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Title: The Dover Road - Annals of an Ancient Turnpike
Author: Harper, Charles G.
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.

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THE BRIGHTON ROAD: The Classic Highway to the South.


THE GREAT NORTH ROAD: York to Edinburgh.

THE DOVER ROAD: Annals of an Ancient Turnpike.

THE BATH ROAD: History, Fashion and Frivolity on an old Highway.


THE MANCHESTER ROAD: Manchester to Glasgow.

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD: London to Birmingham.

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD: Birmingham to Holyhead.

THE HASTINGS ROAD: And The "Happy Springs of Tunbridge."



THE NORWICH ROAD: An East Anglian Highway.


THE EXETER ROAD: The West of England Highway.





  Annals of an Ancient Turnpike


  _Illustrated by the Author and from
  Old Prints and Portraits_



  _First Published 1895._
  _Second and Revised Edition 1922._

  Manufactured in England by C. TINLING & CO., Ltd.
  53, Victoria Street, Liverpool,
  and 187, Fleet Street, London.

[Illustration: THE MILLER]


_It has been said, by whom I know not, that "prefaces to books are like
signs to public-houses; they are intended to give one an idea of the kind
of entertainment to be found within." But this preface is not to be like
those; for it would require an essay in itself to give a comprehensive
idea of the Dover Road, in all its implications. A road is not merely so
many miles of highway, more or less well-maintained. It is not only
something in the surveyor's way; but history as well. It is life, touched
at every point._

_The Dover Road--the highway between London and that most significant of
approaches to the Continent of Europe--would have been something much
more in its mere name had it not been for the accident of London: one of
the greatest accidents. It would have been considered a part of the great
road to Chester and to Holyhead: the route diagonally across England, from
sea to sea, which really in the first instance it was._

_For the Dover Road is actually the initial limb of the Watling Street:
that prehistoric British trackway adopted by the Romans and by them
engineered into a road; and it would seem that those Roman engineers,
instructed by the Imperial authorities, considered rather the military and
strategic needs of those times than those of_ LONDINIUM; _for London was
not on the direct road they made; and it was only at a later date, when it
was grown commercially, they constructed an alternative route that served

_It would be rash to declare that more history has been enacted on this
road than on any other, although we may suspect it; but certainly history
is more spectacular along these miles. Those pageants and glittering
processions are of the past: they ended in 1840, when railways were about
to supplant the road; when the last distinguished traveller along these
miles, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, came up by carriage to wed
Queen Victoria._




London Bridge (Surrey side) to--


  Borough (St. George's Church)              1/2

  Kent Street                                3/4

  Newington ("Bricklayers' Arms")          1

  New Cross                                3-1/4

  Deptford                                 4-1/4

  Blackheath                               5

  Shooter's Hill                           8-1/4

  Shoulder of Mutton Green                 9-1/4

  Belle Grove                              9-1/2

  Welling                                 10-1/4

  Crook Log                               10-3/4

  Bexley Heath                            11-1/4

  Crayford (Cross River Cray)             13-1/4

  Dartford (Cross River Darent)           15

  John's Hole                             16-1/4

  Horn's Cross                            17

  Greenhithe                              18

  Northfleet                              20-1/4

  Gravesend (Jubilee Tower)               22

  Milton                                  23

  Chalk Street                            23-1/2

  Gad's Hill ("Falstaff" Inn)             26-1/4

  Strood (Cross River Medway)             28-1/4

  Rochester (Guildhall)                   29

  Chatham (Town Pier)                     30

  Rainham                                 34

  Moor Street                             34-1/4

  Newington                               36-3/4

  Key Street                              38

  Chalk Well                              39

  Sittingbourne (Parish Church)           40

  Bapchild                                41-1/4

  Radfield                                41-3/4

  Green Street                            42-1/2

  Ospringe                                45-1/2

  Preston                                 46-1/2

  Boughton-under-Blean                    49

  Boughton Hill                           50

  Dunkirk                                 51-1/4

  Harbledown                              54

  Canterbury (Cross River Stour)          55-1/4

  Gutteridge Gate                         57

  Bridge (Cross River Stour)              58-1/4

  Halfway House                           62-3/4

  Lydden                                  65-3/4

  Temple Ewell                            67-1/2

  Buckland                                69

  Dover                                   70-3/4



  Mercery Lane, Canterbury                    Frontispiece

  South Gateway, Old London Bridge                       6

  The "George"                                           7

  Old Telegraph Tower, Tooley Street                    10

  The "Spur" Inn                                        15

  Saturday Night in the Old Kent Road                   21

  Greenwich Observatory                                 26

  Arms of Spielman and his first wife                   52

  Dartford Church                                       54

  The "Bull" Inn, Dartford                              56

  Dartford Bridge                                       59

  Riverside, Gravesend                                  69

  Denton Chapel                                         80

  Joe Gargery's Forge                                   81

  Ancient Carving--Chalk                                82

  Sailors' Folly                                        83

  Jack come home again                                  84

  The Light Fantastic. Bank Holiday at Chalk            85

  Gad's Hill Place. Residence of Charles Dickens        92

  The "Falstaff," Gad's Hill                            94

  A Good Samaritan                                     111

  Rochester Castle and the Medway                      116

  High Street, Rochester: Eastgate House               122

  Jack in his Glory                                    123

  The Invasion of England: England                     127

  The Invasion of England: France                      131

  Paid off at Chatham                                  135

  Key Street                                           148

  Yard of the "Lion" Hotel, Sittingbourne              160

  Ospringe: a June hop-garden                          167

  "Sir William Courtenay"                              177

  "Courtenay"                                          180

  Westgate, Canterbury                                 190

  The Duc de Nivernais                                 193

  The Black Prince's Arms and Badge                    205

  "A Gorgeous Creature"                                215

  William Clements                                     216

  Bridge                                               218

  "Old England's Hole"                                 223

  Barham Downs                                         227

  Watling Street: Moonrise                             231

  Floods at Alkham: The Drellingore Stream             239

  St. Radigund's Abbey                                 241

  Dover Castle, from the Folkestone Road: Sunrise      251

[Illustration: The Dover Road]


Of all the historic highways of England, the story of the old Road to
Dover is the most difficult to tell. No other road in all Christendom (or
Pagandom either, for that matter) has so long and continuous a history,
nor one so crowded in every age with incident and associations. The
writer, therefore, who has the telling of that story to accomplish is
weighted with a heavy sense of responsibility, and though (like a village
boy marching fearfully through a midnight churchyard) he whistles to keep
his courage warm, yet, for all his outward show of indifference, he keeps
an awed glance upon the shadows that beset his path, and is prepared to
take to his heels at any moment.

And see what portentous shadows crowd the long reaches of the Dover Road,
and demand attention! Cæsar's presence haunts the weird plateau of Barham
Downs, and the alert imagination hears the tramp of the legionaries along
Watling Street on moonlit nights. Shades of Britons, Saxons, Danes, and
Normans people the streets of the old towns through which the highway
takes its course, or crowd in warlike array upon the hillsides. Kings and
queens, nobles, saints of different degrees of sanctity, great blackguards
of every degree of blackguardism, and ecclesiastics holy, haughty, proud,
or pitiful, rise up before one and terrify with thoughts of the space the
record of their doings would occupy; in fine, the wraiths and phantoms of
nigh upon two thousand years combine to intimidate the historian.

How rich, then, the road in material, and how embarrassing the accumulated
wealth of twenty centuries, and how impossible, too, to do it the barest
justice in this one volume! Many volumes and bulky should go toward the
telling of this story; and for the proper presentation of its pageantry,
for the due setting forth of the lives of high and low, rich or poor, upon
these seventy miles of highway, the rugged-wrought periods of Carlyle, the
fateful march of Thomas Hardy's rustic tragedies, the sly humour and the
felicitous phrases of a Stevenson, should be added to the whimsical
drolleries of Tom Ingoldsby. To these add the lucid arrangement of a
Macaulay shorn of rhetorical redundancies, and, with space to command one
might hope to give a glowing word-portraiture of the Dover Road; while,
with the aid of pictorial genius like that possessed by those masters of
their art, Morland and Rowlandson, illustrations might be fashioned that
would shadow forth the life and scenery of the wayside to the admiration
of all. Without these gifts of the gods, who shall say he has done all
this subject demands, nor how sufficiently narrate within the compass of
these covers the doings of sixty generations?

The Dover Road, then, to make a beginning with our journey, is measured
from the south side of London Bridge, and is seventy and three-quarters of
a mile long.


[Sidenote: THE COACHES]

If we had wished, in the first year of the reign of Queen Victoria, to
proceed to Dover with the utmost expedition and despatch consistent with
coach-travelling, we should have booked seats in Mr. Benjamin Worthy
Horne's "Foreign Mail," which left the General Post-Office in Saint
Martin's-le-Grand every Tuesday and Friday nights, calling a few minutes
later at the "Cross Keys," Wood Street, and finally arriving at Dover in
time for the packets at 8.15 the following morning; thus beating by half
an hour the time of any other coach then running on this road.

If, on the other hand, we objected to night travel, we should have had to
sacrifice that half-hour, and go by either the "Express," which, starting
from the "Golden Cross," Charing Cross, at 10 a.m. every morning, did the
journey in nine hours; or else by the "Union" coach, which, travelling at
an equal speed, left the "White Bear," Piccadilly, at 9 a.m. Not that
these were the only choice. Coaches in plenty left town for Dover; the
"Eagle," the "Phoenix," Worthington's Safety Coaches, the "Telegraph,"
the "Defiance," the "Royal Mail," and the "Union Night Coach," starting
from all parts of London. The famous "Tally-ho Coach," too, between London
and Canterbury, left town every afternoon, and did the fifty-four miles in
the twinkling of an eye--that is to say (with greater particularity and
less vague figure of speech) in five hours and a half; while Stanbury and
Rutley's fly-vans and wagons conveyed goods and passengers who could not
afford the fares of the swifter coaches between the "George,"
Aldermanbury, and Dover at the rate of six miles an hour.

Besides these methods of conveyance, numerous coaches, vans, omnibuses and
carriers'-carts plied between the Borough and Chatham, Rochester and
Strood; or served the villages between London and Gravesend. Indeed, at
this period, we find the crack coaches, the long-distance mails, starting
from London city, leaving to the historic inns of Southwark only the
goods-wagons, the short-stages, and the carriers'-carts. In 1837, also,
you could vary the order of your going to Dover by taking boat from London
to Gravesend, Whitstable, or Herne Bay, and at any of those places waiting
for the coach. The voyage to Herne Bay took six hours, and the coach
journey from thence to Dover occupied another four, the whole costing but
ten shillings; which, considering that you could get horribly sea-sick in
the six hours between London and Herne Bay, and had four hours of jolting
in which to recover, was decidedly cheap, and not to be matched nowadays.

The traveller of this time would probably select the "Express" from the
"Golden Cross," because this was a convenient and central starting-point
from which that excellent coach started at an hour when the day was
well-aired. The coachman of that time was the ultimate product of the
coaching age, and we who travel by train do not see anything like him. He
owed something to heredity, for in those days son succeeded to father in
all kinds of trades and professions much more frequently than now; for the
rest of his somewhat alarming appearance he was indebted partly to the
rigours of the weather and partly to the rum-and-milk for which he called
at every tavern where the coach stopped--and at a good many where it had
no business to stop at all. As a result of these several causes, he
generally had cheeks like pulpit cushions, puffy, and of an apoplectic
hue, and a plum-coloured nose with red spots on it; he was, in fact, what
Shakespeare would call a "purple-hued malt-worm." He shaved scrupulously.
A rugged beaver hat with a curly brim and a coat of many capes would have
identified him as a coachman, even if the evidence of his face had failed,
and his talk, which consisted of "_Gee_-hups," biting repartees
administered to passing Jehus, and contemptuous references to the
railways, which were just beginning to be spoken of, was solely

Some of these latter-day coaches went direct from the West End, over
Westminster Bridge, and so to the Old Kent Road, but others had to call at
various inns on the way to the City, and so came over London Bridge in the
approved fashion.



And the London Bridge by which they would cross in 1837 was a very
different structure from that driven over by their forbears of twenty
years previously.

[Illustration: South Gateway, Old London Bridge]

So late as 1831, Old London Bridge remained that, built in 1176, had thus
for nearly seven hundred years borne the traffic to and from London, and
had stood firmly centuries of storms and floods, and all the attacks of
rebels from Norman to late Tudor times. Its career was closed on the 1st
of August, 1831, when the new bridge, that had taken seven years in the
building, was opened. The old bridge crossed the Thames at a point about a
hundred feet to the eastward of the present one; the city approach leading
steeply down a narrow street by Monument Yard, and passing close under the
projecting clock of Saint Magnus the Martyr. The view was eminently
picturesque, with the many and irregular pointed arches of the bridge; the
rush of water in foaming cascades through the narrow openings; the
weathered stonework, and the curious old oil-lamps; and the soaring
Monument with the fantastic spire of St. Magnus, seen from Southwark, in
the background. This was the aspect of Old London Bridge at any time
between 1750, when the houses that had been for centuries standing on it
were removed, and 1831, when the bridge itself was destroyed with pick
and shovel. In previous ages there were gates both at the London and the
Southwark ends, and on these fortified gateways were stuck the heads of
many traitors to the State and martyrs to religious opinions. The heads of
Sir William Wallace, Jack Cade, Bishop Fisher of Rochester, Sir Thomas
More, and of many another, were once to be seen here; and in Queen
Elizabeth's time, when John Visscher made a drawing of London Bridge, so
many were the rotting skulls that the Southwark gate-house wore not so
much the appearance of an entry into the capital of a civilised kingdom as
that of a doorway to some Giant Blunderbore's bloodstained castle.

[Illustration: THE "GEORGE."]

[Sidenote: BRIDGE FOOT]

"Bridge Foot" was the name of the Southwark end of London Bridge. It was a
narrow lane leading to Southwark High Street, paved with knobbly stones
and walled in with tall houses. Bridge Foot is a thing of the past, and
London Bridge Station stands on the site of it. "High Street, Borough,"
too, is very different from not only mediæval days, but even from coaching
times. The many old inns that used to front toward the street, dating
their prosperity back to the twelfth century, and their fabric to some
time subsequently to the fire of 1676, are nearly all either utterly
demolished, or are put to use as railway receiving offices. The "Queen's
Head" is gone; the "George," most interesting of all that remain here, is
threatened; the "Spur" is left, little changed; the "Half Moon" is still
the house for a good chop or steak and a tankard of ale; but the "White
Hart," where is it? Where the "Tabard," the "King's Head," the "Catherine
Wheel," the "Boar's Head," the "Old Pick my Toe," or the "Three Widows"?
In vain will the curious who pay pilgrimage to Southwark seek them. There
still are many cavernous doorways, stone-flagged passages, and great
courtyards; but nothing more romantic than railway vans is to be seen in
the most of them, and the yard where Sam Weller was first introduced to an
admiring public is quite gone.

The most romantically named of the Southwark inns now left is undoubtedly
the "Blue Eyed Maid," so named, possibly, in connection with Tamplin's
"Blue Eyed Maid" coach that used to run between Southwark and Rochester in
the twenties. The building, though, does not share the romanticism of its
name. Near it, let into the seventeenth-century brick frontage of No. 71,
High Street, is the old sign of the "Hare and Sun," the trade-mark of
Nicholas Hare; and this, together with the stone half-moon sign in the
yard of the "Half Moon Inn," is the sole relic of the many devices that
once decorated the street. The hop trade has taken almost undivided
possession of the place nowadays. The Hop Exchange is over the way, and
hop-factors are as frequently to be met with here as diamond-merchants in
Hatton Garden; and with their coming the old-fashioned appearance of
Southwark High Street is gone.

Even when Hogarth painted his "Southwark Fair," in 1733, the street was
suburban, and in the distance, seen between the crowds gathered round old
St. George's Church, are the hills and dales of Kent. The church was
pulled down in the following year, and the present building put up in its
place. The fair was suppressed in 1762.

At that time, Kent Street was the only way to the Dover Road, and, even
then, the dirt and over-crowding in that notorious thoroughfare were
phenomenal. Englishmen were ashamed of this disgraceful entrance into
London, and one whose duty lay in bringing a representative foreigner from
Dover to London craftily contrived that he should enter the Metropolis at
night, when the dirty tenements of Kent Street, by which their carriage
would pass, would be hidden in darkness. When Newington Causeway was made,
and direct access gained to the Old Kent Road, the horrors of Kent Street
were no longer to be braved by travellers. The street is here still, but
somewhat civilised, and now called "Tabard Street"; but to "give a bit of
Kent Street" is yet understood to mean language for which Billingsgate has
also been long renowned.


A singular structure standing in Tooley Street, and visible for a very
great distance up or down the river, was the so-called "Telegraph Tower,"
which was burned down in the great fire of August, 1843. It had at one
time been a shot-tower, and had always completely dwarfed its next-door
neighbour, St. Olave's Church. It was very ugly, and so its loss was a
distinct gain; but with its disappearance went all recollection of the old
system of signalling that had no rival before the electric telegraph was
introduced in 1838.


This system was introduced in 1795, at the suggestion of the Rev. Lord
George Murray, afterwards Bishop of Saint David's. He proposed to the
Admiralty to erect signal-posts or towers on the heights between London
and the coast, and upon experiments being made, it was found easily
practicable to send messages in this way to our ships in the Downs. That
year, then, witnessed the establishment of a line of telegraph-towers
between the Admiralty and Deal, with a branch to Sheerness. The original
apparatus of revolving shutters was in use until 1816, when it was
changed for a semaphore system, resembling very closely that in use upon
railways at the present day, the chief peculiarity being that, instead of
only two movements of the semaphore arms, each one could be made to assume
six different positions. Some old prints of the Admiralty buildings in
Whitehall show a telegraph-station of this kind upon the roof, with the
little wooden cabin in which were stationed the men (generally four) whose
duty it was to read through telescopes the signals from the nearest
station, and to work the shutters or semaphores above their own. One of
these stations has given the name of "Telegraph Hill" to that knoll at
Hatcham, by New Cross, which was opened as a public park so recently as
April, 1895. From hence was signalled news of Nelson and Trafalgar, of
Wellington and Waterloo; here worked the arms that carried orders from the
Admiralty to the admirals in the Downs to sail east or west; to proceed
home or fare forth to foreign stations; to summon Courts Martial, and to
put the sentences of those stern drum-head tribunals into execution.


[Sidenote: SOUTHWARK]

The Southwark of Chaucer's time was a very different place. For one thing,
it was a great deal smaller. The year in which his Canterbury Pilgrims
were supposed to set out has generally been fixed at 1383, and at that
time the whole country had only recently been smitten with three great
pestilences, which had carried off nearly half the population of England.
London numbered probably no more than thirty thousand inhabitants.
Southwark was comparatively a village; a village, too, not with the odious
surroundings of later years, but a pleasant spot over the water from the
City, where great prelates had their palaces, and whence a short walk of
five minutes or so would bring you into the open country, and among the
fragrant hedgerows of the Kent Road. No picture exists of Southwark as
Chaucer saw it, but when an ingenious Dutchman--one Antony van der
Wyngrerde--made a drawing of Southwark and London Bridge, in 1546, this
historic part of the "Surrey side" was still distinctly rural. Orchards
and pleasant gardens are seen clustering round St. George's Church, and
stretching away to the site of the present Kent Street, and bosky woods
flourished where the tall wharves of Bankside are crowded together. Where
are those orchards, woods, and gardens now? Where is Winchester House, the
grand palace of the Bishops of Winchester, that looked upon the river?
Where its neighbour, Rochester House? Where, too, is Suffolk House, the
princely residence of the Dukes of Suffolk? Gone, all of them, like the
morning dew; and the only recognisable object in Van Wyngrerde's drawing
is the tower of St. Mary Overie's Church that still, as "St. Saviour's,"
rears its four pinnacles above the Southwark of to-day.

The most famous of all the inns of Southwark was the "Tabard," famous not
only as an ordinary house of good cheer, but as a hostelry immediately
under the protection of the Church, whereto resorted many good folk bent
on pilgrimage. The Abbot of Hyde Monastery at Winchester was the owner of
the ground upon which the original "Tabard" was built, and he built here
not only an inn (which it is to be supposed he let out) but also a
guest-house for the brethren of Hyde, and all others of the clergy who
resorted to London to wait on the Bishop of Winchester, whose grand palace
stood close by. In 1307 did the Abbot of Hyde build the "Tabard," and
Chaucer gave it immortality in 1383. At that time the landlord was the
Harry Bailly of the "Canterbury Tales"; a real person, probably an
intimate friend of Chaucer's, and Chaucer's description of him is most
likely to be a careful portraiture of the man, his appearance, his
speech, and his ways of thought.


He was a considerable person, this host. He was a Member of Parliament,
and his name is an index of his importance, for Bailiff of Southwark his
ancestor, Henry Tite, or Martin, had been made in 1231, and himself held
the position through so long a line of grandfathers and great-grandfathers
that their name had become merged in that of his civic office. So
Chaucer's description we know to be very truth, so far as his worth and
position are concerned:--

  A seemly man our hostè was withal
  For to have been a marshal in a hall.
  A largè man was he, with eyen steep,
  A fairer burgess is there none in Chepe;
  Bold of his speech, and wise, and well ytaught;
  And of manhóod lackèd righte nought,
  Eke thereto he was right a merry man.

This explains the host's sitting at supper with his guests, even with such
gentlefolk as the knight and his son, the squire, and with the Lady
Abbess. Thus is he able to take charge of and assume leadership over his
party on the road to Canterbury, and to reprove or praise each and all,
according to his mind.

The "Tabard" is, of course, only a memory now, and, indeed, so often had
it been patched and repaired, that but little of the original could have
been standing when the great fire of Southwark, in 1676, swept away many
of the old inns. But the "Talbot," as it was called in later times, stood
until 1870 on the site of the older building, and was itself so venerable
that many good folks were used to believe it to have been the veritable
house where those old-time pilgrims lay before setting out on their

To that shrine of St. Thomas crowds of pilgrims flocked from every part of
the Christian world. Rich and poor, high and low alike, left court and
camp, palace or hovel. The knight left his castle, the lady her bower; the
merchant his goods, the sailor his ship; and the ploughman forsook his
tillage to partake in the blessings that radiated from Becket's
resting-place in Canterbury Cathedral. From such varied ranks of society
are Chaucer's pilgrims drawn. A knight whose manhood had been spent in
battle at home or in Palestine is at their head. He had been present at
the taking of Alexandria; had fought with the Germans against Russia, and
had campaigned in Granada against the Moors. Yet his is a meek and
Christian-like deportment, and he is in truth a very perfect, gentle
knight. With him is his son, the squire, a boy of twenty, who had already
made one campaign against the French, and had borne himself well, both in
battle and in the tourney. Love deprives him of his sleep, and for love he
writes sonnets and attires himself in smart clothes, broidered over with
flowers like a May meadow. In attendance on this love-lorn swain is a
yeoman clad in Lincoln green and bristling with arms. Sword and buckler, a
dagger in his belt, with bow and arrows complete his equipment. Following
upon these comes firstly Madame Eglantine, a lady prioress whose noble
birth is seen both in her appearance and in the nicety with which she eats
and drinks. With a sweet, if rather nasal, tone she chants portions of the
Liturgy, and speaks French by preference; but it is the French, not of
Paris, but of "Stratford-atte-Bow." So high-strung is her sensibility that
she would weep if she was shown a mouse in a trap, or if her little dog
was beaten with a stick. She wears--somewhat inconsistently, considering
her religious profession--a brooch bearing the inscription, _Amor vincit

[Illustration: THE "SPUR" INN.]

Next this dainty lady comes a fat monk of the Benedictine Order, whose
shaven crown and red cheeks are as smooth as glass, and whose eyes shine
like burning coals, both by reason of lust and good living. He is dressed
in a fashion no holy monk should affect, for the sleeves of his robe are
trimmed with the finest fur, and a golden love-knot pin holds his hood in
place. Clearly ring the bells on his horse's bridle; hare-hunting and a
feast off a fat swan are more to him than the rule of St. Benedict and
all the holy books in his cell. Beside this disgrace to his religious
profession is a mendicant friar who is no whit better than his fellow, for
he can sing tender songs to his harp, treats the country-folk in the
taverns, and knows well how to please the women with timely gifts of
needles and knives. Follow these a merchant and two learned men. Well does
the merchant know the rate of exchange, and better still does he know how
to secure his own interest. Not so the clerk of Oxenford, hollow-cheeked
and lean, dressed in threadbare clothes and riding a bare-ribbed horse. As
yet he is unbeneficed; but his books are his only joy. His fellow is a law
serjeant in good practice, and at his heels comes the Franklin, a
representative of a very large class who held land of their own, but were
not of gentle birth.

A lower social stratum is represented by a haberdasher, a carpenter, a
weaver, a dyer, and a tapster; all of consideration in their own grade,
and likely to become aldermen some day. As wealthy as any is the miller, a
big-bodied fellow, with a spade beard, red, like a fox, and as cunning. He
well knows how to take a share of the corn his customers bring him to
grind. He wears a white coat and a blue hood; plays on the bagpipes, and
tells stories fitted to make the young and innocent blush. The wife of
Bath is every whit as indelicate. She has been married five times, and of
love, says Chaucer, "she knew the oldè dance." Therefore she is
privileged. A shipman from Dartmouth has with him a bottle of Burgundy
stolen from his captain's cabin, from which he thinks it no sin to drink
when on pious pilgrimage. A doctor of physic, a cook, a poor parson, a
ploughman, a reeve, or estate agent, a manciple, and two disgraceful
characters--a summoner and a pardoner--make up the total of the company.
The summoner has a fiery face, which nothing but abstinence from drink
will assuage; and the pardoner is totally without conscience or morals of
any kind. He makes a good living by selling pardons from the Pope, and
gets more by the sale of relics in one day than the parson can earn in two

When these pilgrims rode forth on that April morning--nine and twenty of
them--from the "Tabard," to seek Becket's shrine, they started from the
ultimate suburb of London. Picture that, Londoners of to-day, who find
streets unceasing until Blackheath is gained, and no true roadside country
this side of Gravesend! The thymy air then blew in at the casements of the
many inns of Southwark, and the views thence extended over fields and
meadows where countless chimneys now pollute the sky. Some way down the
Kent Road ran a little stream across the highway--"Saint Thomas à
Watering" the ford was called, and here the pilgrims made their first

  And forth we riden a litel more than pas,
  Unto the watering of Saint Thomàs,
  And then our host began his hors arrest.

Saint Thomas's Road marks the site of this stream, and the "Thomas à
Becket" inn perpetuates a house of call for wayfarers; but the fame of all
these things--of the heretics, the cutpurses, the varied thieves and
beggars who were executed here, with their quarters stuck on poles by the
ford by way of warning, is lost in the latter-day commonplace of the Old
Kent Road.

Yet, at this place, which was something more than a mere water-splash, and
the Golgotha of this road out of London, many met their end through being
born a little in advance of their time. This was, and is yet, a criminal
offence; but it is no longer capital. If, for example, the unfortunate
John Penry, Welsh scholar and graduate alike of Oxford and Cambridge,
religious reformer and prime mover in the "Martin Marprelate" tracts,
directed against the Episcopal bench, had but been born fifty years later,
he would have been honoured, instead of meeting here an ignominious end.
He was hanged at St. Thomas à Watering, May 29, 1593, and was a victim to
the vengeance of my lords spiritual in general, and of Archbishop Whitgift
in particular.


[Sidenote: MILESTONES]

There are milestones on the Dover Road. Of course. Mr. F's aunt, in
_Little Dorrit_, knew something about them, but not much. Her knowledge
was general, not particular. We read in Chapter XXIII:--

    "A diversion was occasioned here by Mr. F.'s aunt, making the
    following inexorable and awful statement: 'There's milestones on the
    Dover Road.' Clennam was disconcerted by this. 'Let him deny it if he
    can,' continued the venomous old lady. He could not deny it. There are
    milestones on the Dover Road."

We will not grow excited about this incontrovertible fact. But not many
people can say where the first milestone from London on this highway is to
be found. Although, in fact, it is at the end of the first mile from the
south side of London Bridge, no one in these days would suspect such a
relic of surviving in London streets. It stands where the Old Kent Road
begins, on the left-hand side as you go south, with an iron plate on it,
proclaiming this to be "1 mile from London Bridge." The stone, greatly
battered, stands prominently, on an elevated kerb. Just because we
associate milestones with country roads and hedgerows, we look upon this,
standing in that crowded urban region, as curious; but when it was first
set up, this was on the very verge of the country.

We have heard much of the Old Kent Road in recent years. People who never
so much as suspected the existence of it, grew familiar with its name, in
the refrain of a comic song dealing with costermongers. The music-halls in
1891 reverberated with the name. But that is all done with. The Old Kent
Road is not to be described in a phrase, nor thought of as the coster's
paradise. It is in fact a road of many aspects.

But how to catalogue the kinds of them that dwell here? It cannot well be
done. Shopkeepers of every kind and degree; private residents of a more
than average decent respectability; publicans, the landlords of
public-houses of a prodigious bigness; family doctors--these are the more
salient classes of the Old Kent Road. The coster? you ask. Nay, but he
does not "inhabit" here. He (shall I phrase it thus?) pervades the
road--the "road," _bien entendu_, not the houses that line the road--and
it is only on Saturday nights, when frugal housewives fare forth,
cheapening necessary provisions, that you who seek shall find him, with
his booths and shallows, his barrows and crazy trestles; his naphtha-lamps
flaring gustily, his voice raucous, his goods striking both eye and nose
in no uncertain manner. At such times the kennel becomes a busy mart,
where you may purchase most articles of daily food at a price much below
the current quotations in shops. Here a shilling possesses the purchasing
power of a half-crown expended in the West End, and at this _bon marché_
the artisan's table is fully furnished forth for a sum which would give
the dwellers in mid-London pause.


I have said that the Old Kent Road is eminently respectable; and so it is.
But it is also (the natural sequence of respectability) not less eminently
dull. It is only when Saturday evening comes, with its street-market
commencing as the light dies out of the sky, that this long road becomes
really interesting. Then it takes on an aspect of mystery, and is filled
with flickering lights and shadows from the yellow gas-lamps and the gusty
naphtha-flares that illuminate the dealings of Mr. 'Enery 'Awkins with his
clients; and I am quite sure that, if Rembrandt was living now, he would
choose such a time and place as the best subject for a picture in all
London. One spot in especial he would select. Taking a tramcar from the
"Elephant and Castle," he would ask the conductor to set him down by the
bridge that crosses the Grand Surrey Canal, where the great gasometers of
the South London Gas Company rear themselves high in air above mean houses
and third-rate shops. Arrived here, he would select, as the best point of
view, the broad entrance of a large public-house, outside of which the
omnibuses stop in their career between the Borough and New Cross; and it
is very likely that the thing which happened to me while sketching here
would also befall him; that is to say, some short-sighted or dull-witted
old lady would probably dig him in the ribs with the ferrule of her
umbrella, and say, "Young man, how long before your 'bus starts?" And,
after all, I suppose one must not be satirical at the expense of that very
worthy person the British matron; for, to a superficial glance, a
sketch-block may be not unlike an omnibus way-bill; and who but a mad
impressionist would see sketchable material in an ugly gasometer? And who
other than a reckless Bohemian would be so far indifferent to public
opinion as to sketch outside a gin-palace?


The Old Kent Road of from seventy to eighty years ago presented a very
different aspect from that with which those are familiar who travel
nowadays up and down its great length in tramcars. It was distinctly
rural. The few houses that were to be seen here in coaching days were
chiefly inns, with swinging signs creaking, and horse-troughs lining the
roadside, and the "Kentish Drovers," that now wears much the same
appearance as any other London public-house, was a veritable rustic house
of call for countrymen driving their sheep and cattle to London markets.
"The Bricklayers' Arms" (a 'scutcheon, needless to say, unknown to
heraldry), "The World Turned Upside Down," the "Thomas à Becket," and the
"Golden Cross," at New Cross, were scarcely less rural. It was at the
"Golden Cross" that Pitt and Dundas, overtaken on the road from Dover to
London by bad weather, put up for the night, and drank seven bottles of
port before they went to bed.

Imagine, though, the condition of the roads, and locomotion upon them,
when two Cabinet Ministers could think it not only convenient, but merely
prudent, to halt for the night when so near London as New Cross! The
Londoner who can take 'bus, tram, or train, and reach the City in less
than half-an-hour, can scarce picture the necessity which faced those
distinguished travellers.


[Sidenote: DEPTFORD]

When the old coachmen had got through New Cross Gate, which stood where
the "Marquis of Granby" occupies the junction of the Deptford and Lewisham
roads, they found themselves in the country, with Deptford, a busy but
small and compact place, yet some distance ahead. Also, they had entered
the county of Kent. Nowadays, it is difficult for the uninstructed to tell
where New Cross ends or Deptford begins, for there is never a break in the
houses all the way, while the street presents no attractions whatever; and
even though the "good view of part of the Greenwich Railway, the carriages
of which may be seen in motion to and fro" (a view which the local
guide-book, published in 1837, considered worthy a visit from London),
remains to this day, together with several other railways to keep it
company, one does not find crowds of visitors hanging on the delirious
delights of the several New Cross stations.

The Deptford of to-day is no place for the pilgrim. Instead of
reminiscences of _Kenilworth_ and Queen Elizabeth, of Drake and Peter the
Great, it is rich in "stores" and "emporiums." A workhouse stands where
Sayes Court afforded shelter under its roof, and amusement in its gardens,
for the Czar; the Trinity House of Deptford Strond has been removed to
Tower Hill; and perhaps the most remarkable thing in modern Deptford is
the Foreign Cattle Market. And yet here Elizabeth knighted Francis Drake,
in 1581, on that good ship the _Golden Hind_, in which he had "compassed
the world"; and here, on a site now occupied by cattle and by business
premises, was the greatest dockyard in England at the most interesting
period of English naval history.

It was at Deptford, they say, in 1593, that Christopher Marlowe, that
bright particular star of poesy, was slain, while yet in his thirtieth
year. We know too little of him, and no portraiture has come down to show
us what manner of man this was who wrote divinely and lived (if we may
believe the scribes) sottishly, after the manner, indeed, of the
fraternity of his fellow-dramatists. It should seem, by some contemporary
accounts, that he was killed by a rival in the affections of some saucy
baggage; but there were not wanting those who asserted that the poet was
assassinated by some myrmidon of the Church, whose priests he lost no
opportunity of reviling. To lend some colour to this, there remains a
pamphlet, printed in 1618, entitled--_what_ a title!--"The Thunderbolt of
God's Wrath Against Hard-hearted and Stiff-necked Sinners." It says, "We
read of one Marlowe, a Cambridge Scholler, who was a poet and a filthy
play-maker; this wretch accounted that meeke servant of God, Moses, to be
but a conjuror, and our Sweet Saviour to be but a seducer and deceiver of
the people. But harken, ye brain-sicke and prophane poets and players,
that bewitch idle eares with foolish vanities, what fell upon this
prophane wretch; having a quarrell against one whom he met in the street
in London, and would have stab'd him; but the partie perceiving his
villany prevented him with catching his hands, and turning his own dagger
into his braines; and so blaspheming and cursing he yeelded up his
stinking breath. Marke this, ye players that live by making fools laugh at
sinne and wickedness."


Leaving "dirty Deptford," that being the contumelious conjunction by which
the place has generally been known, any time these last hundred years or
so (and far be it from me to deprive any place of its well-merited title,
whether good or ill), the road ascends steeply to Blackheath, past some
fine old mansions which, having been built in the days of Queen Anne and
the earlier Georges, and having long housed the aristocracy who at one
time frequented the place, became afterwards the homes of rich City
merchants. Finally, when the "schools for young ladies" are gone which now
occupy them, and give so distinct a scholastic air to this suburb, they
will doubtless disappear amid a cloud of dust and the clinking of trowels,
while on their sites will rise the unchanging pattern of suburban shops!

[Sidenote: BLACKHEATH]

Blackheath is one of the finest suburbs of London; a town girt round with
many particularly beautiful outskirts. Strange to say, it has not been
spoiled, and though thickly surrounded with houses, remains as breezy and
healthful as ever; perhaps, indeed, since highwayman and footpad have
disappeared, and now that duels are unknown, Blackheath may be regarded as
even more healthy a spot than it was a hundred years ago.

The air which gave Bleak Heath its original name, and nipped the ears and
made red the noses of the "outsides" who journeyed across it on their way
to Dover in the winter months, is healthful and bracing, and is not so
bleak as balmy in the days of June, when the sun shines brilliantly, and
makes a generous heat to radiate from the old mellow brick wall of
Greenwich Park that skirts the heath on its northern side. Outside the
gate of that steepest of all parks stood Montagu House, whence the Earl of
Chesterfield wrote those famous letters to his son--letters whose
precepts, if carefully and consistently followed, would have infallibly
sent their recipient to the Devil. Montagu House is gone now, pulled down
long ago, and the site where the worldly Dormer wrote, pointing out to his
son the way to perdition, is now a part of the Heath. Gone, too, is the
garden where the phenomenally vulgar and undignified Princess Caroline of
Wales, who lived here from 1797 to 1814, might have been seen, and _was_
seen one morning, sitting in the grounds in a gorgeous dress, looped up
to the knees, to show the stars with which her petticoats were spangled:
with silver wings on her shoulders, and drinking from a pewter pot of
porter, after the use and wont, between the acts, of the pantomime fairies
of Drury Lane.


With this _Princesse au café chantant_ disappears the last vestige of
royalty hereabouts, and Greenwich, lying down beyond the Park, has only
dim memories of Henry the Eighth, and Queen Elizabeth, who was born in the
palace of Placentia beside the Thames. If you venture into the Park, and
stand upon Observatory Hill, you can at once glimpse London and gain an
idea of how plebeian Greenwich has become. But its history is not yet
done, and on this very spot, in 1893, a chapter of it was made by a
foreign Anarchist who blew himself up in the making; and when the park
keepers came and gleaned little pieces of him from the November boughs,
the incident shaped more picturesquely than any other happening on this
spot that I can think of.

[Sidenote: ON THE HEATH]

As for Blackheath, it seems that when, in older days, people had
assignations on the Dover Road, they generally selected this place for the
purpose; whether they were kings and emperors that met; or ambassadors,
archbishops, rebels, or rival pretenders to the crown, they each and all
came here to shake hands and interchange courtesies, or to speak with
their enemies in the gate. It is very impressive to find Blackheath thus
and so frequently honoured by the great ones of the earth; but it is also
not a little embarrassing to the historian who wants to be getting along
down the road, and yet desires to tell of all the pageants that here
befell, and how the high contending parties variously saluted or sliced
one another, as the case might be. Indeed, to write the history of
Blackheath would be to despair of ever seeing Dover, and so, instead of
beginning with Aulus Plautius, or any of the masterful Roman generals who
doubtless had something to say to those cerulean Britons on this spot, I
will skip the centuries, and only note the more outstanding and
interesting occasions on which the heath has figured largely. Hie we then
from the first to the fourteenth century, when, in 1381, Wat, the Tiler of
Dartford, encamped here as leader of a hundred thousand insurgents. The
fount and origin of this famous rebellion has ever been popularly sought
in the historic incident of Dartford, in which the tax-gatherer lost his
life; but a discontent had long been smouldering among the people, which
needed only an eloquent happening of this nature to be fanned into a
flame. The Poll Tax was one of the greatest grievances of the time, and
the high rent of land was even more burdensome. The price of land might,
perhaps, have been borne with, for it was of gradual growth, and regulated
more or less by the law of supply and demand, but the Poll Tax was a new
burden, and one exacted harshly from the people by the nobles among whom
the Government had farmed it. Then, too, the state of serfdom in which the
_villeins_ existed was odious to them at this lapse of time, when men
began to aspire to something better than to be the mere pawns of kings and
nobles, sent to fight for feudalism on foreign battlefields, or in
fratricidal conflicts at home. The days were drawing to a close when it
was possible for kings to issue prescriptions for the seizing of artisans
to be set to work on the building of royal palaces and castles; documents
couched in this wise: "To our trusty and well-beloved Richard, Earl of
Essex: Know ye that it is our pleasure that you do take and seize as many
masons, carpenters, braziers, and all kinds of artificers necessary to the
reparation of our Castle of Windsor, and that this shall be your warrant
for detaining them so long as may be necessary to the completion of the

With grievances old and new, it wanted but little to set the home counties
in revolt, and so we find the cause of the Dartford tiler to have been
warmly taken up, not only throughout his native Kent, but also, across the
river, in Essex. The tiler's neighbours swore they would protect him from
punishment, and, marching to Maidstone, appointed him leader of the
commons in Kent. The Canterbury citizens, less enthusiastic, were overawed
by the number of the rebels, and several of them slain; five hundred
joining in the march to London, while a dissolute itinerant priest, that
famous demagogue John Ball, was enlarged from prison and appointed
preacher to the throng, rousing them to fury by the rough eloquence and
apt illustration with which he enlarged upon his text--

  When Adam delved, and Eve span,
  Who was then the gentleman?

[Sidenote: REBELS]

From Blackheath to London marched this great rabble. The king, with his
cousin Henry, Earl of Derby; the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a hundred
knights and sergeants were retired for safety to the Tower, whence they
issued by boat to receive the petitions of the insurgents. Ten thousand of
them waited at Rotherhithe, and by their fierce yells and threatening
appearance so terrified the king's attendants that, instead of permitting
him to land, they took advantage of the tide, and returned. This behaviour
disappointed Tyler, who saw no hope of concessions from the king's
advisers. He and his men burst into London, and, joined by the
discontented host from Essex and Hertfordshire, under the leadership of
one John Rakestraw (who has come down to us through the ages as Jack
Straw, and whose camping-ground on Hampstead Heath bears to this day the
old inn known as "Jack Straw's Castle"), plundered the town, burning the
Palace of the Savoy and all the buildings and records of the Temple. Fear
eventually led the Court party to grant the four chief demands of the
people: the abolition of slavery; the reduction of the rent of land to
fourpence an acre; free liberty of buying and selling in all fairs and
markets; and a general pardon for past offences. Had Tyler and Rakestraw
been content with these concessions, it is probable that all would have
been well; but their ambition had grown with success, and they trusted to
further violence for greater advantage. Rushing into the Tower at the head
of four hundred men, they murdered there the Archbishop of Canterbury and
five others, and, retaining no less than twenty thousand followers in the
City, intercepted the king as he rode out the following morning attended
only by sixty horsemen. With boorish insolence, Tyler lay hold of the
king's bridle, when Walworth, Lord Mayor of London, stabbed him in the
throat. Falling from his horse, the rebel leader was despatched by an
esquire. The courage and tact of the young king are historical, and the
way in which he quelled the hostility of the insurgents, and drew their
sympathies to himself, is well known; but the revocation of the charters
of emancipation was a piece of faithlessness which makes the inquirer
doubtful of the sincerity in which they were first granted, and the less
inclined to blame Wat the Tiler for his excesses.

Thus tamely ended this, at one time, most formidable rebellion. The south
gateway of London Bridge received its leader's head, and the lieges who
fared by that frowning archway, together with those others who felt no
loyalty, were invited to look upon the head of a traitor. But some day Wat
the Tiler of Dartford will have his monument, and, truly, there are few
figures in our history that so well deserve one, for he was one of the
first to stir a hand for the English people against the exactions of a
largely alien nobility.

Blackheath witnessed no other warlike gathering for the matter of seventy
years; but it was in the meanwhile the scene of many peaceful displays.


And here (says Stowe) came, in 1415, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of
London, with four hundred citizens in scarlet, and with white and red
hoods, to receive Henry the Fifth on his return from the victories in
France, of which that of Agincourt was the greatest. "The gates and
streets of the City were garnished and apparelled with precious cloths of
arras, containing the history, triumphs, and princely acts of the kings of
England, his progenitors, which was done to the end that the king might
understand what remembrance the people would hand to their posterity of
these his great victories and triumphs. The conduits in the City ran none
other but good sweet wines, and that abundantly. There were also made in
the streets many towers and stages, richly adorned, and on the height of
them sat small children, apparelled in semblance of angels, with
sweet-tuned voices, singing praises and lauds unto God: for the victorious
king would not suffer ditties to be made and sung of his history, for that
he would wholly have the praise given unto God; neither would he suffer to
be carried before him, nor showed unto the people, his helmet, whereupon
his crown of gold was broke and deposed in the field by the violence of
the enemy, and great strokes he had received, nor his other armour that in
that cruel battle was so sore broke."


But perhaps the most remarkable meeting on Blackheath was that which
assembled to escort the cardinal's hat, designed for Wolsey. When that
particularly haughty prelate learnt that the insignia of his promotion was
on its way from Rome in charge only of an ordinary messenger, he deemed it
essential to his importance that a more imposing method of conveyance
should be provided. Previously, therefore, to the arrival of the Pope's
messenger on our shores, Wolsey caused him to be met and decked out with
robes and trappings suitable to so important an occasion. That glorified
pursuivant of Papal authority was, therefore, brought along the road from
Dover to Blackheath with the greatest show of deference and consideration,
and here, on this waste, the _hat_ was met by great numbers of the clergy
and nobility, who conducted it to London and to Westminster Abbey in great

Wolsey's hat, however, comes out of chronological sequence. Let us then
put back the clock of history again to the year 1450, when Jack Cade's
rebellion peopled Blackheath with a menacing host. These were the early
days of the quarrels of the rival Roses. England was losing--whether by
bad generalship or by trend of unavoidable circumstances it matters
not--the provinces of France won by Henry the Fifth whose feeble son now
reigned; the kinghead around whose ill-balanced kingship raged the
quarrels and family jealousies of the Dukes of York, Suffolk, Somerset,
and Buckingham. The king was unpopular with half his subjects, and all of
them raged with wounded pride and grief at the loss of France. The name of
Mortimer was a power in the land, and the head of that ancient family was
the Duke of York, who had probably the greatest following of feudatory
tenants in England. To take advantage both of the prevailing discontent
and of the Mortimer prestige came Jack Cade, an Irish adventurer, at the
head of twenty thousand followers, and encamped on Blackheath. Cade was
undoubtedly the Duke of York's catspaw, but his sudden success in gaining
adherents is something of a mystery; for, although he proclaimed himself a
cousin of the duke, he was an obviously ignorant clown, a fact seized upon
by Shakespeare with grand effect in _Henry VI_, part i, act 4, where he
makes Cade's companions to be Dick the Butcher, Smith the Weaver, and
others of a like humble estate, whose asides upon Cade's proclaiming
himself a Mortimer and his wife a descendant of the Lacies are very
amusing. "My father was a Mortimer," says Cade, to which Dick the Butcher
rejoins, whispering behind his hand, that "he was an honest man, and a
good bricklayer;" while as to his wife's descent from the Lacies, he
remarks that "she was, indeed, a pedlar's daughter, and sold many
laces"--a punning speech that, were it the work of a modern dramatist,
would be received with a howl of execration.

