At the same time, the interior is freed from one serious difficulty, that of providing support for a central tower; - a difficulty, which Winchester, and Wells, and Salisbury, though in different ways, know to their cost. And in one respect this treatment of the tower arrangement conduces both to beauty of interior effect, and harmony of plan. First, the magnificent uniform stretch of vault, of upwards of 300 feet, realised only here and (in a less degree) at King's College Chapel, is, of course, due to the absence of a central tower. Then as to the plan. Our Cathedral with its Transepts exhibits perhaps, the most perfect specimen in the world of bilateral (or right and left hand) symmetry. Not only does aisle answer to aisle, and pillar to pillar, and windowtracery to window-tracery, but also chapel to chapel screen to screen, and even tomb to tomb, and canopy to canopy: St. John Baptist's Chapel and screen to St. Paul's, St. James's to St. Andrew's, St. Saviour's to St. George's, St. Gabriel's to Mary Magdalene's; Simon of Apulia's tomb and canopy (till lately) to Leofric's or some very early Bishop's; Bronescombe's to Stafford's, Oldham's to Speke's, etc. Now it is obvious that the grand characteristic feature of our Cathedral - the transeptal-tower arrangement - completes this balance of parts, or rather was the primary instance and model of it. The plan will exhibit this balance very fully.
But I have to speak, next, of the probable dimensions and appearance of the entire Norman Cathedral to which these Towers belonged. Now it may seem hopeless, at first sight, to recover these to any considerable extent; as scarce anything, besides the Towers, remains to tell the tale. The analogy, however, of other Cathedrals, joined to historical facts and dates connected with our own, enables us to approximate, at least, to such a result.
There are, then, two types of Norman Cathedral known to us in England: the greater - such as Peterborough, Ely, Winchester - having twelve bays in the nave; the smaller, - such as Chichester, Hereford, Durham, etc - having seven or eight only. Ours, doubtless, belongs to the latter or smaller class. All alike, had, as a rule, a choir of three bays, and no more, with a circular or polygonal apse as its Eastern termination. Western towers were an almost universal feature: and I shall give reasons hereafter for supposing that there were such towers here also, besides the transeptal ones, only smaller. And of all our Norman Cathedrals, there are reasons for specially singling out that of Chichester, as probably most nearly resembling what our own once was. That Cathedral is, first of all, very plain in style: as the few remains of ours prove it also to have been. Next, there was not a little intercommunication between the Sees of Chichester and Exeter at the Norman period. Osbern, who succeeded Leofric, and sat from 1072-1103, was Bishop when Domesday Book was compiled. And he is recorded(7) there as holding of the King, Edward the Confessor, the Church of Boseham, or Bosham, in Sussex; that famous Church, of which a rude portraiture is still to be seen on the renowned Bayeux Tapestry, as having witnessed the embarkation of Harold on his fateful expedition to Normandy. Now Bosham is but three miles from Chichester. Then Kadulphus I., of Chichester(8) who laid the foundation of its present Cathedral, soon after the year 1095, i.e. shortly before Warelwast began ours, (1112), was one of Warelwast's consecrators, and may well have influenced the style and design adopted here. And Warelwast himself may well have been familiar with the rising Choir and Transepts of Chichester: for he, too, had a great deal to do with the monastery, and probably with the monastic buildings, at Bosham.(9) Warelwast's successor, again (1138), of whom Hoker testifies (p. 110) that he was a liberal contributor to the buildings of his Church, was most probably a Chichester man; for his name, Robert Chichester, may well indicate as much; just as his successor, Bartholomaeus Iscanus, was doubtless an Exeter man; and Simon de Apulia, the next but two, really an Apulian.
But further, not only was our Norman Cathedral begun about the same time, and in the same plain style, as Chichester, and by men who may well have derived their ideas from thence, but it was also finished at very nearly the same time: viz., after the lapse of nearly 100 years. In both cases the work was perhaps delayed by destructive fires - ours,(10) probably, in 1161, that of Chichester,(11) certainly, in 1187. So that it was not till 1199, a full century after its foundation, that Chichester was finished; while ours, as Hoker informs us (p. 113), was completed by Bishop Marshall, who sat from 1194 to 1206. The coincidence of dates is most fortunate for our purpose; for it fully justifies us in conceiving Chichester Cathedral, as it is (for it has undergone no material alteration since) to reflect the main features of our Warelwast-Marshall Cathedral.
By putting together such evidences as remain, we may form some idea how far the plan was carried out in the earlier or purely Norman period. The Towers speak plainly for themselves. Eastward from them, at a point near the end of the third bay in that direction, apsidal terminations, traces of which have been found lately, mark the extent of the Norman Choir. Westward of the Towers, the lower courses of the Norman work are visible still, from the North Tower as far as the North Porch. The thickness of the great Western wall also accords with this date. On the interior face of both North and South walls of the Nave aisles, disturbances of masonry occurring at regular intervals indicate the position of a series of Norman pilasters, the base of one of them having recently been found in situ beneath the stone seat. Outside, and corresponding to the position of each several pilaster, may be observed either flat buttresses of Norman form and masonry, or else traces of their removal. These remains, linking together the obviously Norman Towers and the massive West wall, point to the conclusion that the Norman Cathedral as Marshall found it, included the entire Nave. Thus, what was completed in the true Norman or round-arched period would seem to have been the Towers; the Choir of three bays with its apse and aisles; and (probably) apsidal Chapels east of the Towers, and north and south of the central apse; and the Nave with its aisles. All the windows were, no doubt, like those in the Transept, of a single light: the doors perhaps enriched with Norman mouldings. But the general aspect must have been as at Chichester, stern and heavy; the roofing probably as at Peterborough, of wood, flat and paneled.