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Title: English Villages
Author: Ditchfield, P. H. (Peter Hampson), 1854-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "English Villages" ***

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ENGLISH VILLAGES

BY

P.H. DITCHFIELD
M.A., F.S.A.


TO MY WIFE


PREFACE

Eleven years ago my little book on the antiquities of English villages
was published. Its object was to interest our rustic neighbours in
their surroundings, to record the social life of the people at various
times--their feasts and fairs, sports and pastimes, faiths and
superstitions--and to describe the scenes which once took place in the
fields and lanes they know so well. A friendly reviewer remarked that
the wonder was that a book of that kind had never been written before,
and that that was the first attempt to give a popular and readable
sketch of the history and associations of our villages. In the present
work I have attempted to fill in the sketch with greater detail, and to
write not only for the villagers themselves, but for all those who by
education are able to take a more intelligent interest in the study of
the past.

During the last decade many village histories have been written, and
if this book should be of service to anyone who is compiling the
chronicles of some rural world, or if it should induce some who have
the necessary leisure and ability to undertake such works, it will not
have been written in vain.

One of the most distressing features of modern village life is the
continual decrease of the population. The rural exodus is an alarming
and very real danger to the welfare of social England. The country is
considered dull and life therein dreary both by squire and peasant
alike. Hence the attractions of towns or the delights of travel empty
our villages. The manor-house is closed and labourers are scarce. To
increase the attractions of our villages, to arouse an interest in
their past history and social life, is worth attempting; and perhaps
this Story may be of some use in fostering local patriotism, and in
reconciling those who spend their lives far from the busy hives of men
to their lot, when they find how much interest lies immediately around
them.

The study of archaeology has been pursued with much vigour during
recent years, and increased knowledge has overthrown the many wild
theories and conjectures which were gravely pronounced to be
ascertained facts by the antiquaries of fifty years ago. Gildas,
Geoffrey of Monmouth, or Richard of Cirencester are no longer accepted
as safe and infallible guides. We know that there were such people as
the Druids, but we no longer attribute to them the great stone circles
nor imagine them sacrificing on "Druid's altars," as our forefathers
called the dolmens. The history of Britain no longer begins with the
advent of Julius Caesar, nor is his account of the Celtic tribes and
their manners accepted as a full and complete statement of all that
is known about them. The study of flint implements, of barrows and
earthworks, has considerably thrown back our historical horizon and
enabled us to understand the conditions of life in our island in the
early days of a remote past before the dawn of history. The systematic
excavation of Silchester, so ably conducted by the Society of
Antiquaries, and of other Roman sites of towns and villas, enables us
to realise more clearly the history of Britain under the rule of the
Empire; and the study of the etymology of place-names has overthrown
many of the absurd derivations which found a place in the old county
histories, and are often repeated by the writers of modern guide books.
Moreover patient labour amid old records, rolls, and charters, has
vastly increased our knowledge of the history of manors; and the
ancient parish registers and churchwardens' account books have been
made to yield their store of information for the benefit of industrious
students and scholars. There has been much destruction and much
construction; and this good work will doubtless continue, until at
length English archaeology may be dignified with the title of an exact
science. Destruction of another kind is much to be deplored, which has
left its mark on many an English village. The so-called "restoration"
of ancient parish churches, frequently conducted by men ignorant of the
best traditions of English architecture, the obliteration of the old
architectural features, the entire destruction of many interesting
buildings, have wrought deplorable ruin in our villages, and severed
the links with the past which now can never be repaired. The progress
of antiquarian knowledge will I trust arrest the destroyer's hand and
prevent any further spoliation of our diminished inheritance. If this
book should be found useful in stimulating an intelligent interest in
architectural studies, and in protecting our ancient buildings from
such acts of vandalism, its purpose will have been abundantly achieved.

I am indebted to many friends and acquaintances for much information
which has been useful to me in writing this book; to Sir John Evans
whose works are invaluable to all students of ancient stone and bronze
implements; to Dr. Cox whose little book on _How to Write the History
of a Parish_ is a sure and certain guide to local historians; to Mr.
St. John Hope and Mr. Fallow for much information contained in their
valuable monograph on _Old Church Plate_; to the late Dr. Stevens, of
Reading; to Mr. Shrubsole of the same town; to Mr. Gibbins, the author
of _The Industrial History of England_, for the use of an illustration
from his book; to Mr. Melville, Mr. P.J. Colson, and the Rev. W.
Marshall for their photographic aid; and to many other authors who are
only known to me by their valuable works. To all of these gentlemen I
desire to express my thanks, and also to Mr. Mackintosh for his
artistic sketch of a typical English village, which forms the
frontispiece of my book.

P.H.D.

BARKHAM RECTORY
_May_, 1901


CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I.     INTRODUCTION
II.    PREHISTORIC REMAINS
III.   TUMULI OR BARROWS
IV.    PIT AND PILE DWELLINGS
V.     CROMLECHS, CAMPS, AND EARTHWORKS
VI.    ROMAN RELICS
VII.   ANGLO-SAXON VILLAGES
VIII.  SAXON RELICS
IX.    ENGLISH ARCHITECTURE
X.     NORMAN VILLAGES AND THE "DOMESDAY BOOK"
XI.    NORMAN CASTLES
XII.   MONASTERIES
XIII.  THE MANOR-HOUSE
XIV.   PARISH CHURCHES
XV.    CHURCH PLATE
XVI.   MONUMENTAL EFFIGIES AND BRASSES
XVII.  THE PARISH CHEST
XVIII. STAINED GLASS, TILES, AND MURAL PAINTINGS
XIX.   CHURCH BELLS
XX.    THE MEDIAEVAL VILLAGE
XXI.   VILLAGE SPORTS AND PASTIMES
XXII.  THE VILLAGE INN
XXIII. VILLAGE SUPERSTITIONS AND FOLKLORE

       APPENDIX--BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS RELATING TO
       PAROCHIAL HISTORY

       INDEX


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FULL-PAGE

An English village
Village street
Palaeolithic implements
Neolithic and bronze implements
Old market cross
Broughton Castle
Netley Abbey, south transept
Southcote Manor, showing moat and pigeon-house
Old Manor-house--Upton Court
Stone Tithe Barn, Bradford-on-Avon
Village church in the Vale
An ancient village
Anne Hathaway's cottage
Old stocks and whipping-post
Village inn, with old Tithe Barn of Reading Abbey
Old cottages

IN THE TEXT

Barbed and leaf-shaped arrow-heads
Plan of a tumulus
Plan of tumulus called Wayland Smith's Cave, Berkshire
Celtic cinerary urn
Articles found in pit dwellings
Iron spear-head found at Hedsor
Menhir
Rollright stones (from Camden's _Britannia_, 1607)
Dolmen
Plan and section of Chun Castle
The White Horse at Uffington
Plan of Silchester
Capital of column
Roman force-pump
Tesselated pavement
Beating acorns for swine (from the Cotton MS., _Nero_, c. 4)
House of Saxon thane
Wheel plough (from the Bayeux tapestry)
Smithy (from the Cotton MS., B 4)
Saxon relics
Consecration of a Saxon church
Tower of Barnack Church, Northamptonshire
Doorway, Earl's Barton Church
Tower window, Monkwearmouth Church
Sculptured head of doorway, Fordington Church, Dorset
Norman capitals
Norman ornamental mouldings
Croyland Abbey Church, Lincolnshire
Semi-Norman arch, Church of St. Cross
Early English piers and capitals
Dog-tooth ornament
Brownsover Chapel, Warwickshire
Ball-flower mouldings, Tewkesbury Abbey
Ogee arch
Decorated capitals, Hanwell and Chacombe
Decorated windows, Merton College Chapel; Sandiacre, Derbyshire
Decorated mouldings, Elton, Huntingdonshire; Austrey, Warwickshire
Perpendicular window, Merton College Chapel, Oxford
Tudor arch, vestry door, Adderbury Church, Oxon
Perpendicular parapet, St. Erasmus' Chapel, Westminster Abbey
Perpendicular moulding, window, Christchurch, Oxford
Diagram of a manor
Ancient plan of Old Sarum
A Norman castle
Tournament
A monk transcribing
Ockwells manor-house
Richmond Palace
Doorway and staircase, Ufton Court
The porch, Ufton Court
Window of south wing, Ufton Court
Ancient pew-work, Tysoe Church, Warwickshire
Early English screen, Thurcaston, Leicestershire
Norman piscina, Romsey Church, Hants
Lowside window, Dallington Church, Northamptonshire
Reading-pew, seventeenth century, Langley Chapel, Salop.
Chalice and paten, Sandford, Oxfordshire
Pre-Reformation plate
Censer or thurible
Mural paintings
Ancient sanctus bell found at Warwick



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Local histories--Ignorance and destruction--Advantages of the study
of village antiquities--Description of an English village--The church--
The manor-house--Prehistoric people--Later inhabitants--Saxons--Village
inn--Village green--Legends.


To write a complete history of any village is one of the hardest literary
labours which anyone can undertake. The soil is hard, and the crop after
the expenditure of much toil is often very scanty. In many cases the
records are few and difficult to discover, buried amidst the mass of
papers at the Record Office, or entombed in some dusty corner of the
Diocesan Registry. Days may be spent in searching for these treasures
of knowledge with regard to the past history of a village without any
adequate result; but sometimes fortune favours the industrious toiler,
and he discovers a rich ore which rewards him for all his pains. Slowly
his store of facts grows, and he is at last able to piece together the
history of his little rural world, which time and the neglect of past
generations had consigned to dusty oblivion.

In recent years several village histories have been written with varied
success by both competent and incompetent scribes; but such books are few
in number, and we still have to deplore the fact that so little is known
about the hamlets in which we live. All writers seem to join in the same
lament, and mourn over the ignorance that prevails in rural England with
regard to the treasures of antiquity, history, and folklore, which are to
be found almost everywhere. We may still echo the words of the learned
author of _Tom Brown's Schooldays_, the late Mr. Hughes, who said that
the present generation know nothing of their own birthplaces, or of the
lanes, woods, and fields through which they roam. Not one young man in
twenty knows where to find the wood-sorrel, or the bee-orchis; still
fewer can tell the country legends, the stories of the old gable-ended
farmhouses, or the place where the last skirmish was fought in the Civil
War, or where the parish butts stood. Nor is this ignorance confined to
the unlearned rustics; it is shared by many educated people, who have
travelled abroad and studied the history of Rome or Venice, Frankfort or
Bruges, and yet pass by unheeded the rich stores of antiquarian lore,
which they witness every day, and never think of examining closely and
carefully. There are very few villages in England which have no objects
of historical interest, no relics of the past which are worthy of
preservation. "Restoration," falsely so called, conducted by ignorant
or perverse architects, has destroyed and removed many features of our
parish churches; the devastating plough has well-nigh levelled many an
ancient barrow; railroads have changed the character of rustic life and
killed many an old custom and rural festival. Old legends and quaint
stories of the countryside have given place to talks about politics and
newspaper gossip. But still much remains if we learn to examine things
for ourselves, and endeavour to gather up the relics of the past and save
them from the destructive hand of Time.

A great service may thus be rendered not only to the cause of history,
but also to the villagers of rural England, by those who have time,
leisure, and learning, sufficient to gain some knowledge of bygone times.
It adds greatly to the interest of their lives to know something of the
place where they live; and it has been well said that every man's concern
with his native place has something more in it than the amount of rates
and taxes that he has to pay. He may not be able to write a history of
his parish, but he can gather up the curious gossip of the neighbourhood,
the traditions and stories which have been handed down from former
generations. And if anyone is at the pains to acquire some knowledge of
local history, and will impart what he knows to his poorer neighbours, he
will add greatly to their interest in life. Life is a burden, labour mere
drudgery, when a man has nothing in which he can interest himself. When
we remember the long hours which an agricultural labourer spends alone,
without a creature to speak to, except his horses or the birds, we can
imagine how dull his life must be, if his mind be not occupied. But here,
on his own ground, he may find an endless supply of food for thought,
which will afford him much greater pleasure and satisfaction than
thinking and talking about his neighbours' faults, reflecting upon his
wrongs, or imitating the example of one of his class who, when asked
by the squire what he was thinking so deeply about, replied, "Mostly
naught." To remove the pall of ignorance that darkens the rustic mind,
to quicken his understanding and awaken his interest, are certainly
desirable objects; although his ignorance is very often shared by his
betters, who frequently hazard very strange theories and manifest many
curious ideas with regard to village antiquities.

We will walk together through the main roads of the village, and observe
some of its many points of interest. Indeed, it is no small thing to live
in such a "city of memories" as every village is, when at every turn and
corner we meet with something that reminds us of the past, and recalls
the pleasing associations of old village life. To those who have lived
amid the din and turmoil of a large town, where everybody is in a hurry,
and there is nothing but noise, confusion, and bustle, the delicious
calm and quietude of an old English village, undisturbed by the world's
rude noise, is most grateful. But to live in memory of what has gone
before, of the lives and customs of our forefathers, of the strange
events that have happened on the very ground upon which we are standing,
all this will make us love our village homes and delight in them
exceedingly. In most of our large towns the old features are fast
disappearing; historical houses have been pulled down to make room
for buildings more adapted to present needs, and everything is being
modernised; but in the country everything remains the same, and it is
not so difficult to let one's thoughts wander into the past, and picture
to one's self the old features of village life in bygone times.

Most of our villages have the usual common features, and it is not
difficult to describe a typical example, though the details vary very
much, and the histories of no two villages are identical. We see arising
above the trees the church, the centre of the old village life, both
religious, secular, and social. It stands upon a site which has been
consecrated to the service of God for many centuries. There is possibly
in or near the churchyard a tumulus, or burial mound, which shows that
the spot was set apart for some religious observances even before
Christianity reached our shores. Here the early Saxon missionary planted
his cross and preached in the open air to the gathered villagers. Here
a Saxon thane built a rude timber church which was supplanted by an
early Norman structure of stone with round arches and curiously carved
ornamentation. This building has been added to at various times, and now
shows, writ in stone, its strange and varied history. The old time-worn
registers, kept in the parish chest in the vestry, breathe the
atmosphere of bygone times, and tell the stories and romances of the
"rude forefathers of the hamlet." The tombs and monuments of knights and
ancient heroes tell many a tale of valour and old-world prowess, of
families that have entirely died out, of others that still happily
remain amongst us, and record the names and virtues of many an
illustrious house. The windows, brasses, bells, and inscriptions, have
all some interesting story to relate, which we hope presently to examine
more minutely.

Nestling amid the trees we see the manor-house, standing probably on the
site of a much older edifice; and this building carries our thoughts back
to the Saxon and early Norman times, when the lord of the manor had
vassals and serfs under him, held his manorial court, and reigned as a
king in his own small domain. The history of the old English manor is a
very important one, concerning which much has been written, many
questions disputed, and some points still remain to be decided.

Then we notice an old farmhouse which has doubtless seen better days, for
there are the remains of an ancient moat around it, as if some family of
importance once lived there, and wished to guard themselves and their
possessions from troublesome visitors. This moat tells of the times of
war and lawlessness, of wild and fierce animals roaming the countryside;
and if the walls of the old house could speak how many stories could they
tell of the strange customs of our ancestors, of bread riots, of civil
wars, and disturbances which once destroyed the tranquillity of our
peaceful villages!

We shall endeavour to discover the earliest inhabitants of our villages
who left their traces behind in the curious stone and bronze weapons of
war or domestic implements, and who lived in far remote periods before
the dawn of history. The barrows, or tumuli, which contain their dead
bodies tell us much about them; and also the caves and lake dwellings
help us to form some very accurate notions of the conditions of life in
those distant days. We shall see that the Britons or Celts were far from
being the naked woad-dyed savages described by Caesar, whose account has
so long been deemed sufficient by the historians of our childhood. We
shall call to mind the many waves of invaders which rolled over our
country--the Celts, the Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans--all of whom
have left some traces behind them, and added sundry chapters to the story
of our villages.

The fields too proclaim their story, and tell us of the Saxon folk who
were our first farmers, and made clearings in the forests, and tilled the
same soil we work to-day. They tell us too of the old monks who knew so
much about agriculture; and occasionally the plough turns up a rusty
sword or cannon ball, which reveals the story of battles and civil wars
which we trust have passed away from our land for ever. The very names of
the fields are not without signification, and tell us of animals which
are now extinct, of the manners of our forefathers, of the old methods of
farming, and the common lands which have passed away.

The old village inn, with its curiously painted signboard, has its own
story to tell, of the old coaching days, and of the great people who used
to travel along the main roads, and were sometimes snowed up in a drift
just below "The Magpie," which had always good accommodation for
travellers, and stabling for fifty horses. All was activity in the stable
yard when the coach came in; the villagers crowded round the inn doors to
see the great folks from London who were regaling themselves with
well-cooked English joints; and if they stayed all night, could find
comfortable beds with lavender-scented sheets, and every attention. But
the railroads and iron steeds have changed all that; until yesterday the
roads were deserted, and the glory of the old inns departed. Bicyclists
now speed along in the track of the old coaches; but they are not quite
so picturesque, and the bicycle bell is less musical than the cheerful
posthorn.

On the summit of a neighbouring hill we see a curious formation which is
probably an earthwork, constructed many centuries ago by the early
dwellers in this district for the purpose of defence in dangerous times,
when the approach of a neighbouring tribe, or the advance of a company of
free-booting invaders, threatened them with death or the destruction of
their flocks and herds. These earthworks we shall examine more closely.
An ivy-covered ruin near the church shows the remains of a monastic cell
or monastery; and in the distance perhaps we can see the outlines of an
old Norman keep or castle; all of these relate to the story of our
villages, and afford us subjects for investigation and research.

Then there is the village green where so many generations of the
villagers have disported themselves, danced the old country dances
(now alas! forgotten), and reared the merry May-pole, and crowned
their queen. Here they held their rural sports, and fought their bouts
of quarter-staff and cudgel-play, grinned through horse-collars, and
played pipe and tabor at many a rustic feast, when life was young and
England merry. We shall try to picture to ourselves these happy scenes
of innocent diversion which cheered the hearts of our forefathers in
bygone times.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE STREET]

We will try to collect the curious legends and stories which were told to
us by our grandsires, and are almost forgotten by the present generation.
These we should treasure up, lest they should be for ever lost. Local
tradition has often led the way to important discoveries.

In this brief circuit of an ordinary English village we have found many
objects which are calculated to excite our imagination and to stimulate
inquiry. A closer examination will well repay our study, and reward the
labour of the investigator. It is satisfactory to know that all possible
discoveries as to the antiquities of our villages have not yet been made.
We have still much to learn, and the earth has not yet disclosed all its
treasures. Roman villas still remain buried; the sepulchres of many a
Saxon chieftain or early nomad Celt are still unexplored; the pile
dwellings and cave domiciles of the early inhabitants of our country have
still to be discovered; and piles of records and historical documents
have still to be sought out, arranged, and examined. So there is much
work to be done by the antiquary for many a long year; and every little
discovery, and the results of every patient research, assist in
accumulating that store of knowledge which is gradually being compiled
by the hard labour of our English historians and antiquaries.



CHAPTER II

PREHISTORIC REMAINS

Pytheas of Marseilles--Discovery of flint implements--Geological
changes--Palaeolithic man--Eslithic--Palaeolithic implements--
Drift men--Cave men--Neolithic man and his weapons--Dolichocephalic--
Celtic or Brachycephalic race--The Iron Age.


It was customary some years ago to begin the history of any country with
the statement, "Of the early inhabitants nothing is known with any
certainty," and to commence the history of England with the landing of
Julius Caesar B.C. 55. If this book had been written forty or fifty
years ago it might have been stated that our first knowledge of Britain
dates from 330 B.C. when Pytheas of Marseilles visited it, and described
his impressions. He says that the climate was foggy, a characteristic
which it has not altogether lost, that the people cultivated the ground
and used beer and mead as beverages. Our villagers still follow the
example of their ancestors in their use of one at least of these drinks.

Of the history of all the ages prior to the advent of this Pytheas all
written record is silent. Hence we have to play the part of scientific
detectives, examine the footprints of the early man who inhabited our
island, hunt for odds and ends which he has left behind, to rake over
his kitchen middens, pick up his old tools, and even open his burial
mound.

About fifty years ago the attention of the scientific world was drawn to
the flint implements which were scattered over the surface of our fields
and in our gravel pits and mountain caves; and inquiring minds began
to speculate as to their origin. The collections made at Amiens and
Abbeville and other places began to convince men of the existence of an
unknown and unimagined race, and it gradually dawned on us that on our
moors and downs were the tombs of a race of men who fashioned their
weapons of war and implements of peace out of flint. These discoveries
have pushed back our knowledge of man to an antiquity formerly never
dreamed of, and enlarged considerably our historical horizon. So we will
endeavour to discover what kind of men they were, who roamed our fields
and woods before any historical records were written, and mark the very
considerable traces of their occupation which they have left behind.

The condition of life and the character and climate of the country were
very different in early times from what they are in the present day; and
in endeavouring to discover the kind of people who dwelt here in
prehistoric times, we must hear what the geologists have to tell us
about the physical aspect of Britain in that period. There was a time
when this country was connected with the Continent of Europe, and the
English Channel and North Sea were mere valleys with rivers running
through them fed by many streams. Where the North Sea now rolls there
was the great valley of the Rhine; and as there were no ocean-waves to
cross, animals and primitive man wandered northwards and westwards from
the Continent, and made their abode here. It is curious to note that the
migratory birds when returning to France and Italy, and thence to the
sunny regions of Algiers and other parts of Northern Africa, always
cross the seas where in remote ages there was dry land. They always
traverse the same route; and it appears that the recollection of the
places where their ancestors crossed has been preserved by them through
all the centuries that have elapsed since "the silver streak" was formed
that severs England from her neighbours.

In the times of which we are speaking the land was much higher than it
is now. Snowdon was 600 feet greater, and the climate was much colder
and more rigorous. Glaciers like those in Switzerland were in all the
higher valleys, and the marks of the action of the ice are still plainly
seen on the rocky cliffs that border many a ravine. Moreover we find in
the valleys many detached rocks, immense boulders, the nature of which
is quite different from the character of the stone in the neighbourhood.
These were carried down by the glaciers from higher elevations, and
deposited, when the ice melted, in the lower valleys. Hence in this
glacial period the condition of the country was very different from what
it is now.

Then a remarkable change took place. The land began to sink, and its
elevation so much decreased that the central part of the country became
a huge lake, and the peak of Snowdon was an island surrounded by the sea
which washed with its waves the lofty shoulder of the mountain. This is
the reason why shells and shingle are found in high elevations. The Ice
Age passed away and the climate became warmer. The Gulf Stream found its
way to our shores, and the country was covered by a warm ocean having
islands raising their heads above the surface. Sharks swam around, whose
teeth we find now buried in beds of clay. The land continued to rise,
and attracted by the sunshine and the more genial clime animals from the
Continent wandered northwards, and with them came man. Caves, now high
amongst the hills, but then on a level with the rivers, were his first
abode, and contain many relics of his occupancy, together with the bones
of extinct animals. The land appears to have risen, and the climate
became colder. The sea worked its relentless way through the chalk hills
on the south and gradually met the waves of the North Sea which flowed
over the old Rhine valley. It widened also the narrow strait that
severed the country from Ireland, and the outline and contour of the
island began more nearly to resemble that with which we are now
familiar.

A vast period of time was necessary to accomplish all these immense
changes; and it is impossible to speculate with any degree of certainty
how long that period was, which transformed the icebound surface of
our island to a land of verdure and wild forests. We must leave such
conjectures and the more detailed accounts of the glacial and
post-glacial periods to the geologists, as our present concern is
limited to the study of the habits and condition of the men who roamed
our fields and forests in prehistoric times. Although no page of history
gives us any information concerning them, we can find out from the
relics of arms and implements which the earth has preserved for us, what
manner of men lived in the old cave dwellings, or constructed their rude
huts, and lie buried beneath the vast barrows.

The earliest race of men who inhabited our island was called the
Palaeolithic race, from the fact that they used the most ancient form
of stone implements. Traces of a still earlier race are said to have
been discovered a few years ago on the chalk plateau of the North Down,
near Sevenoaks. The flints have some slight hollows in them, as if
caused by scraping, and denote that the users must have been of a very
low condition of intelligence--able to use a tool but scarcely able to
make one. This race has been called the Eolithic; but some antiquaries
have thrown doubts upon their existence, and the discovery of these
flints is too recent to allow us to speak of them with any degree of
certainty.

[Illustration: PALAEOLITHIC IMPLEMENTS]

The traces of Palaeolithic man are very numerous, and he evidently
exercised great skill in bringing his implements to a symmetrical shape
by chipping. The use of metals for cutting purposes was entirely
unknown; and stone, wood, and bone were the only materials of which
these primitive beings availed themselves for the making of weapons or
domestic implements. Palaeolithic man lived here during that distant
period when this country was united with the Continent, and when the
huge mammoth roamed in the wild forests, and powerful and fierce animals
struggled for existence in the hills and vales of a cold and inclement
country. His weapons and tools were of the rudest description, and made
of chipped flint. Many of these have been found in the valley gravels,
which had probably been dropped from canoes into the lakes or rivers, or
washed down by floods from stations on the shore. Eighty or ninety feet
above the present level of the Thames in the higher gravels are these
relics found; and they are so abundant that the early inhabitants who
used them must have been fairly numerous. Their shape is usually oval,
and often pointed into a rude resemblance of the shape of a spear-head.
Some flint-flakes are of the knifelike character; others resemble awls,
or borers, with sharp points evidently for making holes in skins for the
purpose of constructing a garment. Hammer-stones for crushing bones,
tools with well-wrought flat edges, scrapers, and other implements, were
the stock-in-trade of the earliest inhabitant of our country, and are
distinguishable from those used by Neolithic man by their larger and
rougher work. The maker of the old stone tools never polished his
implements; nor did he fashion any of those finely wrought arrowheads
and javelin points, upon which his successor prided himself. The latter
discovered that the flints which were dug up were more easily fashioned
into various shapes; whereas Palaeolithic man picked up the flints that
lay about on the surface of the ground, and chipped them into the form
of his rude tools. However, the elder man was acquainted with the use
of fire, which he probably obtained by striking flints on blocks of
iron pyrites. Wandering about the country in families and tribes, he
contrived to exist by hunting the numerous animals that inhabited the
primeval forests, and has left us his weapons and tools to tell us what
kind of man he was. His implements are found in the drift gravels by
the riversides; and from this cause his race are known as drift men,
in order to distinguish them from the _cave men_, who seem to have
belonged to a little later period.

The first dwellings of man were the caves on the hillsides, before he
found out the art of building pile huts. In Palaeolithic times these
caves were inhabited by a rude race of feral nomads who lived by the
chase, and fashioned the rude tools which we have already described.
They were, however, superior to the drift men, and had some notion of
art. The principal caves in the British islands containing the relics of
the cave folk are the following: Perthichoaren, Denbighshire, wherein
were found the remains of Platycnemic man--so named from his having
sharp shin-bones; Cefn, St. Asaph; Uphill, Somerset; King's Scar and the
Victoria Cave, Settle; Robin Hood's Cave and Pinhole Cave, Derbyshire;
Black Rock, Caldy Island, Coygan Caves, Pembrokeshire; King Arthur's
Cave, Monmouth; Durdham Downs, Bristol; and sundry others, near Oban, in
the valleys of the Trent, Dove, and Nore, and of the Irish Blackwater,
and in Caithness.

In these abodes the bones of both men and animals have been found; but
these do not all belong to the same period, as the Neolithic people,
and those of the Bronze and Iron Ages, followed the occupation of the
earlier race. The remains of the different races, however, lie at
various depths, those of the earlier race naturally lying the lowest. An
examination of the Victoria Cave, Settle, clearly shows this. Outside
the entrance there was found a layer of charcoal and burnt bones, and
the burnt stones of fireplaces, pottery, coins of the Emperors Trajan
and Constantine, and ornaments in bone, ivory, bronze and enamel. The
animal remains were those of the _bos longifrons_ (Celtic ox), pig,
horse, roe, stag, fowl (wild), and grouse. This layer was evidently
composed of the relics of a Romano-British people. Below this were found
chipped flints, an adze of melaphyre, and a layer of boulders, sand, and
clay, brought down by the ice from the higher valley.

Inside the cave in the upper cave earth were found the bones of fox,
badger, brown bear, grizzly bear, reindeer, red deer, horse, pig, and
goat, and some bones evidently hacked by man. In the lower cave earth
there were the remains of the hyena, fox, brown and grizzly bears,
elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, urus, bison, and red deer, the
hacked bones of a goat, and a small leg-bone of a man.

Some idea of the time which has elapsed since primitive man inhabited
this rude dwelling may be formed from these excavations. Two feet below
the surface lay the Romano-British layer, and we know therefore that
about 1,600 years was required for the earth to accumulate to that
depth. The Neolithic layer was six feet below this; hence 4,800 years
would be necessary to form this depth of earth. So we may conclude that
at least 6,400 years ago Neolithic man used the cave. A long time
previous to this lived the creatures of the lower cave earth, the bison,
elephant, and the hyena with the solitary human bone, which belonged to
the sharp-shinned race (Platycnemic) of beings, the earliest dwellers in
our country.

It is doubtful whether Palaeolithic man has left any descendants. The
Esquimaux appear to somewhat resemble them. Professor Boyd Dawkins, in
his remarkable book, _Cave Hunting_, traces this relationship in the
character of implements, methods of obtaining food and cooking it, modes
of preparing skins for clothing, and particularly in the remarkable
skill of depicting figures on bone which both races display. In carving
figures on bone and teeth early man in Britain was certainly more
skilful than his successor; but he was a very inferior type of the human
race, yet his intelligence and mode of life have been deemed not lower
than those of the Australian aborigines.

The animals which roamed through the country in this Pleistocene period
were the elk and reindeer, which link us on to the older and colder
period when Arctic conditions prevailed; the Irish deer, a creature of
great size whose head weighed about eighty pounds; bison, elephant,
rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lion, wolf, otter, bear, horse, red deer, roe,
urus or gigantic ox, the short-horned ox (_bos longifrons_), boar,
badger and many others which survive to the present day, and have
therefore a very long line of ancestors.

The successor of the old stone implement maker was Neolithic man, to
whom we have already had occasion to refer. Some lengthy period of
geological change separates him from his predecessor of the Old Stone
Age. Specimens of his handiwork show that he was a much more civilised
person than his predecessor, and presented a much higher type of
humanity. He had a peculiarly shaped head, the back part of the skull
being strangely prolonged; and from this feature he is called
_dolichocephalic_. He was small in stature, about 5 feet 6 inches in
height, having a dark complexion, and his descendants are the Iberian or
Basque races in the Western Pyrenees and may still be traced in parts of
Ireland and Wales. The long barrows or mounds, the length of which is
greater than the breadth, contain his remains, and we find traces of his
existence in all the western countries of Europe.

He had made many discoveries which were unknown to his Old Stone
predecessor. Instead of always hunting for his food, like an animal, he
found out that the earth would give him corn with which he could make
bread, if only he took the trouble to cultivate it. Instead of always
slaying animals, he found that some were quite ready to be his servants,
and give him milk and wool and food. He brought with him to our shores
cows and sheep and goats, horses and dogs. Moreover he made pottery,
moulding the clay with his hand, and baking it in a fire. He had not
discovered the advantages of a kiln. He could spin thread, and weave
stuffs, though he usually wore garments of skins.

His dwellings were no longer the caves and forests, for he made for
himself rude pit huts, and surrounded himself, his tribe, and cattle
with a circular camp. Traces of his agricultural operations may still be
found in the "terraces," or strips of ground on hillsides, which
preserve the marks of our early Neolithic farmers.

[Illustration: BARBED AND LEAF-SHAPED ARROW-HEADS]

Their implements are far superior to those of the Old Stone men, and are
found on the surface of our fields, or on hillsides, where they tended
their flocks, or dug their rude pit shelters. Their weapons and tools
are highly polished, and have evidently been ground on a grindstone.
They are adapted for an endless variety of uses, and are most skilfully
and beautifully fashioned. There are finely wrought arrowheads, of three
shapes--barbed, tanged and barbed, and leaf-shaped; axes, scrapers for
cleansing and preparing skins for clothing, hammer stones, wedges,
drills, borers, knives, and many other tools. In the Reading Museum may
be seen a heavy quartzite axe and chipped flint hatchet, which were
found with some charred timber on an island in the Thames, and were
evidently used for scooping out the interior of a boat from a tree with
the aid of fire. So this New Stone man knew how to make boats as well as
a vast number of other things of which we shall presently speak more
particularly. His descendants linger on in South Wales and Ireland, and
are short in stature, dark in complexion, and narrow-skulled, like their
forefathers a few thousand years ago.

[Illustration: NEOLITHIC AND BRONZE IMPLEMENTS]

Another wave of invaders swept over our land, and overcame the
long-headed Neolithic race. These were the Celtic people, taller and
stronger than their predecessors, and distinguished by their fair hair
and rounded skulls. From the shape of their heads they are called
Brachycephalic, and are believed to have belonged to the original Aryan
race, whose birthplace was Southern Asia. At some remote period this
wave of invaders poured over Europe and Asia, and has left traces behind
it in the languages of all Indo-European nations.

Their weapons were made of bronze, although they still used polished
stone implements also. We find chisels, daggers, rings, buttons, and
spear-heads, all made of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, and
fashioned by the skilled hands of these early Celtic folk. As they
became more civilised, being of an inventive mind, they discovered the
use of iron and found it a more convenient metal for fashioning axes to
cut down trees.

When Caesar came to Britain he found that the inhabitants knew the use
of iron, even the less civilised early Celtic settlers driven northwards
and westwards by the Belgae, had iron weapons, and the wild Caledonians
in the time of Severus, although they were naked, woad-dyed savages,
wore iron collars and girdles and were armed with metal weapons.

Such are some of the relics of antiquity which the soil of our native
land retains, as a memorial of the primitive people who first trod upon
it. Concerning their lives and records history is silent, until the
Conqueror tells us something of our Celtic forefathers. From the scanty
remains of prehistoric races, their weapons and tools, we can gather
something of the earliest inhabitants of our island, and try to realise
their habits and mode of life.



CHAPTER III

TUMULI OR BARROWS

Barrows near churchyards--Their universality--Contents--Food in
barrows--Curious burial customs--Belief in future life--Long and
round barrows--Interior of barrow--Position of bodies--Cremation--
Burial urns--Articles of dress and ornament--Artistic workmanship--
Pottery--Remains of agriculture--Organised condition of society
among prehistoric people.


Throughout the country we find many artificial mounds which are called
_tumuli_ or barrows, or in the neighbourhood of Wales, "tumps." These
are the ancient burial-places of the early inhabitants of our island,
the word "barrow" being derived from the Anglo-Saxon _beorh_, a hill or
grave-mound. It is not unusual to see a barrow in the centre, or near,
an old churchyard, as at Taplow, Bucks. The church was built, of course,
much later than the erection of the mound; but doubtless the early
preachers of the gospel took advantage of the reverence which was paid
to these ancient tombs, proclaimed there the story of the cross, and on
the spots so consecrated churches were ultimately built.

These mounds have much to tell us of the early inhabitants. To cover the
dead with a mound of earth was a custom common to all nations. All over
Europe, in Northern Asia, India, and in the new world of America, we
find burial-mounds. The pyramids of Egypt are only glorified mounds; and
our islands can boast of an endless variety, sometimes consisting of
cairns, or heaps of stones, sometimes of huge hills of earth, 130 feet
in height, as at Silbury, Wilts, and covering five acres; while others
are only small heaps of soil a few feet high.

The contents of the tumuli differ also. Sometimes the bodies were burnt
and the ashes preserved in rude urns; sometimes they were not cremated.
Sometimes they were buried in stone cists, or in the hollowed trunk of
trees; sometimes without any covering save that of the earth. In nearly
all cases we find numerous articles buried with the dead, such as
personal ornaments, weapons, pottery, and food.

The presence of food in the tumuli testifies to the natural instinct
implanted by the Creator in the human heart with regard to a future
existence. The idea that the soul of the departed is about to take a
long journey is constant and deeply rooted; the rainbow and the milky
way have often been supposed to be the paths trod by the departed, who
require sustenance for so long a journey. The Aztecs laid a water-bottle
beside the bodies to be used on the way to Mictlan, the land of the
dead. Bow and arrows, a pair of mocassins with a spare piece of deerskin
to patch them if they wear out, and sinews of deer to sew on the patches
with, together with a kettle and provisions, are still placed in the
graves by the North American Indians. The Laplanders lay beside the
corpse flint, steel, and tinder, to supply light for the dark journey. A
coin was placed in the mouth of the dead by the Greeks to pay Charon,
the ferryman of the Styx, and for a similar purpose in the hand of a
deceased Irishman. The Greenlanders bury with a child a dog, for they
say a dog will find his way anywhere. In the grave of the Viking warrior
were buried his horn and armour in order that he might enter the halls
of Valhalla fully equipped.

These and many other examples might be quoted showing the universality
of the belief in a future life, a belief that was evidently shared with
other nations by the primeval races who inhabited our islands in
prehistoric times.

The presence of food and drinking vessels in the tumuli clearly shows
this, and also the store of weapons and implements, adzes, hammers,
scrapers, and other tools which the barrows have preserved through so
many ages.

These barrows are not confined to one period or one race, as their shape
denotes. Some are long, measuring 200 to 400 feet in length by 60 or 80
feet wide; others are circular. The former were made by the long-headed
(dolichocephalic) race of whom we have already spoken; the latter by the
round-headed (brachycephalic), conquerors of their feebler long-skulled
forerunners. When we consider the poor tools used by these primitive
peoples, we may wonder at the amount of labour they must have expended
on the construction of these giant mounds. Picks made of deer's horns
and pointed staves enabled them to loosen the earth which was then
collected in baskets and thrown on the rising heap. Countless toilers
and many years must have been needed to produce such wonderful memorials
of their industry.

[Illustration: PLAN OF A TUMULUS]

With better tools we will proceed to dig into these mounds and discover
what they contain. First we notice an encircling trench and mound
surrounding the barrow, the purpose of which is supposed to have been to
keep the dead person in the tomb, and prevent it from injuring the
living. After much digging in the centre of the barrow we find a single
stone chamber, entered by a passage underneath the higher and wider end
of the mound. Sometimes the chamber is divided into three parts, the
centre one being covered by a dome, formed by the overlapping of the
stones in the upper parts of the walls. The passage leading to the
centre chamber is also built with large stones erected with much care
and skill. The contents of these long barrows are not so interesting, or
numerous, as those contained in the round barrows. The skeletons are
usually found in irregular positions, and few weapons or ornaments
accompany the buried bones. Derbyshire possesses many barrows; wherever
in a place-name the suffix _low_ occurs, derived from the Anglo-Saxon
_hlow_, signifying a small hill or mound, a barrow is generally to be
found. The long barrow is usually about 200 feet in length, 40 feet
wide, and 8 to 12 feet high. They run east and west, frequently
north-east by south-west, the principal interment being usually at the
eastern and higher end. The bodies are often found in a cist or box made
of large stones, and several were buried in one mound, generally on the
south and east sides, so that they might lie in the sun. This practice
may have been connected with sun-worship; and the same idea prevailed in
modern times, when the south side of the churchyard was considered the
favoured portion, and criminals and suicides were relegated to the
colder north side.

[Illustration: PLAN OF TUMULUS CALLED WAYLAND SMITH'S CAVE, BERKSHIRE]

The position of the bodies varied, but usually they were buried in a
crouching position, with knees bent and head drawn towards the knees.
This was probably the natural position which a man would assume when he
slept without a luxurious bed to lie upon, and with little to cover him,
in order to keep himself as warm as possible. Hence when he sank into
his last long sleep, his mourning relatives would place him in the same
posture. In the Channel Islands bodies were often placed in a kneeling
position.

The custom of burning the body seems to have been adopted later by the
same long-headed race who used the long barrows, and prevailed more in
the north of England, in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Scotland, than in
the south. The cremation was sometimes not very thoroughly performed.
The bodies were placed together, wood being piled about them, and over
the heap the mound was raised. Then the fire was lighted, which
naturally only partly consumed the bodies. We find also, mingled with
bones of men and women, the bones of animals, which were probably the
remains of funeral feasts.

As we have said the round-headed race introduced the circular barrow,
and cremation was their usual, though not exclusive, practice. These
people were much stronger and bigger men than their predecessors, their
powerful jaws and projecting chins showing much more power of will than
the softer narrow-faced dolichocephalic race. However, in the round
barrows we also find the bodies of the latter, and we gather that they
were not exterminated or driven out by their conquerors, but mingled
with them, intermarried, until at length the type of the long-skulled
race prevailed, and the Celt of later times possessed the features of
the race he had formerly subdued. At least such seems to be the teaching
of the barrows.

The Celt became acquainted with the use of bronze, and his tomb was
enriched with a store of the relics of the life and art of the
workmanship of the time. As cremation was the usual practice, it was no
longer necessary to have a chamber which the dead might inhabit; the
size of the sleeping-place of the dead was reduced, and a cist was
constructed for the receptacle of the urn in which the remains were
placed. The mound also was reduced in size and looked much less imposing
than the huge barrows of the Stone Age; but its contents were much more
important.

The ashes we find frequently contained in a rude urn of black pottery
with some ornamentation. Then we discover pins made of bones, which were
evidently used to fasten the dress. The people therefore were evidently
not naked, woad-dyed savages; moreover we find bits of woollen fabric
and charred cloth, and in Denmark people belonging to this same early
race were buried in a cap, shirt, leggings, and boots, a fairly complete
wardrobe. They also loved to adorn themselves, and had buttons of jet,
and stone and bone ornaments. Besides flint implements we find adzes and
hatchets and chisels, axe-hammers constructed with a hole in them for
the insertion of a handle, grain rubbers, wheat stones, and hammer
stones. The mounds also disclose a great variety of flint implements,
hatchets, scrapers, both round and long, knife-daggers, knives, saws,
drills, fabricators or flaking tools, sling stones, hammer stones,
polishers, arrow-points, either leaf-shaped, triangular, or barbed, and
heads of darts and javelins. A very curious object is sometimes found, a
stone wrist guard, for the purpose of protecting the wrist from the bow
string.

These barrows and their contents bear evidences to the artistic
workmanship of the prehistoric dwellers in our villages. Their tombs
show that these people did not confine themselves to the fabrication of
objects of utility, but that they loved to adorn themselves with
personal ornaments, which required much art and skill in the
manufacture. Necklaces of beads pleased their fancy, and these they made
of jet, or shells, the teeth of deer, and the vertebrae of fish.
Moreover they loved ear-rings, which were sometimes made of the teeth of
pigs. Objects of gold, bronze, glass, ivory, amber, clay, and bone were
also used as ornaments.

[Illustration: CELTIC CINERARY URN]

If we examine the pottery in the barrows we find that a vessel of
earthenware was usually placed at the back of the head of the body when
it was not cremated. There were also cinerary urns, cups, usually called
incense cups, which were certainly not used for incense, whatever may
have been their purpose, food and drinking vessels. This pottery was not
sun-dried, but burnt in a fire, though not made in a kiln, and the form
of the vessels shows that the makers were ignorant of the use of a
potter's wheel. The ornamentation consisted of a series of straight
lines made by a sharp-pointed instrument and by impressions of the
finger nails or string, often revealing much skill and artistic
workmanship.

From a study of the barrows we may learn much about the early inhabitants
of our island, who lived and worked and died on the same spots where we
now are spending our days. We can see them hunting in the wild woodlands,
rearing cows and sheep and goats, and cultivating their crops of corn.
We can still trace on the hillsides some curious terraces fashioned by
them for the growing of their grain, and discover querns, or hand
millstones, and stones for bruising the corn. The bones of young
oxen a few days old, discovered in the mounds, show that they knew the
use of milk, and how to get a good supply. A rude spindle-whorl shows
that they knew how to weave stuffs for their clothing, and the numerous
buttons, fasteners, and belts prove that the clothes were fitted to the
wearer, and not mere shapeless sacks.

The barrows also bear evidence to the existence of some organised
condition of society. In the early savage state of human existence
the family is the only community; but as man progressed towards
civilisation, he learnt how to combine with his fellows for mutual
defence and support. We gather from our examination of the tombs of
these early races that they had attained to this degree of progress.
There were chiefs of tribes and families who were buried with more
honour than that bestowed upon the humbler folk. Many families were
buried in one mound, showing that the tribal state had been reached,
while the many humbler graves denote the condition of servitude and
dependence in which a large number of the race lived. All this, and
much more, may be learnt from a careful study of the tombs of these
prehistoric people.



CHAPTER IV

PIT AND PILE DWELLINGS

Pit dwelling earliest form of house-building--Discoveries at
Bright-hampton, Worlebury--British oppida--Hurstbourne--Contents of
pit dwelling--Pot-boilers--Condition of civilisation--Pile dwellings--
Switzerland--Glastonbury--Hedsor--Crannogs--Modern use of pile
dwellings--Description of a lake dwelling--Contents--Bronze Age--
Recent discoveries at Glastonbury.


We have examined in our last chapter the abodes of the dead; we will
now investigate the abodes of the living which the earth has preserved
for us for so many centuries. The age of the cave dwellers had long
passed; and the prehistoric folk, having attained to some degree of
civilisation, began to devise for themselves some secure retreats from
inclement rains and cold winds. Perhaps the burrowing rabbit gave them
an idea for providing some dwelling-place. At any rate the earliest and
simplest notion for constructing a habitation was that of digging holes
in the ground and roofing them over with a light thatch. Hence we have
the pit dwellings of our rude forefathers.

