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DECORATION AND FURNITURE OF WOLSEY'S PALACE.
AFTER Wolsey's return from the meeting at the "Field of the Cloth of Gold,” in 1520, he appears to have made more prolonged stays than heretofore at Hampton Court, which had now nearly arrived at that stage of completion in which he left it. We are not able exactly to define the limits of the Cardinal's palace, for after his death Henry VIII. carried out many alterations and additions, which in their turn have been subsequently modified; but we can form a rough idea of its extent. We have already noticed the West Front as being entirely Wolsey's; the same may be said of the First Green Court, which is the largest courtyard in the palace, being 167 feet from north to south, and 142 feet from east to west. It gives us no mean idea of Tudor palatial architecture; and now that the green turf which originally covered the area has been restored, we see it much as it appeared to the great Cardinal when riding through it on his mule. It has a look of warmth and comfort and repose, and an air of picturesque gloom which is in pleasing contrast with the staring vulgarities of the "cheerful” cockney buildings of the present day.
The internal arrangements, to judge from the old plans and records, must have been of great comfort and convenience, and do not at all confirm the current notion of the discomfort of old Gothic houses.
The Clock Court, access to which is had from the First Court through the archway of the Clock Tower, formed the inner and principal part of Wolsey's original palace; but the alterations that it has undergone since his time cause it to present a very different appearance now, chiefly in that the present Great Hall, which occupies the whole of its north side, though often called Wolsey's hall, was not erected by him, but, after his death, by Henry VIII., though it perhaps stands on the site of the smaller and older hall of the
DECORATION OF WOLSEY'S PALACE.
Cardinal's building; while the original south range is almost entirely obscured from view by the Ionic colonnade of Sir Christopher Wren. Here, however, we are in one of the most interesting corners of Hampton Court; for behind this colonnade are situated the very rooms occupied by Cardinal Wolsey himself.
Attached to this corner was one of the Cardinal's galleries in which he used to pace, meditating on his political plans,
on his chances for the popedom, and on the failing favour of the King. To this, which must have been demolished by William III., and to the other long galleries in the First Court, Cavendish makes reference in his metrical life of his master:
“My gallories were fayer, both large and long
To walk in them when that it lyked me best." On the north side of the last two mentioned courts is a long intricate range of building, inclosing various smaller courts, and containing kitchens and other offices, and bedrooms for the numerous members of his household. Much of this part of the building, together with the cloisters and courts to the north-east, called the Round Kitchen and Chapel Courts, seem also to have been the work of the great Cardinal. The Chapel, however, was remodelled, if not entirely rebuilt, by Henry VIII., though we may assume that it occupies the same site as that of Wolsey and the ancient one of the Knights Hospitallers, whose tombs perhaps lie beneath the kitchens and other offices contiguous to the Chapel Court.
When, therefore, we take into consideration William III.'s demolitions, which included some of the Cardinal's original structure as well as Henry VIII.'s additions, we may conclude that Wolsey's palace cannot have been very much smaller than the existing one, which covers eight acres, and has a thousand rooms.
For the execution of the ornamental work about the building, and for the internal decoration of the rooms, he employed the best carvers, painters, and gilders in London, many of them being Italians who had come over to this country attracted by his liberal patronage of the arts. Sometimes he sent to Italy direct for decorative work. The terra-cotta medallion busts of the Roman Emperors, surrounded with rich arabesque borders, which are affixed to the turrets on each side of the gateways of the courts, were ordered by him of Joannes Maiano.
Another specimen of Italian work is to be seen over the inner side of the gateway under the Clock Tower. It displays the arms of Wolsey, affixed to an archiepiscopal cross, supported by two cherubim and surmounted by a cardinal's hat. Above is his monogram T. W., entwined with a cordon, between the date MDXXV; and below is his motto: DOMINVS MICHI ADIVTOR.
The prominence given to Wolsey's arms, which were often on public occasions placed side by side the King's, was another source of exasperation to his enemies. Roy, another satirist who lashed the proud Cardinal, in his satire, “Rede me and be not wrothe,” gives a coarsely-drawn coat-of-arms, representing a sort of burlesque or caricature of his real arms, and showing quarterly three bulls' heads, three butchers' hatchets dripping with blood, and, instead of the lion, a mastiff passant with a royal crown in his mouth. The shield is supported by two devils; while at the back, in place of CARDINAL WOLSEY'S ARMS.
he cross, is a thick club, and the whole is surmounted by a
ARMS OF CARDINAL WOLSEY. (In terra-cotta.) cardinal's red hat. Accompanying this heraldic satire are the verses :
“Of the prowde Cardinall this is the shelde