Culture, England, Societies, Society of Antiquaries of London Publications, Archaeologia Volume 2 Section XXIX

Archaeologia Volume 2 Section XXIX is in Archaeologia Volume 2.

Conjectures on an ancient Tomb [Bishop Roger of Salisbury] in Salisbury Cathedral. By Mr . Gough. Read at the Society of Antiquaries, Feb. 22, 1770.

On the south side of the nave of Salisbury cathedral, under the fourth arch from the west, lies a monument of blue speckled marble, with the figure of a bishop in pontificalibus, his right hand lifted up to give the blessing, his left hand holding the crosiera. On the perpendicular sides or edge all round is cut an inscription in large capitals ; and on the front of the robe, another in letters somewhat similar. The slab lay so deeply bedded in the stone foundation on which the pillars of the nave rest, that the first of these inscriptions had intirely escaped the notice of the curious, or if any had noticed it, the lower half of the letters being out of sight, rendered it unintelligible. Last summer I procured it to be raised, and the pavement disposed round it in such a manner, that it can henceforth, receive no injury, but will remain the second oldest monument in that church, if the conjectures I have formed upon it are founded in truth.

Note a. See Plate xiii. fig. 1.

Letters of the form here represented appear to have been in use among the Romans. On an altar dedicated to Mercury, found at Middleby in Scotland, and whose aera is by Baron Clerkb fixed to the time of Julian, we see several letters included in larger ones. But they are more common in the Gothic ages. Our own country affords three instances.

Note b. Horsley Brit. Rom. p. 355. Scot. xxxv.

The first is an inscription on a leaden plate found in Lincoln minster, published by Sir William Dugdalec, and again, with some inconsiderable difference, from Dr. Smith’s papers, by Mr. Hearne, at the end of his preface to Trivet’s Annalsd. It commemorates William D’Eincourt, who died in the court of William Rufus, 3 kal. Nov. between 1087 and 1100.

Note c. Baron, vol. I. p. 386.

The second is the epitaph of Ilbertus de Chaz, in the ruins of Monkton Farleigh priory, Wilts. It is printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine for April, 1744, and corrected in that for the following month. The letters and style correspond with this at Salisbury more than that at Lincoln. Ilbertus was a witness to the foundation charter of Humphrey de Bohun, the second of that name, who lived about the middle of the twelfth century, and still nearer the time of our monumente.

Note d. N° iv. p. 26.

Note e. Tan. Not. Mon. 596. Dugd. Mon. Ang. I. 620, 621. Upon enquiry, in 1772, after this curious monument in order to verify it, I had the mortification to find it had lately been broken to pieces to mend the roads. I have therefore caused the Magazine copy, such as it is, to be inserted in the annext plate, fig. 2.

The third is an inscription of uncertain date, found in taking down the steeple of St. George’s church, Southwark, 1733, communicated to this Society by Mr. Ames, 1737, and; here engraved from their Minutesf.

I make no doubt but many more might be found among us on an attentive search.

Note f. PI. xiii. fig. 3.

The instances of this kind that occur in France are of more ancient date. These are the inscriptions on the reliques belonging to the cathedral of Clermont, and the epitaph of Pope Geneiius in the church dedicated to him in that city; the former of the 7th, and the latter of the 8th centuryg.

Note g. See Monf. Lancelot’s Memoirs on these two inscriptions, in Mem. de l'Acad. des Infe. vol. xii. p. 264. 12mo.

Sir William Dugdaleh calls these letters Saxon capitals. They are rather a mixture of Saxon and Roman. In the Lincoln inscription, only the X, E, and H [Note. These are represented as Saxon letters], are strictly Saxon. All the rest are made up of mixed, rude letters, which varied according to the capacity and skill of the carver, and alphabets of which I place among the desiderata of Antiquarian Science.

Note h. Loc. cit.

