In the burial-ground that surrounds the church of St. Nicholas, are several monumental inscriptions, all of them posterior to the commencement of the reign of Napoleon, and all, with one single exception, commemorative of females. The epitaphs are much in the same tone as would be found in an English church-yard. The greater part, however, of the tomb-stones, are uninscribed. They are stone coffins above-ground, sculptured with plain crosses, or, where they have been raised to ecclesiastics, with an addition of some portion of the sacerdotal dress.
[Illustration: Tower and Spire of St. Peter’s Church, at Caen]
Among the churches of comparatively modern erection, St. Peter deserves most attention. From every part of the town and neighborhood, its lofty spire, towering above the surrounding buildings, forces itself upon your view. It is not easy to carry accurate ideas of height in the memory; but, as far as recollection will serve me, I should say that its elevation is hardly inferior to that of the spire of Salisbury cathedral. I have no hesitation in adding, that the proportions of the tower and spire of the church at Caen, are more pleasing. Elegance, lightness, and symmetry, are the general characters of the whole, though the spire has peculiar characters of its own.—The tower, though built a century later than that of Salisbury, is so much less ornamented, that it might be mistaken for an earlier example of the pointed style. The lowest story is occupied wholly by a portal: the second division is surrounded by pointed arches, beneath crocketed gables: the third is filled by four lancet arches, supported by reeded pillars, so lofty, that they occupy nearly two-thirds of the entire height of the tower. The flanking arches are blanks: the two middle ones are pierced into windows, divided by a central mullion. The balustrade at the top of the tower is of a varied pattern, each side exhibiting a different tracery. Eight crocketed pinnacles are added to the spire, which is octangular, and has a row of crockets at each angle. From the base to the summit it is encircled, at regular distances, with broad bands of stone-work, disposed like scales; and, alternating with the bands, are perforations in the form of cinquefoils, quatrefoils, and trefoils, diminishing as the spire rises, but so disposed, that the light is seen distinctly through them. The effect of these perforations was novel and very pleasing.
[Illustration: Sculpture upon a Capital in St. Peter’s Church at Caen]
This tower and spire were built in the year 1308, under the directions of Nicolle L’Anglois, a burgher of Caen, and treasurer of the church.—How far we are at liberty to infer from his name, as Ducarel does, that he was an Englishman, may admit of some doubt. He was buried here; and De Bourgueville has preserved his epitaph, which recounts among his other merits, that
“Et par luy, et par sa devise
Fut la tour en sa voye mise
D’estre faicte si noblement.”—