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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


386 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. An aisle appears to have bLen added at a later period to the south of the two last chapels, the beautifully groined roof bf which was fully as rich as any portion of the choir. This appears to be the chapel referred to in a I‘ charter of confitmation of a mortification by Alexander Lauder of Blyth, Knight, Provost of Edinburgh, to ane altarage of St Gilles Kirk,” dated 17th August 1513; by which he founded a “ chaplainry in the New Chapel, near the south-western corner of the church, in honour of God, the Virgin xarj+, and Gabriel the Archangel.” ’ It consisted of two arches extending between the porch and the south transept, and in the south wall, between the two windows, a beautiful altar tomb was constructed under a deep recess, on which a recumbent figure had, no doubt, been originally placed, although it probably disappeared along with the statues, and other ancient ’ decorations, that fell a prey to the reforming zeal of 1559, when ‘( The Black and Gray Freris of Edinburgh were demolissed and castin doun aluterlie, and all the chepellis and collegis about the said burgh, with thair zairds, were in lykwyise distfoyit ; and the images and altaris of Banctgeilis kirk distroyit and brint, be the Erlis bf Ergyle ahd Glencarne, the pryour of Sanctandrois and Lord Ruthvene, callit the cotlgregatioun.” The principal ornaments of this fine tomb suggest its having been erected for some eminent ecclesiastic. Underneath the corbels from which the crocketed arch spriugs, two shields are cut, bearing the emblems of our Saviour’s passion, the one on the right having the nails, spear, and teed with the sponge, and the other the pillar and scourges. The pinnacle with which the arch terminates is adorned with the beautiful emblem of a heart within the crown of thorns, and on eithei- side of it a lion and dragon are sculptured as snpportercl, On the top of this an ornamental corbel €ormerly supported a clustered pillar, from the capital of which the rich groining of the roof spread out its fan-like limbs towards the fine bosses of the centre key-stones. All this, however, which combined to form one of the finest and most unique features of the Old Church, has been sacrificed to secure that undesirable uniformity which ruins the Gothic designs of’ modern architects, and is scarcely ever found in the best ancient examples. One-half of the aisle has been demolished, and a wall built across where the clustered pillar formerly supported the beautiful roof of the chapel, in order to give it the appeatance externally of an aisle to the south transept. The altar tomb has been removed in a mutilated state to this fragment of the ancient chapel, now degraded to the mean oEce of a staircase to the Montrose aisle on the east side of the same transept, which, with a floor half way up its ancient pillars, serves for a vestry to the Old Church. On the north side of the nave a range of chapels appears to have been added at a somewhat later date than those built on the south side in 1387, judging from the style of ornament and particularly the rich groining of the roof. These consisted of two small chapels on each aide of the ancient Norman porch, while above it there was an apartment known as the Priest’s Room. This had, no doubt, served as a vestry for some of the clergy officiating at the numerous altars of the church, though Maitland gives it the name of the Priest’s Prison, as the place of durance in olden times for culprits who had incurred the 1 Inventar of Pious Donationa M.8. Ad. Lib. Alexander Lauder filled the oflice of Provost in the years 1bOj-3, and again in 1508-10. The Earl of Angus waa the Provost in 1513, and marched with the burgher fmcd t6 Flodden Field. 9 Maitland, p. 271. Diurnal of Occurrenta, p. ’269.
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ECCLESIASTICAL, ANTIQUITIES. 3 87 Church‘s censures. This same apartment served as the prison in which Sir John Gtordon of Haddo was secured in 1644, previous to his trial and execution, from whence one of the places of worship into which the nave of the ancient Collegiate Church was divided derived its singular name of “ Haddow’s Hole.” Both the porch, and the two chapels to the east of it, have disappeared in the recent remodelling of the church, although they formed originally very picturesque features externally, with their pointed gables, and steep roofs ‘‘ theikit with stane,” and with them also the deep archway which had formerly gives access to the most ancient fragment of the Parish Church. The eastmost of these chapels, which is now replaced by what appears externally as the west aisle of the north transept, was the only portion of the church in which any of the coloured glass remained, with which, doubtless, most of its windows were anciently filled. Its chief ornament consisted of an elephant, very well executed, underneath which were the crown and hammer, the armorial bearings of the Incorporation of Hammermen, enclosed within a wreath. From these insignia we may infer that this was St Eloi’s Chapel, at the altar of which, according to the traditions of the burgh, the craftsmeu of Edinburgh who had followed Allan, Lord High Steward of Scotland, to the Holy Land, and aided in the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre from the Infidels, dedicated the famous Blue Blanket, or “ Banner of the Holy Ghost.” The large and beautiful centre key-stone of this chapel is now in the collection of C. K. Sharpe, Esq. It is adorned with a richly-sculptured boss, formed of four dragons, with distended wings, each different in design, the tails of which are gracefully extended, EO as to cover the intersecting ribs of the groined roof. The centre is formed by a large flower, to which an iron hook is attached; from whence, no doubt,, anciently depended a lamp over the altar of St Eloi, the patron saint of the Hammermen of Edinburgh. The painted glass from the chapel window-which, from the rarity of such remains in Scotland, would have possessed even a greater value than the beautiful key-stone - has either gone to enrich aome private collection, or been destroyed like the old chapel to which it belonged, as we have failed in all attempt8 to recover any clue to it. The view of the church from the narth-west will sufice to convey some idea of the singularly picturesque appearance of this part of the old building externally, even when encumbered with the last of.the Krames, and with its walls and windows defaced with many incongruous additions of later date. A restoration of this would have well rewarded the labour of the architect, and merited a grateful appreciation, which very few indeed will consider due to the uniformity that has been effected by its sacrifice, The two western chapels still remain, with B yery light and elegant clustered pillar, adorned with sculptured shields on a rich foliated capital, from vhich spring the ribs pf the groined roof and the arches that divide it from the adjoining aisle. The ornamental sculptures of this portion of the church are of a peculiarly ‘ Pennecuick’s History of the Blue Blanket, p. 28. -.
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