Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral.

The reason to go to Chichester is of course the Cathedral, and for readers of this page, there are a good crop of statues and lesser monuments there, including more than a score of signed pieces, though several of these are rather humble. Most notable are the several monuments by Flaxman, two works by J. E. Carew, and one by John Gibson. Other sculptors represented among the tombs are Thomas Hickey, J. E. Hinchcliffe, Josephus Kendrick, Ernest Richardson, and Henry Westmacott along with more obscure workers. Rather outside the purview of these pages, there are paintings from the 16th Century, unusually by a known artist, Lambert Barnard, and much stained glass from the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, along with a curious window to a design by Marc Chagall.

The cathedral building itself is blocky and rather unornamented, excepting a few gargoyles on the exterior drains, medieval and a couple of modern ones. A rather unsympathetic Victorian wrote:

‘There is little in the architecture of Chichester Cathedral and not much in its history ... The original cathedral was founded in the 11th C, destroyed by fire in the 12th, renovated by Bishop Seffrid (ca. 1180s) and his building is the nucleus of existing building, incomplete at his death in 1214. There is little remarkable in it. The central tower was begun in 1222 by Bishop Neville, and the spire raised in about 1337. We cannot say much for the appearance of Chichester Cathedral, it is indisputably the least handsome of our cathedrals. The outside is unadorned and there is nothing in the general form to redeem the inelegance of the details. Much destroyed inside….’

A little harsh. The tower is now Victorian, but much of the 13th century work remains. And the monuments, already mostly in place when this was written, are numerous and worthy.

We start from the Western entrance and work round to the right, or south side of the nave and transept, the rear of the altar to the East, and then return via the North Transept and northern side of the nave to the front.

The William Collins monument, by Flaxman.

Starting with the Baptistery under the South tower and the proximate Chapel of St Clement, we have the opportunity to see five works by Flaxman. Jane Smith, the first, is a particularly charming composition within a semicircle of a girl seated, head bowed on her arms, an example of what might be termed Flaxman’s rustic classical style. The monument to the poet William Collins has the poet depicted in contemplative pose, and shows Flaxman’s treatment of modern dress, using a scholastic cloak to give a look more of drapery than clothing, with clingy folds in medieval style to emphasise the contours of the limbs beneath. Above, a girl in some negligible gown is comforted by a cherub in an elegant low triangular composition.

Also in the Baptistery is the monument to Ernest Udny, d.1808 as a child, signed by Henry Westmacott, the less than familiar younger brother of the famous Sir Richard Westmacott RA. From the little work I have seen by him, he seems to have produced rather humble works, or at least did not win commissions for the more extravagant monuments. The child is shown in naturalistic sleeping pose, in some outdoor setting suggested by a little plant, perhaps a poppy, with behind a cloth hanging from an arrow, over which is a symbolic young flower being cut by a sickle.

We may note a 1950s painting by Hans Feibusch, one of several modern works in the Cathedral, before passing the St George’s Chapel, with a painted St George and the dragon on a panel, to the adjacent Chapel of St Clement, wherein are three more panels by Flaxman. The monument to Sarah Udny shows her reclining Roman style on a chaise long. That to Francis and Bridget Dear has two flanking classical girls, in a simple style of drapery often used by Flaxman. Best of the group is the Agnes Harriet monument, a panel showing almost a column of figures, with the deceased borne in upwardly direction by three swirling angels. Spiritual.

Also there, an unsigned panel to Bishop Charles John Ridgeway, with central Christ figure and two flanking bishops, dating from the 20th Century, and in the inner wall, so adjacent to the nave, is a full recumbent effigy in colourful marble of Richard Durnford, Bishop 1870-96. A rich surround, with four little saints and bishops on the pillars of the canopy, a dragon at his feet, and little half-angels and floralities above. Who did it?

Proceeding in the South nave, we may note the brass to Mayor William Bradbridge and his wife, 1592, in the style of a German woodcut - they kneeling facing each other, flocks of children behind - 6 sons and 8 daughters. Also a roundel portrait of George Bell, a mid-20th Century bishop.