Many examples of pit dwellings have been found by industrious explorers.
Some labourers when digging gravel at Brighthampton, near Oxford, came
across several such excavations. They were simply pits dug in the earth,
large enough to hold one or two persons, and from the sides of these
pits a certain quantity of earth had been removed so as to form a seat.
At the bottom of these a few rude flint arrow-heads were found. In the
remarkable British oppidum at Worlebury, near Weston-super-Mare, several
circular, well-like pits may be seen, fairly preserved in shape owing to
the rocky nature of the ground in which they have been excavated. One in
particular is very perfect, and about two feet from the bottom is a seat
formed of the rock extending all round the pit.

These ancient pit dwellings are usually surrounded by an earthen
rampart. Caesar says that "the Britons called that a town where they
used to assemble for the sake of avoiding an incursion of enemies, when
they had fortified the entangled woods with a rampart and ditch." The
remains of many of these oppida may still be seen in almost all parts of
the country; and in most of these hollows are plainly distinguishable,
which doubtless were pit dwellings; but owing to the sides having fallen
in, they have now the appearance of natural hollows in the earth.

At Hurstbourne, Hants, nine of these early habitations were discovered
by the late Dr. Stevens, some of which were rudely pitched with flint
stones, and had passages leading into the pit. A few flints irregularly
placed together with wood ashes showed the position of the hearths,
where cooking operations had been carried on. The sloping
entrance-passages are peculiar and almost unique in England, though
several have been met with in France. A rude ladder was the usual mode
of entrance into these underground dwellings. Fragments of hand-made
British pottery and the commoner kinds of Romano-British ware were
found, and portions of mealing stones and also a saddle-quern, or
grain-crusher, which instruments for hand-mealing must have been in
common use among the pit dwellers. The grain was probably prepared by
parching it before crushing; the hollow understone prevented the grain
from escaping; and the muller was so shaped as to render it easily
grasped, while it was pushed backwards and forwards by the hands.
Similar stones are used at the present time by the African natives, as
travellers testify.

[Illustration: ARTICLES FOUND IN PIT DWELLINGS
(1) Knife of deer-antler
(2) Bone needle
(3) Marrow scoop
(4, 5) Bone awls]

One of the pits at Hurstbourne was evidently a cooking-hole, where the
pit dwellers prepared their feasts, and bones of the Celtic ox (_bos
longifrons_), pig, red deer, goat, dog, and hare or rabbit were found
near it. One of the bones had evidently been bitten by teeth. The pit
dwellers also practised some domestic industries, as Dr. Stevens found a
needle, an awl or bodkin, and fragments of pointed bone, probably used
for sewing skins together. A rude spindle-whorl shows that they knew
something of weaving, and two bored stones were evidently buttons or
dress-fasteners. A large supply of flint implements, scrapers, and
arrow-heads, proves that the dwellings were inhabited by the Neolithic
people before the Britons came to occupy them. I must not omit to notice
the heating stones, or "pot-boilers." These were heated in the fire, and
then placed among the meat intended to be cooked, in a hole in the
ground which served the purpose of a cooking pot. I have found many such
stones in Berkshire, notably from the neighbourhood of Wallingford and
Long Wittenham. The writer of the _Early History of Mankind_ states that
the Assineboins, or stone-boilers, dig a hole in the ground, take a
piece of raw hide, and press it down to the sides of the hole, and fill
it with water; this is called a "paunch-kettle"; then they make a number
of stones red-hot in a fire close by, the meat is put into the water,
and the hot stones dropped in until it is cooked. The South Sea
Islanders have similar primitive methods of cooking. The Highlanders
used to prepare the feasts of their clans in much the same way; and the
modern gipsies adopt a not very dissimilar mode of cooking their stolen
fowls and hedgehogs.

We can now people these cheerless primitive pit dwellings with their
ancient inhabitants, and understand something of their manners of life
and customs. Their rude abodes had probably cone-shaped roofs made of
rafters lashed together at the centre, protected by an outside coat of
peat, sods of turf, or rushes. The spindle-whorl is evidence that they
could spin thread; the mealing stones show that they knew how to
cultivate corn; and the bones of the animals found in their dwellings
testify to the fact that they were not in the wild state of primitive
hunters, but possessed herds of cows and goats and other domestic
animals.

Who were these people? Mr. Boyd Dawkins is of opinion that the early pit
dwellers belonged to the Neolithic folk of whom I have already told you,
as the flint implements testify. But these dwellings were evidently
occupied by a later people. The querns and spindle-whorl probably
belonged to the Celts, or Britons, before the advent of the Roman
legions; and that these people were the inhabitants of the Hampshire pit
dwellings is proved by the presence of a British gold coin which is
recognised by numismatists as an imitation of the Greek stater of Philip
II. of Macedon. According to Sir John Evans, the native British coinage
was in existence as early as 150 years before Christ. Hence to this
period we may assign the date of the existence of these Celtic primitive
habitations.

Pit dwellings were not the only kind of habitations which the early
inhabitants of our country used, and some of our villages possess
constructions of remarkable interest, which recent industrious digging
has disclosed. These are none other than lake dwellings, similar to
those first discovered in Switzerland about fifty years ago. Few of our
villages can boast of such relics of antiquity. Near Glastonbury, in
1892, in a dried-up ancient mere a lake village was discovered, which I
will describe presently; and recently at Hedsor in Buckinghamshire a
pile dwelling has been found which some learned antiquaries are now
examining. In Ireland and Scotland there are found the remains of
fortified dwellings called Crannogs in some of the lakes, as in Dowalton
Loch, Wigtownshire, and Cloonfinlough in Connaught, but these belong to
later times and were used in the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: IRON SPEAR-HEAD FOUND AT HEDSOR]

In primitive times, when tribe warred with tribe, and every man's hand
was against his fellow-man, and when wild and savage beasts roamed o'er
moor and woodland, security was the one thing most desired by the early
inhabitants of Europe. Hence they conceived the brilliant notion of
constructing dwellings built on piles in the midst of lakes or rivers,
where they might live in peace and safety, and secure themselves from
the sudden attack of their enemies, or the ravages of beasts of prey.
Switzerland is famous for its numerous clusters, or villages, of ancient
lake dwellings, which were of considerable size. At Morges, on the Lake
of Geneva, the settlement of huts extends 1,200 feet long by 150 in
breadth; and that at Sutz on the Lake of Bienne covers six acres, and is
connected with the shore by a gangway 100 feet long and 40 feet wide.
Nor is the use of these habitations entirely abandoned at the present
time. Venezuela, which means "little Venice," derives its name from the
Indian village composed of pile dwellings on the shores of the Gulf of
Maracaibo, as its original explorer Alonzo de Ojeda in 1499 chose to
compare the sea-protected huts with the queen city of the Adriatic; and
in many parts of South America, in the estuaries of the Orinoco and
Amazon, such dwellings are still found, also among the Dyaks of Borneo,
in the Caroline Islands, and on the Gold Coast of Africa. Herodotus
describes similar dwellings on the Lake Prasias, existing in the fifth
century B.C., and Lord Avebury states that now the Roumelian fishermen
on the same lake "inhabit wooden cottages built over the water as in the
time of Herodotus."

These habitations of primitive man were built on piles driven into the
bed of the lake or river. These piles were stems, or trunks of trees,
sharpened with stone or bronze tools. A rude platform was erected on
these piles, and on this a wooden hut constructed with walls of wattle
and daub, and thatched with reeds or rushes. A bridge built on piles
connected the lake village with the shore whither the dwellers used to
go to cultivate their wheat, barley, and flax, and feed their kine and
sheep and goats. They made canoes out of hollow trunks of trees. One of
these canoes which have been discovered is 43 feet in length and over 4
feet wide. The beams supporting the platform, on which the huts were
erected, were fastened by wooden pins. Much ingenuity was exercised in
the making of these dwellings. Sometimes they found that the mud of the
lake was too soft to hold the piles; so they fashioned a framework of
trunks of trees, which they let down to the bottom of the lake, and
fastened the upright piles to it. Sometimes the rocky bed of the lake
prevented the piles from being driven into it; so they heaped stones
around the piles, and thus made them secure. The lake dwellers were very
sociable, and had only one common platform for all the huts, which were
clustered together. As all the actual dwellings have been destroyed by
time's rude action, it is impossible to describe them accurately; but
their usual size was about 20 feet by 12 feet. The floor was of clay,
and in the centre of the building there was a hearth made of slabs of
stone.

The people who inhabited these structures belonged either to the later
Stone Age, or the Bronze Age, as we learn from the relics which their
huts disclose. In the earlier ones are found celts, flint flakes,
arrow-heads, harpoons of stag's horn with barbs, awls, needles, chisels,
and fish-hooks made of bone, and sometimes wooden combs, and skates made
out of the leg-bone of a horse. Besides the remains of the usual
domestic animals we find bones of the beaver, bear, elk, and bison.

When the use of bronze was discovered the people still lived on in their
lake dwellings. Fire often played havoc with the wooden wattle walls;
hence we frequently find a succession of platforms. The first dwelling
having been destroyed by flames, a second one was subsequently
constructed; and this having shared the same fate, another platform with
improved huts was raised upon the ruins of its predecessors. The relics
of each habitation show that, as time went on, the pit dwellers advanced
in civilisation, and increased the comforts and conveniences of life.

Some of the dwellings of these early peoples belong to the Bronze Age,
as do those of the Auvernier settlement in the Lake of Neuchatel; and
these huts are rich in the relics of their former inhabitants. At Marin
on the same lake the lake dwellers were evidently workers in iron; and
the relics, which contain large spear-heads, shields, horse furniture,
fibulas, and other ornaments, together with Roman coins, prove that they
belonged to the period of which history tells us.

I have described at length these Swiss lake dwellings, although they do
not belong to the antiquities of our villages in England, because much
the same kind of habitations existed in our country, though few have
as yet been unearthed. Possibly under the peaty soil of some ancient
river-bed, or old mere, long ago drained, you may be fortunate enough
to meet with the remains of similar structures here in England. At
Glastonbury a few years ago a lake village was discovered, which has
created no small stir in the antiquarian world, and merits a brief
description. Nothing was known of its existence previously; and this is
an instance of the delightful surprises which explorers have in store
for them, when they ransack the buried treasure-house of the earth,
and reveal the relics which have been so long stored there.

All that met the eyes of the diggers was a series of circular low
mounds, about sixty in number, extending over an area of three acres.
Imagine the delight of the gentlemen when they discovered that each of
these mounds contained the remains of a lake dwelling which was
constructed more than two thousand years ago.

First they found above the soft peat, the remains of a lake long dried
up, a platform formed of timber and brushwood, somewhat similar to the
structures which we have seen in the Swiss lakes. Rows of small piles
support this platform, and on it a floor of clay, or rather several
floors. The clay is composed of several horizontal layers with
intervening thin layers of decayed wood and charcoal, each layer
representing a distinct floor of a dwelling. In the centre of each mound
are the remains of rude hearths. The dwellings, of which no walls
remain, were evidently built of timber, the crevices between the wood
being filled with wattle and daub. In one of the mounds were found
several small crucibles which show that the inhabitants knew how to work
in metals. Querns, whetstones, spindle whorls, fibulae, and finger-rings
of bronze, a horse's bit, a small saw, numerous implements of horn and
bone, combs, needles, a jet ring and amber bead, all tell the tale of
the degree of civilisation attained by these early folk. They worked in
metals, made pottery and cloth, tilled and farmed the adjoining lands,
and probably belonged to the late Celtic race before the advent of the
Romans. These lake dwellers used a canoe in order to reach the mainland,
and this primitive boat has been discovered. It is evidently cut out of
the stem of an oak, is flat-bottomed, and its dimensions are 17 feet
long, 2 feet wide, and 1 foot deep. The prow is pointed, and has a hole,
through which doubtless a rope was passed, in order to fasten it to the
little harbour of the lake village.

It will be gathered that these people, whether dwelling in their pit or
lake villages, showed so much capacity, industry, and social
organisation, that even in the Neolithic Age they were far removed from
a savage state, and a low condition of culture and civilisation. They
showed great ingenuity in the making of their tools, their vessels of
pottery, their ornaments, and clothing. They were not naked, woad-dyed
savages. They could spin and weave, grow corn, and make bread, and had
brought into subjection for their use domestic animals, horses and
cattle, sheep and goats, and swine. They lived in security and comfort,
and were industrious and intelligent; and it is interesting to record,
from the relics which the earth has preserved of their civilisation, the
kind of life which they must have lived in the ages which existed before
the dawn of history.



CHAPTER V

CROMLECHS, CAMPS, AND EARTHWORKS

Stone monuments--Traditions relating to them--Menhirs or hoar-stones--
_Alignements_--Cromlechs--Stonehenge--Avebury--Rollright stones--Origin
of stone circles--Dolmens--Earthworks--Chun Castle--Whittenham clumps--
Uffington--Tribal boundaries--Roman rig--Grims-dike--Legends--Celtic
words.


Among the antiquities which some of our English villages possess, none
are more curious and remarkable than the grand megalithic monuments of
the ancient races which peopled our island. Marvellous memorials are
these of their skill and labour. How did they contrive to erect such
mighty monuments? How did they move such huge masses of stone? How did
they raise with the very slender appliances at their disposal such
gigantic stones? For what purpose did they erect them? The solution of
these and many such-like problems we can only guess, and no one has as
yet been bold enough to answer all the interesting questions which these
rude stone monuments raise.

Superstition has attempted to account for their existence. Just as the
flint arrow-heads are supposed by the vulgar to be darts shot by fairies
or witches which cause sickness and death in cattle and men, and are
worn as amulets to ward off disease; just as the stone axes of early
man are regarded as thunder bolts, and when boiled are esteemed as a
sure cure for rheumatism, or a useful cattle medicine--so these stones
are said to be the work of the devil. A friend tells me that in his
childhood his nurse used to frighten him by saying that the devil lurked
in a dolmen which stands near his father's house in Oxfordshire; and
many weird traditions cluster round these old monuments.

[Illustration: MENHIR]

In addition to the subterranean sepulchral chambers and cairns which we
have already examined, there are four classes of megalithic structures.
The first consists of single stones, called in Wales, Cornwall, and
Brittany, _menhirs_, a name derived from the Celtic word _maen_ or
_men_ signifying a stone, and _hir_ meaning tall. In England they are
known as "hoar-stones," _hoar_ meaning a boundary, inasmuch as they
are frequently used in later times to mark the boundary of an estate,
parish, or manor. There is one at Enstone, Oxfordshire, and at
Wardington, Warwickshire. Possibly they were intended to mark the graves
of deceased chieftains.

The second class consists of lines of stones, which the French call
_alignements_. Frequently they occur in groups of lines from two to
fourteen in number, Carnac, in Brittany, possesses the best specimen
in Europe of this curious arrangement of giant stones.

The third class of megalithic monuments is the circular arrangement,
such as we find at Avebury and Stonehenge. These are now usually called
cromlechs, in accordance with the term used by French antiquaries,
though formerly this name was applied in England to the dolmens, or
chambered structures, of which we shall speak presently. According to
the notions of the old curator of Stonehenge the mighty stones stood
before the Deluge, and he used to point out (to his own satisfaction)
signs of the action of water upon the stones, even showing the direction
in which the Flood "came rushing in." The Welsh bards say that they were
erected by King Merlin, the successor of Vortigern; and Nennius states
that they were erected in memory of four hundred nobles, who were
treacherously slain by Hengist, when the savage Saxons came. There is
no need to describe these grand circles of huge stones which all
antiquaries have visited.

The cromlech at Avebury covers a larger area than that of Stonehenge,
the circle being about 1,300 feet in diameter. There is a fine circle
at Rollright, in Oxfordshire, which is the third largest in England.
The diameter of the circle is about 107 feet, and the stones numbered
originally about sixty. Near the circle stand the Five Whispering
Knights, five large stones leaning together, probably the remains of
a dolmen, and a large solitary stone, or menhir. Popular tradition has
woven a strange legend about these curious relics of bygone ages. A
mighty chieftain once ruled over the surrounding country; but he was
ambitious, and wished to extend his sway, and become King of England.
So he mustered his army, and the oracle proclaimed that if he could
once see Long Compton, he would obtain his desire. Having proceeded
as far as Rollright, he was repeating the words of the oracle--

  "If Long Compton I can see,
  King of England I shall be"--

when Mother Shipton, who had doubtless ridden on her broomstick from
her Norfolk home, appeared and pronounced the fatal spell--

  "Move no more; stand fast, stone;
  King of England thou shall none."

[Illustration: ROLLRIGHT STONES From Camden's _Britannia_]

Immediately the king and his army were changed into stone, as if the
head of Medusa had gazed upon them. The solitary stone, still called the
King Stone, is the ambitious monarch; the circle is his army; and the
Five Whispering Knights are five of his chieftains, who were hatching a
plot against him when the magic spell was uttered. The farmers around
Rollright say that if the stones are removed from the spot, they will
never rest, but make mischief till they are restored. Stanton Drew, in
Somersetshire, has a cromlech, and there are several in Scotland, the
Channel Islands, and Brittany. Some sacrilegious persons transported a
cromlech bodily from the Channel Islands, and set it up at Park Place,
Henley-on-Thames. Such an act of antiquarian barbarism happily has few
imitators.

For what purpose were these massive stones erected at the cost of such
infinite labour? Tradition and popular belief associate them with the
Druids. Some years ago all mysterious antiquarian problems were solved
by reference to the Druids. But these priests of ancient days are now
out of fashion, and it is certainly not very safe to attribute the
founding of the great stone circles to their agency. The Druidical
worship paid its homage to the powers of Nature, to the nymphs and genii
of the woods and streams, whereas the great stone circles were evidently
constructed by sun-worshippers. There is no doubt among antiquaries that
they are connected with the burial of the dead. Small barrows have been
found in the centre of them. Dr. Anderson is of opinion that the stone
circles were developed out of the hedge, or setting of stone, which
frequently surrounds the base of a barrow, and was intended to keep the
ghost in, and prevent it from injuring the living. By degrees the wall
was increased in size while the barrow or cairn decreased; until at last
a small mound of earth, or heap of stones, only marked the place of
burial, and the huge circle of stones surrounded it. Stonehenge, with
its well-wrought stones and gigantic trilitha, is much later than the
circles of Avebury and Rollright, and was doubtless constructed by the
people who used iron, about two hundred years before our era. The
earlier circles have been assigned to a period eight or ten centuries
before Christ.

[Illustration: DOLMEN]

Many conjectures have been made as to how the huge capstones of the
circle at Stonehenge were placed on the erect stones. Sir Henry Dryden
thought that when the upright stones were set on end, earth or small
stones were piled around them until a large inclined plane was formed,
on which "skids" or sliding-pieces were placed. Then the caps were
placed on rollers, and hauled up by gangs of men. Probably in some such
way these wonderful monuments were formed.

The last class of rude stone monuments is composed of dolmens, or
chambered tombs, so named from the Welsh word _dol_, a table, and _maen_
or _men_, a stone. They are in fact stone tables. Antiquaries of former
days, and the unlearned folk of to-day, call them "Druids' altars," and
say that sacrifices were offered upon them. The typical form is a
structure of four or more large upright stones, supporting a large flat
stone, as a roof. Sometimes they are covered with earth or stones,
sometimes entirely uncovered. Some antiquaries maintain that they were
always uncovered, as we see them now; others assert that they have been
stripped by the action of wind and rain, and snow, frost, and thaw,
until all the earth placed around them has been removed. Possibly
fashions changed then as now; and it may console some of us that there
was no uniformity of ritual even in prehistoric Britain. Dolmens contain
no bronze or iron implements, or carvings of the same, and evidently
belong to the time of the Neolithic folk.

Among prehistoric remains none are more striking than the great camps
and earthworks, which hold commanding positions on our hills and downs,
and have survived during the countless years which have elapsed since
their construction. Caesar's camps abound throughout England; it is
needless to say that they had nothing to do with Caesar, but were made
long years before the Conqueror ever set foot on British land. These
early camps are usually circular in shape, or follow the natural curve
of the hill on which they stand. Roman camps are nearly always square
or rectangular. They consist of a high vallum, or rampart of earth,
surrounded by a deep ditch, and on the _counterscarp_, or outside edge
of the ditch, there is often another bank or rampart. The entrance to
these strongholds was often ingeniously contrived, in order that an
enemy endeavouring to attack the fortress might be effectually resisted.

Chun Castle, in Cornwall, is an interesting specimen of ancient Celtic
fortress. It consists of two circular walls separated by a terrace. The
walls are built of rough masses of granite, some 5 or 6 feet long. The
outer wall is protected by a ditch. Part of the wall is still about 10
feet high. Great skill and military knowledge are displayed in the plan
of the entrance, which is 6 feet wide in the narrowest part, and 16 in
the widest, where the walls diverge and are rounded off on either side.
The space within the fortress is about 175 feet in diameter. The
Herefordshire Beacon on the Malvern Hills is a fine example of a
triple-ramparted Celtic camp.

[Illustration: PLAN AND SECTION OF CHUN CASTLE]

In Berkshire we have the well-known Whittenham Clumps, the Sinodun
of the Celts, on the summit of which there is a famous camp, with a
triple line of entrenchment, the mound and ditch being complete. The
circumference of the fortress is over a mile. Berkshire and Oxfordshire
are very rich in these camps and earthworks, which guard the course of
the old British road called the Iknield Way. Hill-forts crown the tops
of the hills; and the camps of Blewberry, Scutchamore Knob (a corruption
of Cwichelm's law), Letcombe, Uffington, and Liddington, command the
ancient trackway and bid defiance to approaching foes.

The object of these camps was to provide places of refuge, whither the
tribe could retire when threatened by the advent of its enemy. The Celts
were a pastoral people; and their flocks grazed on the downs and
hillsides. When their scouts brought news of the approach of a hostile
force, some signal would be given by the blowing of a horn, and the
people would at once flee to their fortress driving their cattle before
them, and awaiting there the advent of their foes.

At Uffington there is a remarkable relic of British times called the
Blowing Stone, or King Alfred's Bugle-horn, which was doubtless used by
the Celtic tribes for signalling purposes; and when its deep low note
was heard on the hillside the tribe would rush to the protecting shelter
of Uffington Castle. There, armed with missiles, they were ready to hurl
them at the invading hosts, and protect their lives and cattle until all
danger was past. Those who are skilled at the art can still make the
Blowing Stone sound. The name, King Alfred's Bugle-horn, is a misnomer,
and arose from the association of the White Horse Hill with the battle
which Alfred fought against the Danes at Aescendune, which may, or may
not, have taken place near the old British camp at Uffington. There are
several White Horses cut out in the turf on the hillsides in Wiltshire,
besides the famous Berkshire one at Uffington, celebrated by Mr. Thomas
Hughes in his _Scouring of the White Horse_. We have also some turf-cut
crosses at White-leaf and Bledlow, in Buckinghamshire. The origin of
these turf monuments is still a matter of controversy. It is possible
that they may be Saxon, and may be the records of Alfred's victories;
but antiquaries are inclined to assign them to an earlier date, and
connect them with the builders of cromlechs and dolmens. It is certainly
improbable that, when he was busily engaged fighting the Danes, Alfred
and his men would have found time to construct this huge White Horse.

[Illustration: THE WHITE HORSE AT UFFINGTON]

In addition to the earthen mounds and deep ditch, which usually formed
the fortifications of these ancient strongholds, there were wicker-work
stockades, or palisading, arranged on the top of the vallum. Such
defences have been found at Uffington; and during the present year on
the ancient fortifications of the old Calleva Atrebatum, afterwards the
Roman Silchester, a friend of the writer has found the remains of
similar wattle-work stockades. Evidently tribal wars and jealousies were
not unknown in Celtic times, and the people knew how to protect
themselves from their foes.

Another important class of earthen ramparts are the long lines of
fortifications, which extend for miles across the country, and must have
entailed vast labour in their construction. These ramparts were
doubtless tribal boundaries, or fortifications used by one tribe against
another. There is the Roman rig, which, as Mrs. Armitage tells us in her
_Key to English Antiquities_, coasts the face of the hills all the way
from Sheffield to Mexborough, a distance of eleven miles. A Grims-dike
(or Grims-bank, as it is popularly called) runs across the southern
extremity of Oxfordshire from Henley to Mongewell, ten miles in length;
and near it, and parallel to it, there is a Medlers-bank, another
earthen rampart, exceeding it in length by nearly a third. Near
Salisbury there is also a Grims-dike, and in Cambridgeshire and
Cheshire. Danes' Dike, near Flamborough Head, Wans-dike, and Brokerley
Dike are other famous lines of fortifications.

There are twenty-two Grims-dikes in England. The name was probably
derived from Grim, the Saxon devil, or evil spirit; and was bestowed
upon these mysterious monuments of an ancient race which the Saxons
found in various parts of their conquered country. Unable to account for
the existence of these vast mounds and fortresses, they attributed them
to satanic agency.

There is much work still to be done in exploring these relics of the
prehistoric races; and if there should be any such in your own
neighbourhood, some careful digging might produce valuable results.
Perhaps something which you may find may throw light upon some disputed
or unexplained question, which has perplexed the minds of antiquaries
for some time. I do not imagine that the following legend will deter you
from your search. It is gravely stated that years ago an avaricious
person dug into a tumulus for some treasure which it was supposed to
contain. At length after much labour he came to an immense chest, but
the lid was no sooner uncovered than it lifted itself up a little and
out sprang an enormous black cat, which seated itself upon the chest,
and glowed with eyes of passion upon the intruder. Nothing daunted, the
man proceeded to try to move the chest, but without avail; so he fixed a
strong chain to it and attached a powerful team of horses. But when the
horses began to pull, the chain broke in a hundred places, and the chest
of treasure disappeared for ever.

Some rustics assert that if you run nine times round a tumulus, and then
put your ear against it, you will hear the fairies dancing and singing
in the interior. Indeed it is a common superstition that good fairies
lived in these old mounds, and a story is told of a ploughman who
unfortunately broke his ploughshare. However he left it at the foot of a
tumulus, and the next day, to his surprise, he found it perfectly whole.
Evidently the good fairies had mended it during the night. But these
bright little beings, who used to be much respected by our ancestors,
have quite deserted our shores. They found that English people did not
believe in them; so they left us in disgust, and have never been heard
of since.

If you have no other Celtic remains in your neighbourhood, at least you
have the enduring possession of the words which they have bequeathed to
us, such as _coat, basket, crook, cart, kiln, pitcher, comb, ridge_, and
many others, which have all been handed down to us from our British
ancestors. Their language also lives in Wales and Brittany, in parts of
Ireland and Scotland, and in the Isle of Man, where dwell the modern
representatives of that ancient race, which was once so powerful, and
has left its trace in most of the countries of Europe.



CHAPTER VI

ROMAN RELICS

Roman remains numerous--Chedworth villa--Roads--Names derived from
roads--_Itinerary_ of Antoninus--British roads--Watling Street--Iknield
Street--Ryknield Street--Ermyn Street--Akeman Street--Saltways--
Milestones--Silchester--Its walls--Calleva--Its gardens and villas--
Hypocausts--Pavements--Description of old city--Forum--Temple--Baths--
Amphitheatre--Church--Roman villa.


"The world's a scene of change," sings Poet Cowley; but in spite of all
the changes that have transformed our England, the coming and going of
conquerors and invaders, the lapse of centuries, the ceaseless working
of the ploughshare on our fields and downs, traces of the old Roman life
in Britain have remained indelible. Our English villages are rich in the
relics of the old Romans; and each year adds to our knowledge of the
life they lived in the land of their adoption, and reveals the treasures
which the earth has tenderly preserved for so many years.

If your village lies near the track of some Roman road, many pleasing
surprises may be in store for you. Oftentimes labourers unexpectedly
meet with the buried walls and beautiful tesselated pavements of an
ancient Roman dwelling-place. A few years ago at Chedworth, near
Cirencester, a ferret was lost, and had to be dug out of the rabbit
burrow. In doing this some Roman _tesserae_ were dug up; and when
further excavations were made a noble Roman villa with numerous rooms,
artistic pavements, hypocausts, baths, carvings, and many beautiful
relics of Roman art were brought to light. Possibly you may be equally
successful in your own village and neighbourhood.

If you have the good fortune to live near a Roman station, you will
have the pleasing excitement of discovering Roman coins and other
treasures, when you watch your labourers draining the land or digging
wells. Everyone knows that the names of many of the Roman stations
are  distinguished by the termination _Chester, caster_, or _caer_,
derived from the Latin _castra_, a camp; and whenever we are in the
neighbourhood of such places, imagination pictures to us the
well-drilled Roman legionaries who used to astonish the natives with
their strange language and customs; and we know that there are coins
and pottery, _tesserae_ and Roman ornaments galore, stored up beneath
our feet, awaiting the search of the persevering digger. Few are the
records relating to Roman Britain contained in the pages of the
historians, as compared with the evidences of roads and houses, gates
and walls and towns, which the earth has preserved for us.

Near your village perhaps a Roman road runs. The Romans were famous for
their wonderful roads, which extended from camp to camp, from city to
city, all over the country. These roads remain, and are evidences of
the  great engineering skill which their makers possessed. They liked
their roads well drained, and raised high above the marshes; they liked
them to go straight ahead, like their victorious legions, and never swerve
to right or left for any obstacle. They cut through the hills, and
filled up the valleys; and there were plenty of idle Britons about,
who could be forced to do the work. They called their roads _strata_ or
streets; and all names of places containing the word _street_, such as
_Streatley_, or _Stretford_, denote that they were situated on one of
these Roman roads.

You may see these roads wending their way straight as a die, over hill
and dale, staying not for marsh or swamp. Along the ridge of hills they
go, as does the High Street on the Westmoreland hills, where a few
inches below the grass you can find the stony way; or on the moors
between Redmire and Stanedge, in Yorkshire, the large paving stones, of
which the road was made, in many parts still remain. In central places,
as at Blackrod, in Lancashire, the roads extend like spokes from the
centre of a wheel, although nearly eighteen hundred years have elapsed
since their construction. The name of Devizes, Wilts, is a corruption of
the Latin word _divisae_, which marks the spot where the old Roman road
from London to Bath was _divided_ by the boundary line between the Roman
and the Celtic districts.

In order to acquire a knowledge of the great roads of the Romans we must
study the _Itinerary_ of Antoninus, written by an officer of the
imperial Court about 150 A.D. This valuable road-book tells us the names
of the towns and stations, the distances, halting-places, and other
particulars. Ptolemy's _Geographia_ also affords help in understanding
the details of the _Itinerary_, and many of the roads have been very
satisfactorily traced. The Romans made use of the ancient British ways,
whenever they found them suitable for their purpose. The British roads
resembled the trackways on Salisbury Plain, wide grass rides, neither
raised nor paved, and not always straight, but winding along the sides
of the hills which lie in their course. There were seven chief British
ways: Watling Street, which was the great north road, starting from
Richborough on the coast of Kent, passing through Canterbury and
Rochester it crossed the Thames near London, and went on through
Verulam, Dunstable, and Towcester, Wellington, and Wroxeter, and thence
into Wales to Tommen-y-Mawr, where it divided into two branches. One
ran by Beth Gellert to Caernarvon and Holy Head, and the other through
the mountains to the Manai banks and thence to Chester, Northwich,
Manchester, Ilkley, until it finally ended in Scotland.

The second great British road was the way of the Iceni, or Iknield
Street, proceeding from Great Yarmouth, running through Cambridgeshire,
Bedfordshire, Bucks, and Oxon, to Old Sarum, and finishing its course at
Land's End. We have in Berkshire a branch of this road called the
Ridgeway.

The Ryknield Street beginning at the mouth of the Tyne ran through
Chester-le-Street, followed the course of the Watling Street to
Catterick, thence through Birmingham, Tewkesbury, and Gloucester, to
Caermarthen and St. David's.

The Ermyn Street led from the coast of Sussex to the south-east part of
Scotland.

The Akeman Street ran between the Iknield and Ryknield Streets, and
led from what the Saxons called East Anglia, through Bedford, Newport
Pagnel, and Buckingham to Alcester and Cirencester, across the Severn,
and ending at St. David's.

The Upper Saltway was the communication between the sea-coast of
Lincolnshire and the salt mines at Droitwich; and the Lower Saltway led
from Droitwich, then, as now, a great centre of the salt trade, to the
sea-coast of Hampshire. Traces of another great road to the north are
found, which seems to have run through the western parts of England
extending from Devon to Scotland.

Such were the old British roads which existed when the Romans came. The
conquerors made use of these ways, wherever they found them useful,
trenching them, paving them, and making them fit for military purposes.
They constructed many new ones which would require a volume for their
full elucidation. Many of them are still in use, wonderful records of
the engineering skill of their makers, and oftentimes beneath the
surface of some grassy ride a few inches below the turf you may find
the hard concreted road laid down by the Romans nearly eighteen hundred
years ago. Roman milestones we sometimes find. There is one near
Silchester, commonly called the Imp Stone, probably from the first three
letters of the Latin word _Imperator_, carved upon it. Curious legends
often cluster round these relics of ancient times. Just as the
superstitious Saxons, when they saw the great Roman roads, made by a
people who had long vanished from the land, often attributed these great
works to evil spirits, and called parts of these well-made streets the
Devil's Highway, so they invented a strange legend to account for the
Imp Stone, and said that some giant had thrown it from the city, and
left on it the marks of his finger and thumb.

Our English villages contain many examples of Roman buildings. Where
now rustics pursue their calling, and sow their crops and reap their
harvests, formerly stood the beautiful houses of the Roman nobles, or
the flourishing towns of Roman citizens. Upon the sites of most of these
old-world places new towns have been constructed; hence it is difficult
often to trace the foundations of Roman cities in the midst of the
masses of modern bricks and mortar. Hence we fly to the villages; and
sometimes, as at Silchester, near a little English village, we find the
remains of a large, important, and flourishing town, where the earth has
kept safely for us during many centuries the treasures and memories of a
bygone age.

Every student of Roman Britain must visit Silchester, and examine the
collections preserved in the Reading Museum, which have been amassed by
the antiquaries who have for several years been excavating the ruins.
The city contained a forum, or marketplace, having on one side a
basilica, or municipal hall, in which prisoners were tried, business
transactions executed, and the general affairs of the city carried on.
On the other side of the square were the shops, where the butchers,
bakers, or fishmongers plied their trade. You can find plenty of oyster
shells, the contents of which furnished many a feast to the Romans who
lived there seventeen hundred years ago. The objects which have been
found tell us how the dwellers in the old city employed themselves,
and how skilful they were in craftsmanship. Amongst other things we
find axes, chisels, files for setting saws, hammers, a large plane, and
other carpenters' tools; an anvil, a pair of tongs, and blacksmiths'
implements; shoemakers' anvils, very similar to those used in our day,
a large gridiron, a standing lamp, safety-pins, such as ladies use now,
and many other useful and necessary objects.

In order to protect the city it was surrounded by high walls, which seem
to defy all the attacks of time. They are nine feet in thickness, and
are still in many places twenty feet high. Outside the wall a wide ditch
added to the strength of the fortifications. Watch-towers were placed at
intervals along the walls; and on the north, south, east, and west sides
were strongly fortified gates, with guard chambers on each side, and
arched entrances through which the Roman chariots were driven.

These walls inclose a space of irregular shape, and were built on the
site of old British fortifications. Silchester was originally a British
stronghold, and was called by them Calleva. The Celtic tribe which
inhabited the northern parts of Hampshire was the Atrebates, who after a
great many fights were subdued by the Romans about 78 A.D. Then within
the rude fortifications of Calleva arose the city of Silchester, with
its fine houses, temples, and baths, its strong walls, and gates, and
streets, the great centre of civilisation, and the chief city of that
part of the country.

It is often possible to detect the course of Roman streets where now the
golden corn is growing. On the surface of the roads where the ground is
thin, the corn is scanty. Observation of this kind a few years ago led
to the discovery of a Romano-British village at Long Whittenham, in
Berks. In Silchester it is quite easy to trace the course of the streets
by the thinness of the corn, as Leland observed as long ago as 1536. One
is inclined to wonder where all the earth comes from, which buries old
buildings and hides them so carefully; but any student of natural
history, who has read Darwin's book on _Worms_, will cease to be
astonished. It is chiefly through the action of these useful creatures
that soil accumulates so greatly on the sites of ancient buildings.

[Illustration: SILCHESTER. PLAN OF CITY]

Within the walls of Silchester were gardens and villas replete with all
the contrivances of Roman luxury. The houses were built on three sides
of a square court. A cloister ran round the court, supported by pillars.
The open space was used as a garden. At the back of the house were the
kitchens and apartments for the slaves and domestics. The Romans adapted
their dwellings to the climate in which they lived. In the sunny south,
at Pompeii, the houses were more open, and would be little suited to our
more rigorous climate. They knew how to make themselves comfortable,
built rooms well protected from the weather, and heated with hypocausts.
These were furnaces made beneath the house, which generated hot air; and
this was admitted into the rooms by earthenware flue-tiles. The dwellers
had both summer and winter apartments; and when the cold weather arrived
the hypocaust furnaces were lighted, and the family adjourned to their
winter quarters.

The floors were made of _tesserae_, or small cubes of different
materials and various colours, which were arranged in beautiful
patterns. Some of these pavements were of most elegant and elaborate
designs, having figures in them representing the seasons, or some
mythological characters.

The walls were painted with decorations of very beautiful designs,
representing the cornfields, just as the Roman artists in Italy loved to
depict the vine in their mural paintings. The mortar used by the Romans
is very hard and tenacious, and their bricks were small and thin,
varying from 8 inches square to 18 inches by 12, and were about 2 inches
in thickness. Frequently we find the impression of an animal's foot on
these bricks and tiles, formed when they were in a soft state before
they were baked, and one tile recently found had the impression of a
Roman baby's foot. Roman bricks have often been used by subsequent
builders, and are found built up in the masonry of much later periods.

[Illustration: CAPITAL OF COLUMN]

It is quite possible to build up in imagination the old Roman city, and
to depict before our mind's eye the scenes that once took place where
now the rustics toil and till the ground. We enter the forum, the great
centre of the city, the common resort and lounging-place of the
citizens, who met together to discuss the latest news from Rome, to
transact their business, and exchange gossip. On the west side stood the
noble basilica, or hall of justice--a splendid building, its entrance
being adorned with fine Corinthian columns; and slabs of polished
Purbeck marble, and even of green and white marble from the Pyrenees,
covered the walls. It was a long rectangular hall, 233 feet in length by
58 feet in width, and at each side was a semicircular apse, which was
called the Tribune. Here the magistrate sat to administer justice, or an
orator stood to address the citizens. In the centre of the western wall
was another apse, where the _curia_ met for the government of the city.
Two rows of columns ran down the hall, dividing it into a nave with two
aisles, like many of our churches. Indeed the form of the construction
of our churches was taken from these Roman basilica. Several chambers
stood on the west of the hall, one of which was another fine hall,
probably used as a corn exchange. The height of this noble edifice, the
roof of which was probably hidden by a coffered ceiling, must have been
about fifty-seven feet.

Passing along the main street towards the south gate we come to the
foundations of a nearly circular temple. Two square-shaped buildings
stood on the east of the city, which were probably temples for some
Gaulish form of religion, as similar sacred buildings have been
discovered in France. A quadrangle of buildings near the south gate,
having various chambers, contained the public baths, whither the Romans
daily resorted for gossip and discussion as well as for bathing. There
is an ingenious arrangement for using the waste water for the purpose of
flushing the drains and sewers. Nor were they ignorant of the invention
of a force-pump, as the accompanying illustration on the next page
shows.

[Illustration: ROMAN FORCE-PUMP]

The amphitheatre stands outside the gate, whither the citizens flocked
to see gladiatorial displays or contests between wild beasts. With the
exception of one at Dorchester, it is the largest in Britain. It is made
of lofty banks of earth, which surround the arena, and must have been an
imposing structure in the days of its glory, with its tiers of seats
rising above the level arena. It is difficult to imagine this
grass-covered slope occupied by a gay crowd of Romans and wondering
Britons, all eagerly witnessing some fierce fight of man with man, or
beast with beast, and enthusiastically revelling in the sanguinary
sport. The modern rustics, who have no knowledge of what was the
original purpose of "the Mount," as they name the amphitheatre, still
call the arena "the lions' den."

Silchester was a very busy place. There were dye works there, as the
excavations show; hence there must have been some weaving, and therefore
a large resident population. Throngs of travellers used to pass through
it, and carts and baggage animals bore through its streets the
merchandise from London, which passed to the cities and villas so
plentifully scattered in western Britain.

By far the most important of the discoveries made in Roman Britain is
the little church which stood just outside the forum. It is very similar
in form to the early churches in Italy and other parts of the Roman
Empire, and is of the basilican type. The orientation is different from
that used after the reign of Constantine, the altar being at the west
end. The churches of S. Peter and S. Paul at Rome had the same
arrangement; and the priest evidently stood behind the altar facing the
congregation and looking towards the east at the time of the celebration
of the Holy Communion. There is an apse at the west end, and the
building is divided by two rows of columns into a nave and two aisles.
The nave had probably an ambon, or reading-desk, and was mainly used by
the clergy, the aisles being for the use of the men and women
separately. A vestry stood at the western end of the north aisle. Across
the eastern end was the narthex, or porch, where the catechumens stood
and watched the service through the three open doors. Outside the
narthex was the atrium, an open court, having in the centre the remains
of the labrum, or laver, where the people washed their hands and faces
before entering the church. We are reminded of a sermon by S.
Chrysostom, who upbraided his congregation, asking them what was the use
of their washing their hands if they did not at the same time cleanse
their hearts by repentance. This interesting memorial of early
Christianity was probably erected soon after the Emperor Constantine's
Edict of Toleration issued in 313 A.D.

But not only at Silchester and at other places, once the great centres
of the Roman population, do we find Roman remains. In addition to the
stations, camps, and towns, there were the villas of the rich Roman
citizens or Gaulish merchants on the sunny slopes of many a hillside.
Although hundreds of the remains of these noble houses have been
discovered, there are still many to be explored.

The villa consisted of the house of the proprietor, which occupied the
centre of the little colony, together with the smaller houses of the
servants and slaves, stables, cowsheds, mills, and granaries, and all
the other usual outbuildings connected with a large estate. The main
house was built around a central court, like an Oxford college; and
resembled in architectural style the buildings which the excavations at
Pompeii have disclosed. A corridor ran round the court supported by
pillars, from which the rooms opened. In a well-defended town like
Silchester the houses were usually built on three sides of the court;
but the country villas, which had occasionally to be fortified against
the attacks of wandering bands of outlaws and wild Britons, and the
inroads of savage beasts, were usually built on all the four sides of
the square court. They were usually of one story, although the existence
of a force-pump in Silchester shows that water was laid on upstairs in
one house at least. As the wells were less than thirty feet deep, a
force-pump would not be needed to lift the water to the earth-level.
Hence in some houses there must have been some upper chambers, a
conclusion that is supported by the thickness of the foundations, which
are far more substantial than would be required for houses of one story.
The rooms were very numerous, often as many as sixty or seventy, and
very bright they must have looked decorated with beautiful marbles and
stuccoes of gorgeous hues, and magnificent pavements, statues and
shrines, baths and fountains, and the many other objects of Roman luxury
and comfort. The floors were made of _opus signinum_, such as the
Italians use at the present day, a material composed of cement in which
are embedded fragments of stone or brick, the whole being rubbed down to
a smooth surface, or paved with mosaic composed of _tesserae_. In
whatever land the Roman dwelt, there he made his beautiful tesselated
pavement, rich with graceful designs and ever-enduring colours,
representing the stories of the gods, the poetry of nature, and the
legends of the heroes of his beloved native land. Here we see Perseus
freeing Andromeda, Medusa's locks, Bacchus and his band of revellers,
Orpheus with his lyre, by which he is attracting a monkey, a fox, a
peacock, and other animals, Apollo singing to his lyre, Venus being
loved by Mars, Neptune with his trident, attended by hosts of seamen.
The seasons form an accustomed group, "Winter" being represented, as at
Brading, by a female figure, closely wrapped, holding a lifeless bough
and a dead bird. Satyrs and fauns, flowers, Graces and wood-nymphs,
horns of plenty, gladiators fighting, one with a trident, the other with
a net--all these and countless other fanciful representations look at us
from these old Roman pavements. The Roman villa at Brading is an
excellent type of such a dwelling, with its magnificent suites of rooms,
colonnades, halls, and splendid mosaic pavements. As at Silchester, we
see there fine examples of hypocausts. The floor of the room, called a
_suspensura_, is supported by fifty-four small pillars made of tiles.
Another good example of a similar floor exists at Cirencester, and many
more at Silchester.

[Illustration: TESSELATED PAVEMENT]

Here is a description of a Roman gentleman's house, as drawn by the
writer of _The History of Oxfordshire_:--

"His villa lay sheltered from wild winds partly by the rising brow of
the hill, and partly by belts of trees; it was turned towards the south,
and caught the full sun. In the spring the breath of his violet beds
would be as soft and sweet as in Oxfordshire woods to-day; in the summer
his quadrangle would be gay with calthae, and his colonnade festooned
with roses and helichryse. If we are to believe in the _triclinium
aestivum_ of Hakewill, it says much for the warmth of those far-away
summers that he was driven to build a summer dining-room with a north
aspect, and without heating flues. And when the long nights fell, and
winter cold set in, the slaves heaped higher the charcoal fires in the
_praefurnium_; the master sat in rooms far better warmed than Oxford
country houses now, or sunned himself at midday in the sheltered
quadrangle, taking his exercise in the warm side of the colonnade among
his gay stuccoes and fluted columns. Could we for a moment raise the
veil, we should probably find that the country life of 400 A.D. in
Oxfordshire was not so very dissimilar to that of to-day, ... and that
the well-to-do Roman of rustic Middle England was ... a useful,
peaceful, and a happy person."



