Extract from the:
has a botonée cross not of unusual form. A wish to obtain further evidence of the form of the Templars cross led me to examine carefully the pavement of the church at Bosbury, and I found, besides the slab here figured, one entire bearing a cross, and two fragments of other slabs, all apparently of the thirteenth century. One of these fragments had upon it part of the head of a floriated cross, and below its arms on each side a cross patée of the same form as those on the slab first mentioned. The entire slab and the other fragment bore only one cross, the form of which was nearly identical on both, and may be described as consisting of a Greek cross, the arms of which are united by two concentric circles, midway between the arms of the cross is introduced a pointed oval. It will be seen that, if the portions of the circles which are within these ovals were omitted, there would remain a cross patée with curved ends.
It is to be regretted that the lower end of the slab at Bosbury is mutilated, as it must remain uncertain whether the stems of the smaller crosses terminated in gradated bases, or should be considered as cross-staves. The question remains, Why are two crosses represented, and only one sword? It has, I believe, been conjectured that two crosses on the same slab indicated the burial of two persons, as for instance husband and wife, in the same grave or near together. If this is to be assumed, it will seem to militate against the supposition that this stone covered a knight or two knights of the order, as it may naturally be asked. If only one knight were there buried, why do we find two crosses; and, if two brethren in arms, why only one sword? Another question is suggested, are we to look for the memorials of the members of a religious Order in a parish church? Generally, no doubt, deceased members were buried within their own precincts; but most probably smaller establishments of the Order of the Temple may not have had consecrated cemeteries, and their chapels may have been too small to allow of interment within them. A careful observation of the slabs of early date, which remain in churches of parishes in which Preceptories of the Temple formerly existed, may, however, furnish data throwing light upon this subject.
Besides these slabs the church of Bosbury contains several other remarkable
sepulchral memorials, and some architectural features worthy of
notice. Of the first the most striking are two tombs of members of
the Harford family, which are placed against the walls on each side
of the chancel: they are very similar in design, each having an arch
supported on pilasters (in the one on the northern side with
caryatides) within which are sarcophagi resting on lions and
supporting effigies; they are much enriched with sculpture of no
great degree of elegance of design or excellence of execution, but
present a general effect of much richness. The design is obviously
borrowed from the Italian tombs of the sixteenth century, and the
sculptor was evidently by no means ashamed of his work, for he has
inscribed his name, John Guldo of Hereford, with the date of 1573. It
is in large characters, and in a very conspicuous situation, on the
tomb on the south side. The other seems to be by the same hand. A
tomb in the churchyard, near the southwest part of the nave, deserves
notice for its handsome railing of iron, the upper part of which is
wrought into bunches of tulips and other flowers with considerable
elegance. It would seem to be of the seventeenth century.
Another object of interest is the churchyard cross, which, though it is said to have been removed from its original place, is complete, the shaft being still surmounted by the cross. The base of a cross is to be met with in almost every churchyard in the neighbourhood, and the shaft in many; but this is the only instance of the cross having been preserved entire, which I have noticed in that district, and examples are, I apprehend, very rarely to be found in any part of England.
On the north side of the churchyard are the remains of a palace of the Bishops of Hereford, now converted into a farmhouse. A few rooms in the south wing have ceilings boarded with oak, apparently of the fifteenth century, and the entrance gateway remains in a mutilated state. The arch on the exterior is of stone, but that on the interior is formed by two massive pieces of oak, so cut as to form a pointed arch, very slightly inclined to an ogee. The only ornament is a hollow moulding, with what seems to have been small roses placed in it at short intervals. This gateway may belong to the fourteenth century. There was formerly a dovecot of that or even earlier date, but this has been destroyed. Of the Preceptory of the Templars no remains now exist, the site being occupied by a house of no very ancient date.
A former incumbent of Bosbury (whose name I regret not to have ascertained), introduced a plan, the adoption of which is much to be desired by all who feel an interest in the study and preservation of local antiquities, namely, that of drawing up, and intrusting to the care of the clerk or sexton, a short notice of all the objects of interest in the church and parish, for the use of visitors, with such information as to their history as could be collected. By this means, not only is the attention of strangers drawn to objects deserving of notice, but circumstances are put on record which may be incorrectly reported or altogether forgotten when left to tradition only. This practice is peculiarly desirable in these days, when “restoration” is so much in fashion. It might be made the means of preserving a record of the condition of the edifice and monuments before undergoing any alteration; by the help of such a guide future observers would be saved the perplexity frequently felt by those who examine churches which have been subjected to the process of restoration. It would moreover, no doubt, often secure the preservation of some object which the architect or the churchwardens might regard as unsightly or uninteresting, though in fact possessing strong claims to be carefully preserved.
The notion to which Mr. Nesbitt adverts, that the staff with a cross patée head was a distinctive mark of the Templar, has been frequently expressed: but we have sought in vain for any published authority, or representation of a Knight of the order in which it is found, prior to the well-known etching by Hollar, first given in Dugdale's History of Warwickshire, produced in 1656, and repeated in the Monasticon, in 1073. Examples of sepulchral slabs with crosses patée are numerous, and several varieties may be found in the Rev. E.L.Cutts Manual. It must, however, be observed that in nearly all the instances there given the cross is gradated, or placed on a base with steps, and it is not what may properly be termed a cross-staff. Mr. Franks has pointed out a sketch of a figure formerly to be seen in one of the windows in Peterborough Cathedral, which may have served as the authority for the plate of a Templar engraved by Hollar for Dugdale. In the valuable Collection of Drawings of Monuments, etc., formed, as it is believed, under Dugdales direction, and now in the possession of the Earl of Winchilsea, at Eastwell Park, Kent, there occurs, among the Memorials at Peterborough, a Knight, in Capella beate Marie in australi fenestra. This bears resemblance in many particulars to Hollars figure, and may very possibly have been its prototype. The Knight appears in a long surcoat over a hauberk; he wears a singular cap, the lower part being turned up, like a cap of estate; on his left arm is a shield charged with a cross patée, and in his right hand a short staff, with a cross head of the like fashion. He holds up this staff, so that the cross is level with his head; whilst its haft or handle does not rest on the ground, as in Hollar's plate, but reaches only to the knee. Its head appears to be a cross inscribed within an octagon; the limbs are cut off straight, not bounded by a curve like the crosses on the slab at Bosbury figured above. It is extremely probable, as Mr. Franks has suggested in regard to the figure at Peterborough, that the octagonal form in question is to be attributed solely to the leading of the painted glass, through an inadvertent error which might easily occur to a draughtsman not familiar with the technical mode of working glass, the cross-head thus assumed, as shown likewise in Dugdales plate, the appearance of a flat octagonal surface upon which a cross patée was carved or painted.