The South Transept has a series of portraits painted on wooden panels by Lambert Barnard, an Italian, painter to Bishop Sherburne, who held the see in 1508-1536. Not in the scope of these pages, but we have to look anyway at these and the companion works in the North transept, which need to be viewed together by crossing from the one to the other. All the portraits of bishops have the same face; the kings are individual to at least some degree, though not in some cases particularly resembling the monarchs concerned – the large pictures, showing the founding of the see and the renewal of the charter by Henry VIII to Bishop Sherburne himself, show masses of richly-robed figures filling the field in the style of the time, as painters such as Rossetti were to return to 350 years on. The pictures have undergone at least some restoration work.

Also in the South Transept we may note recumbent effigies of two early bishops and a further recumbent figure of John Smith, a 19th Century banker, apparently by Edward Richardson (a sculptor who worked mostly on monuments, whose work is familiar from Winchester, York, Canterbury and elsewhere), in stone, and rather simple in treatment, though on a coffer decorated with two small saints, and beneath a decorated canopy set in to the wall.

Proceeding further along the South Nave past the transept are several rather plain 19th century panels on the wall, of which we may note works by the monumental sculptors Gaffin (Hugh Drummond) and Bown and Russell (Richard Bruckner). More interesting are a pair of probably 12th century panels in stone entitled Lazarus and Bethany. Lugubrious elongated figures more familiar from ivories than from full-size sculpture. In the floor, a fragment of Roman mosaic, and a gargoyle from the exterior converted into a collection box, a minor 18th Century classical panel to Thomas Wheeler and his daughter Suzanna Gillham, and the coffer tomb to Hook may also be noted. Most importantly to the history of the cathedral, is the 16th century effigy of Bishop Sherburne, with four angels above, set in the wall, all colourfully painted in gold, blue, white and red, and in a good state of preservation or restoration.

At the rear end of the nave, we may note the big panel to Francis Waddington in black and white marble, like some vast classical fireplace, with a decorated shield and flourishes above. And finally the panel to George Parker Farhill (d.1790), with a rather solid girl leaning on a pot, scowling rather than mourning, signed by C. Harris of the Strand, London.

At the other side of the nave is the Chapel of St John Baptist, where along with a 1930s painting by Patrick Procktor and a maquette by Philip Jackson, is the panel to Margaret Miller, two Corinthian pillars, baroque top and base, crest on top, and two mourning cherubs.

Along the choir from the rear, the rather good Sarah Peckham monument, signed almost inaccessibly by Charles Harris of the Strand whom we met in the Farhill monument, shows a girl reclining on a rock, leaning against the base of a pot, her torch upturned to put out its flame. The plain plaque to Samuel Slade is by E. Gaffin of Regent Street, and nearby we may note the Marc Chagall window, and a bust of William Otter, Lord Bishop, d. 1840, austere and humourless, apparently by the sculptor Joseph Towne, who worked mostly as a sculptor of anatomical models in Guy’s Hospital, London. In the central choir, better seen from the other side, is the recumbent figure of Bishop Edward Storey (bishop 1478-1503) with little shields on the side showing alternate coats of arms and a figure of a saint with a flying sword.

Note too an altar frontal designed by the architect G. F. Bodley, the rather harsh alabaster panel to Bishop Ernest Wilberforce (d.1907), and the 17th Century monument to John and William Cawley, with an expressionless painted Jacobean portrait head of the former, with a note on the monument frame that it was restored by Thomas King, artist and antiquary, 1840.

The North Transept, along with the second of the Lambert Barnard works, is the setting for several large, imposing monuments. On the West side are Bishop Robert Grove (bishop 1691-96) with a self-pleased portrait bust, and two clearly related cherubs below, drying their eyes on the corner of the cloth holding the epitaph, while holding in their other hands the crozier; also Bishop Henry King (1642-69), nothing figural, and Guido Carleton (1685) – a central obelisk with two cherubs, wholely unpleasant in every degree. Opposite is the panel to Eliza Huskisson, wife of the politician, showing an angel descending on the subject, startled while praying at a lectern. Very pure. John Gibson, the sculptor, had also made a statue of Huskisson himself which is in Pimlico Gardens, London.

The aisle to the front half of the nave on the north side contains a further 15 or so monuments. The recumbent figure of Joan de Vere (d.1293), formerly in Lewes Priory, was, according to the label, thought by Flaxman to be the finest medieval effigy in England. A calm pose, strongly delineated drapery, and small praying figures on the sides of the chest below, with some colouring in red and blue.