I read the inscription under consideration, as follows:

Flent hodie Salesberie quia decidit enfis

Justitie, pater ecclesie Salisbiriensis.

Dum viguit, miseros aluit, fastusque potentum

Non timuit, sed clava suit terrorque nocentum.

De ducibus, de nobilibus primordia duxit

Principibus, propeque tibi qui gemma reluxit.

The line on his robe, with Leland,i.

Affer opem, devenies in idem.

Note i. Itin. vol. III. f. 64. p. 91. last edit. This was the only inscription that diligent Antiquary observed on this monument. He places the two Bishops of Old Sarum in the North isle. In Bor. infula navis eccl. sepulchra duorum episcoporum, ut autumant, veteris Sarum.

Having premised thus much on the form and style of this monument, it is time to ascertain the person it commemorates.

I presume then that it belongs to Roger, the third bishop of Salisbury after the removal of the see from Sherborn to Old Sarum; and that it was composed for him, after the translation of his corps to the new church. This prelate, promoted to all the highest offices of the state by Henry I. was a simple mass priest of a church in the suburbs of Caen, where that prince chanced to turn in with his officers to perform his devotions, during his war with his brother William Rufus. The dispatch with which Roger went through the offices was his recommendation as a proper chaplain for the troops ; and he readily closed in with Henry’s order, between jest and earnest, to attend him. His artful and insinuating behaviour soon won upon his patron, whose favour he perfectly knew how to improve. Malmesbury says, his prudent management of Henry’s scanty finances was his chief merit; and the king afterwards amply repaid him what his oeconomy had saved for him, while only earl of Anjouk. His first preferment, on his patron’s accession to the throne, was the chancellorship, which was but a step to the see of Salisbury, to which he was elected in 1102, and consecrated five years after. During the king’s long and frequent absences in Normandy for three or four years together, he acted as regent of the kingdom; and in all the departments he was concerned in, he acquitted himself with a diligence and uprightness, that left no room for malicious reflexions. "Ante regnum, omnibus fuis prefecerat rex, primùm cancellarium, mox episcopum constituerat; prudentiam viri expertus, folerter administrati episcopatûs officium spem insudit quod majore dignus habe retur munere. Itaque totius regni moderamen illius delegavit justitiae, sive ipse adesset Angliae, sive moraretur Normaniae. Sategit ita fieri Henricus, non nescius quod fideliter sua tractaret commoda Rogerus: nec defuit ille spei regiae, fed tanta integritate, tanta se agebat industria, ut nulla contra eum conflaretur invidia. —Inter haec ecclesiastica officia non negligere. — Pontifex magnanimus, et nullis unquam parcens sumptibus, dum quae facienda proponeret, edificia praesertim confummaret.l" Such is Malmsbury’s account of this prelate, which I have cited the more at large, in order to justify my future conjectures.

Note l. Malmsb. de Henrico I. Lib. v. f. 91.

The buildings referred to were the castles of Devizes, Sherborn, Malmsbury, and Sarum; the first the wonder of Europe, the others not much inferior to it ; the stones so neatly jointed together as to appear like one single mass. As to the cathedral of Salisbury, the same authorm says, he rebuilt it; or, as bishop Godwin understands the words novam fecit, laid out incredible sums in carrying on and decorating it in a most sumptuous manner: for though the foundation had been laid about fifty years before, it had suffered much by lightning immediately after its dedication, A. D. 1092. He endowed two religious foundations, at Dorchester in Oxfordshire, and at Kidwelly in South Wales; and, though no scholar himfelf, settled at St. Fridefwide’s, Oxford, a convent of regular Canons, under Guimond, a learned clerk, and chaplain to Henry I.

Note m. Loc. cit.