CHAPTER VII

ANGLO-SAXON VILLAGES

Departure of Romans--Coming of Saxons--Bede--Saxon names of places--
Saxon village--Common-field system--_Eorl_ and _ceorl_--Thanes,
_geburs_, and _cottiers_--Description of village life--Thane's
house--_Socmen_--Ploughman's lament--Village tradesmen--Parish
council--Hundreds--Shires.


The scene changes. The Roman legions have left our shores, and are
trying to prop the tottering state of the falling empire. The groans
of the Britons have fallen on listless or distracted ears, and no one
has come to their succour. The rule of the all-swaying Roman power has
passed away, and the Saxon hordes have poured over the hills and vales
of rural Britain, and made it the Angles' land--our England.

The coming of the Saxons was a very gradual movement. They did not
attack our shores in large armies on one or two occasions; they came
in clans or families. The head of the clan built a ship, and taking
with him his family and relations, founded a settlement in wild Britain,
or wherever the winds happened to carry them. They were very fierce
and relentless in war, and committed terrible ravages on the helpless
Britons, sparing neither men, women, nor children, burning buildings,
destroying and conquering wherever they went.

Bede tells the story of doings of the ruthless Saxons:--

"The barbarous conquerors ... plundered all the neighbouring cities and
country, spread the conflagration from the eastern to the western sea
without any opposition, and covered almost every part of the devoted
island. Public as well as private structures were overturned; the
priests were everywhere slain before the altars; the prelates and
the people, without any respect of persons, were destroyed with fire
and sword; nor was there any to bury those who had been thus cruelly
slaughtered. Some of the miserable remainder, being taken in the
mountains, were butchered in heaps. Others, spent with hunger, came
forth and submitted themselves to the enemy for food, being destined
to undergo perpetual servitude, if they were not killed even upon the
spot. Some, with sorrowful hearts, fled beyond the seas; others,
continuing in their own country, led a miserable life among the woods,
rocks, and mountains, with scarcely enough food to support life, and
expecting every moment to be their last."

Many antiquaries believe that the extirpation of the Britons was not so
complete as Bede asserts, and that a large number of them remained in
England in a condition of servitude. At any rate, the almost entire
extinction of the language, except as regards the names of a few rivers
and mountains, and of a few household words, seems to point to a fairly
complete expulsion of the Britons rather than to a mingling of them with
the conquering race.

What remains have we in our English villages of our Saxon forefathers,
the makers of England? In the first place we notice that many of the
names of our villages retain the memory of their founders. When the
family, or group of families, formed their settlements, they avoided the
buildings and walled towns, relics of Roman civilisation, made clearings
for themselves in the primeval forests, and established themselves in
village communities. In the names of places the suffix _ing_, meaning
_sons of_, denotes that the village was first occupied by the clan of
some chief, whose name is compounded with this syllable _ing_. Thus the
Uffingas, the children of Offa, formed a settlement at Uffinggaston, or
Uffington; the Redingas, or sons of Rede, settled at Reading; the
Billings at Billinge and Billingham; the Wokings or Hocings, sons of
Hoc, at Woking and Wokingham. The Billings and Wokings first settled at
Billinge and Woking; and then like bees they swarmed, and started
another hive of industry at Billingham and Wokingham.

These family settlements, revealed to us by the patronymic _ing_, are
very numerous. At Ardington, in Berkshire, the Ardings, the royal race
of the Vandals, settled; the Frankish Walsings at Wolsingham; the
Halsings at Helsington; the Brentings at Brentingley; the Danish
Scyldings at Skelding; the Thurings at Thorington; and many other
examples might be quoted.

Many Saxon names of places end in _field_, which denotes a forest
clearing, or _feld_, made by the axes of the settlers in the primeval
woods, where the trees were _felled_. These villages were rudely
fortified, or inclosed by a hedge, wall, or palisade, denoted by the
suffix _ton_, derived from the Anglo-Saxon _tynan_, to hedge; and all
names ending with this syllable point to the existence of a Saxon
settlement hedged in and protected from all intruders. Thus we have
Barton, Preston, Bolton, and many others. The terminations _yard_,
_stoke_, or stockaded place, as in Basingstoke, _worth_ (Anglo-Saxon
_weorthig_), as in Kenilworth, Tamworth, Walworth, have much the same
meaning.

Perhaps the most common of all the terminations of names denoting the
presence of Anglo-Saxon settlers is the suffix _ham_. When the _a_ is
pronounced short the syllable denotes an inclosure, like _stoke_ or
_ton_; but when the _a_ is long, it means home, and expresses the
reverence with which the Anglo-Saxon regarded his own dwelling. England
is the land of homes, and the natural affection with which we Englishmen
regard our homes is to a great extent peculiar to our race. The
Frenchman, the Spaniard, the Italian, do not have the same respect for
home. Our Saxon forefathers were a very home-loving people, and it is
from them doubtless that we inherit our love for our homes.

We find, then, the Saxon holding the lands. The clan formed settlements;
sections of each clan formed branch settlements; and several members of
each section cut their way through the thick forests, felled the trees,
built homesteads, where they tilled the land and reared their cattle.

In early Saxon times the settlement consisted of a number of families
holding a district, and the land was regularly divided into three
portions. There was the village itself, in which the people lived in
houses built of wood or rude stonework. Around the village were a few
small inclosures, or grass yards, for rearing calves and baiting farm
stock; this was the common farmstead. Around this was the arable land,
where the villagers grew their corn and other vegetables; and around
this lay the common meadows, or pasture land, held by the whole
community, so that each family could turn their cattle into it, subject
to the regulations of an officer elected by the people, whose duty it
was to see that no one trespassed on the rights of his neighbour, or
turned too many cattle into the common pasture.

[Illustration: BEATING ACORNS FOR SWINE
Cotton MS., _Nero_, c. 4]

Around the whole colony lay the woods and uncultivated land, which
was left in its natural wild state, where the people cut their timber
and fuel, and pastured their pigs in the glades of the forest. The
cultivated land was divided into three large fields, in which the
rotation of crops was strictly enforced, each field lying fallow once
in three years. To each freeman was assigned his own family lot, which
was cultivated by the members of his household. But he was obliged to
sow the same crop as his neighbour, and compelled by law to allow his
lot to lie fallow with the rest every third year. The remains of this
common-field system are still evident in many parts of the country, the
fields being termed "lot meadows," or "Lammas lands." Our commons, too,
many of which remain in spite of numerous inclosures, are evidences of
the communal life of our village forefathers.

How long the Saxon villages remained free democratic institutions, we do
not know. Gradually a change came over them, and we find the manorial
system in vogue. Manors existed in England long before the Normans came,
although "manor" is a Norman word; and in the time of Canute the system
was in full force. The existence of a manor implies a lord of the manor,
who exercised authority over all the villagers, owned the home farm, and
had certain rights over the rest of the land. How all this came about,
we scarcely know. Owing to the Danish invasions, when the rude barbarous
warriors carried fire and sword into many a peaceful town and village,
the villagers found themselves at the mercy of these savage hordes.
Probably they sought the protection of some thane, or _eorl_, with his
band of warriors, who could save their lands from pillage. In return for
their services they acknowledged him as the lord of their village, and
gave him rent, which was paid either in the produce of these fields or
by the work of their hands. Thus the lords of the manor became the
masters of the villagers, although they too were governed by law, and
were obliged to respect the rights of their tenants and servants.

Saxon society was divided into two main divisions, the _eorl_ and the
_ceorl_, the men of noble birth, and those of ignoble origin. The chief
man in the village was the manorial lord, a _thane_, who had his demesne
land, and his _gafol_ land, or _geneat_ land, which was land held in
villeinage, and cultivated by _geneats_, or persons holding by service.
These villein tenants were in two classes, the _geburs_, or villeins
proper, who held the yardlands, and the _cottiers_, who had smaller
holdings. Beneath these two classes there were the _theows_, or slaves,
made up partly of the conquered Britons, partly of captives taken in
war, and partly of freemen who had been condemned to this penalty for
their crimes, or had incurred it by poverty.

There were degrees of rank among Saxon gentlemen, as among those of
to-day. The thanes were divided into three classes: (i.) those of royal
rank (_thani regis_), who served the king in Court or in the management
of State affairs; (ii.) _thani mediocres_, who held the title by
inheritance, and corresponded to the lords of the manor in the later
times; (iii.) _thani minores_, or inferior thanes, to which rank
_ceorls_ or merchants could attain by the acquisition of sufficient
landed property.

We can picture to ourselves the ordinary village life which existed in
Saxon times. The thane's house stood in the centre of the village, not a
very lordly structure, and very unlike the stately Norman castles which
were erected in later times. It was commonly built of wood, which the
neighbouring forests supplied in plenty, and had stone or mud
foundations. The house consisted of an irregular group of low buildings,
almost all of one story. In the centre of the group was the hall, with
doors opening into the court. On one side stood the kitchen; on the
other the chapel when the thane became a Christian and required the
services of the Church for himself and his household. Numerous other
rooms with lean-to roofs were joined on to the hall, and a tower for
purposes of defence in case of an attack. Stables and barns were
scattered about outside the house, and with the cattle and horses lived
the grooms and herdsmen, while villeins and _cottiers_ dwelt in the
humble, low, shedlike buildings, which clustered round the Saxon thane's
dwelling-place. An illustration of such a house appears in an ancient
illumination preserved in the Harleian MSS., No. 603. The lord and lady
of the house are represented as engaged in almsgiving; the lady is thus
earning her true title, that of "loaf-giver," from which her name "lady"
is derived.

[Illustration: HOUSE OF SAXON THANE]

The interior of the hall was the common living-room for both men and
women, who slept on the reed-strewn floor, the ladies' sleeping-place
being separated from the men's by the arras. The walls were hung with
tapestry, woven by the skilled fingers of the ladies of the household. A
peat or log fire burned in the centre of the hall, and the smoke hid the
ceiling and finally found its way out through a hole in the roof. Arms
and armour hung on the walls, and the seats consisted of benches called
"mead-settles," arranged along the sides of the hall, where the Saxon
chiefs sat drinking their favourite beverage, mead, or sweetened beer,
out of the horns presented to them by the waiting damsels. When the hour
for dinner approached, rude tables were laid on trestles, and forthwith
groaned beneath the weight of joints of meat and fat capons which the
Saxon loved dearly. The door of the hall was usually open, and thither
came the bards and gleemen, who used to delight the company with their
songs and stories of the gallant deeds of their ancestors, the weird
legends of their gods Woden and Thor, their Viking lays and Norse sagas,
and the acrobats and dancers astonished them with their strange
postures.

Next to the thane ranked the _geburs_, who held land granted to them by
the thane for their own use, sometimes as much as one hundred and twenty
acres, and were required to work for the lord on the home farm two or
three days a week, or pay rent for their holdings. This payment
consisted of the produce of the land. They were also obliged to provide
one or more oxen for the manorial plough team, which consisted of eight
oxen.

There was also a strong independent body of men called _socmen_, who
were none other than our English yeomen. They were free tenants, who
have by their independence stamped with peculiar features both our
constitution and our national character. Their good name remains;
English yeomen have done good service to their country, and let us hope
that they will long continue to exist amongst us, in spite of the
changed condition of English agriculture and the prolonged depression in
farming affairs, which has tried them severely.

[Illustration: WHEEL PLOUGH
From Bayeux Tapestry]

Besides the _geburs_ and _socmen_ there were the _cottiers_, who had
small allotments of about five acres, kept no oxen, and were required to
work for the thane some days in each week. Below them were the _theows_,
serfs, or slaves, who could be bought and sold in the market, and were
compelled to work on the lord's farm.

Listen to the sad lament of one of this class, recorded in a dialogue of
AElfric of the tenth century:--

"What sayest thou, ploughman? How dost thou do thy work?"

"Oh, my lord, hard do I work. I go out at daybreak, driving the oxen to
field, and I yoke them to the plough. Nor is it ever so hard winter that
I dare loiter at home, for fear of my lord, but the oxen yoked, and the
ploughshare and the coulter fastened to the plough, every day must I
plough a full acre, or more."

"Hast thou any comrade?"

"I have a boy driving the oxen with an iron goad, who also is hoarse
with cold and shouting."

"What more dost thou in the day?"

"Verily then I do more. I must fill the bin of the oxen with hay, and
water them, and carry out the dung. Ha! Ha! hard work it is, hard work
it is! because _I am not free._"

Evidently the ploughman's want of freedom was his great hardship; his
work in ploughing, feeding, and watering his cattle, and in cleansing
their stable, was not harder than that of an ordinary carter in the
present day; but servitude galled his spirit, and made the work
intolerable. Let us hope that his lord was a kind-hearted man, and gave
him some cattle for his own, as well as some land to cultivate, and then
he would not feel the work so hard, or the winter so cold.

Frequently men were thus released from slavery; sometimes also freemen
sold themselves into slavery under the pressure of extreme want. A man
so reduced was required to lay aside his sword and lance, the symbols
of the free, and to take up the bill and the goad, the implements of
slavery, to fall on his knees and place his head, in token of submission,
under the hands of his master.

[Illustration: SMITHY
From the Cotton MS., B 4]

Each trade was represented in the village community. There were the
_faber_, or smith, and the carpenter, who repaired the ironwork and
woodwork of the ploughs and other agricultural implements, and in return
for their work had small holdings among the tenants free from ordinary
services. There was the _punder_, or pound-man, who looked after the
repair of the fences and impounded stray cattle; the _cementarius_, or
stonemason; the _custos apium_, or bee-keeper, an important person, as
much honey was needed to make the sweetened ale, or mead, which the
villagers and their chiefs loved to imbibe; and the steward, or
_prepositus_, who acted on behalf of the lord, looked after the
interests of the tenants, and took care that they rendered their legal
services. The surnames Smith, Baker, Butcher, Carter, and many others,
preserve the remembrance of the various trades which were carried on in
every village, and of the complete self-dependence of the community.

We have inherited many customs and institutions from our Saxon
forefathers, which connect our own age with theirs. In recent years we
have established parish councils in our villages. Formerly the pet
theory of politicians was centralisation; everything had to be done at
one centre, at one central office, and London became the head and centre
of all government. But recently politicians thought that they had
discovered a new plan for carrying on the internal affairs of the
country, and the idea was to leave each district to manage its own
affairs. This is only a return to the original Saxon plan. In every
village there was a moot-hill, or sacred tree, where the freemen met to
make their own laws and arrange their agricultural affairs. Here
disputes were settled, plough lands and meadow lands shared in due lot
among the villagers, and everything arranged according to the custom of
the village.

Our county maps show that the shires are divided into hundreds. This we
have inherited from our Saxon forefathers. In order to protect
themselves from their neighbours, the Saxon colonists arranged
themselves in hundreds of warriors. This little army was composed of
picked champions, the representatives of a hundred families; men who
were ready in case of war to uphold the honour of their house, and to
fight for their hearths and homes. These hundred families recognised a
bond of union with each other and a common inheritance, and ranged
themselves under one name for general purposes, whether for defence,
administration of justice, or other objects.

On a fixed day, three times a year, in some place where they were
accustomed to assemble--under a particular tree,[1] or near some
river-bank--these hundred champions used to meet their chieftain, and
gather around him when he dismounted from his horse. He then placed his
spear in the ground, and each warrior touched it with his own spear in
token of their compact, and pledged himself to mutual support. At this
assembly criminals were tried, disputes settled, bargains of sale
concluded; and in later times many of these transactions were inserted
in the chartularies of abbeys or the registers of bishops, which thus
became a kind of register too sacred to be falsified. A large number of
the hundreds bear the name of some chieftain who once used to call
together his band of bearded, light-haired warriors and administer rude
justice beneath a broad oak's shade.[2] Others are named after some
particular spot, some tree, or ford, or stone, or tumulus, where the
hundred court met.

Our counties or shires were not formed, as is popularly supposed, by
King Alfred or other royal person by the dividing up of the country into
portions, but were the areas occupied by the original Saxon tribes or
kingdoms. Most of our counties retain to this day the boundaries which
were originally formed by the early Saxon settlers. Some of our counties
were old Saxon kingdoms--such as Sussex, Essex, Middlesex--the kingdoms
of the South, East, and Middle Saxons. Surrey is the Sothe-reye, or
south realm; Kent is the land of the Cantii, a Belgic tribe; Devon is
the land of the Damnonii, a Celtic tribe; Cornwall, or Corn-wales, is
the land of the Welsh of the Horn; Worcestershire is the shire of the
Huiccii; Cumberland is the land of the Cymry; Northumberland is the land
north of the Humber, and therefore, as its name implies, used to extend
over all the North of England. Evidently the southern tribes and
kingdoms by conquest reduced the size of this large county and confined
it to its present smaller dimensions. In several cases the name of the
county is derived from that of its chief town, _e.g._ Oxfordshire,
Warwickshire; these were districts which were conquered by some powerful
earl or chieftain, who held his court in the town, and called his newly
acquired property after its name.

We have seen the picture of an ordinary English village in early Saxon
times, the villeins and slaves working in the fields and driving their
oxen, and the thane dressed in his linen tunic and short cloak, his hose
bandaged to the knee with strips of cloth, superintending the farming
operations. We have seen the freemen and thanes taking an active part in
public life, attending the courts of the hundred and shire, as well as
the folk moot or parish council of those times, and the slave mourning
over his lack of freedom. But many other relics of Saxon times remain,
and these will require another chapter for their examination.


[1] Until the eighteenth century there stood a pollard oak in the parish
of Shelford, Berks, where the hundred court used to be held.

[2] Other theories with regard to the origin of the hundred have been
suggested. Some writers maintain that the hundred was a district whence
the hundred warriors were derived, or a group of townships. But the
Bishop of Oxford in his _Constitutional History_ states: "It is very
probable that the colonists of Britain arranged themselves in hundreds
of warriors; it is not probable that the country was carved into equal
districts. The only conclusion that seems reasonable is that under the
name of geographical hundreds we have the variously sized _pagi_, or
districts, in which the hundred warriors settled, the boundaries of
these being determined by other causes."



CHAPTER VIII

SAXON RELICS

Peculiarities of Saxon barrows--Their contents--Weapons--Articles
of personal adornment--Cremation--Saxon Cemeteries--Jutes--Saxons--
Angles--Religion of Saxons--British Church in Wales--Conversion
of Saxons--Saxon crosses--Whalley--St. Wilfrid--Ruthwell cross--
Bewcastle cross--Eyam cross--Ilkley cross--Hexham cross--Cross at
St. Andrew's, Bishop Auckland--Cheeping crosses--Pilgrim crosses.


The earth has preserved a vast store of relics of the Saxons, and for
these we must search in the barrows which contain their dead. There are
certain peculiarities which characterise these memorials of the race.
The larger tumuli, whether belonging to Celt or Roman, usually stand
alone, or in groups of not more than two or three, and were the
monuments of distinguished people; whereas the Saxon barrows form a
regular cemetery, each group being the common burying-place of the
people in the district. Another characteristic is the large number of
articles which they contain. Moreover it was the practice of the other
races to lay the body on the ground, and build up the chamber and mound
above it. The Saxons on the other hand laid the body in a deep grave
before they began to construct the barrow.

The body was usually stretched out on its back, but is sometimes found
in a sitting position, as in graves recently discovered on Lord
Wantage's estate, Berks. Coffins of hollowed trunks of trees were
occasionally used, but these were not common. If the dead man was a
warrior, his weapons were buried with him, and we find the head and
spike of his spear, heads of javelins, a long iron broad-sword, a long
knife, occasionally an axe, and over his breast the iron boss of his
shield, the wooden part of which has of course decayed away.

[Illustration: SAXON RELICS
(1) Sword
(2) Top of Sword Handle
(3) Buckle
(4) Spear-head
(5) Plain Fibula]

The articles of personal adornment are very numerous. Fibulae, or
brooches, and buckles, made of bronze, are very beautifully ornamented.
Gold fibulae of circular form are found in the Kentish barrows,
frequently ornamented with real or fictitious gems. Rings, bracelets,
necklaces of beads, pendants for the neck and ears, are very common. The
beads are of glass, or amber, or variegated clay. Hairpins with which
the Saxon ladies bound up their tresses, chatelaines with tweezers for
removing superfluous hairs, toothpicks, scissors, and small knives, are
very frequent, and combs made of bone.

When cremation was used the ashes were deposited in an urn made of rude
earthenware without the help of a lathe. Drinking-vessels of glass of
fine and delicate workmanship, pointed or rounded at the bottom, are
common. From the construction of these cups it is evident that the Saxon
allowed no "heel-taps." Bronze bowls, dishes, and basins are found in
Saxon barrows, and occasionally buckets.

A pair of dice was found in a grave at Kingston Down, which indicates a
favourite pastime of the Saxons. The presence of a large number of Roman
coins shows that they used Roman money long after the legions had left
our shores. Sceattas, or Saxon silver coins, are also frequently
discovered.

Many Saxon cemeteries have been discovered in various parts of England,
but a vast number have never been examined; and the careful inspection
of the contents of barrows must throw much light upon Saxon settlements
in England. Bede tells us that there were three different branches of
this race. The Jutes settled in Kent and the Isle of Wight. The Saxons
settled in Essex, the country of the East Saxons, Sussex, that of the
South Saxons, and Wessex, of the West Saxons. The Angles settled in East
Anglia. Now an examination of barrows shows that the Angles practised
cremation and urn burial, which was not so common amongst the Jutes and
Saxons, and the fibulae found in the tombs of these tribes differ
considerably in shape and size. The contents of these graves throw much
light on the history of the people, their customs and habits. The action
of the plough has often obliterated the traces of ancient barrows. It is
advisable that the position of all such mounds should be carefully noted
and recorded, and where possible excavations made which may help in
settling many vexed questions, and enable us to understand more fully
the condition of the pagan Saxon, ere the light of Christianity had
dawned upon him.

Our names for the days of the week tell us of the gods of our Saxon
forefathers, whom they worshipped in their pagan and unregenerate state.
Sun-day, Moon-day, Tuisco's-day, Woden's-day, Thor's-day, Frya's-day,
Saeter's-day, link us on to the times when these "whelps from the
kennels of barbarism," as the Britons loved to call their conquerors,
swept away the old British Church, and established their heathen rites
and customs. Their religion resembled that of their Scandinavian
neighbours. Each village had its sacred spot, some clearing in the
forest, a tree, or well, whither the people resorted to pray to their
gods, and practise superstitious rites and customs which lingered long
after the introduction of Christianity, and even still survive. They had
also a few temples whither the freemen came three times a year.

Driven out of England the ancient British Church found a refuge in the
wilds of Wales and Cornwall, where it lived on and flourished
vigorously, allied to the Churches of Ireland and Scotland, sending out
missionaries to the Continent of Europe, having schools and colleges,
monasteries, and numerous churches. Llancarvan, in Glamorganshire, was a
celebrated seat of learning; and all places named Bangor, such as
Bangor-Iscaed, St. Asaph, and many others, possessed schools and
colleges. The village names of numerous places in Wales and Cornwall
record the labours of many earnest, saintly men, who brought
Christianity to the savage folk in these wild regions. There are nearly
five hundred names of these holy men in Wales alone, whose memory is
retained by this simple record; and Cornwall is dotted over with
churches dedicated to men and women whose names are strange, and of whom
we know nothing. History tells us of some of these early saints and
martyrs, of St. Alban, the first British martyr, who was slain 303 A.D.
during the Diocletian persecution in the city which bears his name; of
St. David, a Welsh prince, who followed the active life of John the
Baptist, and preached like him. The memory of early saints is enshrined
in the names, St. Ives, St. Neots, St. Bees, and in St. Edmund's Bury,
named after St. Edmund, who was taken prisoner by Ingvar the Viking, and
having been bound to a tree, was scourged, and served as a target for
the arrows of the Danes, being afterwards beheaded. All these record the
bravery and zeal of the holy men of old who loved their God, and for His
sake feared not to die.

Nothing need be said of the conversion of the English. That is a story
which has been often told. The scene is again changed. The temples of
Woden and Thor at Canterbury and Godmundingham and elsewhere, with their
heathen altars and shrines and idols, have been changed into Christian
churches, and other houses of God have been raised in the various
kingdoms; while Paulinus, Berinus, Aidan, Winfrid, and other preachers,
travelled through the country, exhorting the people to accept the
Christian faith.

Memorials of these early Christian missionaries remain in many a village
churchyard. Often there stands near the village church an old stone
cross, its steps worn away by the rains and frosts of thirteen
centuries; its head has doubtless gone, broken off by the force of the
gales, or by the wild rage of human passion and Puritanical iconoclastic
zeal; but it preserves the memory of the first conversion of the Saxon
villagers to Christianity, and was erected to mark the spot where the
people assembled to hear the new preacher, and to consecrate it for this
purpose.

In the life of St. Willibald we read that it was the custom of the Saxon
nation, on the estates of some of their nobles or great men, to erect,
not a church, but the sign of the Holy Cross, dedicated to God,
beautifully and honourably adorned, and exalted on high for the common
use of daily prayer. It is recorded also that St. Kentigern used to
erect a cross in any place where he had converted the people, and where
he had been staying for some time. Very probably the Saxon preacher
would make use of the old open-air meeting-place, where the pagan
villagers used to worship Woden; and thus the spots still used for
public worship are in many cases the same which used to echo with the
songs of Thor and the prayers of pagan Saxons.

These crosses were the rallying-points for Christian congregations
before churches arose, and the bells in their turrets summoned the
people to the service of God. In Somersetshire alone there are two
hundred relics of the piety of our forefathers; and the North of England
and Scotland are especially rich in crosses. No two are ever quite
similar. Some are of simple design or character; but many have such
beautiful carving and scrollwork that we are astonished at the skill of
the workmen who, with very simple and rude tools, could produce such
wonderful specimens of art.

The pagan Saxons worshipped stone pillars; so in order to wean them from
their ignorant superstition, the Christian missionaries, such as St.
Wilfrid, erected these stone crosses, and carved upon them the figures
of the Saviour and His Apostles, displaying before the eyes of their
hearers the story of the cross written in stone.

The North of England has very many examples of the zeal of these early
preachers of the faith, and probably most of them were fashioned by the
monks and followers of St. Wilfrid, who was Archbishop of York at the
beginning of the eighth century.

When he travelled about his diocese a large body of monks and workmen
attended him; and amongst these were the cutters in stone who made the
crosses and erected them on the spots which Wilfrid consecrated to the
worship of God.

The Whalley cross is earlier than the time of Wilfrid. It is one of the
crosses of Paulinus, who was one of the priests sent by Pope Gregory to
help Augustine in the work of converting the Saxons, and who became
Archbishop of York. Under the shadow of this very cross Paulinus, who
came to England in 601 A.D., preached nearly thirteen hundred years ago.
Indeed an old monkish writer wished to represent that Augustine himself
came to Whalley and erected the cross, which he calls "St. Augustine's
Cross"; but there is little doubt that Paulinus was the founder. In
Puritan times this and other relics of early faith suffered badly, and
was removed with two others from the churchyard, and used as a gatepost;
but the spoiler repented, and restored it once more to its old
resting-place.

But how did the founders learn to make such beautiful patterns and
designs? St. Wilfrid had travelled much; he had been to Rome and seen
the wonderful examples of Roman skill in the great city. The Romans had
left behind them in England their beautiful pavements, rich in designs,
with splendid borders of fine workmanship. These, doubtless, the monks
copied on parchment in the writing-rooms of their monasteries, and gave
their drawings to the monks in the stone-shed, who reproduced them in
stone. The only tool they had to produce all this fine and delicate work
was the pick, and this increases our wonder at the marvels they were
able to accomplish.

There is a famous cross at Ruthwell, in Dumfriesshire, which for a short
time formed part of the kingdom of Northumbria. Scenes from early
Christian history are portrayed, and these are surrounded by bands with
sentences in Latin describing them. The lowest panel is too defaced for
us to determine the subjects; on the second we see the flight into
Egypt; on the third figures of Paul, the first hermit, and Anthony, the
first monk, are carved; on the fourth is a representation of our Lord
treading under foot the heads of swine; and on the highest there is the
figure of John the Baptist with the Lamb. On the opposite side are the
Annunciation, the Salutation, and other scenes of gospel history. On the
side of the cross is some beautiful scrollwork, which shows a wonderful
development of skill and art.

In addition to the Latin sentences there are five stanzas of an
Anglo-Saxon poem of singular beauty. It is the story of the crucifixion
told in touching words by the cross itself, which narrates its own sad
tale from the time when it was a growing tree by the woodside, until at
length, after the body of the Lord had been taken down--

  "The warriors left me there,
  Standing defiled with blood."

On the head of the cross are inscribed the words, "Caedmon made me."
This Caedmon was the holy monk, on whom the gift of writing verses was
bestowed by Heaven, who in the year 680 A.D. began to pour forth his
songs in praise of Almighty God, and told in Anglo-Saxon poetry the
story of the creation and the life of our Lord. The Bewcastle cross is
somewhat similar to that at Ruthwell. We see again the figure of our
Lord standing on the heads of swine, but the lower figure is represented
with a hawk, the sign of nobility, and is probably that of a person to
whom the cross is a memorial. The ornamentation on this cross is very
perfect and beautifully executed. The very beautiful cross at Eyam, in
Derbyshire, differs both in style and workmanship from almost any other.
The shaft has evidently been broken. In the panels of the head of the
cross are figures of angels.

Sometimes we find some very strange beasts carved on the old crosses. On
the cross at Ilkley we observe some of these curious animals with their
long tails interlacing. Sometimes the tail is wound round the creature's
body, and the idea of the artist was to represent the animal reduced to
a state of powerlessness. One forepaw is held up in sign of submission.
Above is a figure of our Lord triumphing over the powers of evil, and
these animals represent probably man's lower nature owning the supremacy
of the King of Heaven. On the other side of the cross are figures of the
four evangelists. The upper half of the figures alone appears dressed in
flowing garments; each is carrying a book; circles of glory surround
their heads, which are the symbols of the evangelists. St. Matthew has a
man's head; St. Mark a leopard's; St. Luke's a calf's; and St. John an
eagle's head.

The crosses at Hexham, where Archbishop Wilfrid founded a monastery, are
very ancient. We are able to tell the date of these stones, for they
were placed at the head and feet of the grave of Bishop Acca, who was a
follower of St. Wilfrid, and accompanied him on his missionary journeys.
Acca succeeded Wilfrid as Bishop of Hexham, and according to the old
chronicler Bede, "being a most active man and great in the sight of God
and man, he much adorned and added to his church." Acca died in 738
A.D., and as the monastery of Hexham was soon destroyed, these crosses
must have been erected eleven hundred and sixty-three years ago.

The cross at St. Andrew's, Bishop Auckland, is of much later date, and
the workmanship is not nearly so fine and delicate as in the earlier
crosses. The Saxons had deteriorated as a race just before the Normans
came, and although the cross still appears on the flat stone, the design
on the shaft of the cross merely represents a hunting scene; and a Saxon
bowman is shown shooting at some animals. The religious conceptions of
an earlier and purer time have disappeared. The moustache of the
sportsman also shows that the stone belonged to a period very near the
Norman Conquest, when that fashion of wearing the hair was in vogue.

England is remarkable for these specimens of ancient art. On the
Continent there are very few of these elaborately carved crosses; but
it is noteworthy that wherever the English or Irish missionaries went,
they erected these memorials of their faith. In Switzerland, where
they founded some monasteries, there are some very similar to those
in England.

There are several other kinds of crosses besides those in churchyards.
There are market crosses, called "cheeping" crosses after the
Anglo-Saxon _cheap_, to buy, from which Cheapside, in London, Chippenham
and Chipping Norton derive their names. Some crosses are "pilgrim"
crosses, and were erected along the roads leading to shrines where
pilgrimages were wont to be made, such as the shrine of St. Thomas
a Becket at Canterbury, Glastonbury, Our Lady of Walsingham. Sometimes
they were erected at the places where the corpse rested on its way to
burial, as the Eleanor crosses at Waltham and Charing, in order that
people might pray for the soul of the deceased. Monks also erected
crosses to mark the boundaries of the property of their monastery.

[Illustration: AN OLD MARKET CROSS]

Time has dealt hardly with the old crosses of England. Many of them
were destroyed by the Puritans, who by the Parliamentary decree of
1643, ordered that all altars and tables of stones, all crucifixes,
images and pictures of God and the saints, with all superstitious
inscriptions, should be obliterated and destroyed. In London, St.
Paul's Cross, Charing Cross, and that in Cheapside, were levelled
with the ground, and throughout the country many a beautiful work
of art which had existed hundreds of years shared the same fate.
Place-names sometimes preserve their memory, such as Gerard's Cross,
in Buckinghamshire, Crosby, Crossens, Cross Inn, Croston; these and
many others record the existence in ancient times of a cross, and
probably beneath its shade the first preachers of the gospel stood,
when they turned the hearts of our heathen ancestors, and taught them
the holy lessons of the Cross.



CHAPTER IX

ENGLISH ARCHITECTURE

Saxon monasteries--Parish churches--Benedict Biscop--Aldhelm--St.
Andrew's, Hexham--Brixworth Church--Saxon architecture--Norman
architecture--Characteristics of the style--Transition Norman--
Early English style--Decorated style--Perpendicular style.


The early Saxon clergy lived in monasteries, where they had a church
and a school for the education of the sons of thanes. Monastic houses,
centres of piety and evangelistic zeal, sprang up, the abodes of
religion, civilisation, peace, and learning. They were the schools of
culture, sacred and profane, of industry and agriculture; the monks were
the architects, the painters, the sculptors, the goldsmiths of their
time. They formed the first libraries; they taught the young; they
educated women in convents, and by degrees dispersed the shades of
ignorance, idolatry, and barbarism, and reformed England.

To record the number of these monastic houses which were erected in the
seventh and eighth centuries would require much space; and as our chief
concern is with the vestiges that remain in our English villages, and
as most of these Saxon monasteries were plundered and destroyed by the
Danes, or rebuilt on a grander scale by the Normans, we will not now
enumerate them.

After the country had been evangelised by the itinerant monks and
preachers, the next process was to establish a church in every village,
and to provide a pastor to minister therein. Archbishop Theodore
encouraged the thanes to build and endow churches on their estates, and
introduced to this country the parochial system, by means of which all
villages could have the services of a resident pastor.

Then the thane's house was not considered complete without its chapel;
and in the scattered hamlets and village communities churches arose,
rudely built of wood and roofed with thatch, wherein the Saxon _ceorls_
and _cottiers_ loved to worship.

The great Churchmen of the day were not content with such humble
structures. They had travelled to Rome, and seen there some of the fine
buildings dedicated for divine service; so they determined to have the
like in their own country. One of these noble builders was Benedict
Biscop, founder of the twin monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow. When he
built the former, he imported foreign artists from Gaul, who constructed
the monastery after the Roman style, and amongst other things introduced
glazed windows, which had never been seen in England before. Nor was his
new house bare and unadorned. He brought from Rome vast stores of church
furniture, many books, and the "arch-chanter" John, to teach his monks
the music and ritual of Rome.

Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury, and first Bishop of Sherborne, was one of
the foremost church-builders of the time, and the beautiful churches at
Malmesbury, Sherborne, Bradford-on-Avon, Frome, and Wareham, owe their
erection to his instrumentality. Wilfrid also was one of the saintly
architects of the period. Here is a description of the church of St.
Andrew, at Hexham, taken from the writings of Richard, prior of the
monastery there:--

"The foundations of this church St. Wilfrid laid deep in the earth for
the crypts and oratories, and the passages leading to them, which were
then with great exactness contrived and built under ground. The walls,
which were of great length, and raised to an immense height, and divided
into three several stones or tiers, he supported by square and other
kinds of well-polished columns. Also, the walls, the capitals of the
columns which supported them, and the arch of the sanctuary, he
decorated with historical representations, imagery, and various figures
of relief, carved in stone, and painted with a most agreeable variety of
colour. The body of the church he compassed about with pentices and
porticoes, which, both above and below, he divided with great and
inexpressible art, by partition walls and winding stairs. Within the
staircases, and above them, he caused flights of steps and galleries of
stone, and several passages leading from them both ascending and
descending, to be so artfully disposed, that multitudes of people might
be there, and go quite round the church, without being seen by anyone
below in the nave. Moreover in the several divisions of the porticoes or
aisles, he erected many most beautiful and private oratories of
exquisite workmanship; and in them he caused to be placed altars in
honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Michael, St. John the Baptist,
and the holy Apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, with all decent
and proper furniture to each of them, some of which, remaining at this
day, appear like so many turrets and fortified places."

[Illustration: CONSECRATION OF A SAXON CHURCH]

The Danish wars had a disastrous effect on such noble structures raised
by these monastic architects, as well as on many a rustic village
church, which fell a prey to the ruthless invading bands of pagan
warriors. But frequently, as we study the history written in the
stonework of our churches, we find amid the massive Norman walls traces
of the work of Saxon builders, an arch here, a column there, which link
our own times with the distant past when England was divided into eight
kingdoms, or when Danegeld was levied to buy off the marauding
strangers.

Roman buildings served as a model for our Saxon architects, and Roman
bricks were much used by them. Brixworth Church is perhaps the finest
specimen of our early Saxon churches. It has semicircular arches, made
of Roman bricks, springing from square massive piers with single abaci.

[Illustration: TOWER OF BARNACK CHURCH, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE]

We will try to point out the distinguishing features of Saxon work, in
order that you may be able to detect the evidence of its existence in
your own village and neighbourhood. The walls are chiefly formed of
rubble or rag stone, having "long and short work," _i.e._ long block of
cut stone laid alternately horizontally and vertically, at the corners
of the building and in the jambs of the doors. Often narrow ribs of
masonry run vertically up the walls, and a string-course runs
horizontally. The churches of Barnack and Wittering in Northamptonshire,
St. Michael's, Oxford, and the towers of Earl's Barton are good examples
of this.

[Illustration: DOORWAY, EARL'S BARTON CHURCH]

Saxon doorways have semicircular arches, and sometimes the head is
shaped in the form of a triangle. The jambs are square-edged, the stone
of the arch is plain, and a hood or arch of ribwork projecting from the
surface of the wall surrounds the doorway. Belfry windows have two
semicircular-headed lights divided by a _baluster_ shaft, _i.e._ a
column resembling a turned-wood pillar. This feature is quite peculiar
to Saxon architecture.

Anglo-Saxon single-light windows have two splays, increasing in width
from the centre of the wall in which the window is placed. Norman
windows have only one splay on the internal side of the building. Saxon
arches separating the nave from the aisles and chancel are plain. There
is no sub-arch as in Norman buildings. They are often very small,
sometimes only five or six feet wide, and stand on square piers.

[Illustration: TOWER WINDOW, MONKWEARMOUTH CHURCH
Built by Benedict Biscop, _circa_ A.D. 674]

Some Saxon churches have crypts, but few of them remain. The crypt made
by St. Wilfrid at Hexham, mentioned above, still exists, and also one at
Ripon Cathedral, in which there is a small window called "Wilfrid's
needle." There is a legend about this which states that if a maid goes
through the "needle," she will be married within the year. Repton Church
has a very perfect specimen of Saxon crypt.

The ground plan of Saxon churches differed. Many were cruciform, and
consisted of nave, transepts, and chancel. The east wall of the chancel
was often semicircular or polygonal, sometimes rectangular. The church
of St. Lawrence, at Bradford-on-Avon, mentioned by William of
Malmesbury, is a fine specimen of a Saxon church, and also the little
church at Escombe, Durham, and that of Deerhurst, Gloucestershire,
recently rescued from being used as a farmstead.

After the close of the thousandth year after the birth of Christ a new
impulse was given to church-building. People imagined that with that
year the millennium would arrive and the Second Advent take place. It
would be vain to build beautiful churches, if they were so soon to
perish in the general destruction of the world, as vain as to heap up
treasure by means of trade. Hence people's minds were unsettled, and the
churches left in ruins. But when the millenary had safely passed away,
they began to restore the fallen shrines, and build new churches, and
the late Saxon or early Norman style came into vogue. Canute was a great
church-builder, and Edward the Confessor rebuilt Westminster Abbey after
the new fashion. Then came William the Conqueror with his Norman
builders, and soon nearly every village had its church, which was
constructed, according to William of Malmesbury, _novo aedificandi
genere_.

We will now notice the characteristics of early Norman work, traces of
which you may be able to recognise in your own church. The doorways are
very remarkable, profusely adorned with richly carved ornamental
mouldings and sculpture. The archways are round, and are composed of a
succession of receding arches, all elaborately carved. The doorway of
Malmesbury Church has eight arches, recessed one within the other. These
arches are supported by one or more shafts, which are sometimes carved.
Above the door and below the arch is the tympanum, covered with
sculpture, representing scriptural subjects, such as the figure of the
Saviour in allusion to His saying, "I am the door," or the _Agnus Dei_,
or Adam and Eve, or such legendary or symbolical subjects as St. George
and the Dragon, or the Tree of Life.

[Illustration: SCULPTURED HEAD OF DOORWAY, FORDINGTON CHURCH, DORSETSHIRE]

Porches are not very common in early Norman structures, but several
still exist, notably at Malmesbury, Balderton, and Brixworth. The
windows are usually small and narrow, the jambs being splayed only on
the inside of the church. Three such windows placed together usually
give light over the altar. The walls of Norman buildings are thick and
massive, and are often faced with cut stone. String-courses or mouldings
projecting from the walls, run horizontally along them, and are often
adorned with the zigzag or other Norman patterns of ornament. The tower
often stands between the nave and the chancel, and is usually low and
massive. In the eastern counties are found many round towers made of
flint masonry. Flat buttresses are a sure sign of Norman work, as they
were not used in any of the subsequent styles of architecture.

[Illustration: NORMAN CAPITALS
(1) Crypt, Worcester Cathedral
(2) Winchester Cathedral]

The arches of the Norman builders are easily recognised. The piers in
country churches are nearly always cylindrical; but there are several
examples of massive square or octagonal piers, and also a number
of round columns attached, so as to form one pier. The _cushion_
capital is the most common form used in the Norman style. It is easily
recognisable, but difficult to be described; and perhaps the
accompanying sketch will enable the reader to discover a cushion
capital when he sees it. The early Norman builders loved to bestow
much labour on their capitals; and while preserving the usual cushion
form, enriched them with much elaboration. The _scallop_ frequently
occurs, and also the _volute_, which was copied from the work of Roman
builders, who themselves imitated the Greek sculptures. Sometimes the
capitals are elaborately carved with figures of men, or animals, or
foliage.

[Illustration: NORMAN ORNAMENTAL MOULDINGS.
(1)  Indented. Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
(2)  Zig-zag. Iffley, Oxfordshire
(3)  Alternate Billet. Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
(4)  Double Cone. Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
(5)  Pellet. Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
(6)  Lozenge. Essendine, Rutland
(7)  Cable. Fritwell, Oxfordshire
(8)  Star. Stringham, Norfolk
(9)  Medallion. Iffley, Oxfordshire
(10) Beak-Head. Steetley, Derbyshire
(11) Nail-Head. St. Ethelred's, Norwich
(12) Embattled. Lincoln Cathedral]

Norman arches resemble the doorways in having sub-arches recessed within
an outer arch, the intrados often being decorated with mouldings such as
the zigzag or the lozenge. The chancel arch is usually very elaborately
ornamented with various mouldings, which are very numerous and peculiar.
Those illustrated on the previous page are the most common.

[Illustration: CROYLAND ABBEY CHURCH, LINCOLNSHIRE]

The Normans were also much skilled in vaulting with stone, as the crypts
in our churches testify. Over the vaulted roof of the aisles was the
_triforium_, a kind of gallery between this roof and the external roof
of the church. Very few of the wooden roofs of Norman churches remain.
The fonts are large, square or cylindrical in shape, and are decorated
with mouldings or sculpture, often very elaborate but rudely executed.
At Winchester Cathedral the font is carved with a representation of the
baptism of King Cynigils at Dorchester. Other favourite subjects were
the creation of man, the formation of Eve, the expulsion from Paradise,
Christ upon the cross, the Four Evangelists, the baptism of our Lord,
and legendary or symbolical representations.

[Illustration: SEMI-NORMAN ARCH, CHURCH OF ST. CROSS]

This style of architecture prevailed until about the middle of the
twelfth century, when the _Transition Norman_ became in vogue. It is
characterised by the introduction of the pointed arch. Many conjectures
as regards its origin have been made. Some suppose that the idea of
making the arch pointed was suggested by the intersection of
semicircular arches in ornamental arcades. Others say that the Crusaders
introduced it on their return from the East, or that it was suggested by
the Norman vaulting, or from the form of the _vesica piscis_, the most
ancient of Christian symbols. The Cistercian monks were the first to
introduce it to this country, and the Cistercian abbeys of Fountains,
Kirkstall, Furness, and Tintern are noble specimens of Transition Norman
work. Religious zeal and enthusiasm are often reflected in the improved
condition of our churches, and the grand buildings of this period are
outward and visible signs of a great religious revival. Semicircular
arches, however, continued to be used for windows and for the triforium;
the capitals of the piers were decorated with foliage somewhat similar
to that used in a subsequent period.