Cade retired from Blackheath to Sevenoaks on an equal force being sent to
oppose him, but there turned at bay upon his pursuers, and the Royal army
dispersed, leaving London at the mercy of this rabblement. There the
fickle mob wavered and Cade fled, presently to suffer the fate that befell
so many in those bloody days.


The last occasion on which Blackheath has figured largely was really
romantic. The date 1660, the occasion the Restoration of His Gracious
Majesty King Charles the Second to the throne of his ancestors. Romantic
it was because of the home-coming of the interesting exile who had fled,
years before, for his life; and was now come, greatly daring, to meet, not
only his loyal citizen-subjects here, but to stand again face to face with
the veteran regiments of the army which had finally crushed the Royalist
hopes at Worcester Fight. No one knew how they would behave. Commanded by
Loyalist officers, they were drawn up here to meet the king, but, amid all
the rejoicings of the people, that Puritan soldiery looked on, scowling,
and not all the personal charm of the king, nor the enthusiasm of the
people, could chase away the sadness with which they looked upon the
undoing of that work in which they had gained their scars. Charles and his
brothers of York and Gloucester moved about, unarmed, graciously
acknowledging the shouts of "Long live King Charles!" and receiving old
supporters who saw this glorious Restoration with tears of joy running
down their cheeks; and their gay demeanour showed their courage, for
little was wanting to make the Ironsides declare for the Commonwealth,
and, spurring their horses, change this scene of rejoicing to one of blood
and dismay. But the moments of suspense were safely passed; the king
pressed on to London, and the Restoration was accomplished. It is in the
pleasant pages of Woodstock that one reads how the old cavalier, Sir Henry
Lee, of Ditchley, "having a complacent smile on his face and a tear
swelling to his eye, as he saw the banners wave on in interminable
succession," came here to witness the return of his sovereign. Here, too,
came Colonel Everard, and Alice, his wife; Joceline Joliffe, who wielded
quarterstaff so well, and with him Mistress Joceline; Wildrake, from
Squattlesea-mere, and Beavis, old and feeble, a shadow of the great
wolf-hound he had been. To this little company came Charles, and,
dismounting, asked for the old knight's blessing, who, having witnessed
this day, was content to die.

And England was "merry England" again. The maypole reappeared upon the
village green, ginger was hot i' the mouth once more, cakes and ale
disappeared down hungry and thirsty throats, and none declared eating and
drinking to be carnal sins; folks sang songs and danced where had been
only the singing of psalms in nasal tones and walking circumspectly;
close-cropped polls grew love-locks again, and sad raiment gave place to
the revived glories of ancient doublet and hose whose colours mocked the
sun for splendour. For ten years had the people gone in a penitential gait
that allowed neither gaiety nor enjoyment of any kind to pass unreproved,
and now that all England was rejoicing that a pharisaical Puritanism had
been overthrown, what wonder that young men and maidens who were too young
to recollect the old England that existed before the Commonwealth plunged
now into the wildest excesses, aided and abetted by old and middle-aged
alike. The pendulum had swung back, and from whining religiosity the
people turned to the extreme of licentiousness.

And so at last to leave the historic aspect of Blackheath, which I had
begun to fear would detain me until a volume had been made of it. Leaving
the heath by the Dover Road, which still follows the old Watling Street,
the way is bordered by apparently endless rows of villas, and the
outskirts of Kidbrook and Charlton village are passed before one comes to
where the fields, bordered by hedgerows, first come in sight, and even
these are disfigured by great boards, offering land to be let for
building-plots. This is, indeed, a neighbourhood where the incautious
stranger takes a villa overlooking meadows, for the sake of the view, and
finds, on waking up one fine morning, the builders putting in the
foundations of a new house which will eventually hide his prospect; or
where, having taken a month's holiday, he returns, to find a new street
round the corner, with a brand new public-house, and a piano-organ
playing the latest comic song, where (_eheu, fugaces!_) meads and orchards
gladdened his eyes a few short weeks before.


[Sidenote: SHOOTER'S HILL]

As one proceeds through Charlton village, past an oddly-named
public-house, "The Sun in the Sands," and the uncharted wilderness of
Kidbrook, Shooter's Hill comes into view, and the long line of "villas"
ends. Just beyond the seventh milestone from London is another little
public-house, the "Fox under the Hill," followed shortly by the "Earl of
Moira," overlooked by the great buildings of the new Fever Hospital which
the London County Council has set up here, to the disgust of all the
dwellers round about. Next to this come the great dismal buildings of the
Military Hospital, where soldier-invalids crawl about the courtyards, or,
happily convalescent, lean over the balconies, smoking and chatting the
hours away. Funerals go frequently hence, for here are always many poor
fellows struggling with death, invalided home from the cruel heats of
India, and many are the sad little processions that go with slow step and
rumbling of gun-carriages to the God's Acres of East Wickham and

But up among the young oak coppices, the lush grass, and the perennial
springs of Shooter's Hill, all is peaceful and pleasant. You can hear the
Woolwich bugles sing softly through the summer air; birds twitter
overhead, the robustious crowings of arrogant cocks, the sharp ring of
jerry-builders' trowels comes up from below, the winds whisper among the
oaks and rustle like the frou-frou of silk through the foliage of the
silver-beeches--while London toils and moils beyond. Distant smoke drives
before the wind in earnest of those metropolitan labours, and kindly
obscures many vulgar details; but if you cannot see Jerusalem or
Madagascar from here, nor even Saint Paul's, you can at least view that
most commanding object in the landscape near by, Beckton Gasworks, and on
another quarter of the horizon shines the Crystal Palace, glittering afar
off like a City of the Blest, which indeed it is not, nor anything like
it. Directly in front, the sky-line is formed by the elevated table-land
of Blackheath, while in mid-distance the few remaining fields of Charlton
are seen to be making a gallant stand before the advances of villadom.

Shooter's Hill was not always a place whereon one could rest in safety.
Indeed, it bore for long years a particularly bad name as being the
lurking-place of ferocious footpads, cutpurses, highwaymen, cut-throats,
and gentry of allied professions who rushed out from these leafy coverts
and took liberal toll from wayfarers. Six men were hanged hereabouts, in
times not so very remote, for robbery with murder upon the highway; the
remains of four of them decorated the summit of the hill, while two others
swung gracefully from gibbets beside the Eltham Road. The "Bull" inn,
standing at the top of the hill, was in coaching days the first post-house
at which travellers stopped and changed horses on their way from London to
Dover. The "Bull" has been rebuilt in recent years, but tradition says
(and tradition is not always such a liar as some folks would have us
believe) that Dick Turpin frequented the road, and that it was at this old
house he held the landlady over the fire in order to make her confess
where she had hoarded her money. The incident borrows a certain
picturesqueness from lapse of time, but, on the whole, it is not to be
regretted that the days of barbecued landladies are past.

Our old friend Pepys has something to say of what he did or what was done
to him on Shooter's Hill, under date of April 11, 1661; but it was, at any
rate, not a happening of any great note, and moreover, Mr. Pepys' prattle
sometimes becomes tiresome, and so we will pass him by for once in a way.
His fellow diarist, Evelyn, was here in 1699, for he writes, under August,
"I drank the Shooter's Hill waters." A very much more important person,
Queen Anne, to wit (who, alas! is dead), is also said to have partaken of
the mineral spring which made Shooter's Hill a minor spa long years ago.
The spring is still here, and it is this which makes the summit of
Shooter's Hill so graciously green and refreshing. People no longer come
to drink the waters, but he who thirsts by the wayside and sports the blue
ribbon, may, an he please, instead of calling at the "Bull," or the "Red
Lion," across the road, quench his thirst at a drinking-fountain, which is
something between a lich-gate and a Swiss châlet, erected here in recent

[Sidenote: HIGHWAYMEN]

So long ago as 1767 a project was set afoot for building a town on the
summit of Shooter's Hill, but it came to nothing, which is not at all
strange when one considers how constantly the dwellers there would have
been obliged to run the gauntlet of the gentlemen whom Americans happily
call "road-agents." And here is a sample of what would happen now and
again, taken, not from the romantic pages of "Don Juan," nor from Dickens'
"Tale of Two Cities," but from the sober and truthful columns of a London
paper, under date of 1773. "On Sunday night," we read, "about ten o'clock,
Colonel Craige and his servant were attacked near Shooter's Hill by two
highwaymen, well mounted, who, on the colonel's declaring he would not be
robbed, immediately fired and shot the servant's horse in the shoulder. On
this the footman discharged a pistol, and the assailants rode off with
great precipitation." That they rode off with nothing else shows how
effectually the colonel and his servant, by firmly grasping the nettle
danger, plucked the flower safety.

[Sidenote: DON JUAN]

It was by similarly bold conduct that Don Juan put to flight no fewer than
four assailants on this very spot. Arrived thus far from Dover, he had
alighted, and was meditatively pacing along the road behind his carriage
when---- But there! It had best be read in Byron's verse, and let no one
cry out upon me for quoting "Don Juan," and say the thing is nothing new,
lest I, in turn, call fie upon him for an undue acquaintance with that
"wicked" poem--

    ... Juan now was borne,
  Just as the day began to wane and darken,
    O'er the high hill which looks, with pride or scorn,
  Toward the great city. Ye who have a spark in
    Your veins of Cockney spirit, smile or mourn,
  According as you take things well or ill;
  Bold Britons, we are now on Shooter's Hill!

         *       *       *       *       *

  A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping
    Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
  Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
    In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
  Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
    On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
  A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
  On a fool's head--and there is London Town!

         *       *       *       *       *

  Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill:
    Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
  Which looks along that vale of good and ill
    Where London streets ferment in full activity;
  While everything around was calm and still,
    Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
  Heard; and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
  Of cities, that boil over with their scum.

  I say Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation,
    Walk'd on behind his carriage, o'er the summit,
  And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
    Gave way to it, since he could not o'ercome it.
  "And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
    Here peals the people's voice, nor can entomb it
  Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
  Awaits it, each new meeting or election.

  "Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here people pay
    But what they please; and, if that things be dear,
  'Tis only that they love to throw away
    Their cash, to show how much they have a year.
  Here laws are all inviolate; none lay
    Traps for the traveller; every highway's clear:
  Here"--here he was interrupted by a knife,
  With,--"Damn your eyes! Your money or your life!"

  These freeborn sounds proceeded from four pads,
    In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter
  Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
    Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
  In which the heedless gentleman who gads
    Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter,
  May find himself, within that isle of riches,
  Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches.

  Juan did not understand a word
    Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn!"
  And even that he had so rarely heard,
    He sometimes thought 'twas only their "Salaam,"
  Or "God be with you!" and 'tis not absurd
    To think so; for, half English as I am
  (To my misfortune), never can I say
    I heard them wish "God with you," save that way.

But if he failed to understand their speech, he interpreted their actions
accurately enough, and, drawing a pocket-pistol, shot the foremost in the
stomach, who, writhing in agony on the ground, and unable to discriminate
between Continental nationalities, called out that "the bloody Frenchman"
had killed him. His three companions did not wait to discover that it was
not a Frenchman, but a Spaniard. No, they promptly ran away, and left
their fellow to die, which he presently did, and Don Juan, after an
interview with the coroner, proceeded on his road in wonderment.
"Perhaps," he thought, "it is the country's wont to welcome foreigners in
this way."

Shooter's Hill is pictured excellently well in _A Tale of Two Cities_; the
time, "a Friday night, late in November, in the year of our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and seventy-five," the occasion the passing of the
Dover Mail. The coachman was "laying on" to the horses like another
Macduff, and the near leader of the tired team was shaking its head and
everything upon it, as though denying that the coach could be got up the
hill at all; while the passengers, having been turned out to walk up the
road and ease the horses, splashed miserably in the slush. The time was
"ten minutes, good, past eleven," and the coachman had but just finished
addressing the horses in such strange exclamations as "Tst! Yah! Get on
with you! My blood!" and other picturesque, not to say lurid, phrases,
when sounds were heard along the highway. Sounds of any sort on the road
could not at this hour be aught than ominous, and so the passengers, who
were just upon the point of re-entering the coach, shivered and wondered
if their purses and watches were quite safe which were lying snugly
_perdu_ in their boots.

"Tst! Joe!" calls the coachman, from his box, warningly to the guard.

"What do you say, Tom?"

"I say a horse at a canter coming up," replies Tom.

"I say a horse at a gallop, Tom," rejoins the guard, entrenching himself
behind his seat, and cocking his blunderbuss, calling out to the
passengers at the same time, "Gentlemen, in the King's name, all of you!"

The mail stopped. The hearts of the passengers within thumped audibly, and
if one could not see how they blenched, it was only owing to the obscurity
of the mildewy inside of the old Mail. There they sat, in anxious
expectancy, amid the disagreeable smell arising from the damp and dirty
straw, and the relief they experienced when it was not a highwayman who
rode up to them, but only a messenger for Mr. Jarvis Lorry, who sat
shivering among the rest, may (in the words of a certain class of
novelists) "be better imagined than described."

There is but one criticism I have to make of this; but it is a serious
point. There was no Dover Mail coach in 1775, for the earliest of all mail
coaches, that between Bristol and London, was not established before 1784.
The mails until then were carried by post-boys on horse-back.

Of Severndroog Castle, built on the crest of Shooter's Hill during the
last century, I shall say nothing, because, for one thing, it is of little
interest, and, for another, whatever has to be said about it belongs to
the province of the Guide Books, upon whose territory I do not propose to
infringe. I want to give a modicum of information with the maximum of
amusement, with which declaration of policy I will proceed along the road
to Dover.

Directly one comes to the crest of the hill there opens a wide view over
the Kentish Weald. Reaches of the Thames are seen, peeping through
foliage; distant houses and whitewashed cottages shine clearly miles
away, and the spire of Bexley Church closes the view in front, where the
road ends dustily. Along this road comes daily and all day a varied
procession of tramps. The traveller looks down upon them from this eyrie
with wonderment and dismay; the cottagers, the householders and gardeners
hereabouts, see them pass with less surprise and additional misgivings,
for their gardens, their hen-roosts, clothes-lines and orchards pay
tribute to these Ishmaelites to whom the rights of property are but
imperfectly known. This is why the gates and doors along the Dover Road
are so uniformly and resolutely barred, bolted, chained, and padlocked;
for these reasons ferocious dogs roam amid the suburban pleasances, and
turn red eyes and foaming mouths toward one who leans across garden-gates
to admire the flowers with which the fertile soil of Kent has so liberally
spangled every cultivated spot; and to them is due the murderous-looking
garnishment of jagged and broken glass with which every wall-top is armed.
"Peace must lie down armed" on the Dover Road; the citizen must lock,
bolt, and bar his house o' nights, and does well to exhibit warning
placards, "Beware of the Dog!" He does better to tip the policeman
occasionally to keep an especially vigilant look-out, and it is not an
excess of precaution that so frequently covers the flower-beds with


[Sidenote: TRAMPS]

There is, indeed, no road to equal the Dover Road for thieves, tramps,
cadgers, and miscellaneous vagrants, either for number or depravity.
Throughout the year they infest alike the highways and byways of Kent, but
the most constant procession of them is to be seen on the great main road
between London and the sea. A great deal of begging, some petty
pilfering, and a modicum of work in the fruit season and during the
hop-harvest suffice to keep them going for the greater part of the year,
while the winter months are fleeted in progresses from one casual ward to
another in the numerous unions along the road. Phenomenally ragged,
bronzed by the sun, unshaven, unshorn, they are met, men, women, and
children alike, at every turn, for many miles, especially between
Southwark and Canterbury. The sixteen miles' stretch of road between
Canterbury and Dover is comparatively unfrequented by them; but Gravesend,
Dartford, Crayford, and Bexley Heath are centres of the most disgraceful
mendicancy. "Lodgings for travellers" at fourpence a night, or two
shillings a week, are a feature of these places, and how prominent a
feature cannot be guessed by any one who has not been there. Whole
families on the tramp are to be met with between these places, and long
vistas of them are gained along any particularly straight piece of road.
They are everything that is dirty and horrible, but they are perfectly
happy and quite irreclaimable, many of them being hereditary tramps.

Philanthropic societies inquire into the tramp; classify him, endeavour to
cleanse him and restore him to some place in society, but all to no
purpose. He is quite satisfied with himself; he likes dirt, and dislikes
nothing so much as either moral or physical cleansing. That is one reason
why he seeks the shelter of the casual ward only as a last resource. He
has to undergo a bath there, and feels as chilly when his top-dressing of
grime is removed as you and I would be were we turned naked into the
streets. To reform your tramp it would be essential to snare him at a very
early age indeed, and, even then, I am not sure but that his natural
traits would break out suddenly, like those of any other wild beast kept
in captivity.

[Sidenote: TRAMPS' SIGNS]

The truth is, tramping is a very old profession, and hereditary in a
degree very few good people imagine. Unlettered, but highly organised,
trampdom has a _lingua franca_ of its own, and its signs are to be read,
chalked on the fences and gateposts of the Dover Road, as surely as one
could read a French novel.

The _argot_ and the sign-language of the road are not difficult to acquire
by those who have observant eyes and ears to hearken, but, like all
languages, they are ever changing, and the accepted signs of yesteryear
are constantly superseded by newer symbols. Little do the country-folk
understand the significance of the chalk-marks on their gates and walls.
Does the portly yeoman suspect that the [symbol] on his gatepost means "no
good"? And how mixed would be the feelings of many a worthy lady were the
inner meaning of [symbol] revealed to her--"Religious, but good on the
whole." Were the eloquence of that mark discovered to her, she would know
at once how it was that the poor men, with their ragged beards and their
toes peeping through their boots, were so unfailingly pious and thankful
for the cold scran and the threepenny-piece with which she relieved their
needs, asking a blessing on her and hers until they were out of sight,
when they "stowed" the piety and threw the provisions into the nearest
ditch, calling in at the next roadside pub to take the edge off their
thirst with that threepenny-piece. It may safely be said that the tramp is
not grateful. He is, indeed, altruistic, but his altruism he saves for his
kind, and he exhibits it in the danger-signals he chalks up in places the
brotherhood wot of. There are degrees of danger, as of luck. Some
good-hearted people become soured by many calls on their generosity, and
one can readily understand even the mildest-mannered of elderly ladies
becoming restive when the sixth tramp appears at the close of the day.
Other people, too, lose their generosity with the bedding-out plants which
one of the fraternity has "sneaked" from the front garden under cover of
night. In the first instance, the sign [symbol] (which means "Spoilt by
too many callers") is likely to be found somewhere handy, and in the
second that innocent-looking triangle is apt to become [symbol], the
English of which is "Likely to have you taken up," even if it does not
become [symbol] == "Dangerous. Sure of being quodded."


Passing many of these undesirable wayfarers, one comes, in a mile--fields
and hedgerows and market-gardens on either side--to Shoulder of Mutton
Green, a scrubby piece of common-ground shaped like South America--but
smaller. Hence the peculiar eloquence of its name. The Kent County Council
has set up a large and imposing notice-board at the corner of the green
which bears its name and a portentous number of bye-laws, and when the sun
is low and shadows slant (the board is so large and the green so small),
the shade of it falls across the green and into the next field.

And now comes Belle Grove, spelled, as one may see on the stuccoed
cottages by the wayside, with a pleasing diversity, Belle Grove, Bell
Grove, and Belgrove; and one would pin one's faith on the correct form
being the second variety, because the place is not beautiful, nor ever
could have been.

To Bell Grove, then, succeeds Welling, and Welling is a quite
uninteresting and shabby hamlet fringing the road, ten-and-a-quarter miles
from London Bridge. The new suburban railway from London to Bexley Heath
crosses the road, and has a station--a waste of sand, stones, and white
palings--here. The place, says Hasted, in his "History of Kent," was
called Well End, from the safe arrival of the traveller at it, after
having escaped the danger of robbers through the hazardous road from
Shooter's Hill, which derivation, though regarded as a happy effort of the
imagination, is considerably below the dignified level of a county
historian. Indeed, I seem to see in this the irresponsible frivolity of
the guards and coachmen of the Dover Mail. Why, the thing reeks of
coaching wit, and how Hasted, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries,
could have included in his monumental work (which took him forty years to
write) so obvious a witticism, is beyond my comprehension. Shall I be
considered pedantic if I point out that the place-name, with its
termination _ing_, carries with it evidence of being as old as Saxon
times, and denotes that here was the settlement of an ancient tribe, or
patriarchial family, the Wellings? I will dare the deed and record the
fact, remarking, meanwhile, that if other county historians were as little
learned as Hasted, and equally speculative, they would seem more human,
and their deadly tomes become much more entertaining.

But, after this, it would not beseem me to do else than record the fact
that the new suburban district springing up beside the road, half a mile
past Welling, is called "Crook Log." Why "Crook Log," and whence came that
singular name, are things "rop in mistry," and I will run no risks of
becoming fogged in rash endeavours to elucidate the origin of this

[Sidenote: TO BEXLEY]

Half a mile onward, and then begins Bexley Heath. "Once upon a time," that
is to say, before an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1817 for enclosing
what was then a wide, wild tract of desolate heath-land, Bexley Heath was
entirely innocent of buildings.

The old village of Bexley lies a mile and a half to the right of the road,
and is as rural, peaceful, and pleasant as Bexley Heath is mean and
wretched. Between here and the village lies Hall Place, a Tudor mansion of
great size and stately architecture, largely distinguished for its
chequer-board patterning of flint and stone. The property was once that of
the family called "At-hall," from their residence here, in an earlier
mansion. The Tudor flint-and-stone building we now see was built by Sir
Justinian Champneis, a Lord Mayor of London, towards the middle of the
sixteenth century. In less than a hundred years the Champneis were
succeeded by the Austens, who made alterations, until 1772, when it passed
to Sir Francis Dashwood, in whose family it yet remains.

In the neighbourhood of Bexley Heath, and also at Crayford and places
beside the Thames near Dartford are some singular shafts of unknown age or
purpose, sunk into the soil, frequently to a depth of a hundred feet,
through the chalk of which this district chiefly consists. "Danes' Holes,"
the country-folk call them, and they are traditionally supposed to have
been constructed as hiding-places to which the old inhabitants of these
parts could retire when the Northmen's piratical fleets appeared in the
estuary of the Thames. Antiquaries have a theory that these singular pits
were sunk by our neolithic forbears in search of flints. The antiquaries,
however, are most probably wrong, because flints were to be found readily
enough by the men of the Stone Age, without going to the trouble of mining
for them; and no one has yet arisen to show that neolithic man was more
likely than we, his descendants, to give himself unnecessary labour.

We will, therefore, assume that the legendary name of "Danes' Holes"
shadows forth the purpose of these shafts a great deal more correctly than
the ingenious theories of antiquaries, made to fit personal predilections;
the more especially as legendary history is generally found to square with
facts much more frequently than scientific pundits would have us believe.

These remarkable pits commence with a trumpet-shaped orifice which
immediately contracts into a narrow shaft, broadening at the bottom into a
bulb-like chamber, not unremotely resembling in shape the tube and bulb of
a thermometer. "By a curious coincidence," says one who has long been
familiar with these strange survivals, "the shape of the Bexley shafts is
exactly that of a local beer-measure which is held in great estimation."
In several houses may be seen an advertisement that "beer is sold by the


[Sidenote: CRAYFORD]

Leaving Bexley Heath, the road becomes suddenly beautiful, where it loses
the last of the mean shops--the cats'-meat vendors, the tinkers, the
marine stores--that give so distinct and unwholesome a _cachet_ to its
long-drawn-out street. The highway goes down a hill overhung with tall
trees, with chestnuts and hawthorns, whose blossoms fill the air in spring
with sweet and heavy scents; but, in the hollow, gasworks contend with
them, and generally, it is sad to say, come off easy victors. Follows then
a nondescript bend of the road which brings one presently into Crayford,
fifteen miles from London.

Antiquaries are divided in opinion over the ancient history of Crayford.
While some incline to the belief that it is the site of the Roman
Noviomagus, others are prone to select Keston Common as the locality of
that shadowy camp and city. The question will probably never be settled
beyond a doubt, but the weight of evidence is strong in favour of Keston
Common, eight miles away to the south-west. Here still exist the traces of
great earthworks, covering a space of a hundred acres, while numerous
finds of Roman coins and pottery have been made from time to time. At
Crayford, on the other hand, the only presumptive evidence is to be found
in this having been that old Roman military way, Watling Street, and, in
the very slender thread of allusion to the name of Noviomagus, supposed,
on the authority of Hasted, to be extant in the title of the
half-forgotten manor of Newbury.

But, however vague may be the connection between Noviomagus and Crayford,
certain it is that here, in 457, was fought that tremendous battle between
the Saxons under Hengist, and the Britons commanded by Vortigern, a
conflict in which four thousand of the Romanised Britons were slain. It
was in 449 that Hengist and Horsa, brother-chiefs[1] of the
Jutish-Saxons, landed at Ebbsfleet, in Thanet, at the invitation of
Vortigern, who sought their aid against the Picts and the Sea-rovers. They
came in three ships, and their original force could scarcely have numbered
more than five hundred men. But, having warred for the Britons, and fought
side by side with them against the Scots, they soon perceived how
defenceless was the land. "They sent," says the Anglo-Saxon chronicler,
"to the Angles, and bade them be told of the worthlessness of the Britons,
and the richness of the land." In response to this invitation, there came
from over sea the men of the Old Saxons, the Jutes, and the Angles; and,
six years after the landing of the two brothers, these treacherous allies,
strengthened in number, felt strong enough to attempt the seizure of Kent.
Pretexts for a quarrel were readily found, and, through the mists that
hang about the scanty records of that time, we hear first of the Battle of
Aylesford, fought in 455, in which the Britons experienced their first
great defeat. Here, though, Horsa was slain, and to Hengist, with his son
Esc, was left the foundation of the Saxon kingdom of Kent. The Battle of
Crayford for a time left all this fertile corner of England to the Saxons.
"The Britons," says the chronicler, "forsook the land of Kent, and in
great consternation fled to London." But, though enervated by long years
of luxury, and so greatly demoralised by defeats, the Britons had yet some
force left. Vortigern, "the betrayer of Britain," as he has come down to
us in the pages of history, was overthrown by another enemy, a rival
British prince, that doughty Romanised chieftain, Aurelius Ambrosianus,
who, after defeating that weak king, gathered up the scattered patriots,
and fell upon the Saxons with such fury that they were driven back to that
Isle of Thanet which had originally been given them for their services
against the Scots of Strathclyde. "Falchions drank blood that day; the
buzzard buried his horny beak in the carcases of the slain; the eagles
feasted royally on the flesh of them that fell; and the whitening bones of
the Northmen long afterwards strewed the fair land of Kent."

Eight years later, the work of Aurelius began to be undone, and in another
eight years the veteran Hengist and his son had completed the foundation
of their kingdom.

Crayford, it will thus be seen, is a town of considerable historic
interest; but, apart from this claim upon one's attention, it has, I fear,
no attraction whatever.


But here is Crayford church, in whose yard is one of the quaintest
epitaphs imaginable:--

"Here lies the body of Peter Isnell, thirty years clerk of this parish. He
lived respected as a pious and mirthful man, and died on his way to
church, to assist at a wedding, on the 31st of March, 1811, aged 70. The
inhabitants of Crayford have raised this stone to his cheerful memory, and
as a token of his long and faithful services.

  The life of this Clerk was just three-score and ten,
  Nearly half of which time he chaunted Amen.
  In his youth he was married, like other young men;
  But his wife died one day, so he chaunted Amen.
  A second he married--she departed--what then?
  He married and buried a third, with Amen.
  Thus, his joys and his sorrows were treble; but then
  His voice was deep bass as he sung out Amen.
  On the horn he could blow, as well as most men
  So his horn was exalted in sounding Amen.
  But he lost all his wind after three-score and ten
  And here, with three wives, he waits, till again
  The trumpet shall rouse him to sing out Amen.

The distance between Crayford and Dartford is but two miles, past White
Hill; and all the way are fruit gardens, tramps, and odious little
terraces of brick cottages with tiny gardens in front, whose brilliant,
old-fashioned flowers--sweet-williams, marigolds, and polyanthuses--put to
shame these wretched efforts of the builder. There is, half a mile from
Crayford, beside the road, an iron post with the City of London arms and
the legend, "Act 24 & 25 Vict. cap. 42," in relief. This wayside pillar
marks at once the limits of the London Police District, and the boundary
of the area affected by the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act of
1861. The City of London has been entitled from time immemorial to levy
dues on all coal entering the metropolis, and this privilege, regulated
from time to time, was abolished only in 1889. Two separate duties of
twelve pence and one penny per ton were confirmed by this act and
authorised to be levied upon coals, culm, and cinders; while the acts
dating from 1694, imposing a tax of four shillings per tun on all kinds of
wine were at the same time confirmed and renewed, and the radius made
identical with the London police jurisdiction, instead of the former limit
of twenty miles. These boundary marks were ordered to be set up on
turnpike and public roads, beside canals, inland navigations, and
railways, and are frequently encountered by the cyclist and pedestrian, to
whom their purpose is not a little mysterious.

The duty on coals entering London amounted in 1885 to no less than
£449,343, and on wines to £8,488. By far the greater part of these amounts
was, of course, collected on the railways and in the port of London.
Originally imposed for the maintenance of London orphans, the wine dues
became, like the coal duties, great sources of income, by which many
notable London improvements, among them the Victoria Embankment, have been
carried out.


[Sidenote: DARTFORD]

Dartford, to which we now come, is a queer little town, planted in a
profound hollow, through which runs its wealth-giving Darent. Mills and
factories meet the eye at every turn. Not smoking, grimy factories of the
kinds that blast the Midland counties, but cleanly-looking boarded
structures for the most part, own brothers to flour-mills in outward
aspect; places where paper is manufactured, and nowadays drugs and
chemicals. Dartford is industrial to-day, but there are old-fashioned
nooks, and some of the street-names are intriguing: "Bullace Lane" and
"Overy Street," for example. Few people nowadays know what is a "bullace."
It is, or was, a small wild plum, of the damson kind.

And here is the traditional home of paper-making in England, for it was in
Dartford, in the reign of Good Queen Bess, that John Spielman (majesty, in
the person of Gloriana's successor, James the First, knighted him for it
in 1605) introduced the art of paper-making to these shores. What induced
that man of gold and jewels and precious stones (he was jeweller to Her
Majesty) to take up paper-making, I do not know; but he made a very good
thing of it, commercially speaking, and no wonder, when he had sole
license during ten years for collecting rags for making his paper withal.
Besides introducing the manufacture of paper, Sir John Spielman added the
lime-tree to our parks and gardens, for he brought over with him from his
native place, Lindau, in Germany, two slips from some _unter den linden_
or another, and planted them in front of his Dartford home, where they
flourished and became the progenitors of all the limes in England.


If you step into the quaint old church of Dartford, you will see, as soon
as your eyes become accustomed to the gloom, the tomb of Sir John Spielman
and his wife, with their effigies, properly carved, painted and gilt,
while in various parts of the church may be found what is said to be his
crest, the fool's cap, which he used as a water-mark on a particular size
of paper. "Foolscap" paper derives its name from that water-mark; and
thus, though the term now indicates a size, it was originally a
trade-mark. The mark may have been derived, not from any crest, but from
the long cap worn by the figure on his wife's shield of arms; although it
was greatly changed in the process. At the same time, it is to be noted
that the fool's cap water-mark occurred on paper made in Germany in 1472.

The presence of the badge in the church shows that the paper-maker had a
good deal to do with the reparation of the building.

In 1858 an association styling themselves the "Legal Society of Paper
Makers," of whom I know nothing, restored Spielman's tomb. The strange
heraldic coat-of-arms of Spielman will be noticed. It is, and looks,
German, and is of an extravagant nature that would utterly discompose an
English herald. Spielman's coat exhibits a blue serpent with a red crest,
standing on his tail on a gold background, between six golden lions on a
red field, the whole of this singular device based on a green mount. His
wife's arms, impaled with his own, are a man clothed in a long black gown,
with a long cap, holding in his hand an olive branch, and standing on a
red mount inverted. The crest is: a savage, wreathed about the temples and
loins with ivy. Motto: _Arte et fortuna_. The epitaph is in German.
Spielman's first wife died in 1607. In 1609 he married again, and deceased
in 1626, leaving by the second wife three sons and one daughter.


The fortunes of the Spielmans were short-lived. His second wife was living
in 1646, but seems to have had little interest in the business, which
about 1686 was in possession of a Mr. Blackwell. Meanwhile the Spielman
family had declined to poverty, and in 1690 "goody Spielman," widow of his
grandson George, was in receipt of 1s. 6d. weekly relief; and in 1696 the
wife of a John Spielman was receiving 2s. The Spielman paper mill stood
where the gas-mantle factory of Curtis and Harvey is now found.

There is a curious sundial actually in the church; oddly placed on a stone
foundation on the splayed sill of the south-east window. It is dated 1820,
and records the hours only from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A brass to John Donkin (1782-1846) shows him with head and shoulders. The
inscription states it was placed here because it was not considered proper
that one who had placed ancient men and times on record should himself be

[Illustration: DARTFORD CHURCH.]

We may be thankful that Spielman did no more to the church, for, had he
rebuilt it, we should have lost one of the finest and most picturesque
churches on the Dover Road, whose tall tower, severely unornamental, with
clock oddly placed on one side, is such a prominent feature of Dartford.
Gundulf, that famous architect-bishop of Rochester, to whom Rochester
Keep, Dover Castle, the White Tower of the Tower of London, portions of
Rochester Cathedral, and a number of other buildings, civil,
ecclesiastical and military, are ascribed with more or less show of
authority, is supposed to have built Dartford tower, not so much for
religious as for defensive uses. For hereby runs the Darent across the
road, and no bridge spanned the ford when Gundulf's tower was first built.
It therefore guarded the passage until the neighbouring hermit, who lived
in a fine damp cell by the riverside, succeeded in collecting enough money
wherewith to build a bridge whose successor forms an excellent
leaning-stock on Sundays to the British workman waiting anxiously for the
public-houses to open.

There is in the church a small thirteenth century lancet window in the
west end wall of the north aisle, which is pointed out as the window of
the cell occupied by the hermit who tended the ford. It commanded the
road; and no doubt the hermit was often knocked up at night by travellers
desiring to be guided over the river. In 1903 a charming picture in
stained glass was added, "The Hermit of the Ford," showing a bearded and
hooded man holding up a lantern. The ford was not superseded until 1461,
when the first bridge was built. This remained until the present bridge
replaced it, in 1754. On that occasion, the churchyard on the south side
of the church was curtailed, for widening the road, and an angle of the
church itself was in 1792 shaved off for the footpath, as can be seen to
this day.

[Sidenote: THE "BULL"]

The old inns of Dartford are very numerous. Most of them, unfortunately,
have been cut up into small beer-houses and tenements since the coaches
were run off the road by steam, but one fine old galleried inn, the
"Bull," remains to show what the coaching inns of long ago were like. The
courtyard is now roofed-in with glass, and the little bedrooms behind the
carved balusters of the gallery are largely given up to spiders and
lumber. But, fortunately for those who care to see what an old galleried
inn was like, the changes here have consisted only of additions instead,
as is only too usual, of destruction. There is a curious detail, too,
about the "Bull," and that is the whimsical position of its sign in a
place where ninety out of a hundred people never see it. The "bull in a
china-shop" is proverbial, but a bull among the chimney-pots is something
quite out of the common. It is here, though, that the effigy of a great
black bull may be seen, reared up aloft in a place between the
constellations and the beasts of the field.

[Illustration: THE "BULL" INN, DARTFORD.]

There is one modern incident in connection with the "Bull" at Dartford
which shows how inflamed were the passions of the working class in favour
of George the Fourth's silly and indiscreet wife, and this incident
happened while the monarch was changing horses here. It was a journeyman
currier who showed his sympathy with Queen Caroline, and he did so by
thrusting his head in at the carriage window, and roaring in the face of
startled majesty, "You are a murderer!" which can be taken neither as a
compliment nor a statement of fact--unless, indeed, we agree with that
mathematically inclined cynic who held that a "fact" was a lie and a half.

Pastor Moritz, in his account of a seven weeks' tour in England, tells us
how he passed through Dartford. He was by no means a distinguished person,
but what he has to say of his travels is interesting, as contributing to
show how others see us. He came into England by way of the Thames, May 31,
1782, and landed (he says) just below Dartford--probably at Greenhithe--to
which place he walked in company with some others, and there breakfasted.
He was fresh from the dreary, sandy Mark of Brandenburg, and this fair
county of Kent delighted him hugely. At Dartford he saw, for the first
time, an English soldier. That robust Tommy struck him with admiration,
both for the sake of his red coat and his martial bearing. "Here, too, I
first saw" (says he) "(what I deemed a true English sight) two boys boxing
in the street." The party separated at Dartford, and, taking two
post-chaises at the "Bull," drove to London, the Pastor "stunned," as it
were, by a constant rapid succession of interesting objects, arriving at
Greenwich nearly in a state of stupefaction.

[Sidenote: WAT TYLER]

Dartford will ever live in history as being the starting-point of Wat the
Tyler's rebellion of 1381. Tradition places the scene of Wat's murderous
attack on the tax-gatherer opposite the "Bull," where once was Dartford
Green. The Green has long since gone, but the story never stales of how
the Tyler dashed out the tax-gatherer's brains with his hammer. It is, for
one thing, a tale that appeals strongly to an over-taxed community,
sinking under burdens imposed chiefly for the support of imperial and
local bureaucracy; and I fear that if some modern tax-collector met a
similar fate, many worthy people, not ordinarily bloodthirsty, would say,
"Serve him right!"

The particular impost which caused the trouble five hundred years ago was
the odious Poll-tax, a hateful burden that had already caused wide
discontent throughout England, and needed only a more than usually
unpleasant incident to cause ill feelings to break out in ill deeds. That
incident was not lacking. At Dartford, one of the collectors had demanded
the tax for a young girl, daughter of he who is known to history as Wat
Tyler. Her mother maintained that she was under the age required by the
statute. The tax-collector grew insolent and overbearing, and, it seems,
was proceeding to a delicate investigation--like that which procured Mr.
W. T. Stead three months' imprisonment some years ago--when the Tyler, who
had just returned from work, killed him with a stroke from his hammer.

How Wat the Tyler was appointed by popular acclamation leader of the
Commons in Kent; how, at the head of a hundred thousand insurgents, he
marched to Blackheath, are matters rather for the history of England than
for this _causerie_ along the Dover Road.


The old coachmen had an exciting time of it when either entering or
leaving Dartford. They skidded down West Hill, when coming from London, to
the imminent danger of their necks and those of their passengers, and they
painfully climbed the East Hill, on their way out of the town toward
Dover. When several accidents had occurred to prove how hazardous to life
and property were these roads, the turnpike-trustmongers reduced their
steepness by cutting through the hill-tops. This was about 1820. Although
the roads were thus lowered, they still have a remarkably abrupt rise and
fall, and the traveller in leaving the town for Dover can gain from
halfway up the slope of the East Hill quite an extended view over Dartford
roof-tops. He, however, remains to sketch at peril of some inconvenience,
for the tramps who frequent Dartford take a quite embarrassing interest in

[Illustration: DARTFORD BRIDGE.]

[Sidenote: MARTYRS]

Somewhere at this end of the town stood the Chantry of St. Edmund the
Martyr, a halting-place at which pilgrims on their way to Canterbury
stopped to pray and to kiss the usual relics. The site was probably where
the Dartford Cemetery now stands beside the road, on the border of what is
now called Dartford Brent, a wide expanse of common land known in other
times as Brent, or Burnt Heath. This place came very near to being the
site of a battle between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, for here it
was that the rival armies first confronted one another; but, instead of
coming to blows, their leaders held a parley; and so, fair words on their
lips, but with deceit in their hearts, they went up to London. Many years
later, on July 19, 1555, to be precise, Dartford Brent reappears in
history as the place on which three Protestant martyrs, Christopher Wade,
Margaret Pollen, and Nicholas Hall, were burnt at the stake, and since
then the annals of the place have been quite uninteresting. The
gilt-crested spire of the memorial to them peers up on the skyline of the
road-cutting, on the way up to the Brent. It stands in the old cemetery,
on the left.

Donkin, the historian of Dartford, wrote in 1844:--"On the Brent are the
outlines of the 'Deserter's Grave,' cut in the turf, formerly frequented
by the scholars of Hall Place School: the sod of which is still continued
to be cut away by the country people in memory of the unknown,
traditionally said to have been shot in the adjoining pit."

Some light on this tradition is shed by an item in the churchwardens'

  1679. Payed the coroner for setling on a soldier
      that hanged himself                            13_s._ 0_d._
  Payd for a stake to drive through him               0_s._ 6_d._
  Drink for the Jury                                  1_s._ 6_d._

Here the road branches--the Dover Road to the left, the Roman Watling
Street to the right; although, the Roman road being older and itself based
on an immeasurably more ancient British trackway, it would be more fitting
to say that it is the existing Dover Road which branches off from the
parent trunk road. From this point of departure on the Heath, until at the
north end of Strood High Street the ways again come to a meeting, over
eleven miles of the original route have been abandoned for what in
mediæval times proved to be the more convenient route round by the
waterside at Greenhithe and Gravesend.

But although not for many centuries have these eleven miles or so of
abandoned Roman way been in use as a through route, they are not all lost.
The first three miles across the Heath form a good local road, which then
turns off to the right, leaving the Watling Street to climb the hill of
Swanscombe, steeply up, as a tangled lane amid the dense woods. It is a
very considerable elevation. Here and there the footpath deviates from the
original Roman line, and the ridges, banks and hollows of it can
occasionally be glimpsed amid the undergrowth; but in any case it seems
evident that the Watling Street in these eleven miles was not straight,
but re-aligned in some four limbs or individually straight stretches,
partly to avoid going over the extreme crest of Swanscombe Hill. On the
shoulder of that hill there was at the time of the road being made or
remodelled by the Romans a British village, established inland here away
from the Thames estuary probably as being a safer place than any
settlement by the riverside.


Here, on the slope of the hill, the Watling Street is cut through by the
vastly deep and broad excavation in the chalk made by the activities of
the Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers. The construction of it may
even thus be studied in section.

Below, in the levels of Springhead, where a lane takes up the line of the
ancient road, there may have been that Roman station called _Vagniacæ_;
although it may possibly have been by the waterside at Northfleet or
Southfleet, for it is by no means certain that the Romans themselves had
no lesser riverside route along the line of the present Dover Road.
However, to lay down a dogma upon so uncertain a matter as the Roman
road-system in Britain proves to be would not commend itself to those best
qualified by study to judge.

From Springhead the Watling Street continued through Cobham Park, and so
at length to a junction with the Dover Road, as already noted, at Strood.

Meanwhile, the more or less modern highway goes on through a dusty
district where the builder is contending with the country, and, judging
from appearances, he seems likely to get the best of it. All around are
glimpses of the Heath, and problematical-looking settlements of houses and
institutions are grouped together on the sky-line, with weird, bottle-like
towers, extravagantly grotesque, like the architecture of a nightmare, or
"Alice in Wonderland." The City of London Lunatic Asylum is here beside
the road; penitentiaries and their like are grouped about; a huge black
windmill stands awfully on the Brent; while everywhere are puddles,
bricks, old boots, old hats, and fragments of umbrellas. Dartford Brent is
a singular place.

At the old hamlet of John's Hole, just past here, called often in coaching
days, "Jack-in-the-Hole," was one of the Dover Road turnpikes. The old
toll-house still remains beside the way. To this succeeds, at a distance
of three quarters of a mile, the melancholy roadside settlement of Horns
Cross, where a post-office, two inns, and a blasted oak look from one side
of the road, across great fields of barley, to the broad Thames, crowded
with shipping, below.

Stone Church, one of the most beautiful and interesting in Kent, stands on
a hill-top, a short distance from the left-hand side of the road, and
commands a wide view of the Thames. To architects and lovers of
architecture it is remarkable on account of the striking similarity its
rich details bear to those of Westminster Abbey, and it is generally
considered that the architect of the one designed the other. This is the
more remarkable since the Abbey, with this exception of Stone Church,
stands alone in England as a beautiful and peculiarly personal example of
Gothic thirteenth-century architecture as practised in France. The
architect of Westminster Abbey must have been of French nationality; and
so curiously similar, in little, are not only the details of both church
and Abbey, but also the varieties of stone of which they are built, that
they are most unlikely to have been the work of different men.

[Sidenote: THE QUARRIES]

Greenhithe lies off the road to the left hand, and fronts on to the
Thames. The road, all the way hence to Northfleet, is enclosed by high
walls with tall factory-chimneys on either side; or passes between long
rows of recent cottages alternating with cabbage-fields in the last stage
of agricultural exhaustion. Docks; huge and ancient chalk-pits; great
tanks of lime and whitening, and brickfields are everywhere about, for
Greenhithe and Northfleet are, and have been for many years, the chief
places of a great export trade in flints, chalk, and lime. The flints are
sent into Derbyshire, and even to China, where they are used in the making
of porcelain; and many thousands of tons are shipped annually. The
excavation of chalk and flints during so long a period has left its
mark--a very deep and ineffaceable mark, too--upon this part of the road,
and, to a stranger, the appearance presented by the scarred and deeply
quarried countryside is wild and wonderful. Spaces of many acres have been
quarried to a depth, in some places, of over a hundred and fifty feet, and
many of these great pits have been abandoned for centuries, accumulating
in that time a large and luxuriant growth of trees and bushes. Others are
still being extended, and present a busy scene with men in white duck,
corduroy, or canvas working clothes cutting away the chalk or loading it
into the long lines of trucks that run on tramways down to the water's
edge. Not the least remarkable things in these busy places are the great
bluffs of chalk left islanded amid the deepest quarries, and reaching to
the original level of the land. They rise abruptly from the quarry floors,
are generally quite inaccessible, and have been left thus by the
quarrymen, as containing an inferior quality of chalk, mixed with sand and
gravel, which is not worth their while to remove.

