THE LADY CHAPEL
THE LADY CHAPEL is 77½ ft. long by 20½ ft.
wide internally and of five bays. The walling and
buttresses of the three west bays are those of the
original building, about 48 ft. long, which was probably
erected before the fire of 1187, perhaps the last
addition carried out before this catastrophe, as an
alteration or extension of an earlier central apsidal
chapel. This building, of three 16 ft. bays, was
vaulted, and is therefore the earliest example of
vaulting in the cathedral. The chapel was lengthened
by two 14 ft. bays by Bishop Gilbert de Sancto
Leofardo (1288–1304), who is credited with having
rebuilt it 'a fundamentis.' (fn. 1) He appears to have
built his new walls before the original east wall was
demolished, the removal of which necessitated the
reconstruction of the original east vault—the present
third bay—and also caused the bay to be 1½ ft. longer
than the original bays.
The late 12th-century windows were left in situ
for a time, but those in the third bay were altered
almost immediately afterwards, with the vaulting of
the bay, and, although showing slight differences in the
tracery, have mouldings and other details exactly like
the others. The windows in the fourth bay, however,
show some marked differences, which are enumerated
below, and were evidently not inserted until a decade
or two later.
At the altar of Our Lady there were two chantries
for Bishop Gilbert de Sancto Leofardo (d. 1304). (fn. 2)
There are also references to the chantries of Thomas
de Lichfield, dean (1232), and Bishop Ralph Neville
(d. 1244). (fn. 3) In 1321 Henry de Garland, dean, transferred to this altar a chantry for his soul, founded in
the church of Little Hodley in 1303. (fn. 4) The principal
chantries at this altar, however, were the two for
Nicholas Mortimer founded here by Henry V about
1413 and re-endowed by Edward IV in 1461, to pray
for the good estate of himself and Cecily, his mother,
and the souls of his father, Richard, Duke of York,
King Henry V, and Nicholas Mortimer. (fn. 5) The two
priests serving Mortimer's chantries were known as
the King's chaplains and had special privileges.
The chapel retains traces of paintings of the
13th century, some of which antedate the windows
in the fourth bay; this bay has also the one surviving fragment of Bernardi's colour decoration of
the vaulting undertaken for Bishop Sherburne as
Later the chapel fell into disuse and is said to have
been partly ruinous in the middle of the 18th century.
It was granted to the Duke of Richmond to serve as a
burial vault for the members of his family. The
heads of the burial vaults rose considerably above the
original floor level and 'robbed the chapel of its due
altitude' (fn. 6) and the lower parts of the windows were
blocked. The building above the vaults was divided
by a partition into an ante-room and a library which
had a large fireplace at the east end. In 1867 the
partition was removed and in 1871 the chapel was
completely restored in memory of Bishop A. T.
Gilbert, who died in 1870.
The east window is of five pointed lights with
tracery of trefoils and cinquefoils in a two-centred
head, the lights being graduated in height and width;
the three middle lights have tall cinquefoiled heads
and the narrowest outer lights, trefoiled heads.
The jambs, mullions, arches and tracery-bars are all
moulded. The jambs externally are of three orders
with nook-shafts of Purbeck marble and the internal
splays have each a similar shaft carrying the moulded,
segmental-pointed rear-arch. All the shafts have
moulded bases (of three-rounds section), intermediate
bands and capitals with carved foliage and moulded
round abaci. The rolls in the mullions and corresponding parts of the jambs are also provided with
moulded bases and carved capitals. The window
outside has been restored, the mullions and shafts
being in Purbeck marble. The side windows in the
three east bays are of similar detail, but are each of
three lights. Those in the third bay are wider than
the others, and the foliated circles in their tracery
are a variation in design. The external labels have
foliage and head-stops. The window on each side
of the fourth bay is a later 14th-century attempt to
reproduce those of the first two bays, but, instead of
the detached Purbeck shafts, it has stone shafts cut out
of the solid. The heads of the lights also differ, in
being ogee-pointed, and the fillets in the rolls of the
tracery-bars are broader, while the mouldings generally
are less finely contoured. The heads of the windows
are set lower in the wall than the others. All the
windows have been partly restored: the modern
capitals of the mullions and a few of the capitals in the
jambs have been left in block, uncarved.
