Page images

vaulted roof, exquisitely groined and gilt—as well as the beautiful colouring of the painted windows -are described as presenting a scene to which no language could do justice, and which far outrivalled every other religious edifice in England. The high altar-which stood between two columns under a canopy of wood elaborately carved and painted,was adorned with precious stones, and surrounded with images exquisitely wrought. Above the altar was the new shrine of St. Erkenwald, inlaid and adorned with gold, silver, and precious stones; and presenting such a splendid and dazzling effect, that we are told that princes and nobles came from all parts to visit it, and to offer up their adorations to the Saxon saint. In a wooden tabernacle, on the right side of the high altar, was a picture of St. Paul, said to have been of great excellence; and against a pillar, in the body of the church, was a beautiful image of the Virgin, before which a lamp was kept constantly burning. In the centre of the cathedral stood a large cross, and, if we add to these the splendour of the numerous shrines and altars, and the magnificence of the sepulchral monuments, we shall be able to form some slight notion of old St. Paul's as it existed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Another striking feature in the old Cathedral was the beautiful subterranean parish church of St. Faith, in the Crypts, commenced by Fulco Basset, Bishop of London, in 1356, and which, besides several chantries and monuments, had two chapels, seve

rally dedicated to Our Lady and to St. Dunstan. This "famous vault," as Dugdale styles it, was originally a building entirely distinct from the Cathedral; but when the latter was enlarged, between the years 1256 and 1312, it was demolished, and a portion of the extensive Crypt appropriated to the use of the parishioners, who have still the right of interment in certain portions of St. Paul's churchyard and of the vaults. After the Fire of London, the parish of St. Faith was united with that of St. Augustine.

The Chapter House of the old Cathedral, as well as the Cloisters, are also said to have been of elaborate workmanship and of great beauty. The latter, with the fine monuments which they contained, were destroyed by the Protector Somerset, who made use of the materials in constructing his new palace in the Strand.

At the north-west corner of St. Paul's, stood the stately Inn, or palace, of the Bishops of London. Here it was that Edward the Third and his Queen were, on one occasion, entertained and lodged after a magnificent tournament at Smithfield. "There was goodly dancing" says Froissart, "in the Queen's lodging, in presence of the King and his uncles, and other barons of England, and ladies demoiselles, till it was day, which was time for every person to draw to their lodgings, except the King and Queen, who lay there in the Bishop's palace, for there they lay during all the feasts and jousts." The Bishop of London's palace, at St. Paul's, was,

for a short time, the residence of the unfortunate Edward the Fifth, previous to his being immured in the Tower. From hence, too, it was that Jane Shore was led to undergo her penance at Paul's Cross; and under its roof, after her marriage to Prince Arthur in the neighbouring Cathedral, the ill-fated Katherine of Arragon was conducted to a magnificent banquet, and here she passed the nuptial night. Among other eminent persons who have been lodged at different times in this mansion, may be mentioned Anne de Montmorenci, ambassador from Francis the First, in 1526; Claude Annibau, ambassador from the same monarch, in 1546; and Mary of Guise, Queen-dowager of Scotland, when she visited London, in the reign of Edward the Sixth.

In the reign of Edward the First, the Cathedral, as well as the Bishop's palace and the other ecclesiastical buildings, were surrounded by a wall, the gates of which were always carefully closed at night. Many of the neighbouring thoroughfares, such as Ave-Maria Lane, Pater-Noster Row, Creed Lane, Canon Alley, Holyday Court, and Amen Corner, derive their names from their contiguity to, and their connexion with, the old Cathedral.

Another interesting building connected with old St. Paul's, was the Lollards' Tower, which stood at the west front. It was long used as a prison for heretics, and is said to have witnessed many fearful scenes of suffering and crime. The tale of

Richard Hunne, who was committed a prisoner to the Lollards' Tower in 1514, is one of the darkest in the annals of human misery. This person, who was a merchant-tailor of London, had become involved in a dispute with his rector, who summoned him before the Spiritual Court. Hunne retorted by taking out a writ of premunire against the rector, an act of defiance, which gave such offence to the Roman Catholic clergy, that the formidable charge of heresy was brought against him, and he was thrown into the Lollards' Tower. A few days afterwards his body was found suspended from a hook in the ceiling, life being entirely extinct. It was given out that he had committed suicide. The usual process was commenced against the corpse for heresy, and it was condemned to be burned at Smithfield. But in the meantime suspicions of foul play had gained ground, and a coroner's inquest was appointed to sit on the body. According to Burnet, they "found him hanging so loose, and in a silk girdle, that they clearly perceived he was killed. They also found his neck had been broken, as they judged, with an iron chain, for the skin was all fretted and cut. They saw some streams of blood about his body, besides several other evidences, which made it clear that he had not murdered himself; whereupon they did acquit the dead body, and laid the murder on the officers that had the charge of that prison. By other proofs they found the Bishop's summoner and the bell-ringer guilty of it; and, by the deposition of the summoner

himself, it did appear that the Chancellor and he and the bell-ringer did murder him, and then hung him up." The criminals were defended by the Bishop, Fitzjames; and, although the crime was clearly brought home to Horsey, the Chancellor of the diocese, not only did he escape punishment, but the ashes of Hunne were ignominiously committed to the earth, as if he had been a suicide. The perpetrators of the crime subsequently obtained the King's pardon; who, however, so far interfered on the side of justice, as to obtain the restitution of Hunne's property to his children. "The last person confined here," says Pennant, "was Peter Burchet, of the Temple, who, in 1573, desperately wounded our famous seaman, Sir Richard Hawkins, in the open street, whom he had mistaken for Sir Christopher Hatton. He was committed to this prison, and afterwards removed to the Tower: he there barbarously murdered one of his keepers; was tried, convicted, had his right hand struck off, and then hanged. He was found to be a violent enthusiast, and thought it lawful to kill such who opposed the truth of the Gospel."

It was in St. Paul's, in May 1213, that King John, overawed by the disaffection of his subjects, the secret combination of his barons, and the dreaded approach of the mighty armament with which Philip of France was preparing to invade his dominions, consented to submit himself entirely to the judgment of the Pope, and formally acknowledged the supremacy of the Apostolic See. Here,

« PreviousContinue »