Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.

The noble church[77] is now used as a work-house for the department.  At the revolution it became national property, and it remained unappropriated, till, upon the institution of the Legion of Honor, Napoleon applied it to some purpose connected with that body, by whom it was lately ceded for it present object.  But, if common report may be credited, it is likely soon to revert to its original destination.  The restoration may be easily effected, as the building has sustained but little injury.  A floor has been thrown across the nave and transept, dividing them into two stories; but in other respects they are unaltered, and divine service is still performed in the choir.

A finer specimen of the solid grandeur of Norman architecture is scarcely to be found any where than in the west front of this church.  The corresponding part of the rival abbey of St. Stephen is poor when compared to it; and Jumieges and St. Georges equally fail in the comparison.  In all of these, there is some architectural anomaly:  in the Trinity none, excepting, indeed, the balustrade at the top of the towers; and this is so obviously an addition of modern times, that no one can be misled by it.  This balustrade was erected towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the oval apertures and scrolls seen in Ducarel’s print were introduced.  Anciently the towers were ornamented with very lofty spires.  According to some accounts, these were demolished, because they served as land-marks to the English cruizers, being seen far out at sea; but other accounts state, that the spires were pulled down by Charles, King of Navarre, who was at war with his namesake, Charles Vth, then Dauphin and Regent.  The abbey at that time bore the two-fold character of nunnery and fortress.—­Strangely inconsistent as this union may appear, the fact is undoubted.  Even now a portion of the fosses remains; and the gate-way indicates an approach to a fortified place.  Ancient charters likewise expressly recognize the building in both capacities:  they endow the abbey for the service of God; and they enjoin the inhabitants of the adjacent parishes to keep the fortifications in repair against any assaults of men.  Nay, letters patent, granted by Charles Vth, which fix the salary of the captain of the Fort of the Trinity, at Caen, at one hundred francs per annum, are yet extant.

I shall attempt no description of the west front of this monastery, few continental buildings being better known in England.  The whole remains as it was in the time of Ducarel, except that the arches of entrance are blocked up, and modern windows have been inserted in the door-ways.—­The north side of the church is quite concealed by the cloisters and conventual buildings.  The southern aisle has been plastered and patched, and converted into a range of work-shops, so that its original elevation is wholly obliterated.  But the nave, which rises above, is untouched by innovation.  The clerestory range is filled by a row of semi-circular

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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