[Illustration: EARLY ENGLISH PIERS AND CAPITALS
(1) Salisbury Cathedral
(2) Lincoln Cathedral]

Then arose the Early English style of architecture which flourished
from about the year 1175 to 1275, and is characterised by a gradual
abandonment of the heavy and massive features of the Norman style, and
the adoption of lighter and more elegant forms of construction and
decoration. Salisbury Cathedral, erected 1220-1260 A.D., is the most
perfect example of this period. The arches are pointed, and the piers
supporting them are often composed of an insulated cylindrical column
surrounded by slender detached shafts, all uniting together under one
capital, and divided into parts by horizontal bands. In small churches
plain octagonal or circular piers are frequently used, as in the
succeeding style, from which they can only be distinguished by the
mouldings. Mouldings are often the surest guides in helping us to
ascertain the date of a building. We have already studied the Norman
mouldings. In this style they are composed of bold rounds and deep
hollows, usually plain, or ornamented with the dog-tooth.

[Illustration: TOOTH OR DOG-TOOTH ORNAMENT]

The lancet window is now introduced, at first of only one light, very
narrow and long, and differing from the Norman window in having a
pointed arch. At the east end of the chancel there are often three
lancet windows, the centre one higher than the rest, with one dripstone
over them. The first idea of window-tracery was the introduction of a
plain lozenge-shaped opening over a double lancet window, the whole
being covered by a single dripstone. From this simple arrangement it
was not difficult to develop the beautiful bar-tracery which came into
vogue in the subsequent period of English architecture. The capitals
of the Early English style are bell-shaped, at first quite plain, but
subsequently these are often covered with beautifully sculptured foliage
of a very graceful character. Circular windows at this period came
into vogue in the gables of churches. They were either plain or
quatre-foiled. Norman towers were sometimes capped with spires in the
thirteenth century. The walls are not so thick or massive as in the
Norman period, and the buttresses are stouter and more numerous, and
project further from the wall. Flying buttresses were also introduced at
this period. We can generally distinguish Early English work from that
of the Norman style by its lightness and elegance, as compared with the
roughness and massiveness of the latter; and its plainness and
simplicity sufficiently distinguish it from that of the Decorated
period.

[Illustration: BROWNSOVER CHAPEL, WARWICKSHIRE]

The Decorated style (1275-1375) which prevailed during the reigns of
the three Edwards was ushered in by a period of Transition, during which
there was gradually developed the most perfect style which English
architectural skill has ever attained. In the thirteenth century our
builders were striving to attain the highest forms of graceful design
and artistic workmanship. In the fourteenth their work reached
perfection, while in the fifteenth there was a marked decline in their
art, which in spite of its elaborate details lacked the beauty of the
Decorated style.

[Illustration: MOULDINGS, TEWKESBURY ABBEY]

[Illustration: OGEE ARCH]

The arches of this period are usually wider, and are distinguished from
those of the Early English by the character of the mouldings. The
ball-flower, consisting of a ball inclosed by three or four leaves,
somewhat resembling a rosebud, is the favourite ornament, and a
four-leaved flower is often used. Roll mouldings, quarter, half, or
three-quarters round, frequently occur, and produce a very pleasing
effect. The form of the arch is in many instances changed, and the
graceful _ogee_ arch is introduced. The piers are round or octagonal in
village churches, and in large churches are formed by a cluster of
cylindrical shafts, not detached as in the preceding period, but closely
united. The capitals are bell-shaped, and in large churches richly
sculptured. Few of the wooden roofs remain, as they have been superseded
in later times; but the marks of the old roofs may often be seen on the
eastern wall of the tower. The windows are larger than those of the
earlier style, and are filled with geometrical and flowing tracery of
great variety and beauty. Small windows have heads shaped in the ogee or
trefoil forms. Square-headed windows are not uncommon, especially in the
clerestory, and in monastic churches circular windows are frequently met
with. It is characteristic of this style that the carving is not so deep
as in the previous work. We find groups of shallow mouldings separated
by one cut deeper than the others.

[Illustration: CAPITALS
(1) Hanwell
(2) Chacombe Church]

[Illustration: DECORATED WINDOWS
(1) Merton College Chapel
(2) Sandiacre, Derbyshire]

[Illustration: MOULDINGS
(1) Elton, Huntingdonshire
(2) Austrey, Warwickshire]

At length the glories of the Decorated period pass away and are merged
and lost in the _Perpendicular_ which held sway from 1375 to 1540. The
work is now more elaborate and richer, but lacks the majestic beauty of
the Decorated style. It is easy to distinguish Perpendicular windows.
They are larger than any which we have seen before; the mullions are
carried straight up through the head of the window; smaller mullions
spring from the heads of the principal lights, and thus the windows
are broken up into panel-like compartments, very different from the
beautiful curves of the Decorated style. Simple pointed arches are still
in use, but gradually they become flattened; and the arch, commonly
known as the Tudor arch, is a peculiar feature of this style. In village
churches the mouldings of the arch are often continued down the piers
without any capital or shaft.

[Illustration: MERTON COLLEGE CHAPEL, OXFORD]

Piers are commonly formed from a square or parallelogram with the angles
fluted, having on the flat face of each side a semicyclindrical shaft.
The base mouldings are polygonal. The most common doorway is the Tudor
arch having a square head over it. The doors are often richly
ornamented. There are a large number of square-headed windows, and so
proud were these builders of their new style of window that they
frequently inserted Perpendicular windows in walls of a much earlier
date. Hence it is not always safe to determine the age of a church by an
examination of the windows alone. Panel-work tracery on the upper part
of the interior walls is a distinctive feature of this style.

[Illustration: VESTRY DOOR, ADDERBURY CHURCH, OXON]

[Illustration: ST. ERASMUS' CHAPEL, WESTMINSTER ABBEY]

The slope of the roof is much lower than before, and often the former
high-pitched roofs were at this period replaced by the almost flat roofs
prevalent in the fifteenth century. The parapets are often embattled.

The rose, the badge of the houses of York and Lancaster, is often used
as an ornamental detail, and also rows of the Tudor flower, composed of
four petals, frequently occur. One of the most distinctive mouldings is
the _cavetto_, a wide shallow hollow in the centre of a group of
mouldings. Also we find a peculiar wave, and a kind of double ogee
moulding which are characteristic of the style.

[Illustration: WINDOW, CHRISTCHURCH, OXFORD]

Spires of this period are not very common, and usually spring from
within the parapet. The interiors of our churches were enriched at this
time with much elaborate decoration. Richly carved woodwork in screens,
rood-lofts, pulpits, and pews, sculptured sedilia and a noble reredos,
and much exuberance of decorative imagery and panel-work, adorned our
churches at this time, much of which was obliterated or destroyed by
spoliators of the Reformation period, the iconoclastic Puritans of the
seventeenth century, or the "restorers" of the nineteenth. However, we
may be thankful that so much remains to the present day of the work of
our great English church-builders, while we endeavour to trace the
history of each church written in stone, and to appreciate these relics
of antiquity which most of our villages possess.



CHAPTER X

NORMAN VILLAGES AND THE _DOMESDAY BOOK_

The coming of the Normans--_Domesday Book_--Its objects--Its contents--
Barkham in _Domesday_--Saxon families--Saxons who retained their
estates--Despoiled landowners--Village officers and artisans--
Villeins--_Bordarii_--_Cottarii_--_Servi_--Socmen--Presbyter--Names
of Normans--The teaching of _Domesday_.


There was a great stir in our English villages when the news was brought
to them that William of Normandy had landed in England, and intended to
fight for the English Crown. News travelled very slowly in those days.
First the villeins and the cottiers who were not fighting with their
lord heard that a great battle had been fought at Stamford Bridge, in
Yorkshire, in which their gallant King Harold had defeated his own
brother Tostig, aided by the King of Norway, Hardrada, and a large army.
Then the news reached them that William of Normandy had arrived, and
that Harold was marching night and day to meet him. Then they heard of
the fatal battle of Hastings; and when it was told them that their brave
King Harold was slain, and that William, the Norman, was the conqueror
of England and the acknowledged king of the country, all England groaned
to hear the fatal news. And then, after a few years, they found that
their old lord had been deprived of his estates, and a new, haughty,
proud Norman, who talked like a Frenchman, and laughed at their dear old
Saxon language, came and ruled over them. He brought Norman servants
with him, who took the best of the land, and made the Saxons do all the
hard work on the farm, treating them like slaves.

And now we must examine a most valuable document which throws a
wonderfully clear light on the condition of England just before and
after the Conquest. I refer to the _Domesday Book_, or survey of the
country which William caused to be made. The Anglo-Saxon chronicler
tells us that after a great Council at Gloucester the king "sent his men
over all England, into every shire, and caused to be ascertained how
many hundred hides were in the shire, or what land the king himself had,
and cattle within the land, or what dues he ought to have in twelve
months from the shire. Also he caused to be written how much land his
archbishops had, and his suffragan bishops, and abbots, and earls; and
though I may narrate somewhat prolixly, what or how much each man had
who was a holder of land in England, in land, or in cattle, and how much
money it might be worth. So very narrowly he caused it to be traced out,
that there was not one single hide, nor one yard of land, nor even, it
is shame to tell, though it seemed to him no shame to do, an ox, nor a
cow, nor a swine was left that was not set down in his writ. And all the
writings were brought to him afterwards."

The commissioners appointed by the king, among whom were Remigius,
Bishop of Lincoln, and Walter Giffard, Earl of Buckingham, were to
inquire the following details concerning each parish:--

Its name. Who held it in the time of King Edward the Confessor. The
present possessor. Number of hides in the manor, number of ploughs, of
homagers, villeins, cottars, free tenants, tenants in socage; how much
wood, meadow, and pasture; number of mills and fishponds; the value in
the time of the last king; and its present value.

Such a survey was of immense value. Its object, according to the king,
was that every man might know and be satisfied with his rightful
possessions, and not with impunity usurp the property of others. But it
was also of great service to the king, so that he might know who were
his vassals, the amount of taxation which he could draw from them, and
the actual strength of his new kingdom.

The commissioners performed their work with much care and exactness. The
survey is wonderfully complete, and was compiled in a very short time.
It is of great value to the historians of subsequent ages. The writing
of the book is very clear and beautiful, the abbreviations alone
presenting some difficulty to an unaccustomed reader. No illuminations
adorn the text. At the head of each page the name of the county is
written in red ink. The book is preserved in an ancient chest in the
Public Record Office, where it was removed from the Chapter House at
Westminster.

As an example we may take the _Domesday_ description of the parish of
Barkham, which runs as follows:--

"IN CERLEDONE HD.

"Rex ten in dnio Bercheha. AElmer Tenuit de rege. E. Te 7 m  iii hid.
Tra e iii car. In dnio e una, 7 vi uilli 7 iiii bord cu iii car. Ibi
v. ac pti. Silua de XL pore. Valuit iiii lib. T.R.E. 7 m: iii. lib."

TRANSLATION.

"In the hundred of Charlton.

"The king holds Barkham in demesne. AElmer held it of King Edward. Then,
as now, it was rated for three hides. The land is three ploughlands. In
demesne there is one ploughland. There are six villeins, four borderers
with three ploughs. There are five acres of pasture. Wood for the
pasturage of forty hogs. It was worth 4l. in the time of King Edward,
afterwards, and now, 3l."

King Edward here mentioned was Edward the Confessor. A hide, when it is
used as a measure of land, may be taken at about one hundred and twenty
acres. A ploughland was as much land as one plough with oxen could
plough in a year. The villeins were men who tilled their lord's land,
and in return for certain services had holdings under him. The borderers
were cottagers who also worked for their lord and held smaller holdings,
from one to ten acres. In other entries we find the number of serfs
recorded, and also mention of the hall of the lord of the manor, where
the manorial courts were held, the church, the priest's house, the names
of landowners and tenants, the mill, and of the various officers and
artisans who made up the village community.

_Domesday_ tells us of the old Saxon families, many of whom lost their
estates when the Conqueror came, and were supplanted by the favourites
of the new king. Some of them contrived to weather the storm and retain
their lands. Almer, or Almar, the lord of Barkham, who succeeded his
brother Stigand as Bishop of Elmham in 1047, when the latter became
archbishop, was among the number of the dispossessed, and probably found
shelter with many of his compatriots in the cloister. Several of
William's Norman adventurers married the heiresses of the old Saxon
gentry, and thus became possessed of great estates. Thus Robert D'Oili
married the daughter of Wigod, lord of Wallingford, and soon gained
possession of his father-in-law's property.

However, the names of the fortunate Saxons who retained their estates
are few in comparison with those who were dispossessed. We find Edgar
Atheling, real heir to the throne, retaining a small estate; but he was
a feeble prince, and therefore not to be feared by William. His sister
Cristina had also land in Oxfordshire. Bishop Osbern, of Exeter, a
kinsman of the late king, also held his estates; and amongst the list we
find Seward the huntsman, of Oxfordshire; Theodric the goldsmith; Wlwi
the huntsman, of Surrey; Uluric the huntsman, of Hampshire, who were not
deprived of their lands, their occupations being useful to the king.

The list of despoiled landowners is a long one, and need not here be
recorded. One Brictric was very unfortunate. When ambassador to Baldwin
of Flanders he refused to marry the count's daughter Maud. The slighted
lady became the Conqueror's consort, and in revenge for her despised
love caused Brictric to be imprisoned and his estates confiscated, some
of which were given to the queen. The luckless relations and connections
of the late royal house were consistently despoiled, amongst them
Editha, the beautiful queen of King Edward, and daughter of Earl Godwin,
of whom it was written: "_Sicut spina rosam genuit Godwynus Editham_";
and Gida, the mother of Harold; Godric, his son; and Gwith, his brother.
Harold himself--the earl, as he is called, and not the king, who fought
and died at Senlac, if he did not, as the romance states, end his life
as a holy hermit at Chester--had vast estates all over England, which
went to enrich William's hungry followers. Hereward the Wake, the
English hero, also held in pre-Norman days many fat manors. Few of the
Saxon landowners were spared, and it is unnecessary here to record the
names of the Uchtreds, Turgots, Turchils, Siwards, Leurics, who held
lands "in the time of King Edward," but whose place after Domesday knows
them no more.

_Domesday_ tells us also the names of the officers and artisans who
played important parts in the old village communities. The _villani_, or
villeins, corresponding to the Saxon _ceorls_, were the most important
class of tenants in villeinage, and each held about thirty acres in
scattered acre or half-acre strips, each a furlong in length and a perch
or two in breadth, separated by turf balks. The villein thus supported
himself and his family, and in return was bound to render certain
services to the lord of the manor, to work on the home farm, and provide
two or more oxen for the manorial plough-team. He was not a free tenant,
could acquire no property, and his lord's consent was needed for the
marriage of his daughters. But the law protected him from unjust usage;
his holdings were usually regranted to his son. He could obtain freedom
in several ways, and by degrees acquired the rights and privileges of a
free tenant.

Next to the villeins were the _bordarii_, who lived in _bords_ or
cottages, _i.e._ boarded or wooden huts, and ranked as a lower grade of
villeins. They held about five acres, but provided no oxen for the
manorial plough-team. Below them were the _cottarii_, or cottiers, who
were bound to do domestic work and supply the lord's table. They
corresponded to the modern labourer, but lacked his freedom. The lowest
class of all were the _servi_, or serfs, who corresponded to the Saxon
_theows_. In Norman times their condition was greatly improved; they
mingled with the cottiers and household servants, and gradually were
merged with them.

The _sochemanni_, or socmen, our yeomen, who abounded chiefly in the
Danish district of England, were inferior landowners who had special
privileges, and could not be turned out of their holdings, though they
rendered certain services to the lord of the manor, and in this respect
differed little from the villeins. _Domesday Book_ also mentions a class
of men called _burs_ or _geburs_, who were the same as _coliberti_; also
the _commendati_, who received privileges in return for services
rendered to the lord of the manor.

Each village community was self-contained, and had its own officers.
Although _Domesday Book_ was not compiled in order to ascertain the
condition of the Church and its ministers, and frequently the mention of
a parish church is omitted where we know one existed, the _presbyter_,
or priest, is often recorded. Archbishop Egbert's _Excerptiones_
ordained that "to every church shall be allotted one complete holding
(mansa), and that this shall be free from all but ecclesiastical
services." According to the Saxon laws every tenth strip of land was
set aside for the Church, and _Domesday_ shows that in many villages
there was a priest with his portion of land set apart for his support.

Then there was a _prepositus_, bailiff or reeve, who collected the lord's
rents, assisted by a _bedellus_, beadle or under-bailiff. _Bovarii_, or
oxherds, looked after the plough-teams. The _carpentarius_, or carpenter;
the _cementarius_, or bricklayer; the _custos apium_, or beekeeper; the
_faber_, or smith; the _molinarius_, or miller--were all important
officers in the Norman village; and we have mention also of the
_piscatores_ (fishermen), _pistores_ (bakers), _porcarii_ (swineherds),
_viccarii_ (cowmen), who were all employed in the work of the village
community.

_Domesday Book_ enables us to form a fairly complete picture of our
villages in Norman and late Saxon times. It tells us of the various
classes who peopled the village and farmed its fields. It gives us a
complete list of the old Saxon gentry and of the Norman nobles and
adventurers who seized the fair acres of the despoiled Englishmen. Many
of them gave their names to their new possessions. The Mandevilles
settled at Stoke, and called it Stoke-Mandeville; the Vernons at
Minshall, and called it Minshall-Vernon. Hurst-Pierpont, Neville-Holt,
Kingston-Lysle, Hampstead-Norris, and many other names of places
compounded of Saxon and Norman words, record the names of William's
followers, who received the reward of their services at the expense of
the former Saxon owners. _Domesday Book_ tells us how land was measured
in those days, the various tenures and services rendered by the tenants,
the condition of the towns, the numerous foreign monasteries which
thrived on our English lands, and throws much light on the manners and
customs of the people of this country at the time of its compilation.
_Domesday Book_ is a perfect storehouse of knowledge for the historian,
and requires a lifetime to be spent for its full investigation.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM OF A MANOR]



CHAPTER XI

NORMAN CASTLES

Castle-building--Description of Norman castle--A Norman household--
Edwardian castles--Border castles--Chepstow--Grosmont--Raglan--Central
feature of feudalism--Fourteenth-century castle--Homes of chivalry--
Schools of arms--The making of a knight--Tournaments--Jousts--Tilting
at a ring--Pageants--"Apollo and Daphne"--Pageants at Sudeley Castle
and Kenilworth--Destruction of castles--Castles during Civil War period.


Many an English village can boast of the possession of the ruins of an
ancient castle, a gaunt rectangular or circular keep or donjon, looking
very stern and threatening even in decay, and mightily convincing of the
power of its first occupants. The new masters did not feel very safe in
the midst of a discontented and enraged people; so they built these huge
fortresses with strong walls and gates and moats. Indeed before the
Conquest the Norman knights, to whom the weak King Edward the Confessor
granted many an English estate, brought with them the fashion of
building castles, and many a strong square tower began to crown the
fortified mounds. Thence they could oppress the people in many ways, and
the writers of the time always speak of the building of castles with a
kind of shudder. After the Conquest, especially during the regency of
William's two lieutenants, Bishop Odo and Earl William Fitz-osbern, the
Norman adventurers who were rewarded for their services by the gift of
many an English manor, built castles everywhere. The wretched men of
the land were cruelly oppressed by forced labour in erecting these
strongholds, which were filled "with devils and evil men." Over a
thousand castles were built in nineteen years, and in his own castle
each earl or lord reigned as a small king, coining his own money, making
his own laws, having power of life and death over his dependants, and
often using his power most violently and oppressively.

[Illustration: OLD SARUM]

The original Norman castle consisted of a keep, "four-square to every
wind that blew," standing in a bailey court. It was a mighty place with
walls of great thickness about one hundred and fifty feet high. It
contained several rooms, one above the other. A deep well supplied the
inhabitants with water. Spiral stone steps laid in the thickness of the
wall led to the first floor where the soldiers of the garrison resided.
Above this was the hall, with a chimney and fireplace, where the lord
of the castle and his guests had their meals, and in the thickness of
the wall there were numerous chambers used as sleeping-apartments and
garderobes, and the existence of a piscina in one of these shows that it
was a small chapel or oratory. The upper story was divided by wooden
partitions into small sleeping-rooms; and unlike our modern houses, the
kitchen was at the top of the keep, and opened on the roof.

Descending some stone steps which led from the ground floor in ancient
time we should visit the dungeons, dark, gloomy, and dreadful places,
where deep silence reigns, only broken by the groans of despairing
captives in the miserable cells. In one of these toads and adders were
the companions of the captive. Another poor wretch reposed on a bed of
sharp flints, while the torture-chamber echoed with the cries of the
victims of mediaeval cruelty, who were hanged by their feet and smoked
with foul smoke, or hung up by their thumbs, while burning rings were
placed on their feet. In Peak Castle, Derbyshire, a poor, simple squire,
one Godfrey Rowland, was confined for six days without either food or
drink, and then released from the dungeon with his right hand cut off.
In order to extract a heavy ransom, to obtain lands and estates, to
learn the secrets of hidden treasure, the most ingenious and devilish
tortures were inflicted in these terrible abodes.

[Illustration: A NORMAN CASTLE
(1) The dungeon.
(2) Chapel.
(3) Stable.
(4) Inner bailey.
(5) Outer bailey.
(6) Barbican.
(7) Mount.
(8) Soldiers' lodgings.]

The same style of castle-building continued for a century and a half
after the Norman Conquest. It is possible to distinguish the later keeps
by the improved and fine-jointed ashlar stonework, by the more frequent
use of the stone of the district, instead of that brought from Caen, by
the ribs upon the groins of the vaulting of the galleries and chambers
in the walls, and by the more extensive use of ornaments in the bosses,
windows, doors, and fireplaces. The style of the decoration approaches
the Early English character.

The walls of the keep were not the only protection of the fortress. A
moat surrounds the whole castle, crossed by a drawbridge, protected
on the side remote from the castle by a barbican. High walls with an
embattled parapet surround the lower court, or ballium, which we enter
by a gate defended by strong towers. A portcullis has to be raised, and
a heavy door thrown back, before we can enter; while above in the stone
roof of the archway there are holes through which melted lead and pitch
can be poured upon our heads, if we attempt to enter the castle as
assailants. In the lower court are the stables, and the mound where the
lord dispenses justice, and where criminals and traitors are executed.
Another strong gateway flanked by towers protects the inner court, on
the edge of which stands the keep which frowns down upon us as we enter.

An immense household was supported in every castle. Not only were there
men-at-arms, but also cooks and bakers, brewers and tailors, carpenters,
smiths, masons, and all kinds of craftsmen; and all the crowd of workers
had to be provided with accommodation by the lord of the castle. Hence
a building, in the form of a large hall, was erected sometimes of stone,
usually of wood, in the lower or upper court for these soldiers and
artisans, where they slept and had their meals.

A new type of castle was introduced during the reigns of the three
Edwards. The stern, massive, and high-towering keep was abandoned, and
the fortifications arranged in a concentric fashion. A fine hall with
kitchens occupied the centre of the fortress; a large number of chambers
was added, and the inner and outer courts both defended by walls, as we
have already described, were introduced. The Edwardian castles of
Caernarvon and Beaumaris belong to this type of fortress.

[Illustration: BROUGHTON CASTLE]

The border counties of Wales are remarkable for the number and beauty
of their ancient castles. On the site of British earthworks the Romans
established their camps. The Saxons were obliged to erect their rude
earthen strongholds in order to keep back the rebellious Welsh, and
these were succeeded by Norman keeps. Monmouthshire is famous for its
castles; out of the eleven hundred erected in Norman times twenty-five
were built in that county. There is Chepstow Castle, with its early
Norman gateway spanned by a circular arch flanked by round towers. In
the inner court there are the gardens and ruins of a grand hall, and in
the outer the ruins of a chapel with evidences of beautifully groined
vaulting, and also a winding staircase leading to the battlements. In
the dungeon of the old keep at the south-east corner of the inner court
Roger de Britolio, Earl of Hereford, was imprisoned for rebellion
against the Conqueror, and in later times Henry Martin, the regicide,
lingered as a prisoner for thirty years, employing his enforced leisure
in writing a book in order to prove that it is not right for a man to be
governed by one wife. Then there is Grosmont Castle, the fortified
residence of the Earl of Lancaster; Skenfrith Castle; White Castle, the
_Album Castrum_ of the Latin records, the Landreilo of the Welsh, with
its six towers, portcullis, and drawbridge flanked by massive tower,
barbican, and other outworks; and Raglan Castle, with its splendid
gateway, its Elizabethan banqueting-hall ornamented with rich stone
tracery, its bowling-green, garden terraces, and spacious courts, an
ideal place for knightly tournaments in ancient days. Raglan is
associated with the gallant defence of the castle by the Marquis of
Worcester in the Civil War.

The ancient castles of England were the central feature of feudal
society. They were the outward and visible sign of that system. M.
Guizot in his _History of Civilisation_ says, "It was feudalism which
constructed them; their elevation was, so to speak, the declaration of
its triumph." On the Continent they were very numerous long before
castle-building became the fashion in England, and every suzerain saw
with displeasure his vassal constructing his castle; for the vassal thus
insured for himself a powerful means of independence. The Norman barons
in the troublous times of Stephen lived a life of hunting and pillage;
they were forced to have a fortified retreat where they might shut
themselves up after an expedition, repel the vengeance of their foes,
and resist the authorities who attempted to maintain order in the
country.

Others followed the example of the barons. The townsfolk fortified their
towns, monks their monasteries; and even within the town-walls many
houses had their towers and gates and barriers in order to keep back
troublesome visitors.

Here is a description of a French castle in the fourteenth century:--

"First imagine to yourself a superb position, a steep mountain,
bristling with rocks, furrowed with ravines and precipices; upon the
declivity is the castle. The small houses which surround it set off its
grandeur; the river seems to turn aside with respect; it forms a large
semicircle at its feet. This castle must be seen when, at sunrise, the
outward galleries glimmer with the armour of the sentinels, and the
towers are shown all brilliant with their large new gratings. Those high
buildings must be seen, which fill those who defend them with courage,
and with fear those who should be tempted to attack them.

"The door presents itself covered with heads of boars or wolves, flanked
with turrets and crowned with a high guard-house. Enter, there are three
inclosures, three moats, three drawbridges to pass. You find yourself in
a large square court, where are cisterns, and on the right and left the
stables, hen-houses, pigeon-houses, coach-houses; the cellars, vaults,
and prisons are below; above are the dwelling-apartments; above these
are the magazines, larders, or salting-rooms, and arsenals. All the
roofs are bordered with machicolations, parapets, guard-walks, and
sentry-boxes. In the middle of the court is the donjon, which contains
the archives and the treasure. It is deeply moated all round, and can
only be entered by a bridge, almost always raised. Although the walls,
like those of the castle, are six feet thick, it is surrounded up to
half its height with a chemise, or second wall, of large cut stones.
This castle has just been rebuilt. There is something light, fresh,
laughing about it, not possessed by the heavy massive castles of the
last century."

One would scarcely expect to hear a castle described as "light, fresh,
laughing"; yet so a fourteenth-century castle seemed to eyes accustomed
to the gloomy, stern, and massive structures of the eleventh and twelfth
centuries. In these no beauty or display of art was attempted. Defence
and safety were the only objects sought after in the construction of our
ancient strongholds.

Strange as it may seem, these castles were the birthplaces and homes of
chivalry. Women were raised to an exalted position, and honoured and
reverenced by knights and warriors. A prize won in a tournament was
esteemed of vastly greater value, if it were bestowed upon the
successful combatant by some lady's hand. "Queens of Beauty" presided at
these contests of knightly skill and daring. The statutes and ordinances
for jousts and tournaments made by John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, at
the command of Edward IV., conclude thus: "Reserving always to the
queenes highness and the ladyes there present, the attributing and gift
of the prize after the manner and forme accustomed." If a knight was
guilty of any impropriety of conduct, he was soundly beaten by the other
knights, in order to teach him to respect the honour of the ladies and
the rights of chivalry.

In the days of chivalry a knight vowed in somewhat extravagant language
eternal love to his particular lady fair, wore her glove or her guerdon
on his helmet, and swore to protect it with his life. Family ties and
domestic joys were cultivated. The wife of a knight was often herself a
warrior. Fair ladies have donned armour and followed their lords to the
Crusades; and often during her lord's absence at the wars in France, or
Scotland, or the Holy Land, the wife would defend his fief and castle,
and sometimes was called upon to withstand a siege, when some
neighbouring lord coveted the fair estates of the absent warrior, and
sought to obtain them by force of arms.

The castles also were schools, not of learning, but of arms and
chivalry, where the sons of vassals were trained in all the qualites
that become a knight. The sons of vassals were sent to the castle of the
suzerain to be brought up with his sons. Numerous reasons have been
assigned for the origin of this custom, which we need not now enumerate.
The practice, however, became general, and concerning it an ancient work
entitled _L'ordre de la Chevalerie_ records:--

"It is fitting that the son of the knight, while he is a squire, should
know how to take care of a horse; and it is fitting that he should serve
before and be subject to his lord; for otherwise he will not know the
nobleness of his lordship when he shall be a knight; and to this end
every knight shall put his son in the service of another knight, to the
end that he may learn to carve at table and to serve, and to arm and
apparel a knight in his youth. According as to the man who desires to
learn to be a tailor or a carpenter, it is desirable that he should have
for a master one who is a tailor or a carpenter; it is suitable that
every nobleman who loves the order of chivalry, and wishes to become and
be a good knight, should first have a knight for a master."

When the young squire attained the age of manhood he was admitted to the
honour of knighthood, which was bestowed upon him with much ceremony and
dignity. First he was divested of his garments and put in a bath, a
symbol of purification; then they clothed him in a white tunic, a symbol
of purity, in a red robe, a symbol of the blood which he was bound to
shed in the service of the faith; and then in a close black coat, a
reminder of the death which awaited him. Then he was obliged to observe
a fast for twenty-four hours, and in the evening entered the church and
there passed the night in prayer. On the morrow after confession and the
receiving of Holy Communion, he heard a sermon upon the duties of
knighthood, and then advancing to the altar presented his sword to the
priest, who blessed it. Kneeling before his lord he was asked, "With
what design do you desire to enter into the order? If it is in order to
become rich, to repose yourself, and to be honoured without doing honour
to chivalry, you are unworthy of it, and would be to the order of
chivalry what the simoniacal priest is to the prelacy."

His answers being satisfactory, knights, or ladies, advance and clothe
him with the equipments of his order, spurs, the hauberk or coat of
mail, the cuirass, the vambraces and gauntlets, and lastly his sword.
Then his lord gives him three blows of a sword on his shoulder, saying,
"In the name of God, of Saint Michael, and Saint George I dub thee
knight," adding, "Be brave, adventurous, and loyal." He then mounts his
horse, caracoles about, brandishing his lance, and afterwards in the
courtyard he repeats the performances before the people ever eager to
take part in the spectacle.

[Illustration: TOURNAMENT]

The young knight was now able to take part in the jousts, and all kinds
of chivalric displays, which were common and frequent. Many castles
have, like that at Carisbrooke, a tilting-ground within the walls; but
great and important tournaments were held outside the castle. Richard I.
appointed five special places for the holding of tournaments, namely
between Sarum and Wilton, between Stamford and Wallingford, between
Warwick and Kenilworth, between Brakely and Mixeberg, and between Blie
and Tykehill. There was much pomp and ceremony attached to these
knightly exercises. The lists, as the barriers were called which
inclosed the scene of combat, were superbly decorated, and surrounded by
pavilions belonging to the champions, ornamented with their arms and
banners. The seats reserved for the noble ladies and gentlemen who came
to see the fight were hung with tapestry embroidered with gold and
silver. Everyone was dressed in the most sumptuous manner; the minstrels
and heralds were clothed in the costliest garments; the knights who were
engaged in the sports and their horses were most gorgeously arrayed. The
whole scene was one of great splendour and magnificence, and, when the
fight began, the shouts of the heralds who directed the tournament, the
clashing of arms, the clang of trumpets, the charging of the combatants,
and the shouts of the spectators, must have produced a wonderfully
impressive and exciting effect upon all who witnessed the strange
spectacle.

The regulations and laws of the tournament were very minute. When many
preliminary arrangements had been made with regard to the examination of
arms and helmets and the exhibition of banners, etc., at ten o'clock on
the morning of the appointed day, the champions and their adherents were
required to be in their places. Two cords divided the combatants, who
were armed with a pointless sword and a truncheon hanging from their
saddles. When the word was given by the lord of the tournament, the
cords were removed, and the champions charged and fought until the
heralds sounded the signal to retire. It was considered the greatest
disgrace to be unhorsed. A French earl once tried to unhorse our King
Edward I., when he was returning from Palestine, wearied by the journey.
The earl threw away his sword, cast his arms around the king's neck, and
tried to pull him from his horse. But Edward put spurs to his horse and
drew the earl from the saddle, and then shaking him violently, threw him
to the ground.

The joust (or just) differed from the tournament, because in the former
only lances were used, and only two knights could fight at once. It was
not considered quite so important as the grand feat of arms which I have
just described, but was often practised when the more serious encounter
had finished. Lances, or spears without heads of iron, were commonly
used, and the object of the sport was to ride hard against one's
adversary and strike him with the spear upon the front of the helmet, so
as to beat him backwards from his horse, or break the spear. This kind
of sport was of course rather dangerous, and men sometimes lost their
lives at these encounters. In order to lessen the risk and danger of the
two horses running into each other when the knights charged, a boarded
railing was erected in the midst of the lists, about four or five feet
high. The combatants rode on separate sides of this barrier, and
therefore they could not encounter each other except with their lances.
Sometimes two knights would fight in mortal combat. If one knight
accused the other of crime or dishonour, the latter might challenge him
to fight with swords or lances; and, according to the superstition of
the times, the victor was considered to be the one who spoke the truth.
But this ordeal combat was far removed from the domain of sport.

When jousts and tournaments were abandoned, tilting on horseback at a
ring became a favourite courtly amusement. A ring was suspended on a
level with the eye of the rider; and the sport consisted in riding
towards the ring, and sending the point of a lance through it, and so
bearing it away. Great skill was required to accomplish this surely and
gracefully. Ascham, a writer in the sixteenth century, tells us what
accomplishments were required from the complete English gentleman of the
period:--

"To ride comely, to run fair at the tilt or ring, to play at all
weapons, to shoot fair in bow, or surely in gun; to vault lustily, to
run, to leap, to wrestle, to swim, to dance comely, to sing, and play of
instruments cunningly; to hawk, to hunt, to play at tennis, and all
pastimes generally which be joined to labour, containing either some fit
exercises for war, or some pleasant pastime for peace--these be not only
comely and decent, but also very necessary for a courtly gentleman to
use."

In the days of pageants and royal progresses these old castles were the
scenes of very lively exhibitions of rustic histrionic talent. The
stories of Greek and Roman mythology were ransacked to provide scenes
and subjects for the rural pageant. Shepherds and shepherdesses, gods
and goddesses, clowns and mummers, all took part in the rural drama
which kings and queens delighted to honour. When Queen Elizabeth visited
the ancient and historic castle of Sudeley, great preparations were made
for the event, and a fine classical pageant was performed in her
presence, a sketch of which may not be without interest.

The play is founded on the old classical story of Apollo and Daphne. The
sun-god Apollo was charmed by the beauty of the fair Daphne, the
daughter of a river-god, and pursued her with base intent. Just as she
was about to be overtaken, she prayed for aid, and was immediately
changed into a laurel tree, which became the favourite tree of the
disappointed lover. The pageant founded on this old classical legend
commenced with a man who acted the part of Apollo, chasing a woman who
represented Daphne, followed by a young shepherd bewailing his hard
fate. He, too, loved the fair and beautiful Daphne, but Apollo wooed her
with fair words, and threatened him with diverse penalties, saying he
would change him into a wolf, or a cockatrice, or blind his eyes. The
shepherd in a long speech tells how Daphne was changed into a tree, and
then Apollo is seen at the foot of a laurel tree weeping, accompanied by
two minstrels. The repentant god repeats the verse:--

  "Sing you, play you; but sing and play my truth;
  This tree my lute, these sighs my note of ruth:
  The laurel leaf for ever shall be green,
  And chastity shall be Apollo's queen.
  If gods may die, here shall my tomb be placed,
  And this engraven, 'Fond Phoebus, Daphne chaste.'"

A song follows, and then, wonderful to relate, the tree opens, and
Daphne comes forth. Apollo resigns her to the humble shepherd, and then
she runs to Her Majesty the Queen, and with a great deal of flattery
wishes her a long and prosperous reign.

Such was the simple play which delighted the minds of our forefathers,
and helped to raise them from sordid cares and the dull monotony of
continual toil. In our popular amusements the village folk do not take
part, except as spectators, and therefore lose half the pleasure;
whereas in the time of the Virgin Queen the rehearsals, the learning the
speeches by heart, the dresses, the excitement, all contributed to give
them fresh ideas and new thoughts. The acting may not have been very
good; indeed Queen Elizabeth did not always think very highly of the
performances of her subjects at Coventry, and was heard to exclaim,
"What fools ye Coventry folk are!" But I think Her Majesty must have
been pleased at the concluding address of the players at Sudeley. After
the shepherds had acted a piece in which the election of the King and
Queen of the Bean formed a part, they knelt before the real queen, and
said--

"Pardon, dread Sovereign, poor shepherds' pastimes, and bold shepherds'
presumptions. We call ourselves kings and queens to make mirth; but when
we see a king or queen we stand amazed. At chess there are kings and
queens, and they of wood. Shepherds are no more, nor no less, wooden.
In theatres workmen have played emperors; yet the next day forgotten
neither their duties nor occupation. For our boldness in borrowing their
names, and in not seeing Your Majesty for our blindness, we offer these
shepherds' weeds; which, if Your Majesty vouchsafe at any time to wear,
it shall bring to our hearts comfort, and happiness to our labours."

When the queen visited Kenilworth Castle, splendid pageants were
performed in her honour. As she entered the castle the gigantic porter
recited verses to greet Her Majesty, gods and goddesses offered gifts
and compliments on bended knee, and the Lady of the Lake, surrounded
by Tritons and Nereids, came on a floating island to do homage to the
peerless Elizabeth and to welcome her to all the sport the castle could
afford. For an account of the strange conduct of Orion and his dolphin
upon this occasion, we refer our readers to Sir Walter Scott's
_Kenilworth_; and the lover of pageants will find much to interest him
in Gascoigne's _Princely Progress_.

The glories of our ancient castles have passed away; some indeed are
preserved, and serve as museums, or barracks, or the country house of
some noble lord; but most of them are in ruins. All traces of many a
Norman castle have completely vanished. There was once a castle at
Reading, but the only relics of it are the names Castle Hill and Castle
Street. The turbulent barons made such terrible use of their fortresses
during the troublous times of the civil war in Stephen's reign that in
the more settled reign of Henry II. they were deprived of this means of
oppression and their castles destroyed wholesale. The civil war in the
reign of Charles I. was also another great cause of the destruction of
these old fortresses. They were of great service during the progress of
the war to those who were fortunate enough to possess them, and many of
them in spite of Cromwell's cannon were most gallantly held and stoutly
defended. Donnington Castle, Berkshire, was bravely held in spite of a
prolonged siege during all the time that the war lasted by gallant
Colonel Boys, who beat off the flower of the Parliamentary army; and
when in obedience to the King's command he yielded up the castle, he and
his brave garrison marched out with all the honours of war, having
earned the respect of both friend and foe. Many other castles could tell
the story of similar sieges in the days when "the gallants of England
were up for the King."

But these brave sieges were the cause of their destruction. Cromwell
when in power recognised their strength; they were too dangerous, these
castles, and must be destroyed. His cannon-balls had rattled against
their stone walls without much effect during the war; but their fate was
sealed with that of their King, and the gunpowder of Cromwell's soldiers
was soon employed in blowing up the walls that resisted him so long, and
left them battered and smoking ruins.

Since then the ivy has grown over them to hide their nakedness. Forlorn
and lonely the ruined castle stands. Where once loud clarion rang, the
night owls hoot; vulgar crowds picnic where once knights fought in all
the pride and pomp of chivalry. Kine feed in the grass-grown bailey
court; its glory is departed. We need no castles now to protect us from
the foes of our own nation. Civil wars have passed away, we trust, for
ever; and we hope no foreign foeman's foot may ever tread our shores.
But if an enemy threatened to attack England her sons would fight as
valiantly as in the brave days of old, though earthen ramparts have
replaced the ancient castles and iron ships the old wooden walls of
England.



CHAPTER XII

MONASTERIES

Beautiful surroundings--Benefits conferred by monasteries--Charity--
Learning--Libraries--Monks not unhappy--Netley--Cluny--Alcuin--
Monastic friendships--St. Bernard--Anselm--Monks shed happiness
around them--Desecration--Corruption of monasteries--Chaucer's
prior--Orders of monks--Plan of a monastery--_Piers Ploughman's_
description of a monastery--A day in a monastery--Regulations as
regards blood-letting--The infirmary--Food--Hospitium--Chapter-house.


In the neighbourhood of many of our villages stand the ruins of an old
monastery. Who were the builders of these grand and stately edifices?
What kind of men lived within those walls? What life did they lead? We
will try to picture to ourselves the condition of these noble abbeys, as
they were in the days of their glory, before the ruthless hands of
spoilers and destroyers robbed them of their magnificence.

It has often been remarked that the monks knew well how to choose the
most beautiful spots for their monastic houses, establishing them by the
banks of some charming river, surrounded by beautiful scenery and
fertile fields.

They loved the beauties of nature, and had a keen sense for discovering
them. They had a delicate and profound appreciation of the delights of
the country, and loved to describe the beauties that surrounded their
habitations. Nature in its loveliness and wild picturesqueness was a
reflection of God's beauty, a temple of His light and goodness. Moreover
they built their monasteries amidst forests and wild scenery, far from
the haunts of men, seeking solitude, wherein they could renew their
souls by the sweetness of a life of contemplation, and consecrate their
energies to the service of God. In the days of war and bloodshed, of
oppression and lawlessness, holy men found it very difficult to be "in
the world and yet not of it." Within the monastic walls they found
peace, seclusion, solitude; they prayed, they worked, they wrote and
studied. They were never idle. To worship, to labour, to fight as the
_milites Christi_ with weapons that were not carnal, these were some of
the duties of the monks.

The world owes much to these dwellers in monasteries. They rescued the
people from barbarism, and uplifted the standard of the cross. They
emerged from their cells to direct councils, to preach and teach at the
universities, to build churches and cathedrals, and astonish the world
by their skill and learning. Who can tell what services they rendered to
their nation and to all mankind by pouring forth that ceaseless stream
of intercession day and night for the averting of the judgments of
divine wrath which the crimes and follies of men so richly deserved?
"What the sword is to the huntsman, prayer is to the monk," says St.
Chrysostom; and well did they use this weapon for the spiritual and
material benefit of all.

Another great benefit they conferred upon the world was that of charity.
They were the true nurses of the poor. There were no poor laws, and
union workhouses, and hospitals. The monks managed to supply all the
wants of all who suffered from poverty, privation, and sickness. "The
friendship of the poor constitutes us the friends of kings," says St.
Bernard; "but the love of poverty makes kings of us." They welcomed in
their ranks poor men, who were esteemed as highly as those of noble
birth on entering the cloister. All men were equal who wore the monk's
robe.

Amongst other services the monks rendered was the cultivation of
learning and knowledge. With wonderful assiduity they poured forth
works of erudition, of history, of criticism, recorded the annals of
their own times, and stored these priceless records in their libraries,
which have done such good service to the historians of modern times. The
monasteries absorbed nearly all the social and intellectual movement of
the thirteenth century. Men fired with poetical imagination frequently
betook themselves to the cloister, and consecrated their lives to the
ornamentation of a single sacred book destined for the monastery which
gave them in exchange all the necessaries of life. Thus the libraries of
the monastic houses were rich in treasures of beautifully illuminated
manuscripts, which were bound by members of the community. The Abbot of
Spanheim in the fifteenth century gives the following directions to his
monks:--

"Let that one fasten the leaves together, and bind the book with boards.
You, prepare those boards; you, dress the leather; you, the metal
plates, which are to adorn the binding."

[Illustration: NETLEY ABBEY, SOUTH TRANSEPT]

Terrible is it to think of the dreadful destruction of these libraries
at the time of the spoliation of monasteries and of the priceless
treasures which they contained.

We are apt to suppose that the lives of the monks were gloomy, hard,
severe, and that few rays of the sunshine of happiness could have
penetrated the stern walls of the cloister. But this does not appear to
have been the case. The very names of monasteries show that they
rejoiced in their solitude and labour. Netley Abbey was called the
Joyous Place, _loeto loco_; and on the Continent there are many names
which bear witness to the happiness that reigned in the cloister.
Moreover the writings of the monks proclaim the same truth. Cluny is
called by Peter Damien his _hortus deliciarum_ (garden of delights), and
it is recorded that when Peter de Blois left the Abbey of Croyland to
return to France he stopped seven times to look back and contemplate
again the place where he had been so happy. Hear how Alcuin laments on
leaving the cloister for the Court of Charlemagne:--

"O my cell! sweet and well-beloved home, adieu for ever! I shall see no
more the woods which surround thee with their interlacing branches and
aromatic herbs, nor thy streams of fish, nor thy orchards, nor thy
gardens where the lily mingles with the rose. I shall hear no more those
birds who, like ourselves, sing matins and celebrate their Creator, in
their fashion--nor those instructions of sweet and holy wisdom which
sound in the same breath as the praises of the Most High, from lips and
hearts always peaceful. Dear cell! I shall weep thee and regret thee
always."

