Page images
PDF
EPUB

Fig. 1214.

WARMINGTON.

[ocr errors]

A chronological sketch of the gradual develupment of the spire in Germany, has

lately been attempted by W. H. Brewer, in
the Builder for 1865,
to which we can here
only refer the reader,
as well as for its
very peculiar illus-
trations.

In England, dur-
ing the Norman pe-
riod the west end of
the larger churches
sometimes had
towers terminating
the aisles. Another
tower rose from the
intersection of the

cruss (the smaller ca

churches had but
this one), while it
was only of suffi.
cient elevation to
break the long line
of nave, choir, and

$
transepts, all of equal o
height. The roofs

of the towers were CON

of but little higher pitch than the rest. The WW2

nearest approach to spires, in form if not in height, were found in the pinnacles surmounting the angle buttresses in the larger churches. During the early English period, towers rise to a greater elevation, and are

very generally finished with a spire, some. 90ft. times of great height. The most frequent Fig. 1213. spire is that called a brooch when it does not

rise from within parapets, but is carried up on four of its sides from the top of the square tower, the diagonal faces resting on squinches, or arches thrown across the corners within, and finished on the outside in a slope, as shown in fig. 1214. of Warmington Church, Northamptonshire, which has been published in detail by W. Caveler. A great many spires consisted of wooden frames, covered with lead or with shingles; and these in general, as well as stone spires in a few instances, were connected with the tower in a different way; the spire itself being at first only four-sided, and the angles being canted off a little above the base, to form the octagon. The early English spire, completed in 1222, to Old St. Paul's Cathedral was the highest in Europe, being 500 feet high, according to Slow, or 489 feet as calculated by Mr. E. B. Ferrey.

In the decorated period, Heckington Church, Lincolnshire, one of the most beautiful and perfect models in the kingdom shows, says Rickman, “ a very lofty tower and spire situated at the west end (fig. 1215.), the four pinnacles which crown the tower are large and pentagonal. This unusual shape has, at less cost, an effect fully equal to an octagon, and the pinnacles are without crockets, but have rich finials; the spire is plain, with three tiers of windows on the alternate sides. The whole arrangement of this steeple is peculiarly calculated for effect át a distance." The details of this work are given in Bowman and Crowther's useful publication. The elaborately arranged octagon at Ely Cathe. dral, the design of Alan de Walsingham, is of this period. The work entitled Churches of the Archdeaconry of Northamptonshire, 1849, illustrates in small pictorial views several of the fine lofty west towers and spires of this and the succeeding period, erected in that locality.

The perpendicular period is distinguished by the splendour and loftiness of its towers and spires. That at Salisbury, for example, rises to the height of about 387 feet. That at Norwich, rebuilt soon after 1361, is 318 feet high. St. Michael's spire, at Coventry, built 1373-95, is the most beautiful one in the kingdom ; it does not rise, like those at Salisbury and Norwich, from the centre of a transeptal church, but from the ground; and its fiying buttresses and extremely taper form, give it great advantage over every spire which rises from within battlements. The broach is not unfrequent in this style, and examples are chiefly to be found in Northamptonshire. Of other remarkable spires of

10

20

Fig. 1212.

ST. PETER'S AT CAEX.

liis style we should name Whittlesea, in Cambridgeshire (fig. 1216 ): Rushdon, in Northamptonshire ; the two spires of St. Mary and St. Alkmund, at Shrewsbury; ! aughton-en-le-Morthen, in Yorkshire; Chester-le-Street, in Durham ; and finally, Louth, in Lincolnshire, of which latter structure the building accounts are given in the Archeologie, vol. x., showing its completion between 1501 and 1518.

The spire of the tower of St. Nicholas Church, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from its pece. liarity of standing on arched ribs, holds a high place in the series; it is the type of which there are various imitations. The best known are St. Giles's, at Edinburgh ; the charet at Linlithgow; the college tower at Aberdeen, and its modern imitation by Sir C. Wren at St. Dunstan's-in-the-East Church, in London. Of another class of towers of this period, that of Fotheringay Church is the type. The ordinary square tower is surmounted by as os tagonal lantern of much smaller dimensions, connected with the tower, in composition,

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

by flying buttresses from the bases of the angle pinnacles. The tower of All Saints' Church, at Derby, bas deservedly a very high reputation (fig. 1217.). It is late in the style; as is also the fine detached campanile at Evesham. The tower of St. Peter Mancroft, at Norwich, is a good specimen of flint building with stone panels. The most remarkable of the perpendicular towers, both in itself and for its influence in the ecclesiastii al architecture of a large district, is that of Gloucester, erected about 1455. This noble tower rises above 200 feet from the ground and about 100 feet above the roof of the choir. It is surmounted by a crenellated parapet flanked by four turret-like pinnacles, all of delicate open work, to the very finials, of a light and graceful character almost beyond the natural capacity of stonework. Among the more important imitations of it are Si. John's, at Glastonbury; St. Stephen's, at Bristol ; St. Mary, at Taunton; and that at North Petherton; the two last are said to have been designed by the same architect.

