The Abbey Church of Tewkesbury

with some Account of the Priory Church of Deerhurst

By H.J.L.J Masse

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013



THE Norman nave bears a close resemblance to that at Gloucester, and has the distinguishing feature of the simple cylindrical columns. These massive piers are found at the Priory Church at Great Malvern, and also at Pershore; but those at Gloucester and Tewkesbury are considerably larger than the others.[1] At Tewkesbury the, nave is particularly impressive from the height of the piers, and from the severely formal character of the arches supported by them. The simplicity of the nave as a whole has led some to ascribe the building of it to a date earlier than that of the nave at Gloucester; but if the received accounts go for anything, the building of the two fabrics was contemporaneous. Pershore, Gloucester, and Tewkesbury are by some considered to have been the production of one master-builder. If this be so, it is a matter of regret that his name has not come down to our time.

At Gloucester and at Tewkesbury many of the stones bear on their faces the interesting devices incised by the Norman masons. These marks are in many cases the same, but there are some found at Gloucester which are not found at Tewkes bury, and vice versâ. One small point may be noticed which may perhaps interest a few, viz., that the same workman set out and worked at the first few courses of the stone work of the staircases, and then was followed by others, possibly less

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The Nave, from the West End
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

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intelligent, but capable of following the indicated plan. A monk named Alfred was the “Master of the Work”, and it would be interesting to know if the stones marked A are marked with his mark.

The nave here was being built in all probability while the great Flambard was busy with Durham (1105-1130), and very soon after he had finished his labours at Twynham or Christ-church, Hants. Gloucester is generally assigned to Serlo, 1089 to 1100, and Norwich was begun in 1096.

Masons' Marks

Above the arches of the nave are small double round-headed openings into a very narrow triforium walk, which is vaulted, as at Gloucester, with a quadrantal arch.

There is another peculiarity, too, here, in that the vaulting of the roof springs from corbels which rest directly on the capitals of the piers. As a result of this the roof looks low and heavy.

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The triforium openings, which are divided by small shafts, similar in character to those in the tower chamber, are 5 feet 6 inches high and 4 feet 10 inches wide. The passage is 26 inches wide and 6½ to 7 feet high.

The two western bays of the triforium are not alike. On the north the openings correspond to those in the other bays, and are not contracted to correspond with the narrowed arch below; whereas on the south side they are so contracted. By this means the square angle of the western pier was continued to the roof. On the north side the western pier ends abruptly at the capital of the respond.

The clerestory windows are partly concealed by the vaulting. Of course the original windows were much smaller, and were removed and the space enlarged when the re-roofing was done in the fourteenth century.

The Roof.- Originally, no doubt, as at Peterborough, where it remains, the inner roof was a flat panelled ceiling of wood, supported by a moulded framing. Whether the wooden roof decayed or was destroyed by fire, it was found necessary in the early part of the fourteenth century to re-roof the nave, and the present vaulting was then constructed. Beautiful though it is architecturally, it has the effect of dwarfing the nave, as it springs directly from the tops of the piers in the nave. In character it is a simple pointed vaulting, and the ribs at their many points of intersection are lavishly decorated with bosses.

Originally the vaulting was painted and gilded, but owing to the idiosyncrasies of those who fancied they were having things done “decently and in order”, it was colour-washed in the early part of this century. The present scheme of colour decoration was carried out by Mr. T. Gambier Parry. Its chief merit is that it throws out the bosses in very strong relief. The bosses can be studied with an opera-glass, but it is less fatiguing to examine them with the help of a pocket mirror. There is a tradition that the bosses were carved by a monk who was not held in much esteem by his companions, and was a butt for their gibes and witticisms. Whether this was so or not, he knew how to carve rudely and effectively in stone, and long may his work remain with us. They represent in a highly pictorial manner the life of our Lord. Beginning at the west end, the central bosses depict: (1) The Nativity. (2) The

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Shepherds rendering homage. (3) The Magi on their journey. (4) The Magi in adoration. (5) The finding of Christ in the Temple. (6) The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (7) The Last Supper,[2] (8) The Betrayal. (9) The Flagellation. (10) The Crucifixion. (ii) The Resurrection. (12) The Ascension. (13) The Day of Pentecost. (14) The Coronation of the Virgin. (15) The Last Judgment.

The other bosses contain angels bearing musical instruments of every known kind, and alternating, more or less regularly,. with angels censing and angels bearing emblems of the Passion.

On the south side : (1) Angels with pipe and tambourine. (2) Angels with cymbals and bagpipes. (3) Angels with hurdy-gurdy and harp. (4) Angels with dulcimer and organ. (5 and 6) Angels censing. (7) St. Matthew and St. John with their emblems, a scroll and an eagle. (8) Angel with a violin; others with emblems of the Passion, i.e., posts, spear, and scourges.

On the north side are to be found: (1) Angel with pipe and tabor; another censing. (2) Angel with harp; another censing. (3) Angels with rebec and zither. (4) Angels with tabor and zither. (5 and 6) Angels censing. (7) St. Luke and St. Mark, with their emblems, a winged ox, and a winged lion. (8) Angel with a harp; others with emblems of the Passion, i.e., a crown. of thorns, a sponge, a cross, and a scourge.

Mr. Gambier Parry, who personally supervised, where he did not personally execute, the decoration of the roof, termed it “a marvellous specimen of English carving”, and says that “together with the cathedrals of Gloucester and Norwich, it combined some of the finest features of mediæval sculpture”. Further he adds that though “ fine details must not be looked for, yet it exhibited a vigour of conception and a charm of inspiration which quite atoned for any faults”.

At the west end of the building are two half-figures, male and female, like the figure-heads of ships, which serve as corbels for the vaulting of the roof. They have been thought by some to represent Adam and Eve, and by others to represent the founder, Fitz-Hamon, and Sibylla his wife.

The Font (p.40).- With the exception of the shaft, which

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has some good ball-flower ornament,[3] and the Purbeck marble base, this is entirely new work, dating only from the restoration carried out 1875-79. Formerly the old font, of which portions remain in the church, stood in the apsidal chapel in the south transept, and the choice of position for the new one is not quite happy. The canopy is very tine work, but the font as a whole is as much too high as the choir screen is too low. It is also placed at far too great a height above the surrounding floor to be comfortable for a party of sponsors, and from its height it interferes with the beautiful vista of the nave as viewed from the outside of the open west door on a fine day in summer. There is no reason for placing the font in this position, and a Baptistery could have well been made in the north-west corner of the nave.

The Lectern, also a gift from Rev. C.W. Grove in memory of his wife, was presented in 1878. Formerly it blocked up the central passage up the nave, but was removed to counterbalance the pulpit.

The Pulpit was given to the church by Mrs. Glynn, of Tewkesbury, in memory of her husband. In style it is Perpendicular. The shape is octagonal, and it is supported by seven shafts of Purbeck marble, springing from a base of the same, polished; the bases and capitals of the octagonal shafts being of stone. Of the seven panels, four are of pierced work, and three are sculptured representing our Lord blessing little children; preaching on the Mount; giving His charge to the Apostle Peter. Below the panels is a brattice of Purbeck marble-from this at the angles rise octagonal columns supporting angels, which again support a canopy of elaborate work. The pulpit rests on a base of Purbeck marble.

The nave must have terminated in the same way as the nave at Gloucester, viz., with an altar and with two side chapels - one in each aisle. In the handbook to Gloucester, page 44, will be found the illustration of the altar and chapels redrawn by Mr. Waller from the drawing given in Browne Willis' “Survey of Gloucester Cathedral”, published in 1727. This arrangement no doubt obtained at Tewkesbury, which, like Gloucester, was a Benedictine foundation.

The space thus given up to the altar and chapels is indicated

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by the step which comes in the nave near the second pillar, counting westward from the western tower piers. In each of these, on the aisle side are to be seen the ascending spiral made by the recently inserted pieces of stone which show the exact position of the staircase that led up to the rood-screen overhead.[4] This step no doubt marks the site of the original western termination of the ritual choir. It seems strange that, after undergoing so many vicissitudes as a whole, the survival of so interesting a point should have been permitted. Gloucester Cathedral was repaved in 1720, and no doubt the corresponding step disappeared in the process in the levelling-up of the nave to a height nearly ten inches higher than the original floor level. This step was restored by Sir Gilbert Scott when the floor of the nave was lowered.

On the face of the pillars here some traces of fresco-painting are in some lights still to be seen.

A screen of most uninteresting work separated the choir from the nave up to the time of the restoration work that was begun in 1875, and upon this stood the organ. In front of the organ was hung a huge and unsightly gas corona, portions of which are still lying in the north transept.

Two bays of either aisle were also disfigured with low galleries, as were also the transepts. These erections, with the screen and the screens across the aisles, have fortunately disappeared. As Bennett wrote, “These additions, however much they may add to the convenience and comfort of those who attend divine service, little harmonise with the general character of the building”.

The Screen.- This dates from the restoration of 1892, and was erected in memory of Mrs. Glynn, by Archdeacon Robeson and Mr. E.F. Glynn. The screen is of carved oak, and consists of a central door, with wrought-iron gates, and on either side four openings. At the top, which is seventeen feet above the floor level, is an overhanging cornice with elaborate cresting of carved work on both sides. The cross in the centre is richly ornamented on the stem and the arms. These latter are terminated with pateræ, with pierced and carved work. The centre of the cross is

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composed of a quatrefoil in which is carved the Agnus Dei. Flanking the cross are two figures, one representing St. John, and the other the Virgin Mary. These figures are well carved (by Boulton, of Cheltenham), but, like the cross, look too small on the top of the screen.

The side sections of the screen terminate in ogee arches, elaborately cusped and crocketed, with perpendicular tracery in the spandrils. The separating shafts terminate with pinnacles.

In the central section there are two arches, one being semi-circular with very delicate foliated tracery; the other is an ogee trefoil supported from brackets which take the form of angels. The lowest stage of the screen is solid panel work and calls for no special mention.

The gates were made by Clarke, of Brackley, and were designed by Mr. J.O. Scott for the donor, Rev. W.R.F. Hepworth. Intricate in their design, and cleverly wrought as they are, they seem slightly incongruous in this wooden screen. The shields bear the correct arms of the Abbey, and round the shields are intertwining iron rods. Scrolls with leaves and other devices are also introduced. Across the top of the gates is a band of square panels with varied design in pierced work, and on the top is an elaborate cresting. On the inside of the gates, on the shields are the texts, “Serve the Lord with fear”; and “Rejoice unto Him with reverence”.

The whole screen looks too low for its position, whether it be viewed from the west end or from the triforium of the choir at the east end. The workmanship will not bear any minute comparison with the loving hand-craftsmanship of mediæval times; much of it is more skilful as church furniture of a very mechanical kind than beautiful as real carver's work.

The Great West Window dates back, as far as the masonry is concerned, to 1686, and was erected then to replace the window blown in by the wind in 1661. The glass was inserted in 1886 by Rev. C.W. Grove in memory of his wife, and represents various scenes in the life of Christ. In the lowest tier is the Annunciation, with the Nativity in the centre, and the Presentation in the Temple on the right. Above is the Baptism by St. John in the Jordan, the Last Supper in the centre, the Agony in the Garden on the right. In the topmost

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tier is the Bearing of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the appearance of our Lord to Mary after the Resurrection. In the head of the window are angels, those in the two side lights on either side being engaged in censing. In the central top light is Christ in Majesty, with angels. The glass is by Hardman.

The Aisles.- The aisles of the nave are very much lower in height than the nave, and the vaulting is simpler in character. There are, however, many fine bosses, and, like those in the nave, they have been treated in a tentative way with colour and gold: As a whole, the effect of decorated bosses standing out in such strong relief from the simple, unadorned stonework is rather spotty and distracting. The arms of the Despenser family are to be found on some of the bosses in the south aisle, and it is to the munificence of that powerful family that the execution of the work is due. The Norman roof of the aisles was a lean-to roof of wood, as is indicated by the half-arch between either aisle and the transept.