In midst of scenery of this description, and surrounded by shops and
modern houses, stands Northfleet Church, beside the highway. It is a large
Gothic building of the Decorated period, and has been much patched and
repaired at different times without having been actually "restored." There
are some mildly interesting brasses in the chancel; but the massive
western embattled tower is of greatest interest to the student of other
times, for it was built, like many of the church towers in the Welsh
marches and along the Scots borders, chiefly as a means of defence. The
enemies who were thus to be guarded against at Northfleet were firstly
Saxon pirates, then the fierce and faithless Danes, and (much later) the
French. This defensible tower at Northfleet was largely rebuilt in 1628,
but a part of it belongs to the end of the fourteenth century, and it even
retains fragments of an earlier building, contemporary with the terrible
Sea-rovers who sailed up the estuary of the Thames, burning and destroying
everything as they passed.

A significant sign of the quasi-military uses of this extremely
interesting tower is the tall stone external staircase that runs up its
northern face from the churchyard to the first-floor level. The small
doorway that opens at the head of this staircase into the first floor was
originally the only entrance to the tower, and before the church could be
finally taken the enemy would have had to storm these stairs, exposed to a
fire of cloth-yard shafts from arrow-slits, and of heavy stones cast down
upon them from the roof.


Northfleet adjoins, and is now continuous with, Gravesend. It is a busy
place, engaged in the excavation of chalk and flints, and in
ship-building. Here, too, were "Rosherville Gardens," or shortly,
"Rosherville." A suburb of that name is here now, but the Rosherville of
the Early and Middle Victorians is a thing of the past, and the place has
been sold to an oil company.

Jeremiah Rosher was the inventor and sponsor of those once-famed Gardens.
It was so far back as the 1830's that he conceived the grand idea of
building a new town between Northfleet and Gravesend, on an estate he
owned here, beside the Thames. The idea remained an idea only, for
although a pier was built and the Gardens formed, Rosher never lived to
see his "ville," in the sense of being a town. But his Gardens were a
hugely-compensating success. It is not given to many to make a success of
a hole (unless the hole is a mine), and the site of that celebrated
Cockney resort was, and is, nothing else; being in fact one of the oldest
and largest of the chalk-quarries, excavated to a depth of one hundred and
fifty feet in some parts.

[Sidenote: WATERCRESS]

There a curious kind of rusticity was tempered with an equally curious
urban flavour; there the succulent shrimp and the modest watercress ("Tea
ninepence; srimps and watercreases, one shilling"), were supplemented
romantically by the strains of husky bands. There art was represented by
broken-nosed plaster statues of Ceres and a variety of other heathen
goddesses, some supporting gas-lamps in sawdusty bars and restaurants;
others gracing lawns and flower-beds. To those who delighted in plaster
statues grown decrepit and minus a leg or an arm, like so many neo-classic
Chelsea pensioners, Rosherville was ideal.

"Where to spend a happy day," as the advertisements used to
invite--"Rosherville." The watercress consumed there, and at the other
popular places near by, came from Springhead, which will be found in the
country at the back of Gravesend. In 1907 died the last surviving daughter
of the man who "invented" watercress as an article of food. It was about
1815 that William Bradbery, of Springhead, began to cultivate from a green
weed that grew in the ditches this favourite addition to tea-tables.

He cultivated with care, and laid out extensive beds, then, when he had a
marketable crop, sold it locally. It soon became a famous table dainty,
and nothing would satisfy him but the patronage of London. He filled an
old tea-chest with cress, and, with this on his back, trudged off to the
metropolis, a score or more miles away. The sample was satisfactory, and
he quickly developed a London trade.

Bradbery (it is said) when he was building up his London connection, paid
a vocalist to go at night from one place of entertainment to another,
singing a song in praise of the famous brown cress from the waters of

Be that as it may, Bradbery made a fortune by cultivating his cress on the
extended area. He seized an opportunity where another man would not have
seen one.

Watercress is now cultivated largely, and in numerous districts. It is
known, botanically, as _nasturtium officinale_.

Electric tramcars now rush and rattle through Northfleet and Rosherville,
and no one contemplates journeying to these scenes with the object of
spending a "happy day." The great group of semi-ecclesiastical looking
buildings on the left is "Huggens' College." Almshouses continue to be
built, for the fountain of benevolence is not yet dried up. It was in 1847
that this foundation came into existence, pursuant to the will of John
Huggens (born 1776), who was a barge-owner and corn-merchant of
Sittingbourne. Looking upon a world rather astonishingly full of
almshouses for people of humble birth, he conceived the somewhat original
idea of founding what, with extreme delicacy, he termed a "College" for
gentlemen reduced to poor circumstances. The establishment, strictly
secluded behind enclosing walls, in well-wooded grounds, houses fifty
collegians. Huggens himself, in stony effigy, is seen over the gateway,
seated in a frockcoat and an uncomfortable attitude, and displaying a
scroll or the charter of his "College." The bountiful gentleman is sadly
weatherworn, for the factory fumes of this industrial district have
wrought havoc with the Portland stone from which he is sculptured. Huggens
was wise among the generation of benefactors: he founded his charity in
his own lifetime, and personally supervised it. He died in 1865, and his
body lies in Northfleet churchyard.

We will now proceed to Gravesend, noting that in 1787 the slip road
between the "Leather Bottle" at Northfleet and the beginnings of Chalk,
two miles in length, was made. It would, in the language of to-day,
applied to incandescent gas-mantle burners and to avoiding roads alike, be
called a "by-pass."

[Sidenote: GRAVESEND]

Gravesend was at one time a place remarkable alike for its tilt-boats and
its waterside taverns. The one involved the other, for the boats brought
travellers here from London, and here, in the days of bad roads and worse
conveyances, they judged it prudent to stay overnight, commencing their
journey to Rochester the following morning. To the town of Gravesend
belonged the monopoly of conveying passengers to and from London by water,
and it was not until steamboats began to ply up and down the reaches of
the Thames that this privilege became obsolete. Thus it will be seen that,
besides being a place of call for ships, either outward bound or
proceeding home, Gravesend was in receipt of much local traffic. The
railway has, naturally, taken away a large proportion of this, but has
brought it back, tenfold, in the shape of holiday trippers, and the
continued growth of the town is sufficient evidence of its prosperity. One
first hears of Gravesend in the pages of Domesday Book, where it is called
"Gravesham"; but the difficulty of distinctly pronouncing the name led,
centuries ago, to the corrupted termination of "end" being adopted, first
in speech, and, by insensible degrees, in writing. It has an interesting
history, commencing from the time when the compilers of Domesday Book
found only a "hyhte," or landing-place, here, and progressing through the
centuries with records of growth, and burnings by the French; with tales
of Cabot's sailing hence in 1553, followed by Frobisher in 1576, to the
incorporation of the town in 1568, and the flight of James the Second, a
hundred and twenty years later.

Gravesend was not, in the sixteenth century, a model town. Its inhabitants
paved, lighted, and cleansed their streets, accordingly as individual
preferences, industry, or laziness dictated. Spouts, pipes, and projecting
eaves poured dirty water on pedestrians who were rash enough to walk
those streets in rainy weather, and people threw away out of window
anything they wished to get rid of, quite regardless of who might be
passing underneath; and so, whether fine or wet, those who picked their
way carefully along the unpaved thoroughfares, stood an excellent chance
of being drenched with something unpleasant. An open gutter ran down the
middle of the street, full of rotting refuse; every tradesman hung out
signs which sometimes fell down and killed people, and in the night, when
the wind blew strong, a concert of squeaking music filled, with sounds not
the most pleasant, the ears of people who wanted to go to sleep.

Things were but little less mediæval in the middle of the seventeenth
century, although the trade and importance of Gravesend had greatly
increased. Troubles arose then on account of the disorderly hackmen,
"foreigners and strangers"--any one not a freeman or a burgess was a
"foreigner"--who plied between Gravesend and Rochester, and took away the
custom that belonged of right to members of Gravesend guilds. Two years
later the Corporation of Gravesend was distinctly Roundhead in its
sympathies, for in 1649 we find the town mace being altered, the Royal
arms removed, and those of the Commonwealth substituted, at a cost of £23
10_s._ 0_d._ In 1660, things wore a very different complexion, for in that
year the Gravesend people welcomed Charles the Second with every
demonstration of joy. They had the mace restored to its former condition
at a cost, this time, of £17 10_s._ 0_d._, and allowed the mayor and
another £2 5_s._ 7_d._ for going up to London to see that the work was
done properly. They paid £3 10_s._ 0_d._ for painting the king's arms;
14_s._ to one John Phettiplace for "trumpeters and wigs"; and 5_s._ to
Will Charley "for sounding about the country." Having done this, they all
got gloriously drunk at a total cost of £12 15_s._ 8_d._, of which sum £10
7_s._ 8_d._ was for wine, and £2 8_s._ 0_d._ for beer.


It was, indeed, during this latter half of the seventeenth century that
Gravesend experienced one of its great periods of prosperity; and so the
loyalty was well rewarded. Of this date are many of the fine old red-brick
mansions in the older part of the town, together with the Admiralty House,
official residence of the Duke of York when Lord High Admiral. To
Gravesend he came as James the Second, a prisoner.

Embarking from Whitehall, on December 18, 1688, he reached here as late as
nine o'clock at night. The next morning he was conducted hence to
Rochester in the charge of a hundred of the Prince of Orange's Dutch
Guards, and a melancholy journey it must have been for him, if his memory
took him back to the time when, twenty-eight years before, he came up the
road with his brothers, Charles the Second and the Duke of Gloucester,
happily returning from exile.

To Gravesend came Royal and distinguished travellers on their way from
Dover to London, and hence they embarked for the City and Westminster,
escorted, if they were sufficiently Royal or distinguished by the Lord
Mayor, Aldermen, and the City Guilds, and fitly conducted in a long
procession of stately barges by this most impressive entrance to the
capital of England. And even ordinary travellers preferred this route. For
two reasons: the river-road was much more expeditious than the highway in
those pre-MacAdamite days, and by taking it they escaped the too-pressing
attentions that awaited them on Shooter's Hill and Blackheath at the hands
of Captains Gibbet and Pick-Purse.



Many of these distinguished travellers on this old highway have left
written accounts of their doings, and very interesting readings they make.
Foremost among the "distinguished" company was Marshal de Bassompierre. He
came to England in 1626, on an Embassy from the King of France, and
arrived at Dover on the 2nd of October. There he stayed to recruit, for
the sea, as usual, had been unkind, until Sunday, the 4th, departing
thence on that day for "Cantorbery," where he slept the night, going on
the Monday as far as "Sitimborne," and on Tuesday to "Rocheter" and
Gravesend, where he was met by the Queen's barge. Three months later, and
he was returning home. On December 1st he began his farewells at the Court
of Saint James's, and bade adieu to, amongst others, such fearful wild
fowl as the Earl of Suffolc and the Duke of Boukinkam; this last the
dissolute "Steenie"--none other! On the 5th, imagine him at Dover with an
equipage of five hundred persons shivering on the brink of the Channel,
and stormbound there for fourteen days at a cost of 14,000 crowns.

This imposing company embarked at last, and, after braving winds and sea
for a whole day, were compelled to put back again. When they _did_ finally
set off, they were five days crossing to Calais, and it was found
necessary to jettison the Ambassador's two carriages _en route_, in which
was, alas! 40,000 francs' worth of clothes. Also this unfortunate diplomat
lost twenty-nine horses, which died of thirst on the voyage.

Another French traveller, Monsieur Jouvin de Rochefort, greatly daring,
visited our shores in 1670. He took the ordinary coach for "Gravesine," in
order, as he says, to embark thence for London, passing on his way from
Canterbury, Arburtoon, Baten, and Asbery; Grinsrit, Sitingborn,
Nieuvetoon, and Renem[2] and coming to Rochester through a strange place
called Schatenne, which I don't find anywhere on the map, but suppose he
means Chatham. All along the road he remarked a number of high poles, on
the top of which were small kettles, in which fires were lighted to warn
the countryside of the robbers who would come in bands and plunder the
villages, were it not for the courage of the villagers, who formed
themselves into guards. These poles were about a mile distant from each
other, and to every one there was a small hut for the person whose
business it was to keep the beacons burning. "God be praised," though, he
reached "Gravesine" safely!

Samuel de Sorbière, Historiographer Royal to the King of France, visited
our shores in 1663. The normal passage from Calais was three hours, but on
this occasion seven hours were consumed in crossing, and although the
weather was very fair, the "usual Disorder which those who are not
accustomed to the sea are subject to"--but no matter! To make matters
worse, contempt and affronts were put upon him in Dover streets by some
sons of Belial in the shape of boys who ran after him shouting, "a
Monsieur, a Monsieur," and who, when they had retired to a safe distance,
proceeded to the extremely impolite depth of calling him a "French dog,"
"which," says M. de Sorbière, sweepingly, "is the epithet they give us in

Our traveller journeyed to London by wagon, rather than take a post-chaise
or even the stage-coach; an extremely undignified thing for an
Historiographer Royal to do, one would think. But then, 'twas the way to
note the strange customs of these English! The wagon was drawn by six
horses, one before another, and beside them walked the wagoner clothed in
black and appointed in all things like another Saint George. He had a
brave mounteero on his head, and was a merry fellow who fancied he made a
figure, and seemed mightily pleased with himself. Arrived at Gravesend,
our traveller, for greater expedition, took boat to London, and so an end
of him, so far, at least, as these pages are concerned.

[Sidenote: M. GROSLEY]

But this little crowd of scribbling foreigners who visited England and
wrote accounts of their travels in these islands before the locomotive was
dreamed of, had much better opportunities of catching impressions than
the railway train affords. They came up this way to London, as slowly as
the poet's spring; and, as a rule, they used their opportunities very
well. For instance, here is the admirable M. Grosley, a kindly Frenchman
who came over from Boulogne in 1765. He gives a most interesting account
of his journey along the Dover Road on the 11th April. He embarked upon
Captain Meriton's packet, which arrived, in company with a prodigious
number of other ships, three hours before time, off Dover. Here they had
to anchor for the tide to serve their landing, and the boisterous winds
drove several vessels ashore, while Captain Meriton's passengers resigned
themselves to death. When at length they landed, half dead, an
Englishwoman with her very amiable daughter and a tall old Irishman, who
pretended to be an officer (and who doubtless "had a way with him"),
landed with our traveller, and contrived that he should pay part of their
fare, the only trick played upon M. Grosley (I am pleased to say) during
his stay in England. The customs officers looked like beggars, but treated
this foreigner like a gentleman, as indeed we may suppose he was, for he
belonged to the Academy.

However, a crown was levied on passing his luggage by an innkeeper who
held the _droit de viscomté_. All the inns were crowded with the miserable
travellers just landed, and he with whom we are particularly concerned
found it necessary to go into the kitchen of his inn and take off, with
his own hands, one of the _tranches de boeuf_ grilling on the coals.
After this exploit, he cautiously went to bed at six o'clock in the
afternoon, for there were not enough beds to go round, and possession was
ever nine points of the law! At three in the morning he was called upon to
turn out in favour of a new arrival; but, notwithstanding all the rout
they made, he held to his four-poster until five, when he was turned out
and the game of Box and Cox commenced.

The sole inhabitants of Dover (says our traveller) were sailors, ships'
captains, and innkeepers. The height of the triumphal arches, on which the
vast signboards of the inns spanned the narrow streets, and the ridiculous
magnificence of the ornaments that headed them, were wonderful as compared
with the little post-boys, children of twelve and thirteen years of age,
who were starting every minute in sole charge of post-chaises. The great
multitude of travellers with which Dover was crowded afforded a reason for
dispensing with a police regulation which forbade public conveyances to
travel on Sundays, and on that day he set out with seven other passengers
in two carriages called ("called," you notice, like that street in
Jerusalem that was "called" straight) "flying machines." There were six
horses to a machine, and they covered the distance to London in one day
for one guinea each person; passengers' servants carried outside at
half-price. The coachmen, who were most kindly disposed towards their
horses, carried whips, certainly, but they were no more in their hands
than the fan is in winter in the hand of a lady; they only served to make
a show with, for their horses scarcely ever felt them, so great was the
tenderness of the English coachman with his cattle.

But see the peculiar advantages of travelling on Sunday. There were no
excisemen anywhere on duty, and even the highwaymen had ceased their
labours during the night. The only knights of the road our travellers
encountered were dangling from gibbets by the wayside in all the glories
of periwigs and full-skirted coats. Unfortunately, the pace was marred by
the frequent stoppages made to unload the brandy-kegs at the roadside inns
from the boots of the coaches, where they had been stowed away in the
absence of the gaugers.


Upon their way to Canterbury, the travellers, and our foreigner in
particular, had for some time perceived that they were no longer in
France, and when at length they reached that bourne of pilgrims they were
still further impressed with that fact by observing a fat man, who was
just arisen from bed, standing at a bay window during the whole time the
flying machines changed their Pegasuses; and, as they were unexpected the
delay was considerable. But all this while the fat man stood there in his
night-shirt, with a velvet cap on his head, contemplating them with folded
arms and knitted brow, and with an expression which (in France) was to be
seen only on the faces of them that had just buried their dearest friends.
Also, the "young persons" of both sexes stood and stared--not to mince
matters--like stuck pigs.

The country which they travelled through from Dover to London was (so our
traveller thought) in general a bad mixture of sand and chalk. They
skirted some lovely woods as well furnished as the best-stocked forests of
France--alas! where are those woods now?--and presently passed over
commons covered with heath and stray broom, very high and flourishing all
the year round. Those wild shrubs were left to the use of the poor of the
several different parishes, but their vigour and thickness gave reason to
conjecture that there were but few poor people in those parishes. The best
lands were then, as now, laid out in hop-gardens.

The wayside inns appealed strongly to our traveller. They were given,
whether in town or country, to the making of large accounts, but then see
how rich was the English lord who, as a class, frequented them. Anyway,
they were possessed of a cleanliness far beyond that to be found in the
majority of the best private houses in France. There was only one inn on
the road from Paris to Boulogne to be mentioned in the same breath with
the English houses, and that was one at Montreuil, frequented by English

Between Canterbury and Rochester the coaches encountered an obstacle which
savours rather of Don Quixote's adventures than of Sunday travelling in
this unromantic country. This was nothing less than a windmill which the
country-folk, taking advantage of that usually coachless day, were moving
entire. Less fiery than the Don, the travellers outflanked the gigantic
obstacle by dragging the coaches into the field beside the road. And of
that road, M. Grosley has to say that it was excellent; covered with
powdered flints, and well kept, in spite of the exemption from forced
labour which the countrymen enjoyed; and here he quotes what Aurelius
Victor has to say of the Emperor Vespasian's vast roadworks in Britain.

The roadways had not long been in this enviable condition; only, indeed,
so recently as the days of George the Second had they been rescued from
the bad state into which they had been suffered to fall during the civil
wars, and, generally speaking, the English knew little or nothing of the
art of road-making.

The repairing of the high-roads was at the expense of them that used them.
Neither rank nor dignity was exempted from the payment of tolls; the king
himself was subject to them, and the turnpike would have been shut against
his equipage if none of his officers paid the money before passing by.

These high-roads had all along them a little raised bank, two or three
feet broad, with a row of wooden posts whose tops were whitewashed so that
the coachmen should see them at night. This was for the conveniency of
foot-passengers. In places where the road was too narrow to admit of this
arrangement, the proprietors of lands adjoining were obliged to give
passage through their fields, which were all enclosed with tall hedges or
with strong hurdles about four feet high, over which passengers leapt or
climbed. Custom had so habituated the village girls to this exercise that
they acquitted themselves in it with a peculiar grace and agility. The
great attention of the English to the conveniency of foot-passengers had
several causes. Firstly, they set the highest value upon the lives of
their fellow-creatures, and in that peculiar circumstance they sacrificed
to pleasure and conveniency. Secondly, their laws were not exclusively
made and executed by persons who rode in their chariots. Thirdly, as the
English carriages moved as swiftly in the country as slowly in the town,
the meeting with persons who were so foolish or so ill-geared as to walk
a-foot would have been disastrous to those wayfarers; and in so democratic
a country as this the chariot-riders would have had a bad time in store
for them for so small a matter as playing, as it were, the secular
Juggernaut with pedestrians.

Eventually this moralising Frenchman reached London through Rochester,
which place was one long street inhabited solely by ships' carpenters and
dockyard men. At Greenwich, the shores of Thames loomed upon his
enraptured gaze, agreeably confounded with long lines of trees and the
masts of ships, and then came delightful London, and that haven where he
would be--ah! you guess it, do you not? It was Leicester Fields, _le
Squarr de Leicesterre_ of a later generation of Frenchmen.


[Sidenote: MILTON]

Having thus disposed of this company of scribbling foreigners, I will get
on to Milton-next-Gravesend, which immediately adjoins the town;
especially will I do so because, when the old waterside lanes have been
explored, little remains to see besides Gordon's statue and the little
cottage where he used to live. The high-road is not at all interesting,
unless indeed a Jubilee clock-tower and a number of private houses of the
Regent's Park order of architecture may be considered to lend a charm to
it. Just beyond these houses comes Milton: a school, a church, and a
public-house standing next one another. The church belongs to the
Decorated period, and has a tower built of flints, stone, and chalk.
During the last century the churchwardens had the repairing of the nave
roof under consideration, and, in order to save twenty pounds on an
estimate, they decided to remove the battlements, and to have a slated
roof, spanning nave and aisles, and ending in eaves. The thing was done,
against the wish of the Vicar and with the approval of the then Bishop of
Rochester, and all who pass this way can see how barbarous was the deed.
It had not even the merit of economy, for, by the time the work was
completed, it had cost the churchwardens several hundreds of pounds more
than had been anticipated.

"Trifle not, your time's but short," says a very elaborate and complicated
sundial over the south porch, looking down upon the road; and, taking the
hint, we will proceed at once from Milton Church to the public-house next
door. But not for carnal joys; oh no! Only in the interests of this book
will we make such a sudden diversion; for, at the rear of the house, on
the old bowling-green, is an interesting memorial of one of the jolly
fellows who once upon a time gathered here on summer evenings and played a
game of bowls when business in the neighbouring town of Gravesend was done
for the day.

  An honeft Man, and an Excellent Bowler.

  _Cuique est sua Fama._

  Full forty long Years was the ALDERMAN feen,
  The delight of each Bowler, and King of this Greene.
  As long he remember'd his Art and his Name,
  Whofe hand was unerring, unrival'd whofe Fame.
  His Bias was good, and he always was found
  To go the right way and to take enough ground.
  The JACK to the uttermoft verge he would fend
  For the ALDERMAN lov'd a full length at each End.
  Now mourn ev'ry Eye that hath feen him difplay
  The Arts of the Game, and the Wiles of his play;
  For the great Bowler, DEATH, at one critical Cast
  Has ended his length, and clofe rubb'd him at laft.

  F. W. pofuit, MDCCLXXVI.

And having duly noted this elegy of a truly admirable man, we may leave
Milton, pausing but to look down upon the estuary of the Thames, where the
great liners pass to and fro the most distant parts of the world, and also
to consider the humours of a hundred years ago, when, as now, Milton was
in the corporate jurisdiction of Gravesend, and when it sufficed both to
employ one watchman between them. This watchman was also Common Crier, and
was supported, not by a salary, but (like a hospital) by voluntary
contributions. And he did not do badly by the grateful Gravesenders, for
he collected, one year with another, £60, which, added to the
market-gardening business he also carried on, must have made quite a
comfortable income.

[Sidenote: DENTON]

A little way beyond Milton, where the road curves round to the right,
there will be seen on the left an eighteenth-century mansion, standing in
extensive grounds. Immediately within the lodge-gates is what looks like a
small church, surrounded by trees. It is older and far more interesting
than it seems to be. Until 1901 it was, in fact, a roofless ruin; but it
was then restored by Mr. George M. Arnold, who then owned Denton Court,
the name of the house. The church, now used as a private chapel by the
owner of Denton Court, was in fact Denton Chapel, the place of worship of
the parish of Denton, which was ecclesiastically separate from Milton
until 1879. Denton is a place so small that few maps condescend to notice
it, but it is an ancient place, first named in A.D. 950, as "Denetune,"
when the manor was given by one Byrhtric to the Priory of St. Andrew at
Rochester, which built this chapel of St. Mary. It was on the dissolution
of the monasteries in the time of Henry the Eighth that it fell into ruin.

[Illustration: DENTON CHAPEL.]

The chapel is of literary interest, for it is the original of Barham's
"Ingoldsby Abbey." In travelling between Canterbury and London by coach,
Barham noticed the ruined walls standing up, silhouetted against the sky,
and looking far more important than intrinsically they were; for this was
then a cleared space, the new road near by having in 1787 been cut
actually through the little churchyard.

Commentators in various editions of the _Ingoldsby Legends_ have stated
sceptically "the remains of Ingoldsby Abbey will be found--if found at
all--among the 'Châteaux en Espagne.'" That is not so; for here it is.
Barham himself, in a note to the legend "The Ingoldsby Penance," remarks
the ruins are "still to be seen by the side of the high Dover road, about
a mile and a half below the town of Gravesend."

                                       ... near
  The great gate Father Thames rolls sun-bright and clear,
      Cobham woods to the right--on the opposite shore
      Laindon Hills in the distance, ten miles off, or more;
      Then you've Milton and Gravesend behind--and before
      You can see almost all the way down to the Nore.

In Domesday Book Denton is written "Danitune," and it is generally held
that the name comes from the raiding Danes, who certainly troubled this
estuary; but it is probably "Dene-town," the place in the vale; perhaps in
contradistinction to Higham, which is not far off.

[Illustration: JOE GARGERY'S FORGE.]

[Sidenote: CHALK]

Chalk is the next place on the road, and Chalk is quite the smallest and
most scattered of villages, beginning at the summit of the hill leading
out of Milton and ending at Chalk church, which stands on a hillock
retired behind a clump of trees nearly a mile down the road, and far away
from any house. All the way the road commands long reaches of the Thames
and the Essex marshes, and on summer days the singing of the larks high in
air above the open fields can be heard.

At Chalk, in 1836, Charles Dickens rented a honeymoon cottage, on his
marriage with Catherine Hogarth. Great controversies arose some years ago,
following upon what is said to be a wrong identification of the place with
a residence called the "Manor House"; and it was stated that the real
dwelling in question was the weather-boarded and much humbler cottage at
the fork of the old and new roads between Gravesend and Northfleet, still
standing, and with a commemorative tablet on it. Opposite is "Joe
Gargery's Forge."


Chalk church is a very much unrestored building of flint and rubble,
dating from the thirteenth century. Its south aisle was pulled down at
some remote period. There still remains, and in very good preservation,
too, a singular Early English carving over the western door representing a
grinning countryman holding an immense flagon in his two hands and gazing
upward towards a whimsically-contorted figure that seems to be nearly all
head and teeth. Between the two is an empty tabernacle which at one time
before the destruction of "idolatrous statues" would have held a figure of
the Virgin. The two remaining figures probably illustrate the celebration
of "Church ales," a yearly festival formerly common to all English
villages, and held on the day sacred to the particular saint to whom the
church was dedicated. On these occasions there was used to be general
jollity; feasting and drinking; manly sports, such as boxing, wrestling,
and games at quarter-staff, would be indulged in, and the day was held as
a fair, to which came jugglers and players of interludes and itinerant
vendors from far and near. The Church, of course, being the original
occasion of the merry-making, looked benignly upon it, and provided the
funds for the malt from which the so-called "Church ales" were brewed.

[Illustration: SAILORS' FOLLY. (_After Julius Cæsar Ibbetson_).]

[Illustration: JACK COME HOME AGAIN.]

[Sidenote: THE "LORD NELSON"]

There is one other item of interest at Chalk, and that is an old wayside
tavern, the "Lord Nelson," one of those old houses that occupied, during
last century, and the first quarter of the nineteenth, a position between
the coaching inn and the mere beer-house. This type of tavern is still
very largely represented along the Dover Road, although the sailors who
chiefly supported them are no longer seen tramping the highways between
the seaports. They have, most of them, little arbours and trim gardens
with skittle- and bowling-alleys, and here the sailor would sit and drink,
spin yarns, or play at bowls; swearing strange oaths, and telling of many
a hard-fought fight. If he had kindred company, there would be, I promise
you, a riotous time; for no schoolboy so frolicsome as Jack ashore, and
hard-won wages and prize-money, got at the cost of blood and wounds, he
spent like water. Nothing was too expensive for him, nor, indeed,
expensive enough, and if he was sufficiently fortunate to leave his
landing-place with any money at all, he would very likely post up to town
with the best on the road, holding, very rightly, that life without
experiences was not worth the having. And of experiences he had plenty. He
lived like a lord so long as his money lasted, and when he went afloat
again he was shipped in a lordly state of drunkenness; but once the anchor
was weighed his was a slave's existence. Not that any word of his
hardships escaped him; he took them as inseparable from a seaman's life;
and, indeed, once the first rapture of his home-coming was over, the sea
unfailingly claimed him again. And when ashore all his talk was of battles
and storms; he damned Bonaparte, believed that one Englishman could thrash
three "darned parleyvoos," despised land-lubbers, and sang "Hearts of
Oak" with an unction that was truly admirable. His failings were only
those of a free and noble nature, and it is very largely owing to his
qualities of courage and tenacity that England stands where she is to-day.
Let us not, however, decry, either directly or by implication, the sailors
who now man our ships. They live in more peaceful times, and have neither
the discomforts nor the hard knocks that were distributed so largely years
ago; but they have approved themselves no whit less stalwart than their
ancestors who wore pigtails, fought like devils; talked of Rodney, Nelson,
Trafalgar, and the Nile, and finally disappeared somewhere about the time
of the Battle of Navarino.


It was for the delight and to secure the custom of these very full-blooded
heroes that these old taverns with signs so nautical and bowling-greens so
enticing were planted so frequently on this very sea-salty road, and now
that the humblest traveller finds it cheaper to pay a railway-fare than to
walk, they look, many of them, not a little forlorn. As for the "Lord
Nelson," at Chalk, I fear it lies too near London suburbs to last much
longer. Already, on Bank Holidays, when the Cockney comes to Gravesend,
literally in his thousands, riotous parties adventure thus far, and dance
in the dusty highway to sounds of concertina and penny whistle. Their
custom will doubtless enrich the place, and presently a gin-palace will be
made of what is now a very romantic and unusual inn, grey and
time-stained; its red roof-tiles thickly overgrown with moss and
house-leek, and its gables bent and bowed with years.


[Sidenote: GAD'S HILL]

There is little to see or remark upon in the three miles between Chalk and
Gad's Hill. Two old roadside inns, each claiming to be a "half-way
house"; a lane that leads off to the right, towards the village of Shorne;
a windmill, without its sails, standing on the brow of a singular hill;
these, together with the great numbers of men and women working in the
fields, are all the noticeable features of the road until one comes up the
long, gradual ascent to the top of Gad's Hill.

Gad's Hill is at first distinctly disappointing; perhaps all places of
pilgrimage must on acquaintance be necessarily less satisfactory than a
lively fancy has painted them. How very often, indeed, does not one
exclaim on standing before world-famed sites, "Is this all?"

The stranger comes unawares upon Gad's Hill. The ascent is so gradual that
he is quite unprepared for the shock that awaits him when he comes in
sight of a house and two spreading cedars that can scarce be other than
Charles Dickens' home. He has seen them pictured so often that there can
surely be no mistake; and yet---- He feels cheated. Is this, then, the
famous hill where travellers were wont to be robbed? Is this the place
referred to by that seventeenth-century robber turned _littérateur_, John
Clavell, who, in his "Recantation of an Ill-led Life," speaks so
magniloquently of--

          Gad's Hill, and those
  Red tops of mountains, where good people lose
  Their ill kept purses.

Was it here, then, upon this paltry pimple of a hill that Falstaff and
Prince Hal, Poins and the rest of them, robbed the merchants, the
franklins, and the flea-bitten carriers, who, Charles's Wain being over
the chimneys of their inn at Rochester, set out early in the morning for
London? Was this the spot where Falstaff, brave amid so many confederates,
added insult to injury of those travellers by calling them "gorbellied
knaves" and "caterpillars," and where Prince Henry, in his turn, alluded
to the knight as "fat guts"? Yes, this is the place, but how changed from
then! To see Gad's Hill as it was in those times it would be necessary to
sweep away the rows of mean cottages that form quite a hamlet here,
together with Gad's Hill Place, the hedges and enclosures, and to clothe
the hillsides with dense woodlands, coming close up to, and overshadowing
the highway, which should be full of ruts and sloughs of mud. Then we
should have some sort of an idea how terrible the hill could be o'nights
when the rogues[3] who lurked in the shadow of the trees pounced upon rich
travellers, and, tricked out in

                vizards, hoods, disguise,
  Masks, muzzles, mufflers, patches on their eyes;
  Those beards, those heads of hair, and that great wen
  Which is not natural,

relieved them of their gold.

And not only rogues of low estate, but others of birth and education,
pursued this hazardous industry, so that Shakespeare, when he made the
Prince of Wales and Sir John Falstaff appear as highwaymen on this scene,
was not altogether drawing upon his imagination. Thus, when the Danish
Ambassador was set upon and plundered here in 1656, they were not poor
illiterates who sent him a letter the next day in which they took occasion
to assure him that "the same necessity that enforc't ye Tartars to breake
ye wall of China compelled them to wait on him at Gad's Hill." But
travellers did not always tamely submit to be robbed and cudgelled, as you
shall see in these extracts from Gravesend registers--"1586, September
29th daye, was a thiefe yt was slayne, buryed;" and, again, "1590, Marche,
the 17th daie, was a theefe yt was at Gad'shill wounded to deathe, called
Robert Writs, buried."

[Sidenote: MURDER]

Gad's Hill is not only memorable for the robberies committed on its miry
ways. Its story rises to tragic heights with the murder, on the night of
October 15, 1661, of no less a person than a foreign Prince, Cossuma
Albertus, Prince of Transylvania. This unfortunate Prince, who was on a
visit to England to seek aid from Charles the Second against the Germans,
was approaching Rochester, apparently on his return to the Continent, when
his coach stuck fast in the October mud of Gad's Hill. He had already
experienced the villainous nature of our highways, and so, knowing that it
would be impossible to proceed further that evening, he resigned himself
to sleeping a night on the road. Having wrapped himself up as warmly as
possible, he fell off to sleep, whereupon his coachman, one Isaac Jacob, a
Jew, took his sword and stabbed him to the heart, and, calling upon the
footman, this precious pair completed the tragedy by dragging the body out
of the coach, and, cutting off the head, flinging the mutilated remains in
a neighbouring ditch.

The first tidings of this inhuman murder were brought to a Rochester
physician, who, riding past the spot some days afterwards, was horrified
by his dog bringing him a human arm in his mouth. Meanwhile the murderers
had possessed themselves of the Prince's clothes, together with a large
sum of money he had with him, and, dragging the coach out of the ruts, had
driven back to Greenhithe, where they left coach and horses to be called
for. Not long afterwards, they were arrested in London, and, being brought
before the Lord Mayor, the footman made a full confession. The trial took
place at Maidstone, where Isaac Jacob, coachman, and Casimirus Karsagi,
footman, were sentenced to death, the first being hanged in chains at the
scene of the crime. The body of the ill-fated Prince of Transylvania was
buried in the nave of Rochester Cathedral.

Sixteen years later, we come to the exploits of that ingenious highwayman,
Master Nicks, who, one morning in 1676, so early as four o'clock,
committed a robbery on this essentially "bad eminence," upon the person of
a gentleman, who, from some unexplained reason, was crossing the hill at
that unearthly hour. This, by the way, seems to disprove the wisdom of the
early worm, who, to be caught, must of necessity be up still earlier than
that ornithological Solon, the early bird. 'Tis a nice point.

However, Master Nicks, who was mounted on a bay mare, effectually
despoiled the traveller and rode away, reaching York on the afternoon of
the same day. Dismounting there at an inn, he changed his riding-clothes
and repaired to the bowling-green, where he found the Lord Mayor of York
playing bowls with several other tradesmen. The artful rogue, in order to
fix himself, the date, and the hour in that magistrate's memory, made a
bet with him upon the game, took an opportunity to ask him the time, and
by some means contrived to give him occasion to bear in mind the day of
the month, in case he should chance to be arrested on suspicion of the
affair. Sure enough, he was apprehended some time later, and when put upon
his trial the jury acquitted him, as they held it impossible for a man to
be at two places so remote in one day. After his acquittal, all danger
being past, he confessed the truth of the matter to the judge, already
doubtful of the jury's wisdom, and the affair coming to the knowledge of
Charles the Second, his Majesty eke-named this speedy road-agent
"Swiftnicks." This name conceals the identity of John, or William,
Nevison, who was executed on Knavesmire, York, in 1685. His exploit in
thus riding from near Rochester to York is the original of the later,
inferior and wholly fictitious story of Dick Turpin's ride from London to
York, on Black Bess; an exploit never performed by him.

[Sidenote: MRS. LYNN LINTON]

One presently becomes more tolerant of Gad's Hill, for, coming to Charles
Dickens' house and the old "Falstaff" inn, almost opposite, there opens a
view over the surrounding country that is really fine, and the road goes
down, too, towards Strood, in a manner eminently picturesque. The story is
well known of how, even when but a "queer small boy," Dickens always had a
great desire to, some day, be the owner of the place, and how his father,
who would take him past here on country walks from Chatham, told him that
if he "were to be very persevering, and were to work hard," he might some
day come to live in it; but it is not equally a matter of common knowledge
that the house had been also the object of an equal affection, years
before, to the Reverend Mr. Lynn, father of Mrs. Lynn Linton, who tells us
how her early years were spent here, and how, when her father died, it was
she who sold the estate to the novelist. She gives also a most picturesque
account of Gad's Hill in those times. The coaches were still running when
Mrs. Lynn Linton, as a girl, lived here.

"Gad's Hill House stands a little way back from the road. The grand
highway between London and Dover, not to speak of between Gravesend and
Rochester, it was as gay as an approach to a metropolis. Ninety-two public
coaches and pleasure-vans used to pass in the day, not counting the
private carriages of the grandees posting luxuriously to Dover for Paris
and the grand tour. Soldiers marching or riding to or from Chatham and
Gravesend, to embark for India, or on their return journey home; ships'
companies paid off that morning, and cruising past the gates, shouting and
singing and comporting themselves in a generally terrifying manner, being,
for the most part, half-seas over, and a trifle beyond; gipsies and
travelling tinkers; sturdy beggars with stumps and crutches; savoyards
with white mice, and organ-men with a wonderful wax doll, two-headed and
superbly dressed, in front of their machines; chimney-sweepers, with a
couple of shivering, little, half-naked climbing boys carrying their bags
and brushes; and costermongers, whose small, flat carts were drawn by big
dogs, were also among the accidents and circumstances of the time.... Old
Mr. Weller[4] was a real person, and we knew him. He was 'Old Chumley' in
the flesh, and drove the stage daily from Rochester to London, and back


[Sidenote: DICKENS]

It was here, then, that Dickens lived from 1856 to his death, on June 9,
1870, and thus Gad's Hill is, for many, doubly a place of pilgrimage. And,
truly, the whole course of the Dover Road is rich in memories of him and
of the characters he drew with such a flow of sentimentality; and
sentiment is more to the Englishman than is generally supposed. Hence that
amazing popularity which is only just now being critically inquired into,
weighed and appraised. Dickens was a man of commanding genius. His
observation was acute, and he reproduced with so photographic a fidelity
the life and times of his early years that the "manners and customs of the
English," during the first third of the nineteenth century, find no such
luminous exponent as he. When, if indeed ever, the _Pickwick Papers_ cease
to amuse, they will still afford by far the most valuable evidence that
could possibly exist as to the ways and thoughts, the social life and the
conditions of travel, that immediately preceded the railway era.
Superficial critics may hold that the most humorous book of the century is
but a succession of scenes, with little real sequence and no plot; they
may also say that Mr. Pickwick, Messrs. Tupman, Snodgrass, Winkle, and the
rest of that glorious company, were "idiots," but for genuine fun and
frolic that book is still pre-eminent, and none of the "new humorists,"
with their theories and criticisms of the "old humour," have approached
within a continent or so of it. Not that Dickens' methods were
irreproachable. It was his pleasure in all his books to give his
characters allusive names by which you were supposed to recognise their
attributes at once. It is thus upon the stage, in pantomime or farce, that
the clown's painted grin and the low-comedian's ill-fitting clothes, red
hair, and redder nose, proclaim their qualities before a word is spoken,
and when Dickens calls a pompous fraud "Pecksniff," a vulgar Cockney clerk
"Guppy," or a shifty, irresponsible, resourceful person "Swiveller," we
know at once, before we read any further, pretty much what their
characters will be like. This, of course, is not art; it is an entirely
indefeasible attempt to claim your sympathies or excite your aversions at
the outset, independently of the greater or less success with which the
author portrays their habits afterwards. We must, however, do Dickens the
justice both to allow that he needed no such adventitious aids to the
understanding of his characters, and to recognise that this kind of
nomenclature was not peculiarly his own, but very largely the literary
fashion of his time.

The pranks of Falstaff and Prince Hal, whose doings were to be "argument
for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest for ever," are
commemorated, in a fashion, by a large roadside inn, the "Falstaff,"
standing nearly opposite Gad's Hill Place, the successor, built in the
time of Queen Anne, of a lonely beerhouse, the resort of characters more
than questionable; more than kin to highwaymen, and much less than kind to
unprotected wayfarers.

[Illustration: THE "FALSTAFF," GAD'S HILL.]

From here the road goes steeply all the way to Strood, over Coach and
Horses' Hill, and through a deep cutting made by the Highway Board about
1830, in order to ease the heavy pull up from Rochester; a cutting known
at that time as "Davies' Straits," from the name of the chairman of the
Board, the Rev. George Davies. The view here, over house-tops toward the
Medway, framed in on either side by this hollow road, is particularly
fine, and I think I cannot come through Strood into Rochester without
quoting a certain lieutenant who, with a captain and an "ancient" (by
which last we understand "ensign" to be meant), travelled in these parts
in 1635. "I am to passe," says he, "to Rochester, and in the midway I
fear'd no robbing, although I passed that woody, and high old robbing Hill
(Gadds Hill), on which I alighted, and tooke a sweet and delightfull
prospect of that faire streame, with her pleasant meads she glides
through." The lieutenant's description is delightful, and if he drew the
sword to such good purpose as he wielded the pen, why, I think he must
have been a warrior of no little distinction. He says nothing of Strood;
and, indeed, I think Strood has through the centuries been entreated in
quite a shabby and inadequate manner. The reason of this, of course, is
that Strood is over the water and suburban to Rochester; a kind of poor
relation so to speak, and treated accordingly.

But the place is old and historic, and celebrated not only for the great
fight which the barons made in the thirteenth century against the king,
when they fought their way across the bridge, and, taking possession of
Rochester, sacked town, castle, and cathedral, but also for that exploit
of the townsfolk who cut off the tail of one of Becket's sumpter-mules,
whereupon that wrathful prelate cursed them, and caused them and their
descendants to go with tails for ever. Thus the story which accounts for
the county nickname of "Kentish long-tails," but I do not perceive that
the Strood folks are so unusually decorated. Perhaps they are at pains to
hide their shame.


[Sidenote: STROOD]

Strood, too, deserves some notice. The place-name has been thought to
derive from _strata_, "the street," standing as it does on that ancient
way, the Roman Watling Street. But, in the recent advance in the study of
place-names, it is held to be from the Anglo-Saxon "strode": a marshy


The original meaning of "Watling Street" is never likely to be determined
to the satisfaction of all antiquaries, and its age is equally a contested
point. But that a street or a trackway of some kind, of an identical route
with the present highway, ran between London and Dover long before Cæsar
landed can scarce be matter for doubt. That the Britons were barbaric and
unused to commerce or intercourse with the Continent can scarcely be
supposed, for Britain was the Sacred Island of the Druidical religion, and
to it came the youth of Gaul for instruction at the hands of those high
priests whose Holy of Holies lay, across the land, in remote Anglesey.
Those priests were the instructors, both in religion and secular
knowledge, of the Gaulish youth; and, outside the civilisations of Greece
and Rome, Britain was even then the best place to acquire a "liberal
education." Up the rugged trackway of the Sarn Gwyddelin == the
Foreigners' Road, from Dover to London, and diagonally across the island,
came these youths; and down it, to voyage across the Channel, and to take
part with their Gaulish friends in any fighting that might be going, went
those tall British warriors whose strength and fierceness surprised Cæsar
in his Gallic War.

Imports and exports, too, passed along this rough way; skins and gold,
British hunting-dogs and slaves were shipped to Gaul and Rome by merchants
who, to keep the trade unspoiled, magnified the dangers of the
sea-crossing and the fierceness of the people. Pottery, glass-beads, and
cutlery they imported in return; and this primitive "road" must have
presented a busy scene long before it could have deserved the actual name.

When Cæsar, eager for spoil and conquest, marched across country from
Deal, and first saw the Sarn Gwyddelin from the summit of Barham Downs, it
could have been but a track, never _built_, but gradually brought into
existence by the tramping of students and fighting-men, and widened by the
commerce of those exclusive merchants. Thus it remained for _at least_
ninety-eight years longer; rough, full of holes, mires, and swamps, and
crossed by many streams. Cæsar came and went; and not until Aulus Plautius
and Claudius had overrun Britain, and probably not before many successive
Roman governors had served here, and reduced this province of Britannia
Prima to the condition of a settled and prosperous colony, was the
Foreigners' Road made a _viâ strata_, a paved Roman Military Way.

Its date might be anything from the landing of Aulus Plautius, in A.D. 45,
to the time of Hadrian, the greatest of all road-builders, A.D. 120. Then
it became a true "street," made in the thorough manner described by
Vitruvius, and paved throughout with stone blocks; the "_strata_" from
which the word "street" is derived.

