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Goths, Vandals and so on

2 Oct

Strange how the term Gothic was originally one of abuse and denigration (and has become so again when applied to the youthful urge to wear black and look as if  death would be a blessed relief from the toils of the world!). This was, as Vasari commented, a barbarous German style of building. Christopher Wren, no doubt with a view to his own line of business, also piled on the bad vibes. This was the style of the Goths who had, it was supposed, destroyed all that was good in classical Rome. Well, hmmm. If you’re trying to sell a new product you don’t exactly want to praise the old competition now do you?
This top view is through the canopy of the Percy Tomb in Beverley Minster. I’m guessing it would, when new, have been brightly painted and gilded. It’s thought to be no later than around 1340 in construction and was one of the last pieces of original building in the Minster. After this the building gradually decayed, it survived the dissolution of the monasteries because it was a parish church otherwise we would now be looking at a picturesque ruin (that would cost a whole lot less to maintain). The North transept almost collapsed in the 18th century and was saved and repaired. However much of what we see now in here has been cleaned up, marble floors and columns polished and walls scrubbed by George Gilbert Scott (yup him again) one of those Victorian Gothic revivalist maniacs. He did such a thorough job that the place now looks like a giant shiny polished museum, sterile, pickled and most definitely dead, others call it a Gothic masterpiece.