The life was very peaceful, entirely free from care, and moreover
lighted by the whole-hearted friendships which existed between the
brethren. A chapter might be written on the love of the cloister, which
like that of David for Jonathan, was "wonderful, passing the love of
women." Thus St. Bernard burst out in bitter grief at the loss of a
brother monk:--

"Flow, flow, my tears, so eager to flow! he who prevented your flowing
is here no more! It is not he who is dead, it is I who now live only to
die. Why, oh, why have we loved, and why have we lost each other?"

The letters of Anselm to Lanfranc and Gondulph, his dearest friends,
abound in expressions of the most affectionate regard and deep true
friendship. He writes:--

"How can I forget thee? Can a man forget one who is placed like a seal
upon his heart? In thy silence I know that thou lovest me; and thou
also, when I say nothing, thou knowest that I love thee. What can my
letter tell thee that thou knowest not already, thou who art my second
soul?"

The monks' lot was not sad and melancholy. They loved God and His
service, and rejoicing in their mutual regard and affection were happy
in their love and work. Orderic Vitalis writes, "I have borne for
forty-two years with happiness the sweet yoke of the Lord." Moreover
they shed happiness on those who dwelt around them, on the crowds of
masons and carpenters, traders and workmen, who dwelt under the shadow
of the monastery or farmed the fields of the monastic estates. No
institution was ever more popular; no masters more beloved. They took a
hearty interest in the welfare of all their tenants, and showed an
active sympathy for all. The extent of their charity was enormous. In a
French abbey, when food was scarce, they fed 1,500 to 2,000 poor in the
course of the year, gave monthly pensions to all the families who were
unable to work, entertained 4,000 guests, and maintained eighty monks--a
wonderful record truly.

The influence of the monastery was felt in all the surrounding
neighbourhood--the daily services, the solemn and majestic chants, the
processions, must have created a deep impression on the minds of people.
Many of the great writers and thinkers of subsequent ages have
appreciated the wonderful labours of the monks. Dr. Johnson wrote:--

"I never read of a hermit, but in imagination I kiss his feet; never of
a monastery, but I fall on my knees and kiss the pavement."

And now these noble buildings, hallowed by a thousand memories, exist
only as dishonoured ruins. Some have been pulled down entirely, and the
site used for gaols or barracks. Convicts labour where once monks
prayed. The renowned abbey of Cluny is a racing stable, and Le Bec, the
home of Anselm, has suffered a like profanation. Factories have invaded
some of these consecrated sites. Many have been used as quarries for
generations. All the carved and wrought stone has been cut off, and used
for making bridges and roads and private houses. Nature has covered the
remains with clinging ivy, and creeping plants, and wild flowers, and
legends cluster round the old stones and tell the story of their
greatness and their ruin. The country folk of western Ireland show the
marks on the stones furrowed by the burning tears of the monks when they
were driven out of their holy home. I am describing the condition of the
monasteries in the days of their glory, when the spirit of the religious
orders was bright and pure and enthusiastic. It cannot be denied that
often the immense wealth which kings and nobles poured into the treasury
of the monks begat luxury and idleness. Boccaccio in Italy, and even
Dante, and our own Chaucer, write vigorously against the corruption of
the monks, their luxury, love of sport, and neglect of their duty. Thus
Chaucer wrote of a fourteenth-century prior:--

  "Therefore he was a prickasoure a right:
  Greihounds he hadde as swift as foul of flight:
  Of pricking and of hunting for the hare
  Was all his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
  I saw his sleves purfiled at the hond
  With gris, and that the finest in the loud.
  And for to fasten his hood under his chinne,
  He hadde of gold ywrought a curious pinne:
  A love-knotte in the greter end ther was.
  His head was balled, and shone as any glas,
  And eke his face, as it had been anoint.
  He was a lord full fat and in good point
  His eye stepe, and rolling in his bed,
  That stemed as a forneis of led.
  His botes souple, his hors in gret estat,
  Now certainly he was a fayre prelat.
  He was not pale as a forpined gost.
  A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
  His palfrey was as broune as is a bery."

Many were the efforts to reform the abuses which crept into the monastic
houses. Holy men grieved over the scandals of the times in which they
lived. Many monasteries remained until the end homes of zeal and
religion, and the unscrupulous tools of Henry VIII. could find naught
to report against them. The only charge they could fabricate against
one monastery was "that the monks would do evil, if they could."

The foundation of the various orders of monks shows the efforts which
were from time to time made by earnest men to revive the zeal and
religious enthusiasm characteristic of the early dwellers in
monasteries. The followers of St. Benedict and St. Columba were the
first monks of the western Church who converted the peoples of England,
Germany, Belgium, and Scandinavia. The Benedictines had many houses in
England in Saxon times. In the tenth and eleventh centuries flourished
a branch of the Benedictines, the order of Cluny, who worked a great
religious revival, which was continued in the twelfth by the order of
the Cistercians, founded at Citeaux in Burgundy. Some of our most
beautiful English abbeys--Fountains, Kirkstall, Rievaulx, Tintern,
Furness, and Byland--all belonged to this order. In the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries the new orders of preaching friars founded by St.
Francis and St. Dominic arose, and exercised an immense influence in
the world. They did not shut themselves up in the cloister, but went
everywhere, preaching in the market-places, and tending the sick, the
lepers, and the outcasts. At first they were immensely popular, but
the orders degenerated like their predecessors, and long before the
Reformation laid themselves open to the derision and the scoffs of the
more enlightened men of the age. Since the days of the Friars there
has been no building of monasteries in England. Wealth, luxury, and
corruption had destroyed the early piety of the monks, and rich men
preferred to give their wealth for the purpose of founding colleges
and hospitals, rather than in increasing the number of religious houses.

[Illustration: A MONK TRANSCRIBING]

We will now visit these monasteries, and try to picture them as they
stood in the days of their glory, and see the daily life which the monks
led. The rules of the orders differed somewhat, some being stricter than
others; and likewise the arrangements of the buildings were not all
based upon one plan. The Carthusian monasteries differ widely from those
of the other orders, owing to the rule that each monk should have his
separate cell, wherein he lived and had his food, and only met his
brethren in church and in the chapter-house. We will examine the usual
plan of a monastery, the main buildings of which clustered round the
cloister-court. This was called the paradise, around which was a covered
ambulatory. Here the monks read and wrote, and sometimes had little
spaces partitioned off for studies, with bookstands and cupboards. It
was the great centre of the monastic life. The earlier ambulatories were
open, but in the fourteenth century they had windows looking on to the
cloister-court, filled with stained glass. The monks must have found the
open cloister a somewhat chilly place for writing, and although their
fingers were endured to hardness, had sometimes to abandon their tasks.
Orderic Vitalis tells us that his fingers were so numbed by the cold in
a hard winter that he was obliged to leave his writing until a more
congenial season.

On the north of the cloister-court stood the monastic church, the
grandest and noblest of the monastic buildings, adorned with shrines,
and tombs, and altars. Several of our cathedrals were monastic churches,
and afford us some idea of the splendour and magnificence of these
stately buildings. Many other churches built by the monks, quite as
large and noble as any of our cathedrals, are now in ruins, with only a
wall or a buttress remaining to mark the site of the once noble minster.
The church was usually cruciform, with nave and aisles. East of the
high altar in the choir stood the lady-chapel, and round the choir a
retro-choir, or presbytery. There was a door on the south side of the
church, opposite the eastern ambulatory, for the entrance of the monks.
The south transept formed part of the eastern side of the cloister. On
the same side stood the chapter-house, a large chamber richly ornamented
with much architectural detail, and adorned with mural paintings.
Between the chapter-house and the church there is a narrow room, which
was the sacristy, and on the south of the chapter-house a building in
two stories, the ground floor being the frater-house, where the monks
retired after meals to converse, the upper room being the dortor, or
dormitory, where they slept. A passage often separated the chapter-house
from this building.

On the south side of the cloister-court stood the refectory, a long
room in which the monks took their meals; and on the west was a range
of buildings the use of which differed in various monasteries, in some
for cellars and larders, in others for dormitories. Sometimes this
western building was the _domus conversorum_, or house of the lay
brethren. The abbot's lodging was a fine house, consisting of hall,
chambers, kitchen, buttery, and cellars, capable of entertaining a
large number of guests, and frequently stood on the east side of the
chapter-house quite separate from the other buildings. In small monastic
houses governed by a prior his residence often formed the western side
of the cloister-court. The farmery, or infirmary, where sick monks were
nursed during illness, was a separate building, having its own kitchen,
refectory, and chapel. The hospitium was also a separate building near
the outer gate of the abbey, and consisted of a hall, dormitories, and a
chapel, in which each night a goodly company of guests were entertained
and courteously welcomed by the hospitaller. A high wall surrounded the
abbey precincts, in which was the outer gate, consisting of a porter's
lodge, a prison, and a large room in which the manorial court was held,
or the abbot met the representatives of the townsfolk in order to direct
their affairs and choose their chief magistrate or settle their
differences.

The author of _Piers Ploughman_ gives a description of the appearance of
a monastery in the fourteenth century. As he approached the monastic
buildings he was so bewildered by their greatness and beauty that for a
long time he could distinguish nothing certainly but stately buildings
of stone, pillars carved and painted, and great windows well wrought. In
the centre quadrangle he notices the stone cross in the middle of grass
sward. He enters the minster, and describes the arches as carved and
gilded, the wide windows full of shields of arms and merchants' marks on
stained glass, the high tombs under canopies, with armed effigies in
alabaster, and lovely ladies lying by their sides in many gay garments.
He passes into the cloister, and sees it pillared and painted, and
covered with lead, and conduits of white metal pouring water into bronze
lavatories beautifully wrought. The chapter-house was like a great
church, carved and painted like a parliament-house. Then he went into
the refectory, and found it a hall fit for a knight and his household,
with broad tables and clean benches, and windows wrought as in a church.
And then he wandered and wondered at "the halls full high and houses
full noble, chambers with chimneys and chapels gay," and kitchens fit
for a king in his castle, and their dorter or dormitory with doors full
strong, their fermerye (infirmary) and frater, and many more houses, and
strong stone walls, enough to harbour the queen. The author was
evidently amazed at all the sights which he witnessed in the monastery.

We will now see the monks at work, and spend a day with them in their
monastic home. It is not easy definitely to map out a monk's day. The
difficulty arises in a measure from the want of distinct marks of time.
A monastic day was divided into twelve hours of uncertain length,
varying according to the season; but the religious observances began at
midnight, when the brethren rose at the sound of a bell in the dortor
for the continuous service of Mattins and Lauds. They then retired to
sleep, until the bell again summoned them at sunrise, when Prime was
said, followed by the morning Mass, private masses and confessions, and
the meeting of the Chapter; after this, work; then Tierce; then High
Mass, followed by Sext. A short time was then devoted to reading, during
which the _ministri_ and the reader at table dined; and then the monks
sat down to dinner. This was the first food of the day, though the
weaker brethren were allowed to sustain themselves with wine and water,
or bread steeped in wine. Dinner was followed by a brief rest in the
dormitory. If the monks did not wish to sleep they could read in the
dorter; but they were to be careful not to disturb their resting
brethren by any noise, such as that caused by turning over the leaves of
their books. At one o'clock the bell rang for None, a short service
consisting of a hymn, two psalms, some collects, the Lord's Prayer, and
versicles. Then the brethren washed themselves, had a stoup of wine in
the frater, and worked until Evensong, which was followed by supper.
After supper they read in the cloister until the bell rang for
Collation, which consisted of a reading in the chapter-house, whence
they retired to the fratery for a draught of wine or beer. Then followed
Compline, and then the monks were ready for bed, and retired to the
dortor. Even there rules followed them, and directed them how they were
to take off their shoes, and "to behave with more quiet, self-restraint,
and devotion than elsewhere."

I have not exhausted all the services which the monks attended. In
addition to the principal ones there were several minor functions, at
which devotion to the Blessed Virgin was the chief feature. The life was
hard and the discipline severe; and lest the animal spirits of the monks
should rise too high, the course of discipline was supplemented by
periodical blood-letting. The doctors of the day were firm believers in
the utility of this practice, and perhaps it had special advantages for
dwellers in monasteries. According to the mediaeval metrical treatise on
medicine, _Flos Medicinae_, or _Regimen Sanitatis Salerni_--

  "Spiritus uberior exit per phlebotomaniam."

  "It maketh cleane your braine, releeves your eie,
  It mends your appetite, restoreth sleep,
  Correcting humours that do waking keep;
  And inward parts and sences also clearing
  It mends the voyce, touch, smell, taste, hearing."

According to the _Observances_ of the Augustinian Priory at Barnwell,
Cambridge, each brother was compelled to be bled seven times a year. It
was probably a welcome duty, as the monks enjoyed a regular holiday, and
were solaced with unwonted good fare.

Those who wished to be bled asked leave in Chapter, and having received
a formal licence, attended High Mass. After the gospel they left the
quire, and were bled in the farmery, where they remained three days.
During this period they were excused attendance at the daily services,
except on very special occasions; and minute directions are given for
their personal comfort. They were allowed fire and lights, with suitable
food, eggs and vegetables being specially mentioned; and they might take
exercise within the precincts, and even beyond them, should the prelate
give them leave. The infirmary seems to have been the most cheerful
place in the monastery. Its inmates were "to lead a life of joy and
freedom from care, in comfort and happiness." Conversation was freely
permitted, though sarcastic and abusive language was strictly forbidden.
"Games of dice and chess, and other games unsuitable to those who lead a
religious life, were forbidden"; "because beyond all doubt they are
offensive to God, and frequently give occasion to strife and contention
among those who play them." We notice that invalids were allowed to walk
in the "vineyards"; evidently the monks grew their own grapes, and made
their own wine. The infirmary must have been well frequented. The
complaints which are often specially mentioned as likely to compel the
monks to resort to it are "irksomeness of life in the cloister," "long
continuance of silence," "fatigue in the quire or extension of fasting,"
and "sleeplessness and overwork."

With regard to blood-letting the various orders had different customs.
The Benedictines and Cluniacs had no stated times or seasons for the
operation. The Cistercians prescribe bleeding four times in the year.
The Carthusians were bled five times, and the Dominicans four times in
the year.

The food of the monastery was varied and plentiful. Fish and flesh were
brought to the table, the former being obtained from the monastic
stew-ponds. Fruit was supplied, both raw and cooked, and a good supply
of beer and wine. Wine seems to have been very commonly used, and some
relaxation was evidently permitted in the matter of drink.

The hospitium, or guest-house, is worthy of a visit. Thither flocked a
mixed crowd of knights and dames, monks and clerks, palmers, friars,
traders with their wares, minstrels with their songs, and beggars,
enjoying to the full the hospitality of the monks, who recognised it as
one of their duties "to entertain strangers." The religious houses were,
to a great extent, the inns of the Middle Ages; and when they were
situated on the high roads, the guests were numerous and their
entertainment costly. We are reminded, however, by the _Observances_ of
Barnwell Priory that "by showing hospitality to guests the reputation of
the monastery is increased, friendships are multiplied, animosities are
blunted, God is honoured, charity is increased, and a plenteous reward
in heaven is promised." It was enjoined that the hosteller, or brother
in charge of the hospitium, should have "facility of expression, elegant
manners, and a respectable bringing up; and if he have no substance to
bestow he may at any rate exhibit a cheerful countenance and agreeable
conversation, for friends are multiplied by agreeable words." He had to
provide clean cloths and towels, cups without flaws, spoons of silver,
mattresses, blankets and untorn sheets, pillows, quilts, etc. His duties
are laid down with much minuteness; every morning he was required to go
through the inventory, lest anything should be missing.

The meeting in the chapter-house we must not omit to describe. When all
the brethren had taken their seats, one monk went to the pulpit and read
aloud the martyrology for the day. Then some psalms and collects were
read, and a portion of the monastic rule, and briefs announcing the
deaths of persons in whom the brethren were interested. The _tabula_, or
notice-board, recording the names of those who were responsible for
certain duties, was read; and a sermon followed. After the precentor had
given minute instructions with regard to the reading and singing of the
services for the day, the abbot said: "Speak of your own order." This
was the call to confession; and any brother who was conscious that he
had transgressed any rule, or neglected his duty, came forward and asked
pardon for his fault. This was followed by the report of the _circator_,
whose duty was to play the spy, and discover the faults of the monks.
And after this the brethren accused each other. One brother started up
saying: "I accuse ---- a brother." The accused came forward and stood
before the abbot, waiting patiently for the charge. The accuser then
stated the charge, which was admitted, or denied, by the accused. If the
abbot judged him to be flogged, the culprit might not be flogged by his
accuser. He rose from his knees and modestly divested himself of his
garments, remaining covered from his girdle downwards; and he who
flogged him might not cease till the abbot bade him. Then he helped the
brother to put on his clothes, who bowed to the abbot and went back to
his place. The Chapter, after this exciting interlude, proceeded to
transact the temporal business of the house, and then adjourned.

The chapter-house was often the scene of great events in the history of
England. At Reading Abbey in this noble chamber parliaments were held.
Here Heraclius, the patriarch of Jerusalem, presented to Henry II. the
keys of the Holy Sepulchre, and invoked his aid in the crusade against
the Saracens. Here the bishops assembled and excommunicated Longchamp,
Chancellor and Regent of the country. Here the marriage contract between
John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster was signed, when there were great
rejoicings in the ancient town, and tilts and tournaments took place
daily. These gay scenes must have greatly disturbed the tranquil life of
the monks, and contrasted strangely with their normal condition.

The picture of monastic life, which a study of the records of a
monastery brings before us, is strange and alien to our present ideas;
but it is brightened by a spirit of sincere religion and true charity,
and helps us to understand the attraction of the convent walls in
turbulent and troublous times.



CHAPTER XIII

THE MANOR-HOUSE

Evolution of a country house--Saxon house--Addition of separate
sleeping-chambers--Castles--Tudor houses--Old manor-houses--Secret
chambers--Rectories and vicarages--Duty of hospitality--Kelvedon
Rectory--Allington--Tithe-barns--Alfriston clergy-house--Almshouses--
Hermitages--Little Budworth--Knaresborough--Reclusorium or anchor-hold--
Laindon--Rattenden--Female recluses--Whalley.


The two principal houses in an English village are the manor-house and
the rectory, wherein according to the theories of the modern political
Socialist and agitator "the two arch-tyrants" of the labourers dwell,
the squire and the parson. There is much of interest in the growth and
evolution of the country house, which resulted in the construction of
these old, pleasant, half-timbered granges and manor-houses, which form
such beautiful features of our English villages.

[Illustration: SOUTHCOTE MANOR SHOWING MOAT AND PIGEON-HOUSE]

[Illustration: OCKWELLS MANOR-HOUSE]

In our description of the village in Anglo-Saxon times we gave a picture
of a house of a Saxon gentleman, which consisted mainly of one large
hall, wherein the members of the household lived and slept and had their
meals. There was a chapel, and a kitchen, and a ladies' bower, usually
separated from the great hall, and generally built of wood. In Norman
times the same plan and arrangements of a country house continued. The
fire still burnt in the centre of the hall, the smoke finding its way
out through a louvre in the roof. Meals were still served on tables laid
on trestles, which were removed when the meal was finished. The lord and
lady, their family and guests, dined at the high table placed on the
dais, as in a college hall, the floor of which was boarded. The
household and retainers dined in the space below, which was strewn with
rushes and called "the marsh," which, according to Turner's _History of
Domestic Architecture_, "was doubtless dirty and damp enough to deserve
that name." The timbers of the roof in the better houses were moulded,
the walls hung with tapestry, and at the lower end of the hall was a
screen, above which in later times was the minstrels' gallery. The
screen formed a passage which led into a separate building at right
angles to the hall, containing the cellar, buttery, and kitchen.
Parallel with this at the upper end of the hall was a building of two
stories, one used as a parlour, and the other was called the "great
chamber," where the lady and her guests retired after dining in the
hall.

[Illustration: RICHMOND PALACE]

Later on a greater refinement of domestic customs was introduced. In the
twelfth century a separate sleeping-chamber for the lord was added. The
next century saw him and his lady dining in a room apart from his
servants, a custom which was much satirised by the author of _Piers
Ploughman_, who wrote--

  "Now hath each rich a rule
  To eaten by themselve,
  In a privy parlour
  For poor man sake,
  Or in a chamber with a chimney;
  And leave the chief hall,
  That was made for meals
  Men to eaten in."

Evidently the author did not approve of the new fashion. But the
advantages of the custom were much appreciated by the squires and ladies
of the day, and this process of development led to a multiplication of
rooms, and the diminution of the size of the great hall. The walls were
raised, and an upper room was formed under the roof for sleeping
accommodation. There are many old farmhouses throughout the country,
once manor-houses, which retain in spite of subsequent alterations the
distinguishing features of this mediaeval style of architecture.

[Illustration: DOORWAY AND STAIRCASE, UFTON COURT]

The nobles built their castles as late as the fourteenth century; but
under the Tudor monarchs, when the government of the country was strong
and more settled, fortified dwellings were deemed no longer necessary,
and the great landowners built splendid country houses. English domestic
architecture then reached the period of its highest perfection. Instead
of castles men built palaces, the noblest specimens of our English
style, before it became corrupted. Hatfield House and Hampton Court are
its best examples.

During the fifteenth century the common hall had decreased in
importance; and now in smaller houses it disappeared altogether, and a
grand entrance hall usually took its place. The number of rooms was
increased enormously, and corridors were introduced. The principal
features of an Elizabethan house are the gallery and noble staircase.

[Illustration: THE PORCH, UFTON COURT]

Early in the seventeenth century Inigo Jones introduced the revived
classic style of architecture into England, and entirely altered the
appearance and arrangement of our manor-houses. Palladio was the
originator of this style. The old English model was declared obsolete,
and fashion dictated that Italian villas must supersede the old houses.
These new buildings were very grand with their porticos and colonnades;
but the architects cared little for comfort and convenience. Indeed a
witty nobleman suggested to the owner of one of these new houses that
he had better hire a lodging over the way and look at it.

[Illustration: OLD MANOR HOUSE, UPTON COURT]

The old manor-houses are often surrounded by a moat, and not unfrequently
contain secret rooms and underground passages, which were often used as
places of refuge in troublous times. Those held by recusants usually had
two or three hiding-places ingeniously contrived, which must have baffled
all pursuers, and were needed for the concealment of the Roman Catholic
priest, in the days when his services were proscribed. There are two
cleverly designed hiding-places at Ufton Court, Berkshire, which was held
by the Roman Catholic family of Perkins. In a subterranean vault under an
old house at Hurley, in which the bones of monks were discovered, the
supporters of William of Orange used to meet to plan his succession to
the English Crown. The walls of many of the manor-houses and halls in
Lancashire and Yorkshire could tell of many a plot for the restoration
of the Stuarts to the throne, and of many a deep health drunk to "Bonnie
Charlie," while the chorus rang--

  "He's over the seas and far awa',
  He's over the seas and far awa',
  But of no man we'll stand in awe,
  But drink his health that's far awa'."

The rectories and vicarages scattered over the country have passed
through the same transformation as the manor-houses, which they much
resembled. The rectory was often surrounded by a moat, with an entrance
protected by a gatehouse. The duty of entertaining strangers and
travellers was always duly recognised by the clergy, and entailed a
heavy charge upon their income. Those who lived off the main roads used
to provide accommodation for an occasional guest, but the rectors in the
more frequented districts had frequently to entertain many travellers.
There _is_ a description of the rectory-house of Kelvedon, Essex, in a
deed dated 1356, which runs as follows:--

"One hall situate in the manor of the said abbot and convent
[Westminster] near the said church, with a soler and chamber at one end
of the hall, and with a buttery and cellar at the other. Also one other
house in three parts, namely a kitchen with a convenient chamber in the
end of the said house _for guests_, and a bakehouse. Also one other
house in two parts next the gate at the entrance of the manor for a
stable and cow-house. He [the vicar] shall also have a convenient
grange, to be built within a year at the expense of the prior and
convent. He shall also have the curtilage with the garden adjoining the
hall on the north side enclosed as it is with hedges and ditches."

[Illustration: WINDOW OF SOUTH WING, UFTON COURT]

Here the house for guests is an important feature of the clergyman's
house; and about the same date, in 1352, we find the Bishop of
Winchester ordering the prior and convent of Merton to provide "a
competent manse for the vicar, viz. a hall with two rooms, one at one
end of the hall, and the other at the other end, with a drain to each,
and a suitable kitchen with fireplace and oven, and a _stable for six
horses_, all covered with tiles, and completed within one year, such
place to remain to the use of the said vicar and his successors." Unless
the vicar was a very sporting parson he would not require a stable for
six horses, and this was doubtless intended for the accommodation of the
steeds of his guests.

The descriptions of these old rectory-houses are interesting. The Rector
of Allington, Kent, possessed a house consisting of "a hall, parlour,
and chamber over the parlour, stairs-head, beside the parson's
bedchamber, parson's lodging-chamber, study, chamber behind the chimney,
chamber next adjoining westward, buttery, priest's chamber, servants'
chamber, kitchen, mill-house, boulting-house, larder, entries, women's
chamber; gatehouse, still beside the gate, barn next the gate; cartlage,
barn next the church, garden-house, court." The barn next the church was
probably the tithe-barn. Tithe was then paid in kind; hence a barn was
required to contain the dues of the parishioners. Sometimes these
tithe-barns are very large and long, especially when the tithe-owner was
the abbot of some monastery. Near Reading there is still standing the
barn of the abbey, and at Cholsey, in Berkshire, there is one of the
finest specimens of the kind in England.

[Illustration: STONE TITHE BARN, BRADFORD-ON-AVON]

There still remain several of these old pre-Reformation parsonages and
rectories. The most noted is the clergy-house at Alfriston, Sussex,
which has been carefully preserved. It follows the usual type of
fourteenth-century house, and consists of a fine hall, the lower part
divided off by a screen, a soler of two stories at one end, and a
kitchen at the other. It is built of oak framework, filled in with
"wattle and daub." There is a large chimney and grate in the hall, and
huge beams support the thatched roof. Parsonages of mediaeval times
remain at West Dean, Sussex; at King's Stanley and Notgrove,
Gloucestershire; Wonstone, Hants; Helmsley, Yorkshire; and at several
other places. The Rectory of Shellingford, Berks, though much disguised
by modern additions, is an original fourteenth-century house.

In many villages there are old almshouses founded by pious benefactors
for "poor brethren and sisters." As we enter the quiet courtyard paved
with cobble stones, the spirit of olden days comes over us. The chapel
where daily prayer is said morning and evening; the panelled
dining-hall, with its dark oaken table; the comfortable rooms of the
brethren; the time-worn pump in the courtyard--all recall the memory of
old times, when life was more tranquil, and there was less hurry and
busy bustling.

Sometimes we meet with a curious little house built of stone or timber,
erected along the great highways, near some bridge or ford, wherein a
"holy hermit" once dwelt, and served his generation by directing
travellers to the nearest monastery or rectory, and spent his days in
seclusion and prayer. Such indeed is the traditional idea of the
hermit's life; but the real hermit of the Middle Ages did not always
live a very lonely or ascetic life. He was supported by the alms of the
charitable and did no work, but lived an idle life, endured no
hardships, and escaped not the scoffs of the satirical. _Piers
Ploughman_ tells us of workmen--"webbers and tailors, and carters'
knaves, and clerks without grace, who liked not long labour and light
wages; and seeing that lazy fellows in friars' clothing had fat cheeks,
forsook their toil and turned hermits. They lived in boroughs among
brewers and begged in churches." They had a good house, with sometimes a
chaplain to say daily Mass for them, a servant or two to wait on them,
and plenty of food and drink provided by a regular endowment or the
donations of the charitable. They did not shut themselves up in their
cells and hold no intercourse with their fellow-men; and herein they
differed from the recluses who were not supposed to go outside the doors
of their anchorages. Both males and females were enrolled as recluses,
but only the latter seem to have taken upon themselves the vows of
complete seclusion.

Several of these hermitages remain. There is one at Little Budworth, in
Cheshire, in the park of Sir Philip Egerton. Warkworth has a famous one,
consisting of a chapel hewn out of the rock, with an entrance porch, and
a long, narrow room with a small altar at the east end, wherein the
hermit lived. At Knaresborough, Yorkshire, there is a good example of a
hermitage, hewn out of the rock, consisting of a chapel, called St.
Robert's Chapel, with groined roof, which was used as the living-room of
the hermit. This chapel was the scene of Eugene Aram's murder. At
Wetheral, near Carlisle; Lenton, near Nottingham; on the banks of the
Severn, near Bewdley, Worcestershire, there are anchorages, and also at
Brandon, Downham, and Stow Bardolph, in Norfolk. Spenser in the _Faery
Queen_ gives the following description of a hermit's cell:--

  "A little lowly hermitage it was,
  Down by a dale, hard by a forest's side,
  Far from resort of people that did pass
  In traveill to and froe; a little wyde
  There was an holy Chappell edifyde,
  Wherein the hermite dewly wont to say
  His holy things, each morne and eventyde;
  Hereby a chrystall streame did gently play,
  Which from a sacred fountaine welled forth alway."

Within the churchyard of many a town or village church, and usually
attached to the church, stood a reclusorium, or anchor-hold, wherein a
recluse, male or female, once resided. At Laindon Church, Essex, there
is a fine specimen of a house of this kind attached to the west end.
Generally the anchor-hold was a small room, built of wood, connected
with the church. Frequently there is a room over the porch of a church
which may have been used for this purpose, the recluse living usually in
the church. At Rettenden, Essex, there is a room over the vestry which
has evidently been an anchor-hold. There was a window, now blocked up,
through which the recluse could see the high altar, and the celebration
of the holy mysteries, and another for him to look out, hold converse
with his friends, and receive their alms. The church of St. Patricio,
near Crickhowel, South Wales, has an anchor-hold; also Clifton Campville
Church, Staffordshire; Chipping Norton Church, Oxfordshire; Warmington
Church, Warwickshire; and many churches have rooms over the porch which
were formerly used by recluses. The church itself was frequently the
habitation of the anchorite. There is a notice of a hermit who lived in
St. Cuthbert's Church, Thetford, and performed divine service therein.

Of female recluses we gather many details in the _Ancren Riewle_ of
Bishop Poore of Salisbury, who left very minute directions for the
regulation of their austere and solitary lives. The little cell had an
altar where the anchoress frequently prayed, and through a window saw
the elevation of the Host in the daily Mass. The walls were covered
with mural paintings. There was a table, a fire, and a cat lying before
it. An unglazed window with a shutter was covered by a black curtain,
through which she could converse with anyone outside without being seen.
She was not allowed to put her head out of the open window. "A peering
anchoress, who is always thrusting her head outward, is like an untamed
bird in a cage," says the good bishop. The long hours of solitude were
spent in devotion, working embroidery, reading her few books, talking to
her servant or to those who desired to speak with her through the
curtained window.

The poor caged birds must often have wished to break the bars of their
cage, and occasionally they escaped from their solitary confinement. In
the churchyard of Whalley, Lancashire, there are two cottages which
stand upon the site of a reclusorium, founded by Henry, Duke of
Lancaster, in 1349. Here in the reign of Henry VI. lived one Isole de
Heton, who wearied of her lot, and left the anchor-hold, an example
which was followed by several of her successors. A scandal having
arisen, the hermitage was dissolved.

Many a sad story of ruined hopes and broken hearts could these walls
tell, which were the living tombs of many a devout or erring sister,
who, wounded in the world's war, sought the calm seclusion of a cell,
and found there the peace which elsewhere they had failed to find.



CHAPTER XIV

PARISH CHURCHES

The Porch--Font--Stone benches--Pews--Pulpits--Rood-lofts--Destruction
of--Screens--Royal arms--Chancel--Stalls--_Misereres_--Lectern--High
altar and its furniture--Piscina--Credence--Aumbry--Sedilia--Easter
sepulchre--Reredos--Shrines--Numerous altars--Chantry chapels--
Hagioscopes--Images--Low side windows--Vestries--Vestments--Churches
in olden times--Reading pews--Galleries--Destruction and profanation--
Evils of "restoration."


In the centre of our village stands the church, always the most
important and interesting building in the place. We will suppose that
it has not suffered overmuch at the hands of the "restorers" of the
nineteenth, or the Puritans of the seventeenth, or the spoliators of
an earlier century, so that we may observe all those details which
characterise an ancient church. In spite of all the vandalism which has
taken place, in spite of the changes in ceremonial and forms of worship,
our beautiful old churches still retain relics of the past which time
has spared.

We will enter the church and notice first the porch, often a large
structure with a chamber above. Why was it made so large? According to
the Sarum use several services took place in the porch. Parts of the
baptismal service and of the marriage service and the churching of women
were there performed; hence the porch was an important building, and
it was necessary to make it rather large. Above the door there is
frequently a niche for the image of the patron saint of the church,
which has not usually escaped the destructive hand of the Puritan. The
room over the porch was frequently inhabited by a recluse, as I have
already recorded in the previous chapter. Near the door always stands
the font, signifying that baptism is the entrance to the Church of
Christ. Ancient fonts are large enough to allow the infant to be totally
immersed, and are made of stone or lead. Childrey Church, in our county
of Berks, has a fine cylindrical, leaden font, of Norman date, carved
with figures of bishops. Norman fonts are frequently carved, the
favourite subjects being the Baptism of our Lord, the Twelve Apostles,
and the evangelistic symbols. Early English and Decorated fonts are not
usually carved, but in the Perpendicular style they are rich with
ornamentation, the Seven Sacraments being a not uncommon design. We have
sometimes noticed the symbols of Freemasonry carved on fonts, as at
Bray, in Berkshire. To the same period belong the splendid spire-shaped
font-covers, of immense weight, of which I am sometimes a little
fearful, lest the mechanism by which they are raised should become
damaged, and terrible disaster follow during the progress of a baptismal
service. At Sonning, Berks, there is a small stone desk attached to a
pillar for the service-book to rest on.

The nave of the church is now filled with seats for the use of the
congregation. In early times they do not seem to have been considered
necessary, and until the fourteenth century the stone benches ranged
against the walls were the only seats provided. Even as late as the
fourteenth century it does not appear that many churches had pews, but
in the fifteenth they became general. The hideous monstrosities of
post-Reformation times did not then disfigure our churches. The pews
were low open seats made of oak, sometimes carved at the back, and
panelled, with the ends higher than the rest, and often richly carved.
Many rich men left money in their wills for the _puying_ of churches.

[Illustration: ANCIENT PEW-WORK, TYSOE CHURCH, WARWICKSHIRE]

It was not until the beginning of the seventeenth century that the
fashion of erecting high pews set in, which so disfigured our churches,
and were frequently censured by the authorities. Some of these (as at
Whalley) resemble four-posted beds; others are like cattle-pens, large
square boxes with seats all round, wherein the occupants sit and sleep,
screened from the rest of the congregation. The carving of the woodwork
of these erections is often very elaborate. Modern pews are happily
based upon the more primitive fashion.

Preaching not being considered such an important part of the service in
pre-Reformation times, pulpits in churches of that period were not so
usual as in modern churches. Monastic refectories had pulpits, which the
reader occupied when he read to his brethren during meals. Beaulieu
Abbey has the most ancient pulpit in this country, which evidently
belongs to the thirteenth century.

The churches of Devonshire and Norfolk have wooden pulpits of the
fifteenth century, which were painted and gilded, the figures of the
four doctors of the church--SS. Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory, and
Jerome--being the favourite subjects. In 1603 the churchwardens were
ordered to provide in every church "a comely and decent pulpit." Hence
most of our pulpits date from this period. The sides were panelled and
carved with scrollwork; and at the same time a sounding-board was
introduced. Occasionally the hour-glass which regulated the length of
the preacher's discourse remains, with its beautiful scroll-worked
stand.

The most striking feature of the pre-Reformation Church was the
rood-loft, a narrow long gallery above the beautifully decorated screen,
which separated the chancel from the nave. In this loft was erected the
rood, or figure of our blessed Lord on the cross, together with figures
of the Virgin and St. John on each side. Both the screen and the loft
were richly panelled and ornamented with tracery and carvings, and
before them hung one or more lamps. Sometimes tall candlesticks stood on
pillars on each side of the figures. A staircase of stone, constructed
in the wall near the chancel-arch, led to the rood-loft, and the
blocked-up archway of this rood-stair frequently remains. The priest
stood in the rood-loft to read the gospel and epistle, and sometimes
preached there; official notices were read, and from it the bishop used
to give the Benediction. The rood-cloth, or veil, hid the rood during
Lent, and in some churches we have seen the roller which was used to
raise this veil. A special altar, called the rood-altar, used to stand
under the screen.

[Illustration: EARLY ENGLISH SCREEN, THURCASTON, LEICESTERSHIRE]

The Reformers played havoc with these old rood-lofts and screens, which
were regarded as monuments of idolatry and superstition. The
churchwardens' account-books of many churches bear witness to this
destruction. Those of St. Giles', Reading, tell of certain _items_ "for
pulling down the rood and carting away the rubbish." Instead of the
figure of our Lord they put up the royal arms; and one John Serjente, of
Hytchen, is licensed in 1614--

"to paynte in all the Churches and Chappells, within this Realme of
England, the Kinges Majesties armes in due forme with helme creste
mantell and supporters as they oughte to be--and to wright in fayre text
letters the tenn commandments, the beliefe, and the Lord's prayer, with
some other fruitefull and profitable sentences of holye scripture."

In spite of this destruction of the ancient roods, several lofts still
remain, _e.g._ at Bradninch, Cullompton, Dartmouth, Hartland, Kenton,
Ugborough, and Plymtree, in Devonshire; in several places in
Somersetshire, and at Charlton-on-Otmoor (erected in 1485) and
Handborough, Oxfordshire. A very large number of the old screens remain,
ornamented with the arms of Elizabeth or James I.

Proceeding eastward we enter the chancel, so called because it is
inclosed with _cancelli_, or the lattice-work of the screen. If the
church was formerly connected with some monastery we shall see some
beautifully carved wooden stalls with rich canopies over them. The seats
are curiously constructed. They can be turned up, and beneath the seats
is a projecting bracket of wood, commonly adorned with carved
work--animals, birds, leaves, and flowers, and often with grotesque,
satirical, and irreverent devices. They are called miserere-stalls, and
were used by the monks or canons to lean against during the portions of
the long mediaeval services, when they were not allowed to be seated. As
this practice was a concession to human weakness or infirmity, the seats
were called in France _misericordes_, and in England _misereres_. The
subjects of the sculptures are often extremely curious. Domestic scenes,
fables, such as the "Fox and the Grapes," demons carrying off monks,
"The Seven Deadly Sins," are some of these subjects. Miss Phipson has
published a learned work on _Choir Stalls and their Carvings_, which
contains reproductions of three hundred of her sketches of curiously
wrought _misereres_.

[Illustration: VILLAGE CHURCH IN THE VALE]

The lectern formerly stood in the chancel; and then, as now, was often
in the form of a large eagle, emblematic of St. John. Most of these
reading-desks belong to the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, and are
made of wood, latten, iron, or stone, as well as of brass. There is a
very curious wooden one at East Hendred, Berks, representing a foot
resting on the head of a dragon, emblematic of the word of God
conquering the powers of evil. Ancient wooden double reading-desks are
not uncommon. The ornamentation usually denotes the period when they
were constructed.

And now we approach the high altar of the church, made of stone, covered
with a beautifully worked frontal and cloth, and inclosed at the sides
with curtains suspended on iron rods projecting from the wall. A
crucifix hangs above the altar, and two candlesticks stand, one on each
side. The furniture and accessories of the altar in pre-Reformation
times were numerous. There was the pyx, a box or vessel of precious
metal, in which the Host was reverently preserved for the purpose of
giving communion to the sick and infirm. There were two small cruets or
vessels for containing the wine and water used in Holy Communion, one
engraved with the letter "V" (_vinum_), and the other "A" (_aqua_). An
_osculatorium_, or pax tablet, of ivory or wood, overlaid with gold, was
used for giving the kiss of peace during the High Mass just before the
reception of the Host. Of church plate generally we shall write in a
subsequent chapter.

[Illustration: NORMAN PISCINA, ROMSEY CHURCH, HANTS]

On the south we see the piscina, which is contained in a beautifully
carved niche--a hollow basin with a stone drain, wherein the priest
washed his hands before consecrating the elements, and poured the water
from the rinsed chalice. Above it in the niche was the credence, a shelf
of stone, on which were placed the chalice and paten and all things
necessary for the celebration. In some churches there is a separate
credence table. On the north side was the aumbry, or locker, where the
sacred vessels, altar linen, and service books were kept, guarded by a
strong wooden door. The doors have usually disappeared, but a very large
number of churches have the hole in the wall which was formerly the
aumbry.

On the south side are the sedilia, or stone seats, for the assistant
clergy, frequently with canopies richly carved, and usually three in
number. Opposite to the sedilia in the north wall is a large arch,
within which the holy sepulchre was set up at Easter. This was a wooden
structure made for the deposition of the consecrated elements of the
Eucharist from the evening of Good Friday until the morning of Easter
Day; during which time it was watched by a quasi-guard, after the manner
of our Lord's sepulchre. The books of St. Lawrence, Reading, record:--

"Anno 1498. In primis payed for Wakyng of the Sepulchre viii'd."

"Anno 1510. It. payed to Walter Barton to the new Sepulchur iiii'li
xiii's x'd."

As this sum of money was a considerable one at that period, the
sepulchre must have been an object of unusual magnificence. Sometimes
it was a permanent structure of stone, carved with figures of soldiers
watching the tomb of our Lord. Behind the altar was the reredos. In
village churches these screens were made up of recessed stone panels,
surrounded by sculptured wallflowers and other devices; but in large
churches they were very ornate, enriched with niches, statues,
tabernacle-work, and other adornments. Many of them were destroyed at
the Reformation, together with the stone altars. Some were covered up
and concealed by plaster, in order to preserve them from iconoclastic
violence. They were buried and forgotten, until by some happy accident
their existence was revealed in modern times. Nearly all large churches,
and some village churches, especially those connected with a monastery,
had shrines, or receptacles for the body or relics of a saint. Some
of them were fixed, and made of stone or wood, adorned with rich
tabernacle-work, such as the shrine of St. Cuthbert at Durham, or of St.
Frideswide at Oxford; and others were portable, shaped like coped boxes,
covered with precious metal, enamels, and engraving. Sculptured stones
in the walls of our churches often mark the spot in the building where
relics were stored.

It is evident from the existence of niches and piscinas in other parts
of the church, besides in the south wall near the high altar, that there
formerly existed many altars in the sacred building. At the east end of
each aisle we usually find these indications of the existence of an
altar, which belonged to a chantry chapel, separated from the rest of
the church by a screen. Here a priest said Mass daily for the soul of
the founder of the chantry, his ancestors, and posterity. Ancient stone
altars still remain in some of our churches. Sometimes they have been
removed from their place, and used as tombstones, or in paving the floor
of the church. They can be recognised by the five crosses engraved on
them, one at each corner, and one in the centre of the stone.

Hagioscopes, or squints, are openings in the thickness of the wall,
enabling worshippers in the chantry chapels to witness the elevation of
the Host at the high altar. They are usually plain; but in some churches
we find these curious apertures moulded and decorated with architectural
designs.

Pre-Reformation churches had several wooden images of saints, most of
which were destroyed by the iconoclastic zeal of the Reformers or
Puritans. The brackets on which these figures stood often remain, though
the images have disappeared.

[Illustration: LOW SIDE WINDOW, DALLINGTON CHURCH, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE]

Low side windows, commonly called "Lepers' windows," are very frequently
found in our churches, and usually on the south wall of the chancel.
Their object has been, and is, much disputed among antiquaries. The
vulgar idea is that poor lepers used to come to this window to see the
celebration of the Mass; but unfortunately it is quite impossible in
many cases to see the high altar through this window, and moreover
lepers were not allowed to enter a churchyard. Another idea is that
they were used as confessionals, the priest in the church hearing the
confession of the penitent who knelt on the grass in the churchyard.
A more inconvenient arrangement could not have been devised; and this
idea might be at once dismissed, were it not that one of Henry's
commissioners for suppressing monasteries and chantries wrote: "We think
it best that the place where these friars have been wont to hear outward
confession of all-comers at certain times of the year, be walled up, and
that use to be done for ever." It appears that sometimes at any rate the
low side windows were used for this purpose. However, I am inclined to
think that they were intended for the use of the anchorites or recluses,
who dwelt in churches. The windows were not glazed, but had iron bars on
the outside, and a wooden shutter on the inside of the church. These
windows were probably their means of communication with the outside
world.

Many village churches then, as now, had no vestry. Where a _vestiarium_
existed it was usually on the north side of the chancel, and its
contents were more elaborate than the plain surplice stole and hood of
recent times. In the vestry press we should find an alb of fine white
linen, somewhat similar to a surplice, ornamented with "apparels,"
_i.e._ embroidery, on the cuffs and skirts; a girdle made of white silk
embroidered with colours; an amice, or oblong piece of fine linen, worn
on the head or as a collar; a stole with embroidered ends; a maniple, or
strip of ornamented linen worn by the priest in his left hand during
celebrations; dalmatic, chasuble and other vestments which the ornate
ritual of the mediaeval church required.