Engineered with all that road-making science which, not less than their
victories, has rendered the Romans famous for all time, the Watling
Street, as the Romans left it, stretched from sea to sea. Starting from
their three great harbour fortresses on the Kentish coast--from _Rutupiæ_,
_Portus dubris_, and _Lemanis_, Englished now as Richborough, Dover, and
Lympne--it converged in three branches upon their first inland camp and
city of _Durovernum_, where Canterbury now stands. Proceeding
thenceforward on the lines of the present Dover Road, the Roman road came
to their next station of _Durolevum_, whose site no antiquary has fixed
convincingly, but which might have been at either Sittingbourne, Ospringe,
Davington, or Key Street. Thence it reached _Durobrivae_, which was
certainly on the site of Rochester. Crossing the Medway by a _trajectus_,
or perhaps even by a bridge of either stone or wood, the road passed
through Strood, and branched off through Cobham, coming again to the
modern highway at Dartford Brent. Perhaps it even had two branches here,
one touching the river at _Vagniacae_, probably both Northfleet and
Southfleet; and the other keeping, as we have seen, inland until a
junction was effected near Dartford. But with its proximity to London, the
story and the geography of Watling Street grow not a little confused.
Where, for instance, the succeeding station of _Noviomagus_ was situated
no one can say with certainty. It might have been at Keston; it probably
was at Crayford; or there _might_ have been two branches again, as some
antiquaries suggest. Through London, the Watling Street went across
England, past St. Albans and Wroxeter, and finally to _Segontium_, or the
hither side of the Menai Straits, throwing off a branch to _Deva_,

This and other great roads grew gradually to perfection throughout the
country for four hundred years. Towns and military stations dotted them at
intervals, and in between the abodes of men the way was lined, after the
custom of the Roman people, with tombs and cemeteries. This explains the
many "finds" of sepulchral urns and various relics beside the road.

[Sidenote: THE OLD ROADS]

When the Saxons came, they could not pronounce the name by which the
half-Roman people called this road, and so "Gwyddelin" became "watling" on
their tongues, while "strata" was corrupted to "street." No new roads were
made now, and, indeed, not until the Turnpike Acts of George the Third's
time and the era of MacAdam was the art of road-making practised again in
England. For ages the "roads" of this country were a byword and a reproach
to us. By the middle of the twelfth century the Roman roads that had been
made and kept in repair for hundreds of years fell into ruin, and the
detritus and miscellaneous accumulations of twenty-five generations now
cover the greater portion of them. At a depth varying from five to
fourteen, and even eighteen, feet, excavators have come upon the hard
surface of the original Roman road, and mosaic pavements of villas found
at that extreme depth attest how the surface of a country may be altered
only by the gradual deposit of vegetable matter. The thickest deposits are
found in low-lying situations, where the flow of streams or rain-water
has brought liquid earth to settle upon the deserted sites of an ancient
civilisation. This has occurred notably at such places as Dartford,
Rochester, and Canterbury, all situated in deep valleys, where springs and
storms have united to bring mud, sand, and gravel down from the hillsides,
and thus to equalise in some measure the ancient irregularities of the
scenery. While the hollows have thus been rendered less profound, the
hill-tops and table-lands have remained very much as they were, and it is
in these elevated situations that the line of Watling Street can most
readily be traced, or _could_ have been had not the stone pavings that
composed the road been long ages ago abstracted.

This long neglect of the roads made country journeys exceedingly difficult
and dangerous. Travellers' tales in England during six or seven centuries
are concerned with two great evils; highway robbery and the shocking state
of the roads; and so deep and dangerous were some of the quagmires that,
rather than attempt to cross them, coachmen would drive through wayside
fields, and thus make a road for themselves. It was in this way that
ancient highways became diverted, and the pedestrian who finds the route
between two towns to be extraordinarily circuitous must often look to
these circumstances for an explanation. The southern counties bore a bad
reputation for impassable roads until about seventy years ago, and Kentish
miles were long linked with Essex stiles and Norfolk wiles as prime causes
of beguilement; while the fertility of Kentish soil is joined with the
muddy character of Kentish roads in two old county proverbs. Thus, "Bad
for the rider, good for the abider," expressed truths obvious enough to
those who came this way a hundred years ago; and "There is good land where
there is foul way" would have said much for the excellence of Kent, where
all the ways were foul. But if the traveller was not a landed gentleman,
except in the sense that he was generally covered with mud from head to
foot, the reflection that the county through which he waded deep in slush
must be singularly fertile could scarce have afforded him much consolation
for lost time and spoiled clothes. Here is a tale of an unfortunate
horseman bogged on these miscalled "roads" which is quite eloquent of what
old-time wayfaring was like. He comes to a suspicious-looking slough and
hesitates. "Is there a good bottom here, my man?" he asks of a country
joskin regarding him with a wide smile. "Oo-ah! yes, there's a good bottom
to un," replies the countryman, and the traveller urges on his way until,
within a yard or so, his horse sinks to the girth in liquid mud. "I
thought you said there was a good bottom to this road," shouts the
traveller. "Yes," rejoins the rustic, "soo there ees, but you a'n't coom
to un yit, master."


Strood is one long street of miscellaneous houses, with fields and meadows
running up to the backyards; with engine-shops, mills, wheelwrights, and a
variety of other noisy trades clanging and clattering in the rear, and an
old church on the hillside to the left, appropriately dedicated to that
patron of thieves and sailor-men, Saint Nicholas. But whether or no "Saint
Nicholas' clerks" looked in here to pray the saint to send them "rick
franklins and great oneyers" across that "high old robbing hill," I should
not like to say; having though, the while, a shrewd suspicion that their
piety was somewhat to seek, and that the shrine of the saint profited but
little, if at all, from their ill-gotten gains upon the road.


Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the old houses here and at
Rochester, and, indeed, along a great portion of the Dover Road, is the
great use of weather-boarding, chiefly on the upper storeys. An instance
of this is seen at Strood at an inn, the "Crispin and Crispianus,"
standing in the main street. A still more interesting point about this old
house is its pictorial swinging sign, overhanging the pathway--a
representation of the two shoemaker brothers, Crispin and Crispian, at
work, cobbling boots. The brothers were Christian martyrs who suffered
death at Soissons, A.D. 287. How they came to serve as the sign of an inn
is quite unknown. It has been suggested that, as Agincourt was fought on
Saint Crispin's Day, this old sign is of the warlike and patriotic order
to which belong the Waterloo, Wellington, Nelson, Alma, and Trafalgar
signs that are so plentiful on this road; but it is a great deal more
likely that it is a relic of the days when men made pilgrimages to
Becket's shrine, when innkeepers found their account to lie in calling
their houses after some popular saint or another.

A curious incident in connection with the "Crispin and Crispianus" must be
noted before we pass on. It happened in 1830. One night in September of
that year, a doctor who had only just then commenced practice in Strood
was called in to see a man lying at the point of death in an upper room of
the old inn. He hastened to the place, and found a man lying in bed who
told him that, although he was known only as an ostler, he was really the
Earl of Coleraine, nephew of that notorious Colonel Hanger who is chiefly
known as the riotous boon-companion of the Prince Regent in the early days
of Brighton and the Pavilion. Colonel Hanger was the fourth earl, and
succeeded his brother in the title, which he never assumed. He died,
childless, in 1824, and the earldom became extinct. As Colonel Hanger was
the youngest son of his father, and as no mention has ever been made of
any of his elder brothers leaving sons, the matter is not a little
mysterious, especially as the colonel's right to the title, had he chosen
to use it, was not disputed. However, the strange man who died on
September 20, 1830, at the "Crispin and Crispianus" apparently satisfied
Doctor Humphrey Wickham of the truth of his story, and that his real name
was Charles Parrott Hanger, instead of "Charley Roberts," by which he had
been known at Strood and the neighbourhood for twenty years. During this
time he had acted as ostler at the coaching inns of Rochester and Chatham;
had tramped the country, selling laces, thread, tape, and other small
wares; and on Sundays shaved labourers. He had deserted his wife years
before. She was long dead, and he had a son apprenticed to a firm of
ironmongers at Birmingham. To this son he left all he was possessed of,
making the doctor his executor. It will not be imagined that this
ex-ostler, dying in a room of the "Crispin and Crispianus," where he was
lodged by the landlady out of charity, had anything to bequeath; but the
doctor paid over, as executor, the sum of £1000 to Charles Henry Hanger,
the son of this eccentric.


[Sidenote: ROCHESTER]

And so, as Mr. Samuel Pepys might say, into Rochester.

Rochester was to Dickens variously "Mudfog," "Great Winglebury,"
"Dullborough," and "Cloisterham." It cannot be said that any of these
names form anything like an adequate word-picture of the place. As names,
they vary from good to indifferent, and very bad, but none of them shadow
forth the real Rochester, which is rather a busy place than otherwise:
none, for instance, are so happily descriptive as that under which a
waggish fellow introduced a wealthy distiller to an assemblage of Polish
notables--as "Count Caskowisky." I might pluck a feather from Dickens'
wing with which to furnish forth a wounding shaft, and say of Rochester,
under any of those pseudonyms, as Trabbs' boy said in another connection
(and yet not deserve the title of "unlimited miscreant,") "Don't know

The somnolent place which Dickens drew--its High Street a narrow lane, its
houses abodes of gloom and mystery--has not much existence in fact. It is,
of course, heresy to say so (but it is none the less true), that although
no other place was probably so well known to Dickens, and that from his
youth upward, yet he never caught the true note of Rochester. That he
loved the place seems obvious enough, but his was not the Gothic, mediæval
temperament that could really appreciate it aright. The test of this is
found in the fact that although Dickens has written many glowing pages on
Rochester, and apparently yielded to none in his admiration for the old
city, yet its appearance is far more beautiful to the stranger learned in
Dickens-lore than anything he is prepared to see.

Busy, beautiful Rochester, and none the less beautiful because busy. The
traveller who first sees the old place, its castle and cathedral and the
turbid Medway, from Strood, is fortunate in his approach, and will never
forget the grand picture it makes. To his right stretches away for miles
the broad valley of the Medway, with bold hills crowned with windmills,
above, and the stream, diminishing in long perspective, below; with
jutting promontories where the factory-chimneys of Borstal and Wouldham
stand up, clustered like the stalks of monstrous vegetables, and the
red-sailed barges that drop down with wind and tide. Before him rise the
great keep, the cathedral, and the clustered red roofs of the city, with a
glimpse of the High Street, the Town Hall and its great vane--a
full-rigged ship--at the other end of the bridge. And all the while to his
left is the shrieking and the screaming of the trains, rolling in thunder
over the two railway bridges that absolutely shut out and ruin the view
down the stream. The bustle, roar, and rattle of the trains, the busy,
yet silent, traffic of the river, the smoke rising in wreaths from those
distant chimneys of Wouldham and Borstal, all bespeak labour and commerce,
and all these rumours of a busy community blend finely with the shattered
majesty of that ancient Castle, the solemnity of the Cathedral, and the
noisy, yet restful, cawing of the raucous rooks who circle round about
those lofty battlements, their outcry mingled with the sobbing, moaning
voices of the pigeons, and the shrill piping of querulous sea-birds.

The bridge over which Mr. Pickwick leaned and meditated while waiting for
breakfast has gone the way of many another old building referred to in
that book which will presently have a quite unique archæological value, so
changed are the varied haunts of the Pickwickians. Necessity, they say,
the call of progress, demanded the removal of the fine stone bridge of
eleven arches that had spanned the Medway so efficiently for five
centuries, and it _was_ removed in 1856; but how cruel the necessity, and
how heavy a toll we pay for our progression perhaps only those who had
stood upon the ancient ways can tell. The masonry was so strong that it
was found necessary to blow it up.

Meanwhile, we must clear our minds from a very reasonable prejudice, and
acknowledge that, as an example of modern engineering, the new Rochester
Bridge is very fine. It is of iron, broad and graceful as its iron
construction will allow, and it spans the river in three great arches. It
cost £160,000, exclusive of approaches, to build, and was opened in 1856.
The old bridge had a protecting balustrade which more or less effectually
saved the lieges from being blown by furious winds into the water. Before
the balustrade there were high iron railings, which were fixed according
to the French Ambassador, the Duc de Nivernais, "so that drunkards, not
uncommon here, may not mix water with their wine."

That the balustrade was not very greatly to be relied upon, and that Mr.
Pickwick, bulky man as he was, ran a considerable risk when he leaned over
the parapet, may be gathered when we read that on a night in 1836 a storm
demolished a great stretch of it, and that the Princess Victoria, who was
coming up the road from Dover, was content to be advised to stay overnight
at the "Bull," rather than attempt to cross over to Strood. The riverside
wore a somewhat different aspect then. Low and broken cliffs picturesquely
shelved down to the water's edge where a neat embankment now runs, and the
balustrades of the old bridge serve their old purpose on this new
river-wall. The embankment is an improvement from an utilitarian point of
view, but its long straight line hurts the artistic sense.

The stranger should come into Rochester preferably on the evening of a
summer's day, and, as first impressions must ever remain the most
distinct, he should walk in over the bridge. At such times a golden haze
spreads over the city and the river, and renders both a dream of beauty.
The gilt ship on the Town Hall blazes like molten metal; the "moon-faced
clock" of the Corn Exchange is correspondingly calm, and the wide
entrance-halls of the older inns begin to glow with light. You should have
walked a good fifteen miles or more on the day of your first coming into
Rochester, and then you will appreciate aright the mellow comforts of its
old inns. But not at once will the connoisseur of antiquity and first
impressions who thus enters the old city repair him to his inn. He will
turn into the Cathedral precincts underneath the archway of Chertsey's
Gate, and I hope he will not already have read _Edwin Drood_, because an
acquaintance with that tale quite spoils one's Rochester, and leaves an
ineffaceable mark of a modern sordid tragedy upon the hoary stones of
Cathedral, Castle, and Close. It is as though one had come to the place
after reading the unrelieved brutality of a newspaper report. Rochester
demands a romance of the Ivanhoe type; chivalry or necessities of State
should have ennobled slaughter here, but a tale of secret murder for
private ends vulgarises and tarnishes the place, especially when it is
told with all Dickens' wealth of local allusion. He had no comprehension
of tragedy and romance other than those of the street and the
police-court; which is to say that he had better have left Rochester
alone, so far as the _Mystery of Edwin Drood_ is concerned.

If my imaginary traveller comes to Rochester without having read that tale
he will be singularly fortunate. Otherwise he will have an uneasy feeling
as he stands and gazes a moment upon the west front of the Cathedral, or
peeps into the nave, that it ought to be re-consecrated. This, of course,
is a tribute to Dickens' descriptive and narrative powers that clothe the
doings of his characters with so great an air of reality; but how
unfortunate for those who like their murders to be decently old and
historical that he should have brought the atmosphere of the police-court
into the grave and reverend air of this ancient city.

My traveller, happily unversed in all this, will gaze upon the Cathedral
and the Castle Keep, where the rooks are circling to rest, and, coming
again into the High Street, will turn to his inn, where appetite,
sharpened by pedestrianism and fresh air, may be appeased as well now as
in those days of heavy drinking and no less heavy eating, when seventy-two
coaches passed through Rochester daily and the trains that thunder across
the Medway were undreamt of.

The inns of Rochester receive, as may well be supposed, many pilgrims who
for love of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens, come hither, not alone from
all parts of England, but from America, and even from foreign-speaking
countries, and the visitors' books testify not only to their opinions of
the place but also of each other. Thus at one inn I read the signatures of
a party of Germans, to which some prejudiced Briton, after sundry
offensive remarks about foreigners in general and Germans in particular,
adds, "They are everywhere, d----n them!" But I must confess that the
following surprised me, even after a long acquaintance with the inanities
of visitors' books. Some one had remarked "How like Rochester Cathedral
was to a Catholic Church," whereupon some other idiot adds, "Of course it
is Catholic, but not Roman Catholic." Really one scarcely knows whom to
pity most.

[Sidenote: THE "BULL"]

The "Bull" inn (how remarkably like its frontage is to that other "Bull"
at Dartford) is much the same now as when Dickens wrote of it; only there
are portraits of Dickens hanging on the staircase now, and the ball-room,
with its "elevated den," is a place of solitude. They still show you the
rooms where Winkle and Mr. Pickwick slept, as though they were real
people, and so great an affection do the members of the Pickwick Club
command, that, while pointing out where Tracy Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass
danced, the rooms occupied by the Princess Victoria are clean forgotten.
So literature scores a success for once; but I wish a too earnest loyalty
had not altered the sign from the "Bull Inn" to the "Victoria and Bull
Hotel"! The hall is still "a very grove of dead game and dangling joints
of mutton," and the "illustrious larder, with glass doors, developing cold
fowls and noble joints and tarts, wherein the raspberry jam coyly
withdraws itself, as such a precious creature should, behind a
lattice-work of pastry," still whets the appetites of incoming guests,
just as though England stood where she did, and as if our trades were not
ruined by foreign competition, our industries decayed, the army gone to
the dogs, the navy to Davy Jones, the farmer to the workhouse, and the
shopkeeper to the Bankruptcy Court, as we are told they have. No doubt all
these things have happened, or are in course of fulfilment, and I suppose
the hotel-keepers keep up their licences merely for the love of licensed
victualling, while the "commercials" still travel the roads for old
acquaintance's sake rather than for any business that may be doing. How
disinterested of them!


I notice that there is a great tendency among those who have to describe
Rochester Cathedral to dismiss it with the remarks that it is quite small,
and that it was "restored" in 1825 and 1875. These, of course, are the
merest ineptitudes of criticism, and if we allowed praise or censure to be
awarded according to the bulk, then that hideous elephantine conventicle,
Jezreel's Temple, on the summit of Chatham Hill, would easily bear away
the bell.

But size has little to do with a right appreciation of architecture.
Chasteness of proportion, the degree of artistry shown alike in details
and in the execution of the whole, are the sole considerations that shall
weigh with those who take any sort of an intelligent interest in the
architecture of cathedrals; and the admiration of a thing that "licks
creation" in the matter of measurement is senseless if it is not wedded to
a proper perception of the justness of the parts that go to make its bulk.

The Cathedral of Saint Andrew at Rochester is at least equally interesting
with that of Canterbury; and that this should be so is only natural, for
one is the complement of the other. Canterbury was the earliest Cathedral
in England; the See of Rochester was established immediately afterwards,
and was for many years not only intimately associated with that great
metropolitan church, but was actually dependent upon it. Then, the early
Norman Archbishops and Priors of Canterbury and the Bishops and Priors of
Rochester were often intimate personal friends who had come over together
from Normandy to England; and the close relations thus established lasted
for many years. The See of Rochester was founded by Saint Augustine about
A.D. 600, and by him the first Bishop was consecrated, four years later.


But when the Norman Conquest brought a new era of church building into
England, Rochester Cathedral was rebuilt. Gundulf, the second Norman
Bishop, the friend of Anselm and Lanfranc, the greatest military and
ecclesiastical architect of his time, prepared to erect a new and grander
edifice on the ruins of the Saxon church. The number and extent of this
great architect's works are simply prodigious. How he could have packed
into even _his_ lengthy life the duties of a Churchman, which we are told
by those who knew him he never missed for a single day; the cares of
statecraft which also fell to his lot; and the building, not only of his
Cathedral, but also of the Tower of London, Rochester Keep, Dartford
Church, Malling Abbey, and minor works, we are at a loss to conceive. He
was consecrated in 1077 and died in 1108, before he had completed his work
here. Ernulf, Prior of Canterbury, succeeded him, and finished the
building, which was consecrated in 1130, in the same year that witnessed
the completion and consecration of Ernulf's and Conrad's new Cathedral at
Canterbury. Here, then, we see at once the close connection between the
architectural history of these two neighbouring churches. Ernulf had a
hand in both; a very large share of the crypt, the west front, and a part
of the nave of Rochester was his; while at Canterbury the crypt and the
choir were built in collaboration with Prior Conrad. These facts partly
explain the unusual and beautiful feature of a choir raised many feet
above the level of the nave, which is characteristic both of Canterbury
and Rochester Cathedrals, and seen nowhere else in England. And not only
in these most prominent features of their architectural construction are
the two buildings alike; their stories run curiously parallel, both in
their building and in their destruction. Less than fifty years after their
simultaneous consecration, both churches were partly destroyed by fire,
and their ruined portions rebuilt in the Transitional Norman and Early
English styles, by those two architects who are supposed to be one and the
same person--William de Hoo, Bishop of Rochester, and that "William the
Englishman" who succeeded French William of Sens in rebuilding the choir
of Canterbury. At that time, allowing for the great difference in their
relative sizes, the two Cathedrals must have borne a strong likeness to
one another; and when we look upon Ernulf's nave here, we look upon the
likeness of the nave at Canterbury until that period, between 1390 and
1421, when Prior Chillendon replaced Lanfranc's work with the light and
lofty, but exceedingly uninteresting, Perpendicular nave that now forms
the western end of the Primate's Metropolitan Church.

Fortunately for ourselves, who think Norman work not the flower of
ecclesiastical architecture, but the most interesting and æsthetically
satisfying next to the incomparable grace of the Early English period,
Rochester was too poor a See to be able to embark on extensive schemes of
rebuilding, and we are spared the rather vulgar ostentation of skill and
wealth to which the Perpendicular style lends itself. Little could be
added to the dignity and solemn majesty, the right proportions and
impressive simplicity, of this massive Norman nave. Here came Cromwell,
whose soldiers quartered their horses in the aisles, leaving the building
so desecrated that a saw-pit sunk afterwards in the pavements seemed a
scarcely worse use of the House of God. Here also eighteenth-century
monumental masons have contrived monuments bad enough, even for the
surroundings of classic architecture, but no less than an affront in this
place; while the half-learnt Gothic restorations of Cottingham, whose
puerilities of seventy years ago were seen in the choir, are a sorrow to

[Illustration: A GOOD SAMARITAN.]

A long line of tombs and effigies, from Bishops down to a Good Samaritan
in seventeenth-century costume, carved grotesquely and all out of drawing,
on the pavement of the Lady Chapel, claim attention, and easily first
among them is the beautiful coloured effigy of Bishop John de Sheppey,
discovered, built up in his recess, in 1825. The plain tomb of Gundulf is
shown, and the resting-place of Bishop Walter de Merton, drowned while
crossing the Medway in a boat, 1277. The authorities of Merton College
have restored and beautified the tomb of their founder, and it lies,
painted and decorated, near the grave of St. William.

[Sidenote: ST. WILLIAM]

Saint William of Perth was for long the chief glory and principal source
of income to the Priory and monks of Rochester. He was a wealthy Scottish
baker who, having amassed a fortune, probably both by overcharging for his
bread and in the giving of short weight, determined to go on pilgrimage.
He must have been a superlative rogue and cheat, for nothing less than a
pilgrimage to Jerusalem would serve his purpose. However, he never reached
the Holy City; for, having arrived at Rochester in 1201, and having
contributed magnificently to the shrines there, he was murdered by his
guide while journeying hence to Canterbury. At least, so runs the story,
but I believe the monks themselves did the deed. They were exceedingly
poor, having by some unexplained excesses squandered the wealth which the
once highly venerated bones of Saint Paulinus had brought them, and they
had already melted down the silver shrine of that Saint to pay their way
withal. The competition of Canterbury, too, was killing, and the fame of
Paulinus paled before that of Becket; and so they probably conceived the
idea of murdering the rich pilgrim in order to obtain at once a
remunerative martyr of their own, and to put themselves in funds with the
wealth he carried about with him. If the Dean and Chapter of Rochester
could in after years wilfully appropriate to their own uses an annual
income of several thousands of pounds intended for educational purposes,
and become thus common thieves and peculators, what scruples could be
supposed to hinder the monks of the dark ages from becoming murderers?

The south-east transept has a curious mural monument to Richard Watts;
with a coloured and very life-like portrait-bust "starting out of it like
a ship's figure-head," and underneath is a brass to the memory of Charles
Dickens. On the eastern wall is a medallion profile of Joseph Maas, the
singer, vulgar and amateurish beyond the power of words to tell.


Rochester Cathedral is not rich in decorative carvings, but its two
enriched doorways are famous. One is the beautiful Norman west door, of
five receding arches, carved over with a profusion of characteristic
Norman scrolls; interlacing patterns; semi-human and half-supernatural
figures of appalling build and ferocious expression; and flanked by two
statues supposed to represent Henry the First and Queen Matilda. The
other is the unsurpassed Decorated doorway of the Chapter House, whose
sculptured emblematic figures of the Church, and of angels, priests and
bishops are at the other, and more beautiful, end of decorative art.

Having seen all these things, the verger who has hitherto shepherded his
flock of visitors through these upper regions, takes them down a flight of
stone stairs and unlocks the door of the crypt. An ancient and mouldy
smell rushes up from the dark labyrinth of pillars and indistinct arches,
and the ladies of the party pretend to be terrified. But they might just
as well be afraid of a coal-cellar, which is generally darker and dirtier,
for neither bones nor coffins, nor anything more awful than a few
shattered fragments of architectural carvings are to be seen. The usual
legends current in most old places would have us believe that a
subterraneous passage runs between Castle and Cathedral, and certainly
they are sufficiently near one another for such a communication to have
been made; but these legends have never been resolved into fact. Near
neighbours they are, and the Cathedral has suffered not a little at
different times from this close proximity. For when Rufus besieged the
Castle, and when, in 1215 and 1264, it was closely invested for
respectively three months and a week, the Cathedral had its share of the
violent doings that resulted in the Keep being undermined and the wooden
bridge of Rochester burned. Gundulf's Tower had not been completed when
that mighty master-builder died, and although it is generally ascribed to
him, it seems really to have been finished under the supervision of an
inexperienced architect employed by that Archbishop William de Corbeil to
whom and his successors of Canterbury Henry the Second granted "the
perpetual charge and constableship of the Castle of Rochester." This
prelate died in 1139, and the irony of circumstances decreed that only one
other of the Archbishops to whom the "perpetual constableship" was
granted should ever exercise the rights and privileges of the gift. This
was Stephen Langton. The Castle was found to be too important in those
times for it to be held by any other than the King, and so to the Crown it
reverted. Now that it is ruined and open to the sky the Mayors of
Rochester are _ex officio_ constables, and they wear a sword on grand
occasions as an outward and visible sign of their dignity.

Rochester Keep rises to a height of a hundred and twenty-five feet. Walls
ranging from ten to twelve feet in thickness attest its old-time strength,
and the ornamentation both of the State apartments, and of the Chapel on
the third floor, betokens a considerable display made in those far-off
times. But although one of the loftiest Norman keeps extant; though strong
and internally ornate, it seems to have been built by a copyist of Gundulf
who perhaps had neither his resources nor his love of a neat and
workmanlike finish. Whatever the cause, certain it is that here we miss
the close-jointed external ashlar that we are accustomed to see in such
grand contemporary Norman keeps as those of Castle Hedingham and
Scarborough. Ashlaring has been only sparingly used for quoins and
dressings of door- and window-openings, and the exterior of this keep
chiefly shows a broad expanse of roughly set Kentish rag-stone. The
result, although it does not commend itself architecturally, is at least
bold and rugged and altogether satisfying to the artist.

There is, according to a legend of unknown age, a vast treasure buried
beneath the ground here; concealed in some mysterious crypt whose door may
only by rarest chance be found. From this door hangs a Hand of Glory, and
not until the Hand is extinguished, finger by finger, can it be forced
open. Absolute silence is to be observed by the adventurer while
extinguishing the Blazing Hand, or the mystic power is broken. There was
once, says a sequel to the foregoing legend, a bold and fortunate spirit
who had by some means discovered this hidden door. He extinguished the
guardian Hand, all but the thumb; and, proceeding to snuff this out also,
he uttered an incautious exclamation of triumph. The fingers instantly
burst into flame again, and the man was dashed senseless to the ground;
nor was he ever again so fortunate as to recover the spot.


Rochester has had many Royal and distinguished visitors, and many of them
have left traces of their sojourn in more or less quaint, instructive, and
amusing accounts. When Edward the First came here in 1300, he gave seven
shillings to the Priory for the shrine of Saint William, and twelve
shillings compensation to one Richard Lamberd whose horse, hired for the
King's service, was blown over Rochester Bridge into the Medway and
drowned. On his return from Canterbury, nine days later, the King flung
his shillings about in quite a reckless manner; giving seven shillings
each for the shrines of Saints Ithamar and Paulinus; while bang went
twenty-one other shillings at Chatham, offered to the image of the Blessed
Mary by the King, the Queen, and the Prince of Wales.


The Bridge at Rochester, over which that unfortunate horse was blown, was
at this time a crazy structure of wood, and so dangerous that most folks
preferred crossing the Medway by boat. One unfortunate minstrel was blown
into the water just as he reached the middle, and he went floating down
the stream harping the praises of Our Lady upon his harp, and calling out
for her help at the same time _in English_, as the chronicler remarks--and
this was his English:--

  Help usvyf, help usvyf,
  Oiyer me--I forga mi lyf.

By "usvyf" he meant "wife." "Help us, wife," which strikes us as being
extremely familiar.

The Holy Mother, notwithstanding this horrid jargon, was pleased to save
him, and this pious "Harpur a Roucestre" landed about a league below the
city, making his way forthwith to a church to offer up thanks, and
followed by an immense crowd who had been watching the proceedings without
attempting to save him, which is ever the way of crowds.


Fourteen years later, the Queen of Robert Bruce was a State prisoner in
Rochester Castle, with her sister and daughter, and here they remained
until Bannockburn altered the complexion of affairs. King John of France,
too, appears here, and in a grateful mood, for he was going back to his
kingdom, and so, to please the saints, made an offering of forty crowns
(valued at £6 13_s._ 4_d._) at the Cathedral, departing for "Stiborne,"
and resting the night at Ospringe. Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, passed
through "Rotschetter" in 1416, with a retinue of a thousand knights, on a
visit to Henry the Fifth, and Henry the Seventh was here in 1492, 1494,
and 1498, crossing over from Strood in a ferry-boat for which he paid £2,
an expense which would have been quite unnecessary had the authorities
kept the Bridge (then of stone, and about a century old) in decent repair.
A few months later than his last visit, the King sent the Mayor of the
town £5 toward its restoration, for funds were low, and the
indulgences--to say nothing of the forty days' remittances from Purgatory
for all manner of sins--offered by Archbishop Morton to any one who would
give towards the work, were but little in request.

Charles the Fifth, Emperor of Germany, was the next considerable personage
here, and of how great a consideration he was may be gathered from the
fact that he came up the road from Dover with a train of two thousand
attendants. He and Henry the Eighth, who had gone down to Dover to meet
him, stayed at Rochester on the night of Sunday, June 1, 1522, and went on
to Gravesend the following day. Eighteen years later, the King, already a
much-married man, came here to have a private view of his new matrimonial


Two accounts are given of this meeting of Henry the Eighth and Anne of
Cleves. They agree neither with themselves nor with that other account in
which the King is made to call her a "Flanders mare":--"As she passed
toward Rochester," writes Hall, the Chronicler, "on New Yeres Even, on
Reynam Down, met her the Duke of Norffolke, and the Lord Dacre of the
South, and the Lord Mountjoye, with a gret company of Knyghtes and
Esquiers of Norffolke and Suffolke, and the Barons of thxchequer, (_sic_)
all in coates of velvet with chaynes of golde, which brought her to
Rochester, where she lay in the Palace all New Yeres Day. On which day
the Kyng, which sore desyred to see her Grace, accompanyed with no more
than viii persons of his prevy chaumbre, and both he and thei all
aparelled in marble coates, prevely came to Rochester, and sodainly came
to her presence, which therwith was sumwhat astonied; but after he had
spoken and welcomed her, she with most gracious and lovyng countenance and
behavior him received and welcomed on her knees, whom he gently toke up
and kyssed; and all that afternoone commoned and devised with her"
(whatever that may mean), "and that night supped with her, and the next
day he departed to Grenewich and she came to Dartford." Now hear how
different a complexion Stow puts upon this meeting, and then tell me what
you think of the difficulties of history-writing:--

"The King being ascertained of her arivall and approch, was wonderfull
desirous to see her, of whom hee had heard so great commendations, and
thereupon hee came very privately to Rochester, where hee tooke the first
view of her; and when he had well beheld her, hee was so marvelously
astonished that hee knew not well what to doe or say. Hee brought with him
divers things, which hee meant to present her with his owne hands, that is
to say, a partlet, a mufler" (Indian shawls had not yet been introduced),
"a cup, and other things; but being sodainly quite discouraged and amazed
with her presence, his mind changed, and hee delivered them unto Sir
Anthony Browne to give them unto her, but with as small show of Kingly
kindness as might be. The King being sore vexed with the sight of her,
began to utter his heart's griefe unto divers: amongst whom hee said unto
the Lord Admirall, 'How like you this woman? Doe you think her so
personable, faire, and beautifull as report hath beene made unto mee of
her--I pray you tell me true?'"

Whereupon the Lord Admiral discreetly replied no word of dispraise,
because people with opinions had in those days an excellent chance of
losing their heads; merely remarking that she appeared to have a brown
complexion rather than the fair one that had been represented to his

"Alas!" replied the King, "whom shall men--to say nothing of kings--trust?
I promise you I see no such thing in her as hath been shewed to me of her,
either by pictures or report, and am ashamed that men have praised her as
they have done; and I like her not." Which, of course, was final.

Queen Elizabeth, of course, was here, not once but thrice, and on her
first visit she stayed at the "Crown" inn, "which," says Francis Thynne,
"is the only place to intertaine Princes comming thither." It was, indeed,
the place where her father stayed, and where, according to one account,
Anne of Cleves lodged; and was the scene of the inimitable colloquy
between the carriers in _Henry the Fourth_, just previous to the robbery
on Gad's Hill. The "Crown," of course, is gone now, and an ugly building,
bearing the same sign, but dating only from 1863, stands on its site.


On the last day of her visit, the queen was entertained by "that
charitable man but withal most determined enemy to Rogues and Proctors,"
Master Richard Watts, whose almshouse for the lodgment of six poor
travellers bears still upon its front the evidence of his aversions.
Controversy has long raged around the term "proctor," and the victory
seems to rest with those who declare that the class thus excluded from the
benefits of Master Watts' charity was that of the "procurators" who were
licensed by the Pope to go through the country collecting "Peter's pence";
but I have my own idea on that point, and I believe that the "proctors"
referred to were not papists, but either "proctors that go up and downe
with counterfeit licences, cosiners, and suche as go about the countrey
using unlawfull games"; or the "proctors" especially and particularly
mentioned in the Statute Edw. VI. c. 3, s. 19, licensed to collect alms
for the lepers who at that time were still numerous in England. These
privileged beggars were deprived of their immunity from arrest by the "Act
for Punishment of Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdie Beggars" (39 Eliz. c. 4),
wherein "all persons that be, or utter themselves to be _Proctors_,
procurers, patent gatherers, or collectors for gaols, prisons, or
hospitals"[5] are, together with "all Fencers, Bearewards, common players
of Interludes, and Minstrels" to be adjudged Rogues and Vagabonds. Now it
is sufficiently remarkable that this Act was passed (perhaps with the
strenuous help of Master Watts, who was a Member of Parliament, and who we
see hated proctors so ardently) at about the time when the "Six Poor
Travellers" was built, and the reasons for refusing admission either to a
true Proctor of a lazar-house, or to a pretended one, must be sufficiently

Master Watts entertained the Queen at his house on Boley (? Beaulieu) Hill
on the last day of her visit, and when that courtly man apologised for the
"poor cottage" (he didn't mean it, but 'twas the custom so to do) Her
Majesty is supposed to have graciously answered "Satis," and so Satis
House it remained, and the hideous building that now stands upon its site
still bears, grotesquely enough, its name.

Quite a train of miscellaneous Royalties and celebrities came here after
Elizabeth's second visit in 1582; the Duke of Sully; James the First, who
angered the seafaring population because he didn't care for the ships,
loved hunting, and was afraid of the cannon--James the First again, with
Christian the Fourth of Denmark and Prince Henry; Prince Henry by himself
in 1611; Frederick, Elector Palatine of Bohemia; Charles the First on two
occasions, on the second of which "the trane-bands ... scarmished in
warlike manner to His Majesties great content"; the French Ambassador, in
1641, who thought Rochester was chiefly observable on account of its
Bridge "furnished with high railings, that drunkards, not uncommon here,
may not mix water with their wine"; and nineteen years later, Charles the
Second, on his "glorious and never-to-be-forgotten Restoracion."

How Charles was fêted here, and how he stayed at the beautiful old place
that has taken the name of "Restoration House" from this visit, these
pages cannot tell; the story is too long.

[Sidenote: PEPYS]

And here, in the name of all that's lewd and scandal-mongering, comes old
Pepys again. It is no use trying to keep him out of one's pages: suppress
him at one place, and he recurs unfailingly at another, with a worse
record than before. I discreetly "sat on" him at Deptford, but here he is
at Rochester, "goin' on hawful," to quote one of Dickens' characters (I
forget which, and the society of so many Kings and Queens on the Dover
Road is so fatiguing that I have neither sufficient time nor energy to

Well then, it was in 1667[6] that Mr. Samuel Pepys came here, and, putting
up at the "White Hart," strolled into the Cathedral, more intent upon the
architecture than the doctrine, it would seem; for when service began he
walked out into the fields, and there "saw Sir F. Clark's pretty seat."
And so "into the Cherry Garden, and here he met with a young, plain, silly
shopkeeper and his wife, a pretty young woman, and I did kiss her!" And
after this they dined, and walked in the fields together till dark, "and
so to bed," without the usual "God forgive me!" which, considering how he
had shirked the Cathedral service, and how questionable had been his
conduct in the Cherry Garden, was more needful than ever, one would think.


Twenty-one years after this date came James the Second on two hurried
visits to Rochester within a few days of one another. If he had had time,
and had been in a sufficiently calm frame of mind, he might have reflected
on the vicissitudes of Kings in general, and of his own Royal House in
particular; but being shockingly upset, and in a mortal terror lest he
should lose his head as thoroughly in a physical sense as he had already
done in a figurative way of speaking, he lost that opportunity of coolly
reviewing his position which, had it but been seized, would have led him
to return to London and stay there. It is not a little sad to reflect
that, had the gloomy and morose James not been a coward, the House of
Stuart might still have ruled England. At any rate, men did not love the
taciturn Prince of Orange and his Dutchmen so well but what they would
have gladly done without him and have taken back their King, if that King
had only shown a little more spirit and a little less of religious
bigotry. William could not but perceive that his principles and not his
person were acclaimed, and when he gave the King leave to retire to
Rochester, he both knew that James desired an opportunity to escape from
the kingdom, and hoped he would use it. And he did use the chance so
gladly given him, secretly departing from Rochester in the small hours of
a December morning, and making for Ambleteuse on the French coast in a

[Illustration: JACK IN HIS GLORY. _From a painting by Julius Cæsar


This was the last romantic event that befell at Rochester, and it fitly
closed a stirring history.

But Chatham and Rochester, although outward romance had departed, did not
cease to be interested in naval and military affairs. Indeed, they have
grown continually greater on them.


It was in 1756 that the plates of _England_ and _France_ were published by
Hogarth. We were suffering then from one of those panic fears of invasion
by the French to which this country has been periodically subject, and
these efforts were consequently calculated to have a large sale. Hogarth,
of course, after his arrest for sketching at Calais, was morbidly,
vitriolically patriotic, and his work is earnest of his feelings. The
English are seen drilling in the background of the first plate, while in
front of the "Duke of Cumberland" inn a recruit is being measured, and
smiles at the caricature of the King of France which a grenadier is
painting on the wall. A long inscription proceeds from the mouth of His
Most Christian Majesty, "You take a my fine ships, you be de Pirate, you
be de Teef, me send you my grand Armies, and hang you all, Morbleu," and
he grasps a gibbet to emphasize the words. Meanwhile, a fifer plays "God
Save the King"; a soldier in the group has placed his sword across a
great cheese; and a sailor has guarded his tankard of beer with a pistol.

But see how different are things across the Channel. Outside the _Sabot
Royal_ a party of French grenadiers, lean and hungry-looking after their
poor fare of _soupe maigre_, are watching one of their number cook the
sprats he has spitted on his sword. A monk with a grin of satisfaction
feels the edge of an axe which he has taken from a cart full of racks and
other engines of torture destined towards the furnishing of a monastery at
Blackfriars in London, of which a plan is seen lying upon this heap of
ironmongery; and a file of soldiers may be seen in the distance,
reluctantly embarking for England, and spurred forward by the point of the
sergeant's halberd. Garrick wrote the patriotic verses that went with this
picture, and you may see from them how constantly Englishmen have thought
the French to be a nation of lean and hungry starvelings. That is, of
course, as absurd as the unfailing practice of French caricaturists to
whom the typical Englishman is a creature who has red hair and protruding
teeth, and says "Goddam"--

  With lanthorn jaws and croaking gut,
  See how the half-starv'd Frenchmen strut,
      And call us English dogs;
  But soon we'll teach these bragging foes,
  That beef and beer give heavier blows
      Than soup and roasted frogs.

  The priests, inflam'd with righteous hopes,
  Prepare their axes, wheels, and ropes,
      To bend the stiff-neck'd sinner:
  But, should they sink in coming over,
  Old Nick may fish 'twixt France and Dover,
      And catch a glorious dinner.

[Illustration: THE INVASION OF ENGLAND: ENGLAND. _After Hogarth._]

[Sidenote: CHATHAM]

Few people, as Dickens says, can tell where Rochester ends and Chatham
begins, but even now you become conscious of a gradual alteration in the
character of the street as you leave Rochester High Street and come
imperceptibly into Chatham; and even though the place has grown so large,
and holds so very varied a population that the military and naval sections
no longer bulk so largely as they used, they still make a brave show.
An inhabitant of Chatham need never wish to visit London, because the
triple towns of Chatham, Strood and Rochester--to leave out all count of
Gillingham and New Brompton, which are to Chatham even as Hammersmith is
to our own great metropolis--contain samples of nearly all that is to be
seen in the Capital of the Empire, and much else besides. There is a
Dockyard at Chatham two miles in length, from which there issues every day
at the dinner-hour an army of artificers of every kind and degree--many
thousands of them; and in this Dockyard are ironclads, making, repairing,
and refitting together with vast military and naval stores, and all kinds
of relics, foremost among which there is a shed, full of old and historic
figure-heads; all that is left of the wooden walls that were such
efficient bulwarks of England's power. _Agamemnons_, _Arethusas_,
_Bellerophons_ are here, and many more. And all around are forts and
"lines," barracks and military hospitals; and drilling, manoeuvring,
marchings and counter-marchings, and all kinds of military exercises are
continually going forward. The names of streets, courts, and alleys, would
furnish a very Walhalla of naval heroes, and from all quarters come the
sounds of riveting, the blasts of bugles, and the shouting of the
captains; and when midday comes the noontide gun resounds from the heights
of Fort Pitt, and all the ragged urchins who live on the pavements fall
down as if they were shot, much to the terror of old ladies, strangers in
these parts, who pass by.

There is still a fine old-time nautical flavour hanging about Chatham. It
does not lie on the surface, but requires much patient searching amid mean
and disreputable streets, and it is only after passing through slums that
would affright a resident of Drury Lane that one finds curiously
respectable little terraces, giving upon the waterside, with masts and
yards, rigging, derricks, and other strange seafaring tackle peeping over
the roof-tops; amphibious corners where a smell of the sea, largely
intermixed with odours of pitch, tar, and rope, clings about everything;
where men with a nautical lurch come swinging along the pavements, and
where, if you glance in at the doorways which are nearly always open in
summer, you will see full-rigged models of ships standing on sideboards,
supported perhaps by a huge Family Bible, and flanked, most certainly,
with strange outlandish shells, branches of coral, and other spoils of
far-off lands.

But these things are not patent to he who goes only along the main road,
turning to neither right nor left; and it is only a little exploration of
byways that will convince you of Mr. Pickwick's summary remaining still
substantially correct. "The principal productions" of the three towns of
Rochester, Strood, and Chatham, according to Mr. Pickwick, "appear to be
soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and dockyard-men. The
commodities chiefly exposed for sale in the public streets are
marine-stores, hardbake, apples, flat-fish, and oysters." All of which
might well have been written to-day, so closely does the description still
apply; but when he goes on to remark that "the streets present a lively
and animated appearance, occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the
military," he clearly speaks of by-past times. "It is truly delightful,"
he says, "to a philanthropic mind to see these gallant men staggering
along under the influence of an overflow, both of animal and ardent
spirits." Delightful indeed! But since those days Tommy Atkins has been
evolutionized into a very different creature.



To plunge into mediæval legends at Chatham will seem the strangest of
transitions, and Chatham Parish Church will appear to most people the last
place likely to have a story. Yet in demolishing the old building to
make way for a new, the workmen found some fragments of sculpture which
had a history. Amongst these was a headless group of the Virgin and Child.

[Illustration: THE INVASION OF ENGLAND: FRANCE. _After Hogarth._]

This was, in all probability, the effigy of Our Lady of Chatham, who, in
pre-Reformation times, was famous for her miracles; and of whom Lambarde
gives the following amusing story in his _Perambulations_: "It seems,"
says he, "that the corps of a man (lost through shipwracke belike) was
cast on land in the parishe of Chatham, and being there taken up, was by
some charitable persones committed to honest burial within their
church-yard; which thing was no sooner done, but Our Lady of Chatham,
finding herselfe offended therewith, arose by night and went in person to
the house of the parishe clearke, whiche then was in the streete, a good
distance from the church, and making a noyse at his window, awaked him.
The man, at the first, as commonly it fareth with men disturbed in their
rest, demanded, somewhat roughly, 'who was there?' But when he
understoode, by her owne answer, that it was the Lady of Chatham, he
changed his note, and moste mildeley asked ye cause of her comming; she
tolde him, that there was lately buryed (neere to the place where she was
honoured) a sinful person, which so offended her eye with his gastly
grinning, that, unless he were removed, she could not but (to the great
griefe of good people) withdrawe herselfe from that place, and cease her
wonted miraculous working amongst them: and therefore, she willed him to
go with her, to the ende that, by his helpe, she might take him up, and
caste him again into the river. The clearke obeyed, arose, and waited on
her towarde the churche; but the goode ladie (not wonted to walk) waxed
wearie of the labour, and therefore was enforced, for very want of breath,
to sit downe in a bushe by the way, and there to rest her: and this place
(forsooth) as also the whole track of their journey, remaining ever after
a greene pathe, the towne dwellers were wont to shew. Now, after a while,
they go forward againe, and coming to the churcheyarde, digged up the
body, and conveyed it to the waterside, where it was first found. This
done, Our Lady shrancke againe into her shryne; and the clearke peaked
home, to patche up his broken sleepe; but the corps now eftsoones floted
up and down the river, as it did before; which thing being espyed by them
of Gillingham, it was once more taken up, and buryed in their
churcheyarde. But see what followed upon it: not only the roode of
Gillingham (say they), that a while before was busie in bestowing
myracles, was now deprived of all that his former virtue; but also ye very
earth and place where this carckase was laid, did continually, for ever
after, settle and sinke downewarde."

