Monday, February 2, 2009

Dating the Spire

Parker, in his "Glossary," believes the date of the spire to be about 1300; other authorities fix it thirty years later. Certain deeds in the "Book of Evidences" preserved among the Cathedral muniments show that in 1326 Edward III. granted a license for surrounding the close with a wall, and in 1331 authorized the bishop and canons to use the stones of the church of Old Sarum for that purpose. But against the theory that the material thus obtained was used in the tower also, there is the patent fact that while on many stones in the wall there are traces of Norman mouldings and other evidence of former use, neither in the tower nor spire do the stones betray any such origin. Modern antiquaries are wellnigh agreed upon the earlier dates; for in the Capitular Register, begun in 1329, there is no mention of the spire, which could hardly have escaped record had so important a work been then in progress. In support of this theory it is urged that from 1258 to 1297 the deans were men who took great interest in the fabric and are entered in its calendar of benefactors. Three of these became successively Bishops of Salisbury. But the deans who were appointed after 1297 were chiefly foreigners, several being cardinals and relatives of the Pope, whose duties elsewhere would have left them little but a purely temporal interest in the building.

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