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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES. 405 evidence remains to show that the choir and transepts were in existence filly a quarter of a century later, and that had the necessary exertions been then made for its repair, we might still have possessed the ancient building in its ori,oinal and magnificent proportions, instead of the ruined nave, which alone remains to show what once had been. In (‘ the heads of the accusation and chief offences laid to Adam, Bishop of Orknay, his charge,” by the General Assembly of 1569, the fifth is, that “ all the said kirks, for the most part, wherein Christ’s evangell may be preached, are decayed, and made, some sheepfolds, and some so ruinous, that none darre enter into them for fear of falling; specially Halrudhouse, although the bishop of Sanct Andrews, in time of papistry, sequestrate the whole rents of the said abbacy, because only the glassen windows were not holden up and repaired.” To this the Bishop replied, “ That the Abbay Church of Hdyrudhouse hath been, these 20 years bygane, ruinous through decay of two principal1 pillars, so that none were assured under it ; and two thousand pounds bestowed upon it would not be sufficient to ease men to the hearing of the word, and ministration of the sacraments. But with their consent, and help of ane established authority, he was purposed to provide the means, that the superfluous ruinous parts, to wit, the Queir and Croce Kuk, might be disponed be faithful1 men, to repair the remanent sufficiently.” The Bishop’s economical plan was no doubt put in force, and the whole of the choir and transept soon after demolished and sold, to provide funds for converting the nave into the Parish Kirk of the Canongate. The two western pillars, designed to support a great central tower, now form the sides of the east window constructed within the arch, and an examination of the masonry with which the lower parts of this and the side arches are closed, shows that it is entirely built with fragments of clustered shafts and other remains of the ruins. It was at this time, we presume, that the new royal vault was constructed in the south aisle of the nave, and the remains of the Scottish kings removed from their ancient resting-place near the high altar of the Abbey Church. It is built against the ancient Norman doorway of the cloisters, which still remains externally, with its beautiful shafts and zigzag mouldings, an undoubted relic of the original fabric of St David. The cloisters appear to have enclosed a large court, formed in the angle of the nave and south transept. The remains of the north side are clearly traceable still, and the site of the west side is now occupied by the Palace buildings. Here was the ambulatory for the old monks, when the magnificent foundation of St David retained its pristine splendour, and it remained probably till the burning of the Abbey after the death of James V. We learn on the occasion of the marriage of James IT. with the Princess Margaret of England, that “after all reverences doon at the Church, in ordere as before, the Kyng transported himself to the Pallais, through the clostre, holdynge always the Queen by the body, and hys hed bare, till he had brought hyr within her chammer.” The west front, as it now remains, is evidently the work of very different periods. It has been curtailed of the south tower to admit of the completion of the quadrangle according to the design of Sir William Bruce, and the singular and unique windows over the great doorway are evidently additions of the time of Charles L, whose initials appear 1 Booke of the Umveraall Kirk of Scotland, p. 163. Ibid, p. 167.
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406 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. below, on the oak beam of the great doorway. Between the windows an ornamental tablet of the same date, and decorated in the style of the period, bears the inscription :-BASILICAN HANG, CARO~VS REX, OPTINVS INSTAVRAVIT, 1633; with the further addition in English ;-HE SHALL BUILD A H O UF~OR MY NAME, AND I WILL ESTABLISH THE THRONE OF HIS KINGDOM FOR EVER ; a motto of strange significance, when we consider the events that so speedily befell its inscriber, and the ruin that overwhelmed the royal race of the Stuarts, as with the inevitable stroke of destiny. The chief portions of the west front, however, are in the most beautiful style of early English, which succeeded that of the Norman. The details on the west front of the tower, in particular, with its elaborately sculptured arcade, and boldly cut heads between the arches, and the singularly rich variety of ornament in the great doorway, altogether unite to form a specimen of early ecclesiastical architecture unsurpassed by any building of similar dimensions in the kingdom. A beautiful doorway on the north side, in a much later style, is evidently the work of Abbot Crawfurd, by whom the buttresses of the north side were rebuilt as they now remain, in the ornate style of the fifteenth century. He succeeded to the abbacy in 1457, and according to his namesake, in the “Lives of Officers of State,” he rebuilt the Abbey Cburch from the ground. Abundant evidence still exists in the ruins that remain to disprove so sweeping a slateruent, but the repetition of his arms on various parts of the building prove the extensive alterations that were effected under his directions. He was succeeded by Abbot Ballantyne, equally celebrated as a builder, who appears to have completed the work which his predecessor had projected. Father Hay records, that “ he brocht hame the gret bellis, the gret brasin fownt, twintie fowr capis of gold and silk; he maid ane chalice of fine gold, ane eucharist, with sindry chalicis of silver ; he theikkit the kirk with leid; he biggit ane brig of Leith, ane othir ouir Clide; with mony othir gude workis, qwilkis ware ouir prolixt to schaw.” The brazen font here mentioned was carried off by Sir Richard Lee, captain of the English pioneers in the Earl of Hertford’s army, and presented to the Abbey Church of St Alban’s, with a gasconading Latin inscription engraved on it, which may be thus rendered:--“When Leith, a town of some celebrity in Scotland, and Edinburgh, the chief city of that nation, were on fire, Sir Richard Lee, Knight of the Garter, snatched me from the flames, and brought me to England. In gratitude for such kindness, I who heretofore served only to baptize the children of Kings, now offer the same service to the meanest of the English nation. Farewell. A.D. 1543-4. 36 Hen. VIII.” This font a second time experienced the fate of war, during the commotions of Charles I.’s reign, when the ungrateful Southron, heedless of its condescending professions, sold it as a lump of useless metal.’ Seacome, in his History of the House of Stanley, refers to an old but somewhat confused tradition of an ancestor of the family of Norris of Speke Hall, Lancashire, who commanded a company, as would appear from other sources, at the Battle of Pinkie, “in token whereof, he brought Lee, the conqueror, so wills it. 1 Liber Cartsrum, p. xxxii. ’ Camden’a Britannia, by Cfough, vol. i p. 338, where the original Latin inscription ia given.
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