Barham has made good use of this story, you who have read the legend of
_Grey Dolphin_ in the _Ingoldsby Legends_ will remember. He narrates, with
a joyous irreverence, how, in consequence of the miraculous interposition
of the Lady of Chatham (Saint Bridget, forsooth! "who, after leading but a
so-so-life, had died in the odour of sanctity") masses were sung, tapers
kindled, bells tolled, and how everything thenceforward was wonderment and
devotion; the monks of Saint Romwold in solemn procession, the abbot at
their head, the sacristan at their tail, and the holy breeches of Saint
Thomas à Becket in the centre. "Father Fothergill brewed a XXX puncheon of
holy water," continues Tom Ingoldsby, clerk in holy orders and minor canon
of the Cathedral of Saint Paul, indulging at once his exuberant humour and
his contempt of the Church of Rome, with its relics, miracles,
bone-chests, and sanctified _aqua pura_. Meanwhile, the grinning sailor,
"grinning more than ever," had drifted down the river, off Gillingham, and
lay on the shore in all the majesty of mud, presently to be discovered by
the minions of Sir Robert de Shurland, who bade them "turn out his
pockets." But it was ill gleaning after the double scrutiny of Father
Fothergill and the parish clerk; and, as Ingoldsby observes, "there was
not a single maravedi."

[Illustration: PAID OFF AT CHATHAM. _After a Painting by R. Deighton,

[Sidenote: "JEZREEL"]

From Saint Bridget to a weird, but yet not altogether unworldly, fanatic
of recent years the transition would not be easy, were it not for the fact
that the said fanatic's hideous temple still crowns Chatham Hill for all
men to see, as a monument of the unfathomed and unfathomable credulity of
mankind. The stranger who walks or cycles his way to Dover is told that
this barrack-like building is "Jezreel's Temple," and that is about the
extent of the information forthcoming. The unredeemed ugliness of the
unfinished temple is at once repellant and exciting to curiosity, and the
name of "Jezreel" wears such an Old Testament air that most people who
pass by want very much to know who and what he was.

He was, as a matter of fact, a private soldier of the 16th Regiment, named
James White, who, having been bought out of the Army by the members of a
fanatical sect before whom he posed as a prophet, took the extraordinary
names of "James Jershom Jezreel," and, with seventeen followers, founded a
new sect, the New House of Israel, known by scoffers as the "Joannas."
They were, in fact, mad enthusiasts like those whom Joanna Southcott had
fooled, years before, and it is supposed that White took the name of
"Jezreel" from the Book of Hosea, adding the other names to make a trinity
of initial "J's," allusive to the Prophetess Joanna and her minor prophet,
John Wroe.

Not that "Jezreel" was mad. Not at all. To him as Prophet and Patriarch of
these New Israelites was given up the whole property of those who entered
the House, to be held in common; and he made a very good thing of the
infatuation of the hundreds of wealthy middle-class converts who had a
fancy for this singular kind of communistic religion. It was an article of
his followers' creed that they were the first portion of the 144,000,
twice told, who will receive Christ when he comes again to reign a
thousand years on earth. To support his character as leader of this
House, "Jezreel" pretended to have received a communication from a
messenger of God, who inspired him to write an extraordinary farrago of
Biblical balderdash, without argument, beginning, or end, called the
"Flying Roll." The curious may obtain three volumes of this nonsense, but
the only preternatural thing in these books of _Extracts from the Flying
Roll_ is their gross and unapproachable stupidity which completely addles
the brain of him who reads them, hoping thereby to discover the tenets of
the sect or any single thread of argument that may be followed for more
than a consecutive paragraph or two. The effect upon one reading those
pages is the same as that which Mark Twain tells us was produced on him
when Artemus Ward, having plied him with strong drink, began purposely to
enter upon a preposterous conversation, having a specious air of a grave
and lucid argument, but which was merely an idiotic string of meaningless
sentences. Mark Twain thought himself had gone daft, and felt his few
remaining senses going; and that is just what happens to any one who sits
down and seriously tries to understand what "Jezreel's" _Extracts_ are all

In 1879, "Jezreel" married Clarissa Rogers, the daughter of a New Brompton
sawyer; and, assuming the name of "Queen Esther," she paid a visit, with
the prophet, to America. This precious pair made an extraordinary number
of converts in their preaching tours, and, returning to England, made
Gillingham the headquarters of their New House of Israel. Schools and
twenty acres of various buildings were built there at a cost of £100,000,
and the "Temple," intended to hold 20,000 people, was commenced on Chatham
Hill. But "Jezreel" died in 1885, chiefly of drink and the effects of
sunstroke, before this work could be completed and the zealots, who were
wont to go about with long hair tucked under purple-velvet caps, began to
wake up to a sense not only of their sumptuary folly, but also of the
phenomenal simplicity which they had exhibited in giving up their property
to the House. "Queen Esther" was incapable of fooling these simple folk as
completely as "Jezreel" had done, and minor prophets sprang up to dispute
her sovereignty over the elect. Perhaps they were jealous of the state in
which this quondam sawyer's daughter drove about in a carriage and pair,
attended by liveried servants. Perhaps also _they_ had visions and Divine
inspirations. At any rate, "Queen Esther" presently drooped, and died in
1888, in her twenty-eighth year; whereupon the sect swiftly collapsed
under the rival seers who followed. Lawsuits succeeded to the fine
religious frenzy in which the "Temple" was raised, and it still stands
unfinished, visible on its hilltop over a great part of Chatham. It would
be a pity to pull it down, or to complete it; or, indeed, to do anything
at all to it, for, as it is now, it furnishes perhaps as eloquent a sermon
on human wickedness and folly as could well be delivered.

The great tower, framed in steel and built of yellow brick with ornamental
lines of blue Staffordshire brick, has stone panels carved with a trumpet
with a scroll, "The Flying Roll," suspended from it; with the Prince of
Wales feathers and the motto "I serve," and other devices. The unfinished
tower itself cost £44,000. The foundation-stone was laid, as an
inscription says, 19th September, 1885, "by Mrs. Emma Cave, on behalf of
the 144,000. Revelations (_sic_) 7th, 4."

It was understood that Mrs. Cave, who at that time owned a large part of
Tufnell Park, found the money for the tower, selling her property for the
cause. The unfinished tower was seized by the building contractors for
debt, and offered for sale by auctioneers, who stated it "would do for a
lunatic asylum, prison, infirmary, etc." This suggestion failed, and the
contractors, unable to sell the incomplete carcase, let it to the sect
under a lease, which terminated in 1905. There were at that time
Jezreelite workrooms and printing-offices in the basement. An American
Jezreelite then appeared, one Michael Keyfor Mills, calling himself
"Prince Michael," and proposing to complete. The founder's father-in-law,
Edward Rogers, who had rented the place as a wholesale grocery warehouse,
opposed him and secured an injunction against members of the sect who had
supported the idea. Mills died at Gillingham in January, 1922, aged

In 1908 a company was formed to demolish the building and sell the
materials; but when the upper floors had been taken down the concern
became insolvent. In 1913 it was proposed to convert the building into a
"Picture Palace," but the idea came to nothing; and later, the property
was offered at auction and withdrawn at £3,900.

If there be any surviving Jezreelites of the "New and Latter House of
Israel," who believe that the souls of only those who have lived since
Moses can be saved, they will be able to look with satisfaction on the
remains of their tower, which was built largely with the idea that five
thousand of the elect would gather here at the destruction of the world.

But in its present condition a good many of that number would be left
outside; and there might be expected an unseemly crush to get within, only
that by this time the elect of this particular brand must be a very small


Little else is to be seen or noted in leaving Chatham for Rainham. The
shop in which that singular old gentleman lived, with whom little David
Copperfield made acquaintance, is not pointed out to the curious, and the
identity of that apostrophizer of his lungs and liver, who exclaimed
"Goroo, goroo," and tearfully asked David if he would go for fourpence,
has been much disputed. "The House on the Brook," to which the Dickens
family removed when Mr. John Dickens' fortunes were low, is still to be
seen, but "the Brook" has changed for the worse, and the visitor to
Chatham who takes up the local papers will discover that it is
pre-eminently the place where the Order of the Black Eye is conferred, on
Saturday nights in especial, but more or less impartially throughout the


It is not before Rainham is reached that the road becomes once more the
open highway. Moor Street is passed, and here the Rainham orchards and the
cherry orchards of Gillingham begin to stretch away to the levels of the
Upchurch marshes. "Wealth without health" begins to be the characteristic
of the country, for the marsh mists hang over the levels from early
evening, through the night, to almost midday; and agues, asthma, and
bronchial complaints are the common lot. Many miles' length of submerged
Roman pottery-works lie down in those Swale and Cooling marshes, and many
have been, and are still, the "finds" of broken black "Upchurch ware" in
the mud and ooze. Perfect specimens are discovered at rarer intervals. The
proper method of searching for these vestiges of the Roman occupation is
to equip one's self with a stout pair of sea-boots, and a "sou'wester,"
and to wade at low tide in the creeks, probing the slimy mud with iron
rods. If the explorer is fortunate in his "pitch" he will discover
pottery, broken or whole, by feeling his iron rod strike something harder
than the surrounding half-liquid clay. The joy of such exquisite moments
is unfortunately sometimes marred by the "find" being but a lump of
half-baked clay; Roman, indeed, but not worthy of preservation. Still,
when fragments of patterned ware are found, the discovery repays in
interest for the time spent in mudlarking.

Rainham Church heralds the village, raising up its white and four-square
battlemented walls from beside the road. A large building, with a few late
brasses; a vault full of Tuftons, Earls of Thanet, of whom the last died
in 1863, unmarried; and two life-sized marble statues of Tuftons, father
and son, in that curious classic convention of the late seventeenth
century which found such a delight in representing distinguished folk as
Roman warriors. Nicholas Tufton, the earl, and his son, who died from
wounds received in battle, are those thus represented here; and the statue
of the son, scupltured in a sitting position, is a really fine work of
art. Beyond this, Rainham has not much to detain the explorer, and being a
summer rendezvous for Chatham pleasure-parties and bean-feasters, it is
apt to become dusty and riotous when the season of annual outings is at

The church seen some distance to the left of the road is that of
Newington. In the vestry is displayed a copy of the last will and
testament of Simon Tomlin, dated November 13, 1689. In this disposition of
his worldly effects are gifts to relatives and to the poor; and to his
brother-in-law, William Plawe of Stockbury, he leaves "my best beaver hatt
and the sum of £15, lawful money of England." It is to be hoped that the
legatee got his hat, but, as many provisions of the will do not appear to
have been complied with, it seems doubtful.

There was a priory of nuns established at Newington in early Norman times,
but all that is now left of it is a striking legend which proves that when
these pious ladies retired from the world they brought some of the world's
worst characteristics with them. What they quarrelled about one night will
never now be known, but when the morning dawned the Prioress was found
strangled in her bed; which goes to prove that the veil no more goes to
make the nun than orders black, white, or grey furnish a monk fully forth
in true monastic attributes. A chalk pit, about a mile south of the
church, called significantly "Nun-pit," is shown as the place where those
less holy than homicidal sisters were afterwards buried alive. Other
accounts say that these nuns were removed to Minster, in Sheppey. However
that may be, Henry the Second would have no more nuns here. He placed
seven priests in the Priory as secular canons, and gave them the manor,
hoping that this religious house would in future have a less lurid career.
But things, instead of improving, grew worse. One of the canons was found
murdered in his bed, and four of the brethren were convicted of the crime.

[Sidenote: NEWINGTON]

From these queer stories we come, appropriately enough, to a tale in which
the Enemy bears a brave part. When Newington Church was being built, "ever
so long ago," as the tale of gramarye has it, and the time came for the
bells to be hung, the Devil, who, it is well known, hates the sound of
church bells, conceived the grand plan of pushing the tower over, so that
the builders would give up the idea. Accordingly, he ventured down the
lane one night, and, standing in the churchyard--as he could well do,
because the place was not yet consecrated--placed his back against the
tower, and, putting his feet against a wall on the other side of the road,
pushed. No one knows what was the result, but as there is a tower here to
this day--and a very fine one it is, too--it may be presumed that either
Satan had altogether overrated his strength, or that the builders had
built better than they knew. But if the Enemy failed in this, he at least
succeeded in leaving his mark. Accordingly, here is the wall, and in it is
a stone, and in that stone is a hole made by his toes; while on another
stone is the print of a very fine and large boot-sole--valuable evidence,
because it not only proves the truth of the story but also shows us that
the Devil wore a Blucher boot on one foot and let the other go unshod. If
you ask me how it came about that the Devil could come here in the
fourteenth century wearing a nineteenth-century boot, I must quote the
showman who exhibited a wax model of Daniel in the lions' den. Daniel was
seen to be reading the _Times_, and some one in the crowd pointed out the
incongruous circumstance, to which the showman replied that Daniel, being
a prophet, read the _Times_ by anticipation! And if a saint could
anticipate the nineteenth century in newspapers, why should not the Fiend
do the same in boots?

Peaceful cherry orchards stretch along the narrow valley, and the railway
runs through them, giving glimpses to passengers of long rows of cherry
trees with emerald grass flecked with sunlight and flocks of sheep feeding
under the boughs; and picturesque farmsteads standing in midst of fertile



The village of Newington stands on either side of the old Dover Road,
which is here identical with the famous Roman military _viâ_ of Watling
Street. It is situated in the centre of a district covered thickly with
Roman remains, and the village itself dates from Saxon times, when it
really _was_ a "new town" as distinguished from the adjacent ruins of the
ancient Roman station of Durolevum. All the ingenuity of archæologists has
been insufficient to determine at what particular spot this military post
was established. Judde Hill, Sittingbourne, and Bapchild have been
selected as probable sites of Durolevum, and certainly Bapchild and
Sittingbourne are likely places for the original military post mentioned
in the _Itinerary_ of Antoninus. Both are situated within an easy distance
of the measurements given by the itinerist, and at either place there was
anciently a stream of water crossing the road, sufficient, perhaps, to
warrant the prefix of "Duro," which, almost without exception,
distinguishes the Roman military place-names on the Dover Road. That
prefix was the Latinized form of the Celtic "dour," signifying a stream,
and it is met with at:--

  Dubris == Dover.
  Durovernum == Canterbury.
  Durolevum == ? Bapchild, Sittingbourne, or Ospringe.
  Durobrivæ == Rochester.

A military expedition would naturally be encamped beside a stream, where
the cavalry could water their horses, in preference to a waterless
district; and therefore, Newington and Judde Hill, which both stand beyond
an easy reach of flowing water, cannot have such good claims to have been
the site of Durolevum as either Sittingbourne, or Bapchild, whose name,
indeed, is a corruption of the Saxon Beccanceld, "the pool of the
springs." The flow of water throughout the country must in those remote
times have been much greater than now, for dense forests then covered a
great part of the island, and induced rains and moisture. In fact, the
Dover Road was until recent years remarkable for the number of
considerable streams and trickling rills that flowed across it, either
under bridges or across fords, and it is not so long since those that
crossed the highway at Sittingbourne and Bapchild were diverted or dried
up. They must have been broad streams when Cæsar led his legionaries up
the rough British trackway in pursuit of the Cantii, and the still very
considerable brook that crosses the road at Ospringe would have then
attained the dimensions of a river. It might be well to look to Ospringe
for the original Durolevum, for the situation must have been admirable
from a military point of view; and, moreover, it was near, if not then
actually on, the head of a navigable creek leading directly to the sea,
where Faversham now stands.

But when archæologists leave the consideration of Cæsar's and his
successors' military station and seek the site of Durolevum town or city,
they unaccountably lose sight of the fact that this Roman province of
Britannia Prima was obviously very populous, and that Durolevum, instead
of being a small isolated town, must needs have been the centre of a
thickly populated district of smaller towns, hamlets, and outlying villas,
stretching for miles along the now solitary reaches of the Dover Road, and
reaching down to the Upchurch marshes.

The era of the Roman colonization of Britain is so remote that few
antiquaries even ever stop awhile to consider how long those hardy aliens
occupied this island, or how effective that occupation was, either in a
military or social sense. Four hundred years just measure the length of
time the Romans were with us; and what can not be done in so lengthy a
period! Four hundred years would suffice to create a high state of
civilization from mere savagery, and that is what the Romans accomplished
here in that space of time. They not only conquered, but they eventually
pacified, the fierce and fearless Britons; and they established export and
import trades that rendered Britain the most prosperous colony of the
Roman Empire, and the Romano-British merchants and people the wealthiest
colonists of those times. Stately villas beyond the towns, but
sufficiently near them to invoke, if needs were, the protection of the
cohorts, rose up on all sides, where the rich traders in British produce
took their ease or engaged themselves in cultivating the cherry and
sweet-chestnut trees which they had introduced from the sunny hillsides of
Italy. There is to this day a manor at Milton-next-Sittingbourne called
"Northwood Chasteners," so called from an ancient grove of chestnuts
(_castaneas_), the descendants of the first chestnut trees introduced by
the Romans. Vast Roman potteries had their being in the lowlands beside
the Medway; Upchurch, Faversham, and Richborough furnished the tables of
Roman Emperors and epicures with the "native" oysters that were even then
famous and the cause of an immense trade; while manufactures poured in
from Rome to suit the British taste.

Durolevum must, then, be sought amid the potsherds of a hundred
settlements, any one of which might have been a suburb of that forgotten
station; but the site where the present village of Newington stands was
probably fresh ground when the Saxons came and drove out with ruthless
slaughter the luxurious and enervated Romanized British, who speedily
fell a prey to barbarians when once the Roman garrison was withdrawn.
Archæologists have remarked that the Saxons generally occupied the Roman
towns that were left after the Romano-British fled from them; but although
they sometimes did so, there are many instances where they established
towns on new sites closely adjoining the old, but carefully separated from
them. Such was the case at Wroxeter, where the Saxons built an entirely
new town, adjoining, but not actually on, the ruined and deserted city of
Uriconium. Probably the Saxons found Durolevum wrecked in the internal
struggles that rent Britain asunder after the legionaries were withdrawn;
and, being a Pagan and superstitious people, they shunned the almost
deserted heap of ruins as being the abode of evil spirits. The stagnant
and fetid wreck of a great city, whose fallen houses covered the bodies of
many slaughtered citizens, and whose site was very likely overflowed with
choked drains and freshets from the swollen streams, was not exactly the
place to appeal to strangers, even though uncivilized, as a suitable site
for dwelling upon; and, indeed, it may readily be imagined that these
rotting remains of a dead civilization would be infinitely more
awe-inspiring to a barbaric race than to the few remaining Britons who had
seen the place in all the pride and circumstance of better days. And,
indeed, the black, polluted earth of a long-inhabited town, and the
will-o'-wisps and phosphorescent bubbles bred from the corruption below,
that would float at night upon the surface of the water, would have
frighted most people of those superstitious times.

Newington stands on elevated ground, away from such chances, but in its
immediate neighbourhood have been found many Roman relics, and all around,
the fields, the meadows, and the hillsides are rich in legends and broken
pottery. Standard Hill is so called from a tradition that the Roman eagle
was there displayed, and a field adjoining is known as Crockfield, from
the great number of Roman pots and fragments of pottery turned up there
by the plough. The name of Keycol Hill, too, is said to have had a Roman
origin, and Hasted derives it from Caii Collis, or Caius Julius Cæsar's
Hill. Finally, the modern roadside hamlet of Key Street, between Newington
and Sittingbourne, is said to owe its name to _Caii Stratum_, or Caius

[Illustration: KEY STREET.]

The inn at Key Street, now called the "Key," was previously to 1733 known
as the "Ship." It stands near the hill-top where Key Street commences, and
commands a long, straight dip of the road towards Sittingbourne, whose
outlying houses are just beyond the farthest clump of trees.

[Sidenote: PLACE-NAMES]

The chance wayfarer little thinks how abundant are the vestiges of
antiquity here, both in fragments of pottery, and in the time-honoured
names of manors, fields, and meadows. Such things are only to be brought
to light by the painstaking local historian who has access to Court Rolls
and ancient estate maps. It is little known or considered by the dwellers
in populous towns that almost every meadow, field, croft, pasture, down,
or woodland has its name, as distinct and as well-known locally as that
of any London street included in the Directory. More than this, these
names are often the survivals of a state of things existing a thousand
years ago. They are frequently rendered obscure by the corruption and
evolution of languages, and by the physical changes that have come over
the face of the country during so long a period; but with research, and
linguistic scholarship, and a knowledge both of local history and the
ancient history of the country in general, much that seems at first
obscure, or even utterly inexplicable, may be finally resolved into
meaning. The study of these place-names has all the attraction of original
exploration, and leads on inexhaustibly. But while the tracking of
apparently meaningless names to their origin has all the fascination of
sport, it gives rise to many hazardous conjectures and lame conclusions,
and names that do not yield their secrets to patient inquiry are too often
thrust into some ill-fitting category from which they are rescued, to the
shame and derision of those who placed them there. In fine,
"cock-sureness" is nowhere more out of place than in these inquiries, and
in nothing else is the mental effort of "jumping to conclusions" met with
such ludicrous accidents. It has, for instance, long been a commonplace in
these inquiries to refer the names of towns, villages, or hamlets ending
in "ing" to the settlements of Saxon patriarchal tribes; and the Hallings,
Coolings, Bobbings, Detlings, and Wellings are set down as having been
originally the homes of Teutonic clans taking their names from chieftains
named Halla, Coela, Bobba, and so forth.

But while this rule may generally hold good, it must not be applied
automatically, and the "learning" that has given this origin to the names
of Sittingbourne, Newington, and Ospringe must be regarded as a grotesque
exercise of imagination, creating previously unheard-of clans, the
Soedingas, the Newingas, and the Osprings, who are not only new to
archæology, but probably have never existed. Of course, in the utter
absence of all evidence, save that of the places themselves so named, no
statement can be _proved_ correct; but these mystic Soedingas may almost
certainly be dismissed to the realm of fairy-tales, and if there ever was
a tribe of Newingas, they _took_ their name _from_ the village which they
built and where they lived, instead of _giving_ it _to_ the place. Where
others have come to grief, it would be rash to seek new derivations; but
it seems evident that Ospringe derives its name from the stream flowing
through the village, and that the name of Sittingbourne is nothing other
than "seething burn," or "the bubbling brook," a poetic name which the
place no longer merits. Place-names of Roman origin may be sought in the
several _Vigos_ that exist, some now the names of fields, marshes,
roadsides, and commons where there is not a house to be seen, but which
were originally the sites of Roman villages, the name of "Vigo"--the Latin
_vicus_--having been traditionally handed down to the present day many
centuries after the last traces of those settlements have disappeared.

Many fields, too, here and in different parts of the country, are named
"Whitehall." How did they get that name? The answer is sought in the Roman
word "_aula_," the residence of a magistrate or a chief man in authority.
When the Saxons came, they found these grand _aulas_, built of stone,
dotted about the country, some ruined, others tolerably perfect; and they
must have made a strong impression upon these barbaric Pagans, used at
that early period of their history only to wooden dwellings of the rudest
construction. They would have demanded the names of these places from the
Romano-British, who would tell them they were _aulas_; and they would have
called them "hwit aulas," from the stone of which they were built. It was
thus that the many villages called "Whitchurch" got their name, from the
stone (or "white") churches that were so remarkable as compared with the
dark-hued temples and churches of wood to which the Saxons were

But if this origin of the "Whitehalls" does not satisfy, there is another
which may be even more likely. They were, possibly, at one time the sites
of village Witan-halls, where the wise men of the Saxon villages assembled
their local Parliaments, the "witans" or "witenagemots," those remote
forerunners of the village- and parish-councils which statesmen of the
late nineteenth century have established, as items in a more or less
admirable scheme for restoring the Heptarchy. There are "Whitehalls" in
the immediate outlying fields of Sittingbourne, and there is one within
the Roman encampment overhanging the railway cutting at Harbledown; but at
none of these places are there any traces of buildings above ground.
Excavation might reveal ancient foundations.


[Sidenote: HERMITS]

As mediæval travellers approached Sittingbourne from the direction of
London, the first objects they perceived were the chapel and hermitage of
Schamel, dedicated to Saint Thomas à Becket, and standing on the south
side of the road. They are gone now, and a wayside public-house--"The
Volunteers"--stands on, or near their site; but the hermitage was, from
the time of King John to the impious days of Henry the Eighth, a
resting-place for those devout pilgrims who sought the shrine of the "holy
blissful martyr" at Canterbury. In the reign, however, of that "Defender
of the Faith"--when it suited him--the chapel and the hermitage were
scattered to the winds, and the hermit thrust out into a world that had
grown tired of making pilgrimages. But, while it lasted, the Hermitage of
Schamel did a very thriving business; so thriving, indeed, as to excite
the jealousy of the Sittingbourne people, who conceived themselves injured
by the intercepting of pilgrims before they could reach and fertilize the
town with streams of gold. Rich pilgrims were a source of wealth to many
towns and villages on the Dover Road, and hermits, bishops, priors, and
abbots contended for them like 'busmen for passengers before the
introduction of the bell-punch and the ticket system.

We first hear of Schamel Hermitage in the time of a priest named Samuel,
whose duties consisted in saying mass daily, in wearing a hair-shirt,
refraining from soap and water, and in attending upon those pilgrims and
travellers who did not mind the apostolic dirt in which he wallowed; and
by whose alms he supported himself and the chapel. Samuel died and was
gathered to his fathers, and the building presently fell into decay, to be
rebuilt by an Augustinian monk, during whose lifetime the annals of the
Hermitage are too placid for recounting in this place. His successor was
one Walter de Hermestone, who was appointed by the Queen about 1271.
Imagine his disgust, though, when he came here and found the place a
wreck, the work of the Vicar and the townsfolk of Sittingbourne. This
estimable clergyman, whose name was Simon de Shordich, and who seems to
have brought the manners and customs of his native place with him, had
carried off the Hermitage bell and altar as prizes to his own church, and
the men of Sittingbourne had left both the Hermitage and the Chapel in the
likeness of a Babylonic ruin. History does not record what became of
Walter de Hermestone, but it seems likely that he departed for some more
peaceful spot. Meanwhile, Simon de Shordich died, perhaps from the effects
of the eremitical curses which the disappointed incumbent of the ruinated
place doubtless showered on him; and he was followed, both in his Vicarage
and his evil courses, by a certain Boniface, who carted away the ruins and
sold them.

[Sidenote: SCHAMEL]

Sixteen years later an inquiry was held on these matters, at the instance
of the Queen, who, holding the manor of Milton-next-Sittingbourne, was
patron of the chapel. There seems to have been a hamlet of Schamel at this
time, for a certain William the Weaver, and others who gave evidence
before the commission, are located here. It must have been about this era
that the chapel was rebuilt, but little is heard of it until June, 1358,
when the Queen of Edward the Third passed by, and gave 20s. in alms. Friar
Richard de Lexeden was then in possession. Two years later, King John of
France passed, on his way home, and gave twenty nobles, a sum equal to no
less than £120 of our money; and that is the last we hear of the Hermitage
until it was for ever destroyed in 1542-43.

Meanwhile, the chapel of Swanstree, at the east end of the town, was as
much upheld and cared for by the Sittingbourne people as the Schamel
chapel was robbed and injured. Wealthy tradespeople left money in their
wills to its altars and for the repair of the roads thither, and the
Vicars of Sittingbourne approved of it, because it not only did not take
away from them, but gleaned anything that the pilgrims had to spare after
they left Sittingbourne, and before they came to the next town. But
although so favoured, this chapel has gone the way of the other, and not a
vestige of it remains. It stood on the grounds of the present Murston


Sittingbourne was not a large place in the days that ended with the advent
of railway times, but it had an astonishing number of hotels, inns, and
beer-houses. People had not at that time begun to see that the royal road
to fortune lay in the making of bricks and tiles, and so they amassed
riches by plundering the travellers whose evil stars sent them down the
road to Canterbury and Dover; and in the lulls of business when no
travellers were forthcoming, they probably "kept their hands in" by
overcharging one another. I believe Sittingbourne must have been a town of
inns, and but little else, and that the population lived in hotels and
drank wines, beer, and spirits all day long and a great part of the night,
just for the fun of the thing.

Not that mine host of the "Red Lion" was at all extortionate when he
entertained Henry the Fifth in 1415, on his return from Agincourt. On the
contrary, the bill was decidedly reasonable, amounting only to
nine-and-sixpence, including wine. You cannot, unhappily, dine conquering
heroes of any sort--much less kings--so reasonably nowadays, and I suspect
that, even a century or more ago, when the First and Second Georges were
used to put up at the "George," on their way to or from Hanover, prices
must have ruled much higher. The "Red Lion" was undoubtedly the chief inn
at Sittingbourne from a very early time, and it kept its good repute for
centuries; for here it was that Henry the Eighth stayed when "progressing"
along the Dover Road in 1541, and here he held what in those autocratic
times answered to our present Cabinet Councils. If I were a licensed
victualler I could wish those days back again. Beside the "Red Lion" and
the "George," there were at this time the scarcely less inferior
hostelries of the "Horn," the "Saracen's Head," the "Bull," and the "White
Hart"; and, what with Emperors, Kings, Archbishops, Cardinals, and other
dignitaries, with trains of attendants numbering anything from two
thousand down to fifty, they must all have been needed. In the sixteenth
century, then, Emperors and Kings were the usual guests of the "Red Lion."
The landlord at that time sniffed at Princes and Archbishops, and turned
away such riff-raff as Dukes and Earls. So soon, however, as 1610, we find
a mere untitled traveller received at the "Red Lion"; one Justus
Zinzerling, a German, who came posting up the road from Canterbury. We
know from his own account that posting was not in those days very
expensive. He paid three shillings for riding these fifteen miles, and
alighting at the "Red Lion," put up for the night, glad to get here, past
the body of a robber who had been hanged from a roadside tree for
murdering a messenger. The body was so surrounded with chains and rings
that Herr Zinzerling was of the opinion it would last a long time for the
due reading of a much-needed moral to others. He found the landlord of the
"Red Lion" to be a Scotchman who knew Latin, and on this common ground of
good-fellowship they drank to one another and quoted the classics until
drink tied their tongues and deposited their bodies under the table.

I have already had occasion to mention six first-class inns that
flourished here three hundred years ago; but in the middle of last century
there were a great many more. The "George," the "Rose," and the "Red Lion"
seem to have been the chiefest of them about this time; and, if we may
believe Hasted (and there is no reason why we shouldn't), the "Rose" was
"the most superb of any throughout the kingdom, and the entertainment
afforded in it equally so." But where is the "Rose Hotel" now? Gone, alas!
with the snows of yester-year. Where, also, the "George," which at the
time of Waterloo kept forty pairs of post-horses? and where the "Red
Lion"? It would, I fancy, puzzle most folks to say, for although they
still stand, the change that came over the spirit of their dream about
1840 has caused them to be cut up into separate houses and tenements.

We can, however, by intensive observation, identify the "Rose." It is a
handsome red brick building on the left-hand side, now occupied by a firm
of grocers. The identification is from a beautifully-carved rose in a red
brick panel on the first floor, with the initials "R. I." and the date
1708. The building is large, and has eight windows in a row. But the
"George" has nine, and the "Lion" twelve.

About this time, too, the people seem to have given up living in hotels
and inns, and to have taken to private houses. Also, they drank tea
instead of beer; and so presently we find the inns disappearing that at
one time stood next to one another, in a long line on both sides of the
High Street, and even in the branch thoroughfares. Here was the "White
Hart," large enough in 1815 to have eighteen soldiers quartered in it
daily. It is now divided between a Bank and a Brewery. Here, also, was the
"Gun," which, aptly enough, had as many vicissitudes as the fortunes of
war, for it was turned into the Parish Workhouse, opened again in 1752 as
the "Globe," and presently became the workhouse again, with, probably, the
landlord as its first inmate! But it was no greater a success as what our
grandfathers with an ironical humour termed a "House of Industry" than as
a hostelry, and so it was not long before the paupers were marched out and
another phase of its strange eventful history commenced. This time it
became a coachmaker's workshop, and there we will leave it.

Sittingbourne innkeepers had an inordinate fancy for changing their signs,
and some of their houses have borne as many aliases as an old and hardened
swindler. Thus the "Seven Stars" became in turn the "Cherry Tree," the
"Union Flag," and finally the "Volunteers"; while the present "Plough Inn"
(only they may have changed its name again already) in East Street has
been successively the "King Henry the Eighth," and the "Royal Oak." Other
houses were the "Bull," the "Adam and Eve," the "Walnut Tree," the "King's
Head," "Six Bells," "Black Boy," "Boatswain's Call," "Ship," "Chequer,"
"Three Post Boys," "Crown," "Bird in Hand," "Lamb," "Three Kings,"
"Angel," "Portobello," "Bell," "Duke's Head," and "Cross Keys"; to name
but a selection, but age has withered, and want of custom staled, the most
of them, and, instead of entertaining travellers, the inhabitants of
Sittingbourne poison them with the appalling smells that arise from the
numberless brick-kilns round about.


For the making of bricks and tiles is the chief industry of Sittingbourne
nowadays, and a very large and flourishing industry it is; so much so,
indeed, that there will be presently nothing of Sittingbourne left at all;
because, like maggots that live _in_ cheeses--and _on_ them--the
Sittingbourne brickmakers find their sustenance in the ground on which
they live, and have carted away nearly all the surrounding country. When
they have worked down to the chalk and the bed-rock, I don't know what
they _will_ do. Already all the hills have vanished and have been
distributed over England in the shape of bricks, and when folks return who
have known Sittingbourne in their youth, they don't recognize the place,
and go away wondering whether curses will fall upon it because its people
have thus removed the old landmarks.

Changed, indeed, it is, not only from those days when the great ones of
the earth sojourned here, but also from those comparatively recent times
when the traveller's only choice was the road. Then three parts of the
population were engaged in hotel-keeping, licensed-victualling, or
coach-building; innkeepers, job-masters, hostlers, post-boys,
chamber-maids, and boots, were their styles and titles, and if you are
curious enough to turn the pages of Sittingbourne registers you will find
such entries as these to be the chiefest of their contents: "John Slater,
innholder, of the White Hart, was buryed, 22nd Feby, 1708/9"; or "Joseph,
ostler at the Crowne, buryed Oct. 23, 1708."

When the railway came, ruin, swift and terrible, fell upon this busy
community. Grass grew in the stable-yards; the old high-hung yellow
chariots and the light post-chaises rotted to pieces that were used to be
hired by travellers who did not care so much about the price as the pace
they went; the price of horses fell; the vast interiors of the hotels with
their numberless bedrooms, and one-time cosy coffee-rooms, echoed to the
casual tread of some unfrequent guest, uncomfortable and half-frightened
at the solitary state in which he sat; hostlers, grooms, and washers
lounged miserably about the mouldy harness-rooms in company with dejected
post-boys; chamber-maids departed to other scenes and occupations; and
"boots" gradually lost the encyclopædic knowledge for which he was
renowned, and forgot alike the number of miles to the next post-town and
the proper way to clean a pair of Bluchers.

The last post-boy is dead now, and the chaises and the chariots are
represented--like so many other obsolete things--at the South Kensington
Museum; and the typical innkeeper of that day should be also, for his like
is no more seen on earth. He was a burly man with a red, good-humoured,
clean-shaven face. He wore, frequently, knee-breeches and sleeved yellow
waistcoats with black stripes that made him look, to the youthful
imagination, like a great wasp or bumble-bee. He wore short white aprons,
too, and high collars encircling his thick red neck, so that one gazed
upon him in constant dread of his falling down in an apoplectic fit; he
wore--but enough! Let it be said, though, that he resembled a Blue-coat
boy in one respect, for he was never known to wear a hat.

All this is changed. Sittingbourne had grown into importance because its
situation was convenient for travellers to stay here to change horses at,
and when the roads became deserted the place would have fallen back into
its original obscurity had it not been for bricks, hops, and cherries.
Bricks, and the surrounding fruit country have prospered it anew, and have
made it what it is; a dusty, thickly populated, dirty town whose old
aspect has been altered from a broad and roomy street to crowded lanes and
a High Street filled with frowzy alleys, and many Dissenting conventicles
of different degrees of ugliness.

[Sidenote: PAPER]

Of late years, paper has been added to the interests of Sittingbourne.
Outside the town, on Milton Creek, leading muddily to the Swale, there you
will find paper in its crude wood-pulp stage, as imported from the mills
in Norway and Sweden. Closely viewed, it is not attractive. Slabs of
wood-pulp, stacked forty or fifty feet high, with a narrow-gauge railway
running between cliff-like accumulations of this merchandise, present a
scene made squalid by the torn and bedraggled fragments of paper packing
that the winds sport with. But, seen from the Swale, or indeed from a
distance on land, these towering stocks of the raw material for newspapers
have a peculiarly romantic appearance; looking indeed like a reminiscence
of the temples of the East.

The village of Milton itself, properly "Milton Regis," is full of queer
old corners. The church stands aloof, dignified, on a remote country road.
In its churchyard is a stone mentioning a woman who had six husbands:--

"Here lyeth interred the Body of Abraham Washiton (_sic_), late husband of
Alise Washinton now liveing in Milton, whome had in all six Husbands: John
Ailes, John Ricard, Thomas Gill, John Jeefrre, Alexander Flet. Anno 1601."

It will be observed that this lady who collected husbands is described as
"now liveing." Possibly the sixth was not the last; but by that time the
men of Milton must have grown rather timid.

In any case, the history of Mrs. Washinton was evidently considered
remarkable, to be detailed on this stone, either by herself or by the
admiring or astonished neighbourhood.


Sittingbourne parish church, and some remaining walls of the more ancient
inns, are all that need detain the stranger. The massive square tower of
the church, which is a prominent feature of the High Street, is the oldest
part; the body of the building dates only from the Perpendicular period.
To this time belongs a singular monumental effigy of a lady, placed in a
niche of the north chancel wall; a mysterious figure, represented with an
infant wrapped in swaddling clothes lying across its wasted breast. No
inscription remains to tell its story. The church fronts on to the
highway, and in days of pilgrimage (and even so lately as 1830) the bourne
to which Sittingbourne owes its name, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon
"Sæthingbourne," the seething, or bubbling, brook, trickled and welled up
in the likeness of a spring across the road. Through it splashed the
mounted pilgrims, while the weary-footed palmers crossed by
stepping-stones, or cooled their feet in the water. Many halted to cross
themselves, to kneel and pray before the figure of Our Lady which filled
the niche still remaining in the buttress of the Chilton Chapel, and was
called thence "Saint Mary of the Butterasse." This little shrine was
defaced in 1540, and now the running stream is enclosed in pipes that
discharge the water into Milton Creek.

[Sidenote: MURSTON]

The village of Murston, which at one time skirted the road at some
distance from Sittingbourne, and was in receipt of the town's leavings, is
now quite undistinguishable by a stranger from the town itself, so greatly
has the population grown of late years. It is quite uninteresting, save
for the memory of the affray by which the rector, the Reverend Richard
Tray, was ejected from his living in 1641. A stone let into the Rectory
wall preserves the record of the affair:--

  _Si Natvra negat facit Indignatio Versvm._

  The Barne which stood where this now
  Stands was bvrnt down by the Rebel's hands in December 1659
  This Barne which stands where tother stood
  By Richard Tray is now made good, in July 1662
          All things yov bvrn,
          Or overtvrn,
  Bvt bvild vp novght: pray tell
  Is this the Fire of Zeale or Hell?
          Yet yov doe all
          By the Spirits call
  As yov pretend: bvt pray
  What Spirit is't? _A bad one_ I dare say.


Five miles and a half down the road from Sittingbourne, the pilgrims who
had prayed so devoutly at the shrine of Our Lady of the Buttress (and it
is to be hoped had not forgotten the claims of Swanstree Hermitage) came
to Ospringe, where they usually found a profuse hospitality waiting for
them at the Maison Dieu. Not that there was any lack of religious houses
on the way. Far from it, indeed. They had not proceeded much farther than
a mile when they came in those times to the Hermitage of Bapchild, with
the hermit standing on the doorstep, scratching himself with one hand,
holding out a scollop shell for alms in the other, and conjuring them by
the blessed Thomas and all the hierarchy of saints to spare something for
his altar. The parish church of Bapchild, which was built in early Norman
times, before any one dreamed of Canterbury becoming a place of
pilgrimage, or the high-road crowded with a varied concourse of miserable
sinners anxious to compound for their ill-deeds by visiting the scene of
the martyrdom, is situated beside a lane at some distance from the road,
and so was quite out of the track of that alms-giving crowd. It grieved
the Vicar of Bapchild to see these free-handed folks going by, with never
a mark or even a silver penny coming his way, and so he contrived to set
up some sort of a cell and chapel with a few exceedingly dubious bones in
it, supposed to be the reliques of saints; but probably grubbed up from
his own churchyard. It did not matter much whose reliques they were
called, for that was a credulous age, and so long as there were not two
skulls of Saint Paulinus on view, or more than a gross of Saint Alphege's
teeth to be seen at the numberless shrines between London and Canterbury,
the pilgrims were not generally disposed to be critical. It was only when
Saint Frideswyde appeared, from the osseous evidence of these shrines, to
have as many arms as Vishnu, or when Saint Antholin appeared, from equally
untrustworthy evidence, to have been in this life a Double-headed
Nightingale or a kind of Siamese Twins, that men on pilgrimage became
sceptical. But, after all, if saints could perform one kind of a miracle,
why not another, and why should not Saint Alphege cause his teeth to be
increased, until a peck of them could be gathered from the monasteries of
Europe, or Saint Antholin not have his skulls miraculously multiplied if
they had a mind to it; and if Saint Frideswyde could be proved to have
been possessed of half a dozen arms, was it not for the good, if not of
the church, at least of the clergy, that it should be so? And so, it is to
be hoped that the Vicar and the Hermit, between them, did well; and also
it is to be hoped that the Hermit took more advantage, for washing
purposes, of the little stream which here also flowed across the roadway
than his brethren were wont to do.

The road between Ospringe and Sittingbourne was in those days very lonely,
and lonely it still remains, for the settlements of Bapchild, Radfield,
and Greenstreet are but dull and dishevelled collections of tiny shops and
cottages, with here and there a slumberous old inn or whitewashed
farmhouse. The railway to Dover runs on the left hand, within sight of the
highway, through the beautiful cherry-orchards and the hop-gardens, and
the land slopes gently down to the levels of Teynham and the fertile
though ague-stricken marshes of the Swale; that part of Kent where,
according to the old local saying, there is "wealth without health";
significantly alluded to in the rhyme--

  He that would not live long,
  Let him live at Murston, Teynham, or Tong.

[Sidenote: TONG]

Tong Castle, where Rowena "drank hael" to King Vortigern and captivated
that very susceptible but unpatriotic monarch; the scene also of the
treacherous murder by Hengist and his men of three hundred British nobles,
is represented now only by a grassy mound. Here we are in the centre of
the hop-growing districts, and the road begins to be bordered with
hop-gardens, bare in autumn and winter, except for the great stacks of
poles; but beautiful in spring and summer with the climbing bine, planted
in long alleys in which women and children work in the long summer days,
weeding and tying up the hops, and hanging up the wind-screens called
"lews." For the hop-vine is a delicate plant that requires as much
cossetting and constant attention as an invalid, and if it is not
carefully tended and trained up in the way it should go, it presently
droops and dies or becomes too weak to climb up the long twelve- and
fifteen-feet poles which it is expected to surmount. And so it is
jealously shielded from all draughts and boisterous breezes by long pieces
of canvas or string netting, stretched from pole to pole at that side of
the gardens whence come the prevailing winds; while every hop-pole is tied
so scrupulously and elaborately to its fellow that a June hop-garden is a
very maze of string.

To these gardens come in August and September hundreds of men, women, and
children from London slums; some by train, many more by road. Whole
families of them, with their clothing, their pots and pans and sooty
kettles, slung over their shoulders, come tramping down the weary miles,
and fill the air with ribaldry, strange oaths, and horrible blasphemy. The
villagers keep them at arm's length, if not, indeed, at a greater distance
than that, and keep their children at home; going round their gardens and
orchards at night, to see that gates are locked; and, bolting doors and
latching windows securely, go to bed and dream dreams in which
evil-looking hoppers are stealing their fruit and making away with the
occupants of their hen-roosts. Sometimes they wake up and find the
crashing of branches, the screaming and clucking of cocks and hens, which
have formed the subjects of their dreams, to have foundation in fact, and
hurriedly dashing out of bed, arrive, barefooted and armed only with a
poker, in their gardens just in time to see mysterious figures vanish over
the wall and to hear the protests of their stolen fowls grow small by
degrees and beautifully less in the distance. Next day the bereaved
villager is heard to execute fruitless variations of "Tell me, shepherds,
have you seen my Flora pass this way?" and some enterprising emigrants
from Whitechapel feast royally on poultry.