The fourteenth century windows in the North Aisle were partially blocked up with stonework up to 1825, when they were restored and reglazed. Most of the stained glass was inserted in 1892. The window at the west end is a memorial, inserted in 1869, to Mr. John Terrett and his sister. The subject is the “Adoration by the Magi”; the glass is by Heaton Butler and Bayne. The first window east of the porch represents the “Angel appearing to the Shepherds” and “The Star of Bethlehem”, and “The Wise Men before Herod”, in the lower part. The second shows “Christ Disputing with the Doctors”, and below are “Eli and Samuel”, “David and Samuel”, and “Saul at the feet of Gamaliel”. The third represents the Sermon on the Mount, and below, Christ talking to the Woman at Samaria, Christ with Mary and Martha, and Christ with Nicodemus. The fourth represents the Transfiguration; the fifth gives the triumphal entry into Jerusalem; beneath, Christ is driving out the money-changers from the Temple and weeping over the city; the sixth depicts the removal of Christ from the Cross, and the Entombment.

These windows are more or less attempts to reproduce the style of the old glass in the choir. Four of them contain groups under canopies, with a background of grisaille and a wide border. Owing to the lights being narrower in the fifth the border is omitted, and in the sixth the grisaille work is also

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omitted. All the windows in the north aisle, with the exception of that in the west wall and that next to it, were presented to the Abbey by Rev. C.W. Grove.

It will be noticed that the windows in the north aisle are slightly longer than those in the south aisle. The curtailment in the latter was due to the fact that the cloisters were built against the outside of the south wall. There is more variety in the tracery of the windows in this north aisle than in those of the south aisle.

In the north aisle near the transept[P][5] is a recessed tomb, much mutilated, with a very graceful arch. On the tomb lies a knight in armour, with his hands clasped and his feet resting upon a lion. The armour is worth noticing, as it is curious. The gorget is of edge ringed mail, the surcoat is blazoned with a chevron between three leopard's faces. Banded mail, with which the knight is dressed, is rarely met with in monuments, only three other instances being known, viz., Newton Solney, Tolland Royal, and Dodford.

This tomb has usually hitherto been assigned to Lord Wenlock, who was killed by the Duke of Somerset at the fatal battle of Tewkesbury. Against this theory is the fact that the tomb is of much earlier date than that of Lord Wenlock's death, and the fact that Lord Wenlock built a chantry chapel in Luton Church for his wife Elizabeth and himself, to which, according to Leland, he is said to have been removed. The figure is supposed, with considerable probability, represent Sir John de Burley.

In the north aisle, on a brass plate inserted in a flat stone is a Latin inscription to Amie Wiatt, of Tewkesbury, who died on August 25th, . . . Following the inscription is a set of elegiac verses, the initial letters of which form the lady's name.

“A me disce mori, mors est sors omnibus una
Mortis ut esca fui mortis ut esca fores.
In terram ex terra terrestris massa meabis
Et capiet cineres urna parata cinis.
Vivere vis coelo, terrenam temnito vitam
Vita piis mors est mors mihi vita piæ.
Iejunes, vigiles, ores, credasque potenti.
Ardua fac : non est mollis ad astra via.
Te scriptura vocat, to sermo, ecclesia, mater;
Te que vocat Sponsus, Spiritus atque Pater”.

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A punning epitaph, also acrostic in form, but in English, is to be found in the nave, to one Merrett, a barber chirurgeon, who died in 1669.

Though only stone salutes the reader's eye,
Here in deep silence precious dust doth lye,
Obscurely sleeping in Death's mighty store,
Mingled with common earth till time's no more
Against Death's stubborn laws who dares repine,
Since so much Merrit did his life resigne.
Murmurs and tears are useless in the grave,
Else he, whole vollies at his tomb might have;
Rest here in peace, who like a faithful steward
Repaired the church, the poor and needy cured.
Eternall mansions do attend the just,
To clothe with immortality their dust,
Tainted (whilst under ground) with worms and rust.

In the pillar nearest to the north door in the nave is all that remains of the stoup or bénitier for the holy water. We may probably attribute the wanton damage it has sustained to one of the zealots who ministered here after the Reformation.

South Aisle.- This aisle has five Early Decorated windows The western four have three lights each; the other, near to the south transept, has four lights, and the tracery in it is slightly more elaborate.

All the stained-glass windows in this aisle were presented to the church by the Rev. C.W. Grove, in 1888, as a memorial to his wife. The windows are by Hardman.

The first window, i.e., the westernmost, represents Christ walking on the sea; the second represents the cripple at the pool of Bethesda; the third, the raising of the widow's son at Nain; the fourth, the feeding of the five thousand; the fifth, the changing of the water into wine at Cana.

At the west end of the south aisle is a memorial window to Mr. H.P. Moore. This is also by Hardman, and represents the home at Nazareth.

At the easternmost end of this aisle is the door by which access was given the church from the cloisters. The entrance to this door consists of a depressed arch, with a square head over it; the spandrils are pierced with an open quatrefoil. This door stands within the original Norman doorway, which was filled in, and traces of the supporting shaft with its capital may be seen. Above are seven niches, with brackets and

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canopies of good carved work. Over the canopy on either side is an angel with a plain shield.

At the restoration of the church this doorway was very carefully dealt with at the cost of the then Mayor, Mr. Thomas Collins. Up to the time of the restoration of the church, 1891-92, this doorway had been walled up with many pieces of broken carved work from other parts of the church. The doors were designed by Mr. J. Oldrid Scott, executed locally, and given by the late Mr. Thomas Collins.

To the east of the cloister door [O] is a tomb with a fine crocketed ogee arch, and with an angel bearing a plain shield in place of a finial. On one of the cusps are to be traced the chevrons of the De Clares, and another bears a lion rampant. Beyond the fact that it was the tomb of a relation of the De Clares nothing definite can be said. Some have thought it to be the tomb of Sir Thomas Morley, the husband of Anne, daughter of Edward, Lord Despenser, and widow of Hugh, Lord Hastings, who died in 1417. It may here be noted that a lion rampant, sable, crowned or, are to be found on one of the shields at Lord Despenser's feet in the Isham register. This tomb is generally known as the Duke of Somerset's tomb, but the arms as they exist show no resemblance to the arms he would be entitled to bear, viz., those of the Beauforts.

In the floor of the south aisle is an interesting stone with an inscription in Norman-French, in bold Lombardic capitals running round the border:

Inscription on stone in floor in South Aisle

i.e., “Leger de Parr lies here. May God have mercy on his soul”. According to Bennett, this stone had been moved from some other place in the church.

Up to the time of the restoration the extreme western portion of the south aisle was part and parcel of the Abbey House Estate. In 1883, when the estate was put up for sale, the room thus formed in the church was withdrawn from the auction, and soon afterwards was presented by the then owner

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to the Abbey, to be in future an absolute part of the building. In the south wall near this Abbey chamber is a blocked-up doorway which gave access to the Outer Parlour of the monks.


The whole of the nave, as in most cathedrals, is open to the inspection of the visitor free of any charge; but the choir, the tombs, the chapels and transepts, are reserved, and shown to visitors on payment of a small fee. This fee is payable at the verger's desk at the entrance to the north transept. A further fee is payable by those who wish to photograph in this or in any other part of the building.

North Transept.-[6] The whole of this north transept is taken up with the Grove organ, of which an account is given on p.98. The dimensions of the transept are 40 feet by 34 feet, and 58 feet in height. For the most part this transept consists of original Norman work, very little altered with the exception of the fourteenth century stone vaulting and the insertion of windows of the same period.

On the north wall of the transept is a tablet, in painted alabaster, to John Roberts. It has been neglected, but it is worth deciphering. It runs: “Here resteth what was mortal of John Roberts of Fiddington, gent. Careful he was to maintain tillage, the maintenance of mankind. He feared God, was faithful to his country, friends, good to the poore and common wealth, just to all men. Who left us Jan. 1631, aged 77”. The text is, “For Christ is to mee both in life and in death advantage”.

The north side has two small pointed windows with geometrical tracery. Below these are recessed Norman arches. On the floor level the masonry is new, having been built up inside the Early English arch.

On the south side are the backs of the choir stalls. On the west side, in the wall is a large Decorated window containing five lights with flowing tracery. This window was blown into the church in 1819, and then rebuilt.

The eastern wall contains two Norman arches, one of which 1s merely the continuation of the north aisle, through the transept to the north ambulatory. The other is in the north

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wall of the transept, and opens into the choir vestry. Over these two arches were formerly two other open arches.

The North Choir Aisle, looking West

One of these, viz., that over the choir vestry, has been walled up, and the other has a circular or rose window. After

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undergoing repairs the window was glazed by Hardman, in 1892, as a memorial to Mary Anne Moore. The subject is “The adoration of the Lamb”. In the central light is the Agnus Dei; while in the other six encircling quatrefoils are angels censing, and representing Blessing, Glory, Honour, Power, Wisdom and Strength. The glass has been designed to give the effect of older glass, and, so far as that is possible, it may claim to be a success.

This rose window occupies the space which originally was the west end of the original Norman triforium of the choir, to which access was given by the staircase in the north-east corner of the transept.

The interior of the tower for more than three centuries was accessible only from the outside of the church, but is now approached by a staircase in the north-east angle of the north transept. After mounting the first flight, which is somewhat worn, the transept vaulting is crossed by a species of bridge, and at the end of this access is given by a narrow doorway to the first floor of the tower, which contains a large room 33 feet square, with a curiously formed floor. This room has some good Norman work on the walls, and when open to the church, as it was originally, it must have been one of the striking features of the interior from below. That it was open originally may be inferred from the plain treatment of the western side, i.e., the side that would not catch the eye of those using the nave and looking eastwards.

On the floor-level the arcading is practically uniform, with the exception of one column.[7] Above, on the north, south, and east sides is arcading, and still higher in each side are two round-headed window openings.

This spacious apartment owes the form of its curious floor to the vaulting of the lantern-space in the time of Sir Guy de Brien, whose arms are found in the lierne-vaulting which supports the floor. The room was cleared and improved in 1887, when the hanging ringing-chamber was removed, and the floor and ceiling pelt in good order. The ringing-floor is on the next stage, and the belfry is the floor above.

The clock was erected as a jubilee memorial in 1887, at a cost of over £200. It is built on the lines of the clocks

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at Westminster and Worcester Cathedral, and chimes the so-called “Cambridge quarters” as arranged by Dr. Crotch. Small though the clock looks from the level of the churchyard, it must be remembered that it is the massive tower that dwarfs it - the diameter of the face is in reality 8 feet.

Interior of the Tower above the Vaulting

Nothing is known of the place of origin of the pre-Reformation bells, but, arguing from the proximity of Gloucester, it may be assumed that out of the eight bells weighing 14,200 lb. or more, some may have been cast by John Sandre, of Gloucester.

The eight bells were bought from the King's Commissioners for 142, i.e., at the rate of 5 lb. for a shilling. They may

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have been bought to sell again, as the number was soon reduced to four. In 1612 a fifth bell was added, as a rhyme on the cover of the baptismal register (1607-1629) tells us

“William Dixon and Thomas Hoare
Made us that bell which wee ring before,
Which men for that good deede praie we they maie thrive,
For we having but four bells, they made them five;
And out of the grownde this bell they did delve
The 24th of Julie, Anno Dom. 1612”.

Near the arcaded passage in the room in the tower are some memoranda of the changes possible with five bells, rudely engraved in the stonework.

