THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF DURHAM
A DESCRIPTION OF ITS FABRIC AND A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE EPISCOPAL SEE
BY J.E. BYGATE, A.R.C.A.
WITH FORTY-FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS
LONDON GEORGE BELL & SONS 1905
First Published ... March 1899 Second Edition, Revised ... September 1900 Reprinted ... 1905
The Riverside Press Limited, Edinburgh
* * * * *
This series of monographs has been planned to supply visitors to the great English Cathedrals with accurate and well illustrated guide-books at a popular price. The aim of each writer has been to produce a work compiled with sufficient knowledge and scholarship to be of value to the student of Archaeology and History, and yet not too technical in language for the use of an ordinary visitor or tourist.
To specify all the authorities which have been made use of in each case would be difficult and tedious in this place. But amongst the general sources of information which have been almost invariably found useful are:—(1) the great county histories, the value of which, especially in questions of genealogy and local records, is generally recognised; (2) the numerous papers by experts which appear from time to time in the Transactions of the Antiquarian and Archaeological Societies; (3) the important documents made accessible in the series issued by the Master of the Rolls; (4) the well-known works of Britton and Willis on the English Cathedrals; and (5) the very excellent series of Handbooks to the Cathedrals originated by the late Mr John Murray; to which the reader may in most cases be referred for fuller detail, especially in reference to the histories of the respective sees.
* * * * *
As much as possible of this brief description of Durham is from the personal acquaintance of the writer with the building. Yet many authorities have, of necessity, been consulted in its preparation, notably a pamphlet by the Rev. Canon W. Greenwell, and the "County of Durham," by J.R. Boyle, F.S.A. Thanks are also due to the authorities of the Cathedral for having freely given permission to make drawings and measurements, and to the late Mr Weatherall, chief verger, for his kindly assistance and information.
The illustrations are chiefly from sketches and drawings by the writer, and from photographs reproduced by the kindness of the Photochrom Company, Ltd., and Messrs S.B. Bolas & Co.
* * * * *
CHAPTER I.—The Building of the Church 3
CHAPTER II.—Description of the Exterior 21 The Towers 21 The East Front 22 The West Front 25 The North Door 25 The South Door 26 The West Door 28 The Cloister 29 The Chapter-House 32 The Dun Cow 35
CHAPTER III.—Description of the Interior 39 The Nave 39 The Choir 40 The Neville Screen 43 The Transepts 50 The Tower 53 The East End 54 The Chapel of the Nine Altars 61 The Tomb of S. Cuthbert 69 The Galilee or Lady Chapel 72 Monuments in the Nave and Transepts 79 The Font 81
CHAPTER IV.—History of the See 82
CHAPTER V.—The Castle and University 102
CHAPTER VI.—The City 111
Durham Cathedral, from the South-West Frontispiece Arms of the See Title Page The Exterior, from the College 2 The Dun Cow 9 The West End (from an Old Print) 17 The Exterior, from Palace Green 20 The Central Tower 23 Detail of Ironwork 26 The Sanctuary Knocker 26 Ironwork on Doors of Cloisters 27 Ornament on South Doorway 28 The Cloister 29 S. Cuthbert's Chest. 32 The Chapter-House 33 The Exterior, from the South-East 35 The Nave, looking West 38 One Bay of the Nave (Measured Drawing) 41 Triforium and Clerestory 45 The Choir, looking West 47 The Transepts, looking North 51 Corbels in Choir 54, 58 The Choir, looking East 55 Triforium of Nave and Choir 59 Plan of Norman East End 61 Sections of Hood and Arch Mouldings 61 Capitals in the Nine Altars Chapel 62 The Nine Altars Chapel 63 Capital in Galilee Chapel 66 The Galilee Chapel 67, 72 Paintings in the Galilee Chapel 73 Detail of the Galilee Chapel 75 The Font and Cover 80 The Crypt 85 Stone Coffin Lid 88 The Chapter Library 99 The Chapel or Crypt, Durham Castle 103 Staircase in the Castle 107 The Cathedral and Castle, from the North 113
PLAN AND DIMENSIONS 118
* * * * *
THE BUILDING OF THE CHURCH
The traveller northward by the East Coast Route cannot fail to be struck by the beauty of the city of Durham, with its red-roofed houses nestling beneath the majestic site of the cathedral and castle. For splendid position the Cathedral of Durham stands unequalled in this country; on the Continent, perhaps that of Albi can alone be compared with it in this respect. The cathedral and Norman Castle are upon the summit of a lofty tongue of land which is almost surrounded by the River Wear. In parts the banks are rocky and steep, in others thickly wooded. The river itself is spanned here and there by fine and historic bridges.
The early history of Durham is obscure. There are many vague legends in existence, a natural consequence, perhaps, when we remember the various and often speedy changes of ownership to which that part of the country was for centuries subjected.
To lead up clearly to the founding of the Cathedral of Durham, it will be necessary to describe briefly the earliest introduction of Christianity into the north of England. That Christianity was known in this country during the time of the Romans there is sufficient evidence to prove. There is, however, little to show that it existed in the north to any appreciable extent. All or nearly all the carved stones, altars, etc., disinterred in that part of the country have been of undoubted Pagan origin.
The ancient kingdom of Northumbria comprised the present counties of Durham, Northumberland, and Yorkshire, and a part of the south-east of Scotland as far north as the Firth of Forth. This kingdom was sub-divided into two portions. The Southern, or Deira, extended from the Tees to the Humber, and the Northern, or Bernicia, reached from the Tees to the Firth of Forth. The province of Bernicia was settled about A.D. 547 by Ida, a chief of the Angles, who made his headquarters on a steep rock on the sea-coast about sixteen miles south of Berwick. He was succeeded by his son Ethelric, who built himself a stronghold, which he named after his wife Bebbanburgh, a name still retained in a shortened form—Bamburgh. Ethelric was followed by Ella, whose son Edwin was driven into exile by his fierce brother-in-law, Ethelfrith, and took possession of Deira, the southern province of Northumbria. After attaining his majority, Edwin, assisted by Redwald, regained his kingdom, and eventually ruled over the whole of Northumbria; it is during his reign that we find the first authentic history of Christianity in the north. Edwin married Ethelburga, a daughter of Ethelbert, king of Kent, who had been converted to Christianity by the preaching of S. Augustine. He himself received baptism at the hands of Paulinus (625-633), the great Roman missionary, who was sent north with the Princess Ethelburga. Paulinus fixed his headquarters at York, where he built his church, the forerunner of the present cathedral. This attempt of the Romans to christianise Northumbria was, however, of short duration. Cadwalla and Penda rose against them, and Edwin fell in battle at Hatfield Moor in Yorkshire. Paulinus, despairing of the cause, returned to Kent with the queen-widow Ethelburga and her children; and under Cadwalla and Penda, the kingdom soon relapsed into Paganism.
We must now direct our attention to a small, barren island on the west coast of Scotland, Iona. Here came a voluntary exile (A.D. 563), Columba, a monk, said to have been a descendant of the Irish kings. Here he lived and founded a great missionary monastery, which afterwards became the centre of Christian influence in Scotland and the north of England. He and his followers were active workers; they wrote Gospels and devotional books, preached, and built churches of wood. Columba died (A.D. 597), but his work was continued.
In 634, Oswald, a son of Ethelfrith, became king of Northumbria. In his youth he, with his brothers, had been obliged to flee to Scotland, where, during his exile, Oswald was converted to Christianity by the teachers of Iona. On his return he defeated and killed Cadwalla at Hevenfeld, or Heavenfield, near Hexham, in 634, and became the means of finally introducing Christianity into his kingdom. Soon after he became king, Oswald sent to Iona for help, and in reply came a monk, who, for some reason, said by old writers to be his harshness, failed in his mission. He was replaced by another monk named Aidan (635-651), who was eminently successful. Beda speaks of him as "a man of great piety and zeal, combined with tender charity and gentleness." Aidan became intimately associated with King Oswald, the two working together, and he chose for his headquarters the small sandy island of Lindisfarne, off the Northumbrian coast, which we now know as "Holy Island."
Lindisfarne thus resembled Iona, and it is probable that the similarity of position and surroundings influenced Aidan in his choice. However that may be, Aidan there founded his monastery and directed the work of his monks.
