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Title: Highways and Byways in Cambridge and Ely
Author: Conybeare, Edward
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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[Illustration: _Ely Cathedral. Western Tower._]











The Highways of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely are usually
regarded as unattractive compared with those of England in general.
Nor is this criticism wholly unfair. The county does lack the features
which most make for picturesque rural scenery. There are no high
hills, little even of undulation, and, what is yet more fatal, a sad
sparsity of timber. The Highways, then, seem to the traveller merely
stretches of ground to be got over as speedily as may be, and he
rejoices that their flatness lends itself so well to this end.

It is however far otherwise with the Byways. These abound with
picturesque nooks and corners. In every village charming features are
to be found,--thatched and timbered cottages, hedgerow elms, bright
willow-shaded watercourses, old-time village greens, and, above all,
old-time village churches, often noble, and never without artistic and
historical interest of high order. Few counties better repay
exploration than Cambridgeshire.

And if the Highways are devoid of attraction during their course
through the country districts, they make up for it by the supreme
beauty and interest of their passage through the towns. Cambridge
itself is, as all know, amongst the loveliest and most interesting
places in existence, with its world-famed colleges and its
epoch-making history. And Ely stands in the very first rank amongst
the glorious cathedrals of England.

To introduce my readers, then, to the unique interest of these two
places, with special regard to the points mostly passed over in
guide-books, has been my chief purpose in the following pages. And to
those who may think that a disproportionate amount of my space has
been allotted to these, I would apologise by reminding them that the
vast majority of travellers perforce confine their visits to such
special centres, and have no time for exploring country lanes. But
those who can make the time will find it (as this book, I hope, will
show them) time well spent, and their exploration no small treat.

I need scarcely add that on such well-worn themes originality is
hardly possible, and that I have made use both of my own earlier
writings on the subject, and of those of others, my debt to whom I
gratefully acknowledge. Most especially am I bound to do so with
regard to Messrs. Atkinson and Clark, whose monumental work "Cambridge
Described" is a veritable mine of information, and to Professor and
Mrs. Hughes for the help which I have found in their "County Geography
of Cambridgeshire."

                                                     EDWARD CONYBEARE.


  CHAPTER I                                                       PAGE

  Cambridge Greenery. -- The Backs. -- The Lawns. -- Logan's Views. --
  Old Common Fields. -- Old Cambridge. -- Origin of Cambridge. -- The
  Castle. -- Camboritum. -- Granta-ceaster. -- Danes in Cambridge. --
  Cambridgeshire formed. -- Battle of Ringmere. -- Norman Conquest. --
  The Jewry. -- Religious Houses. -- Rise of University. -- Town and
  Gown. -- Proctors. -- The Colleges. -- Examinations. -- College
  Life. -- Cambridge and Oxford                                      1


  Entrance to Cambridge. -- Railways. -- Roman Catholic Church. --
  Street runlets, Hobson, Perne. -- Fitzwilliam Museum. --
  =Peterhouse=, Chapel, Deer-park. -- Little St. Mary's Church,
  Washington Arms. -- Gray's window. -- =Pembroke College=, Large and
  Small Colleges, "Querela Cantabrigiensis," Ridley's Farewell. -- St.
  Botolph's Church. -- The King's Ditch. -- =Corpus Christi College=,
  Cambridge Guilds, St. Benet's Church, Firehooks, Corpus Library,
  Corpus Ghost. -- =St. Catherine's College.= -- King's Parade. --
  Pitt Press. -- Newnham Bridge, Hermits. -- The Backs River, College
  Bridges, Hithes                                                   20


  =Queens' College=, Erasmus, Cloisters, Carmelites, Chapel. -- Old
  Mill Street. -- =King's College=, Henry VI, King's and Eton, Henry's
  "Will." -- King's College Chapel, Wordsworth, Milton, Windows, Rosa
  Solis, Screens, Stalls, Vaulting, Side-Chapels, View from Roof    47


  Spiked gates. -- Old Kings. -- =University Library=, Origin, Growth,
  Codex Bezæ. -- =Trinity Hall=, Colours, Library. -- =Clare College=,
  "Poison Cup," Court, Bridge, Avenue. -- The Backs, Sirdar Bonfire,
  College Gardens. -- =Trinity College=, Michaelhouse, King's Hall,
  Henry VIII, Boat-clubs, Avenue, College Livings, Bridge, Library,
  Byron, Nevile's Court, Cloisters, Echo, "Freshman's Pillar," Prince
  Edward, Royal Ball, Goodhart, Buttery, College Plate, Grace-cup,
  Kitchen, Hall, Combination Room, Marquis of Granby, Tutors, Old
  Court, Fountain, Gate Towers, Clock, Lodge, Chapel, Newton, Organ,
  Bentley, Windows, Macaulay                                        78


  Whewell's Courts. -- All Saints' Cross. -- The Jewry. -- Divinity
  School. -- =St. John's College=, Trinity and John's, Lady Margaret,
  Fisher, Hospital of St. John, Gate Tower, First Court, Hall,
  Wordsworth, Compulsory Worship, Combination Room, Second Court,
  Library, Great Bible, Third Court, Bridge of Sighs, New Court,
  Roof-climbing, Blazers, Wilderness. -- =Caius College=, Gonville,
  The Three Gates, Kitchen, "Blues." -- =Senate House=, Congregations,
  Vice-Chancellor, Voting, Degree-giving. -- =University Church=, Mr.
  Tripos, Golgotha, Sermons, Tower, Chimes, Jowett. -- Market Hill,
  Peasant Revolt, Wat Tyler, Bucer and Fagius, Bonfires, Town and
  Gown                                                             103


  Round Church. -- Union Society. -- The "Great Bridge," Hithe. --
  =Magdalene College=, Buckingham College, Pepys, Charles Kingsley,
  the "College Window," Master's Garden. -- Castle Hill, Camboritum,
  Cromwell's Rampart, Repulse of Charles I, the "Borough," View from
  Castle. -- St. Peter's Church. -- "School of Pythagoras." --
  Westminster College. -- Ridley Hall. -- =Newnham College.= --
  =Selwyn College.= -- Convent of St. Radegund, Bishop Alcock. --
  Midsummer Common. -- Boat Houses, Bumping Races. -- =Jesus College=,
  "Chimney," Cloisters, Chapter House, Chapel, Cranmer, Coleridge  132


  =Sidney College=, Oliver Cromwell, Fellow Commoners. -- Holy
  Trinity, Simeon, Henry Martyn. -- =Christ's College=, "God's House,"
  Lady Margaret, Flogging of Students, Bathing forbidden, Milton,
  Lycidas, Gardens, Paley, Darwin. -- Great St. Andrew's, Bishop
  Perry. -- =Emmanuel College=, Harvard, Sancroft, Chapel, Ponds. --
  University Museums. -- =Downing College=, Miss Edgeworth. -- Coe
  Fen. -- First Mile Stone. -- Barnwell, Priory, Abbey Church. --
  Lepers' Chapel, Stourbridge Fair, Vanity Fair                    151


  Roads from Cambridge. -- Cambs and Isle of Ely, Girvii, East Angles,
  Mercians, Formation of County. -- Newmarket Road. -- Quy. -- Fleam
  Dyke. -- Devil's Dyke. -- Icknield Way. -- Iceni, Ostorius,
  Boadicea. -- Newmarket Heath, First Racing. -- Exning, Anna. --
  Snailwell. -- Fordham. -- Soham, St. Felix. -- Stuntney. -- Wicken.
  -- Chippenham. -- Isleham, Lectern. -- Eastern Heights. -- Chevely,
  Cambridge Corporation. -- Kirtling. -- Wood Ditton. -- Stetchworth.
  -- Borough Green. -- Bottisham. -- Swaffham Bulbeck. -- The Lodes.
  -- Swaffham Prior. -- Reach, Peat, Submerged Forest. -- Burwell,
  Church, Clunch, Brass, Castle, Geoffry de Magnaville             168


  Hills Road. -- Gog Magogs. -- Vandlebury. -- Babraham, Peter Pence.
  -- Old Railway. -- Hildersham, Brasses, Clapper Stile. -- Linton. --
  Horseheath. -- Bartlow, St. Christopher, Battle of Assandun. --
  Cherry Hinton, War Ditches, Saffron. -- Teversham. -- Fulbourn,
  Brasses. -- Wilbraham. -- Fleam Dyke, Wild Flowers, Butterflies,
  Ostorius, Last Cambs Battle. -- Balsham, Battle of Ringmere,
  Massacre, Church Brasses, Grooved Stones                         201


  London Road. -- Trumpington, Church, Brass, Chaucer's Mill, Byron's
  Pool, Upper River. -- Grantchester, Church. -- Cam and Granta. --
  The Shelfords. -- Sawston, Old-world Industries, Hall, Hiding-Hole,
  "Little John." -- Whittlesford, Old Hospital. -- Duxford. -- Triplow
  Heath, Civil War. -- Fowlmere, Hinxton, Sacring Bell. -- Ickleton,
  Monolith Pillars. -- Chesterford. -- Icknield Way. -- Saffron
  Walden                                                           219


  London Road. -- Hauxton Bridge, Indulgences, Church, Becket Fresco.
  -- Burnt Mill. -- Haslingfield. -- White Hill, View, Clunch Pits,
  Chapel, Papal Bulla. -- Barrington, Green, Church, Porch Seats,
  Chest, Fountains, Finds, Coprolite Digging, Hall. -- Foxton. --
  Shepreth. -- Meldreth, Parish Stocks. -- Melbourn, Shipmoney. --
  Royston, Origin, Cave, Heath. -- Bassingbourn, Old Accounts,
  Villenage. -- Black Death. -- Ashwell, Source of Cam, Church,
  Graffiti. -- Akeman Street. -- Barton Butts. -- Comberton Maze. --
  Harlton Church, Old Pit. -- Orwell Maypole, Church, Epitaph. --
  Wimpole Hall, Queen Victoria. -- Arrington. -- Shingay,
  Hospitallers, Fairy Cart. -- Wendy. -- Artesian Wells. -- Guilden
  Morden, Screen, St. Edmund, Confessionals                        235


  Oxford Road, Observatory, Neptune, Cambridge Discoveries. -- Coton.
  -- Madingley. -- Hardwick. -- Toft, St. Hubert. -- Childerley,
  Charles I. -- Knapwell. -- Bourn. -- Caxton. -- Eltisley, St.
  Pandiania, Storm. -- St. Neot's, Neotus and Alfred. -- Paxton Hill.
  -- Godmanchester, Port Meadow. -- Huntingdon, Cromwell's Penance. --
  The Hemingfords. -- St. Ives. -- Holywell. -- Overcote. -- Earith,
  the Bedford Rivers, "Parallax"                                   265


  Island of Ely. -- Haddenham. -- Aldreth, Conqueror's Causeway,
  Belsars Hill. -- Wilburton. -- Sutton. -- Wentworth. -- Via Devana.
  -- Girton, College. -- Oakington, Holdsworth. -- Elsworth. --
  Conington, Ancient Bells. -- Long Stanton, Queen Elizabeth. --
  Willingham, Stone Chamber. -- Over, Gurgoyles. -- Swavesey, Finials.
  -- Ely Road. -- Chesterton. -- Fen Ditton. -- Milton, Altar Rails.
  -- Horningsea. -- Bait's Bite, Start of Race. -- Clayhithe. --
  Waterbeach. -- Car Dyke. -- Denny. -- Stretham. -- Upware. -- Wicken
  Fen.                                                             282


  Ely. -- Island and Isle. -- St. Augustine. -- St. Etheldreda, Life,
  Death, Burial, St. Audrey's Fair. -- Danish Sack of Ely. -- Alfred's
  College. -- Abbey Restored. -- Brithnoth, Song of Maldon. -- Battle
  of Assundun. -- Canute at Ely. -- Edward the Confessor. -- Alfred
  the Etheling. -- Camp of Refuge, Hereward, Norman Conquest, Tabula
  Eliensis, Nomenclature, Norman Minster. -- Bishops of Ely, Rule over
  Isle. -- Ely Place, Ely House                                    303


  Bishop Northwold. -- Presbytery Dedicated. -- Barons at Ely. -- Fall
  of Tower, Alan of Walsingham, Octagon. -- Queen Philippa. -- Lady
  Chapel, John of Wisbech, Bishop Goodrich. -- Bishop Alcock. --
  Bishop West. -- Styles of Architecture. -- Monastic Industries. --
  Mediæval Account Books. -- Clothing and Food of Monks. --
  Benedictine Rule. -- Dissolution of Abbey. -- Bishop Thirlby. --
  Bishop Wren. -- Bishop Gunning. -- Bishop Turner                 324


  Approach to Ely. -- The Park. -- Walpole Gate. -- Crauden Chapel. --
  Western Tower, Galilee. -- Nave. -- Baptistery. -- Roof. -- Prior's
  Door. -- Cloisters. -- Owen's Cross. -- Octagon. -- Alan's Grave. --
  Transepts. -- St. Edmund's Chapel. -- Choir Stalls. -- Presbytery.
  -- Norman Piers. -- Reredos. -- Candlesticks                     344


  Monuments. -- West's Chapel. -- Alcock's Chapel. -- Northwold
  Cenotaph. -- Bassevi. -- Shrine of Etheldreda. -- Lady Chapel. --
  View from Tower. -- Triforium. -- Exterior of Minster. -- Palace,
  "Duties" of Goodrich. -- St. Mary's. -- St. Cross. -- Cromwell's
  House. -- Cromwell at Ely. -- St. John's Farm. -- Theological
  College. -- Waterworks. -- Basket-making                         366


  Boundary of Fens. -- Roman Works, Car Dyke, Sea Wall, Causeway. --
  Archipelago. -- Littleport, Agrarian Riots. -- Denver Sluice. --
  Roslyn Pit. -- Fenland Abbeys, Chatteris, Ramsey, Peterborough,
  Thorney, Crowland                                                386


  Draining of Fens -- Monastic Works, Morton's Learn. -- Diversion of
  Ouse. -- Local Government, Jurats, Discontent. -- Jacobean polemics.
  -- First Drainage Company. -- Rising of Fen-men. -- Second Company,
  Huguenot Labourers. -- Third Company, Earl of Bedford, Vermuyden. --
  Old River. -- Cromwell. -- Fourth Company, Prisoner Slaves, New
  River, Denver Sluice. -- Later Developments                      398


  Coveney. -- Manea. -- Doddington. -- March, Angel Roof. --
  Whittlesea. -- Old Course of Ouse, Well Stream. -- Upwell, Outwell.
  -- Emneth. -- Elm. -- The Marshland -- West Walton. -- Walsoken. --
  Walpole. -- Cross Keys. -- Leverington. -- Tydd. -- Wisbech, Church,
  Trade, Castle, Catholic Prisoners, Clarkson. -- The Wash. -- King
  John.                                                            409



  ELY CATHEDRAL, WESTERN TOWER                          _Frontispiece_

  MAP OF CAMBRIDGE                                     _Facing_      1


  PETERHOUSE WALL, COE FEN                                           5

  THE BACKS, CLARE COLLEGE GATE                                      9

  ST. MICHAEL'S AND ALL ANGELS                                      13

  ORIEL IN LIBRARY, ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE                              18

  PETERHOUSE                                                        24

  ST. MARY THE LESS, SOUTH SIDE                                     27

  PETERHOUSE FROM ST. MARY'S CHURCHYARD                             29

  ST. BOTOLPH'S CHURCH                                              33

  ST. BENET'S CHURCH, INTERIOR                                      37

  CLARE BRIDGE                                                      42

  ST. JOHN'S BRIDGE                                                 45

  THE PRESIDENT'S GALLERY, QUEENS' COLLEGE                          49

  ORIEL IN QUEENS' COLLEGE                                          51

  QUEENS' COLLEGE GATEWAY                                           53

  CLARE COLLEGE FROM KING'S                                         57

  KING'S COLLEGE CHAPEL                                             61

  OLD GATE OF KING'S COLLEGE                                        81

  OLD SCHOOLS' QUADRANGLE                                           87

  CLARE COLLEGE FROM BRIDGE                                         93

  TRINITY BRIDGE                                                    99

  THE FOUNTAIN, TRINITY COLLEGE                                    103


  HALL, ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE                                         115

  ORIEL IN SECOND COURT OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE                      117

  THE GATE OF HONOUR, CAIUS COLLEGE                                123

  PEAS HILL                                                        130

  THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE                                 135

  ST. PETER'S CHURCH                                               139

  REMAINS OF ST. RADEGUND'S PRIORY                                 141

  JESUS COLLEGE GATEWAY                                            143

  THE BACK COURT, JESUS COLLEGE                                    145

  JESUS COLLEGE CHAPEL, EAST END                                   147

  ORIEL OF HALL, JESUS COLLEGE                                     149

  CHRIST'S COLLEGE CHAPEL                                          153

  EMMANUEL COLLEGE                                                 157

  THE LEPERS' CHAPEL, BARNWELL                                     163

  QUY CHURCH                                                       170

  FORDHAM CHURCH                                                   177

  FORDHAM                                                          179

  SOHAM                                                            181

  SWAFFHAM BULBECK                                                 191

  SWAFFHAM PRIOR                                                   192

  SWAFFHAM PRIOR CHURCHES                                          193

  THE CASTLE MOAT, BURWELL                                         195

  BURWELL CHURCH, WEST END                                         197

  BURWELL CHURCH, N.E. VIEW                                        199

  CHERRY HINTON CHURCH                                             207

  GREAT WILBRAHAM CHURCH                                           211

  GREAT WILBRAHAM                                                  212

  LITTLE WILBRAHAM                                                 213

  BALSHAM TOWER                                                    214

  COTTAGE AT BALSHAM                                               217

  GREAT SHELFORD CHURCH                                            223

  WHITTLESFORD                                                     227

  ST. PETER'S CHURCH, DUXFORD                                      229

  HASLINGFIELD CHURCH                                              237

  FARMHOUSE AT HASLINGFIELD                                        239

  SOUTH PORCH, BARRINGTON CHURCH                                   241

  SHEPRETH                                                         243

  MELBOURN                                                         245

  ASHWELL                                                          249

  ASHWELL CHURCH FROM THE N.W.                                     251

  ASHWELL CHURCH                                                   253

  GREAT EVERSDEN                                                   257

  ROOD SCREEN, GUILDEN MORDEN CHURCH                               261

  COTTAGE AT STEEPLE MORDEN                                        263

  COTON                                                            269

  COTTAGE AT TOFT                                                  271

  WILBURTON                                                        284

  THE BURYSTEAD, WILBURTON                                         285

  SUTTON CHURCH                                                    287

  ALL SAINTS' CHURCH, LONG STANTON                                 291

  OVER, SOUTH PORCH                                                293

  OVER                                                             294

  SWAVESEY                                                         296

  SWAVESEY CHURCH                                                  297

  COTTAGE AT RAMPTON                                               299

  DOVECOTE AT RAMPTON                                              300

  THE QUAY, ELY                                                    301

  THE NORTH TRIFORIUM OF THE NAVE, ELY                             305

  WEST AISLE OF THE NORTH TRANSEPT, ELY                            311

  ELY: THE PRESBYTERY                                              327

  ELY LANTERN                                                      333

  PRIOR CRAUDEN'S CHAPEL                                           347

  SOUTH AISLE OF THE NAVE, ELY                                     351

  THE TOWER FROM THE CLOISTERS                                     357

  CATHEDRAL TOWERS                                                 361

  ST. MARY'S CHURCH                                                378

  THE CATHEDRAL FROM THE WEST FEN ROAD                             380

  ST. JOHN'S FARM                                                  383

  WILLOW WALK                                                      385

  ST. WENDREDA'S CHURCH, MARCH                                     391

  THE OLD FENLAND (NORTHERN DISTRICT)                              404

  THE OLD FENLAND (SOUTHERN DISTRICT)                              405

  ELM CHURCH                                                       412

  WALPOLE ST. PETER                                                414

  LEVERINGTON                                                      417

  BELL TOWER, TYDD ST. GILES                                       419

  WISBECH CHURCH                                                   423

  THE OLD COURT OF CORPUS                                          431




[Illustration: _Walker & Boutall sc._ Cambridge]

[Illustration: _St. Benet's Church and Corpus Christi College._]





     Cambridge Greenery.--The "Backs."--The Lawns.--Logan's
     Views.--Old Common Fields.--Old Cambridge.--Origin of
     Cambridge.--The Castle.--Camboritum.--Granta-ceaster.--Danes in
     Cambridge.--Cambridgeshire formed.--Battle of Ringmere.--Norman
     Conquest.--The Jewry.--Religious Houses.--Rise of
     University.--Town and Gown.--Proctors.--The
     Colleges.--Examinations.--College Life.--Cambridge and Oxford.

Cambridge has been described by an appreciative American novelist as
"a harmony in grey and green." And indeed it is true that few towns
are so shot through and through with greenery. The London Road enters
the place through two miles of umbrageous leafage; wide, open spaces
of grass-land--Stourbridge Common, Midsummer Common, Coldham Common,
Empty Common, Donkey Common, Peter's Field, Parker's Piece, Christ's
Pieces, Jesus Green, Sheep's Green, Coe Fen--penetrate from the
outskirts, north, south, and east, right to the heart of the town;
while the world-famous "Backs," where the road runs beneath ancestral
elms, between a continuous series of bowery College gardens and
precincts--Queens', King's, Clare, Trinity, St. John's--with their
beckoning vistas of long avenues of lime and chestnut, ring it in to
the west, and form a scene of park-like loveliness to be found nowhere
else on earth. Port Meadow, at Oxford, and the Magdalen Walks, furnish
the nearest comparison; but only to show how far in front Cambridge
stands in greenery. Even inside the Colleges this precedence shows
itself; for in Cambridge every College Court in the place, almost
without exception, unlike so many of the "Quads" of Oxford, has its
central grass-plot.

These lawns, it may be noted, are sacrosanct, not to be profaned by
the foot of anyone but a Fellow of the College[1] itself. No outsider,
from another College, however high in academic rank, may, unless
accompanied by a Fellow, cross over them; still less any member of the
College, old or young, who is not himself a Fellow, nor any casual
visitor, even of the privileged sex. Should any such attempt be made,
the College porters will politely, but quite firmly, remove the
transgressor. This convention is absolutely necessary for the very
existence of the greensward, which, if allowed to be traversed by
all-comers, would speedily be cut up and ruined.

[Footnote 1: The word "Fellow" signifies, in any College, one of the
strictly limited corporation to whom its whole property legally
belongs. This corporation is kept filled up by co-option; the most
distinguished of the junior students being usually chosen.]

This greenery, however, is a comparatively recent development in the
history of Cambridge, most of it dating no further back than the
latter half of the seventeenth century. In the last decade of that
century an artist named David Logan (or Loggan), said to have been of
Danish nationality but Scotch extraction, made a series of views of
the various Cambridge Colleges, elaborated with extraordinary care and
fidelity. So truthful and observant was he that a mysterious bird,
long a puzzle in his drawing of the great court of Trinity, has lately
been discovered, by reference to the College muniments, to have been a
tame eagle then kept by the Society. His views were reissued in 1905
by Mr. J. W. Clark, the greatest living authority on Cambridge
antiquities, and should be consulted by all who are interested in the
development of Cambridge. In these views the existing avenues in the
College enclosures at the "Backs" may be observed, but all of young
trees quite recently planted (as indeed we know to have been the case
from the College records), while right up to these enclosures run open
treeless fields, not meadows, but corn-land, where harvesters may be
seen at work and sheep grazing upon the fallow land. Most of the now
green Commons are in like manner shown to have been then under the

The late Professor Maitland, whose recent death has been so
irreparable a loss to Cambridge and to the whole historical side of
English education, has shown (in his _Township and Borough_) how truly
these views of Logan's represent the seventeenth century facts, and
how, somewhat earlier, the arable fields had come even to the river
bank on the west of the town; or, to use his own more accurate
language, that the western fields of Cambridge extended to the river
bank. Every old English town and village, it must be remembered, was
in theory (and originally in practice) self-supporting, and contained
within its boundary sufficient arable and pasture land to feed its own
inhabitants and their cattle. These were known as the "Common Fields"
of the place. They were not "Commons" in our modern sense of the word,
but were divided into small holdings amongst the townsmen, each man's
holding consisting of so many tiny strips, never more than an acre in
extent, scattered as widely as possible to make things fair for all.
They were cultivated upon the three course system; every landholder
having the right to pasture a proportionate number of cattle on the
fallow of the year, as well as in the Common Meadows. The Common
Fields of Cambridge comprised about five square miles, with the
inhabited part of the township nearly in the centre, and roughly
coincided with the existing Parliamentary Borough, though somewhat
more extensive.

This inhabited part, the mediæval town of Cambridge, was comprised,
(at least from the tenth century to the eighteenth,) in the space
bounded by the river on the west, and on the east by a ditch, known
finally as the "King's Ditch," from having been widened by Henry the
Third in the Barons' War. This ditch left the Cam at the "King's
Mill," (the modern representative of which still stands just above
Silver Street Bridge,) and proceeded along the line of Mill Lane,
Pembroke Street, Tibbs Row, Hobson Street, and Park Street, to fall
into the river again opposite Magdalene College. Beyond the "Great
Bridge," from which the place derived its name, a small cluster of
houses climbed the steep bank, on the summit of which stood the
Castle. Our earliest records show this area as by no means thickly
covered with houses. Not only the inhabitants, but all their cattle
lived in it; so there must have been many little farmyards and gardens
interspersed amongst the dwellings.

Domesday Book gives the number of these as only 400, and a couple of
centuries later, in 1279, when the University was already in full
existence, there were scarcely more. By the middle of the eighteenth
century this number had trebled. But even in 1801, as may be seen in
Lyson's plan of the town, the King's Ditch, which was then still an
open watercourse, remained substantially the boundary of inhabited
Cambridge. And the vast suburban extensions in the areas of Barnwell,
Newnham, Chesterton, and Cherry Hinton are mostly very recent indeed;
the bulk in fact belonging to the last half century. Their rise, and
the continuous intrusion of ever fresh University and College
buildings, has had the effect of once more depleting the area of
mediæval Cambridge, which to-day contains barely 800 houses. The whole
of the University buildings, whether ancient or modern, are contained
within this area, with the exception of the Colleges of Peterhouse,
Pembroke, Christ's and Jesus (which together with a few of the
Museums, stand just beyond the Ditch), and the New Court of St. John's
College, which is on the other side of the river, in the old Common
Field. The ecclesiastical and feminine foundations similarly situated,
Selwyn College, Westminster College, Ridley Hall, Newnham College, and
Girton College, are not recognised by the University as being strictly
"Colleges" at all.

[Illustration: _Peterhouse Wall, Coe Fen._]

Such was old Cambridge; with its eleven ancient parishes of St. Peter,
St. Giles, St. Clement, Holy Trinity, St. Michael, St. Mary (the
greater), St. Edward, St. Benet, St. Botolph, All Saints, and St. John
(which was destroyed to make room for King's College). Before the
twelfth century closed three more churches were added, those of the
Holy Sepulchre, of St. Peter (now St. Mary's the less) outside the
"Trumpington Gate," of St. Andrew (the greater) outside the Barnwell
Gate, and St. Andrew (the less) in the detached suburb which grew up
round the great "Abbey" (really an Augustinian Priory) of Barnwell.

Old Cambridge probably owed its constitution--(quite possibly its very
existence)--to the genius with which "the Children of Alfred," Edward
the Elder and his Sister, the "Lady of the Mercians," reorganised the
Midlands after the great cataclysm of the Danish wars, which in the
previous generation had swept over the district, obliterating all
earlier landmarks and boundaries. One pirate horde, under the most
renowned of all their chieftains, Guthrum--the deadliest antagonist,
and afterwards the most faithful ally, of our great Alfred,--had for a
space settled themselves in Cambridge, and from that strategic
position overawed East Anglia on the one hand and Mercia on the

[Footnote 2: The kingdom of Mercia comprised the Midlands, and was
(roughly) bounded on the north by the Humber and Mersey, on the west
by Wales, on the south by the Thames, and on the east by the Cam and
the Lea.]

The Cambridge which they sacked was not, however, as it would seem,
the later mediæval town which we have been already considering, but a
much smaller stronghold on the western bank of the River, comprising
what is now known as "Castle End," and is still sometimes called "the
Borough" _par excellence_. At this point the Cam, one bank or other of
which is usually swampy even now, and was actually swamp in early
days, is touched by higher and firmer ground on both sides. The height
to the west is quite respectable, rising some eighty feet above the
stream. Here, therefore, and here alone, was there of old any
convenient passage-way for an army; the river elsewhere forming an
almost insuperable barrier to military operations, from the Fens
almost to its source. Such a site was sure to be amongst the earliest
occupied; and we find, accordingly, that both Romans and Anglo-Saxons
(presumably Mercians) successively held it. Most probably it was also
a British site; but the great Castle mound, which earlier antiquaries
attributed to the Britons, has been shown by Professor Hughes to be,
mainly at least, a Norman work.

This site was the original Cambridge, and may even have been called by
that very name in its earliest form. For it is hard not to identify
the Roman settlement (which the spade shows to have existed here) with
the "Camboritum," which from the "Itinerary of Antoninus" (an official
road book, probably of the third century A.D.) must have been
somewhere in this immediate neighbourhood. And the word Camboritum is
plausibly derived from the British _Cam Rhydd_ "the ford of the Cam."
Cam (which, being interpreted, signifies crooked) may well have been
the British name for a stream with so tortuous a course. But, if so,
it was not continuously used, so far as records can tell us.

The Roman Camboritum doubtless shared the almost universal destruction
of Roman stations which marked the English conquest of Britain; and
the site is described as still "a waste chester" two centuries later,
when the monks of Ely sought amid the ruins for a stone coffin in
which to entomb their foundress, St. Ethelreda. By this time the older
name both of the town and of the river seems to have been forgotten.
The latter was called, by the English, the Granta, and the former was
accordingly known only as Granta-ceaster--the chester, or ruined Roman
city, upon the Granta. (It should be noted that the village now called
Grantchester was, till comparatively recent days, known as Grant-set.)

Yet another century, and we find, in the days of King Egbert, the
grandfather of Alfred and the first King acknowledged by the whole
English nation, that a bridge had been built (or rebuilt) over the old
ford; and therewith the old site of Camboritum had been reoccupied
under the new name of Granta-bridge, by which it is known throughout
mediæval history. We do not meet with "Cambridge" in literature till
the fourteenth century, nor with "Cam" till almost the date of "Camus,
reverend sire," in Milton's Lycidas.

However this may be, it is pretty certain that the Cambridge on which
Guthrum, in the year 872, marched from Repton was the "Borough" of
Castle End. After holding, or, as one chronicler (Gaimar) would have
us believe, only besieging it, for a whole year, the Danish host
hastily made off to Wareham in Dorsetshire, to take part in that life
and death struggle in the west which began with Alfred's great naval
victory off Swanage, then drove him into hiding at Athelney, and ended
with the Peace of Wedmore. By that treaty all England north of the
Watling Street was ceded to the Danes as an under-kingdom, the
"Dane-Law"; Guthrum, now a Christian and Alfred's godson, being set on
the throne. Cambridge thus became undisputedly a Danish town. The
district around was divided "with a rope" (_i.e._ by chain measure)
amongst the invaders, and submitted as an organic whole, some half
century later, to King Edward the Elder. It was probably at this time
that the town began to extend itself into the East Anglian district to
the east of the Cam. (Throughout its whole length the river, with its
marshy banks, was the boundary between the old English kingdoms of
Mercia and East Anglia; and traces of this are to be found in the
distinctive customs of adjoining villages, on one side or the other of
the stream, even to this day.) The "Saxon," or Romanesque, tower of
St. Benet's Church, may well be of this date, erected by the English
inhabitants dispossessed of their homes in the Borough by the
conquering Danes who lorded it over them.

After its submission to Edward the Elder, Cambridge began its career
as a County Town, giving its name, (as was the case in nearly all
these new Edwardian counties,) to the surrounding district, which thus
became known as Grantabrig-shire. The name covered only the southern
part of the present county; for the Isle of Ely was reconstituted
under the ancient jurisdiction of its great abbots and bishops. To
this day, indeed, it has its own separate County Council, and even a
separate motor-car lettering. The new political unit soon began to
display no small local patriotism; for we read that in the fatal
battle of Ringmere, fought on Ascension Day, 1010, between the fresh
Danish invaders, who were then pouring over the land, and the united
forces of East Anglia under the hero Ulfcytel, "soon fled the East
English. There stood Grantabryg-shire fast only."

[Illustration: _The Backs, Clare College Gate._]

The victorious Danes, naturally, proceeded to wreak special vengeance
on such obstinate foes. The county was ravaged with a ferocity even
beyond the usual Danish harryings, and Cambridge itself was sacked and
burnt. When it arose from its ashes, in the quieter days of the Danish
Canute, the first "King of England," (his native predecessors having
been Kings "of the English,") it was organised, Danish fashion, into
ten Wards, each with its own "Lawman." In the reign of Edward the
Confessor, it had, as we have seen, 400 dwelling-houses (_masurae_),
not urban cottages closely packed in rows, but mostly tenements of the
farmhouse type, each with its farmyard, the abodes of the husbandmen
who owned and tilled the Common Fields of the town.

This number of houses shows Cambridge to have been at this time an
important place, equal in population to a whole average "Hundred,"
with its ten villages; and as such we find it counted for legal
purposes under the Norman and Plantagenet dynasties. But its Common
Fields were by no means proportionately extensive,[3] so that many of
the inhabitants must already have depended upon trade for their

[Footnote 3: An ordinary "Hundred" contained an area some five miles
square, instead of the five square miles which was that of old

If Cambridge fared ill at the hands of the Danes, it fared little
better at those of the Normans. William the Conqueror made the place
his headquarters in his operations against Hereward's "Camp of Refuge"
at Ely. This resulted in the ruin of fifty-three out of the 400
houses, besides twenty-seven more pulled down to make room for his new
Castle, which with its outworks and huge central keep occupied the
greater part of the old Roman site to the west of the Bridge. The loss
of these eighty houses probably brought down the population to little
over 2,000 souls. Even with this reduction, however, the town might
still claim to rank in the first class of English cities at the time;
and this is shown by the growth of a Jewry within its walls, in the
area bounded by St. John's College, Trinity College, and Bridge
Street. For the Jews, (who first came into England as camp-followers
of the Norman invaders,) naturally struck for the wealthier towns in
which to form their settlement. As the place grew in importance
Religious Houses began rapidly to spring up in and around it; the
first being the great Augustinian Abbey of Barnwell, founded by Picot,
the Sheriff of Cambridge under William the Conqueror.

The next generation saw Augustinian Canons settled in the town itself,
at the Hospital (now the College) of St. John; and Benedictine nuns at
the Priory of St. Radegund just beyond the King's Ditch, where their
conventual church is still used as the Chapel of Jesus College. A
century later, and friars of all the Orders came flocking into
Cambridge; the Grey Franciscans, the Black Dominicans, the White
Carmelites, the Austin Friars, the Friars of the Sack, the Friars of
Bethlehem. The sites occupied by the first three of these names are
to-day represented by the Colleges of Sidney, Emmanuel, and Queens'.
Friars always made for the chief centres of life, and by the
thirteenth century Cambridge had become emphatically such, by the rise
of that institution destined to give it a perennial fame, the

How this rise of the University came about is an as yet unsolved
problem in history. As in the case of Oxford, the great name of Alfred
was invoked, by unscrupulous mediæval fabricators, as concerned in its
foundation. And it is possible that there may be really traceable some
distant connection with that great saint and hero. For Alfred actually
did found amidst the ruins of Ely, after its sack by the Danes, a
small College of priests, which lived on to be the nucleus of the
restored Abbey in the days of his grandson Edgar the Peaceful. And it
is also historical fact that this restored Abbey was specially
renowned for the famous school attached to it--so famous as to count
amongst its scholars more than one future monarch. Furthermore we know
that the Ely monks taught in Cambridge also, and this may well have
been the first germ of the University.

At any rate it is certain that, in 1209, when the schools of Oxford
were for a while closed by the Government, as the outcome of a more
than usually outrageous "rag," large numbers of the students migrated
to Cambridge; which seems to point to the place having already some
educational repute. From henceforward, at all events, it attained
European reputation in this respect, for, in 1229, we find another
batch of expelled students, this time from Paris, settling themselves
here, and yet another swarm of Oxonians twenty years later.

The University had now become an organic body, with its Chancellor,
its masters, and its scholars or "clerks," so called because, being
not wholly illiterate, the Law considered them as potential members of
the clerical profession, and gave them special immunities accordingly.
They were not amenable to lay jurisdiction, but only to the milder
"Courts Christian," in which the death-penalty was never inflicted. It
seems not infrequently to have been deserved; for the earliest
undergraduates were, at first, an utterly lawless lot, and made
themselves most unpleasant neighbours to the "burgesses" of the Town.

When first they made their appearance the inhabitants of Cambridge had
just bought the right to call themselves by this dignified name. This
bargain was the upshot of a Royal visit in 1207 from King John, who,
in consideration of a payment of 250 marks, (equivalent to £5,000 at
the present value of money,) granted Cambridge a Charter of
Incorporation, with the right to be governed by a Provost and bailiffs
of their own (instead of by the King's Sheriff), and to regulate their
own markets. Twenty years later, (by a further contribution to the
royal purse,) the Provost acquired the higher title of Mayor.

But almost simultaneously, his prerogatives began to be curtailed by
the rising power of the University, to whose "Taxers" was given, in
1231, the sole right of fixing the rents which might be demanded for
lodgings from the inrushing swarm of students; while the regulation of
the market weights and measures became vested in the Proctors. The
authority of the Taxers died out when the Collegiate system became
universal, but has been revived in recent days by the "Lodging-house
Syndicate": that of the Proctors over the Market has become obsolete;
not so long, however, but that, to this day, there may be seen, in the
possession of the Senior Proctor for each year, an iron cylinder, a
yard long and an inch in diameter, which was, not so many decades ago,
the standard test for the dimensions of every roll of butter sold in
Cambridge. For butter in Cambridge was retailed by the inch; a custom
which still lingers on sporadically amongst our vendors.

The student population speedily became far more numerous than the
townsfolk, and their accommodation must have been no small problem. At
first the need was met wholly by private enterprise: University
lodgers thronged the private houses and the annexes, or "hostels," as
they are named, run up for their sole use by speculative landlords.
These hostels gradually attained to more or less of official
recognition by the University, and paved the way for the setting up of

[Illustration: _St. Michael's and All Angels._]

The first actual College was Peterhouse, founded by Hugh de Balsham,
Bishop of Ely, in 1284, and was of the nature of an experiment, the
success of which it took a whole generation to establish. Once
proved, a host of imitators appeared; and the following generation saw
no fewer than seven similar foundations, Michaelhouse and King's Hall
(the germs of Trinity College), Clare, Pembroke, Gonville, Trinity
Hall, and Corpus Christi College. Then came a break of a century,
followed by another outburst of zeal, which in the next hundred years
produced yet another seven: King's, Queens', St. Catharine's, Jesus,
Christ's, St. John's, and Magdalene. The last four of these were
earlier religious and scholastic foundations remodelled; and a like
process during the half century succeeding the Reformation has given
us the Colleges of Trinity, Caius, Emmanuel, and Sidney. Not till the
nineteenth century was the list added to by the appearance of Downing.

The original idea in all these foundations was to provide, not so much
for the students as for the masters who taught them. To these it was
an immense advantage to be able to dwell together in small groups and
in quiet quarters, where they could engage in research and prepare
their lectures, shut away from the turmoil of the seething crowd of
Town and Gown in the streets. And it speedily appeared that if the
seclusion of a College was helpful to the teacher it was even more
helpful to the taught. For the test applied to students by the
University before conferring upon them a Degree was by public
disputations in the schools, each candidate having to support or
oppose some literary or scientific thesis.

The memory of these wordy "opponencies" is still preserved in the
denomination of "Wrangler" bestowed on the candidates who obtain a
First Class in the Mathematical Examination for an "Honour" Degree,
and by every examination through which such a Degree can be obtained
being called a "Tripos,"[4] from the three-legged stool which played a
notable part in those old ordeals. The test demanded steadiness of
nerve and readiness of wit, as well as mere knowledge; and, in all
these, the Scholar of a College, well catered and cared for, was far
better equipped than his lawless, and often all but foodless,
non-Collegiate competitor.

[Footnote 4: Till the nineteenth century was well advanced the
Mathematical Tripos was the only avenue to the attainment of "Honours"
at Cambridge; so that even such a distinguished scholar as Lord
Macaulay was debarred from them by his inability to pass that
examination, and had to content himself with the lower status of an
"Ordinary" or "Poll" Degree (so called from the Greek [Greek: polloi]
= many, as being the refuge of the common herd of candidates).
Triposes in many other branches of knowledge, classical, scientific,
legal, historical, and linguistic, have since been added.]

Thus every College found itself confronted by a great demand for
admissions, which was met by the introduction of Scholars, so far as
the pecuniary resources of the Foundation would admit, and,
ultimately, by the admission of "Pensioners";--students who, without
being members of the Foundation, were willing to pay for a share in
its educational advantages. These Pensioners finally came to
outnumber, (in every College), the masters and scholars together, as
they do still. The original non-Collegiate students proportionately
dwindled in number; till the depopulation of the University during the
religious ups and downs of the Reformation era put an end to them
altogether. For three hundred years afterwards no one was admitted to
the University unless attached to one of the Colleges, till, in the
later decades of the nineteenth century, the great expansion which
marked that period called Non-Collegiate Students, on a limited and
tentative scale, once more into existence.

Substantially, however, at the present day, the Colleges _are_
Cambridge; and to the visitor their buildings completely out-bulk
those which belong to the University--the Senate House, the University
Church and Library, the Examination Hall, and the various Museums and
Laboratories. Each College consists of an enclosed precinct, (to which
the students are confined at night,) containing blocks of apartments,
(usually arranged in "Courts,") for Fellows, Scholars, and Pensioners,
a special "Lodge" for the Master; a Chapel; a Library; and a Hall,
with Kitchen and Buttery attached. Here the Masters sit at the "High
Table" on a dais across the upper end of the Hall, and the students at
less pretentious boards arranged longitudinally. All are bound to dine
in Hall, unless by special leave; but other meals may be in your own
rooms, of which each student has a suite of three, in which he is said
to "keep." All three are within one general outer door, or "oak," to
be opened only by a latch-key, and "sported" whenever the owner
desires his citadel to be inaccessible. Over the oak, on the outside,
is painted his name (always in white capital letters upon a black
ground), while at the foot of each staircase a similarly painted list
gives the names of all the men whose rooms are to be found upon it.
Each student's suite invariably comprises a sitting (or "keeping")
room, a bedroom, and a pantry, or "gyp-room." This last name records
the fact that till lately the functions of a housemaid were discharged
by male servants known as "gyps,"[5] who are now almost universally
superseded by female "bedmakers" appointed by the College Tutors.

[Footnote 5: These corresponded to the still existing "Scouts" at

The Tutors are immediately responsible for the general supervision of
the students in the College: the actual teaching is done by Lecturers
in the various subjects, who have special apartments, "Lecture Rooms,"
provided in every College for their purposes. Every student has to
attend a certain quota of lectures, but otherwise is very much left to
educate himself, his progress being checked by periodical College
examinations, in addition to those required by the University to be
passed before he can be admitted to a Degree. The lowest Degree is
that of B.A. (Bachelor of Arts). Three years after attaining this a
man may proceed to become M.A. (Master of Arts), when he ceases to be
"in statu pupillari," and is no longer subject to the authority of the

These officers perambulate the town after dark to punish University
wrong-doers, usually by a fine of 6_s._ 8_d._, or some multiple of
that sum, the unit being a survival from mediæval numismatics, as
equivalent to half a "Mark." More serious offences are met by
"Rustication," for a Term or a year, during which the offender may not
show himself in Cambridge, and, in extreme cases, by expulsion from
the University altogether. These punishments can also be inflicted by
the authorities of each College on the students of that College. But
in this domestic forum, for smaller offences the place of fines is
taken by "gating" for a certain period, during which the nocturnal
enclosure of the culprit begins at some earlier hour than usual.

As a regular rule the College gates are shut at ten p.m., after which
no outsider (student or visitor) may enter, and no inmate (under the
Degree of M.A.) pass out; though to students already out uncensured
admission is given until midnight. Once inside the gates the student
is under no obligation to keep to his own rooms, but has the run of
the College all night. He is bound, however, to spend his nights
within the walls, and not even for a single night may he be absent
without a duly signed _exeat_ from the College authorities giving him
leave. And, as he must be in residence when they require it of him, so
is he also forbidden to be in residence at such seasons as they bar;
during the greater part of each Vacation, for example, comprising half
the year.

Theoretically the Three Terms into which the Academic Year is divided
consist of about ten weeks apiece; but, in practice, they have only
eight of "Full Term," during which residence is compulsory. The first
of these is the "Michaelmas," or, as it is popularly called the
"October" term, lasting from about mid-October to mid-December. After
the Christmas vacation follows the "Lent" term, from the middle of
January to the middle of March. Then comes a month of Easter vacation,
and then the "Easter" (more generally known as the "May") term; at the
end of which the close of the working year is celebrated by a series
of social festivities in connection with the College boat races,
collectively designated "the May Week," though invariably taking place
in June. Finally comes the "Long Vacation" (the last word being
omitted in popular parlance), lasting till a new year begins in
October. Many of the more studious men are, however, permitted to
reside during July and August for the purposes of private reading. A
man in residence, we may mention, is said to be "up"; thus we meet
with such phrases as "coming up," "going down," and being "sent down,"
when ordered to leave Cambridge, temporarily or permanently, for
disciplinary reasons.

All this is very unlike Continental or American University life, but
is almost the ditto of Oxford. For Cambridge is the sister-daughter of
Oxford. It was by Oxonian colonists that the University of Cambridge
was begun; the earliest Cambridge College, Peterhouse, was not only
suggested by the earliest Oxford Foundation, Merton, but borrowed its
very Statutes; and the development of the two seats of learning has
twinned itself throughout the centuries to an extent unparalleled
elsewhere in history. The result is that to-day there are no two
places in the world so alike, socially, intellectually, and even
physically, as Oxford and Cambridge. The latter has at present the
larger number of students; but each has approximately the same number
of Colleges, and of satellite Collegiate institutions, formally or
informally connected with the University (_e.g._, the Ladies'
Colleges); and in each the Academic organisation, the social code,
and the life led by both students and teachers, is almost absolutely
identical. To experts well acquainted with both places the minute
shades of difference are of extreme interest; but to the average
visitor the places are as like as twin sisters. The very names of the
Colleges are the same in no less than a third of the cases. If there
is a Trinity at Cambridge there is also a Trinity at Oxford, if there
is a Magdalen at Oxford there is a Magdalene at Cambridge; while St.
John's, Jesus, Corpus Christi, and Pembroke are all in like manner
duplicated. And, both at Oxford and Cambridge, Colleges are named from
Queens; though a subtle difference in spelling (Queen's and Queens')
records the fact that, while one Queen founded the Oxford College, two
were concerned in the Cambridge foundation.

[Illustration: _Oriel in Library, St. John's College._]

With regard to picturesqueness and architectural merit it is difficult
to assign the pre-eminence to either place, so far as the University
and Collegiate buildings are concerned. Of each distinctive feature,
considered separately, the choicest specimen is to be found in
Cambridge--the best College Chapel at King's; the finest College Hall
and College Courts at Trinity; the most characteristic and beautiful
Library at St. John's. But, out-taken these, Oxford can show several
examples of each feature better than the next best at Cambridge. And,
apart from the University buildings, the town of Cambridge, with its
narrow streets and mean public edifices, is hopelessly outclassed by
the beautiful city of Oxford. Invidious comparisons, however, are, in
the case of sisters, more than ordinarily odious.


     Entrance to Cambridge.--Railways.--Roman Catholic Church.--Street
     runlets, Hobson, Perne.--Fitzwilliam Museum.--=Peterhouse=,
     Chapel, Deer-park.--Little St. Mary's Church, Washington
     Arms.--Gray's window.--=Pembroke College=, Large and Small
     Colleges, "Querela Cantabrigiensis," Ridley's farewell.--St.
     Botolph's Church.--The King's Ditch.--=Corpus Christi College=,
     Cambridge Guilds, St. Benet's Church, Fire-hooks, Corpus Library,
     Corpus Ghost.--=St. Catharine's College.=--King's Parade.--Pitt
     Press.--Newnham Bridge, Hermits.--The Backs River, College
     Bridges, Hithes.

Having thus given the reader a very meagre and sketchy outline of the
sort of knowledge needful for a due appreciation of Cambridge, and
leaving him to fill in such details as he pleases from the numberless
histories and guide books, large and small (and for the most part
excellent) which he will find quite readily accessible, we will now
suppose him to be entering the town.

Should he do this from the railway station he will have to face a mile
or so of "long unlovely street" to begin with. For when railroads were
first made--(the Great Eastern line from London to Cambridge being
constructed in 1845)--they were regarded with extreme suspicion and
dislike by the authorities of both Universities. The noise of the
trains, it was declared, would be fatal to their studies; the facility
of running up to London would hopelessly demoralise their
undergraduates; bad characters from the metropolis would come down in
shoals to prey upon them. Thus both Oxford and Cambridge strenuously
opposed any near approach of this new-fangled abomination to their
hallowed precincts. Oxford actually succeeded in keeping the main line
of the Great Western as far off from it as Didcot, ten miles away,
whence it did not penetrate to the city itself till a considerably
later date, when prejudice had been overcome by the patent advantages
of the new locomotion, and a station hard by was welcomed. At Oxford,
therefore, no such distance divides the railway and the Colleges as at
Cambridge, where from the first the station stood in its present
place. This, at the date of its construction, was far beyond even the
outermost buildings of the town, with which it is connected by the old
Roman road, the main artery of Cambridge, running straight, as Roman
roads do run, for miles on either side to the "Great Bridge." To
antiquarians this road is known as the Via Devana, because its
objective is supposed to have been the old Roman city of Deva
(Chester); during its passage through Cambridge it has no fewer than
seven official designations, to the frequent discomfiture of

Where it conducts the visitor townwards from the railway station it
presents, as we have said, a somewhat dreary vista; dignified only by
the beautifully proportioned spire of the Roman Catholic Church, built
in 1885. The erection of this edifice was due to the generosity of a
single benefactor, Mrs. Lyne-Stephens, a French lady, who, early in
the reign of Queen Victoria, won fame and fortune as the most renowned
ballet dancer of the London stage. The Church is popularly called, in
Cambridge, a Cathedral; but this is a misnomer, for the Bishop's See
is not here but at Northampton.

The cross-roads at which the church is placed rejoice in the inane
designation of Hyde Park Corner. The best approach to Cambridge is by
the westward road of the four, which leads into the London Road (or
Trumpington Road, as it is here called), that umbrageous avenue of
leafage spoken of in our opening sentences. Keeping along this towards
the town, we find ourselves confronted with one of the prettiest and
most uncommon amongst the minor attractions of Cambridge, the runlets
of clear water which sparkle along the side of either pavement.

This pleasant feature is attributed to the benevolence of an ancient
Cambridge worthy, Thomas Hobson, who dwelt here from the reign of Henry
the Eighth to that of Charles the First. By trade he was a "carrier," a
profession which at that date included not merely the transport of goods
but the provision of locomotion for passengers--then almost wholly
equestrian. Thus Hobson not only himself travelled regularly to and
from London with his stage-waggon, but kept a large stable of horses,
not fewer than "forty good cattle," ready for hire--even supplying his
customers with boots and whips for their journey. But he was very
autocratic in the matter, and would never allow any steed to be chosen
except in accordance with his will. "This or none" he would say to any
hirer who dared to remonstrate. And his business was so prosperous that
he could afford to say it, and thus give rise to the still current
expression "Hobson's Choice." He rose to be Mayor of Cambridge, and his
portrait still hangs in the Guildhall.

Finally when he died, at the age of eighty-six, in 1630, he gained the
honour of a serio-comic epitaph from Milton, then a student of
Christ's College, "on the University Carrier who sickened in the time
of his Vacancy, on being forbid to go to London by reason of the

  "Here lieth one who did most truly prove
  That he could never die while he could move;
  So hung his destiny, never to rot
  While he might still jog on and keep his trot.
       *       *       *       *       *
  Rest, that gives all men life, gave him his death,
  And too much breathing put him out of breath;
  Nor were it contradiction to affirm
  Too long Vacation hastened on his Term.
       *       *       *       *       *
  But had his doings lasted as they were
  He had been an immortal carrier."

The popular tradition, (attested by an inscription on the fountain in
the Market Place,) which gives this hero the whole credit of the
street runlets, seems, however, to go too far, though they were
certainly first made during his life-time. Their source is in some
springs which issue from the chalk near Great Shelford, four miles
south-east of Cambridge, and which are called, as such sources are
commonly called hereabouts, "The Nine Wells"--nine being used as an
indefinite number. It is interesting to remember that this conception
evolved itself also amongst the ancient Greeks, who talked of the
"Nine Fountains" at Athens, and the "Nine Ways" at Amphipolis, with
exactly the same indefiniteness of numeration. The ancient outfall of
these springs seems to have been by what is now called "Vicar's
Brook," which is bridged by the London Road at the first milestone
from Cambridge. Till the eighteenth century the bridge was a ford,
known as Trumpington Ford. The earliest proposal to intercept the
stream near this spot and divert its course through the town, was due,
not to Hobson, but to another worthy (or unworthy) contemporary of
his, Dr. Andrew Perne, then Master of Peterhouse College, a divine of
such an accommodating breadth of view that he alone, amongst all the
higher authorities of the University, succeeded in retaining his post
and his emoluments throughout the horrible see-saw of the Reformation

We first hear of him in the reign of Edward the Sixth, as a Protestant
of such stalwart calibre that he destroyed as "idolatrous" almost
every single book in the University Library. Under Mary he figures as
no less ardent a Catholic, even to the degree of digging up and
publicly burning (in default of living heretics) the corpses of the
celebrated Protestant teachers Bucer and Fagius. Finally the accession
of Elizabeth convinced him once more that Protestantism was the truest
form of Christianity; and she lived long enough to keep him from again
changing his principles. This amazing versatility naturally did not
pass without comment. The wits of the University coined from his name
the Latin verb _pernare_ "to be a turn-coat," and declared that the
A.P. which showed on a new weather-cock given by him to his College
stood for A Protestant or A Papist indifferently.

It was this man who, in 1574, started the idea of bringing the
Shelford water into Cambridge. The plan was carried out by
"Undertakers" (who hoped to make money by it), in 1610, and amongst
these Hobson would seem to have been the predominant partner.

[Illustration: _Peterhouse._]

Accompanied by the rippling of these runlets (which only represent a
very small amount of the water brought by "Hobson's Conduit" into
Cambridge) we shortly reach our first University edifice, the
Fitzwilliam Museum, fronted by a singularly fine façade of classical
architecture, and having in the Entrance Hall a really magnificent
staircase of coloured marbles. It should be noted that the four lions
which flank the façade are (unlike those in Trafalgar Square) all in
differing attitudes. The Museum (which is open to the public three
days in the week and to members of the University on all days)
contains a fine collection of pictures and antiques, the nucleus of
which is a bequest made in 1816 by Viscount Fitzwilliam. The Egyptian
section is specially noteworthy, and the water-colours by Turner. The
building was commenced in 1837, but was not finally completed till
1875, when the cost had run up to a hundred and fifteen thousand

The long-fronted Hospital on the opposite side of the road is the
modern representative of an ancient institution which gave to this
region, then quite the extremity of Cambridge, the name (as appears in
our oldest maps) of Spittal End.

Adjoining the Museum we find ourselves arriving at our first College,
St. Peter's College, more commonly called Peterhouse, the same of
which the inevitable Dr. Perne was so long Master. (We may here note
that in Cambridge this name "Master" is the designation of the Head of
every College except King's, which has a "Provost," and Queens', with
its "President.") Peterhouse, as has been mentioned in our first
chapter, was the earliest College to be founded in Cambridge. Its
founder Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely, derived his idea from Merton
College at Oxford, which had been in existence some twenty years when,
in 1281, he introduced its system into Cambridge, and even adopted its
very statutes. He first designed to incorporate his College with the
already existing quasi-monastic Brotherhood of the Hospital of St.
John (now St. John's College). The double Rule, however, bred so many
quarrels that he settled his "Scholars of Ely" on their present site;
their abode being dubbed Peterhouse from the adjoining church of St.
Peter (now St. Mary's the Less), which for three hundred and fifty
years served as the College Chapel, and is still connected by a
covered passage with the College buildings.

The existing Chapel was built by yet another Bishop of Ely closely
connected with the College, Dr. Matthew Wren, Master here 1625-1634.
He was uncle to the great Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St.
Paul's, and had enough architectural originality of his own to aim at
copying the beautiful tracery of the mediæval church-builders. It was
the first time that any such attempt had been made in England; and
this going behind the Reformation roused the Protestant feeling of the
time to fury. Men declared it incredible that there could be "so much
Popery in so small a chapel"; and when the Civil War gave the
Puritans their opportunity Wren paid for being so far in advance of
his age by an imprisonment of not less than eighteen years, till
released, in 1660, by the Restoration. The Chapel windows are now
filled with some fine Munich glass, the only example of this work in

Besides the Chapel, the Library here is remarkable, and the
"Combination Room" boasts itself as almost, if not quite, the finest
apartment of its kind in all Cambridge. This name, we may mention, is
given in every College to the parlour whither the M.A.'s retire, after
dining in Hall, for wine, dessert, and conversation.[6] That of
Peterhouse is a luxurious apartment, panelled with oak, and with
stained-glass windows.

[Footnote 6: The corresponding Oxford name is "Common Room."]

Another feature of the College is its little deer park, the only one
in Cambridge, and, with the exception of Magdalen College, Oxford, the
only one in either University. Access to this is obtained by passing
through the passage between the Hall and the Kitchen. Beyond the deer
park again an iron gate leads to the College Gardens, the only College
Gardens in Cambridge which visitors may freely enter. And they are
well worth entering.

There is, however, no way through this College, as there is through
many, and we must leave it through the same gate as we entered by,
thus returning to the street. Over the gate we observe the coat of
arms belonging to the College, the armorial bearings of the founder
surrounded by a border of crowns. This feature will be seen in every
College, for each has its own arms, and these are invariably
emblazoned above the entrance.

[Illustration: _St. Mary the Less, South side._]

Architecturally attached to Peterhouse is, as has been said, the
church of St. Mary "the less," so called in contradistinction to
"Great" St. Mary's, which here, as at Oxford, is the designation of
the "University Church." This is the only really beautiful church in
Cambridge, the tracery of the windows being exquisite flowing
Decorated. All date from the fourteenth century, when the present
structure displaced the earlier church dedicated to St. Peter. One
feature of interest here is a monument put up to Richard Washington,
who was minister of this church in the beginning of the eighteenth
century. He was of the same family as the great George Washington, and
in the coat of arms here displayed we may see the origin of the
American Stars and Stripes, while the crest has become the American

[Footnote 7: The Washington arms are, in heraldic language: Barry of
four, gules and argent. On a chief azure three mullets of the second.
Crest, a demi-eaglet sable rising from an earl's coronet.]

To the west of the church we get a view of the back of Peterhouse in
its untouched picturesqueness, abutting on the churchyard, at the end
of which comes another Museum, that of Classical Archæology. This is
reached by a narrow lane, having the church on one side, and on the
other "Emmanuel," the leading Congregationalist place of worship in
Cambridge. As we return between these into the street we should look
up at the buildings of Peterhouse and notice, in front of the window
at the top corner of the ivy-clad wall, an erection of stout iron
bars. By these hangs a tale; for the window belongs to the rooms
traditionally occupied by the poet Gray when in residence here. It is
said that he caused these bars to be put up, from his constitutional
dread of fire, and that he kept a stout rope constantly affixed to
them as a means of escape in case of need. Awakened one night by
shouts of "Fire! Fire!" he slid down this rope in deshabille--to find
himself plunged at the bottom into a huge vat of water placed there by
his friends. So runs the tale; which adds that Gray migrated in
disgust from Peterhouse to Pembroke. That he did so migrate is quite

To reach his new College, Gray had only to cross the street; for
almost immediately opposite to Peterhouse are seen the more widely
extended buildings of Pembroke. Not so very many years ago they were
the less widely extended of the two; for while Peterhouse has remained
comparatively stationary, Pembroke, more than any other College, has
partaken in the wonderful expansion which the last half century has
wrought in the number of University students at Cambridge.

[Illustration: _Peterhouse, from St. Mary's Churchyard._]

From the Restoration onwards the Colleges of Cambridge were for two
hundred years, till the middle of the nineteenth century, divisible in
numerical strength between two strongly marked classes. At the top
came the two great Societies of Trinity and St. John's; of which the
former gradually drew ahead, and came to have some four hundred
students to St. John's two hundred. The remaining fifteen Foundations
were classed together as the "Small Colleges"; the largest of them
being well under a hundred strong, and the smallest (amongst them
Pembroke) small indeed. But with the great extension of the University
curriculum, by the addition of a host of literary and scientific
subjects to the Mathematics which had previously been the sole avenue
to a Degree, there has come as marked an increase in the number of
students, and the old College classification has broken down. Trinity,
indeed, remains at the top, even more than ever, having almost doubled
its overwhelming numbers; but St. John's has been caught up and
overpassed by several of the once "small" Colleges, amongst them by
Pembroke. And yet, in the year 1858, Pembroke had only one solitary
freshman; and he migrated to Caius, in dread, as the tale then ran, of
being divided into sections by the authorities, to satisfy the demands
of the Mathematical, Classical, and Philosophical lecturers provided
by the College.

The result is that Pembroke, even beyond most Colleges, is a medley of
architectural additions. When Gray migrated to it, and for a century
thereafter, the modest range of low white stone which still contains
the main entrance, formed the whole frontage; the College buildings
being a small quadrangle about half the size of the present First
Court. It was, in fact (except for a new Chapel, built by Wren in
1663, and still in use), no larger than it was at its first
foundation, in 1346, by Mary, widow of Amory de Valence, Earl of
Pembroke, and daughter of Guy, Count of Chatillon and St. Paul. Her
widowhood was brought about, according to tradition, by her husband
being accidentally slain, before her eyes, on their very wedding day,
at the tournament held to celebrate the nuptials. Modern criticism
disputes this tragic tale, but it was believed in Gray's day, and he
has referred, in his well-known list of the Founders of Cambridge
Colleges, to

        "sad Chatillon, on her bridal morn
  Who wept her bleeding love."

On her widowhood, however occasioned, she retired from the world, and
took the veil at Denny Abbey, between Cambridge and Ely. The College
was founded by her in her husband's memory, and has ever since
displayed her armorial bearings, the coats of Valence and St. Paul

At the time of the Civil War, the "Querela Cantabrigiensis" (a
contemporary publication, written in the Royalist interest), in
denouncing the misdeeds of the Parliamentary forces, complains
bitterly that "fourscore ragged soldiers, who had been lowzing before
Crowland nigh a fortnight, were turned loose into Pembroke Hall, being
one of the least Halls of the University, to kennel there, and charged
by their officers to shift for themselves, who, without more ado,
broke open the Fellows' and Scholars' chambers, and took their beds
from under them."

A century before this we find Bishop Ridley, the famous Protestant
martyr, dwelling on this College (of which he had been Master) in his
touching farewell to Cambridge, composed shortly before his execution:

     "Farewell, Pembroke Hall, of late my own College, my care and my
     charge ... mine own dear College! In thy orchard--(the walls,
     butts,[8] and trees, if they could speak, would bear me
     witness)--I learnt without book almost all Paul's Epistles; yea,
     and I ween all the Canonical Epistles also, save only the
     Apocalypse--of which study, although in time a great part did
     depart from me, yet the sweet smell thereof I trust I shall carry
     with me into Heaven; for the profit thereof I think I have felt
     in all my lifetime ever after. And, I ween, of late there was
     that did the like. The Lord grant that this zeal and love toward
     that part of God's Word, which is a key and true commentary to
     all the Holy Scripture, may ever abide in that College so long as
     the world shall endure."

[Footnote 8: This word reminds us that archery practice was, in
England, a regular feature of mediæval College life.]

Besides Bishop Ridley, Pembroke can boast other well-known Protestant
divines of the Reformation era, Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury,
Whitgift, his successor, and Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester.
The mitre and pastoral staff of the last named (both of brass, and the
former quite unwearable) are preserved amongst the College treasures.
So is also a magnificent silver-gilt cup, the gift of the Foundress,
which still goes round the High Table on special Feast Days. It bears
two inscriptions in old English characters. Round the bowl is an
exhortation to "drenk and mak gud cher" for love of St. Dennis--to
whom Marie de Valence, as a Frenchwoman, had a special devotion--while
round the stem are the words "M.V. God. help.at.ned."

This cup is the more valuable as being almost the only piece of
mediæval plate still surviving in Cambridge. In ancient days the
College Halls and Chapels were abundantly supplied, but when the Civil
War broke out the loyal Gownsmen, with one accord, devoted all their
silver to the service of the King and sent it off to him at Oxford.
But it never got there; for Cromwell gained his first distinction by
pouncing upon the convoy "with a ragged rout of peasants," and then
compelled the surrender of what little was left in Cambridge. How this
cup escaped is not known.

Nor is Pembroke's lay list of distinguished alumni less notable than
its clerical. Besides Gray, it has another poet of the first rank in
Edmund Spenser, and no less a statesman than the younger Pitt. Amongst
men of science it counts the late Sir George Gabriel Stokes, whose
memory is still fresh, and the all too much forgotten seventeenth
century astronomer, Dr. Long. Of the latter a striking memorial long
remained in the College--a copper globe, eighteen feet in diameter,
pierced to represent the celestial sphere, and so arranged that thirty
observers at once could find place within it and see the sequence of
the constellations as the globe revolved. Unhappily this object of
unique interest has been improved off the face of the earth, amongst
the various innovations to which Pembroke has specially lent itself.

The original foundation of this College (which was for some time more
commonly called "Marie Valence Hall") consisted of a Master, fifteen
scholars, and four Bible clerks. It has now twelve Fellows,
thirty-three scholars, and upwards of two hundred students in

[Illustration: _St. Botolph's Church._]

A few yards from Pembroke stands the Parish Church of St. Botolph,
which, according to the original design of the Foundress, would have
been as closely connected with the College as is Little St. Mary's
with Peterhouse. In the first inception of the Collegiate system the
idea was that the Members of each College (which was only regarded as
a glorified dwelling house of the period, and the Society of which,
till their "Hall" was built, were, actually, to begin with, quartered
in already existing dwelling houses) should worship in the nearest
Parish Church, like other parishioners. Only by special licence from
the Pope could a private Chapel for a College, or any other mansion,
be erected. That granted by Pope Urban the Fifth (during the Papal
exile at Avignon) for the Chapel of Pembroke is still extant in the
Papal Register. It is dated July 1366, and runs as follows:

     "To the Warden and College of Scholars of Valence Marie Hall,

     License, on the petition of their Foundress, Mary de Sancto
     Paulo, Countess of Pembroke, to have a Chapel founded and built
     by the said Countess within their walls, wherein Masses and other
     Divine Offices may be celebrated by Priests of the said College;
     saving the rights of the Parish Church."

The Parochial rights here spoken of mean the exclusive right of the
Parish Priest to celebrate marriages and to receive the dues known as
"Easter Offerings "and "Surplice Fees."

The dedication of St. Botolph's Church notifies us that we are now
entering Cambridge proper. For this Saint, who was historically an
abbot, the pioneer of the Benedictine Order in East Anglia, became
adopted by travellers as their special patron; and his churches were,
accordingly, placed for the most part at the gates of towns that his
benediction might speed the parting voyager. We thus find them at no
fewer than four of the London exits, Aldgate, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate,
and Billingsgate, and in more than sixty other places, mostly in East
Anglia. That which we are now considering was associated with the
entrance to Cambridge known as "Trumpington Gate," where the mediæval
traveller from London made his way into the town by crossing the
ancient defensive work called "The King's Ditch."

The construction of this great trench was popularly ascribed to King
Henry the Third, who, in his struggle with the Barons, desired to keep
a firm hold on the important strategic centre of Cambridge. There is
some reason, however, to suppose that he did not actually initiate the
idea of thus insulating the town by running a ditch across the bend of
the river on which it stands, but merely deepened and widened an
earlier trench, originally made, perhaps, by the Danes during their
occupation of the place, and remade by King John. However this may
be, the ditch utterly failed of its purpose. Not only was it unequal
to keeping the Barons out, but it could not even preserve the town
from being pillaged by a local marauder, Geoffry de Magnaville or
Maundeville, who made his lair in the neighbouring fens.

The King's Ditch left the river at "the King's Mill" (now Newnham
Mill), and re-entered it opposite Magdalene College. It remained an
open watercourse (and a common sewer) till near the beginning of the
nineteenth century, when it was filled in, none too soon, for sanitary
reasons. Timber bridges spanned the stream at "Barnwell Gate," where
the "Via Devana" entered the town, as well as here at "Trumpington
Gate." These gates themselves, if they ever had any material
existence, were probably, at the most, little more than toll-bars.

St. Botolph's Church was intended, as we have seen, to be specially
connected with Pembroke College. Between them, however, there has
always existed a block of buildings, while immediately adjoining the
church on the other side there has arisen a College of later
foundation, that of St. Mary and Corpus Christi, familiarly known as
"Corpus." Unlike the other Colleges of Cambridge, this owes its
existence not to the generosity of any private benefactor, but to that
of two mediæval Guilds, the Guild of St. Mary and the Guild of Corpus
Christi, which combined to leave future ages this splendid memorial of
their beneficence.

These Guilds were merely two out of many such bodies in the Cambridge
of that day; for the Guild was the Benefit Society of the mediæval
period, and every respectable citizen was enrolled in one--often,
indeed, in more than one. The Guild, collectively, saw to the personal
interests of its members; aided them in distress, old age, and
sickness; contributed towards the expenses of their burial; and
finally provided Masses for their souls. This last item ultimately
proved fatal to the Guilds, which were suppressed wholesale at the
Reformation, as being thus tainted with Popish superstition, and their
property confiscated for the benefit of the Royal exchequer.

Guilds, like our Benefit Societies, were voluntary associations,
co-opting their members, and established on various bases. Earliest to
rise, in all English boroughs, was the Merchant Guild, which regulated
the entire trade of the town; fixing at its general meetings, called
"Morning Talks," the market price of each staple commodity, and the
hours and places at which it might be bought and sold, besides
punishing rigorously (by fine or expulsion from the Guild) any unfair
dealing, such as underselling, or "regrating,"--_i.e._, making a
"corner" in any article as we should now say. Somewhat later each
craft began to have its own Guild, supplanting to a large extent the
older and more general organisation, whose executive insensibly became
merged in the Town Council. To this day, however, the building in
which that Council meets for its "Morning Talks," is called the
Guildhall in most English towns.

Besides the trading Guilds, there arose others organised on a
definitely religious basis, the members of which were bound to special
devotion in some particular direction, from which the Guild took its
name. Amongst these were the two to whom we owe the existence of
"Corpus"--those of "Corpus Christi" and "Blessed Mary," the former
having been (in 1342) the original inceptors of the idea. The armorial
bearings of the College still testify to its double origin, being,
quarterly, three lilies, (the emblems of Our Lady,) and a pelican "in
her piety" (_i.e._, feeding her young with her own blood, as
contemporary legend imagined to be the case), as a reference to the
Holy Eucharist.

The College, which was founded 1352, was originally intended only for
the education of a small number of priests, and consisted only of one
small court, now known as the Old Court, which happily still exists in
almost its original condition. It is a venerable and secluded spot,
with ivy-grown walls and mullioned lattices, well worth a visit. From
its north-eastern corner extends a long gallery pierced by an archway,
connecting the College with the Church of St. Benedict, or "Benet," as
it is commonly vocalised.[9] From this connection the College became
popularly known as "Benet College," just as Peterhouse was so called
from its like connection with the ancient church of "St. Peter by
Trumpington Gate." But while Peterhouse retains its old designation,
that of "Benet" has now become wholly disused, though only within the
last century.

[Footnote 9: This is shown in our first wood-cut.]

[Illustration: _St. Benet's Church, Interior._]

This connecting gallery is of red brick, toned by age into delicious
mellowness, and is best seen from the back of the College, where a
quiet little lane ("Free School Lane"), one of the most charming
amongst the byways of Cambridge, gives access through the above
mentioned archway into the quiet little church yard of this quiet
little church, with its Saxon tower, the oldest monument of
ecclesiastical architecture in Cambridge, and one of the most
picturesque. The precise date of its erection, and how the church came
to exist at all, is, and will probably remain, an unsolved problem in
history. Some authorities imagine that it points to an East Anglian
settlement to the east of the Cam, distinct from the Mercian
"Grantabridge" on the western bank, where the old Roman town once
stood; others believe that it was built by the English inhabitants
expelled from that town by the Danes in the time of King Alfred.
Whatever may be the truth there is no small fascination in this
venerable relic of the old English days, with its "long and short"
stonework, the rudely-fashioned Romanesque pilasters in its windows,
and the nondescript "portal-guarding" lions of its interior archway.
The body of the church has been altered and re-altered time and again
during the ages: at the bases of the present chancel-arch those of two
earlier predecessors may be observed, and the south wall of the
chancel is honeycombed with disused openings once leading into the
Collegiate buildings of Corpus, while the existing stairway (also
disused) is seen in the eastern corner of the south aisle. The church
is thus of rare interest to the architectural student, and its history
has been exhaustively dealt with by Mr. Atkinson (_Cambridge
Illustrated_, p. 133). A glass case in the south aisle contains
various relics of antiquity belonging to it, and beside them an
ancient iron "fire-hook," used of old for tearing down blazing roofs
and buildings.[10]

[Footnote 10: The speediest possible destruction of such buildings was
the only way of dealing with fires before effective engines came in,
which was not until the nineteenth century. Rings to facilitate the
use of fire-hooks are to be found under the eaves of many old houses
hereabout. The hooks had 30 foot handles, mounted on a pair of

Out-taken the Old Court, Corpus has nothing in the way of buildings
that has either beauty or interest, the College having been
remorselessly remodelled about 1825. But the contents of its Library
surpass all else of the kind in Cambridge, containing, as it does,
what is probably the identical Gospel Book used by St. Augustine in
his conversion of the English, and what is probably the identical copy
of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle written for King Alfred, if not by his
own hand. These priceless treasures once formed part of the library
of Canterbury Abbey, which was sold by Henry the Eighth, at its
suppression, as waste paper. Such relics as survived twenty years of
this profanation were rescued by Archbishop Parker (the first
Protestant Archbishop), in Elizabeth's reign, and were presented by
him to the College, of which he had been Master.[11] To guard, so far
as possible, against their again coming "to such base uses," he
accompanied his gift with the condition that if a certain number of
the MSS. were ever missing, the whole should pass to Caius College,
and thence to Trinity Hall in case of a like loss. The authorities of
these Colleges have (and exercise) the right of annual inspection: so
far quite fruitlessly, as no single MS. has disappeared during the
last three centuries. But the result has been to render this Library
harder of access to visitors than any other, and it can only be seen
by special arrangement with the Librarian, who has to be present in
person, along with some other Fellow or Scholar of the College, before
strangers can be introduced.

[Footnote 11: Bishop Latimer, the Protestant martyr, also belonged to

Corpus has the reputation of being haunted by a ghost, the existence
of which has been taken quite seriously even within the present
century. But the tale of its origin has a most suspicious number of
variants. Some hold it to be the spirit of a poor motherless girl of
seventeen, the daughter of Dr. Spenser (Master from 1667 to 1693), who
died of fright at being discovered by her father while enjoying a
clandestine interview with her undergraduate lover. (This tragedy is
fairly historical.) Others declare that it is the lover; who was
locked, or locked himself, into a cupboard, where he died of
suffocation! Others again have a tale of a student from King's, who
(in order not to haunt his own College) came hither to kill himself!
That strange noises, not yet accounted for, are heard in some of the
rooms, is, apparently, an established fact.

Opposite the Gate-tower of Corpus an open roadside esplanade, shaded
by lime trees, marks the still vacant space destined by St.
Catharine's College, in the seventeenth century, for a Library, to
complete its red-brick quadrangle, a design which has come to nothing.
The interior of the Court, which is not without dignity, still lies
open to view, shut in only by what was then meant to be a merely
temporary iron railing, with St. Catharine's wheel conspicuous above
the entrance. The College was founded as a kind of satellite to King's
College, by Robert Woodlark, the third Provost of that great
Foundation, in 1475. It has always remained a small and comparatively
poor Society.

If we pass through the Court, such as it is, of St. Catharine's,
(familiarly known as "Cat's,") the western gate will bring us out into
Queens' Lane. We shall, however, do better to reach this most
fascinating of all Cambridge byways not thus but through the College
from which it derives its name, Queens'. To do this we must turn
westwards down Silver Street, a few yards south of St. Catharine's,
and just opposite St. Botolph's Church. Before taking this turn we
should give a glance northward along Trumpington Street at the
splendid mass of Collegiate and University buildings which here come
into view. High above all rises the glorious fabric of King's College
Chapel, while, beyond it, the classical façades of the Senate House
and the University Library, the fine gateway of Caius College, and the
further off tower of St. John's College, fill the eye with a
delightful sense of aesthetic culture and harmony.

Entering Silver Street, a mean thoroughfare, all too narrow for its
volume of traffic, and demanding no small caution from all and sundry,
we have on our left a building for all the world like a College--so
frequently, indeed, mistaken for one by newcomers, as to have gained
the nickname of "the Freshman's College." In reality this is the
University Printing Press, or the Pitt Press, as it is commonly
called; the existing frontage opposite Pembroke having been erected in
1831, in memory of that statesman, who was a member of Pembroke
College.[12] All the official printing of the University is done here,
and the building also serves as the quarters of the University
Registrary, who keeps the record of Entrances, Degrees, etc.

[Footnote 12: The University had licensed printers from the time of
Henry the Eighth, but did not set up a Press of its own till the
eighteenth century, when influenced by the great scholar and critic
Richard Bentley.]

At the end of Silver Street, which is, happily, little over a hundred
yards in length, we reach an iron bridge over the Cam; its placid
stream "footing slow," as Milton says (in Lycidas), and only some
thirty feet in breadth. Above the bridge, however, it widens out into
a broad pool, enlivened by the rush of water from the "King's Mill,"
beyond which the eye ranges over the open levels of "Sheep's Green."
Both the mill and the bridge are amongst the oldest features of
Cambridge, and the tolls payable at both were in mediæval times a
Royal monopoly. The King's agent in collecting them on this bridge
(known as "The Small Bridge" in contradistinction to the more
important structure beneath the Castle) was a hermit, for whose
accommodation a small bridge-house and chapel were built. This curious
use of hermits, as keepers of roads and bridges, was common in
Cambridgeshire before the Reformation.

At Silver Street bridge the river enters on its course through the
enchanted ground of the "Backs," and the visitor will do well to take
water at the adjoining boat-house; for the stream here forms for half
a mile a byway lovely beyond words, not to be matched elsewhere in all
the world; flowing, as it does, between venerable piles of academic
masonry, and "trim gardens," the haunts of "retired leisure";
umbrageous, as it is, with the shade of lime, and elm, and beech, and
chestnut, and weeping willow, and laburnum; spanned, as it is, by
bridge after bridge, each a new revelation of exquisite design.

First we find ourselves with the old red brick fabric of Queens'
College on the one bank and the thicket of "Queens' Grove" on the
other, joined together by a wooden bridge, attributed to Sir Isaac
Newton, the Great Natural Philosopher and discoverer of the Law of
Gravity. A miracle of ingenious construction is this bridge, formed of
a series of mutually supporting beams requiring not a single bolt to
hold them together. Such at least it was till a few years ago, when
the old timbers, after two hundred years' wear, fell into decay and
had to be replaced, as nearly in facsimile as modern skill could

A few yards further and the red brick of Queens' gives place to the
white stone of King's; the proximity reminding us that the Founders of
these two beautiful Colleges were husband and wife, "the Royal Saint,"
King Henry the Sixth, and his heroic Consort, Margaret of Anjou. Poor
young things! They were but twenty-two and fifteen respectively when
they began these monuments of their liberality and devotion--upon the
very eve of that miserable conflict, the wars of "the rival Roses,"
which brought about the downfall and death of both. But their work
survived them, to be completed by Royal successors; King's by Henry
the Seventh, Queens' by Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Henry's rival,
Edward the Fourth of York.

[Illustration: _Clare Bridge._]

King's Bridge, beneath which we now glide, is a single delicate rib of
stone, a marked contrast to the elaborate woodwork of Queens', and to
the three arches of grey stone and balustraded parapet of Clare, the
next in order. Between these the river widens, and the view opens out
on either side; a spacious meadow dotted and bounded with elms and
limes on the west, and on the east as spacious a lawn beyond which
rise the buildings of King's and of Clare College, and the west front
of that glory of Cambridge and of the world, King's College Chapel.
This reach of the river used, a few years ago, to be the scene of a
pretty annual merry-making, known as the "Boat Show," which formed
part of the attractions of the "May Week."[13] Hither the College
boats which had been contending for precedence in the May Races used
to row up in procession and draw up side by side in a mass occupying
the whole breadth of the stream. Each crew rose in turn with uplifted
oars to salute the victors who had attained (or retained) the Headship
of the River; after which the procession returned to the boat houses
two miles below. (The races were rowed two miles below again, where
the stream is wide enough for the due manipulation of an

[Footnote 13: See page 17.]

[Footnote 14: See Chapter VI.]

Clare Bridge passed, the College gardens of Clare and Trinity Hall
(which last must not be confounded with the larger and later
foundation of Trinity College) flank our course on either side for a
short space, till the next bridge, Garret Hostel Bridge, which
proclaims its non-Collegiate origin by being (like Newnham Bridge) a
tasteless structure of iron. It is, in fact, a public thoroughfare;
the road leading to it, Garret Hostel Lane, being the solitary
survival of the dozen or so of little streets which gave access to the
River from mediæval Cambridge, till the banks were usurped by the
Colleges. And in its name we have the last surviving reminder of those
"Hostels," or officially recognised lodging houses, which, before
Colleges came into being (and for some while after), provided
accommodation for the swarming students of the mediæval University.

Garret Hostel itself, together with others, was swallowed up by the
gigantic College which we now reach, Trinity. Trinity Bridge, a
cycloidal curve carried on three arches, is led up to on either side
by the "long walk of limes" sung by Tennyson in "In Memoriam"; and the
splendid range of chestnuts which, as we pass beneath it, opens upon
us to the north-west, forms the boundary between the paddocks of
Trinity and St. John's. On the east rises the vast fabric of Trinity
Library built by Sir Christopher Wren, with its magnificent range of
arched windows and its warm yellow sandstone, an occasional violet
block adding to the effect, a veritable feast of quiet colour,
especially when glowing in the evening sun, and contrasting pleasingly
with the paler tint of the New Court of St. John's College, which,
with its plethora of crocketed pinnacles, here bounds our view to the
left front. To the right front rises the square tower of St. John's
Chapel, picturesquely reflected in the still waters.

A slight bend in the stream, overhung by great elms, brings us to St.
John's Bridge, a fine three arched structure of brick and stone built
in 1696.[15] Beyond it the College buildings rise, like those of
Queens', directly from the water--to the west the white stone
abutments of the New Court, to the east the red brick walls and oriel
window of the Library, the most beautiful building of its class in
either Cambridge or Oxford. On it we can read the date 1624, and the
letters I. L. C. S. standing for _Johannes Lincolnensis Custos
Sigilli_, which commemorate the benefactor John Williams, Bishop of
Lincoln, and Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, to whose generosity we owe
this gem of architecture. In his day, and for long after, St. John's
was quite the largest College in Cambridge, rivalled only, for a
moment, by Emmanuel. The present supremacy of Trinity did not begin
till late in the eighteenth century.

[Footnote 15: Sculptures over the piers represent the bridge itself, a
very unusual feature.]

The river is here spanned by the latest of the College bridges, a
single arch of stone high in air, carrying a pathway vaulted over with
stone and lighted on either side by grated windows, after the fashion
of the "Bridge of Sighs" at Venice. It was built about 1830 to form a
communication between the older part of the College on the eastern
side of the river and the recently erected New Court on the western,
while giving no opportunity for illicit leaving of the College. As has
been already stated, students, while bound to be inside the College
gates all night, are not bound to keep to their rooms, but may wander
about the Courts at any hour.

[Illustration: _St. John's Bridge._]

With St. John's the Collegiate buildings cease and are succeeded by
the last remaining "Hithes," or quays, used for commercial traffic,
which of old lined the banks for the whole length of Cambridge. We
read of Corn Hithe, Pease Hithe, Flax Hithe, Garlic Hithe and others.
For the river was to old Cambridge all and more than all that the
railways are now, the great artery of traffic, by which goods were far
more easily and cheaply conveyed than along the roads of the period,
which were always rough and often mere "Sloughs of Despond." Most
especially was this the case with fuel, so that in the seventeenth
century it was a familiar local saying that "here water kindleth
fire." These ancient hithes, like the street-ways leading to them,
have been almost all absorbed by the various College precincts. The
last, as we have said, are to be seen yet, still in use, with barges
(still laden chiefly with firewood) lying at them, below St. John's,
by the side of the "Great Bridge," that famous passage of the river to
which Cambridge owes both its name and its very existence. Opposite
the lowest of them there is one more riverside College, Magdalene, an
old monastic educational establishment turned to its present purpose
at the time of the Reformation by Lord Thomas Audley of Saffron
Walden, a courtier of King Henry the Eighth, who had obtained a grant
of it from that rapacious monarch.