The walls of the fifth or westernmost bay, except
for the recesses, are solid. In the upper part of the
north wall is a large recess the purpose of which is not
now evident. It has plain chamfered jambs and
segmental-pointed arch and the sill has a moulded
edge which from its contour suggests a date not earlier
than the late-14th or early-15th century. It is set
somewhat east of the middle of the bay and in the
back of it are traces of colour decoration.
The south wall of this bay contains a tomb-recess,
described below. This wall appears to have been
originally pierced by a doorway, for the remains
of two early moulded abaci or imposts which seem to
be in situ have been partly exposed in the walling.
They are 9½ ft. above the floor and are set symmetrically in the bay about 6½ ft. apart. Although their
faces have been hacked away, the contour of their east
and west edges remains visible and they probably
formed part of a wall arcade with narrow bays of
2½ ft. flanking the middle bay. There are blocks of
stone beneath them 15 in. wide, probably the width
of the piers or pilasters which supported them. There
are no visible remains of the arches, but higher up
is a moulded string-course of an early section to this
bay only. Probably this architectural feature was
destroyed when the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene
covered the outside of the bay.
The five bays of the vaulting are divided by triple
wall-shafts; in the two earlier, dividing the third,
fourth and fifth bays, the middle of the three shafts
is keeled; in the two later, between the first, second
and third bays, all three shafts are keeled. The
earlier shafts have moulded bases of 'hold-water'
section and chamfered sub-bases, coinciding with the
plinth of the main walls, and carved foliage-capitals
with abaci of semi-octagonal plan. The later shafts
have moulded bases of three-roll section and carved
foliage-capitals with moulded abaci of half-round
plan. The difference between the type of ornament
in the two periods is very marked. The later capitals,
like those of the windows, are evenly carved with small
naturalistic foliage, and of a general sameness. The
earlier capitals have more vigour and variety, although
the foliage is more conventional. Those between the
third and fourth bays have simple spear-like and
fold-over leaves, except on their east sides, which are
obviously alterations of the later period. The north
capital between the fourth and fifth bays is richly
carved with leaves folded over bunches of fruit
(grapes ?), and the south capital with scallops and
incipient sheath foliage.
The north-west angle has a half-round shaft which is
really an attachment of the west cross wall, but its
capital, which is of an earlier form with a grooved
and hollowed square abacus, is set diagonally. The
south-west angle has no shaft, the rib being carried
by the shaft of the west arch. In the two east angles
are single keeled rolls.
The earlier vault in each of the two western bays
is of simple quadripartite plan, with keeled wallribs and diagonal and transverse ribs of keeled roll
and hollow section and of small voussoirs. There are
carved bosses at the intersections, that in the fourth
bay having narrow voluted leaves within a ring of
berries, and that in the fifth foliage surrounded by
pelleted straps which sprout from the mouths of four
The later vaults of the three eastern bays of similar
plan have additional intermediate ribs in each quarter,
also at the apices or ridges: these are of triple filleted
roll and hollow section, and of larger voussoirs. At
their intersections and against the walls are circular
bosses of foliage of the same kind as in the capitals.
The transverse ribs are of a different radius from those
of the earlier vaulting and the apices are higher; at
the junction of the two periods the later diagonal
ribs spring from the shafts in a horseshoe curve. The
webs of both periods are of chalk, the earlier vaults
having the larger courses. The rear-arches of the
windows coincide with the vault-ribs, but, as the
traceried heads rise higher, the rear-vaults of the
windows slope upwards.
The internal masonry is ashlar limestone, with
some diagonal tooling in the three western bays.
A moulded string-course 6 ft. 9 in. high is carried
round the east bays under the sloping window sills
and around the vault-shafts. It rises to 8 ft. at the
third vault-shafts and fourth bay, evidently because
of the higher level of the former late-12th-century
windows in this bay. It originally continued thence
at the higher level to the west end, but when the
14th-century windows were inserted, it was dropped
below the windows to the 6 ft. 9 in. level. In the
south wall of the west bay it stops just short of the
west wall, but on the north side it is stopped by a
16th-century monument and cut away west of the
monument to reappear again as a band in the north-west vault-shaft. It is of the same section throughout, but presumably the west part of it is earlier than
the east part.