Passing over a short period, we find at Lindisfarne a monk who is so intimately connected with this cathedral that he demands special attention—the great S. Cuthbert, sixth bishop of Lindisfarne, and the patron saint of Durham. Little is known of his birth and parentage. Some writers give him a Scotch origin, others Irish, and others again say he was born of humble parents on the banks of the Tweed. The latter is most probable. Certain it is that at an early age he was left an orphan, and was employed as an under-shepherd near to Melrose. From his earliest youth he was thoughtful and pious, and watched and imitated in his mode of life the monks of Melrose. There are numerous legends and stories of S. Cuthbert's youth. He is said to have wrought many miracles, even to the extent of stilling a tempest. One of these may be told here on account of the share it played in his choice of monastic life:—On a certain night in A.D. 651, while tending his sheep, his companions being asleep, Cuthbert saw in the heavens a brilliant shaft of light, and angels descending. These very shortly re-ascended, bearing among them "a spirit of surpassing brightness." In the morning it was found that the good S. Aidan was dead. The vision had a marked and lasting effect on Cuthbert, and eventually resulted in his entering the monastery at Melrose. For ten years Cuthbert led a holy and studious life at Melrose, under Prior Boisil, when he was chosen among others to proceed to the newly-founded monastery at Ripon. His sojourn there was, however, short, as owing to doctrinal differences concerning the celebration of Easter, he and the other Scottish monks returned to Melrose. Some four years later, on the death of Boisil, Cuthbert was elected his successor, as prior of Melrose. In A.D. 664, we find him holding the same office at Lindisfarne, where he remained for twelve years. He then retired from his position, in order to attain a higher degree of Christian perfection by living a solitary life, first on a small island near Lindisfarne, and afterwards on the island of Farne, near Bamburgh. There are many stories told of his great piety at this time, so that even the wild sea-birds are said to have obeyed him.
 Sanderson, in his edition of "Rites of Durham," 1767, says: "He is said to be descended from the Blood Royal of the Kings of Ireland, being son of one Muriardach and Sabina his wife, a King's daughter. He was educated in the Abbey of Mailrose."
In the year A.D. 685 Cuthbert was, though against his own wishes, consecrated Bishop of Lindisfarne. His great activity and usefulness in this office was soon cut short, for in less than two years, on the 20th of March A.D. 687, he died. Obediently to his own request, his body was wrapped in a linen cloth, which had been given him by the Abbess Yerca; and, placed in a stone coffin, the gift of the Abbot Cudda, was interred in the church at Lindisfarne. He was not to rest, however. In A.D. 698 the monks disinterred his remains in order to place them in a specially-prepared wooden coffin. It is said they found the saint's body perfectly incorrupt. To quote the quaint Hegge:
But whiles they opened his coffin, they start at a wonder, they look't for bones and found flesh, they expected a skeleton, and saw an entire bodie, with joynts flexible, his flesh so succulent, that there only wanted heate to make his bodie live without a soul, and his face so dissembling death, that elsewhere it is true that sleep is the image of death, but here death was the image of sleep. Nay, his very funerall weeds were so fresh, as if putrefaction had not dared to take him by the coat.
 "County of Durham," by J.K. Boyle, F.S.A.
Whatever may be the truth of this, his body was placed in a wooden coffin, portions of which are still preserved in the chapter library at Durham.
Over a century and a half after these events the coast of Northumbria was disturbed and troubled by the piratical invasions of the Danes. The number and violence of these incursions so increased that the whole country lay practically at their mercy. Becoming alarmed for their own safety and that of their holy relics, the monks of Lindisfarne fled, taking with them the body of their saint, and all their sacred vessels and books. This occurred in A.D. 875.
Here commenced that long wandering which eventually ended in the founding of the Cathedral Church of Durham, where the bones of S. Cuthbert found their final resting-place.
Bishop Eardulph and his monks, with their sacred charge, travelled for seven years, over a great portion of the north of England and part of the south of Scotland. Many churches dedicated to S. Cuthbert in the north are thought to mark their resting-places. From a list of these given by Prior Wessington the probable route of the wanderers can be approximately, made out as follows:—First to Elsdon and down the Rede to Haydon Bridge. Up the South Tyne to Beltinghame, and then following the route of the Roman Wall to Bewcastle. Turning south to Salkeld, and thence by Eden Hall and Plumbland into Lancashire, towards the river Derwent. Here they came to a determination to cross to Ireland, and took ship from the mouth of the Derwent. Very soon a violent storm arose, the vessel became unmanageable and was nearly filled with water, which, according to Symeon, immediately turned into blood. A return was inevitable. It was during this attempt that the famous copy of the Gospels, known as the Durham Book, was washed overboard into the sea. This book is, perhaps, the most beautiful example of Anglo-Saxon writing and illumination extant, and is surpassed only by the celebrated Irish MS., the Book of Kells. It was shortly afterwards found on the coast in a comparatively uninjured condition; and is now preserved in the British Museum. The wandering monks next turned northwards as far as Witherne, on the Galloway coast, and then returned to England, through Westmoreland and across Stainmoor into Teesdale, staying for a time at a village, which no doubt owes it present name Cotherstone to this circumstance. Leaving here and crossing the hills, through Marske, Forcett and Barton, they arrived at the abbey of Craike, near Easingwold, where they were kindly treated by the abbot, and remained about four months. On resuming their journey the monks removed the body of S. Cuthbert to Cuncachester, or, as we now know it, Chester-le-Street, a former Roman camp. Here the fraternity remained for a hundred and thirteen years; and here was the seat of the Bishopric of Bernicia until A.D. 995. Many are the legends clustering round these journeyings. How, when leaving Lindisfarne, the sea opened a passage for them, and how in more than one difficulty the dead saint himself gave them assistance. Notably, on one occasion when the bearers were worn out and weary he appeared and showed them where they would find a horse and car in which to carry their burden. This horse and car were afterwards used on their journeys.
In the year 995, again for safety, they removed once more under Bishop Aldhun, first for a short time to Ripon, and then finally to Durham. It is of this last journey the following story is told:—
"Coming with him" (v. Sanderson), "on the East Side of Durham, to a Place call'd Wardenlawe, they could not with all their Force remove his body further, for it seemed fastened to the Ground; which strange and unforeseen Accident produced great Astonishment in the Hearts of the Bishop, the Monks, and their Associates; whereupon they fasted and prayed three Days with great Devotion, to know by Revelation from God, what to do with the holy Body, which was soon granted to them, it being revealed to Eadmer, a virtuous Man, that he should be carried to Dunholme, where he was to be received to a Place of Rest. They were again in great Distress, in not knowing where Dunholme lay; but as they proceeded, a Woman wanting her Cow, called aloud to her Companion, to know if she had seen her? Who answered, She was in Dunholme. This was an happy and heavenly Sound to the distressed Monks, who thereby had Intelligence that their Journey's End was at Hand, and the Saint's Body near its Resting-place; thereupon with great Joy they arrived with his Body at Dunholme, in the Year 997."
Arrived at Dunholm they raised a "little Church of Wands and Branches" to protect the sacred relics until a building more worthy of such a charge could be erected. This was the beginning of the Cathedral and City of Durham.
The condition of the place at this time must have been very wild, and it certainly was a natural stronghold. The only open spot seems to have been the plateau where the cathedral now stands. The site is curiously described in a Saxon poem, from which the following is a translation:—
The City is celebrated In the whole Empire of the Britons The road to it is steep It is surrounded with rocks And with curious plants The Wear flows round it A river of rapid waves And there live in it Fishes of various kinds Mingling with the floods. And there grow Great Forests, There live in the recesses Wild Animals of many sorts In the deep valleys Deer innumerable.
As soon as possible a stone chapel was built, in which the body of S. Cuthbert was placed. Bishop Aldhun, not satisfied with this, determined to establish a great church. Work was immediately commenced and progressed so rapidly that the building, known as "the White Church," was consecrated in A.D. 999. Of this there would seem to be no authentic remains existing; although some authorities think portions of it are included in the present cathedral. Bishop Aldhun died in 1018. The next date of importance is the year 1081, when William of Saint Carileph was appointed Bishop by the Conqueror. He was a monk of the Benedictine order, and at once drove out and dispossessed the secular clergy at Durham, replacing them from the Benedictine Monasteries which were established at Jarrow and Monkwearmouth. Bishop Carileph is the man to whom we owe the present Cathedral of Durham. In 1088 he was obliged to flee into exile in Normandy, where he remained three years, through his having taken part in the rebellion against William II. It was probably during this time of banishment that he conceived the idea that if he returned to Durham he would build a more worthy church, such as were already erected and in course of construction in Normandy.
Soon after his return in 1091 he commenced to carry out his scheme; and we learn that on the 11th of August 1093, the foundation stone of the new church was laid, with great pomp.
The work proceeded rapidly, commencing at the east end. By the time of Bishop Carileph's death, which occurred in 1096, the walls of the choir, the eastern walls of the transepts, the tower arches, and a portion of the first bay of the nave, were completed. It is also very probable that the lower portion of the walls of the whole church are of Carileph's time.
After the death of Bishop Carileph the see of Durham remained vacant for three years. The monks, however, were not idle during this period, and they continued the work vigorously, completing the west walls of the transepts and the vaulting of the north transept. In 1099 Ralph Flambard was appointed bishop, and he held the office until 1128. He carried on the building as the funds at his disposal would allow, sometimes rapidly and at others more slowly. Before his death it would appear that he completed the nave as high as the wall plates and altogether finished and roofed the aisles. The western towers as far as the height of the roof of the nave are also the work of Flambard. In 1104 the work was so far advanced as to permit the removal of the body of S. Cuthbert, from the temporary shrine which Bishop Carileph had erected over it, into the new church. This ceremony was performed on August 29th, 1104, and the coffin was placed in a shrine behind the high altar.
On Flambard's death in 1128 the see was again left vacant for five years, but we are told that the monks continued the work and completed the nave. The portion built by them at this time must of necessity have been the vaulting and roof, the architectural features of which are quite in accordance with the date, being late Norman.
