The removal of this objectionable feature, and the restoration of framework and compartments in the style of the original, and enriched with ancient mellow-toned and many-hued glass in keeping with the place, are absolutely indispensable to the completeness and unity of character of the chapel. Two clerestory windows at the east end of the choir, adjoining the larger window, have been recently filled with stained glass in much better taste.
The objections above made may be urged with equal force against the east and west windows of the south aisle of the body of the fane, and the west window of the north aisle. The glorious west window, composed of eighty compartments, embellished with figures of kings, patriarchs, and bishops, together with the insignia of the Garter and the arms of the prelates -- the wreck gathered from all the other windows -- and streaming with the radiance of the setting sun upon the broad nave and graceful pillars of the aisles -- this superb window, an admirable specimen of the architecture of the age in which it was designed, had well-nigh shared the fate of the others, and was only preserved from desecration by the circumstance of the death of the glass-painter. The mullions of this window being found much decayed, were carefully and consistently restored during the last year by Mr. Blore, and the ancient stained glass replaced.
Not only does Saint George's Chapel form a house of prayer and a temple of chivalry, but it is also the burial-place of kings. At the east end of the north aisle of the choir is a plain flag, bearing the words --
King Edward IIII. And his Queen Elizabeth Widville
The coat of mail and surcoat, decorated with rubies and precious stones, together with other rich trophies once ornamenting this tomb, were carried off by the Parliamentary plunderers. Edward's queen, Elizabeth Woodville, it was thought, slept beside him; but when the royal tomb was opened in 1789, and the two coffins within it examined, the smaller one was found empty. The queen's body was subsequently discovered in a stone coffin by the workmen employed in excavating the vault for George the Third. Edward's coffin was seven feet long, and contained a perfect skeleton. On the opposite aisle, near the choir door, as already mentioned, rests the ill-fated Henry the Sixth, beneath an arch sumptuously embellished by Henry the Eighth, on the key-stone of which may still be seen his arms, supported by two antelopes connected by a golden chain. Henry's body was removed from Chertsey, where it was first interred, and reburied in 1484, with much solemnity, in this spot. Such was the opinion entertained of his sanctity that miracles were supposed to be wrought upon his tomb, and Henry the Seventh applied to have him canonised, but the demands of the Pope were too exorbitant. The proximity of Henry and Edward in death suggested the following lines to Pope --
"Here, o'er the martyr-king the marble weeps, And fast beside him once-fear'd Edward sleeps; The grave unites, where e'en the grave finds rest, And mingled here the oppressor and the opprest."
In the royal vault in the choir repose Henry the Eighth and his third queen Jane Seymour, together with the martyred Charles the First.
Space only permits the hasty enumeration of the different chapels and chantries adorning this splendid fane. These are Lincoln Chapel, near which Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, is buried; Oxenbridge Chapel; Aldworth Chapel; Bray Chapel, where rests the body of Sir Reginald de Bray, the architect of the pile; Beaufort Chapel, containing sumptuous monuments of the noble family of that name; Rutland Chapel; Hastings Chapel; and Urswick Chapel, in which is now placed the cenotaph of the Princess Charlotte, sculptured by Matthew Wyatt.
In a vault near the sovereign's stall lie the remains of the Duke of Gloucester, who died in 1805, and of his duchess, who died two years after him. And near the entrance of the south door is a slab of grey marble, beneath which lies \one who in his day filled the highest offices of the realm, and was the brother of a king and the husband of a queen. It is inscribed with the great name of Charles Brandon.
At the east end of the north aisle is the chapter-house, in which is a portrait and the sword of state of Edward the Third.
Adjoining the chapel on the east stands the royal tombhouse. Commenced by Henry the Seventh as a mausoleum, but abandoned for the chapel in Westminster Abbey, this structure was granted by Henry the Eighth to Wolsey, who, intending it as a place of burial for himself, erected within it a sumptuous monument of black and white marble, with eight large brazen columns placed around it, and four others in the form of candlesticks.
At the time of the cardinal's disgrace, when the building reverted to the crown, the monument was far advanced towards completion -- the vast sum of 4280 ducats having been paid to Benedetto, a Florentine sculptor, for work, and nearly four hundred pounds for gilding part of it. This tomb was stripped of its ornaments and destroyed by the Parliamentary rebels in 1646; but the black marble sarcophagus forming part of it, and intended as a receptacle for Wolsey's own remains, escaped destruction, and now covers the grave of Nelson in a crypt of Saint Paul's Cathedral.
Henry the Eighth was not interred in this mausoleum, but in Saint George's Chapel, as has just been mentioned, and as he himself directed, "midway between the state and the high altar." Full instructions were left by him for the erection of a monument which, if it had been completed, would have been truly magnificent. The pavement was to be of oriental stones, with two great steps upon it of the same material. The two pillars of the church between which the tomb was to be set were to be covered with bas-reliefs, representing the chief events of the Old Testament, angels with gilt garlands, fourteen images of the prophets, the apostles, the evangelists, and the four doctors of the Church, and at the foot of every image a little child with a basket full of red and white roses enamelled and gilt. Between these pillars, on a basement of white marble, the epitaphs of the king and queen were to be written in letters of gold.