In 1632 the peal was recast and a sixth bell was added, and in 1679 the two newest bells were recast. Two new bells were added in 1696. In 1797 the great or tenor bell was recast. From the time when the bells were overhauled and tuned at Gloucester, in 1837, no further alteration has been made. The present peal is about 500 lb. less in weight than the peal in use at the time of the Dissolution.

From the top of the tower a fine view is to be obtained - Cheltenham, and Gloucester, with its beautiful Cathedral tower, on the south, the Malvern Hills on the west, the Cotswolds on the east and north-east. The Severn and the Avon wind through the landscape, and on the far horizon may be seen the distant hills of Wales.

The old shafting has been chipped away on the west face of the stonework opposite to the north-east tower pier. As one turns round the corner into the north ambulatory or choir aisle, it will be noticed that on the wall is a monument by Flaxman to Lady Clarke; it is small and unobtrusive, but the sculpture is thoroughly good and worthy of a great artist. On the right hand opposite is the Warwick Chapel (p.83), of which the glory in part has departed, viz., the decoration in colour and in gold, and much of the architectural detail.

St. James' Chapel.-[8] This chapel (dimensions 28 feet by 24 feet), which opens on to the north transept of the north ambulatory, was from 1576 up to 1875 walled off from the rest of the church and used as premises for the “Free

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Grammar School of William Ferrers, citizen and mercer of London”. The school ceased to be held here about forty years ago, but the inserted masonry and brickwork was not removed till the restoration of 1875 and following years, when the chapel was restored by the Freemasons of the county. From the time that the chapel ceased to be a school it fell into a bad state of repair, and was open to the sky before the recent restoration, when the present roof of timber, covered with lead-the only wooden roof in the church-was erected and the stonework repaired.

There seems no doubt that this chapel was originally a Norman apse with a vaulted chamber[9] above, like that in the sister transept, and that it was enlarged in the thirteenth century by Prior Henry Sipton. This is distinctly stated in Annals to have been done in the case of the chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas in 1237. No trace remains of any of the work of Prior Sipton owing to the later works carried out in this chapel. The nave of a Lady Chapel was built on the north side of the north transept, and its chancel (the existing northern part of the choir vestry) was carried out to the east, this portion of the chapel being quite detached, as the windows (now blocked up) in the upper part of the south wall plainly show. Access for the laity was given by a door in the nave portion, while the monks had an entrance through the adjoining chapel, which may, after its rebuilding in 1237, have contained two altars, one to St. James and another to St. Nicholas. This theory of the two altars in this chapel would account for much of the confusion in the naming of the chapel by subsequent writers. The vaulting of this chapel is at first sight a difficult problem to solve, as the eastern side is divided into two equal parts, while the western side is divided into two unequal parts. A pillar seems to have stood in the centre, if the lists of noblemen buried (after the battle in 1471) in the two chapels are trustworthy. When the fourteenth century Lady Chapel at the east end of the church was built, the raison d'être of the Early English Lady Chapel ceased, and the chapel entrances were enlarged to their present form. Any distinctive features that they had in the way of wall decoration were lost either at

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the Dissolution, when part was pulled down, or during the subsequent use of the eastern chapels as a schoolroom. Passing through into the adjoining chapel on the north, which was probably the chancel of an Early English Lady Chapel, the visitor will note the great contrast between this and the adjacent chapel. It is very much richer in its ornament, and though it has' been terribly mutilated, much work of surpassing interest is still left to us. The north wall contains the remains of a trefoil-headed arcade of great beauty, the spandrils of which show richly carved foliage, the

Wall Arcade in Early English Chapel

effect of which was further heightened by the application of colour. Of the arcading eleven capitals remain, but only three pillars and bases, the rest having been cleared away. In the wall of the present west end is a window decorated with a moulding consisting of two series of chevrons, completely undercut, pointing laterally in contrary directions.[10] Numerous interesting remains of Early English mason's work

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are in the chapel, and many have been built into the wall on the east side, the most important being remains of a fine altar-piece in Purbeck marble.

There is a window on the east side containing four lights, the subjects, beginning from the north side, being as follows:- (1) The mythical Saxon founders, Oddo and Doddo, A.D. 715. (2) The Norman founders, i.e., Fitz-Hamon and Sibylla. (3) Earl Robert, 1089-1123. (4) The Countess of Warwick, 1439 The figures are based on the MS. Chronicle of the Abbey, belonging to Sir Charles Isham of Lamport. This window, the tracery of which is new, is by Bourne of Birmingham, and forms a memorial to a former churchwarden, John Garrison, who died in 1876. The tracery contains the red and white roses of the rival houses of Lancaster and York, appropriately enough, seeing that under the floor, in front of the altar to St. James, are interred the remains of Lord Edmund, the Duke of Somerset, Lord Thomas Courtenay, the Earl of Devon, Sir Richard Courtenay, Lord John Somerset, and Sir Humphrey Hadley, who were beheaded after the battle of Tewkesbury. Sir Thomas Tresham, who also was beheaded at the same time, was buried before a pillar between the altars of St. James and St. Nicholas. The whole of this part of the chapel was once the choir or chancel of the detached Early English Lady Chapel which was erected early in the thirteenth century. The Annals of Tewkesbury record that in 1239 the Church of Tewkesbury with a greater altar was dedicated in honour of the glorious Virgin Mary. The word Church might mean this Early English Lady Chapel, which with its nave and chancel would be a model church, although somewhat small in size; but the words majore allari are generally taken to mean the large slab of Purbeck marble now in its place in the choir as an altar slab. Lady Chapels were not invariably at the east end of the main building. At Bristol there was and is still an elder Lady Chapel which at one time was detached from the main building.

The floor in these chapels is that which was formerly in the choir up to the time of the restoration of the church.

St. Margaret's Chapel.- This is one of the series of the fourteenth century chapels which surrounds the ambulatory of the choir.

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An old altar-cloth which was given by Anne, Countess of Coventry, in 1731 to the church was removed to this chapel after the restoration of the building.

A very fine screen of stonework separates this chapel from the ambulatory, the tomb of Sir Guy de Brien (late Decorated - erected in 1390) forming part of the screen.[11]

The Ambulatory, looking towards St. Margaret's Chapel
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

Sir Guy was the third husband of the Lady Elizabeth Despenser who is buried in the tomb on the other side of the ambulatory. In the panelling are the arms of Sir Guy, who was also Lord Welwyn, and those of his wife, who was by birth a Montacute. This knight served Edward III. as standard-bearer at Creçy in 1346, and was a great benefactor to the Abbey. He is

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credited with the vaulting of the tower, as his arms occur in the bosses there.

The vaulting, which springs from engaged shafts, is excellent work, like that in the other chapels, and the bosses are worth notice. In the central boss in the ceiling the Coronation of the Virgin is represented, and surrounding it are heads of lions and of men.

An aumbry, lavabo, and piscina are all worthy of study.

St. Edmund's Chapel.- The ground-plan of this chapel is curious, as it is apparently divided into two by a kind of re-entrant pier of masonry, and the easternmost part is screened off from the ambulatory by the curious tomb known by the name of the Wakeman Cenotaph, or the tomb of the starved monk (vide p.94).

In this chapel is a large aumbry, and a very perfect stone coffin which was dug up in the south ambulatory near the Trinity Chapel. The metallic sound given forth by the coffin when tapped seems to be of more interest than anything else to the ordinary visitor. Various interesting fragments of stonework are in the chapel, one being a portion of a tomb. Portions of the font formerly in the Norman chapel in the south transept are also here. Under the painted window is a piscina, more than half of which is modern work. There were, no doubt, two altars, i.e., one in each part of the chapel, but the dedication of the other part is not known.

At the intersections of the vaulting are some unusually interesting carved bosses. For the most part they have reference to the legend of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, viz:-

The head of the king bearing a crown. The king, bound to a tree, being shot at by Danes. A greyhound watching by the body of Lodbrog in the wood, murdered by the king's huntsman. Christ with a halo of glory, triumphing over Sin personified as a monster. St. Michael destroying the dragon. Other bosses are either floral or heraldic, the latter containing the arms of the Despensers. The boss in the centre of the roof is unique, containing a lion being attacked by various other animals, e.g., a horse, a ram, a monkey, wolves, etc.

There is one painted window in this chapel, which was erected in 1877 to the memory of Rev. C.G. Davies, for

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thirty-one years Vicar of Tewkesbury. The window is by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. In effect it is too kaleidoscopic.

The North Choir Aisle and St. Edmund's Chapel
Photo.[ A.H. Hughes.

Opposite to the Wakeman Cenotaph (vide p.95) is the iron grating which is the entrance to -

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The Clarence Vault.- This vault [F] contains the remains of George, Duke of Clarence, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, and his wife Isabelle, who was the eldest daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, commonly known as the “ Kingmaker”. The Duchess died at Warwick in December, 1476, from the effects, it is said, of poison. She was buried in the vault which, as the chronicle says, was made artiflcialiler behind the great altar, in front of the door of the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the opening of the tomb was made opposite the entrance of the chapel of Saint Edmund the Martyr. The young Countess, after lying in the choir in state for thirty-five days, was laid in the vault on February 8th. Ten days later her husband, who had been put to death in the Tower - it matters little whether in the butt of Malmsey wine or not - was buried beside her.

Assuming that the tomb was desecrated and pillaged soon after the Dissolution, and again later on in Commonwealth times, we find that in 1709 the royal remains were displaced to make room for the body of a “periwig-pated alderman” by name Samuel Hawling; and later on, in 1729 and 1753, his wife and son were interred there. The site then was lost till it was identified in 1826. In 1829 the Hawling remains were removed, and since then it has remained the Clarence Vault. In 1876 it was fitted with iron gates, and in the pavement over the vault a brass has been inserted with the inscription, composed by Mr. J.T.D. Niblett:-

“Dominus Georgius Plantagenet dux Clarencius et Domina
Isabelle Neville, uxor ejus qui obierunt hæc 12 Decembris,
A.D. 1476, ille 18 Feb., 1477”

“Macte veni sicut sol in splendore,
Mox subito mersus in cruore”.

Or in English -

“Lord George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, and Lady
Isabelle Neville, his wife, who died, she on Dec. 12, 1476,
he on Feb. 18, 1477”.

“I came in my might like a sun in splendour,
Soon suddenly bathed in my own blood”.

On the brass are engraved two suns in splendour, the badge of the House of York.

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The fourteenth century stone screen-work round the choir side of the ambulatory, particularly at the back of the reredos and the north-east portion adjacent to it, is very interesting work. The lower part is panelled with tracery in low relief, with the arches springing from diminutive heads. All the shafting is ornamented with a small ball-like enrichment. Above the panelling is some open tracery of beautiful design. By reference to the plan it will be seen that much of this original screen-work has been set back several feet, possibly to make room for the Clarence vault.

At the east end of the ambulatory is the arch by which entrance was formerly given to the destroyed Lady Chapel. It is now walled up, and in such a way that it is difficult to picture the appearance of the original work. However, from the battlements of the adjoining south-east chapel it is possible to see the remnants of the vaulting of the entrance to the Lady Chapel.

In the modern east wall is a window of three lights (by Hardman) in memory of Rev. C.W. Grove, who presented most of the modern glass in the church. The subject is the Pharisee and the Publican. It is not known whether the Pharisee is intended to be a portrait of any one, but the Publican's face is said to be an excellent portrait of Mr. Grove, and the portrait of the lady in the top light (she lacks a halo) is deemed to be an equally good picture of Mrs. Grove.

St. Faith's Chapel.- The site of this chapel is not known for certain, though it is supposed to have been one of the two south-east chapels.