Flambard's successor was Galfrid Rufus, who was Bishop from 1133 to 1140.
During his episcopate the chapter-house, which had been commenced by the monks, was completed. Rufus also replaced the then existing north and south doorways of the nave, by those standing to-day.
The next bishop, William de St Barbara (1143 to 1152), does not appear to have added anything to the cathedral. During his time of office the see was usurped by William Cummin, and building operations were no doubt neglected through the troubles arising from the usurpation. His successor, Hugh Pudsey (1153 to 1195) was, however, a great builder; appointed to the see at a comparatively early age, and, living as he did, at a time when very great changes were taking place in architectural style, he was able to carry out a great deal of beautiful work.
He began to build a Lady Chapel at the east end of the choir, but although he had made careful preparations, and engaged skilled architects and workmen, great cracks appeared in the walls before the work had proceeded far, and the building was stopped. Bishop Pudsey, taking this as a divine revelation that the work was not pleasing to God, and the patron S. Cuthbert, abandoned it and commenced another chapel at the west end of the church, using in its erection the Purbeck marble bases and columns which he had had prepared for his eastern chapel. This second attempt was successful and remains to us in that beautiful and unique specimen of Transitional work, the Galilee Chapel. Its date may be taken, says Canon Greenwell, "as about the year 1175." Besides this work Pudsey built the hall and solar now called (at the top) the "Norman Gallery" of Durham Castle.
Little or nothing further seems to have been done until the translation of Bishop Poore from the see of Sarum to Durham in 1229. The name of Bishop Poore is inseparably connected with the building of the present Salisbury Cathedral, and after his removal to Durham he conceived the idea of, and made preparations for, commencing the eastern transept of the Cathedral, which is a special feature of Durham, now known as the Chapel of the Nine Altars. He was not, however, destined to live to see his idea carried out.
The eastern termination of Carileph's choir had been apsidal; it was found to be in a very unsafe condition, cracks and fissures appearing in the walls. Various bishops and priors sent aid towards "the new work," but actual building did not commence until after the death of Bishop Poore in 1237. The erection was commenced by Prior Melsanby and, of course, necessitated the taking down of Carileph's apses. The revaulting of the choir was undertaken at this time, doubtless, for artistic reasons, to bring the new work into harmony with the old. The Chapel of the Nine Altars is a rare and valuable specimen of Early English Gothic architecture of remarkable and graceful design. Below each of its nine lancet windows was originally an altar, dedicated to different saints. Its great height was obtained by lowering the floor, so that the unity of the whole exterior should not be destroyed. Prior Melsanby is also said to have put a new roof on the church.
Prior Hugh de Derlington, who was at the head of affairs from 1258 to 1272, and later from 1285 to 1289, added a belfry to the central tower.
John Fossor, made prior of Durham in 1342, inserted the large window in the north transept and the west windows of the nave.
Bishop Thomas de Hatfield (1346 to 1381) seems to have done no architectural work beyond the erection of his own throne and tomb (in which he was afterwards buried) on the south side of the choir. This is an elaborate and sumptuous piece of work, and shows remains of rich colouring and gilding. About this time, also, the beautiful altar screen known as the Neville screen was erected. Its cost was principally borne by Lord John Neville, though the Priors Fossor and Berrington and the subordinate cells of Jarrow and Monkwearmouth were also contributors. The screen is of stone—very light and graceful, and originally contained in the niches 107 figures, which have unfortunately been destroyed.
Bishop Walter de Skirlaw, who occupied the episcopal throne from 1388 to 1405, was a great builder. To him mainly we owe the present cloisters, though they were completed by his successor, Cardinal Langley, in 1418.
The monks' dormitory on the western side of the cloister is also of this time. On the southern side was the refectory. This portion was rebuilt by Dean Sudbury between 1661 and 1684 and converted into a library, and such it remains to-day.
Near the refectory is the kitchen, built by Prior Fossor. It is octagonal in plan, and possesses a fine groined roof. It is now attached to the deanery, and known as the dean's kitchen.
We must now turn our attention to the erection of the present central tower. The belfry added by Hugh de Derlington was in 1429 struck by lightning and set on fire. It must after this have been repaired in some way, but in 1456 it was in a very unsafe and dangerous condition, as the following letter written by the prior, William Ebchester, to Bishop Neville testifies:—
"The Belfry of your church, both in its masonry and timber, in consequence of winds and storms is so enfeebled and shaken, that doubts are entertained of its standing for any length of time. We have called in workmen in both capacities, and they have reported to us that three of its sides are out of perpendicular, that many of the Key and cornerstones of its windows have fallen out, that in other respects it is defective, and that besides, its woodwork is in a state of great decay so that it cannot be expected to stand for any length of time. Some are of opinion that the belfry should be totally removed as it cannot stand longer; others on the contrary, wish it to be perfectly restored; a thing which exceeds our means, unless we have the advantage of charitable aid. In this state of doubt and hesitation, we have recourse to you, as members to their head, presuming not to engage in any such great and stupendous alteration with reference to your church, without your advice.
"If, which God forbid, the tower should fall, the solemn fabric of our choir, and the shrine of our most holy patron, would without doubt, be broken down and irrevocably laid flat on the ground, for that is the direction in which it leans. We confess that whenever winds and storms are high, and we are standing at our duty in that part of the church we tremble for our fate, having positive danger before our eyes."
Shortly afterwards, the rebuilding of all the upper part of the central tower was commenced and continued for some years. It was not complete in 1474 when Richard Bell was prior, as in a letter written at the time he mentions the "reedificacion of our steeple, begun but nogt fynyshed, in defaulte of goods, as God knoweth." It is therefore most probable that the upper portion was not completed until towards the close of the fifteenth century.
We have now reached a period when the glories of Gothic architecture were fading, during which many of our finest churches suffered considerably. Durham is no exception to the rule, and we find during the next two centuries a long record of destruction and so-called improvement. This, perhaps, reached its worst stage during the time of Wyatt, who in 1796 pulled down the magnificent Norman chapter-house. During the last decade, however, this has been completely rebuilt from as nearly as possible the original design. Wyatt also rebuilt the turrets on the eastern transept or Nine Altar Chapel from his own design, and removed the great Early English rose window in the east end and replaced it by the present one. The original stained glass was taken out of all the windows of the east end, and Raine, in his history, tells us that it "lay for a long time afterwards in baskets upon the floor, and when the greater part of it had been purloined, the remainder was locked up in the Galilee.... At a still later period, about fifteen years ago, portions of it were placed in the great round window, and the rest still remains unappropriated." This was written in 1833. It is also on record that Wyatt formed a scheme to re-open the great western doorway of the cathedral by the pulling down of the Galilee Chapel, from which he intended constructing a carriage-drive to the castle. This abomination was actually commenced when Dean Cornwallis arrived, and he, with the assistance of John Carter, and the Society of Antiquaries, was fortunately able to put a stop to it. Thus was this beautiful and unique specimen of Transitional Norman architecture preserved to us.
Wyatt contemplated several other "improvements" of a similar character, one of which was the surmounting of the central tower by a spire, but fortunately he was not allowed to carry them out.
During the present century many restorations have been made, of which we will mention only the most notable:—The central tower was restored by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1859.
During 1870 to 1876 extensive internal alterations were made. A new choir screen and pulpit were erected, the floor of the choir laid in marble mosaic, the choir stalls returned to their original positions, and the walls of the church scraped in order to clear them from the many coats of lime and distemper which lay on them.
The Norman chapter-house has lately been restored and in great part rebuilt as a memorial to the late Bishop Lightfoot.
DESCRIPTION OF THE EXTERIOR
Approaching the Cathedral Church of Durham from the north by the large open space between it and the Castle, known as the Palace Green, we obtain a complete elevation of the whole structure. There is little room to doubt, though the details naturally vary with the date of erection, that the original plan of Carileph's church has been carried out in its entirety, with two exceptions. These are the addition of the eastern transept or nine altar chapel at the east, and the Galilee or Lady Chapel at the west end. The entire length of the building, not including the Galilee chapel, is 431 feet, which is made up as follows:—Nine altar chapel 51 feet, the choir 120 feet, the transept 57 feet, and the nave 203 feet.
The Western Towers are square and solid, and were evidently included in Carileph's own scheme, as the wall arcades on both the interior and exterior are carried round them. The Norman work is continued as far as the nave roof, and it is extremely probable that they were originally terminated at this height, in accordance with the Norman custom, with low pyramidal spires, probably of wood. Exactly at what date they were raised is not on record, but the style of architecture of the upper portion suggests the early part of the thirteenth century. The added portion, namely that above the clerestory, consists of four stages, and is beautifully varied by moulded arcading, with blind and open arches. The first and third stages have pointed arches, while those of the second and fourth are round. Above this again were tall wooden spires covered with lead. These were removed about the year 1657, and towards the close of the eighteenth century the present pinnacles and open parapets were added. At this time, also, much of the surface of the towers was renewed.