Our Cam byway here ends; for the river here passes out of the
populated area of Cambridge. It is noteworthy that this area abuts on
its banks to the same extent and no more than it did seven hundred
years ago. The King's Ditch, which then bounded it, left the stream at
the King's Mill, where our voyage started, and rejoined it just
opposite Magdalene, where that voyage closes. It is well worth while,
however, to retrace our course, for we shall find fresh loveliness in
the reverse views of the exquisite scenery through which we have
passed; and may note the many disused archways in the College walls,
which tell how, scarcely a generation ago, this unique gem of English
landscape was actually defiled by being used as a shamelessly open


     =Queens' College=, Erasmus, Cloisters, Carmelites, Chapel.--Old
     Mill Street.--=King's College=, Henry the Sixth, King's and Eton,
     Henry's "Will."--King's College Chapel, Wordsworth, Milton,
     Windows, Rosa Solis, Screen, Stalls, Vaulting, Side-Chapels, View
     from Roof.

When we disembark once more at Silver Street Bridge, we find ourselves
standing beneath the sombre old red-brick walls of Queens', indented
just above us by a small projecting turret which we should not leave
without notice, for it bears the name and, by tradition, was assigned
to the use of the famous Erasmus during the months he spent in
Cambridge. This great light of the Reformation, or, more properly
speaking, of the intellectual revival which led up to it, was brought
here by the influence of the saintly chancellor, Sir Thomas More,
whose great wish was to broaden the University outlook by the
introduction of the Classical spirit. Hitherto its curriculum had been
almost exclusively confined to Aristotelian philosophy, adapted to
dogmatic Christianity by the great mediæval Schoolmen, especially St.
Thomas Aquinas. Erasmus brought in the knowledge of Greek, which he
had acquired from the learned exiles whom the capture of
Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 had driven to the west. Unhappily
he, in no small degree, depreciated this great gift, by clogging it
with his own self-opinionated pronunciation of the language, instead
of taking it as actually spoken. Strange to say, this "Erasmian"
barbarism shortly became a badge of Protestantism (though Erasmus
himself lived and died a Catholic). It was thus enforced during the
reign of Edward the Sixth, forbidden in that of Mary, and enforced
again under Elizabeth. To this day it remains with us, and cuts us off
from the living tongue of Hellas.

To enter Queens' it is advisable to cross the iron bridge, and recross
the river by Sir Isaac Newton's wooden structure. Passing through the
low doorway into which it leads we find ourselves in the most
picturesque of all College Courts, bounded by the Hall in face of us,
and on the other three sides by a low range of ancient red-brick
cloisters. These once belonged to the Carmelite nuns, who removed to
this site when flooded out of their original quarters at Newnham. In
1538 they sold their House to the College, just in time to escape its
confiscation, at the suppression of the monasteries, by Henry the
Eighth, who, as it was, required the purchase-money to be paid over to
_him_. Having obtained the property Queens' at once built over the
northern cloisters the beautiful gallery which serves as the
drawing-room of the President's Lodge--(it has been stated that the
Head of a College is, in Cambridge, always called the "Master," except
here, where he is "President," and at King's where he is "Provost").
The gallery, which is a wooden construction overhanging the Cloister,
is eighty feet long by twelve in width, with three large oriels
looking into the Court. Those on the other side open into the
President's garden, a charming enclosure abutting upon the river. Both
gallery and garden are, of course, strictly private. Opposite the
gallery, at the south-east corner of the cloisters, is a small Court
of Elizabethan date, known as "Pump Court," and now-a-days as "Erasmus
Court"; while from the north-east corner a tortuous little passage
brings us into a more modern Court, shaded by a fine walnut-tree
(whence its name of "Walnut Tree Court"). Here stands the New Chapel,
the best bit of modern work in all Cambridge, erected in 1895 from the
designs of Messrs. Bodley and Garner. The beautiful proportions and
effective decoration of the interior are specially noteworthy.

[Illustration: _The President's Gallery, Queens' College._]

On the southern side of this court a passage (between the old Chapel
and the Library) leads to the "Old Court," the original enclave of the
College. This has remained practically unaltered since the Foundation,
and is the best example remaining of the way in which a College was
designed of old, after the fashion of the large country-house, as then
built--Haddon Hall, for example, in Derbyshire. The red-brick and the
white stone dressings, have mellowed, as elsewhere in Cambridge, to a
tone of rich sombreness most restful and satisfying to the eye. The
somewhat gaudy clock and clock tower are modern, as is also the yet
gaudier sun-dial often, but erroneously, ascribed to Sir Isaac Newton.
Over the Hall is emblazoned the very elaborate shield of the College,
quartering the six bearings to which the poor little Queen Margaret
laid claim--those of Hungary, Naples, Jerusalem, Anjou, Lorraine, and
De Barre, all within a bordure "vert" added by Queen Elizabeth. Hence
it is that green is to-day the distinctive Queens' colour at boating,
cricket, etc.

Passing out of Queens', beneath the dignified gate-tower, we find
ourselves in Queens' Lane, the quiet byway already referred to. Quiet
byway as it now is, this was once a main street of Cambridge, known as
Mill Street, forming (as it did before the great Colleges of King's,
Trinity, and St. John's were built across it) the line of interior
communication between the two bridges of the town, "the Small Bridge"
by the King's Mill and "The Great Bridge" beneath the Castle. In those
days it was a busy thoroughfare, thick set with burgher houses; now,
in such broken lengths of it as survive, the buildings are almost
wholly Collegiate. As we emerge from Queens' gate, and turn leftwards,
we have on one side the dark-red bricks of that College, on the other
the like buildings of St. Catharine's, while, at the further end of
the street in front, our view is bounded by the white stone of the new
gateway of King's. The whole effect is delightful.

Through this gateway we now make our way into the Premier[16] College
of Cambridge, and soon find ourselves face to face with one of the
most beautiful views of the world. Before us spreads a spacious lawn,
the most extensive in existence,[17] bounded on three sides by the
white and grey walls of College buildings, while on the fourth it
merges into the wooded grass-land of the Backs; the river which
divides it from these being scarcely perceptible from this point. We
get a glimpse, however, of Clare Bridge, terminating the graceful
façade of that College, which is in our immediate front. Behind us are
the nineteenth-century additions to King's, and to our right front the
fine pile of "Gibbs' Buildings," erected, in the eighteenth century,
as a first attempt to approximate in some degree to the wishes of the
Royal Founder, and transfer his College from the cramped position it
had hitherto occupied, at the north of the Chapel, to the ampler site
on the south which he had originally destined for it, and had cleared
for his purpose by buying up and sweeping away, church and all, one of
the most thickly populated parishes in Cambridge, that of "St. John
Zachary" (_i.e._ St. John the Baptist), including a furlong's length
of Mill Street.

[Footnote 16: This rank is one of the privileges due to the Royal
Founder. Another was the exemption of King's men from the authority of
the Proctors; another their right to a Degree without passing the
usual examinations. This was given up in the middle of last century,
and now every King's student is required by the College to take
Honours in some Tripos.]

[Footnote 17: A current story tells how a millionaire, who boasted
that his money should make him a lawn as perfect, was discomfited by
being told that to attain such perfection "you must mow and roll it
regularly for 400 years. That is what has been done here."]

[Illustration: _Oriel in Queens' College._]

For the scale on which Henry VI. intended to build was something
hitherto quite unprecedented, and his plan took years to mature. The
inspiration of it was originally caught from William of Wykeham,
Bishop of Winchester, whose genius first conceived the idea of twinned
Colleges, in the provinces and at the University, from the former of
which the Scholars should pass on to complete their education at the
latter. This idea Wykeham himself first carried into effect by the
foundation of the College at Winchester and of New College at Oxford.
And, fired by his example, Henry VI., when only twenty, resolved on
doing the same thing himself with truly Royal magnificence. His
Scholars should begin their course at Eton, beneath the walls of
Windsor Castle, his birthplace and favourite residence, and should
thence pass to finish it at Cambridge, in the College which he would
there dedicate to his own Patron Saint Nicolas, on whose Feast,
December 6th (still "Founder's Day" to all Etonians and King's men),
he was born.

This was in 1440. He at once put hand to the work, and that same year
signed the Charters for both Colleges; the Head of each being called
"Provost," in order, as he said, "to weld the two Colleges together in
a bond of everlasting brotherhood,"--a bond which actually lasted in
its entirety till 1870, and of which traces even yet remain.

The acquisition of the sites involved complicated legal transactions
which occupied several years; but by 1444 Eton was sufficiently
advanced to receive its first Scholars, a colony brought by William of
Waynflete from Winchester; and by 1446 Henry was able to dedicate the
first stone of his Cambridge chapel. Every dimension of this glorious
edifice he himself worked out with the utmost minuteness, and set
down, as he would have it completed, in that notable record of his
purposes still preserved in the College Library, and known as his
"Will." The word had not in those days its present purely posthumous
signification, but was used of any formal disposition of a man's
estate, or any part of it, to some given purpose.

In this document, "one of the most remarkable works in the English
language," as Mr. J. W. Clark styles it, the King describes his future
College so accurately that a complete plan and elevation of the whole
can be drawn from it. We thus learn that Gibbs' Building represents
what was meant to be the western side of an enclosed court, with a
fountain in the midst of it. The Chapel was to form the northern side
of this court; the entrance, with its turreted gate-tower, the
eastern; the Hall and Library, the western. The great lawn before us
was not to be, as now, an empty space, but was to be occupied, partly
by a small "kitchen court" containing the various offices (bake-house,
brew-house, etc.), partly by a cloistered cemetery between the Chapel
and the river, from the western side of which was to rise a pinnacled
tower, 220 feet high, the rival to that at Magdalen, Oxford, which was
already being planned by William of Waynflete. Another turreted
gate-tower, on the very bank of the river, was to give access to the
College Bridge (further north than the present one). Had this plan
been carried out in its entirety, King's would indeed have been, as
the historian Stow puts it, "such that the like colledge could scarce
have been found again in any Christian land."

[Illustration: _Queens' College Gateway._]

Unhappily its splendid design was brought to nought by the great
tragedy of the Wars of the Roses, which broke out almost immediately.
The singular mildness with which that conflict was waged (except on
the actual field of battle), with no wasting of lands, with no burning
of towns or villages, with no slaughter (and scarcely any plunder) of
non-combatants, permitted the work on the Chapel, which, as we have
seen, was already begun, to proceed, though slowly, and did not even
stop the conveyance of stone from the chosen quarry at Huddleston in
Yorkshire. The payment of the workmen was a harder matter, for Henry
was far from being a wealthy monarch. He and his wife between them had
less than the equivalent of £50,000 per annum, all too little for the
expenses of their position, even in days of peace. Still the pay was
found, in a certain measure, and the workmen came and went till
dispersed by the appalling tidings that their Royal Saint had been
deposed and murdered in the Tower. Then in panic horror they flung
down their tools and fled, with such haste that they did not even
complete the job on a block of stone, already half sawn through, which
lay, as Logan's print of 1680 shows it, in the south-east corner of
the present Great Court, Henry's intended quadrangle, a testimony to
their despair, for upwards of three centuries. Then, when the idea of
carrying out his intention was at last revived, this stone was
appropriately used as the first to be employed for that purpose, the
Foundation Stone of Gibbs' Building.

The work on the Chapel thus abruptly stopped by the Founder's death
remained in abeyance for the remainder of the century. Not till 1508
was it resumed. The shell of the building was finished 1515; the glass
and woodwork being added under Henry the Eighth. But in the end it was
completed substantially in accordance with the Founder's Will, and is
the only part of his design that has been so completed. His huge
campanile, his cloisters, his gate towers, never came into being; and
though the Great Court is now where he meant it to be, it is built in
a fashion very different from his design.

This we see at a glance as we enter it round the southern end of
Gibbs' Building. For it is not an enclosed quadrangle, but formed of
two detached blocks to south and west, while the east side is only a
stone screen, erected in 1825, and of a sadly inferior style. But the
"goodly conduit" of the Founder's Will does rise in the midst,[18] and
the north side is actually formed, as he decreed, by his glorious
Chapel, the most magnificent in the world, which now rises before us
in all its grandeur as we behold it across the Court.

[Footnote 18: His statue surmounts it, flanked by two figures
representing Science (gazing at the Chapel) and Religion (with her
eyes devoutly fixed upon the Hall). To leap across from the lawn to
the pedestal of this group is a feat seldom accomplished.]

And if the outside view is impressive, that which greets us when we
enter is absolutely overpowering in its majesty. The sense of space
and repose; the up-running lines of the shafting catching the eye
whithersoever it turns, and leading it up to the myriad-celled spans
of the vault; the subdued light through the pictured windows staining
the venerable masonry; the great organ, upborne by the rich oaken
screen, dominating the whole vista, combine to form, as has been well
said, "a _Sursum Corda_ done into stone," uplifting indeed to heart
and sense alike. And when to this feast of visual harmony is added the
feast of aural harmony, when the clear and mellow voices of the Choir
blend with the majestic tones of the organ,

  "And thunder-music, rolling, shakes
   The prophets blazoned on the panes,"

we can understand how the inspiration of the scene has thrilled poet
after poet, not Tennyson only, as above quoted, but Wordsworth, and
even Milton, Puritan as he was, yet more. To the former King's College
Chapel suggested one of the most exquisite of his sonnets:

  "Tax not the Royal Saint with vain expense,
   With ill-matched aims the architect, who planned,
   Albeit labouring for a scanty band
   Of white-robed scholars only, this immense
   And glorious work of fine intelligence.
   'Give all thou canst! High Heaven rejects the lore
   Of nicely calculated less and more.'
   So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
   These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof,
   Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells,
   Where light and shade repose, where Music dwells,
   Lingering and wandering on as loth to die;
   Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
   That they were born for immortality."

And Milton, when he came under the spell of this most glorious
sanctuary, forwent all his conscientious objections to the Laudian
revival of ornate services, "the scrannel pipes of wretched straw,"
and all the rest of his denunciations, and was, in spite of himself,
carried away into forgetfulness of all save the glory and the beauty
around him. Hear him in "Il Penseroso":

  "But let my due feet never fail
   To walk the studious cloister's pale,
   And love the high embowed roof,
   With antique pillars massy proof,
   And storied windows richly dight,
   Casting a dim religious light.
   There let the pealing organ blow
   To the full-voiced choir below,
   In Service high and Anthem clear,
   As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
   Dissolve me into ecstasies
   And bring all Heaven before mine eyes."

[Illustration: _Clare College from King's._]

This passage is memorable, not only for its own intrinsic loveliness,
but because we, very probably, have in it a key to the great
historical puzzle connected with King's College Chapel. How came these
"storied windows," with their hundreds of pictured prophets, saints,
and angels, to escape the ruthless destruction which was meted out to
all such "idolatrous" representations, throughout the length and
breadth of the county, by the Parliamentary authorities at Cambridge?
William Dowsing, their authorised agent, went from church to church,
in town and village, shattering and defacing, and has left us a minute
record of his proceedings, in which he evidently took a keen personal
delight. Thus, amongst the colleges we have already noticed, he tells
us that, at Peterhouse, "we pulled down two mighty great Angells with
wings, and diverse other Angells, and the four Evangelists, and Peter
with his Keies over the Chappell Dore, and about 100 Chirubims." At
Queens' "we beat down a 110 superstitious pictures, besides
Chirubims"; and so on, with monotonous repetition, entry after entry.
The account also records the sums which each college had to pay him
for his trouble, and such a sum (of extra amount in consideration of
the magnitude of the task) was actually paid him by the Bursar of
King's. Yet here are the windows before our eyes to-day in unbroken,
unblemished dignity.

No contemporary explanation is forthcoming, and the true facts of the
case seem to have been kept so close, and to have been known to so
few, that no tradition, even, of them was handed down to posterity. As
time went on, the wildest and most impossible theories were evolved to
account for the marvel. It was gravely said that the windows had been
taken down by the Fellows themselves in a single night, and securely
buried from the baffled spite of the Roundheads before morning, till
better times; the place of each being known to one Fellow only! That
the west window alone remained plain till the latter part of the
nineteenth century (a peculiarity really not explained by history),
was held proof positive that the Fellow in charge of that particular
burial was done to death by the Puritans without betraying his secret;
which equally defied the researches of later generations. Such
searches were actually made. A more sentimental variant of the story
made the hider a pious little chorister, shot down by Cromwell in the
chapel itself for refusing to reveal where lay his precious charge!
Through the empty casement a white dove flew in, and hovered over the
heroic innocent! It need scarcely be pointed out that to remove the
glass from a single one of these huge windows would be a work of days
for a fully equipped band of professional glaziers supplied with
scaffolding; yet these absurd tales were gravely repeated, and the
missing window was actually sought for. The truth of the matter will,
probably, now never be known. But it is certain that the windows could
not have been spared without the connivance, at least, of Oliver
Cromwell, whose influence was at that time paramount in Cambridge; and
it is a plausible conjecture that his protection of them was due to
the intercession of his friend John Milton, to whom, as we have seen,
the Chapel and its "dim religious light" meant so much.

A full study of these wonderful windows, crowded as they are with
marvellously elaborate detail, is a work demanding hours of close
attention under the direction of a competent guide. Even for the
cursory examination which will suffice most of us the use of a
guide-book is essential; and it is fortunate that one has been brought
out (purchasable at any Cambridge book-shop for the modest sum of
sixpence) by Dr. M. R. James, the present Provost of King's, who is
the supreme European authority on ancient stained glass.

The general scheme of decoration is the representation of the life of
Our Lady (to whom the College is dedicated), beginning in the
westernmost window of the north side, with her traditional birth, and
going on round the Chapel, till it ends, in the westernmost window of
the south side, with her Assumption and Coronation. But as the
traditions concerning her did not provide a sufficient number of
scenes for the requirements of the designer, the series is eked out,
not only by various incidents in her Son's life wherein she does not
appear (such as His Baptism, Temptation, and Passion), but by the
three windows to the western side of the great screen on the south
being filled with subjects drawn from the stories of St. Peter and St.
Paul; all being, however, within the traditional period of her

A first glance at the windows produces only the effect of a gorgeous
maze of colouring, through which we marvel that any clue should have
been found. Next to the general effect of the ineffably harmonious
blending of hues, the audacious vividness of the hues themselves, red
and green and blue and gold and purple, is what first impresses the
eye. Then we notice how, down the central light of each window, stand,
one above another, four great figures, human or angelic, each
displaying an inscribed scroll.[19] These figures are known as the
Messengers, and when not Angels they are Old Testament Prophets. Their
scrolls, which are in Latin, refer, sometimes by direct description,
oftener by a suggestive text, to the subjects depicted in the Lights
on either hand of them. The inscriptions, however, are of very little
practical use to the visitor. Age has rendered many of them wholly,
and more partially, illegible; while the black-letter characters of
their crowded Latin words are not easy to decipher at the best. They
are, moreover, by no means free from actual blunders, and the
connection between text and scene is sometimes far from obvious. Their
interest, in fact, is for experts; and less-gifted visitors will do
well to content themselves with the interpretation given in the

[Footnote 19: These figures are somewhat larger than life-size.]

The same advice applies to the glass in general. It is not worth while
to spend on a detailed study of the windows the time necessarily
involved. Much of the work is excellent, and almost every window has
its points of interest, but much, especially amongst the heads of the
figures, is far from pleasing. This fact is largely owing to a
considerable "restoration" undertaken in the Early Victorian era; when
the art of glass-painting was at a sadly low ebb, and when the
uncurbed restorer positively revelled in substituting for ancient
decay his spick-and-span modern conceptions. But, as has been said,
almost every window has features deserving that time should be made
for their notice, which we now proceed to point out.

Each window contains four scenes, the upper and lower, to left and
right of the central "Messengers," being normally co-related as Type
and Antitype. This relation, however, is not universal, and does not
occur in the first window of the series (that in the north-west corner
of the Chapel), where the four scenes consecutively illustrate the
legend connected with the birth of Our Lady. The story runs that her
parents, Joachim and Anna, were childless even unto old age, and that,
in consequence, Joachim, on presenting his offering in the Temple, was
insulted by the High Priest. As he sadly sought retirement in the
country an Angel appeared to him with the message that he should
return to Jerusalem, where his wife would meet him at the Temple gate,
and a daughter would be born to them.

The upper left-hand of the window shows the mitred High-Priest waving
away Joachim, who is sorrowfully departing. His face is beautifully
rendered. In the upper right-hand corner we see him kneeling before a
green and gold angel hovering downwards. The rural surroundings are
suggested by a pastoral composition. Note the sheep-dog and the
shepherd's bagpipes.

[Illustration: _King's College Chapel._]

In the lower left-hand light Joachim and Anna are meeting before the
Temple gate; and in the right-hand Anna is sitting up in a blue bed
with red curtains, watching the infant Mary being washed. Mary has
long golden curls, and her face is that of an adult; but Dr. James
considers this head a later insertion. This window is known to have
been repeatedly and promiscuously repaired (even as early as 1590),
and was in utter confusion till the latest releading (1896). The
repairs seem to have been executed with any old bits of glass the
glazier might happen to have in stock. On one fragment (now removed)
some coins of Charles the First were represented. Most of the windows
have suffered, more or less, in this way, but none (except that over
the south door) to the same extent as this first window, which though
the first in order of subject, seems not to have been the first
inserted, or at least completed; for at the top may be read the date
1527, whereas the window over the screen on the north side contains
that of 1517.

These two dates are respectively near the inception and the completion
of the glazing, which was begun 1515, the year when Luther began the
Reformation by the publication of his famous Theses, and finished
1531, the year in which that Reformation was first inaugurated in
England by the King being declared Supreme Head of the Anglican
Church. The windows, however, must have been designed at a date
considerably earlier, for in the heraldic devices which fill the small
top lights Henry the Seventh, not Henry the Eighth, is treated
throughout as the reigning monarch; his shield being blazoned in the
central compartment, while the latter is only commemorated by the
initials H. K.,--the last standing for his ill-fated wife Katharine of
Aragon. These heraldic devices are the same in all the windows, and
show the rival roses of York and Lancaster, the Tudor Portcullis and
Hawthorn Bush, the Fleur-de-lys, and the initials H. E. (for Henry the
Seventh and his Queen, Elizabeth of York). All the glass is of English
manufacture, the work of four London firms, but it seems probable that
the artists were to some extent under both Flemish and Italian

Passing on to the second window, we find it thus arranged:

                 TYPE                |              TYPE
  Presentation of a golden table in  | The Marriage of Tobias and Sara.
        the Temple at Delphi.        |          (_Tobit_ vii. 13.)
               ANTITYPE              |            ANTITYPE
  Presentation of the Virgin in the  | The Marriage of Mary and Joseph.
        Temple at Jerusalem.         |

The first scene here is the only instance in the Chapel of a
non-Scriptural incident being made use of as a Type. It is the
Classical legend (found in Valerius Maximus, an obscure Latin writer
used in the sixteenth century as a school book), which tells how a
question as to the ownership of a golden table found in the nets of
some Milesian fishermen was referred to the Delphic oracle of Apollo
for solution. To whom should this table of pure gold be made over? The
Oracle replied "To the Wisest." The prize was therefore given to
Thales, the wisest Milesian of the day, who modestly passed it on to
another sage, and he to yet another. Finally, after thus going the
round of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, it came into the hands of Solon
the Athenian, who declared that "the Wisest" could be no other than
Apollo himself, and accordingly presented the table to the God in the
Temple of Delphi. By a strange application, this tale was considered,
in mediæval literature, as typical of the Presentation of the Virgin
in the Temple at Jerusalem; her purity and that of the gold being,
apparently, the connecting idea.

In the window we see the offering of the golden table; Apollo being
represented by a golden image bearing a shield emblazoned with the
Sun, and a banner. Beneath is Mary, as a young girl dressed in blue,
walking up the steps of the Temple; an incident much dwelt on in the
legend. In the upper Marriage scene note the Angel Raphael, the
comrade and guide of Tobias; and, in the lower, Joseph's rod, the sign
from which (a dove appearing upon it) marked him out, amongst all her
suitors, as Mary's destined husband. This scene suggests a
reminiscence of Raphael's well-known cartoon on the subject, which had
lately been painted.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the third window the arrangement is:

          TYPE                 |             TYPE
        The Fall               |        The Burning Bush
  (Eve's disobedience).        |     (remaining unconsumed).
        ANTITYPE               |           ANTITYPE
     The Annunciation          |         The Nativity
    (Mary's obedience).        |    (Mary remaining a Virgin).

Note the human head and hands of the Serpent, and the brilliant
ruddiness of the apple. Also the ruby flames of the bush, and the
representation of God the Father at its summit. Moses is in the act of
putting off his shoes from his feet. In the Nativity scene the Babe
can only be discovered by following the gaze of the child Angels who
are clustering round in adoration. Contrary to the usual convention,
which shows Him sitting on His Mother's knee as if a couple of years
old, He is here represented realistically as an actual new-born baby.
Above both lower lights in this window is a renaissance arcading.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the fourth window we have:

           TYPE                |             TYPE
  The Circumcision of Isaac.   | The visit of the Queen of Sheba
                               |          to Solomon.
         ANTITYPE              |           ANTITYPE
  The Circumcision of Christ.  | The visit of the Wise Men to
                               |            Christ.

The face of Abraham and that of the officiating priest below are both
good, and so is that of the Queen. The Epiphany Star is a fine object,
and the effect of its light irradiating the thatch of the manger-shed
is most powerfully rendered.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fifth window gives us

           TYPE                      |        TYPE
  The Legal Purification of a woman. | Jacob's flight from the
                                     |   vengeance of Esau.
         ANTITYPE                    |      ANTITYPE
  The Purification of Mary.          | The Flight into Egypt.

In the Purification scene the faces of Simeon, who is the main figure,
Mary, and Joseph (carrying the dove-cage), are all worth looking at.
So is Joseph in the Flight episode; which, however, is chiefly
remarkable for introducing in the back-ground a legend from a late
carol, which tells how Herod's soldiers pursued the Holy Family, and
how the pursuit was miraculously checked. The fugitives met a
husbandman, and instructed him to answer any inquiry for them by
saying, "They passed whilst I was sowing this corn"; which was
actually the case. But, lo! when the pursuers shortly came up the corn
had sprung up, and was ripe already to harvest. It takes some little
trouble to decipher this scene. The Purification is seen through an
arcade of the Temple, on the frieze of which is a group of classical
horsemen like those of the Parthenon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next window is that over the great organ screen dividing the
ante-chapel from the choir. It is arranged thus:

               TYPE                 |              TYPE
          The Golden Calf           | The Massacre of the Seed Royal by
    (the introduction of Idolatry). |         Queen Athaliah.
             ANTITYPE               |            ANTITYPE
  The idols of Egypt falling before | The Massacre of the Innocents by
           the Holy Child           |           King Herod.
     (the overthrow of Idolatry).   |

The Golden Calf is set high on a magnificent ruby pillar. Before it
Moses is breaking the Tables of the Law; one fragment of which shows a
Flemish inscription. Below, an idol is falling headlong from a
precisely similar pillar. The kneeling figure in this scene is the
Governor Aphrodisius, who was converted by the miracle; as is recorded
in the apocryphal "Gospel of the Infancy." In the Massacre scene Queen
Athaliah is represented by a conventional figure of the _Virgo
Coronata_ (with her Babe in her arms). The artist evidently had this
figure in stock, and used it rather than take the trouble of producing
something less incorrect. Near her there is a minutely depicted
mediæval thatched house worthy of notice. So is the business-like
callousness in the expression on the leading soldier's countenance.
This window bears, as has been said, the date 1517, written 15017.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are now in the choir, where our first window gives:

             TYPE                  |             TYPE
  Naaman washing in Jordan.        | Esau tempted by Jacob to sell
                                   |        his birthright.
           ANTITYPE                |           ANTITYPE
   Christ baptised in Jordan.      | Christ tempted by the Devil.

All three Temptations are given, the first being in the foreground.
The countenance of the Devil (as a respectable old man) is a
marvellous study.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second window in the choir is:

                  TYPE               |             TYPE
  The raising of the Shunamite's son.|     The Triumph of David
                                     |       (I _Sam._ xvii).
                ANTITYPE             |           ANTITYPE
     The raising of Lazarus.         |     The Triumphal Entry.

The Shunamite's house is another bit of minute detail. Note the dishes
on the shelf in front. Note also the magnificently gigantic head of
Goliath borne by David on the point of the Philistine's own huge

       *       *       *       *       *

The third window:

       TYPE             |           TYPE
     The Manna.         |   The Fall of the Angels.
     ANTITYPE           |         ANTITYPE
  The Last Supper.      |  The Agony in Gethsemane.

The manna is shown as falling in the shape of Communion Breads. Below,
Christ gives the sop to the red-haired Judas, while Peter, who thus
becomes aware of the traitor's identity, clenches his fist with a
gesture of menace extraordinarily forcible.

The connection between the right-hand subjects is not obvious. Dr.
James suggests that it refers to Christ's speaking of the casting out
of Satan as a result of His Passion (John xii. 31). The smaller scale
of this scene, and the nimbi given to Christ and the Apostles point to
its having been the work of a special artist.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fourth choir window:

        TYPE              |           TYPE
  Cain murders Abel.      | The mocking of David by Shimei.
      ANTITYPE            |         ANTITYPE
  Judas betrays Christ.   |     The mocking of Christ.

Cain is killing Abel with a large bone. Note the ruby fires of their
respective altars in the back-ground, Abel's spiring upwards in full
flame, while Cain's is blown down to the earth. In the betrayal scene
the face of Malchus, as he lies upon the ground with his broken
lantern under him, should be observed. It is highly expressive.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fifth window:

         TYPE           |          TYPE
   Jeremiah in prison.  |   Noah mocked by Ham.
       ANTITYPE         |        ANTITYPE
  Christ before Annas.  |  Christ mocked by Herod.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now reached the last window of the northern range, that in the
north-east corner of the Chapel. It shows us:

         TYPE                |          TYPE
  Job scourged by Satan.     | Solomon crowned by his mother.
                             |    (_Cant._ iii. 11.)
       ANTITYPE              |        ANTITYPE
  Christ scourged by Pilate. |  Christ crowned with thorns.

In the scourging scene we may note the singularly unpleasing features
and expression of the Saviour's face; which Dr. James holds to be
purposely so delineated, in reference to the words of Isaiah: "He hath
no form nor comeliness, and when we see Him there is no beauty that we
should desire Him." We do not, indeed, find in the entire series of
windows one single attempt to represent Him worthily. The conventional
face, familiar throughout the ages to Christian Art, even from the
first century, and probably a real recollection of Him, is
consistently departed from (as is characteristic of the Renaissance
period), and with it has gone every divine and exalted association.
Where even the genius of Michael Angelo failed, we cannot look to find
the glassworkers of London succeeding.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great east window has no central messengers, and thus contains six
scenes, each occupying three lights, arranged thus:

  The Nailing to the | Christ crucified | The Descent from the
         Cross.      |  (the Piercing). |        Cross.
                     |                  |
      Ecce Homo!     |  The Sentence.   | The Way of Sorrows.

There is little to call for special notice in this window. Structural
conditions necessitate the Cross being of abnormal height. In the
background of the Way of Sorrows is a vivid ruby patch, which may be
meant for the Field of Blood.

       *       *       *       *       *

Turning to the south-east window, we are confronted with an entirely
exceptional development. The whole of the upper half is occupied with
a single subject (the Brazen Serpent), and that in Early Victorian
glass inconceivably poor and crude. The lower half is ancient and
typical, the type and antitype being placed side by side:

      TYPE                      |         ANTITYPE
  Naomi bewailing her husband.  | The Holy Women bewailing Christ.
               (_Ruth_ i. 20.)  |

The history of this marked departure from the norm is that the
buildings of the Great Court were planned to abut upon the Chapel
here, so as to block the lower half of the window, for which,
accordingly, no glass was provided. That which is there now was
originally in the upper half and was moved down in 1841, the Brazen
Serpent being substituted for it. The remaining windows on this side
of the choir also underwent a sad amount of "restoration" at the same

       *       *       *       *       *

The next window (the fifteenth in the entire sequence) is of the
normal arrangement.

           TYPE                   |          TYPE
  Joseph cast into the pit.       |   The overthrow of Pharaoh.
        ANTITYPE                  |        ANTITYPE
  Christ laid in the Sepulchre.   |      The Harrying of Hell.

The last scene is a most forcible representation of Christ's
victorious "Harrying of Hell," as conceived by mediæval imagination
and referred to by Dante in his Inferno. The Conqueror of Death has
forced His resistless way through the shattered gates of Hell, on
which He stands, treading under His feet the gigantic leaden-coloured
bulk of their demon warder. Before Him kneels Adam, at last rescued
from his age-long captivity, and other Holy Souls. In the back-ground
a blue devil gazes in dismay from the red mouth of Hell (represented
after the usual mediæval fashion, as an actual mouth, with teeth,
etc.), while another, in livid green, is dancing with demoniac rage
above, and yet another, white and gold, is scudding away in terror as
fast as his wings will carry him.

       *       *       *       *       *

The remaining windows of the choir on this side deal with the
Resurrection. In the first of these (the third from the east) the
subjects are:

               TYPE                  |            TYPE
    Jonah escaping from the Fish.    |  Tobias appearing to his mother
                                     |    (who had thought him dead).
             ANTITYPE                |          ANTITYPE
  Christ arising from the Sepulchre. |  Christ appearing to His Mother.

The Fish is represented as a long green sea-serpent with a black,
cavernous mouth, out of which Jonah is stepping. In the background is
a ship, and, beyond, Nineveh. The Sepulchre is in the frequent
unscriptural shape of a table monument.

In the right-hand type, Tobias has his dog with him, and also his
angel guardian Raphael. That Christ appeared to His Mother is first
found in St. Ambrose, who mentions it as undoubted. She is here shown
kneeling at a prayer-desk.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the next window we find:

             TYPE                    |           TYPE
    Reuben finds Joseph taken away   | Darius, at the Lions' den, sees
              from the pit.          |         Daniel living.
           ANTITYPE                  |         ANTITYPE
  The Marys find Jesus taken away    |Mary Magdalene, at the Sepulchre,
        from the Sepulchre.          |        sees Jesus living.

In the last scene Christ is represented with a spade, inasmuch as Mary
Magdalene supposed Him to be the gardener. Her very pronounced
costume, with its astonishing golden ear-covers, is probably a German
fashion of the early sixteenth century.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fifth window gives the story of Christ's appearance to the
disciples who went to Emmaus:

             TYPE                    |         TYPE
  Tobias, on his journey, is joined  | Habakkuk shares his meal with
  by the angel Raphael, in           | Daniel at Babylon.
  appearance a wayfaring man.        | (_Bel and the Dragon_, v. 33.)
             (_Tobit_, v. 4.)        |
           ANTITYPE                  |       ANTITYPE
  The two disciples on their journey | Christ shares the meal of
  are joined by Christ, in           |   disciples at Emmaus.
  appearance a wayfaring man.        |

Observe that the bread in Our Lord's hand appears to be, not broken,
but cut clean as with a knife. There was a mediæval legend to the
effect that He showed His divine power by thus breaking it. Note, too,
Raphael's brilliant green and crimson wings, put in to denote his
angelic nature, though the story postulates their absence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following window (that next to the screen) deals with the story of
St. Thomas (John xx.), and has been wrongly arranged: what are now the
right-hand scenes should be the left so as to come first. It now
stands thus:

           TYPE                     |          TYPE
  The Prodigal Son returns to his   |  Joseph meets Jacob in Egypt.
              Father.               |
         ANTITYPE                   |        ANTITYPE
  Thomas returns to belief in Jesus.| Jesus meets His Disciples at
                                    |         Supper.

We find in the first scene here what is perhaps the most ably drawn
figure in the entire series of windows, that of the Elder Brother.
Observe the utter contempt and disgust written on his face and in his
whole attitude. He wears a pair of most aggressively red leggings.

       *       *       *       *       *

The window over the organ loft shows us the Ascension, and the Coming
of the Holy Ghost.

         TYPE                  |          TYPE
  Elijah going up into Heaven. | Moses and the Israelites receiving
                               |      the Law at Pentecost.
       ANTITYPE                |        ANTITYPE
  Christ going up into Heaven. | Mary and the Disciples receiving
                               |  the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Elijah is deliberately turning round in his golden chariot of fire to
cast down his ample ruby mantle upon Elisha. Moses is taking the
Tables of the Law from the hand of God.

       *       *       *       *       *

The subjects of the three windows between the screen and the south
door are all from the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul, and nearly all
from the Acts of the Apostles, from which also all the texts are
taken. Accordingly the place of the usual prophetic Messengers is, in
these windows, taken by figures of St. Luke (all identical), habited
in the costume worn by a Doctor of Medicine in the sixteenth century.
The series of type and antitype is dropped in these windows, and no
strict chronological order is observed in the sequence of the
subjects. Probably some have been misplaced, either originally or at
one of the various releadings to which they have necessarily been
subjected. Every century brings fresh need for this operation.

The subjects in the first window are:

  Peter and the Apostles entering   | Peter and John bound and
          the Temple.               |        scourged.
  Peter and John healing the lame   |   The Death of Ananias.
        man in the Beautiful Gate.  |

The design of the last scene is directly copied from Raphael's
well-known cartoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second window gives:

  The Conversion of St. Paul.   | St. Paul at Damascus and his
                                |       escape in a basket.
  St. Paul adored at Lystra.    | St. Paul stoned at Lystra.

       *       *       *       *       *

The third window is also Pauline:

  St. Paul giving a farewell blessing |St. Paul before the Chief Captain at
          before embarkation.         |              Jerusalem.
  St. Paul exorcising the demoniac at |St. Paul before Caesar at Rome.

The first of these scenes is interesting. The text (Acts, xvi. 2)
connects it with St. Paul's departure from Troas on his first voyage
to Europe. But the subject seems to be the touching scene at Miletus
(Acts, xx) on his final departure for Jerusalem. The ship here, whence
the boat is rowing to fetch him, should be noticed, as it is a fine
and accurate specimen of sixteenth century naval architecture. Observe
the lateen yard on the mizen mast. The man who drew that ship, unlike
most artists, knew his ropes, they are all in their right places. In
the last scene note the startled and awed expression on Nero's almost
obliterated face, also his Imperial crown.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now almost completed our round of the Chapel, and are again at
the south door by which we entered. Only two more windows remain, and
in these we return to the typical treatment of Our Lady's life. That
over the south door has, by accident (as it appears), been more
shattered and defaced than any other in the Chapel. It is arranged

      TYPE              |       TYPE
  The death of Tobit.   | The burial of Jacob.
    ANTITYPE            |     ANTITYPE
  The death of Mary.    | The burial of Mary.

Mary is dying with the full rites of the Church. St. Peter sprinkles
her with holy water, while St. John places in her hand a lighted
"trindall" (three candles twisted together). The prayer book and cross
are borne by other Apostles. Her bier is covered by a white pall with
gold cross, and two severed hands may (with difficulty) be seen
clinging to it. This refers to the legend that a certain Jew who
sought to overthrow the bier was thus miraculously dismembered, and
did not recover his hands till he penitently besought her to restore

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally the south-west window completes the wondrous series:

         TYPE                |         TYPE
  The Translation of Enoch.  | Bathsheba enthroned by her son
                             |        Solomon.
                             |      (_I. Kings_, ii., 19.)
       ANTITYPE              |       ANTITYPE
  The Assumption of Mary.    | Mary crowned by her Son Jesus.

       *       *       *       *       *

The west window remained unglazed, for some unknown reason, till as
late as 1879, when there arose a benefactor, Mr. Francis Stacey, a
Fellow of the College, who has left this noble memorial of his
generosity. The glass is by Messrs. Clayton and Bell, and the subject,
as is usual in west windows, is the _Last Judgment_. The heraldic
devices in the tracery are not those found in the older windows, but
comprise (in order) the Tudor Portcullis,[20] the Plantagenet Rose,
and the shields of King's College, Eton College, Cambridge University,
King Henry VI., King Henry VII., King Henry VIII., Queen Victoria, and
Stacey. There are also the shields of the See of Lincoln, whose Bishop
is _ex officio_ Visitor of the College, impaling Wordsworth (then
Bishop), and of Okes (then Provost of the College).

[Footnote 20: The Portcullis was adopted by Henry the Seventh as the
Tudor badge, to signify that his claim to the throne was double
(through his mother, Lady Margaret, as well as his wife), even as a
portcullis doubled the defensibility of a castle gate.]

The glass of King's College Chapel by no means exhausts the interest
of the building. The next point to be observed is the great organ
screen, erected during the brief ascendancy of the miserable Ann
Boleyn, whose initials are carved upon it. On either side of the
door-way, within, are emblazoned the twin shields of King's and Eton;
differing only in that the former bears three red roses, the latter
three white lilies (not fleurs-de-lys) on the sable ground beneath the
chief, with its lion of England and fleur-de-lys of France on their
respective red and blue. The organ itself was not put up till 1606,
but the nondescript Renaissance dragons supporting it show that the
case must have been in hand more than half a century earlier. They
are for all the world like Raphael's wonderful creations in the
Vatican. The great trumpeting angels on the top of the organ are
eighteenth century work. Originally much smaller angels stood there,
which in the seventeenth century were replaced by pinnacles. The doors
of the screen belong to the Laudian revival, and bear the arms of
Charles the First. The west door of the Chapel is of the same period,
but the north and south doors are the original ones.

The Choir stalls date from Henry the Eighth, but the elaborate coats
of arms carved over each were not added till 1633, and the canopies
not till 1675. The magnificent brass lectern was given by Provost
Hacombleyn, at the opening of the chapel; but the present altar is a
very modern addition, having been only put up in the twentieth
century. It stands, as directed by the Founder, no fewer than 16 feet
from the eastern wall. The wood-work of the sanctuary walls is not
even yet (1910) fully completed. It is of Renaissance character, as is
also the altar. The lighting of the Chapel, it should be said, is
still, happily, done only with candles; and, on a winter afternoon,
their twinkling points of fire, in endless range, amid the vasty
gloom, give an impression of mysterious solemnity to be obtained
nowhere else.

Beautiful as the Chapel is, it would, had the designs of the Founder
been carried out, have been yet more beautiful. His Will expressly
deprecates that "superfluitie of too gret curious werkes of entaille
and besy moulding" which the ante-chapel now exhibits in the elaborate
series of Royal coats of arms beneath every window. They are
beautifully carved, it is true, and we may note that the attitudes of
the supporters (the Tudor dragon and greyhound) are in no two cases
identical. But the whole effect is somewhat to weary the eye. So also
do the perpetual roses and portcullises with which the walls are
bestudded. One of the former, however, deserves special notice, as in
it is framed one of the very few mediæval images of Our Lady which has
weathered the storm of the Reformation. It is to be found at the
southern corner of the west wall, and is what is known as a _Rosa
Solis_. The inner petals are sun-rays, and in the midst is the "Woman
clothed with the sun." (The White Rose of York is also sometimes
represented in the windows as a sun-rose, the sun being also a
Yorkist badge, but in this the rays are external to the flower.)

The walls, then, would have been less ornate, and more truly beautiful
for the absence of profuse ornament, had the Founder's design been
carried out. And we can see that even the exquisite roof was meant to
be yet more lovely than as it now enraptures the eye. If we look at
one of the soaring pilasters and follow up its lines, we shall see
that each of the flutings is prolonged in a rib of the fan vaulting.
No, not quite each. There is one member which has no such
prolongation, but ends meaninglessly at the capital. And this tells us
that the pilasters were designed to carry not a fan but a _liern_
vaulting; so called because it appears to be a mesh of intertwined ivy
(_lierre_) binding the fabric together. And beautiful as a fan roof
is, a liern roof is capable of expressing harmonies of proportion yet
more delicate and soul-satisfying. How subtle and exalted these
harmonies would have been here we shall best learn if we have the good
fortune to gain admission to the range of small side-chapels which
flank the fane on either hand, nestling between the mighty buttresses.
For in these, while the more western have the fan roof, the eastern
and earlier built show liern vaulting of the most delicious character.

These side-chapels were intended each to have an altar, at which the
Priest to whom it was assigned should say his own Mass daily, while
all should meet later before the High Altar to assist at the
Collegiate Mass. They are now used for various subsidiary purposes
connected with the services. One contains the heating apparatus,
another the hydraulic bellows of the organ, while many are mere
lumber-rooms. These last are those abutting on the Choir, which have
no opening into the Nave, such as those adjoining the ante-chapel
possess. Through the gratings we may note some stained glass of an
entirely different character from that in the Chapel windows. It is,
in fact, of the previous (Fifteenth) Century, and thus older than the
Chapel itself. From what earlier building it has been transferred is
uncertain. Tradition, for some unknown reason, assigns it to Ramsey
Abbey; but it seems more reasonable to suppose that it came from the
old church of St. John Zachary hard by, when that was pulled down to
make room for the College, and its fragments, as excavation has shown,
utilised for levelling the site.

In one of the southern side-chapels will be found a verger, from whom
it is well worth while to obtain access to the roof of the Chapel.
This is reached by a wide spiral stairway in the north-western turret.
Our first goal is a small door (the key of which should be specially
asked for) leading into a narrow loop-holed passage, from which we can
scramble into the space between the two roofs of the Chapel. We are
here on the top of the fan vaulting which we have so much admired from
below, and can note with what wondrous skill its huge stones are
dovetailed into one another with the round keystone boss in the centre
of each span. Above, and only just above, our heads are the mighty
beams of Spanish chestnut composing the upper roof, the long vista
being lighted by a small grated window at either end.

Returning to the staircase it does not take many steps more to bring
us to the roof proper, with its open-work parapets and long leaden
slope. This should be climbed to get the full benefit of the view, and
those gifted with steadiness of head and sureness of foot will do well
to make their way along the ridge from end to end, for each has its
own beauties to show. To the West we see below us the great lawn, and
the court of Clare, and the river, and the delicious verdure of the
Backs, amid which rise the red walls of the Ladies' College at
Newnham, and the adjoining Anglican foundation of Selwyn; while beyond
is the open country, bounded by the low chalk upland stretching from
Madingley Hill on the North to Barrington Hill on the South. The
spire, so conspicuous on the summit of this range, is that of
Hardwicke Church. To the South we can distinguish the places already
described, (the little glass dome of the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the
graceful spire of Our Lady's Church, being conspicuous objects,) and,
beyond, the distant range of the East-Anglian Heights from the
furthest north-east to the furthest south-west, that form the
watershed of the wide valley of the Cam. To the East, the tower of the
University Church, Great St. Mary's, raises its turrets almost to the
level of our feet, and we look down on a maze of Cambridge house-roofs
bright with the variegated tiling which is their special and
beautiful characteristic. Beyond them the near promontory of the Gog
Magog Hills juts out from the East-Anglian Heights on which lies
Newmarket. To the North come College after College, Clare, Trinity
Hall, Caius, Trinity, St. John's, Magdalene; while the University
Library and the Senate House lie nearer still. Due north, across
these, and across the wide-flung plain beyond them, the plain of the
Southern Fenland, we can, if the day be clear, discern on the far
horizon the shadowy towers of Ely Cathedral, fifteen miles away as the
crow flies.


     Spiked gates.--Old King's.--=University Library=, Origin, Growth,
     Codex Bezæ.--=Trinity Hall=, Colours, Library.--=Clare College=,
     "Poison Cup," Court, Bridge, Avenue.--The Backs, Sirdar Bonfire,
     College Gardens.--=Trinity College=, Michaelhouse, King's Hall,
     Henry the Eighth, Boat-clubs, Avenue, College Livings, Bridge,
     Library, Byron, Nevile's Court, Cloisters, Echo, "Freshman's
     Pillar," Prince Edward, Royal Ball, Goodhart, Buttery, College
     Plate, Grace-cup, Kitchen, Hall, Combination Room, Marquis of
     Granby, Tutors, Old Court, Fountain, Gate Towers, Clock, Lodge,
     Chapel, Newton, Organ, Bentley, Windows, Macaulay.

On leaving King's Chapel we should give a glance to the marked line of
demarcation between the whitish stone of which the lower courses are
built and that employed in the upper.[21] It is of historical interest
as showing how far the work had progressed before the long break
caused by the Founder's death. Then, passing round the West Front, and
noting the exquisitely delicate tracery of the canopies over the empty
niches on either side of the door (wherein the two saints Mary and
Nicolas to whom the building is dedicated were destined to stand) we
leave the College by the iron gate on the North.

[Footnote 21: The former is from Huddleston in Yorkshire, the latter
from Weldon in Northamptonshire.]

The formidable chevaux-de-frise which crown this gate are supposed at
once to figure and to emphasise the danger run by such presumptuous
students as dare to contemplate illicit exit from or entrance into the
College during prohibited hours. It has already been said that between
10 p.m. and 7 a.m. no undergraduate resident in College may leave its
precincts, and no outsider may enter, under divers pains and
penalties. Every College supplements this moral pressure by more or
less effectual and awe-inspiring physical barriers. None however are
more fearsome to see, and less effective in fact, than these. For not
only can the College be entered or left with comparative ease by way
of the Backs, but even this ghastly array of spikes is not unscalable
to those who know the trick of it. Tennyson, as will be remembered,
has referred to this exploit in his "Princess."

Passing beneath them we find ourselves again in that same ancient
street of Cambridge, here again now a wholly Academic byway, by which
we entered King's. But though we have left the College behind us we
have not yet quite got clear of its associations. The fine modern
Gothic pile to our right embeds, as we see, an ancient gateway. For
more than three and a half centuries this was the entrance to the one
small Court which alone represented the magnificent design of Henry
the Sixth for his Royal Foundation. Not till the nineteenth century
dawned were the students moved to the other side of the Chapel. The
old precincts were then mostly destroyed, and the site made over to
the University Library; for the growth of that magnificent institution
has long taxed to the utmost all the accommodation that can be
provided for it.

The mediæval Library of the University was a collection of
manuscripts, requiring only one small room. Of its eighteen
book-cases, eight were devoted to Theology, four to Law, and one
apiece to Classics, Mathematics, Medicine, Logic, Moral Philosophy,
and Scholasticism. This original Library was utterly swept away at the
Reformation: Dr. Perne of Peterhouse, when Vice-Chancellor in the
reign of Edward the Sixth, thus signalising his new-born zeal for
Protestantism. A few years later, however, we find him amongst the
first founders of the present Library, which now ranks third amongst
the great Libraries of England; that of the British Museum standing
first, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford second. All three are
entitled to a free copy of every book published in the kingdom; so
that their growth is now-a-days portentously rapid. One of the most
striking features in this Library is the tableful of new books, scores
in number, which is cleared every Friday.

This rapid growth however is modern. The one ancient room sufficed
for the Library, till George the First rewarded the Whig loyalty of
the University by a gift of 30,000 volumes.[22] The expansion thus
begun has continued with accelerated speed. One by one the various
ancient "Schools" which, with the old Library room, formed a small
quadrangle, have been absorbed by its growth; until now the whole
block belongs to it, as well as the old site of King's College, the
main edifice on which, known as "Cockerell's Building," was erected
1837, where the College Hall once stood.

[Footnote 22: This gift called forth a satirical epigram from Oxford;
where the prevalent Toryism was made the pretext for quartering a
regiment of cavalry in the city to suppress Jacobite demonstrations:

  "King George, observing with judicious eyes
   The state of both his Universities,
   To Oxford sent a troop of horse;--and why?
   That Learned Body wanted Loyalty.
   To Cambridge books he sent; as well discerning
   How much that Loyal Body wanted Learning."

A retort (in which the humour is a trifle less spontaneous) was
speedily penned by Sir William Browne, who specialised on epigrams and
left prizes for their encouragement which are still annually awarded:

  "The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse,
   For Tories own no argument but Force.
   With equal skill to Cambridge books he sent;
   For Whigs admit no force but Argument."]

The Library is open only to Members of the University (Masters of Arts
having the privilege of taking out not more than ten books at a time)
and such ladies as are fortunate enough to find a place on the
admission list. For this it is needful that two Masters of Arts should
certify that the lady is, to their personal knowledge, seriously
engaged in some branch of study or research. And even when admitted,
she finds herself under disabilities, being forbidden to occupy any
seat except in one room (the oriel window of which is visible from our
standpoint at the gate of King's). Ordinary visitors may only enter
under the escort of an M.A., who may take in six at a time.

[Illustration: _Old Gate of King's College._]

Those who have the good hap to be thus inducted, will, besides the new
books, probably be most impressed by the long range of volumes forming
the catalogue, and by the densely packed shelves of long-forgotten
fiction in the "Novel Room." But the real treasures of the Library are
to be found in Cockerell's Building. Here, in a range of cases, are to
be seen our best Manuscripts, including a Thirteenth Century life of
Edward the Confessor, the illustrations in which were found useful as
a precedent even at the coronation of his latest namesake on the
British Throne. At the extreme end, in a separate case, is the crown
of all, one of the earliest manuscripts of the Gospels, dating from
the Fifth Century. Only four others of equal authority are known, one
in the British Museum, one in the Vatican Library, one at Paris, and
one at St. Petersburg. Ours is known as "D" or "Codex Bezæ," from
being the gift of the celebrated Calvinist divine Theodore Beza, who
procured it from a soldier after the sack of its early home, the
Monastery of St. Irenaeus at Lyons, in the Sixteenth Century. It is
noteworthy for containing passages not found in any other Codex, one
of which may be read (in Greek and Latin) on the single leaf here
exposed to view. It narrates how our Lord, "seeing a certain man
working on the Sabbath, said unto him: Man, if thou art doing this
with Knowledge thou art blessed, but if without Knowledge thou art

Space does not permit us to enlarge further on the Library; and we
return to our station at the old gate of King's College. As we look
along the lane our view is bounded by the College whose name it now
bears, Trinity Hall. This must not be confounded with the larger and
later Foundation of Trinity College, next door to it beyond. Trinity
Hall was founded in 1350, by Bishop Bateman of Norwich, specially for
the education of Clergy. It has, however, actually, become especially
given to the study of Law, and is yet more widely known by its prowess
in aquatics. Its boat, for the last half century, has never been far
from the Headship of the River, and has oftener attained that coveted
position than any other. The colours of the College, white and black,
are thus of wide renown. They are derived from the College Shield,
which in heraldic language is sable a crescent ermines with a bordure
ermines. Visitors who approach Cambridge by the London road see this
device upon the milestones near the town, which were set up by the
College in the eighteenth century, and were the first milestones
erected in Britain since the days of the Roman occupation.

The Library here (which is open to visitors from noon to 1 P.M. in
Full Term) is the best example left us of what libraries were of old
in Cambridge. It was built about 1560, and still retains its original
book-cases, the tops of which form desks for reading the folios in the
shelves beneath. These were in old days chained to rings sliding on a
locked bar which ran the whole length of each desk. Some of the books
are so chained still, but not in the ancient fashion; for of old books
were shelved with the backs inward, the title being written across the
closed leaves of the front.

Otherwise the College has little to show us; and, instead of seeking
it, we shall do better if we turn westwards through the specially
beautiful iron gate which leads us into Clare College. The coat of
arms beneath which we pass as we enter has its tale to tell concerning
the foundation of the College. They are those of the noble lady who,
in 1338, thus commemorated her widowhood, an example followed, as we
have seen, in the next decade, by Marie de Valence at Pembroke. But
Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Gilbert de Clare (the "Red Earl" mentioned
in _Marmion_), had gone through no fewer than three of these
lamentable experiences. She therefore not only charged her College
Shield with the golden chevronels of Clare impaled with the golden
cross of De Burgh (her latest husband), but surrounded the whole with
a sable bordure besprinkled with golden heraldic tears, bearing
perennial witness to her repeated sorrows. Hence it comes that the
Clare "colours" are to this day black and gold.

Few College edifices convey such a sense of unity as these of Clare.
"Their uniform and harmonious character gives them, at first sight,
the appearance of having been built from one design, and carried out
at one time."[23] As a matter of fact, however, the existing buildings
are of no fewer than five separate dates, each separated by decades,
and extending altogether over nearly a century and a half (1638-1768);
while of the original fourteenth century structure no trace whatever
is left. The eastern and northern sides of the Court are the earliest,
built between 1638 and 1643, when the work was stopped, five years
after its commencement, by the outbreak of the Civil War; while the
stones and beams made ready for its continuance were commandeered by
the Roundheads for the new works which they were then throwing up to
strengthen the defences of Cambridge Castle. Not till 1669 did the
College finances so far recover from this blow as to permit the
resumption of the building. The western side was then built, followed
by the northern (1683-93), while the Chapel was not added till 1768.
But the result of all this patchwork is an exquisite little gem of a
Court, its balustraded walls overshadowed by the towering pinnacles of
King's College, and giving, as we have said, a wonderful sense of
unity, which is partly owing to older work having been altered to
harmonise with the newer.

[Footnote 23: Atkinson and Clark, _Cambridge Described_.]

The College treasury contains some most interesting and beautiful
specimens of sixteenth-century plate. One tankard is known as the
"Poison Cup," because, mounted in the cover, it has a conical fragment
of crystal, such as was supposed, in the pharmacy of the day, to
change colour if poison were poured into the vessel. This cup is of
glass enclosed in exquisitely wrought filigree work. The thumb-piece
is an angel with outspread wings. Another tankard is the "Serpentine
Cup," the bowl being of that stone. This too is enclosed in most
beautiful silver-gilt work, adorned with flowers and fruit and birds
and arabesques. Yet another is the "Falcon Cup," a receptacle in the
shape of that bird, originally intended, it would seem, for holding
sweetmeats. All these were presented to the College by Dr. Butler,
Court Physician to King James the First, of whom Fuller says that "he
was better pleased with presents than money, and ever preferred
rarities before riches."[24]

[Footnote 24: Foster and Atkinson, _Old Cambridge Plate_.]

Passing through the court, we come to the beautiful bridge, already
familiar to us from the river. Its balustraded parapet is surmounted
by fourteen large balls of stone, thirteen of them whole, and one out
of which a cantle of nearly a quarter of its bulk has, for some
unknown reason and at some unknown date, been cut. A cheap laugh may
thus be obtained by challenging a stranger to count these balls
accurately; for the missing cantle, being turned towards the river, is
quite invisible from the bridge itself. Another feature in connection
with these balls is that one of them is visibly much newer than the
rest (which, like the bridge, date from the middle of the seventeenth
century). This is due to a not very far off feud between Clare and St.
John's, when a piratical Johnian crew came up the river after dark and
stormed the bridge. Before the enraged Clare men could open the iron
gate under the College archway and pour out to the rescue, the enemy
had begun throwing the balls into the water, where one sank so deep
into the muddy bottom that it could never be recovered.

From the bridge we get a lovely view of the College "Backs." To the
south the single slender arch of King's Bridge flings itself over the
river in the graceful curve which is all its own; to the north we see
the iron span of Garret Hostel Bridge, hiding from us the beauties of
Trinity Bridge beyond. But, if there be no ripple upon the water, the
three graceful arches of this invisible bridge are seen reflected upon
the glassy surface with a specially charming effect. The whole view is
amongst the world's loveliest, especially in the May term, when the
Master's little garden to our right glows with bright colour, answered
across the stream by that of the Fellows; when the water is alive with
gay little craft, gigs, punts, and canoes; and when the "ambrosial
dark" of the Avenue before us beckons us on to explore the delights of
its umbrageous depths. It was planted in 1691, and is carried for 150
yards on a wide embankment, dense with shrubs and closed with
jealously-spiked gates at either end, across what was once an island
in the river (known as Butts Close), till it debouches on to the
elm-shaded length of greensward described in our opening page, and
named, in old maps of Cambridge, "King's College Back-sides." The
whole does, in fact, belong to King's, but the many rights of way
which traverse it make it practically an open park.

Not so long ago oaken railings (still to be seen in places) ran
between it and the road, till a visit from Lord Kitchener (then Sirdar
of Egypt, fresh from his Ethiopian victories) was made the occasion of
a gigantic bonfire in the Market Place, to feed which the whole were
torn up and carried away by gangs of enthusiastic undergraduates. A
like fate befell the wooden palings and gates of the College gardens
across the road, now replaced by iron, and altogether the damage done
ran into hundreds of pounds; while the town police and the University
proctors waited for each other to act until too late. There are three
of these College gardens on end--King's, Clare, and Trinity; and
rarely lovely they are, with their wide "smooth-shaven" lawns, broken
into glades by clumps of ornamental trees. But each can only be
entered under the ægis of a Fellow of its own respective College, and
they are so carefully planted out from the road that scarcely even a
glimpse can be gained of the delights within, "where no profaner eye
may look."

Leaving these on our left we proceed along the northward-leading path
till we reach the fine iron gate which bears the escutcheon of
Cambridge's mightiest College, Trinity, a College more than twice as
large as any other, numbering something like 700 residents, students
and teachers together. Like London, which an Indian visitor once
described as "not a city, but a herd of cities," Trinity may be
described as a conjoined herd of colleges, for it was created by the
amalgamation of no fewer than nine earlier institutions. Two of these,
Michaelhouse[25] and King's Hall, were amongst the most noteworthy
colleges in Cambridge. The former was founded by Henry de Stanton,
Chancellor to King Edward the Second, in 1323, and was thus, next to
Peterhouse, the oldest college in Cambridge. And King's Hall was but a
few years younger, being founded by King Edward the Third in 1336.
Indeed, it may claim to be actually the elder in embryonic existence,
for Edward the Second, in 1317, was already maintaining
scholars--"children of our Chapel" as his writ calls them--in
Cambridge. And that these "children" (who were required to be at least
fourteen years of age on coming into residence) were quartered
hereabouts is evident from King's Hall having been built across the
line of an ancient street running down to the river and known as
"King's Childer Lane." The town agreed to the expropriation of this
lane in consideration of one red rose annually to be paid by the
College to the Corporation on Midsummer Day. The remaining seven
foundations incorporated in Trinity College were hostels (institutions
for lodging students, more or less organised in college fashion, but
not recognised by the University as colleges). These were St.
Catharine's Hostel, Physwick Hostel, Crutched Hostel, Gregory's
Hostel, Tyled Hostel, Oving's Inn, and St. Gerard's or "Garret"
Hostel; which last, as we have seen, is still kept in memory by the
name of the public bridge crossing the river between Trinity and

[Footnote 25: Michaelhouse (like Peterhouse) derived its name from the
neighbouring church which was used for worship by the Scholars till
they got a chapel of their own.]

[Illustration: _Old Schools' Quadrangle._]

All these, Colleges and Hostels alike, were seized upon by Henry the
Eighth, when that rapacious and unprincipled monarch desired to pose
(in 1546, a year before his death) as a Pious Founder, and go down to
posterity as a benefactor. He gained this credit cheaply; for not only
did he thus get his edifices ready made, but their endowments also;
while such additional endowments as he bestowed on his new College
were almost wholly derived from the spoil of the Abbeys suppressed by
him. Nor did he fail to take toll of each transfer of this stolen
property for the benefit of his exchequer. His professed object,
meanwhile, was "to educate Youth in piety, virtue, self-restraint,
charity towards the poor, and relief of the distressed." His alumni,
in short, were to be made as opposite to himself in character as

From the very first, Trinity thus became almost the largest and
wealthiest College in Cambridge. For a century it disputed the
headship of the University with its neighbour, St. John's College, and
for another century and more sang second to that great rival. But in
1785 it drew ahead, and since that date has improved its lead without
a check, till now it stands not only first but without a second. So
large is it that it cannot, for very sportsmanship, row as a whole in
the bumping races, but has to be divided for that purpose into two
boat clubs, denominated respectively "First Trinity" and "Third
Trinity,"--or, in common speech, "First" and "Third" simply. The
former is the original "Trinity Boat Club" and this is still its
official name, whence it is also known as the "T.B.C." It wears the
original Trinity colours,--dark blue,[26] with the badge of a golden
lion and three crowns, the device of King Edward the Third. The latter
consists of Trinity men from the two great rowing schools, Eton and
Westminster. It is, of course, a very much smaller body than "First,"
but, as its members come up ready-made oarsmen, it has been almost as
frequently Head of the River. Both boats are always in the first
flight. Once there existed a "Second Trinity" club, which has long
since ceased to maintain its existence.

[Footnote 26: The T.B.C. boat was one of the two first boats to appear
on the river. The other was the "Lady Margaret" or St. John's boat,
whose colours were (and are) bright red. These two boats used to row
along, challenging each other, by sound of bugle, to extempore bursts
of racing. This was in the Twenties. The first regular College races
began in the year 1827; but only five Colleges rowed (Trinity, St.
John's, Caius, Jesus and Emmanuel). Not till 1859 were all

We enter the precincts of this great College by "that long walk of
limes," up which Tennyson passed, as he tells us in "In Memoriam,"
when he re-visited Cambridge, "to view the rooms" once inhabited by
his friend and hero, Arthur Hallam.[27] This avenue was planted in
1672,[28] and leads us to the fine cycloidal[29] bridge, built at the
same period. After crossing this, we should not keep straight, which
would bring us into the "New Court" where Hallam dwelt (a poor bit of
architecture erected 1825), but rather turn to the left, by the path
that sweeps along the bank of the river, with its fine weeping
willows. Looking back, as we leave the bridge behind us, we may admire
the climbing agility which frequently enables undergraduates to
descend to the projecting piers just above the water, and find their
way back again, without a ducking.

[Footnote 27: Hallam's rooms were on the southern side of the New
Court, in the central staircase (letter G), and were the western set
on the first floor. Tennyson himself never "kept" in College, but had
lodgings, first in Rose Crescent, and afterwards opposite the Bull

[Footnote 28: Its line was determined by the distant spire of Coton
Church which for two centuries closed the vista. (It is now hidden by
these trees.) A current witticism was that the view symbolised a
Trinity Fellowship--a long, straight-forward prospect, closed by a
village church. Till the year 1878 every Fellow had to become a Priest
of the Established Church within seven years, on pain of forfeiting
his Fellowship. After this he was a Fellow for life, unless he
married. And each Fellow in turn had a right to any College living
that fell vacant. All this is altered now. Fellows are elected
unconditionally for a limited period (which may be renewed), and
College livings are assigned to the best men to be had, whether of
Trinity or not.]

[Footnote 29: A cycloid is the curve described by any single point on
the rim of a rolling wheel.]

We have here in front of us the New Court of St. John's College, seen
across its lawn-tennis grounds; while to our left is the magnificent
range of horse-chestnuts along the boundary of the two Colleges.
Splendid at all times, these are seen at their very best when duly
touched by frost. To our right rises the fine mass of Trinity Library,
built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675; whose walls of warm-coloured
stone have been already dwelt upon. The lower portion of the building
forms an open cloister, with grated windows and gates barring it from
the Backs where we stand.

Through one of these gates our path leads us, and we find ourselves
within the College, and at the door of the Library. At certain hours,
usually between three and four in the afternoon, this is open to
visitors; at others the escort of a Member of the College is needed.
Of all the College Libraries in Cambridge this is the most interesting
in its miscellaneous contents. Mounting the wide stone stair-way, we
enter the long, wide, lofty, vaulted gallery, with a series of wooden
book-cases projecting from either wall all along its course. The
carved wreaths of flowers and leaves and fruitage which adorn these
cases deserve careful notice. They are by Grinling Gibbons, probably
the most wonderful wood carver who ever lived, and their intricacies
bear striking testimony to his almost superhuman skill. In the
recesses between the cases are to be seen sundry curios, from the
College estates and other sources, while more are to be found in the
long ranges of glass-covered tables topping the smaller book-shelves
which line either side of the central passage way. Roman and
Anglo-Saxon antiquities, and a splendid series of coins and medals,
are here exhibited. Amongst the miscellaneous curios are a model of
Cæsar's famous bridge across the Rhine and a globe of the planet Mars.

What will, however, first catch our eye on entering, will be the
window at the southern end of the room, with its painted glass so
unlike anything to be seen elsewhere. It is, in fact, unique, having
been made in the middle of the eighteenth century by the discoverer of
this particular method of staining glass, who kept the process
secret--a secret which died with him and has never been recovered. The
window cannot be called artistically beautiful, and the subject is
weird. The University of Cambridge, represented as a lady in a
somewhat scanty robe of yellow, is presenting Sir Isaac Newton to King
George the Third (who did not come to the Throne till 1760, many years
after the great philosopher died), while the transaction is being
recorded by Francis Bacon Lord Verulam of Elizabethan fame!

Beneath this window is Thorwaldsen's fine marble statue of Lord Byron,
one of Trinity's greatest poets. This was originally intended for
Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, but the Dean and Chapter of the
period so strongly disapproved of Byron's morality that they refused
it a place there. Apart from his poetical genius, he as little
deserved to be honoured in Trinity library; for, as an undergraduate,
he not only accomplished the apparently impossible feat of climbing by
night to the roof (which others have more than once done since)[30]
but abominably disfigured the statues upon it, in which he has had,
happily, no imitators. Other relics of him are preserved hard by,
which are supposed to bear upon the thrilling question as to how far
he had or had not a club foot.[31]

[Footnote 30: Nocturnal exploration of the College roofs has been so
favourite an amusement amongst undergraduates that not long ago a book
was actually published entitled _The Roof-Climber's Guide to Trinity
College_. Every eminence in the College has been scaled, save only the
Great Gate Tower. The Hon. C. S. Rolls, who was afterwards the first
man to fly from England to France and back, and who fell a martyr to
his zeal for aviation, was, in his day, the most daring and systematic
of all Trinity roof-climbers.]

[Footnote 31: Byron himself was morbidly sensitive on this point. Mr.
Clark (_Guide to Cambridge_, p. 140) tells how he abused a friend who
fell behind out of courtesy: "Ah! I see you wish to spy out my
deformity." He was in residence 1805-8.]

For these few will care; but this end of the library contains things
which few can fail to care about. Here is the death-mask of Sir Isaac
Newton, and a reflecting telescope, on the model invented by him. Here
is Thackeray's manuscript of "Esmond," and Tennyson's manuscript of
"In Memoriam." Here is Milton's manuscript of "Lycidas," and his first
design for "Paradise Lost," all cut and scored about with alterations
and corrections, showing that he originally designed his great poem to
be a drama, the characters of which (headed by Moses) are here listed.
Here, too, is a copy of the "Solemn League and Covenant" imposed on
all men by the Puritans at the time of the Great Rebellion.[32] This
was found hidden amongst the rafters of a village church near

[Footnote 32: This instrument bound its subscribers to zealous
endeavour, far from any "detestable indifference and neutrality," for
the "extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, ... Archbishops, Bishops, Deans,
Chapters, Archdeacons, and all that Hierarchy." Every adult in the
kingdom had to sign this very thoroughgoing test, on pain of

And here is a copy of the famous Indulgence sold by Tetzel, Luther's
denunciation of which gave the signal for the earliest outburst of
Protestantism at the Reformation. When the crabbed old printing is
deciphered it proves to be a startlingly mild document, no licence to
commit sin, as is generally supposed, but merely granting to the
purchaser the privilege of confessing, once in his life, to a priest
of his own choice instead of to the parson in whose parish he dwelt.
The priest so chosen is given authority to absolve from nearly all
sins, but not from the heinous offence of buying alum from anyone
except the Pope, in whose territory it had, at that date (1515), been
recently discovered. Alum was in those days a most valuable substance,
and had hitherto been attainable only at the Turkish town of Roc, in
Syria, whence the name of "rock alum" still surviving in use amongst
pharmacopoeists. To buy it there was not only to take money out of the
pocket of the Pope, but to put it into those of the enemies of
Christendom. Hence the heinousness of the offence.

Trinity library forms the western side of one of the Courts of the
College, known as "Nevile's Court" (from Dr. Thomas Nevile, Master at
the close of the sixteenth century, who planned and began it in 1610),
and also as "Cloister Court," from the wide cloisters which surround
it on the north, south, and west. The eastern side is formed by the
Hall, raised four feet above the ground level, and reached by a
beautiful balustraded and terraced staircase of stone. It is the
finest college hall in either university, and was also the work of

In the northern cloister which leads us to it, there are sundry points
not to be overlooked. As we look along it from the library entrance we
perceive at the far end a door with a stalwart iron knocker. Now there
is a fine echo in this cloister, and a stamp of the foot at our end
will evoke a sound from the door precisely like that of a knocker. So
great a part does illusion play in human impressions, that five people
out of six, when they hear this sound, are ready to declare that they
have seen the knocker actually move. It was by timing this echo, we
may mention, that Sir Isaac Newton first measured the velocity of
sound. The echoing properties of these cloisters are referred to by
Tennyson in the "Princess":

  "our cloisters echoed frosty feet."

The massive block which pillars the angle of the cloister is known as
the "Freshman's Pillar"; a favourite old-time amusement of the junior
students (not yet wholly disremembered) having been to traverse the
very narrow base-top right round, without setting foot to the ground.
In old times, indeed until the last quarter of the nineteenth century,
these cloisters played a notable part in undergraduate life. Athletic
pursuits were far less general than now, and exercise was largely
pedestrian. On a wet day, accordingly, when the roads were uninviting,
the cloisters used to be crowded with a veritable swarm of trampers,
doing "quarter-deck" from end to end of the three covered sides of the

[Illustration: _Clare College from Bridge._]

The stair-case entrances here lead to specially delightsome sets of
rooms, with oak panels and beautiful plaster ceilings. One of these
was occupied by the late Duke of Clarence, when, as "Prince Edward,"
he was an undergraduate of Trinity, mingling freely with the college
life around him, and making himself generally beloved by his simple
unaffected pleasantness.[33] His royal father, when Prince of Wales,
was also an undergraduate of Trinity; but Court etiquette was stricter
in those days, and, instead of being in College, he was quartered at
Madingley Hall, four miles away. A few months after his wedding, in
June, 1864, he brought his beautiful bride to visit Cambridge and take
all hearts by storm. In their honour the whole area of Nevile's Court
was tented in and floored over and made into one vast ball-room, which
included the cloisters and the hall stairway. The former were used for
promenading, all the best settees and arm-chairs to be found in
College being commandeered to be placed in them; the Hall served for
supper; while the band was housed beneath the Library. All was
beautifully decorated and lighted (though it was before the days even
of paraffin lamps), and the whole scene was one of unforgettable
brilliance.[34] The cost was, naturally, something portentous; but
those were the times of academic prosperity, before the great
agricultural depression of the following decade brought down rents,
and with them college incomes, almost (sometimes altogether) from
pounds to shillings.[35]

[Footnote 33: These same rooms (on the south-westernmost staircase)
were probably those occupied by Lord Byron.]

[Footnote 34: The entrance was from the New Court, which communicates
with Nevile's Court by an arcade in the southern cloister of the

[Footnote 35: All the Colleges have thus suffered severely; King's
being hit hardest of all. Trinity was less seriously affected, owing
to the fact that much of its land lies in the North of England.]

The beautiful rooms of Nevile's Court are mostly held by Fellows of
the College whose names may be known in the doorway lists by the "Mr."
prefixed to them. Over one doorway we see a small bronze bust, set up
as a memorial to Mr. Goodhart who once "kept" there and was an object
of special admiration to all who knew him. He was, in fact, a kind of
Admirable Crichton; not only a man of great intellectual power (as
Fellows of Trinity must needs be, for these fellowships are the "blue
riband" of the University), but excellent at all athletic pursuits,
and able to do successfully whatever thing he set his hand to. It is
recorded that on one occasion a bet was laid that he could not make
himself an entire suit of clothes, and wear them for a month without
their amateur origin being detected. Goodhart won the bet.

Beautiful as Nevile's Court is, it was originally yet more beautiful,
with transomed windows, and gabled dormers instead of the present
eighteenth century parapet. These are shown in a view "after Logan,"
given by Atkinson,[36] from the terrace before the Hall, by which we
leave the court, passing through a low and massive wicket gate of
black oak. This admits us into the "screens," a short and narrow
passage having the Hall on one side, and, on the other, the kitchen
and the Buttery. This last word has no connection with butter (though
butter is here issued), but is derived from _butler_, as being the
place where the ale for the hall dinners is served out. Its door, as
is universal in such places, is a "hatch," the upper and lower halves
of the door opening independently, and a broad sill on the top of the
latter forming a sort of counter across which the business of the
place is transacted. Of old the buttery served as an office, where
much of the clerical work of the College was done; but this branch of
its usefulness is now transferred to a special department.

[Footnote 36: _Cambridge Described_, p. 444.]

When each College brewed its own ale and baked its own bread, as was
the case till some half-century ago, the Buttery was a really
important place. Even now the daily ration of bread and butter to
which each Collegian in residence has a right, is here booked to him.
This ration is called his "Commons." If for any approved reason he
does not desire to draw it in any given week he is said to be "out of
Commons"; and if, as sometimes happens, he is deprived of the right
for misconduct, he is said to be "discommonsed" for such or such a
period. (The equivalent phrase at Oxford is "to be crossed at the
Buttery.") The Buttery officials also have charge of the adjoining
strong-room in which the magnificent store of the College plate is
secured; mighty salvers and bowls and "grace-cups,"[37] besides
dishes, and the hundreds of spoons and forks, all the gifts of
benefactor after benefactor since the College was first founded. A
visitor may sometimes be fortunate enough to get a sight of these
resplendent piles.

[Footnote 37: A "Grace-cup" is a large silver tankard which at College
feasts is solemnly passed down the High Table, each guest in turn
standing up to drink it. Three, indeed, must always be so standing,
the drinker, the last man, and the next man; whence the cup has
sometimes three handles. At each potation the three concerned formally
bow to each other.]

A sight of the kitchen, which adjoins the Buttery, can almost always
be had, and is worth having; though the glory of the place has largely
departed with the substitution of gas stoves for the old open ranges,
six feet high and twelve feet long, before which scores of joints and
fowls might be seen simultaneously twisting on huge spits. If less
picturesque, the cooking is now more scientific, and the kitchen is a
splendid chamber, the finest of all College kitchens, with an open
pitched roof, and an oriel window, having been traditionally the
ancient Hall of Michaelhouse. The walls are adorned with the shells of
turtles, emblazoned with the dates of the great occasions on which
they were immolated for soup. It is not only the dinners in Hall which
are here cooked. Members of the College may order dishes to be sent to
their own rooms, in reason; though any very extra expenditure in this
respect would need to be authorised by your Tutor. This extraneous
fare may constantly be seen being carried about the Courts, in large
flat blue boxes, on the heads of the kitchen servants.

The doors of the Hall may usually be found open, or a request at the
Buttery may open them; though there is a certain amount of luck in the
matter, as the Hall is not only used for meals but for College
examinations also, which, of course, must not be disturbed by
intruders. A common lunch is served during Full Term, from 12 till 2,
at which such as list sit where they will, Dons and undergraduates,
cheek by jowl. The three daily dinners which the size of the College
makes necessary are more formal affairs, especially the latest at
7.45, which the authorities of the College attend, sitting at the two
High Tables on the dais, and faring more sumptuously than the students
in the body of the Hall. Of these only the "Senior Sophs"[38] may be
present, the "Junior Sophs" and Freshmen being relegated to the
earlier hours. The westernmost range of tables is sacred to Bachelors
of Arts and to the Scholars of the College. The rest may sit where
they please at the remaining tables, and diners may enter and leave at
their pleasure during the meal, but any course missed by lateness is
missed for good. Ordinary morning dress is worn, except on special
Feasts. Conversation may be freely indulged in, though it hardly,
nowadays, rises to the height of Tennyson's heroic phrase in "In
Memoriam," "the thunder of the Halls." The Master of the College
himself does not dine in Hall except at great Feasts, but in his own
adjacent Lodge, to the north, which communicates directly with the
Hall by a door in the panelling between, and also by a sliding panel
above, whence he (and his ladies) can, unobserved, overlook, and more
or less overhear, what passes.

[Footnote 38: For the first year of his residence the student is
called a Freshman, in the next he is a "Junior Soph," and in the third
a "Senior Soph." The origin of the word "Soph" is doubtful. It is
presumably short for Sophist; but all Americans will recognise it as
the origin of their "Sophomore." And American University nomenclature
is largely derived from Cambridge. The word, however, has of late gone
out of general use, and practically survives scarcely anywhere but in

The high-pitched roof with its elaborate beams is copied, as are the
other features (and the dimensions) of the Hall, from the Hall of the
Middle Temple in London. Its ridge is broken in the centre by a
"Lantern," or small openwork spire of wood (the openings being now
glazed). This once served as a ventilating shaft, through which might
escape the fumes of the great brazier (a yard in depth and two yards
across) standing beneath it, and, till this generation, the only means
used to warm the Hall. Over the doors is a "Music Gallery," usually
closed in by quaintly carved shutters, whence, on Feast days, the
College Choristers still discourse melody. The armorial bearings in
the windows are those of eminent members of the College; while
pictures of its more prominent Worthies (or Unworthies) hang on the
walls. Conspicuous amongst these is Holbein's great portrait of Henry
the Eighth, who stands "straddled over the whole breadth of the way,"
above the centre of the High Table, in all his underbred
self-assertion, looking indeed "all our fancy painted him." His
unhappy daughter Mary (who built the College Chapel) hangs near him,
her full dourness and wretchedness in her face. Thackeray (a
singularly powerful presentation) is also here, so is Clerk-Maxwell,
so is Bishop Lightfoot, and many another light of literature, science,
and theology; for the great size of Trinity has given it as great a
proportion in the rolls of Fame.

On the other side of the Screens, in the "Combination Room," whither
the High Table adjourns for dessert, may be seen other famous Trinity
men, the most conspicuous being the celebrated Marquis of Granby,
standing by his war-horse, with the bare bald head which won him his
renown. He was in the act of charging the enemy[39] at the head of his
regiment when the wind of a cannon ball carried away his hat and wig;
and he did _not_ halt his soldiery that they might be picked up. This
unexampled pitch of heroism awoke the wildest enthusiasm throughout
the length and breadth of England and made "The Marquis of Granby," as
readers of Pickwick will remember, a favourite sign for inns
throughout many years. Entrance to the Combination Room is only
obtained through favour. There is little else to notice in it except
the beautiful polish of the mahogany tables.

[Footnote 39: At the battle of Minden, 1759.]

In the Screens are posted up the current College Notices--the hours
and subjects of the lectures, the dates and results of the College
examinations,[40] and the various tutorial admonishments of the Term.
There is usually only one Tutor in a College, but the great size of
Trinity requires the services of four; each being responsible for his
own "Side," as it is called, consisting of some 150 students, to whom
he is supposed (and the supposition is no unfounded one) to be "guide,
philosopher, and friend," keeping a wise eye to their progress, moral,
social, and intellectual.

[Footnote 40: Besides the University Examinations needed to obtain a
Degree, every College keeps its students up to the mark by extra
examinations of its own, held usually twice a year. There are also
competitive examinations for the College Scholarships, and (at
Trinity) for the Fellowships. About seventy per cent. of Trinity
students are "Honour men"; reading, not for the ordinary (or "Poll")
Degree, but for one or other of the various Triposes. And of these
"Honour" candidates of Trinity, over thirty per cent. attain a First
Class; which is thus gained by nearly twenty-five per cent. of Trinity
students, the highest College average in the University.]

[Illustration: _Trinity Bridge._]

Passing through the eastern doorway of the Screens we meet what is
perhaps the most ideal academic view in the world. From our feet
descends a semicircular stairway with steps of worn stone leading down
to a vast enclosure of greensward, surrounded and traversed by broad
walks of flags and pebbles, and enclosed on all sides by venerable
Collegiate buildings with battlemented parapets. These buildings are
not very lofty; which makes the court look even larger than it is, and
gives the greater effect to the three grand gate towers, one of which
adorns each of the three sides before us. In the midst of the Court
(which is not far from square but delightfully irregular in shape)
rises the inspired gracefulness of the fountain--with its octagonal
base of broad steps (surrounded by bright flowerbeds) and its
crocketed canopy upborne upon slender pillars with beautifully
proportioned arches.[41] The whole is a veritable miracle of design,
and would hold its own with any fountain even in Italy. It is, indeed,
the work of Italian craftsmen of the best period,[42] brought over
specially by Dr. Nevile, to whose genius we owe this most splendid of
all College quadrangles, the "Old Court" (sometimes called the "Great
Court") of Trinity.

[Footnote 41: The water is from an ancient conduit made originally to
supply the Franciscan Convent, and comes from a spring some two miles
to the west. Till recently this was the only supply for Trinity, and
(by a charitable tap outside the Great Gate) for many neighbours also.
Now it is supplemented by an artesian well behind the chapel, bored to
a depth of 120 feet into the Greensand.]

[Footnote 42: These same craftsmen probably made the beautiful
ceilings in the Combination Room at St. John's College (which is
copied from that in one of the rooms in this Court), and in the
University Library.]

To appreciate the greatness of this debt, we must bear in mind that,
when he became Master of the College, Nevile found the ground occupied
by heterogeneous ranges of old buildings, the remains of the
suppressed Colleges and Hostels, running chaotically in all sorts of
directions. These are shown in the earliest map of Cambridge,[43] made
in 1592, just before he began his great work of pulling down, setting
back, building and rebuilding. He thus remodelled almost the whole;
the Chapel alone (built fifty years earlier) and the great eastern
gate-tower remaining as they were before his reconstructions. In
reality this Court, far more than the Cloister Court, deserves to be
called by his name, and to remind us of his motto _Ne vile velis_
("Nothing cheap and nasty").

[Footnote 43: See _Cambridge Described_, p. 443.]

Since his day, indeed, surprisingly little alteration has been made.
Plaster has been put on (and stripped off) here and there, stonework
has been touched up, the Master's Lodge has been altered and
re-altered, but the only radical change has been in the south-west
corner beyond the Hall, which was rebuilt in 1775, with results as
artistically deplorable as may well be, especially in comparison with
the older work. Nevile had left in this corner a beautiful oriel
window, still to be seen in Logan's view of the College (1680).

Of the three gate towers only one is of Nevile's own building, that on
the southern side of the Court, known as the Queen's Gate from the
statue of Anne of Denmark, the Queen Consort of James the First,
which stands above its inner archway. The gate of this tower is used
only on occasions. The other two both belonged to King's Hall; the
eastern being still in its original place, the northern, which
formerly aligned with it, having been moved back by Nevile to align
with the Chapel. Both set forth the glories of Edward the Third; the
former displaying over its entrance gate the armorial bearings of his
seven sons, while over the archway of the latter he stands himself,
with his three crowns (of England, France and Scotland) spitted on the
long naked sword which he holds erect in front of him, and the proud
motto "_Fama super æthera notus_" ("Known by Fame beyond the skies").
From his like niche in the eastern tower he has been displaced by
Henry the Eighth. The statues on the inside of this tower are James
the First, with his wife and son (afterwards Charles the First).