Beacons were sometimes added to towers; such is the lantern of All Saints' Pavement, at York, which is an octagon erected upon the tower. Hadleigh Church, in Essex, bas a beacon in an iron framework placed on the top of an angle turret.

By far the finest west front, comprising two towers of the perpendicular period, is that of Beverley Minster. What the west front of York is to the decorated style, this is to the perpendicular, with the addition, that in this fiont nothing but one style is seen—all is harmonious. (See frontispiece, fig. 1218.) Each of the towers has four large and eight

small pinnacles, and a very beautiful battlement. The whole front is panelled, and the buttresses, which have a very bold projection, are ornamented with various tiers of nichework of excellent composition and most delicate execution. We may here incidentally notice that the east front is fine, but mixed with early English, which style extends to the transepts, while the nave and aisles are decorated, terminating with perpendicular, and finished with the west façade above noticed.

In concluding this portion, we cannot withhold naming the most elaborate work on the subject of this section, published from drawings made by C. Wickes, in S vols. fol. 1853– 59. Its chief drawback is that the illustrations are pictorial and not geometric, which might have been obviated by a plan and section to each. Our sketch of the varieties of towers and spires will be found filled up, in Rev. G. A. Poole's History of Ecclesiastical Architecture.

In Ireland, the Dominican Abbey, commonly called the Black Abbey, at Kilkenny, had a tower placed on the south of the altar in a most singular way. At the Franciscan Church, the tower was placed at the east end of the nave, with a chancel at the end; the tower was much narrower than the nave, but exactly the width of the lofty arch support. ing it, so that now the roof has gone, the construction appears extremely bold and hazardous. This building was one of a numerous class. Except the round towers, which ceased to be built when the English went to Ireland, and the low Cistercian towers, the Irish churches up to that period were almost towerless. In a few instances other towers could be named, as the fine massive one of the Trinitarian Friary, at Adare ; but suddenly, in the 15th century, it became the practice to build to the Franciscan and Dominican structures these lofty and slender additions. The nave was shut out from the choir by two transverse walls placed close together and pierced each with a narrow arch ; above them rose the slender tower, standing as it were on the apex of the gables, instead of spreading over the width of the nave. They were finished with a peculiar battlemented parapet. There is no instance of two western towers to the mediæval churches in Ireland ; and a mediæval spire is not known to exist in that country.

In Scotland, the spires are chiefly of the middle pointed period, but not erected until about the middle of the 15th century. Short octagonal stone spires forin a very common termination to towers of late date; they generally carry small pedimental headed 1 ghts ei'her on all or on the cardinal faces, and are for the most part plain, though, as at Corstorphine, at Aberdeen, and at Crail, in Fifesbire, they are banded by two or three embattled strings or coronæ into stages. Sometimes, as at the two former places, there are small pinnacles at the angles; while at Corstorphine, and St. Andrew's at Aberdeen, a lumpish semi-pyramidal abutment on the angles is extremely suggestive of the brouch.

The construction of the tower and spire is of such importance as to require much attention. A tower built for the reception of bells intended to be rung, should have a solid foundation, not merely four arches nearly as wide as the tower itself, leaving four piers not much bigger than the thickness of the wall which they support. Bells require a tower to themselves, for it is known that they will spoil the best clock ever fixed. In Sir C. Wren's towers, and others built by bis imitators, the substance of the walls was concentrated at the angles, leaving a moderate sized arch on each side, and only the same internal area as would exist in the case of four straight walls. This is sound construction, and is well displayed in the tower of Antwerp Cathedral. Such an arrangement also admits of a staircase being carried up in the substance of the wall, without diminishing strength, besides, a desirable object in some large towers, doing away with the necessity for but. tresses. The tower, if thus carried up its whole height, will be more fit to support an octangular or circular spire or lantern. The mean internal area should be half the external area, and then, if well built and of good materials, the tower will safely bear as many bells as can be hung on one level.

