Full text: Beauties of continental architecture

Of all the monuments which command the town, the most ancient, and the 
most interesting as a work of art, is St. James’s Church. It is a large edifice, the 
proportions of which are very fine, and the plan simple and noble. The exterior 
has some fine parts well sculptured, and in the interior there are remains of rich 
and splendid decorations. But we see also the traces of the spoliation and profana 
tion which the edifice has suffered: nevertheless, it is still in a sufficiently good 
state of preservation to give pleasure and advantage on studying it minutely. 
The greater part of the building is of the fourteenth century ; but some of its 
parts are still more ancient. In fact, there is no doubt that there was an abbey of 
St. Catherine on the very site now occupied by St. Jacques. No record is to be 
found of the precise time of the building of the Abbey of St. Catherine; but we 
know that it had fallen into ruin in 1250, “ with the exception of two of its chapels,” 
say the rolls of the Viscounty, “ which were made use of to commence the building of 
St. Jacques in 1250.” Now those two chapels are the two transepts, or, at least, 
the two bays next the transepts. It must be confessed that this is but a supposition ; 
but it accounts for the singular incongruity between the two extremities of the cross 
aisles and the other parts of the building; and though the project for building 
St. Jacques seems to have been decided on in 1250, it had not made much progress 
in 1300, and the whole was not completed till 1443. 
To judge, at one glance, of St. Jacques as a whole, you should enter by the 
great door, whence you have a view of the entire length of the building. It is about 
300 feet long from the entrance of the nave to the extremity of the chancel, or 
Chapel of the Virgin. The breadth of the body of the Church is from 00 to 75 
feet. The nave is divided into six bays of a good height, and which are in perfect 
harmony with the upper gallery, some arcades of which have been decorated at a 
period subsequent to their original erection. The choir, as far as its semicircular 
end, is only half as long as the nave : it is composed of three bays or arcades; five 
others, which are narrower, form the semicircular end. The galleries of the choir, 
like those of the nave, were ornamented at a period subsequent to their erection. 
Round the choir and the nave there is a suite of nineteen chapels, each of which 
corresponds with one of the bays. Of all these chapels, formerly so richly adorned, 
now so naked, so poor, and abandoned to the dust, that of the Virgin was the 
pride of the Church; and, even now, no other part of the edifice is comparable 
to it as a work of art.

Note to user

Dear user,

In response to current developments in the web technology used by the Goobi viewer, the software no longer supports your browser.

Please use one of the following browsers to display this page correctly.

Thank you.