[Sidenote: OSPRINGE]

Just where the hilltop rises and looks down in the direction of Ospringe,
the wisdom of the Faversham authorities has planted a Hospital for
infectious diseases. It fronts the road, and has a very large door with
"Isolation Hospital" painted on it in very small letters. Tramps and
beggars passing by see a large house where possibly something may be
begged or stolen. They go up to the door, and, after reading the legend
painted there, may be seen to proceed hurriedly on their way. Without
standing on the order of their going, they go at once. _Omne ignotum pro
magnifico_: they don't know what "isolation" means, but they hurry off,
lest they should catch isolation and die of it. And so they come, stricken
with a mortal fear, into Ospringe, down a dusty hill. A Maison Dieu that
stood here in olden times would perhaps have received them then, but
to-day the few fragments of it that remain are part of the "Red Lion" inn,
and tramps find no encouragement there.

The Knights Templar and the Brethren of the Holy Ghost held this Hospital
for travellers for many years, from the time of Henry the Second, and they
exercised a lavish hospitality, extended to all, from the King downwards.
King John had a room here--a _camera regis_--and other monarchs frequently
made this a halting-place on their way to or from Dover. Very few records
are left of the feastings and jollifications that took place in this
semi-religious, semi-secular retreat, and Ospringe has no longer any Royal
visitors. The village consists of a long street beside the highway at the
foot of Judd's Hill, and of a shorter street, called Water Lane, that runs
off at right angles where the remains of the Maison Dieu stand beside the
stream to which Ospringe owes its rather pretty name. At one time this
stream flowed openly across the roadway, but it is bridged now, and Water
Lane, which had a raised footpath on either side, while the lane itself
was occupied by the stream, through which horses and carts splashed, has
now been drained dry.

The "Anchor Hotel" was once a posting-house and a stopping-place on the
route of local coaches between Chatham and Herne Bay, but this traffic has
of course been long discontinued. The modern pilgrim should not fail,
before leaving Ospringe, to explore Water Lane and the country road for
half a mile beyond. The place abounds in old cottages, picturesque
windmills, and old timbered houses of some pretensions. Of these, Queen
Hall is probably the most interesting. Beyond it is the parish church, a
very large building with a tower of grand design and unusual type. The
edifice has been thoroughly and unusually well restored, with an exquisite
taste unfortunately too rare in country districts, and may be instanced as
an example of what "restoration" should be. The approach to the church by
the road is past hop-gardens which group beautifully, and form an
excellent motive for a sketch.


Faversham town, lying a mile distant, between Faversham Creek and the
turnpike road, will doubtless in the course of a few years adjoin
Ospringe, and convert the village into a mere suburb. Preston, the old
suburb of Faversham, is distant something over a mile, but in between
there have lately been built very many new streets of cottages and villas,
evidences of Faversham's prosperity, doubtless, but not pleasing to the
tourist. That prosperity is due to its situation upon a navigable creek,
along which are pursued the trades of brick and tile making, and the
manufacture of gunpowder; and the oyster fishery, which adds such a great
proportion of wealth to this flourishing county of Kent, is largely
centred here.


The surrounding country, too, is probably the very richest and most
suitable district for the growing of cherries, gooseberries, currants,
and strawberries; and the frequency and perfection of the market-gardens,
orchards, and hop-gardens strike the pedestrian with admiration and
amazement. A visit in early spring, when the orchards are in blossom, and
others in the cherry- and hop-picking seasons, convince the sceptical that
Kent is, in sober truth, the "garden of England." The stranger needs but
to spend a week between this and Canterbury; to tramp the high-road and
the bye-lanes in the direction of Herne Hill and Whitstable, and he will
see abundant evidences of how important is the fruit-growing industry, not
only in the fields and gardens, where he may see the fruit growing, but
also in the great barns and outhouses bursting with many thousands of
bushel-baskets only awaiting the ripening of the cherries and currants to
be filled and put upon the rails at Faversham Junction, whence numerous
special trains are daily run during the season to London and the Borough
Market. Somewhat earlier in the year--generally in mid-June--other
evidences of the magnitude of the fruit interest are seen in the
auctioneers' sale bills posted on every available board and fence,
announcing that the growing crops are presently to be sold by auction.


But, in spite of the fertility of Kentish orchards, the countryman will
not forego his privilege of grumbling. Singularly enough, he never thinks
of eating any of the fruit he grows, and the more plentiful the crops, the
less pleased he professes himself to be. Not that, should you come upon
him at a season when plenty is less marked, he will be any the more
gratified. Hold the peasant proprietor of an orchard in conversation
during the fruit season, and you will think him one of the most miserable
and unfortunate men in the country.

"Good day to you," you say.

(Hodge nods his head, and mumbles, "Mor'n'n.")

"Splendid crops you have down here. I should think things must be going
pretty well in these parts?"

"Ay, goin' to the Devil fast enow, I'se warrand."

"Oh! how d'you make that out?"

"Make it out, is it? Why, look a-here at them there turmuts; d'you iver
see sich poor things; ay, an' _all_ the root crops is bad's can be."

"Yes; but _you_'re all right with your fruit; cherries and apples."

"M'yes, there's a dale o' fruit this year: darned sight too much ter
please me."

"But you can't very well have too much of a good thing, can you?"

"Can't you just, though; look at the price; down ter nothing, as you might
say. Get it for the asking."

"But _I_ didn't get cherries for the asking; _I_ had to pay eightpence a
pound for some I bought at Chatham."

"Oh! I dessay. Wish _I_ c'd git a penny a pound. But that's jist like them
'ere starv'em, rob'em, and cheat'em folks. Wouldn't give 'ee so much's the
parings o' their finger-nails if they c'd help it."

"Then why don't you make preserves of some of your fruit?"

"Preserves? what's that, mister?"

"Why, jam, you know. Besides, surely you eat some of your own fruit, don't

"Fruit's to sell, not to heat!"

"Well, then, if you can't sell it, don't preserve it, and won't eat any of
it, _what_ do you do with it?"

"Give it ter the pigs, in coorse!"

"Yes, but why not eat some of it yourself?"

"Heat it! D'yer take me for a bloomin' Nebuchadnezzar? Besides, it's that
there ondergestuble----!"

"But Nebuchadnezzar didn't eat fruit. He hadn't got the chance, poor
fellow. He could only find grass to eat."

"Grass 'ood'n't be so ondergestuble as fruit, I reckon. Blame me if you
town folks don't think a man can live on nothink. Now, a pound or two o'
steak, a few rashers o' fat bacon, an' a few heggs for bre'kfuss--that's
more my line. Hexpeck a Christian man to heat fruit----!"

"But you expect people to buy yours, don't you?"

"Naw, I don't hexpeck nothin'."

"Then why do you grow it?"

"Bekause I suppose I'm a fool; that's about the size of it. Good day t'ye,


The history of Faversham town is extremely long and interesting, but as it
does not lie on the direct road to Dover, it will not be necessary to go
into a very detailed account of it. It is a curious, half-maritime borough
whose Mayor wears a chain of office decorated with badges of oars and
rudders; a town whose records include such events as the burial of King
Stephen, his Queen, and his son Eustace; and at a very much later date,
the attempted escape of James the Second. Faversham fishermen recognized
the fugitive King as he crouched, shivering in the hoy at Shellness on
that bitter December morning of 1688, and, robbing him of his watch and
chain and his money, they brought him a prisoner to the Mayor's house,
where he was detained two days, guarded by a mob of countrymen, on whom
his terror-stricken appeals to be allowed to escape had no effect.

[Sidenote: FAVERSHAM]

"He who is not with me is against me," exclaimed the frantic bigot. "My
blood will be upon your heads if I fall a martyr." But the dignity of a
martyr was not to be his. A troop of Life-guards was sent to effect his
release from the ignorant mob, who only refrained from stealing his
diamond shoe-buckles because they thought them to be pieces of glass.
James's terror of the Faversham fishers is reflected in his manifesto
issued years afterwards, in which he offers an amnesty to his "rebel
subjects," but expressly excepts such arch-traitors as Churchill, Danby,
and the poor oyster-dredgers of Faversham.

Saints Crispin and Crispianus, who have a public-house dedicated to them
at Strood, had an altar here in the Abbey Church, and were supposed to
have lived a while at Preston, earning their living as cobblers in a
cottage that stood where the "Swan" inn is now. Long after the Reformation
had done sway with the shrine of Saint Thomas, pious bootmakers made
pilgrimages to the place; and St. Crispin's Day was for centuries the
principal holiday in Faversham. I would rather make pilgrimage to the
place where they earned their living than to the shrines of all the
sanctified humbugs who contended for pride of place in this world, and
becoming worsted in the struggle for supremacy, received their
Canonization as a matter of course.

Faversham in the fifteenth century was not less well-furnished with
religious cranks than the holy road to Canterbury. There was an anchorite
in one corner of Faversham churchyard, and an anchoress in another, and in
their cells they sat and sulked their lives away, and never did any work.
William Thornbury was rector here for twenty-two years, when he resigned
his living especially to become an _inclusus_; and for eight years he
occupied a damp and most uncomfortable cell amid the tombs, until he died,
most likely of rheumatic fever, in 1481. There is a most beautiful brass
to him in the church, with a long Latin verse, recounting how he was one
of the elect, and how for long years he sat lonely in his cell. Why he
should have lived such a life is a question which we, who are so far
removed from that age, both by lapse of time and in change of thought,
cannot readily answer. That he was a man of good birth, good position, and
considerable wealth, would appear from his will, and these circumstances
make his reclusion only the more extraordinary. He probably suffered
either from religious mania, or else from a guilty conscience which led
him thus to compound with Heaven for some undiscovered crime that made his
life a misery.

But the traveller who keeps strictly to his Dover Road only passes through
Faversham suburbs. Preston is the oldest of them, and lies directly on the
road. To the left rises Faversham's fantastic spire, conspicuous above the
flats; immediately in front goes the railway in a cutting underneath the
road; and straight ahead, in the far distance, rises up a long thin white
line amid hillsides clothed heavily with forests. It is long before the
stranger discovers what is that singular white streak upon the dark trees,
but it reveals itself, as he goes, as the famous Boughton Hill, and the
woodlands as the extensive remains of Blean Forest.

It was at "Boughton-under-the-Blee" that Chaucer's Canon and Yeoman
overtook the pilgrims. The Canon's hat hung down his back by a lace, for
he had ridden as though he were mad. Under his hood he had placed a
burdock-leaf to cool his head, but yet his forehead dropped like a still
that was full of plantain and wallflower. The Canon's Yeoman tells the
pilgrims how pleased his master would be of their company as far as
Canterbury; and the Host makes him welcome, asking if his master can
please the party with a merry story. "A story?" asks the Yeoman; "that is
nothing to what the Canon can do. He is an Alchemist, and so clever that--

        "all this ground on which we be riding,
  Till that we come to Canterbury town,
  He could all cleanè turnen up so down,
  And pave it all of silver and of gold."

"Ah!" says Harry Bailly, the Host, "that's all very well, you know, but
how is it that this wonderful master of yours wears such a threadbare
coat?" To this query, the Yeoman is bound to answer that his master is too
clever by half, or not clever enough, and that he has, for all his
alchemy, only wasted his substance and that of many more. The Canon hears
something of this, and bidding his servant hold his tongue, makes off for
very shame, while the Yeoman tells the story that brings the party to


[Sidenote: BOUGHTON]

Boughton-under-Blean is perhaps the neatest, quietest, longest, and most
cheerfully picturesque village on the Dover Road. It lies near the foot of
the hill. Half-way up is the church.

In the churchyard of Boughton there is a great yew-tree whose girth at
three feet from the ground was taken by the vicar in 1894. It was then 9
ft. 9 in. The age of this tree is exactly known, for a seventeenth century
vicar, the Reverend John Johnson, recorded, "the little yew-tree by the
south doer was sett in 1695." The yew, therefore, expands one foot in
sixty-one years.

One or two country houses with large gardens and trimly cut hedges occupy
the crest of the hill; and just beyond, on the level plateau of Dunkirk,
is the church, built in 1840, as some means toward civilizing the
untutored savages the villagers of this beautiful county had become under
the neglect of that Christian Church whose Metropolitan Cathedral rises
proudly beyond the hillside village of Harbledown, less than three miles
away. God in His goodness has blessed with a boundless fertility the fair
land of Kent, so that old Michael Drayton merely expressed facts when he
wrote that rapturous eulogy--

  O famous Kent!
  What county hath this isle that can compare with thee?
  That hath within thyself as much as thou canst wish;
  Thy rabbits, venison, fruits, thy sorts of fowl and fish;
  As what with strength compares, thy hay, thy corn,
  Nor anything doth want that anywhere is good.

But, long after the first quarter of the nineteenth century had passed,
this part of Kent was peopled with a peasantry compared with whom the
Hindoos and the Chinese, who were even then receiving the warm attention
of missionary zealots, were highly civilized and enlightened. The very
county in which Augustine had landed and reintroduced Christianity
thirteen hundred years before was neglected and ignored by the
port-drinking parsons and prebendal wine-butts who drew fat incomes from
the Church and starved the souls of dwellers under its very shadow; and
the kindly fruits of this fertile land, with its furred and feathered
game, brought no prosperity to the people. "The earth is the Squire's and
the fulness thereof" was an emendation of Holy Writ scored deeply in every
yokel's brain; and here, whither a fervent piety had brought uncounted
thousands of pilgrims in the by-past centuries, the country-folk lived
from youth to age, Godless and unlettered. The Era of Reform had dawned on
England, sweeping away much, both good and evil, but these dark districts
of Kent remained the same, save for a slowly growing feeling of
discontent. The New Poor Law naturally fostered this feeling in a country
where every other peasant lived in old age upon Outdoor Relief--and
thought it the most reasonable way of ending a life of toil. By this new
dispensation it became necessary for a poor man to break up his home and
go into the "Union" before relief could be afforded him; and thus the
Poors' Rates were raised and the feelings of ratepayers and peasantry
embittered simultaneously. A man who felt no shame in receiving his
half-crown or five shillings a week from the parish, experienced bitter
degradation in becoming an inmate of what is now generally known as "the
House," then hateful under the current name of "the Bastille," or
"Bastyle," as the English peasant pronounced the word.

[Sidenote: "COURTENAY"]

To this neglected corner of England came a romantic and mysterious
stranger in 1832. No one knew whence or how had come to Canterbury the
picturesquely dressed man of commanding height and handsome face who,
staying at the "Rose Hotel" in the High Street, soon attracted attention
by his manner and the Eastern style of dress he affected. That he was
fabulously rich, and that his name was Baron Rothschild were the common
reports of the then somewhat dull Cathedral city, eager to dwell upon any
subject that made for gossip; but it presently appeared, by his own
accounts, that he was "Sir William Percy Honeywood Courtenay," Knight of
Malta and King of Jerusalem. This extraordinary man, besides possessing
the advantages of a handsome face and a fine presence, was gifted with a
singularly persuasive eloquence; and professing himself to be the friend
of the people, oppressed by a selfish aristocracy and a stupid Government,
he aroused the wildest enthusiasm in a political campaign upon which he
presently embarked, with the object of standing as Parliamentary candidate
for the City of Canterbury. His charm of manner; the affability with which
he would converse with the meanest peasant; and the really clever
political discourses he wrote for a periodical leaflet called the _Lion_
which he had printed and published, created a number of partisans who
flocked round him as he rode through Canterbury and the surrounding
villages; or crowded the High Street in a state of the wildest enthusiasm
when he harangued them from the balcony of the "Rose." He polled over nine
hundred votes in the Conservative interest at the election, and thus came
within an easy distance of becoming a member of Parliament. His indiscreet
championship of some fishermen, who were being prosecuted by the Revenue
officials for smuggling, gave political and social enemies the looked-for
opportunity to injure a man who was so dangerous to the squires of Kent.
He was prosecuted in turn, on a charge of perjury, and sentenced to a term
of imprisonment. From the County Gaol he was transferred to a lunatic
asylum, and only liberated in the spring of 1838, on the assurances of
friends in the vicinity of Canterbury that they would take charge of him.

Religious mania seems to have attacked the weak brain of this excitable
enthusiast while in confinement, and his conduct presently became more
eccentric than before. Roaming in the country villages, preaching
religious and political salvation to the small farmers, the cottagers, and
poor agricultural labourers of Kent, he aroused greater enthusiasm and
personal love than before. He had always represented himself to be a
member of the Courtenay family, whose head, the Earl of Devon, claims
descent from Palæologus, King of Jerusalem in early Crusading times; and,
in addition, he announced himself as the rightful heir to a number of
important estates in Kent and neighbouring counties. He let it be known
that he, the noble Sir William Courtenay, Knight of Malta, and rightful
King of Jerusalem, was not too proud to partake of food and shelter at the
board and under the roof of the poorest. When he came in power, and
claimed his rights, the oppressed should live freely on the land; the
cruel New Poor Law that shut unfortunate men and women out from the world
in "Bastilles," as though Poverty were a crime, and separated man and
wife, whom God had declared by his handmaid, the Church, man should not
put asunder, should be abrogated; and the workers should have a share in
the products of their toil. The people largely responded to these
advances; and poor folk, together with a number of the class who had
earned themselves a small competency, and a few moneyed people, believed
thoroughly in Courtenay. He was now a man whom many held to have been
persecuted and imprisoned for his championship of the people, and they
loved him for it, many of them with a whole-souled devotion that
culminated in worship. Courtenay's extraordinary facial resemblance to the
traditional appearance of the Saviour, and, finally, his ultimate
assumption of the character of the Messiah, led many people to believe
that Christ was actually come on earth to commence His promised reign; and
entertainment, encouragement, and monetary contributions attended on
their belief.

[Illustration: "SIR WILLIAM COURTENAY." _From an old print._]

Matters came to a crisis toward the end of May. Courtenay had marched the
country round with agricultural labourers and others who had left their
work in the fields to follow the Lord, and the farmers who thus saw their
fields remaining untilled grew anxious. One, bolder than the rest, applied
to the magistrate for the detention of his men who had thus left their
employment; and, with a local constable named Mears and two others, he
came up with Courtenay's band on the morning of May 31st.


Ever since the 28th of that month, Courtenay had been tramping the roads
and lanes with a band of about one hundred rustics. Starting from Boughton
on that day, they had bought bread, and, placing half a loaf on a pole,
above a blue-and-white flag bearing a lion rampant, had marched through
Goodnestone, Hernhill, and Dargate Common, where they all fell down on
their knees while Courtenay prayed. Then they proceeded to Bossenden Farm,
where they supped and slept in a barn. Leaving Bossenden at three o'clock
the next morning, their leader took them to Sittingbourne, where he
procured breakfast for the whole party at a cost of 25s. The rest of the
day was spent in parading the country round Boughton, and the next evening
was spent again at Bossenden Farm. The following morning, Mears the
constable, with his party of three, came up with them in a meadow, and
demanded the surrender of the farmers' men. The men refused to leave, and
Courtenay shot the constable dead on the spot. Alarmed at this, the others
rode off hastily to Canterbury for military assistance, while Courtenay
administered the sacrament to his men in bread-and-water. All knelt down
and worshipped him, and a farmer, one Alexander Foad, kneeling, asked
"should he follow him in body or in heart?" "In the body," replied
Courtenay; whereupon Foad sprang up, exclaiming, "Oh! be joyful, be
joyful! The Saviour has accepted me. Go on, go on, I'll follow thee till
I drop!"

[Illustration: "COURTENAY." _From an old print._]

When the terrified three reached Canterbury, they secured the aid of a
company of the Forty-fifth Regiment. A young officer, Lieutenant Bennett,
staying with friends in the city, volunteered to go with them. Coming to
Bossenden, they found Courtenay and his hundred followers strongly posted
amid alder-bushes in a deep and sequestered part of Bossenden Wood.
Courtenay exhorted his people to behave like men. "God," he said, "would
protect him and them. Should he fall, he would infallibly rise again in
greater glory than now; and wounds for his sake would be accounted for


Lieutenant Bennett advanced and called upon them to surrender, but
Courtenay, raising his pistol, shot him dead, and his men leapt out from
the woods furiously, armed only with cudgels and fanaticism, to attack the
soldiers. One volley, however, stretched many dying, or bleeding from
severe wounds, upon the ground, and Courtenay himself fell mortally
wounded, exclaiming, "I have Jesus in my heart."

Thirteen people in all were killed in this affray: Mears the constable,
Lieutenant Bennett, and Courtenay; eight "rioters" dying on the spot, and
two others afterwards succumbing to their wounds. Many more were crippled
for life. Twenty-three were committed to gaol: some transported across the
seas, and others sentenced to short terms of imprisonment at home. Some of
the men were buried in Boughton Churchyard, others at Hernhill, three
miles away, overlooking the rich land that slopes towards the sea. Here
Courtenay was buried, but the graves of himself and his men are unmarked
by stone or mound. The fanaticism of the peasantry was not altogether
extinguished by this dreadful ending, and the tale is told, on excellent
authority, of a woman drawing water from a well and walking half a mile
with it to moisten the lips of the dead leader, who had said that, should
he fall, a drop of water applied to his mouth would restore him from death
to life. The barbarous expedients of keeping his body in a shed of the
"Red Lion" at Dunkirk until corruption had set in, and of omitting the
resurrection clause from the Burial Service were resorted to, lest the
country folk should persist in their belief of his divinity.

Thus ended the so-called "Courtenay Rebellion" of 1838. When he was dead,
it became generally known that "Sir William Courtenay" was really but John
Nichols Thom, the son of a Cornish innkeeper and farmer. Always a clever
and handsome lad, he had grown up still more handsome, but with a
religious enthusiasm and a romantic imagination inherited from his
mother. He was for a time employed at Truro, but disappeared for some
years until his strange descent upon Canterbury in 1832.

The "Red Lion," where the bodies of the dead were laid out, stands by the
roadside at Dunkirk, and a cart-road on the hither side of it, to the left
hand, made long after this extraordinary affair, and called "Courtenay
Road," leads down to the still wild and thickly grown woods of hazel,
alder, and miscellaneous scrub in which Bossenden Woods are situated. A
gate--"Courtenay Gate"--stands by the scene of the struggle, but the trees
marked at the time by the rustics in memory of Courtenay and his men, are
not now to be discovered. The villagers still bear him in memory, and
truly he deserves to be kept in mind, for though as "Sir William
Courtenay" he was an impostor, yet he truly loved the people, and his
naturally highly-strung mental organization, completely unstrung by an
unnecessary imprisonment, was responsible for his religious pretensions
and his blasphemous impersonation towards the end. Worse men than he are
honoured in history and in public monuments, and it seems a pity that a
childish spite should have hidden his grave and the graves of the poor
fellows who fell that day. The pilgrim who takes an interest in these
strange events, happening in this century, and in the reign of Queen
Victoria, and who happens to visit the secluded village of Hernhill, may
look for the site of "Sir William Courtenay's" resting-place beside the
path where a yew-tree spreads a shade over the west entrance to the
village church.

His death did good. The Government ordered a Commission to sit and inquire
into the state of things that produced these events, and it appeared that
the district was Godless and ignorant, a fit ground for fanaticism to
spring up in and flourish. Schools were built, and the church of Dunkirk
owes its existence to Courtenay's Rebellion. The superstitious countrymen
who say the foundations of the building gave way several times before the
walls could be commenced properly, declare that his ghost haunted the
place. But, whatever else these doings teach, they teach us that a spirit
of selfishness, of neglect, both on the part of Church and State, brings
its inevitable retribution. The punishment fell then on these ignorant
hinds; what should be the punishment in the hereafter of those who were
morally responsible for the shedding of their blood?


[Sidenote: DUNKIRK]

Dunkirk was anciently a common in the Forest of Blean, and was a veritable
Alsatia, the resort of lawless men who squatted here because it was not
within any known jurisdiction. Hasted, in his _History of Kent_, says
houses were built here and "inhabited by low persons of suspicious
character, this being a place exempt from the jurisdiction of either
hundred or parish, as in a free port, which receives all who enter it,
without distinction. The whole district from hence gained the name of
'Dunkirk.'" This part of the road, being in neither hundred or parish, was
neglected and left in a ruinous state until nearly the close of the
eighteenth century.

At Dunkirk, on passing the "Gate" inn, with its sign of a five-barred
field-gate hanging over the road, the traveller obtains his first glimpse
of Canterbury Cathedral, the Bell Harry tower rising grey above the green
valley of the Stour. Now the road goes downwards towards Harbledown in a
succession of switchback ups and downs that, noticeable enough for remark
even at this lapse of time, must have been much more marked in Chaucer's
day. Here the pilgrims would see the Cathedral faintly from the crest of a
hillock, losing it for a few minutes as they rode or tramped down the
succeeding declivity, and regaining it on the next hill; until, coming to
Harbledown, its majesty burst upon them in an uninterrupted view. The
striking characteristics of the road here were noted by Chaucer himself,
who, indeed, does not mention Harbledown by name; the description is alone
sufficient to identify the place:--

  Wist ye not where standeth a little toun,
  Which that ycleped is Bob-up-and-doun,
  Under the Blee in Canterbury way.

Here the weary pilgrims made their last halt. The levity; the fun and
frolic; the sound of songs and bagpipes ceased, and the seekers of Saint
Thomas fell down upon their knees in the dusty road when they caught sight
of the golden angel that then crowned the Bell Harry tower. Tears running
down the cheeks of all, the pious and the indifferent alike resigned
themselves to a religious ecstasy; and when they at length resumed their
journey, Chaucer's company of pilgrims rode slowly into the Holy City,
listening to a sermon in place of the curious tales with which they had
hitherto beguiled the way.

Harbledown stood then on the borders of the great "Bosco de Blean." The
"little town," now a mile-long stretch of disconnected cottages, was much
smaller, clustering round the parish church on one side of the road, and
the Hospital for Lepers, with its chapel and rows of cottages, on the
other. Down the road, the houses of Canterbury were to be seen nestling
for protection against the Castle and Cathedral, while on the other hand
stretched the dark forest, with the Archbishop's gallows standing on a
clearing in front. For not only did the dignified clergy point the way to
the after life; they not infrequently helped their sheep on the way by
means of rope or stake.

As the pilgrims passed that old Lepers' Hospital, founded by Lanfranc in
1084, on this breezy and healthful hillside, whence rose the sweet smell
of the herbs for which Harbledown (== Herbal down) has derived its name,
one of the brethren of this charitable foundation would come out and
sprinkle them with holy water, presenting the shoe of Saint Thomas to be
kissed, and praying them for the love of God and the Blessed Martyr to
give something towards the support of the poor lepers of Saint Nicholas.
Rarely did the pilgrims fail to do so, and this institution must, in the
course of years, have become very wealthy. Henry the Second; Richard Lion
Heart, come home again from captivity; Edward the First, with Eleanor of
Castile, on his return from Palestine; the Black Prince, with his
captives, those trophies of Poictiers--King John of France and his son
Philip--and many another must have enriched the place. John of France, on
his way home, gave ten gold crowns "pour les nonnains de Harbledown," and
never, surely, before nor since, has an old shoe brought so much luck as
Becket's brought here. For centuries the devout came and pressed their
lips to it, dropping coins into the wooden alms-box that is still shown,
together with a mazer inscribed with the deeds of Guy of Warwick, and
containing the great crystal with which the shoe was decorated. But times
change and habits of thought with them, and although the scenery remains
as of old, little else is left of the days of pilgrimage. How like the
present aspect of the place is to the appearance it presented three
hundred and eighty years ago may be seen from the writings of Disiderius


When Erasmus and Dean Colet were returning in 1512 from their
unconventional pilgrimage to Canterbury, they came, two miles from the
city, to a steep and narrow part of the road, overhung by high banks on
either side. The scenery is the same as then. The selfsame banks of an
equal abruptness still rise above the road; the rough and crazy flight of
steps still leads up to the gateway of Lanfranc's old Hospital for Lepers,
the Hospital of Harbledown. The immemorial yews are here even now; one
still flourishing, the other decayed. But the Hospital has been rebuilt,
and only the grey old Church of Saint Nicholas remains. Modern pilgrims,
too, may pass without the attentions at one time bestowed on all who
passed this way; attentions which disgusted the stern and matter-of-fact
Colet, and amused his somewhat cynically-humorous companion. When they
came to the gateway of the Hospital, there tottered down the steps an aged
bedesman, and, sprinkling plentifully with holy water both themselves and
their horses, he stepped forward, presenting the upper-leather of an old
shoe, bound in brass and ornamented with a great crystal, to be kissed.
This was the remnant of the Holy Shoe of Thomas à Becket, one of the most
revered and valued possessions of the Hospital, kissed reverently by many
thousands of pilgrims of every degree, and a great aid to the flow of
alms. But Colet, who had already seen too much of this combined hero- and
relic-worship, could no longer restrain the wrath which had been rising
ever since he had left the shrine down below, with its old bones and dirty
rags. He was covered, too, with the holy water which the old man had so
recklessly showered on them. "What!" he shouted to Erasmus, "Do these
asses expect us to kiss the shoes of all good men that have ever lived?
Why, they might as well bring us their spittle to be kissed, or other
bodily excrements!" The ancient bedesman was hurt, and possibly, had he
been a younger man, he would have hurt this scoffer in return. However, he
said nothing, and the cynical Erasmus (for cynicism _always_ goes with a
really kind heart) gave him a small coin, less from piety, you may be
sure, than as a salve to his wounded feelings. And then they went away.

The shoe has vanished, but the crystal is still a valued, if not valuable,
possession of the institution, and may be handled by the curious who can
reflect upon its having also been touched by those two pilgrims, Erasmus
the learned writer, and Colet the founder of Saint Paul's School.


[Sidenote: CANTERBURY]

The entrance to Canterbury from London is one of the most impressive
approaches to a city to be found in all England. The traveller passes
through the suburb of Saint Dunstan, by the old parish church that holds
the severed head of Sir Thomas More, coming into the city through a street
of ancient houses and under the postern arch of West Gate. The great drum
towers of West Gate mark the ancient limits of the mediæval city, and
guard an opening in the city wall which stood on the further side of the
little river Stour. A drawbridge effectually prevented the entrance of an
enemy, and when the strongly-guarded gate was closed at nightfall, belated
citizens had to stay outside and put up with the inconvenience as best
they could, in company with such travellers and pilgrims as arrived late
from too much storytelling, feasting, or praying, on the road. For the
accommodation of these travellers the suburbs of Saint Dunstan and West
Gate arose early without the walls of the city, and several inns--the
"Star" and the "Falstaff" among them--remain to show how considerable was
the belated company entertained here.

West Gate, as we now see it, is the successor of a much earlier gate, and
was built by the ill-fated Simon of Sudbury. It is the only one remaining
of all the seven gates of the city, and owes its preservation rather to
its convenience as a prison for poor debtors, than to any love our
eighteenth-century barbarians had for mediæval architecture. It is to-day
a police-station, and thus carries on the frugal and utilitarian
traditions which originally spared it in the destruction of much else of
beauty and interest.

Ancient buildings are carefully preserved nowadays. Why? Can we flatter
ourselves that the provincial mind is more enlightened? I am afraid not,
and must sorrowfully come to the conclusion that the ignorant authorities
of our country towns would be as ready as ever to demolish their old
monuments, did not their natural shrewdness teach them that, as strangers
come from all quarters of the world to view their historical remains, they
must be regarded in the light of a valuable asset. So far, they are
undoubtedly right. Let them "restore" and tear down the remaining gates
and towers and castles in the provincial towns of England, and they will
prove, in the scarcity of visitors that will follow on their Vandalism,
how valuable, in more senses than one, are the ancient ways.

Canterbury has seen a great deal of this senseless disregard for
antiquity. Six gates, as I have said, were wantonly destroyed, but the
passion for destruction did not stop here. The remains of the Norman
castle were years ago converted into a coal-hole of the local gasworks,
and are still put to that degradation; great stretches of the city walls,
with their watchtowers, were taken down for corn-mills to be built with
their materials; and, worse than all, stupidity of this kind ran riot
among the Dean and Chapter in the thirties. For seven hundred and fifty
years had Lanfranc's north-western tower of the Cathedral stood, while the
south-western had been rebuilt nearly three hundred years before. This
dissimilarity vexed those assembled holders of fat prebends and decanal
loaves and fishes, who drank port and read _The Times_, and had not a
single sensible idea in their meagre brainpans, beyond a notion that one
thing ought to match with another, and that as every Jack should have his
Jill, so also should everything else possess a pendant. How truly British!


Well, if these western towers did not match, they must be made to; and so
to find an excuse for pulling down the older one. There is always some
graceless modern architect, with palm itching for five-per-cent.
commissions, who would undertake or advise anything to procure a job, and
the Dean and Chapter found such a man, who conceived Lanfranc's work to
have gone beyond repair. To this creature, Charles Austin, their own
diocesan architect, who should have been earnest to preserve, rather than
to destroy, they gave instructions for the pulling down of the Norman work
and for its replacement by an exact copy of the Perpendicular tower. The
thing was done in 1832. So little beyond repair and so sturdily strong was
that Norman tower, that it was necessary to blow it up with gunpowder. A
German invading Goth and malignant destroyer could do no more.

The work of demolition and the building of the new tower was done at a
cost of £25,000. The architect pocketed £1,250 as commission, and all who
care for architecture have lost one of the very few Norman Cathedral
towers known in England. But then, how exactly those towers match, and how
satisfied must be all good people who would sacrifice everything for the
sake of uniformity!

The main thoroughfare of Canterbury, to which the old West Gate gives
access, has undergone no little rebuilding since the days of gables and
timber fronts, and yet it retains in the aggregate much of that old-world
air for which we reasonably look in a Cathedral city. Long and narrow the
street remains; quaint are many of the buildings that line it. Across it,
under narrow bridges, flow two branches of the little river Stour.

An amusing incident belonged to the "Red Lion."


One of the most outstanding historical figures upon the Dover Road is that
no less kindly than courtly Ambassador, the Duc de Nivernais. That
cultured Frenchman was employed by his sovereign, Louis the Fifteenth, in
negotiating a Treaty of Peace which should conclude that disastrous
contest to France, the Seven Years' War. An exchange of Ambassadors was
effected between Great Britain and France; the Duke of Bedford crossing
the Channel to Calais in the early part of September, 1762, the Duc de
Nivernais voyaging to Dover, and landing there on the morning of
September 11. The elements had been unkind to him, and his passage
occupied no less than five hours; but Nivernais handed over to Captain
Ray, the commander of the _Princess Augusta_ yacht (the vessel in which he
had voyaged and suffered the most horrible pangs of sea-sickness), the sum
of one hundred guineas, to be divided among the crew. Perhaps the
unbounded gratitude with which he found himself again upon the shore--even
though it were not his native land--accounted for the magnitude of this

The country was not eager for the peace which exhausted France desired,
and looked upon Nivernais' commission rather as an attempt to curtail the
glory which England and Englishmen were reaping on land and achieving by
sea; but the French Ambassador was received with a show of enthusiasm and
the discharge of cannon as he landed at Dover, and a crowd of shouting
countrymen cheered him as, bowing his acknowledgments of this reception,
he bowled away in a coach and six horses, accompanied by a retinue of
twelve persons.

Bowled, did I say? Nay: the motion of the ill-hung equipages of that day,
tumbling along over the wretched roads of those times, resembled little
the smooth career of bowls gliding over trimly shaven bowling-greens.
Rather should the motion be described as a series of hesitating lurches
and unexpected jolts; and this in the comparative excellence of the
highways in September!

The Ambassador had started upon his journey from Dover to London as soon
as possible after the early hour of the morning when he had landed from
the "Chops of the Channel"; but he arrived at Canterbury too late for
further progress to be made that day. Therefore he put up in the Cathedral
city, after having had the empty satisfaction, to a traveller in his
exhausted condition, of being received _en grande tenue_ by the garrison.

The "Red Lion" inn was at that time the proper place for a personage of
his quality to lie, and so the Duke with his party stayed there the night.
For that night's lodging for twelve persons, with a frugal supper in which
oysters, fowls, boiled mutton, poached eggs, and fried whiting figure, the
landlord of the "Red Lion" presented an account of over £44. This truly
grand bill has been preserved, not, let us hope, for the emulation of
other hotel-keepers, but by way of a "terrible example." Here it is:--

                                           £   _s._ _d._
  Tea, coffee, and chocolate               1    4    0
  Supper for self and servants            15   10    0
  Bread and beer                           3    0    0
  Fruit                                    2   15    0
  Wine and punch                          10    8    8
  Wax candles and charcoal                 3    0    0
  Broken glass and china                   2   10    0
  Lodging                                  1    7    0
  Tea, coffee, and chocolate               2    0    0
  Chaise and horses for the next stage     2   16    0
                                          44   10    8

The Duke paid his account without a murmur, only remarking that innkeepers
at this rate should soon grow rich; but it was, doubtless, with great
relief that he left Canterbury for Rochester, where he dined the next day
for three guineas.

News of this extraordinary bill was soon spread all over England. It was
printed in the newspapers amid other marvels, disasters, and atrocities,
and mine host of the "Red Lion," like Byron, woke up one morning to find
himself famous. He would probably have preferred his native obscurity to
the fierce light of publicity that beat upon him; for the country
gentlemen, scandalized at his rapacity, boycotted his inn, and his brother
innkeepers of Canterbury disowned him. The unfortunate man wrote to the
_St. James's Chronicle_, endeavouring to justify himself, and complaining
bitterly of the harm that had been wrought to his business by the constant
billeting of soldiers upon him. But it was in vain to protest, and so
bitter was the feeling against him that his trade fell off, and he was
ruined in six months.

[Illustration: THE DUC DE NIVERNAIS.]

Meanwhile, the Duc de Nivernais was negotiating for peace at the Court of
Saint James's; and, what with the difficulties of diplomacy and the
rigours of the climate, he passed but a miserable time. "This country," he
wrote, "is a cruel country for negotiation; one needs to have a body and a
spirit of iron," and how little like iron was his frame may perhaps be
judged from this portraiture of him, which shows a wistful-looking,
hollow-cheeked elderly man, with nose and chin and eyes unnaturally
prominent. The caricaturists took a mean advantage of his phenomenal
leanness, and called him the "Duke of Barebones," and a Court witling made
the cruel jest that "the French had sent over the preliminaries of an
ambassador to conclude the preliminaries of a peace." He eventually _did_
conclude a peace, and, returning to Dover, left (how thankfully!) for
France on May 22, 1763. Let us hope that, after all his trials with the
English hotel-keepers and the English climate, he experienced a better
passage across the Channel than when he first crossed it.



Not all visitors to Canterbury were so evilly entreated as the Duc de
Nivernais. Indeed, the city has been remarkable rather for its lavish and
abounding hospitality than for any attempted over-reaching of the
stranger. But since those strangers were chiefly Kings and Emperors, and
great personages of that kind, perhaps it is little to be wondered at that
the citizens, to say nothing of those greedy time-servers, the Priors and
monks of Christ Church Priory and the Priory of Saint Augustine, rendered
to those great ones of the earth the most abject suit and service. Almost
every English sovereign has been here at some time or another, and many a
foreign potentate besides. Henry the Second, it is true, walked into the
city, barefoot, from Harbledown, and so to the Cathedral, doing abject
penance for the murder of Becket, four years previously, and it seems to
be equally true that as he proceeded to Becket's shrine he was scourged by
the monks on his bare back and shoulders with knotted cords; but I think
they would have laid on harder and with a better will had the penitent not
been of so exalted a station. In short, I have little faith in the
reported rigours of that punishment. A few years later came Henry's son,
Richard Lion Heart, enlarged from his foreign prison. He landed at the
port of Sandwich, and walked barefoot into Canterbury--so inimical was
Saint Thomas to shoe-leather. Edward the First was pious enough to lay the
Crown of Scotland before the Saint's shrine, and another Edward--the Black
Prince--came here, in all humility, with the captive King of France.
Another warrior, as brave and as ill-fated--Henry the Fifth--paid his
devoirs to Becket as he came up the road, fresh from his glorious French
campaigns. Another Henry, the Eighth and last of his name, bowed before
the shrine in 1520, in company with the Emperor Charles the Fifth. On that
occasion he was as fervent a worshipper as could well be desired, and as
sincere as it is possible for a man to be who is at the same time a King
and half a Welshman. No thoughts of spoliation of the Church then passed
his mind. Indeed, the ecclesiastical dignitaries of the time made much of
his visit, which seems to have been celebrated in a more than royal
manner, if we may trust the chroniclers.

From Dover the two monarchs rode into Canterbury, preceded by Wolsey, and
followed by a long procession of knights and esquires, men-at-arms and
archers. The clergy, dressed in all the splendour of which the Romish
Church is capable, thronged the streets to welcome the King, and knew as
little about the calamities presently to befall them as fat geese suspect
the significance of Michaelmas Day. Archbishop Warham welcomed the
sovereigns to the Cathedral, and probably thought with a secret joy upon
the ways of Providence which had removed Prince Arthur from this world to
place his younger brother, Henry, upon the throne. For, had Prince Arthur
lived to be King of England, the man whom we know as Henry the Eighth
would have been Archbishop of Canterbury. That was the career designed for
him, and, had Prince Arthur not died, how very differently things might
have been fashioned!

Archbishop Warham could, as it happened, afford to look upon the ways of
Providence with approval, for these events had made him Primate, and he
celebrated his accession to the Primacy with a banquet whose details seem
to belong to the _Arabian Nights_ rather than to sober history. Courses
innumerable (and nasty, too, according to modern ideas) graced the festive
board on this occasion, and the guests who partook of them made pigs of
themselves over what the contemporary historian of these things calls the
"subtylties" that bulked so largely at the feast. To the Duke of
Buckingham, the high steward, fell the honour, or the duty, of serving the
Archbishop with his own hands; and, partly in recognition of his services,
and partly, no doubt, in consideration of his being so great a gourmand,
he was accorded the privilege of staying three days at the new
Archbishop's nearest manor, in order that he might be bled. That seems to
have been the necessary performance after partaking of too many

But all this while I have been keeping His Most Christian Majesty, Henry
the Eighth, waiting; and, having done so, it is well for me I am not his
contemporary, for men did things so derogatory to his dignity only at the
peril of losing their heads.

Well, eighteen years later, the King, who had knelt before Becket's bones,
was engaged in uprooting the ancient faith, and his fury was naturally
felt more acutely here, on this the most sacred spot of English soil.
Becket was proclaimed a traitor, and in April, 1538, the martyr, dead
three hundred and sixty-eight years, was summoned to appear in Court to
show reason why his shrine should not be destroyed and his name blotted
out from the records of the English Church. Thirty days were allowed
"Thomas Becket" (thus the Royal Proclamation styled him, without title or
handle of any sort to his name) to appear, and when he failed to present
himself, sentence was pronounced against him by default. The sentence was
that his bones should be burnt and scattered to the winds; a poor and
inadequate kind of revenge. More to the point, perhaps, was the spoliation
of the shrine of the Blessed Thomas; for the Royal Commissioners sent to
strip it, loaded twenty-six carts with the valuables that had accumulated
here during all those centuries, in addition to two coffers of jewels and
gold containing the ransom of kings.

[Sidenote: THE "REGALE" RUBY]

The King kept some of the jewels for his own personal use. Louis the
Seventh of France had, a few years after the murder of Becket, visited the
Shrine of St. Thomas, and had left there a magnificent ruby. Not merely
had he left it; for the ruby--the "Regale of France," it was called--left
itself, so to speak. In point of fact, it had been suggested to the French
king that he should present that magnificent stone to the Shrine, and he
was objecting to do so, when the great ruby leapt from the ring he was
wearing and affixed itself to the Saint's reliquary, where it remained
"shining so brightly that it was impossible to look steadily at it."

So the visitor went away without that gorgeous stone, marvelling greatly,
as we do, some seven hundred and fifty years after the event.

The ruby, indifferently described as being "as large as a hen's egg," and
"as large as a man's thumb-nail," was appropriated by Henry the Eighth.

Thus did Henry repay the magnificent hospitality extended him years before
at Canterbury. The city saw but little of Royalty for many years
afterwards; and, indeed, it was not until Charles the First came here to
be married in the Cathedral that any great State function revived its past
glories. Then the display made was worthy of local traditions. Feasting
and general jollity prevailed while the newly-wed King and Queen remained
in the city. A few years later, when loyalty was the passion of only a
minority and the King was warring with the Parliament, the Dover Road and
Canterbury witnessed a strange journey. None knew of it, for the matter
was secret. It was, in fact, the smuggling out of the country of the
little Princess Henrietta, away from the custody of the King's enemies.
The French tutor of the Princess afterwards told the story of this escape.
The Countess of Dalkeith was in charge of the little girl at Oatlands, and
resolved at all hazards to restore her to her mother in France. Disguising
herself, this tall and elegant body, one of the handsome Villiers family,
acted the part of a poor French servant, little better than a beggar. She
even fitted herself with a hump, and, carrying a bundle of linen, and with
the Princess dressed in rags, set out by road for Dover, with the girl on
her back, in the character of her little boy Pierre.

On the road, we are told, the Princess indignantly tried to tell everyone
she was not "Pierre," but the Princess. Fortunately, no one understood,
and these strange travellers arrived safely at Dover and crossed to

The adventure seems incredible when we consider that the Princess
Henrietta Maria was born June 16, 1644, and that this journey to Dover is
stated to have taken place towards the end of July, 1646. We have to ask
ourselves, "Could a child of two years and a little over one month,
understand and talk like that?" But the source of the story has been
noted; and we are to recollect, as to the authentic date of the adventure,
that Edmund Waller, the courtly poet, on New Year's Day, 1647, presented
the Queen, then in Paris, with a poem on the subject, in which the
Countess of Dalkeith's exploit is referred to:--

  The faultless nymph, changing her faultless shape
  Becomes unhandsome, handsomely to 'scape.

Canterbury's rejoicings were not renewed until after the Commonwealth had
come and run its course, and the Stuarts were free once more to show their
curious facility for rendering their House unpopular.

And after the romantic times of that unfortunate family come the stolid
annals of Dutch William, Anne, and the unimaginative Georges--a line of
sovereigns for whom enthusiasm was impossible. Mean in their vices and
contemptible in their virtues, they lived their lives and reigned over
England, and posted along the Dover Road on their way to or from beloved
Hanover; and no man's heart beat the faster for their coming, and none
sorrowed overmuch for their going. All the Georges, and William the
Fourth, too, were here, I believe, and in their train came the lean
Keilmanseggs, the fleshly Schwellenbergs, and a variety of greasy Germans,
fresh from the terrible voyage over sea; but no one cares in the least
either where they went or whither they did not go.