The northern tower is commonly known as the Clock Tower; being the
dwelling place of the famous timepiece referred to by Wordsworth in
the "Prelude" as breaking the silence of his rooms at St. John's
College, which were not many yards away:

  "Near me hung Trinity's loquacious clock,
   Who never let the quarters, night or day,
   Slip by him unproclaimed, and told the hours
   Twice over, with a male and female voice."

The clock actually does repeat the hour, striking it first on the
biggest of the three bells in the tower, whose note is A flat, and
then on the second, E flat, a fifth above. The quarters are notified
by two, four, six and eight strokes respectively on the first and
second bells, F and E flat, a tone apart.[44]

[Footnote 44: Both clock and bells are due to Dr. Bentley, the famous
Master who bullied the College into so many happy and undesired
expenses during his tenure of office (1700-1742). The repeating is
solely for convenience; one often fails to note the first stroke or
two of an hour.]

To complete the round of the Court outside the grass-plots while
midnight strikes is a favourite test of running powers amongst the
Undergraduates. It is a fairly severe one; for the distance is 383
yards, with four sharp corners to negotiate, on somewhat pronounced
pebbling, and the time occupied by the 32 strokes (8 for the 4
quarters and a double 12 for the hour) is only 43 seconds. An easier
performance is to make a standing jump from top to bottom of the
steps before the Hall; this is chiefly a trial of nerve. There are 8
steps, each 6 inches high and 15 wide, so that the drop is only 4 feet
and the distance under 10; but it is a fearsome thought, looking down,
to contemplate the result should one's heel catch on a step. To jump
clear _up_ the flight is a real feat, which only two men are known to
have accomplished: even with the preliminary run which is possible
below though not above the stairway.

On our way through the Court towards the Chapel, we have on our left
hand the Master's Lodge, the front of which is an exceptionally happy
piece of early Victorian restoration. A poor classical façade had
(under Bentley) replaced Nevile's original front. But this front was
still to be seen in Logan's print, and was thus (in 1842)
reconstructed with little alteration. The Lodge contains splendid
reception rooms, worthy of a palace. The Chapel, though by no means of
the first rank as regards artistic beauty, is well worth seeing, for
it contains what high authorities consider the very finest statue ever
made since the palmy days of Greek art, Roubillac's wonderful
presentation of Sir Isaac Newton.[45] There he stands at the west end
of the Chapel, prism in hand, the king of all scientists, gazing with
rapt eyes into Infinity, and a smile full of hope and illumination
upon his lips.[46] The story goes that the expression on these lips
did not wholly satisfy the sculptor at his first sight of his creation
on its pedestal, and that he climbed up, then and there, chisel in
hand, to give the effect he desired with a few exquisitely directed

[Footnote 45: This was given to the College in 1755 by the then
Master, Dr. Robert Smith.]

[Footnote 46: Wordsworth in "The Prelude" tells us how he loved

  "The antechapel, where the statue stood
   Of Newton, with his prism and silent face,
   The marble index of a mind for ever
   Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone."]

Other heroic figures are grouped around, Francis Bacon, (Tennyson's

       "Large-browed Verulam
  The first of those that know,")

[Illustration: _The Fountain, Trinity College._]

Tennyson himself, Macaulay, Dr. Barrow, the Master to whom the
College owes its Library,[47] and the massive virility of his
omniscient successor, Dr. Whewell.[48] Brasses affixed to the walls
commemorate many another great inmate of the College, who, "having
served his own generation according to the will of God," is here laid
to rest:

  "Trinity's full tide of life flooding o'er him
   Morning and evening as he lies dead."

[Footnote 47: Barrow's great wish was that the University should build
a theatre (like the Sheldonian at Oxford), instead of having its
dramas performed, as they then were, in the University Church. When
the Senate boggled at the expense, he declared that Trinity should
shame them by erecting unaided a yet finer building than he proposed,
and "that very afternoon" himself staked out the foundations of the
Library. (_Clark's Guide_, p. 123.)]

[Footnote 48: Of the astonishingly wide sweep of Whewell's knowledge
many tales are yet told. There was no subject on which he could not
talk with authority. It is related how an impertinent Fellow once
hoped to puzzle him by getting up an article on Chinese music in a
back number of the _Edinburgh Review_, and introducing the subject in
Hall. "Ah," replied Whewell, "it is a long time since I thought of
that. But you will find an article of mine about it in the
_Edinburgh_, some ten or fifteen years ago."]

These lines were written to commemorate Dr. Thompson, the late Master
(renowned for his sarcastic humour), and refer to the fact that
undergraduates are expected to put in every week a certain number of
attendances at the morning and evening Services held daily in the
Chapel.[49] This obligation is now very leniently construed by the
Senior and Junior "Deans," under whose cognisance offences against it
come; but not so very long ago it was exceedingly strict, and the
Chapel Lists, on which the attendances were recorded, were objects of
real dread to the slothful. In 1838 the Senior Fellows (then the
Governing Body of the College),[50] decreed that every student must be
present twice on Sunday and once on every other day of the week. This
ukase brought about something like a rebellion. A secret "Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Undergraduates" was formed, and avenged
their wrongs by publishing every week regular lists exposing the far
from adequate attendance of the Senior Fellows themselves (Thompson
being one), to the intense annoyance of these dignitaries. Finally,
they actually had the assurance to give a prize to the Fellow who had
been most regular, Mr. Perry, who afterwards became the first Bishop
of Melbourne, and who cherished the Bible thus won to the end of his
life. The Society kept their secret for a whole Term, and, when
finally discovered, were able to escape punishment by promising that
the publication of their Lists, which made the Seniors the weekly
laughing-stock of the University, should be brought to an end.

[Footnote 49: On Sundays and Festivals all wear surplices, and the
throng then presents a very striking appearance. It suggested
Tennyson's vision of "Six hundred maidens clad in purest white," in
"The Princess."]

[Footnote 50: This is now the College Council, consisting of the
Master, the Tutors, and other Members elected for a certain period.]

All these statues and memorials are in the Ante-Chapel, which is
separated from the Chapel proper, as at King's, by the screen on which
stands the great organ. This organ is the largest and best-toned in
Cambridge,[51] but it is far from being as effective as the King's
organ, to which the magnificent acoustic properties of its Chapel lend
so wondrous a power. In Trinity there is always the sensation that the
harmonies are boxed in; indeed the shape of the Chapel does very much
suggest a box. In justice, however, to its designers, it must be
remembered that the box-like effect would be very much lessened by the
east and west windows with which it was originally provided. The
latter was closed by Nevile's putting back the clock tower to abut
upon it; the former still exists, as may be seen from the outside, but
is utterly shut off from the interior by a huge and far from beautiful
baldachino erected (not at his own cost but at that of the
impoverished Fellows) by Dr. Bentley. This famous scholar was one of
the few unpleasant Masters with whom the Crown (in which is here
vested the right, usually belonging to the Fellows, of appointing the
Head of the College) ever saddled Trinity. He passed his whole time as
Head in one long unceasing quarrel with his College. To begin with, he
was unpopular as being a member of the adjoining Foundation of St.
John's, between which and Trinity there existed an age-long rivalry.
Not many years before something like open war had been levied between
the Colleges on the occasion of a Trinity merry-making, the Johnian
onlookers being attacked with burning torches and using swords in
their defence; while an attempt which they made to rush the great
gates was beaten off by showers of stones and brickbats which had
been stored to that end on the roof of the Gate Tower.

[Footnote 51: It was made early in the eighteenth century by the
celebrated Father Smith, an organ-builder of world-wide fame.]

St. John's was at this time the largest College, and despised Trinity;
a sentiment which Bentley, who was a born bully,[52] expressed with
the utmost frankness, publicly calling the Fellows "asses," "dogs,"
"fools," "sots," and other scurrilous names, as they piteously set
forth in their complaints to their Visitor,[53] the Bishop of Ely.
Finally he was degraded by the Senate,[54] and reduced to the status
of "a bare Harry-Soph," as a contemporary diarist (quoted by Mr.
Clark)[55] puts it. But no Master, except Nevile and Barrow, has left
so enduring a mark upon the College; for the ruinous expenditure into
which he dragooned the unhappy Fellows has given the Chapel not only
the baldachino, but the stalls, the panelling, and the organ; to say
nothing of the clock, and the splendid oak staircase in the Lodge.

[Footnote 52: By his arrogance Bentley incurred the undying hatred of
Pope, who denounces him in the "Dunciad" as boasting himself (in
addressing Dullness)

  "Thy mighty Scholiast, whose unwearied pains
   Made Horace dull, and humbled Milton's strains;
   Turn what they will to verse, their toil is vain;
   Critics like me shall make it prose again."]

[Footnote 53: To every College is attached some high-placed personage
as Visitor, with a vague, but by no means unreal, power of
interference when appealed to. Bentley was only saved from deposition
by the sudden death of the Visitor.]

[Footnote 54: The Senate is the general assembly of Masters of Arts,
which is the supreme University authority.]

[Footnote 55: _Guide to Cambridge_, p. 129. The meaning of the curious
word "Harry-Soph" is apparently equivalent to a student unequal to a
Degree. Bentley was deprived of all his Degrees.]

The profuse gilding and painting which enriches walls and roof in the
Chapel is due to a restoration some forty years ago, when the outside
was also faced with stone, and the windows filled with stained glass,
commemorating ecclesiastical and other celebrities throughout all the
Christian centuries. The Apostles appear in the most easterly windows
on either side; whence the series progresses in chronological order
westwards. The figures are for the most part powerfully drawn, and
should be examined through an opera glass to appreciate their wealth
of detail. We can thus see that Hildebrand has driven his crosier
through the eagles of the Imperial Crown, that Dante, Matthew Paris,
and Roger Bacon, hold in their hands copies of their own greatest
works, that Giotto is studying an elevation of his Campanile; while
noted church-builders, like St. Hugh of Lincoln and William of
Wykeham, carry models of their edifices. The hapless Mary Tudor holds
one of this very Chapel, of which she was the Foundress. It is
appropriate that the beautiful silver cross over the Altar should be
Spanish work of her date, though only placed there a few years ago by
the generosity of some members of the College who met with it while
travelling in Spain. It was originally a processional cross, and has
been adapted for its new purpose with artistic skill of the first

When we leave the Chapel, and proceed towards the Great Gate, we are
treading on classic ground. For it was along this flagged path that
Macaulay, while at Trinity, used to take his daily exercise, pacing
assiduously up and down, always the while devouring some author, whose
pages he turned over with incredible rapidity, and at the same pace
whether they were filled with the weightiest thought or the lightest
fancy. Yet whether the book were profound philosophy or exquisite
poetry or the trashiest of rhyme and fiction, he was ever afterwards
able to recall its whole scheme and even to quote lengthy portions of
it verbatim. His rooms were in the staircase facing us--the set on the
ground-floor to the left of the entrance. This particular staircase
has been the home of more great men than any other in the University.
The ground-floor rooms opposite Macaulay's were those of
Thackeray,[56] and the set above Thackeray's are hallowed as the
habitation of Sir Isaac Newton: for whom the College built an
observatory on the roof of the Gate Tower, and who also had the use of
a small bit of ground which we see outside the gate, now a railed-in
lawn, but then a pretty little garden, as Logan's view shows, with
trees and flower-beds, surrounded by a high wall.

[Footnote 56: Readers of _Esmond_ will remember that Thackeray
quarters that hero on this same staircase, "close by the gate, and
near to the famous Mr. Newton's lodgings." Thackeray was in residence
1829-31, Macaulay 1818-24, Newton 1662-1717.]


     Whewell's Courts.--All Saints' Cross.--The Jewry.--Divinity
     School.--=St. John's College=, Trinity and John's, Lady Margaret,
     Fisher, Hospital of St. John, Gate Tower, First Court, Hall,
     Wordsworth, Compulsory Worship, Combination Room, Second Court,
     Library, Great Bible, Third Court, Bridge of Sighs, New Court,
     Roof-climbing, Blazers, Wilderness.--=Caius College=, Gonville,
     The Three Gates, Kitchen, "Blues."--=Senate House=,
     Congregations, Vice-Chancellor, Voting,
     Degree-giving.--=University Church=, Mr. Tripos, Golgotha,
     Sermons, Tower, Chimes, Jowett.--Market Hill, Peasant Revolt, Wat
     Tyler, Bucer and Fagius, Bonfires, Town and Gown.

We are now outside the Great Gate of Trinity; but, across the street,
in front of us, rises yet another gate belonging to the College, and
leading into its two newest Courts, named from Dr. Whewell, who left
this noble memorial of his Mastership.[57] Those who list to enter
them will at once see why the first is popularly known as "the
Spittoon," and the second as "the Billiard Table"; but there is little
more to see or to say about them.

[Footnote 57: Whewell was Master of Trinity from 1841 to 1866.]

The slender and lofty stone cross to the north of these buildings
marks the site of the ancient church of All Saints, which was pulled
down in the middle of last century, to be rebuilt at the further
extremity of its parish, opposite the entrance to Jesus College. Its
earliest name (in the twelfth century) was "All Hallows in the Jewry";
for Cambridge made good its claim to be amongst the larger towns of
England by having, like the most of them, its Ghetto, or quarter (more
or less sharply divided off from the rest), in which alone the Jews
might reside. They were nowhere popular residents, for they were
outside the pale of the Law (which refused to take cognisance of
aliens in race and religion) and mere "chattels" of the Crown. This
position, however ignominious, gave them special privileges as against
their neighbours. They were too useful as financial assets to allow of
their being murdered or robbed by anyone but their Royal owner
himself; and, secure in his protection, they took small pains to
conceal their contempt for their Christian neighbours, who retaliated
by as much petty persecution as they dared, and, now and then, by a
wholesale massacre. Finally matters became so strained that in the
fourteenth century, under Richard the Second, the whole race of Israel
were expelled from England, not to return till the days of Cromwell.
They had originally come to our shores in the train of the Conqueror's
army, thus conveniently enabling the Norman soldiers to turn their
English loot into hard cash. Their quarter in Cambridge was the small
triangular piece of ground between St. John's Street, Sidney Street,
and All Saints' Passage.

North again of All Saints' Cross we see the new red-brick walls and
white stone dressings of the Divinity School, where the Professors of
that subject hold their classes and lectures. Opposite to this rise
the stately buildings of St. John's College. We may note how very near
they approach to those of Trinity. These two great Foundations, so
long holding undisputed pre-eminence in the University, are, in fact,
nearer neighbours than any other two Colleges in Cambridge--nearer,
even, than King's and Clare. The narrow lane that parts their
respective buildings belongs to St. John's, and is bounded on the
Trinity side only by a brick wall. This flimsy partition induced Dr.
Bentley, when congratulated on becoming Master of Trinity, to reply,
with characteristic infelicity, "By the help of my God, I have leapt
over a wall." An unverified tradition hence arose that he had actually
made his way into the College, on the Great Gate being shut against
his entry, by a ladder applied to the wall of the Trinity Fellows'
Bowling Green.[58] Keen as has been the age-long rivalry between
Trinity and St. John's, they have been more closely connected than
any other two Colleges; and no fewer than four times has a Johnian
become Master of Trinity. The respective Founders were also closely
connected; for St. John's was founded (earlier in her grandson's
reign) by Lady Margaret Tudor, grandmother to Henry the Eighth.

[Footnote 58: This Bowling Green lies to the west of Trinity Chapel,
and is one of the choicest gems of Cambridge, a gracious, walled
oblong of turf, with a wooded terrace overlooking the river at its
western end, and at the east, the lately discovered fourteenth century
front of the College Bursary, once forming part of King's Hall. The
privilege of entering this Paradise can only be attained under the
escort of a Fellow.]

This noble lady is one of the choice characters of history. Her
disposition, as depicted for us by the one who knew her best, her
Confessor, the saintly Bishop Fisher, reads almost like an embodiment
of St. Paul's encomium on Charity: "Bounteous she was, and liberal ...
of singular easiness to be spoken unto ... of marvellous gentleness
unto all folk ... unkind to no creature, nor forgetful of any kindness
or service done to her (which is no little part of very nobleness).
She was not vengeable nor cruel; but ready anon to forget and forgive
injuries done unto her, at the least desire or motion made unto her
for the same. Merciful also and piteous she was unto such as was
grieved and wrongfully troubled, and to them that were in poverty or
sickness or any other misery. To God and to the Church full obedient
and tractable, searching His honour and pleasure full busily. A
wareness of herself she had always, to eschew everything that might
dishonour any noble woman.... All England for her death have cause of

[Footnote 59: The above quotation, as well as that which follows, is
from the sermon preached by Fisher in Westminster Abbey at her burial.
(I have modernised the spelling.)]

[Illustration: _Trinity College Chapel and St. John's Gateway._]

Lady Margaret was of Plantagenet stock, being great-granddaughter to
"old John of Gaunt, time honoured Lancaster," and one of the
legitimatised family of the Beauforts. Her first husband was the Welsh
Earl Edmund Tudor, the father of her only child, Henry of Richmond,
who afterwards succeeded to the throne of England as Henry the
Seventh. After his death she twice married again; but none of her
nuptials were of long continuance, and her true life was that of her
widowhood, when she became famed as the Lady Bountiful of the Kingdom:
"the mother of both the Universities; the very patroness of all the
learned men of England;[60] the loving sister of all virtuous and
devout persons; the comforter of all good Religious; the true
defendress of all good priests and clerks; the mirror and example of
honour to all noble men and women; the common mediatrice for all the
common people of this realm.... Everyone that knew her loved her, and
everything she said or did became her." Before her death she had
endowed Preacherships and Professorships of Divinity (which still
remain), both at Oxford and Cambridge, and had seen her first
Collegiate Foundation, that of Christ's College, rise into full life.
Her second and greater Foundation, St. John's College, she only lived
to plan and to endow. When she died, on the 29th of June, 1509 (in the
bright dawn of her grandson's reign and marriage--both alike destined
to end in so miserable a tragedy), the buildings were not yet

[Footnote 60: Amongst these we must count Erasmus; who composed the
epitaph on her tomb.]

She left their erection, however, in the best of hands. It was to her
friend and counsellor, Bishop Fisher, who knew her so well, and
appreciated her so dearly, that she committed the carrying out of her
great design. He was markedly qualified for this purpose, not only by
his connection with herself, but by special acquaintance with the
spot. For in him we find yet another link between St. John's and
Trinity. As Master of Michaelhouse,[61] some years earlier, he had
been a close neighbour of the ancient Hospital of St. John, and had
noted how far that venerable fraternity had outlived its usefulness.
Originally a semi-monastic institution, founded in 1135, as a sort of
alms-house for necessitous old men, the lack of any sufficient
discipline had brought it to decay. The attempt made by Bishop Hugh de
Balsham, in the century after its foundation, to leaven it with the
scholars whom he afterwards transported to Peterhouse had proved a
failure, and by the sixteenth century the few Brethren left were far
from satisfactory in their ways.[62] Fisher, therefore, suggested to
Lady Margaret to turn the Hospital into a College, under the same
patronage, and after her death, set promptly to work to make the
requisite alterations in the existing buildings.

[Footnote 61: Michaelhouse was one of the constituent Colleges of

[Footnote 62: We need not, however, take too literally the statement
in the Instrument of Suppression, that but two ill-conducted Brethren
remained. For, as Mr. Clark has shown, that Instrument was copied
verbatim from the earlier one used for the turning of St. Radegund's
Priory into Jesus College.]

His first act was to enclose a Court, the Gate Tower of which should
worthily commemorate the Foundress. In this his success was complete.
The tower, which to this day forms the main entrance to the College,
is a delightful example of what may be done in architecture by a
skilful use of red brick. The quoining is of stone, and of stone also
are the elaborate decorations. In the centre above the first
string-course a richly-canopied niche contains the statue of St. John
the Evangelist. Below this, and immediately above the gate, is to be
seen Lady Margaret's shield, the three lions of England, quartered
with the three lilies of France, within a bordure barred azure and
argent, supported by the antelopes of the Beaufort family. On either
side of both statue and shield appear the Plantagenet rose and the
Tudor portcullis, each surmounted by an Imperial crown (just as we so
constantly find them in King's College Chapel), and all round is
sprinkled the Margaret flower, the daisy. The whole forms a beautiful
piece of composition which makes us regret that more of Fisher's work
is not left. All the First Court, indeed, is his, but it has been
altered out of all knowledge. Now its chief feature is the soaring
mid-Victorian chapel, the largest in Cambridge (except, of course,
King's), the most pleasing view of which is to be gained from the
Trinity Backs, where the tower, framed in foliage, exquisitely doubles
itself on the surface of the river. This ambitious fabric was built by
Sir Gilbert Scott in the 'sixties; and a line of cement on the lawn of
the Court alone traces for us the foundations of Fisher's original

The Hall ranks in size and beauty next to that of Trinity. The most
interesting of its portraits are those of Lady Margaret, Bishop
Fisher, and the poet Wordsworth, who was a resident member of the
College from 1787 to 1791. His rooms, as he tells in "The Prelude,"
were in the south-western staircase of the "First Court," just above
the kitchen:

  "The Evangelist St. John my Patron was:
   Three Gothic Courts are his, and in the first
   Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure.
   Right underneath, the College Kitchens made
   A humming sound, less tuneable than bees,
   But hardly less industrious, with shrill notes
   Of sharp command and scolding intermixed."

Wordsworth was not a very contented student. He shared the anarchical
ideas then floating in the air, and soon to explode in the French
Revolution. College discipline was eminently distasteful to him, and,
above all, he detested the obligation to attend the Services in the
College Chapel (which, indeed, were, in those days, conducted in far
from ideal fashion).[63] In "The Prelude," he breaks out against them
in unmeasured terms:

  "Be Folly and False-seeming free to affect
   Whatever formal gait of Discipline
   Shall raise them highest in their own esteem:
   Let them parade amongst the Schools at will,
   But spare the House of God! Was ever known
   The witless shepherd who persists to drive
   A flock that thirsts not to a pool disliked?
   A weight must surely hang on days begun
   And ended with such mockery. Be wise,
   Ye Presidents[64] and Deans, and to your bells
   Give seasonable rest, for 'tis a sound
   Hollow as ever vexed the tranquil air;
   And your officious doings bring disgrace
   On the plain steeples of our English Church,
   Whose worship, 'mid remotest village trees
   Suffers for this."

[Footnote 63: There was no attempt at music, no organ even, anywhere
save at King's, Trinity, and St. John's, and these three Colleges kept
between them a choir of six "lay clerks" (elderly for the most part),
who used to hurry from service to service, as did also the single
organist employed! And this went on till 1842!]

[Footnote 64: At St. John's, the title of President is given to the
Vice-master of the College.]

It is interesting to note that these sentiments are echoed, a year or
two later, from Oxford, by Southey, then also in his youthful paroxysm
of Revolutionary fervour. He lets himself go in his "Ode to the Chapel

  "O how I hate the sound! It is the knell
   That still a requiem tolls to Comfort's hour;
   And loth am I, at Superstition's bell,
   To quit, or Morpheus', or the Muse's bower.
   Better to lie and doze than gape amain,
   Hearing still mumbled o'er the same eternal strain,
       *       *       *       *       *
   The snuffling, snaffling Fellow's nasal tone,
   And Romish rites retained, though Romish faith be flown."

[Illustration: _Hall, St. John's College._]

The Hall of St. John's was the scene of notable Christmas feasting in
the good old days of academic prosperity. Daily, from Christmas to
Twelfth Night, boars' heads, turkeys, gargantuan pasties, and cups of
a peculiarly enticing composition, went the round of the board. After
the fatal agricultural depression of the 'seventies these hospitable
doings dwindled more and more, till now they are wholly of the past.

From the Hall we can often obtain permission to ascend to the unique
glory of St. John's College, the Combination Room, which is
incomparably finer than any other apartment of the same kind, either
at Oxford or Cambridge. It is a spacious panelled gallery, running
east and west, nearly 100 feet in length, lighted by transomed
windows[65] along the southern side, and with a richly decorated
plaster ceiling, the work of the same Italian artists who erected the
fountain in the Great Court of Trinity, just at the time when this
room was in building. For here we have got beyond Lady Margaret's
"First" Court. The Combination Room forms the north side of the
"Second" Court, erected at the very end of the sixteenth century
(simultaneously with the Great Court of Trinity) by another noble
benefactress, Lady Mary Cavendish, Countess of Shrewsbury, whose coat
of arms (Cavendish impaled with Talbot) stands over the western gate.

[Footnote 65: In one of these windows should be noted a portrait of
Henrietta Maria, the Queen of Charles the First, who was once
entertained in this apartment.]

This splendid benefaction was intended to be anonymous, as was also
that which, in the "Third" Court, has given to St. John's yet another
unique beauty, its exquisite Library, which (like the Combination
Room) stands at the head, architecturally, of all College libraries,
whether at Oxford or Cambridge. The benefactor in this case was Dr.
John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln and Keeper of the Great Seal. His
initials, as has been already mentioned, may be seen upon the outside
of the western wall, beside the beautiful oriel window, overlooking
the river, with which the room terminates, and his escutcheon hangs on
the eastern wall, inside, over the door. For in his case, too, as in
that of Lady Mary Cavendish, the secret leaked out before the work was
finished, and in 1624 the letters I. L. C. S. (denoting Iohannes
Lincolnensis Custos Sigilli) disclosed to passers-by the donor's

The original bookcases of dark oak still project from either wall.
They have mostly been heightened to make room for more books, but the
additional shelves have been added not above but at the bottom, so
that the sloping desks of the old tops still remain, though too high
to be used; but the pair nearest the door remain at their original
height. In the panelled end of each shelf may be noticed a tiny
folding door, which on being opened proves to contain the catalogue,
in crabbed early seventeenth century writing, of the books which the
shelf held when first filled. The Library, however, contains nothing
of any very special interest, its most noteworthy exhibit being an
edition de luxe of the "Great Bible" issued in 1540 by Royal authority
under the auspices of Archbishop Cranmer. This was the first English
Bible authorised to be read in churches, and a copy was ordered to be
set up in every parish church throughout the realm; the object being
that every man might have access to it, and read for his own
edification. He was not, however, allowed to take it home with him,
and it was usually chained to the reading-desk to prevent this. And,
as yet, there was no provision for any reading of Scripture in public
worship, beyond the Epistles and Gospels of the Mass, the "sense"
(_i.e._ the English) of which each parish priest had long been bound
to give his congregation every Sunday as best he might.

[Illustration: _Oriel in Second Court of St. John's College._]

This first Authorised Version was founded on the work of Miles
Coverdale, published five years earlier, with a specially fulsome
dedication to King Henry the Eighth, who, in consideration of his
recent breach with the Papacy,[66] is described as "our Moses ... who
hath brought us out ... from the cruel hands of our spiritual Pharao."
In this edition (of which we have here a copy printed on vellum, and
perhaps destined for the King's own hands) this idea is enlarged upon
in a highly elaborated frontispiece. Henry sits, smiling imperially,
in the middle of the page, distributing Bibles right and left to all
sorts and conditions of men--bishops, clergy, monks, nobles, commons,
artisans, husbandmen, and, notably, prisoners;--while out of every
mouth proceeds a label bearing the universal acclamation "Vivat Rex,"
the English equivalent of which, "God save the King," is first found
in this Version.

[Footnote 66: It need scarcely be pointed out that this breach was not
made from any Protestant zeal, but only to enable the King to put away
the wife he was tired of, and marry Anne Boleyn, which the Pope would
not authorise.]

The main approach to the Library is by a fine stone staircase in the
north-western corner of the "Second Court;" but access is more
generally obtained at present by an unpretending doorway in the middle
of the northern side of the "Third Court." This door opens into the
lower storey of the Library, which contains nothing of interest except
a not very inspired statue of Wordsworth. Hence a circular iron stair
leads up to the Library proper.

The "three Gothic courts," mentioned in Wordsworth's "Prelude" as
belonging to St. John's, sufficed the College till the reign of George
the Fourth. When it was then determined to expand, the bold departure
was taken of erecting the new buildings on the other side of the
river. Never, before or since, has any other College, either at Oxford
or Cambridge, done the like; and one could wish that the experiment
had been made at a period when architecture was at a less debased
level. It was the period which Sir Walter Scott, in the "Antiquary,"
has in mind when he says "The Lord deliver me from this Gothic
generation." But, of that period, the "New Court," as it is called, is
a favourable specimen, most especially the grated[67] bridge
connecting it with the main body of the College, which has a really
graceful span. The idea of this structure was suggested by the Bridge
of Sighs at Venice, and it is commonly known by that name, which
provokes unkind comparisons. From it we get good views of the Library
oriel to the north, and, on the other side, of the older bridge
belonging to St. John's, three arches in the characteristic Johnian
style of red brick with stone dressings, built at the end of the
seventeenth century.

[Footnote 67: The gratings are to prevent any nocturnal escape from
College. Only one man is ever known to have "squeezed himself betwixt
the bars."]

The New Court has practically but one side, the ends being very
slightly returned, running east and west, with a quasi-cupola in the
centre, surrounded by pinnacles and surmounted by a gilded vane. It is
hard to believe, but it is quite historical, that one morning (in the
'sixties) this vane was found to be decked out in the brilliant
scarlet "blazer"[68] of the College boat club, the perpetrator (who
was never discovered) having actually scaled the roof by means of one
of the water-pipes! And it was some time before the resources of
civilisation in the hands of the College authorities availed to abate
the outrage.

[Footnote 68: This word, now used of all flannel sporting jackets,
was, for several decades--till nearly 1880, in fact--confined to the
fiery coats of the St. John's (or, officially, "Lady Margaret") Boat
Club. When, about that date, the question of having a "universal
blazer" was debated by the undergraduates, an elderly clergyman
protested, in all shocked seriousness, against the "incendiary
tendencies" of such a notion.]

The New Court, on its southern side, is separated by a traceried
cloister from the College Backs. On passing through the gate of this
it is well to bear to the left and walk along the bank of the river,
here overhung by magnificent elms, and affording a picturesque
prospect of the Trinity buildings on the other side. The grounds of
both Colleges to the west of the river are here divided up into a
series of lawn-tennis courts, and are parted from each other by a
broad ditch, which runs beneath the boughs of bowery horse-chestnut
trees. In spring the Trinity bank of this ditch is bright with
daffodils, the Johnian with narcissus. An iron foot-bridge, common to
both Colleges, with a gate at either end, gives access from one to the
other; but we had best continue by the path which skirts the Johnian
bank. This finally leads out of the College grounds into the Backs
proper, by a fine iron gate bearing a gilded eagle rising from a
crown, the crest borne by Lady Margaret.

Before we reach this, we find water on either side of us; that to the
west being not from the Cam, but a small tributary brooklet which
joins the river near the Great Bridge. It is here dammed up so as to
afford space for the College swans to make merry in, and on the
further side is the Fellows' Garden, known as "the Wilderness." The
wealth of spring flowers here cultivated--snowdrops, daffodils,
crocuses, primroses, anemones, and hyacinths--is delicious in a
country like Cambridgeshire, where Nature supplies their charms with
very niggardly hand in comparison with the more favoured regions of
England. Outside the Eagle gate we are close to the entrance of the
Trinity avenue.

Let us stand once more before the great gate of Trinity. Turning to
the south, instead of the north as before, we find ourselves in a few
score yards with the buildings of a College again to the east and west
of the street at once. This College is commonly known as Caius
(pronounced Keys), and officially as "Gonville and Caius," after the
original founder in the fourteenth century, and the benefactor who,
two hundred years later, so largely developed it as to leave his name
also attached to the site.[69] The former was a simple parish priest,
rector of Terrington, on the Norfolk seaboard of the Wash. His little
college, designated the "College of the Annunciation,"[70] and
consisting only of a Master and three Fellows, found its original
quarters hard by Pembroke, with which it was founded simultaneously in
1347. A few years later, on Gonville's death, his friend and diocesan,
Bishop Bateman of Norwich, moved it to its present site, next door to
his own new college, Trinity Hall.

[Footnote 69: The two infant cherubs which (without any heraldic
authority) act as supporters to the College Shield over the gate of
the new buildings (those to the east of the street) are popularly
supposed to be meant for the innocent souls of the two Founders. The
shield itself (duly granted by the Heralds' College, 1575), comprises
both their Coats with a blue and silver bordure. That of Dr. Caius is
curious; two green serpents standing on their tails upon a green stone
amid flowers of amaranth. This is declared (in the grant) to signify
"Wisdom stayed upon Virtue and adorned with Immortality"--a
characteristic Elizabethan "conceit."]

[Footnote 70: It was not till after Gonville's death that it began to
be called by his name.]

There Gonville Hall, as it was now called, gradually developed, but
remained a very puny bantling till the reign of Queen Mary, when one
of its own scholars took upon himself the task of expanding it. His
name was really Keys, which according to the fashion of the day, was
transliterated into the Latin equivalent Caius, and he was a
celebrated doctor of medicine, President of the College of Physicians,
and himself physician to the Royal household. It was in the interests
of his favourite study that he refounded the college, which to this
day has a specially medical tinge. He was also a singularly devout
man, and the spirit in which he built is exemplified by the three
gates through which we successively pass in our progress through the
College. From Trinity-street we enter beneath a narrow, plain,
low-browed archway, known as the Gate of Humility, and inscribed
HUMILITATIS.[71] A short avenue of lime-trees (also a part of the
Founder's design) leads across the small court to a loftier, wider
portal, over which we may read the word VIRTUTIS. Through this we gain
another court, and, looking back, we discover that in using the Gate
of Virtue we have indeed used the Gate of Wisdom; for it bears the
inscription IO. CAIVS. POSVIT. SAPIENTIAE. And, finally, a small,
beautifully designed turret, rich with Renaissance figures and
pilasters, and inscribed HONORIS, covers our exit through the Gate of
Honour, to which those of Humility, Virtue, and Wisdom have
successively led us on.

[Footnote 71: The present gateway is not, however, the original one,
but erected in mid-Victorian days at the same time as the large
pinnacled gate at the south-east corner of the College, but the humble
character of the original is fairly reproduced.]

This Gate of Honour is really a wonderful little gem of architecture,
quite unique in its design, which is due to Dr. Caius himself, though
the work was not finished till after his death. The turret is an
oblong mass of stone-work, some twelve feet in width by six in depth,
rising to a height of about twenty feet, and topped with a singularly
graceful hexagonal cupola.[72] The view of it, more especially from
the further side of the Court, whence it groups with the Senate House
and University library just outside, and with the soaring pinnacles of
King's College Chapel beyond, is one nowhere to be surpassed. From a
picturesque point of view no one can regret the absence of the
somewhat gaudy coats of paint and gilding with which it originally was
covered; but the result of their removal has been that the stone
(which is soft, and was never intended to stand exposure to the
atmosphere) is rapidly decaying.

[Footnote 72: Each side of the hexagon was originally a sun-dial.]

The paved footway into which the Gate of Honour leads is known as
Senate House Passage,[73] and is still the route along which the
students of the College pass to receive in the Senate House such
honours as their University examinations may have entitled them to. It
forms the southern boundary of the College, which, alone amongst the
Colleges of Cambridge, is wholly surrounded by public ways,
Trinity-street being on the east, Trinity-lane on the north, and
Trinity Hall-lane on the west. The tasteless mass of modern red brick
(erected 1853) at the north-west angle of the block contains the hall;
with the kitchens, by an unusual arrangement, beneath. These kitchens
have an immemorial gastronomic renown in Cambridge, and are credited
with the possession of culinary secrets enabling them to surpass all
rival establishments. In some verses written about the end of the
eighteenth century (concerning a well-known young lady of Cambridge)
we find this referred to:

  "The sons of culinary Caius,
   Smoaking from the eternal Treat,
   Gazed on the Fair with greedy air,
   As she were something good to eat:
   Even the sad Kingsman lost his gloom awhile,
   And forced a melancholy smile.[74]

[Footnote 73: "Passage" is the local name applied to the many paved
footways which intersect Cambridge. They are forbidden ground to
vehicles, including bicycles, a prohibition which constantly brings
undergraduates before the Police Court.]

[Footnote 74: At this date King's was a highly conservative College,
and its discipline strict with a strictness long discarded by the
University at large.]

[Illustration: _The Gate of Honour, Caius College._]

Dr. Caius himself became the first Master of his new College, a post
which he accepted with a reluctance which proved only too well
justified, for he himself was a devout and pious man of the old
school, and wholly out of sympathy with the militant Protestantism
which was then fast becoming the dominating spirit at Cambridge, as in
England generally. He has left in writing his lamentation over the sad
depletion of the University which was the first result of the
Reformation.[75] The wholesale destruction of ancient works of
art--beautifully illuminated service books, and elaborately
embroidered vestments--by which the votaries of the new religion
sought at once to express their loathing of the older faith and to
make its revival the harder, did but recall to him the like policy
pursued by the Pagan antagonists of Jehovah in the days of the
Maccabees. And he did what in him lay to stem the tide, rescuing here
a Missal and there a Chasuble from the iconoclasts, till he had
accumulated in his Lodge quite a little store of these sacred objects.
But the times were too hard for him. He was denounced as a
reactionary, a sympathiser with Popery; a riot broke out among the
College students; the Lodge was stormed; the Papistical relics thrown
out of the window and burnt in the midst of the Court;[76] whilst the
Master and Founder himself was expelled from his own College and (as
he had spent upon it all he had) ended his days in penury and exile.
He was, however, allowed a grave in the chapel, which bears the
touching inscription FUI CAIUS ("I _was_ Caius").

[Footnote 75: "To the Universities," Froude (our most ardent
Protestant historian) tells us, in his _History of England_, "the
Reformation brought with it desolation.... They were called Stables of
Asses--Schools of the Devil.... The Government cancelled the
exhibitions which had been granted for the support of poor Scholars.
They suppressed the Professorships and Lectureships--Degrees were held
anti-Christian. Learning was no necessary adjunct to a creed which
'lay in a nutshell.' ... College Libraries were plundered and burnt.
The Divinity Schools at Oxford were planted with cabbages, and the
laundresses dried clothes in the School of Arts."

At Cambridge Dr. Caius gives a long list of University Hostels,
filled, within his memory, by zealous students, which, when he wrote
had become wholly deserted and taken possession of by the townsfolk.]

[Footnote 76: The pillage was actually presided over by the
Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr. Whitgift, Master of Trinity,
whose Protestant zeal raised him later to the Archbishopric of

The undergraduates of Caius wear a gown of a singular and not very
pleasing violet hue with velvet trimmings. The College "colours" are
light blue and black; the former, which is, as all know, the
University colour, having been granted them to use, in memory of a
famous race, in the early days of College boating, seventy years ago,
when their crew beat the University Eight. It is, of course, an
axiomatic rule of sportsmanship that no Club may assume the insignia
of another (or any colourable imitation thereof), without leave from
the previous users. The earliest "Light Blues" were the Eton Boat
Club, by whose permission the Cambridge Boat Club took the colour. The
Cricket Clubs, at both Eton and Cambridge, were then permitted to use
it, and now this permission has been extended to all engaged as
champions of the University, at athletics, football, etc.

The Senate House, to the entrance of which the Gate of Honour has
brought us, is the nerve-centre of the University. Here are held,
usually on each Thursday during Term, the meetings ("Congregations" is
the official word) of that august body the "Senate," to whose vote all
University legislation must ultimately be submitted. This body,
however, consisting as it does of all who have attained the Degree of
Master of Arts, several thousands in number, is far too large to
initiate that legislation. This is done by a small elected General
Committee, the "Council," and by special Committees (or "Syndicates")
dealing with the various special subjects to be considered. Both
Council and Syndicates also act as executive authorities, and by them
"Graces" embodying this or that proposal are from time to time laid
before the Senate. The Grace is read aloud by one of the Proctors, in
his robes of office, standing beside the Chair, which is occupied by
the Vice-Chancellor.[77] The benches are tenanted by such members of
the Senate as care to be present.[78] There is no discussion;[79] but,
on the Grace being read, any member may utter the words "Non Placet,"
whereupon the Proctor cries "Ad scrutinium," and the congregation
divides; the "Placets," (or "Ayes" as they would be called in
Parliament), moving to the right of the Chair, and the "Non-Placets"
to the left. Should this grouping not sufficiently disclose the sense
of the meeting, a poll is held; each member's vote being given
publicly by writing, on an official form, avouched by his signature.
These papers are then counted by the Proctors, and their respective
numbers read out by the Vice-Chancellor.

[Footnote 77: This officer is the acting Head of the University, and
is appointed by the Council from amongst the Heads of the Colleges,
usually by rota, year by year. The Chancellor, whom he represents, is
always some specially distinguished notability, and is appointed for
life. He is only present on state occasions.]

[Footnote 78: Members are often able to introduce ladies, when there
is likely to be room for them. And undergraduates may listen to
proceedings from the Galleries, where, in defiance of rule, they are
often heard as well as seen, should the business be exciting.]

[Footnote 79: Such discussion as may seem needful has already taken
place before a Meeting of the resident Members of the Senate, who have
spent at least forty nights in Cambridge during the last Academic
year, and whose names are accordingly on the "Electoral Roll." They
are summoned, as required, by the Vice-Chancellor, to discuss the
various matters which it is proposed to embody in "Graces."]

These numbers are usually but small; indeed most of the business is
altogether unopposed. But when some subject which excites general
interest is brought forward, "backwoods-men" flock (and are whipped)
up from all parts of England. Macaulay has given us a humorous poem on
the coach-loads of country clergy thus pitch-forked into Cambridge to
vote against the admission of Roman Catholics to the University; and
within the last few decades, similar scenes were witnessed in
connection with the question of their being allowed a recognised
Public Hostel of their own, and with those of Compulsory Greek, and of
granting Degrees to women.

Such is the procedure at the Senate House; or, rather, such it has
hitherto been, for the whole question of University legislation is
even now in the melting-pot. The use of the building for the chief
University examinations is also dying or dead, now that a vast
"Examination Hall" has been built for that purpose. But Degrees still
continue to be conferred there; the students found worthy by the
examiners successively kneeling before the Vice-Chancellor, and being
admitted by him to their degree in the name of the Trinity. They are
presented by the "Fathers" of their respective Colleges, in a
recognised order, beginning with the Royal Foundations, King's always
coming first and Trinity second. When the Degree of Doctor ("Honoris
causa") is conferred on any distinguished visitors, the place is
thronged, and each in turn is introduced with a laudatory Latin speech
by the "Public Orator," who has to exert his ingenuity in composing
some neat and appropriate epigrammatic remark about him.[80]

[Footnote 80: The office thus requires no mean scholarly and
oratorical powers. When Queen Elizabeth visited Cambridge, the Public
Orator had to make her a laudatory address of half an hour in
duration, without notes, "with the Queen's horse curvetting under her"
(for this was not in the Senate House--yet unbuilt--but in the open
air before King's College Chapel), and with constant mock-modest
interruptions from her Royal lips. Her only thanks were a commendation
of his excellent memory.]

The Senate House is a stately classical building, running east and
west, erected in the early decades of the eighteenth century. Up to
that date the functions which it now discharges were served partly by
the old Schools (now the University Library), which have been already
spoken of, and which adjoin it on the west, and partly by the
University Church (called here, as at Oxford, "Great St. Mary's"),
which stands hard by to the east. The legislative meetings of the
Senate were held in the former,[81] the Degrees were conferred, and
other gatherings held, in the latter.

[Footnote 81: One apartment was called the Regent House, as being thus
used by the Governing Body of the University.]

This was all very well before the Reformation, whilst reverence for
consecrated places still held its own; but, after that great
convulsion, the proceedings too frequently were markedly
unecclesiastical in tone. The conferring of Degrees was originally a
solemn function beginning with High Mass, and continuing with a
serious _vivâ voce_ exercise of the candidates in the presence of the
Vice-Chancellor. But when the Reformation had made it fashionable to
show a healthy Protestant contempt for the old Catholic superstitions,
the whole ceremony was deliberately turned into a farce. The
questioning of the candidates was no longer done by grave University
officials, but by an "old" (_i.e._ a senior) Bachelor, who sat upon a
three-legged stool, and made his interrogations as profane and
scurrilous as possible. He was known, from his stool, as "Mr. Tripos,"
and so essential a part of the proceedings did he become that "Tripos"
got to be (as it still is) the regular name for an "Honour"
examination at Cambridge. To judge by the few that have come down to
us, the jokes current on these occasions were poor to the last degree.
Thus, in 1657, we read that two Oxonians, got up as hobby-horses,
presented themselves, giving as their qualification that they "had
smith's work at their digits' ends," (Smith being a then current
writer of school books). They were duly admitted, on the ground that
"such _equitation_ gave them an _equitable_ claim!" And all this was
in the church; where, indeed, far less innocent performances were
constantly given, including stage-plays and recitations in which the
most solemn mysteries of the Catholic Faith were often travestied and
held up to ridicule.[82]

[Footnote 82: As Protestantism lost its first militant fervour, these
performances more and more dropped their polemical features. But they
still remained most inappropriate for a place of worship. We have seen
how the higher minds of the University, such as Dr. Barrow, felt about
them before the seventeenth century came to an end. (See p. 104.)]

The church which was thus so long profaned is of late Perpendicular
architecture. Huge galleries have been inserted for the accommodation
of such undergraduates as may attend; the nave being appropriated to
the Master of Arts. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
the east end was filled with tier above tier of semicircular benches
for the seniors of the University, from whose prevailingly bald heads
this elevation became profanely known as "Golgotha." All is now
arranged in decent fashion, and since the building of the Senate House
the church has only been used for strictly ecclesiastical purposes.
Here each Sunday afternoon is preached the "University Sermon," the
preacher being some clergyman selected by the Council of the Senate.
No service is held in connection with this sermon, but the preacher,
before commencing, reads from the pulpit what is known as the "Bidding
Prayer"--a long list of subjects for intercession, comprising the
various authorities in Church and State, the Clergy, and (as the
source of their supply) the Universities and Colleges. Amongst these
"as in private duty bound" the preacher specifically names the College
to which he himself belongs, finally concluding with the Lord's
Prayer.[83] The sermon is officially attended by the Vice-Chancellor
and Proctors, who gather in the Senate House and cross the street in
procession to the West door of the church. One of the Proctors carries
the University Bible, a ponderous tome suspended by a chain; and in
front is borne the silver mace of the University, by an official
designated the "Esquire Bedell."

[Footnote 83: On the Sunday after All Saints' Day, when the "Lady
Margaret Preacher," appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, officiates, he
begins by reading the long roll of benefactors to the University from
the earliest times; in itself a specially inspiring predication.]

The church has witnessed various vicissitudes of doctrine. Here,
during the first outbreak of Protestantism, the Missal was solemnly
torn up and burnt amid the hooting of the crowd; and when, a century
later, the Puritans gained the ascendancy, a like fate befell the Book
of Common Prayer, Cromwell himself presiding at the ceremony. This was
on Good Friday, 1643, when the Vice-Chancellor and several other Heads
of Colleges were, for refusing to abet the proceeding, shut up in the
church "all the long cold night, without fire or candle." They were
afterwards haled to London, and, after being pelted through the City,
were subjected to a sort of Black Hole treatment, under hatches on
board a hulk in the river, with all port-holes closed, and no air
"save such as they could suck from each others' breaths," as the
"Querela Cantabrigiensis" piteously complains.

Till lately the tower of Great St. Mary's was a historical record of
the stirring scenes amid which it arose, for it was slowly built
during the course of no fewer than 120 years, being begun in the last
decade of the fifteenth century and finished in the first of the
seventeenth. Thus the lower stages were of Perpendicular Gothic, the
higher of Renaissance style. Unhappily the Victorian restorers took it
in hand, and rebuilt the top as, in their view, it would have been
built had it been completed without this long delay, so that all
historical interest is now lost. It contains a fine peal of twelve
bells, on which sound the famous chimes composed in 1790 by Dr.
Jowett,[84] tutor of Trinity Hall, which, since their adoption in the
Westminster clock tower, have spread so widely throughout the country
and the Empire. Their cadences are:

  1st Quarter 1236
  2nd  "      3126, 3213
  3rd  "      1326, 6213, 1236
  4th  "      3126, 3213, 1326, 6213

[Footnote 84: It is hard upon Dr. Jowett that his name should have
come down to posterity associated, not with this real contribution to
the gladness of the world, but with a satirical quatrain on the tiny
plot which he reclaimed from the street in the angle of Trinity Hall
adjoining Clare:

  "A little garden little Jowett made,
   And fenced it with a little palisade;
   And would you know the mind of little Jowett,
   This little garden will a little show it."]

The hour is struck on the tenor bell. These bells are of eighteenth
century date: two more have been added since.

[Illustration: _Peas Hill._]

Great St. Mary's, for all its University connection, still remains
what it was before the University came into being, a Parish Church;
its Parish consisting of the Market Place, which opens out to the east
of it, and is called locally "Market Hill." Whence this curious use of
the latter word arose is not known, but it is immemorial at Cambridge
for any expansion of a street into something wider. Besides Market
Hill, there are the smaller spaces of Peas Hill and St. Andrew's Hill.
All are utterly flat; yet, so potent is the word in the imagination of
the Cambridge townsfolk, that such expressions as "I wonder the Hill
don't fall down upon you" may be overheard in market disputes. Market
Hill is not very large for its purpose even now; but till the
nineteenth century it was much smaller, with more than one range of
houses encumbering its area. On the southern side stands the
Guildhall, a far from imposing structure, and in the centre rises the
fountain supplied by the water of Hobson's Conduit, as described in
our first chapter. The present structure was erected in 1855, the
earlier one (put up in 1614) being then removed to its present
position at the junction of Lensfield Road and Trumpington Road.[85]

[Footnote 85: There was a fountain here, however, long before Hobson's
day--at least as early as the fourteenth century--but whence the water
came is not known. If, as seems probable, it was a natural spring, its
existence was probably the factor which originally determined the site
of the Market.]

Like the University Church, the Market Place has witnessed many
stirring scenes. Here, in the fierce but short-lived Socialistic
outbreak which we commonly associate with the name of Wat Tyler, when
dreams were afloat of melting down all existing distinctions into one
great _Magna Societas_, which should redress all wrongs and make all
men equal in all things, a mighty bonfire was made by the insurgent
peasantry of all the books and documents which could be looted from
the University Chest in Great St. Mary's, and from the various
Colleges and Hostels then existing. The Mayor of Cambridge was
compelled to give the sanction of his presence to the deed; and
finally the ashes were scattered to the winds, with the cry: "Away
with the skill of the clerks! Away with it!"

Two centuries later, in 1555, the Hill saw another burning, of a more
gruesome character. The Catholic reaction under Queen Mary was then in
full swing; and it was determined to visit with the extreme penalty of
the laws against heresy the corpses of two notable pioneers of the
Reformation, Dr. Bucer and Dr. Fagius. Both were amongst the band of
German Protestants who, under King Edward the Sixth, flocked over to
disseminate the new Religion in England, and both had died while
promulgating their tenets at Cambridge. They were now torn from their
graves, and chained, in their coffins, to the stake, the pyre which
incinerated them being chiefly composed of their own condemned books.

Within the last decade two other notable conflagrations have here been
kindled. When Lord Kitchener, then Sirdar of Egypt, and fresh from his
victories over the Mahdi, visited Cambridge to receive an Honorary
Degree, his presence amongst us was greeted by the wildest orgies. A
huge bonfire was kindled on the Hill, the pile ultimately stretching
diagonally across almost the entire area, and fed with ever fresh
supplies of wood, for which the whole town was scoured. Railings were
torn up wholesale (notably, as has been said, in the Backs), shutters
were wrenched from shop windows, and even doors from houses; while
hoardings, gates, and tradesmen's barrows were seized and devoted to
the flames. Like scenes, a few years later, on a somewhat smaller
scale, celebrated the relief of Ladysmith in the Boer War.

These riotous proceedings were the work of the wilder spirits of
University and Town alike. But in the earlier part of the Nineteenth
Century many a fierce collision between Town and Gown took place on
the Hill. The Fifth of November was the annual occasion consecrated by
custom to these conflicts. Bands of undergraduates paraded the streets
shouting "Gown! Gown!" while bands of the fiercer element amongst the
townsfolk did the like, to the cry of "Town! Town!" Fights were thus
frequent, in spite of the efforts of the authorities, both Civic and
Academic. Gownsmen took to flight at the appearance of the Proctors
and their "Bulldogs,"[86] but it was to re-form elsewhere, and few
were actually caught. The Police, when they came into existence, in
the early 'forties, were more formidable. They invariably took the
side of the Town,[87] and it was due to them that the "Fifth" became
less and less pugilistic, till it is now only a memory. Fisticuffs
were all very well, but batons made the fun not good enough.

[Footnote 86: This is the name bestowed on the stalwart officials a
couple of whom attend each Proctor and exercise such physical coercion
of delinquents as he may bid.]

[Footnote 87: One specially remembered conflict, when Rose Crescent
was held by the Gown against an overwhelming force, till a police
charge drove them in headlong rout to take refuge in Trinity, was made
the subject of a parody of Macaulay's Horatius, to be found in Clark's
_Guide to Cambridge_.]


     Round Church.--Union Society.--The "Great Bridge,"
     Hithe.--=Magdalene College=, Buckingham College, Pepys, Charles
     Kingsley, the "College Window," Master's Garden.--Castle Hill,
     Camboritum, Cromwell's Rampart, Repulse of Charles I, the
     "Borough," View from Castle.--St. Peter's Church.--"School of
     Pythagoras."--Westminster College.--Ridley Hall.--=Newnham
     College.=--=Selwyn College.=--Convent of St. Radegund, Bishop
     Alcock.--Midsummer Common.--Boat Houses, Bumping Races.--=Jesus
     College=, "Chimney," Cloisters, Chapter House, Chapel, Cranmer,

Starting once more from the Great Gate of Trinity and turning
northwards past St. John's we soon reach the "Via Devana," the old
Roman road which, as has been said, is the backbone of Cambridge,
traversing the town, under various names, from end to end. At this
point of its course it is called Bridge-street. Opposite to us, as we
enter it, rises one of the most distinctive buildings of Cambridge,
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, popularly known as "the Round
Church." Its strange shape is an echo of the Crusading period, during
the whole of which such reproductions of the famous church of the Holy
Sepulchre at Jerusalem, the deliverance of which from the Turks was
the Crusaders' dream, were erected in various parts of England.
Earliest in date comes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at
Northampton, built at the very beginning of the twelfth century, in
the opening fervour of the first Crusade, which has also given us the
beautiful old chapel of Ludlow Castle (now in ruins) and this church
in Cambridge. The gallant but fruitless effort of Richard Coeur de
Lion to retrieve the disastrous loss of Jerusalem is commemorated by
the Temple Church in London, completed at the very close of that
century; while the yet more fruitless endeavours of Edward the First,
a century later again, in the last expiring flash of Crusading zeal,
inspired the latest of our English Round Churches, that of Maplestead
in Essex. In all these churches the reproduction of their original is
of a very modified character.

So it is with our Cambridge example. It consists, indeed, (or, rather
originally consisted) of a circular nave surrounded by an ambulatory,
like its Jerusalem prototype, and _may_, like it, have had a domed
roof, though this is scarcely probable. But there the likeness must
always have ended; and the structure has, in later days, been altered
and re-altered time after time. At first there was probably a small
semicircular eastern apse, which within a century gave place to an
Early English chancel. This, in turn, was superseded by the present
chancel with its aisles, built in the fifteenth century, when an
octagonal bell-tower was also erected over the nave. Finally, in 1841,
the newly-formed "Camden Society" for the restoration of ancient
churches was permitted to work its will upon this one, and proceeded
to reconstruct it in accordance with what they imagined ought to have
been the design of its first builders.[88] And this imaginary ideal,
with its pointed roof and tiny Norman windows, is all that we now see.
Nevertheless, the sight, more especially inside, is impressive in no
small degree.

[Footnote 88: This design included the undoubted feature of a stone
altar, the setting up of which gave occasion, after much litigation,
for the promulgation of the well-known Judgment, which declares that
in the Church of England the Law permits only a movable wooden table.]

[Illustration: _The Church of the Holy Sepulchre._]

Behind the Round Church rise the sumptuous rooms of the "Union[89]
Society," a University club primarily instituted as an association for
the cultivation of oratory amongst undergraduates, which has now added
to its central debating hall a library, dining-room, smoking-room, and
the other adjuncts of a first-class club. Here, on each Tuesday
evening during Term, debates are held, usually on current political or
social situations, theological polemics being strictly barred. When
the Society was first instituted, in the early decades of the
nineteenth century, current politics were also prohibited (by the
University authorities), and could only be discussed under a decent
veil of reference to antiquity. But the comparative merits of the
causes championed by Cæsar and Pompey, or by the Cavaliers and
Roundheads, were so easily made to apply to the burning questions of
the day, that the prohibition speedily become obsolete. Many a
well-known Parliamentary orator has won his first fame on the benches
of the Union, Lord Macaulay being a notable example. His perfervid
outpourings here swept away all opposition, and his friend and
contemporary, Mackworth Praed, records how the issue of any debate is
irrevocably decided--

      "When the Favourite comes,
       With his trumpets and drums,
  And his arms, and his metaphors, crossed."

[Footnote 89: So called because in union with the twin Society at
Oxford; members of each having, _ipso facto_, all the privileges of
membership in the other.]

Leaving the Round Church behind us, and proceeding westwards, we pass
the Church of St. Clement, with its inscription DEUM COLE ("Worship
God"), which has nothing to detain us, and shortly arrive at "the
Great Bridge,"[90] that famous passage of the river to which the town
owes its name and its very existence. It can never have been an
imposing structure, in spite of its high-sounding title, and is now
represented by an exceedingly commonplace iron span. But, as the only
passage of the Cam approachable by an army, in fore-drainage days, for
many a long mile, it was of old a strategic point of first-class
importance, and more than once played a notable part in English
history. Its possession by the anti-monarchical forces shattered the
last efforts both of King John and of Charles the First, and brought
about, as we shall see, the speedy ruin and death of the former.

[Footnote 90: So called to distinguish it from the smaller town
bridges by Newnham Mill and Garret Hostel.]

To the North of the Bridge, and on the Eastern bank of the River, is
the last of the many "Hithes" (or Quays), of which we read so much in
connection with old Cambridge, remaining in actual use for traffic.
Here we may to this day see exemplified the ancient local proverb,
"Here water kindleth fire;" for barges loaded with fire-wood and turf
from the fens still discharge their cargoes at this spot.

The old name of the Great Bridge has, for at least a century,[91] been
commonly superseded by the appellation of "Magdalene Bridge," which
provokes singularly humiliating comparisons with the beautiful
structure bearing that name at Oxford. In both cases it is derived
from the adjoining College of St. Mary Magdalene (spelt, by a mere
freak, at Oxford without the final e). Our College, however, is of a
sadly lower grade than that at Oxford, with its ideal tower, and its
beautiful chapel, and its grey cloisters, and its green "Walks" beside
the Cherwell. Here we have but little beauty, and no very great
historical interest. The College was first founded, in the middle of
the fifteenth century, for the benefit of Benedictine students. It
belonged to the great Abbey of Crowland, in the Huntingdonshire
Fenland (though Ely, and other neighbouring Benedictine Houses, took
part in the building), and was called Buckingham College, from its
first special benefactor, Henry Stafford, the second Duke of
Buckingham. At the suppression of the Abbeys, this College, like all
other monastic property, was confiscated by King Henry the Eighth, who
granted it to his favourite, Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor. By him it
was re-founded under its present name, and the nomination of the
Master continues, even to this day, to be vested in his descendants.
The existing representative of his family is Lord Braybrooke;[92] the
name of whose seat, at Audley End, near Saffron Walden in Essex,
records the fact that the whole property of the Benedictine Abbey of
Walden was also granted to Lord Chancellor Audley. This Abbey had
shared in the building of Buckingham College.

[Footnote 91: We find "Magdalene Bridge" in Wordsworth's "Prelude."]

[Footnote 92: Over the entrance gateway may be seen the arms of Lord
Braybrooke's family, the Nevilles. These are also the arms of the

The beginnings of the re-founded College were on a very small scale,
with only a single College servant (who acted as cook). Even forty
years later this number, as Dr. Caius tells us, had only increased to
three. To this day, indeed, Magdalene remains a small and select
College. It consists of a single Court, representing Buckingham
College, and the further side only of a second Court beyond. This
isolated side, an admirable arcade, built at the close of the
seventeenth century, contains the special treasure of the College, the
collection of books bequeathed to it by the famous diarist, Samuel
Pepys. This remains, as he himself arranged it, in twelve oaken
"presses" with glass doors; the books on each shelf being brought to a
common top level by appropriately graduated blocks of wood (shaped in
imitation of their backs) inserted under each. The Library is on view
on Tuesdays and Thursdays during Full Term, from 11.30 to 1 o'clock.
Over the door is the Pepys motto: _Mens cujusque is est quisque._
("Each man's mind is his very Self.")

Pepys had been a student here, and his portrait, by Lely, hangs in the
Hall. So does that of another distinguished Magdalene man, Charles
Kingsley, who was in residence 1839 to 1842. College tradition still
records how he used surreptitiously to climb out of the College in the
very early summer mornings, to be off on one of those piscatorial
excursions which he so dearly loved. Another well-known writer
connected with Magdalene is Mr. A. C. Benson, whose "College Window"
was in the ground floor of the Pepysian Library range, on the North
side, looking into the gardens of the Master's Lodge. In these gardens
is a high terraced walk, beneath an old wall. Both terrace and wall
are supposed to be connected with the ancient defences of Cambridge,
but this is not proven.

[Illustration: _St. Peter's Church._]

We have, however, now come to the region where those defences did
actually exist. For beyond this wall to the West rises the steep
slope, partly natural and partly artificial, of the "Castle Hill,"
towering into the great mound on which stood the Norman Keep. This was
built by William the Conqueror; but long before his day the site,
defensible by nature, and commanding the all-important passage of the
river, had been utilised for military purposes. Here, probably, was a
British post, the _Cam-Rhydd_ or "Ford of the Cam," which became the
Roman Camboritum.[93] Here Oliver Cromwell, as commander over the
forces of the "Associated Counties,"[94] set up fortifications which
baffled the gallant effort to retrieve his fallen fortunes made by
Charles the First after the fatal battle of Naseby. Having there left
his matchless infantry, "lying with their pikes charged every way as
when they lived," the unfortunate monarch, with the remains of his
cavalry, broke through the network of the enemies' squadrons in full
pursuit "like hounds after a fresh stag," and made a dash for the
Eastern Counties, "where he had a party forming." Huntingdon he took
by surprise, and "twice affronted the lines of Cambridge." But these
were too strong to be rushed by horse-soldiers, and, as there was no
other passage over the Cam, he had to retire, finally evading his
pursuers, and making his way safely to Oxford, with all the loot
acquired in this raid, "six waggons loaded with money, two thousand
horses, and three thousand head of cattle." And the remembrance of
Anglo-Saxon lines of defence round the site is perpetuated in the name
"Borough," which still clings to it.

[Footnote 93: In spite of the enticing similarity of sound, it is
fairly established that the word Camboritum is not the parent of the
word Cambridge. In mediæval times we only read of "Granta-bridge."]

[Footnote 94: These were Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambs, Hunts, Beds
and Herts, which combined to raise a common force (on the
Parliamentary side).]

Many antiquarians, indeed, hold that the Cambridge of early days
(anyhow down to the ninth century) was wholly confined to this small
area, some quarter of a mile square, and that the extension of the
town across the river was due to the expulsion of the inhabitants by
Danish and Norman intruders. Be that as it may, we are here
undoubtedly in the earliest Cambridge. The Castle has gradually passed
away, till no ruins, even, are now left. Its modern representative,
the County Court-house, where the Assizes are held, and the County
Gaol, stand at the western foot of the great mound, whereon the Norman
Keep no longer rises. From the summit is to be obtained a delightful
view of Cambridge, with the "green-muffled" ring of the Backs, and the
grey inner ring of the river-side Colleges, dominated by King's
College Chapel, girding in the western flank of the Town, and starting
almost from our feet; the long line of the East Anglian heights
bounding our southern and eastern prospect; and to the north the
"boundless plain," with the towers of Ely on the far horizon.

Close below us, and really at our very feet, rise the two churches of
this earliest Cambridge, that of St. Giles, now merely a handsome
modern edifice of imposing size, and that of St. Peter, also modern in
its present form, but embodying some ancient features. It is the
smallest church in Cambridge, only thirty-five feet in length by
fifteen in width, being the reconstructed fragment of a larger
structure built in the twelfth century, and pulled down in the
eighteenth, when the Parish was united to that of St. Giles. It
contains a fine late Norman font, with grotesque figures at each
corner--two-tailed Mer-men, each grasping his tails in either hand. At
one time the Borough had yet a third church, "All Hallows by the
Castle" (so called to distinguish it from "All Hallows in the Jewry"),
but this has wholly disappeared, Parish and all.

[Illustration: _Remains of St. Radegund's Priory._]

Beyond the spire of St. Peter's, as seen from the top of Castle Hill,
may be distinguished a small mediæval building, known, for some
forgotten reason, by the high-sounding title of "the School of
Pythagoras." This lies just off the street to the eastward, at the
point where this ceases to be a street, and merges into the open road
that runs along the Backs. It is worth seeking out, for it is a
picturesque little edifice, and an interesting example of a
twelfth-century house built of stone. Wood, or, at the best, brick,
were the materials then commonly used. In spite of the name, there is
no reason to suppose that it was ever used for scholastic purposes, or
anything more than a mere private dwelling-house. But Walter de
Merton, the founder of Merton College, Oxford, actually acquired land
hereabouts, apparently with some idea of starting a sister
establishment at Cambridge. This land still belongs to Merton.

The great red brick and white stone edifice opposite the entrance to
the School of Pythagoras is "Westminster College," wherein candidates
for the Presbyterian ministry go through their theological course,
after completing their secular studies at the University. A like
institution for Anglicans, built in like style (which, indeed, is all
but universal in modern academic work), is Ridley Hall, at the other
end of the Backs. Neither of these is recognised by the University as
anything more than a private lodging-house, nor is the similar (but
much smaller) Roman Catholic seminary of Edmundhouse, on the slope
above Westminster College.

The same non-recognition extends to the great Ladies' College of
Newnham, which flings out its widespread "halls" over a lavish space
adjoining Ridley. The grand bronze entrance gates to these "vestal
precincts," inscribed with the name of the first Principal of the
College, Miss Anne Jemima Clough (sister to the poet Arthur Clough)
are hard by the more modest entrance to Ridley, and admit the visitor
to a scene which reminds us of those in Tennyson's "Princess." And
there are almost as many maidens here as he has assigned to his
imaginary College, for Newnham is surpassed in the number of its
students by Trinity only. Each has her own room, in which the bed
becomes by day a sofa. Each is assigned to one of the "Halls," which
in many respects are treated as separate entities, but all share the
common collegiate life. There is, however, no chapel, for Newnham is
most strictly undenominational. Students are, of course, free to
attend any place of worship they may prefer, the preference being
largely given to King's College Chapel. Hence a French traveller, who
came over to study Women's Education in England, is said to have
answered when asked on his return what religion was professed at
Newnham: "Mostly, I think, the King's religion."

[Illustration: _Jesus College Gateway._]

The other Ladies' College, at Girton, has got a chapel, where the
Church of England services are performed. This is the oldest of all
the ladies' colleges connected with Oxford or Cambridge, and hence
comes its position no less than two miles to the west of Castle Hill;
for when the idea was first started, the close proximity of young men
was deprecated almost in the trenchant spirit of Princess Ida. The
very first start, indeed, was made (in 1869) no less than thirty miles
away, at Hitchin, and only when this was found intolerable did the
pioneers move (in 1872) to Girton.[95] There the beautiful grounds and
splendid range of buildings give an impression of space rivalling
Newnham; but the College is not nearly so large, and is somewhat more
select. Here each student has a sitting-room as well as a bedroom,
after the fashion of the men's Colleges.

[Footnote 95: Newnham is just younger, having been opened 1875. It
then consisted of one Hall only.]

Immediately to the north of Newnham is Selwyn College, a
denominational institution belonging to the Church of England,
corresponding to Keble College at Oxford, and, like it, recognised by
the University, not indeed as a College, but as a "Public Hostel,"
whose undergraduates are not mere "non-collegiate students." Such
"unattached" students are under a "Censor" and a special syndicate,
and have a centre in the "Fitzwilliam Hall" (close to the museum of
that name), where they have to report themselves daily.

[Illustration: _The Back Court, Jesus College._]

Looking eastwards from the Castle Hill, we see a wide, open green
stretching from the further bank of the river, and beyond it a low
church tower rising amid trees. This is the tower of Jesus College
Chapel, once the Priory Church of St. Radegund. This lady was a
Frankish queen of the sixth century, and a friend of the poet
Venantius, the author of the well-known hymns _Vexilla Regis_ and
_Pange Lingua_. Under her dedication a Benedictine nunnery was founded
here at the beginning of the eleventh century. It was never a large or
wealthy institution, but continued to flourish for four hundred years
and more. In 1455 its account books, still preserved among the
archives of Jesus College, show an income of £70 per annum, equivalent
in purchasing power to some £1,200 at the present value of money.
Every Benedictine nun ranked socially as a gentlewoman, so that this
income needed careful administration to make it suffice for the nine
or ten sisters in residence. The Convent, however, was at this date
quite solvent, but in less than twenty years a single incapable
Prioress had run it deep in debt. The butcher's bill alone then
amounted to £21 (equivalent to over £350), and, having no cash to pay
withal, the nuns were taking two of his daughters free amongst the
boarders whom they educated. They were also alienating their capital,
so that the income was rapidly dwindling. In 1481 it had decreased by
more than 50 per cent., and was only £30. The next Prioress was a
strong and capable ruler, imposed upon the convent by the Bishop of
the Diocese, who was its Visitor. But things had gone too far, and, in
spite of her efforts, the place dwindled away. By 1496 there were only
two nuns left, and, under Royal license, the convent was turned into
"Jesus College" by the same Visitor. His name was Alcock, so his coat
of arms bore three cocks' heads, with yet another cock for crest. This
device confronts us at every turn in our passage through the College.

[Illustration: _Jesus College Chapel, East End._]

To reach it from Castle Hill, the most pleasant way is by descending
the street, and turning to the left past St. Giles' Church. This road
will soon bring us to the river, at a lock, where we cross by an iron
foot-bridge. We are now on the open Green we saw from above, which is
known as "Midsummer Common," from the great fair held there at that
season. As we make our way over it, we see to our left along the river
bank the long white boathouses[96] of the various colleges; for it is
not till below this lock that the river becomes navigable for an
eight-oar, and all the University rowing is done between it and that
next below, at Baitsbite, three miles and more down the stream to the
northward. Baitsbite[97] is the starting-point of the annual college
races, held at the conclusion of the May Term.[98] As is well known,
these are decided by "bumping," the boats all starting simultaneously
one behind another, with a clear interval of two lengths between
each. Any boat making a bump takes the place of its defeated rival in
the next race, and has the privilege of rowing back to its boat-house
with its flag flying.[99] This is also done by the boat Head of the
River, which, of course, cannot bump, though it may be bumped. Should
a boat make its bump on each of the four evenings that the races last,
the crew are said to "get their oars," each man's oar becoming his
personal property and being usually hung in his rooms as a trophy,
appropriately painted with the College colours. These colours are also
worn for racing; the most easily recognised being the bright scarlet
of Lady Margaret (St. John's), the black and white of Trinity Hall,
the green of Queens', the black and yellow of Clare, and the red and
black of Jesus. The flags always bear the College arms, except that
"First Trinity" fly the three crowned lions of King Edward the Third.

[Footnote 96: These are large wooden edifices containing sheds for the
boats below and dressing-rooms for the crews above.]

[Footnote 97: See Chapter XIII.]

[Footnote 98: There are also races in the Lent Term for the less
exalted boats. But only the first division in the May races has any
general interest. Each division contains sixteen boats, and the last
boat of each division is also the first of the division below, being
thus known as a "sandwich boat."]

[Footnote 99: The races end at Chesterton, about a mile below the

Leaving the distant prospect of the boathouses behind us, we resume
our way to Jesus College, the grounds of which are separated from
Midsummer Common by a broad ditch. Skirting this, we come to "Jesus
Lane," and, turning to the right, reach the main entrance to the
College, opposite the red brick façade of "Westcott House" (like
Ridley Hall, an Anglican Clergy Training School), and the tall spire
of the new Church of All Saints.[100] Iron gates admit us into a long
passage, between red brick walls, known as "the Chimney," which
conducts us to the College gate. Jesus is a large college, with
several courts, but all that is much worth seeing is the chapel with
its cloisters, to reach which we must seek a low-browed doorway to the
east of the entrance gate. Both are relics of the nunnery. The latter,
indeed, were rebuilt in the eighteenth century; but the nineteenth has
rediscovered, in their eastern range, the beautiful Early English
entrance into the Nuns' Chapter House. At the north-east corner of the
cloisters we find the door into the chapel.

[Footnote 100: This church, as has been already said, formerly stood
at the other end of its Parish, in the old Jewry, hard by Trinity and
St. John's.]

This bears little resemblance to the conventional College Chapel,
being a cruciform church of the ordinary Norman shape, with a central
tower. Very little of the work, however, is Norman, for the nuns did
not get far on with their design till the twelfth century had come in
and the Early English period had commenced. A beautiful gem of this
style the chapel is, and, for once in a way, the drastic "restoration"
to which it was subjected in early Victorian days is matter of real
thankfulness.[101] The building had been sadly mauled about in the
course of ages; the high-pitched roof lowered, the eastern lancets
destroyed. All is now brought back, in excellent taste, to what it was
at first. The old chancel has become the chapel proper, the transepts
and the short nave serving as the ante-chapel.

[Footnote 101: This restoration had the advantage of being carried out
under the auspices of a man of real architectural taste (though better
known by his geological distinction), the Rev. Osmund Fisher, then
Dean of the College. The discovery of the Chapter House entrance in
the cloisters was also due to him.]

[Illustration: _Oriel of Hall, Jesus College._]

In this the windows are filled with fine Morris glass, the rich hues
of which are, unfortunately, much faded from their pristine
brilliance. That at the end of the south transept, which first meets
the eye, is occupied, above, by a magnificent group of the Celestial
Hierarchy, in all its nine Orders--Angels, Archangels, Virtues,
Principalities, Dominions, Powers, Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, with
the addition, in the tenth place, of Man, as the image of God; and,
below, by nine Saints, including St. Radegund, with the addition of
Bishop Alcock. The four other windows of the transept show the four
Evangelists, each attending a pair of Sibyls,[102] and, in the tower
lights, Gospel scenes illustrating the Incarnation, Passion,
Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ respectively. The nave windows,
on the south, have Patriarchs and Prophets, with scenes beneath from
the life or writings of each; and, on the north, emblematic figures
representing the Cardinal and Theological Virtues, each trampling
under her feet the contrary Vice.

[Footnote 102: Some words put by Virgil into the mouth of the Sibyl
(or prophetess) of Cumae were supposed by the early Christians of Rome
(to whom the idea of Sibylline books being prophetic was familiar from
Roman History) to foretell the Incarnation. Hence she, and her sister
Sibyls of other fictions as well, came to be considered inspired, and
before long a whole literature of imaginary Sibylline predictions was
in circulation.]

The most notable of the alumni of Jesus College was also one of the
earliest--Archbishop Cranmer. It is from his having been here that he
is so often and so ridiculously said to have been brought up in a
_Jesuit_ seminary![103] Another notability was the poet Coleridge, who
was here from 1790 to 1792. He was not an academic success, for, like
his contemporaries, Wordsworth at St. John's, and Southey at Christ
Church, he was carried away by the revolutionary spirit then rampant,
and, being more audacious than they, got into more scrapes. One of his
freaks was to trace out in gunpowder on the college lawns the words
LIBERTY AND EQUALITY, which not only produced a sensation when the
train was fired, but left the obnoxious sentiment permanently branded
on the sacred grass. Finally he ran away. But he was taken back, and
did not lose his love for his old college; for, long afterwards, we
find him writing of "the friendly Cloisters and happy Grove of quiet,
ever-honoured Jesus College, Cambridge." The Grove is the name given
to the grassy field, begirt with trees, which is bordered by the ditch
separating the College grounds from Midsummer Common.

[Footnote 103: The Jesuits, of course, did not come into being for
years after Cranmer's academic day.]

The western portion of that common is often called "Jesus Green." It
witnessed the execution of the only Marian martyr burnt at Cambridge.
His pile was largely formed of Protestant books of devotion, one of
which, "a Communion Book," he picked up and read diligently till the
flames overpowered him, "praising God, who had sent him this
consolation in his death."


     =Sidney Sussex College=, Oliver Cromwell, Fellow Commoners.--Holy
     Trinity, Simeon, Henry Martyn.--=Christ's College=, "God's
     House," Lady Margaret, Flogging of Students, Bathing forbidden,
     Milton, Lycidas, Gardens, Paley, Darwin.--Great St. Andrew's,
     Bishop Perry.--=Emmanuel College=, Harvard, Sancroft, Chapel,
     Ponds.--University Museums.--=Downing College.=--Coe Fen.--First
     Mile Stone.--Barnwell, Priory, Abbey Church.--Lepers Chapel,
     Stourbridge Fair, Vanity Fair.

Following Jesus Lane from the "Chimney" gate townwards, we once more
strike into the Via Devana, here called Sidney Street, from the
College filling the angle between the two roads. It is not a
pretentious institution, having always been amongst the smallest
colleges. But it has nurtured one man of colossal individuality, the
great Protector, Oliver Cromwell. For Sidney Sussex College (as its
full name runs, from its foundress, Lady Frances Sidney,[104] Countess
of Sussex) was instituted (in 1596) for the very purpose of fostering
such _alumni_. The earliest statutes of the College decree that its
members shall be taught, before all else, to "detest and abhor
Popery." Besides Cromwell, his right-hand man, Edward Montagu, Earl of
Manchester, who distinguished himself when in authority at Cambridge
during the Civil War by ejecting from their parishes so many recusant
High Church parsons and filling their places with Puritan divines, was
also a Sidney man. Both he and Cromwell were "Fellow Commoners," a
name given to privileged undergraduates who, on payment of extra fees,
were permitted to rank with the Fellows and to dine at the High Table.
They also wore a more ornate gown than the ordinary undergraduate. It
is only of late years that this plutocratic arrangement has been
discontinued in the University. The site of Sidney was formerly that
of the Franciscan Convent, with its splendid church, considered the
finest in Cambridge. At the dissolution of the convent the University
tried to secure this from King Henry the Eighth as the University
Church. But the King's price was too high, the negotiations fell
through, and the glorious building was remorselessly and utterly

[Footnote 104: Her husband had been over the Royal Excise, and the
College shield bears the familiar Broad Arrow of that department.]

Passing by Sidney, which has nothing to detain us, we shortly note a
church on our right hand. This is Holy Trinity, the special home of
the Evangelical movement in Cambridge. In the early days of that
movement (and of the nineteenth century) the pulpit here was occupied
by its great leader, Charles Simeon, Fellow of King's College, who
through much persecution, through evil report and good report,
championed the cause till he saw it triumphant. And a series of
like-minded men has followed him.[105] The grey stone building just
beside the church is the Henry Martyn Hall, built in memory of that
great Evangelical pioneer and missionary. It is used for meetings
connected with the movement.

[Footnote 105: The church is architecturally naught, outside; but the
tower arches, within, form the loveliest gem in Cambridge.]

Leaving Holy Trinity to our right, a turn in the street brings us face
to face with the grey stone front of Christ's College, one of the most
ideal in Cambridge. We owe it, like St. John's, to the bounty of the
Lady Margaret Tudor, King Henry the Seventh's mother, whose beautiful
character has already been dwelt upon in our last chapter. And she
bestowed it upon us under the same inspiration as in the case of St.
John's, that of her friend and confessor, Bishop Fisher, and, in doing
so, adopted the same plan of transforming and expanding an earlier
Foundation. This was a very small "School of Grammar," which never
attained to the dignity of collegiate rank, founded in 1430 by John
Bingham, parson of St. John Zachary, just before he and his Church
were swept away to make room for King's College. It was then removed
to this site, just outside the "Barnwell Gate" of Cambridge, where it
maintained a microscopic existence for the rest of that century.

[Illustration: _Christ's College Chapel._]

At the beginning of the next it had the good fortune to be taken up by
Lady Margaret, who increased the number of residents maintained in it
from five to sixty, and changed the name from "God's House" to
"Christ's College." At the same time she planned out the principal
court, as it now exists. Unlike St. John's, it was at least partly
completed before her death, for the historian Fuller tells a pretty
story of how she here beheld from a window the dean administering to
one of the scholars the corporal chastisement which was at that day
the recognised means of discipline,[106] and called out to him
"_Lente! Lente!_" ("Gently! gently!") The College is appropriately
full of her memory: her portrait adorns the Hall; on the front of the
Gate Tower stands her statue, between the Plantagenet Rose and the
Tudor Portcullis, and beneath it are carved her armorial bearings, as
at St. John's, with the addition of the crest, a demi-eagle of gold
rising out of a crown.[107] On either side are the three feathers of
the Prince of Wales. These same arms, emblazoned, are over the inner
gateway that leads into the Gardens, with her own beautiful motto,
"_Souvent me souvient_" ("Oft I bethink me"). And in the Library under
a glass shade is a reproduction of the upper part of her person, with
the hands folded in prayer, from her monument in Westminster Abbey.

[Footnote 106: The rod retained its use in this connection till the
eighteenth century. In the seventeenth, during the period of Puritan
ascendancy, it was made a University enactment that if any
undergraduate should "by day or night enter any river, ditch, lake,
pond, mere, or any other water within the County of Cambridge, whether
for the sake of swimming or of washing," he should be flogged in his
College hall. It must be remembered that students then entered at
least five years earlier than now.]

[Footnote 107: This crest is absent from the Johnian gate-tower, but
is found above the iron gate leading into the Backs.]

But, to the ordinary visitor, the memory of even Lady Margaret is, at
Christ's, overshadowed by the mightier memory of John Milton, who was
in residence here for seven years, from 1625 till, in 1632, he became
a Master of Arts. In residence along with him was his "Lycidas," whose
real name was Edward King. In the gardens an ancient mulberry tree, so
old that its stem has to be encased in a pyramid of turf, and its
remaining arms jealously shored up, is called by his name. The
tradition that he himself planted it is probably unfounded, but it was
actually there in his day, one of the score of these trees which, by
the desire of King James the First, were placed in the gardens.

The gardens here are amongst the few College Gardens which at
Cambridge are open to the public. During certain hours visitors are
admitted, and no small privilege it is; for there are few lovelier
spots than this verdurous lawn, shut in on one side by the grey
"Garden Front" of the College,[108] with its balustraded cornice and
transomed windows, and everywhere else "bosomed high in tufted
trees";[109]--an ideal place for Milton's own

                         "retired Leisure,
  That in trim gardens takes his pleasure."[110]

[Footnote 108: This front belongs to an isolated block known as the
"Fellows' Buildings," erected shortly after Milton's time.]

[Footnote 109: "L'Allegro."]

[Footnote 110: "Il Penseroso."]

Hidden in a thicket at the north-eastern corner is a sequestered
swimming-bath, fed by a stream drawn off from Hobson's conduit. To
climb the statue beside this and dive off the head is a current feat
amongst Christ's men. Something of a feat it is; requiring
considerable sureness of foot and skill in balancing oneself.

To reach the Gardens we must cross the first court, a singularly
pleasant example of a College Court, rendered the more picturesque
by the central grass-plot being circular instead of the usual
rectangle, and pass on through the "Screens" at its north-eastern
corner. Here we are in another Court, only in part surrounded by
buildings; the "Fellows' Buildings" being immediately in front of
us. As Christ's, unlike most Colleges, has but one entrance,[111] we
shall have to retrace our steps. In passing the Hall we should, if
possible, look in to note the portraits of the College worthies.
Amongst these are to be found not only Lady Margaret, Bishop Fisher,
and Milton, but Quarles (the author of the "Emblems"), Paley, the
Evidencer of Christianity,[112] who was a Fellow here in the
eighteenth century, and the epoch-making name of Charles Darwin, the
Apostle of Evolution.

[Footnote 111: A small back door, however, leads from the kitchen into
"Christ's Lane" (on the south). On one famous occasion, when, at a
time of popular excitement, the students were confined to the College,
sympathisers from without burst this in (using the bar which closes
the lane to vehicles as a battering-ram) and set them free.]

[Footnote 112: Paley's _Evidences_ is still one of the set subjects in
the "Littlego" (or "Previous Examination") which every student must
pass before being allowed to proceed further.]

From Christ's we continue along the Via Devana, here called St.
Andrew's Street from the unlovely church of that name[113] which we
see opposite the College. Of old the name was Preachers' Street, from
the great preaching Order of the Dominican Friars, who from the
thirteenth to the sixteenth century here found their home. The site
of their House is now occupied by our next College, Emmanuel, as that
of the Franciscans was by Sidney. It is remarkable that the ground of
both the great Orders which were called into existence specially to
preach the doctrines of Catholicism should have passed into the hands
of men whose main object was to contest those doctrines. But so it
was. Emmanuel, like Sidney, was founded (1584) expressly to combat the
errors of Popery; and the Founder, Sir Thomas Mildmay, a courtier of
Queen Elizabeth, has left on record his special wish that his College
should turn out a constant supply of able Puritan divines.

[Footnote 113: Unlovely as this church is, it is a monument of the
piety and generosity of one of the most pious and generous men
Cambridge has ever known, Dr. Perry, first Bishop of Australia, who,
while a Fellow of Trinity, devoted his private fortune to the
ecclesiastical needs of the town, and thus enabled no fewer than three
large churches to be built. Unhappily it was at a period of execrable
taste (the earliest Victorian), and the three are far from beautiful
or correct examples of ecclesiastical architecture. But when the then
newly formed Camden Society (for the revival of a purer style of
building) ventured to hint as much, a storm of Protestant indignation
arouse throughout Cambridge, and a public protest against such Romish
criticism was actually signed by every resident Fellow of Trinity!]