The first and easternmost chapel is the largest of the series of chapels built round the ambulatory. It is pentagonal in form and is 28 feet by 24 feet, opening to the aisle with a richly moulded arch. The vaulting, as in all these chapels, is excellent work, but the student of such things will notice that the masons' work on the chapels on the south side is in even courses, and that the stones are better dressed than in the chapels on the north side of the choir. At the intersections of the vaulting there are some good bosses, chiefly foliage with some heads. In this chapel there are three stone coffins.

The central window (by Kempe) is to the memory of

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Benjamin Thomas Moore, for thirty-eight years churchwarden, who died in 1896. Though detail of a most elaborate kind fills the window, yet in appearance it is rather thin, a quality which the clear, strong light that shines upon it as a rule somewhat accentuates. In the central light is St. Faith, to whom this chapel is often ascribed, with St. Agnes on the left and St. Cecilia on the right. There are two other windows, one of four lights and the other of three.

By standing at the entrance to this chapel the visitor will obtain a very fine and interesting set of coups d'œil of the different parts of the building. Towards the north there is the view of the work at the back of the altar, and St. Edmund's and St. Margaret's chapels in the background. To the north-west are the tombs at the back of the altar and sedilia; to the west is a good view of the south ambulatory and the south aisle of the nave.

The next chapel, i.e., the middle one of the three on this side, has no known dedication.[12] It is also pentagonal - somewhat irregular, it is true, but its length and breadth are the same - 20 feet. There are two windows of three lights.

This chapel has become the museum for the storage of many interesting fragments of destroyed portions of the fabric. Some of the coloured fragments are under glass, others are grouped against the eastern wall. It is to be regretted that no list is hung up in the cases. The larger of the two cases contains in one division pieces of the broken upper part of the sedilia, all finely coloured. In the other division are fragments from the Warwick Chapel and other mutilated tombs in the choir. Most of these were found buried in the choir at the restoration in 1875. There are some iron rings which belonged to the coffin of Sir Hugh le Despenser. They were removed when the tomb was inspected in 1875.

Portions of figures of the De Clares are also in the case - one with an inverted torch, representing Gilbert de Clare, who died, the last male of his line, at the battle of Bannockburn, 1314. Three bases of figures contain inscriptions as follows:

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  1. Robs. Consull Filius Regis
  2. Willelms. Comes Glocesr.
  3. . . . . . e Regis.

Another portion of a figure, in a blue mantle, is said to be Thomas Lord Despenser, the last Earl of Gloucester. It has upon it the arms of Despenser and Clare.

On the wall are some swords which recall the panic caused in 1803 by Napoleon's projected invasion and humiliation of England. It is difficult to see why they or the colours of the Volunteers were removed to this position from the Town Hall.

Against the eastern wall are portions of a beautiful frieze, with ball-flower ornament, and many shields bearing traces of rich colour. There is a fine head, and a curiosity in the form of a coffin of an infant, a portion of a cluster of marble columns, and a figure in camelskin and leather girdle representing St. John the Baptist.

Across this chapel is the tomb of Abbot Cheltenham, who died in 1509 (vide p.95)

The Vestry.- The third of the chapels is the most regular in shape, and is used, as it was in monastic times, as a Vestiarium or vestry. The arch is closed entirely by masonry, built upon the original wall which formed the outer wall of the Norman church. In the walled-up space that corresponds to what is the entrance in the case of the other chapels are a fine tomb and the doorway into the vestry. A description of the tomb will be found on p.97. The tomb of the Abbot may have been removed from a grave outside the building, but it is not known who was buried in it. Willis ascribed it to Robert Fortington, who died in 1253. A fine doorway, richly decorated, with three elaborately wrought brackets for images over it, gives access to the Clergy Vestry. The door is of oak, plated with roughly wrought metal plates, of which tradition has it that they were made by the monks out of swords and armour found in and around the precincts after the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.

This chapel is profusely enriched with ball-flower moulding, both inside and on the side next the ambulatory. It will be noticed that the windows are small and placed, for the sake of the security of the sacristy, high up in the south wall. In the south wall is a piscina, and close by on the south-east wall must have stood an altar. The window nearer to this has richer

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detail than the other two. In the south-west wall a small recess is formed inside a buttress. This may have been used as a safe for plate and other valuables in the charge of the sacristan.

The Vestry Door, South Choir Aisle

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A special staircase in the north-west corner, entered from the ambulatory, gives access to the room over the vestry. In this room, which has a fireplace, the sacristan probably slept. He was able from the windows on the stairs to see into the Vestiarium or Diaconum Magnum, and also into the choir. In fact, this view is one of the most interesting in the church. Two large square modern windows give light to this room, and a doorway in the east wall communicates with the space over the vaulting of the ambulatory and chapels. The room had originally a low timbered roof, as will be seen by the holes once occupied by the beams.

There are two tombs of interest built into the wall between the vestry door and the south transept, and space for them has been cut out of the original Norman solid wall. One is quite plain and simple Early English work [M], and contains the remains of Abbot Alan, a man of learning and of considerable note, as he was a friend of Thomas a Becket, the great Archbishop of Canterbury. This is the only tomb of that period now surviving in the church, and it has been thought that he was the first of the abbots who was honoured with an intramural tomb.

Close to Abbot Alan's tomb is another recess which now is without its coffin. The arch is pointed and crocketed with pinnacles at the sides. In the absence of a tomb the chief interest consists in the old encaustic tiles which have been transferred here from other parts of the building, a few of them having been found in 1875 under the then stone pavement of the choir. They are now safe here from the destroying power of the ubiquitous tourist's foot.

On the south-east tower pier is a marble tablet in Renaissance style, erected in 1890 to the memory of Mrs. Craik, the author of “John Halifax, Gentleman”, who is said to have written her story whilst staying at the ancient “Bell Inn” near the Abbey gate. The memorial was designed by Mr. H.H. Armstead, R.A., and is gracefully carried out entirely in white marble. The only fault in the memorial is that there is too much work in proportion to the size of the tablet. The topmost portion above the projecting cornice is a charming piece of work, illustrating Charity, but too high above the ordinary

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visitor's head to be seen or appreciated as it should, and the group rather overweights the memorial.

South Transept.- (Dimensions 40 feet 8 inches by 32 feet 10 inches.) This transept has vaulting of the same character as the other, and a large west window, rebuilt in 1820, filled with glass in memory of Thomas Collins, of Tewkesbury.

The Apsidal Chapel, South Transept
Photo. ]A.H. Hughes.

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Beneath this window is a deeply recessed doorway (now blocked up) which once gave access to the cloisters. In this recess are to be found some of the old tiles which formerly were in the choir. In the south wall too, like the north wall of the other transept, there are recessed Norman arches with two windows - enlarged later - under the roof. The doorway in this wall formerly communicated with the Chapter House. One of Tewkesbury's glories, the old organ, forms the north boundary of the transept. On the east side there are four large Norman arches. Of these the first is the archway which gives access to the south ambulatory, with a triangular window (of fourteenth century work) over it, occupying the position once taken by the arch of the triforium of the Norman choir. In 1893 this window was glazed with stained glass by Rev. W.H.F. Hepworth in memory of his mother, the subject of the window being Faith, Hope, and Charity.

To the south of this is the large arch which gives access to the Norman chapel with its early Norman groined roof. This chapel will give the student an idea of the original plan of the north transept before the alterations in 1237 and in 1246.

The east window was perforce blocked up when the ambulatory chapels were built, and to give light to the chapel the south-east window was inserted in the apse, no other position for a window being. possible, as will easily be seen by reference to the plan.

An anonymous donor presented the Salviati mosaic now in the filling of the east window, but the effect is not good, as too strong a light falls upon the gold background. Probably the work will look better when the south transept is entirely glazed with coloured glass. The subject is our Lord enthroned, bearing a book in one hand, and having the other raised as in blessing. The glass in this window was formerly in the east window of the ambulatory of the choir, and was removed to its present position in 1887. It is a memorial to Mr. A. Sprowle, a former resident of Tewkesbury. The glass is by Clayton and Bell, but the window is very poor and uninteresting.

This Norman chapel[13] was at one time used as the Baptistery, and the font, now in one of the two north-east chapels, was in

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use here up to the time of the restoration in 1875. After this restoration the altar from the choir was transferred to this chapel, and the various guilds connected with the church subscribed towards the cost of fitting the chapel for special devotional use. It is used for the daily morning services in the week.

There are remains of a piscina in this chapel, but very much battered. It is to be hoped that money will not be frittered away on any attempt at polychrome decoration of the ordinary kind in the chapel as has been done at Gloucester in the chapel of St. Andrew. Mr. Blunt has thrown out the suggestion as a possible ideal, but the simplicity of the present chapel is far preferable.

Immediately above it is a large vaulted room, similar in shape, but less lofty, open to the transept. Its roof shows traces of having been at one time elaborately painted with frescoes, and the room formerly communicated with the original Norman triforium of the choir. This room has at various times had absurd names given to it, perhaps the most absurd being that of the Nun's Prison. As Mr. Blunt in “Tewkesbury and its Associations” says, there are many people who cannot hear about monks without immediately thinking of nuns. It would seem that the room communicated with the dorter or dormitory, and was designed for invalid monks, who from it might hear mass sung in the church without going downstairs. In the south-east corner of the transept a staircase gives access to this chamber, and communicates with the triforium of the transept, the clerestory of the choir, the vaulting of the ambulatory as well as that of the tower.

Before 1875 a gallery filled up the south transept and two bays of the south aisle, and communicated by means of the organ screen with the similar gallery in the north transept

In the west wall is a recess, formerly a doorway of Early English work. On the south wall is a brass tablet from the choir pavement, to the memory of Prince Edward.

At the corner of the south transept and the south aisle is a curious recess in the masonry hidden by a curtain.

At the extreme east end of the south aisle, near the niche or recess just mentioned, is a rudely carved head which no doubt served as a cresset.

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This part of the building is usually entered from the south ambulatory by the entrance opposite to the door of the clergy vestry. The screen-work at this entrance to the choir was in a ruinous state in the early part of this century, and has been most carefully repaired, and in part renewed.

It is a choir of great beauty, and though at first sight small and low, its proportions are admirable in every way, the length being almost exactly twice the breadth.

From the centre of the eastern tower-piers to the back of the altar the choir measures 63 feet, but the total length from the present oak-screen to the altar is 103 feet. The breadth in its widest part is 33 feet.[14]

The upper part of the choir was reconstructed in the early part of the fourteenth century in its present polygonal form, the Norman pillars being carried up three feet; and fitted on the choir side with Decorated capitals.

The curious effect of the carrying up of the columns will be seen from the fact that the arches which spring from the Decorated capitals do not correspond in pitch with the vaulting in the ambulatory. The latter springs from the original Norman capitals on the columns in the choir (see illustration, p.52).

The moulding of these arches of the choir is exceedingly rich, and the outer ones on the north side contain a double moulding of quatrefoil flower ornament.

The easternmost arch is somewhat stilted; the bare wall thus left exposed having originally been concealed by the reredos, or at any rate decorated in some way.

In these alterations to the choir here the Norman triforium had to be sacrificed; and those who wish to see on a larger scale what the original triforium was like must study that at Gloucester. In fact the two choirs alone will form the basis of much interesting study, the Gloucester choir having been left comparatively intact below the clerestory, and veiled over with richly wrought Perpendicular stonework.

The windows and the roof are of about the same date, i.e. early fourteenth century; the roof is anticipatively Perpendicular. A great feature of the choir is the skilful way in which the work of different times has been so effectively combined, and brought into a harmonious whole.

