Monday, February 2, 2009

North Porch

The North Porch is a massive structure of two stories. The upper, now used as the dean's muniment room, has, like a similar example at Christchurch, Hants, no certain indication of its original use. Whether it was a dwelling for sacristans, a school, or a library, was doubtful; but later opinion thinks it was unquestionably used by the sacristans, since it is said that "the sub-treasurer of Sarum, who was usually one of the vicars choral, pledged himself to see that the clerks told off for given duties slept in the church in their accustomed places; and for himself he promised that unless lawfully excused, he would sleep each night in the treasury." Against this theory, however, it might be urged that the muniment room at the angle of the south-east transept is identified as the ancient treasury.

This porch, sometimes called the Galilee, was possibly a place where penitents met, and from which they were expelled from the church on Ash-Wednesday until Maundy Thursday. Externally, although of exquisite proportions, it has no very important details, yet its pinnacles deserve notice; but the interior is very beautiful, the walls have sunk panelling, a base arcade of foliated arches, and in the upper tier large foliated circles with sub-arches, each comprising two trefoiled arches with quatrefoil heads. Mr. G.E. Street, who thoroughly appreciated this particular period of English Gothic as his work at the New Law Courts proves, just before his death restored this part of the cathedral admirably.

Another porch, formerly the entrance to the north transept, removed by Wyatt for the most trivial reason, is now in the grounds of the college which occupies the site of the secular buildings belonging to the church of St. Edmund, founded in 1268.

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