His hope was realised. Emmanuel at once sprang to the front as the
great power-house of the Puritan movement in Cambridge; and so strong
was that movement that for the moment it carried the College to the
very top of the list, so that it surpassed in numbers even Trinity and
St. John's. Many of the stalwarts who belonged to the Pilgrim Fathers
of New England were here educated; notably John Harvard, whose name is
borne by the Premier University of America. So also were many of the
preachers who kindled and sustained the ardour of the Roundheads
through the stress of the Civil War. Even after the Restoration the
College retained the impress of its Founder's hope. When, in 1664, the
Duke of Monmouth visited Cambridge, a satirical guide to the
University, written in doggerel Latin verse for his benefit, sneers at
the strict moral tone of Emmanuel: "You may well perceive that they
are all Puritans here." And Archbishop Sancroft, famous as the chief
of the Seven Bishops who made so staunch a stand against the
toleration of Roman Catholics under James the Second, was an Emmanuel

[Illustration: _Emmanuel College._]

For the first century of its existence, the students of Emmanuel
worshipped in an unconsecrated building running north and south,[114]
where they received the Sacrament "sitting on forms about the
Communion Table, and pulling the loaf one after other when the
minister hath begun. And so the cup; ... without any application of
the sacred words." But in 1679 this room was turned into the College
Library, and the present chapel built on the usual Anglican lines.

[Footnote 114: This was on the site of the Dominican Refectory. Sir
Thomas Mildmay boasts that, in contempt of their religion, he has
turned their Refectory into a Chapel, and their Church into a
Refectory. The Hall and Combination Room still occupy the site of the

Emmanuel has little architectural beauty; but there are pleasant
grounds, with a swimming-bath, as at Christ's, and two larger ponds,
in which swans and wild ducks are kept. The swimming-bath and the
smaller pond are accessible only by the favour of a Fellow; but the
large piece of water is in a great open court (beyond the first
court). All are fed from a branch of the Hobson's Conduit stream,
runlets from which run down St. Andrew's Street, even as they run down
Trumpington Street. Beyond the swan-pond lie the new buildings, lately
erected to meet the greater expansion of the College, for Emmanuel,
after over two centuries of depression, now ranks (along with Caius
and Pembroke) at the head of the list with regard to relative numbers,
except Trinity alone. In actual numbers she broke in 1890 her record
of 1628, and has gone on advancing steadily since. Her shield bears a
blue lion ramping on a white ground and holding a laurel wreath,
emblematic of the victory of the "Lion of the tribe of Judah."

Immediately opposite the front gate of Emmanuel there runs off, at
right angles, from the Via Devana, a thoroughfare known as Downing
Street. Till the present century it actually gave access to Downing,
the youngest of the Colleges to which the University officially
accords that title. In those days Downing consisted of a huge
parallelogram of prettily be-treed greensward, a furlong across and
three furlongs long,[115] thus covering far more space than any other
college. But in numbers it was the smallest of all, and also in
income, till finally agricultural depression reduced it to such
straits that it was forced to sell its northern frontage to the
University. Thus Downing Street now leads, not to Downing, but to the
great central huddle of University museums, laboratories, and
lecture-rooms, which have been incessantly rising during the last two
generations, and which are still continuing to rise. Here, cheek by
jowl (on the site of the old Austin Friary), are the magnificent
Geological Museum erected in memory of Professor Sedgwick, the Museum
of Botany, the Law Schools, the Museum of Archæology, the Museum of
Anatomy,[116] the Museum of Mineralogy, the Chemical Laboratory, the
Medical Schools,[117] the Physical Laboratory,[118] the Engineering
Laboratory, the Optical Lecture-room, and, beside these, the
Philosophical Library, and the huge Examination Hall which is the
latest addition to the equipment of the University.

[Footnote 115: This occupied all but the whole space bounded by
Downing Street, Tennis Court Road, Lensfield Road, and Regent Street.]

[Footnote 116: The ethnological series of skulls here ranks (with
those at Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Washington) as the most complete
in the world.]

[Footnote 117: On the wall here is engraved Pasteur's inspired saying:
"_Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les
esprits préparés._"]

[Footnote 118: This is called the Cavendish Laboratory, being the gift
of the late Duke of Devonshire, Chancellor of the University. The word
laboratory we may note is, in student speech, invariably "Lab," which
is even used as a verb.]

To reach Downing to-day, one must turn to the left on leaving
Emmanuel, and continue along the Via Devana (here called Regent
Street) till large iron gates on the opposite side of the road invite
us to enter the College grounds. These give still an impressive sense
of space, though now curtailed at the southern as well as the northern
end, and form a pretty setting for the two parallel ranges of yellow
stone, which date from the beginning of the nineteenth century. For
though Downing was by that time keeping the centenary of its
foundation (by Sir George Downing, of Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire),
the funds had not hitherto admitted of the erection of college
buildings. When first set up, these classical frontages were
considered the _ne plus ultra_ of architectural perfection, and
strangers were taken to see them as the great glory of Cambridge.

Regent Street, after we leave Downing, will soon bring us again to the
Church of Our Lady, so that we have now completed our circuit of
Cambridge. There remain, however, a few outlying spots worth a visit
should time serve. Nearest and most picturesque of these is Coe Fen, a
long strip of common, lying along the eastern bank of the river,
before it enters on its course through the Backs. The best time to see
it is at sunset, and the best way to gain it is by following down the
narrow byway beside Little St. Mary's, and turning to the left at the
bottom. We shall then find ourselves on the Fen, beneath the old wall
of Peterhouse deerpark, a delicious, heavily-buttressed, mass of red
brick-work, leaning over and curved with age, patched and re-patched
all over with all kinds of fragments, giving colour effects that are
quite charming.[119] Passing beyond its shelter, and that of its
continuing hedge (which divides us from Peterhouse and other gardens),
we may take the first turn to the left, up a narrow (and often dirty)
byway, which will lead us past the Leys School, the great Wesleyan
educational outpost of Cambridge, into the Trumpington Road, where it
joins Lensfield Road at Hobson's Conduit. Or, instead of turning to
the left we may turn to the right, and, crossing the Cam by the iron
footbridge, make our way over "Sheep's Green," the Common east of the
river, to Newnham Mill and the Backs. Or we may hold straight on, by
the footpath that runs the whole length of the Fen, which will bring
us out on the Trumpington Road just by the first milestone, where that
road crosses "Vicar's Brook."

[Footnote 119: See p. 5.]

It is from this side that we notice how this is no ordinary milestone,
but a grand monolith twelve or fifteen feet in length, and feel that
it must have a story. And so indeed it has, for it is the very first
milestone ever set up in Britain since the days of the Roman dominion
here. In those days every great road in the country had its series of
milestones recording the distance from the central milestone in
London, which still exists, in its decay, as "London Stone." But after
the mighty organisation of the Roman Empire lost its hold upon the
land, roads went to ruin, and milestones were broken up or used for
Anglo-Saxon gate-posts. Not till 1729 was the idea of restoring the
system entertained; and it was a Cambridge College, Trinity Hall, that
first took it up, and carried it out on the road from Cambridge to
London. Hence it is that these milestones bear the Crescent of the
College shield. And for their inaugural milestone was chosen this
grand monolith, which was itself an old Roman milestone.

North-east of Cambridge stretch the mesh of dingy streets which make
up the great suburb of Barnwell. Hither and thither they run, in
soul-crushing monotony; yet even here there are gems of interest to be
found. The suburb came into existence, to begin with, through the
proximity of a great Abbey, the Augustinian Priory of Barnwell. This
House of Religion was founded in the first instance by Hugoline, the
pious wife of Picot, William the Conqueror's far from pious Sheriff of
Cambridgeshire. It was by her located close beneath his
dwelling-place in the Castle, and dedicated to St. Giles. Half a
century later, the Picot land was forfeited for treason, and granted
to Richard Peverel, who had been, in the First Crusade,
standard-bearer to Robert Curthose, the Conqueror's eldest son. He
transferred the House to the riverside, hard by a holy spring, the
Burn Well (or source of the Brook), where a hermit of special sanctity
had already reared an Oratory dedicated to St. Andrew. He also raised
the number of monks from six to thirty, to correspond with that of his
own years at the time.

The Abbey grew and flourished. Its inmates, as appears from their
"Custom Book" of 1296 (lately published by Mr. J. W. Clark), led a
very civilised life--cleanliness being specially insisted upon; and
its proximity to Cambridge placed it in touch with political life.
Royalty stayed in it now and again; in 1388 even Sessions of
Parliament were held in it; Papal Legates visited it.[120] And when
civil wars broke out, it was a prize worth plundering; a fate it more
than once suffered. When the final plunder came, under Henry the
Eighth, the whole was utterly swept away; the only thing left being a
small stone building, which was apparently the Muniment room of the
Abbey. Though utterly ruinous, this little block is by no means
without architectural merit, and may be found by following the
Newmarket Road (which enters Cambridge as "Jesus Lane") to its
junction with East Road (the eastward continuation of Lensfield Road).
Here Abbey Street runs down to the river, and just off it is our
building, commonly known as the "Priory Chapel." Hard by is an old
red-brick dwelling-house, bearing the date 1578, and called the "Abbey
Barn"; and in its grounds are several venerable fragments.

[Footnote 120: Here was held, in 1430, under the representatives of
Pope Martin the Fifth, the famous "Assize of Barnwell," which decided,
by Papal authority, that in the University alone was vested all
spiritual jurisdiction over its students, to the exclusion of the
ordinary Diocesan and Parochial claims.]

In close proximity to these ruins is an actually surviving relic of
Barnwell Priory. This is a tiny church of Early English Architecture,
known as the "Abbey Church," or "Little St. Andrew's."[121] Small as
it is, it is the Mother Church of a huge parish (now happily divided
into districts) containing more than half the entire population of
the Borough of Cambridge. It was built by the Canons of Barnwell, when
their Priory was a century old, for the use of the little knot of
hangers-on whom every great abbey attracted to its doors, and whose
secular (and, perhaps, far from cleanly) presence was unwelcome at the
fastidious worship of the Priory Church. And they made it the
representative of the old hermit's Oratory of St. Andrew. For long
ages it sufficed for the adjoining population; but when that
population increased by the hundred-fold, as it did at the opening of
the nineteenth century, things got to a desperate pass, and Barnwell
became practically heathen, with an only too well-deserved reputation
for vice of every kind.

[Footnote 121: So called to distinguish it from "Great St. Andrew's,"
opposite Christ's College.]

So matters stood when, in 1839, Dr. Perry, Fellow of Trinity College,
who was Senior Wrangler in 1828, and whom we have met with as the
devoutest attendant at the College Chapel, and as the builder of Great
St. Andrew's, came forward to stem the evil. Renouncing the comfort of
College life, he took upon himself the charge of this hopeless
district; for which he built, at his own expense, the commodious (if
ugly) red-brick church opposite the Abbey, and a like fabric (St.
Paul's) at the other end of the area, on the way to the railway
station. He laboured devotedly himself, he inspired others to work, he
invoked the help of a band of pious undergraduates who had already
begun a Sunday School on their own account,[122] and when he departed
to become the pioneer Bishop of Australia, he left a well-equipped
Parish organisation which is still in full activity.[123]

[Footnote 122: This School still flourishes, and is still staffed by
undergraduates. It is known as "Jesus Lane Sunday School," its first
quarters having been in that street.]

[Footnote 123: The parish has now been divided into half a dozen
districts. And its earliest houses, immediately round the Abbey
Church, remain (as they have been from the first) outlying fragments
of two small Town parishes, St. Benet's and St. Edward's.]

[Illustration: _The Lepers' Chapel, Barnwell._]

Pursuing the Newmarket Road, we find (at the point where it at last
ceases to be a Barnwell Street, and crosses the railway into the open
country beyond), yet another tiny ancient church, called traditionally
the "Lepers' Chapel." It is of Norman date, and probably served the
Lepers' Hospital, which we know to have existed hereabouts, as remote
as might be from the town. This hospital was endowed by King John
with the tolls of the great Fair held hard by on Stourbridge Common,
which even so late as the Eighteenth Century boasted itself the
largest and most important in all Europe, a position now claimed by
that of Nijni Novgorod in Russia. And, to judge by the accounts that
have come down to us, the boast was not unfounded. The Cambridgeshire
historian, Carter, writing in 1753, thus describes it:

     "Stourbridge Fair ... is set out annually on St. Bartholomew by
     the Mayor, Aldermen, and the rest of the Corporation of
     Cambridge; who all ride thither in a grand procession, with music
     playing before them, and most of the boys in the town on
     horseback after them, who, as soon as the ceremony is read over,
     ride races about the place; when returning to Cambridge each boy
     has a cake and some ale at the Town Hall. On the 7th of September
     they ride in the same manner to proclaim it; which being done,
     the Fair begins, and continues three weeks; though the greatest
     part is over in a fortnight.

     "This Fair, which was thought some years ago to be the greatest
     in Europe, is kept in a cornfield, about half a mile square,
     having the River Cam running on the north side thereof, and the
     rivulet called the Stour (from which and the bridge over it the
     Fair received its name) on the east side, and it is about two
     miles east of Cambridge market-place; where, during the Fair,
     coaches, chaises, and chariots attend to carry persons to the
     Fair. The chief diversions at Stourbridge are drolls,
     rope-dancing, and sometimes a music-booth; but there is an Act of
     Parliament which prohibits the acting of plays within fifteen
     miles of Cambridge.

     "If the field (on which the Fair is kept) is not cleared of the
     corn by the 24th of August, the builders may trample it under
     foot to build their booths; and, on the other hand, if the same
     be not cleared of the booths and material belonging thereto by
     Michaelmas Day at noon, the plough-men may enter the same with
     their horses, ploughs, and carts, and destroy whatever they find
     on the premises. The filth, dung, straw, etc., left behind by the
     fair-keepers, make amends for their trampling and hardening of
     the ground.

     "The shops or booths are built in rows like streets, having each
     their name, as Garlick Row, Booksellers'-row, Cook-row, etc. And
     every commodity has its proper place, as the Cheese Fair, Hop
     Fair, Wool Fair, etc.; and here, as in several other streets or
     rows, are all sorts of traders, who sell by wholesale or retail,
     as goldsmiths, toy-men, brasiers, turners, milliners,
     haberdashers, hatters, mercers, drapers, pewterers, china
     warehouses, and, in a word, most trades that can be found in
     London, from whence many of them come. Here are also taverns,
     coffee-houses, and eating-houses in great plenty, and all kept in
     booths, in any of which (except the coffee-booth) you may at any
     time be accommodated with hot or cold roast goose, roast or
     boiled pork, etc.

     "Crossing the main road at the south end of Garlick Row, and a
     little to the left hand, is a great Square, formed of the largest
     booths, called the Duddery, the area of which Square is from 240
     to 300 feet, chiefly taken up with woollen drapers, wholesale
     tailors, and sellers of second-hand clothes; where the dealers
     have room before their booths to take down and open their packs,
     and bring in waggons to load and unload the same. In the centre
     of this Square was (till within these three years) erected a tall
     May-pole, with a vane at the top; and in this Square, on the two
     chief Sundays during the fair, both forenoon and afternoon,
     Divine Service is read, and a sermon preached from a pulpit
     placed in the open air, by the Minister of Barnwell; who is very
     well paid for the same by the contribution of the fair-keepers.

     "In this Duddery only, it is said, there have been sold £100,000
     worth of woollen manufactures in less than a week's time; besides
     the prodigious trade carried on here, by the wholesale tailors
     from London, and most other parts of England, who transact their
     business wholly in their pocket-books, and meeting here their
     chapmen from all parts, make up their accounts, receive money
     chiefly in bills, and take further orders. These, they say,
     exceed by far the sale of goods actually brought to the Fair, and
     delivered in kind; it being frequent for the London wholesale men
     to carry back orders from their dealers for £10,000 worth of
     goods a man, and some much more. And once in this Duddery, it is
     said, there was a booth consisting of six apartments, all
     belonging to a dealer in Norwich stuffs only, who had there above
     £20,000 worth of those goods.

     "The trade for wool, hops, and leather here is prodigious; the
     quantity of wool only sold at one fair is said to have amounted
     to £50,000 or £60,000, and of hops very little less.

     "September 14, being the Horse Fair day, is the day of the
     greatest hurry, when it is almost incredible to conceive what
     number of people there are, and the quantity of victuals that day
     consumed by them.

     "During the Fair, Colchester oysters and white herrings, just
     coming into season, are in great request, at least by such as
     live in the inland parts of the kingdom, where they are seldom to
     be had fresh, especially the latter.

     "The Fair is like a well-governed city; and less disorder and
     confusion to be seen there than in any other place where there is
     so great a concourse of people: here is a Court of Justice always
     open from morning till night, where the Mayor of Cambridge, or
     his Deputy, sits as Judge, determining all controversies in
     matters arising from the business of the Fair, and seeing the
     Peace thereof kept; for which purpose he hath eight servants,
     called Red-coats, attending him during the time of the Fair and
     other public occasions, one or other of which are constantly at
     hand in most parts of the Fair; and if any dispute arise between
     buyer and seller, on calling out 'Red-coat,' you have instantly
     one or more come running to you; and if the dispute is not
     quickly decided, the offender is carried to the said Court, where
     the case is decided in a summary way, from which sentence there
     lies no appeal.

     "About two or three days after the Horse Fair day, when the hurry
     of the wholesale business is over, the country gentry for about
     ten or twelve miles round begin to come in with their sons and
     daughters; and though diversion is what chiefly brings them, yet
     it is not a little money they lay out among the tradesmen,
     toy-shops, etc., besides what is flung away to see the puppet
     shows, drolls, rope-dancing, live creatures, etc., of which there
     is commonly plenty.

     "The last observation I shall make concerning this Fair is, how
     inconveniently a multitude of people are lodged there who keep
     it; their bed (if I may so call it) is laid on two or three
     boards, nailed to four pieces that bear it about a foot from the
     ground, and four boards round it, to keep the persons and their
     clothes from falling off, and is about five feet long, standing
     abroad all day if it rains not. At night it is taken into their
     booths, and put in to the best manner they can; at bed-time they
     get into it, and lie neck and heels together until the morning,
     if the wind and rain do not force them out sooner; for a high
     wind often blows down their booths, as it did A.D. 1741, and a
     heavy rain forces through the hair-cloth that covers it.

     "Though the Corporation of Cambridge has the tolls of this Fair,
     and the government as aforesaid, yet the body of the University
     has the oversight of the weights and measures thereof (as well as
     at Midsummer and Reach Fairs) and the licensing of all
     show-booths, live creatures, etc.; and the Proctors of the
     University keep a Court there also to hear complaints about
     weights and measures, seek out and punish lewd women, and see
     that their Gownsmen commit no disorders."

Fuller (in the seventeenth century) gives us the tradition that the
fair originated with some Westmorland cloth dealers, who were here
overtaken by a storm on their way to Norwich, and found so ready a
market for the goods which they spread out to dry on the grass of the
common that they went no further but returned hither the next year,
and again. Thus the special prominence given to the "Duddery" here is
accounted for. The tradition does not seem improbable, for Kendal has,
from time immemorial, been renowned for its cloth--the famous "Kendal
green" worn, in old ballads, by the English archers. To this day the
shield of that town bears cloth-making implements, with the motto
"_Pannus mihi panis_" ("Flock is my food"). And Norwich was
(throughout the Middle Ages) the great commercial centre of the cloth
trade. That there was some marked connection between Cambridgeshire
and Westmorland is proved by the constant occurrence here of family
names derived from Kendal place-names (Sizergh, Docwray, Strickland,
Sedgwick, etc.) which have been current amongst the peasantry of
Cambridgeshire since the fourteenth century at least.

Since Carter wrote, the great development of communication has made
fairs a mere survival, and Stourbridge Fair has fallen from its high
estate. It is now a very commonplace affair of a few days' duration,
mainly for the horse trade. But it still is declared open by the Mayor
of Cambridge or his delegate, and a dish of the white herrings which
Carter speaks of still forms part of the opening ceremony. And it has
an abiding interest for English readers, as the prototype of "Vanity
Fair" in the "Pilgrim's Progress." Bunyan, as a Bedford man, would be
familiar with the bustling scene, and, if we compare his pages with
those which we have transcribed from Carter's History, we see how
vividly he has allegorised it:

     "At this Fair are all such Merchandize sold as Houses, Lands,
     Trades, Places, Honours, Preferments, Titles, Countreys,
     Kingdoms, Lusts, Pleasures, and Delights of all sorts, as Whores,
     Bauds, Wives, Husbands, Children, Masters, Servants, Lives,
     Blood, Bodies, Souls, Silver, Gold, Pearls, Precious Stones, and
     what not.

     "And moreover at this Fair there is at all times to be seen
     Juglings, Cheats, Games, Plays, Fools, Apes, Knaves, and Rogues,
     and that of every kind.

     "Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, Thefts, Murders,
     Adulteries, False Swearings, and that of a blood-red colour.

     "And as, in other Fairs of less moment, there are the several
     Rows and Streets, under their proper Names, here such and such
     Wares are vended, so here likewise you have the proper Places,
     Rows, and Streets (namely Countries and Kingdoms) where the
     Wares of this Fair are soonest to be found. Here is the Britain
     Row, the French Row, the Italian Row, the Spanish Row, the German
     Row, where several sorts of vanities are to be sold. But, as in
     other Fairs some one Commodity is the Chief of all the Fair, so
     the Wares of Rome and her Merchandize is greatly promoted in this

We find also reference to the standing Court of summary jurisdiction
under "the Great One of the Fair," with "the trusty Friends" who
formed his police, that took cognisance of the "Hubbub and great Stir
in the Fair" caused by the demeanour of the pilgrims.

As an instance of how wide a range the commodities sold at this fair
covered, we may mention that Sir Isaac Newton there bought his famous
prisms--three of them for £3. They were probably of French or Italian
make; no glass of this character was as yet manufactured in England.


     Roads from Cambridge.--Cambs and Isle of Ely, Girvii, East
     Angles, Mercians, Formation of County.--Newmarket
     Road.--Quy.--Fleam Dyke.--Devil's Dyke.--Icknield Way.--Iceni,
     Ostorius, Boadicea.--Newmarket Heath, First Racing.--Exning,
     Anna.--Snailwell.--Fordham.--Soham, St.
     Lectern.--Eastern Heights.--Chevely, Cambridge
     Corporation.--Kirtling.--Wood Ditton.--Stetchworth.--Borough
     Green.--Bottisham.--Swaffham Bulbeck.--The Lodes.--Swaffham
     Prior.--Reach, Peat, Submerged Forest.--Burwell, Church, Clunch,
     Brass, Castle, Geoffry de Magnaville.

At the Lepers' Chapel we are clear of Cambridge and well on the road
to Newmarket, probably the most trafficked of all the great roads
which radiate from Cambridge. Of these there are seven; this Newmarket
Road going to the north-east, the Hills road to the south-east, the
Trumpington Road to the south, the Barton Road to the south-west, the
Madingley Road to the west, the Huntingdon Road to the north-west,
and, finally, the Ely Road to the north. This last takes us into the
Isle of Ely; the other six serve the county of Cambridge, more
strictly so-called, _i.e._, the southern half of the Cambridgeshire of
our maps, not so long ago quite separate, politically, from the
northern half, and even now not wholly united for administrative

The Isle, which contains the whole of the fenland forming this
northern half of Cambridgeshire, is far older as a political entity
than the southern part of the county. Its existence dates back to the
far-off days of the Anglo-Saxon conquest, in the fifth and sixth
centuries, when the poor remnants of the British population in East
Anglia, once the proud tribe of "the great Iceni," fled for refuge
into the "dismal swamp" of the Fens. Here they held out for centuries,
and formed themselves into a new tribe, the Girvii (as our earliest
Latin chronicler transliterates the Welsh name Gyrwy, signifying
"brave men," by which they called themselves). This Girvian
principality has ever since held together. It passed as a whole into
the hands of St. Etheldreda, by her marriage (in 652 A.D.) with the
last Girvian Prince, Tonbert, and from her to her successors the
Abbots and Bishops of Ely, whose jurisdiction survived until the
nineteenth century.

Meanwhile the old southland homes of the unhappy Britons were being
shared up by their English exterminators. The East Anglians swarmed
over the uplands to the east, and joined hands (not in friendship)
with the more powerful Mercians swarming in from the west. Roughly
speaking the Cam divided these jarring tribes, which lived in undying
hostility till the various English Kingdoms were united into one (in
A.D. 827) by the genius and valour of Egbert, the first "King of the
English." But the boundaries were not effaced till the desolating
flood of the Danish invasions poured over all.

When that flood was stayed by Egbert's glorious grandson, Alfred the
Great, and the district once more made English and Christian by his
only less glorious son, Edward "the Elder," it was formed by him into
a County called, from its chief town, Cambridgeshire (or, as it was
then, "Granta-bryg-shire"). This was in the year 921. But for the
first idea of any union between this new County and the old Isle of
Ely we must wait another two centuries, when, in 1107, the Abbot of
Ely became a Bishop, with the Isle and the County together for his
See. The ecclesiastical tie thus formed has gradually developed into a
civil tie also; just as the first union of the English race under a
common Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, paved the way for its
union under a common King.

To many charming byways amid the streamlets and the meadows and the
gentle slopes of this southern Cambridgeshire the seven highways out
of Cambridge will successively conduct us. The highways themselves
are, as has been said, seldom inspiring thoroughfares, save for their
far-flung horizons; and the Newmarket Road least of all, for it is, as
might be looked for, motor-swept beyond all the rest. The one
near-hand object alone worth mention is the little Church of Quy,
whose far-seen tower dominates some miles of the road. But this has
little interest except its curious name, which is matter of dispute
amongst etymologists. "Cow-ey" is the most commonly accepted
derivation, meaning the Island of Cows. But Quy can never have been an
island. More probably it is "Cow-way," like the "Cowey Stakes" on the
Thames, signifying that here was a passage for cattle across the
marshy ground which bordered the little stream crossed by the road
before reaching the church. This stream flows out of Fulbourn Fen, an
isolated patch of fen-land a mile square, even yet only half
reclaimed, and of old so impassable that it determined the line of the
great Fleam Dyke, which runs up to it on either side but does not need
to cross it.

[Illustration: _Quy Church._]

The Fleam Dyke is one of the great prehistoric lines of defence which
were run from the Fens of the Cam to the summit of the East Anglian
heights. Those heights were in ancient times clothed with dense
forest, and formed an impenetrable barrier against enemies from the
west seeking to invade the East Anglian districts. So too did the
morasses of the fenland. But between fen and forest stretched a strip
of open grassland furnishing easy access. To defend this, the only
gate into their territory, was the great object of the inhabitants of
those districts; and they ran across it two stupendous earthworks, the
Fleam Dyke as their outer bulwark and the Devil's Dyke, which we meet
at Newmarket, as the inner.[124] The former stretches for a length of
some ten miles from the banks of the Cam at Fen Ditton to the uplands
by Balsham (its course broken by Fulbourn Fen); the latter ranges in a
long unbroken rampart from the Fen at Reach to Wood Ditton (_i.e._
"the ditch-end in the forest").

[Footnote 124: There were other minor Dykes (such as the Warstead
Street, from Cherry Hinton to Horseheath), but these play no part in

When these were constructed we do not know. They first appear in
history as the scene of desperate fighting between Britons and Romans
in the first century of our era. But they may very probably have
existed before even the Britons came into the land. Magnificent
earthworks they are, some 10 feet high on the inner side, and on the
outer at least 30, from the bottom of the great ditch which flanks
them to the crown of the parapet. When that parapet was topped by a
palisade of timber, they must have presented formidable obstacles
indeed. The Fleam Dyke we do not see from this road. But as we
approach Newmarket, and enter upon its famous Heath, we cross the
Devil's Dyke; and, as we look at its mighty dimensions, we cease to
wonder that our simple-minded ancestors should have ascribed its
formation to superhuman agency.

The gap by which we pass through the Devil's Dyke deserves notice. It
is the one gap in the whole line of the work, and was left to admit,
not our road, but that which we now join, the London Road of
Newmarket. For this is one of the most venerable tracks in the land,
being the "Icknield Way," made how long ago Heaven only knows. From
the very first settlement of the country there must always have
existed some route along this open strip between fen and forest which
formed the only line of communication from the eastern to the midland
regions of our island. In British days the former were occupied by the
great clan of the Iceni, whose name survives in the English
appellation of the road, and can be traced in many place-names along
it, such as Ickleton in Cambridgeshire, and Ickleford in
Hertfordshire.[125] The road followed the western slope of the chalk
hills to the Thames and beyond, till it tapped the line of the great
Tin-road, by which that then precious metal was brought from Cornwall
to Thanet.[126]

[Footnote 125: These forms show that the C was sounded hard. On the
coins of the clan the name is written ECEN. These coins are of gold
and bear the figure of a horse, being rude copies of the Macedonian
staters which the tin trade brought to Britain. The earliest known are
of the third century B.C., the latest (those inscribed with the name)
of the first half century A.D.]

[Footnote 126: Tin was precious as a component of bronze, which, till
iron came in, was the material for weapons and tools. See my _Roman
Britain (S.P.C.K.)_, p. 33.]

At the Roman conquest of Britain in 55 A.D. the Iceni were friendly to
the invaders, whom indeed they had invited into the land, to free them
from their subjection to the House of Cymbeline, King of Britain. But
when, a few years later, during the settlement of the country, the
Roman general Ostorius ordered them to give up their arms, they
regarded the demand as an intolerable insult, and bade him defiance,
manning the Fleam Dyke against him. But such was his energy that,
though he had no regular troops with him, his light-armed auxiliaries
stormed the whole length of the line at a single rush. The routed
Icenians fled in panic homewards, only to find their way hopelessly
barred by their own fortifications along the Devil's Dyke, and all but
the few who could force their way through the mad crush at this one
narrow gap, were, in spite of a desperate resistance, slaughtered
wholesale. The tribe were then disarmed, and endured unresistingly the
licence and greed of Roman officials and Roman moneylenders, till
goaded into madness, twelve years later, by the wrongs of their
"warrior-queen," Boadicea. Then followed that convulsive explosion of
popular rage and despair, in which every Roman within reach was
massacred with every circumstance of horror, and to which the Romans,
after their victory, replied by such a policy of extermination as to
blot the Icenian name from the page of history. Never again do we meet
with it.

Between the Dyke and Newmarket lies the Heath, renowned as the
earliest English race-course. This form of amusement seems to have
come in with the Stuart Dynasty. James the First is said to have
inaugurated the sport. But the well-known tale of how Edward the First
escaped from his captivity at Hereford, by inducing his guards to ride
matches till their horses were exhausted and then galloping off on
his own fresh mount, shows that the idea was afloat long before. And
at Newmarket in particular such matches must often have been ridden in
connection with the great horse mart which has given the town its

This New Market is, like the New Forest, now far from new. It dates
from the year 1227, when a frightful outbreak of sickness frightened
away buyers and sellers from their older market-place two miles off at
Exning (a pretty natural amphitheatre of turf bright with many
springs), and sent them to meet for the future in the freer air of the
Heath. This word, by the way, does not, in Cambridgeshire, imply the
existence of heather, merely meaning an open space.

Thus Newmarket came into being. The sport we first hear of in
connection with it is not racing but hunting. For the boundless range
of the moorlands to the east of the town (which even now astonish all
who first see them) were then haunted by innumerable herds of wild
deer, and afforded ideal ground for the chase. James the First,
accordingly, had here a hunting-box,[127] in which his unhappy son was
afterwards imprisoned for a while by the victorious army of the
Commonwealth. And thus the Heath became known to his "merry" grandson,
Charles the Second, who speedily saw how specially adapted its expanse
was for horse-racing, and established a regular annual race-meeting,
the first to be introduced into England.

[Footnote 127: In the Register of Fordham Church (a few miles north of
Newmarket) is an entry to the effect that, on 27 February 1624, "The
Most High and Mighty Prince, King James the First of England and Sixth
of Scotland condescended to hunt six hares in Fordham Field!"]

The Royal sport spread like wildfire, and the bare Heath became year
by year crowded by the gayest throng in England, thus vividly
described by Macaulay:

     "It was not uncommon for the whole Court and Cabinet to go down
     there," Charles himself, to the admiration of his subjects,
     posting down from London in a single day, with only two relays of
     fresh horses. "Jewellers and milliners, players and fiddlers,
     venal wits and venal beauties, followed in crowds. The streets
     were made impassable by coaches and six. In the places of public
     resort peers flirted with maids of honour, and officers of the
     Life Guards, all plumes and gold lace, jostled professors in
     trencher caps and black gowns. For on such occasions the
     neighbouring University of Cambridge always sent her highest
     functionaries with loyal addresses, and selected her ablest
     theologians to preach before the Sovereign and his splendid
     retinue. In the wild days before the Revolution, indeed, the most
     learned and eloquent divine might fail to draw a fashionable
     audience, particularly if Buckingham announced his intention of
     holding forth; for sometimes his Grace would enliven the dulness
     of a Sunday morning by addressing to the bevy of fine gentlemen
     and fine ladies a ribald exhortation which he called a sermon.
     With lords and ladies from St. James's and Soho, and with doctors
     from Trinity College and King's College, were mingled the
     provincial aristocracy, fox-hunting squires and their
     rosy-cheeked daughters, who had come in queer-looking family
     coaches, drawn by cart-horses, from the remotest parishes of
     three or four counties to see their Sovereign.... Racing was only
     one of the many amusements of that festive season. On fine
     mornings there was hunting. For those who preferred hawking,
     choice falcons were brought from Holland. On rainy days the
     cock-pit was encircled by stars and blue ribbons.... The Heath
     was fringed by a wild, gipsy-like camp of vast extent. For the
     hope of being able to feed on the leavings of many sumptuous
     tables, and to pick up some of the guineas and crowns which the
     spendthrifts of London were throwing about, attracted thousands
     of peasants from a circle of many miles."

Nor were these beggars the only ones to profit by the festive
occasion. The townsfolk of Newmarket reaped a golden harvest; lodgings
for the press of visitors were at fancy prices, and many were glad to
pay a guinea a night for even the third of a bed; and "at Cambridge,"
we read, "a hackney-horse is not to be got for money."

When Newmarket became only one of many racing centres throughout the
land, this height of glory naturally departed. But to this day its
meetings rank in the very first class of such fixtures. And as a
training ground for race-horses it stands second to none. Training
stables rise all round it, and strings of young thorough-breds are
constantly to be met along the road, and are treated with reverence,
even by the drivers of motor-cars, who, for some distance on either
side of the town are not allowed to travel at any speed over ten miles
an hour. There are now seven principal annual racing fixtures here,
the chief being the "Craven," in the spring, and the "Two Thousand" in
the autumn.

The town of Newmarket is now wholly in Suffolk, although till a few
years ago it lay partly in Cambridgeshire, for it is built on either
side of the Icknield Street, which here formed the county boundary.
But the Old Market at Exning was always in Suffolk; a little island of
which may be seen on the map, surrounded by Cambridgeshire territory.
Here we have an interesting historical survival. Whence came about
this curious delimitation? The answer is that when Cambridgeshire was
first formed into a county by Edward the Elder it was not yet
forgotten that Exning had long been a special residence of Suffolk

Suffolk, it must be remembered, is not, like Cambridgeshire,
Bedfordshire, and other counties named after their chief town, an
artificial division of the land, called into being by the Government
merely as an administrative unit, but, like the Isle of Ely, one of
the originally independent principalities the gradual accretion of
which has formed England. Very early Suffolk and Norfolk joined
together in one East Anglian Kingdom; but that Kingdom endured for
centuries, and was not extinguished till its last monarch, St. Edmund,
was murdered by the Danes in their great raid of 870 A.D. He was,
indeed, but a tributary monarch, under the King of the English; but
this was then only a quite recent arrangement, and his predecessors
had been wholly independent sovereigns. For many years they were
engaged in a heroic struggle to preserve their independence against
Mercia, the great power which occupied all the Midlands, and therefore
it was that they fixed their Royal abode at Exning, close to the great
dyke which bulwarked the East Anglian realm, as, long before, it had
bulwarked the Icenian.

Hence it came about that Exning was the birthplace of St. Etheldreda,
the foundress of our great "sacred fane" at Ely, round which, almost
more than Cambridge itself, the fortunes of Cambridgeshire have
centred. Her father, King Anna, was called to the East Anglian throne
in troublous times. Christianity and Paganism were at death-grips
throughout the land. And the latter cause was championed by the
monarch who was, for the moment, far the most powerful of the English
sovereigns, Penda, King of Mercia. From his central position he struck
out north, south, and east, at his Christian neighbours. His first
blows were against Northumbria, where he successively shattered the
Roman Mission of Paulinus and the Celtic Mission of Aidan. Next he
drove into exile Kenwalk, the first Christian King of Wessex, and
finally, in 654, burst over the East Anglian frontier "like a wolf, so
that Anna and his folk were devoured as in a moment."

But this breaking up of the Exning family did but scatter its members
to spread far and wide the cause of the Gospel. And a splendid band
they were. Not for nothing is Anna described by Bede as "a good man,
and the father of an excellent family." His eldest son followed him on
the throne (for Penda was slain shortly after his last victory, and
the Mercian dominion fell with him), and helped St. Etheldreda in her
great work at Ely; another son, St. Erconwald, became one of the most
famous of all the Bishops of London; while, of the daughters, one was
Abbess of Barking, another of Dereham, another of Brie, in
France.[128] Yet another, Sexburga, after being Queen of Kent,
succeeded Etheldreda as Abbess of Ely, and was herself succeeded by
her daughter Ermenilda, who, as Queen of Penda's son Wulfhere, had
taken part in St. Chad's great work of converting Mercia. Seldom has
any place bred such a household of Saints as this quiet little village
of Exning. A pretty village it still is; but is now fast becoming a
suburb of Newmarket. The bright little stream running through it is
derived partly from springs in the old market meadow already spoken of
(known as "the Seven Springs"), and partly from sources in a copse
some half-mile to the south, known as St. Wendred's Well. All we know
of this obscure Saint is that she had a local fame in the tenth
century, when her body, in a golden coffin, was brought from Ely to
the great battle between Edmund Ironside and Canute at Assandun, and
became the spoil of the victor. The church at March is dedicated to

[Footnote 128: Her abbey was for generations the favourite
boarding-school in France for young ladies from England.]

The road from Newmarket to Ely (twelve miles) passes several places
worth notice. First comes Snailwell, with the flint-built round tower
of its little church rising so picturesquely above the "well," now a
broad, clear pond, from which the little river Snail crawls away into
the adjacent fen. At the adjoining hamlet of Landwade there was lately
unearthed a Roman villa, the fine tesselated pavement of which is now
in the Sedgwick Museum of Cambridge.

Fordham, which we next reach, is a larger village, with a church of
most unusual architectural interest. The north porch has a stone roof
of no fewer than six vaulted bays, running east and west, and
supporting a parvis chamber, with late Decorated windows, approached
by a stone staircase from without, and, seemingly, designed for a
chapel with a separate dedication to St. Mary Magdalene, the Church
being St. Peter's. This development is unique.

[Illustration: _Fordham Church._]

Three miles on, we come to the furthest outpost of the East Anglian
uplands, the little market town of Soham, situated on an almost
isolated peninsula of the chalk, which here runs out into the fen, and
upon the very borders[129] of the Isle of Ely. The Cathedral is here a
conspicuous object, rising high upon its hill over the intervening
fen, and only five miles away. But Soham is associated with a yet
earlier development of local Christianity than Ely itself. Forty years
before St. Etheldreda founded her Abbey, one was here established by
St. Felix, "the Apostle of East Anglia." That title does not mean that
he was absolutely the first to preach the Gospel to the East English,
but the first whose work was permanent. For the introduction of the
Faith into these parts met with more than one set-back before it was
fairly established.

[Footnote 129: These borders are now marked only in the Ordnance maps.
The line runs right across the county from west to east, following the
West River (the ancient course of the Ouse), to its junction with the
Cam, and then almost straight eastward to the boundary of Suffolk,
along a water-course known as the "Bishop's Delph" (_i.e._, ditch,
from the verb _delve_).]

Within two years of the first coming of St. Augustine in 597 A.D.,
Redwald King of East Anglia, who had succeeded the earliest Christian
monarch, Ethelbert of Kent, in the dignity of Bretwalda,[130] followed
him also in seeking baptism. His Christianity, however, was of too
unconventional a type to be acceptable. Bede tells us how "in the same
temple he had an altar for the sacrifice of Christ, and a small one to
offer sacrifices unto devils." This attempt (made under the influence
of his heathen wife) was foredoomed to failure, and was followed by a
period of religious confusion, till Sigebert, his son, succeeded to
the throne. He had been an exile in France, where he had become "a
most Christian and learned man," under the influence of St. Felix, a
holy man of Burgundy, whose help he asked, on becoming King, "to cause
all his province to partake" of his religion.

[Footnote 130: This title implied a vague Primacy amongst the various
Anglo-Saxon monarchs, conferred, by as vague a recognition on their
part, upon him who was for the time the most powerful amongst them.
But though vague it was far from unreal. We find Ethelbert's
protection enabling St. Augustine to preach all over England. Indeed
the name (which etymologically signifies merely Broad Wielder) very
early got to be regarded as meaning Wielder of Britain.]

[Illustration: _Fordham._]

The landing-place of the Saint is still commemorated in the name
Felixstowe near Harwich, and thence he proceeded to preach with
entire success throughout all Sigebert's realm. Soham was his furthest
point, for the fenland beyond was already Christian (the population
being British, and provided for by Augustine's church at
Cratendune).[131] And at Soham he set up an Abbey, where he himself
was buried in 634, three years only after his landing. St. Etheldreda
(who was probably Sigebert's niece) was at this time a young girl.
Some imagine Soham to have been the site of a famous school set up by
Felix, "after the model of those in France, with masters and
teachers." But this is more likely to have been in his Cathedral city
of Dunwich, once the leading town in East Anglia, now wholly submerged
by the encroachments of the German Ocean. The See was transferred to
Thetford and then to Norwich. Soham Abbey flourished on side by side
with Ely, till both were destroyed in the great Danish raid of 870
A.D. Why, when Ely was rebuilt, a century later, Soham was not, is

[Footnote 131: Augustine, true to his mission from St. Gregory, strove
to rekindle all over the land such embers of the Faith as still
smouldered on amongst the British refugees. For those in the fenland,
the Girvii, he had set up a small religious house at Cratendune near
Ely, which was afterwards absorbed by Etheldreda's larger Abbey.]

The present parish church has a lofty Perpendicular nave, with fine
flowing Decorated windows in the chancel and transept, and a really
splendid tower, one hundred feet in height, crowned with a pinnacled
parapet of flint-work. Shortly after the Norman Conquest, Soham became
the objective of the first causeway to be made for civil purposes
between the island of Ely and the mainland.[132] This was due to
Bishop Hervey (the first to be Bishop of Ely as well as Abbot), and
was felt to be so epoch-making a work that it was ascribed to
supernatural influence. St. Edmund, the high-souled King of East
Anglia (who, after his martyrdom by the Danes in 870, became the
Patron Saint of the Eastern Counties), was said to have appeared in a
dream to a man of Exning, bidding him suggest the design to the
Bishop. The little island of Stuntney[133] formed a stepping-stone for
this causeway, so that only three miles out of the six between Ely and
Soham needed an actual embankment.

[Footnote 132: William the Conqueror had already run a military
causeway across Willingham Fen to the south-west side of the island at

[Footnote 133: The word "stunt" in the dialect of Cambridgeshire
signifies _steep_. The shores of Stuntney rise from the fen with most
unusual abruptness.]

[Illustration: _Soham._]

Soham, as has been said, was on all sides surrounded by fen, except on
the narrow ridge of firm ground between it and Fordham. So
water-logged, indeed, was the country round that sea-going vessels
made a port here. This fen is now all drained and become most prosaic
cornland. But a few miles east and west of Soham two little patches,
each about a mile square, remain in their original state. These are
Chippenham Fen to the east, and Wicken Fen to the west. Both are
fairly inaccessible spots, but when we get to them they enable us to
form a vivid idea of what the state of things must have been when the
whole fenland was such as this. Both give the impression of a morass
hopelessly impenetrable, covered with a dense growth of tall reeds
rising high above your head, through which you push your way blindly,
to be constantly checked by some sluggish watercourse, too wide to
jump, too shallow to swim, and impossible to wade, for the bottom is a
fathomless stratum of soft turf and ooze giving no foothold. To
stumble into one of these watercourses is, indeed, no small peril. If
you are alone the case is well-nigh hopeless, and even a friend on the
bank would find it hard to pull you out. His best course is to cut a
fairly large bundle of reeds, by trampling which under your feet you
may for a moment be able to stand while he rescues you.

One can well understand how it came about that such a country was an
almost inviolable sanctuary for those whom despair drove to seek
refuge in its recesses. These small fragments of it still form a
sanctuary; for many rare plants and insects, exterminated elsewhere by
the march of progress, here still nourish. Conspicuous amongst these
is the lovely swallow-tail butterfly; which flits about, dashing with
bright touches of colour the weird and sombre beauty of the silent
scene. Very silent it is now. But it was not so of old, when the whole
fen was crowded with the swarming bird-life, so vividly described by
Kingsley in "Hereward the Wake": "where the coot clanked, and the
bittern boomed, and the sedge-bird, not content with its own sweet
song, mocked the notes of all the birds around, ... where hung
motionless, high over head, hawk beyond hawk, buzzard beyond buzzard,
kite beyond kite, as far as eye could see. Into the air whirred up
great skeins of wildfowl innumerable, with a cry as of all the bells
of Crowland; while clear above all their noise sounded the wild
whistle of the curlews, and the trumpet note of the great white swan."
Such was the fenland of old; but all this wealth of commotion is long
since gone, and scarcely do we see a bird now at Wicken or Chippenham,
except here and there a waterhen, and (at Chippenham) the pheasants
which are reared in coops on its margin.

These birds belong to Chippenham Hall, a mansion built by Admiral
Russell, the hero of La Hogue in 1692, our first great naval victory
since the rout of the Armada, "and the first great victory that the
English had gained over the French since the day of Agincourt."[134]
It stands on the site of an earlier house, which, in its day, served
as a place of confinement for Charles the First in 1647, after the
raid by Cornet Joyce on Holmby House had transferred his custody from
the hands of the Parliament to those of the Army. Here he remained for
some weeks, while the somewhat sordid game of political intrigue (out
of which he still hoped to make his own) was being played around him,
"very pleasant and cheerful, taking his recreation daily at tennis,
and delighting much in the company of Cornet Joyce," but refusing to
listen to the famous Puritan stalwart, Hugh Peters, who was
accustomed to hold forth "with the Bible in the one hand and a great
pistol in the other," and who here "moved His Majesty to hear him
preach. Which His Majesty did the rather decline."

[Footnote 134: Macaulay.]

Within sight of Soham, across the fen to the east, and only three
miles away, stood for awhile another House of Religion, the Priory of
Isleham. But to get from one to the other it was (and is) needful to
go round by Fordham, making the distance at least double. A more out
of the way place than Isleham cannot well be found, but it is worth a
visit. All that remains of the Priory is an oblong structure of stone
buttressed with red brick, looking on the outside like a barn, and,
indeed, used as such. But it is, in fact, the hulk of the Priory
Church; and, inside, the pillars and capitals are in very fair
condition. The work is all Norman. This short-lived establishment was
built in the eleventh century, as a "cell" (or outlying colony), of
the Abbey of St. Jacutus de Insula, near Dol in Brittany. Within two
centuries the monks abandoned it in favour of their sister house at

[Footnote 135: After the suppression of the alien Priories this
property went to the Crown, and was granted by Henry the Sixth to
Pembroke College, Cambridge, in whose hands it still remains.]

They may have found Isleham too sequestered. It stands, like Soham, on
the verge of the Isle of Ely, and also on the verge of Suffolk, to
which county it seems actually to have belonged throughout great part
of the Middle Ages. But it was in the Bishopric neither of Ely nor of
Norwich, but of far away Rochester, to which it had been annexed, as
tradition went, by Alfred the Great. The Church, dedicated to St.
Andrew, has an exceptionally fine hammer-beam roof, bearing the


A splendid brass records the memory of this benefactor's father,
Thomas, who brought the Isleham estates into the family by his
marriage with Margaret Bernard, the heiress of the former possessors.
She as well as her successor, Margaret Francis, are on either side of
him, in low-necked and high-waisted robes with ample skirts. That of
Margaret Bernard bears a large flower and scroll pattern, and on her
head-gear is inscribed the prayer "Jesu, mercy! Lady, help!" That of
Margaret Francis is plain, trimmed with fur. Both wear an identical
necklace, presumably the very same. Thomas himself (who was High
Sheriff of Cambridge and Huntingdonshire in 1442 and 1452) is in plate
armour of the most highly developed kind, with quaint and enormous
elbow-guards. The figures, which are some thirty inches in height, are
surmounted by an elaborate triple canopy.

Another brass, much more worn, shows somewhat smaller figures of the
last of the Bernards, Sir John, and his wife, Dame Elizabeth Sakevyle.
He is also in plate armour of a simpler type,[136] and she in a
close-fitting kirtle and long gown, fastened by a cord across the
breast, with a horned head-dress from which a veil depends over her
shoulders. The dog at her feet implies that she was a lady in her own
right. And yet a third brass gives us Sir Richard Peyton (1574), who
was a Reader at Gray's Inn. Over his doublet he wears a gown, long,
loose, and lined with fur. In his left hand he holds a book, whilst he
lays the right upon his heart. His wife, Mary Hyde, beside him, is in
a plain dress, falling open below the waist to show a richly brocaded

[Footnote 136: He fought at Agincourt, and was one of the knights told
off to kill the French prisoners.]

[Footnote 137: The Peytons held Isleham till the eighteenth century.]

Besides these brasses, there is the fine tomb, in the north transept,
of the first Bernard to be Lord of Isleham, a Crusader, as is shown by
the crossed legs of his recumbent effigy. The _tailed_ surcoat over
his coat of mail fixes his date at about 1275. He was, in fact, one of
those who accompanied Edward the First (not yet King) to Palestine.
The moulding of the canopy above the tomb also connects him with that
monarch, for it is the same as that of the Coronation Chair in
Westminster Abbey, placed by Edward over the Holy Stone of Scone,
which he had carried off from Scotland in token of his claim to be
indeed the rightful King of that stubborn realm.

Yet another point of interest in this church is the eagle lectern, an
exquisite piece of mediæval brasswork, so good, indeed, that it has
been copied in the lectern of Ely Cathedral. It is apparently
fifteenth century work, and was found buried in the fen, some half
century ago, between Isleham and Soham, so nearly half way that both
parishes laid claim to it, and even now Soham folk are not reconciled
to its loss. Whoever were the original possessors, it was probably
concealed in the fen to save it from the Puritan iconoclasts of the
seventeenth century, who, during the Civil War, habitually destroyed
lecterns of this type as "abominable idols."

Eastward from Newmarket radiate most fascinating roads, leading
through heather and pine woods to Mildenhall, with its splendid church
and ancient market hall; and to Brandon, where men still make (as they
have made for 5000 years) palæolithic flint implements by the very
same methods used in those prehistoric days; and to Bury St. Edmunds,
with its wonderful ruins and great historical associations. But these
are all out of our beat. To the southward, however, we are in
Cambridgeshire, and a fine avenue, two miles in length, known as "the
Duchess's Drive," leads up to the ridge of the East Anglian heights.
It is noteworthy that almost along the whole length of that ridge, and
particularly hereabouts, villages cluster thick, whereas the slopes
below can show scarcely any, but form an unoccupied belt, two miles
wide, between the upland and the lowland populated area. A very
out-of-the-way district is this watershed between the broad basin of
the Ouse and those of the little rivers running into the North Sea,
for the nearest railways are miles away, and an old time peace broods
over everything.

The first village we come to is Cheveley. The church here is
cruciform, with a piscina of rare beauty in its Early English chancel,
which is closed in by a fourteenth century rood screen of Decorated
work. To the same period belongs the church chest, which has the
unique feature of being made of cypress wood, and the tower, also with
the unique feature of an external bartizan or watch-turret, apparently
for a beacon fire. The dedication of the church is no less unique,
"St. Mary and the Sacred Host."

The name of Cheveley is associated with what Professor Maitland calls
"the curious if disgraceful story of the decline and fall" of the
ancient Corporation of Cambridge.[138] When the Revolution of 1688 had
put a final end to the old Royal prerogatives over local
administration, "the Corporation stood free from national
supervision"; and Parliament, as time went on, appointed Commissioners
to undertake the duties of police and hygiene, which had formerly been
entrusted to it. With the cessation of recognised responsibilities the
Corporation also ceased to have a conscience, and shamelessly
squandered the corporate property on the personal greediness of its
members. The Duke of Rutland, from his great seat at Cheveley, became,
till the flood of nineteenth century reforms cleansed the Augean
stable, its absolute master, and his nominees only were chosen into
it, and thus, after a thousand years of strenuous, and mostly
beneficent life, "first as a knot of heathen hidesmen,[139] then as a
township of early English burg-men, then as a corporation of mediæval
burgesses," it finally dwindled to a small dining club, "with good
wine, and plenty of it," absolutely dominated by one great Tory
magnate, and claiming "the right to expend their income on themselves
and their friends, without being bound to apply any part of it to the
good of the Town." Reform came none too soon.

[Footnote 138: _Township and Borough_, p. 96.]

[Footnote 139: The original Corporation (not yet so called) consisted
of the local residents who held (or were rated at) a "hide" of land
(120 acres). This was at the end of the ninth century, when the
landowners were Danes and heathen.]

Cheveley is some three miles from Newmarket, and, as much further on,
we reach another interesting little village, Kirtling. The local
pronunciation of the name is "Catlage," which is unhappily becoming
obsolete, like so many other local pronunciations throughout England,
under the orthographical dead level of elementary scholasticism. The
most striking edifice here is the great red-brick gate tower, with its
four octagonal turrets, which is all that remains of a mansion, in its
day one of the most famous in England. It was built in the reign of
Queen Mary by the first Lord North, whose family still hold "Kirtling
Tower," and whose son here magnificently entertained Queen

[Footnote 140: A constant tradition declares that she was imprisoned
(or hidden) here during part of her sister's reign, but it cannot be

The wide moat which surrounded it still exists, and reminds us that
this mansion was on the site of a great mediæval castle belonging to
the Tony family, from the days of William the Conqueror to those of
Henry the Eighth. The manor had once been the property of the
ill-fated King Harold, and was given by the Conqueror to Judith, widow
of the saintly hero Waltheof, after his judicial murder. The church
contains many North monuments, and Kirtling also possesses a pretty
little Roman Catholic church, being one of the five "Missions" in
Cambridgeshire--along with Cambridge, Ely, Newmarket, and Wisbech. For
the Norths still hold, not only their ancient seat, but their ancient

Not far from Kirtling is Wood Ditton; the last word signifying either
Ditch Town, or, more probably, Ditch End, for it stands at the upland
extremity of the Devil's Dyke. Along this ridge of the East Anglian
Heights the primæval forest was of old so dense that no artificial
defence was needed to check the progress of an invading army. It was a
veritable wall of oak, and ash, and thorn, and holly, and alder; no
route for an army at any time, and where the felling of a few trees
across the glades would speedily form an absolutely impenetrable
obstacle. Here then the great earthwork, which we saw on Newmarket
Heath, ends its ten-mile climb from the Fen at Reach, 350 feet below.
Wood Ditton is a picturesque little place, still suggestive of
woodland, especially around the flint-built church (constructed in the
twelfth century and remodelled in the fifteenth), which has an
octagonal steeple of specially graceful poise. A large brass, in
somewhat poor condition, dating from 1393, commemorates "Henry
Englissh and Wife Margt." Henry was a Knight, and wears what is known
as "Camail" armour, which consisted of a series of small steel
roundels fastened on to leather, hardened by boiling. Dowsing records
(under date March 22, 1643), "We here brake down 50 superstitious
pictures and crucifixes. Under the Virgin Mary was written: 'O Mother
of God have mercy upon us.'"

The neighbouring village of Stetchworth (or Stretchworth) also
suffered in Dowsing's visitation. But he failed to notice that one of
the two ancient bells in the steeple had a "superstitious"


So it remained unshattered, and still hangs in the belfry, where the
other bells also have noticeable inscriptions, two bearing the words
"God save Thy Church. 1608," and the third

  ("Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.")

This and the Margaret bell are ascribed to the fifteenth century.

Stetchworth Manor, in the tenth century, was given to the Abbey of
Ely, to provide clothing for a newly-professed monk, the son of the
donor. This sounds an extraordinarily disproportionate gift; but the
clothing of an Ely monk was really a very serious item, and, as the
Abbey account books show, cost the convent the equivalent of something
very like £50 per annum. Readers of Chaucer will remember how
comfortably, and even luxuriously, the monk of his "Canterbury Tales"
is dressed.

Of the remaining villages along this upland line there is not much to
tell.[141] They present a pleasant field for wandering exploration;
each has its picturesque features, no church is without something of
antiquarian interest, and over all broods a delicious aloofness.
Westley Waterless Church has a flint-built round tower, of the Norfolk
fashion, and a fine brass of 1325, representing Sir John de Creke and
his wife, Lady Alyne. He is shown wearing the curious surcoat then in
fashion, known as a _cyclas_, which, in front, reached only to the
waist, and, behind, to the knees. The lady is one of the first
examples of female portraiture in brass: her figure is strangely out
of drawing.

[Footnote 141: The frequent occurrence of "West" in their
names--Westley, Weston, West Wratting, West Wickham--reminds us that
their geographical and historical connection is with Suffolk, to the
east of them, rather than with Cambridgeshire.]

Weston Colville has also a brass, now affixed to the wall, and too
much damaged for identification. The church here is almost wholly
Early English, as is that of Dullingham. Borough Green contains some
fine twelfth century monuments, sadly knocked about. The Parson here
was ejected by the Puritan Earl of Manchester, Governor of Cambridge,
during the Civil War, for the heinous offence of saying "that he ought
to shorten his sermons rather than neglect reading the Common Prayer,
and that the Collects were to be preferred before preaching." Grounds
no less frivolous were a sufficient excuse for a like ejection of
half the parsons in Cambridgeshire at this period. The rest signed the
Covenant and renounced their Anglican heresies, sometimes with
considerable emphasis. One curate is recorded to have stamped the Book
of Common Prayer under his feet, in the face of the congregation,
declaring that he would henceforth be their minister "by no Prelatical
and Popish imposition of hands." Some score of these Vicars of Bray
lived to turn their coats once more at the Restoration.

Half-way between Cambridge and Newmarket, and half a mile from the
main road, stands the fine Church of Bottisham, with good Decorated
windows, a stone rood screen of Perpendicular work, and noteworthy
sedilia and piscina. The beautiful fluting round the clerestory
windows is still more noteworthy, and also the arcading beneath those
of the south aisle both within and without. Here is the tomb of Elyas
de Beckingham, Justice of the Common Pleas under Edward the First,
who, almost alone, escaped in the clean sweep which that monarch made
of his Bench for corruption. Here, in 1664, the parson was ejected on
the grounds "that he was a time-server,[142] and one that observed
bowing towards the east, standing up at the _Gloria Patri_, reading
the Second Service at the Communion Table, and such-like superstitious
worship and innovation in the Church. That he is a very unable and
unfit man for the ministry; for half his parishioners cannot hear him,
neither did he ever preach to their edifying, neither is he able, as
the deponents do verily believe."

[Footnote 142: _i.e._, An observer of holy times and seasons.]

Bottisham, in all probability, played a part in that pathetic episode
in the life of King Charles the First, which began with his flight
from Oxford and ended with his vain appeal to the loyalty of the
Scottish army then besieging Newark. Finding that Oxford must needs
surrender to the Parliamentary forces closing in upon it, the King cut
off his hair and beard, and in the disguise of a servant, carrying the
cloak-bag of the two faithful chaplains who accompanied him, stole
away at three in the morning, on Monday, April 27, 1646, from the
beleaguered city, which had been his headquarters for so long. A long
day's ride of 50 miles brought the party that night to Wheathampstead,
near St. Albans, where a faithful adherent was found to give him
shelter, though the Parliament were proclaiming, with drum and
trumpet, that "what person soever shall harbour and conceal, or know
of the harbouring and concealing of the King's Person, and shall not
immediately reveal it to both Houses, shall be proceeded against as a
traitor, forfeit his whole estate, and die without mercy." The next
day, Tuesday, in clerical attire this time, and with only one
companion, Mr. Ashburnham, the hunted Monarch entered Cambridgeshire
(avoiding the towns) and that night, after another 50 miles of riding,
slept "at a small village, seven miles from Newmarket." This village,
Mr. Kingston, the historian of the Civil War in East Anglia, to whom I
am indebted for this picturesque story, thinks may have been
Bottisham, whence Charles could have reached Downham, his next stage,
by water.

Bottisham is the first of a line of interesting villages. We next
reach, through a mile or two of pretty lanes, Swaffham Bulbeck, where,
again the church has some good Decorated work, and fifteenth century
seats, also a cedar chest of the same period, with carvings of the
Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Assumption of Our Lady. It is
remarkable that these should have escaped the specially thorough
"purification" which Dowsing here describes. "We brake down two
crucifixes (and Christ nailed to them), one hundred superstitious
pictures, and twenty cherubims, two crosses from the steeple, and two
from the church and chancel, and digged down the altar-steps." The
vicar was also ejected for being "zealous to put into execution Bishop
Wren's fancies." Wren, the builder of Peterhouse Chapel, was Bishop of
Ely 1638-1667, and deeply offended the Puritans by ordering the
Communion Tables to be set "altar-wise" at the east end of the
chancels (instead of being merely boards, which were habitually leant
against the walls, and at Communion time were placed on trestles
anywhere about the church). His High Church proclivities earned him
eighteen years' imprisonment in the Tower, till released by the

To the north of Swaffham Bulbeck runs out an extension of the village
known by the remarkable name of "Commercial End." It consists of one
picturesque street, at the extremity of which we find ourselves on the
banks of a deep, narrow waterway, like an old canal. An old canal in
fact it is, and shows us that we have here reached the beach-line of
the ancient Fen; for this is Swaffham Lode, one of those artificial
cuts through the tangled swamp by which barges and even sea-going
vessels were enabled of old to reach the mainland. Of these Lodes
there were several; and the knot of population at the termination of
each shows the amount of traffic they anciently carried. Bottisham
Lode has given its name to a village larger than Bottisham itself, and
some three miles from it. And here at Swaffham the commerce of those
bygone days has left us Commercial End. Hard by are the insignificant
remains of a small Benedictine nunnery founded by the Bulbeck family
in the reign of King John.

[Illustration: _Swaffham Bulbeck._]

A mile further on brings us to another Swaffham, Swaffham Prior, with
its picturesque churchyard rising steeply fifty feet above the
village, and containing not one but two churches, dedicated
respectively to St. Mary, and SS. Cyriac and Julitta.[143]

[Footnote 143: These martyrs were son and mother, and suffered in the
Diocletian persecution, the former being of very tender years. Julitta
cheered him on to his glorious death, and was then herself executed.]

Till the Restoration these represented two separate incumbencies; the
former having been given to the Abbey of Ely by Brithnoth, the heroic
Alderman of East Anglia under Ethelred the Unready. Both churches have
passed through singular architectural vicissitudes. The design of the
Norman tower of St. Mary's (the lower of the two), square below and
octagonal above, was copied by the fifteenth century builders of St.
Cyriac's, and is the only surviving portion of their work--the body of
the church having been pulled down in 1667, at the union of the

[Illustration: _Swaffham Prior._]

A century later the steeple of St. Mary's was struck by lightning,
which occasioned so unreasoning a panic amongst the worshippers that
they resolved to abandon the church altogether. In vain did the Squire
(then, as now, one of the Allix family)[144] offer to repair the
damage, which was but slight, at his own charge. Nothing would serve
but dismantling St. Mary's and using its spoil towards the rebuilding
of St. Cyriac's, in the shape of a hideous brick tabernacle, of the
worst Georgian style, attached to the ancient tower. St. Mary's would
have been entirely pulled down had not the ancient masonry proved so
solid that the work of demolition did not pay the local builder who
got the job. As it was, it remained a ruin for yet another century,
and it was not till the end of the nineteenth that it was
restored--still under Allix auspices. Now it is once more the place of
worship, and contains a specially well-executed rood-screen. But the
beautiful spire which crowned the whole steeple still awaits
replacement. The Georgian St. Cyriac's yet stands, and is used as a
parish museum.

[Footnote 144: This family came into England amongst the Huguenot
refugees from France early in the eighteenth century.]

[Illustration: _Swaffham Prior Churches._]

From the churchyard of Swaffham Prior we get a grand view over the
limitless fen to the northward; Ely Cathedral, ten miles away, rising
conspicuous above it. The road we have been pursuing leads us on
Ely-wards; but, a mile hence, comes to a dead stop at the little
hamlet of Reach, once one of the most important places in the whole
county. For here the mighty earthwork of the Devil's Dyke runs down
into the fen. To meet it the greatest of all the Lodes was cut from
the Cam at Upware, and at its hithe (or quay) our road has its
termination. It is a striking surprise, for one comes upon it abruptly
round a corner, and suddenly finds oneself at the end of all things.
The hithe is a quiet green meadow now; but the clear brown water of
the lode still sleeps beside it, and even yet barges, laden with turf
or coal, occasionally creep up hither. Of old it was a constantly busy
spot, where sea-going ships were loaded and unloaded, and trains of
waggons attended, bringing and carrying off the cargoes.

[Illustration: _The Castle Moat, Burwell._]

Tradition gives Reach seven churches; but for this there is no
historical evidence whatever, and it is probably only a hyperbolical
way of extolling the ancient importance of the place. It is now merely
a chapelry under Swaffham Prior, in which parish the western side of
the township[145] is situated. For here the houses run in two lines,
about a hundred yards apart, with a little village green between, on a
gentle slope some quarter of a mile in length, having the fen level as
its lower boundary, and, for the upper, the stupendous bulk of the
Devil's Dyke, here cut clean off as if with a knife. All looks
ancientry itself; but, in fact, this cutting off of the Dyke is quite
a modern affair, not yet even two centuries old. Till then the Dyke
ran right through the village down to the fen itself, effectually
isolating the Swaffham Prior houses on the west from those on the
east, which belong parochially to Burwell. Cole, the prince of
Cambridgeshire chroniclers, whose voluminous MS. notes on the county
still await a publisher, mentions that when he visited Reach in 1743
the Dyke still reached the fen; but when he came again in 1768 he
found the present state of things. Of how, or by whom, this act of
vandalism was perpetrated I can find no record.

[Footnote 145: Reach is commonly spoken of as a "hamlet," but there is
still enough historical pride amongst the inhabitants to make them
resent this phrase.]

Reach was of importance even in Roman days. The Dyke, of course, was
already ancient when they ruled Britain, and the lode, too, may very
probably have been already cut. The remains of one of their villas
have been unearthed here, near the point where the Cambridge and
Mildenhall railway now cuts through the Dyke. It has a well-preserved
hypocaust, or apparatus for warming the house by hot air. The Roman
"villa," we must remember, was the country mansion of the period, and
equipped with every known luxury. In the Middle Ages the annual Fair
at Reach (on the Monday before Ascension Day) was big enough to bring
over the Mayor of Cambridge to open it. And the custom survives even
today, when the occasion has dwindled to a very petty little

Reach, however, has still a local industry; the cutting of the peat,
or "turf" as it is here called, in the neighbouring fen, for use as
fuel. This peat forms a layer often many feet in thickness, and is
formed for the most part of moss, mingled with the vegetable mould
made by the decay of the dense forests with which the district was
covered for uncounted ages; before its final submergence, early in the
Christian era, destroyed the last of them. A like subsidence had more
than once produced the same results earlier; for the remains of four
or five forest beds at different levels have been found in the peat.

The trunks of these prehistoric trees are often of enormous size,
especially the oaks.[146] One no fewer than 130 feet in length was
unearthed in 1909. The wood, after its ages of immersion, has become
black, hard, and heavy, like the Irish bog oak. Associated with such
débris, the peat often furnishes remains of the dwellers in these
archaic woodlands; whence we know that bears, wolves, wild boars, and
gigantic wild bulls roamed their shades. In the skull of one of these
last, now in the Sedgwick Geological Museum at Cambridge, is imbedded
a flint axe-head. The arm of the primeval savage who wielded that
weapon must have been strong beyond the arms of common men.

[Footnote 146: The oaks are always found lying prostrate, but the fir
stems are frequently still upright for several feet of their length.]

[Illustration: _Burwell Church, West End._]

The peat is cut with a spade of peculiar construction, being flat, and
both longer and narrower than ordinary spades. It is shaped somewhat
like a fire shovel with a flange on either side, the object being that
each "turf" extracted should be of uniform size, like a brick. A
thousand of these should go to the ton; but though uniform in size
they are not of uniform weight, for the peat, as might be expected, is
more dense at its lower levels than near the surface. There is a good
market for this turf, which makes a hot and lasting fire with a
minimum of smoke, and that pleasant smoke. It is mostly sent off by
water to Cambridge, Ely, Wisbech, etc.

This turf-cutting is not, of course, confined to Reach, but it has its
greatest development here, and at the neighbouring village of Burwell,
a mile or so to the eastward (to which, as we have seen, part of Reach
belongs). Burwell is an important village of considerable extent, with
a population of 2000, and a magnificent church, capable of seating
them all. It is of the finest fifteenth century workmanship, with a
few remains of Norman in the tower. The exterior is mostly flint; the
interior, like that of so many churches in Cambridgeshire, is of
"clunch," a hardened form of chalk, well adapted for building, and
easily worked for carving. The beautiful sculptures of the Lady Chapel
at Ely are of this material, drawn from the large quarries between
Burwell and Reach. Clunch is found in many places throughout the
county and has been worked (as existing remains show) ever since Roman

Burwell Church is specially connected with the University of
Cambridge, in whose gift is the preferment, burdened with the
condition that on Mid-Lent Sunday a sermon shall be preached there by
the Vice-Chancellor or his deputy. Till the nineteenth century this
condition was no light one; for the roads were in such a state that
half a dozen men on each side could hardly keep the preacher's
carriage from overturning, and, whenever possible, the cortege took to
the newly-ploughed fields in preference. The route was not round by
Reach but direct from Swaffham Prior.

Here is a remarkable brass of John Lawrence de Wardeboys, the last
Abbot of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire. For his readiness in abetting the
designs of Henry the Eighth, not only by eagerly surrendering his own
abbey, "which was not his to give," but by persuading others to do
like violence to their conscience, he was rewarded with a pension
equivalent to between two and three thousand pounds a year. His brass
records this venality of his principles. It was originally made during
his abbacy, and showed him in full abbatical vestments, mitre and all
(for Ramsey was a mitred abbey). After the surrender he had it turned
over, and on the reverse side, now uppermost, we see him in a simple
clerical gown and cap. He only lived a few years to enjoy his
ill-gotten gains, dying in 1542.

[Illustration: _Burwell Church, N.E. View._]

South-west of the church are some scanty remains of Burwell Castle,
which was built by King Stephen during the miserable "nineteen
winters" of his war with Queen Matilda, so forcibly described in the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, when the country was laid desolate by the
outrages of the robber barons. The particular brigand who afflicted
Cambridgeshire was one Geoffry de Magnaville, an outrageously wicked
plunderer, who "did not spare even the churches," regarded as
inviolable by ordinary malefactors. Both Cambridge and Ely were looted
by him, and he terrorised the whole district, till at length he was
slain, by an arrow through the throat, in attacking Burwell Castle.
"Nor was the earth permitted to give a grave to the sacrilegious


     Hills Road.--Gog-Magogs.--Vandlebury.--Babraham, Peter
     Pence.--Old Railway.--Hildersham, Brasses, Clapper
     Stile.--Linton.--Horseheath.--Bartlow, St. Christopher, Battle of
     Assandun.--Cherry Hinton, War Ditches,
     Saffron.--Teversham.--Fulbourn, Brasses.--Wilbraham.--Fleam Dyke,
     Wild Flowers, Butterflies, Ostorius, Last Cambs Battle.--Balsham,
     Battle of Ringmere, Massacre, Church Brasses, Grooved Stones.

At Burwell we are within touch of Exning, Fordham, and Soham, so that
we have now exhausted the interest of the Cambridge-Newmarket Road.
Next in order comes the Via Devana, which when it leaves Cambridge for
the south-east is denominated the "Hills Road." The reason for this is
that it shortly brings us to the most ambitious elevation neighbouring
the town, no less than 220 feet in height, and bearing the
high-sounding name of the Gog-Magog Hills.

The origin of this curious appellation is still to seek. According to
some archæologists it is derived from the prehistoric figure of a
giant which was formerly to be seen on the slope, traced there by
cutting away the turf along the outline of the shape, such as that
still extant near Cerne Abbas in Dorsetshire. This, if it ever
existed, has long since disappeared. Others consider the name to be a
seventeenth century skit on the gigantic height of the hills. Others
again see in it a dim traditional recollection of the days when a set
of gigantic barbarians really were, for a time, quartered here. This
was in the reign of the Roman Emperor Probus (277 A.D.), who leavened
his mutinous British forces with prisoners from the Vandal horde
lately defeated by the Romans on the Danube. From one such detachment,
placed here in garrison, the name of Vandlebury is supposed to have
clung ever since to the great earthwork on the summit of the

That earthwork, however, is of far older date, being of British, or
even earlier, inception. It is a triple ring of gigantic ramparts,
like those of Maiden Castle near Dorchester, and nearly a mile in
circumference. All is now buried in the shrubberies of Gog-Magog
House, the seat successively of Lord Godolphin and of the Dukes of
Leeds.[147] But before being thus planted out it must have been one of
the most striking examples in the kingdom of such fortifications. Till
the eighteenth century it was a favourite scene of bull-baiting and
other illegal sports amongst undergraduates, because the bare open
country all round made it impossible for the authorities to surprise
the offenders. Vandlebury was the original home of the legend, used by
Sir Walter Scott in _Marmion_, which told how in the ancient camp, by
moonlight, an elfin warrior would answer the challenge of any
adventurous knight bold enough to encounter him in single combat.

[Footnote 147: It is now the residence of H. Gray Esq. In the stable
yard a monument records the celebrated "Godolphin," one of the first
Arabs (or, more probably Barbs) to be imported, at the beginning of
the eighteenth century, for the improvement of our thoroughbred

In the early decades of the nineteenth century the then Duchess of
Leeds here set up for her tenantry one of the earliest rural
elementary schools. Children of both sexes were taught in this
institution to read and to sew, the boys making their own smock
frocks. The boys might, if they would, also learn, as an extra, to
write; but not the girls, for Her Grace considered that it would
deleteriously affect their prospects in domestic service if they were
possessed of the dangerous power of deciphering their employers'

Our road climbs the hill to the gate of Gog-Magog House, and plunges
down into woodlands on the other side, in a fashion very unlike the
usual Cambridgeshire highway, to meet the infant stream of the
Granta[148] on its meandering way to Cambridge. Our further course is
amongst the pretty villages along its valley, the best-wooded vale in
all the county. First of these comes Babraham (anciently Bradburgham),
with a pretty little Saxon-towered church snuggling in the park beside
the Hall. Babraham is noted for the epitaph of an old-time swindler,
who was enabled to pocket the Peter Pence[149] which he collected
under Queen Mary by sharing his spoil with Queen Elizabeth. It runs

  "Here lies Horatio Palavazene,
   Who robbed the Pope to lend the Queen."
   "He was a thiefe." "A thiefe? Thou liest;
   For why? he robbed but Antichrist.
   Him Death with besome swept from Babram
   Into the bosome of old Abram.
   But then came Hercules with his club,
   And struck him down to Beelzebub."

[Footnote 148: This branch of the Granta is more properly called the

[Footnote 149: From the ninth century onwards the Pope could claim, by
Royal grant, a penny a year from every house in England. This tribute
was known as "Peter Pence." The phrase is now used amongst Roman
Catholics for voluntary contributions to the Papal Exchequer.]

A curious fresco on the north wall of the church is thought to
represent King Edward the Second.

A little beyond Babraham we cross the Icknield Street, on its way from
Newmarket to Chesterford. Beside it runs, what is almost unknown in
England, a deserted railroad, built by the Eastern Counties Railway
Company (now the Great Eastern) in 1848, to afford direct
communication between Newmarket and London, and abandoned, as a
financial failure, in 1852, since which date the trains have gone
round by Cambridge. Where this long disused line runs on the level it
has melted back again into the adjoining fields, but the old cuttings
and embankments and bridges still exist, and a weird sight they are.

At the adjoining villages of Great and Little Abington the road makes
a picturesque zig-zag through the village street, and passes on,
beneath a fine beech avenue, to Hildersham, where a pretty byway leads
across the stream to the fourteenth century church. Here there are
four good brasses (to members of the Parys[150] family), one of them
showing the unique feature of a lance-rest fastened to the cuirass,
and another (of 1530) being simply a skeleton. There are also two very
striking recumbent effigies representing a crusader and his wife, each
carved out of a single block of wood, now black with age. The
churchyard here is effectively planted with junipers and fir trees,
and the east end of the church is embowered in shrubs of rosemary,
said to be the finest in Cambridgeshire.

[Footnote 150: The fourteenth century historian, Matthew Paris, is
said to have belonged to this family.]

From Hildersham the road goes on to Linton, a mile or so further;
while the two places are also connected by a specially pleasant
footpath, starting from a fine old smithy, and so through the meadows
by the clear trout-stream, and past the yews and thorn-trees of the
moated grange of "Little Linton," while above rises (to nearly four
hundred feet, a proud height in Cambridgeshire) the appropriately
named Furze Hill, with some real gorse patches (also a proud
distinction in Cambridgeshire) upon its ridge.

Before we reach Linton we cross the famous "Clapper" stile, which can
best be described as formed by three huge sledge-hammers (of wood)
with exceptionally long shanks, hinged near the head to an upright
post, each about a foot above the next. Normally the three
hammer-heads rest upon one another and look like a single post (about
a foot from the first); but, on attempting to cross, the shanks (the
ends of which are _not_ fastened but slide in a grooved post at their
side of the stile) yield to our weight, the heads fly apart, and, when
we are over, come together again with the "claps" whence the name of
the stile is derived. How old this curious device is does not appear,
but it is here immemorial. An effective sketch of this stile is given
by Dr. Wherry, in his "Notes from a Knapsack."

Linton is a tiny town, smaller than sundry villages, but obviously not
a village, with a long street of undetached houses (duly lighted)
swinging down the slopes on either side the little river. There is a
fine Perpendicular church, with some Norman work remaining in it, and
a good tower, on the top of which an Ascension Day service is annually
held. Against a wall are suspended two fire-hooks (much lighter than
the one at St. Benet's, Cambridge) for the destruction of burning
houses. (See note on page 38).

The main road here goes on, to pass out of Cambridgeshire into
Suffolk, a few miles further, at the upland village of Horseheath,
with its picturesque old-world village green on the hillside. The
church here has a fine fourteenth century brass to Sir John de
Argentine (a name familiar to readers of Sir Walter Scott, in the
"Lord of the Isles")[151] and some notable monuments, somewhat
knocked about, presumably by Dowsing, who records how he here "brake
down four pictures of the prophets Ezekiel, Daniel, Zephaniah, and
Malachi," besides other damage.

[Footnote 151: Local antiquarian research, however, considers that the
name is more probably Audley. One of the Audleys of Horseheath (who
were in no way connected with the Reformation Audleys, of Audley End
and Magdalene College), distinguished himself at the battle of

But a more interesting road from Linton is that which continues along
the Bourne Valley, and leads, not into Suffolk, but into Essex, which
is here bounded by that stream. A mile beyond the town we pass Barham
Hall, now a farm-house, but of old a Priory of the same Order that we
found at Isleham,[152] a Cell (or Colony) of the Abbey of St. Jacutus
de Insula in Brittany. Another mile brings us to Bartlow, where, hard
by the church, stand the three huge tumuli from which the name of the
village is said to be derived. How they came to exist is an unsolved
problem. Remains found in them, when excavated in 1835, were reported
to be Roman, but the science of archæology was then in its infancy,
and this report can hardly outweigh the wholly un-Roman appearance of
the "Hills," as they are locally called. They look far more like
British or Scandinavian work; but, indeed, three such mounds so close
together are not found elsewhere, of any age.

[Footnote 152: See p. 183.]

The little church has an ancient fresco of St. Christopher, placed, as
usual, opposite the entrance. For this Saint, by virtue of the legend
which tells how he carried Christ over a river,[153] was in mediæval
times regarded as a special example for Christians in their going out
and their coming in; to whom, therefore, was due their first and last
thought in passing the doorway. More noteworthy is the Saxon tower,
with its walls no less than six feet in thickness. For in this it is
quite possible that we may have a part of the very "minster of stone
and lime" raised by Canute in memory of his crowning victory over
Edmund Ironside at Assandun.

[Footnote 153: The legend ran that St. Christopher was a giant heathen
who heard of Christ and desired to serve Him. Enquiring how he could
do this, he was told to devote himself to deeds of charity, which he
did by carrying pilgrims over a dangerous ford. Finally, a child whom
he thus transported proved to be Christ Himself, whence he gained the
name of Christopher (the Christ-bearer).]

The location of that most dramatic of English battles, fought in the
year 1016, is hotly disputed amongst historians; but there is much to
be said for the early view which identifies Assandun with Ashdon in
Essex, hard by Bartlow. For ten miserable years, under Ethelred the
Unready, England had been ground in the dust, deeper and ever deeper,
beneath the heel of the invading Dane. Year by year the degrading
tribute wherewith she strove to buy off the foe had gone up by leaps
and bounds. All hope seemed dead, when the accession of a hero to the
throne roused the harried and exhausted nation into one last
convulsive effort for freedom. Six times in as many months did Edmund
of England and Canute of Denmark clash in battle. Five of these fields
were indecisive, and then, on St. Luke's Day, 1016, the champions met
once more at Assandun, perhaps on the slope still known as Bartlow

Treason decided the day against England. The fight began with a
brilliant charge by Edmund at the head of his bodyguard, which crashed
through the Danish phalanx "like a thunderbolt." But his absence from
the English line enabled a traitorous noble, one Edric (who was always
playing into Canute's hands, in hope of thereby making his own
advantage), to raise a cry that the King was slain. A panic set in at
once; and before Edmund could cut his way back, the whole army had
broken, and was being fearfully cut up in its flight by the pursuing
Danes. "And there the whole nobility of England was utterly
destroyed." Edmund died of his exertions the same year; and Canute
became King of England, the first monarch so to call himself. The
native title had always been "King of the English." In thanksgiving he
built a minster on the scene of his victory; and, as he had promised,
he lifted up the head of Edric "above all the nobility of
England"--upon the highest turret of the Tower of London. The "Roman"
theory notwithstanding, the three Bartlow barrows may well be a
memorial of this great fight, and so may the names of Castle Camps and
Shudy Camps which attach to the furthest villages in this far-away
corner of Cambridgeshire. The "Castle," however, of which only the
moat now remains, was built later by De Vere, the first Earl of
Oxford. Shudy Camps has a far-seen church on its lofty brow, visible
even from Barrington Hill, on the other side of the Cam basin, fifteen
miles away as the crow flies.

[Illustration: _Cherry Hinton Church._]

From the Via Devana, where it leaves Cambridge (just after the bridge
over the Great Eastern Railway), there branches off to the left
another road, which leads us to the scenes of earlier battles
between Dane and Englishman. This is the Cherry Hinton Road, named
after the first village along its course, some three miles on. Its
long straight vista suggests at first sight the idea that it too may
be a Roman road. In fact, however, it dates only from the enclosure of
the land (about the beginning of last century), when the best
ploughman in the village was employed, so the story goes, to drive his
straightest furrow across the whole breadth of the Common Field as a
guide for the road-makers. The older track between Cherry Hinton and
Cambridge was by what used to be, till within the last fifty years, a
pretty footpath across the fenny ground to the north of the field. It
is fenny no longer, and the path has become for three-fourths of its
length a somewhat dreary street through the dingy suburb of "Romsey

Cherry Hinton itself is not yet absorbed by Cambridge, and remains a
bright spacious village, with a rarely beautiful church. The exquisite
Early English chancel is lighted on either side by four couplets of
lancet windows, in ideal proportion, while five equally ideal lancets
serve for an East window. Both walls have an arcading of cinque-foil
pattern; and the double piscina and the graduated sedilia are of no
less merit. All this loveliness is within a fine oaken screen of the
fifteenth century, and the rest of the church is not unworthy of it.
The great quarry, whence the "clunch" of which the church is mainly
built was drawn, is a conspicuous object on the hill-side above the
village; and above that again, equally conspicuous, is the reservoir
of the Cambridge Water-works, looking like a redoubt, on the summit of
the slope. At the foot clear springs break out from the chalk, which
are also utilised to supply the town.

Close to the reservoir there is an actual fortification, an ancient
earthwork, known as the War Ditches, which the researches of Professor
Hughes have shown to be of British date.[154] At the bottom of the
fosse he discovered rough British pottery along with the bones of
domestic animals, and above these a layer of disjointed human
skeletons of both sexes and all ages, apparently due to a general
massacre, in some prehistoric struggle, of men, women, and children,
whose corpses were hurled over the parapet. Above these again came
Romano-British remains. From this earthwork the line of an ancient
dyke, now called Warstead Street, may be traced to the East Anglian
heights near Horseheath.

[Footnote 154: Hughes' _Geography of Cambs_, p. 139.]

Till the nineteenth century the fields between Cherry Hinton and
Cambridge were bright with the purple flowers of the saffron crocus,
which was grown, as it was by the ancient Greeks and Romans, for
medical use and for dyeing purposes. Its cultivation may very probably
have been introduced into Britain by the Romans. The saffron here
grown was considered the best in Europe, and fetched no less than
thirty shillings a pound. But its use, after so many centuries,
suddenly went out of fashion, and the plant is now wholly extinct in

[Footnote 155: _Ibid._ p. 96.]

