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Plate 1.61: Winchester Cross
Scholarly Commentary with DZI View for Vetusta Monumenta, Plate 1.61. Commentary by Sean Silver.
George Vertue after [Augustin Ménageot]
Digitized, courtesy of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives.
crosses (visual works)
stone (worked rock)
Crosses (Fenn Index 3.4)
Turner, J. M. W.
Scott, George Gilbert
Plate: An engraving made by George Vertue (1684-1756) in 1741 after a drawing by Augustin Ménageot (c. 1700-1784) in the possession of William Draper (1709-1759). Plate 1.61 represents the Winchester City Cross, popularly called the “High,” “Market,” or “Butter” Cross as it appeared in 1741, and substantially as it appears today (see below). Arranged around the base are six human figures, composing three pairs. The first two pairs represent the sort of the barter transaction which gives the Cross its modern name. The final pair is of architects or a surveyor and his patron, who display a plan view of the same monument. A loose copy of the original engraving, executed in 1741, is held in the British Museum (1850,0223.693).
Object: The Winchester Cross is a slender, many-pinnacled monument on a stepped plinth with five octagonal steps. Like many such crosses, its design is based on the influential “Eleanor” crosses (cf. Plate 1.7), though incorporating elements of the later style of the perpendicular Gothic. Designed to support four statues, only one remained at the time of the engraving, representing either St. Laurence or St. Amphibalus (a local martyr), though it was said to be St. John the Evangelist (Milner 1802, 38-39; Milner 1809, 2.182-84).
Vertue's engraving dates the Cross to the reign of Edward III (1312-77), but modern sources prefer a later date, suggesting the reign of Henry VI (1422-61). John Milner, the best early authority on the Cross, argues that it was a gift to the Corporation of Winchester from Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester (c. 1375-1447), while John Britton, an important local antiquary, suspected that it might have replaced a much older cross which originally stood before the Church of St. Laurence, since demolished (1828, 42-44).
The Cross narrowly avoided relocation in 1770. Thomas Dummer, MP for Yarmouth, took advantage of a local repaving initiative to purchase the Cross; he intended to take it to his estate at Cranbury Park. Repelled by townsfolk, Dummer settled for the transept of Netley Abbey and a lath and plaster facsimile of the Market Cross, which collapsed sixty years after its construction (Yonge 1898, 83-91; Milner 1838, 49). Today, the Cross anchors a jog in the Winchester high street, where the road made way for the Cross, rather than the other way around.
The Cross underwent a final major restoration in 1865 at the hands of Victorian Gothic Revivalist George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878). Scott added numerous ornaments including new statuary, bringing the total number of figures to 12 (“Winchester City Cross” 1866).
On the Image: ad exemplar penes W. Draper Arin.
Bottom: WINCHESTER CROSS. Erected in the Reign of K. Edward the III. within the Market-place in the middle of the City; its height is 50 Feet, & was formerly ornamented with four Statues, only one of which now remains, as is here represented. 1741. / Sumptibus Soc: Antiquar. Lond.
Preparatory Drawings: Click here to see the Preparatory Drawings for Plate 1.61.
Commentary by Sean Silver: George Vertue’s engraving of the Winchester Cross was made from a drawing in the possession of William Draper, a London-based antiquary whose name appears on the 1751 Royal Charter of the Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) (see Draper 1718; Draper 1759). Like many early members of the SAL, Draper left little mark on history aside from his commitment to a general, convivial historiographic practice. He was the grandson (from his mother’s side) of the diarist and virtuoso John Evelyn (1620-1706). Though Evelyn's diary records visiting his son-in-law at the newly-built Addiscombe Place, the tottering neo-classical villa built by Draper’s father (Evelyn 1901, 2.320, 2.333, 2.350, 2.362), he would not have met his antiquarian grandson—Draper was born three years after Evelyn’s death. Two surviving letters from the summer of 1744, however, make the younger Draper’s commitment to Evelyn's brand of latitudinarian scholarship clear; they decry the divisions in antiquarian societies caused by religion, politics, and gender. They also exemplify his thoughtful approach to historical and historiographic practice (Honeybone and Honeybone 2010, 226).