The Central Tower.—The present central tower is noble in proportion, and forms a fitting and harmonious summit to the whole group. It must needs be of a very different character from the old Norman tower, of which no trace now remains; and was most probably of the usual type, low and square, and surmounted by a short pyramidal spire. The existing structure may be attributed to Bishop Booth and Prior Richard Bell, about 1474, when the letter previously quoted was written. Externally the tower is divided into two storeys. The lower portion contains, on each side, a pair of two-light windows, glazed, each divided by a transom, and their heads having an ogee label crocketed and finished with a tall finial also crocketed. Between and on either side of these windows are panelled pilasters and brackets carrying figures. The lower and upper stages are divided by a narrow external gallery running round the tower, and protected by a pierced, embattled parapet. This is known as the Bell Ringers' Gallery, and certainly adds greatly to the effect of the tower as a whole. The upper stage, which is much less lofty, has also two two-light windows on each face, surmounted by crocketed ogee label mouldings and finials. These lights are louvred. The whole is surmounted by a deep open-work parapet. On each angle of the tower are two buttresses, which are decorated with panelling and canopied and crocketed niches containing figures. The interior of the tower or lantern is remarkable for the gallery which runs round it, which is reached from the roofs of the nave and choir transepts by doors. It rests on corbels, each alternate one being carved with grotesque heads, and is protected by a parapet pierced in quatrefoils. The four doorways are ogee-headed, with crockets and finials. There is strong evidence in the construction of the present tower that it was the original intention to surmount it by some other erection, probably a spire. Each interior angle contains strong and massive squinches which are of no constructive use at present, and must have been originally inserted to carry some superstructure. The buttresses at the angles are also carried up to the parapet, which would seem to point to the same conclusion. Why this project was never carried out cannot be said, but probably it would not have added to the artistic effect of the tower. The belfry contains a peal of eight bells.
The East Front.—The circumstances which led to the removal of Carileph's apses and the erection of the eastern transept have already been referred to. The present east end is divided into three bays by massive buttresses, each of which contains three lofty lancet windows separated by smaller buttresses. Over all, and in the gable, is the famous large rose window. The north and south ends of the transept are finished with the tall pyramidal pinnacles erected by Wyatt.
The West Front of Durham has, curiously enough, also lost its original character. The western doorway of the cathedral is hidden on the exterior by the Galilee or Lady Chapel, which was added by Pudsey in 1175. Above the Galilee roof is the large window inserted about the year 1346, while John Fossor was prior. The pointed arch of this window has over it, on the exterior, the original great semi-circular arch. Above this again, and between the two flanking western towers, is a small gable. The west end of the cathedral, when seen from the opposite side of the river, is extremely picturesque. The projecting mass of the Galilee, the western towers, the foreshortened nave roof, and the majestic central tower behind and above, form a group of high and rare excellence.
The North Door is now the principal entrance to the cathedral. Externally the present porch is the work of Wyatt. The first porch was Norman, of four orders depth, with detached shafts in the recesses. Above this was a high-pitched gable and roof, the front being ornamented with a semi-circular-headed wall arcading. The inner side of the doorway is of two orders only, and is probably the only remaining portion of the original. The outer shaft is left plain, while the inner one, in each case, is most elaborately carved. The capitals are all carved, and the arch moulds richly ornamented with chevrons, foliage, and lozenges, as well as many curious figure subjects. While examining this doorway, notice should be taken of the ironwork of the door itself, and particularly of the sanctuary knocker. In mediaeval times all churches afforded sanctuary to wrong-doers, but at places where the shrines of saints existed the sanctuary privileges were much greater. Durham being one of these, there are many curious cases on record of persons claiming the privilege, and protection from the secular law. The earliest instance, of which any record has been kept, of sanctuary being claimed at the shrine of S. Cuthbert is during the episcopate of Cynewulf, who was bishop from 740 to 748, and the last recorded was in 1524. Criminals claiming sanctuary were admitted by two janitors, who occupied two small chambers over the doorway, traces of which may still be observed. The knocker itself, as may be seen from the illustration, is a great grotesque head, made of bronze, and hanging from its grinning mouth is a ring. Originally, there is no doubt, the eyes were filled with crystals or enamel, as small claw-like pieces of bronze remain by which the filling was attached. The age of this piece of work is probably the same as that of the doorway itself.
The South Doorways.—There are two doorways into the south aisle, one, known as the Monks' Door, opening from the western portion of the cloisters and immediately opposite the north porch just described. On the cloister side this shows a Norman arch resting on double shafts, which are enriched with a lozenge pattern. On the inner or aisle side there are two orders, with shafts in the recesses, which are also decorated with the lozenge. The inner arch is carved with chevrons, and the outer with conventional foliage and medallions. The capitals are richly carved with foliage and grotesques. On the abacus and arch of this doorway occurs a leaf pattern strongly suggesting the Byzantine influence which at one time was found in Norman decoration. Here again, on the door itself, we have a fine specimen of very elaborate and characteristic Norman iron-work. The second, known as the Priors' Door, opens into the south aisle from the eastern alley of the cloister, is also Norman. The outer or cloister side is of the time of Bishop Pudsey, and has an arch of four orders, with three shafts in the recesses on either side. Its once elaborate sculpture is now much decayed, not enough remaining to suggest that in its original state this doorway must have been a noble specimen of the architectural design of its period. On the inner side it exhibits work of Carileph's time, with an early arch, cushion capitals, and shafts.
The Western Doorway.—The exterior of this great doorway is now within the Galilee chapel. It was built by Flambard (1099-1128), and is comparatively plain. On the Galilee side it consists of an arch of four orders ornamented with chevrons. The inner face is very similar to the outer, but is shallower, having only two orders. The shafts and capitals are without decoration, and the arch ornamented with chevron and a leaf pattern with medallions carved with grotesque animals. In order to reopen this doorway and make a carriage road up to it, Wyatt proposed pulling down the Galilee chapel.
The Cloister occupies a large open space, bounded on the south, east, and west by the various monastic buildings, and on the north by the cathedral itself. The existing cloister was commenced during the time of Bishop Skirlaw (1388 to 1406), and was completed by Cardinal Langley (who held the see from 1406 till 1438), probably in the earlier part of his episcopate. The contracts (the first dated 1398) for building the cloister are still preserved in the treasury. We are indebted to Bishop Skirlaw for their very existence, as it is recorded that he contributed sums of money for this purpose, both during his life and by his will. The cloister, as seen to-day, has been very much altered and restored, and probably the only original feature remaining is the fine oaken ceiling. This is panelled, and moulded, and decorated with shields, upon which are painted and gilded various coats of arms. In the centre of the cloister garth are the remains of what was the monks' lavatory. It was erected in the years 1432 and 1433, and was of octagonal shape. Some of the stone for its construction was brought from Egglestone-on-Tees, on payment of rent to the abbot of that place to quarry it. It is said to have had twenty-four brass spouts, seven windows, and in its upper storey a dovecote, the roof of which was covered with lead.
There is no doubt that there was a cloister attached to the monastery in its early days, but of this no trace remains. It is also probable that one was erected by Bishop Pudsey, though this also has entirely vanished, unless (as suggested by Canon Greenwell) some marks of a lean-to roof on the north and east walls may be traces of its presence. In the western alley of the cloister is the old treasury, rich in records, and the vestries for canons, king's scholars, and choristers. The alley opens at the end into what is now called the crypt (see p. 85). This was undoubtedly the common hall of the monks. It is a spacious stone-vaulted chamber. The columns are low and massive, with simple moulded caps, from which the chamfered vaulting ribs diverge. Over the hall or crypt is the dormitory, which for a long time formed part of a residence attached to one of the stalls. It is now, however, used as a library. It occupies the whole of the western side of the cloister, and is 194 feet long. It was originally subdivided, by wooden partitions, into separate sleeping-rooms for each monk. Its massive roof of oak is worthy of attention, the tree trunks being merely roughly squared with an axe (see p. 99).
In the south alley was the refectory and the monks' common dining-hall. The original building is now entirely altered, though there remains beneath it a very early crypt, with plain, short square piers, and a simple quadripartite vault without ribs. Another portion is covered by a wagon-head vault. Whether the original refectory was of similar architectural character it is now impossible to say, as, whatever it may have been, it was removed early in the sixteenth century and rebuilt, and after the dissolution of the monastery was used by the Minor Canons of the church as a common hall. It seems to have fallen into a bad state of repair, and was again entirely reconstructed by Dean Sudbury (1661-1684), who was elected to that office immediately after the Restoration. He converted it into a library, to which use it is still put. The account of this building, given in the "Antiquities of Durham," is of sufficient interest to bear quotation.
"In the South Alley of the Cloysters," says our authority, "is a large Hall, called the Frater-house, finely wainscotted on the North and South sides; and in the West and nether Part thereof, is a long Bench of Stone in Mason-work, from the Cellar Door to the Pantry or Cove Door: Above the Bench is Wainscot Work two Yards and a Half high, finely carved, and set with imboss'd Work in Wainscot, and gilded under the carved Work. Above the Wainscot was a large Picture of our Saviour Christ, the blessed Virgin Mary, and S. John, in fine gilt Work, and most excellent Colours; which Pictures having been washed over with Lime did long appear through it. This Wainscot had engraven on the Top of it, Thomas Castell, Prior, Anno Domini, 1518 Mensis Julij. Whence it is manifest that Prior Castell wainscotted the Frater-house round about.