Such was the prosperous situation of our prelate under this prince ; in which there is every thing to justify the elogia which compose his epitaph. His great influence with his sovereign, and his mutual esteem for him, is recorded in the words, Prinipibus gemma reluxit. His administration of justice intitled him to the name of Ensis justitiae. His munificence to his infant church, to that of Pater ecclesiae Salisbiriensis. His impregnable fortifications, as well as his irreproachable conduct, made that non timuit fastus potentum; as his high rank in the state made him Clava terrorque nocentum. We are to presume, that with his great wealth miseros aluit; (not to mention his religious foundations) and considering what a reverse he underwent in the next reign, dum viguit is not without its meaning. The words inscribed on the front of his robe more strongly mark the distresses of this prelate’s declining age. Affer opem, devenies in idem, is an earnest address to the sympathy of the spectators, warning them at the same time of the uncertainty of human events. The conclusion Propeque tibi gemma reluxit, seems an address to the church, reminding her of the lustre he reflected on her while he presided as bishop in her former situation at Old Sarum. My only difficulty is about the noble descent ascribed to him in the words, de ducibus, de nobilibus, primordia duxit. But he may have been the younger son of some noble family in Normandy, which the Monks may have known from evidences not noticed by general historians, or they may have introduced it here for rhyme sake.

I would draw a veil over the last and larger part of this bishop’s life. The treacheries of the human heart and the cruel reverses of fortune are disagreeable subjects to inflict upon, if they were not otherwise foreign to my design. He lived to sacrifice the interests of his patron's family to his own ambition and interest; and to be plundered by the usurper, whose cause he had espoused. After having seen his strongeft castles surrendered before his face, and heard that the wealth he had devoted to the service of his church was carried off from the very altar, he died of a broken heart, in transports of the most violent distraction and disappointment, 1139; and so, says Neubrigenfisn, "vitam longo tempore splendidissimam infelicissimo sine conclusit." But he died not unrevenged. The ingratitude with which Stephen repaid his obligation to our bishop, and the rest of the clergy, involved him the next year in a civil war, which ended in restoring the succession to its proper line.

Note n. Lib. I. c. 6.

The only objection I know to my suppofition that this tomb belongs to Bishop Roger, is, that none of the ancient historians who mention his death say where he was buried. Dr. Richardsonp says he was buried in his own church; Brown Willis, in his short account of this church at the end of his Mitred Abbeys, only tells us that he was removed hither; but neither of these writers produce their authoritieq. In answer to this, it is to be considered that his predecessor Osmund’s monument is evident in the Lady Chapel. Herman, the first bishop of Salisbury, answers to none of the characters in the inscription, being eminent for nothing but the removal of the see fromShernorn; and if, as is very probable, he was buried at Salisbury, I should rather give him the tomb at the head of this, which has the figure of a bishop in pontificalibus, with a crosier piercing a dragon, and a rude border of birds and foliage round himr; or that plain coffin-fashioned tomb, whicn lies more west of this. These three are the only bishops of Old Sarum who could possibly be buried there. The fourth and fifth were translated to Canterburv, and the last was buried at Wilton. All who sat in the new see, except one or two of less note in the 13th century, have well-known burying-places in the choir and presbytery, with monuments of a very different style. It may seem sstrange that Bishop Poore, the founder of the prelent church, should not have a monument in it. Dr. Richardson says, he died at Tarrant Gunviile, Dorset, and was buried here; and Mr. Willis, that he erected for himself a noble tomb here, but was buried, as most authors say, at Durham, where he sat nine years after his translation from hence. But neither of these writers give their authority for his burial or monument here; nor is he in Leland’s list of the bishops buried here.

Note p. Note on his life, by Godwin. The tomb which the vergers shew for his, is that in the north wall of the presbytery. See plate xiii. fig. 5. But this rather belongs to some earlier bbishop of the new see.

Note q. William de Wenda, who wrote the account of the building the present church, mentions the removal of only three bishops from old Sarum, in 1226. Osmund, Roger, and Josceline. Price’s account of Salisbury cathedral, p. 15.

Note r. See plate xiii, fig. 4.