Before the Reformation the appearance of our churches was certainly
splendid, and differed much from the Puritan simplicity of later times.
The walls were covered with mural paintings. The windows, soon to be

"Shorn of their glass of a thousand colourings,
Through which the deepened glories once could enter,"

were then resplendent with stained glass. Above, the rood looked down on
all the worshippers. Everywhere there was beautifully carved woodwork,
gilded and painted, tombs of knights and dames all painted and adorned,
altars with rich embroidered hangings. The floor was composed of
encaustic tiles, and had many memorial brasses. Armour, crests, and
banners hung upon the walls. Lights burned before numerous images, and
the whole appearance of our churches was gorgeous and magnificent.

Many changes have taken place since. Coatings of whitewash hide the
mural paintings. Sacrilegious hands "have broken down all the carved
work with axes and hammers." The stone altars have disappeared, and
instead we have "an honest table decently covered." Reading-pews for the
clergy were set up, and in the last century the hideous "three decker,"
which hid the altar and utterly disfigured the sacred building. Instead
of the low open seats great square high pews filled the nave. Hideous
galleries were erected which obstructed the windows and hid the
architectural beauties of former days. The old timber roofs were
covered, and low flat ceilings substituted. Brasses were torn up and
sold by dishonest churchwardens, and old monuments broken and defaced.
The old stained-glass windows were destroyed. The Communion table was
taken from the east end of the chancel, and seats erected round it.
Crosses were defaced everywhere, and crucifixes destroyed. Puritan
profanation and wanton destruction devastated our churches to a degree
which has never been equalled since the hordes of heathens and barbaric
Danish invaders carried fire and sword into the sanctuaries of God.

[Illustration: READING-PEW, SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, LANGLEY CHAPEL, SALOP]

Much harm was done by the Goths and Vandals of the nineteenth century.
Many old churches, replete with a thousand memories of the past, were
pulled down entirely, and modern structures of "Victorian Gothic" style
erected in their place, which can have none of the precious associations
which the old churches had. Much harm was done to the old features of
many churches by so-called "restoration," carried out by men ignorant of
architecture and antiquities. But we are learning better now. The
Society of Antiquaries has done much to prevent injudicious restoration
and the destruction of our old churches, and if any incumbent and his
parishioners are thinking of restoring their church, they cannot do
better than to consult the secretaries of that learned body, who will
show how best to preserve the interesting memorials of the past which
time has spared.



CHAPTER XV

CHURCH PLATE

Spoliation--Few remains of pre-Reformation plate--Testimony of
inventories--Plate found in graves of bishops--Characteristics of
chalices in different periods--Inscriptions--Devices on patens--
Censers--Pyx--Monstrance--Chrismatory--Pax--Sacring bell--Elizabethan
chalice--Bridal cup--Post-Reformation plate--Hall marks.


We have already mourned over the wanton destruction of much that was of
intense interest and value in our churches; but the most systematic
robbery and spoliation of our church goods at the time of the
Reformation were carried out in the matter of church plate. Henry VIII.
stripped our cathedrals and conventual churches of almost all that was
valuable, and the unscrupulous commissioners of Edward VI. performed a
like office for our parish churches and chantries. A large number of
the old chalices were also melted down and converted into Communion
cupsduring the reigns of Edward VI. and Elizabeth. Hence of all the
vast store of church plate which our churches possessed before the
Reformation, at the present time throughout all England only thirty-four
chalices and seventy-three patens remain. It is true that not all the
ancient vessels fell into the hands of the commissioners of the king. In
the churchwardens' account books of the period we read of sundry sales
of church plate. Evidently the parishioners had some presentiment of the
coming spoliation; so they sold their valuables, and kept the proceeds
of the sale for "the paving of the streets," or other parochial
necessities.

The ancient inventories of church goods show the deplorable loss of the
valuables of the church which has taken place. Thus at the church of St.
Lawrence, Reading, in the year 1517, the inventory tells us of the
following: a cross of silver and gilt; a censer of silver gilt; another
censer; a ship of silver for holding incense; another ship of silver;
two candlesticks of silver; two books bound in silver; two basins of
silver; a pyx of silver gilt, with a silver pin; a monstrance of silver
gilt; a silver gilt chrismatory for the holy oil; a pax; two cruets; a
bell; a chalice, with a crucifix enamelled on the foot and the Trinity
on the paten; another chalice, with a crucifix engraved on the foot
and a hand on the paten; another chalice similarly described; another
similar to first chalice; and two others, with a crucifix on the foot
and a vernicle, or _vera icon_ (a representation of our Lord's face
miraculously delineated on the napkin of St. Veronica). All these
vessels were made of silver or silver gilt. Nor were these all the
treasures. There were several reliquaries of silver gilt containing
parts of the holy cross; a gridiron, with a bone of St. Lawrence, and
other articles contained in silver boxes; and many books bound with
silver clasps. The total weight of silver in this church amounted to
seven hundred ounces.

Village churches were, of course, less sumptuously furnished than this
important town church, which being situated under the shadow of one of
the largest and most important abbeys in the kingdom, would receive many
costly gifts and benefactors. But the inventories of village churches
show that there was no lack of plate, rich altar hangings, copes, and
vestments, which helped to swell the goodly heap of spoil. In country
churches in Oxfordshire there were silver chalices and patens, pyxes,
censers, candlesticks, chrismatories, crosses, sanctus bells, and other
articles of plate.

It was the practice in mediaeval times to place in the coffin of a
bishop a chalice and paten; hence some of the earliest specimens of
church plate which we possess have been recovered from episcopal
graves.[3] The Rites of Durham enjoin that on the death of a bishop
he was to be buried "with a little chalice of silver, other metal, or
wax" aid upon his breast within the coffin.[4] Most of these were made
of pewter or lead, but some have been found of silver gilt, latten,
and tin. It is perhaps scarcely necessary for our present purposes to
describe these early specimens of sacred vessels, as the number of them
is so limited; and few of my readers will be able to discover any
mediaeval examples amongst the plate of their own church. However, I
will point out a few peculiarities of the plate of each period.

The earliest chalice, used in the church of Berwick St. James, Wilts,
until a few years ago, and now in the British Museum, dates from the
beginning of the thirteenth century. Its bowl is broad and shallow, the
stem and knot (by which the vessel was held) and foot being plain and
circular. Then the makers (from 1250 to 1275) fashioned the stem and
knot separately from the bowl and foot, and shaped them polygonally.
During the remaining years of the century the foot was worked into
ornate lobes. Then the bowl is deepened and made more conical. About
1350 the custom arose of laying the chalice on its side on the paten to
drain at the ablutions at Mass; and as the round-footed chalices would
have a tendency to roll, the foot was made hexagonal for stability.
Henceforth all the mediaeval chalices were fashioned with a six-sided
foot. By degrees the bowl became broader and shallower, and instead of
the base having six points, its form is a sexfoil without any points.
Several old chalices are engraved with the inscription--

Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen Domini inbocabo.

[Illustration: CHALICE AND PATEN, SANDFORD, OXFORDSHIRE
_Circa_ A.D. 1301]

In one of the compartments of the base there was a representation of a
crucifix, or the Virgin, or ihc, or xpc.

The usual devices on ancient patens were the _Manus Dei_, or hand of
God, in the act of blessing; on later ones the vernicle, or face of our
Lord; the Holy Trinity; the Holy Lamb; the sacred monogram. The oldest
paten in existence is that found at Chichester Cathedral in a coffin,
and its date is about the year 1180. In the centre is a rude engraving
of the _Agnus Dei_, and it bears the inscription--

Agnus Dei qui tollis pecata mundi miserere nobis.

[Illustration: PRE-REFORMATION PLATE
(1) 13th Century
(2) Early 16th Century
(3) Elizabethan
(4) Manus Dei
(5) Vernicle]

The grave of Bishop Grostete at Lincoln yielded up an ancient paten
(1230-53), which has the figure of a bishop vested, the right hand
raised in the act of blessing, the left holding a crozier. The oldest
piece of church plate still in use is a remarkable paten at Wyke Church,
near Winchester, the date of which is about 1280. It bears an engraving
of the _Agnus Dei_ holding a banner, and around the rim is the legend--

CUNTA: CREO: VIRTUTE: REGO: PIETATE REFORMO.

Another favourite inscription was _Benedicamus patrem et filium cum
spiritu sancto_; but on the paten in the church of Great Waltham, Essex,
the important word _spiritu_ is omitted for want of room.

[Illustration: CENSER OR THURIBLE]

We have already mentioned several of the important pieces of church
plate which were in use in mediaeval times. Censers, or thuribles, were
common in all our ancient parish churches, sometimes of gold or silver,
more usually of brass or latten, and were in the shape of a covered vase
or cup, perforated so as to allow the fumes of burning incense to
escape. Most of our English censers are now in museums, but several
ancient ones are still in use in the private chapels of Roman Catholic
families.

Old inventories always mention a pyx, a box or vessel of gold or silver,
in which the Host was reserved for the sick and infirm. It often
resembles a chalice, except that instead of the bowl there is a covered
receptacle for the Host. A beautiful specimen was dug up a few years ago
in the churchyard of Yateley, Hants. Another vessel was the monstrance,
in which the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession, and exposed
on the altar. The form varied. Sometimes monstrances were made in
the shape of a tower, or a covered chalice; sometimes in the form of
images carrying silver pyxes, elaborately ornamented with many jewels.
Processions were always a great feature of mediaeval worship; hence the
monstrance was frequently in use, especially on such occasions as the
celebrations of Corpus Christi Day.

Holy oil was much used in the services, as in the Roman Catholic Church
at the present time. It was blessed by a bishop on Maundy Thursday, and
used in Baptism, Confirmation, and Extreme Unction, as well as at the
Consecration of Churches, Ordination, and the Coronation of Kings. The
vessel for holding the oil was an important piece of church plate, and
was called a chrismatory. Usually there were three distinct vessels, one
for holding the oil for the sick, a second for use at confirmations, and
a third for the baptismal oil. Sometimes these vessels are labelled with
the words EXT. UNC., CAT., and CHR., according to the recommendation of
St. Charles Borromeo, in order that each oil might be kept for its
proper use, and that no confusion might arise.

The pax was a small tablet of silver or other precious metal, used for
giving the kiss of peace during High Mass. The celebrant kissed the
tablet, and held it aloft before all the people. It was usually adorned
with a representation of the _Agnus Dei_. Of the cruets containing wine
and water for the celebration we have already written. Then there was a
sacring bell, often made of silver, which was rung during the service at
the time of the elevation of the Host, and at the sound the congregation
knelt.

We have now examined the aumbry, and noted its contents, upon which the
commissioners in the reign of Edward VI. made such shameful inroads.
Henceforth the plate was confined to a chalice and paten, alms-dish, and
usually a large silver flagon. The form of the chalice was entirely
changed. As we have noticed, the bowl of the pre-Reformation chalices
became smaller and shallower, on account of the gradually introduced
practice of refusing the wine to the laity. Now in the year 1562 the
size of the bowl was greatly enlarged, and the "Communion cup" took
the place of the "Massing chalice." Some poor parishes were obliged to
content themselves with pewter vessels. St. Lawrence's Church, Reading,
had a curious bridal cup, which was carried before all brides who
were married in that church. The custom of drinking wine in the church
at marriages is enjoined in the Hereford Missal, and the Sarum
Missal ordered that the bread immersed in the wine, and consumed by
the company, should first be blessed by the priest. Some of these
post-Reformation vessels are extremely interesting. They record the
thankofferings of pious donors on the occasion of some great event in
the national annals, such as the Restoration, or of some private mercy
vouchsafed to the individual. They record the connection of some family
with the parish, the arms they bore; and the Hall marks tell us of their
date, which is often anterior to the date of the inscription.

Hall marks were first introduced in 1300 by Edward I. in order to keep
up the purity of silver, and consisted of the lion's or leopard's head
crowned. This was called the king's mark. The maker's mark was
introduced in 1363, and was some initial or badge chosen by the
silversmith. To these were added in 1438 the year letter or assayer's
mark, a different letter being chosen for each year. When the alphabet
was exhausted, another with differently shaped letters was begun. In
1545 the lion passant was introduced, and since 1784 the portrait of the
reigning sovereign has appeared. With the assistance of Mr. Cripps' _Old
English Plate_, which contains a list of the alphabets used in marking
plate, it is not very difficult to discover the date of any piece of
silver. Inventories of church plate are being made in many counties and
dioceses, and no more useful work can be undertaken by our local
antiquarian societies.


[3] _Mediaeval Chalices and Patens_, by W.H. St. John Hope and
T.M. Fallow.

[4] Surtees Society, vol. xv. pp. 45, 49.



CHAPTER XVI

MONUMENTAL EFFIGIES AND BRASSES

Reverence for the dead--Cists--Stone coffins--Devices--Introduction
of effigies--Cross-legged effigies--Wooden effigies--Incised
effigies--Brasses--Essentially English--Vast number of brasses--
Palimpsests--Destruction--Costumes and fashions--Ecclesiastics--
Lawyers--Soldiers--Canopies and inscriptions--Punning inscriptions--
Contractions--Emblems--Heraldry.


The pious care which we all love to bestow on the mortal remains of our
nearest and dearest, and the respect and honour with which all men
regard the bodies of departed heroes, kings, saints, and warriors, have
produced a remarkable series of sepulchral monuments, examples of which
may be found everywhere. The cairns and tumuli of the primitive races
which inhabited our island were the results of the same feelings of
reverent regard which inspired the beautifully carved mediaeval
monuments, the memorial brass, or the cross-shaped tombstone of to-day.

I have already mentioned the cromlechs and barrows and other memorials
of the early inhabitants of Britain. We have seen the cists of Saxon
times, the coffins formed of several stones placed together in the form
of a table. The Normans introduced stone coffins for the sepulchre of
their great men, many of which may be seen in our cathedrals and old
conventual churches. On the lids of their coffins they frequently cut a
single cross. When the style of architecture changed to that of the
Early English and Decorated periods, monumental slabs were ornamented
with much greater richness and elaboration, and inscriptions were added,
and also some device which showed the trade, rank, or profession of the
departed. Thus the chalice and paten denoted a priest; a sword showed
the knight; an axe, a forester; an ink-horn, a notary; shears, a wool
merchant.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century it occurred to someone to
preserve the likeness of his departed friend as well as the symbols of
his rank and station. So effigies were introduced upon the surface of
the slabs, and were carved flat; but ere fifty years had passed away the
art of the sculptor produced magnificent monumental effigies. Knights
and nobles lie clad in armour with their ladies by their sides. Bishops
and abbots bless the spectators with their uplifted right hands. Judges
lie in their official garb, and merchants with the emblems of their
trade. At their feet lie animals, usually having some heraldic
connection with the deceased, or symbolical of his work--_e.g._ a dragon
is trodden down beneath the feet of a bishop, signifying the defeat of
sin as the result of his ministry. The heads of effigies usually rest on
cushions, which are sometimes supported by two angels.

A peculiar characteristic of the military effigies in England is that
the knights are often represented with the legs crossed. Many
speculations have been made with regard to the meaning of this fashion
of cross-legged effigy. It is a popular superstition, in which for some
years the writer shared, that such effigies represented Crusaders. We
were told in our young days that when the knight had his legs crossed at
the feet he had gone to the Crusades once; when at the knees, that he
had been to two Crusades; and when crossed at the thighs, he had been
thrice to rescue the Holy City from the hands of the infidels. All this
seemed very plausible and interesting, but it is undoubtedly a myth.
Many known Crusaders have their effigies with uncrossed legs, and many
who never went to the Crusades have cross-legged effigies. Moreover,
there are no such monuments in any foreign country which swelled the
army of Crusaders. Hence we must abandon the pleasing superstition, and
reconcile ourselves to the fact that no particular signification can be
assigned to these cross-legged effigies, and that only fashion prompted
the mediaeval sculptors to adopt this attitude for their figures. This
mode prevailed until about the year 1320.

At the close of the fifteenth century the art of making monumental
effigies degenerated together with the skill of the architects of that
period. We see the husband and wife kneeling facing each other, with a
faldstool before each figure. A company of small figures below the
effigies represent the children, the boys on one side, the girls on the
other.

Early wooden effigies were also in use. There is one much battered by
the careless hands of former generations of villagers in the rural
church of my parish of Barkham. The artists often used much colour,
gilding, and enamel in making these effigies; and often rich canopies
were erected over them, containing fine tabernacle-work and figures of
saints in niches.

Another form of effigy was commonly in use, in addition to the figures
just described. These are called incised effigies, which were cut
in outline upon flat slabs of stone, the lines being filled in with
enamelled metals. Thorton Abbey, Lincolnshire, and Brading, in the Isle
of Wight, have examples of this work. But the great expense of these
enamels, and also their frailty when exposed in the pavements of
churches, led to the use of brass; and hence arose the introduction of
memorial brasses for which our country is famous.

We owe the application of brass to memorial tablets to the artists of
Flanders, and the date of their introduction is about the middle of the
thirteenth century. The execution of almost all of our English brasses
is due to native artists. Foreign brasses are usually of great size,
and consist of a quadrangular sheet of metal, on which is engraved
the figure, usually under a canopy, the background being ornamented
with rich diaper, foliage, or scrollwork, and the incisions filled
with colouring. Several brasses in England conform to this style of
workmanship, and are evidently the production of foreign artists. The
English brasses, on the contrary, consist of separate pieces, with an
irregular outline, corresponding with that of the figure. They have no
brass background; and for delicacy of engraving and general appearance
the English brasses are by far the best.

The names of the makers of brasses have been almost entirely lost. Two
only bear marks which are supposed to be those of the engraver. No other
country can boast of so large a number of these memorials as England, in
spite of the hard usage they have received and their wanton destruction.
About four thousand remain; and constantly we find the matrices cut in
stone slabs, from which brasses have been torn; so that we may assume
that quite as many have been destroyed as those which survive. The
southern and eastern counties are most richly furnished with these
monuments, whereas the western and northern counties have but few
brasses. Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Kent are the most rich in this
respect. The earliest brass of which we have any record is that of
Simon de Beauchamp, who died before 1208. This is mentioned by Leland.
The earliest brass now in existence is that of Sir John D'Aubernown at
Stoke Dabernon, Surrey, which was fashioned in 1277. In the fourteenth
century a very large number of brasses, remarkable for their beauty of
form and execution, were made. The artistic workmanship began to decline
in the fifteenth century, and in the following became utterly degenerate.

It was not an uncommon practice for subsequent generations to appropriate
the memorials of their predecessors. Such brasses are called palimpsests.
By the carelessness of churchwardens, by fraud, or spoliation, brasses
were taken from the churches, and acquired by some maker in the town.
When a new one was required, the tradesman would take from his stock,
and on the reverse engrave the figure of the individual whose memory he
was called upon to perpetuate. Hence when brasses are taken up from the
pavements, frequently the remains of a much earlier memorial are found on
the reverse side. There is an example of this curious method of procedure
at St. Lawrence's Church, Reading, where on the reverse of a brass to the
memory of Walter Barton was found the remains of the brass of Sir John
Popham, who was buried at the Charterhouse, London. This monastery was
dissolved in 1536, the monuments sold, Sir John Popham's brass among them,
which was evidently soon converted into a memorial of Walter Barton.

Sometimes the original brass was appropriated as it lay, the figure
being slightly altered to suit the style of costume prevalent at the
later date. In other cases the engraver did not even trouble himself to
alter the figure, and simply added a new inscription and shield of arms.

The wanton destruction and gross neglect of churchwardens, both before
and after the Reformation, were very great. At St. Mary's Church,
Reading, the accounts tell a sad tale of the disgraceful damage in the
year 1547:--

"Receyvid of John Saunders for iii cwt lacking ix'li of metall that was
taken upp of the graves, and of olde candlestycks at vi's the hundred
xlvj's ii'd."

Evidently a clean sweep was made of most of the memorial brasses in the
church, and few escaped destruction. The tale is too familiar. Most
churches have suffered in the same way.

The study of brasses throws much light upon the costumes and fashions of
the day when they were engraved. We see priests, who may be recognised
by the tonsure and vestments, amongst which we find the alb, amice,
stole, maniple, and chasuble. The pastoral staff, ring, mitre, sandals,
tunic, dalmatic, and gloves mark the graves of bishops and mitred
abbots.

A close skull-cap, a long robe with narrow sleeves, a hood, tippet, and
mantle buttoned on the right shoulder, compose the dress of judges and
officers of the law, as depicted on brasses. The changes in the fashion
and style of armour, which took place between the fourteenth and the
seventeenth centuries, are all accurately represented in these
memorials; and also the picturesque costumes of ladies with their
curious headgear; and the no less various fashions of the male
civilian's dress. A study of brasses is an admirable guide to the
prevailing style of dress during the periods of their construction.

The beautiful canopies over the heads of the figures are well worthy of
attention, and also the inscriptions. These usually take the form of
Latin verses; and although many were written by learned abbots and
scholars, the classical knowledge displayed is somewhat faulty. Here
are a few examples:--

Respice quid prodest precentis temporis aebum
Omne quod est, nichil est, preter amare deum.

Sometimes the author of the inscription recorded his name, as did the
learned Dame Elizabeth Hobby on a brass at Shottesbrooke, which runs--

O multum dilecte senex, pater atqz bocate,
  Del quia grandaebis, bel quia probus eras.
Annos bixisti nobies decem, atqz satelles
  Fidus eras regum, fidus erasqz tuis.
Iam satis functus baleas, sed tu, deus alme,
  Sic mihi concedas bibere siqz mori.

Variety was added sometimes by jumbling together various languages,
Norman-French, Latin, and English being often oddly combined.

People in the Middle Ages loved punning and playing upon the sound of
words. Thus a brass to the memory of Thomas Hylle (or Hill) has some
verses beginning "_Mons_ in valle jacet." John Day, the printer, had a
very extravagant and jocular epitaph beginning--

"Here lies the Daye that darkness could not blynd."

"He set a Fox to wright how Martyrs runne
By death to lyfe"--

alluding to his publication of Foxe's _Book of Martyrs_. His widow
probably married a man named Stone. Hence we read--

"Als was the last encreaser of his store,
Who mourning long for being left alone,
Sett upp this tombe, her self turned to a Stone."

"Orate pro anima," or "of your charite pray for the soul of ----" were
usual inscriptions.

It is somewhat difficult for the unpractised eye to read inscriptions on
brasses, owing to the contractions and omissions of letters. Thus _m_
and _n_ are often omitted, and a line is placed over the adjoining
letter to indicate the omission. Thus a=ia stands for _anima_, leg=u for
_legum_. The letter _r_ is also left out. Z stands for _que_, and there
are many other contractions, such as D=ns for _Dominus_, D=s for _Deus_,
E=ps for _Episcopus_, g=ia for _gratia_, m=ia for _misericordia_, and
many others.

The study of the emblems and devices is full of interest. Of
ecclesiastical emblems we have the symbols of the Holy Trinity--God the
Father represented as an aged person, holding a crucifix on which the
dove, an emblem of the Holy Spirit, is alighting--representations of our
Lord, angels, saints,[5] evangelists, the fylfot cross, roses, and
figures of Death. Sometimes the figure on the brass holds a heart in his
hand, which indicates a response on the part of the deceased to the old
invitatory "Sursum corda."

The armorial bearings of the deceased are usually represented on
brasses, and also personal or professional devices. The founders of
churches hold representations in miniature of the churches which they
founded. Bishops and abbots have a pastoral staff; priests, a chalice,
or a book; wool merchants have woolpacks beneath their feet, and other
tradesmen have similar devices denoting their special calling.
Merchants' marks also frequently appear; and the mediaeval taste for
punning is shown by frequent rebuses formed on the names of the
deceased, _e.g._ a peacock, for one named Pecok; a fox, for a Foxley;
four tuns and a cross, for Master Croston.

England may well be proud of the brass memorials of her worthy sons and
daughters. It is, however, terribly sad to see the destruction which
fanatical and greedy folk have wrought on these beautiful monuments.
As we have already noticed, the spoliators of the Reformation period
accomplished much wanton destruction, and removed tombs "for greedinesse
of the brasse." Cromwell's soldiers and commissioners did a vast deal
more damage, violating sepulchres and monuments, and destroying brasses
everywhere. A third cause of the defacement and loss of these valuable
memorials has been the gross carelessness of churchwardens and
incumbents, who during any alterations or restoration of their churches
have allowed them to be sold, destroyed, or appropriated by the
builders. Truly we have entered upon a diminished inheritance. It
behoves us to preserve with the utmost vigilance and care the memorials
which fanaticism, greed, and carelessness have spared.


[5] The following are the principal emblems of the Apostles:--
St. Andrew, a cross saltier; St. Bartholomew, a knife; St. James the
Great, a pilgrim's staff, wallet, escallop shell; St. James the Less, a
fuller's bat, or saw; St. John, a chalice and serpent; St. Jude, a boat
in his hand, or a club; St. Matthew, a club, carpenter's square, or
money-box; St. Matthias, a hatchet, battle-axe, or sword; St. Paul, a
sword; St. Peter, keys; St. Philip, a tau cross, or a spear; St. Simon,
fishes; St. Thomas, an arrow or spear.



CHAPTER XVII

THE PARISH CHEST

Contents of the parish chest--Parish registers--Effect of Civil War--
Burials in woollen--"Not worth £600"--Care bestowed upon registers--
Curious entries--Astrology--Gipsies--Jester--Heart-burial--Plagues--Royal
visits--Licences for eating flesh, for to be touched for king's evil--
Carelessness of custody of registers--Churchwardens' account books--Their
value--Curious entries--Sports and pastimes--Paschall money--Brief
books--Strange entries in registers and account books--Dog-whippers--
King's evil--Treating bishops and poor scholars of Oxford.


The parish chest in the vestry usually contains many documents, which
are of profound interest to the student of village antiquities. It
contains the old churchwardens' account books, the parish registers,
lists of briefs, and often many other papers and records which bear on
the history of the parish. The old register books record the names of
past generations of villagers, and many curious facts about the parish
and its people, which are not found in the dull dry columns of our
modern books.

Parish registers were first ordered by Thomas Cromwell in the year 1538,
and from that date many of our registers begin.[6] But all vicars did
not obey the injunctions of Viceregent Cromwell; they were renewed by
Edward VI. in 1547 and by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, and most of our old
register books begin with this date. James I. ordered that the registers
should be written over again in a parchment book, the entries previously
having been recorded on paper. Hence many of our books, although they
begin with the year 1538, are really copies of the paper records made
previous to 1603.

The disturbances of the Civil War period caused much neglect in the
keeping of the registers. The incumbent was often driven away from his
flock, and parish registrars were chosen by the parishioners and
approved and sworn before a justice of the peace. Here is a record of
this business taken from the books of this parish:--

"Whereas Robtr Williams of the prish of Barkham in the County of Berks
was elected and chosen by the inhabitants of the same prish to be there
prish Register, he therefore ye sd Ro: Wms was approved and sworne this
sixteenth day of November 1653. Ri: Bigg, J.P."

Henceforth the children are registered as having been _born_, not
_baptised_, until the Restoration brought back the clergyman to his
flock again, and the entries are written in a scholarly hand, and the
disorder of the previous years ceases.

In 1679 an Act was passed requiring that the dead should be buried in
woollen, the purpose being to lessen "the importation of linen from
beyond the seas, and the encouragement of the woollen and paper
manufacturers of this kingdom." A penalty of £5 was inflicted for a
violation of this Act; and as frequently people preferred to be buried
in linen, a record of the fine appears--_e.g._ at Gayton,
Northamptonshire, where we find in the register--

"1708. Mrs. Dorothy Bellingham was buryed April 5, in _Linnen_, and the
forfeiture of the Act payd fifty shillings to ye informer and fifty
shillings to ye poor of the parishe."

Pope wrote the following lines on the burial of Mrs. Oldfield, the
actress, with reference to this custom:--

  "Odious! in woollen! 'twould _a_ saint provoke
  (Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke);
  No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace
  Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face."

Sometimes after the name in the register is added the words, "Not worth
£600." This refers to the Act of William III. in 1694, which required
that all persons baptised, married, or buried, having an estate of that
value, should pay a tax of twenty shillings. The money was required for
carrying on the war with France, and the Act was in force for five
years. This description of the personal estate was not intended to be
invidious, but was of practical utility in enforcing the Act.

The parish registers reflect with wonderful accuracy the life of the
people, and are most valuable to the student of history. Clergymen took
great pride in recording "the short and simple annals of the poor." A
Gloucestershire rector (1630 A.D.) wrote in his book the following good
advice which might with advantage be taken in many other villages:--

"If you will have this Book last, bee sure to aire it att the fier, or
in the Sunne, three or four times a yeare--els it will grow dankish and
rott, therefore look to it. It will not be amisse when you find it
dankish to wipe over the leaves with a dry wollen cloth. This Place
is very much subject to dankishness; therefore I say looke to it."

A study of the curious entries which we occasionally find conveys much
remarkable information. Sometimes, in the days of astrology, in order
to assist in casting the nativity, it is recorded that at the time of
the child's birth "the sun was in Libra," or "in Taurus." Gipsies were
evidently numerous in the sixteenth century, as we constantly find
references to "the roguish AEgyptians." The domestic jester finds
his record in the entry: "1580. March 21, William, fool to my Lady
Jerningham." The suicide is "infamously buried." Heart-burial is often
recorded, as at Wooburn, Bucks: "1700. Cadaver Edi Thomas, equitis
aurati, hic inhumatum fuit vicessimo tertio die Junii."

Records of the visitations of the plague are very numerous in all parts
of England, as at Egglescliffe, Durham: "1644. In this year there died
of the plague in this towne one and twenty people; they are not all
buried in the churchyard, and are not in the Register." Sometimes masses
of human bones are found buried in fields outside towns and villages,
memorials of this devastating plague.

Parish clerks have not always had very musical voices when they shout
out the "Amens." The Rector of Buxted, Sussex (1666 A.D.), records with
a sigh of relief the death of his old clerk, "whose melody warbled forth
as if he had been thumped on the back with a stone."

Sometimes royal visits to the neighbourhood are recorded, even a royal
hunt, as when James I. hunted the hare at Fordham, Cambridgeshire. The
register of Wolverton gives "a license for eating flesh on prohibited
days granted to Sir Tho. Temple, on paying 13s. 4d." Storms,
earthquakes, and floods are described; and records of certificates
granted to persons to go before the king to be touched for the disease
called the king's evil.

The Civil War is frequently mentioned, and also caused the omission of
many entries. At Tarporley, Cheshire, there is a break from 1643 to
1648, for which the rector thus accounts:--

"This intermission hapned by reason of the great wars obliterating
memorials, wasting fortunes, and slaughtering persons of all sorts."

Parish registers have fared ill and suffered much from the gross
carelessness of their custodians. We read of the early books of Christ
Church, Hants, being converted into kettle-holders by the curate's wife.
Many have been sold as waste paper, pages ruthlessly cut out, and
village schoolbooks covered with the leaves of old registers. The
historian of Leicestershire writes of the register of Scraptoft:--

"It has not been a plaything for young pointers--it has not occupied a
bacon scratch, or a bread and cheese cupboard--it has not been scribbled
on within and without; but it has been treasured ever since 1538, to the
honour of a succession of worthy clergymen."--_O si sic omnes_!

The churchwardens' account books are even of greater value to the
student of history than the registers, priceless as the latter are
for genealogical purposes. The Bishop of Oxford states that "in the
old account books and minute books of the churchwardens in town and
country we possess a very large but very perishable and rapidly
perishing treasury of information on matters the very remembrance
of which is passing away, although their practical bearing on the
development of the system of local government is indisputable, and
is occasionally brought conspicuously before the eye of the people
by quaint survivals.... It is well that such materials for the
illustration of this economic history as have real value should be
preserved in print; and that the customs which they illustrate should
be reclaimed by History from the misty region of folklore, whilst they
can." Many of these account books date from pre-Reformation times,
and disclose the changes which took place in the fabric of our churches,
the removal of roods and other ecclesiastical furniture, during the
Reformation. They are usually kept with great exactness, and contain
an accurate record of the receipts and expenditure for each year. Some
of the entries are very curious, and relate to the sports and pastimes
of our ancestors, the mystery plays, and church ales, which were all
under the patronage of the churchwardens. The proceeds of these
entertainments were devoted to the maintenance of the church, and
were included in the accounts, as well as the necessary cost of the
merry diversions. Thus in the books of St. Lawrence's Church, Reading,
we find such items as the following:--

                                                  s. d.
"1499. Paid for a coat for Robin Hood             5  4
         "  for a supper to Robin Hood and
               his company                        1  6
         "  for making the church clean
               against the day of drinking
               in the said church                    4"

"1531. Paid for five ells of canvass for a coat
            for Maid Marian                       1  6-1/4"

"Bells for the Morris dancers," "liveries and coats," "bread and ale,"
"horse-meat of the horses for the kings of Colen on May Day," are some
of the items which appear in these books.

Another book tells us about the "Gatherings" at Hock-tide, when on one
day the men stopped the women, and on the next the women the men, and
refused to let them go until they gave money. The women always succeeded
in collecting the most money.

                                                  s. d.
"It'm.  receyved of the men's gatherynge          7  3
   "       "       "    women's gatherynge       37  5"

Traces of this custom are still found in many country places. The
practice of "hocking" at Hungerford and "lifting" in Lancashire subsist
still, but the money collected is no longer devoted to any pious uses.

The item "Paschall money at Easter" frequently occurs. This was
originally a collection for the Paschal taper, which burned before the
high altar at Eastertide. When, in the reign of Elizabeth, the taper was
no longer used, the money was devoted to buying the bread and the wine
for the Easter Communion. Another item which often appears is a payment
of "Smoke farthings" to the bishop of the diocese at his Visitation
Court. This is another name for Peter's pence, formerly given to the
Pope. In the accounts of Minchinhampton we find the entry under the year
1576: "For Pentecost money, otherwyse peter pence, sometyme payed to
Antecryst of Rome xvi'd." After the Reformation the tax was collected,
but given to the bishop.

There are very many other points of interest which a study of the
churchwardens' books presents. In more recent times we find constant
payments for the slaughter of sparrows, and many other items which
scarcely come under the head of ecclesiastical charges.[7] But of course
the vestry was then the council chamber of the parish, which managed all
the temporal affairs of the village community. Possibly, in these days
of Poor Law Unions, District and County Councils, our affairs may be
managed better; but there is much to be said in favour of the older
system, and Parish Councils are not much of an improvement on the old
vestries.

Another book which our parish chest contains is the Brief Book. Briefs
were royal letters which were sent to the clergy directing that
collections be made for certain objects. These were very numerous and
varied. The building of St. Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire, a
fire at Drury Lane Theatre, rebuilding of churches, the redemption of
English slaves taken by pirates, the construction of harbours in
Scotland, losses by hail, floods, French refugees, Reformed Episcopal
churches in Great Poland and Polish Prussia, Protestants in Copenhagen,
loss by fire, colleges in Philadelphia--these and many other objects
were commended to the liberality of Churchmen. The sums collected were
usually very small, and Pepys wrote in his _Diary_, June 30th, 1661:--

"To church, when we observe the trade of briefs is come now up to so
constant a course every Sunday that we resolve to give no more to them."

The granting of briefs gave rise to much abuse, and they were finally
abolished by the advice of Lord Palmerston.

The contents of the parish chest afford an unlimited mass of material
for those who love to study the curious customs of our forefathers and
their strange usages. Here is a record of a much-married person:--

"Mary Blewitt, ye wife of nine husbands successively, buried eight of
ym, but last of all ye woman dy'd and was buried, May 7th 1681."

In the margin of the register is written, "This was her funeral text."

The register of Sparsholt, Berks, records an instance of the body of a
dead man being arrested for debt. The entry is:--

"The corpse of John Matthews, of Fawler, was stopt on the churchway for
debt, August 27, 1689. And having laine there fower days, was by
Justices warrant buryied in the place to prevent annoyances--but about
sixe weekes after it was by an order of Sessions taken up and buried in
the churchyard by the wife of the deceased."

A dog-whipper was an ancient parish official, whose duty was to drive
out all dogs from the church. The Wakefield accounts contain the
items:--

"1616. Paid to Gorby Stork for whippinge          s. d.
    doggs                                         2  6"

"1703. For hatts shoes and hoses for sexton
    and dog-whipper                              18  6"

Another official was the person appointed to arouse members of the
congregation from their slumbers during divine service. The parish
accounts of Castleton record:--

                                                  s. d.
"1702. Paid to sluggard waker                    10  0"

Sometimes the cost of a journey to London was
defrayed by the parish in order to enable a sufferer
to be touched for the king's evil. The Ecclesfield
accounts contain the following entry relating to this
custom:--

"1641. Given to John Parkin wife towards her
    travell to London to get cure of his Majestie
    for the disease called the Evill, which her   s. d.
    Sonen Thorn is visited withall                6  8"

The clergymen were required to keep a register of all who were so
touched, in order that they might not again go to the king and receive
the bounty which accompanied the touch. Hence we read in the register of
Hambleden, Bucks:--

"1685. May 17, Mary Wallington had a certificate to goe before the King
for a disease called the King's Evil."

The treating of bishops and clergy is often noticed in the accounts.
Sometimes a sugar-loaf was presented, as at St. James', Bristol:--

"1629. Paid for a sugar loaf for the Lord Bishop 15's 10'd"

Sometimes items relate to their refreshment:--

"1593. Pd for a galland of beer given to the
    Beishopp of Hereford                            iiii'd"

"1617. Pd for a quart of wine and sugar bestowed
    upon two preachers                                 x'd"

The status of students at the Universities was not so high in former
days as at present, and poor scholars used to beg their way to Oxford
and Cambridge, and receive the assistance of the charitable. Hence we
read in the Leverton accounts:--

"1562. Gave to a pore scholar at Oxford.            2s. 0d."

With this record of "a pore scholar" we must leave our study of the
contents of the parish chest, which afford such valuable and accurate
information about village and town life of ancient times.


[6] 812 registers begin in 1538, 40 of which contain entries prior to
that date. 1,822 registers date from 1538 to 1558, and 2,448 from
1558 to 1603.

[7] In the Whitchurch books we find: "1671. Paide for a coate and
wastcoate for good wife Clarke 13s., also for linen and shoes; to the
Chiurgeons for looking at Ezechiell Huller's legg £3." And such-like
entries.



CHAPTER XVIII

STAINED GLASS, TILES, AND MURAL PAINTINGS

Destruction of old windows--Wilfrid's glass-window makers--Glass,
stained and painted--Changes in style--Work of foreign artists--Inlaid
tiles--Ironwork on doors and screens--Norman hinges--Mediaeval
plumbing work--Mural decoration, frescoes, and wall-painting--Cause
of their destruction--St. Christopher--Consecration crosses--Norman
art--Favourite subjects--Yew trees in churchyards--Lich-gates--The
churchyard--Curious epitaphs.


No branch of archaeology is more interesting than the study of our
stained-glass windows, which illustrate so clearly the faith, history,
and customs of our ancestors. We have again to thank the fanatics of
the Reformation and Cromwellian periods for the shameful destruction
of so many beautiful windows. How great has been the loss to art and
history caused by their reckless demolition! And in addition to this
miserable violence our windows have suffered greatly from the ignorant
indifference of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which allowed
priceless examples of old glass to be removed and replaced by the
hideous specimens of the modern glass-painters.

In Saxon times this art found a home in England, the _artifices
lapidearum et vitrearum fenestrarum_ having been invited to this country
by Wilfrid, Bishop of York, in 709. The earliest specimen of ancient
glass now in existence is in the choir-aisles of Canterbury Cathedral,
where it was probably fixed when the cathedral was rebuilt after the
fire in 1174.

Coloured glass is of two kinds: (1) _Stained glass_, made by mixing
metallic oxides with the glass when in a state of fusion, the colours
thus going through the whole mass; (2) _Painted glass_, in which
colouring is laid upon the white or tinted glass, and fixed by the
action of fire. As the style of architecture changed, so the art of the
glass-painter changed with it. In the Early English period the colours
were very rich, and the designs consisted of medallions containing
subjects taken from Holy Scripture, or the lives of the saints, upon
grounds of ruby and blue. Mosaic patterns form the groundwork of the
medallions, and a border of scrolls and foliage incloses the whole
design. The outlines of the figures are formed by the lead. In the
Decorated period the medallions disappear, and in their place we find
single figures of large size under canopies. Instead of the mosaic
backgrounds diaper-work in whole colours is used. Lights and shades are
introduced in the dresses and canopies, and foliage is painted on the
panes. The artists of this period first introduced heraldic devices into
the windows. A border of white glass intervenes between the window and
the medallion.

When the Perpendicular style was in vogue the art of the glass-painter
degenerated, as did that of the architect. Stained glass was little
used, and the artists painted with enamel colours their designs upon the
glass. The figures were larger than before, and the canopies of great
size and with much architectural detail, landscapes and buildings
appearing in the background. During this period inscriptions began to be
used. In the sixteenth century the progress of the art was in the same
direction. Large figures, and groups of figures, fill the whole window,
and the existence of mullions is disregarded in the execution of the
design. Glass-painting flourished until the Civil War period, and then
died out.

English churches benefited much by the work of foreign artists. The
great Florentine Francesco di Lievi da Gambassi visited this country.
There is a letter dated 1434, written "to the master glass-painter
Gambassi, then in Scotland, and who made works in glass of various
kinds, and was held to be the best glass-painter in the world." How much
must we regret the destruction of the windows made by this excellent
artist in Holyrood chapel and elsewhere by fanatical mobs! The Fairford
windows are perhaps the finest and most interesting in England. The
story runs that they were made in Germany for a church in Rome, and that
the vessel conveying them was captured by an English ship; and as the
noble church at Fairford was then being built, the glass was sent there
and given to it. Shiplake Church, Oxfordshire, has some of the beautiful
glass which once adorned the ruined church of St. Bertin at St. Omer,
plundered during the French Revolution.

Some good work was accomplished in the seventeenth century by English
artists, who practised enamel painting, notably by Jervais, who in 1717
executed from designs by Sir Joshua Reynolds the beautiful west window
of New College Chapel, Oxford.

The floors of our churches were enriched with inlaid tiles. Various
patterns and designs were impressed upon them when the clay was moist, a
metallic glaze covered the surface, and then the tiles were placed in
the furnace. Many designs are found on ancient tiles, such as heraldic
devices, monograms, sacred symbols with texts, architectural designs,
figures, and patterns. The age of the tiles may be determined by
comparing the designs imprinted upon them with the architectural
decorations belonging to particular periods. In the sixteenth century
many Flemish tiles were brought to England, and superseded those of
English manufacture.

In the Middle Ages no branch of art was neglected. Even the smith, who
made the ironwork for the doors, locks, and screens, was an artist, and
took pains to adapt his art to the style of architecture prevailing in
his time. Norman doors are remarkable for their beautifully ornamented
hinges. They have curling scrollwork, and a large branch in the form of
the letter C issuing from the straight bar near the head. Early English
doors have much elaborate scrollwork, with foliage and animals' heads.
During the Decorated period the hinges are simpler, on account of the
carved panelling on the doors, and they continue to become plainer in
the subsequent period. The knockers on the doors often assume very
grotesque forms, as at Durham Cathedral. The mediaeval plumber was also
an artist, and introduced shields of arms, fleur-de-lis, and other
devices, for the enrichment of spires, and pipes for carrying off water
from the roof.

[Illustration: THE ANNUNCIATION, ENBORNE CHURCH]

No part of the ancient decoration of our churches has suffered more than
the paintings and frescoes which formerly adorned their walls. In the
whole of the country there are very few of the ancient edifices which
retain any traces of the numerous quaint designs and figures painted on
the inner surfaces of their walls during the Middle Ages. Our ancestors
used to make free use of colour for the purpose of architectural
decoration, and employed several means in order to produce the effect.
They sometimes used fresco, by means of which they produced pictures
upon the walls covered with plaster while the plaster was wet. Sometimes
they employed wall-painting, _i.e._ they covered the walls when the
plaster was dry with some pictorial representation. The distinction
between fresco and wall-painting is frequently forgotten. Most of the
early specimens of this art are monochromes, but subsequently the
painters used polychrome, which signifies surface colouring in which
various colours are employed. The vaulted ceilings, the timber roof, the
screens and canopies, the monuments with their effigies, as well as the
surface of the walls, were often coloured with diaper-work. Colour and
gilding were marked features in all mediaeval buildings, and even richly
carved fonts and sculptural monuments were embellished with this method
of decoration. The appearance of our churches in those times must have
been very different from what it is now. Then a blaze of colour met the
eye on entering the sacred building, the events of sacred history were
brought to mind by the representations upon the walls, and many an
unlearned rustic acquired some knowledge of biblical history from the
contemplation of the rude figures with which his village church was
adorned.

"Even the very walls of this dread place,
And the tall windows, with their breathing lights,
Speak to the adoring heart."

The practice of painting the walls of our churches dates as far back as
Saxon times; but very few fragments of pre-Norman art remain. Of Norman
work we have numerous examples, and sometimes it is found that the early
specimens of the art have been painted over in later Gothic times, and
ruder and larger figures have eclipsed the more careful work of previous
ages. An example of this was discovered in the church of St. Lawrence,
Reading, where no less than five distinct series of paintings were
discovered, painted one over another.

