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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


394 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. the Church, were ordered to be converted into great guns for the use of the Town,” a resolution so far departed from, that they were sold the following year for two hundred and twenty pounds.’ Two of the remaining bells were recast at Campvere in Zealand, in 1621 ; ’ and the largest of these having cracked, it was again recast at London in 1846. In 1585, St Giles’s Church obtained some share of its neighbours’ spoils, after having been stripped of all its sacred furniture by the iconoclasts of the sixteenth century. That year the Council purchased the clock belonging to the Abbey Church of Lindores in Fife, and put it up in St Giles’s steeple,s previous to which time the citizens probably regulated time chiefly by the bells for matins and vespers, and the other daily services of the Roman Catholic Church. Such is an attempt to trace, somewhat minutely, the gradual progress of St Giles’s, from the small Parish Church of a rude hamlet, to the wealthy Collegiate Church, with its forty altars, and a still greater number of chaplains and officiating priests ; and from thence to its erection into a cathedral, with the many vicissitudes it has since undergone, until its entire remodelling in 1829. The general’paucity of records enabling us to fix the era of the later stages of. Gothic architecture in Scotland confers on such inquiries some value, as they suffice to show that our northern architects adhered to the early Gothic models longer than those of England, and executed works of great beauty and mechanical skill down to the reign of James V., when political and religious dissensions abruptly closed the history of ecclesiastical architecture in the kingdom. No record preserves to us the names of those who designed the ancient Parish Church of St Giles, or the elaborate additions that gradually extended it to its later intricate series of aisles, adorned with every variety of detail. It will perhaps be as well, on the whole, that the name of the modern architect who undertook the revision of their work should share the same oblivion. Very different, both in its history and architectural features, from the venerable though greatly modernised Church of St Giles, is the beautiful edifice which stood at the foot of Leith Wynd, retaining externally much the same appearance as it assumed nearly 400 years ago, at the behest of the widowed Queen of James II., whose ashes repose beneath its floor. The Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity was founded in 1462, by the Queen Dowager, Mary of Guelders, for a provost, eight prebends, and two singing boys; in addition to which there was attached to the foundation an hospital for thirteen poor bedemen, clad, like the modern pensioners of royalty, in blue gowns, who were bound to pray for the soul of the royal foundress. In the new statutes, it is ordered that (‘ the saidis Beidmen sal1 prepair and mak ilk ane of yame on yair awin expensis, ane Blew-gown, COBform to thefirst Foundation.” The Queen Dowager died on the 16th November 1463, and was buried ‘‘ in the Queen’s College besyde Edinburgh, quhilk sho herself foundit, biggit, and dotit.” ‘ No monument remains to mark the place where the foundress is laid; but her tomb is ienerdly understood to be in the vestry, on the north side of the church. The death of the Queen so soon after the date of the charter of foundation, probably prevented the completion of the church according to the original design. As it now stands it consita of the choir and transepts, with the central tower partially built, and evidently 1 Maitland, p. 273. * Ibid, p. 62. 8 Burgh Register, YOL vii. p. 177. Maitland, p. 273. ‘ haley’s Hkt. p. 36.
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ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES. 395 hastily completed with crow-stepped gables and a slanting roof. specimen of the decorated English style of archi- The church is 8 beautiful tecture. The east end of the choir more especially has a very stately and imposing effect. It is an Apsis, with a lofty window in each of its three sides, originally iilled with fine tracery, and not improbably with painted glass, though the only evidence of either that now remains is the broken ends of mullions and transoms. The ornamental details with which the church abounds exhibit great variety of design, though many of those on the exterior are greatly injured by time. Various armorial bearings adorn different parts of the building, and particularly the east end of the choir. One of the latter has angels for supporters, but otherwise they are mostly too much decayed to be decipherable. One heraldic device, which, from its sheltered position on the aide of a buttress at the west angle of the south transept, has escaped the general decay, is described both by Maitland and Arnot as the arms of the foundress. It proves, however, to be the arms of her brother-in-law, Alexander Duke of Albany, who at the time of her decease was residing at the court of the Duke of Guelders. From the royal supporters still traceable, attached to a coat of arms sculptured on the north-east buttress of the vestry, the arms of the foundress would appear to have been placed on that part of the church where she lies buried. In the foundation charter it is specially appointed, that '' whenever any of the said Prebendaries shall read Mass, he shall, after the same, in his sacredotal habiliments, repair to the tomb of the foundress with a sprinkler, and there devoutly read over the De Profundis, together with the Fidelium, and an exhortation to excite the people to devotion." Many of the details of the church are singularly grotesque. The monkey is repeated in all variety of positions in the gurgoils, and is occasionally introduced in the interior among other figures that seem equally inappropriate as the decorations of an ecclesiastical edifice, though of common occurrence in the works of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The varied corbels exhibit here and there an angel, or other device of beautiful form; but more frequently they consist of such crouching monsters, labouring under the burden they have to bear up, as seem to realise Dante's Purgatory of Pride, where the unpurged souls dree their doom of penance underneath a crushing load of stone :- As, to support incumbent floor or roof, For corbel, ia 8 figure sometime0 seen, That crumple8 up ita knees unto its breast; With the feigned posture, stirring ruth unfeigned In the beholder's fancy.1 The centre aisle is lofty, and the groining exceedingly rich, abounding in the utmost variety of detail. -A very fine doorway, underneath a beautiful porch with groined roof, gives access to the south aisle of the choir, and a small but finely proportioned doorway may be traced underneath the great window of the north transept, though now built up. The admirable proportions and rich variety of details of thiq church, as well as its perfect state externally, untouched, Nave by the hand of time-if we except the tracery of ita windows-render it oqe of the most attractive objects of study to the C q ' s Dante. Purgatory. Canto x.
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