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The Choir, looking West
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

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It is interesting to compare the ground-plans of Gloucester and Tewkesbury, and to see how the two originally Norman choirs have been treated. At Gloucester the apsidal formation has been destroyed, traces only of it being left under the present reredos, but there the actual removal of Norman work stopped. The Norman piers of the choir and presbytery and the Norman triforium of the choir are all there, though they are partly concealed by the later Perpendicular casing. The choir at Tewkesbury has lost its distinctively Norman character, as nearly all the original outside wall of the church to the east of the tower was removed, but it has retained its apsidal formation.

Rib-centres in the Choir Vault
Photo. ][ W.G. Bannister.

Beautiful as the choir is, it owes much of its effect to its vaulted roof, which is a fine specimen of early Decorated work. The vaulting ribs spring from small engaged shafts, which are carried up the face of the wall from the main piers, and then radiate from very ornate capitals over the vault. A fine colour effect must have been presented by the original ceiling painted and frescoed.

The bosses are less elaborate and less varied than those in the choir at Gloucester, but are well carved, consisting for the most part of vine-leaves delicately treated. All this roof was colour-washed in 1828, when so much restoration was done in the church.

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The suns[15] in the centre are supposed to have been put up by command of Edward IV. after the battle of Tewkesbury. They and some of the surrounding bosses are said to be of carved oak. Those in the tower vaulting are modern copies of these original suns. The modern painting of the vaulting is subdued in tone.

The vault of the tower is a lierne vault, and from the occurrence of the arms of Sir Guy de Brien, once quartered with those of Montacute (i.e., of his wife), the vaulting has been credited to his exertions. The Despenser fret is to be found twice.

In front of the altar-rails is the large boss from which used to hang the sanctuary lamp, the sacred flame of which was kept ever trimmed and bright, as a sign that “the house was evermore watching to God”.

Altar.- The Purbeck marble altar is supposed by some to have been the altar mentioned in the Abbey Chronicles of 1239, but any Early English features have been destroyed beyond recognition. It is reputed to be the largest altar in England, but, at any rate, it may be said to be the longest. Originally set up in its present situation, it seems to have been buried in the choir by the monks, perhaps by some who were not so mercenary as the rest. Sixty-eight years afterwards it was found, and its purpose being recognised, it was set up in the middle of the choir as a Communion table. In 1730 it was transferred to the aisle, the churchwardens' accounts stating that 12s. was paid for so doing, and that 2s. 6d. was given “ to the men that did it for working all night”. The “large entire blue stone” was then cut into two lengthwise, and was further desecrated by being converted into seats for the north porch.[16] Earl Beauchamp, at his own expense, had the two slabs restored to their original use. Considering what the marble has gone through, its size has been well maintained. In 1607 it was 13 feet 8 inches by 3 feet 6 inches by 7 inches; and now it is 13 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 5 inches by 5 inches. It is supported by a massive framing of oak.

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Sedilia.- These are on the south side in the canted bay of the apse. These sadly mutilated remains of a once glorious work are especially interesting. Originally they were decorated with rich colour and gold, much of which still in parts remains.

The Sedilia
Photo. ][ D. Gwynne.

The canopy of tabernacle work has been ruthlessly destroyed, together with the major part of the easternmost section. All the shafting is very richly moulded with a great number of diminutive mouldings, principally ogee and hollow. Foliage work of rare beauty and representations of grotesque animals

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form the greater part of the ornament. There are interesting remains of diaper work in the wall which forms the back. The plinth and seats are probably modern work. At the top are placed some pieces of battlement work, of which there is a great amount in different parts of the building. It seems a pity that the remains of the sedilia which lie elsewhere in the church cannot be placed together in position here - not “restored”, but honestly pieced as well as may be done with care and patience.

The north-east pier that supports the tower bears a plain corbel,[17] supporting what is supposed to be the remains of an oak case for the Saunce-bell or Sanctus-bell.

Tiles.- During the wholesale restoration of 1875 and following years some old tiles were found, after the pattern of which the present tiles were made. The fashion of paving buildings of the age of Tewkesbury Abbey with glazed and glossy machine-made tiles, all cut mathematically true, is much to be deprecated. Time has done much, and will do more, to remove the glaze, but nothing will ever remove the stiff printed look of the pattern. The black patches of tiles are rather heavy in appearance, but the pavement looks better so than it would if broken up with streaky slabs and squares of glaring white marble incised with more or less pictorial designs relieved with a background of black cement. The choir of Tewkesbury in this respect has fared better than that of Gloucester, though a little more might have been made of the graves of the illustrious dead who are known to have been buried underneath.

Windows of the Choir.- These fourteenth century windows are the chief glory of the choir. There are seven in all, and though they have suffered much from wilful damage and neglect, there are perhaps no others in England containing quite so much glass of the same date, and in such good condition as a whole. Every one must rejoice that in 1828 lack of funds prevented these windows from being thoroughly restored.

The windows nearest to the tower have four lights each, and the tracery is comparatively simple though flowing and free.

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The next two on either side of the choir are slightly more elaborate and contain five lights each, while the east window is quite different from the. rest. It has five lights, and the head of the window contains a fine Catharine-wheel.

In the north-west window (i.e., immediately over the Warwick Chapel) are - 1. Fitz-Hamon; 2. Robert Fitzroy; 3. Hugh le Despenser; 4. Gilbert de Clare (third), the tenth Earl of Gloucester. In the south-west window, i.e., the one exactly opposite to the last mentioned, are - 1. Gilbert de Clare (the first of the name); 2. Lord de la Zouch; 3. Richard de Clare; 4. Gilbert de Clare (the second). These knights are all in armour, and are valuable as giving accurate representation of the armour and knightly gear of their time. Above the knights are represented canopies, and in the heads of the windows are scrolls of vine-leaves.

The bodies of the De Clares lie below the choir pavement, almost in a line with these two windows.

The other windows on either side contain Scripture subjects, many of them very fragmentary: Daniel, David, Abraham, Jeremiah, Solomon, and Joel are, however, easily to be found.

The east window represents the Last Judgment. In the centre Christ is depicted with uplifted hands, on which are the stigmata of the Passion. The side lights, from their unsymmetical arrangement, would seem to have been rearranged, or rather disarranged, at some time. The Apostles would naturally be grouped on either side, in the outer lights. The other two lights represent St. John and the Blessed Virgin. Of these figures the heads, which are modern, were put in (free of charge) in 1828 by a London glass-painter named Collins. In the five panels below the figures are groups of persons arising from their graves; one group represents an angel disputing with the evil one for the possession of three persons bound with a chain. At the bottom are armorial bearings.

In the floor of the choir there are graves in which many notable persons, who made their mark in history, were buried.

Exactly under the central point of the vaulting of the tower is the site of the grave of Prince Edward, son of Henry VI. and Margaret Anjou. He died on the 4th of May, 1471, and with him the last hope of the Red Rose party was finally crushed.

A modern brass, with a Latin inscription which was

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composed by Mr. J.D.T. Niblett, records that “Hic jacet Edwardus princeps Walliæ, crudeliter interfectus dum adhuc juvenis Anno Domini 1471, mensis Maii die quarto. Eheu, hominum furor: matris to sola lux es, et gregis ultima spes”, - or in English, that “Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, brutally murdered while but a youth, in the year of our Lord 1471, on the 4th of May. Alas! the madness of men. Thou art the only light of thy mother, and the last hope of the flock”. Holinshed writes that the body of the Prince “was homelie interred with the other simple corpses in the church of the monasterie of the blacke monks in Teukesburie”. Another MS., which gives a list of noblemen slain in the battle of Tewkesbury, states more definitely that he was “buried in the midst of the convent choir in the monastery there”. Traces of a coffin-lid were found near the north-west pier of the tower, and from other evidence it was taken to be the tomb of the young prince, and this would give more colour to Hall's statement that he “was buried without any solemnity among some mean persons in the church of the black friars in Tewkesbury”.

In 1796, when several alterations were made in the church, a brass plate was inserted in a stone over a tomb in the choir supposed to be that of the Prince. This tablet is now on the wall of the south transept. It runs:


Or in English: “That the memory of Edward, Prince of Wales (brutally murdered after the famous battle fought in the fields close by), perish not utterly, the piety of the people of Tewkesbury had this memorial tablet laid down, A.D. 1796”. This tablet is mentioned in the accounts for that year, and the cost is put down at £10 but perhaps this included the composition of the Latin inscription, and the stone in which the plate was inserted. This pietas Tewkesburiensis still

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survives, as flowers are annually laid upon the site of the grave. Before this there was, according to Dingley, who wrote in 1680, a “fair tombstone of grey marble, the brass whereof has bin pickt out by sacrilegious hands, directly underneath the Tower of this Church, at the entrance into the Quire, and sayed to be layd over Prince Edward, who lost his life in cool blood in the dispute between York and Lancaster, at which time the Lancastrians had the overthrow”.

Another grave under the tower was that of the Duke of Warwick, who is sometimes said to have been created and crowned King of the Isle of Wight by Henry VI. He died at the age of twenty-one, and was buried, at his own request, between the stalls in the choir. At the time the choir was repaved in 1875 a grave of stone filled with rubble was found, together with some bones of a man of herculean size. These, no doubt, were those of the Duke who was buried here in 1446. The large marble slab that formerly covered the grave disappeared early in this century, but the brasses that were originally in it had been taken away long before. Cecily the Duchess of Warwick, a daughter of the Earl of Salisbury; was buried in the same place in 1450.

Further eastward, in a line with the Warwick Chapel, are the graves known as those of the De Clares.

The first is a stone with an inscription running round the edge, in old French, as follows: “Ci git Maud de Burgh la veuve comitisse de Gloucestre et Hertford, que mourust le 2 juillet l'ann grâce 1315. Nous cherchons celle que est à venir”. This slab, which is of large size, covers a well-wrought stone grave, and must have contained a very handsome brass, judging by the matrix. The next grave contains the remains of the Lady Maud's husband, Gilbert de Clare, the third of that name, the tenth Earl of Gloucester and Earl of Hertford. Though young in years he had a wise head, for Edward II. made him his regent when he himself was fighting in Scotland, and later again in 1313 when fighting in France. Gilbert de Clare the third was killed at Bannockburn in 1314, and was laid to rest next to his father. The tablet gives his arms, and the inscription runs: “Gilbertus tertius nomine Glocestrie et Hertfordie comes decimus ultimus, obiit 23 Junii, 1314, prœlio occisus, Scotus gavisus”. Which being freely translated is : “Gilbert, the third of the name, tenth and last

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Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, died on June 23, 1314. He was slain in battle, to the joy of the Scots”.

The tomb next to this is that of his father, Gilbert the second, usually known as the Red Earl. He married the Princess Joan of Acre, a daughter of Edward I. This Earl was at first an important figure in the revolt of the Righteous Earl, Sir Simon de Montfort; but later, having changed his views and his side, was an important factor in his former leader's final overthrow at Evesham in 1265. Fragmentary remains only of a coffin assumed to be his were found in 1875. His tablet says: “Gilbertus secundus, cognomine Rufus, comes Glocestrie octavus, et Hertfordie septimus, obiit septimo Decembris, anno domini 1295. Vir strenuus et fortis cui deerat timer mortis. Ora et pugna”. Or in English: “Gilbert the second, surnamed the Red, eighth Earl of Gloucester and seventh of Hertford, died the 7th of December, A.D. 1295. A stout and brave man, who had no fear of death. Pray and fight”.

In the next grave lies Gilbert de Clare, the first who bore the double title. His interest to us consists in the fact that his seal is one of those attached to Magna Charta, and he took a considerable part in the Barons' struggles against King John. He died in Brittany, but was buried here by his own wish. Very little of his coffin remains.

