface. The slab is nine feet and five-eighths of an inch long, and three feet eight and threequarters of an inch wide. The thickness of the moulded portion is nine inches, while that of the part left rough in the centre of the underside is eleven and a quarter inches. The thicker rough portion is equal in length and breadth to the internal void of the cenotaph when the various slabs are put together. Furthermore, it is moulded all round, which it would not have been had it been made for an altar-slab, and also the moulding agrees with that shown in Dugdale's plate.
The two side slabs are now fixed one on either side of the church porch, which is formed in the base of the tower at its western end. They are fully shown on the accompanying plates, from which it will be seen that they
are ornamented by a series of shallow niches, which have plain mouldings and trefoil heads. There are five niches on each side, and between them are in both cases four lesser niches, much narrower and lower than the main niches, and having their heads formed by a semicircular moulding below which is trefoil cusping, and above a straight moulding or transom. Above each of the smaller niches is a shield of
the square pointed form. The larger niches contain statuettes of knights clad in armour.
These will be in
dividually described in detail hereafter, but we may say here that all the figures face outwards full front, though in four cases the heads are turned a little to the right or left. One series of figures represents the Bruces of the Scotch or Annandale branch of the family, viz., that now fixed on the north side of the porch; the other, now fixed on the south side of the porch, representing the English Bruces of the Skelton line. The English knights hold their shields of arms with both hands on their breasts, which shields are shown of the full size as worn. The Scotch knights, on the contrary, carry diminutive and merely heraldic shields on their left arms. The total thickness of the side slabs is eleven inches. The niches are recessed to the extent of one and a half in the smaller niches, and two and a half inches in the larger niches, on the south side of the porch, and to two and a quarter in the smaller niches and three and an eighth inches in the larger niches on the north side of the porch. This gives greater prominence and roundness to the figures of the Scotch knights over those of the English branch. The small niches between the English knights are filled with figures of the four great doctors of the Latin Church— St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Jerome and St. Ambrose. They stand on pedestals which are of semi-octagonal form, and are made to represent carved capitals of a very peculiar form; the four shields above the small niches on the same side display (1) a lion rampant debruised by a bend, (2) a mitre transfixed by a crozier turned to the dexter, (3) a cock facing the dexter standing on a reel, and (4) a falcon, or an eagle, with wings displayed, facing the dexter and holding in its claws a gimmel ring. The spandrels between the shields and the heads of the niches are ten in number. That now at the east end is covered by a door-frame, while that at the opposite end is gone as the slab is broken away
at this place. The others contain, (1) the full moon and a star, (2) the sun in splendour, (3) a paten, (4) a chalice, (5) a pilgrim's shell, (6), (7) and (8) scrolls.
The small niches between the figures of the Scotch knights now on the north side of the porch are statuettes representing the four Evangelists, and on the shields above them are their well-known symbols. The order, beginning at the east end, is the winged human figure or angel for St. Matthew, the lion for St. Mark, the bull for St. Luke, and the eagle for St. John. There are ten spandrels on this side, which contain, reading the same way, (1) a shield on which are three objects similar to castles, but which we may conclude are meant for dice-boxes, as shown amongst the emblems of the Passion", (2) a man, (3) a man, (4) the Sacred foot, (5) the Sacred hand with an awl piercing the palm, (6) a purse or bag of money, (7) lost by a piece of stone being broken off, (8) a chalice, (9) a lantern (?) (10) the cock on a reel. Nos. (2) and (3) seem to be meant for attendant angels, but the carving is somewhat obscure. Small scrolls fill up the vacant corners of the spandrels.
The backs of all the niches in which the knights stand are decorated with blind tracery not deeply cut. The lower panels on the English side are a little more ornate than on the other. There are carved flowers at the points of
The two end slabs were not both of the same size. The plan shows how they were fitted to the side slabs. As the monument originally stood in the Priory Church, probably between two columns in the choir, the lost end was facing to the west. The drawing in Dugdale's Monasticon is now the only record of this. It shows the figure of a king standing and attired in a long robe and a cloak thrown back over the shoulders. He wears a crown, and his right hand holds a
These symbols were differently attributed in early times to what they are On the embroideries of the apparel of Archbishop Hubert Walter in Canterbury Cathedral, the bull is given to St. Mark and the lion to St. Luke (Vetusta Monumenta, vol. vii., Parts 3 and 4, Plate iv.)
6 Both dice-boxes and pomade pots are amongst the emblems of the Passion, and three dice were used in the middle ages.
On the finely-carved chest of the fifteenth century at Coity, in Glamorganshire, are represented all the emblems of the Passion. Amongst them are three very similar objects to those on the above shield, and which clearly represent diceboxes. There are three dice shown on the altar-piece of Prior Leschman's Chantry in Hexham Abbey. See Carter's drawings in Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 2993329945.