There should be an offset to support the ringing floor and the bell floor, so that no timber be run into the wall to act as battering rams. Neither should a bell be hung on cross beams resting on the walls, but always in a trussed cage. As regards sound, one level of bells is considered better than two tiers. It is wonderful that sume of the early brick or stone cones or pyramids (shown in fig. 1211.) have stood, for they were evidently built in level but gathering courses, evev in the 17th century, around a light frame of timber, which was either removed or left to decay. As soon as the principle of diminution upward was acknowledged, two systı ms of construction presented themselves; the first is direct carriage of the upper storey from the basement floor; the other is a false-bearing ; the weight being, in either case, thrown as much as possible upon the angles, even to the extent upon each floor of an opening in the centre of each side, which is the weakest part of a blank tower. In the first case there are two varieties, one being the pyramidal roof square on plan ; the other being the pyramidal roof octagonal on plan. The latter, whether completed externally as a broach or otherwise, requires to be carried as low down the tower for support as possible ; and in some cases, as at St. Léonard, in France, the octagon is more judiciously placed with four angles over the centres of the sides of the

tower, than with four faces over the corners of the tower, which then require to be loaded by pinnacles. These are set diagonally more advantageously than when square with the tower, because they thus have a larger base. The greater height given in the middle of the 12th century to the spire rendered such precaution inevitable; and at the same time it became evident that if the spire were to be no longer square on plan, it must not seem to rise abruptly out of a square.

Octagonal steeples, with octagonal spires not built through, but resting upon them, seene to be considered now as dangerous experiments in construction. Yet one at Guebwiller, in France, is a central steeple of four stages, including the pendentives. At Schelestadt is another of the same kind. This plan does not seem to have been in favour after the commencement of the 13th century.

When the French architects determined to trust their octagonal spires to the upper storeys of their steeples, they seem to have been careless about allowing the pendentives to approach points of weakness. The student will gather a good lesson on this point from the section of the steeple at the Abbaye de la Trinité, at Vendôme, given in Viollet le Duc's Dictionnaire. In the steeple of the cathedral at Chartres, the pendentives of the octagon sit upon the four pinnacles, which are thus each obliged to take a part of the weight of the spire; the other part being thrown upon the four faces of the octagonal drum, which are weighted by heavy gables. At the bottom the spire is 31.inthick, and at top 11f in, in a length of 156 ft. 8 in., built of hard Berchère stone. The roofs of the pinnacles are 19 in. thick. It is to be noticed that the danger of a fall, which was so imminent as to cause the destruction of the steeple at St. Denis, is attributed in great part to the increase of weight given to it during a course of restoration, by using the stone of St. Pierre instead of that of Vergelé. Some French spires have a very curious effect, due to the presence of a simulated hip in the centre of their sides for the whole or part of the height: but still more extraordinary were the slits in that of St. Denis, and the slit with two transoms in that of St. Nicaise, at Reims.

The spire of the church at Langrune, near the sea-coast, north of Caen, in Normandy, has at its base in the interior, a sort of buttress of thin stone resting on the thicker walls of the tower, which runs up for a great height to each of the angles and sides of the spire. They are pierced so as to afford a free passage all round at the base of the spire; and may have been provided to assist in strengthening it on account of its exposed position. It has been drawn by Rev. J. L. Petit in his Architectural Studies.

It will be found that the stone spires of the 12th century were high in regard to the rest of the steeple. The proportions at St. Denis were 384 to 35; those at Chartres are 60 to 42 ; but in time these proportions were altered so much that the spires of St. Nicaise at Reims (end of 13th century), and those of the front of the cathedral in that city, are scarcely half the height of the tower instead of equal or superior to it. Murphy, in his account of the Batalha, remarks that no settled proportion seems to have been observed in the dimensions in general; they varied from four times the width of the base to eight times.

As regards the jointing up the stones of which spires are composed, their security seems to be wholly the result of an accurate working of the beds and vertical joints, and the adhesion of naturally good and properly applied mortar. In modern work it is questionable whether such aids as dowelling and crainping should be altogether dispensed with. Iron must not be used, for reasons given in an earlier portion of this work. One method used at present to steady and tie in the spire, is that of the insertion of an intermediate stage or floor of timber framing. Sir C. Wren, when rebuilding the upper portion of the (former) spire of Chichester Cathedral which had been forced out of the upright, placed two intermediate stages connected with a pendent beam of timber about 80 feet in length attached to the finial stone; each stage was about 3 inches less in diameter than the spire at their levels; these restored the spire if it departed from the upright. A similar pendulum, with two stages, to act in like manner, has been introduced by Gibbs in his spire of St. Martir's in the Fields, London. Iron rods have of later years been used to effect this purpose.