The tablet to him says: “Gilbertus de Clare, nomine primus, comes Glocestrie sextus et Hertfordie quintus, obiit 25° Octobris, anno domini 1230. Magna Carta est lex, caveat deinde rex”; i.e., “Gilbert de Clare, the first of that name, sixth Earl of Gloucester and fifth of Hertford, died October 25th, A.D. 1230. Magna Charta is law, let the King henceforth beware”.[18]

The next grave is that of Richard, the second of that name, the son of Earl Gilbert. He is usually believed to have been poisoned at the table of Peter de Savoy at Emersfield in Kent. To his memory a most gorgeous tomb was set up in the Choir, composed of marbles, precious stones, mosaic, gold and silver, and bearing a large image of the Earl in silver on the top. Weever, in “Funeral Monuments”, gives the epitaph

“Hic pudor Hippoliti, Paridis gena, sensus Ulyssis,
AElig;neæ pietas, Hectoris ira jacet”.

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And he translates it

“Chaste Hippolite, and Paris fair, Ulysses wise and sly,
Æneas kind, fierce Hector, here jointly entombed lye”.

The brass tablet says: “Ricardus de Clare, comes Glocestrie septimus and Hertfordie sextus, obiit 15° Julii, anno que doming 1262. Dum petit crucem sic denique petit lucem”; i.e., “Richard de Clare, seventh Earl of Gloucester and sixth Earl of Hertford, died July 15th, A.D. 1262. While he seeks the cross, he seeks thereafter light”. This alludes to his having been a Crusader. Richard de Clare's entrails were buried at Canterbury, and his heart at Tonbridge, at which place he had founded a monastery of Austin Friars.

Despenser Graves.- Between the graves of the De Clares and the steps of the altar are the Despenser graves. The grave on the north side nearest to the Fitz-Hamon or Founder's Chapel is that of Richard Despenser. His brass runs: “Ricardus le Despenser bare octavus, et Burghersh baro quintus, obiit anno domini 1414, dum adhuc adolescens. Flos crescit et mox evanescit”; or in English: “Richard, eighth Baron Despenser and fifth Baron Burghersh, died A.D. 1414, whilst still a youth. A flower grows and soon passes away”.

He was married to Elizabeth Nevill, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, but, dying at Merton at the age of 19, left no family. He was the last of the male line of the Despensers, and is buried next to his father, Thomas le Despenser, who was laid to rest in the central grave of the three. His record on the brass is: “Thomas le Despenser, barn septimus, et Gloucestrim comes tertius decimus et ultimus crudeliter interfectus 15° Januarii, anno domini 1400. Cibell angau na cywillydd”. This being translated means: “Thomas, seventh Baron Despenser, and thirteenth and last Earl of Gloucester, was brutally killed on the 15th of January, A.D. 1400 Rather death than dishonour”.

He had married Constance, daughter of the Earl of Cornwall and niece of the Black Prince. Being attainted in 1399 after the deposition of Richard II., whom he had faithfully served, he was deprived of both his titles and executed at Bristol in 1400 His grave was under the lamp which burned before the altar. In 1875 no trace of his grave was found, but there is a fragment of a statue in the “museum” in which he is clad in a blue mantle, wearing the badge of the Garter.

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The third and southernmost of the Despenser graves is that of Isabelle, Countess of Warwick, Abergavenny, Worcester, and Albemarle. The inscription on her brass is: “Mementote dominæ, Isabelle le Despenser, Comitissæ de Warwick, qua; obiit, anno domini 1439, die Sancti Johannis Evangelistæ. Mercy, Lord Jesu”; i.e., “Remember the lady Isabelle le Despenser, Countess of Warwick, who died A.D. 1439, on St. John the Evangelist's Day. Mercy, Lord Jesu”. This lady was the daughter of Thomas le Despenser, next to whom she lies here, and though she was given in marriage to Richard Beauchamp when she was only eleven years old, she is chiefly known from the title of her second husband, who was her first husband's cousin. Her grave was identified in 1875, and her remains were found enclosed in a shroud and in a tomb of solid masonry, 7 feet by 2 feet 5 inches, by 2 feet 5 inches. The covering slab had a cross incised with the words “Mercy, Lord Jhu” (Jesu). The top of the slab had traces of mortar upon it, pointing to the fact that her tomb was built immediately over it. We know from the chronicle that it was a “very handsome marble tomb, exquisitely carved”. It was a table tomb bearing an effigy of the Lady Isabelle upon it, clad in a plain linen garment. At the head stood St. Mary Magdalen, at the right stood St. John the Evangelist, and at the left stood St. Anthony. At the foot of the tomb was an escutcheon with her arms and the arms of the Earl of Warwick, impaling the arms of Clare and Despenser.

In each of the two easternmost piers that support the tower (on the north and south sides) will be seen a round-headed doorway, which gave access to the choir from the aisles. They were walled up at an early date, as they were probably too narrow for processional use.

Since the restoration of the choir the old stalls of the monks have been collected from the various places in the church to which they had been removed, and placed in their present position across the arches of the tower, eleven on the north side and twelve on the south. Those on the north have lost most of their misericordes, and all the canopy work. Those on the south side are more perfect, and the backs are in better preservation, though the plain panels have been removed.

In the majority of the misericordes the carving, originally

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fanciful, has suffered at the hands of bigots. It is only possible to conjecture what the stalls were like in monastic times, but they were probably, though less elaborate, similar to those at Gloucester. As carvings they cannot be compared with those at the Priory Church of Great Malvern.


One of the chief glories of Tewkesbury consists in the series of historic tombs and chantries which encircle the choir and presbytery and the surrounding ambulatory. It may safely be asserted that in no church, with the single exception of Westminster Abbey, can such a noble collection of sepulchral monuments be found. They are well worthy of detailed study, and for that reason have been grouped together in one section. It is not possible to examine or describe them adequately from the ambulatory only, and the most important are best viewed from the choir or presbytery, whence access to the chantries is obtained.

All these tombs have suffered terrible mutilation at the hands of fanatics and bigots, but it is surprising to find how much of what was really fine pierced work, almost as delicate as lace, has survived the zeal of the destroyers. Close inspection will show that a considerable amount of repair and refitting has been done in places. It must have been a task of great difficulty, and involved that “infinite capacity for taking pains” of which we hear so much but find so seldom; and considering the date (1825) at which this piece of genuine restoration was done, more praise must be given to the restorer. Had it not been undertaken then it might have been done later, and certainly not so lovingly, and possibly not so well.

Warwick Chapel.- This beautiful piece of work [A in the plan] is a chantry chapel, erected in 1422 by Isabelle le Despenser, to the memory of her first husband, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Abergavenny and Worcester, or, as the chronicle calls him, Ricardus de Bello Campo. It is situate, as will be seen from the plan, under the westernmost arch of the north side of the choir. An inscription, which is only legible here and there, runs round the moulding: “Mementote dñe Isabelle le Despenser, Cometisse de Warrewyk, quæ hanc capellam fundavit in honore bte Marie Magdalene, et obiit Londiniis apud

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Mñes aõ dñi MCCCCXXXIX. die Scti Jhis Evngste. Et sepulta est i choro i dextra patris sui: cuj. ame ppitietur Deus. Amen” (i.e., “Be mindful of the Lady Isabelle Despenser, Countess of Warwick, who founded this chapel to the honour of St. Mary Magdalen, and died in London in the Minories, A.D. 1439, on St. John the Evangelist's Day. And was buried in the choir on the right hand of her father. On whose soul may God have pity. Amen”).

The chapel was dedicated in the names of St. Mary Magdalen, St. Barbara, and St. Leonard just two years after Richard Beauchamp had died.

This Richard Beauchamp, after whom in truth the chapel should be called, had shown his bravery at Agincourt in 1415, and in 1420 been made Earl of Worcester. He was slain at the siege of Meaux, in France, in 1421. In Dyde's “History of Tewkesbury” it is spoken of as “Mary Magdalen's Chapel, now commonly called 'Spenser's Chapel”. It may have been designed to surpass in glory the chantries previously existing in the building, and if so, the Countess, who was only twenty-one years of age, spared no expense in causing this beautiful work to be made.

The chapel consists of two parts or stories, the lower of which has a door into the north aisle as well as into the choir. The lowest portion or base on either side consists of figures of angels, much mutilated, bearing shields.

The chantry has two roofs, both with fine vaulting, formerly richly painted, but the lower roof only covers the western half of the chapel. The pendent bosses have been destroyed. At the top the canopy work is so delicately sculptured that it resembles lace.

The lower ceiling, extending over half the chapel, consists of large and small circles. Of these, the larger ones are ribbed with sixteen ribs, while the smaller ones are quatrefoils, each member being composed of a trefoil with an elegantly carved cusp. Between these smaller circles are still smaller ones composed of quatrefoils. This ceiling is supported by two slender shafts. Along the exposed front of the ceiling are four double cinquefoil arches, between which were three busts. Of these, one only, viz., an angel with a scroll, remains.

In the upper storey of the chapel the ceiling is made up of

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The Warwick Chapel
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

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hexagons and octagons, the intervening space being filled up with circles, trefoils of irregular shapes, though symmetrically disposed, and quatrefoils. The points of the pendant have been ruthlessly destroyed.

Of this chantry Mr. Knight wrote: “There can be but one opinion on the praise which belongs to the exquisiteness of finishing by which the several parts of it are distinguished; the entablature, wedged between two of the old pillars of the choir, and appearing to rest upon light columnar buttresses of singular beauty, give us an assemblage of filigree and fretwork, which may vie with the finest specimens of similar workmanship in the kingdom: the elegant palm-leaved parapet, which occurs in the division between the storeys,-the numerous escutcheons blazoned in their proper colours,-the niches, and pedestals, under their respective canopies, once ornamented with figures which fanaticism has dislodged,-the slender shafts supporting a higher apartment, probably the rood-loft, in the inside of the fabric, from whence half-figures of angels are seen to issue, - the pendants dropping, like congelations in a grotto, from a roof adorned with the most delicate tracery spread over it like a web, - these and a countless multitude of minuter beauties, almost distract attention, and overwhelm the judgment with their different claims to notice”.

Some have thought the upper portion was intended to serve as a private pew for the Lady Isabelle. To this the difficulty of access may well be urged as a valid objection. Others have thought that the upper part was a rood-loft. Others again have thought that the half-roof was a platform upon which a kneeling figure (in imitation of that in the Trinity Chapel) was placed.[19] By her will the Lady Isabelle gave instructions that her statue was to be placed on the right hand of her father in the choir, and that it was to represent her entirely naked (i.e., without any state robes), with her hair cast backwards; with St. Mary Magdalen (one of the saints to whom the chapel was dedicated) laying her hands across : with St. John the Evangelist on her right side and St. Anthony on her left. At her feet there was to be an escutcheon, bearing her arms impaled with those of her late husband-who had died just three months before her-supported by two griffins; and at the

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side there were to be statues of poor men and women in humble apparel with their beads in their hands. From the Abbey Register this part of the lady's last will and testament seems to have been carried out; but nothing remains of these added figures or of the tomb. The chapel is less perfect on the south, or choir side, than on that which faces the north aisle.

The appearance of the chantry when first finished, with all its rich colour and profuse gilding, must have been very rich. Some have thought it too elaborate and overweighted with ornament, but we may well call it one of the most glorious specimens of its time.

Among the heraldic decorations are to be found the chevrons of the Clares, and the arms of the deceased Earl. On the outside are to be traced the arms of the royal ancestors of Isabelle, of the Clares, and of the Despensers.

The arms upon the chapel are given in “Neale's Views of Tewkesbury ” as follows

On the side of the chapel next the choir, over the door -

  1. France and England, quarterly, King Edward III.
  2. Castile and Leon, quarterly, and Peter, King of Castile and Leon.
  3. France and England, quarterly, Edmund of Langley, Duke of York.
  4. France and England impaling Castile and Leon - for Isabelle of Castile, Duchess of York.
  5. Clare quartering Despenser (Thomas Despenser, Earl of Gloucester).
  6. Clare quartering Despenser and impaling France and England (Constance, the mother of the foundress of the chapel).