In 1741, Draper served as patron and protector to Augustin Ménageot, a Paris-born artist who had arrived in England earlier that year. The antiquary suggested that the artist pursue an itinerary compassing the region south of London, with the purpose of sketching the environs and its chief monuments (Willk-Brocard 1998, 144). Ménageot made the trip; surviving drawings include views of Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, the entrance to Carisbrooke Castle, Chichester Cross (Plate 1.64), and the City Cross in Winchester. This last sketch is the one which made its way into Draper’s possession and subsequently to the SAL; by the end of 1741, Vertue had engraved it in copperplate for circulation to the members of the Society.
The two figures in the lower right corner of the print, who hand between them a stylized plan view of the same Cross, capture one function of the whole engraving as a historical document. They have transformed the Cross into a set of architectural details that can be rolled up and carried someplace like the SAL. Looked at stylistically, this is what Lucy Peltz calls the “uninterrupted focus” of antiquarian images, “crucial to the antiquarian desire for authoritive [sic] empirical information” (1999, 480). Isolating the cross against a placeless background—and isolating only the essential particulars of the object—this style participates in emerging practices of virtual witnessing, which could make monuments, then scattered around England, portable and therefore comparable with one another. Collecting such things in one place made possible emerging histories of architectural style, or theories about the development of English urban life, or new forms of aesthetic appreciation and delight. Plate 1.61 was therefore aligned with near-contemporary chorological texts like Robert Plot's History of Oxfordshire, or place-poetry like John Dyer’s “Grongar Hill,” each of which differently makes something immovable mobile. It is tempting to imagine, therefore, that Ménageot has included himself in the sketch, passing his drawing to Draper. Such a move would summarize one aspect of the antiquarian project: to take monuments, in representation, from their local sites and gather them under the eyes of a few competent historians. Comparison with surviving self-portraits of Augustin Ménageot's son, a more prodigious and successful painter, lends some support to this conjecture.
Because of its ancient pedigree, buildings in the city of Winchester were of special interest to antiquarians like Draper; they were evidence in a surprisingly vigorous debate about older Saxon and newer Gothic styles of architecture, pivoting on the evolution of the pointed arch (Sweet 2004, 249-59). Draper may even have seen Ménageot's sketch as filling a gap in that literature, since the Cross was underrepresented in early place-writing. Poet-laureate Thomas Warton’s 1760 guide for antiquarian tourists to Winchester, for instance, omits the market cross as an object of interest, pointing tourists instead to the Hospital of St Cross, situated roughly one mile South, and certain transepts in the massy Winchester Cathedral, just a short walk away (Warton 1760). So, too, the tour guide published in installments in the 1750 volume of the Universal Magazine simply overlooks the Market Cross in its enumeration of Winchester’s attractions; the plate attached to the guide likewise fails to represent it (“Account” 1750). But a later description of Winchester, likely composed by Richard Wavell, lavishes three full pages on the Market Cross and is adorned with a rough plate ([Wavell] 1773, 225-27). By the end of the century, the Cross was being appreciated for its “exquisite symmetry of...proportion” and ranked among “the most elegant structures of the same description in England” (Britton 1828, 44). John Milner’s querulous Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Winchester (1838), which represents the first extended attempt to construct a holistic history of monumental styles in that region, situates the Cross as one of Westchester's most iconic and historically important landmarks.
The antiquarian interest in the Winchester Cross also had the paradoxical effect of bringing it into some danger. The same set of antiquarian practices that preserved objects of the past in portable documents—like Vertue's engraving—could also threaten those same objects, since the same impulses that drove antiquaries to compile histories for the public good could also result in individuals amassing antiquities for personal use. Milner picks out Thomas Dummer's attempt in 1770 to remove the Cross as an instance of this acquisitive impulse. Dummer was MP to nearby Yarmouth, described by the English Chronicle as "one of the richest, the obscurest, the most independent, and the most implicit Members of the House"; he was as "opulent" as he was "indolent" (Namier 1964). Among the very little that is known about Dummer was his interest in antiquities; the sale of his estate included "a very capital collection of Greek, Roman, and English coins," and Dummer was ultimately elected as Fellow of the Royal Society on the strength of these interests (Namier 1964). It was because of these antiquarian tastes that Dummer sought the Winchester Cross. Having recently inherited the family estate, he began actively scooping up architectural antiquities and reassembling them as follies at Cranbury Park. The north transept of Netley Abbey was relocated in this way, where it can be seen now as part of an eye-catching mock-ruin known locally as "The Castle" (Yonge 1898). But Dummer's subsequent attempt to relocate the Cross was a different matter. Targeted for removal as part of an initiative to widen the cobblestone street, Dummer purchased the Cross from the Pavers Guild and ordered his workmen to demolish and to remove it. It was only, Milner insists, because of the vigorous opposition of local residents—a "small riot" ensued, writes Charlotte Yonge—that the Cross remained in situ. This signaled, Milner concluded, the ongoing importance of the Cross as a center and pivot of urban life; it also marked, he argued, “the superior taste and spirit of the lower order of inhabitants” (Milner 1838, 49, Yonge 1898).