"Within the Frater-house Door, on the Left Hand at entering, is a strong Almery in the Wall, wherein a great Mazer, called the Grace Cup, stood, which every day served the Monks after Grace, to drink out of round the Table; which cup was finely edged about with Silver, and double Gilt. In the same place were kept many large and great Mazers of the same sort.... Every Monk had his Mazer severally by himself to drink in, and had all other Things that served the whole Convent, and the Frater-house in their daily Service, at their Diet, and at their Table.... At these Times (at meals) the Master observed these wholesom and godly Orders, for the continual instruction of their Youth in Virtue and Learning; that is, one of the Novices appointed by the Master, read some Part of the Old and New Testament in Latin, during Dinner, having a convenient place at the South End of the High Table, within a beautiful Glass Window, encompass'd with Iron, and certain Stone Steps, with Iron Rails to go up to an Iron Desk, whereon lay the Holy Bible....
"This Fabrick retained the Name of the Petty Canons' Hall till Dr Sudbury, Dean of the Cathedral, generously erected a beautiful Library in its Place; but he not living to finish it compleatly, did by (a clause) in his Last Will, bind his Heir, Sir John Sudbury, to the due Execution thereof."
The contents of the library are both numerous and interesting. There are several thousands of volumes, many of them being rare and valuable. Numerous ancient illuminated MSS., among which is a copy of the Gospels of S. Mark, S. Luke, and S. John, written before the year 700; and several books given by Bishops Carileph and Pudsey. Among the latter is a Bible, in four volumes, in its original stamped leather binding. A collection of ancient copes belonging to the cathedral, and the remains of the robes of S. Cuthbert, and other relics taken from his coffin when it was exhumed, in 1827, may also be seen here. Numerous specimens of Roman altars, tablets, and sculptured stones, from various Roman stations in Durham and Northumberland, notably from Hexham, are preserved in this library, which is open to the public on Tuesday and Friday in each week from eleven to one. The room is finely proportioned, and has a magnificent open timber roof.
The Chapter-House opens upon the eastern alley of the cloister. The present building is a very recent restoration of the original, which is acknowledged to have been the finest existing Norman chapter-house remaining in England. It was erected, or more probably completed, during the time of Bishop Galfrid Rufus (1133-1140), and was in existence until 1796, during the episcopate of Bishop Barrington. At that time it was almost totally destroyed, on the advice of Wyatt, who reported to the chapter that it was in a ruinous state. The truth of this report is doubtful, but the partial demolition of the building was ordered in November 1795, and also the construction of a new room on the site. The work of destruction was begun by knocking out the keystones of the vaulting and allowing the roof to fall in. The eastern half of the building was then altogether removed, and the remaining portion enclosed by a wall. Its interior was faced with lath and plaster, a plaster ceiling and a boarded floor being added. Fortunately authentic records of its original appearance, both exterior and interior, are in existence. They are the drawings made for the Society of Antiquaries by John Carter in 1795. Its dimensions were 78 by 35 feet; the east end being apsidal and the roof a vault of one span. Round the wall of the interior ran a stone bench raised on two steps, which was surmounted, except at the west end, by a wall arcade, of round-headed intersecting arches, similar to that in the aisles of the cathedral, but with single instead of double shafts. Above the arcade was a string course carved with zig-zag ornament. The entrance was from the west end, and the east end was occupied by two seats, one for the bishop and one for the prior. In the apse were five three-light windows of the Decorated period, and above the western door a five-light Perpendicular window, which contained coloured glass, illustrating the "Root of Jesse." On either side of this was a window of two lights, divided by a shaft and enclosed under one arch, carved with chevron ornament. There was also a round-headed Norman window in each of the north and south walls. A doorway in the south wall led to three chambers, one larger, and two smaller, which are stated in the "Rites of Durham" to have been used as a prison for the monks. The chapter-house was used in early times as a burial-place for the bishops, and many of their graves with inscriptions were in existence previous to the demolition of 1796. During excavations in 1874, the graves of Bishops Flambard, Galfrid Rufus, S. Barbara, de Insula, and Kellaw were opened, when various rings and the head of a crozier were discovered and removed to the dean and chapter library.
The chapter-house has now been entirely restored as a memorial to the late Bishop Lightfoot.
The Northern Alley of the Cloister, running along the south wall of the church, contains little of interest, except the two doorways previously described.
The effect of the cloister as a whole, in its original condition, with the windows glazed, many containing fine stained glass, the oak roof with its heraldry and colour, and the lavatory in the centre of the garth, must have been exceptionally fine.
A sculptured panel on the north-west turret of the Nine Altar Chapel is now known as the Dun Cow. The original sculpture was replaced in the last century by the existing panel, but the legend connected with it is interesting. After their flight from Chester-le-Street, the monks, bearing the body of S. Cuthbert, remained some time at Ripon. While trying to return to Chester-le-Street, at a place called Wardlaw, the coffin stuck fast, and remained absolutely fixed. A fast of three days was proclaimed and kept, when it was revealed to them that they were to carry their saint to Dunholme. Still they were in difficulties, not knowing where Dunholme was, but fortune, or Providence, again favoured them. A woman, who had lost a cow, passed, calling to a companion to inquire if she had seen the animal. The reply was that her cow was in Dunholme; and, to the relief of the monks, they and their precious charge soon safely arrived there. In grateful commemoration of the incident Flambard erected this monument of a milkmaid and her cow. (See p. 9.)
The exterior of Durham Cathedral as a whole may at first sight be disappointing to the visitor. Seen from a near view there is a certain flatness of effect and want of light and shade which is, perhaps, slightly unpleasant. This is, however, largely attributable to the scaling and scraping process to which the building was subjected during the last century, when some inches of the outer surface of the stone, and with it much architectural detail, were removed. The result is the flatness previously alluded to, and a general newness of appearance pervades the structure. Seen, however, from a distance, where only the finely-grouped and proportioned masses of masonry, towers, and turrets stand against the sky, the result is magnificent, giving an impression of grandeur and dignity unsurpassed by any other English cathedral.
DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERIOR
If the exterior of Durham is in any way disappointing, the interior more than compensates for its shortcomings. The general impression on entering the church is one of simple dignity and solemnity. The great massiveness of the structure and absence of elaborate ornament no doubt contribute to this feeling. The pious builders of old have certainly contrived to stamp on their work their own feeling of awe in the presence of the All-Powerful and Eternal God. Whatever has been lost through vandalism and the restorer, this remains unaltered. The general design of the church, exclusive of detail, which, of course, changed and developed with the progress of Gothic art, has undoubtedly been carried out on the plan intended by Bishop Carileph, the only important variation being the addition of the transept at the east end, known as the Nine Altars Chapel. The original plan consists of a nave and aisles, transepts with aisles on their eastern side, a choir also with aisles, and the three apses of the east end, with a central tower over the junction of transepts, nave, and choir, and towers flanking the west end.
Each bay of the Nave is divided into two sub-bays. The main bays have massive piers with engaged shafts on the recessed faces. The bases of these are cruciform in plan, though the arms of the cross are very short. At the height of the springing of the arch the shafts are surmounted by plain cushion capitals. The division into sub-bays is effected by the introduction midway of a massive round column on a square base. These columns are ornamented in various ways, by channels cut on the face. Some take the form of a zig-zag, some a spiral, others a spiral in two directions, forming a trellis-like pattern, and others again are reeded vertically. Their capitals are octagonal cushions. The arches of the sub-bays are recessed square, with the usual Norman roll moulding, decorated with chevrons, and on the wall face a square billet. The chevron ornament is absent in the earlier work in the choir and transepts. The triforium is almost uniform throughout the whole church. In each sub-bay it consists of two small arches under one larger one, with the tympanum solid. Here also the capitals are cushions and perfectly plain.
Above the triforium is the clerestory, which contains one light to each sub-bay, and surmounting all is the vaulting, which springs from the piers and from grotesquely carved corbels between the triforium arches. The vaulting ribs are ornamented with chevrons on either side of a bold semi-circular moulding. So much for the general arrangement of the bays. Some idea of the massiveness of the structures may be gathered when it is known that each group of the clustered pillars separating the bays covers an area of two hundred and twenty-five square feet at its base, while those of the cylindrical columns of the sub-bays are twelve feet square, and the columns themselves have a circumference of over twenty-three feet. There is little room to doubt that the effect obtained by the old builders of Durham was intentional. The masterly way in which great masses of solid masonry, greater than was constructively necessary, are handled, and the reticence and delicacy of the ornament combine to prove this. There is in the whole scheme a delightful union of great power and vigour in the masses, and of tenderness and loving care in the detail.