On the side next to the aisle - in the basement or lowest portion and in the first division, three angels bearing shields - (1) as 1 above; (2) destroyed but presumably as 2 above; (3) as 3 above.

In the second division, two angels bearing shields - (1) as 4 above; (2) as 5 above.

In the third division, two angels bearing shields - (1) France and England quarterly in chief.

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The arms on the fascia and over the door are, in each compartment, three

  1. 1. The royal arms of England.
  2. The arms of the Clares, Earls of Gloucester.
  3. Clare impaling England (Isabel, Countess of Gloucester, and John, afterwards King of England).
  4. Despenser (Hugh, Lord Despenser).
  5. Despenser impaling Clare (Eleanor, Countess of Gloucester, wife of Hugh, Lord Despenser).
  6. Clare and Despenser, quarterly, impaling Burghersh (Sir Edward Despenser, K.G.).

The iron railings were probably removed as being an inconvenience when the ugly rows of pews, which took up the whole of the choir and presbytery, were placed in the chancel in 1796.

The Lady Isabelle, after completing this tomb, married the cousin of her first husband, who was also a Richard Beauchamp. He died in Rouen in 1439, but his body being brought home by his countess, was buried in the noble Beauchamp Chapel at Warwick, which is a further development of that at Tewkesbury. She died in London in the same year on St. John the Evangelist's Day, as the inscription on the Warwick Chapel sets forth, and at her own request was buried at Tewkesbury, in the following January. All traces of her handsome marble tomb have disappeared, but the site of her grave was identified at the restoration of the choir in 1875. The site is marked (8) in the plan.

To the east of the Warwick Chantry is the chapel [B] known as the Founder's Chapel. Fitz-Hamon, as already stated on p.13, was buried in the Chapter House, but Abbot Forthington removed his body to this site in 1241.

The open screen-work, which was erected in 1397 by Abbot Parker, is an excellent specimen of early Perpendicular work. It is extremely light and graceful. The cresting of oak-leaves is finely wrought; below it is a frieze ornamented with roses.

It is unfortunate that the brass has disappeared from the marble top of the tomb.

On the cornice there used to be the following inscription

“In ista capella jacet Dñus Robertus,
Filius Hamonis hujus loci Fundator”.

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Chantry of the Founder, Fitz-Hamon
Photo. ][ D. Gwynne.

The fan-tracery of the ceiling is a beautiful piece of work, and shows traces of its former decoration with colour and gold. There is fan-tracery at Gloucester, where it is thought to have originated, which is essentially the same as this. This specimen is one of the most beautiful in every way.

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Brackets to support an altar remain in part, and there are faint traces of a fresco painting on the east wall, which is said to have represented scenes in the life of St. Thomas a Becket.

The easternmost panel of the chapel on the south side has been restored; the rest has been very little touched. Restoration was necessary because no access to the chapel could be obtained when the choir was all pewed, and the eastern end was ruthlessly cut away. Some of the cresting on the north side is also new.

The Despenser Monument
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

The Despenser Monument.- Still further to the east is the tomb [C] of Sir Hugh Despenser, who died in 1349, and his widow, who died ten years later, having in the interval married Sir Guy de Brien, the tomb to whose memory is close at hand. This tomb is full of interest, and consists of a richly panelled base with trefoil arches (each of which must once have contained a statuette), in three sets of two each to correspond with the open tracery in the tier above.

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On the tomb is a slab on which are two recumbent figures, carved in white alabaster. The knight is clad in armour, viz., a spherical bascinet, with a camail of chain-mail. His jupon is charged with his arms. The shirt is also of chain-mail, while the arms and legs are protected by plate armour. His head is resting upon a tilting helmet, his feet upon a lion. The Lady Elizabeth, who was a daughter of William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, has a dog at her feet, and is robed in a long flowing dress, which, with the square head-dress, is characteristic of the time of Edward III.

The Decorated canopy is in two parts, viz., the arched portion which covers the two figures, and the tabernacle work in four tiers above. Three arches of marvellously delicate work support the arched roof, which is like fan-vaulting on a diminutive scale; the ribs have been indicated by colour.

The tabernacle work tapers very gradually, and forms a charming finish to one of the finest tombs to be seen anywhere. Trefoil-headed arches are used throughout the design, but with such consummate skill that no feeling of sameness is aroused. Of straight lines there are many, but of stiffness there is none. Formerly the whole work was painted with red, green, and gold, traces of which are to be seen on the side next to the choir and underneath the canopy.

The tomb is more perfect on the choir side than on the other.

Of the statues that formerly formed part of the canopy or canopies, no traces are left, but it is evident that they were removed with unusual care.

This tomb was formerly ascribed to George, Duke of Clarence, and also to Thomas Despenser. The arms on the tabard, however, settle the question definitely. If further confirmation be required apart from the style of the architecture and the arms, Leland writes: “Hugo le Despenser tertius . . . sepultus est apud Theokesbury juxta summum altare in dextera[20] parte”. Of the Lady Elizabeth he says: “Sepulta est juxta Hugonem maritum apud Theokesbury”.

Trinity Chapel.- On the south side of the choir in the bay opposite to the Founder's Chapel is the Trinity Chapel [K], the building of which is ascribed to Elizabeth, Lady de Burghersh, the widow of Edward, Lord Despenser. Lord

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Despenser died at Cardiff in 1375, and was buried before the door of the vestry, near the presbytery. His widow, who died many years later (1409), was buried beside her chapel in the choir.

The Trinity Chapel

The tomb has many beauties, of which the chief is the fan

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tracery. Much damage has ruthlessly been done to the niches and canopies at the side.

A curious feature in the chapel is the figure of Lord Despenser under a canopy on the top of the chapel, kneeling in prayer, with his face turned towards the high altar. The canopy is very rich, supported by four slender shafts, and further enriched with carved pinnacles. The figure is probably unique, in such a position.[21] It is represented as wearing the martial equipment that was usual towards the end of the fourteenth century.

This chapel may have been built by the same builders as the Founder's Chapel on the opposite side of the choir, but some variety of treatment is very noticeable. The cresting is different in scale on the two sides (portions of it are modern insertions). Owing to the non-correspondence of the panelling in the lowest portion with the open work in the next tier, it has been thought that the upper portion is slightly later in point of date than that upon which it is built.

The chapel derives its name from its dedication to the Trinity as well as to St. Mary. At the east end of the chapel are traces of mural painting. Some of these represent the symbols of the Trinity, others the coronation of the Virgin Mary.

Other tombs of interest in the church will be found in making the circuit of the ambulatory. The first of these is the tomb of Sir Guy de Brien [D]. It has a central position in the stone screen-work which separates the chapel of St. Margaret from the north ambulatory. Sir Guy married Elizabeth, the widow of Hugh, Lord Despenser. The tomb is very similar in design to the Despenser tomb over against which it is placed. The knight is represented at full length, clad in his armour, with a lion at his feet. A vault-like canopy, still showing traces of the blue paint with which it was decorated, rises over the effigy. The monument is very lofty in proportion to its width, is full of rather heavy detail, and, though worthy of careful inspection, will not bear comparison with the Despenser tomb opposite.

The knight's lady elected to be buried in the tomb of her second husband, Lord Hugh Despenser, who, like Sir Guy, was a liberal benefactor to the Abbey.

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The "Wakeman Cenotaph"
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

Three panels facing the aisle have shields with arms upon them. The central shield bears the arms of Sir Guy de Brien, and the other two bear his arms and those of the Montacutes, his wife having been Elizabeth Montacute.

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The next chapel, that of St. Edmund, contains, lying across the eastern half of the entrance, a magnificent tomb which goes by the name of the Cenotaph of Abbot Wakeman [E]. It is not known when the tomb was built, but it is apparently earlier than Wakeman's time, who was abbot from 1531 to the dissolution of the monastery in 1539. Certainly Wakeman is not buried here, for he became the first bishop of Gloucester, and was buried at Forthampton.

The tomb is peculiarly beautiful, and consists of a slab supported by a rich piece of open or pierced work, in the pattern of which may be seen three crosses. Upon the slab rests a representation of the corpse of a monk undergoing the process of decay, and being devoured by various lizards, snails, &c. It is rather a gruesome subject for contemplation, reminding one of some of the drawings in the Dance of Death at Basle. Immediately over the body, in the centre of the tomb, is a massive ogee arch, richly foliated, from which descends a rather cumbrous pendant-itself ogee in form-which divides the main arch into equal parts, or arches, with rounded heads. These arches are again subdivided into two smaller round-headed arches, full of very fine carved work.

The front of the tomb, as seen from the ambulatory, is composed of a very fine arch which springs from the piers at the side. Its lower edge is foliated, and the spandrils are enriched with quatrefoils.

At the top of all is a projecting canopy in three main sections - a portion of the rest is gone - all of very delicate and intricate carved work.

In the south ambulatory in the middle one of the three chapels there is a tomb to Richard Cheltenham [I], who was abbot from 1481-1509. It is a table tomb in the Perpendicular style, with very rich tracery enriched with quatrefoils and shields. A depressed arch forms a canopy, in the spandrils of which are the abbot's initials R.C. and his pastoral staff.

Almost opposite to this is a depressed arch which supports a mass of delicate work decorated with vine-leaves and grapes. Over this are many canopied niches (much mutilated). The images they once contained have been destroyed. Under the

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arch is now a coffin of Purbeck marble, with a cross on the lid, and the inscription “Johannes Abbas hujus loci”.

The South Choir Aisle, looking West
Photo. ][ A.H. Hughes.

It is generally assumed that this is the coffin of John Cotes, who died in 1347. The tomb (H] is supposed to be that

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referred to by Leland as that in which some of the remains of Hugh Despenser the younger, the Earl of Gloucester who was hanged and quartered in Hereford in 1326 - just three months before the murder of Edward II. in Berkeley Castle - were interred. Close to this tomb, but more to the east, is a fifteenth century tomb, presumably that of an abbot, but his name is unknown.

To the east of the door of the chapel which is now used as a vestry, is another tomb of an unknown abbot. The coffin lid bears a rich floriated cross, with a representation of an abbot at the one end, and that of a lamb at the other. The arch over the tomb is crocketed, and is enriched with a profusion of ball-flower ornament in the moulding. The finial is very heavy, though beautifully wrought to represent birds and foliage. At the spring of the arch is the very curious figure of a devil. Two pinnacles[22] at the sides have most grotesque faces at the corners instead of the conventional foliage. This idea has been adopted in the decoration of the tomb-recesses in the nave in Bristol Cathedral.

On the western side of the vestry door is a beautiful Early English tomb. The lid of the Purbeck marble coffin is inscribed “Alanus, Dominus Abbas” along the moulded edge, and a similar inscription is to be read at the right-hand end, “HIC IACET DOMINUS ALANUS ABBAS”. This is the tomb of Alan, who was made Abbot here in 1187, after having previously been Prior at Canterbury. He was one of the most distinguished of the Abbots of Tewkesbury: he had known Thomas a Becket, and indeed wrote his biography. This tomb is no doubt the oldest monument in the church. The arch over it is a moulded trefoil arch, surmounted by a plain canopy of very simple and formal design. The top of the coffin bears a very beautiful cross.

Further westward, near to the south transept is a thirteenth century recessed arch, with pinnacles at either side and a decorated arch. The tomb has been removed. The floor has been laid with fragments of old encaustic tiles removed from other parts of the building.

Organs.- The church has two organs, both of which are noteworthy, viz., the old organ in the choir, of which the

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interest is historical, and the Grove organ in the north transept, the chief interest in which, apart from its tone, is the perfection of its many modern mechanical contrivances.

