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ing objects which met the eye. We sat in lofty wooden pew boxes. The pulpit and reading-desk were of the rich and cumbrous beauty, or elaborated ugliness (as tastes may decide), which were once much admired. The tablets and monuments now collected in the gallery of the round tower ornamented the walls, adhered to the pillars, or obscured the windows.
The altar before the restoration was, to the professed and pure Goth of the present time, a masterpiece of monstrosity. It was of dark wainscoting, carved with shields, festoons, and the heads, shoulders, and pinions of cherubim; and garnished with fruit, leaves, pilasters, and entablature. The carving was reputed to be good ; but, being polished and varnished, so received and reflected the light as to prevent our passing an opinion thereon. It was sufficiently elevated to shut out a good portion of the east window. It matched well with the pulpit and reading-desk, which certainly were of the heaviest description both in form and ornament. The former was highly suggestive of most weighty, dull, Dr. Blair-like and orthodox sermons. The vulgar vanity and bragging intrusiveness, pride, and impertinence of the monuments, were undeniable. The organ was raised on a screen at the division between the round church and the nave.
66 This screen was circled (as appeared by the date it bore) in 1682 at the west end of the oblong church, and between that and the round church; it was adorned with ten pilasters of the Corinthian order, also three portals and pediments, and the organ gallery over the central entrance was supported by two fluted columns of the Corinthian order, and adorned with entablature and
compass pediment. The inner columns were large panels on carved frames, with an enrichment of cherubim near the pediment on the south side. The screen extended completely across the church. The central archway was occupied by the organ, the ornamental point of which was carried up nearly to the ceiling
The side archways were above the screen carefully plastered up, so that their form was rendered almost invisible. The lower parts of these and the central archways were filled with glass doors and windows.” 1
of the nave.
!“ A Few Notes on the Temple Organ;” vidle post, p. 226.
The service was of a superior parish church character, with the exception that two professional ladies, sometimes with and sometimes without bonnets, and two men in decent coats, waistcoats, &c., came forward in the little box gallery in front of the organ at intervals, and sang hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs in quartett, to the members of the two honourable Societies, who stood up, listened, and sat down again edified. The organ was played by Mr. Warne, a clever musician, entirely blind. The instrument had, at the time we are now speaking of, great reputation ; but more historical than real, for to the ears of a modern organist it was wofully defective. It had no pedal organ or pedal board-most important and characteristic parts of the organ. It had about five stops in the swell; but, notwithstanding its defects, it still discoursed most excellent music. The beauty of tone in the pipes which were there, compensated for much which was absent, and the uncritical and confiding audience for the most part was satisfied. We were proud of our church” and 66
our organ," and were content with the service.
But now there arose the spirit of innovation in the Societies. The fittings and decorations of the church were found to be in bad taste-the service inconvenient. A little restoration then beginning to final favour with English ecclesiastics connected with the High Church party–was suggested. There were not a few malcontents when this was proposed. Had we not, said they, the best preachers in London? There was Benson the master, whose silvery tones and eloquent periods were of the highest order, and we had in his absence Theyer Smith-now, alas, numbered with the dead !--whose lectures, though not perhaps much admired by the lawyers' ladies, were still incomparably the best examples of learning, logic, and deep subtle thought, combined with fervent honesty and- outspoken sense, of all which the metropolis could then -peradventure can now -boast. We had an efficient Reader
1 A century prior to Warne's time, John Stanley, famous also as “the blind organ-player,” held the office of organist to the Temple.
and a model clerk, whose antistrophes in the psalms, and whose "amens” after the prayers, were all that could be desired. Why, then, should this wild spirit of innovation have entered our plastered porch, and disturbed our whitewashed walls? Yet enter it did; and a revolution-with some of the good and some of the evil consequences of revolutions—broke out, and set up a new order of things.