The Choir is the earliest part of the church. Its two western bays show Carileph's work, but the eastern piers have been considerably altered owing to the addition at a later period of the eastern transept, when Carileph's apses were taken down. This bay contains some very rich and beautiful detail. The piers on either side of the choir are decorated with arcades, the lower stage having six arches, and the upper three, all richly carved with foliage in the caps and hood moulds, and with heads and half figures. There is also a square aumbry on each pier. Above the upper arcade, which breaks through the level of the triforium string course, which is also carried round it, there is on each pier a figure of an angel beneath a canopy. These are the only two figures remaining of many which formerly added to the beauty of the interior of the church. The vaulting of the choir is thirteenth-century work, quadripartite, the ribs decorated with dog-tooth ornament and square leaves, and has fine bosses at the intersections of the diagonal ribs. The choir of Durham is especially interesting to the student of architecture, showing as it does the Early Norman work of Carileph, combined with the Early English and Early Decorated work of the newer eastern portion.
On the south side of the choir stands the monument of Bishop Hatfield, who directed the see of Durham from 1345 until 1381. This monument is beneath the Episcopal Throne, which was erected by Bishop Hatfield himself. It consists of an altar tomb surmounted by a recumbent effigy of the bishop, in richly-worked robes, beneath a canopy, richly groined, with foliated bosses at the intersections of the ribs. On the walls at the east and west ends may still be seen the remains of fresco painting, representing in each case two angels. Beneath the staircase leading up to the throne is a very fine decorated arcade, containing several shields bearing the bishop's and other arms. The whole structure was originally richly coloured and gilded, and remains of this work can still be made out. It is a noble specimen of the work of its date.
Immediately opposite the tomb of Bishop Hatfield, on the north side of the choir, the visitor will notice the recently-erected memorial to the late Bishop Lightfoot. This is an altar tomb of black and coloured marble. The sides are ornamented with panels of Perpendicular tracery containing shields. Round the upper mouldings runs a Latin inscription in brass. The whole is surmounted by a recumbent figure of the bishop in white marble, his hands on his breast, and his feet resting against three books. Originally designed by Sir Edgar Boehm, R.A., at his death the monument was completed by Alfred Gilbert, R.A.
The beautiful altar screen is usually known as the Neville Screen, and was erected about the year 1380, mainly from moneys supplied by John, Lord Neville of Raby. It spans the whole of the choir, and is continued along the sides of the sacrarium, forming sedilia of four seats on either side. It is pierced by two doors, which lead to the shrine of S. Cuthbert, immediately behind the screen. Though very light and graceful in appearance, the screen, as it is at present, can give the beholder little idea of what its appearance must have been when each of its canopied niches contained a figure aglow with gold and colour. There were originally 107 of these statues, the centre one representing Our Lady, supported on either side by S. Cuthbert and S. Oswald. Unfortunately none of the figures remain in situ.
Immediately in front of the steps of the high altar will be seen the matrix of a large brass. It covers the grave of Ludovick de Bellomonte, Bishop of Durham from 1318 to 1333. The slab, which is in two pieces, measures fifteen feet ten inches by nine feet seven inches, and an examination will show the brass to have been an elaborate and sumptuous composition. Unfortunately all the metal work has disappeared.
The Stalls, as they originally existed, were destroyed in 1650 by the Scottish prisoners, who were kept in the cathedral after the battle of Dunbar. The present stalls we owe to Bishop Cosin (1660 to 1672), and they are remarkable pieces of carving for that date. In general character they imitate Perpendicular work, though the details do not adhere altogether to that style.
Before leaving this part of the church a note may be devoted to the alterations and additions made during the years 1870 to 1876. A new screen between the nave and choir was then erected; the choir floor relaid with marble mosaic; the stalls replaced in their old positions, and new portions made to replace those destroyed in 1846. A new organ, pulpit, and lectern were also added.
The new Choir Screen is very much open to criticism. Though no doubt beautiful in detail, and of excellent workmanship, its effect, as a whole, is not pleasant, when seen from the west end silhouetted against the light of the choir. A screen previously existed in this position erected by Bishop Cosin. This was removed in 1846, with the idea of improving the appearance of the church from the west end by obtaining a "vista" through to the Neville screen and rose window of the eastern transept. The effect seems, however, to have been disappointing, hence the erection of the present screen, which may or may not have improved matters. In the two western piers of the choir holes may be seen cut in the stonework. These received the rood-beam from which, during Lent, the Lenten curtain was suspended.
The North Aisle of the Choir, again, shows the joining and harmonising of the "new work" of the eastern transept with the earlier Norman work. Inside the church the most easterly bay appears to be altogether of Early English date; but on the exterior it will be seen that the Norman wall runs right up to the western wall of the eastern transept. The interior of the bay, however, is enriched with a wall arcade similar to that in the Nine Altars Chapel, and the arch and vault are decorated with foliage and dog-tooth ornament.
Along the side wall of this aisle runs a stone bench bearing the arms of Bishop Walter de Skirlaw (1388 to 1405), near which he was buried, but his monument and brass, erected by himself, have disappeared.
Slightly westward of the bench is a doorway which at one time opened into the Sacrist's Exchequer, erected by Prior Wessington, but it has long ago been destroyed.
The piers of the west end of this aisle bear marks which were originally holes cut in the stone. These served to support a porch, having a rood and altar, which is thus described in the "Rites of Durham":
"Right over the Entrance of this North Alleye, going to the Songe Scoole (the Exchequer mentioned above) there was a porch adjoyninge to the quire on the South, and S. Benedick's altar on the North, the porch having in it an altar, and the roode or picture of our Saviour, which altar and roode was much frequented in devotion by Docteur Swalwell, sometime monk of Durham, the said roode havinge marveilous sumptuous furniture for festivall dayes belonginge to it."
The South Aisle Of the Choir is similar architecturally to the north aisle. Here may be seen a doorway, of late thirteenth-century work, which originally led to the revestry, now destroyed.
Here again the eastern piers bear marks left by holes in the stonework, which originally earned the supports of a screen, in front of which the Black Rood of Scotland, which was taken from King David at the battle of Neville's Cross (1346), was placed. The rood is described as having been brought from Holyrood by David Bruce, and was made of silver, with effigies of our Saviour, S. John, and Our Lady, having crowns of gold on their heads. The Black Rood was restored to its original possessors at the close of the war.
The windows of both the choir aisles originally contained very fine old stained glass, representing various saints, and scenes in the life of S. Cuthbert.
The Transepts.—Leaving the choir by its western end the visitor at once enters the transepts. A large portion of these, including the great piers and arches which carry the central tower, are, without doubt, of the time of Carileph. The eastern side of both is certainly his work, while the western is probably the building which was carried on by the monks in the interval between Carileph's death, in 1096, and the appointment of Flambard to the see in 1099. The work on the eastern sides differs little from that of the choir, while that of the western sides, being plainer, has been thought by some to indicate a want of means on the part of the monks, while carrying on the work in the interval just alluded to. Each transept consists of two bays, with an aisle on the eastern side, access to which is gained by the ascent of three steps.
Each of the three sub-bays nearest the north and south extremities originally contained an altar, those in the north transept being dedicated to S. Nicholas and S. Giles, S. Gregory and S. Benedict. Over the site of the latter may still be seen remains of fresco painting. The altars in the south transept were dedicated—one to S. Faith and S. Thomas the Apostle, one to our Lady of Bolton and the other to our Lady of Houghall. The north transept is closed by a large window, which is the work of Prior Fossor, probably about the year 1362. The window is of six lights, and the head contains late geometrical tracery. The architectural feature of this window, especially for its date, is the transom which crosses the mullions, and which is not visible from the exterior. Below the transom is a second inner set of mullions supporting a small gallery, by means of which access may be had to the triforium. In the year 1512 the window was repaired by Prior Castell, who filled it with stained glass containing large figures, among others of S. Augustine, S. Ambrose, S. Gregory, and S. Jerome. From this circumstance the window became known as the window of the Four Doctors of the Church. Prior Castell also contrived to introduce a figure of himself kneeling at the feet of the Virgin. The large window at the end of the south transept, also named from the glass it contained, the Te Deum window, is in the Perpendicular style, and is of six lights. It may possibly have been the work of Prior Wessington, 1416 to 1446. Along the sill of this window also access may be had to the triforium.
Both the north-west and south-west corners of the transepts contain stairways, opening at their various levels on to the triforium, clerestory, and the space between the vaulting and the roof. That in the south transept also gives access to the central tower and belfry, an ascent of which, if the day be clear, will repay the visitor for his fatiguing climb of three hundred and forty steps by the magnificent view spread at his feet. The transepts were no doubt the earliest part of the building to be vaulted; that of the northern arm being plain is probably the earlier, while that of the south arm, though of similar character, has zig-zag ornaments. Several of the priors of Durham were buried in the transepts, the first, Prior Fossor, 1364, and the last, Robert Ebchester, who died in 1484.
On the piers of the transepts projecting brackets may be noticed. These are of Perpendicular date, and originally carried statues.
The crossing, or space between the four piers supporting the central tower, gives us a fine view of the interior of the lantern.