The organ in the choir was brought to Tewkesbury in 1737 from Magdalen College, Oxford, and was placed on the then existing screen, where it remained till 1875. It was built by John Harris, the grandfather of Réné or Renatus Harris, for Magdalen College, Oxford. By Cromwell's orders it was removed to Hampton Court, and is said to have been played upon there by Milton, who was Cromwell's Secretary. In 1660 the organ went back to Oxford, and was repaired in 1672. In 1690 Renatus Harris contracted, for £150, to put it into thorough repair, and make it “an extraordinary instrument and the best old organ in England”. In 1736-37 the Magdalen College organ was sold to the then organ committee of Tewkesbury.

Sixty years later (1796) a sum of £186 18s. 2d. was spent in painting the case, in repairs, and in the addition of a swell organ; and in 1848 it was enlarged by Willis at a cost of £322 15s. 8d. Little of the original work remains, with the exception of some of the diapasons, the principal, and the tin pipes in the choir front. The old organ is in constant use for ordinary evening services, and for the services on Sunday mornings and afternoons. For the Sunday evening services the Grove organ is generally used. Sometimes the two organs are used together.

The Grove organ is a very fine instrument, but it is more fitted for a concert-room than for the accompaniment of ordinary church music. It was given, as the brass tablet sets forth, “To the greater glory of God, and to commemorate the Jubilee of the Queen in 1887”. The specification is as follows

CHOIR ORGAN (CC to C in alt°., 61 notes).
1.Spitzflote8 ft.5.*Zauber Flote4 ft.
2.*Viole Sourdine8 ft.6.Flautina2 ft.
3.*Lieblich Gedacht (w)8 ft.7.Clarionet8 ft.
4.Gemshorn4 ft. 

Accessory Stops.
1.Ventil.2.Octave Coupler.
3.Pneumatic Piston, acting on No. 1 off and on.
4.Swell to Choir.5.Tremulant.

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GREAT ORGAN (CC to C in alto., 61 notes).
1.Violone16 ft.6.Flute Octaviante4 ft.
2.Great Open Diapason8 ft.7.Quint Mixture, 12, 15.
3.Small Open Diapason8 ft.8.†Great Mixture (4. ranks), 19, 22, 26, 29.
4.Claribel (w)8 ft.9.†Tromba16 ft.
5.Octave4 ft.10.†Trumpet8 ft.

Accessory Stops.
1.Sub-Octave Choir to Great.2.Swell to Great.3.Solo to Great.
1.Ventil Flue to Quint Mixture.
2.Ventil Flue to Great Mixture and Reed.
Two Pneumatic Pistons acting on Ventil placed beneath the keys as in the Choir.
Three Composition Pedals. 

SWELL ORGAN (CC to C in alt°., 61 notes).
The swell-box is made in three thicknesses, each of one inch. Between each thickness is a layer of felt.
1.Flauto Traverso8 ft.6.†Mixture - 3 ranks, 15, 19, 22.
2.Open Diapason8 ft.7.†Contra Posaune16 ft.
3.*Viole d'Orchestre8 ft.8.Horn8 ft.
4.*Voix Celeste8 ft.9.Oboe8 ft.
5.Geigen4 ft. 

Accessory Stops.
Octave Coupler. Ventil Flues to Geigen, Mixture, and Reeds.
Two Pneumatic Pistons acting on Ventils, as in the Great Organ.
Tremulant.Three Composition Pedals.

SOLO ORGAN (CC to C in alto., 61 notes).
1.Harmonic Flute8 ft.
2.*Violoncello8 ft.
3.†Tuba8 ft.
4.Voix Humaine (metal, enclosed in a Swell-box)8 ft.

Accessory Stops.
Octave Coupler.Tremulant.
Two Ventils, two Pneumatic Pistons, as in the other manuals.

PEDAL ORGAN (CCC to F, 30 notes).
1.*Harmonic Bass (w)32 ft.4.Great Flute (w)8 ft.
2.Great Bass (w)16 ft.5.†Bombarde16 ft.
3.*Dolce Bass (w)16 ft. 

*Stops thus marked are of novel construction, being fitted with prolongement harmonique.
Stops marked thus are on heavy wind.
wStops marked thus are of wood.

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Pedal Couplers:
1.Choir to Pedals.3.Swell to Pedals.
2.Great to Pedals.4.Solo to Pedals.
Manual Couplers:
1.Choir Octave.5.Swell to Great.
2.Swell Octave.6.Solo to Great.
3.Solo Octave.7.Swell to Choir.
4.Choir Sub-Octave to Great.

The Tremulants are set in action by one pedal, or by the use of the draw-stops, separately or collectively.

Pneumatic action is applied to the Organ throughout, except to the Choir Organ, which is direct action.

Church Plate.- The oldest pieces of plate are two silver chalices, one dated 1576, the other 1618. There is also a paten of the latter date. A flagon weighing 54 ounces was given to the church by the bachelors and maidens of the borough in 1688, and another was given in 1724. Curiously they are both fitted with whistle-handles. There are also two cut-glass cruets, said to be of the fifteenth century.

The Church Registers.- These date from 1559, containing baptisms to 1598 and marriages to 1574, but are copies on parchment of an older register (on paper) now lost. Another register, on paper, dates from 1595, and contains baptisms down to 1610, marriages to 1629, and burials to 1608. Thenceforward, with few exceptions, the registers are complete. The register of baptisms, 1607-1629, contains a quaint composition

“Lo, heare thou maiest with mortall eie beholde
Thy name recorded by a mortall wighte;
But if thou canst looke but spiritualie
Unto that God which gives such heavenly sighte
Thou maiest behold with comfort to thy soule
Thy name recorded in the heavenly roule.
And therefore praie the Register of heaven
To write thy name within the booke of life;
And also praie thy sinus maie be forgeven,
And that thou maiest flee all ceare and strife
That when thy mortall bodies shall have end,
Thy soule maie to the immortal bliss ascende.
Per me, GUILIELMUS PARKS, 1609”.

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Arms of the Abbey.- The arms are gules, within a border argent, a cross engrailed or, and are so given by Willis in his Seals of Parliamentary Abbeys, and by Tanner in Notitia Monastica. In Sir Charles Isham's copy of the Registrum Theokusburiæ in a window in the choir, and also on the old organ the border is omitted. It is also a disputed point whether the Abbot was a mitred prelate or not. Fuller, in his Church History, is in doubt about it, while Bishop Godwin admits that some of the Abbots sat in Parliament. The Abbots, without enjoying any prescriptive right, were summoned to Parliament in the reigns of Henry III., Edward I., and Edward II., and the last Abbot (Wakeman) was certainly summoned as a mitred Abbot. It may be that the Abbot received the dignity in the time of Abbot Strensham, who died in 1481.

Old Tiles.- In the Founder's Chapel (1397) are some tiles containing the arms of Fitz-Hamon (a lion rampant), impaled with the arms of the Abbey, a cross engrailed, and showing the head of a crosier above the shield in the centre. In the Warwick chantry there is to be seen a set of tiles with the arms of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester, in whose honour the chapel was built. The arms are a fess between four crosslets with a crescent for difference. There are also some in the Trinity Chapel, showing the arms of the Despensers, impaled with those of Burghersh Other tiles found in the church at different times give the arms of De Clare, Despenser, Berkeley, De Warrenne, De Bohun, Corbet, and De la Zouch.


Giraldus (1102-1109), previously Abbot of Cranbourn, was the first Abbot of the Benedictine foundation. Deprived by Henry I. in 1109.
Robert I. (1110-1124). In his time the greater part of the Abbey as it stands was finished, and dedicated in 1123.
Benedict (1124-1137).
Roger (1137-1161).
Fromundus (1162-1178). No new Abbot was instituted till -

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Robert II. (1182-1183).
Alan (1187-1202). His tomb is in the south ambulatory of the choir. He was a friend of Thomas à Becket, having previously been Prior of St. Saviour's, Canterbury.
Walter (1202-1213), previously Sacrist of the monastery.
He was succeeded by -
Hugh (1214), who had been the Prior. Dying in a year, his successor was Bernard, but the latter was never instituted.
Peter (1216-1231) was a monk from Worcester.
Robert Forthington (1232-1254), or Robert III. had previously been Prior. A tomb ascribed to him is in the south ambulatory.
Thomas de Stokes (1254-1275) had been Prior of St. James, Bristol.
Richard de Norton (1276-1282).
Thomas Kempsey (1282-1328).
John Cotes ( -1347)
Thomas de Legh (1347-1361).
Thomas Chesterton (1361-1389)
Thomas Parker, or Pakare (1389-1421).
William Bristow, or de Bristol (1421-1442).
John de Abingdon (1442- ), who was probably identical with
John de Salis, or Galys.
John Strensham, or Streynsham ( -1481). He was Abbot at the time of the Battle of Tewkesbury.
Richard Cheltenham (1481-1509).
Henry Beoly, or Bealy (1509- ), was Abbot in 1526.
John Walker (d.1531).
John Wich, Wyche, or Wakeman (1531-1539).

This ecclesiastic was the last Abbot of Tewkesbury. He, unlike the Abbot of Gloucester, seems to have been in no wise unwilling to surrender his Abbey. In return he obtained a pension of £266 13s. 4d., and also the house and park at Forthampton. When, later, Gloucester was made a bishopric, he was the first bishop. He was buried at Forthampton.

[1] In point of actual size the Tewkesbury piers are 30 feet 8 inches high, and 6 feet 3 inches in diameter; while the piers at Gloucester are 30 feet by 6 feet. Those at Malvern are considerably less in height.
[2] This boss represents the Virgin as being present at the Table.
[3] The ball-flower here as well as that in the vestry differs from that in the neighbourhood, as there is a curious little side-twist or kink in it.
[4] Mr. W.H. St. John Hope's description of this quoted in extenso in “Gloucester ” (Cathedral Series) is most interesting, and should be carefully studied.
[5] Letters in brackets refer to the plan at the end.
[6] This Transept was used from 1813-17 as a temporary National School.
[7] The columns are, with the exception of one which is round, roughly hexagonal.
[8] In some plans this chapel is ascribed to St. Nicholas.
[9] The arch of this chamber shows distinct traces of fire, not mentioned in any records, and the staircase to the tower, which then communicated with this chamber, shows traces for a short distance on the stonework.
[10] The same moulding is found at Durham in the doorway from the nave into the cloisters, but there it is much mutilated; it is also found at St. Joseph's Chapel, Glastonbury, and in various forms in the West of England.
[11] It is not quite certain whether Sir Guy is actually buried here.
[12] It is generally considered to be that dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The other altar in this chapel may have been dedicated to St. George, though the chapel of the latter was probably one of those in the nave.
[13] The dedication of this Norman chapel, like that of several others here, is not known.
[14] The choir at Gloucester is 140 feet long and 33 feet wide.
[15] The sun was a favourite badge of Edward IV., and is said to have been adopted in consequence of the appearance of three suns before the battle of Mortimer's Cross. It appears upon some of his coins.
[16] The altar-stone at Gloucester was at one time used to pave the south porch, and is now in the crypt.
[17] The safety of the old glass has been ensured by a protective external window of rolled glass let in the mullions from the outside. This was done in 1889.
[18] This Gilbert de Clare is said to have had a copy of Magna Charta and the Charta de Foresta made and deposited in the Abbey.
[19] The floor of the upper part was never flat, and was in all probability never intended for use.
[20] Heraldically speaking.
[21] Henry VII. left instructions in his will that a kneeling effigy of himself should be placed on the top of the Confessor's shrine at Westminster.
[22] The western pinnacle was carved locally in 1825-8, and is a very careful piece of work.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in June 2013.

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