What the Cross might have meant to local residents is difficult to recover, but Milner's narrative of the minor uprising, like the little figures sketched by Ménageot, suggest that it was part of the fabric of everyday Winchester life. In the image, these half-realized figures are seen bartering over an onion, peeling a potato, and unfolding some small romantic drama. In one sense, they are more befitting the style of a Dutch genre piece than a study of an architectural landmark—but, in another, they clearly belong to the Cross and its environment, since these local scenes are made possible by the urban spaces the Cross carves out, the jog in the road which was not widened, or the curve of space around its pediment. It is not only that the steps can support a wicker basket as a makeshift greengrocer's stall, nor that the human form may sit on the low first course to perform a repetitive task like peeling. It is also that the cross itself, by its sheer mass and immovability, has defined a space around it; the rhythms of local market life unfold in diurnal fashion while the carved figure of St. Amphibalus, with his unwieldy palm branch and book, gazes mutely towards some vista of Christian end-times. In short, the things about the Cross that interested eighteenth-century antiquarians did not exhaust its total significance. Neither the designer of the Cross, nor the message it ostensibly relays, nor even the antiquary who visits it, would have been able to predict the many and manifold purposes to which that Cross has been put in the daily, changing rounds of Winchester city traffic (see also Britton 1828, 43-44). As the local resistance to its removal help indicate, these everyday activities clearly belong to the Cross's meaning and significance.
Future representations of the Cross would emphasize exactly its local significance. Just a half-century after Vertue's engraving, J.M.W. Turner produced a series of studies of the same subject, expanding upon the scenes of urban life hinted at in Ménageot's sketch. Turner, then just 20 years old, sketched the Cross under a commission by William Alexander, an artist, curator, and FSA a half-generation Turner’s senior (Finsberg 1911-12, 88). The Isle of Wight Sketchbook, now at the Tate, was the first sketchbook of Turner's young career; it almost repeats Ménageot’s itinerary and offers views of some of the same objects. But where Ménageot's drawings of the Cross were relatively spare, Turner’s studies and a subsequent watercolor captures a monument as the center of a hub of commercial traffic.1 A man with a shovel and barrow lounges in the Cross’s shadow; a small knot of people gathers on its steps; in the background are a sequence of buildings, one of which announces itself as the site of a grocer named “Savage.” These people, from the man repairing the pavers to the group of people in conversation to the grocer at his stall, frame Gothic architecture as the sort of thing that persists as an active presence in the diurnal and annual rhythms of urban life. When Turner returned to a series of similar subjects roughly five years later, capturing in watercolors events like the dismantling and refurbishment of the Salisbury Poultry Cross (a piece now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem), he yet more perfectly relayed the ongoing engagement of everyday life and indeed living craft labor with monuments of ancient antiquity (Wilton 2012). In such a way, the homely market crosses stand between a historical or historiographic interest in Gothic design and a forward-looking interest in forms of labor, which would finally be explored at length by John Ruskin.