From Cherry Hinton Church a green lane leads to Teversham, a short
mile distant, but, except for pedestrians, more easily approached from
the Newmarket Road. The church here is a pretty little structure,
mainly Early English, with curious oval clerestory windows, and a nice
Perpendicular screen. The octagonal pillars have floreated capitals.
Dowsing's record of his destructions here is of special interest,
inasmuch as the objects of his Protestant zeal were not, as usual,
relics of pre-Reformation Popery, but the newly painted devices of the
Laudian vicar, Dr. Wren (the Bishop of Ely and builder of Peterhouse
Chapel). They consisted of the name JESUS, "in big letters" no fewer
than eighteen times repeated, of those of the Three Persons of the
Blessed Trinity, and of texts from Scripture: "Let this mind be in you
which was also in Christ Jesus," and "O come let us worship and fall
down and kneel before the Lord our Maker." All these were "done out"
as "idolatries"!

From the springs at Cherry Hinton the furrow-drawn road (passing on
its way the County Lunatic Asylum) makes another bee-line of three
miles to Fulbourn. Here the church is of special interest. There are
no fewer than five mediæval brasses, including one, almost life-size,
of Canon William de Fulburne, 1380, which is notable as being,
probably, the earliest known example of a priest vested in a cope.
This ecclesiastic was one of Edward the Third's chaplains. In a wooden
shrine on the north side of the chancel is a moribund effigy of John
Careway, vicar here in 1433. This is beneath a sept-foiled arch,
beside which is another strangely irregular arch over a sedile. There
is also the very unusual feature of a fourteenth century pulpit of
richly-carved oak.

The dedication of this church is as unusual. It is to St. Vigor, an
obscure sixth century bishop of Bayeux, who has only one other church
in England, at Stratton-on-the-Fosse in Somerset. Till late in the
eighteenth century there was a second church here in the same
churchyard, as at Swaffham Prior. This was All Saints', and was ruined
by the fall of its tower in 1766. The ruins were gradually stolen, the
wood going first, but it took ten years for the last of the bells to

At the church the road divides. The northern branch meanders through
the village past an ancient row of old-time almshouses to the station,
beyond which it becomes a pretty lane leading to the adjoining
villages of Great and Little Wilbraham. The church at the former has a
tower arch of strikingly peculiar development, a tall lancet, flanked
by segments of arches of much larger radius, inserted in the wall on
either side, which support the central member somewhat in the fashion
of flying buttresses. The parson here, "a widower with three small
children" (as the Puritan report gloatingly points out), was ejected
in 1644 by the Puritans, because "he said it was treason for any man
to give any money against the King, and in his sermons discouraged his
parish from doing anything for the Parliament, and that he never read
any book coming from the Parliament." Caution should be observed in
passing through these villages, as sundry well-seeming roads simply
lead down to Fulbourn Fen[156] and end there. Springs feeding the fen
are plentiful, and the ground is still very much of a swamp.

[Footnote 156: See p. 170.]

But the road to take from Fulbourn Church is that which winds away
south-eastwards, for in less than three miles it will bring us to the
Icknield Street,[157] close to the point where that famous war-path
cuts through the no less famous Fleam Dyke. This is the best place for
viewing and ascending that splendid prehistoric earthwork, the sister
and rival of the Devil's Dyke. It makes a most fascinating byway to
walk along, though it leads nowhither, ending abruptly where it dips
down into Fulbourn Fen.[158] The dry chalk is clothed with flowers
all the summer through. At Easter time we may here find the glorious
purple Pasch-flower, that queen of all the anemone clan; later on "the
turf is sweet with thyme and gay with yellow rock-rose, blue flax,
milkwort, pink-budded dropwort, sainfoin, kidney vetch, and viper's
bugloss, and here and there a bee orchis; with a dancing accompaniment
of butterflies overhead, graylings, skippers, chalk hill and Bedford
blues, and a host beside."[159]

[Footnote 157: See p. 171.]

[Footnote 158: Footpaths, however, lead across the fen from its
termination to Fulbourn and to Wilbraham.]

[Footnote 159: Hughes' _Geography of Cambs_, p. 77.]

[Illustration: _Great Wilbraham Church._]

The air is inspiring and so also is the view, with Ely on the far
horizon to the north; and the historical associations are not less so.
We can imagine the oaken palisade which topped the dyke lined with the
Icenian clansmen in their tartan plaids shouting defiance to the
presumptuous Roman who dared to demand their arms; then the incredibly
audacious onslaught which, along the whole length of the Dyke at once,
carried Ostorius and his light-armed troops at one rush clear across
the mighty ditch, and up the forty feet of precipitous slope beyond,
to crown the parapet and whirl away the patriot levies in headlong
flight; then the merciless pursuit which forbade any chance to rally,
till the fugitives were stopped by their own second line of defence
at the Devil's Dyke, and slaughtered like rats beneath its

[Footnote 160: See p. 172.]

[Illustration: _Great Wilbraham._]

Or our thoughts may turn to the later day when here was beheld the
last fight worthy to be called a battle ever fought in Cambridgeshire.
It is the year 905 A.D.; the great Alfred has been dead four years,
and his son Edward the Elder has been chosen King in his stead. For
the English monarchy is still elective, though already with a strong
tendency to become hereditary. And this tendency now gives trouble.
When Alfred himself was made King his nephew Ethelwald Clito, son of
his elder brother Ethelred, the late King, was passed over in his
favour. At that fearful crisis, when it was doubtful whether even an
Alfred could stem the Danish inrush, there could be no thought of
choosing a child as King.

[Illustration: _Little Wilbraham._]

But the Danes are now quietly settled in the Eastern Counties, and
Ethelwald has grown up to manhood, and is bitterly angry at being
again passed over, this time for his cousin Edward. If the English
will not choose him, he will try the Danes. So to the Danes he goes,
with promises of unlimited loot if they will support him, and, in the
words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "entices them to break the peace,"
so that they cross the Watling Street, and make a ferocious raid into
Mercia. "They took all they might lay hands on, and so turned homeward
again. Then after them came King Edward, as fast as he might gather
his force, and overran all their land between the Dykes and the Ouse,
as far North as the Fens."

The Devil's Dyke and the Fleam Dyke are by this time known as "the two
dykes of St. Edmund," and now play their latest part in history as
defences. Edward is no Ostorius, being a valiant warrior of the
cautious rather than the daring type, and the Fleam Dyke brings his
avenging host to a standstill. Finally he resolves that to storm it
would cost too much, and retires his command. But his levies from Kent
are of another temper, and positively refuse to obey what they look
upon as an ignominious order. One after another, seven royal
messengers repeat it in vain; and finally the main body of the English
army marches off under the Royal banner, leaving the mutineers still
before the Dyke--probably at the very point where the Icknield Way
cuts it.

This is the Danes' opportunity. They have now safely deposited their
plunder, and are ready for another outbreak. With their whole force
they sally forth, and fall upon these stubborn Kentish men, and the
fighting becomes desperate. The Kentish Alderman (who combined the
offices of High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant) is slain, so is the
Danish King Eric, so is Ethelwald "the Atheling" himself, "and very
many with them. And great was the slaughter there made on either hand;
and of the Danish folk were there the more slain, yet won they the
field."[161] And thus, after so many ages of warfare, does the Fleam
Dyke, or Balsham Ditch, as it is also called, enter on its millennium
of peace.

[Footnote 161: _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle._]

[Illustration: _Balsham Tower._]

For it played no part in the tragedy which, a hundred years after this
last fight, is associated with its alternative name. Once more Danes
and Englishmen are at hand-grips; but now it is no mere loose
aggregate of private hordes pressing, each on its own, into the land,
but Swend Forkbeard, the monarch of a great Scandinavian Empire
purposing to add England also to his dominions. And under the weak
sceptre of Ethelred the Unready, nothing beyond local resistance has
been offered him; and here alone is the local resistance serious. East
Anglia is under the governorship of the hero Ulfcytel, who has already
given the Danes an unforgotten taste of his "hand-play," and he
gathers her whole force to meet them at Ringmere. But the appalling
tidings of what Swend has done elsewhere, "lighting his war-beacons
as he went" throughout the length and breadth of the land, "with his
three wonted comrades, fire, famine, and slaughter," have taken all
the heart out of the English levies. For "all England did quake before
him like a reed-bed rustling in the wind." The battle is speedily
over. "Soon fled the East Angles; there stood Grantabryg-shire fast

Upon Cambridgeshire accordingly this vainly gallant stand brought down
the special vengeance of the conquerors. To and fro went Danish
punitive columns, and visited the district with a harrying even beyond
their wont. "What they could lift, that took they; what they might not
carry, that burned they; and so marched they up and down the land."
And at Balsham, perhaps because of some local resistance, they are
said to have killed out the entire population, man, woman, and child;
save one single individual only, who successfully defended against
them the narrow entrance to the Church steeple.

It is quite possible that this doorway is the very one which we see
when we reach Balsham, where the Dyke ends, high on the East Anglian
heights: for, though the church was rebuilt in the fourteenth century,
the basement of the tower seems to be far older. Here we are four
hundred feet up, and the air has quite an Alpine freshness, after the
damp, sluggish atmosphere of the sea level at Cambridge. We feel well
why the old Chronicler, Henry of Huntingdon, speaks of "Balsham's
pleasant hills."

[Illustration: _Cottage at Balsham._]

There are in this church two most noteworthy brasses, one a
magnificent memorial, no less than nine feet in length, to John de
Sleford, rector here, the rebuilder of the church. He was a
distinguished personage, being Chaplain to Queen Philippa, Master of
the Wardrobe to her husband King Edward the Third, and Canon both of
Ripon and of Wells. The orphreys of his cope are embroidered with the
figures of Saints, five on either side,[162] and in the canopy over
his head his soul is being borne by angels to the Blessed Trinity with
the prayer PERSONIS · TRINE · POSCO · ME: SVSCIPE · FINE. The other
brass is no less magnificent in size and decoration, and commemorates
a yet more magnificent pluralist, John Blodwell, who was Rector here
in 1439, besides being Dean of St. Asaph, Canon of St. David's,
Prebendary of Hereford, and Prebendary of Lichfield. He, too, has
eight Saints on his cope, and eight more in his canopy.[163] Twelve
Latin verses give a dialogue between himself and Death, whose words
are incised, while his are in relief. The chancel has twelve fine
stalls on either side, and a grand rood screen, all from the
generosity of Rector Sleford. Yet another, and earlier, worthy
connected with this place, is Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely and
Founder of the earliest Cambridge College, Peterhouse.

[Footnote 162: SS. Mary, John, Katharine, Paul, Magdalene, John
Baptist, Etheldreda, Peter, Margaret, Wilfrid.]

[Footnote 163: These are SS. Michael, James, Katharine, Gabriel,
Margaret, ? ? John Baptist, Peter, Asaph, Bridgett, John, Andrew,
Nicolas, Winifred.]


     London Road.--Trumpington, Church, Brass, Chaucer's Mill, Byron's
     Pool, Upper River.--Grantchester, Church.--Cam and Granta.--The
     Shelfords.--Sawston, Old-world Industries, Hall, Hiding-Hole,
     "Little John."--Whittlesford, Old Hospital.--Duxford.--Triplow
     Heath, Civil War.--Fowlmere, Hinxton, Sacring Bell.--Ickleton,
     Monolith Pillars.--Chesterford.--Icknield Way.--Saffron Walden.

Due south from Cambridge goes the great London Road, a name now
practically supplanted by the local designation of Trumpington Road.
Trumpington, two miles out, is already joined to Cambridge by a string
of suburban villas; but these are only on one side of the road, while
the other is a continuous line of nightingale-haunted elms, not even
the stench and dust of the motorist having availed to drive away those
fearless songsters. In leaving the Town the road starts along Hobson's
Conduit, passing the Botanic Gardens, and crosses Vicar's Brook at the
historic milestone already described on page 160, the first to be set
up in England since the days of the Romans.

Trumpington Church shares with Salisbury Cathedral the distinction of
being built wholly in the Early English style at its best; and it has
what is, perhaps, the best-known brass in England, that of Sir Roger
de Trumpington, one of the crusading comrades of Edward the First. The
knight is in full panoply of chain-armour, with steel epaulettes (or
ailettes as they were then called) protecting his shoulders. His
helmet is secured by a chain to his girdle, an unusual precaution, and
his large concave shield is charged with his punning arms, two golden

From the Church an alluring hollow lane winds down to a flat green
island meadow (once a swamp, and still often flooded) between two
branches of the Cam, dividing Trumpington from the sister village of
Grantchester. On the Grantchester side of this island we come to a
mill, with a specially delicious mill-pool below it, overhung by a
wreath of foliage, chiefly chestnut. This is the representative of the
mill immortalised by Chaucer, in the Canterbury Tale which describes
so picturesquely the somewhat unsavoury adventures of the Cambridge

  At Trompyngtoun, nat far fro Cantebrigge,
  There goth a brook, and over that a brigge,
  Upon the whiche brook ther stant a melle,
  And this is verray sothe that I you telle.

The present mill, however, is not on the actual site of Chaucer's,
which stood some quarter of a mile higher up the stream. Its mill-pool
still exists, and is famed as "Byron's Pool." Hither the poet used
constantly to make his way when an undergraduate, as a retired spot
where he might enjoy his favourite delight of bathing, which even in
his day was a practice somewhat frowned upon by the academic
authorities. A century or so earlier, as has been already said, any
student found guilty of it was publicly flogged in the Hall of his
College.[164] It is a fascinating place, overhung by fine trees, and
remained in favour as a bathing-place even to the middle of the
nineteenth century. Now it has become so silted up as to be
practically useless. But on the river above it there is still a good
swimming reach, little used, however, as most students are content
with the University bathing sheds between Grantchester and Cambridge.

[Footnote 164: See p. 153. After this preliminary domestic castigation
he was again flogged on the morrow in the University Schools by the
Proctors. A second offence meant expulsion from the University!]

The footpath past these sheds is a pleasant byway between the two
places, through the green meadows along the riverbank, and so also is
the river itself, hereabouts no more than the "brook" which Chaucer
calls it. It is, however, by no means a water to be played with
rashly, having a tortuous course full of deep holes, in which many
lives have been lost. Indeed, no student is now allowed on this "Upper
River," unless a certified swimmer. A third alternative route is
afforded by the lane between Grantchester and Newnham. Though the
southern half of this suburb is actually in Grantchester parish, the
lane still runs through open fields, and Grantchester itself is in no
sense suburban.

A strangely zig-zag road (with no fewer than four right-angle bends to
left and right alternately in as many hundred yards), climbs from the
mill to the church, which stands, like Trumpington, on the gravel
terrace above the river. These river gravels are amongst the most
interesting of Cambridgeshire geological formations. Not only does
their height above the present stream level (sometimes as much as
thirty feet) point to an age when the rivers must have been much
larger than now, but they are prolific in organic remains, indicating,
sometimes a warmer, sometimes a colder climate than ours. Here, at
Grantchester, bones of the mammoth and of the woolly rhinoceros
connote subarctic conditions; but a few miles further up the Cam, at
Barrington, the terrace is full of hippopotamus, along with elephant
and rhinoceros of African type, postulating a sub-tropical

Grantchester Church is chiefly noteworthy for its singularly beautiful
chancel, an almost ideal example of fourteenth century work, perched
most effectively above one of the bends in the road. The name, with
its "chester" has led many antiquarians to hold that here was a Roman
station.[165] But the application of the name to the village is only
some three centuries old. In earlier days it is always "Grantset." We
do find "Grantchester" in Bede (as mentioned in our account of Ely);
but the spot indicated is almost certainly Cambridge, then still in
ruins after its destruction during the English conquest of Britain.

[Footnote 165: "Chester," "Caster," "Cester," are various Anglicised
forms of the Latin "castra" (= camp), which our conquering forefathers
applied to the Romano-British cities which they so ruthlessly
destroyed in the first sweep of their invasion.]

On the top of the church-tower here we may notice a weird-looking
piece of iron work. This was put up in 1823 to facilitate the
astronomical work in the University Observatory, as it is exactly
south of the telescope dome there, two miles and a half away. With the
acquisition of collimating telescopes, in 1869, this relationship
ceased to be of value, and now the growth of trees has rendered the
tower wholly invisible from the Observatory.

Not far from Byron's Pool we find the watersmeet of the two main
streams which make our Cambridge river; each so equal in size to its
sister that neither can be called the tributary of the other. The name
Granta is usually appropriated to the eastern stream, that of Cam to
the western. On some maps the latter is called the "Rhee," but this
(like the Isis at Oxford), is merely a map-maker's name.[166]

[Footnote 166: On the western bank, hard by, is a large meadow known
as Lingay Fen, which is always (artificially) flooded during the
winter, in hopes of a frost. It forms an excellent skating ground, on
which even National Championships have been decided.]

And as the river divides, so also does our London Road, one route
following either valley. The Granta route goes viâ Bishop Stortford
and Epping Forest, entering London by the Mile End Road, the other viâ
Royston, Ware, and Tottenham, coming in by Bishopsgate Street. The
division comes just as we leave Trumpington, at the lych-gate of the
village cemetery, whence the left-hand branch brings us to the twin
villages of Great and Little Shelford, with the Granta running between
them. Both churches are good, the former with an octagonal steeple,
and a churchyard kept like a garden, and the latter with a grand
square-headed Decorated window in its transept, where are preserved
some nice fragments of the ancient alabaster reredos. There are also
various good fifteenth century monuments of the De Freville family,
whose name still lives on as that of a suburban district in Cambridge.
Great Shelford Church is richly decorated, as it seems to have been of
old, for here Dowsing destroyed no fewer than 128 "superstitions." The
bridge over the Granta between the two villages was in mediæval times
under the charge of a hermit, like Newnham Bridge at Cambridge.[167]

[Footnote 167: See p. 41.]

[Illustration: _Great Shelford Church._]

Villages continue to be found on both banks as we ascend the Granta.
The main road, on the east of the stream, leads through Stapleford, a
small place, to the large and important Sawston. Its size and
importance are due to the existence of that all too rare development,
a really thriving rural industry. For here is not only a flourishing
paper-mill, turning out its twenty tons a week of superfine
copper-glazed paper, but the much more uncommon manufacture of
parchment, and of the "shammy" leather used for cleaning plate, etc.
And this is produced in a delightfully rural and old-time fashion.
There are no machines here automatically grinding out facsimile
products; every process is confided to the skill and judgment of the
individual in charge of it. There are fifteen or sixteen such
processes involved, and a very little carelessness in any one of them
would spoil the whole series. Thus every workman is an expert, and
takes a pride in his work impossible to the mere driver of a machine.
The great aim of each is to "keep his skin in condition" while under
his hands, so as to have a right to glory in the finished article.

The very terms used in this manufacture have an ancient smack about
them. The sheepskins used are called "pelts," and are supplied by the
"fell-monger." They are first immersed for a while in a solution of
lime, and then hung over nothing less primitive than the half of a
tree, sawn lengthwise, while a "flesher" scrapes and "couches" them
(_i.e._, removes all wrinkles). They are then "split," the inner skin,
called the "mutton" or "lining," being adroitly separated from the
outer "grain." This "lining" is next "frized" (_i.e._, rubbed), to
remove all fat, then again "limed," and thoroughly washed. It is then
"squeezed" and "punched" till "the water is killed," then soaked with
cod-liver oil. This causes fermentation to set in, during which the
skins have to be carefully watched by men whose duty it is to "turn
the heats" before "burning" takes place. Alkaline treatment follows,
and, finally, the skins are "ground," _i.e._, pared with a round knife
and smoothed with a wooden "scurfer," being sprinkled the while with
water from a bunch of butchers' broom, called by its old English name
"knee-holm." They are then packed in "kips" of thirty apiece, and put
on the market. Before "grounding," the taste of the ordinary customer,
who likes a pretty white "shammy," is consulted by bleaching most of
the skins with sulphur. Appearance, however, is thus dearly purchased,
for sulphur blackens silver, besides shortening the life of the skin.
The useful colour is dark brown.

"For parchment the 'linings' are tied in a frame by strings fastened
round grooved pegs, on the same principle as a Spanish windlass....
After being scraped with a 'half-round' knife, dried, 'shaved,' dabbed
with whitewash, and heated in a stove to remove the grease, they are
then scalded and rubbed with pumice until they are fine and
smooth.... The parchment workers wear clogs, sheepskin leggings, and
'basil' aprons. A basil is an unsplit tanned sheepskin. In this
well-managed factory all the refuse goes to make soap, glue, dubbin,
or manure, and not one scrap of material is wasted."[168]

[Footnote 168: Prof. Hughes' _Geography of Cambridgeshire_, p. 106.]

Sawston, moreover, is not only full of present interest, but rich in
associations with the past. The Village Cross stands on its ancient
site, and the church, which retains some Norman features, has several
mediæval brasses, though none of special merit. The Hall is yet more
remarkable. It was built in the reign of Queen Mary with materials
from the ruins of Cambridge Castle, granted by her in consideration of
the earlier hall having been destroyed for sheltering her. At the
death of her brother Edward the Sixth, the Protestant Lords of the
Council sought to arrest her as she approached London. Hearing of
their design she took refuge at Sawston Hall, then as now the seat of
the Huddleston family, who then as now steadfastly adhered to the
ancient faith. Her presence there being reported at Cambridge, a
Protestant mob, under the direction of the authorities, pounced upon
the hall so suddenly that she had barely time to escape on horseback
behind one of the serving men, her course lighted by the flames of the
burning building, which was utterly destroyed by the disappointed
Protestants. A missal taken in the sack was, on the following Sunday,
held up to public derision and formally torn to pieces in the
University Church.

By the time the rebuilding of the hall was completed another, and more
thoroughgoing, Protestant persecution had broken out. To hear Mass was
made treason-felony, punished by forfeiture of goods and perpetual
imprisonment, while to say it was an act of high treason, for which
the offending priest suffered the lingering death assigned by the law
to traitors, being first half-hanged, then disembowelled, and finally
quartered. The Catholic chapels of the day were accordingly placed in
the garrets, as in that still existing at Sawston Hall, where the
worshippers had most warning in case of a domiciliary visit by the
authorities. Secret cupboards were contrived for hiding the sacred
vessels, books, and vestments, and secret exits by which the priest
might, if possible, be smuggled out of the house, and, in case these
proved unavailable, "Hiding Holes" in which he might take refuge. That
at Sawston Hall is in the staircase, and is described by Mr. Allan Fea
in his _Secret Chambers and Hiding Places_:

     "The entrance is so cleverly arranged that it slants into the
     masonry of a circular tower, without showing the least
     perceptible sign, from the exterior, of a space capable of
     holding a baby, far less a man. A particular board in the landing
     is raised, and beneath it, in a corner of the cavity, is found a
     stone slab containing a circular aperture, something after the
     manner of our modern urban receptacles for coal. From this hole a
     tunnel slants downwards, at an angle, into the adjacent wall,
     where there is an apartment some twelve feet in depth, and wide
     enough to contain half a dozen people.... The opening is so
     massive and firm that, unless pointed out, the particular
     floor-board could never be detected, and when secured from the
     inside could defy a battering ram."

This is an unusually commodious Hiding Hole, large enough to hold not
only the refugee priest but provisions to maintain him during the
search, a very necessary item of the precautions. For when the
pursuivants pounced upon a Catholic mansion they always began by
locking up the inmates, that no succour might be given to the outlaw
whose presence they suspected, and then proceeded to a most systematic
and thoroughgoing search, in which chimneys, cellars, and roofs were
exhaustively explored, panellings pulled down, and floors torn up, for
days together. The ransacking and wrecking sometimes lasted a whole
fortnight on end; but with such art were these retreats constructed
that they constantly defied even so stringent a test, unless
betrayed--sometimes by the unintentional emotion of those in the

Like most others in England this Hiding Hole at Sawston Hall was due
to the ingenuity of a Jesuit, one Nicolas Owen (nicknamed "Little
John" from his diminutive stature), who, "with incomparable skill and
inexhaustible industry," devoted his life to contriving these
recesses. "And by this his skill," says a seventeenth century writer,
"many priests were preserved from the prey of persecutors." Finally he
was himself betrayed into the hands of the Protestant Government, who
write exultingly of their "great joy" in his arrest; "knowing his
skill in constructing hiding-places, and the innumerable number of
these dark holes which he hath schemed for hiding priests throughout
the kingdom." It was hoped that he might be induced to reveal these
places, "to the taking of great booty of priests." But Owen remained
staunch against all threats and blandishments, and finally allowed
himself to be tortured to death without suffering the secret "to be
wrung from him," as Cecil ordered that it should be. "The man is
dead--he died in our hands," is the laconic report of the Governor of
the Tower in answer to this order.

The knee-holm, or butchers' broom, used in the Sawston leather work,
grows at Whittlesford, on the other side of the Granta, a pretty,
shady village with an interesting church; the development of which,
from a Saxon nucleus, is a nice (and not yet satisfactorily solved)
problem for lovers of mediæval architecture. There is a wooden porch
(oak) of the fourteenth century. At Whittlesford Bridge, where the
Granta is crossed by the Icknield Street, close to the railway
station, one sees, hard by the road, a decayed stone edifice, with a
high pitched roof thatched with reeds, now used as a barn.

[Illustration: _Whittlesford._]

This is the chapel of the ancient Hospital of St. John, founded in the
thirteenth century. There were several such institutions in
Cambridgeshire, started, not specially for the care of the sick, but
for "hospitality" in the widest sense of the word. Here travellers
were entertained, the hungry were fed, the needy were ministered to,
according to their several necessities. The Hospitals were rarely
large institutions, and this one, as the size of its chapel shows, was
quite a small affair, only endowed with some sixty acres of meadow
land and a water-mill, equivalent, probably, to some £200 a year in
all. But having been under the direction of a prior (appointed by the
Bishop of Ely), it is sometimes known by the high-sounding title of
Whittlesford Priory. The interior of the building still retains some
beautiful early English work. A specially pleasant roadside hostelry
next door (the Red Lion), with deliciously quaint carvings on mantel
and ceiling, may be held, in some sense, its modern representative;
and, indeed, is thought by many authorities to have actually formed
part of it.

Though, for some reason, always associated with the name of
Whittlesford, this Hospital is actually in the adjoining parish of
Duxford, or rather in one of the two (now consolidated) parishes of
St. John and St. Peter, between which this little village is divided.
Both churches still exist (though St. John's is now only used for
burials in its churchyard), and both are very much of the same build,
mainly Early English, with a little Norman, of which St. John's
steeple is the most noteworthy example. St. Peter's has a beautiful
"low-side" window in the northern wall of the chancel.

To the west of Duxford the Icknield Street traverses a wide bleak
expanse of treeless fields which, until the nineteenth century, were
the unenclosed turf-land forming the famous Triplow Heath, the scene
of the first breach between the Long Parliament and its army. In the
view of the Parliament that force had now done its work. The Cavalier
levies had been stamped out, the king had been "bought" from the
Scots, and was in Parliamentary custody at Holmby House in
Northamptonshire, the Scots themselves had withdrawn to their own
country; why then should not this costly, and rather dangerous, army
be disbanded?

But this was far from being the view of the soldiers themselves. A
return to the monotonous routine of civil life, after the thrilling
excitements of civil war, had no attractions for them; least of all, a
return without their pay. That pay--one shilling a day--was more than
double the current wages; and now it was many months behindhand--a
whole year in some cases. The suggestions of disbandment were met,
accordingly, by the concentration of the troops, including Cromwell's
famous regiments, on Triplow Heath, in his own East Anglian district.
This was on the 10th of June, 1647.

[Illustration: _St. Peter's Church, Duxford._]

Commissioners from the Parliament were sent down from Westminster,
with offers of two months' pay in cash and debentures for the
remaining arrears, contingent on disbandment. But this was not nearly
good enough; and the offers were met with cries of "Justice! Justice!"
from the men, and with significant hints from the officers of a march
on London if their claims were not speedily satisfied, "for a rich
city may seem an enticing bait to poor beggarly soldiers to venture
far to gain the wealth thereof."

And, while the baffled Commissioners returned, to call out the London
train-bands to meet the threatened attack (finding them so reluctant
to face this new and terrific foe that the death-penalty had to be
denounced against all malingerers), the Army took more effective
action by despatching Cornet Joyce, with a troop of horse, to seize
the King at Holmby House and bring him along as a prisoner; or, as
they put it, to rescue him from his Parliamentary jailers, and invite
him to trust his person with his faithful soldiers. They might thus be
able to sell him again to the Parliament, as the Scots had done, or
they might really restore him, for a sufficient consideration, or make
their own of him some way. And, while Charles was being thus carried
off, as we have already seen, to Chippenham, they struck their camp
and marched off along the Icknield Street to Royston, and thence to
St. Albans, as a demonstration against London. When the unhappy
monarch, a fortnight later, on Midsummer Day, was brought by the same
route from Newmarket, crossing Whittlesford Bridge and passing through
the midst of Triplow Heath, the scene had already returned to its
habitual loneliness.

Triplow itself lies to the west of the Heath, and has a far-seen
cruciform Church, sister to that in the adjoining village of Foulmire,
or Fowlmere as it ought to be spelt. An actual mere, noted for its
wealth of wild fowl, existed here till little more than half a century
ago. It is now a worthless patch of land, full of springs and runlets.
There is also a small prehistoric earthwork, known as "The Round

From Duxford, a pretty byway--far prettier till, a year or two ago,
the picturesque wooden foot-bridge across the Granta was replaced by
an iron modernity--leads to Hinxton, where the church has some
interesting architectural developments, and a good brass to Sir Thomas
de Skelton, steward to "old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster."
He is shown in full plate-armour, and his two wives lie beside him.
The Parochial Register here dates back to the very first institution
of such documents, in 1538, by Thomas Cromwell. This is quite rare;
for the idea was, in its first inception, to the last degree unpopular
both with clergy and people, who suspected, from their experience of
Henry's illimitable greed, that a tax would be exacted upon each of
the ecclesiastical functions thus registered.

On the outside of the spire, which is of wood covered with lead, hangs
a "Sanctus" (or "Sacring") Bell, which of old was rung at those places
in the High Mass where a small bell is sounded by the Server at the
Altar; that is to say, at the _Ter Sanctus_ and the Consecration of
the Host. Thus those of the faithful who were unable to attend church
were invited to unite themselves in spirit with the worshippers there
at the most solemn moments of the Service. Few of these bells remain,
as their associations were, of course, specially distasteful to
Protestant feeling, so that they were mostly destroyed at the

At Hinxton we are on the borders of Essex, and a shady
westward-running lane takes us on, across the river and the railway,
to the last Cambridgeshire village on this line, Ickleton, where the
church is of quite unique interest. Here, too, there is a Sacring
Bell, on the side of the steeple; surviving, doubtless, through the
same unknown local influence which also saved that on the sister spire
of Hinxton. But the real interest of the church is entirely hidden
from passers by. Those even who look from the pretty little Village
Green to the southward see nothing that calls for notice, except the
Sacring Bell and a fairly good Geometrical window in the steeple. The
rest of the exterior shows only poor fourteenth century work--and
cruelly "restored" at that.

But, once inside, we discover that the unsightly exterior is but an
outer shell, built round, and over, a smaller and far older church,
still standing, and so entirely enclosed that its clerestory lights
now open into the existing aisles. Above them are the lights of the
later fourteenth century clerestory, which, no doubt, originally
contained Geometrical, or more probably Flowing, tracery. Now,
however, they are mere "churchwarden" apertures, of various indefinite
shapes, with mean wooden sashes, having been remorselessly doctored in
the second decade of the nineteenth century.

It is when we look closely at this interior church that we note its
truly astonishing features. At the first glance it might be taken for
an ordinary Norman structure, with its round pillars and round arches;
and, in fact, it is usually so described by the few authorities who
notice it at all. The rudeness of the capitals, however, and the
general aspect of the arcade, does not somehow look like Norman work,
but more suggests Saxon architecture. And the very small clerestory
lights, mere loopholes, still more lead us to this conclusion. Some
archæologists, therefore, consider this interior church at Ickleton to
be a Saxon edifice; and, so far as the clerestory is concerned, it is
exceedingly probable that they are right. The piers of the tower
arches, however, are unmistakably Norman, as is also the west doorway.

But what is the arcade? When we examine the massive circular pillars
which support it, we see to our amazement that, instead of being built
up in the usual manner, every one of them is a monolith! We are now
obliged to confess ourselves in the presence not of Norman or Saxon
but of _Roman_ work, for no example of such monolithic construction is
known in any later architecture, and was, indeed, sparingly employed
even by the Romans.

How did these pillars come to be here? They are of Barnack stone from
Northamptonshire, and must have been brought at an expense well-nigh
prohibitory to the finances of a small country parish. We may dismiss
the idea that they were hewn out of the quarry in this specially
costly form, and fetched all the way from Barnack by the builders of
this little unpretending church.

Dismissing this, there remain two other alternatives. A mile distant
from Ickleton to the southward stands Chesterford, the site of an
important Roman station, commonly identified with the _Icianos_ of the
third century "Antonine" Itinerary. The place derived its name, and
its importance, from its position at the point where the River Granta
is crossed by the Icknield Way, the line of communication along the
strip of greensward between the Cambridgeshire fens and the forest
topping the East Anglian heights, which gave access to the territory
of the Iceni in Norfolk and Suffolk. The Saxon builders of Ickleton
Church may have found these pillars amid the ruins of _Icianos_, or of
some villa in the neighbourhood, and have brought them that short
distance for their edifice. As they were ready made this would be a
cheap job.

Such is the one alternative. The other, to which I myself incline, is
that they did not need to fetch the pillars at all, but utilised them
on the very spot where they originally stood. According to this view
we have here an example, unique in Britain, of Roman work _in situ_.
The very arcading which we see I take to have stood north and south of
the central hall of some large Roman mansion. Such a mansion usually
contained an oblong central hall of this kind (often roofless), with a
peristyle, or cloister, on either side opening into it, a portico at
one end, and a smaller _tablinum_ or guest-chamber at the other.
Lanciani has pointed out how this structural arrangement suggested the
nave, aisles, porch, and chancel of the earliest ecclesiastical
edifices at Rome.[169] The same suggestion may have influenced the
builders of Ickleton Church to utilise this old Roman arcading,
roofing in the enclosed space, but with a clerestory to prevent too
great loss of light. If this view is correct the narrow north aisle
probably represents the width of the original peristyle.

[Footnote 169: See my _Roman Britain_, p. 266.]

The south aisle is far wider, as wide indeed as the nave and north
aisle together; and one asks why the fourteenth century architect
planned his work so very unsymmetrically. The answer, I think, is to
be found in the remarkable architectural development of the steeple.
The piers of the tower are, as I have said, unmistakably Norman, but
upon them are set, quite unconformably, arches at least a century
later in date. The tower is pierced by these arches on all four sides,
and was evidently meant as the centre of a cruciform church with
transepts. For some reason this Norman plan was never completed, but
it is very probable that the south wall of the church marks the limit
to which the transept (which may have been actually begun) was meant
to extend.

The church has also later features of interest. There are some good
mediæval seat finials, shaped with the axe and bearing grotesque
figures, musical instruments, and symbols; the word ORATE being
decipherable upon one of them. The rood-screen is fifteenth century,
and is placed across the eastern arch of the tower, with no trace of
there having ever been a rood-loft.

The land of Ickleton was almost wholly _Terra Ecclesiæ_. A priory of
Benedictine nuns existed here, founded in the twelfth century by
Aubrey de Vere, the first Earl of Oxford; while the Abbeys of East
Dereham in Norfolk, Tyltey in Essex, and even Calder (a "cell" of
Furness), in far-off Cumberland, each possessed a Manor in the
Parish. All alike were given by Henry the Eighth to Goodrich, Bishop
of Ely, in exchange for the far more valuable property of Hatfield
House. Queen Elizabeth, however, afterwards demanded them all back
again, with much other land, as a condition of appointing Bishop
Heton, in 1600, to the See, which she had kept vacant to fill her
coffers for no less than nineteen years. The Manors were sold by the
Crown, and are now in private hands. The benefice is in the gift of
the Lord Chancellor.

The name Ickleton, like those of Ickborough in Norfolk, Ickingham in
Suffolk, and Ickleford in Hertfordshire, is derived from the position
of the village on the line of the Icknield Way. It may indeed be the
direct linguistic descendant of the Roman _Icianos_. We must bear in
mind that a prehistoric track, such as the Icknield Way, was not one
single-metalled thoroughfare like a Roman road or a modern highway,
but a broad line of route along which each traveller made his own
"trek," so that the "Way" was a series of roughly parallel ruttings
over the breadth of a mile and more. Such, to this day, are the routes
across the Siberian steppes, which are often four or five miles
across. Thus we found the Icknield Way at Whittlesford, three miles
north of Chesterford, and it is probable that all the various "fords"
we have been meeting--Shelford, Stapleford, Whittlesford,
Duxford--have to do with its various passages of the Granta.

Beyond Chesterford the Granta comes down in tiny streamlets from the
Essex chalk near Saffron Walden, with its wide-naved church, which
Cromwell's troops used for a drill-shed and council-chamber, and its
historic mansion of Audley End, once Walden Abbey, and its memories of
the days, scarcely a century by-gone, when great crops of saffron were
grown in its fields, leaving their only existing trace in the name.
And even that is dying out; few of the inhabitants call their home
anything but Walden. But this town is beyond our Cambridgeshire


     London Road.--Hauxton Bridge, Indulgences, Church, Becket
     Fresco.--Burnt Mill.--Haslingfield.--White Hill, View, Clunch
     Pits, Chapel, Papal Bulla.--Barrington, Green, Church, Porch,
     Seats, Chest, Fountains, Finds, Coprolite Digging,
     Hall.--Foxton.--Shepreth.--Meldreth, Parish Stocks.--Melbourn,
     Shipmoney.--Royston, Origin, Cave, Heath.--Bassingbourn, Old
     Accounts, Villenage.--Black Death.--Ashwell, Source of Cam,
     Church, Graffiti.--Akeman Street.--Barton, Butts.--Comberton,
     Maze.--Harlton Church, Old Pit.--Orwell Maypole, Church,
     Epitaph.--Wimpole Hall, Queen Victoria.--Arrington.--Shingay,
     Hospitallers, Fairy Cart.--Wendy.--Artesian Wells.--Guilden
     Morden, Screen, St. Edmund, Confessionals.

The Cam Valley road from Trumpington leads us over a singularly bare
mile, edged by sparse thorn-trees, to Hauxton Mill, where we cross the
Granta. The repair of the bridge here was, in mediæval days, paid for
by the grant to all who aided this good object of a forty days'
Indulgence. This does not mean a licence to sin with impunity for that
period, as perfervid Protestants imagine, but merely the abrogation of
any ordinary ecclesiastical censure incurred. The little church of
Hauxton, not far beyond, is one of the few Norman village churches
existing in Cambridgeshire, for the county suffered so severely in the
Norman Conquest that little church building could be afforded till a
century later, when Norman had given place to Early English.

In this church, upon the east wall of the south aisle is a fine fresco
of Thomas à Becket, dating from within a few decades of his own
lifetime. Representations of this Saint are extremely rare, for, as an
ecclesiastic who had braved his king--and that king a Henry,--he was
specially detested by Henry the Eighth. His Festivals were all
suppressed, his name was erased from every Service Book, and his
effigies were destroyed with ruthless diligence, so that this is
almost the only one known to exist in all England. It was only saved
by the niche in which it is painted being hastily bricked up and
plastered over; to be forgotten for upwards of three centuries, till
accidentally discovered in 1860 during some restoration work.

Hauxton Church stands a little off the main road, on a by way running
from Shelford on the Granta to Haslingfield on the Cam. West of
Hauxton this route becomes a mere field track, but quite a pretty one,
crossing the Cam at an idyllic nook called Burnt Mill Bridges, where
the green banks and clear waters are closed in by ancient elms and
thorn bushes. It brings to the mind Milton's lines in Il Penseroso:

  There in close covert, by some brook,
  Where no profaner eye may look,
  Hide me from day's garish eye."

Haslingfield (which is more directly reached from Cambridge by the
Barton Road) has a fine and spacious church of the fourteenth century,
the steeple being of special merit. Above it rises steeply the eastern
extremity of a chalk spur to the height of 220 feet. From the summit,
though so low, we get one of the widest panoramic views in England,
embracing the whole valley of the Cam. "Ashwell Bush,"[170] which
marks the source of the river, is conspicuous on a hill some ten miles
to the south-westward, and Ely Cathedral, just beyond its junction
with the Ouse, may be seen, twice as far away to the north; Cambridge,
with its spires and pinnacles, lying between, five or six miles
distant. Our eastward limit of vision is the long line of the East
Anglian Heights, from Swaffham steeple[171] on their northernmost
visible swell, twenty miles away, to the far-off jut of Sharpinhoe,
near Dunstable, more than thirty miles in the opposite direction.
Beneath us, in the valley, steeple after steeple rises amid its
village elms, dotting the landscape like knots in net-work. No fewer
than eighty of these can be made out, the most conspicuous being the
cruciform church of Triplow.[172]

[Footnote 170: This "bush" is actually a group of young elms.]

[Footnote 171: See p. 191.]

[Footnote 172: See p. 230.]

[Illustration: _Haslingfield Church._]

This eminence was anciently known as White Hill, from the three great
"clunch" quarries,[173] which still conspicuously scar its sides,
and must have done so much more conspicuously of old, when this
material was much more generally used for building than it is now.
From these quarries came, for example, the stone used in the First
Court of St. John's College, Cambridge. The "pits," as they are
locally called, are rapidly greening over, for the clunch is now only
dug for the mending of farm roads, and occasionally for marling the
fields; as Pliny records that the ancient Britons marled them two
thousand years ago.

[Footnote 173: See p. 198.]

At the summit of the ridge a small roadside cottage, known as "Chapel
Bush," represents the once famous shrine of "Our Lady of White Hill";
in mediæval days a noted centre of local devotion, which drew pilgrims
in large numbers from a wide area, so that their accommodation, as we
read, was no small profit (and, often, difficulty) to the neighbouring
villages. No ruins, even, of this ancient chapel remain; but, in 1885,
there was discovered on its site a leaden _bulla_ of Pope Martin the
Fifth, the first Pope to be generally acknowledged after the Great
Schism; when for forty years two (or three) claimants to the Holy See
were reigning simultaneously, supported some by one part of
Christendom, some by another. He reigned 1417 to 1431, and was the
consecrator of Milan Cathedral. It was he who, at the "Assize of
Barnwell" (1430), pronounced that all spiritual jurisdiction over the
students of Cambridge was exclusively vested in the University
authorities. His _bulla_ bears the heads of SS. Peter and Paul, with
the traditional features, which Lanciani has now established as
historical; St. Peter having a broad face with curly hair and beard,
while St. Paul is thin-faced and straight-haired.

On the southern side of the hill lies Barrington, perhaps the
loveliest of all Cambridgeshire villages. It consists of two long
lines of scattered cottages, straggling along either side of a Village
Green nearly a mile in length. The Green is traversed from end to end
by the "Church Path," a pebbled causeway of immemorial antiquity. The
church, to which this leads, stands at the north-eastern extremity of
the Green, and is a noble structure of the twelfth century, with later
developments. The south doorway and door are thirteenth century, and
are wonders of graceful work; while the fourteenth century seats are
of special interest as having been constructed with book-boards,
showing that reading was not the rare accomplishment in those days
that it is commonly supposed to have been.[174] There is also an
iron-bound chest dating from the tenth century, a splendid specimen of
the smiths-work for which England was then so famous. The font, too,
is equally old, showing on its margin the depressions (now filled in),
often provided in fonts of the period when baptism by immersion was
the rule, as outlets for accidental overflow.

[Footnote 174: The Chantry Priests, of whom there were two in
Barrington, often acted as village schoolmasters, the Chantries
themselves serving as classrooms.]

[Illustration: _Farmhouse at Haslingfield._]

Here and there along the Green gush out bright fountains of delicious
water from artesian wells driven into the "greensand," some 200 feet
below the surface. Throughout all its length the village is sheltered,
on the north, by the ridge of White Hill, while, on the south, the
orchards and closes with their "hedge-row elms," slope down to the Cam
and its water-meadows. The stream here runs beneath a gravel-terrace
of its own formation, which has proved exceptionally rich in the
remains of pleistocene mammalia, mostly, as has been said,[175]
connoting a semi-tropical climate. Specimens of elephant,
hippopotamus, rhinoceros, bison, urus, lion, bear, hyæna, derived from
Barrington, are to be seen in the Sedgwick Museum at Cambridge.
Associated palæolithic flint implements, and red-deer antlers rudely
cut, show that human intelligence existed here along with these
monsters, at least 5000 years ago, at the lowest estimate, which some
geologists multiply fifty fold; and excavation has shown that the site
has been populated pretty well ever since. Neolithic, British, Roman,
Anglo-Saxon, and Mediæval relics have here been unearthed in quite
astonishing abundance; and, though no Roman villa has yet been
located, Roman coins have been found literally by the hundred.

[Footnote 175: See p. 221. The gravel here is older than that at

This wealth of finds has been largely due to the "coprolite" digging,
as it was inaccurately called, which went on here (and throughout the
neighbourhood) during the whole latter half of the nineteenth century.
It had been discovered that the "upper greensand"[176] (here a narrow
deposit immediately over the gault and usually some fifteen or twenty
feet below the surface) was full of organic remains worth extracting
for manure. These remains were never true coprolites, but mostly
formless nodules rich in phosphate of lime, many being sponges, along
with abundance of sea-urchins, mollusca, crabs, and innumerable
sharks' teeth.

[Footnote 176: So called because full of green grains of "glauconite,"
which appear to be the internal casts of the shells of foraminifera.
This bed, however, is not the true Upper Greensand, but "riddlings"
from it.]

The industry brought a wave of prosperity to the district; for
coprolites were worth some £3 per ton, and the average yield was some
300 tons per acre. The merchants were, therefore, willing to pay well
for the privilege of digging them out, and usually offered the
landowner £150 or more per acre for three years' occupation of the
land (more than its capital value); being bound also to level and
resoil it at the end of their tenancy. Wages, too, ran high; a good
"fossil-digger" could earn his 40_s_. per week. This produced a
corresponding rise in agricultural wages, which went up from 10_s_. or
12_s_. per week to double that amount. The fossil-digging was all
piecework, the men being paid by the cubic yard of earth moved.

[Illustration: _South Porch, Barrington Church._]

After being brought to the surface the fossil-bearing greensand was
washed in a horse-mill on the spot, an artesian well being bored, if
necessary, to supply the water. This separated out the nodules, while
the greensand and water was run off as thick mud; used, when dry, for
levelling the land, and sometimes for brick-making. The nodules were
ground to powder in central works at Royston and elsewhere, and
treated with sulphuric acid, thus producing super-phosphate of lime
adapted for manure. At the height of the industry as many as 55,000
tons per year were extracted from the Cambridgeshire beds; but with
their gradual exhaustion the trade dwindled away till it was finally
destroyed by imports from Charleston, U.S.A., where the like
"coprolites" are found as a superficial deposit, needing no digging.
And with the trade has disappeared the artificial prosperity which it
brought, to be succeeded by the full weight of the agricultural

Barrington Hall is the seat of one of the oldest of English county
families, the Bendyshes, who have held their estate here since the
reign of John. Their residence at Barrington dates, however, only from
that of Edward the Third, for whom, during his siege of Calais, they
raised money by mortgaging their earlier abode at Radwinter, in Essex,
to the monks of that place. Before the king by repaying their loan put
them in case to redeem the mortgage, the monks had foreclosed; thus
driving the family to reside on their Cambridgeshire property at
Barrington. They are not, however, lords of the Manor there (though
they are in the adjoining parish of Foxton). That position belongs to
Trinity College, Cambridge, who are also rectors of the church, by the
gift of their earliest founder, Hervey de Stanton, Chancellor to
Edward the Second.

From either end of Barrington lanes lead southward across the Cam to
Foxton and Shepreth respectively. Both these villages are hard by the
main road which we are following. Foxton Church has a most beautiful
Early English east window, and some very good Geometrical tracery.
Here is found that rare form of rural industry, a book-printing
establishment, which to some extent mitigates the depression mentioned
above. At Shepreth this is done on a larger scale by the making of
cement, for which the clay procurable here is, like that on the
Medway, peculiarly adapted. This is a little gem of a village, with a
clear and copious brook running across its maze of thick-shaded lanes.
The source of these waters is in the ancient Fowl Mere already spoken

[Footnote 177: See p. 230.]

Another such tributary rises in our next village, Melbourn, and runs,
on its way to the Cam, through the adjoining Meldreth, an old-world
place, where the parish stocks are still to be seen at the village
cross-roads. Till the nineteenth century was well on its way, these
instruments of punishment were in actual use for the correction of
minor offences such as vagrancy. They consist of a low upright frame
of rough wood, so contrived that the prisoner's feet, as he sat upon
the ground beside it, were passed through holes in the structure and
there secured. The parish constable was supposed to keep sentry over
him, but actually seldom kept off either the friends, who might
alleviate his captivity by beer and tobacco, or the more numerous
enemies, who found it a good joke to tease and pelt his helplessness.
The hands were sometimes also secured, sometimes not; but in any case
the culprit's situation was exceedingly unpleasant, and the stocks
proved a most wholesome deterrent.

[Illustration: _Shepreth._]

Melbourn is a larger place, and boasts that rare possession, a village
trysting-tree. This is a huge elm, standing by the roadside at the
churchyard gate. It is now at the extremity of elm life, some three
hundred years old, and only the stump (still clothed with leafage)
remains. But the vast massiveness of the roots show its former
grandeur. At this tree, in 1640, the villagers spontaneously gathered
to resist the imposition of the "ship-money," whereby Charles the
First was striving to recruit his exhausted exchequer. "And they fell
upon the sheriff's men with stones and staves, and hedgestakes and
forks, and beat them and wounded divers of them, and did drive them
out of the highway into a woman's yard for their safety. And were
forced for saving of their lives to get out of the town a back way;
which, notwithstanding, some thirty or forty able men and boys pursued
them above a quarter of a mile, stoning them, and driving the bailiffs
into a ditch, where some of their horses stuck fast. And the multitude
got some of the bailiffs' horses and carried them away, and would not
redeem them without money."

This stirring episode shows that the men of Melbourn were already
Puritan stalwarts, a character which the place has ever since
maintained. Three years later the parson himself removed from the
church "sixty superstitious pictures," and a cross from the steeple,
and digged down the altar steps. And after the Restoration, when
Nonconformity was put under the straitest ban of the law, its worship
still continued here to be practised, so that the place became, as it
still remains, the chief centre of the Free Church form of religion in
this part of the county.

Three miles further the road brings us to the small but flourishing
town of Royston, which, though now wholly in Hertfordshire, was till a
few years ago partly in Cambridgeshire, with which it has a far closer
physical connection than with its new county. The place has an
interesting history. Like Newmarket, at the other end of
Cambridgeshire, it is not, as are the villages around, one of the
original English settlements dating from the fifth or sixth centuries,
but a burgh of mediæval growth, owing its existence (again like
Newmarket) to its position on the line of the Icknield Way, here
crossed by another presumably British and certainly Roman road, the
Ermine Street, which joined, as it still joins, the two great
nerve-centres of Roman Britain, York and London. It is still known as
the Old North Road.

Such a junction was necessarily an important spot, and the wonder is
that there was not always a town here. It was left however still
occupied when, in the eleventh century, the Lady Roesia, wife of Eudo
Dapifer, the Norman chieftain to whom the land hereabouts was assigned
by William the Conqueror, set up here, at the meeting of the ways, one
of those stone wayside crosses by which mediæval piety so often marked
such junctions. A century later the new-born devotion to St. Thomas of
Canterbury led the then lord of the manor, Eustace de Mark, to found
and dedicate to him a Priory, called, from the neighbouring cross,
"_De Cruce Rosae_." This, as so often happened, became the nucleus of
a little town, which got to be called Roesia's Town, or Royston.

[Illustration: _Melbourn._]

At the same period Royston was the scene of yet another ecclesiastical
development, by the establishment of a famous hermitage in its still
celebrated cave. This cave is a curious bottle-shaped excavation in
the chalk below the Icknield Way, of prehistoric origin, having been
apparently one of those "dene holes" from which the ancient
inhabitants of Britain used to procure chalk for marling their fields.
It is not so long since this method was discontinued, and numbers of
these holes are still to be found in Kent and elsewhere. They were
always made on the same plan. A shaft was sunk to the desired depth,
and the chalk excavated all round the bottom as far as safety
permitted. The hole was then abandoned, and usually filled in. This
one at Royston, however, remained open, and in the twelfth century was
taken as his abode by a hermit, who employed himself in carving
devotional figures and emblems all round the walls.

He must have been a true Solitary, for his shrine was only accessible
by a rope ladder twenty-five feet long let down through the narrow
opening at the top. It remained, however, a place of devotion till the
Reformation, when it not only became disused, but was so effectually
filled up that its very existence was forgotten for some two hundred
and fifty years. Then curiosity was aroused by a subsidence at the top
(under the very centre of the town), and the hole once more cleared
out, a more convenient approach being cut from adjacent premises, by
which it may still be visited.

The Priory of Royston was, of course, suppressed under Henry the
Eighth. But its church was suffered to be bought by the inhabitants of
the town, who besought the king to spare it to them on the ground
that, though Royston stood in five several parishes, there was "never
a parish church within two miles." This was literally true, the
parochial boundaries having been already long established before the
town grew up. The five parishes were those of Melbourn, Barley,
Bassingbourn, Reed, and Therfield. They had therefore attended the
Priory church, and been ministered to by its monks. The place was, in
answer to this petition, constituted a parish, and the church
rededicated to St. John the Baptist instead of to Henry's _bête
noire_, Thomas à Becket. But the old connection of Royston with this
saint survives to this day in the annual Fair held in July (near the
date of his "Translation"), which is still popularly called "Becket

At Royston the Icknield Way used to be the boundary of
Cambridgeshire, as at Newmarket, so that it was convenient for the
resident magistrates to be in the Commission for both counties. Thus,
by merely crossing the road, they could exercise their authority in
whichever might be desired. Beyond the town, the way continues to run
south-westwards, along the foot of the East Anglian heights, which
here form the watershed between the basin of the Ouse and that of the
Thames. Their northern escarpment is, at this point, still in its
primæval condition, a steep slope of virgin turf, known as Royston
Heath, the common property of the township. The Heath has a
far-reaching view and delicious air, and the Royston folk do well in
jealously guarding against any usurpation of their rights in it. That
golf links should not exist on such a magnificent stretch of turf
would almost be unthinkable, but even over this development many shake
their heads as an encroachment.

As we continue our way along the hedgeless road at the foot of this
delightful common, the Great Northern Railway, from Cambridge to
London, keeps us close company on our right. A mile or so beyond it
rises a conspicuous line of poplar trees. These mark the village of
Bassingbourn, one of the most interesting in the county to the
historian. For here there is preserved in the church a whole library
of antique books, and amongst these (in manuscript) the churchwardens'
accounts from 1498 to 1534, kept with an accuracy which enables us to
picture faithfully the village life of those days. We find that it was
a period of high wages, for a labourer got threepence a day if
boarded, and fivepence unboarded. His board then was worth a shilling
per week. Nowadays it is reckoned at ten shillings at least, so that
we must multiply all the items by ten to express them in current
value. His wages were thus equivalent to twenty-five shillings per
week, double the present rate, while artisans could command nearly
twice as much. The times were thus abnormally prosperous, and the
parishioners could afford to spend so lavishly in merrymaking at the
"Church Ales" that an annual profit equivalent to nearly £50 was
usually made on these entertainments, which corresponded to the
Parochial Teas and concerts of the present day. These profits went
towards the "reparacyon" of the church, and the current church
expenses, including such heavy items as refounding the bells, at a
cost equal to over £200, and renovating the clock and the organ.
Further funds were raised by a great "Miracle Play" of St. George and
the Dragon, to which the whole neighbourhood assembled.

All this prosperity (founded, as always, on the high rate of wages)
was the result of that fearful catastrophe, the Black Death, which, a
few generations back, had all but decimated the population, and
shattered the old social system of England, wherein the labourers were
"villains," tied to the manor on which they were born, and bound to do
for their lord (in lieu of rent) so many "jobs"[178] a year. A "job"
meant 100 minutes' work, a strange subdivision of time, implying some
fairly accurate means of measuring its flight, though we know not what
these may have been. A Cambridgeshire "inquisition" of 1313 values
each job at a halfpenny, so that the day's work of a "villain" was
worth about threepence.

[Footnote 178: This word is derived from the Latin _Opus_ ("work")
which in the Manorial account books was usually written j.op. (_i.e._,
one _Opus_).]

But the demand for labour after the "Death" became so great, and so
many of the estate owners had died, that villenage came to an end, and
the labourers could, as now, go where they would and make the best
wages they could get in open market.

The result, after a while, was, as we have seen, a great increase in
prosperity, testified to by the abundant Perpendicular work in almost
every parish church in England. But the immediate effect was fearful
distress, and a chaotic dislocation of the old feudal relationships,
giving birth to the socialistic dreams which for a moment so vainly
tried to materialise themselves in the anarchical outbreak which we
call Wat Tyler's Rebellion. An example of this dislocation of ordinary
conditions is furnished by the Papal registers, which tell us that the
rectory of this very Bassingbourn (estimated at the equivalent of no
less than £1,200 per year) was made over, in 1410, to the Chapel Royal
of St. Martin's-le-Grand, London, "considering that the said chapel
hath been ruined by the Great Storm, and its lands lie waste for lack
of labourers through the pestilence."

The "great storm" here referred to took place on St. Maur's Day
(January 15th), 1361. Of both storm and pestilence we shall find a
most interesting record in the church of Ashwell, the next and last
place which we should see in this corner of the county. To reach it we
have, indeed, to cross the border and go some half mile beyond; but
though politically in Hertfordshire, Ashwell physically belongs to
Cambridgeshire. For here is the source of the Cam, and such a source
as few would dream of for the sluggish unclear stream that we see at
Cambridge. In the midst of the village the ground sinks into a sort of
amphitheatre, some 100 yards in length by thirty in breadth and ten in
depth, with abrupt sides covered with brushwood and overshadowed by
ancestral ash-trees. All round the floor of this gush forth springs
upon springs of the brightest, most sparkling water; so copious that
when the infant stream escapes through a breach towards the north it
is already nearly thirty feet broad. No prettier river-source is to be
found throughout the length and breadth of England. The ash-trees,
however, are not, as one is apt to think at first, the origin of the
name, but its consequence. The first syllable really embodies that
Celtic word for water which, as Axe, Exe, Esk, and Usk, meets us in so
many places all over Great Britain; and this syllable, at some
far-back date, suggested the planting of ashes around the well.

[Illustration: _Ashwell._]

Not far from these bounteous springs rises the splendid tower of the
church, springing high into the air with the same undaunted Early
English ambition which raised the spire of Salisbury. And on its wall
(inside) is carved, in rude and deeply incised lettering of Old
English style, varied by some curiously Greek characteristics, the
record already spoken of, dealing with the Black Death and the storm.
This consists of four lines, intended for Latin elegiacs, again with a
Greek touch, and runs thus:

  M . Ct . Xpenta . miseranda . ferox . violenta .
  Supest . plebs . pessima . testis . in . fineque . vents .
  Validus . oc . anno . maurus . in . orbe . tonat.

The opening words stand for the date:

  Ct = Cter = CCC, and Xpenta = XXXXX = 50

The interpretation therefore is:

  1350! Miserable, wild, distracted,
  The dregs of the people alone survive to witness.
  And in the end a wind
  Full mighty. This year St Maur thunders in the world.

The year 1349 marked the most fatal stage of the Black Death in these
parts. In that year, to judge by the Diocesan records, no less than
eighty-five per cent. of the beneficed clergy were swept away, which
implies a corresponding mortality amongst other classes. By 1350 the
worst was over, but the full wretchedness of the situation was now
developing itself. The plague lingered on, constantly growing milder,
till 1361, when the great storm was supposed to have cleared the fair
of the last remnants of infection. A like popular distich about this
later visitation is quoted by Adam of Murimuth:

  C ter erant mille decies sex unus, et ille,
  Luce tua Maure, vehemens fuit impetus auræ.
  Ecce flat hoc anno Maurus in orbe tonans.

That is, in English:

  There were 300 + 1000 + 60 + 1 and that
  Mighty blast of wind was on thy day, Maurus.
  Lo! in this year bloweth Maurus thundering in the world.

[Illustration: _Ashwell Church from the N.W._]

St. Maur was a Gallican saint of the sixth century who was the first
to introduce monasticism into France. There are several other
interesting _graffiti_ on the same wall as the above, one of them
representing old St. Paul's with its lofty steeple, the highest in the
world (510 feet), and the famous Rose Window of the transept which
Chaucer mentions in his Canterbury Tales.

Another, and perhaps prettier, way of reaching Ashwell from Cambridge
is by taking the road that runs along the Backs, and following it out
of the town in its course to the south-west. Its local designation is
the Barton Road, but to antiquarians it has been known, since the
seventeenth century, as the Akeman Street. It was at that period that
the accepted identification of our Roman roads came into being, mainly
through the fearless erudition of Gale. Their names (except that of
the Via Devana) are as old at least as the Norman Conquest; but, save
only in the case of the Watling Street, the main line of which has
never been disputed, the connection between any given name and any
given road has been matter for the wildest conjecture. Thus, Geoffrey
of Monmouth, writing in the eleventh century, makes the Ermine Street
(which we now, with strong reason, identify with the Old North Road
from London to York) run from St. David's to Southampton! Our Akeman
Street is supposed to connect Wells on the Wash with Aust on the
Severn, passing on its way through Bath (the Ake-man-chester of the
Anglo-Saxons, _i.e._, "the stone stronghold of Aquæ," Aquæ being the
Roman name for Bath). But a lot of this is mere conjecture. The
"Barton Road," however, is undoubtedly on the line of a Roman road.

In spite of its name, it does not pass through the village of Barton.
Indeed, like the other roads leading westwards from Cambridge, it
curiously avoids the villages on its line, or rather (for the road is
older than they) the villages have curiously avoided being directly
upon it, though they lie thick on either side. Possibly the first
Anglo-Saxon settlers may have had in this district some superstitious
dread of a deserted Roman road, such as they certainly entertained at
first for the deserted Roman towns, which they did not occupy for many
a year (as at Cambridge), though they located their hamlets all round

[Illustration: _Ashwell Church._]

But though the Akeman Street does not actually take us through
Barton village, it does lead us past the rare object of interest to be
found connected with the place, the ancient Archery Butts of the
parish. These are to be seen just opposite the sign-post which points
to Haslingfield, and are worth a pause to contemplate, for they give a
most impressive idea of what archery meant to our forefathers. Every
parish, it must be remembered, was bound by law in mediæval times to
have such a stretch of ground, and every yeoman was bound to constant
practice upon it. And what practice! These "butts" are a stretch of
greensward, some hundred yards across, and in length no less than
three furlongs (660 yards). It looks an almost incredible distance for
a bowman, but it was the standard, so far as we can judge by the very
few butts of which the memory still survives. The length of the short
street in South London, still called Newington Butts, is nearly the

Here, then, we can picture the sturdy archers of Plantagenet days
stretching themselves; their bows, not the toys of the modern
toxophilite with their thirty or forty pounds of pull, but of twice
the power (eighty lb. being a common pull in those times), and their
"cloth-yard" arrows, over three feet long, whistling to a target not
planted forty or fifty yards away, but twelve times the distance--the
whole length of these butts. Indeed, for anything under two furlongs
light arrows were not allowed, and the heavy regulation war arrow had
to be used. Each man was taught, as Bishop Latimer tells us in
recording his own youthful training, to draw his bow not by mere
strength, but by sleight of hand, "to lay the weight of his body into
the bow," and to draw the bowstring not to his breast, like other
nations, but to his ear. Small wonder that with eye and sinews so
trained our English archers became the wonder and the dread of Europe,
or that their shafts decided so many a battlefield--Cressy, Poictiers,
Agincourt, Flodden.

A mile further we cross the Bourn Brook, a tiny tributary which joins
the Cam near Grantchester, hard by a small station on the Cambridge
branch of the London and North Western Railway, called Lord's Bridge,
from the Lord Hardwicke who, in the beginning of the nineteenth
century, substituted a bridge for the earlier ford here. To our right
we see, across the fields, the church tower of Comberton; where, on
the little village green, can still be seen the worn remains of a
turf-built "maze," first traced out no one knows when, but certainly
not later than the sixteenth century. Various mystical reasons are
conjectured for the origin of these mazes, of which a fair number
still exist in England (especially in the Eastern counties), while
many more are known to have been destroyed by the Puritans of the
seventeenth century as relics of heathen superstition. Such, indeed,
they probably are. Mr. Walter Johnson, in his "Folk Memory," considers
them to be exceedingly primitive, begun in connection with "ceremonial
dances of painted heathen round a prehistoric camp fire." This
Comberton maze is fifty feet in diameter, while the tracks are two
feet in width, divided by slight banks of turf, once, it would seem,
about a foot in height, but now much worn down.

The next turn (to the left) leads to Harlton, a pretty, shady village,
with a fine Perpendicular church, having a stone rood screen, which is
rare, and, what is yet rarer, a still surviving stone reredos of the
fifteenth century, with a central recess, once closed with a door, and
evidently intended as a "Tabernacle" for the Reservation of the
Blessed Sacrament. The six niches on either side of this recess were
as evidently meant for images of the twelve Apostles.

Harlton lies close under White Hill, that chalk spur which we have
already met at Haslingfield.[179] Here, too, there is a "clunch-pit"
in the hill-side, from which the material for the church was probably
dug. It is now disused, except for occasional marling purposes, and
some unknown benefactor has planted its slopes with larches and
laburnums, forming a most fascinating little dell, the charms of which
are free to all.

[Footnote 179: See p. 236.]

Our road now climbs the hill, which it crosses through a cutting, with
a fine view from the summit in either direction. In the little clump
of trees just to the west of the road there stood, till the 'seventies
of the nineteenth century, Orwell Maypole, the last of its class to
survive in these parts. In mediæval times every village had its
maypole, round which the lasses and lads hied them to dance on May
Day. But, like the mazes, they were called (and actually were)
remnants of heathenism, and, as such, were destroyed wholesale in the
years of Puritan ascendancy. So it befell with the great maypole which
gave name to the church of St. Andrew _Under-shaft_ in the City of
London. It was hewn down, and, as it lay along the street, sawn in
pieces, each householder taking for firewood the length that lay
opposite his own door. The Restoration set a certain number up again,
but the continuity of their use had been broken, and its revival (as
May Day was connected with no special Festival of the Church, like
Easter and Christmas, which were also originally heathen feasts)
became a merely artificial reaction, bound to dwindle away. So it
befell that Orwell Maypole, after being disused for generations,
finally perished by natural decay. It stood almost exactly upon the
meridian of Greenwich, so that it was a valuable and far-seen

Orwell itself lies, as usual, just off the road, on the southern slope
of the hill. Half a century ago it was the prettiest of villages, with
its eponymous "well," shaded by magnificent trees, gushing from the
hill-side, in the midst of a prehistoric earthwork, just below the
noble church. But, about 1870, the earthwork, unhappily, was found to
contain "coprolites" (worth probably about £100 after the expenses of
getting them had been paid). For this paltry sum the whole place was
destroyed. Well, trees, earthwork, all are now gone; only the church
is left, perched on its slope high above the village street. It has a
grand decorated chancel, the roof of which is covered with heraldic
devices, and contains an interesting epitaph in Latin verse to one of
the seventeenth century rectors of the parish, beginning:

  Pastor eram dum pastor eram tunc fistula dulcis
  Tunc tuba qua torvum sprevit ovile lupum.

  ("I _was_ a Pastor, while a Pastor I;
    Sweet then my pipe; loud then my trumpet-call,
    Whereat my flock defied the wolf so grim.")

In the south aisle is preserved a small crucifix of stone, dating from
the thirteenth century. It had been built into the wall to save it
from destruction at the Reformation, and was not discovered for three
hundred years.

About a mile further we find a village along the road itself, the
village of Wimpole. But we notice that the houses are all modern, and
that no church is to be seen amongst them. A church there is belonging
to them, but it stands a mile to the west, where the village also
stood till towards the close of the eighteenth century. At that time
the mansion and park of Wimpole Hall were being enlarged to their
present magnificence by Philip, the first Earl of Hardwicke (the
builder of Lord's Bridge). Plebeian cottages were not to be tolerated
"betwixt the wind and his nobility," so he pulled down the entire
village and planted it, where it now is, along the Akeman Street. The
church, which could not well be moved, he faced with red brick to
match his new-built stables, close to which it is situated.

[Illustration: _Great Eversden._]

Wimpole Hall has passed through various hands. The central portion was
built, in 1632, by Sir Thomas Chicheley, the wings were added a
century later by the Earl of Oxford, from whom it came to the
Hardwicke family. It is now the seat of Viscount Clifden. The house is
on a splendid scale, and the grounds on a scale yet more splendid,
with a double avenue of elms, three miles long, running to the south.
Here Queen Victoria stayed when visiting Cambridgeshire shortly after
her marriage, and won all hearts by her graciousness. It is still
remembered how when, by some blunder, the attendant in charge of her
jewels was not forthcoming, she came down to the ball-room with a
simple wreath of roses in her hair, "and not all the jewels in the
world could have made her look so queenly."

There is, of course, a public road leading from Wimpole village to the
church, which is also accessible from the west, where the great iron
gates of the park are usually unbarred at the request of respectable
visitors. These gates open upon the Ermine Street, which the Akeman
Street crosses a mile beyond New Wimpole, after also crossing the
great avenue. Close by them is another transplanted village,
Arrington, whose church stands on the hill half a mile westward. The
traffic of the old North Road is responsible for this move, and also
for the delightful old coaching inn here, the Hardwicke Arms, with its
old-fashioned rooms and long range of stables.

At the junction our road ceases. To continue our westward course we
must go along the Ermine Street for half a mile, either northward or
southward, where we shall find lanes, either of which will carry us
on. The northern lane here will take us along the line of the hill, to
Tadlow, Wrestlingworth, Potton, and, finally, Bedford, and will enable
us, if we will, to explore the three Hadleys (East Hadley, Hadley St.
George, and Cockayne Hadley), of which the two last have fine halls
and parks. The southern, however, is the preferable route. It follows
the course of the infant Cam, crossed by a bridge on the Ermine
Street, and brings us first to the wholly obliterated Shingay, which,
though once the most important parish hereabouts, and still giving its
name to the Rural Deanery, has absolutely ceased to exist, church and
all; its parishioners being affiliated to the neighbouring village of

The cause of this ruin was the suppression, at the Reformation, of the
institution which was literally the life of Shingay, a House of the
Crusading Order of St. John of Jerusalem, or, as they were commonly
called, the Knights Hospitallers. This title was given them because,
at their original foundation, they dwelt in a Hospital (or house for
the hospitable entertainment of pilgrims) at Jerusalem. We now connect
this name only with places where the sick are ministered to; but it
originally connoted far wider ministrations, and, indeed, rather
corresponded to the other form in which the word has survived into our
present speech--hotel. We read it on a leaden seal found here at
Wendy, in 1876, which bears on one side a conventional representation
of the Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, surrounded by the legend
IHERVSALEM, HOSPITALIS. On the other is the name of Guarin de
Montaigu, who, from 1232 to 1269, was Grand Master of the Order.

The Hospitallers, as readers of "Ivanhoe" know, were, like the
Templars, a military Order, who, for over six centuries, fought
unceasingly for Christendom. First at Jerusalem, then at Rhodes, then
at Malta, they held out with never-failing devotion against the
on-sweeping torrent of Mahommedan aggression; and it is scarcely too
much to say that but for their eight-pointed cross Christianity might
well have been crushed throughout Europe. Not till the nineteenth
century was their last stronghold, Malta, reft from them by Napoleon,
to pass finally under the flag of England. The Order still survives,
but the modern sodality calling itself by the same name, connected
with what we now call hospital work, was set up in quite recent days.

Preceptories of the Order, as their branch Houses were called, were
found in every land, and not least in England, where they were so much
beloved that, when the rival Order of the Temple was suppressed, in
the fourteenth century, its property was made over to them. Here, at
Shingay, their establishment was a small one consisting of the
preceptor, two knights, and three priests, one of whom acted as Vicar
of Wendy. The gross income of the House was, in 1332 (as we know from
a Report still existing in the Record Office at Malta), £187 12s. 8d.,
equivalent to about £3,500 at the present value of money. Of this the
land (about 1,000 acres) brought in £71; the mills, houses, etc., £4
13s. 4d.; the work of the villains £38 10s. 0d.; and the Rectories of
Wendy and Sawston, which formed part of their endowment, £66 13s. 4d.
The rest was derived from the fees paid by visitors; for, by the rule
of the Order, the doors of the House were open to all comers. The
expenses of the year amounted to less than half the income, for they
lived frugally, their keep only coming to about £3 a week (in present
value) for the six inmates, besides servants and guests. Men servants
were paid at the rate of £12 a year (besides their keep), and each
knight was allowed the equivalent of £25 a year for clothing and
pocket-money. Thus a large sum was available for the war-chest of the
Order, and was annually forwarded to the headquarters at Jerusalem or

One of their sources of income was a special privilege which is still
remembered in local tradition. Their House (like those of the
Templars) was exempt from every ban, even that of the Pope himself.
Thus, in the dismal days of King John, when England was placed under
an Interdict, when no rites of religion could be observed, and even
burial of the dead was forbidden, so that "you might see human bodies
lying everywhere about the fields unsepultured," Shingay shone out as
the one spot in the whole district where the consolations of religion
were still attainable. Here Mass continued to be said, here the
departed could still be laid in hallowed earth. And hither they were
brought from all sides. And thus it is that peasants may be found who
still tell how, at some far off, unknown period, those who, for some
forgotten, inexplicable reason, might not be buried like Christians in
their own churchyard, were spirited away by night in a "fairy-cart" to
Shingay, there to be committed in peace to the ground. This
"fairy-cart" is an echo of the word _feretorium_ (or bier on wheels),
in which the conveyance was actually effected.

[Illustration: _Rood Screen, Guilden Morden Church._]

Not a building of any kind now exists at Shingay, and very few at the
adjoining Wendy, where, at every turn, we are greeted by a wealth of
fresh-springing waters, derived from the artesian wells of the old
coprolite diggings. The height in which the water in these wells rises
is strangely variable. They are always made on the same system; an
ordinary well being dug through the upper strata till the impervious
gault is reached, which may be any distance from six to sixty feet
below the surface. A four-inch bore is then made through the gault by
means of a sort of Brobdingnagian cheese-taster, four or five feet
long, screwed to an iron handle three times that length. Again and
again the taster is brought up, full of gault, and its contents or
"core" thrown aside. As the bore gets deeper more irons are added,
till the water-bearing greensand or "rock" is attained, usually in the
second hundred feet of the bore. The taster is then removed and a
"chisel" substituted for "striking the rock," _i.e._, punching a hole
by lifting the entire length of irons a few feet and letting it fall.
By and by up comes the water, quite suddenly for the most part,
gushing from the bore and filling the well till it finds its level.
This, as we have said, is curiously different in different spots; in
some it does not reach the surface, and has to be pumped up; in
others, as here at Wendy, it will supply a fountain eight or ten feet
in height. One of these picturesquely gushes out from the top of an
old wooden gate-post, up which some artistically-minded
coprolite-digger has engineered its course. It is almost medicinal in
the quantity of iron with which it is impregnated, but delicious to
drink, and the softest possible.

This gate-post is beside the lane leading on Guilden Morden, the last
village before we once more reach Ashwell, and itself standing on an
outlying mound of the Ashwell chalk. Round this elevation the Cam
takes a wide sweep. We may record that Wendy is the highest point
along its course which navigation has ever attained. The breadth at
Ashwell at once suggests to visitors that a canoe could reach the
spot, and many an attempt has been made by ambitious undergraduates.
But the upper reaches are so choked up with reeds and weeds and rushes
and bushes that no one has ever penetrated further than this spot,
some four miles, by water-way, below the source.

Guilden Morden has a far-seen church, a conspicuous object from White
Hill, over Barrington, twelve miles away. It is a fine building, with
an unusually spacious tower of Northamptonshire stone, and a Saxon
font. But it is chiefly interesting for the remarkable development of
the fourteenth century rood-screen, which on either side expands into
a small "parclose" or pew, enclosed to the height of twelve feet by
rich decorated tracery, ornately painted (the original pattern having
survived sufficiently to be restored). On the west panel of the
northern parclose may be discerned the figures of St. Erconwald and
St. Edmund, both members of the royal line of East Anglia. The former
was a brother of St. Etheldreda, the foundress of Ely, and became a
much-beloved Bishop of London in the seventh century. The latter was
the hero king martyred by the Danes a century later, the chosen friend
of our great Alfred, of whom so lovely a picture has been left us by
the old chroniclers:--

     "From his earliest years the truest of Christians, he showed
     himself of such promise that, by the unanimous will of all his
     folk, he was not so much chosen as rushed into the kingship over
     them. For his very look was worthy of this high estate; so bright
     was it with the calm beauty of holiness and of a conscience like
     the sea at rest. Kind was he of speech and courteous to all; the
     grace of Humility came natural to him; and amongst his comrades
     he kept his place as their Lord with wondrous meekness and no
     touch of pride. For already the Saint bare in his face that which
     he was afterwards, by God's will, to show forth; seeing that as a
     boy he had pressed with all his might into the Way of
     Righteousness, which, as God's pity foreknew, would end for him
     in the Way of Martyrdom.... And walking in the King's Highway, he
     turned aside neither to the right hand, by being puffed up with
     his own merits, nor to the left, by yielding to the faults of
     human weakness. To the needy was he a cheerful giver, to the
     widows and orphans the kindest of Patrons; ever keeping before
     his eyes the saying of the Wise Man: "Behold they have made thee
     Prince; but be thou among them as one of themselves."[180]

[Footnote 180: Chronicle of St. Neots.]

[Illustration: _Cottage at Steeple Morden._]

These parcloses seem to have been made to serve as confessional boxes,
devices which were very rare in England before the Reformation.
"Shrift," of course, was universal; but neither priest nor penitent
were shut from view. The former sat in a chair, usually at the altar
rail, while the latter knelt beside and facing him. In these parcloses
the priest's head as he sat on the seat would be visible to those in
the church, but the kneeling penitent would be hidden. That such was
the purpose here would appear from the lines in old English lettering
painted upon their sides:--

  Ad . mortem . duram . Jhesu . de . me . cape . curam .
  Vitam . venturam . post . mortem . redde . securam .
  Fac . me . confessum . rogo . te . Deus . ante . recessum .
  Et . post . decessum . cælo. mihi . dirige . gressum .

  "Jesu, in Death's dark vale, be Thou my stay,
  Make safe my Life to Come from every foe,
  Grant me Confession, Lord, ere hence I go,
  And then to Heaven do thou make straight my way."

From Guilden Morden a lane leads straight to Ashwell, leaving on the
left Steeple Morden (which lost its steeple in the great storm of
1703), and Littlington, the cradle of Cambridgeshire Nonconformity, of
which hereafter. Here the old parish Lock-up survives; a dismal den of
red brick, some ten feet square, with iron-clenched door and
closely-barred window.


     Oxford Road, Observatory, Neptune, Cambridge
     Discoveries.--Coton.--Madingley.--Hardwick.--Toft, St.
     Hubert.--Childerley, Charles
     I.--Knapwell.--Bourn.--Caxton--Eltisley, St. Pandiana,
     Storm.--St. Neot's, Neotus and Alfred.--Paxton
     Hill.--Godmanchester, Port Meadow.--Huntingdon, Cromwell's
     Penance.--The Hemingfords.--St.
     Ives.--Holywell.--Overcote.--Earith, the Bedford Rivers,

Due westwards from Cambridge, turning leftwards out of the Via Devana
just beyond Magdalene College, runs what used to be the old coaching
road to Oxford. Till quite recently the milestones along it gave the
distance to that city, between which and Cambridge there was of old a
good deal of traffic, for the Universities were more closely connected
then than even now. Popularly this road was called the _Ad eundem_
road, a nickname referring to the not so long by-gone privilege by
which any graduate of either place might be admitted to the same
degree (_ad eundem gradum_) in the sister University simply on payment
of the fees and without any further examination. It is now spoken of
as the Madingley Road, from the first village along its course, or the
St. Neots Road, from the first town to which it leads. Thence it went
on to Oxford by way of Bedford, Buckingham, and Bicester.

A short two miles along this road brings us to the porticoed front and
white domes of the University Observatory, erected in 1822. More than
a century earlier its embryo had been set up on the summit of the
Great Gate Tower at Trinity College, for the benefit of Sir Isaac
Newton; but this seems to have been little used after the death of
that greatest of scientists. Even after the new Observatory was set up
a certain lack of keenness pervaded its work. Thus it came about that
Cambridge and England lost the glory of the discovery of Neptune, the
most distant planet of our Solar System.

For more than a decade the irregularities in the motion of Uranus
(itself not long discovered) had suggested to astronomers that there
must be another planet exterior to it, when, in 1841, John Couch
Adams, then only an undergraduate of St. John's College, set himself
to grapple with the arduous task of finding by analytical computation
the orbit and place of this supposititious body. So stupendous were
the difficulties that when, after four years of concentrated effort,
he submitted his results to the Astronomer Royal, begging that the
planet might be looked for in a certain spot (where we now know that
it actually was visible at the time), his suggestion received very
incredulous acceptance. Was it likely that a mere youth should have
solved this gigantic problem?

That very autumn of 1845 another young man, quite independently,
devoted himself to the same quest, the brilliant French mathematician
Leverrier. He, in the following summer, published the results he had
so far attained. Adams had never published; but these new results so
strikingly agreed with his that the Astronomer Royal's incredulity
gave way, and he desired that search should be made with the great
equatorial telescope, then newly erected at Cambridge through the
generosity of the Duke of Northumberland.

His injunctions were carried out; but the lack of a trustworthy star
map made the work long. And it was made longer by lack of promptitude.
The minute celestial object (only equal to a star of the eighth
magnitude) had been actually seen, but further observations were
needed to establish the fact that it was indeed a planet moving
amongst the stars around it. And these observations were delayed at
the crucial point by the observers adjourning for a cup of tea! When
they returned the sky had clouded over and no favourable night
occurred for many evenings after. Meanwhile Leverrier had called in
the aid of the Berlin Observatory; where there did exist a good star
map, and also the eagerness so sadly lacking here at Cambridge. The
very day his letter was received (23rd September, 1846), the great
Berlin telescope was directed to the spot which he indicated,--and
there was the planet.

The story goes that when the tidings of this overthrow of hope
reached Cambridge, and were reported to the Fellows of Trinity as they
sat at dinner in their Hall, it was as if a thunderbolt had fallen
amongst them:

  "And all talk died, as in a grove all song
   Beneath the shadow of some bird of prey;
   Then a long silence came upon the Hall,"

broken at last by Adam Sedgwick, the venerable Professor of Geology,
who solemnly raised his clenched fist and brought it down upon the
High Table, not with violence but with a concentrated tension of
indignation, saying slowly, with an equal solemnity: "Confound their
lymphatic souls."[181] As for the Observatory, the blow thoroughly
roused it up; and ever since it has remained, both in material and
moral equipment, amongst the foremost of the great Observatories of
the world, where solid and useful work is continuously being done,
while up-to-date instruments, methods, and records are never to seek.
On one evening of each week during term time any member of the
University may see the practical working of the place, and bring
friends with him.

[Footnote 181: The discovery of Neptune is by no means the only
discovery the honour of which has been lost to Cambridge through that
scientific temper of mind which is loth to publish investigations at
an early stage of their verification. Months before Marconi introduced
wireless telegraphy to the public it had been practised here by
Professors Rutherford and Sir J. J. Thomson; the first serious
messages being exchanged, over a distance of two miles, between the
Cavendish Laboratory and the Observatory. At the same Laboratory the
Röntgen rays were being investigated ere yet Röntgen became a
household word. And long years before Bunsen and Kirchoff (in 1859)
published the true explanation of Fraunhofer's dark lines in the solar
spectrum, that explanation had been given to his pupils by yet another
Cambridge Professor, Sir George Gabriel Stokes. Such indifference to
mere fame reminds us of the old saying that an Oxford man looks as if
all the world belonged to him, a Cambridge man as if he did not care
whom it belonged to.]

A mile further we reach the foot of the chalk slope which bounds the
Cam valley. At this point lanes diverge to the right and left. The
latter almost immediately brings us to Coton, a tiny village with a
tiny, but most picturesque, fourteenth century church, having a
(restored) Norman chancel, a pretty spire, and a yet prettier south
doorway. There is, too, a massive rood screen, and a curious
"palimpsest" Table of Commandments, the original sixteenth century
lettering showing beneath repainted characters of the seventeenth
century. Altogether the place is well worth the slight divergence
needed to visit it, more especially as the lane between it and our
road gives a view of Cambridge almost comparable to the prospect of

  "That sweet City, with her dreaming spires"

which the Cumnor slopes (as Matthew Arnold sings) provide for
Oxonians. Coton can also be reached from Cambridge by a delightful
field path beneath overhanging oaks, which runs straight from Garret
Hostel Bridge. Coton spire (as has been already mentioned) is the
"objective" of the Trinity avenue, though the view has long been
closed out by the growth of the branches.