The Tower is carried on four large clustered Norman piers with semi-circular arches. Over the arches, and seventy-seven feet above the floor of the church, is the lower stage of the lantern, round which is a gallery with an open pierced parapet. It rests on corbels, each alternate one being carved with a grotesque head. The walls are panelled up to the base of the great windows,—each panel having two cinquefoiled arches under a crocketed canopy and final; while between them are small buttresses, also panelled, and ending in a finial which reaches the same height as the canopy. Over the panelling is a string course ornamented with that characteristic ornament of the Perpendicular period, the Tudor flower, and above this on each face two tall windows near together. Each window has two lights, and is divided by a transom. The roof of the lantern is groined, with fine bosses at the intersections of the ribs. The whole seen from below has a very fine effect, and must be very different in appearance from the original Norman structure. The whole of the lantern was refaced, and the statues which had been removed from their niches were replaced, some thirty years ago, by the Dean and Chapter of Durham.
The Norman East End.—The original form of the Norman east end has long been the subject of discussion and conjecture. It was practically safe to assume that the choir ended in an apse, though whether the aisles were also apsidal, or continued round a great apse as an ambulatory, was a debatable point. This question has now been finally settled.
During some operations necessitating the opening of the floor, in January 1895, certain indications were found which led the diocesan architect, Mr C.H. Fowler, and Canon Greenwell to continue the excavation. The result was the discovery that Carileph's church certainly possessed three apses—a large one terminating the choir, and smaller ones the aisles. The apses of the aisles were square externally, and apsidal internally. The great apse consisted of five bays, one on either side next to the choir, forming an oblong between the choir and the springing line of the curve of the apse, over which would be the great sanctuary arch. The remainder, or apse proper, was divided into three bays by engaged clustered shafts, similar to those of the choir and nave. It was surrounded by a wall arcade of the same character as that of the rest of the church. The base of one of the shafts of the arcade was found in position. An extremely interesting point in this discovery is the fact that the levels are the same as those of the nave and choir. The foundations are on the rock at the same depth, and the aisle walls and apse walls are in the same line. The external square line of the aisle apses is in line with the springing of the choir apse. The foundations of the apse to the north aisle have been thoroughly excavated, and there is every reason to believe that that on the south side of the church entirely corresponds. The width of the north aisle apse from north to south is nine feet eight inches. There can be little doubt, judging from the remainder of Carileph's work, that all three apses were covered with stone vaults, though of precisely what character can only be a matter of conjecture. The cracking, previously spoken of, which led to this part of the church being taken down and the new eastern transept being erected, cannot have arisen from any subsidence of the foundations. It, in all probability, was the result of the thrust of the apse vaults on to walls which were insufficiently buttressed. The marks on some of the stones found during this excavation, and the shape of others, seem to point to the conclusion that here we have the earliest part of the church, and that Carileph used up in his foundations much of the stone of Aldhun's White Church.
Of the two usual eastern endings to Norman churches—viz. those with three apses, and those having the aisle carried round as an ambulatory—the latter is far more common in England, and the former on the Continent. There are two other notable instances of the three apsidal arrangement in England: S. Albans, 1077, which is earlier than Durham; and Peterboro', 1117, which is later than, and was probably modelled on, Durham. There are many examples of ambulatories—the White Tower Church (London), Winchester, Gloucester, Worcester, and Norwich being among them.
The apses of Durham are of considerable depth from east to west, the oblong bay previously mentioned, which is fourteen feet wide in that direction, adding greatly to this effect. The width of the foundations is fourteen feet, and the width of the wall has been seven feet. The diameter of the choir apse from north to south was about thirty-two feet.
These discoveries are specially interesting, completing as they do the whole chain, and leading us with very little imagination to see in its original condition what must have been, and may even now claim to be, the most noble example of Norman architecture in our country.
The Nine Altars Chapel.—Leaving the consideration of what once occupied the site of the east end of Durham, we will turn our attention to the beautiful erection which now stands there, the eastern transept, or, as it is named from the altars of the saints it once contained beneath its windows, the Chapel of the Nine Altars. It is approached from the aisles by steps, the floor level being lower than that of the church proper. It is altogether a remarkable and interesting structure. With its lightness and loftiness contrasting grandly with the massive Norman nave and choir, its clustered columns of polished marble alternating with stone, its fine bold sculpture, its splendid vaulted roof and rich arcading, it forms a perfect example of the Early English style. Though regular and symmetrical in general design, the detail shows great variety, and even irregularity, a quality so often present in old work, and so much to its advantage. In general character it may be compared with that at Fountains Abbey, which was built during the same time.
The circumstances leading to its erection have been already referred to. The Norman apses having been partly removed, owing to their dangerous condition, the "New Work," as it was always called, was commenced in the year 1242. The eastern wall, with its rose and nine lancet windows, is the earliest part of the chapel, the north and south walls being later. The joining and blending of the work with the Norman of Carileph's choir had evidently been accomplished when the chapel was almost completed. The eastern wall is of three bays, each bay having three lofty lancet windows. The bays are not of equal width, the centre one being regulated by the width of the nave of the church, and narrower than the north and south bays.
A very beautiful arcade runs completely round the walls. It is of trefoil arches, deeply and richly moulded, supported on marble columns carved with foliage. Over the arches is a hood mould terminating with heads. In the spandrels are a series of deeply-sunk and moulded quatrefoils, two of which contain sculpture. The bases of the columns rest on a plinth. Surmounting this arcade is a moulded string, from the level of which rise the windows, and above the windows another string course and a second range of windows. In the centre bay, however, is the large rose window, which is over thirty feet in diameter.
The division of the chapel into three bays is effected by two main vaulting arches, which spring on the western side from the piers of the east end of the choir, and on the eastern side from responds of clustered shafts alternately of marble and stone, banded at intervals and having richly carved capitals. The arches themselves are deeply moulded and ornamented with dog-tooth ornament and foliage. The vault of the central bay has eight ribs—two springing from each of the clusters just described, and two from each of the choir piers. The vaulting of the remaining bays is quadripartite, but has peculiarities which are worthy of notice, arising from inequality of width. We must not omit to call attention to the exquisite sculpture of the vaulting. The centre has figures of the Four Evangelists, while in the north is a beautifully executed carving of vine and grapes, and in the south, figure subjects. Among the sculptured heads on the wall arcade at the south end, at the western side of the two bays into which the south wall is divided, are two which are portraits of the men to whom we owe the design and execution of the beautiful sculpture of this chapel. One is an elderly man, the other much younger, and both wear linen dust-caps over their heads.
The nine lancet windows were originally filled with ancient stained glass, which, as the reader will remember, was removed, Below each window was an altar. They were dedicated a follows, beginning at the south end of the chapel:—
1. S. Andrew and S. Mary Magdalene. 2. S. John the Baptist and S. Margaret. > South bay. 3. S. Thomas of Canterbury and S. Catherine. /
4. S. Oswald and S. Lawrence. 5. S. Cuthbert and S. Bede. > Middle bay. 6. S. Martin. /
7. S. Peter and S. Paul. 8. S. Aidan and S. Helen. > North bay. 9. S. Michael the Archangel. /
The rose window over the lancets of the middle bay is Wyatt's "restoration" of the original one. It consists of an outer circle of twenty-four and an inner circle of twelve radiating lights, the mullions of which are received on a foliated circle in the centre.
In the north wall of the chapel is a very fine window, known as the Joseph window, on account of the stained glass it originally contained, which illustrated the life-history of Joseph. It is a beautiful example of Early Decorated or geometrical Gothic, and is of six lights. There is an inner plane of tracery resting on clustered shafts, which is connected to the mullions of the window proper by through stones. The window occupies the complete width of the north end of the chapel. The painted glass which it once contained is thus described in the "Rites of Durham":
"In the North Alley of the said Nine Altars, there is another goodly faire great glass window, called Joseph's Window, the which hath in it all the whole storye of Joseph, most artificially wrought in pictures in fine coloured glass, accordinge as it is sett forth in the Bible, verye good and godly to the beholders thereof."
This window deserves the attention of the architectural student, as it is an exceedingly fine specimen of the tracery of its date.
The south wall of the chapel contains two windows, each divided by a central mullion, and having an inner mullion connected by through stones. They are widely splayed inwards, and separated by a group of vaulting shafts. One or both of these windows contained stained glass, with the history of the life and miracles of S. Cuthbert. As seen at present, they contain tracery of the Perpendicular period, a restoration of that inserted by Prior Wessington. Each window is of two lights, crossed by a transom. Entry to the nine altars was provided for, as well as from the choir and aisles, by two doors on the western side of its north and south walls. The northern doorway is now walled up. They enter through the wall arcade. The writer of the "Rites of Durham" says the north door was made in order to bring in the body of Bishop Anthony Bek, who is buried in the chapel. The architectural features of the doorway would, however, seem to contradict this theory, and there is little room to doubt that both north and south doorways formed part of the original design of the structure.
Before leaving this interesting portion of the building we must direct our attention to its most important contents, the Tomb of S. Cuthbert. This, as at present to be seen, is a great oblong platform, thirty-seven feet long by twenty-three feet wide, and its upper surface or floor six feet above the floor of the chapel. Beneath a slab in the centre the bones of the patron saint rest. The shrine of S. Cuthbert at one time stood upon this platform, but of that no vestige remains.