The engraving collected in Vetusta Monumenta served a further purpose, which was not part of the intentions of Vertue, Draper, or Ménageot, but suggest the importance of that collection as a historical document. A subscription was taken in 1863 to restore the Winchester Cross, with the Revivalist architect George Gilbert Scott hired to oversee the work (Parker 1863; Moberly 1865). Scott believed in what he called a “conservative” brand of restoration, elsewhere “radical restoration.” He argued for an “entire rebuilding, if necessary,” which should be effected “conservatively, preserving the precise forms…of the original” (Scott 1850). Under Scott’s direction, remarked George Moberly, a team of masons and a committee of concerned citizens undertook not to move the Cross, nor "to arrange it on any fantastical or fanciful model of our own... but rather to conserve everything, to restore and replace" (Parker 1865, 306). They were engaged in a project in some senses like a modern project of restoration, to restore the Cross to its original state as a public service. But this attempt to recover and restore to view the original designs of “pointed architecture”—i.e., the Gothic—was in service of a subtly different end. Scott imagined a moral purpose to restorative work. He insisted that, in recovering premodern architecture, he would thereby recover or “reawaken” a more primitive Christian culture and mode of existence, including the qualities of mind and echoes of behavior that Gothic architecture represented (Scott 1850, 29).
The restoration was modern in another sense; not content only to refurbish what he found, Scott’s radical conservation, completed on the festival day of St Lawrence in 1865, attempted to reconstruct details which were not to be found on the monument in its then-current state of decay (Parker, 1865). Sometimes, these were reconstructed from local knowledge, as in the case of three statues added in an attempt to restore the structure to its original state. At least one of these was subscribed directly by the Fellows of Winchester College; that statue, of William de Wykeham, would ultimately be the object of a typically "strenuous" antiquarian debate, over which hand should properly hold the crook and which the book (Smith, 1866). Some, like eight additional statues of local "worthies," were added based on the existence of the slightest of clues or hints in the surviving structure (Parker 1864, 190). Moberly, head of the restoration committee, likened this aspect of architecture to comparative anatomy, where even a single bone might serve as a clue towards recovering the whole appearance, behavior, diet, and social structure of animals extinct for thousands of years (Parker 1865, 306). Just so, the "restoration" of a statue could be justified on the slender evidence of a space which could afford it. But the project also included restorations of details strictly recovered from documents, such as those collected by the SAL. For at least a few details, including a restored crown or fanciful cathedral surmounting the Cross's central spire, Scott’s restoration was indebted to a memorializing sketch which was probably the engraving executed by Draper, Vertue, and the SAL. The original surtopping crown had been lost sometime before 1770, and it was only because it had been recorded in a few sketches, including the one by Ménageot that Vertue and the SAL undertook to publish, that the crown could be reconstructed at all.2 In this sense, therefore, Turner's subsequent watercolor is actually a representation of Ménageot's sketch—only remediated first in architectural stone.
If we view Vertue’s engraving as a blueprint, therefore, we have misread it; there appears to be no sense that the engraving would ever be used to reproduce the cross elsewhere—not, that is, as document used in a building process. He intends it instead as an object of discourse, something that can be printed and therefore introduced into a comparative discussion of monuments of antiquity. But Scott depended upon the engraving of the now-missing original, or the tradition it promulgated, as just such a technical drawing. Ménageot, Draper, and Vertue were after something contained in the cross more than the cross itself: the essence or formal symmetry of a style. Scott was after something importantly different: a gateway or echo of a vanished way of life, a series of functions which are only shadowed forth, as if incidentally, in the original engravings. It was in service to the renewed importance of the Cross as a repository of lost ways of being that the antiquaries’ work was put to new use as a blueprint and portal to a nostalgically misremembered, actively recaptured way of being. The Cross, as we see it today, is a combination of these historically specific historiographic impulses, overlaid on a structure built during the reign of Henry VI.
: Turner’s watercolor is now at the Whitworth Art Gallery at the University Manchester (D.84-1892), and an engraving based on that water color was published by J. Powell, 30 July 1800.
: Also possible as a source-text is a similar pencil study by Robert Adam, dated 1750, now in the John Soane Museum. Those representations which mention the crown, and which were completed between 1770 and 1865, may all be traced to Ménageot’s model. John Britton, for instance, notes “a crown, and four small niches with statues in them”; Britton is however well-known to have derived his knowledge from early engravings compiled by the SAL (see Sweet 2004, 239-40). And John Milner, fastidiously trustworthy, similarly relays an engraving not of the Cross, as his eyes saw it, but "in its original state"; this displays Ménageot's surtopping crown.
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