Posted 12 months ago
CHOIR, RIPON CATHEDRAL
“AUTY SERIES” G.H., W.B. 1271.
Another of the early images taken by Matthew Auty and later produced by Godfrey Hastings of Whitley Bay and Newcastle. Hastings took over the business of Matthew Auty after Auty had died in 1895 and picture postcards were produced by Hastings from Auty's plates as well as his own. The court size cards that Hastings issued from 1898 to 1900 are the earliest commercially produced cards to be found of Newcastle and the surrounding areas.
A beautiful photo of the west choir stalls and organ of Ripon. "These are some of the most famous and finest choir stalls in England and there are fourteen stalls on either side and eight returned against the Screen and topped by intricately carved canopies. They were carved by Ripon craftsmen between 1489 and 1494 under the leadership of William Bromflet, later known as William Carver who became Wakeman i.e. Mayor of Ripon in 1511. In 1660 the then spire of the central tower collapsed, fell through the roof and wrecked many of the canopies, which were replaced in the 19th century with copies of William Bromflet's work However, the seats or Misericords are outstanding surviving examples of medieval craftsmanship."
"These choir stalls are without doubt one of the finest examples of Mediaeval carving that survives in England. Shortly after the Wars of the Roses finished in 1485, it became possible for craftsmen to, once again, travel around the country seeking work. Under King Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty, there was to be relative peace. William Bromflet (later known as William Carver) was the head of a band of rustic woodworkers known as the School of Ripon; these carvers were responsible for the misericords at the nearby Beverley Minster and also at Manchester Cathedral. A misericord is a decorative small seat or ledge, often carved with whimsical scenes or fantastic figures, which is located underneath the 'tip-up' seats of the choir stalls. Since those in the choir will be seated for parts of the service and standing for others, they were afforded the 'comfort' of a misericord, to ease the load, so to speak, during long services.
The rest of the choir stalls - in beautiful oak - are carved with a similarly joyful touch. Here you can see the carving at the bench end of the stalls on the south of the choir. The figure at the top is of an elephant carrying a most fanciful howdah. Since the arrival of the first elephant in England, in 43 CE - brought by the Emperor Claudius - the animal has induced awe. In 1255 King Louis of France gave his fellow monarch, King Henry III, an elephant for the menagerie in what had been the moat at the Tower of London. A writer of the period, Matthew Paris, had produced a manuscript which showed an elephant carrying a howdah. Unfortunately, the general belief was that elephants could carry 'stone castles' with armed men on their back - just as you can see in the carving!
In front of the elephant is a kneeling centaur. These fanciful beasts, half man, half horse, had their roots in Greek mythology. In some cases they are described as being wise teachers (rather like those depicted in 'The Chronicles of Narnia') and in other situations are fierce warriors. This one is shown carrying an axe and a round shield. Unfortunately, his arm has suffered some damage, as his right hand and part of his lower arm is missing.
Above the stall is an heraldic achievement, that is a shield and its accompanying adjuncts (many people would refer to this as a 'coat of arms'; this term - in this case - is incorrect) It is normally difficult to blazon an achievement when you can only see half of it, but in this instance it is relatively easy to deduce - since we can see a bishop's mitre, a paschal lamb, and saltire bearing golden keys, this must signify the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds - that and the small 'Reserved' sign on the seat below!
What of William Bromflet, you say?
Well, he did rather well for himself. Of the three 'hands' identified in the Ripon carvings (Hands A, B and C), 'Hand A' is responsible for the whole of the south choir stalls - and it is likely his. William was being paid 6 pence a day at this time, Christopher Bromflet the same, Ranulf Bromflet 4 pence, and Robert Dowyer and Radulf Turrett 4 pence also. William became famous for his carving, and was elected 'Wakeman' (equivalent to a modern day mayor) of Ripon in 1511.
Oh, and one more thing. A rural clergyman, one Charles Dodgson, was once made a Canon of Ripon Cathedral. It is said that his eldest son, a certain Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was much influenced by the whimsical creatures carved into the woodwork of the choir stalls. You might know him better by his pen name - Lewis Carroll.
Ripon Cathedral is a wonderfully peaceful place, and whatever your faith - or even if you profess none - the art and beauty contained within is manna to the soul."
"The earliest record of an organ in the Cathedral is from 1399. In 1667 William Preston built an organ of five stops for £10. Gerard Smith built an organ in 1690; a few pipes survive in the present Swell Organ (stops 41 and 45). The organ was enlarged in 1838 by Renn of Manchester, when a new case was provided.
In 1878 a new three-manual organ was built by T.C. Lewis, with new cases by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The organ was restored by Hill & Son in 1902, and in 1912 a reconstruction was begun by Harrison & Harrison. This work was interrupted by the first world war and was not completed until 1926. The action was converted to electro-pneumatic by Compton in 1950, but the tonal scheme was not changed.
In 1963 the organ was overhauled by Harrison & Harrison, with changes to the Choir and Pedal Organs. The electrical system was renewed in 1988, when the Solo Orchestral Trumpet was added. A second, mobile console was provided in 2001.
A general overhaul in 2013 includes attention to the wind system and the provision of additional accessories at the screen console. "
Somewhere in there too is a carving of a man raising his tunic to reveal his 'member'!