The other lane, to the right, which leads to Madingley, is also worth
traversing. From its hedgeless "switch-back" terraces we look
northwards across the valley, not of the Cam but of the Ouse, bounded
by the uplands of the island of Ely, ten miles away at the nearest
point, and nearly twice as far where the ridge is crowned by the dim
and distant towers of the cathedral. Conspicuous in the nearer
distance is the red-brick mass of the Ladies' College at Girton, some
three miles away from us. Madingley, to which half a mile or so of
this prospect leads us, is a little place of steep pitches and
tree-shaded lanes, very different from the usual Cambridgeshire
village, but with a special charm of its own. It has a pretty little
church nestling beneath a fine Elizabethan hall of red-brick. Both
church and hall contain portions of the spoil of the church of St.
Etheldreda, which once stood at Histon and was pulled down by Mr.
Justice Hinde, the first builder of Madingley Hall, to whom the sacred
edifice was given by Henry the Eighth. Its Norman font is now in
Madingley Church, while part of its roof is still to be seen in the

At Madingley Hall King Edward the Seventh was quartered while an
undergraduate of Trinity College. Tradition asserts that it once
sheltered another monarch, the ill-fated Charles the First, in a
momentary attempt to escape from the clutches of the rebel army during
his enforced residence at the neighbouring Hall of Childerley, as will
be narrated in connection with that place. The Hall has, since that
date, passed from one family to another, and is now the seat of
Colonel Harding, D.C.L.

[Illustration: _Coton._]

Madingley is a centre of pretty lanes. Besides that already spoken
of, another, an avenue of greenery, leads northwards to the Via
Devana, another westwards to the village of Dry Drayton, and another
up the hill southwards, to rejoin our St. Neots road on the summit of
the ridge. Here we are 220 feet above the sea, overlooking the valley
of the Ouse to the north and to the south that of the Cam, or, rather,
of its tributary the Bourn Brook. The road keeps the highest ground,
almost on the level, while a succession of lanes to the right and left
lead down to the villages on either slope.

First comes a southward turn to Hardwick, the church of which is so
conspicuous an object in the view from the roof of King's College
Chapel. Here, in 1644, "Mr. Mapletoft, parson thereof, with a wife and
seven children, had these articles exhibited against him, viz., that
he refused to read anything from the Parliament, but read many things
from the King at Oxford with great boldness; that he prayeth not for
the Parliament nor hath found them any arms at all; that he is a man
devoted to many superstitious ceremonies, and commonly useth
altar-worship, east-worship, and dropping-worship,[182] and after his
sermon came out of the pulpit into the chancel and there made an end
of his will-worship." Whereupon, by the Earl of Manchester's warrant,
he was promptly ejected and sequestrated. The previous year the church
had been purified by Dowsing, who notes with disgust that for dealing
with "ten superstitious pictures and a cross" he was here paid only
3s. 2d. instead of the 6s. 8d., which was his regular fee.

[Footnote 182: _I.e._ genuflecting.]

The great iconoclast has the same grievance in the adjoining village
of Toft, where he got "only 6s. 8d." for a specially heavy
"purification" of the church, involving the destruction of
"twenty-seven superstitious pictures in the windows, ten others in
stone, three inscriptions, _Pray for the souls_, divers _Orate pro
animabuses_ [sic] in the windows, and a bell _Ora pro anima Sancta
Katharina_." The "pictures in stone" were doubtless the alabaster
images of the reredos, fragments of which are still preserved in the
church, exquisite in modelling and colour. The most noticeable is a
headless figure of St. Hubert, the mighty hunter of legend, who was
converted by meeting a white hart with golden horns (supposed to be an
emblem of Christ), and received from St. Peter a key wherewith to cure
hydrophobia. The key is here in his hand, with a dog beneath it, and
the golden-horned hart couched by his side.

Just before we reach the seventh milestone from Cambridge another
south-running lane diverges to Caldecote, with its retired little fane
on the hill-side over the Bourn, a very oasis of devotional peace and
quietude. Confronting it across the stream is the steeple of Kingston,
where there is a fine fourteenth century fresco in the north aisle,
and a delicious little niche in the western wall of the tower,

[Illustration: _Cottage at Toft._]

At the point where this lane leaves the road, another, looking like a
mere farm road, turns off northwards. This leads to Childerley Hall,
now a farm house, but in 1647 of sufficient consequence to serve as a
sleeping place for Royalty. Hither King Charles the First was brought
by his captors, when carried off by Cornet Joyce from Holmby House in
Northamptonshire, as has been already narrated.[183] He was not
altogether an unwilling captive, for both he and the Army hoped to
arrive at some mutual accommodation which would make both independent
of that Parliamentary control of which both were heartily wearied.

[Footnote 183: See p. 182.]

He was treated, accordingly, with the utmost respect; and during his
stay at Childerley Hall[184] (from Saturday, June 5, to Tuesday, June
8), the students of Cambridge "flocked apace" to pay their homage to
him. "He is exceedingly cheerful," writes a contemporary scribe,[185]
"shows himself to all, and commands that no scholler be debarred from
kissing his hand, for which honour they return humble thanks and
_Vivat Rex_; and there the Sophs are in their gowns and caps as if no
further than Barnwell." Nay, even the great chiefs of the army, the
men who at Marston and Naseby had faced and conquered him, Fairfax,
Ireton, and Whalley, and Cromwell himself, came hither to join in this
hand-kissing, and, one after another, to be astonished at the ability
and graciousness which their distressed Sovereign showed in the
private interview granted to each in turn.

[Footnote 184: Childerley was then the seat of the Cutts family.]

[Footnote 185: Quoted in _East Anglia and the Civil War_ by Mr.

But, if local tradition is to be trusted, beneath all this gallant
show of gracious acquiescence in the inevitable, there lurked in the
King's heart a deep conviction that the hope on which it was founded
was forlorn indeed. For this tradition tells of a truly desperate dash
for freedom, the success of which was all but impossible. It has been
constantly handed down at Madingley Hall that on one of these June
midnights a white figure knocked at the door, and a subdued voice
asked for "Jack" (Sir John Cotton, a noted loyalist, whose seat the
Hall was at that time). He came, and found this mysterious visitor
none other than the King himself, disguised in a peasant's smock, and
imploring concealment till he could escape from the country. By a
secret stair, traces of which still exist, he was conducted to a
hiding place in the roof. But it was too late; his flight had been
discovered, and the pursuing troopers were already out in search of
him. Madingley Hall would, of course, be amongst the very first places
to be suspected of harbouring him, and the wild venture ended in
despair. All was hushed up; for both he and his captors wished to keep
up the fiction that he was with them willingly.

But they kept a tight grip upon him, and, when he left Childerley that
Tuesday morning, would not allow him to ride on to his state prison
at Newmarket through Cambridge (where the streets were being decked in
his honour with "whole rose-bushes and strewn with rushes and herbs"),
lest these demonstrations should kindle too ardent a flame of loyalty.
He was accordingly carried round by way of Grantchester and
Trumpington. Since that time Childerley Hall has been rebuilt, but the
room in which the King slept is still to be seen. And hard by the Hall
there still stands the unpretentious little red-brick chapel (now a
barn) in which he worshipped on that memorable Sunday.

A mile further along the road, lanes again branch off north and south.
The northern leads to the secluded hamlet of Knapwell, where a spring
of ferruginous waters, held of old to be wonder-working, still
justifies its ancient name of the Red Well. The southern brings us to
Bourn, where the Bourn brook rises. On the slope above the stream
stands the beautiful cruciform church, of late Norman and Early
English architecture; the arches which open from the tower into the
nave and the aisles being particularly noticeable. Bourn Hall is a
fine Elizabethan mansion, the seat of J. Briscoe, Esq., and is the
modern representative of a castle (the moat of which still exists)
erected here by Picot, Sheriff of Cambridgeshire under William the
Conqueror, and the scene of hard fighting in the Barons' War, when it
belonged to the Peverells.

Eleven miles from Cambridge we cross the Ermine Street, a junction
sufficiently important to have been selected by the wisdom of our
ancestors as the site of a gibbet; the object being that as many as
possible should see the gruesome spectacle of malefactors hanging in
chains, and thus, if evilly disposed, take warning, or, if well
disposed, be encouraged by this visible vindication of the Law's
majesty. The gibbet has been gone for a century and more; but till
quite lately the sign-post here directed the traveller simply TO
LONDON and TO YORK on either hand, reminding us that this was the old
North Road.

A mile along it, towards London, stands the little town of Caxton,
from which the gibbet derived its name. A prosperous place in the old
coaching days (as the size of its inns still testifies), it is now a
mere village with 450 inhabitants. But it continues to boast itself a
town. As the nearest point on the North Road to Cambridge, it was an
important junction. The historian, Carter, writing in 1753, mentions
that a mail was carried twice a week (on horseback) between Caxton and
Cambridge; the only mail connection our University town then had,
except with London and Bury St. Edmunds! We read also that, in the
Jacobite rising of 1745, when it was seriously expected that the
Stuart forces, after their wonderful success in reaching Derby, would
march on to London, many Cambridge students, who cared little about
the issue, secured windows at Caxton "to see the Scots pass by."

Sixty years before this another gleam of interest lights up the name
of Caxton. In 1686 the Bishop, Francis Turner (one of the famous Seven
prosecuted by James the Second and afterwards deprived by William the
Third as a non-juror), made a strenuous effort to get Mattins and
Evensong said daily, according to the Rubric, throughout his Diocese.
The following characteristic letter addressed by him to the Vicar of
Caxton was discovered in 1908 amongst the church muniments:

                                                   _Sept. 11th, 1686._


     The good character I have received concerning you ... has given
     me a particular confidence in yr. care to putt the directions of
     my printed letter in practice. Yr. parish, if it be not so
     numerous as I suppos'd, yet lyes on the Great Northern Roade; it
     would be for our Churches Honor and for the consolation of well
     dispos'd travellers to find Daily Prayers in yr. Church. I press
     them all over the Diocese where it is practicable, but at Caxton
     I wd. have them by all means, tho' you begin with a congregation
     of but a widdow or two. Have them if you please at 6 or 7 in the
     morning if that will be best for passengers. My good friend you
     have been bredd in a camp to toyle and hardship. I know the
     putting my orders in execution, that is the making of so many
     careless people Christian indeed, will cost you a great deale of
     labour. But do not grudge it; you are sure of as great a Reward
     in Heaven; and in good time you may find your account by it
     here.... In the mean time do your Business with all your might,
     and sett into it presently, before the Visitation. By which you
     will more than a little oblige, Sir,

     Yr. affect. friend and Brother,
                                                            FRAN. ELY.


     P.S.--If you have no little Schoole in your town I shall wonder,
     and you ought to procure one. If there bee one, then you need not
     want a congregation for both morning and evening prayers.

After crossing the Ermine Street we come to Eltisley, where there is a
pretty Village Green and a good village inn; and the church, though
small, has some fine Early English work. It is dedicated to St. John
the Baptist and St. Pandiana (or Pandionia), an obscure personage,
said by Leland to have been a Scottish[186] princess, who found in
this remote spot a refuge from the importunities of her suitors, and
was here buried by the side of a spring still known as St. Pandiana's
Well. Her nunnery perished after the Conquest, and in the fourteenth
century her body was translated into the church, along with that of
the yet more obscure St. Wendreda,[187] a purely Cambridgeshire saint,
whose name is also connected with the church of March, and with a
"well" near Newmarket.

[Footnote 186: _I.e._ Irish. The name of the Scots lingered on in
their original home for many centuries after it became more famous in
North Britain, whither they began to migrate in the fifth century.]

[Footnote 187: See Miss Arnold Forster's Studies in Church
Dedications, chap. xxxi.]

The village is the scene of a dramatic tale found in Roger of
Wendover, under the date 1234. A famine was raging, and the hungry
poor invaded the ripening harvest-fields and devoured the crops, "for
which they may scarce be blamed. Of the farmers, however, (who ever
from their avarice, look upon the poor with an evil eye,) many were
highly wroth at this pious theft. And they of Alboldesley hied them
all on the next Sunday (July 16th) to the church, and with tumult
required the priest to excommunicate upon the spot all who had thus
plucked their wheat-ears. But one pious man alone adjured him in God's
name to pronounce no such sentence for _his_ crops; adding that he was
right well content that the poor should take from him in their need,
and that he commended to the Lord's care whatsoever was left.

"Now scarcely had the priest perforce begun the curse, than there
suddenly arose such a storm of thunder, lightning, whirlwind, rain and
hail, that the corn in the fields was torn from the ground as by a
blast from hell; and all that grew therein, and the cattle, and the
very birds, were destroyed, as though trodden down by carts and
horses. But that just man found his land without trace of harm. And
thus it is clear that as the angels sing Glory to God in the Highest,
so on earth is there Peace toward men of Good-will.

"This storm began on the borders of Bedfordshire (at Eltisley), and
passed eastwards through the Isle of Ely. And here is a wondrous
thing. Such crops as still stood when it was over were found so
rotted that neither horse nor ass, steer nor pig, goose nor hen, would
eat thereof." A cyclone of precisely the same character devastated
Essex on June 24, 1897, and was as capricious in its visitations.

At Eltisley we reach the termination of the long ridge which has kept
us at an upland level all the way from Madingley, and our road now
runs rapidly down into the valley of the Ouse. We reach that noble
stream at the old-world, but thriving, town of St. Neots, where there
is a fine old bridge and a magnificent church. The name of this place
is locally pronounced not _Neats_, but _Notes_. This last is the
correct form, for the name is derived from Neotus, the eldest brother
and friend of King Alfred, whom that greatest of our monarchs
recognised as the good genius of his life.

The original name of this notable personality was Athelstane. He was
the eldest grandson of Egbert, the first "King of the English," and
held, accordingly, the under-kingship of Kent, at that time the usual
appanage of the heir-apparent. This dignity he resigned to enter
Religion, at the Abbey of Glastonbury, under the name of Neotus. A
special bond of affection united him with his youngest brother,
Alfred, who, as an enthusiastic boy of seventeen, took this dearest of
brothers as his spiritual guide and counsellor. When, five years
later, the successive deaths of the intervening brethren brought him
to the throne, we read that the inconsiderate zeal with which he
suppressed abuses drew anxious warnings from St. Neot, who foresaw
that this overweening course would surely bring disastrous

"But Alfred heeded not the reproof of the man of God, nor listed what
he foretold. Wherefore (seeing that a man's sins must needs be some
way punished, either in this world or in that which is to come), the
Righteous Judge and True willed that he should not be unpunished here,
that so he might be spared hereafter."[188]

[Footnote 188: The Chronicle of St. Neots.]

The punishment was that sudden and disastrous Danish inroad which
overwhelmed the whole of the kingdom, and drove Alfred himself into
hiding at Athelney. While he was there St. Neot died at the
neighbouring Glastonbury. We read there, ere his departure, the saint
had promised that as he had been Alfred's spiritual guide in life, so
should that spiritual guidance and wardship still abide with him.
"Thy guide have I been ever; thee and thine will I lead on." "I will
be thy captain, I will be thy champion; thou shalt be glad and rejoice
in me." "Lo, I will go before thy banner; thine enemies shall perish
at my presence." And when, a few weeks later, the King led on his
forces to the crowning victory over the Danes at Ethandune, he was
persuaded that this promise was being fulfilled. With the eye of
ardent faith he beheld the blessed spirit of his brother leading on
the Christian banners to the onset. "See ye not?" he exclaimed to his
men, "See ye not? That is indeed Neotus, Christ's glorious servant,
Christ's unconquered soldier; and through him is the victory even now
given to our hands."

Thus it came about that St. Neot remained the object of unforgotten
reverence, not only to Alfred himself, but to his heroic son and
daughter. The former christened after this sainted uncle his own
eldest son Athelstane, afterwards "Athelstane the Magnificent," the
mighty King of the English and Emperor of Britain; and when the latter
delivered Mercia from the yoke of the Danes, she called by his name
one of the fortress towns, which she founded on the Ouse to keep them
in check, St. Neots.

It is appropriate that one of the earliest and most spirited of the
Chronicles that record the great deeds of Alfred should have been
preserved for five centuries in the Church of St. Neots, and should
still be known as the "Chronicle of St. Neots."[189] The north aisle
of this church is known as the "Jesus Chapel," having been built by a
local mediæval fraternity called "The Guild of Jesus." The sacred
monogram IHC, is to be seen on the beams of the roof inside and on the
buttresses outside.

[Footnote 189: To this Chronicle we owe some of the best known legends
in English History, the story of Alfred and the cakes, for instance.
It was probably written in the tenth century. (See my "Alfred in the

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most delightful routes of the district is that by which we
make our way along the Ouse from St. Neots to Ely, by way of
Godmanchester, Huntingdon, and St. Ives. On leaving St. Neots the road
climbs Paxton Hill, where its shady course overhangs a beautiful sweep
of the broad stream 120 feet below. Thence it drops to the river at
Paxton itself, where the church has some good Saxon features, and
thence continues along the water to the twin villages of Offord Darcy
and Offord Cluny, close together on the right bank, and so over
another little eminence to strike the river again at Godmanchester.

The etymology of this name shows it to have been a Roman station, and
Roman remains have been found here. It is commonly identified with the
_Durolipons_ of the Antonine Itinerary. Here the Via Devana, running
straight from Cambridge, strikes the Ermine Street, and the final
syllable of the Latin name suggests that the united roads crossed the
river by a bridge before separating on their respective lines towards
Chester and York. If so the bridge must have stood somewhere near the
present one, which, however, was not built till the thirteenth
century. Godmanchester is now a reposeful little town, with a uniquely
picturesque view across the verdant expanse of Port Holme, the largest
meadow, as it boasts itself, in the world, a wide, wide flat of breezy
grass, across which, more than a mile away, rise the buildings of
Huntingdon. In flood time, when this flat becomes a shining lake, the
scene is striking indeed.

From the northern end of the town a long causeway, pierced with many
arches to carry off these floods, leads across the fields to the
bridge, with its high pitch, its recessed and pointed buttresses, and
its old bridge-chapel (now used for secular purposes) on the central
span. Immediately behind lies the town of Huntingdon, larger and more
stirring than its elder sister Godmanchester. It owes its existence to
the same cause as St. Neots, being one of the fortresses erected by
the "Children of Alfred," Edward the Elder and his sister Ethelfleda,
"the lady of the Mercians," to ensure their pacification of these
parts when reconquered from the Danes. It is famous as the birthplace
of Oliver Cromwell, the entry of whose baptism, in 1599, is still to
be seen in the register of All Saints' Church. The same book contains
a record of his having been put to public penance, at the age of
twenty, for scandalous living. The register of St. John's (now united
to All Saints') tells us that the body of the unhappy Mary Stuart
rested in that church during its removal by her son, James the First,
from Peterborough Cathedral to Westminster Abbey.

From Huntingdon our road, keeping close in touch with the river,
takes us through the pretty villages of Hartford, Wyton, and Houghton,
to St. Ives. A yet prettier way is to recross the stream at Houghton
Lock and take a field-road across the meadows to the two Hemingfords,
Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey. The latter is famous as the
birthplace of the Misses Gunning, who were the leading beauties of the
Court in the early days of the reign of George the Third, and married
into the highest families of the Peerage. Both churches stand on the
very brink of the Ouse, about a mile apart, their graceful steeples,
with that of Houghton to the north-east and that of St. Ives to the
north-west, watching as guardian sentinels over the rich Ouse meadows
between. All have spires, but that of Hemingford Grey lost its upper
part by an equinoctial gale in the middle of the eighteenth century,
and only the base now remains.

St. Ives is yet another of Edward the Elder's fortresses, and is
probably named from the Cornish town similarly designated. It is
possible that it may be even a colony from that far-off strand, which
had never swerved in its allegiance, planted here to leaven the
turbulent Danish elements around. Certain it is that here Ednoth,
Abbot of Ely, erected a church dedicated to St. Ivo. Who this saint
may have been originally is not known; probably he (or she) was one of
the many obscure Celtic saints whose names dot the map of Cornwall.
But there grew up in the eleventh century a wild legend that Ivo, a
Persian (!) bishop, had settled down in the neighbourhood. In the
fifteenth century a stone sarcophagus, found by a peasant when
ploughing, was declared to contain the body of this holy Oriental, and
was translated with due pomp to the neighbouring Abbey of Ramsey. St.
Ives was specially connected with this House, and it was an Abbot of
Ramsey who built the beautiful bridge, the ditto of that at
Huntingdon, by which we here recross to the left bank of the Ouse.

Our next point, on leaving St. Ives, is the tiny village of Holywell,
which we may reach either by road, through the hamlet of Needingworth,
or (preferably) by a field-path running westwards from near the
railway station. The little church here stands on a slope above the
river, and in the churchyard the holy well is still to be seen. But
the delight of the place is its strand along the Ouse, a rarely
picturesque medley of old houses on one side of the road and on the
other the broad clear stream, here crossed by a ferry. This road
continues (as a mere field-path) to another delicious ferry a mile
lower, with a charming little inn beside it, in a grove of lofty
trees. This lovely spot is named Overcote. Here travellers may cross
into Cambridgeshire and make their way along the "Hundred Foot"
embankment (so called because it is thirty yards in width) along the
river to Earith. For motors the way lies through Needingworth, and
past the pretty little Church of Bluntisham, with its three-sided apse
and its churchyard yews.

Earith is a hamlet of Bluntisham, but a much larger place, owing its
importance to its situation on the point where the great works
connected with the drainage of the fens have their beginning by the
diversion of the Ouse waters from their ancient bed into the two
"Bedford Rivers," the Old and the New, which from this point run
straight as a die (like the supposed "canals" in Mars) across the fen
to Denvers Sluice, twenty-two miles away. The former was made in 1630,
the latter in 1650, at the expense of what we should now call a
company, promoted by the Earl of Bedford. No such cuts exist elsewhere
in the world. Along them a clear horizon is to be obtained, and here,
accordingly, was conducted, some forty years ago, a decisive
experiment for proving the sphericity of the earth.

At that time a deluded gentleman, who called himself "Parallax," was
obsessed with the notion that the globe was a flat disc, and used to
go lecturing with great vigour on the subject. After these lectures he
invited questions, none of which were able to shake his belief. When
asked, for example, "Why does the hull of a ship disappear below the
horizon while the masts remain visible?" he would answer, "Because the
lowest stratum of air is the densest, and, therefore, soonest conceals
objects seen through it." In view of the present Polar exploration, it
may interest our readers to know that one of his points was the
absolute non-existence of the South Pole. "Explorers say they cannot
get near it, because of an icy barrier. Of course. That barrier is the
raised rim of our world plate, and they can but sail round and round
inside it." Finally he showed his wholehearted belief in his absurd
views by laying a heavy wager that no one would disprove them. The
stakes were deposited in the hands of judges, and the trial, under
agreed conditions, took place upon the New River. Three boats were
moored three miles apart, each provided with a cross-tree of equal
height. If the earth was spherical the central cross would appear
above the other to an observer looking through a telescope levelled
from the cross-tree of the boat at either end; if it was flat he would
see both the other cross-trees as one. "Parallax" declared that he did
so (!), but the judges decided against him, and the poor man lost his


     Island of Ely.--Haddenham.--Aldreth, Conqueror's Causeway,
     Belsars Hill.--Wilburton.--Sutton.--Wentworth.--Via
     Devana.--Girton, College.--Oakington,
     Holdsworth.--Elsworth.--Conington, Ancient Bells.--Long Stanton,
     Queen Elizabeth.--Willingham, Stone Chamber.--Over,
     Gurgoyles.--Swavesey, Finials.--Ely Road.--Chesterton.--Fen
     Ditton.--Milton, Altar Rails.--Horningsea.--Bait's Bite, Start of
     Dyke.--Denny.--Stretham.--Upware.--Wicken Fen.

From the bridge over the Ouse by the Earith sluice we see the
sea-board (for that and nothing less is the word which its appearance
irresistibly suggests) of the Island of Ely, rising before us, with a
couple of miles of level fen between. We may reach it, if we will, by
the main road, which leads eastward to Haddenham, the southernmost of
the island villages. Haddenham stands on a projecting peninsula of
high ground, the highest in the island, rising to nearly 150 feet,
almost cut off from the rest by two inlets of fen (Grunty Fen on the
north-east and North Fen on the north-west), and nearer than any other
part to the mainland on the south. This quasi-insulation has left a
curious mark on the Ecclesiastical map of Cambridgeshire. Throughout
the whole Isle of Ely--the old Fenland Archipelago--the Bishop acts as
his own Archdeacon. An Archdeacon of Ely there is; but his
jurisdiction is confined to Cambridgeshire proper, Cambridgeshire
south of the Isle. It extends, however, over Haddenham and the
neighbouring village of Wilburton, the two parishes in this peninsula.

Haddenham has a fine Decorated church; the tower showing the first
development of that style from Early English (1275), and the transepts
its transition into Perpendicular (1375). The fifteenth century font
is richly panelled, with roses and shields supported by lions and
angels. This church was founded by Owen, the "Over-alderman" who
governed the Island of Ely under St. Etheldreda, the Foundress of the
Cathedral, and Queen of the Isle as the childless widow of its last
native ruler, King Tonbert.[190] Owen's name is interesting as
testifying to the Celtic survival in the fenland, already spoken
of.[191] The broken cross bearing his name, now in the south aisle of
Ely Cathedral, was originally set up at Haddenham; and, after being
for ages an object of veneration, was, at the Reformation, mutilated
and degraded into a horsing-block. At length the revived decency of
the eighteenth century removed it to Ely.

[Footnote 190: See Chap. XIV.]

[Footnote 191: See Chap. VIII.]

The village of Haddenham lies chiefly along the road running southward
to the hamlet of Aldreth, on the very verge of the Island. The nearest
point of the low-lying mainland is only half a mile away; the "Old
River" of the Ouse (now, since the construction of the Bedford Rivers,
become quite a scanty watercourse) flowing between. This was the point
selected by William the Conqueror for the famous Causeway, whereby,
after being once and again baffled by the valour of Hereward, he
ultimately succeeded in forcing his way into the Island.[192] For
centuries afterwards this continued to be the chief entrance from the
Cambridge district, till superseded by the present road viâ Stretham. A
small barrow at the southern end of this causeway, which is now a mere
field-track, still bears the name of Belsar's Hill, after the knight
who, in this campaign, acted as the Conqueror's Commander-in-Chief.

[Footnote 192: See Chap. XIV.]

Wilburton, a mile to the east, was given to Ely by St. Ethelwold,
Bishop of Winchester, the prelate who aided in King Edgar's
restoration of the Monastery of Ely, after its destruction by the
Danes, in 870, had laid it waste for upwards of a century. The church
has some fine woodwork in stalls, screen, and roof, adorned on the
spandrills and bosses with the three cocks of Bishop Alcock, the
founder of Jesus College. While Archdeacon of Ely he here entertained
Henry the Eighth, when, as Prince of Wales, he accompanied his father
on the last Royal Pilgrimage ever made to the shrine of St. Etheldreda
at Ely, which he himself was so soon to despoil and destroy. A good
brass (now affixed to the wall) commemorates Alcock's predecessor in
the archidiaconate, Richard Bole (1477). And yet another Archdeacon,
Wetheringset, is also here buried. Some curious metal-work hangs from
the roof, and on the north wall of the nave are ancient frescoes,
representing not only St. Christopher, the usual subject, but the much
less known St. Blaise and St. Leodegar. The former was Bishop of
Sebaste, and was martyred in 316 A.D. He became the patron saint of
wool-combers, and was specially venerated in Leeds and Bradford. The
latter was Bishop of Autun in Gaul, during the seventh century. There
is here a fine old red-brick manor-house, called the Burgh-stead (or
Bury-stead), built in 1600 by a London alderman to whom Queen
Elizabeth sold the Manor,--after filching it from the Bishop of Ely,
according to her usual practice.

[Illustration: _Wilburton._]

The whole peninsula is specially rich in memorials of long past ages.
In the peat of the old Ouse channel by Wilburton was found a great
hoard of bronze weapons, lying in a promiscuous heap, "in such a
manner as to suggest that a canoe with a cargo of bronze scrap had
been upset there," as Professor and Mrs. Hughes picturesquely put it,
in their "Geography of Cambridgeshire." Grunty Fen has produced a
bronze sickle, and two splendid ornaments of twisted gold; while, a
mile east of Wilburton, a British urn was discovered, associated with
the bones of the urus, or gigantic wild ox of the Neolithic Age. And
between Earith and Wilburton there has been dug out gold ring-money.

[Illustration: _The Burystead, Wilburton._]

       *       *       *       *       *

But a yet more striking approach to the Island of Ely may be made by
taking at Earith the road through the toll-gate which leads northward
immediately alongside the great embankment of the New River, and lies
some few feet below the level of its waters. For three miles this
association continues; then road and river part company, and the
former drives straight across the fen to climb the western shore of
the island. The change of scenery when you reach that shore is
striking in its suddenness. You have been travelling for miles through
the bare, treeless, dead level of the fen, with its immense width of
view; then, almost in a moment, you find yourself ascending a steepish
hill through a tree-shaded hedge-bordered cutting which might be in
Kent or even Devonshire.

At the top of this brow you look down on the fen behind you and on
either hand, your southern horizon being bounded by the near uplands
of Haddenham, with the flat bay of North Fen between. And very shortly
you come to the undulating village street of Sutton, with its highest
point crowned by the truly glorious church. This church is all in one
style, Decorated, on the verge of developing into Perpendicular,
having been built by Barnet, Bishop of Ely 1366 to 1373. The splendid
tower is crowned by an octagonal steeple, and that again by a second,
richly pinnacled, and is a landmark for many miles along the valleys
of the Ouse and Cam.

From Sutton we reach Ely by way of Wentworth and Witchford. The former
name is supposed to be a corruption of Owensworth, and to commemorate
that the place was of old the property of St. Owen. The little church
has a Saxon porch, with twisted pillars, and contains a remarkable
carving of the same date, representing an ecclesiastic wearing the
pall of a Primate. His left hand supports an open book, while in his
right he holds, not a cross or pastoral staff, but something more
suggestive of an aspersory for holy water. The corbel in Ely Cathedral
depicting the burial of St. Etheldreda shows us a figure similarly

       *       *       *       *       *

In looking southward from Sutton Church, three steeples are specially
conspicuous in the Ouse valley. They are those of Over, Swavesey, and
Willingham. All are churches of the first class, and all are best
reached from Cambridge by way of the Via Devana, which, after crossing
the "Great Bridge" and climbing the ascent past the Castle, continues
its straight course to the north-west under the designation of the
Huntingdon Road. Just as it leaves the town a branch-road on the right
leads to the village of Histon, which the jam factories of Messrs.
Chivers have made one of the most flourishing in the county. The
church here has some good Early English work, and a remarkable "Rood"
(much defaced) on the gable of the S. transept. This is an almost
unique example of the early "Majestas" type of crucifix (p. 339).
Christ, with outspread arms, wears, not the Crown of Thorns, but the
Old English "king-helm," and is fully robed. About 1200 this ideal
type gave place to the later "realistic" crucifix.

[Illustration: _Sutton Church._]

A mile beyond the last houses of Cambridge the Via Devana comes to the
huge red-brick mass of Girton College, which has been already spoken
of.[193] Its spacious grounds and never-ending corridors impress the
mind with admiration for the enthusiasm and energy which has thus
materialised Tennyson's vision of University education for women. At
this point another northward turn takes us to Girton Church, where
there are good brasses to two successive fifteenth century parsons. In
their day the living belonged to Ramsey Abbey, by the gift of Eric,
Bishop of Dorchester (1016). We next come to Oakington, the Mecca of
Cambridgeshire Free Churchmen. For here, in the quiet little
Nonconformist Cemetery, rest, side by side, the three men to whom the
chief sects of the county trace their spiritual ancestry--Francis
Holcroft, Joseph Oddy, and Henry Oasland.

[Footnote 193: See p. 144.]

The first named was a Fellow of Clare College where he had for his
"chum" (_i.e._ chamber-mate, as we find the word used in "Pickwick")
Tillotson, the future Archbishop of Canterbury. He began his
ministerial career by taking on himself to supply the place of a
brother collegian, the Puritan minister in charge of Littlington, near
Royston, who, most un-Puritanically, was often incapacitated by drink
from performing his duties. Later, in 1655, when still only
twenty-two, he himself became pastor of the adjoining parish of
Bassingbourn. When the "Black Bartholomew" of 1662 deprived him of
this charge under the Act of Uniformity, he preached, at the risk of
fine and imprisonment, throughout the neighbourhood, binding together
his adherents in a loosely-knit organisation, whose members were
admitted on subscribing the following Profession of Faith:

     "We do in the presence of the Lord Jesus, the awful crowned King
     of Sion, and in the presence of his holy angels and people and
     all besides here present, solemnly give up ourselves to the Lord
     and to one another, by the will of God, solemnly promising and
     engaging in the aforesaid presence to walk with the Lord and with
     one another in the observation of all Gospel ordinances, and the
     discharge of all relative duties in this church of God and
     elsewhere, as the Lord shall enlighten us and enable us."[194]

[Footnote 194: _Cambs. Monthly Repository X._]

His efforts were vigorously seconded by Oddy and Oasland, whose
consciences, like his own, would not permit them to use the Anglican
Prayer Book; and the units of this embryo Church, who were often
spoken of at the time as "Mr. Holcroft's disciples," became widely
spread throughout the county. Already, before the end of 1662, they
had regular meetings at Barrington, Eversden, Waterbeach, and Guyhirn,
as well as Cambridge; and when, ten years later, they became licensed
by the King's Proclamation of Indulgence, we find the number increased
fourfold. So far Nonconformity had been the only bond between these
scattered bands of worshippers; but they now began to differentiate
themselves into Baptist, Independent, and Presbyterian Congregations,
though the lines were not as yet sharply drawn, and, indeed, are not
even now sharply drawn in the country villages, where a man is
"Church" or "Chapel," caring little what may be the precise
denomination of his chapel. The strength of the Dissenting spirit thus
implanted at Oakington may be measured by that of the language
employed by the zealous Archdeacon of Ely, who, in 1685, declares this
to be "the most scandalous parish and the worst in the diocese. The
people most vile. A Fanatic Schoolmaster."

From Oakington the lane leads on to Long Stanton, where the two
churches of St. Michael and All Saints are both noteworthy. The former
is a simple Early English building with a _thatched_ roof (till lately
made of reeds from the fen, a far more durable material than straw,
but now unobtainable), a rich double piscina, and an oak chest dating
from the twelfth century. The latter, at the other end of the "long"
village street, is a Decorated cruciform structure, the south transept
having become the mortuary chapel of the Hatton family, who bought the
lordship of the manor from Queen Elizabeth.

That rapacious monarch, her father's worthy daughter in ecclesiastical
spoliation, had seized upon it amongst the surrenders which she
exacted from Bishop Cox, the first Protestant to be Bishop of Ely. On
his accession she confiscated a full half of his episcopal property,
and was constantly insisting on further denudations, including Ely
House, Holborn. On this final act of despotism goading him into
remonstrance, she is reported (in Strype's _History of the
Reformation_) to have made the well-known reply, "Proud priest! I made
you. And I will unmake you. Obey my pleasure, or I will forthwith
unfrock you." Only his speedy death (in 1581) prevented her from
actually carrying out this threat. After it she kept the whole
property of the See in her own hands for no less than nineteen years,
when she handed it over to Bishop Heton, shorn of yet another moiety,
which included the Manor of Longstanton with its ancient episcopal

This palace had a further connection with Elizabeth; for in it she was
entertained by Bishop Cox after that visit to Cambridge in 1564, when
her erudition so thrilled the University.[195] And it was here that
she was disgusted by the blasphemous entertainment got up for her
benefit by the Protestant undergraduates, in which a performing dog
danced with a consecrated Host in his mouth. King's College Chapel was
the scene originally intended for this outrage; but the graver
academic programme there lasted so long that the Queen could not stay
for the afterpiece. The disappointed students begged leave to follow
her and give an evening performance at Long Stanton. Mutual disgust
was the result. As soon as Elizabeth understood what was going on she
indignantly swept from the room, ordering every light to be instantly
extinguished, leaving the wretched boys to grope for their properties
and get back to Cambridge as best they could.

[Footnote 195: When praised for loveliness by the Public Orator she
showed, to the loud admiration of her auditors, that she both
understood and spoke Latin by exclaiming coyly "Non est verum."]

[Illustration: _All Saints' Church, Long Stanton._]

Following the road to Long Stanton station (six and a half miles), we
there cross the G. E. R. (St. Ives Branch) and proceed, along a
somewhat dreary stretch, to Willingham (nine miles), where an
exceptionally fine church (All Saints) rewards our toil. After
lingering in neglect and decay for years beyond the neighbouring
churches, it has now become an ideal example of judicious restoration,
very different from the drastic process too often known by that name.
Every ancient feature and development has been preserved, including
the beautiful roof,[196] with its elaborate carving, its tiers of
angels and its double hammer beams, the fine parclose screens, and the
Perpendicular pulpit. Beneath the clerestory may be seen traces of no
fewer than four successive layers of frescoes, which, from the twelfth
to the seventeenth century, each in turn adorned the walls. But the
most striking feature of the church is the small Decorated "treasury"
adjoining the north wall of the chancel. It is wholly of stone, even
to the roof with its richly wrought "beams"; an almost unique example
of this method of treatment. Dowsing here destroyed, on 16 March,
1643, "forty superstitious pictures, a crucifix, and two superstitious
inscriptions, also two pictures of the Holy Ghost and one of the
Virgin Mary in brass."

[Footnote 196: This roof is traditionally said to have been that of
the great church of Barnwell Abbey (see p. 160). It obviously was made
for a larger nave than that of Willingham, and has been cut down to
fit its present purpose.]

From Willingham a field road will take us, if desired, to Belsar's
Hill,[197] which, besides its historical associations, is rich in the
pretty crystals of selenite or gypsum. And though, as has been said,
the track is now all but disused, it is still possible to follow the
Conqueror's causeway to the Ouse and get ferried over to Aldreth.

[Footnote 197: See p. 283.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The next turn on the Via Devana is the southward lane to Madingley,
already described. Southward also lie Lolworth, Boxworth and Elsworth.
The last has an exceptionally fine church, Decorated throughout, and
displaying the almost unique feature of small lockers for books in the
fourteenth century stalls. Conington, near the road on the same side,
has a stone-ribbed spire containing three mediæval bells--a rare
survival. They bear the following inscriptions:


     Mary is taken up to Heaven. The Angels are glad.
     They praise and bless the Lord.

     Holy Mary pray for us.

     O crownèd Maid lead us to realms of bliss.

[Illustration: _Over, South Porch._]

Northward we find the magnificent churches of Swavesey and Over
already mentioned. The former is one of the noblest in Cambridgeshire.
The nave is Perpendicular, but the large windows in the south aisle
are really Early English lancets, the Perpendicular tracery being
inserted--a most unusual development. The finials of the fourteenth
century benches are to be noticed, especially in the north aisle,
where they take the form of grotesque animals. The small size of these
seats suggests that they were meant for children. The little ones
would be charmed with these delightful finials, representing a fox
and a goose, a fox and a stork, a bear and a dog, a wolf and a hound,
an eagle and a snake, a wild boar, a lion, a pelican, a cherub, St.
Peter, and an angel playing upon a dulcimer.

[Illustration: _Over._]

At Over every feature of the church is noteworthy. It is entirely
built of Barnack stone, richly ornamented externally with running
ball-flower patterns. The southern porch is beautifully proportioned,
and the gargoyles extraordinary specimens of birds and beasts,
apparently under the same inspiration as the Swavesey finials. Over
the west door is a sculpture (almost weathered out of knowledge) of
Our Lady in Glory, a very rare subject; also the arms of Ramsey Abbey,
to which the benefice was presented by Ednoth, Bishop of Dorchester,
who lies buried in Bishop West's chapel at Ely.[198] The tracery in
general is Decorated, but the spire rises from an Early English tower,
and the chancel is also Early English, with inserted Perpendicular
windows. The Sanctus Bell[199] still hangs over the eastern gable of
the nave. The interior woodwork is of the best, the roof is
Decorated, and there is an exceptionally good sixteenth century
pulpit. The arcading above the windows of the south aisle, with its
banded Early English shafts, is another beautiful feature here. On
some of the churchyard tombstones wall-rue may be found growing, a
rare sight in this neighbourhood. From Over a lane leads on, crossing
the Hundred Foot Bank to Overcote, that fascinating Ferry Inn upon the
Ouse whose charms have already been dwelt upon.

[Footnote 198: See Chap. XVII.]

[Footnote 199: See p. 231.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Formerly, as we have said, the regular road from Cambridge to Ely was
by way of the Causeway at Aldreth. But this roundabout route of over
twenty miles compared unfavourably with the shorter line taken by the
Cam, which was accordingly the favourite for such as could afford
boat-hire. In the eighteenth century regular packet-boats ran daily
between the two places, drawn by horses. To-day the only passengers on
the river are pleasure-seekers, and the ordinary way to Ely from
Cambridge is by the road supposed to represent the hypothetical Akeman
Street of Roman days.[200] This road turns northwards round Magdalene
College, and runs through the suburb of New Chesterton. Old Chesterton
stands on the river, east of the road, and has a finely-proportioned
steeple, with particularly melodious bells, and a slender spire. At
this point is the winning-post of the College boat races.[201] On the
opposite bank, a mile lower down the stream, is Fen Ditton, the "Ditch
End" where the Fleam Dyke strikes the river.[202] Ditton Corner, just
beneath the parish church, is the favourite spot for seeing these
races, as it commands a view of two long reaches, and is also (as a
bend in the stream must needs be) a highly probable spot for bumps.

[Footnote 200: See p. 252.]

[Footnote 201: See p. 146].

[Footnote 202: See p. 170.]

Leaving these to the right, we reach Milton, whence the poet's family
name is said to be derived, and where the church has seventeenth
century altar rails, a very rare possession. Just opposite, with a
ferry between, is Horningsea, where there is another good church.
Between this and Fen Ditton is an ancient building, now used for farm
purposes, which the Ordnance Map marks as "Biggin Abbey." An abbey,
however, it never was, being only one (and the smallest) of the many
scattered mansions of the Abbot and Bishop of Ely. On the stream
beside it is Baitsbite Lock, the starting-point of the boat races.
Here along the towing path may be seen the posts, set at regular
intervals on the brink of the stream, to which each boat is moored by
the "starting cord" held in the coxswain's[203] hand. He must not let
it go till the gun is fired. Thrilling moments pass while he counts
aloud the last seconds--"five ... four ... three ... two ... one," and
the muscles of the crew grow ever tenser, till, at the signal, he
flings the cord into the water, and every oar strains its utmost in
the first stroke.

[Footnote 203: This word is invariably abbreviated to "Cox," which is
also used as a verb.]

[Illustration: _Swavesey._]

The next lock is Clayhithe, two miles further down the river, with an
inn beside it in special favour for Cambridge boating pic-nics. Here,
too, is the lowest bridge over the Cam, indeed the only one below
Cambridge. It belongs to a private company, and is rigorously tolled.
A pretty shady lane leads to it from Horningsea. Hard by, on the left
bank, are the villages of Waterbeach and Landbeach. They are
respectively four and twelve furlongs from the stream, and mark
successive boundaries of the fenland waters. Between them runs an
ancient earthwork, the Car Dyke (probably of Roman date), which of old
kept those waters in flood time from drowning the meadows to the
south. Starting from the Cam at Clayhithe it runs along the whole
western limit of the fenland. It reaches the Ouse near the large
village of Cottenham (where the east window of the fourteenth century
church is copied from one in Prior Crauden's Chapel at Ely) with over
2,000 inhabitants, and goes on past the tiny and picturesque Rampton,
with under 200, to Willingham and Earith, Ramsey and Peterborough,
Deeping and Sleaford; finally ending its long course on the banks of
the far off Witham, hard by Lincoln.

[Illustration: _Swavesey Church._]

For a mile or so our "Akeman Street" follows the course of the Car
Dyke, and then strikes northward across the fen, along a causeway of
its own, passing near the remains of Denny Abbey, a small foundation
which passed through unusual vicissitudes. Originally a Benedictine
House, it was transferred in the twelfth century to the Templars, and
in 1290, passed from them to the Minor Sisters of the Franciscan
order. Marie de Valence, the foundress of Pembroke College, was a
noted benefactress to Denny, and in her statutes solemnly enjoined on
the scholars of the former institution "kindness" towards the recluses
of the latter. The abbey is now a farm, but there are more remains of
the monastic buildings here than almost anywhere else in the county.
Much of the church is built into the farm house, and the refectory is
in use as a barn. Many old walls and dykes may be traced, while a
large entrenchment to the south is known as "Soldiers' Hill." This
name may be due to the Templars.

Two miles further we cross the old bed of the Ouse (containing now
only such scanty waters as the Bedford rivers have left to it) at
Elford, and enter the Isle of Ely. The ramp of the Island, however,
lies two miles further on yet. We climb it by the village street of
Stretham, where the ancient Town Cross still exists, an interesting
and rare feature. It stands hard by the church, which contains various
ancient tombstones, one to Nicholas de Ryngestone, rector under Edward
the First, and a late fifteenth century brass to Dame Joan Rippingham,
mother of two other rectors. A later rector was ejected in 1644 "for
having made new steps to the altar, himself bowing twice as he went
up, and as often while he came down." The church was an ancient
possession of Ely, but was reft from the See by Elizabeth. Stretham
lies at the extreme end of the little peninsular ridge on which
Wilburton and Haddenham stand.[204] Beyond it we sink to the enclosed
inlet of Grunty Fen, passing the hamlet of Little Thetford, and rise
again to the higher ground where the towers of Ely greet our eyes, a
little over a mile away.

[Footnote 204: See p. 282.]

[Illustration: _Cottage at Rampton._]

After leaving Waterbeach our road has diverged widely from the Cam.
Those who have followed the river course, either by boat or by the
towing-path, will be rewarded by finding themselves, in course of
time, at Upware, the tiniest and most sequestered of hamlets, where
the wide Fens spread all around, bare, treeless, houseless, open to
the sweep of every breeze, and giving the same delicious sense of
space as a sea view. The whole atmosphere breathes remoteness, the
very inn calls itself "FIVE MILES FROM ANYWHERE." But, though wide,
the view is not like a sea view, boundless. The Island of Ely limits
it to the north-west, and to the south-east the nearer uplands of East
Anglia. For here is the nearest point on the Cam to Reach, the little
hamlet once so important an emporium, where the Devil's Dyke runs down
to the Fen.[205] To Upware, accordingly, there was cut through the
sedge and peat, at some time beyond memory, the long straight waterway
of Reach Lode, whereby even sea-going ships were able to discharge
their cargoes on Reach Hithe. At a later date, but as early as the
twelfth century, Burwell Lode was led to the same outlet. Those to
Swaffham and Bottisham come in somewhat higher up the river.

[Footnote 205: See p. 194.]

[Illustration: _Dovecote at Rampton._]

A mile to the east of Upware we can see how mighty a task those men of
old undertook who cut these lodes through the primæval jungle. For
here is that Wicken Fen, which we have already spoken of,[206] where
a square mile of that jungle is preserved in its primæval condition,
and where (in all but the old bird life) the fauna and flora of the
old Fenland may still be studied in their old environment; where the
peat is still spongy under your foot, and the tall crests of the reeds
rise high above your head. To dig out masses of that spongy peat, to
cut through miles of those tall reeds would be no light business even
with our own modern means of excavation. What must it have been to the
rude implements of the ancients?

[Footnote 206: See p. 180.]

[Illustration: _The Quay, Ely._]

Some two miles beyond Upware the Cam falls into the Ouse, and the
united stream sweeps past Thetford and round the corner of the island
to Ely, where the Cutter Inn (near the railway station) makes a good


     Ely.--Island and Isle.--St. Augustine.--St. Etheldreda, Life,
     Death, Burial, St. Audrey's Fair.--Danish Sack of Ely.--Alfred's
     College.--Abbey restored.--Brithnoth, Song of Maldon.--Battle of
     Assandun.--Canute at Ely.--Edward the Confessor.--Alfred the
     Etheling.--Camp of Refuge, Hereward, Norman Conquest, Tabula
     Eliensis, Nomenclature, Norman Minster.--Bishops of Ely, Rule
     over Isle.--Ely Place, Ely House.

The tourist through Cambridgeshire should now turn his attention to
Ely, a place second only in interest, if indeed second, to Cambridge
itself. The central point of note in Ely is the Cathedral; known to us
ever since our schooldays through Macaulay's picture-giving pen, which
sets it before us as "Ely's stately fane." We hope soon to learn
something of the history of this great church, of her growth, of her
decay, of her restoration, of those men and women who have made her
what she is, of the tumults and storms she has over-lived. Truly we
may say, with Stirling the poet that the Minster at Ely

  "Still ship-like on for ages fares,
     And holds its course, so smooth so true,
     For all the madness of the crew;
   It must have better rule than theirs."

Before we actually visit the place itself let us make ourselves
familiar with the outline of its chequered history.

The city of Ely has a population approaching 8,000, and stands on the
western edge of the Island of Ely, once truly an island, being an area
of dry land rising from the midst of the fens, and, till their
drainage, accessible only by boat or causeway. This _Island_, a true
bit of natural _terra firma_, measures about eight miles by six, and
lies at the southern end of a much more extensive fenland
archipelago, of irregular shape, measuring approximately thirty miles
by twenty, known from of old as the _Isle_ of Ely. The waters of the
Fen, which, so lately as a century ago, made this wide area an
archipelago indeed, have now given place to a "boundless plain" of
fertile corn-land, so rich in harvests as to be often called "The
Golden Plain of England."

A twelfth century chronicler, the writer of the "Liber Eliensis,"
asserts that, within the first years of the seventh century A.D.,
Ethelbert, King of Kent, newly converted to Christianity, founded a
monastery at Cratendune, about a mile south of Ely, and that Saint
Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated it. But we
cannot say that the authentic history of Ely begins till seventy years
later, when we see an Anglo-Saxon lady founding a monastery on this
rising ground in the midst of the Fens. The lady is Etheldreda, once
Queen of Northumbria; her monastery is known to us as Ely. She is the
daughter of Anna, King of East Anglia, who had reigned at Exning,
almost within sight of Ely.

King Anna was a devout man, who himself died a hero's death, fighting
for the Cross and for his country against the overwhelming onset of
Penda, the heathen King of Mercia, who made it the object of his life
to stamp out English Christianity. But, though Anna fell, his cause
triumphed. Penda shortly died, and his work perished with him. Not so
Anna's. After his death the tide of Christian progress ran the
stronger; and all over England it was through members of his family
that it was specially championed.

Married to the King of Northumbria, his daughter Queen Etheldreda had
renounced her husband and her northern kingdom, and had returned to
her native Fenland, there to found a monastery for both monks and
nuns. In taking this step she had been influenced by two persons of
note; by St. Hilda, her aunt, the foundress and first Abbess of
Whitby, and by St. Wilfrid, Bishop of York. Hilda had in early life
gained a firm hold on the heart of her niece, who had become fired
with the wish to follow her example and herself to found a monastery.
In spite of this resolve, of which she made no secret, she had been
forced (while strongly protesting) into a nominal marriage with
Egfrid, the youthful King of Northumbria. After twelve years of
unhappy life, she had been induced by St. Wilfrid to quit her
husband; from St. Wilfrid's hand she had received the veil, before him
she had taken the vows that bound her to a monastic life. It is a
strange, unnatural tale, that cannot claim our approval; but there it
is, and its truth is not questioned.

Queen Etheldreda, accompanied by certain attendants had then fled
southward, with her deeply wronged husband in chase. She had been
sheltered on one occasion from his pursuit by a tide of unprecedented
height, which protected her on a rocky hiding-place while the King
passed by, all unaware that he was close to her. At length she had
reached her own fenland country; and here, still following Hilda's
example, she set herself to build a monastery, choosing the highest
ground available. She was a well dowered lady, for her first husband,
Tonbert, was a Prince of the Girvii, a Celtic tribe descended from
those refugee Britons who had sought safety in the fens when all else
was conquered by the English invaders two centuries earlier. This
prince had bequeathed to his childless widow all his wide fenland
domains; so Etheldreda had no need to seek further for an endowment
for her monastery; while her brother Adwulf, now King of East Anglia,
defrayed the cost of the new buildings. These ere long became the home
of both monks and nuns, who lived in separate houses and met only for
their common worship in the Abbey church. No Abbot was appointed, but
Etheldreda herself was their Abbess, ruling both sexes alike.

It is probable that from its foundation the monastery at Ely was under
the influence of the rule of St. Benedict, for St. Wilfrid during
Etheldreda's life-time was a frequent resident there, and he was in
close touch with St. Botolph, that most influential, though half
legendary saint, who, from his hermitage at Ickenhoe in Suffolk, was
introducing throughout East Anglia the rule of the monks of St.
Benedict, those great preservers of civilisation, which, but for them,
must in many lands have perished, when the strong hand of the Roman
Empire lost its grip.

[Illustration: _The North Triforium of the Nave, Ely._]

Little is recorded of Etheldreda's life as abbess; and, after a rule
of seven years, she died at the age of forty-nine, in the year 679,
her death being due to an epidemic then prevalent, combined with a
tumour in the neck. The death-bed scene is sculptured on one of the
corbels of the Octagon Towers at Ely, where the more picturesque
events of her life are quaintly set before us in stone. The saintly
lady died after much suffering, which the ministrations of her devoted
physician Cynifrid failed to allay; though he did for her all that the
surgery of those days allowed. She bore her sickness with composure of
mind, and when she knew that the end was at hand, she (as others have
done before and since) summoned her whole household to her chamber to
take her last farewell of them all. She told them that the time of her
departure was at hand; she spoke to them of the vanity of this world's
enjoyments, and recommended them to keep Heaven always in view,
whereby they might in some measure have a foretaste of its joys. After
this she received the Communion in both kinds from the hands of Huna,
a priest devoted to her service; then, while praying for the
inhabitants of the monastery, she passed from earth. It may be of
interest to remember that throughout the seven years of her rule at
Ely, Theodore, the great organiser of the Anglican Church, "the first
Archbishop whom the whole Church of England obeyed," filled the See of

It was Etheldreda's wish to be buried with all simplicity in the
cemetery set apart for the nuns of Ely; so we are glad to learn that
this her last desire was respected by her followers, and that she was
laid to rest among the nuns in a wooden coffin. Her elder sister, St.
Sexburga, widow of the King of Kent, took her place as Abbess, and
ruled at Ely till another generation was arising. After sixteen years
had gone by, those who still remembered and loved Etheldreda wished
that her body should be with them at their devotions in the church,
and they resolved to translate her remains from the cemetery to the

No common coffin was held to be a fitting casket for those precious
relics; but in a waste place named Armeswerke,[207] fifteen miles up
the River Cam (which may be identified as now forming part of the
Fellows' garden at Magdalene College, Cambridge, between the terrace
and the river), there was found a marble sarcophagus of Roman
workmanship.[208] This was brought to Ely; and with careful and simple
ceremony the body of the first Abbess was lifted from the wooden and
laid in the marble coffin, all being carried out under the
superintendence of Sexburga. On beholding the uncorrupted body of the
dear sister who had died in so much pain, Sexburga was heard to
exclaim, "Glory to the name of the Lord most high!" All the look of
suffering had gone, and the Saint appeared as if asleep on her bed.
Gently removed from the wooden to the stone coffin, the body was
carried into the Abbey Church, and placed behind the high altar; and
for eight centuries the shrine of St. Etheldreda was visited by troops
of pilgrims, who came from far and near to worship, to leave their
offerings, and to seek healing from disease and infirmity. Sexburga
was followed as Abbess by her sister, Ermenilda, Queen of Mercia. Thus
Ely had three sister queens as her first three Abbesses; and hence
perhaps the three crowns that still form the arms of the Bishopric.

[Footnote 207: This is the word used by the "Historia Eliensis." Bede,
our earliest authority, speaks of "a small waste city, which in the
English tongue is called Grantchester." He almost certainly means
Cambridge. See p. 221.]

[Footnote 208: Doubt has been cast on this story, owing to the
incidental mention by the chronicler of a shaped head-space in this
coffin. This has been held to point to a twelfth century origin for
the Legend, inasmuch as such head-spaces were not used until that
date. In the present year(1910), however, an undoubtedly Roman
sarcophagus thus shaped has been unearthed in Egypt. It is figured in
the _Illustrated London News_ (July 23, 1910).]

St. Etheldreda was long remembered with affection, and was commonly
spoken of as St. Audrey. The popular Pilgrims' Fair held at Ely was
known at St. Audrey's Fair; and the cheap fairings bought and sold
there (especially the coloured necklets of fine silk known as "St.
Audrey's chains") were called, from her name, "tawdry"; and thus a new
word was coined for us with a strange story of its own, a word hardly
worthy of the great Abbess of the Fenland to whom it owes its origin.
Centuries later, St. Audrey's Fair, held in October, had grown to be
one of the most important in the land, lasting for a fortnight. By the
year 1248 it had become such a centre of merchandise as to interfere
with the traffic of the Fair which Henry the Third had lately
established at Westminster in honour of St. Edward the Confessor; the
King therefore issued a warrant interdicting the fair at Ely. This
suspension meant serious loss to the Bishop, Hugh de Northwold, "who
made a heavy complaint to the King concerning the matter, but he
gained from him nothing except words of soothing promises of future
consolation," says the chronicler.

For two hundred years after the death of the foundress, the abbey of
monks and nuns went on with its pious works and ways. Then, in 870,
appeared the Danes, still pagans; and after working their way through
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, where they "wasted with fire and sword all
that ever they came to, they brake down all the abbeys of the fens;
nor did Ely, so famous of old, escape." Having laid waste
Peterborough, then known as Medhampsted, they came across the fens to
Ely. The abbey and all the buildings pertaining to it were burnt; the
monks and nuns put to the sword. Before setting fire to the buildings
the Danes had secured for themselves all they contained of value, and
great was the store, for the people of the neighbourhood had brought
their goods into the monastery as to a place of safety. All was seized
by the invaders, and what they could not carry away they destroyed.
Thus Etheldreda's Abbey, after lasting 200 years, was left a deserted
ruin; but her coffin of stone escaped without injury. One of the
depredators, indeed, is said to have made an attempt to break into it,
with the result that his eyes started from his head, and then and
there he died, as the chronicler relates. The ancient sarcophagus had
proved worthy of its trust.

The hour was one of direst need; for all England lay spent and gasping
beneath the bloodstained feet of the heathen pirates. But, with the
need, there arose the deliverer. In 871, the year after the sack of
Ely, Alfred the Great, "England's darling," succeeded to the kingship
of the exhausted realm; and the life and death struggle entered on its
last and most desperate phase. For one moment even he seemed to go
under, and was driven to an outlaw life in the marshes of Athelney;
the next, we see him shattering the invaders by his miraculous victory
of Ethandune, and, with incomparable state-craft, negotiating that
Peace of Wedmore, whereby the Danes had to acknowledge him as their

As such, he shortly established a College of Priests at Ely. Eight of
the clerics who had witnessed the sack of the monastery came back to
their old home, and rebuilt a part of the church that it might serve
again as a place of worship. These priests were not monks, and are
said to have had wives and children. They lived in poverty; for all
the endowments of the Abbey had been seized by Burgraed, the last King
of Mercia. But gradually, as the children of Alfred won back the
kingdom, the endowment of Ely began afresh. Here a fishery, and there
a wood, and again a mill with adjoining pastures, was bestowed on the
little College--a term which still clings to the Cathedral precincts
of Ely, called to this day the College, not the Close as in most
Cathedral cities.

With the accession, in 958, of the great Edgar, the first English King
to be Emperor of all Britain, the monarch who, nearly a thousand years
ago, gained for himself, as but one of our kings has done since, the
title of "Peacemaker," brighter days dawned. Then, as now, the
Catholic Church might have been well called "Cette éternelle
recommenceuse," able to rise from her ashes with life renewed. From
the havoc wrought by the Danes, the Abbey of Ely, as a Benedictine
House, arose once more, rebuilt, refounded, and re-endowed by King
Edgar, who restored to it by Royal Charter all that Etheldreda had
originally bestowed; adding thereto several demesnes and sundry
privileges. The re-constitution of the Abbey was carried out under the
guidance of Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester.

The monks were thus restored; but the nuns of Ely have disappeared
from view. As for those secular priests who were in possession and had
maintained the sacred character of the spot for well-nigh a hundred
years, ever since its devastation by the Danes, they were allowed to
stay on if they submitted to the Benedictine Rule, otherwise they were

In the year 970, on the Feast of the Purification, a day that we shall
again find eventful in the annals of Ely, the new and restored
monastic buildings were consecrated by Dunstan, who now, as Archbishop
of Canterbury, filled the highest office in the Church of the land.
The chronicler, Roger of Wendover, tells us how, by Dunstan's counsel,
King Edgar "everywhere restrained the rashness of the wicked,
cherished the just and modest, restored and enriched the desolate
churches of God, gathered multitudes of monks and nuns to praise and
glorify the Great Creator, and built more than forty monasteries."
This shews us that, the events taking place at Ely were in no sense
isolated, but were part of a great revival going on throughout the
whole country.

In the year 991 the restored Abbey becomes connected with one of the
most stirring poems of the English language, the "Song of Maldon." The
Danish invasions, which had been checked for a century by the glorious
line of monarchs who inherited King Alfred's blood and energy, were
beginning again. One of these pirate hordes had landed in East Anglia,
now no longer a separate principality but merely a district of the
United Kingdom of England, governed by an "Alderman" named Brithnoth.
Ethelred, surnamed the Unready, was on the throne--a King who for his
lack of good judgment well deserved this contemptuous sobriquet--and
his want of energy and capacity threw on to the shoulders of his
subordinates the burden of the defence of his realm.

Brithnoth rose to the emergency, as a true Christian hero. At the head
of his retainers he hurried to meet the foe, calling out the local
levies to join his march. At Ely, as he hastened past, he, with his
men, was royally entertained. The day before, when he was passing
Ramsey Abbey, the Abbot had offered him hospitality, but only for
himself and half a dozen picked friends. This niggardly invitation
drew from Brithnoth a scornful answer: "Tell my Lord Abbot," he
replied, "that I cannot fight without my men, neither will I feed
without them." At Ely meat and drink were placed before leader and
followers without distinction, and well were the monks rewarded, for
Brithnoth requited their hospitality by the gift of no fewer than nine
manors, all lying near Cambridge--Trumpington, Fulbourn, and
others--stipulating only that, if slain in battle, his body should be
brought back to their church for burial.

At Maldon in Essex on the River Panta (or Blackwater, as it is now
called), he met the Danes, who began by sending a herald demanding a
ransom, to be fixed by themselves, as the price of peace:

  "Then back with our booty
   To ship will we get us,
   Fare forth on the flood,
   And pass you in peace."

This degrading offer Brithnoth contemptuously refuses:

  "For ransom we give you
   Full freely our weapons,
   Spear-edge and sword-edge
   Of old renown."

The Danes at once make their way across the river and attack the
English levies:

  "Then drave from each hand
   Full starkly the spear,
   Showered the sharp arrows,
   Busy were bows,
   Shield met shaft,
   Bitter the battle."

In the end the pirates are driven back to their ships, but at the cost
of Brithnoth's own life. He is pierced by a spear, and sinks dying to
the ground; to the last exhorting his soldiers to fight on, and
commending his own soul to God in the following beautiful and touching

  "To Thee give I thanks,
   Thou Lord of all living,
   For all good hap
   In this life here.
   Sore need I now,
   O Maker mild,
   That Thou should'st grant
   My spirit grace;
   That my soul to Thee
   May depart in peace,
   And flee to Thy keeping,
   Thou King of Angels.
   To Thee do I pray
   That the Gates of Hell
   Prevail not against me."

[Illustration: _West Aisle of the North Transept, Ely._]

The Danes carried off Brithnoth's head; but his body was rescued; and,
according to his wish, the monks came and brought it back to Ely,
where the Abbot buried it, replacing the missing head by one of wax.
During the eighteenth century the skeleton was met with in the course
of some excavations and recognised as Brithnoth's by the absence of
the skull. It now lies in Bishop West's beautiful chapel, along with
the bones of other Anglo-Saxon worthies.

The Lady Elfleda, Brithnoth's widow, added largely to the benefactions
he had bestowed on Ely; she gave the Abbey valuable lands within easy
reach of the monastery, and she moreover presented to the church a
golden chain, and a curtain worked with the most notable deeds of her
husband's life. Those who have seen the Bayeux tapestry, representing
the events of the life of William the Conqueror, can picture to
themselves what Lady Elfleda's curtain may have been a century

In the next generation (1016) a body of the monks of Ely accompanied
another hero to battle against the Danes. The hero of this generation
was Ethelred's son, King Edmund Ironside; the battle was the great
fight of Assandun, a place impossible to locate with certainty, but
not improbably situated on the south-east border of Cambridgeshire.
During the last twenty-five years the Danes had become more and more
daring, and now, under their great king, Canute, the mightiest of all
Scandinavian monarchs, they were attempting nothing less than the
organised conquest of England. Thus Canute and Edmund were face to
face in a desperate struggle, and, after five indecisive battles in a
single year, Edmund was defeated, on St. Luke's Day, at Assandun, and
his defeat was shortly followed by his death. Canute then assumed the
crown, by right of conquest, a right which he proclaimed by calling
himself not, like his predecessors, "King of the English," but "King
of England."

He proved, however, not at all a bad king. He had been brought up a
Christian, and he took the Church under his protection. He bore no
malice against the monks of Ely for their support of Edmund Ironside,
but, on the contrary, treated the Abbey with marked favour, and gave
her rich endowments. More than once he visited Ely, and we all know
the lines of the cheery old ballad which relates how Canute in his
barge was rowing near the island. It runs thus:

  "Merrily sang they, the monks at Ely,
   When Cnut the King he rowed thereby;
   Row to the shore, men, said the King,
   And let us hear these monks to sing."

This was in the summer-time,[209] when the waters were open; but not
seldom Canute made his visits in the depth of winter, when, on the
Feast of the Purification, the Abbot of Ely each year entered on his
Chancellorship of the realm, an office which he shared in turn with
the Abbots of Canterbury and Glastonbury, each holding this office for
four months at a time. The legend may well be true, which tells how,
on one of these mid-winter visits, Canute reached Ely (from
Soham)[210] in a sledge, preceded by the heaviest man that could be
found (characteristically nick-named "Pudding"), who skated ahead of
the King to ensure the ice would bear. On another occasion Canute was
accompanied by his wife Queen Emma, and she, in token of her regard
for the Abbey, left behind, as her gift, splendid hangings for the
church, and for the shrine of the foundress. An altar frontal of green
and red and gold, and a shrine cover of purple cloth, bedecked with
gold and jewels, are described as being of exceptional beauty and
value, "such as there was none like to them in richness throughout all
the realm."

[Footnote 209: Archdeacon Cunningham doubts this.]

[Footnote 210: See p. 178.]

This was not Emma's first connection with Ely. While she was yet the
second wife of Ethelred the Unready (after whose death she married the
victorious Canute), her younger son, Edward, afterwards King Edward
the Confessor, had here been presented in infancy at the altar, and
had been in childhood a pupil of the choir school, where his special
proficiency in learning psalms and hymns gave promise of his future
saintliness. The Ely choir school was, at this time, probably the most
noted educational institution in England, and was under the direction
of the Precentor, who had general charge over all the literary work of
the house, such as the reproducing of books, etc. That this precocious
scholar, who left Ely at nine years old, ultimately came to the
throne, while Alfred, his elder brother, did not, is due to one of the
most ghastly tragedies of English history.

After the death of Canute in 1035, it became a question whether this
same Alfred, "the Etheling" (_i.e._ Prince), Emma's eldest son by
Ethelred, now a man of over thirty, or Harthacnut, her only son by
Canute, a boy of sixteen, or one Harold, who, though not an Etheling,
claimed to be Canute's eldest son, should be chosen King of England.
Harold, in spite of grave doubts as to his paternity, "had all the
cry"; and when Alfred, "the innocent Etheling," made an attempt to
protect his widowed mother against the new King's oppression, he was
sent as a prisoner by ship to Ely. Before being landed his eyes were
put out, in a manner so brutal that he shortly died of the shock, to
find a grave in the Abbey church under its western tower. The
Anglo-Saxon Chronicler records this crime in a pathetic ballad,
denouncing it as even beyond the horrors of the Danish wars:

  "Nor was drearier deed
   Done in this land,
   Since Danes first came."

That no blame need be attached to the monks of Ely for this atrocity
is indicated by the fact that, when Alfred's brother, Edward the
Confessor, came to the throne, he confirmed all their ancient
charters, granting lands and privileges to the Abbey, and himself
became a benefactor to the place of his education.

With the Norman invasion, Ely again becomes a centre of war. Led by
Christian the Bishop, and Osbiorn the Earl, a force of Danish
adventurers had appeared in the Humber, professing to be the allies of
the English in their struggle with the Normans. Their real object was
to place their own King Sweyn, the nephew of Canute, on the throne of
England, and, if foiled in this purpose, at least to enrich themselves
with England's plunder. After partaking in scenes of devastation in
Yorkshire, they sailed southward till they reached Ely, where they
took up their quarters. Here the fenland folk forgathered with them,
for the Norman was a more thoroughgoing oppressor than any Dane; and,
in especial, the "strenuous" outlaw Hereward "the Wake" joined them
"with his gang."

To show their zeal against the French--and to indulge their lust of
plunder--they set off, by water, to Peterborough, where the Abbey had
been recently conferred on a Norman ruffian named Thorold. To save
this good old English foundation from such degrading occupancy,
Hereward, as their guide, led them on, first to sack and then to burn
it to the ground. The Danes, having got their booty, promptly sailed
away, while Hereward returned to Ely, there to make his memorable
stand against William and the Normans. Fiction may have embroidered
the tale of his prowess; but there remains a foundation of truth, even
after the superstructure of romance has been removed. At Ely were now
gathered together to him a mixed company of fugitives; misfortune,
according to her repute, making strange bed-fellows.

When William had conquered at Hastings, England, as a whole, was at
first disposed to accept the verdict of battle, and to acknowledge
his claim to the throne, as it had acknowledged Canute's. But when the
necessities of his position, as the captain of an invading army,
forced him to confiscate every estate in England (except the Church
lands), and to bestow it on some Norman adventurer; when every single
Englishman in high office, Sheriff and Alderman, Bishop and Abbot, was
turned out to make room for a Frenchman,[211] the whole nation glowed
with outraged patriotism, and Ely seemed likely to become a second
Athelney, whence the spark of resistance to the tyrant might spread
like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of the land.

[Footnote 211: See my _History of Cambridgeshire_.]

And had there been a second Alfred this might well have actually come
to pass. As it was, many of the magnates who could not brook
submission retired to the "Camp of Refuge," as the Island of Ely now
got to be called. This fastness, being surrounded on all sides by deep
fens "as by a strong wall," promised them a sure retreat, and for a
while enabled them to baffle all the efforts even of the mighty
Conqueror to subdue them. Thither came Archbishop Stigand (deposed by
the Conqueror to make way for the great Lanfranc); thither came the
Abbot of St. Albans, thither came the valiant Ethelnoth, Bishop of
Durham; thither came Morcar, the last Earl of Northumbria, "with many
a hundred more," both clergy and laity. Here they received shelter and
hospitality from Thurstan, the last of the English Abbots of Ely.

By the general voice Hereward was chosen as their captain, and
fortified the island against the Conqueror. William, on hearing of
this, hastened to Cambridge with his whole army, and invested the
place (so far as it was possible to invest it) both by land and water,
building a castle at Wisbech on the north, and at Reach on the south.
At Aldreth, where scarcely a mile of fen parted the Island from the
mainland at Willingham, he made a floating bridge of trees and
faggots, fastened underneath with cow-hides; but when his men
attempted to cross it, the unsteady structure capsized, and that
portion of the army engaged in the attempt was drowned.

Perplexed and almost daunted, William, with his court and army,
retired for a time to Brandon in Suffolk; while the refugees at Ely
spent stirring days. The knights and churchmen were hospitably
entertained in the refectory of the abbey, every man with his shield
and lance hanging near him, to be ready in case of sudden alarm. Their
days were diversified by raids into the surrounding country beyond the
fens, to snatch what provisions they could for their fastness; and
these raids of the islanders were so dreaded throughout the district,
that its inhabitants were thankful for the protection of William's

Hereward, according to the legend, hearing that another attack was
imminent, followed the example of Alfred the Great by betaking himself
in disguise to Brandon to learn the King's designs. He found that
William, by a judicious mixture of severity and conciliation, had won
over a certain number of the outlying fen-folk, and had imposed upon
them the task of conveying a great store of wood and faggots for him
to Aldreth, with which to construct there a causeway once more.
Hereupon Hereward, still in his disguise, feigned that he was himself
one of these traitors to England, and eager above all the others to
help the Conqueror against the marauding thieves of the Camp of
Refuge. It was he who was foremost in collecting faggots for the
wood-pile at Aldreth, and then, when all was gathered, who was it but
Hereward that set it on fire so that all was lost? And once more, when
the besiegers were making a third attempt to gain the island, under
the auspices of a reputed witch whom the pious William deigned to
employ for the sustaining of his men's sunken courage, it was Hereward
who fired the reed-beds through which the foe was advancing, so that
the whole column, witch and all, were involved in one common

Finally William, finding that he could not reduce the island by force,
resolved to bring it under by political pressure, and threatened to
grant to his supporters all the Abbey lands within his power. On
hearing this the Abbot and monks resolved to surrender, and they sent
secret messengers to William, who was at Warwick, offering to submit
to him on condition that he would spare the possessions of the Abbey.
To this the King consented; and during Hereward's absence from Ely on
a foraging expedition, he landed without resistance on the fen-girt
island. Hereward on his return found that all was lost, and himself
barely escaped with a few followers, to live on as outlaws in the
greenwood for a few desperate years, till at length he, too, "came
in," and was granted "the King's peace."

On William's unopposed success through their connivance the monks
fondly imagined that they had something to expect from his gratitude,
and were preparing a formal welcome and act of submission when it
should please him to visit the abbey church in thanksgiving for his
victory. William, however, had other designs, and paid his visit
without notice, at an hour when he knew that the brethren would be in
the refectory at dinner. He stood alone before the High Altar, and
casting upon it a single mark of gold, equivalent to about £150,
quietly departed.

Meanwhile the hapless monks were startled from their meal by the
abrupt entrance of a Norman knight, Gilbert de Clare, with whom they
had made interest, and who now rushed in shouting to them: "Ye
wretched drivellers! Can ye choose no better time for guzzling than
this when the King is here, yea, in your very church?" Instantly every
monk sprang to his feet, and the whole community made a rush for the
church. But it was too late. William was already well on his way out
of Ely, and the unhappy monks had to run three miles before they
caught up to him at Witchford. There they did at last succeed in
impetrating his pardon, but he laid upon them a fine of no less than
700 marks of silver,[212] to meet which almost all the ornaments of
the church had to be melted down. The ingots were minted into coin in
the abbey itself; but the moneyers employed proved fraudulent, and the
royal officers at Cambridge, to whom the cash was paid, reported it
deficient in weight. This gave William an excuse for laying on a
further fine of 300 marks, so that altogether no less than the
equivalent of £20,000 was wrung by him out of the Brotherhood.

[Footnote 212: A mark of silver was worth 13_s._ 4_d._; a mark of gold
was 100 shillings. A labourer's wage was at this date 1_d._ per day,
so that these sums must be multiplied thirty-fold to get their
equivalent value at the present day.]

Yet the monks were not mistaken in thus casting in their lot with the
Normans, for though William imposed these heavy fines upon them,
though he heaped vexatious indignities upon them, though he inflicted
shocking mutilations on their adherents (not on themselves, for he was
careful to spare the monks in this respect), though he compelled them
to maintain a foreign garrison of forty French knights at their very
doors, yet in spite of all this the Abbey, with its seventy monks,
prospered under his iron rule. The strange condition of the house at
this juncture is vividly recorded for us by a picture, still preserved
in the Bishop's palace at Ely and known as the "Tabula Eliensis."

This "tabula" is a painting of no artistic merit, dating probably from
the reign of Henry the Seventh, but copied from an older one which has
perished. It is divided into forty squares, and in each of these
appears a knight and a monk, the names of both being given fully and
distinctly. The knight is helmeted and holds his drawn sword in his
right hand, while between him and his neighbour, the cowled monk,
hangs his shield emblazoned with his arms. All indicate how the
knights and monks, when thus forced to dwell in close contact, became
friendly together as time went by.

Several of the monks bear names which show us that the ancient British
stock of the Girvians still survived in the neighbouring fenlands.
Among them we find, Donald, Evan, Cedd, Nigel, Duff, David,
Constantine: names familiar to us in connection with Highland, Welsh,
or Cornish literature. Strange as it seems to include such names as
David and Constantine in this list, we have history, legend and
geography to justify our counting them as in use among the later
Britons. And it may be noted that, until the twelfth century at least,
a man's name is an almost certain guide to his nationality, as (to
some extent) it is to this day. After that, the old English
nomenclature, both male and female, was almost wholly supplanted by
that of the Normans; the only native names to survive being those of
special heroes and saints, such as Alfred, Edward, Edmund, Edgar,
Ethel, Audrey and Hilda.

The nave and transepts of Ely Minster erected during the century that
followed, still stand to show us to what splendid purpose Norman
architects could design and Norman workmen could build. For here, as
elsewhere throughout England, one of the first and most striking
results of the Conquest was such an outburst of church building as the
country had never yet known. Edgar's church, though barely a century
old, was condemned as hopelessly out of date. Something on a much
grander scale was now felt needful. The new Church was founded, in
1083, by the aged Abbot Simeon, an act of great courage and faith in a
man so old. He it was who began to build the north and south
transepts. He also laid the foundation of the central tower and of an
apsidal choir. Both tower and choir have fallen and been replaced, but
the transepts stand to this day.

As soon as the choir was ready for it, the body of the first Abbess
was brought from the Anglo-Saxon church close by, built under Edgar
the Peacemaker, where it had rested for 130 years, and was placed in
the new Norman choir behind the high altar. At her feet was laid her
sister Sexburga, who had succeeded her as Abbess, and, on either side,
the sister and niece who had, each in turn, followed after her as
rulers of the house. The earlier church was then pulled down. All this
did not take place till 1106, and long before then Simeon, like his
namesake a thousand years before, had sung his "Nunc dimittis,"
leaving his work to be carried on by the devoted and energetic
Richard, the last of the non-episcopal Abbots of Ely.

For an event of even greater moment than the building of the church
took place about this time. Early in the twelfth century, in order to
quell some dispute that had arisen as to the authority of the Bishop
of Lincoln over the Abbot of Ely, the Pope had consented, at the
request of King Henry the First and Archbishop Anselm, that the Abbot
of Ely should become a Bishop, with the Isle of Ely and the County of
Cambridge as his See.[213] More than 700 years went by before any
change was made in the extent of the diocese thus created; for it was
not till 1837 that the counties of Huntingdon and Bedford and the
western half of Suffolk were added to it.

[Footnote 213: The county, at this time, comprised only the district
south of the Isle. This ecclesiastical connection between it and the
Isle was the first towards their later unification. See p. 8.]

We owe to the creation of this Bishopric the very existence of Ely
Minster as it now stands; had it remained merely an abbey, instead of
being also a cathedral, it would have perished at the Reformation,
along with the yet greater church at Bury St. Edmund's not far away,
and with many another sister abbey throughout the land. At Ely, too,
we should see before us ruined arches open to the sky, beautiful
indeed and pathetic, but no longer a centre of worship. To this day
the Bishop of Ely sits in his cathedral not as Bishop but as Abbot;
not at the south-eastern but at the south-western end of the choir
stalls, while the Dean occupies the seat once belonging to the Prior
at the north-western end. Richard, as we have said, was the last of
the Abbots of Ely who were Abbots and nothing else. Hervey, appointed
in 1109, was the first Bishop-Abbot. He had already been Bishop of
Bangor, whence he had been driven by a Welsh revolt.

This may be the place to say something of the abnormal civil position
held by the Bishops of Ely till recent times. Etheldreda, the
foundress of the Abbey, reigned, as the widow of her first husband,
Tonbert, over the whole Isle of Ely, and exercised therein the full
Royal rights of secular jurisdiction. These rights passed on to the
Abbesses who succeeded her, and then in turn to the Abbots who
followed; they were confirmed by the Charter of Edgar in 970, and
again by Edward the Confessor, and when the abbots became bishops they
still continued to exercise this jurisdiction. Each succeeding Prelate
enjoyed rights throughout the Isle somewhat resembling those of the
Prince Bishops of the continent.

This went on until Henry the Eighth fell upon the Church, and took
away not only many of the Episcopal demesnes but also many of the
Episcopal privileges (if indeed they may be so termed). Such rights as
the King spared survived for 300 years longer. The Bishop of Ely still
possessed a jurisdiction of considerable importance and dignity,
holding almost sovereign authority within his "Franchise," which was
styled "the Royal Franchise or Liberty of the Bishops of Ely." He
himself appointed his own Judges to hear all cases within the Isle of
Ely; Assize and Quarter Sessions were held in his name and at his
pleasure; his chief bailiff acted as High Sheriff, and he nominated
the magistrates. It was the Bishop's Peace, and not the King's Peace,
against which malefactors throughout the Isle were held to offend.
This went on till 1836, when on the death of Bishop Spark, these last
remnants of Etheldreda's jurisdiction as Queen-Abbess ceased by Act of

But to this day there live on some far-off echoes of the Girvian
principality. The Isle of Ely, with its three Rural Deaneries and
forty-six benefices, is ecclesiastically under the immediate
jurisdiction of the Bishop; no Archdeacon holds any authority there,
as in other parts of the diocese, except in the parishes of Haddenham
and Wilburton. True, we have an Archdeacon of Ely, but he ought
rather to be designated Archdeacon of Cambridgeshire, for, with the
exceptions named, beyond the limits of the county proper he is
powerless. The Isle, moreover, has its own County Council quite
distinct from that of Cambridgeshire, while the common High Sheriff of
both divisions is nominated from each in turn.

And in the very heart of London, close to Holborn Circus, traces of
this civil jurisdiction still survive in Ely Place, where stands,
abutting on houses of the most commonplace type, the beautiful chapel
dedicated to St. Etheldreda, built at the close of the thirteenth
century, and once attached to the town palace of the Bishops of Ely.
Ely Place was a "Liberty," and, within the memory of those still
living, the Royal writs did not run here, and no police-officer or
sheriff could follow a debtor who had here taken sanctuary; it was,
moreover, rated on a basis peculiar to itself. The "Liberty" is still
governed by certain Commissioners, elected annually by the
householders. It has its own day and night watchmen, with their
gold-laced hats, who fulfil the function of policemen, and the silence
of the night is, even in this twentieth century, broken by their call,
hour by hour, as of yore. We all remember how Shakespeare makes
Richard the Third say to the Bishop of Ely,

  "My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn
   I saw good strawberries in your garden there,"

and the reference to these lines in the "Ingoldsby Legends" is hardly
less familiar. Palace, strawberries, garden are no more; the property
once held in this region by the See of Ely has passed by purchase into
other hands, but the chapel is still here, well tended, the same House
of Prayer, after many vicissitudes, that it was 600 years ago; the din
of modern city life being there shut out by walls eight feet thick.

There exists in London one more very different relic of the old
demesne of the Bishops of Ely. On the frontage of a great house in
Dover Street, now occupied by the Albemarle Club, with massive stone
facings without and marble halls within, there may be seen, over the
second storey, a mitre carved in stone, shewing that once it was the
abode of the Bishops of Ely; for after their old Palace in Holborn was
sold, this "Ely House," built about 1775, took its place, to be sold
in turn early in the twentieth century with a view to forming a
nucleus toward the endowment of a new bishopric, when the proposed
subdivision of the present diocese can be carried out. Times have
changed; and the Bishop of Ely is now free from the burdensome luxury
of an official residence in London.


     Bishop Northwold.--Presbytery Dedicated.--Barons at Ely.--Fall of
     Tower, Alan of Walsingham, Octagon.--Queen Philippa.--Lady
     Chapel, John of Wisbech, Bishop Goodrich.--Bishop Alcock.--Bishop
     West.--Styles of Architecture.--Monastic Industries.--Mediæval
     Account Books.--Clothing and Food of Monks.--Benedictine
     Rule.--Dissolution of Abbey.--Bishop Thirlby.--Bishop
     Wren.--Bishop Gunning.--Bishop Turner.

The fact that Ely had been made a Bishop's See did not prevent her
from remaining a monastery, the home of busy monks, living in
refinement and cleanliness according to the Benedictine Rule. Year by
year they beautified their Abbey Church; the western tower rose stage
by stage till it became, as it still continues to be, a landmark for
the surrounding plain. During the episcopate of Eustace, lasting from
1198 till 1215, the western porch, known as the Galilee, came into

The year of his death was disastrous for Ely. It was then raided by a
horde of foreign mercenaries, hired by King John to support him
against the Barons; they robbed the Minster of its treasures, and only
on receiving a heavy ransom were they dissuaded from burning it. "When
the Barons" (who were in London, at that time their headquarters)
"heard these things," writes the chronicler, Roger of Wendover, "they
looked one upon the other and said, 'the Lord gave and the Lord hath
taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.'"

Later in the same century a Choir, or Presbytery, of exquisite design
and workmanship, in the Early English style, was thrown out eastward
by Hugh de Northwold, Bishop of Ely from 1229 till 1254. We have heard
already of this prelate, and we must now do more than mention his
name. It was he who had been chosen to take the "toilsome and
perilous" journey to Provence, thence to bring back Eleanor as bride
for Henry the Third, and that weakling monarch turned to him on other
occasions, when in need of a trusty servant.

We read that the Presbytery of Ely Minster was built at the sole
expense of Hugh, Bishop of that place, a special observer of all that
was honourable and good. His hospitality knew no bounds. At the
dedication of his presbytery and other works in the Minster, the King
himself, with his eldest son, Prince Edward, a boy of thirteen, was
present; innumerable prelates and nobles came to Ely, and after a due
observance of spiritual festivities (which included the rededication
of the whole church to St. Peter, St. Mary, and St. Etheldreda), were
regally entertained by the Bishop in the leaden-roofed palace he had
lately built; yet he lamented the small number of the assembled
guests, declaring that the entertainment was in great measure shorn of
its dimensions. He, however, "rejoiced in spirit that by God's favour
he had been allowed to wait for that day, in which he had seen the
happy consummation of all his designs."

