Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

than 4 ft. thick on the south side; and upon this stratum, from the experience of the old church having firmly rested, the architect wisely determined to place the new one. The work was commenced on the western side, driving eastward to the extremity of the site; at which, on the northern side, a pit was discovered whence the hard pot earth had been extracted, and the vacuity so made filled up with loose rubbish. The length of this hole in the direction of the foundation was not more than 6 or 7 ft., and from the fear of piles, if driven, becoming rotten, the surveyor determined to excavate through the sand, and to build up from the stratum solid for a depth of 40 ft. The pit sunk here was 18 ft. wide; in this he built up a pier, 10 ft. square, till it rose to within 15 ft. of the present surface. At this level he introduced an arch from the pier to the main foundation, and or this arch the north-eastern quoin of the choir is founded. 469. On the 21st of June, 1675, the first stone was laid; and, within ten years, the war.s of the choir and its side aisles, and the north and south circular porticoes, were finished; the piers of the dome also were brought up to the same height. The son of the architect laid the last stone in 1710. This was the highest stone on the top of the lantern. Thus the whole edifice was finished in thirty-five years, under the remarkable circumstances of having only one architect, one master mason (Mr. Strong), and the see being occupied the whole time by one bishop, Doctor Henry Compton. The master builder's name was Jennings. 470. The plan of St. Paul's is a Latin cross, and bears a general resemblance to that of St. Peter's. A rectangular parallelogram, 480 ft. from east to west (measuring from the top of the steps of the western portico to the exterior of the eastern wall of the choir), is crossed by another parallelogram, whose extremities form the transepts, 250 ft. in length from north to south. At the eastern end of the first parallelogram is a hemicylindrical recess, containing the altar, and extending 20 ft. further eastward; so that the whole length is 500 ft., exclusive of the flight of steps. At the north and south ends of the transepts are porticoes, segmental on the plan, and projecting 20 ft. The centre of the intersection of the parallelograms is 280 ft. from the western front. The width of each parallelogram is 125 ft. At the western end of the edifice, on the north and south extremities, are towers whose western faces are in the same plane as the general front, but whose northern and southern faces respectively project about 27 ft. from the walls of the aisles of the nave; so that the whole width of the western front is about 180 ft. In the re-entering angles on each side, between the towers and the main building, are two chapels, each 50 ft. long and 20 ft. broad, open to the aisles of the nave at their western end Externally two orders reign round the building. The lower one Corinthian, standing on a basement 10 ft. above the level of the ground, on the western side, where a flight of steps extending the whole breadth of the front, exclusive of the towers, leads to the level of the church. The height of this order, including the entablature, is 50 ft.; and that of the second order, which is composite, is one fifth less, or 40 ft.; making the total height 100 ft. from the ground to the top of the second entablature. The portico of the western front is formed with the two orders above mentioned, the lower story consisting of twelve coupled columns, and the upper one of eight; which last is surmounted by a pediment, whose tympanum is sculptured with the subject of the Conversion of St. Paul, in pretty high relief. Half of the western elevation, and the half transverse section, is given in fig 213. At the northern and southern ends of the transepts the lower order is continued into porticoes of six fluted columns, standing, in plan, on the segment of a circle, and crowned with a semi-dome abutting against the ends of the transepts. 471. The porch of the western front is 50 ft. long and 20 ft. wide: the great doorway, being in the centre of it, leads to a vestibule 50 ft. square, at whose angles are four piers connected at top by semicircular arches, under which are placed detached coupled columns in front of the piers. The body of the church is divided into a nave and two side aisles. decorated with pilasters supporting semicircular arches; and on each side of the porch and vestibule is a passage which leads directly to the corresponding aisles. The choir is similarly disposed, with its central division and side aisles. 472. The entrances from the transepts lead into vestibules 25 ft. deep, and the whole breadth of the transept in length, each communicating with the centre by a central passage and its aisles formed between two massive piers and the walls at the intersections of the transepts with the choir and nave. The eight piers are joined by arches springing from one to the other so as to form an octagon at their springing points, and the angles between the arches, instead of rising vertically, sail over as they rise and form pendentives, which lead, at their top, into a circle on the plan. Above this a wall rises in the form of a truneated cone, which, at the height of 168 ft. from the pavement, terminates in a horizontal cornice, from which the interior dome springs. Its diameter is 100 ft., and it is 60 ft. in height, in the form of a paraboloid. Its thickness is 18 in., and it is constructed of brickwork. From the haunches of this dome, 200 ft. above the pavement of the church, another cone of brickwork commences, 85 ft. high, and 94 ft. diameter at the bottom. This cone is pierced with apertures, as well for the purpose of diminishing its weight as for distributing light between it and the outer dome. At the top it is gathered into a dome, in the

