Page images

Wodehouse or wild man of the woods fighting wild animals, and other small figures hunting. There is an edging of rosettes, and the character of the carving generally is in the style of English ivories. I cannot help remarking how often in the case of ivories which at first glance suggest an English origin, one finds, next, that characteristic border of rosettes. It is not, of course, intended to say that these by themselves prove English workmanship, for one finds them equally in French ivories. I have no information where this saddle cantle now is perhaps in the Louvre. In default of examples in wood, I have long held the opinion that very many mediæval ivories usually ascribed to France should testify to the excellence of English art, and the difficulties in the way may one day be elucidated.

The question is asked in a succeeding chapterWho, then, did this village work?' For a reply we are almost entirely dependent on parish accounts. There are few of these earlier than the fifteenth century, and the names of carvers are hardly ever mentioned in them. We may take it that the master carpenters of the Middle Ages were not only architects and contractors for work, but were the designers also. Some information may be gleaned, with the names of carpenters in the thirteenth century, from Smith's Antiquities of Westminster, and Brayley and Neales' account of the abbey; and in the accounts of the Carpenters Company are some mentions of the panellings of the halls of the City Companies, but few names of carvers. In an issue roll, we find that William de Lyndesay, of London, a carver of wood images, was paid in 1307 for a table (retable) with wood images for St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Other names of imagers appear, such as Alexander of Abingdon, 1305, but we cannot distinguish those who worked only in wood In or about 1506 Laurence Imber, Drawswerd, and others, made estimates for patterns in wood for the images for the tomb of Henry the Seventh. The 'patrones to be made as well as can be done.' Laurence Imber, who died in 1529, was of a famous family of carvers, and came to be sheriff and mayor. No doubt these pattern makers such as le imaginator, John Hales, who made one for a bronze effigy at Ormskirk, were sculptors of general figure work also. The bill of the king's goldsmith for the Coronation Chair at Westminster includes pro duobus leopardis parvis de ligno, faciendis, depingendis et deaurandis' to be made by Master Walter, who was also the king's painter, A.D. 1299. In the Fabric rolls of Exeter we find the charge for timber for the bishop's seat brought from Newton Abbot and Chudleigh : four pounds to Robert de Galmeton for making it, also for six statues. The accounts for Somersetshire and Devon parishes are referred to in another chapter of this book. At Yatton in 1446 Crosse, the carpenter, is conspicuous in the making of the roodloft, and there are payments to John Balwe and J. Hikke pro factura sedilium, probably of wood, for the cost for nails follows, and we find also the names of John Wakelyn, R. Kew, and J. Mey, carvers and gilders, Hyllman and Maskall being churchwardens in 1408. În 1535 'to Sperark ye carver, ernest pense iijd.' At Tintinhull in 1451 occurs the name of Thomas Dayfote, carpenter, for making the roode 'ut in meremiis ligneis ex conventione,' and to 'uno peynter for peynting de la rodeloft.' But most frequently there are no names, but only entries, such as in the Stamford accounts, that the churchwardens go to Abingdon 'to speke for ymages, vijd: item for three images, the Rode, Mary, and John, xxijs. iijd.' The records and documents belonging to the dean and chapter of Worcester afford some information. Amongst them is Prior Moore's most interesting journal of 1518. In this are many particulars of payments: nearly twelve pounds (a large sum) to Thomas Stilgo for 'gylding and peynting of ye 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 xj 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 mediæval 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.



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

« PreviousContinue »