The powers and authorities in the Temple, in bending to this spirit, were but following the example which had frequently been set them before by their predecessors, who at intervals had repaired and adorned their church, and remodelled the services as public taste demanded. This is shown by an oft-repeated account taken from the “New View of London,” which, however, extends only to what was done to the church since the middle of the seventeenth century. We do not know of any detail as to its condition prior to the “Fire of London.” That the puritanism of the preceding generations had defaced this beautiful building, and the indifference of their successors had perpetuated the barbarism, is very probable, and would account for the depth of whitewash accumulated on the walls. We read in the “New View of London,” that the church,“having narrowly escaped the flames in 1666, was in 1682 beautified, and the curious wainscot screen set up. The south-west part was, in the year 1695, newly built with stone. In the year 1706 the church was wholly new whitewashed, gilt, and painted within, and the pillars of the round tower wainscoted with a new battlement and buttresses on the south side; and other parts of the outside were well repaired ; also the figures of the Knights Templars were cleaned and painted, and the iron-work enclosing them was painted and gilt with gold. The east end of the church was repaired and beautified in 1707."
The New History of London (1708) describes the church as then being “well pewed, and wainscoted with right wainscot ;” and, in 1737, we are told the exteriors of the north side and east end were again repaired.
In 1811, the church was (what is termed) “ generally repaired.”
In a tract cited in Burge's account of the restoration of the Temple Church, and entitled “Facts and Observations relating to the Temple Church,” after describing those repairs, the hope is expressed
that, by the very complete manner in which it had been repaired, it was restored to the full appearance of that beauty and elegance generally allowed to belong to it.” So differently do different ages judge of “beauty” and propriety, that what this author deemed the height of successful repair, the next denounced as the perfection of perverted ingenuity and stupid presumption. Did the horrid thought ever cross the mind of our last restoration committee, that peradventure their zealous and ingenious efforts might be one day condemned as costly blunders ? We are inclined to think, from internal evidence, that such an idea never overshadowed their happiness.
In 1825, under the direction of Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the Inner Temple, the repair of the south side (externally), and the lower part of the circular portion of “the round,” was commenced. In 1827, this job was completed. Some of the wainscoting round the columns, and some of the monuments which had been stuck to them, were then removed; but the paint and whitewash were left, and the oblong part of the church remained in all the perfection of the eighteenth century adornment.
In 1820, the condition of the church was again reported to be such as to require instant and extensive repair. In April of that year,
the two honourable Societies ordered that the roof and east end should be completely repaired, the interior beautified, repaired, and warmed.” A joint committee was accordingly formed, consisting of the respective treasurers and three masters of each of their benches, for the purpose of carrying into effect that order, and of reporting their recommendations thereon to their two societies,
Sir Robert Smirke now fell ill, and the functions of architect to this restoration committee devolved upon
Mr. Savage, the architect to the Middle Temple. This committee soon recominended the Benchers to take various important steps, viz. :
First, “That the doorway should be repaired, and restored to its original state.” How successfully this has been done, we may in passing remark, is to be seen by any one who will examine the peeled stone and patchy work which the doorway now presents. An experiment seems to have been tried on the stone of the porch, which will not lead to the general adoption of the plan here pursued. Secondly, the committee recommended, “ That the interior of the church, with the tablets, monuments, pavements, &c., be repaired and cleaned ; that the woodwork of the pews, pulpit and screens, fc., should be repaired, cleaned, and re-varnished ; that the Purbeck pillars should be scraped ; that the two side arches leading from the round into the oblong church should be opened ; and that the Benchers should take into consideration the propriety of removing the organ and altar screen, and of refitting these portions of the church more consistently with its character."
The last of these recommendations was the thin end of the wedge. Now the committee began to investigate closely the condition of the church; which, indeed, they ought to have done before they had made their report. Like other people who begin to do a " little repairing,” the committee found much more which they could well enter on, than they had at first contemplated or recommended.
The flooring and lower underwork generally of the pews, pulpit, and desk, it was now said, were not sound, and the ground was damp and full of bad smells. The pews would be an expensive thing to repair in panel. Could not better seats be inserted, and more “consistent” pulpit and desk? The flooring, too, was a foot higher than the original pavement. Accordingly, the altar screen and railing having been condemned, the pews were next removed, and now it also became needful to take away the wainscoting round the church; and this again invited the repair of the stonework of the walls. And next the organ-loft, standing on the screen aforesaid, was found to be very unsightly, and in a highly dangerous condition, and down all this had to come. And next came terrible revelations as to