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

form of a hyperboloid, pierced near the vertex with an aperture 12 ft. in diameter. The top of this cone is 285 ft. from the pavement, and carries a lantern 55 ft. high, terminating in a dome, whereon a ball and cross is raised. The last-named cone is provided with corbels, sufficient in number to receive the hammer beams of the external dome, which is of oak, and its base 220 ft. from the pavement, its summit being level with the top of the cone. In form, it is nearly hemispherical, and generated by radii 57 ft. in length, whose centres are in a horizontal diameter, passing through its base. The cone and the interior dome are restrained in their lateral thrust on the supports by four tiers of strong iron chains, placed in grooves prepared for their reception, and run with lead. The lowest of these is inserted in the masonry round their common base, and the other three at different heights on the exterior of the cone. Externally the intervals of the columns and pilasters are occupied by windows and niches, with horizontal and semicircular heads, and crowned with pediments. In the lower order, excepting modillions under the corona, the entablature is quite plain, and there are also console modillions in the upper order. The edifice, in three directions, is terminated with pediment roofs; and at the extremities, on each of those faces, are acroteria, supporting statues 25 ft. above the roof of the edifice. Over the intersection of the nave and transepts for the external work, and for a height of 25 ft. above the roof of the church, a cylindrical wall rises, whose diameter is 146 ft. Between it and the lower conical wall is a space, but at intervals they are connected by cross walls. This cylinder is quite plain, but perforated by two courses of rectangular apertures. On it stands a peristyle of thirty columns of the Corinthian order, 40 ft. high, including bases and capitals, with a plain entablature crowned by a balustrade. In this peristyle, every fourth intercolumniation is filled up solid, with a niche, and connection is provided between it and the wall of the lower come. Vertically over the base of that cone, above the peristyle, rises another cylindrical wall, appearing above the balustrade. It is ornamented with pilasters, between which are a tier of rectangular windows above, and one of blanks below. On this wall the external dome is posited. As will be seen by reference to the section, the lantern which we have before noticed receives no support from it. It is merely ornamental, differing entirely in that respect from the dome of St. Peter's. 473. The towers in the western front are 220 ft. high, terminating in open lanterns, covered with domes formed by curves of contrary flexure, and not very purely composed, though perhaps in character with the general façade. The total height to the top of the cross from the pavement outside is 401 ft., but usually stated as 365 ft.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

474. Ti e interior of the nave and choir are each designed with three arches longitudinally springing from piers, strengthened, as well as decorated, on their inner faces, by an entablature, whose cornice reigns throughout the nave and church. Above this entablature, and breaking with it over each pilaster, is a tall attic from projections on which spring semicircular arches which are formed into arcs doubleaur. Between the last, pendentives are formed, terminated by horizontal cornices. Small cupolas, of less height than their semi-diameter, are formed above these cornices. In the upright plane space on the walls above the main arches of the nave, choir, and transepts, a clerestory is obtained over the Attic order, whose form is generated by the rising of the pendentives. The inner dome is plastered on the under side, and painted by Sir James Thornhill, with subjects relating to the history of St. Paul.

475. For external elegance, we know no church in Europe which exhibits a cupola comparable with that of St. Paul's, though in its connection with the church by an order higher than that below it there is a violation of the laws of the art. The cost of the church was 736,752/., exclusive of the stone and iron enclosures round it, which cost 11,2021. more; in all 747,9541. About nine-tenths of that sum were raised by a tax on coals imported into London. As compared with St. Peter's, we subjoin a few of the principal dimensions of the two churches.