From the next century, also from Lewes, is the Arundel tomb, with effigies of Richard Fitzalan III, 13th Earl of Arundel (d. ca. 1376) and his second wife Eleanor. Apparently somewhat restored by E. Richardson, whom we met in his effigy of John Smith in the South Transept.

From the 18th Century monuments here, most notable is that to Thomas Ball (d. 1771), by Flaxman again, an oval composition of a male angel addressing the mourning wife of the deceased; the face of the angel and the drapery of the woman being especially noteworthy. The Dublin-born John Hickey was the sculptor of the monument to Joseph Baker, a conventionally-posed girl leaning on more of a piece of furniture than a bier or pillar showing a portrait of the deceased, redeemed by excellent drapery, strongly undercut, showing both a satisfying heaviness and weight and emphasising the curves of the figure. Note also the panel to Thomas Hayley (d.1739), with ornate floral surround.

From early in the 19th Century we have one more Flaxman, a plaque to Henry Frankland (d. 1814) showing seated woman in enveloping cloak, and bove, a flag and anchor, recollecting the deceased’s status as a vice-Admiral. There is a very large panel by J. E. Carew to Edmund Woods (d.1833), showing a girl in enveloping drapery and a hood, extreme Grecian. She holds a book resting on a short Doric pillar bearing the epitaph. The principal monument however is the statue of Huskisson, as a noble orator in Roman senator style, also by Carew. It may be contrasted with the more contemplative work by John Gibson in London mentioned before, and pictured below.

Huskisson, by John Gibson, Pimlico.

The plaque to Alicia Murray (d.1853), signed by Edward Richardson, has a direct copy of the pediment figures on Flaxman’s William Collins monument. Nearby is a minor work by J. E. Hinchcliffe (spelt here Hinchcliff), the plaque to John Quantock (d.1820) with simple decoration. Much more ambitious is the earlier monument to Matthew Quantock, who drowned skating in 1812, which shows a kneeling couple in modern dress, presumably the parents, mourning over a tomb. Under a Gothic canopy with three small angels.

We may note en passant signed panels to Edward Madden (d. 1819, by the prolific Bacon the younger), Charles Cullen (d. 1830, Karn and Karn of Chichester), John Mackie (d. 1831, Clark and Son of Reading), and George Teesdale (d. 1840, M. W. Johnson of New Road, London). And there is a cathedral banner, given in 1901, by Ernest Geldart and embroidered by Miss H. Harvey, showing St Richard and St Wilfred, very much in the spirit of the time.

We end at the front under the left or North Tower, which has nautical memorials. John Kendrick, sculptor of the ambitious Myers monument in St Pauls, signs the panel to George Murray (d.1819), showing the naval battle of Copenhagen, 1801. The monument to Thomas Allen, Commander of Britannia, also has a scene, showing the ship in a bay, with Britannia (the allegorical one) in the foreground with naval accoutrements. Also there are plaques to George Pigott Almes (d. 1782) signed by Harris, of London, and to James Almes, with the signature of some other London sculptor, now polished away. We should also note an interesting naval picture showing ships in a harbour, signed M. Yarwood and dated 1829.

Finally in the Cathedral, there are further plaques in the cloisters, none of which are signed, and among which we may note the monuments to Smallpage with a Tudor bust, Oliver Whitby (d.1702) who founded a local school for poor boys to be educated with a view to finding employment in navigation, Thomas Baker, and Charles Pilkington and wife. Outside is a modern St. Richard, by Philip Jackson.

Elsewhere in Chichester, a pleasant small town, we should note at least the market cross, which bears a portrait bust. To quote from a 19th Century guidebook:

‘Chichester Market Cross is still more beautiful than that of Malmesbury… The form is an octagon. There is a large central column, from which numerous bold ribs spring upward to the vaulted roof. The walls are panelled, and have a parapet, pinnacles, and flying buttresses, and the whole is sustained on eight pier buttresses. The cross was erected by Bishop Story near the close of the 15th C. There are shields attached to the buttresses, on which his arms are impaled with those of his sovereign.’

Chichester Market Cross.

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