Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1.
are to understand that the wretched, grisly, painted, wooden figures of the three Maries, and other holy women and holy men, assembled round a disgusting representation of the dead Saviour, have their prototype in Judea, I can only add I am sorry for it:  for my own part, putting aside all question of the propriety or effect of symbolical worship, and meaning nothing offensive to the Romish faith, I must be allowed to say that most assuredly I can conceive nothing less qualified to excite feelings of devotion, or more certain to awaken contempt and loathing, than the images of this description, the tinselled virgins, and the wretched daubs, nick-named paintings, which abound in the churches of Picardy and Normandy, the only catholic provinces which I have yet visited; so that, if the taste of the inhabitants is to be estimated by the decoration of the religious buildings, this faculty must be rated very low indeed.  The exterior of the church is as richly ornamented as the inside; and not a buttress, arch, or canopy is without the remains of crumbled carving, worn by time, or disfigured by the ruder hand of calvinistic or revolutionary violence.  Tradition refers the erection of this edifice to the English.  From the certainty with which a date may be assigned to almost every part, it is very interesting to the lover of architecture.  The Lady-Chapel is also perhaps one of the last specimens of Gothic art, but still very pure, except in some of the smaller ornaments, such, as the niches in the tabernacles, which end in escalop shells.

[Illustration:  Font in the Church of St. Remi, at Dieppe]

The other church is dedicated to St. Remi, and is a building of the XVIIth century; though, judging from some of its pillars, it would be pronounced considerably more ancient.  Those of the transept and of the central tower are lofty and clustered, and of extraordinary thickness; the rest are circular and plain, and not very unlike the columns of our earliest Norman or Saxon churches, though of greater proportionate altitude.  The capitals of those in the choir are singularly capricious, with figures, scrolls, &c.; but it is the capriciousness of the gothic verging into Grecian, not of the Norman.  On the pendants of the nave are painted various ornaments, each accompanied by a mitre.  The eastern has only a mitre and cross, with the date 1669; the western the same, with 1666; denoting the aera of the edifice, which was scarcely finished, when a bomb, in 1694, destroyed the roof of the choir, and this remains to the present hour incomplete.  The most remarkable object in the church is a benitier of coarse red granite, on whose basin is an inscription, to me illegible.  The annexed sketches will give you some idea of it: 

[Illustration:  Sketch of inscription]

In the letters one looks naturally for a date:  the figures that alternate with them are probably mitres, and, like those on the roof, indicate the supreme jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Rouen in the place.

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