! Direction of Measure. St. Peter's in En- || St. Paul's in En. Excess of the former

| glish Feet. glish Feet. in Feet. Length within - - 669 500 169 Breadth at entrance - - 226 100 126 | Principal façade - - 395 180 21.5 l Breadth at the cross - - 4.42 223 219 Cupola, clear diameter - 139 108 31 l Cupola, height of, with lantern 432 330 102 | Church in height - - 146 110 56 | - l

476. If we suppose sections to be made through the transepts of the four principal churches of Europe, we have their relative sizes in the following ratio : —

St. Peter's, Rome - - - - - - - 1:0000
Santa Maria del Fiore, at Florence - - - - '53.58
St. Paul's, London - - - - - - 4166
St. Genevieve (Pantheon), Paris - - - - - 3:303

477. Notwithstanding its imposing effect as a whole, and the exhibition in its construction of a mechanical skill of the very highest order; notwithstanding, also, the abstract beauty of the greater number of its parts, it is our duty to observe that many egregions abuses are displayed in the fabric of St. Paul's, the first and greatest whereof is the great waste of interior effect as compared with the total section employed. If we suppose, as before, sections from north to south to be made through the transepts of the four principal churches, the following table will exhibit the proportion of their clear internal to their external areas:

St. Peter's, Itome - - - - - - 8,325 : 10,000
Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence - - - - 8,855 : 10,000
St. Paul's, London - - - - - 6,865 : 10,000
St. Genevieve (Pantheon), Paris - - - - 6,746 - 10,000

Whence it is seen how highly in this respect the Duomo of Florence ranks above the others. The defect of St. Paul's in this respect is mainly induced by the false dome; and though we may admire the ingenuity that provided for carrying a stone lantern on the top of a truncated cone, deceitfully appearing, as it does, to stand on the dome from which it rises, we cannot help regretting that it afforded the opportunity of giving the building a cupola, liable to the early attack of time, and perhaps that, more to be dreaded, of fire. 478. In the skill required for raising a building on a minimum of foundation, Sir Christopher Wren appears to have surpassed, at least, those who preceded him. In similarly or nearly so formed buildings, some criterion of the comparative skill employed in their construction may be drawn from comparing the ratio between the area of the whole plan, and that of the sum of the areas of the horizontal sections of the whole of the piers, walls, and pillars, which serve to support the superincumbent mass. The similarity of the four churches already compared affords, therefore, a criterion of their respective merits in this respect. We hardly need say that one of the first qualifications of an architect is to produce the greatest effect by the smallest means. The subjoined table is placed before the reader as a comparison of the four churches in reference to the point in question.

—l | - Whole Area in Area of Points of **** Church. English l'eet. Support. Ratio. | St. Peter's at Rome : - 227,069 59,308 1 : 0.261 | Sta. Maria del Fiore, Florence 84,802 17,030 1 : O-2Ol St. Paul's, London - - 84,025 14,31 l 1 : O-170 St. Genevieve (Pantheon), Paris 60,287 9,269 1 : 0-154

The merit, therefore, shown in the construction of the above edifices will be nearly as 15.

17, 20, 26, or inversely proportional to the numbers in the last column. 479. We must here mention one of the most unpardonable defects, or rather abuses.

which this church exhibits, and which must be learnt from reference to fig. 214. Therein is

[ocr errors][merged small]

given a transverse section of the nave and its side aisles. From this it will be seen that the enormous expense of the second or upper order all round the church was incurred for no other purpose than that of concealing the flying buttresses that are used to counteract the thrusts of the vaults of the nave, choir, and transepts, – an abuse that admits of no apology. It is an architectural fraud. We do not think it necessary to descend into minor defects and abuses, such as vaulting the church from an Attic order, the multiplicity of breaks, and want of repose; the general disappearance of tie and connection, the piercing, as practised, the piers of the cupola, and mitering the archivolts of its great arches, and the iike, because we think all these are more than counterbalanced by the beauties of the edifice. We cannot, however, leave the subject without observing that not the least of its merits is its freedom from any material settlement tending to bring on premature dilapidation. Its chief failures are over the easternmost arch of the nave, and in the north transept, for the remedy whereof (the latter) the architect left written instructions. There are also some unimportant failures in the haunches of most of the flying buttresses, which are scarcely worth notice. 480. The wretchedly naked appearance of the interior of this cathedral is a disgrace neither to the architect nor to the country, but to the clergy, Terrick, bishop of London, and Potter, archbishop of Canterbury, who 1efused to sanction its decoration with pictures, gratuitously proffered by artists of the highest reputation; and this after the cupola itself had been decorated. The colour of the sculpture is of no use in heightening the effect of the interior. 181. The Parentalia contains a description of the manner in which the walls of the old cathedral were destroyed, and those of the present one raised; which should be read by all those engaged in the practice of architecture. 482. Wren, having lived to see the completion of St. Paul's, was, as before stated, displaced from the office of surveyor of Crown buildings to make room for an incompetent pretender, named Benson. Pope, in the Dunciad, has left a record of the job, in the linesWhile Wren with sorrow to the grave descends, Gay dies unpensioned with a hundred friends. Wren died at the age of 91 years, and was buried under the falric, “with four words,” says Walpole, “that comprehended his merit and his fame.”