When the beds of the stones are horizontal, one course of binders secured with dovetailed dowels will perhaps be enough in the height; but when the beds are inclined, two or three of these courses in its height would be an effectual means of preventing its spread. It has been considered that a spire is stronger when the beds are set at right angles to the face, but if not well set, water gets in, and sudden frosts do much injury. It is probable, however, that a large number of steeples would, were examination possible, be found to have been well chained with timber or with metal The former material appears to have been employed in the church at Châteauneuf (Sâone et Loire).

The spire, built cir. 1315, of St. Aldate's Church, Oxford, had to be taken down in 1865. The tower is about 56 feet high ; the spire, about the same height to the weathercock, was for 10 feet down from it of solid stone, similarly to that shown in fig. 1213. The cause of its failure was that a 4-inch iron bar coupled at the angles and inserted in

[ocr errors]

the first course of stone 7 inches thick at the base of the spire, had rusted, in some place, entirely through, bursting the stone inside and out. The angle pinnacles alone sustained the spire for many years.

Nearly all the spires of Normandy are said to have been executed in thin slabs of stone ; they are all about 7 inches thick at the bottom, and about 4 inches thick at the top, and are almost all executed in the Creuilly stone. In Caen, especially, that stone was employed in the steeples, though it had to be brought about 12 or 14 miles. The joints are (probably) set at right angles to the face of the stone. The spire at Batalha is about 7 inches thick, independent of the carved work, though almost a fourth part of its superficies is perforated : its stones are said to be keyed together by means of dovetailed pieces of pine wood (Murphy). The slender stone ribs of the octagonal spire of Freiburg Cathedral are girded together at intervals of about 15 feet by means of double horizontal ribs or bands of limestone ; in the middle of each of these bands an iron cramp is inserted, so that one half of the thickness of the metal is fixed in the under course of the stone-work, and the other half in the upper course, in order to prevent all thrust. The space between the rib and the horizontal bands is filled up with perforated tracery, so that the appearance of great lightness, united with great boldness, is imparted to the whole. Plate XI. of Moller's work shows a careful representation of the joints, explaining in what manner the stones are connected together, both in the principal members and the ornamental parts. The spires of Strasburg and Constance Cathedrals, and that of St. Stephen's Church at Vienna, present other examples of open work spires. The thickness of the decorated spire to the staircase in the north tower of the west front of Peterborough Cathedral, is about 11 inches at 2 feet above the wall of the tower, where the octagon commences, and is about 10 feet diameter (shown in Robson, Masons' Guide). The methods adopted of strengthening Salisbury spire and tower, are related by Price in his work published in 1750, who states that it is 400 feet high from the pavement to the extri-me top, but to the top of the capstone or ball only 387 feet as previously noticed. It is only 9 inches thick at the bottom, diminishing to 7 inches.

The outline of a tower in elevation should be a parabolic curve, for strength as well as appearance, as it will not then present a top-heavy appearance. The difficulty in designing a tower and spire in the Roman or Italian style is to prevent a telescopic effect; and in the mediæval style the appearance of an extinguisher is too often obtained. The entasis to the spire, and due diminution of the tower (though the former is usually held not to have existed, some spires being formed of two and even three lines at different angles), are desirable both for appearance and strength. They are common features in Essex and Middlesex, and the absence of them may be noticed by any one going from Essex into Suffolk, the round towers in which county have the entasis, but not those of later date. The tower of All Saints' Church, Colchester, possesses it, and diminishes from 21 feet to 19 feet, having internally an offset at each floor and at the roof, so that no timbers run into the walls.

A mathematical method of setting out the entasis for a spire was furnished by Mr. Thomas Turner, of Hampstead, to the Builder for 1848, through the late Professor Cockerell, R.A. But as he states that the ordinates may be obtained very nearly true by taking a thin lath and bending it to the extent required, we do not consider it necessary here to do more than to reter to the paper. In the reconstruction of the spire to St. Stephen's Church, at l'ienna, an iron framework was introduced to support the light stone ribs, until near to the summit, which was made wholly of iron.

The iron spires at Rouen, Bruxelles, and Auxerre, are the only three we have noted.

CHAP. IV.

MEDIÆVAL PROPORTION.

SECT. I.

EFFECT OR USE OF NUMBERS.

The introduction into this work of the investigation of the principles of proportion, as propounded by the late E. Cresy, renders it necessary that some preliminary details should be considered, before the student passes on to those pages. These details will consist of the result of the use of numbers, as given by the late Mr. Gwilt and appended to the previous editions, and of the enquiry by modern investigators into the use of the triangle and of the square during the mediæ val period. The subject is interesting, and a verv enticing

« PreviousContinue »