[YORK MINSTER.] A fine contemporary collection of pamphlets, all in first edition, and broadsides, relating to the ongoing restoration work at York Minster, after the infamous arson attack by Jonathan Martin in February 1829.
[Mostly York,  1829–42.]
16 items in one vol., 8vo (220 × 130 mm); contemporary half calf and marbled boards, rebacked, corners worn; later inscriptions to front free endpaper and flyleaf, modern bookplate.
Jonathan Martin (brother of the artist, John Martin) very nearly destroyed York Minster entirely when he lit a fire after hiding in the building overnight, and it was only the speedy drafting of a water pump which saved the structure from complete ruin. The damage was nonetheless catastrophic; the roof of the central aisle was almost entirely destroyed, as was most of the woodwork in the interior, including the organ and its screen, the tabernacle work, the stalls, the galleries, the bishop’s throne, and the pulpit.

The early pamphlets here relate primarily to the restoration of the choir screen and stalls, which was undertaken by Sir Robert Smirke between 1830 and 1832, and the latter to the general restoration project, which was overseen by Smirke’s brother Sydney (perhaps best known for his design of the British Museum’s distinctive Reading Room).

Smirke’s replacement choir screen was modelled as a close copy of the original. He similarly replaced the original stone altar-screen, but after much deliberation the Ladies’ Pews were not rebuilt, and the pulpit was placed several feet farther away from the altar than it had previously been. The choir reopened in 1832, but the new organ was not installed until 1834, where it was placed once again on the choir-screen, but only after considerable controversy which is outlined in the emphatic contents of the present work.

The restoration evidently became a locus for an outpouring of both civic pride, and dissent, and the compiler of this volume has here created a chronological account of the agreements, disagreements and consternation which seem to have beset every decision surrounding the project. Lists of subscribers to the Central Committee for the Restoration reveal a variety of interested parties, both in Yorkshire and London.

Particularly risible is the satirical letter by ‘Clericus’ (a pseudonym of T.A. Browne, Rector of Bilton) addressing Lord Viscount Morpeth in a mock-heroic style. Plans, both proposed and adopted, appear here in the engraved plates, as do ephemeral items such as excerpts from newspapers and a copy of the petition against the proposed removal of the organ screen.

The contents of the volume are as follows:

i) A Letter addressed to the Subscribers to the Restoration of the Choir of York Minster, on the Subject of the proposed Removal of the Organ Screen. By a Subscriber. York: Printed by Thomas Wilson and Sons … and Sold by J. and G. Todd … 1830. Pp. 38, [2], with one engraved plate. Not in RIBA.

ii) VERNON, Rev. W. V. A Letter to Viscount Milton, on the restoration of York Minster, and the proposed removal of the Choir Screen … York: John and George Todd … 1830. Pp. 29, [1]. RIBA 3433.

iii) Observations relating to the Proposal for removing the Choir Screen in York Minster. By an Architect. York: John and George Todd … 1830. Pp. 13, [1]. RIBA 2812.

iv) A Report addressed to the Subscribers for the Restoration of York Minster, on the proposed Removal of the Choir Screen. London: Printed B C. Whittington … 1830. Pp. [3]–31, [1]. RIBA 3062.

v) A Letter addressed to the Rev. W. V. Vernon … containing Remarks on the Postscript to his Letter to Lord Viscount Milton. By a Subscriber. York: Printed by Thomas Wilson and Sons … and Sold by J. and G. Todd … 1830. Pp. 19, [1]. RIBA 3605.

vi) VERNON, Rev. W. V. A Second Letter to Viscount Milton, on the Restoration of York Minster, and the proposed Removal of the Choir Screen … York: John and George Todd … 1830. Pp. 62, with an engraved frontispiece. RIBA 3434.

vii) A second Letter addressed to the Subscribers to the Restoration of the Choir of York Minster, on the Subject of the proposed Removal of the Organ Screen. By a Subscriber. York: Printed by Thomas Wilson and Sons … and Sold by J. and G. Todd … 1830. Pp. 55, [1]. Not in RIBA.

viii) Advice to the Dean and Chapter of a Cathedral Church … December, 1830. H. Bellerby, Printer, Gazette Office, York. Small broadside, folded to fit the volume, one short tear. Not in RIBA.

ix) York Minster. It is proposed that the following Petition from the Inhabitants of the City of York, against the Removal of the Organ Screen, should be signed as soon as possible, and presented to the Dean and Chapter … The petition will remain for Signatures until Saturday Night, the 12th instant, at the several Booksellers Shops and Newspaper Offices in York. [c.1831.] Small broadside, folded to fit the volume, one short tear. Not in RIBA.

x) BROWNE, John. A Letter addressed to the Ven. and Rev. Archdeacon Markham, on the Construction of the Porch of the Organ-Screen in York Minster: containing Remarks on the Statements of the Rev. W. V. Vernon, and J. Savage … York: Printed by Thomas Wilson and Sons … and Sold by J. and G. Todd … 1831. Pp. [3]–15, [1], with two folding etched plates by the author. RIBA 439.

xi) A Letter addressed to Lord Viscount Morpeth on the Removal of the York Minster Screen. By Clericus. And the Prospectus of a Mock Heroic, entitled York Minster Screen; or, The Trojan War Renewed. By Philo-Homerus … York: Published and Sold by H. Bellerby … and other Booksellers … 1831. Pp. 30, [2]; the printed Key filled out in contemporary ms. (lightly offset and mild staining), old repair to blank verso. RIBA 441.

xii) On the proposed Removal of the Choir Screen, in York Minster. (Extracted from the York Courant, of February 1, 1831.) … Printed by T. Stones, Courant Office … York. [1831.] Small broadside, folded to fit the volume, one edge creased. Not in RIBA.

xiii) Remarks on the Alterations proposed in York Minster, in a Letter from John Gage … to Francis Cholmeley … Read at a Meeting of the Society, on Thursday, February 17, 1831. London: Printed for J. F. Dove … and Messrs. Todd, York. 1831. Pp. [3]–15, [1]. RIBA 1154.

xiv) An Account of the Proceedings and Resolutions of a Meeting of the Nobility and Gentry of the County of York, held at the Festival Concert-Room, in York, on Thursday, the 5th Day of March, 1829, to consider the best Means of restoring York Minster to its former State; with a List of Subscriptions entered into, and reported to the Central Committee, to the 7th of March inclusive. Published under the Direction of the Minster-Restoration Central Committee; of whom it may be had, gratis, by Subscribers, at the Committee-Room, York. [1829.] Pp. 16, [2]. Not in RIBA.

xv) Reports from the Committee appointed to superintend the Restoration of York Minster, and from Sidney Smirke, Esq., on the general State of the Fabric, presented to a public Meeting of the Subscribers, held in the Festival Concert Room, York, on Thursday, the 31st March, 1842; together with the Statements made on the part of the Chapter, and the Resolutions of the Meeting. Copies of this Report for gratuitous Distribution may be obtained by Application to Mr. Peters … York, Secretary to the Restoration Committee. [1842.] Pp. 20. Not in RIBA.

xvi) An Account of the Proceedings and Resolutions of the adjourned public Meeting of the Subscribers to the restoration of York Minster, held in the De Grey Rooms, York, on Thursday, the 6th Day of October, 1842 … Copies of this Report for circulation may be obtained from Mr. Peters, Clerk to the Restoration Committee … York. [1842.] Pp. 22. Not in RIBA.

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