Externally the walls are of ashlar with wider
jointing in the older west bays. The square buttresses
to the east angles and between the first and second
bays are of two stages with moulded nosings to the
offsets and battering faces immediately above the
double chamfered plinth. The buttresses between
the second and third and the third and fourth bays
are of 7 in. projection, carried up vertically to finish
flush with the projecting parapets, except that to do
so there is a slight setback in the face of the westernmost on the north side, as well as in the walling of
the fourth bay above the window.
The lowest stage—below the string-course—of the
eastern shallow buttresses on the north side is of
18th or 19th-century restoration, but that on the south
side is broader, indicating that it was a clasping buttress
to the former south-east angle; it is brought back to
the same width as the others by an offset on its east
edge below the string-course. The string-course
below the sills is carried round all the buttresses and
is treated below the fourth windows like that inside.
There are modern vent-holes, in the side walls, to
The east wall has a low-pitched gable-head of modern
repair: in it is a quatrefoiled bull's-eye window of
modern stonework to light the roof-space above the
The side walls have projecting parapets with a
series of trefoiled arches, on hollowed and moulded
corbels, many of which are modern.
The roof, which is modern, is covered with lead.
In the face of the east wall below the string-course
is a shallow rectangular recess with a moulded frame,
perhaps an original reliquary afterwards filled in.
There is another shallow recess in the face of the
second south buttress; it is of the 15th century and
has a moulded square label; this probably enframed a
carving which subsequently perished or was defaced.
The western arch of the chapel is an integral part
of the retro-quire, with which it is described. Across
it is an open iron screen with 15th-century gates of
two leaves: (fn. 7) each leaf has a plain frame filled in
with small quatrefoils of strap iron in square panels,
six panels in the width by sixteen in the height. The
remainder of the screen is modern, the original parts
having been removed to South Kensington Museum.
The chapel is paved with modern encaustic tiles,
but against the west wall, north and south of the
reredos are reset nine 15th-century tiles: two have
fleurs de lis and one a shield of (modern) France.
The coloured glass in the windows is of 1873 and
later. The east window, to Jane, wife of Richard
Owens, and their daughters, 1873, contains the Crucifixion and other incidents of the Passion and the side
windows various Biblical subjects. A window in the
north wall commemorates Henry Edward Hall Gage
(d. 1875), eldest son of Viscount Gage (no inscription).
Others are to William France, 1879; to Daniel Barnard
and Anna his wife, d. 1798–9 (put up in 1882); and to
Dean John William Burgon, 1888.
The south windows are to Eliza France, 1879;
Canon Rawson Ashwell, 1879; Amy Mary, Countess
of March, 1879; and Canon G. H. Wood, Treasurer.
The altar retains an ancient slab of Petworth marble
with incised crosses; (fn. 8) it is carried on eight carved wood
posts, dated 1873. The reredos of alabaster is dated
1878; it has a gabled panel filled with a mosaic
representation of Christ appearing to the Disciples
after the Resurrection.
In the south wall are two piscinae of 14th-century
origin, but now mostly restored. They have subcusped cinquefoiled heads on shafted jambs with
carved capitals, the sills having foiled basins and the
backs of the recesses old stone ledges at springing
level. The hood-moulds have foliage stops, the middle
one also with the monogram A.T.G. (for Bishop A. T.
The three sedilia, west of the piscinae, one east of
the vault shaft and two west of it, are also mostly
modern. They have cinquefoiled pointed heads with
foliage cusp-points. A modern label-stop has the
monogram G.S.L. (for Bishop Gilbert de Sancto
Leofardo). The stepped-up seats are at heights
bearing no relation to the present floor level and only
the middle seat is used.