But they all travelled with what we must now consider a snail's pace. The
wealthiest, the most powerful, could go no faster than horses managed to
drag them. When Sir Robert Peel was summoned in haste from Rome by William
the Fourth to form a Ministry in 1834, he travelled full speed to London,
and the journey took him just within a fortnight. He noted in his journal
that he accomplished it in exactly the same time as the Emperor Hadrian
had done seventeen hundred years before him. The means of travel at the
disposal of both statesmen were identical--post horses.

Another Royal visitor (of a much later date indeed) discovered the "chops
of the Channel" to be no respectors of personages. In fact, His Serene
Highness Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was come across the water
to wed his Cousin, Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland ("Empress
of India" was yet in the loom of the future), found his serenity as much
disturbed by the roughness of his passage as falls to the lot of most bad
sailors, of whatever social stratum. He was, in short, very ill, and
unable to proceed any farther that day. On the morrow, Friday, February 7,
1840, he resumed his journey to London, by road, of course, for the
railways that serve Dover (and serve it badly, too!) had not as yet been

Starting about midday, the father of our future kings reached Canterbury
at two o'clock. The inevitable Address was, it is surely scarcely
necessary to add, immediately forthcoming, to which the Prince as
inevitably "replied graciously"; afterwards attending service in the
Cathedral, where, as he could have understood but little of the service,
he must have been supremely bored. The Cathedral was thronged with crowds
who came not so much in order to pray as to peep at the Princeling whom
the young Queen had delighted to honour.

The Prince slept at Canterbury that night, and left, with his suite, _en
route_ for Chatham at half-past nine the next morning, pursued by a body
of clergymen with an Address. Alarmed at this appalling eagerness on the
part of servile Britons to read lengthy orations of which he understood
not a word, the Prince gave directions for the cavalcade to drive faster,
and so they swept on through Chatham and Rochester, without stopping to
hear what the Mayors and Corporations of those places had to say. Those
deadly Addresses were, in fact, "taken as read," and the Mayors, Aldermen
and others returned home with their ridiculous parchments, wiser, and, it
is to be feared, not only sadder, but less loyal men.

At Dartford, the bridegroom-elect was met by one of the Queen's carriages,
and he thereupon changed from his travelling chariot to enter London in
some degree of State. At New Cross an escort of the 14th Dragoons was
waiting, and, instead of proceeding along the classic Old Kent Road, and
so to the traditional entrance to London by London Bridge, he went to town
by way of romantic Peckham and idyllic Camberwell, ending his journey at
that dream of architectural beauty, Buckingham Palace. What followed: How
the _Times_ waxed violent and denunciatory of Lord Melbourne and the
frivolous _entourage_ with which he had surrounded the Queen: how that
paper preached homilies, and how all the others, nearly without exception,
gushed fulsome nonsense, it is not the business of the present historian
to set forth. All he has to do is to remark that with this event closes
the history of Royal processions along the Dover Road.

The hilly road to Dover is not remarkable for sporting events, but two may
here be noted. On April 1st, 1903, Mr. Walter de Creux-Hutchinson walked
from Dover to London Bridge in 14 hrs., 19 mins., 40 secs.; and on
September 18th, 1909, A. G. Norman cycled from London to Dover and back in
8 hrs., 8 mins.



The chief point of interest in Canterbury is, of course, the Cathedral,
the bourne to which countless pilgrims came from all parts of the
civilized world to gain the goodwill and intercedence of that thrice
sacred and potent Saint Thomas whose peculiar sanctity over-topped by far
that of any other English martyr, and whose shrine possessed scarce less
efficacy than that of the most renowned Continental resorts of the pious.

But long before Becket's day the Metropolitan Cathedral of Canterbury had
arisen. The establishment of the See dates from the time when Augustine
landed at Ebbsfleet, in the Isle of Thanet, in A.D. 596, and, marching at
the head of his forty Benedictine monks, held a conference with Ethelbert,
King of Kent, by whose favour he was allowed to preach Christianity to the
Saxons. Thus was the Cross of Christ re-introduced to these islands where
it had flourished centuries before among the Romans and the Romanized

Saint Augustine, however, does not deserve quite all the honour that has
been paid him for his work. He undertook his mission against his will and
only by the peremptory orders of Pope Gregory the First; orders which he
feared to disobey even more than he had dreaded coming over the sea from
sunny Italy to convert the pagan Saxons. As first Archbishop of Canterbury
he died in A.D. 605; and when he died he left the first Cathedral already
built on the site of an ancient Romano-British Church where the present
great Minster stands. But that was not by any means the first Christian
Church in England. To the little village church of Saint Martin belongs
that honour, and to this day the hoary walls of that building show the
traveller unmistakable Roman tiles which, having been originally built
into a pagan temple, remain to prove the humble beginnings of the Word
that has spread throughout the world.

Saint Augustine's Cathedral was small, but, patched and tinkered by
generation after generation, it lasted nearly five hundred years; until,
in fact, the troubles of the Conquest practically ruined it. Lanfranc, the
first Norman Archbishop, rebuilt the Cathedral Church, and now one
rebuilding speedily followed another, each one growing more elaborate than
before. Lanfranc's work was superseded in 1130 by a magnificent building
approaching the present bulk of the Cathedral. Henry the First was present
at its consecration, with David, King of Scotland; and all the
ecclesiastical dignitaries of the realm, together with a great concourse
of nobles, assisted. Conrad and Ernulf, Priors of Christ Church, were the
architects of the work, and so grand was it, and so great was the
occasion, that an old chronicler described the ceremony of consecration as
"the most famous that had ever been heard of on earth since that of the
temple of Solomon."

But, four years later, the "glorious choir of Conrad" was burned down, and
all the pious fervour and exaltation that had raised these sculptured
stones and tall towers was wasted. People and clergy alike "were
astonished that the Almighty should suffer such things, and, maddened with
grief and perplexity, they tore their hair and beat the walls and
pavement of the church with their heads and hands, blaspheming the Lord
and His saints, the patrons of the church."

This fury of rage and perplexity overpast, however, the strenuous folk of
those times began the work of rebuilding the church almost before the
blackened stones and charred timbers of the ruined building were cold.
They employed a French architect, William of Sens, and for four years he
laboured in designing and superintending the construction of choir,
retro-choir, and the easternmost chapels, incorporating with his work the
old Norman towers and chapels which had, in part, survived the great fire.
William of Sens did not live to see his task completed; for, one day, as
he was on the lofty scaffolding, directing the work of turning the choir
vault, he fell and was disabled for life. His successor, who brought the
rebuilding to a close, was "William the Englishman," identified by some
with that William de Hoo, the architect-Bishop of Rochester.

[Sidenote: THE CHOIR]

The present choir, then, shows the work of these two Williams; nearly all,
in fact, to the eastward of the crossing, from choir-screen to Becket's
Crown, is their handiwork. Meanwhile, Lanfranc's heavy Norman nave was
left uninjured by fire and untouched by those mighty builders, and it was
not until the fourteenth century that it was reconstructed in the
Perpendicular style by Prior Chillenden. "It had grown ruinous," so say
the records, but the greater probability is that it was not so crazy but
that effectual renovation without rebuilding would have been possible. But
the spirit of the age was altogether opposed to the ponderous character of
Norman architecture. Men began to build so lightly and loftily that walls
soon assumed the appearance of mere framings to the huge windows that
characterize this ultimate phase of Gothic architecture.

The constructional aspect was gone altogether, and most of the artistic
interest too. Vulgar ostentation of skill--engineering knowledge that led
architects to pile up slender alleys of stone to the last point of
endurance--was the note of the age. Unfortunately, the age which witnessed
the growth and development of the Perpendicular style was one of the
greatest wealth and activity. A ceaseless and untiring energy pervaded the
land, tearing down the Norman, the Early English, and the Decorated
churches, and rearing upon their sites buildings immeasurably larger,
loftier, and lighter, but less individual and less interesting in every
way than the work of the builders who had gone before.

Frankly, then, the great soaring nave of Canterbury, with its long alleys
of clustered pillars, its great windows and broad, unornamented
wall-spaces, is disappointing. No details tempt the amateur of
architecture to linger, and the sole ornamentation which the builder has
allowed himself in this long-drawn-out vista is seen on the sparely
sculptured bosses of the groining. The times which witnessed the piling up
of this great nave were days when this church was rich beyond compare with
the offerings of pilgrims; and, given riches, ostentation is sure to
follow, but art is not to be bought at a price.

A long array of altar-tombs of kings, princes, warriors, and archbishops
adds to the historical interest of Canterbury Cathedral. Easily first,
both for historic and artistic value, are the tomb and effigy of Edward
the Black Prince, who, dying of a wasting disease in 1376, was entombed in
the Cathedral as near as might be to the Martyr's shrine. There is not a
statue in all England to rival the beautifully-wrought bronze effigy of
the Black Prince which lies on an altar-tomb decorated with the Prince of
Wales's feathers he was the first to assume, surrounded by the _Ich Dien_
that so admirably expresses the chivalry of his character.

The shields bearing his arms and badge are interesting. The arms, those
with the leopards (or lions) of England, quartered with the lilies of
France, are ensigned with the mark of cadency, indicating the heir, or
eldest son, and bear above them the word "Houmout." This is a Flemish word
meaning "Chivalry," literally "high mood." The Dutch language has "hoog
moed," with the same sense.


[Sidenote: "ICH DIENE"]

The shield with the badge of three ostrich feathers standing upright on
their quills, bears the words "Ich diene." In his will the Prince
especially directed that these should appear. These "Prince of Wales"
feathers, said to derive from the ostrich plumes of John, King of Bohemia,
slain in the Battle of Créçy, give antiquaries a good deal to consider,
for it is by no means certain that this is all the story. The Prince's
mother, Queen Philippa, used the badge; which, furthermore, seems to have
been not unknown as a royal device. "Ich Dien" == "I serve," is an
expression of the heir's loyalty and submission to the sovereign; and is
perhaps a reading of Galatians IV, i, "The heir, as long as he is a child,
differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all." The modern
drawing of the Prince of Wales' feathers originated in Tudor times.

Here, then, he lies, in full armour, as he had enjoined in his will, the
likeness of the spurs he won at Créçy on his heels, his head resting on
his helmet, and his hands joined in prayer. The face and head are clearly
an excellent portraiture of him, so masterly is the work, and so like the
features to those of his father in Westminster Abbey and his grandfather
at Gloucester! Traces remain of the gilding with which the effigy was
covered; the shields of arms and the curious Norman-French inscription are
uninjured, and every little detail of his magnificent memorial is as
perfect now as when it was finished five hundred years ago. The wooden
canopy suspended over his tomb has survived the march of time and the fury
of revolution; his wooden shield; his blazoned tabard, colourless now and
in the semblance of a dirty rag, but once a truly royal adornment of
velvet, glowing with the red and blue and golden quarterings of England
and France,--all these things are left to speak of the grief with which
the nation saw its most perfect gentle knight borne to his grave. His
gauntlets, too, and his tilting helmet are here, and only one thing is
missing from its place. The sword wielded at Créçy and Poictiers, and at
many another fight, has vanished from its scabbard. If, as tradition says,
Cromwell stole that weapon, how much more impressive it is to think of the
hero-worship thus felt by one great captain for another.

The Black Prince was the darling of England. He had won a glory for this
country the like of which had never before been known, and he was the
flower of chivalry. But do those who gather round his tomb, and feel
themselves the greater for being countrymen of his, ever think how little
his chivalry would have spared them? His humble and dutiful bearing
towards his father, and even to his captive, the King of France, shows
that his reverence was for rank and titles; the cruelty he exhibited
when, the city of Limoges having revolted, he ordered a general massacre
of the inhabitants and was carried through the streets in a litter, to see
his bidding done, dims the glory of his arms. Men, women, and children
were alike butchered in those streets, and when, crying for mercy, they
were hewed in pieces before his eyes, their fate left him unmoved. It was
only when he saw three French knights fighting valiantly in the
market-place against overwhelming odds, that the chivalry of the Black
Prince was touched. That hundreds or thousands of the citizens should be
slain was nothing to him, for _they_ were nothing, but to see gentlemen of
rank and birth fighting a hopeless fight was too much. He ordered the
massacre to be stayed.



When in the last days of 1170 Becket was murdered in his own Cathedral, no
one could have foreseen how fertilizing would be the blood of the martyr
to religious faith; and not only to faith but also to English thought,
trades, and professions. No sinner could be considered safe for Paradise
unless he had made pilgrimage to Canterbury, and this pilgrimage became
one of the chief features of English life during four hundred years. We
owe directly to it the inspiration which has given Chaucer, our earliest
poet, an immortal fame; from it comes the verb "to canter"--originally
describing the ambling pace at which the pilgrims urged their horses on
this road, and now common in modern English speech; while the great bulk
of the Cathedral would never have loomed so largely across the Stour meads
to-day had it not been for the fervent piety that, centuries ago, heaped
gold and jewels here for the expiation of sins. Pilgrimage was a blessed
thing indeed for the keepers of inns and for a multitude of other trades;
and mendicants had but to take staff and scrip, and tramp in guise of
palmers through the country to be liberally helped on their way. The
Palmer was, indeed, the ancestor of the modern tramp. He had but to go
unwashed, unshaven, and unshorn, and he could live his life without toil
or work of any kind. If he were taxed with filthy habits, he could reply
that a vow to remain unwashed until he had reached this shrine or another
forbade him to remove the grime that covered him as a garment; and his
claim to be dirty would be allowed. Eventually the number of these palmers
at home and from over sea became a nuisance and a danger to Church and
State, and no less objectionable were the hermits who squatted down at
every likely corner of the roads and solicited alms. Human nature in the
fourteenth century was not appreciably different from that of the present
era, when many would rather beg a livelihood than earn it; and not only
the laziness and the number of these palmers and hermits, but also their
shocking immorality, became a scandal, until many laws and Archiepiscopal
edicts were levelled against them. Pilgrimage, Saint Thomas, and religion
itself became discredited by these creatures, and even as early as the
year 1370, the fame of Becket was resented by some, and the efficacy of
pilgrimages doubted. That year was the fourth jubilee of Saint Thomas,
when pilgrims were crowding in many hundreds of thousands to Canterbury
from all parts of the civilized world to receive the free indulgences, the
free quarters, and the free food and drink, alike for themselves and their
horses, that were accorded to all who came to the jubilee festival that
was held, once in every fifty years, for a fortnight. As these multitudes
of pilgrims were proceeding along the road to Canterbury during the
Festival fortnight of 1370, Simon of Sudbury, the then Archbishop,
overtook them. This Prelate had a hatred for superstition somewhat in
advance of his time. He did not believe at all in pilgrimages and but
little in Thomas à Becket, and he told the crowds he passed on the road
that the plenary indulgence which they were pressing forward to gain would
be of no avail to purge their sins. The people who heard this heretical
and previously unheard-of doctrine issuing from the mouth of an
Archbishop, turned upon him in fear and rage, and cursed him as he went. A
Kentish squire among the throng rode up and indignantly said, "My Lord
Bishop, for this act of yours, stirring the people to sedition against St.
Thomas, I stake the salvation of my soul that you will close your life by
a most terrible death." To this all the people replied with a fervent


Saint Thomas was indeed avenged upon the Archbishop. Eleven years later,
when Wat Tyler's rebels pillaged London, and forced themselves into the
Tower, they found Simon of Sudbury there, among others. Dragging him out,
they beheaded him with revolting barbarity, and here he lies in the Choir,
where his headless body was seen, years ago, the place of the missing head
supplied with a leaden ball.

The spirit of irreverence grew fast. In 1512 Erasmus made, with Dean
Colet, a pilgrimage to Canterbury, not so much from piety as from
curiosity. Descending the hill of Harbledown, they came into the city,
wondering at the majesty of the Cathedral tower and at the booming of the
bells resounding through the surrounding country. They entered the south
porch, discussing the stone statues of Becket's murderers, then to be seen
there; they entered the great nave, where Erasmus noted satirically the
apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus chained to a pillar; and, armed with a
letter of introduction from Archbishop Warham, they were shown many things
not usually exhibited to the crowd. Passing through the iron gates which
then as now divided the nave from the more holy portion of the building,
they were taken to the Chapel of the Martyrdom, where they kissed the
sacred rust that remained on the broken point of Brito's sword. From here
they descended into the Crypt, which had its own priests in charge of the
martyr's perforated skull, which was shown, with four of his bones, on a
kind of altar. The forehead was left bare to be kissed, while the rest was
covered with silver. Here hung in the dark the hair-shirts, the girdles
and bandages, and the cat-o'-nine-tails or more with which Becket had
subdued the flesh; striking horror with their very appearance, reproaching
the pilgrims for their luxuries and self-indulgence, and perhaps, as
Erasmus remarks, even reproaching the monks. From the Crypt they returned
to the Choir, where the vast stores of relics were unlocked for their
admiration and worship.

To read of the relics shown by the monks of Canterbury Cathedral fills one
with amazement, both at the impertinence of those disgusting humbugs, and
at the illimitable credulity that accepted the exhibition as genuine.
Besides the pre-eminently holy (and really genuine) relics of the Blessed
Thomas were heaps of bones, hair, teeth, and dust of a vast concourse of
miscellaneous saints, with portions of their attire and articles connected
with their domestic history. How genuine they were likely to be may be
judged from a short list of the most venerated among them. The bed of the
Virgin, with the wool she wove, and a garment of her making, occupied the
foremost place, and the rock on which the Cross of Christ stood; His
sepulchre; the manger; the table used at the Last Supper; the column to
which He was bound when He was flagellated by the cursed Jews; and the
rock whereon He had stood on ascending into Heaven, were prime favourites.
More wonderful still, the monks possessed Aaron's Rod; a portion of the
oak on which Abraham mounted that he might see the Lord; and--more
stupendously blasphemous than anything else--a specimen of the clay with
which God moulded Adam!


Colet was wearied with all this, and when an arm was brought forward to be
kissed which had still the bloody flesh of the martyr clinging to it, he
drew back in disgust. The priest then shut up, locked, and double-locked
his treasures, and showed them the sumptuous articles, the great wealth of
gold and silver ornaments, kept under the altar. Erasmus thought that in
the presence of this vast assemblage of precious things even Midas and
Croesus would be only beggars, and he sighed that he had nothing like
them at home, devoutly praying the Saint for pardon of his impious thought
before he moved a step from the Cathedral. However, they had not yet seen
all. They were led into the Sacristy, and "Good God!" exclaims Erasmus,
"what a display was there of silken vestments, what an array of golden
candlesticks!" Saint Thomas's pastoral staff was there, a quite plain
stick of pear-wood, with a crook of black horn, covered with silver plate,
and no longer than a walking-stick. Here, too, was a coarse silken pall,
quite unadorned, and a sudary, dirty from wear, and retaining manifest
stains of blood. These things, relics of a more simple age, they willingly
kissed, and were then conducted to the Corona, where they saw an effigy of
Saint Thomas, "that excellent man," gilt and adorned with many jewels. But
here Colet's anger broke forth, and he addressed the priest in this wise.
"Good father, is it true what I hear, that Saint Thomas while alive was
exceedingly kind to the poor?" "Most true," said he, and he then began to
relate many of his acts of benevolence towards the destitute. "I do not
imagine," said Colet, "that such disposition of his is changed, but
perhaps increased." The priest assented. "Then," rejoined the Dean, "since
that holy man was so liberal towards the poor when he was poor himself and
required the aid of all his money for his bodily necessities, do you not
think that now, when he is very wealthy, nor lacks anything, he would take
it very contentedly if any poor woman having starving children at home
should (first praying for pardon) take from these so great riches some
small portion for the relief of her family?"

The priest pouted, knitted his brows, and looked upon the two friends with
Gorgonian eyes, and he would probably have turned them out of the building
had it not been for the Archbishop's letter of introduction which they
carried with them. Erasmus was alarmed at his friend's free speech. He was
pacifying the priest when the Prior approached and conducted them to the
Holy of holies, Becket's Shrine. A wooden canopy was raised, and the
golden case enclosing the martyr's remains disclosed. The least valuable
part of it was of gold: every part glistened, shone, and sparkled with
rare and immense jewels, some of them exceeding the size of a goose's egg.
Monks stood round, and they all fell down and worshipped, after which they
returned to the Crypt, to see the place where the Virgin Mother had her
abode, a somewhat dark one, hedged in by more than one iron screen. "What
was she afraid of, then?" asks his interlocutor, and he replies, "Of
nothing, I imagine, except thieves," for the riches with which she was
surrounded were a more than royal spectacle. Again they were conducted to
the Sacristy; a box covered with black leather was brought out, and again
all fell down and worshipped. Some torn fragments of linen were produced;
most of them retaining marks of dirt. With these the holy man used to wipe
the perspiration from his face and neck, the runnings from his nose, or
such other superfluities from which the human frame is not free. The Prior
graciously offered to present Colet with one of these dirty rags, and,
indeed, to the devout such a gift would have been of a quite inestimable
value. But Colet, handling the rags delicately as though they might
possibly infect him, replaced them in the box with a contemptuous whistle.
The Prior was a man of politeness and good breeding. He appeared not to
notice this rude, not to say heretical, rejection of his gift, and,
offering them a cup of wine, courteously dismissed them.


Soon after this came the downfall. With the struggles of the Reformation
went the relics, the gold and jewels, and--worse than all--the decorations
and painted windows of the Cathedral. With many abuses and with the
disgusting humbug of the old order of things went also, it is sad to
think, much of the living reality of religion; and Canterbury Cathedral is
to-day an historical museum to the crowd of tourists, and an architectural
model for students of that first of all the arts. Curiosity, and little
else, draws the crowd. Byron has caught the spirit of the times happily
enough (although "beadle" and "cathedral" are not among the elegancies of
rhyme) when he says of Don Juan and his companion:--

  They saw at Canterbury the Cathedral,
    Black Edward's helm, and Becket's bloody stone,
  Were pointed out as usual by the beadle,
    In the same quiet uninterested tone:--
  There's glory for you, gentle reader! All
    Ends in a rusty casque and dubious bone.

And how very dubious are the bones that are said to be those of Becket is
a question that may not be enlarged upon here.

For the rest, a holy calm reigns unbroken in the Cathedral Close. Hemmed
in and surrounded[7] by massive walls, modernity has no place here, and if
the interior of the building is somewhat disappointing, the exterior and
its surroundings, especially the north-east aspect, viewed from the Green
Court, must be seen to be appreciated. To be sure, this part of the
building is Norman and Early English, and no other periods produced such
wildly irregular masses. Added to the original irregularity of outline are
the puzzling ruins--ivied wall and broken window--dating from the time
when Henry the Eighth's Commissioners destroyed the monastery. Queer
passages, dark and tortuous, giving suddenly upon little cloisters and
grassy quadrangles, are to be found everywhere; conspicuous among them the
"Dark Entry," immortalized by Tom Ingoldsby in his _Legend of Nell Cook_.


By walking outside Canterbury, a mile distant to Saint Thomas's Hill, on
the Whitstable Road, you shall see how thoroughly the Cathedral dominates
the city; and arrive, by an exploration of the narrow lanes and the meads
below, at an understanding of how this great Minster _was_ Canterbury, and
how subservient to it was all else. Affairs are now very different. A
vigorous and pulsing life belongs to the streets and lanes, while it is
the Church that has passed away from the intimate life of the people, and
sunk back into retirement. Canterbury is far larger than ever before, and
its modern pavements, that ring with soldiers' tread, or with the speedy
walk of busy citizens, are raised many feet above the street level of old
Durovernum. Where the old Roman Watling Street left the city by what is
now called the Riding Gate, the original paving of that military way was
discovered some few years ago at a depth of fourteen feet below the level
of the present road. Everywhere, when foundations for new houses have been
dug, are discovered Roman pavements and the walls of forgotten buildings,
and thus does Canterbury progress through the ages, rearing itself upon
itself until its beginnings are hidden deep below the light of day.
Strangely do modern ways here jostle with the old. A newly fronted house,
proclaiming nothing of its antiquity, will yet often be found to contain
much of interest. The ugly fronted Guildhall is an instance. Without, it
is of the plainest and most uninteresting type; within, it has panelling
and portraits and old arms to show the curious. At its door, too, stands
all day and every day, or walks about the streets, a gorgeous creature
clad in black knee-breeches and silk stockings; with buckled shoes and
cocked-hat; with coat and waistcoat of a courtly type, trimmed and faced
with gold lace. It is nothing less than startling to see such an uniform
in daily use; and, still more amazing is it, when you ask the wearer of it
who he is, to hear him reply, with a grave politeness, that he is the City
Sergeant. Old institutions live long here, and old people, too. At
Canterbury died, in 1891, aged ninety-one, William Clements, one of the
last, if not _the_ last, of the old stage-coach drivers, who had driven
the "Tally-ho" coach between this and London long before the railway was
thought of; and in July, 1901, aged 89, died Stephen Philpott, who was
coachman of the Dover Mail, until the railway ran him off. He was
transferred to a route between London and Herne Bay, and afterwards became
proprietor of the "Royal Oak," Dover, since demolished for street

[Illustration: "A GORGEOUS CREATURE."]


The Dover Road, after leaving Canterbury, loses very much of that
religious character, picturesquely varied with robbery and murder, which
is its chiefest feature between Southwark and the Shrine of Saint Thomas;
for, although many foreign pilgrims landed at Dover to proceed to the
place where the martyr lay, encased in gold and jewels, their number was
nothing to be compared with that of the crowds who came into Canterbury
from London, or along the Pilgrims' Road from the West Country; and
consequently the wayside shrines and oratories were fewer. The greater
part of the sixteen miles between Canterbury and Dover is bare and exposed
downs, with here and there a little village nestling, sheltered from the
bleak winds, in deep valleys; but the first two miles, between the city
and the coast, are now becoming gay with the geranium-beds, the lawns and
gardens of Canterbury villadom.

[Illustration: WILLIAM CLEMENTS.]

At the first milestone is Gutteridge Gate, where the old toll-house
remains beside the "Gate" inn, and where bacchanalian countrymen gather on
Sunday evenings in summer, drinking pots of ale as the sun goes down, and
recalling to the artistic passer-by Teniers' pictures of boors, as they
shout and bang the wooden tables and benches with their pewter pots.
Looking back at such a time down the long, straight road ascending from
Canterbury, there come many jingling sons of Mars, each man with his
adoring young woman, and sometimes one on either arm, for there is great
competition for these gallant Hussars, Lancers, and Dragoons among the
Canterbury fair ones; and "unappropriated blessings" of a rank in life
that does not permit of "walking out" with mere troopers sit at windows
commanding the road, sighing for that the conventions of the age do not
permit them to "stoop to conquer" the conquerors of their fluttering
hearts. "I could worship that man," says the Fairy Queen in _Iolanthe_,
gazing admiringly upon "Private Willis of the Grenadier Guards"; and how
much more worshipful than a foot-soldier are the "cavalry chaps" of the
Canterbury depôt!


It was a hundred yards or so along the road from Gutteridge Gate that two
Dragoons figured in a highway robbery upon His Majesty's Mails in 1789.
The bells were chiming three o'clock in the morning of July 31 in that
year when Daniel Goldup, the mounted postman, came up the hill from Bridge
with the French mails slung across his horse's back. As he eased his pace
in ascending the hill, three men called upon him to stop. One of them he
recognized as a villager from Elham named Hills, and the two others he
perceived to be Dragoons disguised in smock-frocks. Telling Hills he had
no letters for him, Goldup proceeded on his way. Hills fired but missed,
and the three then ran after him; one laying hold of the horse's bridle
while the other two seized the mail-bags and rifled them. They detained
him an hour while they examined the letters, and then, tying up the
mail-bags again, let him go.

The village of Bridge, down below, takes its name from the small bridge
that carries the road over the Lesser Stour. It is a pretty and peaceful
place to-day, with quaint boarded houses; a Norman and Early English
church, containing some curious and grotesque carvings of Adam and Eve;
and encircled by woods, the remote descendants of the almost
impenetrable forests that once surrounded Canterbury, leaving only Barham
Downs and their neighbouring chalk hills bare and islanded amid a sea of

[Illustration: BRIDGE.]

Barham Downs commence immediately beyond Bridge. They have been the scene
of many remarkable gatherings, from the time of Julius Cæsar to the waning
years of the last century, when the Downs were alive with soldiers camping
here in readiness for that inglorious Armada that never left
port--Napoleon's flotilla of Boulogne.

To go back to the year 55 B.C., when Cæsar first landed at Deal, may seem
to the readers of evening newspapers something of an effort in
retrogression--and so indeed, it is--but when you once succeed in getting
there, the history and details of that time are a great deal more
interesting than perhaps the reader of special editions, hot and hot,
would imagine. We _can_ succeed in picturing the detailed events of that
remote time, because Cæsar, who was as mighty with the pen as with the
sword, has left full and singularly lucid accounts of his wars here and on
the Continent--lucid, that is to say, when one penetrates the veil of
Latin behind which his exploits and the doings of his legionaries are hid;
but darkly understood by the stumbling schoolboy, to whom the _Bello
Gallico_ is as full of linguistic ambushes as the Kentish valleys were of
lurking Britons in Cæsar's time.

It was in the year 55 B.C. that Cæsar, having overrun, if not having
entirely conquered, Gaul, came to its northern coast and gazed eagerly
across that unknown sea, beyond which had come strange warriors,
extraordinarily strong and equally fearless, to aid those troublesome
Gaulish fighting-men who had already given him four years of campaigning,
and were still to prove themselves unsubdued. He had already felt the
prowess of these "Britons," as they were called, and fighting having
slackened somewhat, he conceived the idea of voyaging across the Channel
in quest of glory and adventure in the dim and semi-fabled land of these
mysterious strangers. "Cæsar," he says, speaking of himself always in the
third person, "determined to proceed into Britain because he understood
that in almost all the Gallic wars succour had been supplied thence to our
enemies." So much for his written reasons, but other things must have
weighed with him. The lust of conquest would alone have impelled him
forward beyond this very outer edge of the known world, even had he not
desired to crush these allies of Gaul; but when wild tales reached him of
the richness of the land that lay beyond this strait, whose cliffs he
could dimly see, the impulse to invade it was irresistible. But Cæsar
was a cautious general, and rarely moved without having reconnoitred, and
so he sent over a certain Volusenus to spy out that wonderful land whence
came tin and skins, oysters, pearls, hunting dogs, gold, slaves, and
terrible warriors. Volusenus sailed across the straits, and returned with
quite as much information as could have been expected from one who had
never left his ship. That sarcasm is Cæsar's own, and no doubt he was in a
peculiarly savage and sarcastic humour at the time, for although this
Britain was so frequented by merchants, yet he could not find any one who
would acknowledge having been there; and so his information as to the
population, the shores and harbours of the country, remained vague and
uncertain. And to add to the disappointments he had experienced from those
crafty traders who wished to keep all knowledge of the island to
themselves, this over-cautious Volusenus returned after four days with
just such a hazy and indefinite story as he had been told before; the
hearsay evidence of one who was too timorous to land!

But Cæsar's desire to see Britain was only whetted by the deceits which
those artful traders had practised upon him, and by the vague reports of
his envoy. He lay at Portus Itius, identified either as Boulogne or some
place in the immediate vicinity, and, collecting a flotilla of over eighty
vessels, with an additional eighteen for his cavalry, he sailed from under
the shelter of Grey Nose Point at midnight, August 24, B.C. 55. The
following morning about six o'clock, this armada arrived under Dover
cliffs. The cavalry, however, which had sailed from a different harbour,
had been driven back by adverse winds, and did not arrive until four days
later. His force, then, consisted of two legions of foot soldiers, equal
to about 10,000 men. No sooner had the transports anchored in Dover
harbour than the cliff-tops became alive with Britons, armed, and
determined to resist a landing. Seeing this, Cæsar decided to select some
less dangerous landing-place, and, weighing anchor, sailed seven miles
onward to Deal. The British, however, were ready for him when he reached
the site of that town, and it was only after a stubborn fight on the
beach, and half in the waves, that the Roman legionaries effected a
landing. The decks of Cæsar's triremes were crowded with men who slung
stones, threw javelins, and worked great catapults against the Britons, in
order to cover the advance of the heavily armoured soldiers as they waded
through the shallow water. When once these men, led by the intrepid
standard-bearer of Cæsar's favourite Tenth Legion, had gained the beach,
their discipline, their helmets, armour, shields, and short swords
speedily prevailed against the ill-protected and undisciplined hordes of
the brave islanders. The day was won, and the Romans, having put the
Britons to flight, encamped by the shore. Three weeks of battles,
ambushes, skirmishes, and negotiations for peace followed this landing,
and then Cæsar left Britain. The equinox was at hand, and storms raged.
Half his fleet was destroyed by a tempest, and he was anxious to be away.
So, accepting any terms that he might with honour, he patched up his
vessels and sailed for Gaul; and thus ended the first attempt of the
Romans to conquer Britain.

The following year Cæsar determined to invade the island on a larger
scale. His first expedition had been obliged to remain ingloriously within
sight and sound of the waves; but this time the general resolved to push
into the heart of the country. Sailing from his former harbour, his force
numbered five legions and two thousand horse, roughly 27,000 men, and with
this army, considerable as times went, he landed, unopposed, at Deal on
the morning of July 22. Cæsar tells us that the Britons were frightened by
the great number of his ships seen sailing across the Channel, but the
truth seems to be that he had been sowing jealousies and dissensions among
the petty chiefs and kinglets of Kent, and that a secret understanding was
arrived at between himself and a discreditable son of King Lud by which
his landing should not be contested. However that may be, Cæsar left a
guard over his vessels, and started immediately on a twelve miles' night
march inland, in force.

When morning dawned, he found himself on a high table-land with a river
flowing along a valley below him, and here he first descried the Britons.
The place at which Cæsar had arrived was Barham Downs, and the river he
saw was the Lesser Stour, that even now, although a much smaller stream
than then, flows through the valley to the right of the Dover Road. A road
of some sort existed even at that time, although it perhaps might be more
correctly described as a "track." Down it went the exports of that far
distant age; the undressed skins of wild animals; the dogs and the gold;
and up this way from the primitive Dover came the beads and the trinkets;
the manufactures of pottery and glass, which our very remote fathers loved
as much as the uncivilized races of to-day delight in the selfsame kind of

Cæsar deployed his forces along the ridge of the Downs facing the road,
the river, and the enemy, who had entrenchments on the further side of the
river immediately fronting him and others advancing diagonally toward the
road which they crossed on the northern hill-top at Bridge, ending at a
point slightly to the north-east of the place where Bekesbourne Station
stands now. Cæsar's first object was to reach the water in the valley,
there to refresh his horses, and a forward cavalry movement was made with
this object.

[Illustration: "OLD ENGLAND'S HOLE."]

[Sidenote: "OLD ENGLAND'S HOLE."]

But this advance precipitated the battle that was imminent, for the
Britons, who held the opposite ridge in force, rushed down the slope to
the waterside, and furiously attacked the Roman horse. Exhausted though
they were by a waterless night march, the Roman cavalry met the assault,
and, repelling it, drove the enemy back into the woods. This cavalry
charge was followed by a general advance into the dense thickets, into
which, excellently suited, both by nature and by art, for defence, the
Britons had retired. Here they fought in small bands, protected by mounds
and trenches and by felled trees cunningly interlaced. One of these
_oppida_ remains in Bourne Park, on the summit of Bridge Hill and beside
the Watling Street which, until 1829, was identical with the Dover Road.
In that year a slight deviation was made to the left over the hilltop for
about two hundred yards' length of roadway, and in the course of cutting
through the hill a number of Roman urns and skulls were discovered at a
depth of five feet. The circular earthwork of the redoubt still remains in
very good preservation, surrounded with trees, the successors of those
which covered the hill when the Britons and Romans contended together
here. The place is known locally as "Old England's Hole," and tradition
has it that here the Britons made their last stand. Tradition is not
lightly to be put aside at any time, but when it is supported by Cæsar's
own words it deserves all respect. "Being repulsed," he writes, "they
withdrew themselves into the woods, and reached a place which they had
prepared before, having closed all approaches to it by felled timber." The
soldiers of the Seventh Legion, however, soon captured this stronghold.
Throwing up a mound against it, they advanced, holding their shields over
their heads in the formation known as "the tortoise," and drove out the
defenders at the sword's point. This was the last place to hold out that
day. Everywhere the Britons were dislodged, and numbers of them slain. The
survivors withdrew further into the woodlands that surrounded Caer Caint,
and Cæsar, suspecting ambuscades in those unknown forests, forbade


It was evening before the last fighting was done. The battle had raged on
a front extending for three miles, from Bekesbourne to Kingston, and it
now remained to camp for the night, and to fortify against a possible
surprise the ridge which Cæsar held. And so, before the exhausted soldiery
could lie down to rest after the incessant labours of two days and nights,
they threw up the lines of entrenchments that still, after a lapse of more
than nineteen hundred years, remain distinct upon Barham Downs.

The next day the Romans buried their dead, and Cæsar had just despatched
three columns in a forward movement towards Caer Caint, when hasty news
arrived from Deal that a storm had shattered his fleet. The rear-guard of
the hindmost column was just disappearing from his gaze as he stood on
Patrixbourne Hill, and hurriedly sending messengers to bring the
expedition back, he at once prepared to return to the coast, taking with
him artificers for the repair of his vessels, and an escort sufficient to
secure his own safety. Cæsar had no certain means of knowing how long a
time his absence would extend, but, bidding his legions to remain in camp
until his return, and meanwhile to increase the strength of their
defences, he set out. He was absent ten days. In the meanwhile the courage
of the Britons had revived. They perceived from their woody lairs the
Roman soldiery busily throwing up mounds and long lines of earthworks on
the level summit of the downs, and they judged that the invaders were
compelled, either by fear, or from lack of numbers, to remain on the
defensive. Their numbers increased as the days went by and the Romans made
no advance, and they were now commanded by a general of great ability,
none less than the celebrated Cassivelaunus. Cæsar, on his return, was
harassed by them, and found his camp seriously threatened when he arrived.
Leaving 10,000 men in camp, he advanced with the remainder, and made a
determined stand on a spot that may be identified on the hills half a mile
to the north-west of Bridge. Here a desperate and bloody day's fighting
took place, the Britons returning again and again after repeated repulses.
Many of the foremost legionaries who had pursued them into the woods were
surrounded and slain there; many more of the Britons fell in that glorious
fight. One of the Roman tribunes, Quintus Laberius Durus, was killed that
day, and Nennius, one of the foremost British leaders, was slain in the
last onset, when he burst at the head of a chosen few on the Roman
soldiery engaged in the formation of a camp. Both sides claimed the
victory, and, indeed, Cæsar had, so far, little reason to boast, for when
night came he had only advanced three miles beyond the stream upon which
his first camp on Barham Downs had looked, and, even then, he had only
been enabled to hold his own by the aid of reinforcements drawn from his
camp-guard. The next day, however, put a different aspect upon his
campaign. He had probably intended to rest his troops, and sent out a
strong force only in order to perform the necessary foraging; but the
Britons attacked them with such fierceness that another battle was
fought, resulting in a decisive victory for the Romans, who pursued the
vanquished and cut them down for miles. The Britons were now thoroughly
disheartened, and retreated towards London along their track-way, followed
by Cæsar. Desultory fighting occurred on the way, and one ineffectual
stand was made at some unidentified place, conjectured to have been at Key
Coll Hill, near Newington. But, thenceforward, the accounts left by Cæsar
and by early British writers grow confused. Whether the victorious
general, in pursuit of Cassivelaunus, crossed the Thames at London, or
whether "Coway Stakes," near Weybridge, mark the scene, will never be
known. But when he had penetrated into Hertfordshire, and had humbled the
British king to the point of asking for peace, Cæsar found it was time to
return to Gaul. Exacting hostages, he commenced his retreat. Harassed by
flying bands of natives, who cut off stragglers and placed obstacles in
his line of march, he reached Deal in September, sailing thence on the
26th of that month. Thus ended Cæsar's second and last invasion of
Britain. He had been six weeks in the island; had marched a hundred miles
into its dense forests, and had humbled the native princes. But winter was
approaching, and it was dangerous to delay. He returned to the Continent,
a victor, with hostages, prisoners, and promises of tribute; but he left
many of his expedition, dead, behind him. And it is significant of how
hazardous these invasions were, that not until another ninety-six years
had passed did another Roman so much as land on these shores.

[Illustration: BARHAM DOWNS.]

The camp which Cæsar constructed along Barham Downs is still to be seen.
On this wild and worthless tract of land which has never known
cultivation, the marks of the spade will exist for many centuries if left
undisturbed by new-comers. And although many historic gatherings have
taken place here, no entrenchments have been made since the defeat of the
Britons in B.C. 54. King John's army of sixty thousand men encamped here
in 1213, to withstand the French invasion, and Simon de Montfort, somewhat
later, at the head of disaffected Barons; Henrietta Maria held her first
Drawing Room here in a tent, while on her way to be married to Charles the
First at Canterbury; and, centuries afterwards, a great army encamped on
Barham Downs in readiness for Napoleon's projected invasion. But on none
of these occasions were any earthworks thrown up, and the fosses and
ditches that still remain to be explored are of undoubted Roman


Here, amid these long lines of Roman entrenchments, occurs again the
mysterious name of "Coldharbour," a perplexing place-name that is found no
less than 170 times in England, in situations the most diverse and in
districts widely scattered. At least twenty-six of these Coldharbours are
to be found on the ordnance maps of Kent, and six of them on, or closely
adjoining, the Dover Road. Their situation, scattered thus along the old
military _viâ_ of Watling Street, adds greatly to the force of the
argument that this singular name has some connection with Roman times, but
what connection, and what is the real meaning of the name, not all the
acumen and ingenuity of archæologists has ever been able to satisfactorily
explain. The fact of the great majority of Coldharbours lying by the site
of Roman roads or camps has led to the ingenious theory that they first
acquired their name in Saxon times when, the country being wasted with
ruthless and decimating wars, the Roman villas still remaining were
destroyed, and great desolate tracts of country created. Travellers (this
theory goes on to say) could find no other shelter on their journeys save
the ruined walls of the once magnificent palaces that the Romans had left;
and as they crouched, shivering, to leeward of these ruinated and roofless
remains of a decayed civilization, and tried to warm themselves at fires
painfully and laboriously made of leaves and sticks, they called them
"cold harbours." Unhappily for this theory, the places called
"Coldharbour" are by no means always situated in exposed situations, and
no remains of buildings have been discovered on their actual site,
although their neighbourhood is frequently found to be rich in Roman
remains. A suggestion has been made that "cold" is a variant of "cool,"
and that, far from being the miserable refugees of forlorn travellers, the
Coldharbours were really the "Mount Pleasants" and "Belle Vues" of ancient
times, to which our remote forbears resorted for "a breath of air." We
should probably be within our rights in deriding this suggestion as a
theory made to fit a fertile imagination, but it is not safe, in the
presence of such an apparently insoluble problem, to do more than present
a few of the derivations advanced. It would be equally rash to assume that
the stations of the "colubris arbor," the Roman serpent-standard, gave
their name to these places, although the idea is plausible enough.

Many Coldharbours are in exceedingly exposed places, as indeed here, on
Barham Downs,[8] and many more are in quite sheltered situations, in
places where dense woodlands once spread, giving work and shelter to
charcoal-burners. This fact has led to the formulation of another theory,
one which holds that these strangely named places were, prosaically
enough, "coal-harbours," or storage-places for charcoal. It is much to be
desired that some leisured antiquary would devote himself to the
elucidation of the name and the rescuing of the purpose of these
Coldharbours from the mists of a remote and romantic antiquity. The other
Kentish Coldharbours to be found near the Watling Street are at
Bishopsbourne, Bridge, Newington, Northfleet, Sittingbourne, and Woolwich,
and all--so close is the connection between the name and ancient
dwellings--near the site of undoubted Roman stations or villas. Alike with
the equally mysterious name of "Mockbeggar," which also occurs with great
frequency, the meaning of "Coldharbour" will probably never be

Standing here beside the road at evening when the sun is going down and
these bleak unenclosed uplands grow dark and mysterious, the centuries
pass away like a fevered dream. Here and there the solemn expanse of the
barren land is diversified by a few trees; here and there a few yards of
hedge, beginning nowhere in particular and ending with equal strangeness,
skirt the way; weather-beaten sign-posts start suddenly out of the
moorland, and occasional haycocks take on a dead and awful blackness as
the evening light dies out of the sky in long and angry streaks of red.
When the moon rises and casts her cold beams upon the road and plays
strange pranks with the shadows of trees and bushes, then the days of the
Romans are come once more, and the legionaries live again. They rise from
their camp of nineteen hundred years ago; they march along the Watling
Street that was made by their descendants; and the sheen of their armour,
the glitter of the pale moonlight on their eagle standards, and the
tramp of many feet are as real to the imaginative traveller, if not of
a greater reality, than the moaning telegraph that runs on countless poles
in a diminishing procession beside the road as far as eye can reach.



By daylight the traveller can see that the barren chalk of Barham Downs,
although left so long in repose, has been lately cut up into golf links. A
racecourse, little frequented now, also stands on the ridge. Bourne Park
skirts the road for some distance on the right, and the spire of Barham
Church, rising from behind a thick clump of trees in a little valley,
shows where the village of Barham lies secluded, some three hundred yards
down a country lane.


