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.

The lateral door-ways are of a different style of architecture, and, though obtusely pointed, are supposed to be of the eleventh century:  a plain and almost Roman circular arch surmounts the southern one.  Over each of the entrances is a curious bas-relief:  in the centre is displayed the genealogical tree of Christ; the southern contains the Virgin Mary surrounded by a number of saints; the northern one, the most remarkable[75] of all, affords a representation of the feast given by Herod, which ended in the martyrdom of the Baptist.  Salome, daughter of Herodias, plays, as she ought to do, the principal character.  The group is of good sculpture, and curiously illustrative of the costumes and manners of the times.  Salome is seen dancing in an attitude, which perchance was often assumed by the tombesteres of the elder day; and her position affords a graphical comment upon the Anglo-Saxon version of the text, in which it is said that she “tumbled”, before King Herod.  The bands or pilasters (if we may so call them) which ornament the jambs of the door-ways, are crowned with graceful foliage in a very pure style; and the pedestals of the lateral pillars are boldly underworked.

On the northern side of the cathedral is situated the cloister-court.  Only a few arches of the cloister now remain; and it appears, at least on the eastern side, to have consisted of a double aisle.  Here we view the most ancient portion of the tower of Saint Romain.—­There is a peculiarity in the position of the towers of this cathedral, which I have not observed elsewhere.  They flank the body of the church, so as to leave three sides free; and hence the spread taken by the front of the edifice, when the breadth of the towers is added to the breadth of the nave and aisles.  The circular windows of the tower which look in the court, are perhaps to be referred to the eleventh century; and a smaller tower affixed against the south side, containing a stair-case and covered by a lofty pyramidical stone roof, composed of flags cut in the shape of shingles, may also be of the same aera.  The others, of the more ancient windows, are in the early pointed style; and the portion from the gallery upwards is comparatively modern; having been added in 1477.  The roof, I suppose, is of the sixteenth century.

The southern tower is a fine specimen of the pointed architecture in its greatest state of luxuriant perfection, enriched on every side with pinnacles and statues.  It terminates in a beautiful octagonal crown of open stone-work.—­Legendary tales are connected with both the towers:  the oldest borrows its name from St. Romain, by whom chroniclers tell us that it was built; the other is called the Tour de Beurre, from a tradition, that the chief part of the money required for its erection was derived from offerings given by the pious or the dainty, as the purchase for an indulgence granted by Pope Innocent VIIIth, who, for a reasonable consideration, allowed the contributors to feed upon butter and milk during Lent, instead of confining themselves, as before, to oil and lard.—­The archbishop, Georges d’Amboise, consecrated this tower, of which the foundation was laid in 1485; and he had the satisfaction of living to see it finished, in 1507, after twenty-two years had been employed in the building.

Project Gutenberg
Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook