« ForrigeFortsett »
Ethelbert had given Augustine permission to repair and build churches everywhere, and we have seen there were two of the old British churches still standing at Canterbury, one within and the other without the city, and it is a question of great interest whether there were any others in Kent.
There are several other Roman remains in Kent, which we cannot affirm to have been originally churches of the Romano-British period, but which were incorporated in churches of the Saxon period, and should be studied by anyone who desires to have before his mind a picture of the Kent of Ethelbert and Augustine.
At the north-east corner of the mainland of Kent was the Roman town of Regulbium, part of the enclosure-wall of which remains, and many Roman antiquities have been found within it. Ethelbert is said to have had a residence here, and the estate of Cistêlet, which was his first donation to the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul, was situated in this neighbourhood. In medieval times, and down to a recent period, there was a large church here; but the population had departed, the church fell into decay, and a few years ago it was taken down, with the exception of two western towers, which, having long served as a landmark to ships entering the Thames, were preserved to continue their usefulness. Fortunately a local antiquary made careful drawings of a portion of the church, the destruction of which is greatly to be regretted. The nave was separated from the chancel by three round arches, of which the middle one was the same height but rather wider than the side arches; it was supported by two stone columns
of rather peculiar design; the shafts tapered slightly from bottom to top (it was not an entasis); the bases were ornamented with two or three rows of cable moulding; the composition of the capitals was as if three thin slices of truncated cones had been placed one on the top of the other, with the larger face upwards, and suggested the possibility of the stone capital being merely the block round which mouldings or coronals of metal might have been placed. The arches were turned with Roman brick. The side arches rested upon jambs built of hewn stone with bonding courses of brick at intervals, more Romano. These jamb-walls were returned for a yard or two eastward, and then continued by more modern masonry to complete the north and south walls of the chancel. This interesting fragment was probably of late Roman date, say the fifth or sixth century; it might even have been of Saxon date, built out of the materials of the ruined Roman buildings of Regulbium. What use the building of which it formed part had originally served it is difficult to conjecture. A triplet like that did not form part of a colonnade separating a body from its aisle; we have no example of such a triplet between the nave and apse of a basilican church; and if the reader chooses to think that it was the original chancel arch of a church built by Ethelbert adjoining his palace at Reculver, it would be difficult to prove him mistaken.
The double monastery which Ethelburga, the widow of Edwin of Northumbria, founded on her return to Kent in 633 at Lyminge, was built upon the remains of an earlier building, whose foundations still remain ; these were considered by the members of the Archæo
logical Institute to represent a Roman residence, including a Christian church, and to belong to the close of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century.
There is a church in Dover Castle, built in large part of Roman bricks, and in the Romanesque style which obtained from the sixth to the twelfth century, so that it is difficult to determine its date. Some antiquaries think it a church of Roman-British times, restored in Saxon times. Others-among them Professor Freeman and Sir G. G. Scott-attribute it to the time of King Ethelbald.
Thus we get a list of more or less probable remains of churches of the old British Church remaining in Kent at the time of the English conversion, viz. St. Martin's and Christ Church, the doubtful castle chapel at Dover, the possible church at Richborough, and the probable foundations at Lyminge.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE MONASTERY OF
SS. PETER AND PAUL.
THE arrival of the new band of missionaries, with men of superior ability among them like Mellitus, Justus, Paulinus, and Rufinianus, would give a great impulse to the good work which was making such progress in the Kingdom of Kent. We are inclined to assign to this period the foundation of the new monastery outside the city of Canterbury. We are not expressly told, but it is reasonable to suppose, that among the English converts to the faith some would be moved to adopt the life which was put before them, by precept and example, as the highest phase of the religious life, that of the cloister; and we conclude that by this time there were English inmates of Gregory's Monastery of Christ Church. The arrival of the new reinforcements would naturally lead to a general consideration of the situation of things, and the formation of new plans for the future. In this new arrangement it was natural that a distinction should be made between those who were monks, desirous of and perhaps only fitted for the life of seclusion, and those whose aims and qualities fitted them for the more active work of evangelisation. It was resolved to found a new monastery for the
former, while the latter continued in the city as the missionary staff of the bishop.
Ethelbert gave a site for the new monastery on a plot of ground between the city walls and the old Church of St. Martin. The later monastic historians say that it was the site on which Ethelbert had been accustomed to worship in his unconverted days; that is, the Teutonic place of worship of the people of Canterbury. Thorn says, also, that there was a building there which, on Ethelbert's conversion, Augustine had consecrated as a church, under the name of St. Pancratius; but all this is matter of doubtful tradition. The ruins of a small Chapel of St. Pancras (thirty feet by twenty-five) still exist within the precincts of the cemetery of St. Augustine's Monastery, in the walls of which many Roman bricks have been used, and the arch of a round-headed door is turned with them, but the building is probably of not earlier date than the twelfth century.
What is certain is, that Ethelbert gave the ground, and that Augustine planned a monastery there on a grand scale. It was intended from the first to be the burial-place of the kings and of the archbishops; the kings were to be buried in the south porticus, and the archbishops in the north porticus. The word porticus usually means portico or porch, but Professor Willis is of opinion that what is said of these portici makes it necessary to suppose that they were of the nature of transepts. So that the two portici were in fact two great mortuary chapels, opening perhaps into the church, in which the sarcophagi of the kings and archbishops would be ranged in order. We call to mind that the building called the Church of SS.