This dedication took place in 1252. "Two years later the good bishop
died at his manor at Downham, and his body was carried with much
reverence to Ely, where it was buried in a magnificent Presbytery
which he had founded and built." Such is the witness of Matthew Paris,
a contemporary chronicler. We may mention that the income of the See
of Ely was at this time equivalent to £30,000 a year.

Many years had gone by since the festivities thus described for us,
when Henry and his son again appeared before Ely under very different
circumstances. The Barons who had fought against the King, in their
struggle to secure constitutional liberty, had met with a crushing
defeat at Evesham (1265), where their heroic leader Simon de Montfort
had been slain. Their lands had been virtually, though not nominally,
confiscated, and for this reason they called themselves "the
Disinherited," and gloried in the name. They refused to accept defeat,
and made the Island of Ely their headquarters. In vain did the Bishop,
Hugh de Balsham (the founder of Peterhouse), endeavour to prevent this
occupancy of his domains; his efforts were fruitless, and only brought
upon him the reproaches of the King and many others, who attributed
his misfortunes to his incapacity. The insurgent Barons refused to
quit the Island, and lived on there, supporting themselves by raid and
pillage, as Hereward and his comrades had done of old. We are told
that they entered Cambridge, and carried off abundance of booty; and
that they seized on the persons of Jews and other rich citizens
residing there, and took them back to the island as prisoners, to be
set at liberty only on the payment of a heavy ransom.

The inhabitants of Lynn, then as now the chief seaport of the Fenland,
found these marauding Barons such objectionable neighbours, that they
resolved on an expedition against them. A number of citizens, mostly
of the lower orders, manned a fleet of boats and went up the river
toward Ely. Forewarned of their coming, the insurgent Barons met them
drawn up on the bank, with a great array of standards and banners;
then, feigning terror at the approach of the enemy, they fled inland;
whereupon the men of Lynn, unversed in war and its strategy, landed
intent on pursuit. Suddenly they found themselves surrounded by the
foe; in vain were their efforts to regain their boats; many were slain
by the dauntless Barons, others were made prisoners, while the few who
escaped were received with derision on their return to Lynn.

The Bishop and the burghers of Lynn had failed alike to overcome the
Disinherited; the Papal Legate now tried what he could do, as the
state of affairs in the Fenland was growing desperate. He sent
messengers admonishing the insurgents "to return to their Faith and to
obedience to the Roman Curia, and to unity with Holy Mother Church;
and to cease from robbery and to make reparation." To this, from their
fastness, the Disinherited reply, "that they hold the same Faith as
other Catholic men; that they believe and keep the articles of the
Creed, that they believe in the Gospels, and in the Sacraments of the
Church as the Church Catholic believeth, that they are ready to live
and die for this Faith. They avow further that they do indeed owe
obedience to the Church of Rome as the Head of all Christendom, but
not to the avarice and greed of those who ought to govern it better."

[Illustration: _Ely: The Presbytery._]

They urge that they had been unjustly disinherited by order of the
Legate, and that he ought to make amends to them; that he had been
sent to England to make peace, but that by adhering to the King he
kept up the war: that the Pope had ordered that no one should be
disinherited, but that the King had demanded a ransom equivalent to
disinheritance; that their first oath had been for the benefit of
the kingdom and the whole Church; that they were still ready to die
for it. They asserted, moreover, that many of the partisans of the
King and Prince Edward had committed robberies, feigning that they
belonged to the Disinherited; they insisted that their own lands must
be restored to them, so that they might not be under the necessity of
pillaging. Lastly, they exhort the Legate to recall his sentence;
otherwise they would appeal to the Apostolic See, to a General
Council, and, if needs must, to the Supreme Judge of all (_i.e._, the
God of Battles), "seeing that they fight for the common weal of Church
and Realm."

Such was the daring message that, according to Matthew Paris, issued,
in the year 1267, from the Fenland stronghold. The Bishop and the men
of Lynn had failed to daunt the recusants, and now the Legate had met
with no better success. The following year came the King in person,
along with his valiant son Edward "Longshanks," to try what the Strong
Hand could do; and besieged the island. We can imagine how the father
and son, as they sighted Ely, must have felt the contrast between
their approach this time and their arrival fifteen years before. Then
all was peace and welcome, now it is bitter war. They had Scottish
troops at their command, and by constructing bridges of hurdles and
planks they forced an entrance to the island; and soon the insurgents
had no choice but to yield; some surrendered, while the rest took to
flight. Their cause seemed lost; but in truth it was destined to
triumph, for when Edward the First, six years later, returned as King
from his Crusade, he granted all, and more than all, that the Barons
had asked for, by calling into being England's first representative

Throughout the course of these wars and tumults the House of God at
Ely stood uninjured in beauty and security. But about the opening of
the fourteenth century there appeared cracks in the great Central
Tower. These massive Norman towers were not so strong as they looked,
their piers being not, as they appeared to be, of solid stone, but
only hollow pipes filled in with rubble. It was known that a similar
tower at Winchester had fallen; the same disaster now threatened Ely;
the monks were warned against entering the Abbey Church, and were
bidden to say their office in an ancient chapel adjoining the Chapter

The catastrophe long foreseen came to pass on February 22, 1322. Late
in the evening, as the monks were retiring to their dormitories, "with
such a shock," says the chronicler, "that it was thought an earthquake
had taken place," the tower fell toward the east, crushing the walls
and pillars of the Norman choir. Northwold's presbytery further east
remained unhurt, nor did the shrine of St. Etheldreda behind the high
altar receive any damage. The nave and transepts likewise escaped
injury. No one was killed, for in consequence of the timely warning
the church was deserted.

Providentially the monk at this time in charge of the Cathedral fabric
was an architect of rare genius, the most gifted, probably, that
England has ever produced. For the Sacrist when this calamity befell
was none other than the famous Alan of Walsingham, who was called by
his contemporaries "the flower of craftsmen," and he it was who, in
virtue of his office, was responsible for repairs. In the full vigour
of life, a man of twenty-eight, who had been trained as a goldsmith,
he rose to the occasion, and proved well able to cope with the problem
and task before him.

The chronicler tells us how he "rose up by night and came and stood
over the heap of ruins, not knowing whither to turn. But recovering
his courage, and confident in the help of God and of His kind Mother
Mary, and in the merits of the holy virgin, Etheldreda, he set his
hand to the work." In answer to his prayers, an inspiration came to
him. In place of the square tower that had fallen, he would build one
octagonal in form, with a wider base gained by cutting off the angles
of the transepts and choir, and he would crown it with a lantern of
woodwork. His idea was bold and original, and the lantern-crowned
Octagon of Ely Cathedral as it now stands, a glorious specimen of the
Decorated work of the fourteenth century, still bears witness to the
genius and courage of the young architect who designed and engineered
it, while at the same time he planned the reconstruction of the Norman

With this scheme in his mind, Alan of Walsingham set labourers at once
to remove the huge mass of rubbish, and meantime he sent far and near
to procure timber for the work in hand; while the famous quarries of
Barnack in Northamptonshire supplied him with stone. By 1349, after
twenty-six years of toil, the tower with its lantern of wood was
finished. This wood was covered outside with lead, while within it was
gorgeous with gold and stencilled painting, all the work of the most
skilled hands that could be hired. We are told that the Sacrist
himself provided gold florins to be turned into leaf by "Ralph le
goldbeter." The very names of the workmen employed have an interest
for us, as we read of John Attegrene, the master mason, of William
Shank, the chief decorator, of John of Burwell, the best wood-carver.
Nor must we forget John Hotham, of whom we shall hear more. Being
Bishop at this juncture, he provided funds for the restoration and
beautifying of his cathedral.

King Edward the Third and his well-loved Queen Philippa came down to
see the work, already famous, that was being carried out at Ely. In
honour of her visit the Queen brought her robes of state, embroidered
with "squirrels," first worn at her thanksgiving for the birth of the
Black Prince. These robes she gave to the Prior John of Crauden, to be
made into three copes and other vestments for the clergy. Whether the
ancient cope still preserved at the Deanery can be identified as one
of these is doubtful. It is of rich myrtle-green velvet, worked in
gold thread, silk, and pearls, with plume-like flourishes that might
well suggest the term "squirrels." Along its straight edge there is
laid on a richly embroidered border, representing the Annunciation in
the centre and saints with their emblems on either side. The design of
the border indicates that it belongs to a date somewhat subsequent to
1330, the year when the Black Prince was born; but, seeing that it is
quite separate from the velvet, it must have been added later, and the
main portion of the vestment may actually be part of Queen Philippa's

But we must not suppose that the Ely builders were engaged during
these twenty-six years only on the Octagon Tower and the adjacent
restoration. Almost contemporary with the tower is Prior Crauden's
lovely chapel, built to the south of the Minster from the designs of
Alan of Walsingham, while at the same time, adjoining the
north-eastern transept, there arose the glorious Lady Chapel. The
foundation-stone of this wondrously elaborated edifice was laid in
1321, on Lady Day, by Alan of Walsingham himself; for it was he who,
as architect, designed the building, though the actual carrying out of
the work was committed to John of Wisbech, the Subsacrist of the

The funds were partly supplied by Bishop Montacute (whose premature
death prevented the full completion of the design); partly by "the
alms of the Faithful," or, as we should now say, by public
subscription, and partly from a find of treasure-trove which is thus
picturesquely described by the Abbey chronicler:

     "Now when the aforesaid chapel was in beginning, this Brother
     John had but little money in hand, or laid by, for the
     prosecution of so great a work. He betook himself therefore to
     prayer, and thereafter called his mates together, some being
     monks, some, likewise, seculars. And them he besought to meet at
     a certain hour, and help him in digging out a square trench which
     might serve for the foundation of the whole fabric.

     "At the appointed time, accordingly, they met one night, and
     began to dig, each separately by himself in the place assigned to
     him. Thus it chanced that the aforesaid Brother John was digging,
     all alone by himself, in the place allotted to him. And, by the
     special will, as we verily believe, of God, he found there, not
     one of his mates wotting thereof, a brazen pot full of money, as
     if placed there on purpose to relieve his need.

     "And when the whole night was well nigh spent, in the earliest
     dawn, a small rain came on, to the annoyance of those digging.
     Calling then his mates from their work, he said: 'Brethren mine,
     and fellow labourers, yea, most heartily do I thank you for all
     your long and well-wrought task. And good it is now to pause a
     little after your work. Therefore I commend you to God. And may
     He pay you a full worthy wage for your labour.' But when they
     drew off, he himself remained on the spot all alone, and bare off
     that urn, as secretly as he might, and hid it in the dormitory
     under his own bed. And he took that money, all befouled with rust
     as it was, and cleansed off the rust by rubbing it with chalk and
     water, and paid therefrom, while it lasted, the wages of his

From this account it would seem that this money was not gold, as that
never tarnishes, but silver; probably old Saxon coins hidden at the
time of the Danish sack of Ely. Even in the fourteenth century money
was still largely estimated by weight, without much regard to the
particular coinage; so that these old pennies would still be good

The chapel is surrounded by seats of stone, each with its canopy of
the same material, a veritable dream of artistic design and
workmanship. With its completion, at the close of the year 1348, John
of Wisbech ended his work on earth; a few months later, on June 18th,
1349, he, like many another priest of these eastern counties, fell a
victim to the Black Death, which in some districts slew nine priests
out of ten. He left as his monument this church, a wonderful example
of the latest Decorated work, in its detailed sculpture and all but
Perpendicular windows. It is built of clunch, a local stone that lasts
well for interior use, but perishes somewhat when exposed to the
weather. This was brought by water from Reach, where the great
quarries from which it was hewn may still be seen.

This chapel was built, as its name denotes, in honour of the Virgin;
above and below its canopies stood figures of exquisite grace,
representing, for the most part, scenes from her life as related in
the Apocryphal Gospels and later legends then current. For two hundred
years these sculptures remained intact, till Thomas Goodrich became
Bishop in 1533. He held the See for twenty-one years, and he made it
his business deliberately to deface all this statuary. We may
attribute his action either to his zeal for the extirpation of
Mariolatry, or to his fear lest sacred legend should be confounded
with sacred history. Whatever may have been the actuating motive, his
deeds as an iconoclast remain before our eyes. In October, 1541, he
issued a mandate to the clergy of his diocese, ordering the utter
abolition and destruction of all shrines, images, and relics; and we
find it hard to forgive him for such indiscriminating breakage, even
when we remember how much we owe to him for his admirable setting
forth of our duty to God and to our neighbour preserved to us in the
Catechism of the Church of England. He was also the translator of St.
John's Gospel in the version known as the "Bishop's Bible."

[Illustration: _Ely Lantern._]

With the close of the fourteenth century the development and
beautifying of Ely Minster almost comes to a standstill. She is rich
in Norman, in Early English, in Decorated work; but when Perpendicular
architecture arose, that type peculiar to England, there came a pause
at Ely; and the instances of the Perpendicular style to be met with
here are comparatively unimportant insertions. In Bishop Alcock's
Chapel, built by 1500, we meet with late Perpendicular work; while in
Bishop West's, built about 1525, are traces of the Renaissance
decoration that came in with the revival of classical literature and
art. Such decoration gained hardly any foothold in England, and is
extremely rare within our shores, but on the Continent it swept away
before its inrush many a shrine of earlier date, sparing nothing for
the sake of its associations or antiquity. With Bishop West's Chapel,
the story of growth and development closes. Then came the
Reformation under Henry the Eighth, and we come face to face with the
work of iconoclasts rather than of builders.

Of all English cathedrals Ely perhaps possesses the most complete
series of every style of Gothic architecture; and as the Minster
records and registers relating to the whole period of her construction
have been fortunately preserved, we can date approximately every arch
and window, knowing when it was built, and, in many cases, who was the
builder. Thus Ely provides a key to the dating of all English Gothic
architecture. As we travel through our own country, and on the
Continent, we realise the marvellous solidarity that in those Middle
Ages held Christendom together. Whenever a new architectural
development calculated to promote beauty, strength, or light, came
into being in one Catholic land, it spread without fail to the others,
even to those furthest removed; what was the fashion in Italy, Spain,
or France became the fashion in Scotland, and, so long as the Latin
Kingdom of Jerusalem endured, even in the Holy Land; where the
Crusaders built most diligently, as the yet surviving ruins of their
churches and castles abundantly demonstrate, even to the present day.

But with the development of the Perpendicular style, about the year
1375, England began to strike out a line of her own. Buildings of this
insular type arose, year by year, all over our land, but it never came
into vogue on the Continent, where the more floreated styles of
architecture, known as Flamboyant, became prevalent; while in England
there was a reaction in the opposite direction in favour of less
ornate tracery.

Roughly speaking we may say that mediæval architecture in England
occupied four periods:

Norman architecture prevailed from 1075 to 1175;

Early English from 1175 to 1275;

Decorated from 1275 to 1375;

Perpendicular from 1375 till stopped by the Reformation.

In a careful study of the history of Ely Cathedral we shall find a
confirmation of these dates.

Let us, for instance, stand outside the Minster at the east end, and
we shall have before our eyes specimens of all these four great styles
of Gothic architecture. We can see early Norman work in the transepts
begun under Simeon, who was Abbot from 1081 to 1093. If we direct our
attention to the east window with its lancet-shaped lights, built by
Hugh de Northwold, Bishop from 1229 to 1254, we shall gain an idea of
the exquisite grace and beauty of Early English architecture. In the
windows of the Lady Chapel, constructed under John Hotham, Bishop from
1316 to 1337, we see Decorated work, with its branching tracery, at
its culminating point; while in the chapel built by Bishop West, who
filled the See of Ely from 1515 to 1533, on the south side of the east
window, we have an instance of Perpendicular tracery, with its
characteristic upright shafts running straight from the top to the
bottom of the window. Comparing the table given above with the dates
at which the work before us is known to have been carried out, we
shall find it confirmed, and we may gain much by letting it be well
impressed on our minds.

At Ely one feature of beauty is lamentably absent, namely stained
glass contemporary with the building. In the Cathedrals of York and
Lincoln much ancient glass survives, while remnants exist in many
village churches; but at Ely, once no less richly be-jewelled, nearly
all has been swept away. There is no record of its destruction, which
may have taken place under the unsparing hand of Bishop Goodrich, or a
century later, it may be, during the Civil Wars. We are the losers,
and we can hardly feel that our loss is made good by the coloured
glass with which during the last hundred years many of the windows
have been refilled, though here and there fine modern glass sheds its
glow on the grey stonework around.

Yet as we walk round this glorious Minster, surveying it whether from
within or from without, the feeling uppermost in our minds is rather
one of thankfulness that so much has been spared than of indignation
that so much has been destroyed. We can understand what the
poet-philosopher Coleridge meant when he spoke of Gothic architecture
as "Infinity made imaginable"; and we may enter into the feelings of
the peasant woman who, in simpler language, expressed the same idea,
when after her visit to Ely Minster she remarked, "That Cathedral is
like a little Heaven below; everybody should see it, both rich and

We have now come to the end of the story of the building of Ely
Minster; her Bishops and Deans have since then had enough to do in
keeping her stonework in repair without adding to it; and this work of
restoration has been carried on from century to century with real, if
sometimes misguided, devotion. Originators have had their day; the
repairer is now in possession.

Great as were the architectural achievements of the seventy monks of
Ely, we must not suppose that all their time went in superintending
such work. We do not know, indeed, whether they did much of it with
their own hands at all. We have, it is true, seen John of Wisbech, the
builder of the glorious Lady Chapel, himself digging out the
foundations with his mates; but on the other hand we are told how
skilled artisans from a distance were hired to undertake the more
delicate work in completing the lantern. That the Brethren spent much
time in writing we have abundant proof. Our own familiar word _ink_ is
a standing testimony to their industry in this respect, being derived
from _inc._, the abbreviation universally used in the Abbey account
books for _incaustum_, the Latin word for their writing fluid.

In the reign of William Rufus, that monarch's Commissioners came to
Ely, and carried off 300 volumes from the Abbey library, besides all
the Service books; and we need hardly doubt that most of these books,
if not all, had been copied on the spot. One beautifully written
Breviary from Ely is still to be seen in the University Library at
Cambridge. It is of the fourteenth century.

The monks and Bishops were, moreover, constructors of bridges, of
roads, and of causeways; they made new ones, they restored the old;
and they were licensed to exact tolls for the upkeep of their work. In
1480 Bishop Morton led the way towards the draining of the Fens, by
cutting the great drain, forty feet across, extending twelve miles,
from Peterborough to Guyhirn, and still known as Morton's Leam. The
Bishops also built numerous episcopal residences. Among others, Ely
Place in Holborn, a castle at Wisbech, palaces at Somersham and
Downham, manor houses at Doddington, at Fen Ditton, at Hatfield, were
erected as the centuries slipped by; and seeing that the Bishops were
also Abbots of Ely, we may believe that the monks did their part in
carrying out episcopal work.

Ely possesses a unique record of her early days in her celebrated
Liber Eliensis, a folio volume of 189 leaves of vellum, ten and
a-half inches by seven and a-half, begun by Thomas, a monk of the
convent, who lived about the close of the twelfth century, and
professing to give the history of the monastery from its foundation up
to his own day. Two copies of this manuscript are known to exist,
bearing witness to the industry of the monks as scribes, while others
have doubtless perished. The monks of Ely, moreover, wrote the
Episcopal Rolls and Registers with the utmost care; these are still
preserved with their entries as to the expenditure of money, as to
ordinations, as to the granting of indulgences, as to appeals to the
Pope, all kept with scrupulous exactitude.

Ely is rich, moreover, beyond most foundations, in other written
records of her past; and these are preserved, some in the Cathedral
library, some in the muniment room of the dean and chapter forming
part of the restored "Steeple" or "Sextry" gateway, some in the
library of Lambeth Palace, some in the British Museum. The existing
rolls, or account books, kept by the chief officers of the monastery,
number 288 in all, and give us full and clear detail as to what was
spent not only on the building, the alms, and the services of the
Abbey Church, but also on the food, the wine, the clothing, and the
medicine of the monks. One item of medicine is "dragon's blood," one
of food is "blankmang, a mixture of rice and almonds."

The following summary from the Chamberlain's Roll, recounting what was
the cost of clothing a monk, will show us that he was expected to
dress with dignity and comfort. The clothing of an Ely monk was really
a very serious item of expenditure. A monk, like the parson of a
church, was in England _ex officio_ a gentleman; and his maintenance
cost his convent the equivalent of £200 per annum (in the present
value of money).[214] Of this sum at least a fourth went in clothing,
which, as compared with food, was much dearer then than now. The
account books still preserved at Ely give us the items. Each monk
received annually the following garments (for which we give the value
at the present rate of money):

                                  £   _s._  _d._

  1 Cowl                          1    0     0
  1 Monk's Frock                  5   10     0
  1 Pellice[215]                  3    0     0
  1 Winter coat                   4   10     0
  1 Summer ditto                  4    5     0
  1 Shirt (?)                     2    5     0
  1 Pair of linen drawers         3    0     0
  2 Pair boots[216]               2    5     0
  1 Pair Gaiters and Slippers     1    5     0
  1 "Wilkok"[217]                     10     0
  1 Counterpane                   4   10     0
  1 Coverlet                      2    0     0
  1 Blanket[218]                      12     6

[Footnote 214: We find the monks complaining that the £300 a year
(equivalent to £9,000 now), to which the Abbey income sank in the
twelfth century would barely support forty monks. The best working
standard by which to ascertain how much money is worth in any given
age is the current day-wage of a labourer. In the fourteenth century
this was 1_d._; it is now 2_s._ 6_d._ Therefore money went thirty
times as far then as now.]

[Footnote 215: This was a cassock lined with wool. The word _surplice_
is derived from it, being an alb roomy enough to wear over a pellice.]

[Footnote 216: The boots were of soft leather rising nearly to the

[Footnote 217: This was probably the head-covering which the monks of
Ely wore, by special licence from the Pope, "on account of the windy
situation of their church." The name may survive in our modern

[Footnote 218: The blanket was 3-1/2 yards long, as blankets are

This was in the year 1334,[219] and is a fair average specimen of the
cost, which varied very little from year to year. Readers of Chaucer
will remember how comfortably, and even luxuriously, he represents his
monk in the Canterbury Tales as being dressed. The old garments of the
monks were, at the end of the year, returned to the Camerarius for
distribution amongst the poor.

[Footnote 219: It is given by Bishop Stubbs, in his _Historical
Memorials of Ely_.]

Each monk had to enter the convent provided with a pair of blankets,
garments of all kinds, bedding, towels, a bag for clothes for the
wash, a furred tunic, day and night boots, a silver spoon, and many
other articles. The novices had tablets hung round their necks on
which to write in pencil each breach of the rule as it was committed
lest it should be forgotten in the public confession of such formal
transgressions which every brother had to make at the daily Chapter.
These youths had also each to carry, in a pouch provided for the
purpose, a knife, a comb, a needle, and some thread.

A complete set of Cellerarius Rolls is preserved at Ely, and these
give a full account of the food in use in the monastery, with details
as to its cost; and it appears to have been both wholesome and
plentiful. Beef, mutton, venison, bacon, fowls, fish, butter,
vegetables, rice, and sugar were provided, and bread of five different
qualities. No less than 2,450 eggs were required for a single week's
consumption. There was an ample allowance of milk; but the principal
drink was beer, made in the brewhouse bequeathed to the convent by
Bishop Hugh de Balsham, and supplied, like the bread, in five
different qualities, the most inferior being known as "Skegman." All
the food was in charge of the Cellerarius and Granatarius, themselves
brethren of the monastery. The latter functionary was responsible for
the bread and the beer, as being both made from grain. Wine was only
produced at special festivals, and was almost wholly imported from
Bordeaux, Oporto, or Xeres in Andalusia; a trade still recorded in our
current words "port" and "sherry." For though vineyards were common in
mediæval England (and notably at Ely, as the epitaph to Alan of
Walsingham reminds us), yet they very seldom produced drinkable wine,
and practically existed only to supply vinegar, a condiment much in
use for rendering dry fish less unpalatable.

The Benedictine Rule was strict in itself. The day began at 2 a.m.,
when every monk had to leave his bed for Mattins and Lauds, a Service
occupying two hours. Then came an hour during which he might return to
his bed,[220] to be waked again at 5 a.m., for Prime and Terce.[221]
Then followed the daily Chapter Meeting, when the work of the coming
day was apportioned, and the faults of the past day rebuked. This
ended, all had to attend Low Mass, and at eight o'clock High Mass,
which was over by ten. Then, and not till then, the monks partook of
the first meal of the day. For this they repaired to the refectory,
and on entering they paused and saluted with a profound bow the
crucifix, hanging over the High Table, and known to them as the
"Majestas." (This title was due to the phrase in the familiar hymn,
_Vexilla Regis_, "God reigneth from the tree."[222]) Their food was
eaten in silence while portions of Scripture were read aloud by one
of the brethren. He was bound to prepare this reading carefully, and
was directed to avoid all hurry, and to repeat any passage of special
note, in order that it might make the deeper impression on his
hearers. After this came study in the Cloisters, varied by a stroll in
the Burial Ground for meditation on mortality. At 3 p.m. they went
again to the church, to sing Vespers; at 5 p.m. came supper with the
same accompaniment as the morning meal; Compline followed; and then it
was bed-time. On some occasions the Rule was relaxed and the monks
were allowed to take part in quiet games, particularly at

[Footnote 220: The beds were stuffed with hay, which the Camerarius
was bound to change once a year, at the annual cleaning of the

[Footnote 221: The remaining "Short" Offices were probably said, Sext
after High Mass, and Nones at mid-day (whence our word Noon).]

[Footnote 222: In this earliest type of crucifix Christ was royally
crowned and robed (as in the famous _Volto Santo_ at Lucca). See p.

Once in six weeks each monk had to undergo the _Minutio sanguinis_, or
blood-letting, supposed in those days to conduce to health; and this
drove him into the infirmary, where he had to spend about a week along
with a batch of his brethren undergoing the same treatment. This
custom, which sounds to us so unreasonable, tended at least to break
the monotony of monastic life. Those who could stand it all, and gain
good by it, must have been men of iron both in mind and body.

Such was the discipline through which those men had to pass who built
Ely Minster, and dwelt and worshipped there for close upon nine
hundred years. The "Liber Eliensis" tells us "There was one Rule for
all; the chief requirement was obedience, love of sacred worship, and
a full resolve to maintain the honour of God's House." In words that
form part of their Rule, they could say "We believe that the Divine
Presence exists everywhere, but above all when we attend Divine

In the year 1539 the Monastery was dissolved by Henry the Eighth, and
reconstituted as a Chapter of Dean and Canons. As we read this the
question forces itself upon our minds "What became of the monks thus
disbanded?" At Ely the monastery could, it is true, hold seventy
monks, but the full roll were seldom, if ever, in residence at one
time. After the Black Death (in 1349) the number fell to twenty-eight;
and in the year 1532, seven years before the monastery was dissolved,
there were only thirty-six monks on the spot, besides the Prior.
Father Gasquet, a most diligent searcher into the history of that
time, allows that, in spite of all his labour, "hardly any detail of
the subsequent lives of those ejected from the dismantled cloisters of
England is known to exist." It is, however, recorded that three of the
Ely monks, being noted as good choir men, received a pension of £8 a
year (equivalent to about £80 now) besides an office. But such traces
are scanty indeed; some monks who were priests were appointed to the
cure of souls; others lived on the pensions allotted to them which
were usually equivalent to about £50 a year, paid as a rule fairly and
punctually; some received on quitting the monastery a grant of money;
we hear that one band of monks went out into the world each with a sum
of twenty-six shillings and eightpence in his pocket (barely £15 at
the present value of money). Such was the fate of the inmates of the
Abbeys that submitted to the demands of the King, as did Ely under
Goodrich, the last of the Abbots. Where "voluntary surrender" was
refused, as it was by the Abbots of Glastonbury, Reading, Jervaulx,
and other Houses, on the ground that their monastery was "not theirs
to give," the monks were turned adrift without any provision
whatsoever for the future. Some fled to the Continent, others to
Scotland, while many died as the natural result of a sudden change in
their mode of life combined with privation and distress.

It is nearly four hundred years since all these changes befell Ely.
Many devoted men have during these long years filled the See, men of
mettle, of learning and piety. Among others we may mention Thomas
Thirlby, Bishop from 1554-1559 during the reign of Mary Tudor, who was
deposed under Elizabeth on refusing to take the oath of the royal
supremacy, "having declared that he would sooner die than consent to a
change of religion." For this he was imprisoned in the Tower for three
years, till a visitation of the plague led to his being sent from the
infected air of London to the purer atmosphere of Canterbury, as the
prisoner-guest of Archbishop Parker, under whose charge he remained
for seven years. His imprisonment does not appear to have been
rigorous, as far as physical comfort was concerned; but, with the
illiberality universal in those days, he was denied the consolations
of his religion; he might neither say nor hear Mass, he might read no
books except Protestant ones; he might write no letters, nor even
converse with anyone save under strict supervision. At Lambeth Palace
lodging was provided for him, till he died in the summer of 1570, and
was buried in the adjoining Parish Church.

In the reign of James the First, from 1609-1619, Ely had as her Bishop
Lancelot Andrewes, whose well-known Book of Devotions bears witness to
his piety. That he was also a man of culture is evident by his being
chosen to be one of the translators of the Bible.

In Matthew Wren, who was Bishop of Ely for twenty-nine years, from
1638-1667, we meet with another prisoner for his faith. Bishop Wren
was anti-puritan in his aims; throughout his diocese his influence was
exercised in favour of the re-introduction of reverent ceremonial in
public worship; and for this he was sent to the Tower, where he
remained for eighteen years, till the Restoration set him free and
brought him back once more to his well-loved Cathedral.

He died in 1667, and by his own wish was buried in the chapel of
Pembroke College, Cambridge, which he had built as a thankoffering for
his release from prison--(that prison which his friend Archbishop Laud
had left only for the scaffold); his nephew, the famous Christopher
Wren, being engaged as architect. Thirty years before, he had, while
Master of Peterhouse, built from his own designs the chapel of that
college. The two chapels still face each other across the Cambridge
street in strange contrast. The earlier one betokens an effort to
restore Gothic architecture; the later shows that classical ideals
had, for the time being at least, won the day.

Peter Gunning, who was Bishop of Ely for eight years, from 1675 to
1683, had likewise faced imprisonment for the sake of his religion. As
vicar of the church of St. Mary the Less at Cambridge, and later at
Tunbridge, while on a visit to his mother, he preached sermons in
support of King Charles the First and in defence of the Church of
England, which excited against him the resentment of the prevailing
faction and led to his imprisonment. But before long he regained his
liberty and returned to Cambridge, where, on his refusing to subscribe
the Covenant, he was deprived of the Fellowship he held at Clare Hall.
He then sought refuge with the King at Oxford; and on the surrender of
that city to the Parliamentary forces betook himself to London, where
his use of the English Liturgy, and the sermons preached by him in the
Exeter House Chapel, drew down upon him the censure of Cromwell in
person. At the Restoration he was given posts of high responsibility.
He was called upon to assist at the Savoy Conference in the
remodelling of the Book of Common Prayer, in which the "Prayer for all
sorts and conditions of men," compiled by him, took its place. At
Cambridge he held successively within the next ten years the
Masterships of St. John's and of Corpus Christi, and was also
successively the Lady Margaret and the Regius Professor of Divinity;
he was appointed to the See of Chichester in 1670, and in 1675 was
translated to Ely, where, after eight years, he died. It is recorded
of him that in 1678 he had the courage to raise in the House of Lords,
where he sat as Bishop of Ely, a strong protest against the shameful
Test Act, which imposed upon all civil servants of the Crown, all
officers, both in army and navy, all professional men, lawyers,
doctors, and teachers of every grade, that odious formula, the
so-called Royal Declaration, an age-long source of bitterness, now,
happily, at last, no longer Royal.

Francis Turner likewise, who held the See from 1684 till 1691, was yet
another Bishop of Ely who suffered for his principles. He was one of
the famous seven bishops committed to the Tower in 1688 for refusing
to promulgate James the Second's Declaration of Indulgence, which they
regarded as an unjustifiable stretch of the royal prerogative; and
later he was deprived of his bishopric for declining, as a non-juror,
to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, whom he considered
to be usurpers of the royal dignity; showing thus (as Sir Walter Scott
puts it) that while he could, in the interests of what he held to be
justice, resist his sovereign, even in the plenitude of his power,
like a free-born subject, so he would at all sacrifices maintain what
he believed to be his king's legitimate rights, even in the depths of
his adversity, like a loyal one.

[Footnote 223: See page 274.]


     Approach to Ely.--The Park.--Walpole Gate.--Crauden
     Chapel.--Western Tower,
     Door.--Cloisters.--Owen's Cross--Octagon.--Alan's
     Grave.--Transepts.--St. Edmund's Chapel.--Choir
     Stalls.--Presbytery.--Norman Piers.--Reredos.--Candlesticks.

The foregoing pages have taught us something of the history of Ely
Cathedral, of the men and women who have loved it and worked for it;
of those who have defaced and pillaged it; of the wars and revolutions
that have surged around it. Now we propose to visit it, and to see for
ourselves the very stones which, though silent, can speak to us;
hoping to be favoured with a fine day, that we may be able to study
the Minster advantageously from without as well as from within. And
let us come provided with a glass, for much of the best carved work is
high above our heads.

It may be unenterprising to come to Ely by rail; but yet there is no
approach that can give us a finer impression of the Minster than we
gain by our first view of it from the train, whether we arrive from
the north or from the south. In either case we have been travelling
over flat dull country, when suddenly there stands up before our eyes
the "stately fane" of which we have heard so much, and our first
impulse is to show her some token of reverence. We take a good look at
the pile of building before us, and we resolve not to forget our first
sight of this our new friend. Well did the quaint historian, Thomas
Fuller, write of Ely Minster in 1660, "This presenteth itself afar off
to the eye of the traveller, and on all sides, at great distance, not
only maketh a promise, but giveth earnest of the beauty thereof."

Leaving Ely station, our best course will be to walk toward the
Cathedral, taking the second turn to the right. This brings us into a
commonplace street; where, however, we should notice on our right a
row of thatched cottages, with their overhanging upper storeys, that
have survived from olden days. Just opposite these cottages is an iron
gateway which invites us into the Cathedral "Park," an undulating
piece of ground some sixteen acres in extent grazed by cattle and
sheep, its highest point being an artificial mound, now densely
clothed with trees, called Cherry Hill. An award of the seventeenth
century speaks of it as Mill Hill, an early print shows it topped by a
windmill; so here, doubtless, stood the windmill of the Monastery,
mentioned in the epitaph on Alan of Walsingham as one of the four
wonders of Ely due to his genius (the others being the Lantern, the
Lady Chapel, and the Abbey vineyard). The place of the mill (which
itself superseded the Norman keep built on this eminence by William
the Conqueror) is now occupied by a monument in memory of Bentham, the
historian of the Abbey of Ely, who wrote in the eighteenth century.

Grassy hillocks rise between us and the cathedral; and we gain an
impression as of some great ship riding majestically over ocean
billows. The church, indeed, is actually about the size of a large
liner, and the green swells of the park are not unlike in magnitude to
those of the Atlantic. Turner's painting of Ely Minster gives this
same ship-like impression of the place, thus embodying the history of
this wondrous pile. It has in truth weathered many a tempest, has been
wrecked and built afresh, has sunk and been restored, and is preserved
for us still as a holy and classic House of God.

The first of the Abbey buildings that we come to on our walk is the
tithe barn with its tiled roof, one of the largest in England,
constructed in mediæval days, with no architectural beauty, yet with a
dignity of its own. It still bears witness to a financial state of
affairs, when rent was paid in kind, far removed from that which now
exists, since the commuting of tithes for payment in cash.

Leaving this barn on our left, we find ourselves in front of a massive
gatehouse, known as the "Ely Porta" or "Walpole Gate." It was begun
about 1396, and finished under Prior William Walpole, whose name still
clings to it. This gatehouse has been used for various purposes, for
a chapel, for a prison, for a brewery. To-day it serves as the chief
schoolroom of the "King's School," which represents the famous Choir
School where Edward the Confessor was educated. His coat of arms, a
cross and five martlets, is carved accordingly on the northern
hood-moulding of the gateway, those of the See of Ely on the other
side. It was never finished according to the original design; the
money of the Abbey being needed for other matters, of which one was a
tedious lawsuit relating to the Bishop's jurisdiction.

We will not pass through the gateway yet; but, again turning to the
right, follow the alley that leads us toward the cathedral itself. We
will stop first at Prior Crauden's Chapel, a small upper room with a
vaulted chamber beneath it. Passing through a narrow doorway, we climb
a spiral staircase which brings us into the little Sanctuary, built by
Prior Crauden, from the designs of his friend Alan of Walsingham, for
his own private use. The Abbey records speak of him in monkish Latin
as follows "Brother John of Crauden ruled the convent as a peaceable
shepherd, and was beloved by God and man; may his memory be held
blessed for ever. Adjoining the Priory he built a chapel of wondrous
beauty, where he might worship God in prayer and praise. Hither did he
resort by night and day for spiritual meditation, unless prevented by
sickness; here he would commend to God, himself, his Church and all
that concerned the Church. His face and his form were goodly to
behold." Let us picture him to ourselves at his devotions in this tiny
chapel--it only measures 31 feet by 15 feet--a very gem of Decorated
architecture; and from the delicate leaf-like tracery around us, let
us learn what to expect when we reach the Minster itself, which
abounds in the work of this period. The contemporary mosaic pavement,
representing Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, is specially
noteworthy. So is also the dim fresco of daisies and trefoils, as
delicate in design as it is true to nature, still visible on the
southern wall.

[Illustration: _Prior Crauden's Chapel._]

John of Crauden held the office of Sacrist from 1321 till 1341, while
John Hotham was Bishop. On the Bishop's death, in 1337, the monks of
Ely unanimously elected Prior Crauden to succeed him, as being a man
of marked piety and generosity; but the Pope annulled this election,
and Simon de Montacute became Bishop. We are not told how the
saintly prior took this rebuff; we may believe he bore it with a grace
reflected from or by the chapel that he had built. Not only was he a
builder and a man of piety; he was also a promoter of education;
providing an endowment for the maintenance of three or four young
monks in the then yet youthful University of Cambridge. For
generations this chapel was partitioned into three rooms and belonged
to the adjoining house. It has been restored of late years for
devotional use, and here the boys of the King's Grammar School attend
daily Mattins and Evensong.

The Canon's residence which adjoins the chapel was once the Priory,
and is attached to the professorship of Hebrew at Cambridge. Here
Prior Crauden entertained Queen Philippa, when she visited Ely with
her husband, Edward the Third. Further on we see the Deanery, built of
old as the dining-hall of the Abbey. Adjacent to it is the "Fair
Hall," designed for great receptions, now the residence of the Head
Master of the King's School.

Retracing our steps, we have on our right ancient buildings at present
used by the boys of the same school; beyond them we reach again the
Ely Porta; and this time we pass through it to find ourselves in a
side street of the little city, along which run the station omnibuses.
Opposite the gateway is a modern building, "Hereward Hall," occupied
by the King's Scholars; while the dignified Chamber of the Ely Porta
is also at their service in school hours. Turning to the right we
follow the street, here styled "the Gallery," and we make straight for
the cathedral. On our left is the wall of the Palace garden, and,
showing well above, we see its splendid plane tree, planted in 1639,
and said to be the finest in England.

Now we are actually approaching the western tower and the
south-western transept of the cathedral; and these we may take as an
object lesson. Ely, like Rome, was not built in a day, and it took
centuries to complete its tower. Begun during the latter half of the
twelfth century, the lower part is of late Norman work, with round
arches and bold simple mouldings; but the architect and workmen who
built these passed away, and their work had to be continued by the
hands of others on whom had dawned the beauty of pointed arches. These
later builders were not to be tied down by what they felt to be the
crude ideas of former generations; and we see the workmanship of the
tower and transept, stage above stage bearing evidence of growth, till
through the Early English period it has passed into a narrowed
octagonal tower with windows of Decorated tracery. There is a
delicious harmony in it all; in the intricacy of the masonry, in the
very colour of the stone; and we admire those builders of yore who,
while respecting the work of their forefathers, did not hesitate to
deal with their material according to their own fuller light and
skill. Perhaps we shall doubt as to calling the topmost octagonal
tower wholly in keeping with the base of the steeple; yet if we had
the power we should not have the wish to alter it.

It is well that we should realise how much the preservation of this
stately steeple has cost. Ever since the central tower fell in 1322,
sacrists, priors, monks, bishops, deans, have lived in constant terror
lest what had befallen the central might also befall the western
tower. We can read how they have braced it with iron and wood, how
they have weighted it with bells; how they have lightened it by
removing its wooden spire, how they have buttressed it, how they have
plastered it. Century after century they have continued the repairs,
sometimes making mistakes, but never asking the question, fatal to all
good work, "Is it worth while?" There it stands, surveying its vast
plain for thirty miles around, with its air of unbroken security.

Jutting out from the tower, westward, is the so-called Galilee Porch.
It is conjectured that it was so named because, as Galilee was the
district of the Holy Land furthest from Jerusalem, so this western
porch was the part of the sacred building farthest from the High
Altar. Much doubt exists as to the date of this porch. It is commonly
said to have been built under Bishop Eustace, who died in 1215; but
some authorities hold that it belongs to a somewhat later period, when
the style in which it is built had fully developed. Probably it dates
from the close of his episcopate. Anyhow, it is a beautiful specimen
of that Early English work of which we shall see so much more before
we leave the Cathedral. Its walls are thicker than needful if the
porch alone were to be considered, and it is thought that it was built
thus massively with a view to acting as a buttress to the tower, which
needed support. Over the porch is a parvise chamber, now disused; it
may in early days have served to accommodate musicians, or as a place
of sanctuary for criminals fleeing from justice. During the eighteenth
century the Galilee narrowly escaped demolition; for Essex, who was
architect to the Chapter of Ely, advised that it should be pulled down
as being of no use, and in a condition too ruinous to admit of repair.
Happily his counsel was rejected, and the Galilee still stands to
gladden our eyes with its beauty.

From the Galilee we step into the nave. To attempt any description of
the view before us would be futile; when we say that we are "uplifted"
by it we have expressed in one word all that we dare to formulate. By
moonlight, when the minster is empty; or on some day of Choral
Festival, when arch and pillar echo back the music, this wondrous
fabric, hallowed and mellowed by time, says to us, with a voice almost
audible, "Sursum corda!" "The place whereon thou standest is holy

The nave in which we are standing is wholly Norman in its
architecture; its pillars, alternately clustered and cylindrical,
support round arches; these again support the round-headed double
arches of the triforium, and these yet again the triple lights of the
clerestory windows, three tiers in all. The arches are somewhat
stilted, starting with a straight line, and are rather higher than
semi-circular. All this severe architecture of Norman type leads on,
as it were, to the more delicate tracery and moulding of the Early
English lancet lights of the east window.

It seems almost paradoxical to say that the western arches as we see
them are of more recent date than the tower which they support; yet
this statement is true, for they were constructed in the fifteenth
century to strengthen the steeple built more than two hundred years
before. The more ancient masonry is for the most part completely
hidden by the newer, but the tops of the original archways remain in
full view to show how much they have been contracted by this encasing
stonework. During the previous century six bells had been hung in the
steeple; moreover, the eight-sided turret had been built on the top of
it, and all this additional weight must inevitably have led to the
fall of the whole, but for the strengthening and underpinning of the

[Illustration: _South Aisle of the Nave, Ely._]

Over the westernmost archway is a modern window inserted by Bishop
Yorke toward the close of the eighteenth century, noteworthy only for
its Flemish glass. In the lower southern light we see St. John the
Evangelist playing with a partridge, illustrative of the legend which
relates how his disciples found him, as an aged man, thus engaged,
and how, in answer to their expression of surprise at this unwonted
relaxation, he remarked to them "A bow cannot be kept always strung."
Strange to say, this story, which would seem specially fitted to call
forth the painter's gifts, is almost unknown to art.

Through the southern of these archways we step into the western
transept, the Baptistery of the cathedral, where stands a font of
modern date. Here to the east is the apsidal chapel known as St.
Catharine's. All tracery and ornament around us is still strictly
Norman in character, and zigzag moulding prevails; but we can see here
how the round arched stone-work, as it intersects, forms graceful
lancets, thus suggesting the pointed or two centred arch; and when
once the architect's eye had caught its beauty, he refused to let his
compass trace out the simpler one-centred arch of the Norman period,
and Early English architecture came in with a rush.

St. Catharine's Chapel is used daily by the students of the Ely
Theological College, and a beautiful altar of alabaster and jasper,
placed here in 1896, harmonises, in its character of dignity and
permanence, with the Norman stonework around. The apse in which it
stands is a modern restoration, having been for many years a ruin;
indeed the whole of this western transept was for long cut off from
the Tower by a wall of stud and plaster, and served as a workshop and
lumber-room, where materials for use in the repairs of the Cathedral
could be stored, till Dean Peacock set himself in 1842 to remedy this
condition of things. It is now one of the most romantic corners of the

We return to the Tower, and pause for a moment to notice "the
Maze"[224] inlaid in marble in the pavement. From this quaint design
at our feet we turn to look at the roof of the nave over our heads,
painted with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The western end
is the work of Mr. Le Strange, who died in 1864, before his work of
love was completed. Happily it was continued and finished by Mr.
Gambier Parry, as devoted a lover of the Church and of art, a personal
friend of Harvey Goodwin, who was Dean at the time, and at whose
request the artist undertook the arduous task of roof-painting. A
slight change in the character of the designs shows where one painter
ended his work and the other took it up.

[Footnote 224: This is a wholly modern device. Mediæval mazes are
common in Continental churches; but none are found in England.]

These over-head paintings take us from the Creation of Man and his
fall, through the old Testament up to the Annunciation and Nativity,
in a series of scenes instructively thought out; while Patriarchs and
Prophets lead on to the Evangelists. Some part of the design is said
to be due to a visit paid by Mr. Le Strange, on the advice of Sir
Gilbert Scott, to the Church of Hildesheim in Hanover, where there
existed a then untouched painted ceiling of mediæval date; but in the
main it was his own conception.

Let us next turn aside into the southern aisle to look at the "Prior's
Door." If we find it locked we can get it opened by asking one of the
vergers to let us go through it. We shall thus obtain a sight of its
outer mouldings; bold and fantastic, yet withal dignified and
graceful, executed about the year 1180, and due, it may be, to some
Masonic Company that had handed on its traditions from east to west,
generation after generation; perhaps to members of that "Comacine
Guild" that had its headquarters on an island in Lake Como, where its
members had taken refuge from the Gothic invaders of Italy. In the
tympanum, within a vesica shaped panel, is sculptured our Lord in
Glory, holding in His left hand a book and a cross, while the right is
raised in the act of blessing. On the door-posts are carved designs
somewhat grotesque, suggesting the Signs of the Zodiac, and the course
of human life.

This unique doorway opens into the garden of the Deanery, where once
stood the Cloisters. In the walls that bound it, traces of the
cloister windows still remain, now filled in with brickwork. The
garden has its own especial charm, in its gay borders and pleasant
paths; but when we picture what once it was, when we recall the
cloisters we have perhaps ourselves seen, at Westminster, at
Salisbury, at Gloucester, at Chester, we cannot but feel this
walled-in garden, attractive though it is, a place of ruin. Beyond
almost any other abbey where the church still stands, Ely has been
robbed of her cloisters. They once ran round this garden, the southern
wall of the nave forming one side, the whole being thus sheltered from
the northern wind, while catching all the warmth and light of the
sun. Traces are still left in the masonry, proving that Norman
cloisters once existed here, but that these were removed and replaced
during the fifteenth century.

Could we have passed through this ornate doorway while the cloisters
were still in use, what should we have met with in this "haunt of
ancient peace"? We should have entered a covered cloister forming a
square, with each side approximately one hundred and forty feet
long,[225] its windows opening into the well-turfed cloister garth.
Low-recessed archways in the cathedral wall, facing south (one of
which still exists), would hold a set of aumbries or cupboards
containing a good library of books of reference, the works of the
great doctors of the church, and of profane authors as well. Of such
books there was an ample and well-replenished store, for Bishop Nigel
had, towards the close of the twelfth century, bequeathed certain
tithes to provide for the "making and repairing of books" at Ely, and
this bequest would doubtless be spent on books for purposes of study
in the cloister, as well as for use in church. Opposite to these
aumbries we should see a row of carrells, or wainscoted cells, under
the windows, each holding a desk fitted up suitably for reading and
writing, large enough for the use of one monk, and there we should see
him in his black Benedictine robes seated at his work. Through his bit
of the window, if his eye wandered from his books, he could look out
on the pleasant plot of enclosed grass, and see the other three sides
of the cloister. During the fifteenth century glass came into use in
the cloister windows, chiefly on the side next the church, where most
of the writing and reading was done. It would appear that the
cloisters were not only used for study but served also as a
school-room, where novices and choir boys received instruction; and
the part chiefly dedicated to study was the northern side, close to
the bookcases. The Cloister, we must remember, was the centre of
monastic life, giving its very name to the calling of a monk, for here
the brethren spent their working hours.

[Footnote 225: This was the average length in the larger abbeys,
notably surpassed only by the splendid dimensions of Glastonbury,
where the cloisters were a square of 221 feet on each side.]

We shiver at the very thought of the cold that life in the cloister
must have entailed. We hear of a scribe whose hands were so paralysed
by cold that he had to delay finishing his copy of the works of Bede;
one author had to lay aside his writing for the winter till spring
should return. No attempt was made to heat the cloisters, but in
mid-winter a single fire was kept burning in a room called the
"_calefactorium_" where the brethren might go in turn to warm
themselves. We speak of life in the open air as an idea of modern
days; in truth it had been forestalled by the monks of old. The
cloisters were lighted by lamps fed with grease from the kitchen, and
the candles used were of rush-pith dipped in the same.

Silence was maintained in the cloister, and the monks used signs
instead of words when asking for a book. Strict rules were laid down
as to the keeping clean and putting back of books. One Benedictine
writer adds to his manuscript the following note: "Whoever pursues his
studies in this book should be careful to handle the leaves gently and
delicately, so as to avoid tearing them; and let him imitate the
example of Jesus Christ who, when he had quietly opened the book of
Isaiah and read therein attentively, closed it with reverence and gave
it again to the minister." The lending of books was counted as one of
the principal works of mercy, but only to be done under the most
careful regulations as to the return of the volume lent. Such is in
outline the scene we should have beheld had it been our lot five
hundred years ago on this very ground,

  "To walk the studious Cloister's pale."

We now re-enter the cathedral through the Prior's Door, and taking a
few steps further along the interior of the aisle we come to Owen's
Cross. Owen was St. Etheldreda's faithful steward, the "Primus
Ministorum" (or "Over-alderman," as the Anglo-Saxon has it,) of her
fenland kingdom, and governor of her family. His Welsh sounding name
bears witness to his being a fenman of British ancestry. Bede tells us
that Owen was a man of much piety; that when his royal mistress no
longer needed his services he forsook the world and became a monk
under St. Chad, Bishop of Lichfield. Owen set forth on his journey to
the monastery dressed in a plain garment, carrying a pick-axe and
bill-hook, to denote that as he was little capable of meditating on
the holy scriptures he would the more earnestly apply himself to the
labour of his hands, and had not come to the monastery, "as so many
do," to live idle. St. Chad received him with much favour, and it was
Owen who was permitted to hear the angelic voices that announced to
the holy bishop that he was to die within seven days.

Owen was himself canonized, and this cross became an object of
veneration at Haddenham, where pilgrims from Cambridge crossed the
Ouse. During the eighteenth century its mutilated base was brought
into the cathedral from Haddenham, where it had long served as a
horsing-block. It is now more worthily placed, and we can still read
the inscription in Latin which runs as follows (the name of Owen being
Latinized almost out of recognition),


  Grant O God to Owen Thy light and rest. Amen.

A little further on, still in the south aisle, we come to the "Monks'
Door," with its strange outer carvings of dragons, its one door-post
enriched with spiral fluting, a sister doorway to the prior's, but by
no means a twin. Almost touching it is the half of an ancient arched
doorway now walled up, its door-post spirally and deeply sculptured.
In both doorways one door-post is hidden by the masonry of a great
buttress built here by Alan of Walsingham to support his central
tower. We are here in the last remnant of Ely's cloisters, and let us
not fail to observe the recessed archway for books in the southern
wall of the nave mentioned above. Before leaving the aisle we should
notice that its windows are for the most part late insertions, the
original Norman fenestration being replaced by Perpendicular.

We now come to the wonder of Ely, of which we have already heard much,
its Octagon Tower and Lantern. Other features in the cathedral we may
meet with elsewhere, but this central feature was not itself a copy,
nor has it served as a pattern--it remains alone, a brilliant
make-shift, a great Necessity having proved the mother of a great
Invention. We can hardly here enter into the details of this Octagon
Tower as an engineering feat, but we can remind our readers how, by
enlarging the base of his steeple, by making it rest on eight
supporting piers, instead of on four like its fallen predecessor,
Alan of Walsingham gave it greatly increased stability.

[Illustration: _The Tower from the Cloisters._]

Thomas Fuller, whom we have quoted before, thus racily describes the
Lantern at Ely, as it was at the close of the Commonwealth, and draws
from it the lesson he loved to find underlying outward things. After
speaking of the beauty of the minster, he goes on to say, "The
lanthorn therein, built by Bishop Hotham, is a masterpiece of
architecture. When the bells ring the woodwork thereof shaketh and
gapeth (no defect but perfection of structure) and exactly chocketh
into the joints again; so that it may pass for the lively emblem of
the sincere Christian who, though he has _motum trepidationis_ of fear
and trembling, stands firmly fixed on the basis of a true faith."

We, too, can admire the ingenuity with which the woodwork forming the
Lantern is fitted together so as to be self-supporting; and our
attention should be called to the vast size of the eight upright beams
of oak above us, fore-shortened, as we see them from the floor, so
that we hardly realise that the length of each is sixty-eight feet. We
can well believe the chronicler who tells us that Alan "procured them
with much trouble, searching far and wide, and with the greatest
difficulty finding them at last, paying a great price for them, and
transporting them by land and water to Ely." During the nineteenth
century, when this woodwork had to be restored, and to some extent
replaced, the difficulty met with in procuring and conveying the
timber required was almost enough to daunt those responsible for the

On the central boss of the groining we see a half-length figure of
Christ in Glory, carved in oak, the right hand raised to bless,
considerably above life size. In the sacrist's accounts for the
building of the Lantern, under the date of 1340, occurs this item:
"Paid to John of Burwell, for carving the figure upon the principal
Key Vault, two shillings and his keep at the Prior's table." A good
two-shillings' worth, even if we multiply the sum by thirty to make it
equivalent to the present value of coin.

The modern glass of the windows above these arches commemorates those
whose names are connected with Ely; eight personages in each window.
The south-east window gives us in its upper lights, St. Etheldreda as
Queen, with her father and her two husbands; below she appears again
as Abbess, with Bishop Wilfrid and the two sisters who followed her as
Abbesses, Sexburga and Ermenilda. In the north-east window is
represented her niece Werburga, who also became Abbess, and St.
Withburga; and, on a line with these ladies, St. Edmund and Archbishop
Dunstan; in the lower four lights stand Bishop Ethelwold, Earl
Brithnoth, Abbot Brithnoth, and King Edgar the Peaceful, the refounder
of the Abbey after the Danish desolation. The north-west window
depicts in the upper tier four kings of England, William the
Conqueror, Henry the First, Henry the Third, and Edward the Second. In
the row beneath stand Abbot Simeon, Hervey, the first Bishop of Ely,
Bishop Northwold, and Alan of Walsingham. In the four upper lights of
the south-west window are portrayed Queen Victoria in her Coronation
robes, Prince Albert arrayed as Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, Edward
the Third and Queen Philippa; below come Bishop Turton and Dean
Peacock, who both contributed to the cost of this glass, and in a line
with them are Bishop Hotham and Prior Crauden.

At the ends of the hood-mouldings of the diagonally placed arches of
the Octagon are carved eight heads. Edward the Third in his crown
gazes with kingly bearing across the archway at his Queen, Philippa,
who wears an expression of cheering benignity, well becoming a queen;
Bishop Hotham looks his part, and Prior Crauden has the countenance of
a saint and an enthusiast. On the north-western archway Alan of
Walsingham, clean shaven, and his master mason, with flowing locks,
face each other carved in the stone that they knew so well how to
manipulate. The seventh and eighth heads are grotesque.

Slightly higher than these portrait heads, supporting canopied niches,
come the celebrated corbels on which are sculptured the leading events
of the life of St. Etheldreda in the following order:

     I. She appears at her second marriage, as a most reluctant bride,
        forced into holding the bridegroom's hand.

    II. Having escaped from her husband, she takes the veil from St.

   III. Her pilgrim's staff bears foliage and fruit.

    IV. Seated on a rock, the tide protects her from her husband's

     V. She is enthroned as Abbess by St. Wilfrid.

    VI. Her death and burial.

   VII. A prisoner is miraculously released by her prayers.

  VIII. The first translation of her body.

Just where the nave and the Octagon Tower join is a slab, which some
hold to cover the grave of Alan of Walsingham. A well-worn stone is
all we see, but we can trace on it a dimly embossed matrix, showing
that once it held a brass of rich workmanship, since torn away.
Whether this be his tomb or no, Alan has his monument here in the
structure we behold above and around us, bearing witness to his life,
which ended in 1364 when he had reached the age of seventy. On the
brass which once marked his resting-place we know that there was
engraved a lengthy epitaph in Latin verse, still extant, of which we
offer an abridged translation as follows:

  "These things of note are at Ely, the Lantern, and Chapel of Mary,
   A windmill too, and a vineyard that yieldeth wine in abundance.
   Know that the Choir before you exceedeth all others in beauty,
   Made by Alan our brother, Alan the wise Master Builder;
   He who of craftsmen the flower, was gifted with strength in his lifetime.
   Alan the Prior, forget not, here facing the Choir lieth buried.
   He, for that older Tower which fell one night in the darkness,
   Here erected, well-founded, the Tower ye now are beholding.
   Many the Houses of God that, as Prior and Sacrist, he builded.
   May God grant him in Heaven a seat as the end of his labour."

From this epitaph we may conclude that Alan of Walsingham had given
Ely both a windmill and a vineyard; of these no trace exists (though
we know that the mill stood on the summit of "Cherry Hill"); but "the
Lantern and Chapel of Mary" and the western bays of the Choir, as
built under him at Bishop Hotham's charge, remain for us to this day.

From the Octagon we can view the transepts begun in 1083 by Abbot
Simeon. The columns and mouldings bear witness to the fact that these
eastern transepts are of earlier date than the nave. At the western
corner of the north transept we notice a doorway of classical design
inserted in 1699 by Sir Christopher Wren, to repair a fall which had
taken place there. Before leaving this transept let us enter the
Chapel of St. Edmund (one of two screened off chambers against the
eastern wall), and take note of the alabaster reredos, exquisite in
design and material, placed there in 1898 by Canon Stanton, in memory
of his father.

[Illustration: _Cathedral Towers._]

On this reredos Christ appears in glory, as the ascended High Priest
of His Church, interceding for His people. Beneath on the retable is
inscribed in Greek the words: "Able to save them to the uttermost that
come unto God by Him." The chapel is intended to be used for private
meditation and for services connected with missionary work. We leave
it with the sense that the highest message the minster has to give is
still remembered among us.

From the Octagon we may pass into the Choir, where gates of brass open
through the richly carved screen of oak. This screen is a really
beautiful creation of the nineteenth century, while the tabernacled
oaken stalls within are mediæval, dating from 1337, and are yet more
beautiful, forming as they do part of Alan of Walsingham's great
restoration. For over four centuries these stalls stood where Alan
placed them, under the Octagon, separated from the nave by a massive
Norman screen of stone. About 1770 they were moved by the architect
Essex to the eastern end of the Choir. The stalls having been thus
removed, Essex saw no reason for preserving the Norman screen, so he
had it destroyed. Had the venerable structure still stretched across
the nave we should feel it purposeless, and it would undoubtedly have
been inconvenient: so we ought perhaps to admit that Essex really
conferred on the cathedral a boon by his drastic act on which a less
daring and more conservative architect would not have ventured. Still
we send a sigh of regret after the ancient work, that had stood
through so many centuries only to be pulled down as an encumbrance,
and carted away at last as rubbish.

The stalls after their removal eastward were painted to look like
mahogany (!) in accordance with eighteenth century standards of beauty.
They were left in this far eastern position for about eighty years, when
they were shifted half-way back again, into their present place, under
the supervision of Sir Gilbert Scott, the architect employed to direct
the restoration then in progress. Their upper panels have been filled
with Bible scenes carved in high relief in wood; mostly the work of a
Flemish artist of the nineteenth century. On the south are scenes from
the Old Testament, on the north from the Gospels. They repay a careful
study, being beautiful and original in design. Twenty-five in number on
either side, arranged chronologically, they face each other, answering
in several instances as type and antitype; the Deluge corresponds with
the Baptism, Jacob's Deception of Isaac with the Betrayal; the Lifting
up of the Brazen Serpent with the Crucifixion, the Ascent of Elijah with
the Ascension. Whether this is intentional or accidental we leave to be
decided by those who, familiar with Bible incidents, are wishful to
exercise their ingenuity and their power of discernment, in discovering
further and less obvious correspondence.

The stall seats are on hinges, and are known as "Miserere" (_i.e._
mercy) seats. They were thus named from being so contrived that when
turned back they gave a merciful support to the monks, who could thus
sit after a fashion, instead of having to stand, during the lengthy
nocturnal services in which they were engaged; but if the occupant of
the stall abused this relief by permitting himself to be overcome with
sleep, he and his seat fell forward together with a crash, to his
great discomfiture. When turned back the quaint carvings usual under
such seats may be seen, the work of the fourteenth century carvers.
The subjects represented are strangely varied; scriptural, legendary,
grotesque, according to the taste and fancy of the carver, and no two
are alike. We find here Noah's Ark, a pelican feeding her young, a nun
at prayer, monkeys and dragons, a woman beating a fox for robbing her
hen-roost, a fox attired as a bishop, a monkey extracting a man's
tooth, a king and a monk fighting, St. Martin sharing his coat with a
beggar. The upper canopied work of these stalls is of delicate beauty,
little damaged by all it has undergone, whether of neglect or of
change, during the six centuries and a half of its existence.

But while admiring these choir stalls, we are almost inclined to
grudge their presence, for they obstruct the view of the stone arches
against which they stand. We are still beholding the work of the great
Alan; after the tower fell he and his workmen built these three bays,
with the triforium and clerestory arches above; and we feel how
perfectly brain, heart, and hand must have worked together in harmony
to produce so exquisite a result. It was Bishop Hotham who provided
the funds for most of this work.

Passing on up two steps beyond these three bays we come to arches
somewhat different; while we observe a corresponding change in the
character of the liern vaulting overhead. We are now in the presence
of Early English masonry, wrought a century before under Bishop
Northwold, and perhaps yet lovelier than the Decorated work which was
her daughter. Arch beyond arch, six in number, extends this
Presbytery, as it is called, ending in an east window of three lower
lancet lights, with an upper tier of five smaller lancets. The
Northwold Presbytery does not merge imperceptibly into Alan's Choir;
for the transition is marked on either hand by a semicircular shaft of
stone that soars aloft, the only remnant left to us of the eastern
limb of the original Norman church. These venerable piers therefore
deserve our special notice, though they might not attract it if we
were ignorant of their story. They themselves stand as raised by their
builders, but Bishop Northwold gave them new capitals of Purbeck
marble harmonising with the work he was erecting eastward.

Next let us study the modern reredos or altar screen, all of white
stone and marble, having as its background the three lancet windows of
the east end, filled with not unworthy modern glass, against which it
stands out with grace and dignity; a space of thirty feet intervening.
The reredos consists of five spandrels surmounted by gables, and is
made of alabaster, lavishly gilt and bejewelled, inlaid with mosaic.
On the highest gable stands a figure representing Christ in Glory, His
hand held forth to bless His people. Immediately below comes the
Annunciation, carved in low relief in a trefoil-shaped medallion.
Below again is a statuette of our Lord, with Moses and Elijah on
either hand, and beneath these, under a canopy of alabaster, is the
Last Supper. In a line with this, still in the same high relief, is
sculptured our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His washing of
the Disciples' feet, His agony in Gethsemane, His bearing of the
cross. Immediately over these Gospel scenes, under the shadow of a
marble canopy, we have the heads of the four great prophets, Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, on one side, balanced on the other by the
four Latin doctors of the Church, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St.
Augustine, St. Gregory. Within the four side spandrels are carved the
heads of Mary Magdalene, of Mary the mother of James, of St. John the
Evangelist, and St. John the Baptist; on the points of the gables
above are the four Evangelists, while between them, and flanking them,
stand on spiral pillarets delicate figures emblematical of faith,
hope, and charity, of justice, prudence, and fortitude--those graces
and virtues which made the saints here represented to be such.

On the retable at the foot of the reredos, stand two massive
candlesticks of silver gilt. These were procured for the cathedral in
1660, on the restoration of the Chapter and the return of Bishop Wren
after his imprisonment of eighteen years. During the Commonwealth the
cathedral staff had dwindled down to one canon and one verger. It is
recorded that the first requisites purchased by the Chapter on being
reinstated were these very candlesticks--plus a wheelbarrow and a

And now we shall do well to make an appreciable physical effort, in
order to get a view of two bosses of special interest in the vaulting
overhead. It is somewhat neck-racking work, and a glass is absolutely
necessary if we are to carry away any definite impression of the
sculptures in question. On one of these bosses the coronation of the
Virgin is carved most gracefully and reverently; on the other is St.
Etheldreda, crowned and gorgeously robed, seated with a crozier in her
right hand, as Abbess. Both are richly coloured, and have escaped,
through being inaccessible, the injury done to the other images in the
cathedral. For more than 600 years they have looked down on the tomb
of Bishop Northwold, the builder of this noble Presbytery, erected, we
must remember, to do honour to the shrine of the Foundress.

This Presbytery of wondrous beauty, enriched by the best that could be
wrought by human hands, alike in the past and in our own days, may
well recall to us Keble's lines:

  "Love delights to bring her best,
   And where Love is, that offering evermore is blest."

The "Angel Choir" in Lincoln Cathedral, built at the same time, is so
nearly a twin with Bishop Northwold's Choir at Ely that to distinguish
the two, if their photographs are placed side by side, requires some
nicety of observation. Whether either was actually copied from the
other we do not know, for in those days the torch of architectural
inspiration quickly passed from hand to hand. This is the case in our
own time with regard to inventions due to the increase of scientific
knowledge; when no part of the civilised world remains long behind the
rest, if light, locomotion, or medicine is concerned. Age after age
man sets himself to make his own the best that can be obtained, and to
say for himself, no less than for the world at large

  "Let Knowledge grow from more to more."


     Monuments.--West's Chapel.--Alcock's Chapel.--Northwold
     Cenotaph.--Basevi.--Shrine of Etheldreda.--Lady Chapel.--View
     from Tower.--Triforium.--Exterior of Minster.--Palace, "Duties"
     of Goodrich.--St. Mary's.--St. Cross.--Cromwell's
     House.--Cromwell at Ely.--St. John's Farm.--Theological

The monuments within the Ambulatory may now claim our attention.
Starting at the southern entrance, let us look first at a canopy of
coloured stone, the tomb of De Luda, Bishop of Ely from 1290 to 1298.
The builder of Ely Chapel,[226] Holborn, he was eminent for learning,
and was keen to enrich the See; as a man of note he was sent by Edward
the First to France to settle terms of peace. Here we can study the
details of Decorated work at its best. Close at hand is Bishop
Barnett's tomb of grey marble, of a date somewhat later, robbed of the
effigy in brass which was once part of it. Next we come to the
cenotaph of Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, who lived during the Wars of
the Roses. He had travelled to Jerusalem, and had made his home in
Italy, and was known as "The Pilgrim Scholar." A pioneer of Greek,
then reviving in the schools of Western Europe as the result of the
fall of Constantinople, he was also a patron of Caxton and his novel
printing press. Under Edward the Fourth he tried his hand at governing
Ireland, where his cruelty toward the Lancastrians gained for him the
name of "the Butcher." He was beheaded in 1470, and appears here in
marble lying between his two wives. Next note Bishop Hotham's tomb, of
the Decorated period. His name is familiar to us as having promoted by
every means in his power the work carried out by Alan of Walsingham.

[Footnote 226: See p. 322.]

So far the tombs we have noticed have stood in a line under three
arches of the Presbytery, as the eastern part of the Choir is called:
we now turn to the south aisle to look at that of Peter Gunning,
Bishop of Ely under Charles the Second, who wrote (as we mentioned
before) the prayer to which we owe the phrase "All sorts and
conditions of men." The mitred bishop rests his head on one hand, in
an attitude somewhat ungainly, and his monument is of little artistic
merit. But the resolute, delicately-cut features deserve our study,
and the epitaph is of interest as recording how he had vindicated the
Church of England in the presence of Cromwell himself. Let us pause a
few steps further east to look at the calm face of Canon Selwyn, a
nineteenth century lover of the cathedral; and then, as we pass the
tomb of Bishop Eustace, who built the western porch, let us go back in
thought to the far-off troublous days of King John.

From the Retro-choir we enter Bishop West's chapel, rich with the
ornament of Perpendicular architecture at its highest pitch of
elaboration. Nicholas West was Bishop of Ely under Henry the Eighth,
from 1515 to 1533; and little did he foresee that the sanctuary he was
adorning with the devotion of a lover who offers of his best would be
despoiled and defaced by his own immediate successor in the See.

He was no novice as an architect when he came to Ely; for while Dean
of Windsor he had completed the vaulting of St. George's Chapel. This
chantry abounds in work characteristic of the Renaissance, extremely
rare in England. Again and again, always with arabesque ornament that
recalls the designs of Raphael in the Loggie of the Vatican, is
reproduced the bishop's favourite motto, _Gratia Dei sum quod sum_
("By the grace of God I am what I am"), alluding, it may be, to his
own humble parentage; for, born the son of a baker in Putney, he rose
to be Bishop of Ely, and to live "in the greatest splendour of any
prelate of his time"; he kept a hundred servants; nor did he forget
the poor, feeding two hundred of them daily at his gate; or it may be
that the motto refers to his having in early life brought upon himself
disgrace by his violent temper. He had been turned from these evil
ways to become the friend and ally of the two saintliest men in
England--Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher.

Besides embellishing this chapel with this motto, he adorned it
further with exquisite statuary. Here delicate canopies, upwards of
two hundred in number, still overhang corresponding pedestals, on
which there stood once, for a few short years, statuettes of
workmanship equally delicate; but of these nothing is left beyond a
few traces of their feet, which being carved out of the solid stone
did not give way when the tiny statue of which they formed a part was
broken off by the mandate of Bishop Goodrich. When the quarrel arose
between Henry the Eighth and the Pope as to his repudiating Catharine
of Aragon, Bishop West was true throughout to the cause of the injured
Queen; but he died in 1533, just before the bursting of the storm in
which his friends, More and Fisher, laid down their lives, and was
buried in the chapel that bears his name.

Here, too, lie the bones of the great Earl Brithnoth, who, as we
remember, was brought back hither headless, from the battle of Maldon,
by the monks of Ely to be buried amongst them according to their
promise. We connect this warrior's character with the dying words
attributed to him in Anglo-Saxon poetry, "God, I thank Thee for all
the joy that I have had of Thee in life."[227] Other Anglo-Saxon
worthies of the ninth and tenth centuries rest also in this chapel: an
Archbishop of York, a Swedish Bishop, and several Bishops of Elmham,
in Suffolk, and Dorchester, in Oxfordshire--Sees which were in later
years transferred to Norwich and Lincoln respectively. It is held that
these were retired prelates, who had come to end their days at Ely;
where they were welcome guests, as they were licensed by the Diocesan
to perform the often-needed episcopal functions of the Abbey, without
calling in the distant and over-busied Bishop of Dorchester, to whose
See Ely belonged. This was a convenience both to the Brotherhood and
to the Diocesan himself. The names of Earl Brithnoth and of these
contemporaries are inscribed on tablets let into the wall of this

[Footnote 227: See p. 312]

Touching it on the northern side, behind the screen of the High Altar,
we see a fine tomb, Perpendicular in style, where lies buried the
Cardinal de Luxembourg, a foreign prelate presented to the See of Ely
in 1438 by King Henry the Sixth, but never (it seems) canonically
confirmed as Bishop. In order to gain space for his chapel, Bishop
West did not scruple to take a slice off the tabernacled work of
unrivalled beauty that adorned this adjoining tomb, but the northern
side he left in its perfection. Notice, too, close at hand, a bronze
monument to Dr. Mills, professor of Hebrew, who died about the middle
of the nineteenth century. The recumbent figure is of great beauty.

Next we come to Bishop Alcock's chapel, occupying the northern corner
of the ambulatory, as Bishop West's does the southern. It was built, a
generation earlier, by Bishop Alcock only a few years after his
reconstitution of St. Radegund's Priory at Cambridge as Jesus College,
recorded in our sixth chapter, and is marked as his by the frequent
recurrence of his "canting" armorial bearings, a shield and crest _all
cocks_, or, rather, black cocks' heads. He was a great builder, a
great worker, and, like many another ecclesiastic of his day, a great
politician, being Lord President of Wales, and Comptroller of the
Royal Works to Henry the Seventh; yet withal he was a man of marked
sanctity. His chapel is rich in Perpendicular ornament. A wreath of
grapes and vine-leaves in stone runs round it in all directions, as if
verily clambering. The undercutting of this wreath is wondrous, but
perhaps the marvel of it culminates in a pendant boss of vine-leaves
on the northern side so deeply wrought that we can see right through
it, yet perfect to-day as when first carved.

The masons who worked here liked their joke; and one of them made a
boss of foliage, graceful enough when seen from above,--but stoop down
to look at it from below, and behold a grinning imp. This stonework
was chiselled _in situ_, the rough blocks were placed where they were
to stay, and there they were cut into the shape required, several
being even yet unfinished. Canopied niches abound here, but of the
statuary that once filled them one figure alone has escaped
destruction, and still indicates how beautiful its companions must
have been. To Bishop Alcock Jesus College, Cambridge, owes its
existence, and Peterhouse many benefactions; and here is his tomb. In
1900 Bishop Alwyne Compton filled the window of this chapel with
stained glass, depicting four of his most noted predecessors.

Leaving this chantry behind we see on our right, under his own Early
English bays, the monument to our old friend, Hugh de Northwold, who
lies buried not in this spot but in the middle of his presbytery.
Before he became Bishop of Ely he had been Abbot of Bury St.
Edmund's, for which place he ever retained a warm affection. His feet
touch a block of marble, on which is sculptured the martyrdom of St.
Edmund, whom we see tied to a tree and shot to death by Danish arrows,
while his beheading is also represented. Here, too, is a wolf guarding
the Saint's head, according to the legend. The story ran that, after
the Saint's martyrdom and decapitation, his surviving subjects, to
whom his "universal graciousness which yet suffered no unbecoming
familiarity" had deeply endeared him, sought, so soon as the Danes had
marched away, to take up his remains for fitting burial. The body they
soon found, but the head had been cast into a thicket, and was not
discovered till the searchers heard a voice crying, "Here! Here!
Here!" which guided them to the spot where it lay. A huge wolf was
standing, as it were, on guard over the sacred relic, but did not
offer to attack the finders, who, on their part, suffered it to remain
unhurt. The faithful beast followed them like a dog till it saw the
head laid together with the body, and then quietly departed into the
forest, no man doing aught against it.

Close at hand, leaning against the northern wall of the aisle, is a
detached fragment of stonework, once the arm of Northwold's abbatial
chair which he brought with him from Bury St. Edmund's. This, too, is
made in the form of a beast of prey (somewhat distantly resembling a
wolf), holding between its paws a human head. The Abbey of Bury St.
Edmund's, it may be mentioned, was, in some sort, a daughter House of
Ely. When King Edgar, "the Peacemaker," founded that monastery in
honour of the Royal Martyr he populated it, in the first instance, by
drafting forty monks from Etheldreda's earlier royal foundation.

We will next look at the impressive monument of William of Kilkenny,
Bishop of Ely for three years under Henry the Third. He gave great
offence through being consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of
Canterbury in Italy, instead of in England, where it was felt that
both prelates ought to have been attending to their duties at home;
he, moreover, died abroad on a journey to Spain, whither he was going
on the King's business. A traveller and statesman, he was also a
generous promoter of education, as is shown by his founding
scholarships at Barnwell Priory. A recumbent figure holding a crozier,
he rests on a pillow as if asleep.

Next we reach the tomb of Bishop Redman, who held the See for a very
short time in the opening years of the sixteenth century. The tomb is
of fine Perpendicular work, and the Bishop lies under a canopy rich in
armorial bearings; but the figure is strangely truncated at the foot,
which derogates not a little from its beauty.

Retracing our steps for a few yards, we find beneath our feet a brass
which records one of the tragedies that the Minster has witnessed;
here lies buried Basevi, the gifted architect of the Fitzwilliam
Museum at Cambridge, who met with his death in 1845 while accompanying
Dean Peacock over the work of repair going on in the western tower.
The Dean had just a moment before given the architect a caution to
take care how he walked. Basevi, familiar with scaffolding, smiled at
the advice, and going on with his hands in his pockets, came to a hole
he had not perceived, and fell through in a way that would have been
well-nigh impossible had his hands been free; his feet struck the
pavement below with a jar so intense that death was almost

And now we end our tour round these sepulchres and monuments by
contemplating all that remains of what was once the rallying centre
for those countless pilgrims who travelled hither in search of
spiritual and physical benefit--the shrine of St. Etheldreda. It was
once enriched with gems and costly hangings. It has been told how
Queen Emma, in 1016, gave it a "purple cloth worked with gold and set
with jewels."[228] Sixty years later the shrine is described as "made
in part of silver, as adorned with pearls, emeralds, onyxes,
alamandine stones, embossed with images in relief, among which were
two lions carved in crystal, also four figures of angels carved in
ivory." Such it was made by Theodwin, who was Abbot for three years
under William the Conqueror, and such he left it. After another sixty
years it was robbed by Bishop Nigel, who took away much of its gold
and silver and used it for his own purposes.

[Footnote 228: See p. 314.]

But if it was despoiled in one century it was enriched in the next.
From 1252 it stood behind the High Altar in Bishop Northwold's
Presbytery, erected purposely for its reception; with the figure of
the Foundress of the Abbey gazing down upon it from the central boss
of the vaulting overhead. The shrine was thus held in honour till the
reign of Henry the Eighth; when the Royal greed swooped down upon it,
the dust of Etheldreda was thrown we know not where (though the chapel
in Holborn bearing her name, and the church of the Dominicans at Stone
in Staffordshire claim to possess relics of her hand), her coffin was
broken up and destroyed, the treasures that adorned her shrine were
dispersed. Love of loot was the great motive for this spoliation;
hatred of abuses, some real, some imaginary, was the hypocritical
excuse. Whatever may have been the pretext for its demolition, the
shrine was robbed and left empty.

The existing monument is a vaulted canopy of the fourteenth century,
and is held to be due to Alan of Walsingham. Much of the ancient
colouring survives on its northern side, but the southern has been
completely refaced with new stone-work. Let no one leave without
stooping down to pass beneath it, where it is easy to stand upright.
It was here that pilgrims congregated, happy in the sense that they
were in close proximity to the bones of the sainted Abbess. Here once
was sheltered the sarcophagus of marble that held the body of the
Foundress of the Abbey. Sturdy blows must have been needed to
annihilate it; but destroyed it was, and no tradition gives any record
of its fate, nor has any remnant of it ever been recovered. Stripped
as we see the shrine, now set aside in the northern aisle of the
presbytery, it seems left to prove that dignity may linger on for
ages, long after the word has been spoken "Thy glory is departed."

Before leaving the cathedral we must pass into the Lady Chapel
adjoining the north-eastern transept, connected with it by a passage.
We have already told when and by whom it was built, and when and by
whom it was desecrated. At the Reformation it was rededicated to the
Holy Trinity, and became a parish church, replacing the church of St.
Cross, which once stood close to the cathedral, but was pulled down
during the sixteenth century. Our visit must have its painful side, as
we remember how one form of faith built this chapel and another
defaced it. We could envy those who saw it fresh from the hand of
gifted sculptors and masons, its windows, now so bare, all aglow with
colour of a richness to which the few poor fragments that remain bear
eloquent testimony.

This chapel measures a hundred feet in length and is about half that
width, the roof is of a single span, with no pillars to support it.
Around it runs a stone bench, divided up by canopied niches still
bearing traces of the old colouring--red, blue, green and gold. The
canopied work over these niches is in almost perfect preservation,
rich and free in design, but the statuary which once abounded under
and above it has been ruthlessly and deliberately broken. Only one
head half hidden by sculptured foliage escaped the iconoclasts as they
went round the hallowed walls to "break down all the carved work
thereof with axes and hammers."

We look up and see some relics of stained glass, accidentally spared
when the rest was smashed, in colour most harmonious, the greens and
reds incomparably mellow in tone; while certain small outlined figures
strangely traversing it, stiff yet vigorous, recall the painting on
Egyptian monuments. A few square feet of this precious glass, a
multitude of headless yet graceful statuettes canopied by unblemished
stone-work, are still left to show us how beautiful the whole must
have been when in its glory. We leave with a sigh the chapel, designed
by Alan of Walsingham, and built by his faithful subsacrist John of

Those who desire it can, before they quit the Minster, climb to the
top of the western tower, and if the day is clear they will be well
rewarded by a superb view over the "boundless plain" below; towns and
hamlets, steeples and spires, spread there beneath us, nor must we
forget the railways, with their kindly evidence of modern life at its
fullest. To the east the horizon is bounded by those East Anglian
uplands which nurtured Etheldreda for her great work here. But, beyond
almost any other, this is essentially a man-made landscape; its
salient features are not hills, but buildings, not rivers but lodes.
Peterborough, the sister Abbey-Cathedral, is in view twenty miles away
to the north-west, and many a church of note and beauty is prominent
within nearer range, including the towers and spires of Cambridge
fifteen miles to the south. The very cornfields and pastures beneath
us have been reclaimed from the marsh by man; while, far on the
north-east, is "Denvers Sluice" protecting the rich fenland from
inundation. The view from the top of the tower is well worth a climb,
if we have time and strength for the venture.

Those who wish to be acquainted with the structural secrets of the
cathedral should make an effort to gain admittance to one of the
spiral staircases to the upper passages that lead from triforium to
triforium, from clerestory to clerestory. In these higher regions we
shall still come upon deeply wrought crocketing, such as that in the
upper eastern lancet windows--crocketing seen only by the stray
visitor, yet worked with ungrudged labour and skill. Here we may step
along the plank that takes us from beam to beam for a hundred feet
over the vaulting of the Choir, through the spacious chamber that
separates this vaulting from the outer roof. On every beam stands a
pail of water ready in case of fire.

Through a low doorway at the end we pass to the circle of the lantern.
Here a shutter-like panel can be opened and we can look downwards if
we will, but we shall probably elect rather to spend these rare
minutes in gazing upwards, on the figure of Christ in the key boss of
the vaulting, now that for once in our lives we find ourselves near
enough to John of Burwell's carving to see how bold and yet how
reverent it is.[229]

[Footnote 229: See p. 358.]

One question forces itself upon us, how was it placed here? How was
Mr. Gambier Parry able to paint the glowing angels on these panels? We
see in imagination the scaffolding, the ropes, the pulleys, that have
been in use here, where now all is calm and rest, and we feel that
William Watson might have had this very scene before him when he wrote
the lines:

  "No record Art keeps
   Of her travails and woes:
   There is toil on the steeps,
   On the summit repose."

The tourist has one further duty to perform; for he must not leave Ely
without walking round the cathedral outside. He will then be perplexed
by the anachronisms before him; he will see Perpendicular windows
inserted in Norman aisles, Decorated tracery in Early English masonry;
he will observe this from without more plainly than from within, and
he will realise how the monks who designed and built it all had a firm
belief in themselves, and in their own age, so that they did not
shrink from what we should now count as acts of Vandalism. They no
more hesitated to displace the work of their forefathers by their own,
than we hesitate to light our houses and churches with electricity,
instead of being content with the gas that was good enough for our

As we turn to the north, on leaving the cathedral by the western door,
we shall be puzzled by the strange appearance of the steeple on its
northern side. For Ely Minster, we cannot deny it, is lop-sided; it
has no north-western transept to correspond with the south-western. On
the north side of the tower there is masonry proving that once it had
the support of such a transept; but there is no record of its fall or
demolition, so we are left to surmise that perchance it shared the
fate of the adjoining church of St. Cross, described as a "lean-to,"
dark and "uncomley, very unholdsome for want of thorrowe ayre" which
we know to have been pulled down during the reign of Elizabeth.

We must now go eastward, and, keeping close to the cathedral as we
follow the path that surrounds it, we shall be able to drink in the
view, described earlier, of the Minster as seen from the east. From
this point we can grasp it all, and we can feel ourselves in close
touch with the builders of yore, with Simeon, and Richard, and Hugh,
and Alan, and John; for the work of each is here before our eyes at
once. They now rest from their labours, leaving them as a priceless
legacy to benefit ourselves and others. Look at Richard's transepts
resting on old Simeon's foundations; look at Hugh's lancet windows, at
Alan's incomparable lantern, at the Lady Chapel which John was able to
build through his finding of that brazen urn. The space that lies
between us and these men of mark seems bridged by a span as we
contemplate their work and try to understand it.

As we complete our circuit of the East end, and stand at that of the
south transept, we shall be struck with a conspicuous range of ruined
arches built into the Canons' residences to the south-east. These are
the remains of the Infirmary; which we have seen to play such an
important part in the life of the Abbey. It had its own chapel, hall
and kitchen, and stood on the site of the original Saxon church. The
space between it and the Minster was called the Slype, and served as a
kind of market, whither travelling merchants brought their wares for
the inspection of the Prior, Sacrist, and other chief officers of the
Abbey. These officers, we may mention, did not share the common life
of the monks, but had houses of their own, fragments of which still
dot the "College,"--mostly, like the Infirmary, now built into the
residences of the various Canons.

