BROADMINSTER IS ONE OF THE LESSER cathedral towns of England. There is nothing remarkable about the Minster except its antiquity. It does not convey the idea of vastness as do some of these venerable buildings. One would never imagine oneself in the midst of a petrified forest on passing through the porch. The carving about the pillars does not suggest lacework in stone, though it is admirable in its way, and the screen shows signs of having been “restored” in the days when restoration meant spoliation. The coloured glass of the windows is not especially good, but the oldest is undoubtedly the best. The modern memorial windows were apparently estimated for and the specification of the lowest-priced competitor accepted; but, really, the Chapter should have prevented the perpetration of such a blunder as that of the artist who, in his representation of the entrance to the sacred tomb, with the sleeping Roman guards on each side, put a crescent moon in the very blue sky! But for that matter, when I pointed out the mistake to one of the higher canons, he did not perceive for some time that the Paschal moon was bound to be within a few days of the full.

The old Minster is, however, worthy of every respect, if it does not quite inspire such feelings of reverence and awe as does Westminster Abbey or Canterbury or Durham or Santa Croce at Florence. One feels that it is the sort of building one can trust. It is solid throughout, and that is something. I remember years ago, when I was lecturing a long-suffering group on the marvels of Milan, calling attention to the wonderful scheme of lighting by which the High Altar was made the centre of illumination, I observed some shadows of the stone spandrels on the roof for which I could not account. There the light spines and ridges flowed upward to meet at the apex, and there the shadows slept, increasing the effect amazingly. Only after some patient investigation did I find that the groins were painted on the woodwork to imitate the stone where the stonework ended!

If there is nothing to wonder at in the interior of Broadminster, there is at least something to trust. It is sound throughout.

But why, oh! why, should that old woman be allowed to stand just outside the porch with a basket of nuts on her arm, offering them for sale to all visitors?

A stranger within our gates was puzzled by this apparition at the door of the church. He had just come from London, and he had been taken to the Zoo. He looked for some reason for the nuts at Broadminster—reason and consistency. If nuts, why not buns, he wished me to explain to him.

I felt incapable of clearing away this mystery. I could not tell him, under the shadow of the sacred building, the legend that I invented to account for the nuts, but I told him in full when we got away from that influence of veracity: it had to do with a crusader who, forsaken by his comrades in the Lebanon, was forced to sustain himself with nuts, and vowed that if ever he should get back to England he would endow a Minster and decree that nuts should be offered at the porch between prime and angelus every day for a thousand years. He kept his vow, hence——

That was eight hundred and eighty-two years ago, so that only one hundred and twenty of the vow had yet to run, and then——

He was barely satisfied with this explanation. I could scarcely blame him: it did not satisfy myself.

There are some people who think that the best part of St. Ursula—the Minster is dedicated to St. Ursula—is the Close. The Deanery, and the residences of the canons, major and minor, and all the officials of the Cathedral, lay as well as clerical, stand on two sides of a square, with the old building in the centre. Green meadows with a glimpse of green hills beyond are on the other sides of the square, and just behind the houses of the Close flows the Avonbeck, a narrow winding river in which trout may be caught by the dozen by the least skilful fisherman.

The beautiful gardens of the Close slope down to the banks of the river.

I was told a pathetic story by the wife of one of the dignitaries respecting a young man who had never any especial leaning for the Church as a career, but who made up his mind, when he saw this Close and walked through the gardens and fished in the Avonbeck, that the Church was the only possible profession for him. He went through the usual course, was ordained, and appointed to a parish in a slum in the Midlands, where he has remained ever since—and that was twenty-five years ago.

Equally pathetic, however, to some people may be the case of the clergyman who practically started life as one of the lesser dignitaries of the Cathedral and has remained there ever since—and that was thirty-five years ago. It was said that he was once a good preacher, and even now he seldom falls more than a couple of tones in going from the Responses to the Prayers. He began with high ideas regarding Greek texts, but now he devotes himself to Canadian trout. He has great hopes, he told me, for the future of Canadian trout.

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