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NOTES ON WOOL CHURCH, DORSET.

BY ALFRED C. FRYER, PH.D., M.A.

(Read November 2nd, 1898.) HE chancel arch in Wool Church is the

work of the thirteenth century, and it is not only most pleasing in appearance, but it is possibly a unique form of chancel arch of this period. The unusual effect is produced by filling in the large chancel

arch with a stone screen, wnich is pierced by three equal bays (10 ft. 6 ins. high by 3 ft. 6. ins.

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wide), having pointed arches. These sub-arches rest on octagonal shafts, 32 ins. in circumference, without capitals,

and with a base mould near the floor. The tympanum is quite plain, and has neither a trace of fresco nor sculpture upon its surface.

The font in this church dates from the fifteenth century, and is of special interest, as it was evidently designed for the position it still occupies against the westernmost pier of the north arcade of the nave. The bowl has a

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diameter of 202 ins., and is 11 ins. deep. Each face is 11. ins. square, and is adorned with a quatrefoil within a circle. The lower portion of the bowl is chamfered away 7. ins., and rests on a pillar 8.1 ins. high. This pedestal has a 2-in. chamfer at the bottom, and rests on a plinth 10 ins. wide and 8 ins. deep.

Fragments of mutilated cresset-stones have from time to time been discovered in England, but those that are perfect are very few in number. Wool Church, however, possesses a cresset-stone which is nearly in as good a condition as when it left the hand of some mediæval workman. A cresset-stone has been described as a large block of stone in which one or more cup-shaped hollows are made to serve as cressets. In the Rites of Durham Abbey we find that one was placed in the church and two in the dormitory. The account runs as follows :

Also there is standinge on the south pillar of the Quire doore of the Lanthorne, in a corner of the same pillar a four-squared

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stone which hath been finely wrought in every square a large fine image whereon did stand a four-squared stone above that which had twelve cressets and every night one of them was lighted, when the day was gone, and did burn and give light to the monkes at midnight when they came to mattens."

The description of the two in the dormitory reads as follows:

“In either end of the same dorter was a four square stone wherein was a dozen cressets wrought in either stone, being ever filled and supplied with the cooke as they needed, to give light to the monkes and novices, when they rose to their mattens at midnight, and for their other necessary uses."

These cresset-stones at Durham had a dozen cups in each stone, but the one still preserved at Wool has only four cups. It is carved out of a block of Purbeck marble, and is rectangular in shape, being 9. ins. by 7} ins., and 5 ins. deep. The cups are placed in each corner of the stone, and they are 34 ins. deep, with a diameter of 3.1 ins., while their surfaces are blackened as if by unctuous matter having been burnt in them. It is not unlikely that this cresset-stone may possibly have belonged to Bindon Abbey, which is situated not far from the church and village of Wool. This abbey was founded for the Cistercians, in 1172, by Roger of Newburgh and Matilda his wife. Thus the cresset-stone is not older than 1172.

Bindon Abbey is a complete ruin. The foundations, however, remain, and the church, cloister-court, sacristy, chapter-house with monumental slabs, slype leading into the cemetery, calefactory divided by a row of columns, may all be accurately traced, and conform to the usual Cistercian ground-plan. The church had a long nave, transepts with square chapels opening from them, a short eastern end and a central tower. Tradition declares that this tower contained twelve bells, and the story goes that they were stolen from the abbey by night, and are now in the churches of Wool, Combe, and Fordington. The following doggerel commemorates the event :

“Wool streams and Combe wells.

Fordington cuckolds stole Bindon bells."

The Combe referred to in this doggerel is Combe Keynes, the mother church of Wool, and Fordington is Fordington St. George, at Dorchester.

The Wool bells are all dated, and all of them were made after the dissolution of Bindon Abbey, so that the clergy and people of Wool are free from the theft which tradition ascribes to them. The large bell at Wool is dated 1659 ; it weighs 8 cwt., and is 2 ft. 112 ins. in diameter. The second bell bears the date of 1738; it is 3 cwt. lighter than the great bell, and is 7. ins. less in diameter. The third and fourth bells were cast in 1606. The one weighs over 6 cwt., and has a diameter of 31 ins. ; the other is considerably lighter, and has a diameter of only 25} ins.

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ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT STATE OF

THE SPALDING GENTLEMEN'S SOCIETY.

BY MARTEN PERRY, ESQ., M.D., PRESIDENT OF S. G. S.

(Read before the Members of the British Archæological Association on Their Visit to

the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding, July 18th, 1898.)

O the indomitable energy, tact, and perse

verance of Maurice Johnson is due the foundation of this, which I believe to be, the oldest archeological society in the kingdom.

Connected with the family of Arch

deacon Johnson, founder of the Uppingham and Oakham Schools, Maurice Johnson was born at Spalding, and was baptised on June 26th, 1688, and after a preliminary education became a pupil of the then celebrated Dr. Jurin, and was admitted a member of the Inner Temple. He became steward of the Manor or Soke of Spalding, of Kirkton and of Hitchin, and a Justice of the Peace for the Parts of Holland. An illustrious scion of a worthy family.

According to his own account, about the year 1707, by Mr. Gay, the poet, he was brought acquainted with Pope, Addison, Sir Richard Steele and others, who were in the habit of meeting at Button's Coffee House, in Covent Garden, where The Tatler, edited by Steele, was read as it came out." Here Johnson, Browne-Willis, Roger and Samuel Gale, Stukeley and Rymer endeavoured to found (or re-found) the London Society of Antiquaries, and Johnson was selected for its first librarian. Not, however, until 1717 was this society floated.

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