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IMAGERS

ticulars of payments: nearly twelve pounds (a large sum) to Thomas Stilgo for 'gylding and peynting of y* ymags Ch'us and or Lady in ye mydd. of ye awtur in Seynt Cecili's chapel.' In the accounts of St. Mary at Hill, in the city of London, in 1496: 'Item to Sir John Plumer for making of the fygyres of the Roode, xxd; item to the Karvare for making of iij dyadems and of oon of the evangelystes, and for mending the roode, the crosse, the Mary and John, the Crown of Thorn, with all odyr fawtes, summa 10".' 'Paid to Undirwood for paynting and gyldyng of the iij diadems, with the ij nobillas that I owe to him in moneye summa vli xj8 xd.' Among sepulchral effigies on the Neville monument at Staindrop is recorded on the edge the name of the artist, John Starbottom.

Meagre though these entries may be, they might be extended to a considerable extent, and the quaint language and spelling add not a little to their interest; sometimes, even, to our information. In any case they show that there was considerable activity in the craft of woodcarving in England in the centuries immediately preceding the Reformation to which they refer. But in but one instance can we identify by record or by mark on the piece itself any English sculpture with the name of the artist. Nor have we any sign of guildmarks and their regulations such as those to which reference has been made in the case of Flanders. In all probability the English mediaeval imager was not an artist of great consideration. His identity was sunk in his craft. Even in stone, in the thirteenth century, we hear only vaguely of imagers who made the Eleanor crosses: of William of Colchester, of William de Torell, or of the masters in bronze or in gold and silver whom Matthew Paris mentions. How much less account, then, must we expect of the wood chippers! The master carpenter was everything, the others his tools. He was the arranger of the picture, and it was the decorative whole rather than the individual units which told. Yet of the master builder himself, his name and methods of organization, our information up to the revival in Italy, and then for a further considerable period in that country only, is vaguely indefinite.

CHAPTER XVI

CHOIRS AND CHOIR STALLS

THROUGHOUT the history of woodcarving and of the innumerable uses to which the material has been applied in decoration, nothing is more prominent than the furnishing and ornamenting of the choirs and chancels of churches. Even if we should consider only the quantity of material employed this has been enormous, and despite destructions it still continues to beautify innumerable churches, great and small, throughout the land. Necessarily, of course, woodwork, more or less carved, is used in the architectural construction of these edifices. It is not, however, with the timbered roofs, which still exist in considerable numbers, and in no country more than in England, of such incomparable beauty, or with the other details of the main structure that we shall now be occupied. The choirs and chancels with their canopied stall work, the episcopal thrones, the sedilia for the officiating clergy, the rood and other screens dividing the choir from the rest of the church and—in England especially—the interesting bench-ends, form a subject which is almost endless in variety and interest. Each and every one of the divisions just mentioned might again be subdivided, and is of sufficient importance to require a monograph surpassing the dimensions of the present book. As a matter of fact such monographs already exist, not only on each subject generally, but on each as applied to some particular instance. For example, amongst others, the choirs of Amiens and of Ulm have had their special chroniclers; misericords, and the countless number of themes which they illustrate, have been specially described over and over again in the proceedings of provincial societies in every country and—to refer to England alone—the subject of screens and roodlofts has received special attention in quite recent years. But even this division of the subject, so far as our own country is concerned, is of so extensive a nature, and involves so many general considerations, that in no one book can it be said to have progressed further—broadly speaking—than as regards the west of England. In a volume such as the present one, therefore, it would be hardly possible to attempt more than a general outline of the use of wood sculpture in the decoration of choir and stall work, and of the screens forming the enclosures, or separation from the rest of the church, together with a slight survey of the history of the symbolism so extensively used in the carving of the under parts of the stall seats, known as misericords, of the statuary, and of the elaborate, pictorial, and ornamental sculpture which is so remarkable a feature of Amiens, of Ulm, and of many other great choirs of the later days of Gothic.

We know very little indeed regarding any precise date at which we may place the introduction of a choir, such as we understand it to-day, with its places for the clergy and assistants in the form of ranges of stalls having arm-rests and seats which turn up in order to afford a kind of rest to a position which is neither sitting nor standing. In ancient times churches were entirely without any seating for the faithful, as, indeed, they are now in those of the Oriental rites. The attitude for prayer, in which may be included any part of the assistance at the holy offices, was standing. The arrangement of the choir permitted a view of the altar and the priests, and it was not until about the ninth century that screens forming enclosures rendered the officiating clergy invisible from the body of the church. There would certainly appear to have been no kind of seats before the eighth century. From that time to the eleventh all kinds of attempts were made to introduce them. That they existed in England in a movable form in the eleventh century is certain, for Lanfranc prescribes their removal on Good Friday at the ancient ceremony of creeping to the cross (Decretum Pro ord. S. Ben). The early history of the construction of choirs need not, however, be followed here in detail. It will be sufficient to name, for the needs of the student, such works as those of De Fleury, Gue'ndbault, Ducange, the encyclopaedia of Cabrol and Leclercq, and the researches from which we continue to profit, of Mr. Edmund Bishop.

Until, roughly speaking, the eleventh century, the chancel was separated from the body of the church by a low screen or balustrade—the cancelli, whence the name of this part is derived. Within these rails stood the altar, and beyond this and facing it was a range of seats against the wall of the apse, and in the centre of them the throne or seat of the bishop. In those days —or when this arrangement was altered and the monks took their places in rows on each side of the choir, in front instead of behind the altar—the long offices and ceremonies at which they assisted necessitated some indulgence or relaxation from the standing position. The earliest practice was the use of a kind of crutch, the head often curiously carved and decorated. Some of these in ivory, wood, and metal, still remain, and are sometimes confounded with the similarly tau-shaped staff, used by a bishop. which became later the crosier as we now know it. Ancient regulations and constitutions show that the use of this support was general. Sometimes protested against, it was disallowed, from

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