Page images

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 1840, 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, 8c., 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

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

the state of the pillars and the roofs. The six columns in the circular part of the church “were found so injured, that it was indispensable that new columns should be supplied.” The roof of the “round” was so bad, that it ought really to be entirely renewed. This was far cheaper than repairing, it was alleged. “Other extensive repairs," says a member of the committee,

were required for the exterior, as well as for the interior, of the two churches, the details of which it is unnecessary to give.The Societies were thus “unavoidably engaged” to do more than they had anticipated. In vulgar phrase, they were “in for it;” but we believe they never knew to what extent till the last bill was paid. To them, however, a poetical bencher in consolation recited, and in print repeated

“Give all thou canst ; high heaven rejects the lore

Of nicely calculated less or more." And, indeed, there is every reason to believe that high heaven has not rejected the societies “lore” on the ground of their nice calculations or economical estimates. One of the most active of the committee in judiciously laying out the money which belonged to the Societies, and which we shall presently count up for our readers’ instruction, was the late Mr. Burge, who, afterwards becoming insolvent under circumstances which nothing can extenuate, terminated his career in jail.

Encaustic paving of the proper pattern had now to be laid down, and to Mr. Minton was accorded the pleasing and profitable duty of making and laying the tiles.

From the floor it is an easy transition to the ceiling. Indications of colour there discovered under the wash, suggested the repainting thereof. 6. There could be no doubt but that the Temple Church had been richly decorated.” Mr. Willement was consulted on this, and on the question of stained glass for the windows. He quite approved of painting both roof and windows.

Mr. Savage, the second architect consulted on this magnum opus (in 1841), soon seceded; and the frequent change of professional men being always considered highly conducive to carrying



out consistent and economical plans, it was arranged that two new architects (Sydney Smirke and Decimus Burton) should be appointed.

The monuments had now to be cleaned and housed, and a receptacle was found for them in the interior of the round. A new chapel for the organ was to be constructed; a new patent apparatus for warming the church had to be invented, which, by the by, also nearly burnt down the whole building a few years since. And we may here say, once for all, that we are convinced that these various schemes were carried out in a princely spirit, perfectly regardless of expense. And although, what the last restorers are so proud of having done may, as we have suggested, be superseded by the work of a younger and more enlightened community, yet we think that it may be conceded, that if he who in 1185 consecrated the church-we refer to Heraclius, the patriarch of Jerusalem—had seen the round building when plastered, paved, and wainscoted, by order of the benchers of the 17th and 18th centuries, and if he could again be allowed to look in at the present day, he would (if he recognized the building at all) admit that the last restoration left it in a state not only more admirable than the former one, but also with some considerable resemblance to the round church he officiated in whilst on his crusading canvass at the court of Henry II.

It would be unfair to lay heavily at the door of the restoring committee many charges of bad taste or blunders, committed in their great effort to make the church the best example of modern architects' restorations. It was nearly twenty years ago that they entered upon their scheme. There was less experience in

1 It was generally reported that the particular mode hit upon for drying the firewood caused the danger. It was heaped up, most ingeniously, on the top of the furnace and round the apparatus, and so caught fire.

2 This Heraclius had a most unpatriarchial mode of expressing himself, and he and the king, whom he was bullying to join in the Crusades, were wont to have slanging matches. This is the conclusion of one of the conversations in which the religious had pointed out to the royal man how little the people cared for him, and how much for his “goodys temporall.” “. Thou art worse than any Sarasyn, and thy people followeth pray [prey), and not a man.' But the king kepte his pacience, and said, 'I may not wend out of my lande, for myns owne sonnes wyll aryse agayne me whan I were absent. No wonder, said the patryarke, for of the deuyll they come, and to the deuyll they shall.'”-Pab. Chron., p. 280, edit. 1811.

« PreviousContinue »