« PreviousContinue »
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. “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.
% 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.
“restoring” and church decorating then than now. The later attempts may have perhaps profited by the follies of their predecessors. In nothing do men so mislead themselves and are misled (especially if they possess no thorough knowledge of the subject) as in architectural questions, points of taste, and antiquarian investigations. To form a judgment upon the professional ability of architects to invent and carry out any great scheme, it is only necessary to ask each what he thinks of the rest, when the differences between schools and parties, and the rivalries between individuals can lead to but one logical conclusion, that all may be perfectly incompetent and dangerous advisers, and that some certainly are so.
If it was desirable at all to go back to the old design of the builders of the Temple Church, it was impossible in most points to err. The pillars and walls must be cleaned, and the wood work renewed. All this was done. What more was added, was simply out of the compound taste of the nineteenth century; the benches and the seats and fittings are no restoration at all. As to the painting of the ceiling, “authorities ” must be expected to contradict each other. Whether right or wrong originally, it is certain that now the paint is dingy and dirty, and in some places gone altogether. It must sooner or later be determined whether the design shall be repainted or painted out. And a future committee of Benchers, no doubt, will decide this in a manner perfectly satisfactory to themselves.
The stained windows at the east end of the church are by Mr. Willement. In proportion to any admiration which they have excited among “the general,” is the injury they have done to the art. And of the multitudes who flocked to see the church, not a few were of course led to suppose that they must be all that windows ought to be, or they would not have been placed there. First, they are ugly ; secondly, they are false in principle; and thirdly, they make the east end of the building gloomy and dark. The large centre window seems to be a reduced copy from one of the well-known windows of a cathedral in France. The figures in the medallions, distorted and gro
tesque, in miserable imitation of old work, are of such a reduced size, that they are not only out of all proportion to the ornament which surrounds them, but the groups themselves are unintelligible. In order to give the windows depth of tone, and save them from a lean and thin effect, it was found necessary after they had been set up, to load them with coats of oil paint on the outside. The oil, as might have been expected, has been recently acted on by the atmosphere, and, cracking off, left the window spotty. This mischief, we presume, has now been met by a repainting, which operation must be repeated whenever the occasion arises. The window at the south-east corner was added a few years since. It was erected to the memory of a very estimable man and excellent lawyer, Frederic Robinson, by some of his
friends and admirers. We wish it had been a worthier specimen of art which had been selected for such a purpose. It is, however, an opaque and spurious specimen of window “painting.” Instead of serving the object of a window, it accomplishes the undesirable purpose of a shutter, and renders the pulpit a gloomy spot, where an extempore preacher might perhaps spout in his obscurity; but where one who wants light by which to read his sermon, must grope miserably after his text. If all the windows in the church were filled in this way, no member of the Inn who resorted thither, could reach his seat or read his book without a lamp of his own.
Far superior in design and colour are the windows in the Round Church, lately presented to the Inn by a member of the Inner Temple, Mr. Winston, and executed by Ward, of Frith Street, Soho. Some of the colours -- the blue and the ruby especially-rival the best specimens of the best periods of glass painting, and the windows are altogether a great advance on modern stained glass-work. These, however, are recent additions to the church, and form no part of the restoration.
With respect to the organ gallery, the architects had only a
1 It is understood that the success of Mr. Winston in producing his colours, arises from his close examination and long study of old glass, which he has submitted to chemical analysis.
choice of difficulties ; but the effect of its present position is not pleasing, there being a dark break in the middle of the north side, where a window was, but is not. To match with this dark shadow thrown into the middle of the building on one side, a very silly, dark window has been placed opposite it to shade the corresponding side; it represents, inter alia, a figure of (we believe) a deformed bencher using a bright bathing towel, and is in a fine London shop transparency style, which is its main feature, though to some it presents the idea very vividly of a second-hand brown holland blind, on which the art of Potichomanie has been unsuccessfully attempted. But the organ is, doubtless, in a better place than that which an æsthetic bencher once proposed for it, viz. :-in a gallery over the east window !!
The raised benches for the Barristers, running along the north and south sides, are simply abominable; and the quasi mediæval carving of ugly and abortional beads, is a sad example of what restorationists will attempt when not checked by common sense and good taste.
The new altar has had to endure much hostile criticism ; but what was to be done? As was properly said at the time, not one of the committee could suggest a better. Again, in the days of old, when books were rare, architects used to paint up against the wall passages of the Prayer-book or of the Bible in the characters then understood by ordinary scholars. This was therefore a capital precedent for the restorers to inscribe on the Temple Church, in letters now perfectly unintelligible, portions of the sacred books, of which about a thousand copies lie before the members of the congregation.
There are yet two points which we will refer to before we leave the topic of this skilful restoration ; the first is, that all the new external stone-work of the north side of the church is crumbling away, and a little bill for new facing a considerable portion of the walls will have to be paid one of these days. The second point is, that a choir room being wanted, it was designed and constructed on the north side (that is, the one looking on to the old churchyard), in a manner which every member of