Farther west in the third bay of the south wall are
twin recesses of the 12th or early 13th century with
jambs and trefoiled heads rebated for doors: the hooks
for hinges remain in place and there are grooves in the
reveals for upper shelves; they were probably the
original piscinae converted afterwards into lockers.
The partition between them, also the sills, are modern.
On the walls are a few faint traces of colour decoration of the 13th or early 14th century, including a
complete roundel in the third bay on the south side
immediately below the string-course. There is also a
row of half-roundels of nearly the same radius below
the string-course on the north side of the fourth bay.
Although no actual colouring is left, they appear to
contain the lower halves of draped figures and
probably date from a period between the date of
Bishop Gilbert de Sancto Leofardo's work and the
insertion of the 14th-century window, with the concurrent lowering of the string-course to destroy their
upper halves. That they were originally complete
roundels like that on the south wall is suggested by the
easternmost, which, being partly below the original
higher string-course level, retains traces of part of the
upper half of the circle. The roundels are emphasised
by incised lines, and on the south wall of the same bay
are similar incisions, but no traces of colour.
The vaulting of the fourth bay is decorated
with the early 16th-century painting carried out by
Bernardi for Bishop Sherburne. It is a symmetrical
design of tendril-like foliage in green and brown, and
in the north-east quarter is a scroll with the Wykeham
motto: 'Maners makyth man.' Some of the vaultribs and most of the bosses also retain traces of
The back of the high recess in the north side of the
fifth bay has apparently a compact design of flowers
and foliage on a yellow ground, but the design is very
The tomb recess on the south wall of the fifth bay
may have been that of Bishop Gilbert de Sancto
Leofardo (d. 1304), but there is no evidence left to
demonstrate this except that it is of the 14th century.
The recess is 7 ft. 1 in. long and has shafted jambs
with moulded bases and capitals; the segmental-pointed arch is cinquefoiled and has a hood-mould
enriched with crockets, and a west stop carved as a
priest's (?) head. The east end of the label dies on the
Under the recess have been placed two heavy
tapering coffin-lids of marble, 5 ft. 7 in. long and of
12th or early-13th-century date. The tops are carved
in low relief with croziers and, in the outer slab, a
mitre. The tombs are probably those of Bishop
Seffrid II (d. 1204) and Bishop Ranulph de Wareham
(d. 1224). (fn. 9)
On the floor in the same bay on the north side is a
similar coffin-lid with a crozier and mitre, and at
the west end of it the inscription RADULPH[US.
EPI]SCOP[US], clearly indicating the tomb of Bishop
Ralph de Luffa (1091–1123).
On the north wall of this bay is a mural monument
of alabaster and marble, to Bishop Thomas Bickley
(d. 1596). (fn. 10) It has the painted kneeling effigy of the
bishop in robes and ruff, praying before a desk on which
is an open book. The back has a shallow roundheaded recess, flanked by black Corinthian columns;
and the entablature has a dentilled cornice. The
inscription is in a panel beneath the moulded shelf, and
below is a carved base mould and apron with an oval
panel and scroll ornament. Above are the arms, Argent
a cheveron battled on both sides between three
griffons' heads razed [sable] each charged with a
besant, and motto HABENTI DABITVR T.B. The inscription sets out that Thomas Bickley, S.T.P.,
alumnus of Magdalen College, Oxford, Archdeacon of
Stafford, Warden of Merton College and Bishop of
Chichester, died at Aldingbourne in 1596, aged 78.
There are also monuments to Charles, 5th Duke of
Richmond, 1860; Lord Arthur Lennox, 1864; John
Farhill, 1830; and Charles, 7th Duke of Richmond,
1928; and a brass to Percival Webb, Prebendary of
Firles, 1903. The brass lectern, in memory of Canon
Rawson Ashwell, 1879, has a book-rest representing a
pelican in her piety.
The walls inside have many casual scratchings and
inscriptions, including some in 16th or 17th-century
script, also some well-cut small crosses of possibly
greater significance, and some genuine masons' marks.
An inscription on the south wall records that the
chapel, extended and beautified by Gilbert de
Sancto Leofardo, Bishop A.D. 1288–1304, was restored
in memory of A. T. Gilbert, Bishop 1842–1870.