[Illustration: THE CRUCIFIXION, HATFORD, BERKS]

Several circumstances have combined to obliterate these specimens of the
art of former days. It was not the intention of the Reformers themselves
to destroy them. They distinguished carefully between "an embossed and
gilt image, and a process of a story painted with the gestures and
action of many persons; and commonly the sum of the story written withal
hath another use in it than one dumb idol or image standing by itself."
It was left to the Puritans, impelled by fanaticism and ignorance, to
make "a slanderous desolation of the places of prayer," and it is to
them we owe much of the destruction of the old mural paintings. At the
end of the eighteenth century there was a prejudice against these works
of art; for in 1773 we find the Bishop of London refusing to allow
Reynolds, West, and Barry to clothe the naked walls of St. Paul's
Cathedral with pictures painted by themselves. Coated over by layers of
plaster, or whitewashed until all traces were obliterated, these relics
of ancient art have remained for generations, and it is only when an old
church is being restored, and the coats of plaster and whitewash
removed, that their presence is revealed; and then too often the colours
fade away on exposure to the air.

[Illustration: ST. PAUL, KINGSTON LISLE]

One of the favourite subjects of mural decoration was a figure of St.
Christopher with the Infant Saviour on his shoulder.[8] He usually has a
staff, and strange-looking fish swim about his feet as he crosses the
river; on one side there is a hermitage, with the figure of a hermit
holding a lantern to guide the saint, and on the other a windmill. This
figure usually was painted on the wall opposite the principal entrance,
as it was deemed lucky to see St. Christopher on first entering a
church. Moreover the sight of the saint was a preservative against
violent death during the day, and also a preventive against drowsiness
during the service, as the following verses show:--

  "Christophori sancti speciem quicunque tuetur
  Illo namque die nullo languore tenetur."

Churchwardens' accounts record the painting of these figures--

"1503-4.  It. payd to mylys paynter for payntyng
              of Seynt X'fer viii's iiii'd"

"1521.    It. payd to John Payne for payntyng
              of Sent Leonard left by the wyffs
              onpaynted xx'd"

A curious order was issued by Edward III. for arresting painters to work
in St. Stephen's Chapel at Westminster, to which artists of every
description were liable to surrender as often as the king required their
services.

[Illustration: ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, KINGSTON LISLE]

In Saxon times Consecration crosses were painted on the interior walls,
twelve in number, on the spots where the bishop marked the cross with holy
oil; and sometimes twelve crosses were carved or painted on the exterior
walls. During Norman times the art made progress, and there are many
specimens of mural decoration of this period, which correspond with the
mouldings generally used then; but not many scenes and figures were
depicted. Representations of bishops, _Agnus Dei_, scenes from the life of
our Lord, the apostles, the Last Judgment, St. George, scenes from the
life of St. Nicholas, St. John writing the Apocalypse, were favourite
subjects. At Copford the painter evidently tried to make the chancel
figuratively to represent the glories of heaven.

During the reign of Henry III. great progress was made, and travelling
monks roamed the country leaving behind them in many a village church
traces of their skill in artistic decoration. The murder of St. Thomas of
Canterbury now became a favourite subject, also the lives of St. Catherine
of Alexandria, St. Nicholas, St. Margaret, St. Edmund, the Seven Acts of
Mercy, and the wheel of fortune. In the fourteenth century the Doom was
the usual decoration of the space over the chancel arch, and scenes from
the New Testament, legends of saints, "moralities," etc., were depicted on
the walls. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the artists paid
little respect to the work of their predecessors, and frequently painted
new designs over the earlier mural decorations. They also adorned very
beautifully the roofs and screens. The arrival of the Flemings in the
eastern counties is shown by the portraying of subjects and saints not
usually worshipped in England. The figures of St. George become more
numerous and also of St. Christopher, who were regarded with much
superstitious reverence by all classes.

The vanity of human greatness is taught by the morality, "Les Trois Rois
Morts et les Trois Rois Vifs," representing three kings going gaily
hunting meeting three skeletons, the remains of kings once as powerful
as they. "The Dance of Death," so popular abroad, also appears in some
English churches. The wholesale destruction of so many specimens of
mediaeval art cannot be too strongly condemned and deplored. If any of my
readers should be fortunate enough to discover any traces of colouring
hidden away beneath the coats of whitewash on the walls of their church,
I would venture to advise them to very carefully remove the covering, and
then to consult Mr. Keyser's book on _Mural Decorations_, where they will
find an account of the best methods for preserving these valuable
specimens of early art.

[Illustration: ST. PETER, KINGSTON LISLE]

In the churchyard stands the old weather-beaten yew tree, looking like a
sentinel keeping watch over the graves of our forefathers. Some of these
trees are remarkable for their age; the yews at Fountains Abbey, in
Yorkshire, were probably in a flourishing condition so long ago as the
year 1132, and some are older still. Why they were planted in churchyards
it is difficult to ascertain. It has been conjectured that they were
planted in so secure a spot in order that the men might provide themselves
with bows, as all the bows used by the English, with which they did such
execution against their enemies, were made of yew. Others contend that its
green boughs were used instead of palms on Palm Sunday, or for funerals.
But I think that they were regarded with veneration by our forefathers
when they were still heathen, and that some religious symbolism--such as
of immortality--attached to them; and that when the Christian teachers
came they made use of this religious sentiment of the people, planted the
Christian cross by the side of the yew, and under its shade preached
lessons of true immortality, of which the heathen ideals were only corrupt
legends and vain dreams.

At the entrance of the churchyard there is often a lich-gate, _i.e._ a
corpse-gate, where the body may rest while the funeral procession is
formed. _Lych_ is the Saxon word for a dead body, from which Lich-field,
"the field of dead bodies," is derived. Bray, in Berkshire, famous for
its time-serving vicar, is also famous for its lich-gate, which has two
rooms over it.

"God's acre" is full of holy associations, where sleep "the rude
forefathers of the hamlet." There stands the village cross where the
preachers stood in Saxon times and converted the people to Christianity,
and there the old sundial on a graceful stone pedestal. Sometimes amid
the memorials of the dead stood the parish stocks. Here in olden days
fairs were held, and often markets every Sunday and holiday, and minstrels
and jugglers thronged; and stringent laws were passed to prevent "improper
and prohibited sports within the churchyard, as, for example, wrestling,
football, handball under penalty of twopence forfeit." Here church ales
were kept with much festivity, dancing, and merry-making; and here
sometimes doles were distributed on the tombstones of parochial
benefactors, and even bread and cheese scrambled for, according to the
curious bequests of eccentric donors.

And then there are the quaint epitaphs on the gravestones, of which many
have made collections. Here is one to the memory of the driver of a
coach that ran from Aylesbury to London:--

  "Parker, farewell! thy journey now is ended,
  Death has the whip-hand, and with dust is blended;
  Thy way-bill is examined, and I trust
  Thy last account may prove exact and just,
  When He who drives the chariot of the day,
  Where life is light, whose Word's the living way,
  Where travellers, like yourself, of every age,
  And every clime, have taken their last stage,
  The God of mercy and the God of love,
  Show you the road to Paradise above."

Here is another to the memory of a once famous Yorkshire actor, buried
at Beverley:--

"In memory of Samuel Butler, a poor player that struts and frets his
hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Obt. June 15th, 1812,
Aet. 62."

Here is a strange one from Awliscombe, Devon:--

"Here lie the remains of James Pady, brickmaker, late of this parish,
in hopes that his clay will be remoulded in a workmanlike manner, far
superior to his former perishable materials.

  "Keep death and judgment always in your eye,
  Or else the devil off with you will fly,
  And in his kiln with brimstone ever fry;
  If you neglect the narrow road to seek,
  Christ will reject you like a half-burnt brick."

Those interested in the brave mortals who go down to the sea in ships
will like to read the following verses which appear on the tomb of
William Harrison, mariner, buried in Hessle Road Cemetery, Hull:--

  "Long time I ploughed the ocean wide,
    A life of toil I spent;
  But now in harbour safe arrived
    From care and discontent.

  "My anchor's cast, my sails are furled,
    And now I am at rest;
  Of all the ports throughout the world,
    Sailors, this is the best."

The following original epitaph in a neighbouring churchyard compares very
favourably with the flattering and fulsome inscriptions prevalent at the
beginning of the nineteenth century, written in what has been called
"lapidary style ":--

  "He was----
    But words are wanting to say what;
  Say what is just and kind,
    And he was that."


[8] At Sedgeford the Infant is portrayed with three heads, illustrating
the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.



CHAPTER XIX

CHURCH BELLS

Bell customs and village life--Antiquity of bells--Christening of
bells--"Ancients"--Inscriptions--Dedications--Inscriptions of
praise--Leonine verses--Curious inscriptions--Historical events
recorded--Uses of bells--Passing bell--Pancake bell--Curfew--Guiding
bells--Names of benefactors--Great bells--Sanctus bell--Sacring
bell--Frequent ringing of bell--Change-ringing--Care of bells.


Bells play an important part in village life, and there are few more
interesting branches of the study of village antiquities than bell-lore.
Ringing customs throw much light upon the manners and doings of our
ancestors. Bells rang to commemorate the great events in history, news
of which was conveyed to the quiet village; they sounded forth the joys
and sorrows of the parishioners in their generations, pealed merrily at
their weddings, and mourned for them at their funerals. As the bell
"Roland" of Ghent seemed endowed with a human voice, and was silenced
for ever by Charles V. lest it should again rouse the citizens to arms,
so these bells in our village steeples seem to speak with living tongues
and tell the story of our village life.

Bells have great antiquity. Odoceus, Bishop of Llandaff, in 550 A.D.,
is said to have taken the bells away from his cathedral during a time
of excommunication. Bede mentions them in the seventh century. In 680
Benedict, Abbot of Wearmouth, imported some from Italy, and in the tenth
century St. Dunstan hung many. Ireland probably had bells in the time
of St. Patrick, who died in 493, and a bell that bears his name is
preserved at Belfast. The earliest Saxon bells were not cast, but were
made of plates of iron riveted together, and were probably used as
hand-bells.

Bells were usually christened. Those of Crowland Abbey were named Pega,
Bega, Tatwin, Turketyl, Betelin, Bartholomew, and Guthlac. A fire in
1091 destroyed this peal. Those of the priory of Little Dunmow, Essex,
according to an old chartulary, were new cast and baptised in 1501.

"Prima in honore Sancti Michaelis Archangeli."
"Secunda in honore Sancti Johannis Evangelisti."
"Tertia in honore S. Johannis Baptisti."
"Quarta in honore Assumptionis beatae Mariae."
"Quinta in honore Sanctae Trinitatis et omnium sanctorum."

The tenor bell at Welford, Berks, has the inscription, "Missi de celis
habeo nomen Gabrielis 1596."

Bells dating from before the year 1600 are called "ancients," and it is
a very pleasant discovery to find one of these in our church tower; and
still more so if it be a pre-Reformation bell. Unfortunately a large
number of "ancients" have been recast, owing chiefly to the craze for
change-ringing which flourished in England between 1750 and 1830. The
oldest bell in this country is said to be St. Chad's, Claughton, which
bears the date 1296. Pre-Reformation bells are very seldom dated.

Mediaeval bells have many curious inscriptions on them, which record the
name of the donor, the bell-founder, together with heraldic and other
devices. The inscriptions are often written in the first person, the
bell being supposed to utter the sentiment, as it sends forth its sound.
A study of the inscriptions on bells is full of interest. The earliest
are simple dedications of the bell to our Lord, or to some saint. The
principal inscriptions of this class are: "Jesus," "Jesus Nazarenus Rex
Judeorum," "Sit nomen IHC benedictum," "Sum Rosa Pulsata Mundi Maria
Vocata," "Sum Virgo Sancta Maria." The invocation, "Ora pro nobis," very
frequently is inscribed on bells, followed by the name of some saint,
and almost every saint in the Calendar is duly honoured in some bell
inscription.

Bells were always rung on joyful occasions; hence inscriptions
expressing thankfulness and praise were appropriate. Consequently we
find such words as "Laus et Gloria Deo," "Laus Deo Gratia
Benefactoribus," "Alleluja," "Praise God," and other similar
inscriptions of praise.

Some old bells have Latin hexameter verses inscribed on them, composed
by monks, which are called Leonine verses, from one Leoninus, a monk of
Marseilles, who lived in the early part of the twelfth century. A few
examples of these will suffice:--

  "Est michi collatum ihc illud nomen amaetum."
  "Protege Virgo pia quos convoco Sancta Maria."
  "Voce mea viva depello cunta nocina."

This refers to the belief that the ringing of bells drives away all
demons and tempests, storms and thunders, and all other hurtful things.
One bell proudly asserts:--

  "Me melior vere non est campana sub ere."

Inscriptions in English are often quaint and curious. Here is one from
Somerset:--

  "My treble voice
  Makes hearts rejoice."

Another self-complacent bell asserts--

  "If you have a judicious ear,
  You'll own my voice is sweet and clear."

Loyal inscriptions are often found, such as--

  "For Church and King
  We always ring."

  "I was made in hope to ring
  At the crownacion of our King."

  "Ye people all that hear me ring
  Be faithful to your God and King."

A bell that has been recast sometimes praises the merits of its new
founder at the expense of its first maker, as at Badgworth,
Gloucester:--

  "Badgworth ringers they are mad,
  Because Rigbe made me bad;
  But Abel Rudhall you may see
  Hath made me better than Rigbe."

Sometimes all the bells which compose a peal tell their various uses.
Thus at Bakewell we find some verses on each bell:--

1. "When I begin our merry Din
   This Band I lead from discord free;
   And for the fame of human name,
   May every Leader copy Me."

2. "Mankind, like us, too oft are found
   Possess'd of nought but empty sound."

3. "When of departed Hours we toll the knell,
   Instruction take and spend the future well."

4. "When men in Hymen's Bands unite,
   Our merry peals produce delight;
   But when Death goes his dreary Rounds,
   We send forth sad and solemn sounds."

5. "Thro' grandsires and Tripples with pleasure men range,
   Till Death calls the Bob and brings on the Last Change."

6. "When Vict'ry crowns the Public Weal
   With Glee we give the merry Peal."

7. "Would men like us join and agree
   They'd live in tuneful Harmony."

8. "Possess'd of deep sonorous Tone
   This Belfry King sits on his throne;
   And when the merry Bells go round,
   Adds to and mellows ev'ry Sound;
   So in a just and well pois'd State,
   Where all Degrees possess due Weight,
   One greater Pow'r one greater Tone
   Is ceded to improve their own."

A Rutland bell has the following beautiful inscription:--

  "Non clamor sed amor cantat in aure Dei."
  ("Not noise but love sings in the ear of God.")

Historical events are sometimes recorded, as at Ashover, Derbyshire,
where a recasted bell states:--

  "This old bell rung the downfall of Buonaparte and broke, April 1814."

The uses of bells are often shown by their inscriptions. People were
aroused by their sound each morning in many places, as at St. Ives,
where a bell is inscribed--

  "Arise and go about your business."

The villagers were summoned to extinguish fires by ringing of bells.
Thus Sherborne, Dorset, has a bell inscribed--

  "Lord, quench this furious flame:
  Arise, run, help put out the same."

Bell-ringing customs are very numerous.[9] The passing bell has many
variants. In some places three times three strokes are sounded for a
man, three times two for a woman, and three times one for a child. Out
of the first-named of these practices probably arose the phrase, "Nine
tailors make a man," which is usually explained as more properly
signifying "nine tellers make a man." Then we have a pancake bell,
which formerly summoned people to confession, and not to eat pancakes;
a gleaning bell, an eight hours' bell rung at 4 a.m., noon, and 8 p.m.
The curfew bell survives in many places, which, as everyone knows, was
in use long before William the Conqueror issued his edict. Peals are
rung on "Oak Apple Day," and on Guy Fawkes' Day, "loud enough to call
up poor Guy." Church bells played a useful part in guiding the people
homewards on dark winter evenings in the days when lands were
uninclosed and forests and wild moors abounded, and charitable folk,
like Richard Palmer, of Wokingham, left bequests to pay the sexton for
his labour in ringing at suitable times when the sound of the bells
might be of service to belated travellers. Names of benefactors often
find a permanent memorial on the bells which they gave; as at Binstead,
Hants, where a bell has the inscription--

  "Doctor Nicholas gave five pound
  To help cast this peal tuneable and sound."

And another bell in the same tower records the name of our famous
Berkshire bell-founders, the Knight family. The inscription runs:--

  "Samuel Knight made this ring
  In Binstead steeple for to ding."

[Illustration: ANCIENT BELL FOUND AT WARWICK]

The story of our great bells, of "Great Toms," "Big Bens," "Great
Peters," need not be told here. They wake the echoes of our great
cities, and are not heard among the hills and dales of rural England.
Outside the church at the apex of the gable over the chancel arch there
is sometimes a small bell-cote, wherein the sanctus or saunce bell once
hung. This was rung during the service of High Mass when the _Ter
Sanctus_ was sung, in order that those who were engaged at their work
might know when the canon of the Mass was about to begin, in order that
they might kneel at the sound and pray to God. At Bosham Harbour the
fishermen used to so join in the service of the sanctuary, and it is
said that when George Herbert's sanctus bell sounded for prayers, the
ploughmen stopped from their work for a few moments and prayed. The
sanctus bell differed from the sacring bell, which was a hand-bell rung
inside the church at the elevation of the Host.

Old churchwardens' accounts record the very frequent ringing of bells.
In addition to the Great Festivals, Corpus Christi Day, Church feasts
and ales, the occasions of royal visits, of episcopal visitations,
victories, and many other great events, were always celebrated by the
ringing of the church bells. In fact by the fondness of English folk
for sounding their bells this country earned the title in the Middle
Ages of "the ringing island." Peal-ringing was indeed peculiar to
England. It was not until the seventeenth century that change-ringing
became general, and our old bells suffered much at the hands of the
followers of the new fashion.

In recent years the study of our church bells has made great progress,
and many volumes have been written upon the bells of various counties.
Too long have our bells been left to the bats and birds, and the belfry
is often the only portion of a church which is left uncared for. We are
learning better now, and the bells which have sounded forth the joys
and sorrows of our villagers for so many generations are receiving the
attention they deserve.


[9] A collection of these will be found in my book on _Old English
Customs Extant at the Present Time_.



CHAPTER XX

THE MEDIAEVAL VILLAGE

Local government--Changes in the condition of villeins and labourers--
Famine and pestilence--Effects of the Great Plague--Spirit of
independence--Picture of village life--Church house--Church ales--
Pilgrimages--Markets--Old English fair--Wars--Hastings--Hereward
the Wake--Great Civil War--Restoration--Beacons.


Let us try to imagine the ordinary life and appearance of a mediaeval
English village in the "piping times of peace." Of course, no two
villages are quite alike; each has many distinguishing features; but
a strong family likeness is observable. In the Middle Ages a village
was much more independent than it is now. Then there were no Acts of
Parliament to control its affairs, and it regulated its own conduct
much to its own satisfaction, without any outside interference. Of
course, sometimes things were managed badly; but the village knew
it had only itself to blame, and therefore could not grumble at the
Government, or the fickleness of members of Parliament, or the
unreasonable conduct of Local Government Boards. Was not the lord
of the manor quite capable of trying all criminals? and did not the
rector and the vestry settle everything to the satisfaction of everyone,
without any "foreigners" asking questions, or interfering?

The position of the villeins and _cottiers_ has changed considerably
since the days of William the Norman. The former were now free tenants,
who paid rent for their land to the lord of the manor, and were not
bound to work for him, while the latter worked for wages like our
modern agricultural labourer. There was thus in the twelfth century a
gradual approximation to modern conditions on many estates; the home
farm was worked by hired labourers who received wages; while the
villeins had bought themselves off from the obligation of doing
customary work by paying a quit-rent.

We should like to know something of the way in which our ancestors
farmed their land, and fortunately several bailiffs have left us
their account books very carefully kept, and one Walter de Henley
in 1250 wrote a book on the _Art of Husbandry_, which gives us much
information. The rent of land was about sixpence per acre. They
ploughed three times a year, in autumn, April, and at midsummer, and
used oxen for their plough-teams. Women helped their husbands in
ploughing and harvest work. An old writer describes the farmer's wife
"walking by him with a long goad, in a cutted cote cutted full high."
Pigs and poultry were numerous on a mediaeval farm, but sheep were the
source of the farmer's wealth. Large flocks of divers breeds roamed the
hills and vales of rural England, and their rich fleeces were sent to
Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent for the manufacture of cloth by the Flemish
weavers. After the Black Death, a great plague which ravaged the
country in 1348, the labourers were fewer in number, and their wages
higher; hence the farmers paid increased attention to their sheep,
which yielded rich profits, and required few labourers to look after
them.

Prior to the advent of this grim visitor, the Great Plague, the
prosperity of our villages had greatly increased. The people were
better fed and better clothed than any of their neighbours on the
Continent. Moreover they were free men, and enjoyed their freedom.
There was much happiness in our English villages in those days, and
"Merry England" was not a misnomer. There were, however, two causes of
suffering which for a time produced untold wretchedness--two unwelcome
visitors who came very frequently and were much dreaded--famine and
pestilence. There is necessarily a sameness in the records of these
pestilences.

The chief famine years were 1315 and 1316, but there is hardly any
period of five years from the death of Edward I. to the coming of
Henry of Richmond without these ghastly records of the sufferings of
the people. Disease not only arrested the growth of the population,
but reduced it considerably. It was mostly of a typhoid nature. The
undrained soil, the shallow stagnant waters which lay upon the surface
of the ground, the narrow and unhealthy homes, the filthy and neglected
streets of the towns, the excessive use of salted provisions and
absence of vegetables, predisposed the people to typhoid diseases, and
left them little chance of recovery when stricken down with pestilence.

The Great Plague arrived in England in 1348 from the shores of Italy,
whither it had been wafted from the East. It was probably carried to
the port of Bristol by travelling merchants, whence it spread with
alarming rapidity over the whole land. Whole villages were depopulated,
and about one-third of the people of England perished. It is difficult
for us to imagine the sorrow and universal suffering which the plague
caused. Its effects were, however, beneficial to the villagers who
survived. Naturally labourers became very scarce and were much sought
after. Wages rose enormously. The tenants and rustics discovered that
they were people of importance. Manor lords found it too expensive to
farm their lands, and were eager to hand them over to their tenants,
many of whom became much richer and more independent than formerly. The
spirit of independence pervaded all classes. There came to our village
many wandering friars, followers of Wiklif, who preached discontent to
the labouring rustics, told them that the gentry had no right to lord
it over them, that they were as good as their masters, who ought not to
live in fine houses in luxury supported by their toil and the sweat of
their brows. And when oppressive taxes were levied, the rustics
revolted, and gained much for which they strove. The golden age of the
English labourer set in, when food was cheap, wages high, and labour
abundant. A fat pig could be bought for fourpence, and three pounds of
beef for a penny; and in spite of occasional visits of the plague, the
villager's lot was by no means unhappy.

Here is a picture of village life in those days. The village church
stood in the centre of the hamlet, with a carefully made fence around
it, in order that no swine or foul beast might desecrate the graves.
Surrounded by the churchyard, with its yew tree and lich-gate, the
church was very similar to the old building wherein the villagers still
worship. All the houses had thatched roofs, and chief among the other
dwellings stood the lord's hall. Near the church was a curious building
called the church house, which has almost entirely passed away, except
in the records of old churchwardens' accounts. It was a large building,
in which could be stored wool, lime, timber, sand, etc., and was often
let to pedlars, or wandering merchants, to deposit their goods during
the fair.

In this building there was a long low room with a large fireplace and
hearth, around which a dozen or more could sit in comfort, except when
the wind blew the smoke down the wide, open chimney; but our ancestors
were accustomed to smoky chimneys, and did not mind them. In the centre
of the room was a large oak table. This was the scene of some very
festive gatherings. Aubrey thus describes the church house:--

"In every parish was a church house, to which belonged spits, crocks,
and other utensils for dressing provisions. Here the housekeepers met.
The young people were there too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at
butts, etc., the ancients [_i.e._ old folks] sitting gravely by, and
looking on."

The churchwardens bought, and received presents of, a large quantity of
malt, which they brewed into beer and sold to the company. Hence these
feasts were called "church ales," and were held on the feast of the
dedication of the church, the proceeds being devoted to the maintenance
of the poor. Sometimes they were held at Whitsuntide also, sometimes
four times a year, and sometimes as often as money was wanted or a
feast desired. An arbour of boughs was erected in the churchyard on
these occasions called Robin Hood's Bower, where the maidens collected
money for the "ales," and "all went merry as a marriage bell"--rather
too merry sometimes, for the ale was strong and the villagers liked it,
and the ballad-singer was so merry, and the company so hearty--and was
it not all for a good cause, the support of the poor? The character of
these festivals deteriorated so much, until at last "church ales" were
prohibited altogether, on account of the excess to which they gave
rise.

[Illustration: AN ANCIENT VILLAGE]

There was a large amount of gaiety in the old villages in those days.
Men were not in so great a hurry to grow rich as they are now. The
Church authorised many holidays in the course of the year; and what
with May Day festivities, Plough Mondays, Hocktide and Shrovetide
sports, harvest suppers, fairs, and "ales," the villagers had plenty of
amusement, and their lives certainly could not be described as dull.
Sometimes the village would be enlivened by the presence of a company
of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, or
to Holywell, blessed by St. Winifred, in order to be cured of some
disease. Although these pilgrims were deemed to be engaged on a
religious duty, they certainly were not generally very serious or sad.
Chaucer describes a very joyous pilgrimage in his _Canterbury Tales_,
how the company met at the Tabard Inn, in Southwark, including the
knight and the abbot, the prioress and the shipman, the squire and the
merchant, the ploughman and sompnour (or summoner, "of whose visage
children were sore afeard"), and rode forth gaily in the spring
sunshine--

  "The holy blissful martyr for to seek,
  That them hath holpen when that they were sick."

Pilgrim crosses are numerous all over England, where the pilgrims
halted for their devotions by the way, and sometimes we find churches
planted on the roadside far from human habitations, with no
parishioners near them; and some people wonder why they were so built.
These were pilgrim churches, built for the convenience of the
travellers as they wended their way to Canterbury. The villages through
which they passed must have been much enlivened by the presence of
these not very austere companies.

The ordinary lives of the farmers were diversified by the visits
to the weekly markets held in the neighbouring town, where they took
their fat capons, eggs, butter, and cheese. Here is a curious relic
of olden times, an ancient market proclamation, which breathes the
spirit of former days, and which was read a few years ago at
Broughton-in-Furness, by the steward of the lord of the manor, from
the steps of the old market cross. These are the words:--

"O yes, O yes, O yes![10] The lord of the manor of Broughton and of
this fair and market strictly chargeth and commandeth on Her Majesty's
behalf, that all manners of persons repairing to this fair and market
do keep Her Majesty's peace, upon pain of five pounds to be forfeited
to Her Majesty, and their bodies to be imprisoned during the lord's
pleasure. Also that no manner of person within this fair and market do
bear any bill, battle-axe, or other prohibited weapons, but such as be
appointed by the lord's officers to keep this fair or market, upon pain
of forfeiture of all such weapons and further imprisonment. Also, that
no manner of person do pick any quarrel, matter, or cause for any old
grudge or malice to make any perturbation or trouble, upon pain of five
pounds, to be forfeited to the lord, and their bodies to be imprisoned.
Also, that none buy or sell in corners, back sides, or hidden places,
but in open fair or market, upon pain of forfeiture of all such goods
and merchandise so bought and sold, and their bodies to imprisonment.
Also, that no manner of persons shall sell any goods with unlawful mete
or measures, yards or weights, but such as be lawful and keep the true
assize, upon pain of forfeiture of all such goods and further
imprisonment. Lastly, if any manner of persons do here find themselves
grieved, or have any injuries or wrong committed or done against them,
let them repair to the lord or his officers, and there they shall be
heard according to right, equity, and justice. God save the Queen and
the lord of the manor!"

And besides the weekly markets there were the great annual fairs, which
lasted many days, and were frequented by all classes of the population.
These fairs were absolutely necessary for the trade of the country in
the days when few people travelled far from their own homesteads, and
even the towns with their small number of inhabitants did not afford a
sufficient market for the farmer's and trader's stock.

The greatest of all English fairs was held in the little village of
Stourbridge, near Cambridge, now almost absorbed by the University
town. Hither flocked merchants and traders from all parts of Europe.
Flemish merchants brought their fine linen and cloths from the great
commercial cities of Belgium. Genoese and Venetian traders came with
their stores of Eastern goods. Spaniards and Frenchmen brought their
wines, and the merchants of the Hanse towns of Germany sold furs and
flax, ornaments and spices, while in return for all these treasures our
English farmers brought the rich fleeces of their sheep, their corn,
horses, and cattle. The booths were planted in a cornfield, and the
circuit of the fair, which was like a well-governed city, was over
three miles. The shops were built in streets or rows, some named after
the various nations that congregated there, and others after the kind
of goods offered for sale. There were Garlick Row, Bookseller's Row,
Cook Row; there were a cheese fair, a hop fair, a wool fair, and every
trade was represented, together with taverns, eating-houses, and in
later years playhouses of various descriptions. In the eighteenth
century one hundred thousand pounds' worth of woollen manufactures was
sold in a week in one row alone. A thousand pack-horses were used to
convey the goods of the Lancashire merchants to this famous fair. Now
railways have supplanted the pack-horses; fairs have had their day; the
trade of the country can now be carried on without them; and their
relics with their shows and shooting-galleries and steam roundabouts
have become a nuisance.

The peaceful life of the villagers was sometimes disturbed by the
sounds and sights of conflict. The exciting tales of war are connected
with the history of many an English village, and many "little
Wilhelmines" and labouring "grandsires" have discovered "something
large and round," traces of these ancient conflicts and "famous
victories."

  "For often when they go to plough
  The ploughshare turns them out,
  'And many thousand men,' quoth he,
  'Were slain in that great victory.'"

Many a lance and sword, and gilt spur, beautifully enamelled, which
once decked the heel of a noble knight, have been found in our fields,
and remind us of those battles which were fought so long ago.

        "The knights are dust,
         Their good swords rust,
  Their souls are with the saints, we trust."

Sometimes the spectres of armed knights and warriors are supposed to
haunt these scenes of ancient slaughter, and popular superstition has
handed down the memory of the battles which were fought so long ago. It
tells us of the mythical records of the fights of King Arthur and his
Knights of the Round Table by the banks of the River Douglas, which ran
with blood for three days, so terrible was the slaughter. It tells us
how stubbornly the Britons resisted the Roman armies, so that on one
occasion not one Briton was left to tell the tale of their defeat.

When we visit the site of some battle with the history book in our hand,
it is possible to imagine the lonely hillside peopled again with the
dense ranks of English archers, or hear the clanging of the armour as
the men-at-arms charged for "St. George and merry England"; and the air
will be full again of the battle-cries, of the groans of the wounded and
the shouts of the victors.

Visit the scene of the battle of Hastings. Here on the high ground,
flanked by a wood, stood the brave English, under the leadership of
Harold, with his banner, woven with gold and jewels, shining
conspicuously in the morning sunlight. Here they stood in the form of
a wedge; there they turned the Normans, and put them to flight. Then
the Normans rallied, pretended to fly, decoyed the brave English from
their position, and by stratagem succeeded in defeating them at last.
Or go to the Madingley Windmill, near Cambridge, and see the fifteen
miles of rich drained cornfields which intervene between "Ely's stately
fane" and the spot on which you are standing. Here read Kingsley's
well-known story of _Hereward; or, The Last of the English_, and instead
of the rich cornfields you will see that black abyss of mud and bottomless
slime into which sank the flower of Norman chivalry as they tried to
cross that treacherous bog to conquer the gallant Hereward and to
plunder the monastery of Ely, the last stronghold of the English. On
they came, thousands upon thousands, rushing along the floating bridge
which they had formed, until at last it gave way beneath the weight, and
the black slime swallowed up the miserable wretches.

Or let us take our stand on the Round Tower, near the summit of the Edge
Hill, and see the site of the first battle between the troops of Charles
I. and the soldiers of the Parliament. The whole of that green lane was
lined with troops. In a cottage which stood at our feet the king
breakfasted before the battle; from that mound he surveyed the forces of
the enemy. Just as the bells in yonder church had ceased to ring for
service on Sunday afternoon the cannon began to roar, and the fight
commenced. There Prince Rupert charged with headlong fury, carrying all
before him. And so we can follow the fortunes of the fight until the
brave Cavaliers retired to rest--

  "And thousands had sunk on the ground overpowered
  The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die."

The memory of many a fight is recorded in the names of the fields,
places, and hills on which the battle raged. Lichfield (_i.e._ the
field of the dead), Battlefield, Battle, Battleflats, Standard Hill,
Slaughterford, and many others, all tell the tale of war and slaughter.

In some parts of the country, especially in Oxfordshire, there are fine
avenues of trees, which appear to lead to a large house; but when you
have walked to the end of the trees there is nothing to be seen. These
avenues tell the tale of war, of the destruction of the manor-house of
some old Royalist who fought for his king when the "Roundheads" and
Cromwell's "Ironsides" were more than a match for the gallant Cavaliers.
His house was destroyed, he and his sons killed, unless they were
fortunate enough to escape to France and wait the merry time "when the
king should enjoy his own again." How many of our uplands and gentle
vales have been stained with blood, and seen the terrible horrors of
war, of which we in these favoured days know nothing from our own
experience! We read about the sad battles and sieges which have taken
place in other countries, but can hardly imagine the time when hostile
soldiers were riding through our village lanes, and the noise of the
cannon was booming in the distance, as on that famous Sunday morning in
October, 1642, when Richard Baxter was disturbed in his preaching at
Alcester by that strange sound, and knew that the terrible conflict had
begun between the king and Parliament. Our English villages suffered
very much. All farming was stopped, manor-houses destroyed, some of the
best blood in England spilt, and many a home made desolate. Indeed, in
some parts of the country the people had literally no bread to eat, and
no clothing to cover their nakedness; and Cromwell ordered collections
to be made in London for the relief of the distressed people in
Lancashire. Then the old clergyman was driven from his flock, and some
commissioner appointed who wrote in the register-books of the parish the
names of the children who were born, but did not record their baptism as
the clergyman did. And then some black-gowned Puritan, with his hair cut
short, came and took possession of the living, and preached very long
sermons about Cromwell "girding his sword upon his thigh," and about
blinded Papists, and about Mahershalal-hash-baz, who made haste to
divide the spoil.

But in the glorious year 1660 everyone began to throw up his cap and
welcome right royally the king from over the water; and the long-faced
Puritan disappeared, and the writing in the register-books changed into
that of a scholarly hand; and many of our churches were enriched by
thankofferings of plate and other gifts, because the good people of
England rejoiced exceedingly that their loved Church and her services
were restored to them; and "the king at last enjoyed his own again." The
memory of the adventures of King Charles II., when he was endeavouring
to escape from England after the last crushing defeat of the royal
troops at Worcester, called by Cromwell "the crowning mercy," still
lingers in many of the country villages through which the unfortunate
monarch passed. The king and a few faithful followers avoided the towns,
passed the ford of the Salwarp at Hemford Mill, and proceeded by Chester
Lane to Broadwaters and Kinfare Heath. Presently they reached Brewood
Forest, where there stood two old hunting-lodges, built by the Giffards
in troublous times as hiding-places for proscribed Papists. They were
called White Ladies and Boscobel, and were inhabited by staunch
Royalists named Penderel; so the king knew he would be safe there. He
was disguised as a forester with leathern jerkin and trunk hose, his
long hair cropped, and his hands blackened. All day he lay concealed in
a coppice, and in the evening, under the name of Will Jackson, he supped
with the Penderels, and then tried to cross the Severn, but all the
fords and bridges were guarded. The next day he and Colonel Carlos
remained concealed in a large oak near Boscobel, and the memory of Royal
Oak day is still preserved. He had other narrow escapes, and was saved
by Mistress Jane Lane, the beautiful daughter of Colonel Lane. A pass
had been obtained for her and her groom to go to Abbot's Leigh, near
Bristol. The plan was arranged that the king should act as groom; so
Charles mounted his horse, and Mistress Lane sat behind him on a
pillion, and together they rode through Warwickshire to Bristol. The
king was nearly captured at Long Marston, for some troopers of Cromwell
suspected the party, and came to examine the house where they rested.
The cook, however, set Charles to wind up the jack, and because he was
awkward struck him with the basting-ladle just as the soldiers entered
the kitchen. Their suspicions were thus removed; and in this old house
the remains of the jack are still preserved. The poor king was
disappointed of his ship; the skipper unfortunately told his wife that
he was going to take the king to France, and she was angry, and locked
him up in his room, so that he could not fulfil his engagement. At last
Lord Wilmot procured a ship for the fugitive king, who set sail joyfully
from Shoreham, near Brighton, and reached Paris in safety. There must
have been great excitement in the villages of England when the troopers
were scouring the country in all directions, and the unfortunate king
was known to be wandering about disguised as a servant.

If there are any hills or high ground in your neighbourhood commanding
an extensive view of the country, it is probable that in olden days a
beacon was placed there, so that the country might be aroused in case of
an invasion, and frequently we find that the tower of a church was used
as a beacon, and occasionally the iron brazier remains, as at Little
Budworth, Cheshire. When the Spaniards determined to invade England in
the reign of "Good Queen Bess," and sent the Invincible Armada,
consisting of an enormous number of ships and men and guns, bonfires
were placed on every hill; and when a gallant merchant vessel brought
the news that the Spaniards were coming, the bonfires were lighted, and
everyone prepared to resist their attack. Macaulay has told us in very
stirring verse of how the news spread, as each fire was lighted,

  "From Eddystone to Berwick bounds, from Lynn to Milford Bay";

how Beachy Head caught the signal from St. Michael's Mount, and sent it
swiftly over the country from tower to hill-top,

  "Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,
  And the red glare of Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle."

Again, within the memory of the old inhabitants of your village, the
hill beacons were brought into use when Napoleon I. threatened to invade
England; and on January 31, 1803, by some mistake, the fire on Hume
Castle, in Berwickshire, was lighted; other beacons responded, and ere
morning dawned thousands were marching ankle-deep through the dense mud
of the winter roads to their appointed stations. The mistake was not
without its uses, as Napoleon saw that England was ready, and did not
venture to attack our shores. A similar accident took place in the reign
of Henry VIII. There was a conspiracy against the king by the Roman
Catholics, who did not like their monasteries being destroyed, called
"The Pilgrimage of Grace." Beacons were erected on the heights of
Pendel, in Lancashire, and on the various hills of Yorkshire and
Derbyshire; but the beacon on Pendel was fired before the conspirators
were quite ready for action, and their plot came to nothing.

Once again in the history of our country were these beacon fires
lighted; but it was not to announce the approach of an enemy, but to
reflect the gladness of the nation which for so many years had enjoyed
the reign of so good a ruler as Queen Victoria, who has now passed away
from us, and whom the whole nation mourns. And as we witnessed the
sudden blaze of the beacons we thought, perhaps, of other occasions when
they were used, and were thankful that rejoicings and thanksgivings were
the cause, and not invasions or conspiracies.


[10] This is a corruption of the old Norman-French word _oyez_,
"hear ye."



CHAPTER XXI

VILLAGE SPORTS AND PASTIMES

Decay of old sports--Twelfth Night--Shrovetide--Mothering Sunday--
Hocktide--May Day--Miracle plays--St. John's Day--Rush-bearing--Beating
the bounds--Archery--Quintain--Football--Christmas games--Stocks--
Cucking-stool.


It is the custom of some writers to represent the lot of an English
villager in past ages as having been particularly hard and disagreeable;
to enlarge upon the scanty wages which he received; and to compare his
position unfavourably with that of the agricultural labourer of the
present day. I have already pointed out that the small wages which he
received are no test of his poverty, because he received so much more in
lieu of wages; and certainly he had far more opportunities of enjoyment
and recreation than the present generation has. Now we have scarcely any
village games or sports, except when some energetic rector or curate
starts a cricket club. Old social customs, which added such diversity to
the lives of the rustics two centuries ago, have died out. The village
green, the source of so much innocent happiness, is no more; and a
recent writer has observed that the ordinary existence of agricultural
labourers is so dull that in East Anglia they have almost forgotten how
to laugh!

We will now try to realise how our village forefathers used to enjoy
themselves, how they used to spend their holidays, and to picture to
ourselves the scenes of happy social intercourse which once took place
in our own hamlet. Every season of the year had its holiday customs and
quaint manner of observance, some of them confined to particular
counties, but many of them universally observed.

On the eve of Twelfth Night, January 5th, we see the good farmer and his
labourers in Devonshire joining hands round his apple trees, and
singing--

      "Here's to thee, old apple tree!
  Hence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow!
  And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
        Hats full! caps full!
        Bushel, bushel, sacks full,
      And my pockets full too! Huzza!"

A hearty supper followed, and with laughter, songs, and good wishes to
the farmer and his wife, the company passed a very joyous evening. In
Herefordshire, Yorkshire, and other parts of England similar customs
prevailed.

[Illustration: ANN HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE]

Then followed Twelfth Night, which was celebrated by great rejoicings
and merry-makings, a game called the choosing of kings and queens being
played, and Twelfth Night cakes consumed in plenty. The next Monday was
called Plough Monday, when the labourers used to draw a plough round
the parish and receive presents of money, favouring the spectators with
sword-dancing and mumming, preparatory to beginning to plough after the
Christmas holidays. The men were decked out with gay ribbons, and were
accompanied by morris-dancers. The Christmas holidays lasted these
twelve days, and during them it was customary for the gentlemen to
feast the farmers, and for the farmers to feast their labourers. Then
came the Shrovetide festivities, on Shrove Tuesday, when pancakes,
football, and cock-fighting, and a still more barbarous custom of
throwing sticks at hens, were generally in vogue. On Mid-Lent Sunday,
commonly called "Mothering Sunday," it was the pleasing custom for
servants and apprentices to carry cakes or furmity as presents to their
mother, and to receive from her a cake with her blessing. This was
called "going a-mothering." The old poet Herrick alludes to the custom
in Gloucestershire in these words:--

  "I'll to thee a simnell bring,
  'Gainst thou go'st a-mothering;
  So that when she blesseth thee,
  Half that blessing thou'lt give me."

Then came the diversions of Hocktide, on the second Monday and Tuesday
after Easter, when the men and women intercepted the public on alternate
days with ropes, and boldly exacted money for pious purposes. There was
a Hocktide play, which was acted before Queen Elizabeth, and caused her
much amusement. She gave the players two bucks and five marks of money,
which delighted them exceedingly.

Very shortly afterwards the great rural festival of our forefathers
took place, the glad May Day, when, in the early dawn, the lads and
lassies left their towns and villages, and going into the woods to the
sound of music, gathered the may or blossomed branches of the tree,
and bound them with wreaths of flowers. At sunrise they returned, and
decorated the lattices and doors with the sweet-smelling spoil of
their joyous journey, and spent the rest of the day in sports and
pastimes, and dancing round the Maypole. The setting-up of the
May-pole was a very joyous ceremony. A long string of oxen, gaily
decked with flowers, drew to the village green the time-honoured pole,
decked with streamers, flowers, and flags, where it was raised amidst
laughter and shouts; and the Queen of the May was enthroned in an
arbour and all danced round; and the morris-dancers, Robin Hood, Friar
Tuck, and Maid Marian performed wonderful antics as they led the
revels. Targets were set up at the other end of the green, and archery
formed an important part of the day's pleasures. The preachers at the
time of the Reformation thought the people made an idol of the
Maypole, and condemned the innocent amusements, which were revived
again when Charles II. came to the throne. After May Day our villagers
had not long to wait until the Whitsuntide holiday came round--

    "A day of jubilee,
    An ancient holiday;
  When, lo! the rural revels are begun,
  And gaily echoing to the laughing sky,
    On the smooth-shaven green,
    Resounds the voice of mirth."

I have already given a description of these Whitsuntide rejoicings in
a preceding chapter.

Then there were the miracle plays, or "mysteries," as they were called,
in June, on Corpus Christi Day, which were performed before the
Reformation, principally in the neighbourhood of large monasteries;
Coventry, Chester, London, York being specially renowned for these
performances. The subjects were taken from Holy Scripture, or from
the lives of saints, and were intended to teach the people religious
knowledge, but the scenes were disfigured by many absurdities and
grotesque perversions. Their history is a curious one, too long to
enter upon in this chapter; but often in the open fields, at the bottom
of natural amphitheatres, were these plays performed, very similar in
construction to the famous passion play performed by the peasants, at
Ober Ammergau, in Bavaria, the last surviving specimen of the ancient
religious drama.

Then there were the bonfires to be lighted on St. John's Day upon the
hillsides, and the dance of the young people around them, the more
venturesome youths leaping through the flames, all carrying home the
firebrands and forming a glad procession. Afterwards followed the busy
harvest-time, when everyone was too hard at work, and too tired at the
end of the day's labours, to think of holiday-making; but at length
came the harvest home, when the last sheaf was gathered in, and the
harvest supper was a very joyous occasion. With light hearts, smiling
faces, and cheerful shouts, the harvest labourers and their wives and
children, carrying green boughs, a sheaf of wheat, and rude flags,
formed a glad procession to the farmer's house, where they found the
fuelled chimney blazing wide, and "the strong table groaning beneath
the smoking sirloin." The feast over, they retired to some near
hillock, and made the welkin ring with their shouts, "Holla, holla,
holla, largess!"--largess being the presents of money and good things
which the farmer had bestowed. Such was the harvest home in the good
old days, a joy and delight to both old and young. Shorn of much of its
merriment and quaint customs, it still lingers on; but modern habits
and notions have deprived it of much of its old spirit and
light-heartedness.