[graphic]

“SI QUAERAS MONUMENTUM CIRCUMSPICE.”

483. It will be impossible, consistently with our space, to describe the works of Sir Chris. topher Wren. One upon which his fame is as justly founded as upon St. Paul's itself is St. Stephen's Church in Wallbrook, in which, on a plot of ground 80 ft. by 59% ft., he has contrived a structure whose elegance is not surpassed by any one we know to have been raised under similar restrictions. The church in question is divided longitudinally into five aisles by four ranks of Corinthian columns standing on pedestals; the places of four columns near the centre being unoccupied; the surrounding central columns form the angles of an octagon, 45 ft. diameter, on which arches are turned, and above which, by means of pendentives, the circular base of a dome is formed, which is in the shape of a segment of a sphere, with a lantern thereon. The ceiling of the middle aisle from east to west is vaulted in groins. The rest of the ceiling is horizontal. The interior of St. James's, Westminster, is another beautiful example of the master, though recently underrated by an ignorant critic. - - 484. One of the peculiarities remarkable about Wren's period is the investment of the form of the Gothic spire with a clothing of Italian architecture, by which the modern steeple was produced. If any example could reconcile us to such a practice, it might be found in that of Bow Church, another of Wren's works, which rises to the height of 197 ft. from the ground, the sides of the square from which it rises being 32 ft. 6 in. There are in the leading proportions of this tower and spire, some extraordinary examples in relative heights as compared with widths sesquialterally, which would almost lead one to suppose that, in this respect, our architect was somewhat superstitious. 485. In St. Dunstan in the East, Wren attempted Gothic, and it is the least offensive of his productions in that style. It is an elegant composition, but wants the claim to originality. St. Nicholas, Newcastle, and the High Church, Edinburgh, are its prototypes. 486. The Monument of London is original, notwithstanding columns of this sort had been previously erected. Its total expense was 8856l., and it was commenced in 1671, completed in 1677. The height is 202 ft.; hence it is loftier than any of the historical columns of the ancients. The pedestal is about 21 ft. square, standing on a plinth 6 ft. wider. The lower diameter of the column on the upper part of the base is 15 ft., and the shaft incloses a staircase of black marble, consisting of 345 steps. It was fluted after the ... work was carried up. The quantity of Portland stone whereof it is composed is £8,196 cubic feet. The Antonine column at Rome is 163}, and that of Trajan 132 ft. high. That erected by Arcadius at Constantinople, when perfect, was of the same height as that last mentioned. The structure of which we are speaking loses much by its situation, which has neither been improved nor deteriorated by the streets consequent on the rebuilding of London Bridge: and though it cannot compete with the Trajan column in point of intrinsic beauty, it is, nevertheless, an exquisite and weil-proportioned work, and seems much better calculated with propriety to record the object of its erection, than the other is to be the monument of a hero. In these days, it is singular to see that no other mode than the erection of a column could be found to record the glorious actions of a Nelson. Such was the poverty of taste that marked the decision of the committee to whom that object was most improperly entrusted. 487. Among the works of Wren not to be passed without notice is the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. It is one of his finest productions, and one with which he himself was well satisfied. It consists of two orders; a Doric arcade below, open to a basement supported by columns, which has a flat ceiling, exceedingly convenient as an ambulatory, and itself simple and well proportioned. The principal story is decorated with threequarter columns of the Ionic order, well proportioned. From their volutes, festoons are pendent, and the key-stones of the windows are carved into cherubs' heads, &c. This is the elevation towards Nevill's Court; that towards the garden has three Doric doors below, but above is without columns or pilasters in the upper stories. Without ornament, it is not the less graceful and imposing. The interior, as a single room, is designed with great grandeur and propriety. 488. We cannot further in detail continue an account of the works of this extraordinary architect, but shall now proceed to submit a list of his principal works, together with a catalogue of those of his principal churches whose estimates exceeded the cost of 5OOOl.

« ZurückWeiter »