Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1.

We, East Angles, are accustomed to admire the remains of Norman architecture, which, in our counties, are perhaps more numerous and singular than in any other tract in England.  The noble castle of Blanchefleur still honors our provincial metropolis, and although devouring eld hath impaired her charms and converted her into a very dusky beauty, the fretted walls still possess an air of antique magnificence which we seek in vain when we contemplate the towers of Julius or the frowning dungeons of Gundulph.  Our cathedral retains the pristine character which was given to the edifice, when the Norman prelate abandoned the seat of the Saxon bishop, and commanded the Saxon clerks to migrate into the city protected or inclosed by the garrison of his cognate conquerors.  Even our villages abound with these monuments.  The humbler, though not less sacred structures in which the voice of prayer and praise has been heard during so many generations, equally bear witness to Norman art, and, I may say, to Norman piety; and when we enter the sheltered porch, we behold the fantastic sculpture and varied foliage, encircling the arch which arose when our land was ruled by the Norman dynasty.

Comparatively speaking, Rouen is barren indeed of such relics.  Its military antiquities are swept away; and the only specimens of early ecclesiastical architecture are found in the churches of St. Paul and St. Gervais, both of them, in themselves, unimportant buildings, and both so disfigured by subsequent alterations, that they might easily escape the notice of any but an experienced eye.  Of these, the first is situated by the side of the road to Paris, under Mont Ste. Catherine, yet, still upon an eminence, beneath which are some mineral springs, that were long famous for their medicinal qualities, but have of late years been abandoned, and the spa-drinkers now resort to others in the quarter of the town called de la Marequerie.  Both the one and the other are highly ferruginous, but the latter most strongly impregnated with iron.

The chancel is the only ancient part of the present church of St. Paul’s, and even this must be comparatively modern, if any confidence may be placed in the current tradition, that the building, in its original state, was a temple of Adonis or of Venus, to both which divinities the early inhabitants of Rouen are reported to have paid peculiar homage.  They were worshipped in vice and impurity[63]; nor were the votaries deterred by the evil spirits who haunted the immediate vicinity of the temple, and who gave rise to so fetid and infectious a vapor, that it often proved fatal!  This very remark seems to indicate the scite of the church of St. Paul, with its neighboring sulphureous waters.  St. Romain demolished the temple, and dispersed the sinners.  Farin, in his History of Rouen[64], says, that the church was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt by the Norman Dukes, to some of whom, the chancel, which

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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