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Of the Chapel and Tomb erected by Waynflete at Winchester, with a further Account of his Family.
HE fashion of placing images on tombs standing in small chapels or sepulchres in churches, is said to have been invented or introduced into England by an abbot of Evesham, called Thomas of Marlebergh, who died in 1236; having provided in his lifetime a mausoleum, with the figures of two of his predecessors, who were interred in it; and his own cut in marble, to be laid over his body after his decease. His example had met with many imitators, as well among the laity as clergy. The large sums which they lavished on what they could not enjoy, contributed to keep alive the arts of sculpture and design. The painter, the statuary, and the architect, with
a multitude of workmen in divers branches employed to raise or decorate the fabric and monument, found a maintenance from their devotion, their vanity, or desire of surviving the grave, if but in effigy. Wykeham and Beaufort, Fastolf and Bekyngton, with various royal, noble, and eminent persons, had, by preparing their own tombs, rendered the usage familiar; and Waynfletc, if we may conjecture from the statue, which represents him of a middle age, began his soon after he became a bishop.
The Episcopal Register of Bekyngton supplies us with a curious account of his tomb in the cathedral of Wells; containing, besides local history, a ceremonial, which perhaps was observed, with some variations, by Waynflete and other prelates who have erected similar monuments; of which kind many are yet extant in our churches. It informs us, that he constructed a chapel close to the presbytery, in honour of the Virgin Mary, and of the glorious martyr St. Thomas (à Becket); that he consecrated and dedicated it in person, on the 13th of
b Registr. Bath et Wells, ad ann. 1451. "Sepulchrum suum "infra capellam supradictam subtus quasi imagines que supra sunt "Vite et Mortis situatum."
January 1451, about five in the morning, and afterwards performed at the altar, in a solemn manner, the mass De Beata Virgine; that on the 15th at the same hour, in the pontificals of his consecration-day, in which too, says the entry, he will be buried, he consecrated with great devotion his sepulchre in the chapel, and then celebrated at the altar, in the same attire, the mass De requiem for the souls of bishops, of his parents, and of all the faithful defunct; in the presence of the dean, of several canons, and of a great congregation.
The sepulchre of Wykeham in the cathedral of Winchester is inclosed in a chapel of the Virgin Mary; that of Beaufort in a chapel of the Salutation, as may be inferred from his will; and that of Waynflete in one dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. The open sides of all these chapels afforded a view of the priest officiating at the altar within, while the people were kneeling on the step on the outside, or on the area round about them. The two last are opposite each other, on the east side of the traverse wall behind the choir.
The architecture of the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen is of a species which has been
denominated the florid Gothic; and which was, perhaps, originally invented for shrines and structures intended to be raised in churches. Such fabrics, as being of smaller proportions, were fitly distinguished by the exuberance of its decorations, and by the lightness of its fret-work; and standing, like highly finished cabinets, under cover, were calculated at once to display, and to preserve uninjured, the delicacy of its ornaments. The specimens extant in the cathedral at Winchester exhibit its gradual progress from comparative simplicity to its consummation. The chapel of Wykeham is plainer than those of his two successors. These resemble each other; but that of Waynflete is much lighter, and richer in the variegation of its roof, and the profusion of the spire-work; and for the execution of its masonry, we are told, has not been exceeded, if equalled, any where in England. The beauty, genius, and invention discovered in these and many like monuments, should have rescued the names of the artists from oblivion".
• See Warton on Spenser, vol. ii. p. 191, 192.
Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting,
Gale, p. 35.
vol. i. p. 194.