The floor of the platform is reached by two doors through the Neville screen in the choir, and by a small stairway from the south aisle. The wanderings of the monks of Lindisfarne with the body of their saint, their many difficulties and trials, and their ultimate settlement at Dunholme or Durham, have already been described. The shrine was eventually set up in its present position by Bishop Carileph, in 1104, when he brought it from the cloister garth from the tomb he had there set up for its temporary reception, until his church was sufficiently advanced to permit of its removal thither. It was visited by large numbers of pilgrims, and many important personages were among them. Of these may be mentioned William the Conqueror, Henry III. (1255), Edward II. (1322), and Henry VI. (1448). The shrine was destroyed soon after the surrender of the monastery to the Crown, in 1540, when the body was buried beneath the place where its former receptacle had stood. There have since this time been traditions that the exact place of the burial was secret, and known only, according to one account, to three Benedictine monks, who each handed the secret down to a successor. The other tradition places the knowledge of the place of burial in the hands of the Roman Catholic bishops of the Northern Province. One of these traditions was made public in the year 1867, and gave the place of interment as being under the second and third steps leading to the tower from the south transept. This place was excavated and examined, but no trace of any burial could be found there. It is to these traditions that Scott refers, in Marmion, in the following lines:—
Chester-le-Street, and Ripon saw His holy corpse, ere Wardilaw Hailed him with joy and fear; And after many wanderings past, He chose his lordly seat at last, Where his cathedral, huge and vast, Looks down upon the Wear. There deep in Durham's Gothic shade His relics are in secret laid; But none may know the place, Save of his holiest servants three, Deep sworn to solemn secrecy, Who share that wondrous grace.
In May 1827 the grave in the Nine Altars Chapel was opened in the presence of two of the church dignitaries and other persons. Dr Raine, who was also present, has left a careful account of the discoveries then made. The outer coffin, that made in 1542, was first removed, revealing a second and much decayed coffin and many bones. After the removal of these relics the lid of a third oak coffin was revealed, in a very advanced state of decay. This innermost coffin was covered over its entire surface with carvings of human figures, the heads surrounded by a nimbus. When this coffin was removed the skeleton was exposed to view, wrapped in coverings, the outer of which had been of linen. The robes beneath were much decayed, and only portions of them could be preserved. On the breast of the body, among the robes, a comb was found, answering exactly to that described by Reginald in 1104. Among the most interesting of the finds were a stole and maniple.
 Raine. S. Cuthbert.
The stole is of very early date, and is of needlework in colours and gold. The centre design is a quatrefoil, inside which is a lamb with nimbus, and the letters AGNV DI. On either side are figures of Old Testament prophets, with their names. Near the ends the embroidery occurs on both sides of the stole, on the back of one of which among foliage is the inscription AELFFLAED FIERI PRECEPIT, which is continued on the back of the opposite end, thus—PIO EPISCOPO FRIDESTANO. The translation of this inscription is to the effect that Aelfled commanded the stole to be made for the pious Bishop Frithestan. The maniple is of a similar character, and also bears ornament, figures, and inscriptions. Frithestan was made Bishop of Winchester in 905. Aelfled, who was Queen of Eadward, the son and successor of Alfred, died in 916. It was therefore during these ten years that she caused this stole and maniple to be made for the Bishop Frithestan. It is recorded that the son and successor of Eadward, by name Athelstan, when on a journey in the north visited Chester-le-Street and the shrine of S. Cuthbert, which was then at that place. Among other presents he left as offerings a stole and maniple, and a girdle and two bracelets of gold. It is a curious fact that a girdle and two gold bracelets were found along with the stole and maniple in the grave, in 1827, and leaves very little doubt that they are the ones mentioned above. The bones of the saint were quite intact, and none were missing. They were, with the other relics, placed in a new coffin, and the grave re-covered. Some portions of the inner coffin, with the stole, two maniples, the girdle and bracelets and fragments of the robes are now carefully preserved in the Dean and Chapter Library. A large gold cross found among the robes, decorated with garnets, and of workmanship of the time of S. Cuthbert is also preserved in the library. These discoveries seem to speak for themselves, and to leave very little room for doubt that the body exhumed and examined in 1827 was really that of the patron saint of the church.
 Photographs, coloured by the late J.I. Williamson, are exhibited in the South Kensington Museum.
There were also found in the grave bones of infants, supposed to be relics of the Holy Innocents, and a skull, most probably that of S. Oswald, which was known to have been placed in the coffin of S. Cuthbert.
Two smooth grooves may be observed on the platform, which are said to have been worn into the stone by the knees or feet of generations of pilgrims visiting the shrine.
There are several other tombs and monuments in this chapel, chiefly wall tablets of not exceptional interest. At the north end, however, is a colossal statue of the last of the prince bishops, Bishop van Mildert, who died in 1836. The monument is of white marble, the figure seated on a throne and holding a book. It was erected by public subscription, the sculptor being John Gibson, R.A. Near this monument is a blue slab covering the remains of Bishop Anthony Bek, patriarch of Jerusalem, who died in 1310. It was to bring in the body of this bishop that some writers have thought the north doorway of the Nine Altars Chapel was constructed. This is, as we have seen already, extremely improbable.
The student of architecture will find very much to interest him in this Chapel of the Nine Altars. The beautiful sculpture and variety in the capitals of the shafts of wall arcading, not to mention the rich carving of the vaulting bosses and capitals of the vaulting shafts, will well repay his earnest study.
The Galilee or Lady Chapel is situated at the west end of the nave. It is well known that for some reason women were not allowed to enter any church where S. Cuthbert's shrine stood, nor even any church dedicated to him. At Lindisfarne a separate church was provided for them, and at Durham the Galilee Chapel was added for the same purpose. It was alleged that S. Cuthbert himself had made this rule, but there is no proof that he ever issued such a command. The Venerable Bede makes no mention of any special feeling of antipathy to women on the part of the saint. Bede was contemporary with, and survived S. Cuthbert forty-eight years. Whatever may have been the origin of the practice, it is certain that in later times women were jealously excluded from the churches of S. Cuthbert, and to this circumstance we owe, in the chapel under our consideration, the most beautiful and perfect example of Transitional Norman architecture existing in England.
Let us recall briefly the circumstances attending its erection. Hugh Pudsey, who occupied the episcopal throne, 1153 to 1195, commenced to build a Lady Chapel at the east end of the church. The work had not gone far before accidents happened, and cracks and fissures appeared in the walls, which the builder thought "gave manifest indication that it was not acceptable to God and His servant S. Cuthbert." The work was therefore abandoned, and another chapel was commenced at the west end of the church, "into which women might lawfully enter, so that they who had not bodily access to the secret things of the holy place, might have some solace from the contemplation of them" (Geoffrey de Coldingham). Pudsey caused to be moved here the marble shafts and bases he had previously brought from "beyond the sea," and intended to be used in the construction of his chapel at the east end. Entering the chapel by the steps leading from the Norman nave, the visitor is at once impressed with the lightness and delicacy of the work before him, as compared with the massive grandeur of the Norman cathedral behind. Here we have, in fact, one of the latest uses of the round arch influenced by the rapidly developing Early English Gothic. In plan the chapel consists of a nave with double aisles, which perhaps might be more properly called five aisles. These are divided by arcades, each of which is of four bays. These arches and the columns which support them are the chief beauty and characteristic of the chapel. The arches are semi-circular, of one order, with three lines of chevron, one on each face, and one on the soffit between two roll mouldings. The capitals are light and graceful and carved with a volute, and the columns clusters of marble and freestone shafts. The arches, however, rest on the marble columns, which are, no doubt, those previously alluded to. The whole seems to have been coloured in fresco, and remains of this are still to be seen. The stone shafts, which alternate with those of marble, do not carry any of the weight of the arch, and are, undoubtedly, an addition, probably in the time of Cardinal Langley, when they must have been added, with a view to improving the appearance. The dimensions of the chapel are forty-seven feet from east to west, and seventy-six feet from north to south. The existing roof and the three perpendicular windows on the west end are also additions by Cardinal Langley. On the walls above what were once the altars of the Virgin and Our Lady of Pity, remains of fresco painting may be noticed, all that remains of what has evidently been beautiful work. These were only brought to light by the removal of successive coats of whitewash with which they had been covered.
 Geoffrey de Coldingham.
When the Galilee was erected, access from the church was by the great west door of the cathedral. This was, however, closed up by Cardinal Langley, who constructed the two doorways at the end of the aisles by which the chapel is now entered. Those portions of the Norman wall arcading, which had to be removed by reason of the breaking through of the new doorways, were used to fill up the lower part of the great west door. The latter was again removed in 1846, when the west doorway was re-opened. Langley's two doorways have four centred arches enclosed beneath a square label moulding, with shields bearing the Cardinal's coat-of-arms in each spandrel. To Langley also may be attributed the five massive buttresses on the exterior of the western wall of the chapel, which partly cover the arcading and panelling with which it was decorated. In adding the new roof Langley raised the walls above the arches to carry it, giving a somewhat peculiar effect to the interior. The original roof lines can still be made out on the west wall. Of the contents of the chapel remaining, perhaps the most interesting to the visitor is the grave and site of the shrine of the Venerable Bede. The shrine, like that of S. Cuthbert's, is gone, and all that remains is the stone slab on which it once stood, and which bears the inscription (placed there in 1831):