The floors of the old churches were formerly unpaved and unbearded,
simply made of clay, and were covered over with rushes. Once a year
there was a great ceremony, called "rush-bearing." Rushes were cut in
the neighbouring marsh, and made up into long bundles, decked with
ribands and flowers. Then a procession was formed, everyone bearing a
bundle of rushes, or placing them in the rush-cart beautifully adorned;
and with music, drums, and ringing of bells, they marched to the church
and strewed the floor with their honoured burdens. Long after the
rushes ceased to be used in church the ceremony was continued, and I
have myself witnessed a rush-bearing procession such as I have
described. A village feast, followed by dancing round the May-pole,
generally formed the conclusion to the day's festivities.

"Beating the bounds" of the parish was another annual ceremony, which
often took place on Ascension Day and is still in use at Oxford.
Boundaries of property were not so clearly defined in those days as
they are now; and hedgerows, walls, and railings were scarce. The
bounds of the parish were often marked by trees, called "gospel trees,"
because the clergyman used to read the gospel for the day under their
shade. The people carried a processional cross and willow wands, and
boys were generally flogged at the boundaries, or ducked in the river,
if that constituted a boundary, in order to impress upon their memories
where the bounds were. The village feast afterwards made some amends to
them for their harsh treatment.

The village sports were a great source of enjoyment, and were frequently
indulged in. The time-honoured archery developed the skill of our
English bowmen, and won for them many a battle before the days of
gunpowder and cannons. Then there was the very ancient game of the
quintain, which consisted of an upright post with a cross-post turning
upon a pin. At one end of the latter was a broad board, at the other a
heavy sand-bag. The play, which required skill and dexterity, was to
ride against the broad end with a lance, and pass by before the sandbag,
swinging round, could strike the player to the ground. This was a common
sport at wedding festivities. There were also the games of singlestick,
cudgelling, and wrestling, which had many votaries, and the famous game
of quarter-staff, so general in Berkshire, and so graphically described
in _The Scouring of the White Horse_, by Mr. Hughes. An old parishioner
of mine was the reputed champion of this game, which has now almost died
out. Football is an ancient sport, and the manner formerly in vogue most
nearly resembles the game authorised by the Rugby rules. The football
was thrown down in the churchyard, and the object was to carry it
perhaps two or three miles, every inch of ground being keenly contested.
"Touch-downs" were then unknown, but it is evident from old records that
"scrimmages" and "hacking" were much in vogue. Sack-racing, grinning
through horse-collars, running after pigs with greased tails, were some
of the lighter forms of amusement which pleased the villagers.

Then in the winter evenings there were "carols" to be practised for
Christmas, and each village boasted of its own musicians, who played
violins, flutes, clarionets, and other instruments in church, before
the days of harmoniums and organs. Their music might not be of a very
first-rate order, but they delighted in it, took an interest in it; and
how pleased they were to take part in the service, and to play over
their favourite hymn tunes, with a great many twirls and variations, to
their children during the winter evenings! Christmas brought its
accustomed merry-makings. In the north every farmer gave two feasts,
one called "t' ould foaks' neet," and the other "t' young foaks' neet."
Here is Sir Walter Scott's description of an ancient Christmas:--

  "And well our Christian sires of old
  Loved when the year its course had roll'd
  And brought blithe Christmas back again,
  With all its hospitable train.
  Domestic and religious rite
  Gave honour to the holy night:
  On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
  On Christmas Eve the Mass was sung;
  That only night in all the year
  Saw the staled priest the chalice rear.
  The damsel donn'd her kirtle sheen;
  The hall was dressed with holly green;
  Forth to the wood did merry men go,
  To gather in the mistletoe.
  Then open wide the baron's hall,
  To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
  Power laid his rod of rule aside,
  And Ceremony doft'd his pride.
  The heir with roses in his shoes,
  That night might village partner choose;
  The lord, underogating, share
  The vulgar game of 'post and pair.'
  All hailed with uncontrolled delight
  The general voice, the happy night,
  That to the cottage, as the crown,
  Brought tidings of salvation down.

  "The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
  Went roaring up the chimney wide;
  The huge hall-table's oaken face
  Scrubb'd till it shone, the day of grace,
  Bore then upon its massive board
  No mark to part the squire and lord.
  Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
  By old blue-coated serving man;
  Then the grim boar's head frowned on high
  Crested with bays and rosemary.
  Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell
  How, when, and where the monster fell;
  What dogs before his death he tore,
  And all the baiting of the boar;
  While round the merry wassail bowl,
  Garnished with ribbons, blithe did trowl.
  Then the huge sirloin reek'd: hard by
  Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
  Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce
  At such high time her savoury goose.
  Then came the merry maskers in,
  And carols roared with blithesome din;
  If unmelodious was the song,
  It was a hearty note, and strong.
  Who lists may in this mumming see
  Traces of ancient mystery;
  White shirts supply the masquerade,
  And smutted cheeks the visor made;
  But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
  Can boast of bosoms half so light!
  England was merry England when
  Old Christmas brought his sports again.
  'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale;
  'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale.
  A Christmas gambol oft would cheer
  A poor man's heart through half the year."

Such was the manner of keeping Christmas in olden times; and if "the
mightiest ale" was sometimes too mighty, and although the intemperance
of our forefathers was a vice much to be deplored, at any rate their
hearty manner of keeping this annual feast was effectual in promoting
"goodwill amongst men," and in cheering the hearts of the poor.

In this chapter I have attempted to show the varied amusements and
recreations in which our village ancestors took part. On the old village
green, which in too many of our villages has been inclosed and become a
thing of the past, many of these sports and pastimes once took place.
There stood the village stocks, in which the refractory paid the penalty
of their misdeeds; and sometimes, too, a pillory was added, which held
fast the head, arms, and legs of the culprit, while the villagers, rude
vindicators of the law, threw stones, rotten eggs, and other missiles at
the unhappy victim. At the edge of the pond you might have seen a long
plank which turned on a swivel, with a chair at the end overhanging the
water. This was called a "cucking-stool," and was used to duck scolds or
brawlers. The culprit was placed in the chair, and the other end of the
plank was raised several times, so that the ardour of the culprit was
effectually cooled by frequent immersions. These were rough methods of
administering justice, but often very effectual in checking vice.

The social customs which formerly existed in each village, the sports
and pastimes associated with the village green, the May Day festivals,
and the Christmas carollings were of great value, inasmuch as they
tended to infuse some poetical feeling into the minds of the people,
softened the rudeness of rustic manners, and gave the villagers simple
pleasures which lightened their labours. They prevented them from
growing hard, grasping, and discontented with their lot. They promoted
good feeling between the farmers and their labourers. The customs of
the town were a poor exchange for the ancient country manners and
amusements; and it was a sad day for our country when the villagers
lost their simplicity and the power of appreciating the primitive
pleasures of rural England.

[Illustration: OLD STOCKS AND WHIPPING POST]



CHAPTER XXII

THE VILLAGE INN

Monastic inns--Village inns--Highwaymen--Inn signs--Famous inns--
Man-traps.


In almost every village in England there is an inn. Before the
Reformation there were very few of these hostelries, as travellers
were always accommodated at the monasteries, each of which, as we have
seen, had a hospitium, or guest-house, where their wants were attended
to by special officers appointed for the purpose, and where they could
remain for several days. But the destruction of the monasteries
produced many changes in the condition of the country; it introduced
the necessity of a poor law, for the poor were always relieved by the
monasteries; it required the erection of schools and places for
education, as all the education of the country had been carried on in
these monastic buildings; and when the old guesthouses ceased to
exist, travellers, merchants, and pedlars required some place in which
to lodge when they moved about the country, and inns became plentiful
as time went on. Hence in almost every village in England there is an
inn, which is generally a landmark; and if you wish to direct a
stranger to some place where he desires to go, you doubtless tell him
to turn to the right by "The Bull," or to keep straight on until he
comes to "The Magpie." Indeed, a friend of mine, who is a strong
teetotaler, asserts that the only good use inns have is to help people
to find their road. But old inns have a great history. In former days
they used to be meeting-places of plotters and conspirators. All the
distinguished people in the country used to pass through the villages
and towns on the great roads through the country, and when the horses
were being changed they used to partake of the good fare which the
landlord provided. Those were busy times for the old inns, when there
was stabling for fifty or sixty horses, and the coaches used to rattle
through the village to the inn door long before the iron horses began
to drag their freight of passengers along the iron roads, and the
scream of the engines took the place of the cheerful notes of the
posthorn.

Sometimes a gentleman would ride to an inn door on a beautiful,
fleet-looking steed, and receive a hearty welcome from the landlord;
but the pistols in his belt looked ominous, and presently some
soldiers would steal noiselessly into the inn where the gentleman was
refreshing himself, and there would be heard the sounds of vigorous
fighting; and often, in some wonderful way, Claude Duval or the noted
Dick would fight his way out, whistle to his steed, jump into the
saddle, and ride away before his less nimble pursuers had recovered
from their astonishment. Very many exciting scenes have taken place in
our old inns, but in these days railways have changed all things; and
in many streets where the coaches used to rattle along, and the place
was alive with merry sounds, the moss now grows, and all is silence
and desolation. We should certainly think it inconvenient to take
three days to travel from London to Bath, and it would not be pleasant
to have a visit from Dick Turpin on the way, and to have all one's
valuables appropriated by that notorious highwayman; but in these days
of worry and busy bustling it would be refreshing to catch a glimpse
of those quiet times when people were not so much in a hurry, and to
hear the sound of the posthorn once more instead of the whistle of the
steam-engine.

The quaint-looking pictures and curious names which attract our notice
as we pass an inn door have some queer stories to tell. We notice a very
curious collection of animals sometimes, and a strange assortment of
things; and the reason why our ancestors put some of these curious
things together is somewhat difficult for us to find out. In olden days,
other houses of tradesmen besides inns had signs. Grocers, tailors,
candlestick-makers, all had signs; but most of these have disappeared,
except one belonging to a certain sweep of my acquaintance, whose house
is adorned with the figure of a man coming out of a globe, with the
motto, "Help me through the world." Over their doors barbers still have
their poles, which represented once the fact that the barber was
prepared to bandage up wounded arms and legs, and to perform the office
of blood-letting; the stripes on the pole were intended to represent the
bandages, and the barber was the surgeon of the town. We do not seem to
have so much blood to spare as our forefathers, as the barber always
bled his customers once or twice a year, especially in the springtime,
the operation being considered very beneficial.

One reason for the curious mixture of animals and other things which we
see on signboards is that an apprentice, when he had finished his time
and begun to set up for himself, adopted some sign, and then joined with
it the sign of his old master. This will account for such curiosities as
"The Lamb and Dolphin," "The Goose and Gridiron," "The Fox and Seven
Stars," combinations of things for which it would otherwise be difficult
to account. Another reason is that signs were taken from the armorial
bearings, or crests, of some popular character, or of some great family
in the neighbourhood. For example, I may mention "The Bear with the
Ragged Staff," which was the crest of Richard Nevil, Earl of Warwick,
commonly called "The Kingmaker," who was slain in the battle of Barnet,
1471 A.D. "The Blue Boar" was one of the badges of the House of York.
"The Bull" is a very common sign, because it was a very common crest,
and we have them in all colours--black, red, white; lions also rage in
blue, white, and red attire. Sometimes we meet with "The Cross Keys,"
the keeper of which was probably an old servant or tenant of an abbey or
monastery, and chose his sign from that of the monastery with which he
was connected. Frequently, in olden times, a cross was erected at the
meeting of two or three roads, or where the pilgrims to Canterbury used
to pass; afterwards an inn was built near it, and was, in many cases,
called the Cross Inn.

One very common cause of curious signs is the way in which the original
word has been corrupted by ignorant people frequently repeating words
which they did not understand, and thus changing their whole meaning.
You may have seen an inn described as "The Swan with Two Necks"--a very
rare bird indeed. But it was never intended to disfigure the bird by
giving it two necks; the original sign was "The Swan with Two _Nicks_"
and nicks were the marks which were cut on a swan's bill to distinguish
it from other swans, so that it might be known to whom the bird
belonged. But _nicks_ became _necks_ in course of conversation, until at
last a fabulous creature with two beautifully curved necks appeared on
the signboard. This same cause will account for the two strange signs,
"Bull and Gate" and "Bull and Mouth." The original signs were "Boulogne
Gate" and "Boulogne Mouth," _i.e._ the gate and harbour of the town of
Boulogne, in France, which was captured by the English under King Henry
VIII. in the year 1544. The English were very pleased to hear of the
defeat of the French, and of the taking of that important town, and
several inns were named in honour of the event; but the French
"Boulogne" was too much for our good English mouths to speak, so it
became "Bull and."

Another name which puzzled our forefathers was "_La Belle Sauvage_"
("the Beautiful Savage"), which was named after a noted savage beauty
who was the rage at Paris. Others assert that the name of the landlady
was Isabella Savage, shortened into Bella Savage. However, in course of
time the name was altered into "Bell and Savage," and a picture
representing this odd combination stood over the door. In the same way
the original sign, "Whip and Nag," between which there is often a very
close connection, became "Whip and Egg"; and the reason why these two
articles should be placed together is not so evident. So also there does
not seem any reason for an inn to be called "Bag o' Nails"; but when we
are told that the original word was "Bacchanals," _i.e._ followers of
Bacchus, the old god of wine, we can understand how the corruption, "Bag
o' Nails," arose. Before the days of licensing, when everyone could sell
liquor who chose without obtaining any licence from the magistrates, it
was the custom to put a bush over the doorway, in order to inform the
passers-by that liquor could be purchased there. This is the origin of
the saying, "Good wine needs no bush."

[Illustration: VILLAGE INN WITH OLD TITHE BARN OF READING ABBEY]

"The Catherine Wheel" tells us the sad story of St. Catherine, who was
born at Alexandria, and for converting fifty heathen philosophers to
Christianity was sentenced by the Emperor Maxentius to death on a wheel,
devised by most ingenious cruelty, armed with knives, saws, and nails.
It is recorded that she was rescued from this fate, but was afterwards
beheaded (305 A.D.). It is curious that this instrument of torture and
the story of St. Catherine's heroism should be recorded on a signboard.
But it may have been brought before the public by a certain miracle
play, founded on the life of St. Catherine, which used to be performed
on festival days. However, the Catherine wheel appears frequently on the
coats-of-arms of several families, and it may be that the sign was taken
from these.

"The George," also, is a very popular sign; and the "St. George of
merry England" is the patron saint of this country, and the battle-cry
of her knights and yeomen of ancient days. Who does not remember that
stirring scene on St. George's Mount during the Crusades, described in
Sir Walter Scott's _Talisman_, when King Richard tore down the Austrian
banner, which the Austrian monarch had dared to erect beside the Royal
Standard of England? St George is generally represented as slaying
a dragon. He was a soldier who served gallantly under the Emperor
Diocletian, and commanded a legion of soldiers; he was a Christian,
and by the dragon whom he slew is meant the devil, red with the blood
of the Christians. So popular a personage as St. George, whose name
inspired our ancestors with courage, and was often borne by them into
the heart of the foe, would soon be recorded in paintings and become a
general sign. "The Goat" is a common sign, and is taken from the crest
of the Duke of Bedford; but "The Goat and Compasses" has puzzled many
people as to its origin. It appears to be a corruption of a pious
expression, "God encompasseth us"; and this shows how strangely words
may be twisted and converted by ignorant and careless usage.

There are some very noted inns where great events have taken place,
amongst which I may mention the Bull Inn at Coventry. Here Henry VII.
was entertained the night before the battle of Bosworth Field, when
he won for himself the English crown. Here Mary Queen of Scots was
detained by order of Elizabeth. Here the conspirators of the Gunpowder
Plot met to devise their scheme for blowing up the Houses of
Parliament. And when the citizens refused to open their gates to
Charles I. and his soldiers, no doubt there were great disputings
amongst the frequenters of "The Bull" as to what would be the result
of their disloyal refusal.

Some of the inns in remote country places did not enjoy a very enviable
reputation, and were little better than man-traps, where the
unfortunate traveller was robbed and murdered. At Blewbury, in
Berkshire, there was an inn, the landlord of which was suspected of
murdering his guests with great secrecy and mystery, and no one could
tell what he did with the bodies of the victims he was supposed to have
murdered. A few years ago an old tree in the neighbourhood of the inn
was blown down, and on digging up the roots a skeleton was found among
them. People wondered how it could have been placed there, but at last
a very old inhabitant told the story of the mysterious disappearance of
the bodies of the late landlord's guests, and the mystery was at length
accounted for. Whenever he slew a man he planted a tree, placing the
body of the murdered victim beneath it. The constables never thought of
looking there; and probably under every tree which he planted (and
there were several), when their roots are dug up, the bones of his
numerous victims will be discovered.

Another story is connected with the old "Hind's Head" at Bracknell,
which was another of these mantraps, where many travellers slept to
rise no more. One winter's night a stout-hearted farmer stayed there,
and joined several jovial companions round the kitchen fire. They ate
and drank merrily, and at last the serving-maid showed the traveller
to his chamber. She told him that he was surrounded by robbers and
murderers, showed him a trap-door at the side of the bed, on which if
he stepped he would tumble headlong into a deep well. She directed him
to tie the bed into a bundle, put it on the trap-door, and escape by
the window. He did so; down went the bundle, instead of the farmer,
into the well, and he managed to effect his escape. Rousing the
neighbourhood he captured the villains, who were all executed, and the
bones of many of their victims were found in the well. Happily such
inns were rare.

To describe the conditions of the old inns for which England was
famous, of the good fare which awaited the travellers by the coach, of
the spacious corridors, of the comfortable beds hung with silk and
smelling of lavender; to tell of all the great folk who entered their
doors--kings, queens, poets, generals, highwaymen, statesmen, grooms,
conspirators, coachmen--all this would require much space to relate.
When railways came in, their ancient glory departed; the old stables
are destroyed; grass grows in the courtyard; and the object of their
existence has almost ceased to be.



CHAPTER XXIII

VILLAGE SUPERSTITIONS AND FOLKLORE

Belief in witches--Survival of water ordeal--Witches turned into hares--
Cruelties practised on witches--Bishop Jewel on the "evil eye"--
Fairies--Berkshire popular superstitions--Field-names--Homes of famous
men--Washington Irving's description of an English village--Rural
exodus--Conclusion.


There is yet another class of subjects connected with old village life,
of absorbing interest and importance. I refer to the old superstitions
and folklore which still linger on in the recollections of the "oldest
inhabitant," and which ought to be at once treasured up, lest they
should be altogether lost. The generation of those who believed firmly
in the power of the "evil eye" of the witch, and who feared to disturb
the revels of the fairies on their rings and mounds, is only just
passing away. An old gipsy has told me some strange stories of the
superstitions of former days. He has told me of the witch at Farnham
who made the cows wild and prevented them from giving milk; of another
witch who lived at Henley-on-Thames, and who when thrown into the river
"floated like a cork." Here we have a survival of the old Saxon method
of trying culprits by the water ordeal, often used in examining
witches. This particular witch could turn herself into a hare, so my
venerable gipsy friend, aged one hundred and six years, informed me,
and the dogs hunted her. He told me of the Tadley witch, who "wished"
several people, and greatly injured them. It seems to have been a
common practice of the old witches to turn themselves into hares, in
order to vex the squires, justices, and country parsons, who were fond
of hunting, as the old dames could elude the speed of the swiftest
dogs. An old writer states "that never hunters nor their dogs may be
bewitched, they cleave an oaken branch, and both they and their dogs
pass over it." Mary Dore, a witch of Beaulieu, Hampshire, used to turn
herself into a hare in order to escape detection when caught in the act
of wood-stealing, to which she was somewhat addicted.

Old women were rather harshly used in the days when people believed in
the power of witches. If any farmer's cattle died, it was immediately
concluded that the animals were bewitched; and some wretched old woman
was singled out, and summarily tried and burnt. If anyone fell ill,
some "witch" had evidently a waxen image of the sufferer, and stuck
needles into it; and such was the power of the witch that, wherever the
person was, he felt the stab of the cruel needle. Hence the witch had
to be found and burnt. If the corn crops failed, was not witchcraft the
cause? for had not old Mother Maggs been heard to threaten Farmer
Giles, and had not her black cat been seen running over his fields?
Even good Bishop Jewel did not disbelieve in the power of the evil eye.
In preaching before Queen Elizabeth he said: "It may please Your Grace
to understand that witches and sorcerers are marvellously increased
within Your Grace's realm. Your Grace's subjects pine away even unto
the death, their colour fadeth, their flesh rotteth, their speech is
benumbed, their senses are bereft. I pray God they never practise
further than on the subject." To so great an extent did faith in the
witches' fatal power prevail. Our forefathers used to believe in the
existence of other, and more pleasant little companions than the old
toothless witches--the bright little fairies who, on account of the
neglect which they have received from the present generation of
Englishmen, have, so it is reported, left our shores in disgust, never
to return. The previous inhabitants of our villages did not so treat
them; and did not the fairies always bring them luck? They nailed the
horseshoe to the stable door to keep out the witches, lest the old
beldams should ride their steeds by night to the witches' revels; but
no one wished to exclude the fairies. Did not the dairymaids find the
butter ready churned, and the cows milked by these kind assistants? Was
there not an old lady in Yorkshire who knew all about the fairies, had
often heard them making butter, and had seen the butter smeared all
over the gate by a little green man with a queer cap who had been seen
slipping under a culvert? Canon Atkinson told us of this lady who knew
all these strange things, and of the Hart Hall "Hob" who worked so hard
with his flail, and of many other curious folk who frequented the
Yorkshire moors in olden days. The last witch had just died before he
went to Danby, but he found the whole atmosphere of the folklore
firmament so surcharged with the being and work of the witch, that he
seemed able to trace her presence and her activity in almost every nook
and corner of the neighbourhood.

The wells all over England were haunted by fairies, and is it not
confidently asserted that "the good people" (as the fairies are called)
live in wilds and forests, and shun great cities because of the
wickedness which exists therein? Have they never appeared to the lonely
traveller, clothed in green, with long hair floating over their
shoulders, and with faces more blooming than the blush of a summer
morning? Then there were the fairy rings formed by the dancing of their
merry feet.

  "Some say the screech-owl, at each midnight hour,
  Awakes the fairies in yon ancient tower.
  Their nightly dancing ring I always dread,
  Nor let my sheep within that circle tread;
  When round and round all night, in moonlight fair,
  They dance to some strange music in the air."

Then there were brownies; and knockers, who worked in mines, and showed
rich veins of silver; and elves--all of whom were included in old
village superstitions, and many were the tales told of the good deeds
they did, and the luck they brought. Nor must we forget the story of
the invisible smith who inhabited Wayland Smith's Cave, in Berkshire.
Whenever a farmer tied up his horse in the cave, and left the money on
a particular stone, on his return he found his horse shod by the kind
efforts of the invisible smith. There is also the old Berkshire story
of the old witch who lived in a cave by the roadside, and who, by the
power of her "evil eye," could stop the strongest team of horses, so
that, however much the carters lashed and swore at them, the animals
would not budge an inch until she permitted them to go. Here are a few
of the common superstitions current in Berkshire. If a corpse be kept
over a Sunday another death will occur before the week is out; should a
big bumble-bee enter the window, a guest may be expected; and when the
woodpecker, commonly called the yaffle, laughs, they say the rain is
coming. When the thick mist lies in the valley, the people say it is
the White Lady, a belief closely akin to the Dame Blanche, who is said
in Normandy to haunt streams. If one row of freshly sown seeds or
potatoes does not come up, it foretells a death in the family. If a
girl mends her clothes on her back, she risks having a drunken husband.
A screech-owl is unlucky, and so also is it if a bird fly against the
window.

A woman came to the rectory a few years ago for a drop of sacramental
wine, which she wanted for an infant who had "the graspings." This
complaint I discovered to be a craving for something, accompanied by
restlessness; and it was supposed that a drop of sacramental wine would
cure an infant so troubled. If the mother before the child was born
craved for drink, this craving was communicated to the child, and could
only be remedied by a drop of wine used in Holy Communion. This
superstition, which I have met with elsewhere, probably is a relic of
pre-Reformation days, and of sacramental Reservation.

A tramp was passing through a Hampshire village a short time ago, and
calling at a house, begged for a glass of water. The woman who lived
there said that she was sorry she could not give him water to drink, as
there was a child in the house unbaptised, and therefore it would be
unlucky. The origin of this superstition it is difficult to trace.

These are some of the legends and superstitions which linger amongst
us. Every neighbourhood has its stories, its legends, and romantic
histories. It is a sad pity that these should pass away without any
record being made. Many curious customs and ceremonies relating to
christenings, marriages, and burials linger in remote hamlets; and
charms, curious remedies, and other relics of the quaint superstitions
of our forefathers, are full of interest to the lover of our English
villages.

As we walk in the fields, or study the old map of the parish, the names
of the fields invite our attention. These are full of interest, and
often tell us about matters which would be entirely forgotten. Some
names tell us of the great forests which used to exist all over the
country, when kings and noblemen, outlaws and poachers, used to hunt
the deer and the wild boars in many a successful run. These forests
were large tracts of country in its natural state, partly wood, partly
heather and grass, which were owned by the king, and were especially
brought under the harsh forest laws of the Norman sovereigns.

Some of our field-names remind us of the existence of these old forests
where corn now grows, and also of swamps and islands where everything
now is dry and far removed from water. Sometimes they tell us of the
old common lands which used to be farmed by the villeins and borderers,
and of the strange way in which they used to manage their farming. Each
man used to keep one or more oxen for the village plough until they
made up the team into eight; then they ploughed the land in strips of
an acre or half-acre each, divided by a bit of unploughed turf called
a balk. Each strip was a furlong, _i.e._ a "furrow long," _i.e._ the
length of the drive of a plough before it is turned. This was forty
rods, or poles, and four of these furrows made up the acre. These
pieces of land were called "shots," and there were "headlands," or
common field-ways, to each shot; and "gored acres," which were corners
of the fields which could not be cut up into strips, and odds and ends
of unused land, which were called "No Man's Land," or "Jack's Land." It
is curious, too, that all the strips belonging to one man did not lie
together, but were scattered all over the common land, which must have
been a very inconvenient arrangement for farming purposes. There were
also in each village community a blacksmith, whose duty it was to keep
in repair the ironwork of the village ploughs, a carpenter for the
woodwork, and a pound-keeper, or punder, who looked after the stray
cattle. Many of the "balks" still remain on the hillsides where these
old common lands existed, and the names of the fields bear witness to
the prevalence of this old field system.

They tell us, too, of the way in which attempts were made to force the
growth of particular crops, and in many parishes you will find a "flax
piece," which reminds us of a foolish Act of Henry VIII. ordering the
cultivation of that plant. Metals, too, which have long ago been
worked out, and trades which no longer exist, have left their traces
behind in the names of our lanes and fields. Also they speak of the
early days when the wolf or the bear might be seen in our woods or
fields, or of the beaver which loved the quietude of our streams, of
the eagle which carried off the lambs undisturbed by sound of the
keeper's gun. Sometimes he was disturbed in his thefts by the flight
of a good strong English arrow, which came from a sturdy English bow
drawn by a good strong English arm. The English archers were famous
everywhere, and many a battle has been won by their valour and their
skill. A law was passed in the reign of Edward IV. that every
Englishman should have a bow of his own height, and that butts for the
practice of archery should be set up in every village; and every man
was obliged to shoot up and down on every feast-day, or be fined one
halfpenny. Consequently, in some villages we find a field called "The
Butts," where this old practice took place.[11]

Many villages are associated with the lives of distinguished
men--authors, soldiers, and statesmen. Perhaps your village may have
bred other poets besides "the mute inglorious Milton" of Gray's
_Elegy_. Not far from where I am writing was Pope's early home, the
village of Binfield, which he calls--

          "My paternal home,
  A little house, with trees arow,
  And, like its master, very low."

On the other side lies the village of Three Mile Cross, where Miss
Mitford lived and wrote "Our Village"; and Arborfield, called in her
book Arborleigh, about which she tells some pleasant stories, is the
adjoining parish. Sometimes, as I ride down a grassy lane, a favourite
haunt of the distinguished authoress, I seem to see her seated on a
fallen tree weaving her pretty romances, while her favourite dog, which
she often describes, plays and barks around her. A few miles in another
direction lies Eversley, the loved abode of Charles Kingsley, about
whom many stories linger in the countryside. To visit the uncomfortable
brick-paved study where he wrote, the garden where he used to pace and
think out his great thoughts, is delightfully refreshing and
invigorating to a jaded writer.

[Illustration: OLD COTTAGES]

These are only instances of places which have become interesting on
account of the famous men who once lived in them; and England has many
heroes of the sword and pen whose lives each Englishman should study;
and when you visit their dwelling-places you will recall their
achievements, and perhaps endeavour to imitate their examples. Here is
an instance of how little the villagers know of the distinguished men
who once lived amongst them. The great Duke of Wellington did not live
a very long time ago, and yet some friends of mine who were staying at
Strathfieldsaye, near the Iron Duke's house, and made inquiries amongst
the villagers about their recollections of the hero of Waterloo, could
obtain no information. At last one venerable rustic vouchsafed the
extraordinary intelligence, "I believe as 'ow 'e were very good at
war"! What a thing it is to be famous!

Much more remains to be said upon the various subjects which this
history of our village suggests. But the day is closing, and our walk
through its sequestered lanes and our thoughts about the various scenes
which yonder venerable oaks have witnessed, must cease. But enough has
been said to show what a wealth of interest lies beneath the calm
exterior of ordinary village life. An American truly observes that
everything in the rural life of England is associated with ideas of
order, of quiet, sober, well-established principles, of hoary usage,
and reverent custom--the growth of ages of regular and peaceful
existence. The impression which the appearance of an English village
left on his mind is beautifully described in the following passage:--

"The old church of remote architecture with its low, massive portal,
its gothic tower, its windows rich with tracery and painted glass,
its scrupulous preservation, its stately monuments of warriors and
worthies of olden times, ancestors of the present lords of the soil;
its tombstones, recording successive generations of sturdy yeomanry,
whose progeny still plough the same fields, and kneel at the same
altar; the parsonage, a quaint, irregular pile, partly antiquated,
but repaired and altered in the tastes of various eyes and occupants;
the stile and footpath leading from the churchyard, across pleasant
fields, and along shady hedgerows, according to an immemorial
right-of-way; the neighbouring village, with its venerable cottages,
its public green sheltered by trees, under which the forefathers of
the present race have sported; the antique family mansion, standing
apart in some little rural domain, but looking down with a protecting
air on the surrounding scene. All these common features of English
landscape evince a calm and settled security, and hereditary
transmission of homebred virtues and local attachments, that speak
deeply and touchingly for the moral character of the nation."

One of the most distressing features of modern village life is the
continual decrease of its population. All our young men flock to the
towns, attracted by the greater excitement which town life offers, as
compared with the more homely pleasures of the country. The rural
exodus is an alarming and very real danger to the welfare of social
England. Agricultural machinery has greatly diminished the number of
labourers required on a farm. Agricultural depression and the decreased
value of land have caused many old country families to close their old
manor-houses, as they cannot afford to live on their estates.

Let us hope that those whose happy lot it is to live in the quiet
hamlets of our native land, afar from the noise and din of busy towns,
will learn to love more deeply their village homes, and interest
themselves in their surroundings. To those who read the history of
their native place, each house and field, each stone and tree, will
tell its story, and recount the wonders it has witnessed. And as the
stories of wars and fights, of superstition and of crime, fall on our
ears, we shall be thankful that our lot is cast in more peaceful days,
when no persecutions, religious or political, disturb the tranquillity
of our village life. And when we read of the piety and simplicity of
our forefathers, their veneration of their church, their love of home,
their innocent joys and social customs, we should strive to imitate
their virtues which have materially helped to make England a great and
powerful nation. It is hoped that these chapters upon the old life of
our country, and the manners and customs of our forefathers, may induce
many of my readers to read and study history more deeply, may serve to
create an interest in the relics that remain to us of the past, and to
preserve the fleeting traditions that Time doth consecrate.


[11] In many cases the name "Butts" refers to the fact of the land,
under the common-field system, _abutting_ on meadows or roads, _e.g._
"Butt-close," in the parish of St. Mary Bourne.



APPENDIX

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS RELATING TO PAROCHIAL HISTORY

To anyone who sets himself the task of writing a history of his village,
the following notes may be useful. With regard to the etymology of the
name, concerning which absurd errors are made in most guide books and
old county histories, it would be well to consult Canon Taylor's _Words
and Places_, being careful to study the earliest form of the word in
_Domesday_ and old documents. Bede's _History_, the _Anglo-Saxon
Chronicles_, and other old English chronicles, published by Bohn, may
contain some allusions to the parish and neighbourhood, and also
Kemble's _Saxons in England_. The _Domesday Book_ is, of course, a mine
of wealth. The Public Record Office contains many documents which will
be of great service--the _Testa de Neville_ (Edward II.), _Marshall
Rolls, Nonarum Inquisitiones, Pipe Rolls, Patent Rolls, Close Rolls,
Hundred Rolls, Inquisitiones post-mortem_, and the _Feet of Fines_. The
_Manor Court Rolls_, if they still exist, in the custody of the lord of
the manor, should also be consulted. The journals of local antiquarian
societies and county histories will of course be examined. The history
of the families connected with the parish must be traced. The British
Museum and the College of Arms contain fine collections of _Heralds'
Visitations_, and Burke's _Landed Gentry_ and Dugdale's _Baronage_
are the chief sources of information. Old _wills_ will yield much
information, many of which are in course of publication by the Index
Society, and county archaeolgical journals; and Somerset House and many
diocesan registries contain the original documents. The Historical
Manuscripts Commission has published many volumes of borough records
which are of great service, and the lives of any great men connected
with the parish may be studied in the _Dictionary of National
Biography_. As we have already pointed out, the parish chest contains
valuable sources of information upon the history of the village, and
its contents should be carefully examined.

The registers of the diocese contain many documents relating to the
ecclesiastical history of the parish, and from them we can obtain a
list of the rectors or vicars. If the church was connected with any
monastery, Dugdale's _Monasticon_ will furnish some information. The
Public Record Office contains the documents _Taxatio Ecclesiastica P.
Nicholai IV._ and _Valor Ecclesiasticus_, which give an account of the
value of the first-fruits and tenths, and also some volumes on the sale
of chantries, and the inventories of church goods. The name of the saint
to whom the church is dedicated must not always be accepted, in spite of
years of usage, and should be confirmed by reference to some early will
of a chief person of the village buried in the church, which usually
gives the name of the patron saint. The story of the church writ in
stone should be traced by the various styles of architecture, with the
help of Rickman's _Gothic Architecture_ or Parker's _Glossary of Gothic
Architecture_. If there has ever been a monastery in the parish,
Dugdale's _Monasticon_ should be consulted; and if there are any remains
of a castle, Clark's _Mediaeval Military Architecture in England_ will
be useful. Prehistoric remains, such as barrows, earthworks, pit
dwellings, and caves should be described; also any Roman roads and
villas; the flora and fauna of the neighbourhood, geology, folklore,
and dialect.

The following books are recommended:--

Evans' _Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain_.
Evans' _ Ancient Bronze Implements_.
Boyd Dawkins' _Cave Hunting_.
Boyd Dawkins' _Early Man in Britain_.
Greenwell's _British Barrows_.
Fergusson's _Rude Stone Monuments_.
Cox's _How to Write the History of a Parish_.
Wright's _Essays on Archaeological Subjects_.
Parker's _Mediaeval Domestic Architecture_.
Sims' _Manual for the Topographer and Genealogist_.
Burn's _History of Parish Registers_.
Seebohm's _English Village Community_.
Toulmin Smith's _English Gilds_.
Haine's _Manual of Monumental Brasses_.
Bloxam's _Principles of Gothic Architecture_.
Tanner's _Notitia Monastica_.
Cutts' _Middle Ages_.
Lee's _Glossary of Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Terms_.


INDEX

Akeman Street, 60
Aldhelm, church-builder, 103
Alfriston clergy-house, 180
_Alignements_, 46
Allington rectory, 180
Almshouses, 181
Altars, 191
Amphitheatre, Roman, 67
Anchoresses, 183
Anchor-hold, 183
Anglo-Saxon villages, 74-89
Archery, 277, 298
Architecture, English, 102-24
Arresting a dead body, 227
Arrow-heads, 20
_Art of Husbandry_, 255
Astrology, belief in, 222
Aumbry, 192
Avebury cromlech, 46

B

Ball-flower moulding, 118
Barkham in _Domesday_, 128
Barnack Church, 106
Barrows or tumuli, 23-3
  "    long and round, 25
  "    near churchyards, 23
  "    Saxon, 90-3
  "    their contents, 24, 29
Basilica, Roman, 66
Beacons, 268
Beating the bounds, 276
Bede, 75
Bell-ringing customs, 250
Bells, 245-53
  "    christening of, 246
  "    inscription on, 247-50
Benedict Biscop, 103
Benedictine monks, 161
Bewcastle cross, 98
Bishops, treating of, 229
Black Death, 255
Blood-letting, 167-9
Blowing Stone, 52
_Bordarii_, 131
Border castles, 140
Brachycephalic race, 21
Brasses, monumental, 212-18
Bridal cup, 207
Brief Book, 226
Brighthampton, pit dwellings at,  33
British Church, 93
  "    oppida, 34
  "    roads, 60, 61
  "    saints and martyrs, 94
Bronze Age, 21, 40
Budworth hermitage, 182
Burial urns, 29, 30
  "    urns in woollen, 220

C

Caesar's camps, 50
Camps, 50-52
Carthusian monks, 162
Castles, 135-53
Cave men, 16
Celts, 21, 34, 37, 56
Cemeteries, Saxon, 92
Censers, 205
Chancels, 190
Charles II., adventures of, 267
Chaucer's satire on monks, 160
Chepstow Castle, 140
Chest, parish, 218-29
Chivalry, 143, 148
Chrismatory, 206
Christmas in olden time, 278
Chun Castle, 51
Church ales, 258
Church bells, 245-53
  "    house, 258
  "    plate, 200-8
  "    yard, 243
Churches, parish, 184 99
Churchwardens' account books, 223-6
Cistercian monks, 114, 161
Civil War, effects of, 153, 220, 265
Cloister of monastery, 163
Cluny, monks of, 161
Consecration crosses, 239
Conversion of Saxons, 94, 95
Crannogs, 38
Cremation, 28, 29, 92
Cromlechs, 46-9
Crosses, Saxon, 95-101
Cross-legged effigies, 211
Cucking-stool, 280

D

Decay of old sports, 271
Decorated architecture, 117
Desecration of monasteries, 159
Devil's Highway, 61
Dog-tooth ornament, 116
Dog-whipper, 228
Dolichocephalic race, 19
Dolmen, 49, 50
_Domesday Book_, 125-34
Donnington Castle, 152
Druids, 48, 50

E

Early English architecture, 115-17
Earthworks, 50-6
Easter sepulchre, 193
Edge Hill, battle of, 264
Edwardian castles, 140
Emblems on brasses, 217
Enstone, menhir at, 45
Eslithic man, 14
Epitaphs, curious, 243
Ermyn Street, 60
"Evil eye," 291-3

F

Fairford windows, 232
Fairies, 56, 293
Fairs, 261
Feudalism, 141
Field-names, 296-8
Flint implements, discovery of, 11
Flint implements, 15, 20
Fonts, 186
Food in barrows, 24, 25
Football, 277
Force-pump, Roman, 68
Frescoes, 234
Friars, preaching, 161
Future life, belief in, shown by barrows, 24

G

Gambassi, glass-painter, 232
_Geburs_, 82
Gentleman, accomplishments of a, 149
Geological changes, 11-13
Glaciers in Britain, 12
Glass, stained, 230-3
Glastonbury, pit dwellings at, 37, 41, 42
Green, village, 8, 280
Grims-dike, 54, 55
Grosmont Castle, 141
Guizot on castles, 141

H

Hagioscopes, 194
Hall marks, 208
Harvest homes, 275
Hastings, battle of, 264
Heart burial, 222
Hedsor, pile dwellings at, 37, 38
_Hereivard the Wake_, 264
Hermits, 181
Hexham church, 104
  "    crosses, 99
Highwaymen, 283
Hocktide sports, 225, 273
Homes of famous men, 298
Hospitium of monastery, 169
House, evolution of country, 172-7
Hundreds, origin of, 87
Hurstbourne, Hants, pit dwellings at, 34

I

Ice Age, 12, 13
Iknield Street, 60
Ilkley cross, 99
Inigo Jones, 176
Inns, 7, 282-90
Inventories, 201
Iron Age, 21
  "    work in churches, 233
_Itinerary_ of Antoninus, 59

J

Jervais, glass-painter, 232
Johnson, Dr., on monasteries, 159

K

Keep of Norman castle, 137
Kelvedon rectory, 179
Kenilworth Castle, 151
King's evil, 228
Knaresborough hermitage, 182
Knighthood, admission to, 145

L

Laindon reclusorium, 183
Lammas lands, 79
Lecterns, 191
Legends, 44, 55, 263
"Lepers' windows," 195
Lich-gate, 242
Local Government, 254
Low side windows, 195

M

Manor-house, 172-7
Manors, 79, 133
Man-traps, 289
Markets, 260
May Day, 225, 273
Mediaeval village, 254-70
Menhir, 45
"Merry England," 256
Milestones, Roman, 61
Miracle plays, 274
_Misereres_, 191
Monasteries, Saxon, 102
  "    154-71
  "    charity of, 159
Monastic day, 166, 167
  "    inns, 282
Monks, benefits conferred by, 155
  "    corruption of, 160
Monstrances, 206
Monumental effigies, 209-12
Mothering Sunday, 273
Mouldings, Decorated, 118, 120
  "    Early English, 116
  "    Norman, 112
  "    Perpendicular, 123
Mural paintings, 234-41

N

Neolithic man, 15, 18, 20, 37
Norman architecture, 109-15
  "    castles, 135-53
  "    place-names, 132
  "    villages, 125-34
Normans, coming of, 125

O

Ockwells manor-house, 173
Ogee arch, 118
Organised condition of society among prehistoric races, 31
Ornaments, Saxon, 91
_Osculatorium_, 192
Oxford, poor scholar of, 229

P

Pageants, 149-52
Paleolithic man, 14
Palimpsests, 213
Parish chest, 218-29
  "    registers, 218-23
Paschall money, 225
Pastimes, 271-81
Pavements, Roman, 71, 72
Pax, 192, 206
Perpendicular architecture, 120
Pews, 187
_Piers Ploughman_, 165, 174, 181
Pile dwellings, 37-43
Pilgrimages, 259
Piscina, 192
Pit dwellings, 33-7
Place-names, 76, 101
Plague, 255-7
Plate, church, 200-8
  "    "    in bishop's coffin, 202
Ploughman's lament, 84
Plough Monday, 272
Porch, 185
"Pot-boilers," 36
Pre-Reformation plate, 202-5
Pulpits, 188
Pytheas of Marseilles, 10
Pyx, 191, 206

Q

Quintain, 277

R

Raglan Castle, 141
Reading Abbey, 171
Reading-pews, 197
Reclusorium, 183
  "    at Rettenden, 183
Rectories, 177-81
Registers, parish, 218-23
Religion of Saxons, 93
"Restoration," 199
Rollright Stones, 46, 47
Roman relics, 57-73
  "    rig, 54
  "    roads, 58-62
  "    villas, 70-3
Rood-loft, 188
Royal arms in churches, 190
Rural exodus, 300
Rush-bearing, 276
Ruthwell cross, 97
Ryknield Street, 60

S

Sacring bell, 252
St. Christopher, 238
Salisbury Cathedral, 115
Saltways, 61
Sanctus bell, 252
Saxon architecture, 106-9
  "    house, 172
  "    monasteries, 102
  "    place-names, 76, 77
  "    relics, 90-101
Saxons, coming of, 74, 75
Screens, 189
Secret chambers, 177
Settle, Victoria Cave at, 17
Shires, origin of, 88
Shrovetide sports, 273
Signs of inns, 284-8
Silchester, 54, 62-70
Slavery under Saxons, 84
Sluggard waker, 228
Smoke farthings, 226
_Socmen_, 83, 131
Spenser's description of hermitage, 182
Sports and pastimes, 271-81
Stocks, 280
Stonehenge, 46
Stone monuments, 44-50
Stourbridge Fair, 261
Sudeley Castle, pageant at, 149-51
Sun-worship, relics of, 27
Superstitions, 44, 295
Switzerland, pile dwellings in, 38-41

T

"Terraces," 19
_Tesserae_, 65, 71
Thanes, 80
Thane's house, 81
Thuribles, 205
Tiles, 233
Tournaments, 146-9
Tudor arch, 121
  "    houses, 175
Tumuli, _see_ Barrows
Turf monuments, 53, 54
Twelfth Night, 272
Tympana, Norman, 110

U

Uffington, 52-4
Ufton Court, Berks, 176, 178

V

Vernicle, 201
Vestry, contents of, 196
Vicarages, 177-81
Villas, Roman, 70-3
Villeins, 130, 255

W

Wars, 262-70
Watling Street, 60
Wayland Smith's Cave, 27, 294
Whalley cross, 96
  "    reclusorium, 184
White Castle, 141
White Horse Hill, 53
Whittenham Clumps, 52
Wilfrid, St., 96, 104, 108, 230
Witches, 291
  "    turned into hares, 292
Woollen, burials in, 220
Worlebury, pit dwellings at, 34

Y

Yeomen, 83, 131
Yew tree in churchyard, 241





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