How few the wayfarers who either notice where Barham stands or who visit
it even when they know its situation! And yet that place, together with
its hamlet of Denton, is full of memories of one of the best and most
genial among the humorists of the nineteenth century. There is a great
deal of history, ancient and modern, genealogical and literary, about
Denton and Barham, and the genealogical part of it commences in the reign
of Henry the Second. At that time, the manor, including Denton and a great
number of other hamlets round about, belonged to that Sir Randal, or
Reginald, Fitzurse, who has come down through the ages as one of the
murderers of Becket. Immediately after their crime, the murderers fled,
Fitzurse escaping to Ireland, where he is said to have taken the name of
MacMahon, which, meaning "Bear's son," was an Irish form of his original
patronymic. He died an exile, leaving the Manor of Barham to his brother,
who, so odious had the name of Fitzurse now become, changed it for that of
his estate, and called himself De Bearham. His successors clipped and cut
their name about until it became plain "Barham," and the manor finally
descended to one Thomas Barham, who, in the reign of James the First,
alienated it to the Rev. Charles Fotherby, Archdeacon of Canterbury. Thus
were the Barhams torn from their native soil and rendered landless, for
already they had sold their adjacent manor of Tappington Everard situated
at Denton. Some improvident Barham had done this deed in the reign of
Henry the Eighth, and the property passed through a number of hands until
it was bought from Colonel Thomas Marsh by a wealthy hop-factor of
Canterbury, Thomas Harris. The hop-factor died in 1726, leaving as sole
heir his daughter, married to a Mr. John Barham. In this manner the
Barhams became once more owners of a portion of their ancient heritage,
and from this John Barham was descended that witty Minor Canon of St.
Paul's, Richard Harris Barham, author of the _Ingoldsby Legends_. To one
who knows his _Ingoldsby_ well, and is possessed, moreover, of some
antiquarian fervour, the neighbourhood of Denton and Barham must needs be
of the greatest interest. Fact and fiction are so inextricably mixed up in
those delightful tales of mirth and marvels that it would require all the
knowledge of an expert in local and family history to disentangle them.
The countryside appears in those pages under fictitious names, and the
deeds or misdeeds of local families are decently veiled under many an
_alias_; and yet here and there are real names, and actual facts are
cited, leaving the stranger in a delightful uncertainty what to accept for
truth and what to disbelieve. The manor-house of Tappington, where Barham
spent his youth, would seem to readers of the _Legends_ to be a grand
Elizabethan mansion, approached by a long avenue and guarded by gates
bearing "the saltire of the Ingoldsbys." Indeed, Barham's fertile
imagination led him to picture such a place on the frontispiece of the
_Legends_; but the stranger would seek for it in vain. Instead, he would
find an ancient farmhouse, standing in a meadow skirting the road to
Folkestone, a mile from the place where it branches from the Dover Road.
An ancient farmhouse, its roof bent and bowed with age, and the greater
part of it shrouded in ivy, from which Tudor chimneys peep picturesquely.
In the meadow are traces of walls and an old well which before the greater
part of Tappington Manor-house was destroyed stood in a quadrangle formed
by the great range of buildings. Within the farmhouse there remains much
that is quaint and interesting. The chief feature is a grand oak staircase
of Elizabethan or Jacobean period, with the merchant's mark of that
"Thomas Marsh of Marston," familiar to readers of that fine legend _The
Leech of Folkestone_, carved on the newel. On the whitewashed walls,
crossed here and there by beams of black oak, hang portraits of half-real,
half-legendary Ingoldsbys, and on the staircase landing, outside the
bedroom of the "bad Sir Giles," are still shown bloodstains, relics of an
extraordinary fratricide that was committed here while the war between
Charles and the Parliament was raging.

[Sidenote: TAPPINGTON]

It is quite remarkable that while Barham clothed Tappington with many a
picturesque legend and detail of his own invention, he never alluded to
the genuine tragedy. The secret staircase, the "bad Sir Giles," "Mrs.
Botherby," and many another picturesque but fictitious character or
incident are introduced, and perhaps the visitor may feel somewhat
disappointed at not finding the turrets, the hall, or the moat described
so fully in the _Legends_; but the story of the fratricide is genuine
enough for the most sober and conscientious historian. It seems that when
all England was divided between the partisans of Charles and his
Parliament, Tappington Manor-house was inhabited by two brothers,
descendants of the Thomas Marsh whose mark is on the staircase. They had
taken different sides in the great struggle then going on, and had
quarrelled so bitterly that they never spoke to one another, and actually
lived in different parts of the house; only using this staircase between
them as they retired along it at night to their several apartments. One
night they met on top of the stairs. No one knew what passed between them,
whether black looks or bitter words were used; but as the Cavalier passed,
his Puritan brother drew a dagger and stabbed him in the back. He fell and
died on the spot, and the blood-stains are there to this day.

Opposite Tappington is the modernized Denton Court, with the old chapel of
Denton standing in the Park. Of this you may read in the _Legends_, but
those who seek the brass of the Lady Rohesia, with its inscription--

  "Praie for ye sowle of ye Lady Royse
  And for alle Christen sowles!"

will be disappointed, for it is one of Barham's embellishments upon fact.
"Tappington Moor" is, of course, Barham Downs, and the wild
characteristics of the place are very well described in _The Hand of
Glory_. The nearest approach to the Tappington gates existing in fact are
the entrance gates to Broome Park, standing on the road near the lane
leading to Barham; and the mansion of Broome, an Elizabethan country
house, bears a strong resemblance to the stately seat seen in Barham's


The whole district abounds with legends and folk-lore suitable to this
wild and treeless country, and that so romantic a humorist as Barham
should have sprung from a local family of Kentish squires is only fitting.
The terror of these parts at the end of last century was Black Robin, a
highwayman who frequented the roads and made his headquarters at a little
inn on the by-road between Bishopsbourne and Barham. "Black Robin's
Corner" it is still called, but the negro's head of the sign is a libel
upon that "gentleman of the road." He took his name, not from the colour
of his skin, but from the crape mask and the black clothes he wore, and
from the black mare he rode. Not a pleasant fellow to meet

  On the lone bleak moor at the midnight hour,
  Beneath the gallows tree;

but almost preferable to the spectre horseman who led a foreign traveller
out of his way on these Downs. Night had come on, overtaking a party of
mounted travellers making for Dover, and so dark had it grown that they
soon became separated. However, the hindmost party dimly perceived two
cavaliers in front, and spurred towards them; but when the horses' hoofs
in advance flashed fire and their riders were seen to grow strangely
luminous, these pixie-led travellers thought it time to turn back. It
_was_ time they did so, for already their horses were sinking in a bog,
and as they turned they heard the rest of their party blowing their horns
in quite another direction. Possibly they turned in at the "Halfway House"
that stands away back from the road behind a screen of trees, just past
the eighth milestone; both to take something to enliven their spirits
withal and to tell the landlord of these strange happenings. If they did,
I have no doubt that they saw stranger sights still when they came forth,
when the earth would rise up and smite them in the face, and the swinging
sign of the "Halfway House" would perform a somersault over the
constellations. For they dealt in strange and curious liquors here in the
days of old; spirits that had never paid tribute to the Excise, and were
ever so many degrees over-proof, made the heart of man glad and his legs
to tie themselves into Gordian knots. You cannot get so immediately and
incapably drunk nowadays at the "Halfway House," and 'tis better so, but I
have seen the place drunk dry in the space of an hour by thirsty
Volunteers marching from London to Dover at Eastertide. When they had
gone, it was as hopeless to call for a draught of ale as I imagine it
would have been to ask the hostess for that old-time Kentish delicacy,
the "pudding-pie," that was once to be had for the asking at any inn
during Easter week. The "pudding-pie" has almost entirely vanished from
Kent, but, "once upon a time," not to have tasted one was regarded as
unlucky, and it was the usual thing for ale-house customers to ask for a
"pudding-pie" as a right. "Neow, missus," the Kentish yokel would say,
"let uz tëaste one o' them 'ere puddeners o' yourn," and the "missus"
would hand him a flat circular tart, about the size of a saucer, and
filled with custard sprinkled thinly with currants.

Downs extend all the way from here to Lydden, three miles away, and Lydden
itself lies enfolded in a chalky bottom through which the road runs
steeply. Downs stretch on either side of the tiny village and frown down
upon it, making its insignificance more marked and its little cottages and
little church look like toys. On the left hand, at the distance of half a
mile, goes the railway, past that old village of Sibertswould, which
railway directors in a conspiracy with Kentish rustics have agreed to call
"Shepherdswell," and it continues in a deep, precipitous cutting through
the chalk to Kearsney station, another three miles ahead; and so presently
into Dover. And now the road leads uphill to Ewell, where the springs of
the little river Dour burst forth and gem all the valley hence to Dover
with gracious foliage. The good folk of Ewell have recovered the "Temple"
prefix to the village name. As "Temple Ewell" it was anciently known, for
here once was situated a Preceptory of the Knights Templar.


The Dour, whose name means simply "water," bubbles up in springs at Temple
Ewell, and is fed by a stream which comes down the valley on the right,
from Alkham, two miles or so away, and from Drellingore, a further mile.
That stream is intermittent; being a "nailbourne," or chalk stream;
storing up water in its caverns until, these being filled, either by
exceptional rains, or long accumulation of springs, there comes an
overflow, generally doing more than fill the usually dry bed. The
Drellingore stream will then very often flood the road.


The romantic name comes from the old Norman-French "Drelincourt," the name
of an extinct manorial family once holding land in these parts. The
watercourse is often dry for years, and the filling of it is thus a local
event, long ago made the subject of legends of dread and prophecies of
scarcity. Thus the old saying:

  When Drellingore stream flows to Dover town,
  Wheat shall be forty shillings and barley a pound.

So much a quarter is understood by that.

Well, then, Drellingore stream burst out with exceptional floods in April,
1914, and flowed to Dover town, and flooded the valley at Alkham. Wheat
was then round about 37_s._ 10-1/2_d._ a quarter, and barley was 20_s._

Wheat had been steadily rising from its lowest, at 22_s._ 10_d._ in 1894;
and barley from 21_s._ 11_d._ in 1895. Barley was never so low as 20_s._
What, therefore, is the implication of the ominous legend, in respect of

In less than four months the Great War, 1914-18, broke out, and wheat in
1915 was up to 52_s._ 10_d._, and barley 34_s._ 7_d._ The course of
prices, 1916-1921, was:

         _Wheat._       _Barley._

  1916     58/5           53/6
  1917     75/9           64/9
  1918     72/10          59/0
  1919     72/11          75/9
  1920     80/10         108/11
  1921     85/4           73/7

Prices during the Great War very reasonably agitated the community, but in
the period of the Napoleonic wars wheat rose to its highest recorded
price: 126_s._ 6_d._ in 1812; that is, thirty-one shillings and twopence a
quarter dearer than ever it has been in our own times. Barley, on the
contrary, was very much dearer in 1920 than ever it had been; for the top
price then was 40_s._ 5_d._ above the former highest: 68_s._ 6_d._ in

The road now grows suburban to Dover, and the valley commences to open out
toward the sea. Where the Dour flows, all the vegetation is luxuriant, and
there are lovely ponds decked with water-lilies beside the Crabble
meadows, below the highway to the right and near the prettily named
village of River; but as the hills rise on either hand they grow barren
again and stretch for miles right and left. One green spot amid these
eternal chalky undulations lies off to the right. This is Saint Radigund's
Abbey, sometimes called by two _aliases_, either "Kearsney" or "Bradsole"
Abbey. The first is the legitimate name, the others are given by its
neighbourhood and by the wide (or "broad") pond (or "sole") that stood
beside the ruins. Little is left of the old abbey but a gatehouse and some
beautiful stone-and-flint diapered walls, built into an old farmstead;
but, although so little remains, what there is left deserves a visit from
either architect or artist. Through this valley came King John on that
shameful day when, having previously made an informal submission to
Pandulf the Papal Legate in the Templars' house at Ewell, he proceeded to
formally ratify the gift of himself and his kingdom in the Templars'
Church on Dover Heights.

Where the Dour crosses the road at Buckland the open highway ends.

[Illustration: ST. RADIGUND'S ABBEY.]

[Sidenote: BUCKLAND]

Buckland church was enlarged in 1880, and it was then found necessary to
move the ancient yew, reputed to be over a thousand years old, in the
churchyard. A writer calling himself "Old Humphrey" mentions the tree in
his _Country Strolls_, 1841:--"The tree is hollow, and time and the
elements have writhed it into fantastic shapes. I can see, or fancy I can
see, snakes and dragons in its twisted branches."

It was not without some anxiety that the people of Buckland viewed the
proposed removal by some sixty feet of a tree for which they have much
affection. The weight was estimated at fifty-six tons. The contractor was
to have forfeited a great part of his price if the removal and replanting
caused the tree to die; but the work was done skilfully, and the old yew
seems actually to have become more flourishing for its change.

Henceforward are streets, first suburban, but presently continuous and
crowded, for the two miles that remain. Dover is reached, and the road is


In the London Road approach to Dover, one mile from the centre of the
town, there used to stand an old inn called "The Milestone." A hatter's
shop now occupies the site; but two old milestones are yet there. One says
"70 miles to London: 14 miles to Canterbury," and the other proclaims it
to be "1 mile to Dovor."

This old spelling of "Dover" was common until the opening of the railway
era; and the coach-bills of the great Dover Road coach-proprietors, Horne,
Chaplin, and Gray, spelt the place-name "Dovor," with two "o's," instead
of an "o" and an "e."

[Sidenote: "DEAR" DOVER]

It will be expected of me that I should say something of Dover, and I do
not intend to disappoint so very reasonable an expectation, although the
Dover Road having been traversed, the object of this book is accomplished;
and, therefore, any remarks I may have to offer must be informed, not with
the prolixity of the local history, nor with the stodgy statistics of the
Guide Book, but with conciseness and something of the sympathy which shows
that to which but few Guide Books ever attain--the true inwardness of the
place. It is quite easy to be contemptuous of Dover, from the visitor's
point of view; from other vantage-grounds it is a great deal more easy to
acquire a certain enthusiasm for the old Cinque Port, its streets, its
piers, its Castle, and the more modern fortifications which cross the
Western Heights.

  Thy cliffs, dear Dover! harbour and hotel;
    Thy custom-house, with all its delicate duties;
  Thy waiters running mucks at every bell;
    Thy packets, all whose passengers are booties
  To those who upon land or water dwell;
    And last, not least, to strangers uninstructed,
  Thy long, long bills, whence nothing is deducted.

sang Byron.

Turning, however, to a consideration of the two other objects of Byron's
outburst in _Don Juan_, the hotel and the cliffs, whether Shakespeare's
Cliff or those that form so grand a rampart away towards the North
Foreland, Byron, we find, was justified in his choice of Dovorian features
for due commemoration. For the cliffs, all that is to be said of the white
walls of old Albion has been long ago committed to print, and I do not
propose to attempt the saying of anything new about them. As for the hotel
of which the poet speaks, it was probably the "Ship." The "Ship," alas! is
gone, retired, as many of its landlords were enabled to do, into private
life, and the "long, long bills" by which they earned rather more than a
modest competency are now produced elsewhere. The "Lord Warden," which was
not, unfortunately, built in Byron's time, could probably have afforded
him material for another stanza or two, for that huge and supremely
hideous building was celebrated at one time for the monumental properties
of the bills presented to affrighted guests. Magnificent as were the
charges made by rapacious hosts elsewhere, they all paled their
ineffectual items before the sublime heights attained by the account
rendered to Louis Napoleon when he stayed here.

There are limits even to Princely-Presidential purses and patiences, and
few people cared to incur liabilities at the "Lord Warden," which would
have brought the shadow of the Bankruptcy Court looming upon the horizon.
As for that most doughty of Lord Wardens of the Cinque Ports, from whose
historic office the hotel takes its title--I name here, of course, the one
and only "Duke of Wellington"--_he_ usually resorted to an unpretending
hostelry, the "Royal Oak Commercial Hotel," in Cannon Street, nearly
opposite the old Church of St. Mary's, whenever he was called to the town.

It is not enough to know that Dover is a town of hoary antiquity; that
Cæsar landed here B.C. 55 (or that he did not land here, but at Deal, as
the more scholarly antiquaries inform us). It is not sufficient to be
floored with such heavy slabs of historical information as those by which
we learn that the name of Dover has been arrived at through a long series
of British, Roman, and Saxon forms, originating from the little stream
called anciently the Dour, that flowed, once upon a time, through the
chalk valley of Temple Ewell and Buckland, tinkling cheerfully through the
old town and falling into the waves over the pebbles of Dover beach; now,
alas! pouring a contaminating flood through sewer-pipes far out to sea. I
say, it is not enough to know that the Romans latinized the name to
Dubris, that it was variously Doroberniæ, Dofris, Dovere, and in the
eighteenth century occasionally "Dovor," finally to have the seal set on
these changes by its present name. It is not even sufficient to know
(although it is highly interesting) that Domesday Book opens with Dover,
commencing as it does, "Dovere tempore regis Edwardi." But this last slice
of historical provand is more than usually welcome because it gives us a
foothold whereon to begin the exploration of the old town. When one comes
to reduce the tough and gnarled latinity of Domesday Book to English as we
speak it, we find this first entry to recite that King Edward the
Confessor held a lien on a portion of the town rents, and that Earl Godwin
also partook of what the Radical politics of our own time term "unearned
increment." Edward the Confessor was a mild-mannered man and weak. It is,
for instance, primarily owing to his unfortunate preference for the
foreigner that we owe the Norman invasion and conquest of England; but for
all his mildness, it is extremely unlikely that this saintly invertebrate
would not have resented the talk of "unearned increment" in his day. He
was sufficiently considerate, however, so it would seem, to reduce the
rents in his town of Dover, seeing that, although a thriving place, it had
had the misfortune to be burned. The entry in Domesday Book goes on to say
that here was a Guildhall, and a mill at the entry of the port, much in
the way of shipping; and here, at this mention of the port we find our
most eloquent text.


It seems, then, that when Cæsar came off here, the site upon which almost
half the present town of Dover is built was under water. The peculiar site
of Dover can perhaps most readily be noted by one who climbs the bare
chalk hills that bear on their summits the defences known as the Western
Heights. Keeping to rearward of the Citadel, and walking round the
shoulders of these hills, one sees that a deep and narrow valley runs down
to the sea-beach, contracting almost to the likeness of a narrow gorge
where the old town commences, and widening again where it meets the sea.
Here, where the site broadens, and where steep streets give place to
flatness, rolled the tides up the little estuary of the River Dour when
Cæsar's triremes anchored off the primitive port, and antiquaries point
out the place, near the present Round Tower Street, where, so late as
1509, a tower was raised, to which vessels lying in the harbour were
moored by iron rings. This is almost the only natural feature of Dover
that has changed during nineteen centuries. Walk to the outmost verge of
the Admiralty Pier and look back upon the town, and you will see it lying
in the hollow, with the gaunt and horrid stucco houses of its "front"
hiding the old streets that crouch behind in narrow ways. You will see the
Castle Hill and the Western Heights, twin eminences guarding the land and
the open roadstead of the Downs; and, although the grey Castle crowns one
cliff and the modern fortifications crest the other, yet, for all the ages
during which man has been burrowing galleries here and piling up stonework
and masonry there, if Cæsar could revisit the scene of his ineffectual
descent upon Britain, he would find no difficulty in recognizing it. Only,
the estuary where he beached his vessels is long since silted up and is
buried beneath many feet of the rubble and refuse, the shards and
potsherds that mark the passing of many busy generations. Here, on these
ancient dust-heaps and kitchen-middens stands the chief business street of
Dover, Snargate Street, running parallel with the sea, but now separated
from it by the breadth of the Harbour and many intermediate alleys,
smelling vehemently of tar and stale reminiscences of ocean. Snargate
Street is long and narrow, a model neither of cleanliness nor of
convenience, and it crouches humbly beneath the towering cliffs which rise
on its landward side, cut, carved, and tunnelled; honeycombed with stores,
forts, and galleries, and grimed with the smoke from the clustered
chimneys of the houses below. Other short and frowzy alleys run against
the soiled chalk, and end there with a whimsical abruptness. Elbow room
here is none, and to find it, one ventures upon the Harbour quays, toward
the Docks and the Basins, where little gangways and iron swing-bridges
lead to _culs-de-sac_, or end in sudden and precipitous descents into the
water, causing the unwonted stranger frequently to retrace his steps and
to swear freely. But, if one avoids these cryptic curse-compelling places,
the Harbour is a very interesting place; much more so than the "front,"
where people walk up and down aimlessly, the women dressed to kill, and
glaring at one another as they pass, like strange cats on a roof-top.
Here, instead, is the reality of life, and a variety that is lacking
beyond. In the basins floats generally a strange and fortuitous concourse
of vessels; schooners, yachts, cutters, hoys, smacks, brigantines,
"billy-boys," and steamers of every age, size, and trade, from the neat
passenger-boats, with their decks holystoned to wonderment, to the dirty
ocean-tramp, or the inky, wallowing collier; together with other craft
whose names are unknown to the landsman. Likewise, there are many of the
mercantile marine about. One may not, contrary to general belief, know
these by their dress, for there is no peculiarity in the raiment of the
mercantile Jack--except perhaps for its raggedness, poor fellow--by which
he may be recognized. Rather would one know him by his anxious expression
of countenance and by that inveterate habit of his, ashore, of leaning
heavily against walls and posts, or anything capable of giving support.
You may notice poor Jack's favourite haunts hereabouts by the bare and
burnished appearance of the brick and paint bordering on the Docks, and
situated at a height of about four feet from the ground, where his
shoulders have rubbed immemorially.



Since we are in the way of it, it comes naturally to include Shakespeare
Cliff in this little survey. You reach it from here either by a hideous
contrivance called the Shaft, fashioned in the cliffs that frown down upon
Snargate Street, or by Limekiln Street beyond. Here, on the way, is
Archcliffe Fort, between the Citadel and the sea. They say, who should
know, that it is heavily armed, but it is not at all impressive: old
boots, tin cans, brick-bats, cabbage-stalks, and rusty umbrella-frames
rarely are; and of these there are rich and varied deposits lying in the
fosse, amid the scanty grass where industrious sheep endeavour to earn a
living. Indeed, this is the most eloquent picture of mild-eyed Peace I
have ever seen, and Landseer's painting which shows a sheep snuffling in
the mouth of a dismantled cannon is quite weak beside it.

Looking over the cliff's edge, just beyond, is a view of the beach below,
where the South Eastern Railway runs on a wooden viaduct, entering a
double tunnel through the chalky mass of Shakespeare Cliff, rising sheer
from the sea to a height of three hundred and fifty feet. A narrow
footpath leads to the breezy summit, surmounted by a Coastguard Station,
and here you may gaze, if you have good nerves, over the brink of the
precipice, and listen to the hissing of the pebbles far down below, as the
waves drag them back and forth:

  ... Here's the place: stand still.
  How fearful
  And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!
  The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
  Show scarce so gross as beetles: half-way down
  Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
  Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
  The fishermen that walk upon the beach
  Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
  Diminished to her cock; her cock, a buoy
  Almost too small for sight; the murmuring surge
  That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes,
  Cannot be heard so high; I'll look no more,
  Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
  Topple down headlong.

How eloquent is that passage from _King Lear_!

Just past Shakespeare Cliff come the twin workings of the Channel Tunnel
and the coal-mine, those notorious fiascos which have cost the South
Eastern shareholders so much, and have afforded journalists so large an
amount of good "copy." From the cliff-top, a steep and winding stairway
cut in the chalk leads down to the beach and the Dover coal mine and the
beginnings of the Channel Tunnel. Much money has been sunk in both. Some
day the Tunnel will be completed; but no one expects coal ever to be
commercially mined here.

Turn we, though, from these projects to the Admiralty Pier, that centre of
interest to visitors and Dover folks alike. Some one--I know not whom--has
styled the Admiralty Pier "the pier of the realm," and truly, though you
search these coasts, you shall find nothing to compare with it, as a
pier. Plymouth Breakwater is a great deal more impressive, but then, it is
not a pier, but is set down in midst of a tempestuous Sound, where no one
can get at it without risk and trouble. And the Admiralty Pier owes its
very great fame largely to the ease with which you can reach it and
promenade up and down its almost interminable pavings. Crowds come to see
the boats off or in, and people are always sweeping the seas with
telescopes and field-glasses, finding a perennial joy in so doing,
difficult to be understood. The boats come in, the tidal trains run out
along the huge stone causeway; passengers pallid and cold, muffled up in
overcoats, glancing around with lack-lustre eyes, crawl miserably from the
decks and cabins of the Channel steamers under the amused scrutiny of the
callous crowd, and seat themselves thankfully in the waiting train. Other
steamers wait impatiently, shrieking intermittently; and other trains
bring down intending passengers for the night crossing to France.
Sometimes strange scenes are witnessed on the night mail, when passengers
are streaming from the boat-express across the gangways. Quiet gentlemen
with little luggage and a marked disinclination for the society of their
fellows are discovered, as they lurk in remote corners of the deck,
seeking to sneak quietly out of the "very front door of England," by other
gentlemen--gentlemen with broad shoulders and square-toed boots--who tap
them on the shoulder with an equal absence of fuss or demonstration, and
these quiet gentlemen usually say--not without a certain start of
surprise, you may be sure--"Oh! I'll come quietly." Then the three (for
they are usually two who thus accost one of these undemonstrative and
retiring passengers) step again on to the Admiralty Pier, and apparently
abandon their Continental trip, for they go up to London by the next
train. Sometimes a quiet gentleman refuses to "come quietly" when his
shoulder is tapped, and then those who do the tapping are obliged to
resort to the painful, not to say humiliating, process of snapping a pair
of handcuffs on his wrists, much to the surprise of the passengers. But
whether gentlemen elect to go quietly or to take it fighting is not much
matter: the result is the same. Sometimes these quiet ones came back to
Dover after a while, and were accommodated in free quarters on the Castle
Hill; presently revisiting the harbour as masons under Government employ.
They come here no longer, for the convict prison on the hill is deserted,
and the harbour-works are now carried on with paid labour.

And Britain is proceeding with some energy to rule the waves at Dover, for
the Harbour of Refuge is completed; to the end that the battle-ships, the
merchantmen beating up and down Channel, and the fisher-boats may ride in
some degree of safety, protected from the north-easterly gales that
nowadays strew the Downs and the Goodwin Sands with wrecks. For centuries
this project had been discussed--and shelved in the dusty pigeon-holes of
the Admiralty offices. Raleigh reported in the reign of Elizabeth that "no
promontory, town, or haven in Europe was so well situated for annoying the
enemy, protecting commerce, or sending and receiving despatches from the
Continent;" and works were commenced to replace the pier begun by Henry
the Eighth that had been abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin. But when
Defoe was here the Harbour had fallen back into its old state, half-choked
with shingle cast up by the set of the tides from the westward, and the
piers decayed. "Ill-repaired, dangerous, good for nothing, very chargeable
and little worth," those were the epithets the author of _Robinson Crusoe_
applied to it, and thus it remained until 1847, despite local and
half-hearted attempts to prevent the accumulation of shingle. In that year
the Admiralty Pier was commenced. Meanwhile, the sea, and the tides,
thrust out from Dover Harbour by this mighty arm, are setting in strongly
upon the Castle Cliffs, and that Castle, the survival of six hundred
years of strife and change, is being very slowly but very surely
undermined. And thus it goes round our coasts; turn away the currents that
eat up particular strips of the land or choke up the havens with
sea-drift, and they set with additional fury upon the next unprotected
place, presently to be, at great cost, referred elsewhere. It is a game
that never ends: a game of General Post of which the sea, at least, never



Dover Castle possesses the longest and most continuous, if not quite the
most stirring, military history of any fortress within these narrow seas.
Described picturesquely by ancient chroniclers as "the very front door of
England," or, as "clavis Angliæ et repagulum," it is, and in very truth
has ever been, since its foundation, the main bulwark of Britain against
foreign foes. At what precise period a Castle was first raised here is a
question that has never yet and probably never will be settled. The Romans
built their lighthouse here, with another on the topmost point of the
Western Heights, but the first Castle is not supposed to have been built
before the time of Edward the Confessor, and the first reference to it is
found in that oath which Harold swore to the Duke of Normandy, that he
would yield up to him both the fortress and the well which was contained
in "_castellum Dofris_." Of this building nothing now appears to be left,
and the earliest portion of the present Castle is Henry the Second's Keep.

[Sidenote: DOVER CASTLE]

But whatever the size and strength of the Castle that stood here in
Harold's day, it would seem to have been formidable enough to induce
William the Conqueror to seek a landing elsewhere. He landed at Pevensey,
and it was not until after Hastings and the fall of Romney that he turned
and took Dover from the rear. The Castle was then made the seat of
government for Kent, and one of those fierce fighting Bishops, Odo,
half-brother of the Conqueror, installed. The Kentish people, revolting in
1074, endeavoured in vain to seize it; it was held against Stephen, and
eventually surrendered to him; and here within the gloomy walls of the
Saxon stronghold he died in 1154. No sooner was Henry the Second crowned
than his advisers urged the rebuilding of the Castle, and to this period
belong the Keep and the Inner Ward. Sixty years later the fortifications
of Henry's reign received their first shock of war when, England having
been given by the Pope to Louis, the son of Philip Augustus, King of
France, that Prince endeavoured to take the gift. But hateful though John,
King of England, might be, Englishmen were neither content that their
allegiance should be transferred without reference to themselves, nor
willing to become again the prey of invaders. Therefore, they bade Prince
Louis to take the Pope's present if he could, and held Dover Castle
against his forces. England, divided against itself, had permitted Louis
to land, and even to be crowned in London, but the Constable of Dover
Castle at that time, Hubert de Burgh, was a patriot to be won over neither
by threats nor promises, and he held the Castle against all comers. The
siege was undertaken in earnest. Louis sent over to France for all the
artillery that the time could produce. It consisted of battering-rams and
stone-throwing machines, and in this way it was sought to breach the
walls. A wooden shelter for the attacking force was constructed and built
up to the outer walls of the inland face of the Castle, and under cover of
this device the soldiers worked the battering-rams until the defences
shook again. The garrison retorted by flinging heavy stones and fire-balls
on the shelter, and would either have demolished or burnt it had it not
been for an ingenious invention which the French had imported. This
consisted of a series of tall wooden towers called _malvoisins_, and
ill-neighbours, indeed, they were, for they were established on the edge
of the Castle ditch, where, overlooking the outer ward, and being filled
with archers whose practice soon slackened the defenders' fire, they would
soon have brought the siege to a close, had not the death of the English
King removed internal quarrels and aroused a united spirit of patriotism
throughout England which boded ill for the prospects of the French prince.
The invaders retired from London and the southern counties which they had
held, not so much by force of arms as by favour of disaffected Englishmen;
they gave up the siege of Dover Castle, and presently re-embarked for

The struggles between a despotic King and a rapacious nobility which had
caused these troubles in the reign of John were soon resumed, and Dover
Castle became alternately the hold of one party or the other. The most
notable incident in these events was that of 1265, when the Barons held
the Castle and had fourteen knights of the King's party imprisoned in the
Keep. Prince Edward attacked the Castle from without, and the prisoners,
bursting out from their cells and rushing upon their gaolers from within,
forced the garrison to surrender.

It was in the time of Edward the First that Dover Castle reached its full
development. That was the grand era of castle-building in England, when
military engineering was practised without reference to ordnance, and had
attained to a remarkable ingenuity. Like all Edwardian Castles, that of
Dover is concentric and has three wards, enclosed within high curtain
walls strengthened with a great number of defensible towers. The outer
ward had no less than twenty-seven of these towers, among which the
Constable's Tower and gateway is first for size and beauty.

It is a long, steep, and dusty climb to Dover Castle from the town.
Halfway up, the visitor of forty years ago would be attracted by the
tinkling of a small bell, and, looking round, his gaze would fall upon
haggard creatures, gaunt and unkempt, who crouched behind iron bars and
piteously adjured him to "remember the poor debtors." Poor devils!
condemned by the brutality of obsolescent laws to moulder in captivity in
expiation for pitiful debts. But brutal though we were until comparatively
recent years, we must not believe Victor Hugo when he says that in 1820
the grim picturesqueness of the Castle Hill was enhanced by the spectacle
of three malefactors' bodies, tarred and obscene, which swung in the winds
of Heaven. That picturesque detail is more romantic than truthful; but the
man who, like Victor Hugo, could write seriously in another place of the
Firth of Forth as "_la première de la quatrième_" is not to be taken for
either geographer or historian.

All these evidences of a brutal age are gone, and Dover Castle is
remarkable nowadays chiefly for the extraordinary way in which old and new
are grafted one upon another. Side by side with the Norman Keep are modern
magazines and military storehouses, while the curtain walls of the wards
give support to repositories of Royal Artillery shot and shell. Even the
roof of the Keep is put to practical purpose by the War Department, for it
has been vaulted and strengthened to carry a battery of heavy cannon. The
Keep is of three floors; on the third floor are the State apartments in
which Charles the First welcomed his Queen, and where, seventeen years
later, he bade her a sad adieu. They are gloomy rooms, heavy with
suspicion of danger, conspiracy, and intrigue, and are approached by a
staircase flanked with secret guard-rooms; the walls pierced with
arrow-slits, scarcely to be distinguished in the darkness of the place,
even when you are bidden to look for them.

It is strange to read in the struggles between Charles and the Parliament
with what laxity fortresses were often held for either side. Dover Castle
is a case in point. It was held for the King by a small force whose
discipline and courage were so to seek that it needed but the daring of a
Dover merchant and a few followers to capture it. With this exploit ends
the story of the warlike doings here, and all that is left to tell relates
only to Marlborough's French prisoners, who were for years cooped up
within these walls pining and eating away their hearts for very love and
despair of ever reaching _la belle France_, whose outlines they could
dimly see from the narrow embrasures of their foreign prison.

For from Dover Keep the Eye of Faith may discern the coast of France,
twenty-one miles across the Silver Streak; but there be those to whom, if
visible at all, that coast seems like nothing so much as filmy clouds
resting upon the water, and there are but few days when the sun and the
absence of sea-mists enable the Englishman's straining eyes clearly to
discern that land.

The famous well of Dover Castle still exists, enclosed in the massive
walls, and still nearly three hundred feet deep, despite the rubbish and
unmentionable abominations cast into it by the prisoners, who chiefly
occupied the second floor in which are the Norman Chapel and two large
rooms, their walls still bearing traces of the prisoners' handiwork in the
shape of inscriptions. Here is the Armoury, with matchlocks, Brown Besses,
muskets, and rifles; obsolete and in use. Here, too, are the pikes issued
to the peasantry when all England armed to resist Napoleon's threatened
invasion. Down below (you can see it from those embrasures) is "Queen
Elizabeth's Pocket Pistol," familiar, even to those who have never seen
it, by the popular rhyme--

  Load me well and keep me clean,
  And I'll carry a ball to Calais Green;

and all around are batteries old and new.

The sentry on Dover Keep at night, when all the world is still, has
leisure for contemplation. When the moon rises in solemn majesty on summer
nights and makes a lane of silvery glory across the Channel; when the
winking light from Cape Grisnez shows where the French coast lies, and the
glow from the lighthouse on the Admiralty Pier marks the harbour at his
feet; when Dover lamps burn yellow beside the moonrays, and the high-road
to London lies stark and white in the valley of the Dour, then may the
sentry on his eyrie hear, between the ghostly tapping of the halyards on
the flagstaff, the tramp of the ages. Forty centuries looked down upon the
French in Egypt; the sentry on Dover Castle looks upon nineteen hundred
years of invasion and foreign expeditions. There, where Dover streets now
stand, rode Cæsar's galleys and there our ancestors bled for their
country. Down that white highway, so still at this midnight hour, have
marched many generations of archers, men-at-arms, and soldiers of a more
recent era, to return, covered with wounds and glory; and across that
shining sea have sailed fleets innumerable. For a distance of four hundred
feet below him run a series of fortified galleries and platforms, built in
the Castle Keep or excavated through the solid chalk down to sea-level;
while level with him, rise the Western Heights, rich in heavy ordnance,
across the town. Here, then, is the end of the Dover Road, looking out
across the sea; and he must needs be dull of brain who does not perceive
the epic fitness of its ending.



  Alkham, 238

  Bapchild, 144, 162

  Barham, 233

  Barham Downs, 1, 96, 218, 222-233, 236

  Barham Family, 233-235

  Barham, Rev. Richard Harris, 80, 234

  Becket, Thomas à, 13, 18, 19, 95, 134, 151, 186, 194, 197, 207-213, 216,

  Bell Grove, 44

  Bexley, 45

  Bexley Heath, 44, 45-47

  Blackheath, 18, 24-35

  Black Prince, The, 185, 204-207

  Black Robin's Corner, 236

  Borough, The, 7-18

  Bossenden Woods, 179-182

  Boughton-under-Blean, 172, 173, 179, 181

  Bridge, 217

  Broome Park, 236

  Buckland, 241

  Cade, Jack, 6, 31

  Cæsar, Julius, 1, 96, 145, 148, 218-226, 244-246

  Canterbury, 3, 74, 97, 174, 183, 187-216, 228

  Canterbury Pilgrims, 11-18, 172, 183-186, 194-197, 207-213, 216

  Caroline, Princess of Wales and Queen, 25, 56

  Chalk, 66, 81-86

  Charles II, 33, 68, 70, 89, 90, 121

  Charlton, 34, 35

  Chatham, 126-140, 200

  Chaucer, Geoffrey, 11, 172, 183, 184

  "Church Ales", 82

  Clavell, John, 87

  Cleves, Anne of, 117-119

    "Blue-eyed Maid", 8
    "Defiance", 3
    "Eagle", 3
    "Express", 3, 4
    "Foreign Mail", 3
    "Phoenix", 3
    "Royal Mail", 3
    "Tally-ho", 3, 216
    "Telegraph", 3
    "Union", 3
    "Worthington's Safety", 3

  Coaching, 3-5, 23, 39, 45, 58, 92, 216

  Coal and Wine Dues, 50

  Cobham Park, 61, 97

  "Coldharbours", 228-230

  Colet, Dean, 185, 209-212

  Courtenay's Rebellion, 175-183

  Crayford, 47-49

  Crook Long, 45

  Cycling Records, 201

  "Danes" Holes, 46

  Dartford, 49-60, 97, 118, 200

  Denton, near Canterbury, 233-236

  Denton by Gravesend, 79-81

  Deptford, 23

  Dickens, Charles, 81, 87, 90-93, 102-104, 106, 126, 141

  _Don Juan_, 37-39, 213, 243

  Dover, 220, 242-257

  Drellingore Stream, 239

  Dunkirk, 181-183

  Elizabeth, Queen, 6, 23, 26, 119

  Erasmus, Disiderius, 185, 209-212

  Falstaff, Sir John, 87, 93

  Faversham, 146, 166, 170-172

  Gad's Hill, 86-95

  Gravesend, 4, 18, 60, 62, 66-70, 86, 91

  Greenhithe, 60, 62, 89

  Greenstreet, 163

  Greenwich Park, 25

  Gundulf, Bishop, 54

  Gutteridge Gate, 216

  Harbledown, 173, 183-186, 194

  Hengist and Horsa, 48

  Henry V, 30, 154

  Henry VIII, 117-119, 151, 195-197

  Hermits, 55, 151-153, 161, 163, 171

  Hernhill, 168, 181

  Highwaymen, 25, 36-40, 71, 87-90, 217

  Hops, 163

  Horn's Cross, 62

  Huggens' College, 66

  _Ingoldsby Legends_, The 80, 134, 234-236

  "Ingoldsby Abbey", 80

  Inns (mentioned at length):--
    "Blue-eyed Maid," Southwark, 8
    "Bull," Dartford, 55, 107
    "Bull," Rochester, 107
    "Bull," Shooter's Hill, 36
    "Crispin and Crispianus," Strood, 101, 171
    "Crown," Rochester, 119
    "Falstaff," Canterbury, 187
    "Falstaff," Gad's Hill, 90, 94
    "George," Sittingbourne, 155
    "George," Southwark, 7, 8
    "Golden Cross," New Cross, 22
    "Gun," Sittingbourne, 156
    "Half Moon," Southwark, 8
    "Key," Key Street, 148
    "Lion," Sittingbourne, 155, 160
    "Lord Nelson," Chalk, 86
    "Red Lion," Canterbury, 189-192
    "Red Lion," Dunkirk, 181, 182
    "Red Lion," Sittingbourne, 154
    "Rose," Canterbury, 174, 189
    "Rose," Sittingbourne, 155
    "Spur," Southwark, 8
    "Tabard," Southwark, 8, 12, 13, 18
    "White Hart," Sittingbourne, 156, 157

  James II, 70, 121, 170

  "Jezreel, James Jershom", 137-140

  John's Hole, 62

  Kearsney, 2, 38, 240

  Kent Street, 9

  Key Street, 97, 148

  Kidbrook, 34, 35

  London Bridge, 2, 5-7, 12, 19, 30, 44, 200

  Lydden, 238

  Marlowe, Christopher, 23

  "Milestones on the Dover Road", 19

  Milton-next-Gravesend, 77-79

  Milton-next-Sittingbourne, 146, 153, 159

  "Mockbeggars", 230

  Moor Street, 141

  Murston, 153, 161

  Nevison, John, 90

  New Cross, 21, 23, 200

  Newington, 142-149, 226

  Northfleet, 61, 62-64, 66, 97

  "Old England's Hole", 223

  Old Kent Road, 5, 19-22, 200

  Old-Time Travellers, in general, 11-18, 22, 56, 70-77, 87-90, 115-122,
      183-186, 190-201

  Old-Time Travellers:--
    Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Consort, 199-201
    Bassompierre, Marshal de, 70
    Cossuma Albertus, Prince, 89
    Dalkeith, Countess of, 198
    Grosley, M., 73-77
    Henrietta Maria, Princess, 198
    Moritz, Pastor, 56
    Nivernais, Duc de, 104, 190-194
    Peel, Sir Robert, 199
    Rochefort, M. Jouvin de, 71
    Sorbière, M. Samuel de, 72
    Zinzerling, Herr Justus, 154

  Ospringe, 97, 145, 149, 161, 165

  Pepys, Samuel, 36, 121

  Pilgrims, 11-18, 161, 172, 183-186, 207-213

  Preston, 166

  Radfield, 163

  Rainham, 140-142

  River, 240

  Rochester, 95, 97, 102-125, 200

  Rochester Castle, 54, 106, 114

  Rochester Cathedral, 54, 105, 108-113

  Romans, The, 27, 47, 60, 76, 95-99, 144-148, 199, 218-233, 244

  Rosherville Gardens, 64

  St. Radigund's Abbey, 240

  St. Thomas à Watering, 18

  St. William of Perth, 111

  Schamel, Hermitage of, 151-153

  Shooter's Hill, 35-40

  Shoulder of Mutton Green, 44

  Sittingbourne, 97, 144, 150-161

  Southwark, 7-18

  Spielman, Sir John, 51-53

  Springhead, 61, 65

  Stone, 62

  Strood, 60, 61, 94, 97, 100-102

  Swanscombe, 60

  Tappington, Everard, 236

  Telegraph Hill, 11

  Telegraph Tower, Southwark, 9-11

  Temple Ewell, 238, 240

  Teynham, 163

  Thom, John Nichols (calling himself "Sir William Percy Honeywood
      Courtenay"), 174-183

  Tong, 163

  Tramps, 41-44

  Turnpike Gates, 62, 216

  Turpin, Dick, 90

  Tyler, Wat, 27-30, 57

  Watercress, 65

  Watling Street, 34, 47, 60, 95-99, 144-148, 214, 223

  Watts, Richard, 119

  Welling, 44

  White Hill, 49

  Wolsey, Cardinal, 31, 195


[1] The real names of these two brothers are unknown. They took the names
by which they are known in history from the banners under which their men
fought; banners which bore the cognizance of a white horse: Hengist and
Horsa being merely the Jutish-Saxon words for "horse" and "mare." The
Danish, indeed, still use the word "hors" for mare, and a survival of the
old badge of these fierce pagans is still to be met with in the familiar
white horse of Brunswick-Hanover. The prancing steed that remains to this
day the Kentish device, with its dauntless motto "Invicta," is also a
survival from the days when Hengist and Horsa founded the first Saxon
kingdom in Britain.

[2] He meant Harbledown, Boughton, and Ospringe: Green-street,
Sittingbourne, Newington, and Rainham.

[3] "Gad's," _i.e._ "rogues," Hill.

[4] One of the many originals of "Samivel's father" put forward. One was
supposed to have been at Bath, another at Dorking; and others still have
claims to have originated this humorous character.

[5] Collectors for "Hospital Saturday" funds come within the meaning of
this unrepealed Act.

[6] He was here also in 1661, giving a very amusing account of how he was
entertained, and how he kissed and sang and danced: it is too long,
though, for quotation here. But look it up.

[7] Mr. Gladstone has said, most notoriously, that to be "hemmed in" is
not to be "surrounded." But that was part of the political game of bluff,
and may not be regarded as a contribution to philology.

[8] An excellent story is told of the cold that rages up here in the
winter. It belongs to coaching times, and was told by a coachman who had a
new guard with him one frosty night, when the temperature was going down
to 15°; a cockney guard who was unused to exposure, and who, moreover, had
not the experience which led the Jehu to wrap himself up in layers of
flannel, a many-caped coat, and three or four waistcoats. "Ain't it cold?"
asked the guard several times, climbing over the coach roof with numbed
hands and blue nose. "Cold!" returned the coachman, "not at all." "That's
all very well," says the guard, "but your eyes are watering like
hanythink." "Oh! are they?" rejoins the coachman, "I suppose that's the

[9] There are "Mockbeggars" in Kent, as in most other counties. There is
one near Rochester. Some old buildings pulled down in 1771 at
Brighthelmstone were called Mockbeggars. Local opinion held the belief
that there had been a Mendicant Priory, but this was not generally
credited. The name seems to have been generally applied to objects wearing
at some distance the appearance of an hospitable mansion, to which
travellers would be drawn out of their road only to meet with a
disappointment in finding an empty house, or no house at all. Two such
places, so called, are to be instanced: one is an isolated rock at
Bakewell in Derbyshire, presenting from the road the semblance of a house,
to which it is said beggars and tramps wend their way, only to be mocked
by a freak of nature: seeking for bread they find, literally, a stone. The
other is an old Tudor mansion, called Mockbeggar Hall, at Claydon in
Suffolk, standing in a conspicuous situation, near the road leading from
Ipswich to Scole; a place to which mendicants would naturally be
attracted, in expectation of finding inhabitants there, but which has,
according to tradition, remained so long unoccupied as to have earned its
name a hundred years, or more, ago.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The notation [symbol] is used to represent various geometric shapes.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "conjuction" corrected to "conjunction" (page 24)
  "ong" corrected to "long" (page 77)
  "ot" corrected to "to" (page 78)
  "botton" corrected to "bottom" (page 238)
  "Admiraly" corrected to "Admiralty" (page 249)
  "Rebell on" corrected to "Rebellion" (index)

Other than the corrections listed above, inconsistencies in spelling and
hyphenation have been retained from the original.

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