Not a stone's throw from the Galilee Porch, just across the street
towards the west, stands the episcopal palace. At one time this palace
was actually connected with the cathedral by a covered gallery
crossing the street. We can see from an old print how seriously this
erection must have blocked the traffic, and on this account it was
finally removed; yet its name adheres to the thoroughfare over which
it once passed, and which is still called "the Gallery." The Bishop of
Ely is fortunate in having his house close to his cathedral, unlike
too many of the episcopal residences, which are at an inconvenient
distance from the central city of the See. Moreover, his palace is of
reasonable size; not too large nor yet too small for the hospitality
to which a bishop must be given if he is to live up to the Scriptural
standard; and it has another great practical advantage in being near
to a station where several lines converge, and where all trains stop.

The Palace was built in the main by Bishop Alcock toward the end of
the fifteenth century. It is of chequered red brick with stone
facings; his own arms, three heads of the barn-door cock, and the arms
of the See, three crowns, are worked in stone on the face of the front
wing looking north; there project, moreover, three niches (now empty)
with the canopies he loved so well. Thirty years later Bishop Goodrich
(who robbed these niches of their statuary) added the western gallery,
a hundred feet long, with its beautiful oriel window, on whose outer
panels he caused to be engraved his original version of our Duty
toward God and our neighbour, which we may still read for ourselves if
we can contrive to see through certain bushes that hide it. These
inscriptions are on two slabs of freestone beneath the two side-lights
of the oriel window in the gallery of the palace. Unhappily they are
rapidly perishing under the action of the weather, and will soon be
altogether lost. This is unfortunate, as they are of no small
interest, representing, as it would seem, Goodrich's original draft
for the "Duties," which were afterwards expanded into the form so
familiar to us in the Catechism. Nor does any one seem to have been
at the pains to record them verbatim while they remained legible; so
that now many conjectural words have to be supplied, by considering
the number of letters in the spaces worn away. In the following
reproduction these conjectural words are placed within brackets and
italicised. The duty towards God, which is on the eastern side, is in
Roman capitals, and probably had eleven lines, the first three of
which are wholly gone. It runs thus:--

  [_The . duty . toward . god . is . to .
  believe . in . him . to . love . him .
  with . all . our . hert . & . soul .
  and_] . all . our . power . to . wors
  hippe . god . to . give . him . tha
  nkes . to . put . our . whole . trust
  in . him . and . to . cal . on . him . to
  honoure . his . holy . name [_and
  his_] . worde . and . to . serve . god
  [_truly_] . all . the . days . of . our

The duty towards our neighbour, on the western side, is in Old English
letters, in fourteen lines, as follows:--

  The . duety . [_towards . our . neigh_]boure . is
  to . love . him . a[_s . we . do . ourself . an_]d . to
  do . to . all . men . as . I . wo[_uld . they . do ._ ]to . me
  to . honour . and . obay . [_the . King . and . all . set_] under . him ? ? ?
  beme    ?    ?  [_and . to . order . ourselves_]
  lowly . to . all . [_our . betters_] . to . hurt . no
  body . by . word . nor . d[_eed . to . be . jus_]te . in . all
  our . delyng . to . bear . no . [_malice_] . in . our . hert
  to . kep . our . handes . from . stelyng . & . our
  tong . from . evil . speaking . to . kep . our . bo
  dys . in . temperance . not . to . covet . other . mens .
  goods . but . laboure . truly . for . our . lyvyng . in . y^e
  state . of . lyfe . it . plese . God . to . call . us . on . to .

Of the many residences once belonging to the See, this palace is all
that is left. In looking back, we must remember that in days when
travelling was difficult it may have been of real advantage to the
Bishop to have places of abode dotted all over his diocese, where he
could stay, and where he could exercise his episcopal functions. We
read, for instance, how, in 1487 and the following year, Bishop Alcock
admitted between forty and fifty persons to minor or higher orders in
his chapel at Downham Manor.

[Illustration: _St. Mary's Church._]

Beyond the Palace stands St. Mary's Church, built by Bishop Eustace
about 1200, while Norman architecture was developing into Early
English. It has been remarked that "its architect was disposed to
adopt the new style without quitting the old one." The columns of the
nave are simple Norman; the chancel and chapel on the south are
distinctly Early English; the tower and spire are of Decorated work;
and we meet with inserted Perpendicular windows. In the midst of a
well-kept churchyard may be seen a broken and ancient font, with an
inscription embossed in lead stating that it has been so placed that
it may receive only the water of heaven.

The citizens of Ely throughout the Middle Ages were well provided with
churches, having for their devotions both St. Mary's and also St.
Cross, of which we have spoken before. The name St. Cross has an
interesting history. When first the abbey was built, there stood
against the stone rood-screen thrown across the nave an altar known as
the Altar of the Holy Cross; here the inhabitants of the city were
invited to worship, while the monks said their office quite apart
within the screen. But, as time went on, the monks found that this
twofold worship was not convenient, and, wishing to have the Abbey to
themselves, they built, immediately outside it on the north, a church
for their lay neighbours, "for doing such things as should be done in
a parish church," and named it St. Cross, after the altar within the
Minster which was thus superseded. With the dispersion of the monks
the nave came again into public use, and the church of St. Cross was
permitted to decay, and was finally removed.

Adjoining the churchyard of St. Mary's stands the vicarage. It is a
rambling house of moderate size, quaintly made of rough hewn beams
with reed-stiffened clay in between, and opening on to the street.
This house has a notable history. It was first built as a tithe house,
and was within the same ring-fence as the great barn or granary for
the storing of the tithe sheaves belonging to the monastery. In this
house lived the farmer of the tithes, who bore the title of Steward,
and collected tithe, first for the monks, later for the Dean and
Chapter of Ely; and as this office became hereditary the name of
Steward was taken as a family surname. The last of these Stewards was
Sir Thomas, who died in 1636, leaving no son to succeed him; but his
daughter Elizabeth was the mother of Oliver Cromwell, and Oliver by a
very natural arrangement stepped into his grandfather's office. He
accordingly left his home at St. Ives, sixteen miles distant, bringing
his wife, his mother, and several children, to live in the tithe house
at Ely; the older lady thus returning to the home of her childhood.

[Illustration: _The Cathedral from the West Fen Road._]

For ten years the Cromwell family occupied this very house, which
still remains pretty much what it was in their time. Here two children
were born, and one died. Mrs. Cromwell was an excellent housewife,
being we are told "as capable of descending to the kitchen with
propriety as she was of acting in her exalted position with dignity."
To Cromwell's duties as tithe farmer were added, in the course of
time, those of Governor of the Isle of Ely. On St. Mary's Green, in
front of this house, he used to drill and instruct the levies of his
newly-formed "Eastern Counties' Association," which by and by
developed into his formidable "Ironsides." The result of his drilling
speaks for itself in the history of the Civil War; of his precepts,
one at least, commonly attributed to him, was good, "Say your prayers,
and keep your powder dry."

The same house served as the residence of the tithe farmers till the
passing of the Tithe Commutation Acts, when, after the death of the
last of the officials in 1840, the Dean and Chapter sold it. Only in
1905 was it purchased by the Vicar of St. Mary's, to become the
vicarage of his church; appropriate in every way from size and
position and association for this purpose. The Tithe Barn was a
massive structure of stone thatched with reeds, but no trace of it is
left; for it was pulled down about the middle of the nineteenth
century, when tithe having ceased to be paid in kind[230] it no longer
served any useful purpose; and on its site were built the almshouses
and national schools, now to be seen quite close to the vicarage.

[Footnote 230: Within living memory the tithe paid to the parson or
other tithe owner, was actually the tenth sheaf in every row
throughout the harvest field. The corn might not be carried till the
owner's agent had "docked" these sheaves, (_i.e._ marked each by
crowning it with a dock leaf). He might begin his count with any one
of the first ten, for obvious reasons. The docked sheaves were
conveyed to the tithe barn either before or after the carrying of the

Cromwell was no friend to the cathedral services, nor did his
residence near at hand tend to make him love them. He at the tithe
house, and Bishop Wren at the Palace, must have lived in avowed
antagonism; but they ceased to be neighbours in 1642, when the Bishop
was sent to the Tower by warrant of Parliament for his persistent
effort to restore reverent ceremonial in public worship. The services
in the Minster were conducted at this time by Canon Hitch, Vicar of
Holy Trinity, to whom Cromwell wrote as follows from his house hard

                                              Ely _10th January 1643_.

     MR. HITCH,

     Lest the soldiers should in any tumultuary or disorderly way
     attempt the Reformation of the Cathedral Church, I require you to
     forbear altogether your Choir Service, so unedifying and
     offensive:--and this as you shall answer for it if any disorder
     should arise thereupon. I advise you to catechise, and read and
     expound the Scriptures to the people; not doubting but the
     Parliament with the advice of the Assembly of Divines will direct
     you further. I desire your sermons too where they usually have
     been, but more frequent.

     Your loving friend,
                                                      OLIVER CROMWELL.

Canon Hitch took no notice of this letter, and the "Choir Service"
went on as before; wherefore Cromwell, sword in hand, his hat on his
head, attended by a party of soldiers, went to the cathedral at the
time of Divine Service, and spoke aloud these words: "I am a man under
authority, having soldiers under me, and am commanded to dismiss this
assembly." Canon Hitch, who was conducting the Service at the
Communion Table, paid no attention, and went on without stopping;
whereupon Cromwell, followed by soldiers and rabble, went up to the
clergyman, laid his hand on his sword, and, bidding him "leave off his
fooling and come down," drove the congregation out of the cathedral.

Five years after this scene took place, an order was made by the House
of Commons to the effect "that the Cathedral Church in the Isle of
Ely, being in a ruinous condition, should be examined with a view to
its being pulled down and its material used to make provision for sick
and maimed soldiers and their families." Providentially this order was
not carried into effect, Cromwell's own influence being presumably
used against it.

If we continue our walk for a few minutes further westward along the
street, we come to a quaint and picturesque building now known as St.
John's Farm. It was built by Bishop Northwold, in order to unite the
two Hostels of St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalene. These
Hostels had been founded for the use of monks who, though residing in
Ely, wished to be independent of the greater monastery; Bishop
Northwold put an end to this undesirable state of things by erecting
one Hostel for the use of the two communities, and placing it under
the direct supervision of the Sacrist of Ely. The Hostel is now an
unpretending homestead, much rebuilt, yet retaining bits of thirteenth
century work still untouched and therefore of interest.

Those who approach Ely from the south must notice two prominent
buildings standing quite apart from the cathedral. One is the
Theological College, a structure of red brick well placed on rising
ground, where twenty students can reside while preparing to take Holy
Orders in the Church of England; it was founded by Bishop Woodford,
who filled the See for twelve years from 1873. The College has its own
private chapel for daily use, but by its constitution the students are
bound to attend many services in the cathedral; the founder having
insisted on this proviso as tending to maintain the link between the
new foundation and the ancient Minster, a link which he foresaw might
otherwise dwindle away. As a rule students have one year of special
training and study; and during this time they take part in the
parochial work of the cathedral city.

[Illustration: _St. John's Farm._]

The other conspicuous building is a round castellated structure that
might well pass for a Norman keep, but is, in fact, the water tower of
Ely, supporting a huge tank into which water is forced from springs at
Isleham some seven miles distant.[231] The inhabitants of the city
have good reason to be thankful for this water supply; not a hundred
years ago the natural springs on the spot were so inadequate for their
use that most of the water for brewing and washing had to be brought
up from the river, slung in a pair of leather bags on horseback, an
arrangement manifestly inconvenient, "though providing," as the
historian adds, "a comfortable subsistence for many industrious poor."
Let us hope that these poor folk did not bear a grudge against Dean
Peacock, to whose zeal the waterworks of Ely are mainly due.

[Footnote 231: See p. 183.]

One of the chief industries of Ely is the making of jam, for which the
rich fruit-growing fields in the neighbourhood supply the material.
And if we follow the main street down to the wharf on the river Ouse
we shall see in the piles of willow wands that lie ready stripped on
its banks, evidence of a much older industry still carried on here.
This is the basket-making, for the which the fenland districts of
Britain were famed even before the Romans reached the country.
Posidonius, the Rhodian geographer under whom Cicero studied, and who
himself visited our island about 100 B.C., mentions "British baskets"
as exported for use on the Continent. A century later Strabo tells us
of their extensive home use, for storing corn, and Martial, in the
next generation, gives us the very word, which was adopted into the
Latin from the Celtic original (still used in Welsh), as it has since
been adopted into English. In sending a present to a lady he alludes
to it as:

   "A basket rude, from painted Britons come."
  ("Barbara de pictis venio _bascauda_ Britannis.")

The withies of which the baskets are made were at first, doubtless,
the shoots of the willows found growing wild along the streams. Now
they are cut from carefully tended osier-beds, small enclosed areas
which are periodically flooded, where the willows are regularly
cultivated with a view to the production of long shoots suitable for
this industry. "They are regularly cut, peeled, and seasoned and
afford employment to large numbers of people."[232] Nor is the making
of baskets the only purpose for which willows may be profitably
cultivated; for, as Fuller says:--"This tree delighteth in moist
places and is triumphant in the Isle of Ely, where the roots
strengthen the banks and the lop affords fuel for the fire. It groweth
incredibly fast; it being a by-word in this county that the profit by
willows will buy the owner a horse before other trees will pay for his

[Footnote 232: Hughes. _County Geography of Cambs_, p. 98.]

Having thus come to know something of Ely Minster, we shall feel the
greater interest in all our further explorations through those
highways and byways of the surrounding district over which she
presides with the air of a Mother, and a Queen.

[Illustration: _Willow Walk._]


     Boundary of Fens.--Roman Works, Car Dyke, Sea Wall,
     Causeway.--Archipelago.--Littleport, Agrarian Riots.--Denver
     Sluice.--Roslyn Pit.--Fenland Abbeys, Chatteris, Ramsey,
     Peterborough, Thorney, Crowland.

The vast Fenland district of which the Isle of Ely is the core
consisted, until the fens were drained, of an archipelago of scattered
islets rising out of a morass, through which the rivers from the
uplands around stagnated in a complex system of waterways, constantly
changing, as one branch or another got silted up and the streams had
to make themselves new channels.

The foreshore of the uplands may still be traced on a contour map, and
is seen to be deeply indented, with bays running in from the fen and
capes running out into it. The southernmost point of the morass was at
Fen Ditton on the Cam, two miles below Cambridge. Its western boundary
went by, Waterbeach, Cottenham, and Willingham, to Earith; thence
through Huntingdonshire to Ramsey and Peterborough; thence, by
Deeping, Holbeach, and Spalding, to the Witham, a few miles below
Lincoln. Throughout all this length ran a Roman earthwork, the Car
Dyke, still existing at many points, evidently thrown up by these
mighty civilisers to keep the floods in check. A like Roman
embankment, of much larger dimensions, is to be seen on either shore
of the great estuary which of old brought the sea-shore as far south
as Wisbech. The eastern boundary of the Fenland needs no such defence,
as on this side the higher ground sinks much more abruptly to the fen
level. It passes from Fen Ditton by Horningsea, Bottisham, Swaffham,
and Reach to Burwell. Here a peninsula projects to Soham, followed by
a deep inlet to Isleham and Mildenhall. Then it runs north and west to
Downham, in Norfolk, and thence due north to the sea by Lynn.

We must not, however, suppose that the whole of this immense tract was
always morass. Oscillations in the land level have more than once
raised it high enough and long enough for great forests to clothe it;
the trees of which, frequently of giant size, are constantly exhumed
from the peat which the later depressions have formed over them.[233]
The last of these forests seems to have lingered on into Roman times.
A Roman roadway may still be traced, running east and west across the
whole breadth of the district, from Denver, at the south-western point
of the Norfolk uplands, to Stanground, near Peterborough, on the
Huntingdonshire mainland. The Fens must have been very different from
what they afterwards became for such a road to be in use. But before
the collapse of Roman Britain in the fifth century of our era all
seems to have gone to fen once more; and the islets in it served as a
refuge for the remnant of the British population when the flood of the
Anglo-Saxon Conquest burst over the land.[234]

[Footnote 233: See p. 196.]

[Footnote 234: See p. 168.]

These islets number some thirty and more, and vary considerably in
size. Far the largest is that on which Ely stands, the southern part
of which has been spoken of in Chapter XII. At its extreme northern
point, on a subsidiary islet of its own, is the large village of
Littleport, chiefly memorable as having been the focus of a most
serious agrarian outbreak, which in the year 1816 convulsed the
district. Widespread agricultural distress marked the first decades of
the nineteenth century. The wholesale enclosure of the common fields
and the waste lands brought with it no small suffering to the
peasantry; who everywhere lost, by the Enclosure Acts, the advantages
which the waste lands had afforded them, receiving in exchange a
scanty portion of "town land" in each parish, the rent of which is
applied to local charities. And in many instances the policy of the
Government placed these "town lands" in the least accessible corner of
the parish; for the express purpose of preventing labourers from
acquiring allotments in them and thus becoming less dependent on their
wages. The draining of the fens, moreover, which was then in full
progress, by exterminating the old abundance of fish and wildfowl
deprived the marsh-men at once of their chief recreation and their
most savoury food. Wages were only nine shillings a week, while wheat
was no less than five guineas a quarter. These grievances actually
drove the peasantry to arms, not without countenance from sympathisers
of a superior class, who felt that the demand of the rioters for wages
enough to purchase a stone of flour a week, which was all they asked,
could not be called unreasonable.

"Assembling by sound of horn at Littleport, they sacked some of the
houses of the most prosperous, levied contributions on others, and
then marched on Ely in formidable force, armed with guns, pistols,
scythes, etc., and under cover of a waggon, on which they had mounted
four punt-guns. These formidable weapons, used for wild-fowl shooting,
with barrels eight feet long, whose charge was no less than a pound of
gunpowder, projected over the front of the vehicle to clear the way if
needful. But though the leading inhabitants of Ely had hastily armed
themselves, and been sworn in as special constables they were not
prepared to face this artillery, and the town passed without
resistance into the power of the mob, who repeated their Littleport
doings on a larger scale, though with little bodily hurt to anyone.
Unhappily the mob soon got out of hand, and the movement rapidly
degenerated into a mere drunken riot, the chief sufferers in which
were, as usual, those who had done most for the relief of the
poor--the local shopkeepers, who had aided them by credit, and the
local clergy, who had organised soup-kitchens for them.

"At the first approach of the military force sent for to suppress
them, the rioters retreated in good order, still under cover of their
armed waggon, to Littleport, where, however, only a handful made any
sort of stand when the soldiers actually arrived."[235] The rest
dispersed in panic, and not a blow was struck in defence of those,
some eighty in number, who were selected to be made an example of. A
special commission was held for the trial of these unhappy men. "In
spite of strong testimony to character, five were hanged, and five
more transported for life, the rest undergoing various terms of
imprisonment; all to the accompaniment of ecclesiastical rejoicings,
the Bishop entering the cathedral in solemn procession, to the strains
of the triumphal anthem, "Why do the heathen rage?", with his Sword
of State borne before him (by his butler!), and escorted by fifty of
the principal inhabitants, carrying white wands. No fewer than three
hundred of these wand-bearers guarded the execution of the five
rioters; yet the sympathy for them was so strong that the bishop could
not get a cart to carry them to the gallows under five guineas for the

[Footnote 235: From my _History of Cambridgeshire_.]

Such was the last serious exercise of the Bishop's long-descended
secular jurisdiction over the Isle. From the Girvian Princes to the
Abbesses of Ely, from the Abbesses to the Abbots, from the Abbots to
the Bishops that Palatinate jurisdiction had been handed on for twelve
hundred years;--and this was its sordid close. It died none too soon.

Littleport is now quite a thriving and prosperous place, with a
shirt-factory employing over 300 hands and a most effective system of
agriculture in the reclaimed fens around. It has a fine Early English
church, and a grand tower, through the basement of which goes the
footway of the street. Until the nineteenth century the place was so
inaccessible by land that the Cambridgeshire annalist Carter (1752)
tells us that "it is as rare to see a coach at Littleport as a ship at

From Littleport the road pursues its level way for seven miles across
the fen, till, after crossing the small islet of Hilgay, it strikes
the Norfolk uplands at their south-western corner, hard by Denver
Sluice; the present boundary of the North Sea tide, which once ran up
almost to Cambridge. This magnificent Sluice is the keystone of the
whole drainage scheme of the fenland. Here the New and the Old Bedford
Rivers, whose start we saw at Earith (p. 280), once more rejoin the
Ouse, having conveyed in twenty-two miles the waters which by the old
channel would have taken thirty-three. This, of course, gives them a
better fall, and renders them less liable to silt themselves up.

Practically the New River does all the work, very little water being
in the Old except what the tide brings up. It is a striking sight to
be on the Sluice at high water and gaze at the sea waves ridging up
this old river with force that seems illimitable. And yet not enough
pass in, before the ebb calls them back, ever (or hardly ever) to
reach Earith, as a glance at the channel there instantly shows. Still
more striking is it to be on the Sluice when the spring tides are on,
and see the sea on the north of the Sluice standing fifteen or twenty
feet higher than the fresh waters on the south. One realises what
widespread disaster would ensue if the Sluice were to give way. Small
wonder that during the Fenian dynamite scare of 1867 the place was
watched day and night by a guard of soldiers. The Sluice itself is a
massive dam of stonework; having a big lock with two sets of gates,
one against the stream of the river, the other against the tideway of
the sea, which reaches this point by a broad cut from the important
seaport of King's Lynn.

This present erection was built 1752. Its earlier predecessor was set
up 1651 by the Dutch engineer Vermuyden, the maker of the Bedford
Rivers, to whose genius the whole present scheme of drainage owes its
existence. He carried through his plan in face of most determined
opposition, especially from the towns of Lynn and Cambridge, who
complained that "whereas of old ships from Newcastle were wont to make
eighteen voyages in the year to Cambridge with sea coal, now, since
the blocking of the stream at Denver and the diversion of its waters
at Earith, they can make but ten or twelve, whereby the price of fuel
hath increased by half." When this first sluice was "blown up" by the
tide in 1713 there were loud rejoicings. The consequences, however,
proved so serious, that the next generation was fain to see it

Lynn is the point to which the road we have been following ultimately
leads. On leaving Ely by this road, the first turn to the right will
bring us down to the famous Roslyn (or Roswell) Pit, beloved of
geologists and botanists. It is a large water-filled excavation by the
side of the railway, nurturing various rare water plants, and
presenting the wonderful spectacle of chalk lying _above_
boulder-clay, a phenomenon now attributed to ice action.[236]

[Footnote 236: See Hughes' _Geography of Cambridgeshire_.]

[Illustration: _St. Wendreda's Church, March._]

The western declivity of the Island plunges down to the fen at Mepal,
on the New Bedford River. After crossing this, the road leads straight
across the fen to Chatteris, and is called Ireton's Way; the causeway
on which it runs having been made by that great Puritan general, for
strategic purposes, during the Civil War. Chatteris was the first of
the wonderful chain of Abbeys which swept round the Fenland from Ely
into Lincolnshire. The others are Ramsey and Peterborough on the last
verge of the mainland; with Thorney and Crowland, rising, like
Chatteris, on islands in the morass.[237] Of these, Chatteris and
Thorney alone are in Cambridgeshire; though Peterborough is within
half a mile of the county boundary. The former, a nunnery, was founded
by the Lady Alwyn, foster-mother to Edgar the Peacemaker. It was never
a large House, and no remains of it survive; but Chatteris is now the
seat of another Benedictine community, exiled from France in 1901. The
place possesses some curious wells of warm water, not of any great
depth, as such usually are, but penetrating only some ten or twelve
feet into the fen deposits. Local chemical decomposition is supposed
to account for the phenomenon. The fen hereabouts is rich in
geological and archæological remains. And within sight of his mother's
convent, only six miles away across the fen, her son (also an Alwyn),
the Alderman or Earl of the district, founded, on the projecting cape
of the Huntingdonshire mainland, the much larger abbey of Ramsey,
whose abbot was one of the higher or "mitred" class, privileged to
give the "Minor" Orders (_i.e._ those beneath the grade of Deacon).

[Footnote 237: The history of the Houses outside our county we only
touch upon where connected with spots inside.]

Thorney was of earlier date; coeval, indeed, with Peterborough. Of its
foundation a graphic description is given by the chronicler. After
telling how King Wulfhere of Mercia (whose wife was sister to St.
Etheldreda), endowed Peterborough and its abbot Sexwulf with broad
possessions, he continues:

     "Then said the King: 'This gift is little, but it is my will they
     hold it so royally and so freely that neither geld nor fee be
     taken from it....And thus free will I make this Minster, that it
     be under Rome alone: and my will it is that all we who may not go
     to Rome visit St. Peter here.'

     "While thus he spake, the Abbot prayed of him that he would give
     him whatsoever he should ask. And the King granted him. Then said
     the Abbot: 'Here have I God-fearing monks, who would fain live as
     anchorites (_i.e._, hermits), knew they but where. And here is an
     island which is called Ancarig[238] (Thorney). And my boon is
     that we might there build a Minster, to the glory of St. Mary, so
     that they who would lead the life of peace and rest may dwell

     "Then the King answered and said: 'Beloved Sexwulf, lo! not only
     that which thou hast asked, but all else on our Lord's behalf I
     thus approve and grant.' ... And King Wulfhere first confirmed it
     by word, and after subscribed it with his fingers on the Cross
     of Christ" (_i.e._ he signed his name with a cross, on which he
     laid his finger, saying, "I deliver this as my act and deed," as
     we do with the seal on a deed at present. Seals did not come in
     till the Norman Conquest). Amongst the witnesses to his signature
     we find "Wilfrid the Priest, who was afterwards Bishop," _i.e._
     the great St. Wilfrid of Ripon.

[Footnote 238: This name has probably nothing to do with "anchorite,"
but is of Celtic derivation.]

Thorney, however, was long in rising to abbatial dignity, and remained
the abode of anchorites, so humble and so sequestered that in the
great Danish raid of 870, when Ely and every other Religious House
throughout the Fenland was destroyed, the plunderers did not take the
trouble to seek it out, and it became a haven of refuge for the
survivors of the sack of Crowland. The story is graphically told in
the "Chronicle of Crowland"; in its present form probably a thirteenth
century work, but obviously compiled from earlier sources.

After describing vividly the utter overthrow, at a great battle in
Kesteven (West Lincolnshire), of the local forces hastily called out
to meet the Danish host, he tells how a few poor fugitives got them to
the Church of Crowland, and interrupted the Midnight Service with
their crushing tidings.

     "At this news all was confusion. And the Abbot, keeping with
     himself the oldest of the monks and a few of the children (of the
     Abbey School), bade all those in their prime to take along with
     them the sacred relics of the monastery (namely the holy body of
     St. Guthlac, his scourge, and his psalter) and the other chief
     treasures, and thus to flee into the neighbouring fens. With
     sorrow of heart did they his bidding, and, having laden a boat
     with the aforesaid relics and the charters of the Kings, they
     cast into the cloister well the frontal of the High Altar (which
     was covered with plates of gold) along with ten chalices ... and
     other vessels. But the end of the frontal, so long was it, always
     showed above the water; whereupon they drew it out and left it
     with the Abbot; for ever could they see the flames of the towns
     in Kesteven draw nigher and nigher, and feared lest the Heathen
     should on a sudden burst in upon them. So took they boat, and
     came unto the wood of Ancarig on the southern march of their
     islet. And here abode they with Brother Toretus, an anchorite,
     and other brethren, then dwelling there, four days, thirty in
     all, of whom ten were priests. But the Abbot, and two old men
     with him, hid the aforesaid frontal outside the church, to the
     North; and afterwards he and all the rest clad in their sacred
     vestments, met in Choir, and kept the Hours of Divine Service
     according to their Rule. And the whole of the Psalms of David
     went they through from end to end. After this sang they High
     Mass, the Abbot himself being Celebrant....

     "Now, when the Mass was drawing to an end, and the Abbot and his
     deacon and subdeacon and the taper-bearers had already
     communicated in the Holy Mysteries, came the Heathen bursting
     into the church. And upon the very Altar, by the cruel hand of
     King Oscytel, was the venerable Abbot himself sacrificed, a true
     martyr and victim of Christ. All they who stood round and
     ministered with him were beheaded by the savages; and the aged
     men and children, as they fled from the Choir, were taken and
     questioned under the bitterest tortures, to make them show the
     treasures of the church. Dom[239] Asker, the Prior, was slain in
     the vestry, and Dom Lethwyn, Sub-prior, in the refectory. Behind
     him there followed close Brother Turgar, a ten year child,
     shapely, and of a fair countenance; who, when he saw his superior
     slain, besought earnestly that he too might be slain with him.
     But Earl Sidroc the Younger, touched with pity for the lad,
     stripped him of his cowl, and gave him a Danish cloak, bidding
     him follow everywhere his steps.... And thus, out of all who
     abode in the Monastery, old and young, he alone was saved; coming
     and going amongst the Danes throughout all his sojourn amongst
     them, even as one of themselves, through this Earl's favour and

     [Footnote 239: _Dominus_ is thus abbreviated amongst

     "Now when all the monks had been done to death by the torturers,
     and no whit of the Abbey treasures shown thereby, the Danes, with
     spades and ploughshares, brake open right and left all the
     sepulchres of the Saints round about that of St. Guthlac. On the
     right was that of St. Cissa, priest and anchorite, and of St.
     Bettelin, a man of God, erst an attendant on St. Guthlac, and of
     Dom Siward (the Abbot) of blessed memory. And on the left was
     that of St. Egbert, St. Guthlac's scribe and confessor, and of
     St. Tatwin, the pilot who guided St. Guthlac to Crowland.... All
     these did the savages burst open, looking to find treasure
     therein. And finding none, they were filled with indignation; and
     piling up all these holy bodies on a heap, in piteous wise, they
     set fire to them, and, on the third day after their coming, that
     is to say, on the 7th of the Kalends of October (September 25),
     they utterly consumed them, church and monastery and all.

     "But on the fourth day off they went, with countless droves of
     beasts and pack-horses, to Medehampstead (Peterborough). And
     there, dashing at the outer precinct of the Monastery, with its
     barred gates, they assailed the walls on every side with arrows
     and machines. At the second assault the Heathen brake in, and, in
     the very breach, Tubba, the brother of Earl Hubba, fell
     grievously wounded by a stone cast. By the hands of his guards he
     was borne into the tent of Hubba his brother, and despaired even
     of life. Then did Hubba's rage boil over, and he was altogether
     wild against the monks, so that he slew with his own hand every
     soul clad in the religious habit; the rest sprang upon the rest;
     not one in the whole Monastery was saved; both the venerable
     Abbot Hedda, and all his monks, and all the lay-brethren were
     massacred; and Brother Turgar was warned by his master, Earl
     Sidroc, never anywhere to cross the path of Earl Hubba. Every
     altar was uprooted, every monument broken in pieces, the great
     library of holy books burnt, the plenteous store of monastic
     papers scattered to the winds; the precious relics of the holy
     virgins Kineburgh, Kinswith, and Tibba,[240] trodden under foot;
     the walls utterly overthrown; the buildings burnt up, church and
     all, blazing with a bright flame for five whole days after.

     [Footnote 240: Kineburgh and Kinswith were sisters of Wulfhere,
     the first Christian King of Mercia. Tibba is usually identified
     with St. Ebba of Coldingham.]

     "Then on the fourth day the Host drew together, with spoil beyond
     tale from all the country round, and set off towards Huntingdon.
     The two Sidroc Earls, at the crossing of the rivers, ever came
     last, to guard the rear of the whole army. Now all their host had
     passed over the river Nene safely; but, as they were themselves
     crossing, they had the bad luck to lose two carts, laden with
     untold wealth and plenishing, which sank in a deep eddy of the
     stream to the left of the stone bridge, so that horses and all
     were drowned before they could be got out. And while the whole
     household of Earl Sidroc the younger was busied in drawing out
     these same carts, and in transferring the spoil to other waggons
     and carriages, Brother Turgar slipped away and fled to the
     neighbouring forest. All night did he walk, and with the earliest
     dawn came into Crowland. There he found his fellow monks, who had
     got back from Thorney the day before, and were hard at work
     putting out the fires, which still had the mastery in many of the
     ruins of the Monastery.

     "And when they saw him safe and sound they were somewhat
     comforted; but on hearing from him where their Abbot and the
     other Superiors and Brethren lay slain, and how all the
     sepulchres of the Saints were broken down, and all the monuments,
     and all the holy books and all the sacred bodies burnt up, all
     were stricken with grief unspeakable; and long was the
     lamentation and mourning that was made. Satiated at length with
     weeping, they turned again to putting out the conflagration. And
     when they raised the ruins of the church roof about the High
     Altar, they found the body of their venerable father and abbot,
     Theodore, beheaded, stripped, half burnt, and bruised, and
     crushed into the earth by the fallen timbers. This was on the
     eighth day after his murder, and a little away from the spot
     where he was slaughtered. And the other ministers, who fell with
     him, found they in like manner crushed into the ground by the
     weight of the beams--all save Wulfric the taper-bearer.

     "But not all at once. For the bodies of some of the Brethren were
     not found till half a year after their martyrdom, and not in the
     places where they were slain. For Dom Paulinus and Dom Herbert,
     very old men, and decrepit, whose hands were cut off and
     themselves tortured to death in the Choir, were found, after a
     diligent search, not there but in the Chapterhouse. In like
     manner Dom Grimketyl and Dom Egmund, both some hundred years old,
     who had been thrust through with swords in the Cloister, were
     found in the Parlour. And the rest too, both children and old
     men, were sought for in divers places, even as Brother Turgar
     told just how each had been slain; and at last were all found,
     with many a doleful plaint and many a tear, save Wulfric only.
     And Dom Brickstan, once the Precentor of the monastery, a most
     skilful musician and poet, who was amongst the survivors, wrote
     on the ashes of Crowland that Lament which is so well known and
     begins thus:

       'Desolate how dost thou sit, who late wast Queen among Houses
        Church so noble of old; erst so beloved of God.'

          (Quomodo sola sedes, dudum regina domorum,
           Nobilis ecclesia, et nuper amica Dei).

     "Now when the Monastery, after long and hard work, was cleared,
     so far as was then possible, from filth and ashes, they took
     counsel on choosing them a Pastor; and when the election was
     held, the venerable Father Godric, though much against his will,
     was made Abbot. To him came that venerable old man Toretus, the
     Prior of Thorney, and his Sub-prior, Dom Tissa, both anchorites
     of the utmost sanctity. And devoutly they prayed him that he
     would deign to take with him certain Brethren and come to
     Peterborough, and give, of his charity, Christian burial to the
     bodies of their Abbot and the other Brethren, which yet remained
     unburied and exposed to beasts and birds. The Abbot gave heed
     unto their prayer, and with many of the brethren (amongst them
     Brother Turgar) came unto Peterborough, where all the Brethren of
     Thorney met him. And with much labour the bodies of all the monks
     of that Monastery were got together, 84 by tale, and buried in
     one wide grave in the midst of the Abbey cemetery, over against
     what was once the East End of the Church. This was on St.
     Cecilia's day (November 22).

     "And over the body of the Abbot, as he lay amid his children, he
     placed a three-sided stone, three feet high and three long and
     one broad, bearing carved likenesses of the Abbot, and his monks
     standing around him. And this stone, in memory of the ruined
     Abbey, bade he thenceforward to be called Medehampstead. And once
     in every year, while he lived, did he visit it; and, pitching his
     tent above the stone, said Mass for two days with instant
     devotion for the souls of those there buried.

     "Through the midst of that cemetery there ran the King's highway
     (_Via Regia_); and this stone was on the right thereof, as one
     comes up from the aforesaid stone bridge towards Holland (S.E.
     Lincolnshire); and on the left stood a stone cross bearing a
     carven image of the Saviour; which our Abbot Godric then set
     there, to the intent that travellers who passed by might be
     mindful of that holy Abbey, and pray to the Lord for the souls of
     the Faithful who lay in that cemetery."

The Abbot of Thorney was also "mitred," and the House ranked as second
only to Ely in the county. William of Malmesbury (A.D. 1135) describes
it as "a little paradise, delightsome as heaven itself may be deemed,
fen-circled, yet rich in loftiest trees, where water-meadows delight
the eye with rich green, where streamlets glide unchecked through each
field. Scarce a spot of ground lies there waste; here are orchards,
there vineyards. Nature vies with culture, and what is unknown to the
one is produced by the other. And what of the glorious buildings,
whose very size it is a wonder that the ground can support amid such
marshes? A vast solitude is here the monks' lot, that they may the
more closely cling to things above. If a woman is there seen, she is
counted a monster, but strangers, if men, are greeted as angels
unawares. Yet there none speaketh, save for the moment; all is holy
silence.... Truly I may call that island a hostel of chastity, a
tavern of honesty, a gymnasium of divine philosophy. From its dense
thickets it is called Thorney."

At the draining of the Fens, in the seventeenth century, Thorney was
assigned to the Earls (now Dukes) of Bedford, who, during the
nineteenth century alone, have expended on their Thorney estates
nearly £2,000,000. Yet the Thorney property does not even pay its way.
The noble owners have, however, their reward in the genuine success
which has crowned the experiment from a philanthropic point of view.
Thanks to their efforts, Thorney is again, as in the old days of the
Benedictines, a smiling, well-wooded oasis amid the dreary Fenland;
where the welfare of the tenantry is, as of old, the chief object of
the landlord, and where, in consequence, pauperism, drunkenness, and
crime are alike practically unknown. The remains of the Abbey Church
are still used for parochial worship, but only 117 of its original 290
feet of length have survived Henry the Eighth's demolitions.


     Draining of Fens.--Monastic Works, Morton's Leam.--Diversion of
     Ouse.--Local Government, Jurats, Discontent.--Jacobean
     polemics.--First Drainage Company.--Rising of Fen-men.--Second
     Company, Huguenot Labourers.--Third Company, Earl of Bedford,
     Vermuyden.--Old River.--Cromwell.--Fourth Company, Prisoner
     Slaves, New River, Denver Sluice.--Later Developments.

The thought of the Fenland Abbeys leads on to the fascinating story of
the draining of the fens. For the monks were the first to reclaim from
the morass such little patches of ground as each Abbey could bank in,
and to discover how very fertile such reclaimed soil is. Their early
chronicles speak with rapture of the hay that could be mown three
times a year, and the amazing fecundity of the corn-land. Thus it was
their interest constantly to be enclosing fresh acres. They
discovered, too, that by judiciously letting in the flood water on to
a field they could get a fresh deposit of silt, and gradually raise
the level of the soil. And the first attempt at drainage work on a
large scale was also due to a monk, Bishop Morton, Abbot of Ely, who
in 1480 cut the twelve mile long "Leam," or channel, which still bears
his name, to divert the River Nene from its long meandering course
through Whittlesea Mere and Outwell, and to bring it straight to

Thus it came about that the reclamation of the fens went hand in hand
with the prosperity of the Abbeys around them. When these were
prosperous, the whole district prospered; when misfortune befell them,
the fens likewise suffered; and it often took many years for the marks
of the ruin to be effaced. After the wholesale destruction wrought by
the great Danish raid of 870, centuries did not suffice for this. The
story we have just told of the sack of Crowland clearly shows that
the place was then accessible by land. But in the hundred and fifty
years of desolation that followed, such works as the brethren had
effected fell into decay, and the land once more became waterlogged.
Even when William of Malmesbury wrote, in the twelfth century, he
tells us that Crowland could still only be reached by boat. And the
yet more wholesale destruction wrought by Henry the Eighth was
followed by a like period of reversion to waste.

The zeal, however, of these early civilisers was not always according
to knowledge; and at quite an early date a grievous mistake was made,
which caused endless difficulties ever after, and still affects the
whole drainage system of the district. This was the cutting, at some
date between 1215 and 1270, of a leam, not two miles long, from the
Great Ouse at Littleport to the Little Ouse,[241] thereby diverting
the waters of the former into the channel of the latter, and bringing
their united volume into the sea at Lynn. Before that date the Great
Ouse ran from Littleport to Outwell, where it was met by the Nene, and
by a branch of the Little Ouse. The joint river was called the Well
Stream, and poured into the sea at Wisbech.

[Footnote 241: The Little Ouse drains the south-western districts of

That this had been the age-long course of the Fenland waters is shown
by the existence of a huge Roman sea wall running round the old coast
line from Lynn to Wisbech, and from Wisbech to Sutton in Lincolnshire.
This wall traces for us the outline of a great tidal estuary running
up to Wisbech, which continued an estuary even to the eighteenth
century. But the diversion of the greater part of its river water to
Lynn proved fatal to it. Such stream as was left, scarcely more than
that of the Nene, could not, at the ebb, scour out the channel through
the sands which the flood-tide continually tended to silt up. Wisbech
became more and more shut off from the sea, and is now ten miles away
from it. And further, the inability to escape quickly enough through
these choking sands drove the river water at Wisbech back upon itself
and forced it to "drown" the neighbouring fens; while at Lynn the same
disastrous effect was produced by the new volume of water being too
great for the narrow bed of the Little Ouse and flooding over the
banks all round. The Marshland, as the Norfolk district protected by
the Roman wall was called, suffered especially from this result of
interfering with Nature.

Nor did it prove possible to undo the mischief. When once a short cut
has been made for a great river, it is no easy matter to turn the
stream back into its old tortuous course; and, when once an estuary
has got thoroughly silted up, it is yet more difficult to restore it
to its old condition. Throughout the Middle Ages constant complaints
were made, and occasional attempts; but these were always brought to
nought by some conflicting interest or other which got the ear of the
Government. The fen problem was early recognised as a matter of
national concern, and, from the time of Edward the First onwards, the
Crown tried to grapple with it, but by hopelessly futile methods.

To begin with, the system of Local Government already established for
the regulation of Romney Marsh in Kent was extended to the Fenland.
The Sheriff was bound to summon twenty-four "jurats" from the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood, to deal with each difficulty as it
arose. But a plan which worked well enough for a district only some
ten miles by fifteen, and with no river to speak of, was wholly
inadequate to deal with the huge area and mighty forces of the
Fenland, even when this was divided (as it still is for drainage
purposes) into three "Levels," "North," "Middle," and "South." The
jurats hated their invidious office, and were themselves hated by the
inhabitants; each man always declaring that they had saddled him with
repairs which ought to have been laid upon some neighbour, and each
man ready to see his own land "drown" rather than put in a single
spadeful of work which, in his view, should have been someone else's

Besides, the drain or the dam or the embankment which was good for one
set of interests was bad for another. We have seen how Cambridge
complained of the erection of Denver Sluice; and like grievances fill
page after page of the Plantagenet Rolls. The men of Lynn complain
that whereas they were of old able to sail straight to Peterborough,
only thirty miles, they now have to go round by Littleport, over fifty
miles, owing to the erection of a dam by the jurats. And, again, that
a new cut has so diverted the waters that they can no longer take
"navigable" (_i.e._ sea-going) vessels to Yaxley and Holme in
Huntingdonshire, "whereby our trade is greatly decayed." Loud and
incessant are the cries from all quarters (except Lynn alone) to
"bring back the waters into their natural outfall" at Wisbech. But
this, as we have said, had become beyond the power of man; and,
despite the well-meant efforts of the unhappy jurats, and of such
philanthropists as Bishop Morton, things kept getting worse decade by
decade; till the suppression of the Abbeys completed the ruin, and the
fens became the dismal tangle of decayed waterways, small and great,
new and old, artificial and natural, usable and unusable, the
unravelling of which occupied the next three centuries.

Feeble efforts were locally made here and there to control the waters;
but, as the historian Carter puts it, the next wet and windy winter
"down comes the bailiff of Bedford (for so the country people call the
overflowing of the river Ouse), attended, like a person of quality,
with many servants (the accession of tributary brooks), and breaks
down all their paper banks as not waterproof, reducing all to their
former condition." He goes on to give a vivid description of the
puzzle-headed conservatism with which the reformers had to contend:

     "This accident put the wits of that and succeeding ages upon the
     dispute of the feasibility of the design; and let us sum up the
     arguments for and against this great undertaking.

     "Argument 1. Some objected that God said to the water, 'Hitherto
     shalt thou come, and no further.' It is therefore a trespass on
     the Divine prerogative, for man to presume to give other bounds
     to the water than what God hath appointed.

     "Answer 1. The argument holdeth in application to the Ocean,
     which is a wild horse, only to be broke, backed, and bridled by
     Him who is the Maker thereof; but it is a false and lazy
     principle if applied to fresh waters, from which human industry
     may and hath rescued many considerable parcels of ground.

     "Argument 2. Many have attempted but not effected it. None ever
     wrestled with it, but it gave them a foil, if not a fall, to the
     bruising, if not breaking, of their backs. Many have burnt their
     fingers in these waters, and instead of draining the Fens have
     emptied their own pockets.

     "Answer 2. Many men's undertaking thereof implies the possibility
     of the project; for it is not likely so many wise men should seek
     for what is not to be found; the failing is not in the
     improbability of the design, but in the undertakers either
     wanting heads or hearts to pursue, or pay the people employed

       *       *       *       *       *

     "Argument 4. An alderman of Cambridge affirmed the Fens to be
     like a crust of bread swimming in a dish of water. So that under
     eight or ten feet earth it is nothing but mere water. Impossible
     therefore the draining thereof, if surrounded by that liquid
     element both above and below.

     "Answer 4. Interest betrayed his judgment to an evident error,
     and his brains seemed rather to swim than the floating earth; for
     such as have sounded the depth of that ground find it to be Terra
     Firma, and no doubt so solid to the centre as any other earth in

     "Argument 5. The river Grant or Cam (call it what you will),
     running by Cambridge, will have its stream dried up by the
     draining of the Fens. Now, as Cambridge is concerned in its
     river, so that whole County, yea, this whole Kingdom, is
     concerned in Cambridge. No reason, therefore, that private men's
     particular profit should be preferred before an universal good,
     or good of an University.

     "Answer 5. It is granted the water by Cambridge kindles and keeps
     in the fire therein; no hope of sufficient fuel on reasonable
     rates, except care be taken for preserving the River navigable;
     which may be done and the Fens drained nevertheless. To take away
     the thief is no wasting or weakening of the wick of the candle.
     Assurances may be given that no damage shall rebound to the
     stream of Grant by stopping other superfluous waters.

     "Argument 6. The Fens preserved in their present property afford
     great plenty and variety of fish and fowl, which have therein
     their seminaries and nurseries; the which will be destroyed on
     the draining thereof, so that none will be had but at excessive

     "Answer 6. A large first makes recompense for the shorter second
     course of any man's table. And who will not prefer a tame sheep
     before a wild duck? a good fat ox before a well-grown eel?

     "Argument 7. The Fens afford plenty of sedge, turf, and reed; the
     want whereof will be found if their nature be altered.

     "Answer 7. These commodities are inconsiderable to balance the
     profit of good grass and grain, which those grounds, if drained,
     will produce. He cannot complain of wrong, who hath a suit of
     buckram taken from him, and one of velvet given instead thereof.
     Besides, provision may be made that a sufficiency of such
     ware-trash may still be preserved.

     "Argument 8. Many thousands of poor people are maintained by
     fishing and fowling in the Fens, which will all be at a loss for
     a livelihood if their farms be burnt; that is, if the Fens be

     "Answer 8. It is confessed that many who love idleness live (and
     only live) by that employment. But such, if the Fens were
     drained, would quit their idleness, and betake themselves to more
     lucrative manufactures.

     "Argument 9. Grant that the Fens be drained with great
     difficulty, they will quickly revert to their old condition, like
     to the Pontine Marshes in Italy.

     "Answer 9. If a patient, perfectly cured, will be careless of his
     healthe, none will pity his relapse. Moderate cost, with constant
     care, will easily preserve what is drained; the Low Countries
     affording many proofs thereof.

     "Argument 10. Grant them drained and so continuing; as now the
     great fishes prey upon the less, so then wealthy men would devour
     the poorer sort of people; injurious partage would follow upon
     the inclosures, and rich men (to make room for themselves) would
     jostle the poor people out of their Commons.

     "Answer 10. Oppression is not essential either to draining or
     enclosing, though too often a concomitant of both. Order may be
     taken by Commissioners of quality, impowered for that purpose,
     that such a proportion of Commons may be allotted to the poor
     that all private persons may be pleased and advance accrue hereby
     to the Commonwealth."

The outcome of these vigorous polemics was that King James the First
threw himself whole-heartedly into the idea of a general drainage
scheme; and under his auspices a Company of "Adventurers" or
"Undertakers" was formed to carry out the business. This, however, was
regarded by the Fen-men as an unmitigated piece of tyranny; the
Opposition in Parliament made violent protests; "Libellers" wrote
inflammatory broadsides inciting the Fen-men to rise;[242] and the
Fen-men, who wanted little inciting, did rise in no small numbers.
Nocturnal raids destroyed every work begun by the Company's labourers;
the labourers themselves were intimidated; and before long progress
became impossible. The Company became bankrupt, and the thousands of
reclaimed acres which were to have been divided amongst the
"Adventurers" never actualised.

[Footnote 242: A specimen of one of the "libels" is given by Dugdale:

  "Come brethren of the water, and let us all assemble
   To treat upon this matter, which makes us quake and tremble;
   For we shall rue, if it be true the Fens be undertaken,
   And where we feed in rush and reed, _they_ feed both beet and bacon.

  "Away with boats and rudders, away with boots and scatches [skates],
   No need of one nor t'other; men now make better matches.
   Stilt-makers all and tanners complain of this disaster;
   For they would make each muddy lake for Essex calves a pasture.

  "Wherefore let us intreat our ancient Winter Nurses
   To show their power so great, and help to drain _their purses_,
   And send us good old Captain Flood to lead us out to battle,
   Then Twopenny Jack, with scales on back, shall drive out all their cattle."

["Jack" here simply means a pike, the average price of which at this
time would seem to have been twopence. The "Winter Nurses" are the
rivers feeding the Fen.]]

[Illustration: THE OLD FENLAND

(Northern District)]

[Illustration: THE OLD FENLAND

(Southern District)]

The Crown, however, did not lose sight of the scheme. A special
Commission of enquiry was formed, which sent in a most pessimistic
Report, representing Wisbech as demanding that the "upland men" should
contribute to the scouring of the outfall there, inasmuch as it
drained their lands, to which the upland men retorted that Wisbech
might mind its own business and bear its own burdens. "Hence the
country about Crowland and Thorney, formerly good ground, hath become
mere Lerna,[243]--which doth not only cause overflowing in the upland
country, to their infinite loss, but the Islanders themselves are in
like danger, as for their cattle and their own safety; out of fear
whereof they oftentimes, upon the swelling of the waters, ring their
bells backward, as in other places when the town is on fire."

[Footnote 243: The Lernaean swamp was the legendary home of the famous
Hydra overcome by Hercules.]

So things dragged on till 1620, when another Company was formed by the
King, again doomed to speedy failure.[244] Ten years later again,
Charles the First took up his father's idea, and formed a third
Company, placing at its head the powerful Earl of Bedford. His first
act was to call in a Dutch engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, acquainted
with the drainage methods so successful in Holland, whose fee was an
award of no less than 95,000 acres in the lands he might reclaim.
Under the auspices of this expert was dug from Earith to Denver the
Old Bedford River already spoken of.[245] But the local opposition was
still too strong, fostered as it now was by the powerful influence of
Oliver Cromwell; and it was not lessened when the King himself bought
up the Company. His action was represented as one more encroachment
upon the liberties of England, and a regular part of the Puritan
programme was "to break the King's dykes, to drown his lands, and to
destroy his tenants." These drastic measures proved only too
effective; and, with the outbreak of the Civil War, this third
attempt, like those before it, came to nought.

[Footnote 244: The head of this company was Lord Popham, one of whose
cuts is still called Popham's Eau. The last word reminds us that many
of his settlers were exiled French Huguenots.]

[Footnote 245: See p. 280.]

When, however, that war was over, and Charles beheaded, Cromwell
himself, now Lord Protector of the Realm, came forward as an advocate
of the scheme, and formed yet a fourth Company, again under the Earl
of Bedford, who had followed his fortunes, and again with Vermuyden
for engineer. This time the result was permanent. Cromwell was, as the
Fen-men speedily discovered, a far more dangerous personage to bully
than they had found his predecessors at the head of the State.
Troopers were quartered upon the malcontents, and a plentiful supply
of extra cheap labour was furnished by the penal servitude of Scotch
prisoners taken at Dunbar and Dutch sailors captured by Blake in the
Channel. This method of making war pay its own expenses was familiar
to Cromwell, who had already sold many shiploads of these gallant
enemies as slaves, some to toil under the lash for the West Indian
planters, some to tug at the oars of Venetian galleys. Happily, as he
was the first Christian commander to adopt this all too thrifty
procedure, so he was the last, and such atrocious exploitation of
fellow Christians and fellow soldiers died with him.

Thus was dug, in 1651, the New Bedford River, and thus was built,
somewhat later, Denver Sluice. Vermuyden's plan, which continued for
two centuries to be gradually developed on the lines he originally
laid down, was to cut a few main water-courses through the district,
running at a higher level than the swamps around, with Lynn for their
chief outfall, and an infinite number of short straight cuts at right
angles to these, whence the water draining from the morass should be
pumped into them. This pumping was originally done by windmills, and a
picturesque sight it was to see their white sails dotting the wide
expanse. But all are now superseded by the less poetical but more
dependable steam pumping stations, whose tall chimneys form a notable
object in the Fenland landscape.

The work was very gradual, with many drawbacks. The Denver Sluice, on
which the whole plan depended, was, as has been said, destroyed in
1713, and not rebuilt till 1750, when the very towns which had most
rejoiced in its fall were the loudest in demanding its replacement.
Other calamities also affected the work, which was not finally
completed till towards the end of the nineteenth century. The
opposition, too, was unceasing, though it took the form of lawsuits
rather than violence. But this, too, died out. The very last of them
was an attempt by Wisbech, in 1844, to force the hand of the Bedford
Level Corporation (as the old Company of Adventurers is now called) by
proposing a rival scheme in Parliament.

Now, however, all is victory. For many years past the reclaimed fen
has borne excellent crops; and if, since the agricultural depression
of the later nineteenth century decades set in, it can no longer
merit so fully as it did the title of "the Golden Plain of England,"
yet the widespread cultivation of fruit and flowers (mostly narcissus)
has furnished no small compensation, and the district as a whole
enjoys a very large share of prosperity. At this moment the vast areas
allotted to the great Adventurers are being largely broken up into
small holdings, with the happiest results.

Sentimentally, and even to a certain extent economically, we may
regret the Fenland of old, with its vanished wealth of picturesque
life; its reeds which made such splendid thatch, its marsh flowers,
its butterflies, its shoals of fish, its endless skeins of wild-fowl,
its clever "decoys" where these were taken in such exhaustless numbers
that a single one (in 1750) sent up to London 3000 couples a week and
let for £500 a year. But with these have also vanished the incessant
fever and ague and rheumatism which were an ever-present torment in
the old Fen life, and the incessant opium-eating in which the Fen-Folk
were fain to find relief. Taking things altogether, the gain has
outweighed the loss in the draining of the Fens.


     Coveney.--Manea.--Doddington.--March, Angel
     Roof.--Whittlesea.--Old Course of Ouse, Well Stream.--Upwell,
     Outwell.--Emneth.--Elm.--The Marshland.--West
     Keys.--Leverington.--Tydd.--Wisbech, Church, Trade, Castle,
     Catholic Prisoners, Clarkson.--The Wash.--King John.

In close contiguity to the Island of Ely, on the west, is a tiny
satellite, which supports the little village of Coveney. Here the
church has some remarkable modern woodwork from Oberammergau, the gift
of Mr. Athelstan Riley. The pulpit is also remarkable, dating from
1703 and being of Danish work. More remote are Manea and Stonea, both,
happily for themselves, now on a railway line, but otherwise
unspeakably inaccessible. It is strange at Manea to see the towers of
Ely a short five miles away, and to know that twenty miles of bad road
will scarcely get you there. Both names seem to have the same
signification, Stone Island; which (as they are eminently unstony,
being merely low elevations of gravel) may perhaps refer to the
selenite crystals with which the ground here teems. Manea Station is
one of the few inland places where the curvature of the earth can be
clearly seen. The line (towards March) is perfectly straight and
perfectly level, and along it you may observe the trains rising into
sight over the horizon like ships at sea.

March stands on a much larger island, seven miles in length. At its
southern extremity is Doddington, where the fine Early English church
was once the richest in England. It was the Mother Church of a wide
district, including its whole island and the fens for miles around. As
these were drained so did the value of the benefice increase, till it
became worth over £7,000 per annum. Parliament then stepped in, and
divided the parish (and income) into seven Rectories, three of these
being in the town of March, a modern growth around its important
railway junction at the furthest northern point of the island. A
fourth is Old March, a quiet "village-hamlet" (as Cardinal Wolsey
calls it) two miles south of its larger offspring. The church here is
most exceptionally beautiful. It is a Perpendicular structure, with a
fine crocketed spire and flint patterns in the outer walls of the
clerestory. The roof is beyond all magnificent, with "an innumerable
company of Angels" along its vista of double hammer-beams. A brass
commemorates William Dredeman, the donor of this crowning glory, who
died in 1503; and there is another to Catharine Hansard, 1517, on
which the Annunciation is depicted. The church is dedicated to St.
Wendreda, a purely local saint.[246] The Parish account-books here
give a striking picture of the mutations of the Reformation period.
There are payments "for pluckynge doun emags [images] in ye Chyrch and
for drynkynge thereat" (1547); "for breckyng down the Altar and
carrying forth ye stons" (1550); "for makyng the Hy Alter" (1553);
"for pulling doun ye hy alter" (1558); and "for a comunion tabull"

[Footnote 246: See p. 275.]

March is the half-way house between Ely and Peterborough, and between
it and the last-named lies Whittlesea, also on a good-sized island of
its own, which extends nearly to the Northamptonshire mainland. It is
a pleasant little town, with a picturesque market place, where the
ancient Market House still rises in the centre. And its church almost
rivals that of March, with a still more glorious spire. In 1335
Whittlesea was the scene of a most unedifying conflict between the
Abbeys of Ramsey and Ely. To begin with, the Abbot of Ramsey and his
monks raided the lands at Whittlesea belonging to Ely, drove away
sixteen horses, and (by firing the sedge) burned twenty others,
besides ten oxen, eighty cows, and one hundred swine, along with much
grass, reeds, and other property. In retaliation for this outrage the
Prior of Ely (and he, too, the saintly Prior Crauden) organised a
regular military expedition, and came, at the head of the whole Abbey
musters, "with banners flying as in war," to Ramsey itself, where, as
that House complains, he "hewed down our woods, depastured our grass,
and drove off our cattle." Both parties appealed to the King; but the
discreditable transaction seems to have ended in a compromise. That
such wild work should be possible at all in England reminds us that at
this date the country had not yet recovered from the confusions
attendant on the fall and murder of Edward the Second eight years

Till the latter part of the nineteenth century Whittlesea gave its
name to a famous mere, lying to the south of the town, and on the very
border of the fens. It was a sheet of shallow water a couple of miles
in length and breadth, and furnished a splendid field for angling,
skating, and boat-sailing. Its shallowness made it none the less
dangerous; for the bottom was fathomless ooze, so soft that the
punting poles used here had to be furnished with a round board at
their extremities, and demanded special skill, for if you once let
this board get underneath the mud, it was much more likely to pull you
in than you to pull it out.

Other islets of the fen archipelago are Murrow, between Thorney and
Wisbech, Westry near March, and Welney, on the Old Bedford river to
the north of Manea. The name of the last reminds us that by it ran the
old Well Stream, long robbed of its waters by their diversion to Lynn
in the thirteenth century. To this day, however, its course may be
traced on the map by the meandering boundary between Cambridgeshire
and Norfolk across the fen. Following this line northwards we shortly
come to the outskirts of the firm ground on which Wisbech stands, an
_artificial_ island dating from Roman times and owing its existence to
the great Roman sea wall around the Wash.

Through this island ran the great Well Stream, giving their names to
the villages (or rather the village, for they form a continuous row of
houses) of Upwell and Outwell. This is the longest village in England,
stretching on either side of the road for nearly five unbroken miles.
It contains over 5,000 inhabitants, and lies partly in Cambridgeshire
partly in Norfolk. The churches are in the latter county, and are
grand specimens of the splendid series of churches which glorify the
Marshland, as this district by the Wash has for ages been named. Both
are of Perpendicular date, with a tower somewhat older. That of Upwell
has an elaborate turret for the Sanctus bell. The canopy over the
pulpit is still more elaborate. The roof has a series of angels, but
far less numerous and effective than those at March. At Outwell there
is a fine Decorated door, like that of Barrington.

[Illustration: _Elm Church._]

Emneth, on the further road to Wisbech, also has an angel roof, of
specially interesting character. Each figure is holding some symbol of
the Faith; one the Host, another a candlestick, another a Gospel-book.
At Elm, hard by, may be seen a still more interesting development of
church architecture. The tower is Early English, enriched on its
internal face with exquisite shafting, and opening into the nave by an
Early English arch. But both shafting and arch must have been
insertions in much older work, for between the two may be seen the
high-pitched string-course and the rude little window of the original
Saxon church. The nave is also Early English (clerestory and all,
which is rare hereabouts), while the chancel is Decorated, with its
roof higher than that of the nave.

Here at a farm house called Needham Hall (from a famous historic
mansion formerly on the site) is shown an old table formed of one
solid piece of oak, on which Oliver Cromwell is said to have once
slept. When he arrived here at the head of his command during the
Civil War, he chose this rude couch in preference to the best bed in
the house, that he might fare no better than his men, who were
bivouacking in the yard and outhouses.

The churches along the Roman sea-wall on either side of the old Well
Stream estuary are also of rare magnificence. To the east, in Norfolk,
we find a series of villages deriving their names from the wall
itself,--Walsoken, West Walton, Walpole St. Peter, and Walpole St.
Andrew. In every one of these the church is a joy; above all at West
Walton, with its bell-tower (fifty yards to the south of the main
building) uplifted on four graceful arches enriched with dog-tooth
moulding. Octangular buttresses support the angles, which are
ornamented with blank lancet arches. The next floor has on each side
an arcade of three lancets, and the storey above a window of two
lights beneath an arch of two mouldings, forming a splay of four
banded pillars. No more perfect gem of composition exists; and the
Perpendicular parapet which now crowns it very inadequately takes the
place of the spire which seems to have been purposed by the original
builder. The church itself displays similar features of Early English
grace. The nave pillars have Purbeck marble shafts, with beautifully
foliated capitals, and the clerestory is pierced with seventeen small
archlets, alternately blind and light.

Walsoken, now practically a suburb of Wisbech, has a Perpendicular
shell around a Norman nave, which is (next to Norwich Cathedral) the
best example of the style in all Norfolk. The chancel arch is a
deservedly famous specimen of Transition work. It springs from six
banded pillars, and has a soffit exquisitely worked with zig-zags and
cusps. The screens of the chapels which formerly occupied the east end
of either aisle are rich Perpendicular woodwork. The roof is also
Perpendicular, with angels on the transome beams.

Walpole St. Peter's is even more remarkable; for there is actually an
ancient right of way through it, _underneath the Altar_. The
thirteenth century chancel, with its five large Decorated windows on
either side, ascends by no fewer than eleven steps from the nave to
make room for this unique passage way. The five windows of the nave
are of the earliest and best Perpendicular, and its eastern gable is
crowned with three beautifully proportioned pinnacles. In this parish
is the hamlet of Cross Keys, the name of which is sometimes supposed
to be connected with St. Peter. But it is much more probably the
_quay_ at the starting point of the ancient low-tide passage across
the sands of the estuary which led to Sutton Crosses on the
Lincolnshire side, five miles away, and which played, as we shall
shortly tell, so notable a part in English history. From Walpole the
sea-wall sweeps round by Terrington to Lynn. But here we are far in
Norfolk. We must not, however, forget that we owe one of our Cambridge
Colleges to Terrington, for Dr. Gonville, while Vicar here, founded in
1347 his "College of the Annunciation," the embryo of Caius College.

[Illustration: _Walpole St. Peter._]

On the Cambridgeshire side of the Well Stream we also find churches
fully equal to those on the Norfolk bank. Leverington is one specially
to be noted, with its beautiful steeple, an Early English tower
surmounted by a Decorated spire so exquisitely proportioned that it
seems absolutely to melt away into the sky. There is also a fine
Decorated porch with a stone-roofed parvis chamber of original and
singular beauty. The chancel is also Decorated, while the grand nave
is Perpendicular. The font, too, is Perpendicular, an octagonal
structure of oolite, with richly ornamented niches on every face, each
containing the head of a saint in high relief. The east window of the
north aisle retains much of its ancient glass, proving it to be a
"Jesse" window, tracing the descent of Christ from that patriarch
through David.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tydd St. Giles lies at the northernmost extremity of the Isle of Ely,
where the "Shire Drain" divides the village from its sister parish of
Tydd St. Mary in Lincolnshire. Here, too, the church is remarkable,
having its tower fifty feet beyond the East End, a unique position. Like
Leverington, it has a specially fine octagonal font, richly traceried,
and carved with emblems of the Passion and with the arms of the See of
Ely. In the floor of the nave is a thirteenth century gravestone,
bearing a floriated cross, and the legend (in Old English characters):
"Orate.pro.anima.dni John.Fysner, cujus.aie.deus.ppiciet.Amen." (Pray
for the soul of Mr. John Fysner, on whose soul may God be merciful.)

On one of the pillars is a more interesting inscription in rude
capital letters, much worn. It is in French, and would seem to be of
the early fourteenth century, when that language was becoming very
fashionable in England, as our current legal phraseology still shows.
It runs thus:--


_i.e._ in modern French: "Ce pilier commença Ricard le Prêtre
premièrement. Priez pour lui"; and in English "This pillar Richard the
Priest first began. Pray for him."

After having told of so much loveliness all around, it is
disappointing to be obliged to confess that at Wisbech itself, the
metropolis of the northern Fenland, the church is comparatively
commonplace. Not that it is otherwise than a fine structure, and, like
Great Yarmouth, splendidly wide, having a double nave and a double
chancel; but it is hopelessly outclassed by those in the neighbouring
villages. The best feature is the tower, which is richly ornamented
with sacred and heraldic devices of the later Perpendicular period.
And in the nave is a fine fifteenth century brass. Otherwise there is
little to say about it; and, indeed, little to say about Wisbech at
all. It is a picturesque old place, with that somewhat pathetic
picturesqueness of an ancient seaport town which the sea has deserted.

Wisbech, however, is not by any means a "dead city." It has 10,000
inhabitants, and keen local ambitions, which have developed an
excellent museum and other up-to-date municipal equipment. Modern
energy and science have, moreover, made so effective a waterway
through the ten miles of silted-up estuary that vessels of 3,000 tons
can now, at high tide, reach the wharf. Such, however, are almost
unknown visitants. Last year (1909) the vessels clearing from the port
numbered 209, of 36,000 tons in all. Two of these are registered at
Wisbech itself, as are also twelve sea-fishing boats. A characteristic
photograph of Wisbech's shipping is given by Mrs. Hughes in the
"Geography of Cambridgeshire" (p. 118). Other photographs (pp. 47, 48)
show the great height to which the tide rises in the river, there
being a difference of over twenty feet between high and low water
mark. The Nene still has its outfall here, and flows through the town
in a fine sweep locally called the Brink.

It is hard to believe that this Brink is not the Beach whence the name
of the town is vulgarly supposed to be derived. But you must not
suggest this to a Wisbech man. The single vowel is an integral part of
local faith and local pride, and to insert the "a" is to show yourself
a hopeless outsider. With it the name would come from _Ouse-beach_
(like Land-beach and Water-beach near Cambridge). Without it the
derivation is _Ouse-beck_. This last syllable is a Scandinavian word,
well known throughout the north of England, and there signifying a
running brook. Throughout the Fenland it is frequently used for a
drain. But can the mighty Well Stream of the Ouse, at its tidal
outfall here, have ever suggested either drain or brook to the men of
old who named the place? And can these have been Scandinavians?

[Illustration: _Leverington._]

The chief oversea trade of Wisbech is in timber from Norway; and it
also does a large traffic in fruit, flowers, and vegetables, which are
extensively grown hereabouts. In this neighbourhood, moreover, may be
seen a much rarer cultivated crop, nothing less primitive than the
woad with which the ancient Britons dyed their bodies; though it is a
mistake to suppose that this dye took the place of clothing, for as
far back as history traces them they were quite fairly civilised, and
used woad only for tattooing, like sailors.[247] It is now used for
dyeing cloth. "An old woad mill, built of turf blocks arranged in the
ancient herring-bone pattern, with a timber and reed-thatched roof,
can still be seen at the village of Parson's Drove, about six miles
from Wisbech. The plant (_Isatis tinctoria_) grows about six feet
high, and has a blue-green leaf and bright yellow flower; the people
still call it by its old name, _w[-a]d_. The young plants are
delicate, and the crop requires much care. It is weeded by men and
women clad in hardened skirts and leathern knee-caps, who creep along
the ground and take out the weeds with a curious little handspade
which fits into the palm. The plant is picked by hand. The leaves are
crushed to a pulp in the mill by rude conical crushing wheels dragged
round by horses, and are then worked by hand into large balls and laid
on "fleaks" of twined hazel, or on planks, in special sheds, for three
months to dry. After this, the balls are thrown together, mixed with
water and allowed to ferment in a dark house for five or six weeks.
The woad is then rammed into casks and is ready to be sold to cloth

[Footnote 247: See my _Roman Britain_, p. 47.]

[Footnote 248: Hughes' _Geography of Cambs._, p. 97, where there is an
interesting photograph of this Woad Mill.]

Wisbech plays but little part in history. Its position at the
convergence of the two great Roman sea-walls, east and west of the
estuary, makes it pretty certain that they must have had a station
here; but, if so, it has wholly passed out of memory. Wisbech Castle
is said to have been built by William the Conqueror, and certainly
existed in the time of King John. It passed into the possession of the
Bishops of Ely, and was rebuilt by two famous holders of the See,
Bishop Morton, the designer and excavator of Morton's Leam,[249] and
Bishop Alcock, the Founder of Jesus College, Cambridge.[250] Both
these prelates were singularly thoroughgoing reformers. The former
went into minute details about the dress of his clergy, forbidding
them to wear gaudy attire (such as "lirripoops" or gowns open in front
like a present-day M.A. gown), and charging them straitly to cut their
hair "so that all men may see their ears." And the latter was an
indefatigable pulpiteer; one of his University sermons is recorded to
have lasted three mortal hours on end.

[Footnote 249: See p. 398.]

[Footnote 250: See p. 146.]

[Illustration: _Bell Tower, Tydd St. Giles._]

This episcopal connection of Wisbech Castle led to its becoming, in
the reign of Elizabeth, the final scene of that pathetic and lingering
tragedy, the fate of the old Catholic Hierarchy of England. Such of
that hierarchy as were alive at Elizabeth's succession were, with one
exception, deposed for refusing the Oath of Supremacy, to the number
of fifteen. Shortly afterwards they were imprisoned, not by any
process of law but by the Royal fiat, and continued under more or less
severe restraint for the rest of their lives. This was wholly on
account of their religion. Lord Burghley, a hostile witness (in his
_Execution of Justice in England_[251]), testifies to their blameless
characters, describing them as "faithful and quiet subjects," "persons
of courteous natures," "of great modesty, learning and knowledge,"
"secluded only for their contrary opinions in religion, that savour
not (like those of the seminary priests) of treason."

[Footnote 251: This work was published in 1583, to justify the
execution of the seminary priests in England. Burghley's point is that
quiet Papists were not put to death.]

Yet, though thus inoffensive, their doom was grievously heavy.
Committed, to begin with, to solitary confinement, in what Froude
calls "the living death of the Tower" and other London prisons, for
three or four years, they were afterwards quartered (singly) on the
Protestant prelates, who were stringently ordered by the Council to
prevent them from communication, either by word or letter, with
anyone, and to see that they had neither paper to write withal, nor
books to read (except Protestant ones). Thus deprived of every
intellectual, social, and religious solace, "pining away in miserable
desolation, tossing and shifting from one keeper to another," they one
by one drooped and died. But all remained steadfast to their Faith;
and finally the "obstinate" survivors were, in 1580, closely
imprisoned, along with others in like case, in Wisbech Castle.

Here they were under the charge of Cox, the new Protestant Bishop of
Ely, who writes of them as "sworn against Christ," and boasts that "if
walls, locks, and doors can separate them from out-practice they shall
not want a sufficient provision of each." "Nor let it be thought, as
some bishops have reported, that I mind to make trade by over-ruling
such wretches." The "trade" was handed over to a favourite servant, to
make what he could out of the unhappy prisoners (who, like all
prisoners in those days, had to be supported by their friends),
subject only to providing out of his takings £80 per annum for the
upkeep of two Protestant preachers, "who are well able to set down
God's anger" against Popery. These preachers (amongst whom one
regrets to find "Lancelot Andrewes of Pembroke Hall") were ever and
anon to pester the "recusants" with denunciatory discourses in the
castle hall. "And the recusants shall be conveyed thither by a secret
way, without seeing any; and they shall have a secret place for
themselves to be in, to hear and not be seen.... This is the holy
ordinance of God."[252]

[Footnote 252: See Bridgett and Knox, _Queen Elizabeth and the
Catholic Hierarchy_, p. 197 _et seq._ It may have been these highly
specialised discourses which put so fine an edge on Wisbech
Protestantism that, in the Civil War, the Parson here was ejected for
no more heinous offence than that "he called a Godly Minister (Mr.
Allison) _Brother Redface_."]

Kept with this rigour the Confessors lingered on, year after year,
till death set them free. The latest to be released were Thomas
Watson, Bishop of Lincoln, who died in 1584, and Feckenham, the last
Abbot of Westminster, who died in 1585. Both are buried (as the Parish
Registers testify) in Wisbech churchyard.

The castle was sold by the See of Ely in 1783, and has since been
almost wholly pulled down. Nearly at the same date a young man, born
at Wisbech, was beginning those efforts which have reflected glory on
his native town, and have revolutionised public opinion throughout the
civilised world. The man was Thomas Clarkson, and the cause to which
he devoted his life was the abolition of slavery. That institution, up
to his time, was regarded as a very foundation of the earth. Rooted in
the furthest past of man's history, and as world-wide as it was
ancient, the idea of questioning its place in the eternal fitness of
things never occurred even to philanthropists. A virtuous man would
treat his slaves kindly; but as for not having such, he would as soon
have scrupled at having sheep and oxen, or at employing hired

It was left for young Clarkson, while a student at Cambridge, to
realise that the time was come when, if the human conscience was to
make any further progress in enlightenment, this hoary iniquity must,
root and branch, be abolished. On a steep hillside above Wade Mill, in
the road between Cambridge and London, a monument by the wayside still
marks the spot where he dismounted from his horse, and, kneeling on
the ground in the fervour of youthful enthusiasm, solemnly vowed to
God that for this holy object he would live and, if need be, die.

At once he set to work. Gathering a band of like-minded friends round
him (mostly belonging to the so-called Clapham Sect, who were then
inaugurating the great Evangelical Revival)--Wilberforce, Zachary
Macaulay, Babington, Thornton, Buxton, Cropper, and the rest--he
started an agitation in and out of Parliament, which carried all
before it. The Slave Trade was abolished in 1807; on August 1st, 1834,
slavery itself ceased throughout the British Empire; the example of
Britain was followed by other European Powers; and finally, in 1864,
after a last desperate struggle for existence in the American Civil
War, it was cast forth from its last stronghold in the United States.
If practised at all now, it is practised under some feigned name and
elusive system. No civilised man dare any longer proclaim himself an
avowed slave-driver. Well indeed does Clarkson deserve the monument
which Wisbech has erected to her glorious son.

At Wisbech, till the reclamation of the neighbouring Washes,
Cambridgeshire (or rather the Isle of Ely) possessed an actual strip
of seaboard extending from Wisbech town northward to the county
boundary between Tydd St. Mary and Tydd St. Giles. This strip was
itself reclaimed ground, but of far earlier date, due to the era of
Roman civilisation in Britain. The old coast-line, as has been said,
is still marked for us by a massive embankment extending from Sutton,
in Lincolnshire, to Wisbech, and thence to King's Lynn, in Norfolk--an
embankment sufficiently old to have given its name to the ancient
villages along its course. The designations of Walsoken, West Walton,
Walpole St. Peter, and Walpole St. Andrew, all testify to this sea
wall having been already in existence when the East Anglians, in the
fifth century, first took possession of the land.

[Illustration: _Wisbech Church._]

This embankment kept back, to the west and to the east, the tide-water
of the Well Stream (see p. 399), a wide inlet of the sea, narrowing
southward till it reached its extremity at Wisbech, and forming the
estuary for the united outfall of all the Fenland waterways. In later
days operations connected with the draining of the fens have diverted
nearly the whole volume of the Great Ouse and its tributary streams
to fall into the sea at King's Lynn, and have led the Nene straight to
Wisbech. But till the thirteenth century was well advanced the Ouse
and the Nene joined each other near Outwell, the united river being
called the "Well" or "Well Stream." The names of Upwell, Outwell,
Welney, &c., still preserve the memory of this old waterway.

The estuary was, of course, tidal, leaving at low water a broad
expanse of sands, amidst which the shifting channel of the river was
so far broadened out as to be fordable at certain points; thus
admitting of passage across the whole breadth of the inlet, even where
it became five miles wide. The regular track for this passage was from
the little hamlet of Cross Keys, on the Norfolk coast (the name of
which is derived from this circumstance) to Sutton Crosses, near the
village of Long Sutton, on the Lincolnshire side, and is approximately
marked for us to-day by the line of the Great Northern Railway between
these spots, traversing the level fields and meadows which have (since
the year 1830) finally replaced the sands of old.

The conditions of the passage were identical with those to be found
now at Morecambe Bay. That estuary can also be crossed at low tide;
but to do so in safety a good deal of local knowledge is essential.
The right points for fording the river channels must be found, the
numerous quicksands must be avoided, while the localities of both
fords and quicksands are constantly changing. It is therefore
exceedingly rash to make the attempt without guides; for across the
level sands of every estuary the tide makes with extreme rapidity,
sometimes coming in before the wind faster than any man can hope to
outrun it. These guides are professionals, who await on either bank
the demand for their services.

All this is exactly what is said of the Well Stream "Washes" in
authorities of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As late as
1775, though successive reclamations had by that time reduced the
breadth of the passage by more than half, we hear of the guide "always
attending at Cross Keys to conduct passengers over, bearing a wand or
rod in his hand, probably in imitation of Moses, who held a rod when
he conducted the Israelites through the Red Sea." The rod was really
used for probing the sand in front, lest it should prove "quick," and
also for taking the bearings on the opposite shore by which the course
was steered.

It was through neglect of such expert advice that the Well Stream
estuary became the scene of that dramatic episode in English history,
which, on the 13th of October in the year 1216, cost King John his
treasures and his life. The story is narrated by the contemporary
historian Roger of Wendover, and the Barnwell and Coggeshall
chroniclers. The whole circumstances have been most carefully and
minutely elaborated by Mr. St. John Hope, through whose kindness I am
enabled to use his materials. His able monograph on the subject is to
be found in Vol. LX. of "Archæologia."

John was, in 1216, at death-grips with the Barons, who, in the
previous year, had wrung from him the signature of Magna Charta. The
rights and wrongs of the quarrel were not so wholly one-sided as is
popularly supposed, and the appeal of both parties to the Pope had not
sufficed to clear them up. The offer of the Crown by the Barons to
Louis, Dauphin of France, was for the moment more successful. Most of
England acknowledged him as King, and even the King of Scots came to
do homage for his sub-kingdom (as Scotland then was); only a few
strongholds, notably Windsor Castle, holding out for John and being
besieged by the Barons.

John himself, however, was still at large, and at the head of a small,
but very effective, mercenary army of filibusters from all the
countries of Europe. He met the situation by a campaign of
extraordinary energy; his object being to relieve his invested
fortresses by drawing off their assailants to the defence of their own
lands. Incidentally, desire of revenge, and the need of paying his
troops by plunder, operated as a further motive for the merciless
destruction which, in a series of brilliant and ferocious raids, he
meted out to the districts owned by his opponents. The speed of his
movements is almost incredible, considering the conditions of travel
in the thirteenth century; but they can be traced with accuracy by the
still existing entries in the Patent and Close Rolls; for day by day
John did not cease to do royal business and to sign the documents
submitted to him, however far he might have marched since morning. In
the eyes of his Continental contemporaries this consuming energy came
to be held his chief characteristic. In the "Dittamondo" of the
Italian poet, Fazio degli Uberti, written early in the fourteenth
century, which gives a brief notice of the successive Kings of England
from the Norman Conquest onwards, the one thing mentioned about John
is the "hot haste" of his riding.

Hot haste it was, indeed! Week after week the King made his army
(which, though small, cannot have numbered fewer than two or three
thousand men) cover distances that would be creditable to a solitary
bicycle tourist on the macadamised roads of to-day. From Corfe Castle,
in Dorsetshire, whither he had retreated on the landing of Louis, he
dashed across England (_via_ Bristol) to Cheshire, ravaged that
district for over a fortnight, and was back at Corfe within six weeks
of setting out. The very next day he was off again, and by a
circuitous route of 155 miles (for his enemies' forces barred the
direct way) reached Oxford within a week. A few days later another yet
more wonderful week of 225 miles carried him from Reading to Lincoln;
his daily stages being Bedford (45 miles), Cambridge (30), Castle
Hedingham, in Essex (25), Stamford (70), Rockingham (10), and Lincoln
(50). Here he remained ten days, during which he raised the siege of
the castle; having also succeeded in relieving Windsor, for the Barons
who were attacking it hastily broke up, and marched to Cambridge in
hopes of cutting him off at this strategic point--the only place, as
we have said,[253] where the Cam was passable for an army. It was
doubtless to escape this danger that John undertook, on September
19th, the forced march of 70 miles from Hedingham to Stamford, which
had perforce to be made _via_ "the Great Bridge" of Cambridge.

[Footnote 253: P. 6.]

Yet another week of marches up and down Lincolnshire, 115 miles in
all, brought him round the Wash to Lynn (by way of Wisbech); and then
came the great catastrophe.

It was on Wednesday the 12th of October, 1215, that King John, after
three days' stay at Lynn, retraced his steps, with his wonted
celerity, by way of Wisbech, to Swineshead Abbey near Boston, a
distance of over forty miles. Documents signed by him on this day at
all three places are to be found in the Patent and Close Rolls. His
baggage train, which obviously could not have kept up with this pace,
he ordered to follow by the direct route across the sands. We read
with some surprise that his flying column was accompanied by such a
train at all; but the contemporary historians agree in telling us of
"carts, waggons, and sumpter horses," loaded with the King's treasures
and properties (including even a portable chapel), and with the spoil
amassed during this long raid.

Such a train would cover at least a mile on any road, and could only
move quite slowly, three miles an hour at the very outside. How it
kept touch with the column at all is a wonder, and we may be sure that
it could never have done so during the forced march from Hedingham on
the 19th of September. After that date the occupation of Cambridge by
the Baronial forces would effectually bar the way against any attempt
to follow in the King's track; and it is highly probable that he,
knowing that this would be so, had ordered the train and its escort to
make their way instead from Hedingham to Lynn, and that he paid his
hurried visit to that place with the sole object of once more getting
into touch with them.

However that may be, there is no doubt that the train did set out from
Lynn, along the road to Cross Keys, after the King and his troops had
ridden off towards Wisbech. It was impossible, however, to attempt the
passage that same day, for the channel of the Well Stream could only
be forded during the hour or so on either side of low-water, which, as
calculations show, was on this day about noon. The long line of
vehicles had, accordingly, to halt for the night at Cross Keys, for to
have attempted the passage in the dark (the moon was nearly at the
new), would have been simply suicidal.

Next morning, Thursday, October 13th, they woke to find the tide
lapping against the old Roman embankment behind which they lay, for it
was a spring tide, and at its highest about 6.30 a.m. Rapidly it
receded, and by 9 a.m. the wide expanse of the sands would lie bare
before them. The moment these were dry enough for the passage of carts
they would start, for their leaders knew well the urgent necessity for
speed. To get such a train across the Well Stream channel in the short
space of two hours they must be at the ford the very moment it was
practicable. Every instant was precious, and every driver did his
utmost to press on, regardless of the warnings of the guides (if they
had any).

But to drive a loaded cart over wet sand is at the best a slow job.
Readers of Sir Walter Scott will remember his vivid description, in
_Redgauntlet_, of the difficulties attending such attempts:

     "The vehicle, sinking now on one side, now on the other,
     sometimes sticking absolutely fast and requiring the utmost
     exertions of the animal which drew it to put it once more in
     motion, was subjected to jolts in all directions.... There seemed
     at least five or six people around the cart, some on foot, others
     on horseback. The former lent assistance whenever it was in
     danger of upsetting or sticking fast in the quicksands: the
     others rode before and acted as guides, often changing the
     direction of the vehicle as the precarious state of the passage
     required.... Thus the cart was dragged heavily and wearily on,
     until the nearer roar of the advancing tide excited apprehension
     of another danger.... A rider hastily fastened his own horse to
     the shafts of the cart, in order to assist the exhausted animal
     which drew it, ... but at length, when, after repeated and
     hair-breadth escapes, it actually stuck fast in a quicksand, the
     driver, with an oath, cut the harness, and departed with the
     horses, splashing over the wet sand and through the shallows as
     he galloped off."

Multiply all this at least a hundred-fold, throwing in the added
turmoil caused by the multitude of carts jamming and impeding one
another, and we can picture something of the scene as that fatal
morning advanced and the doomed cavalcade ploughed its way on to
destruction. For there was no margin of time; and though the leading
vehicles seem to have reached the Well Stream channel, they reached it
too late. Already it was unfordable, for such traffic at least as
theirs. Some of the carts doubtless tried to make a dash across; but
their horses, exhausted by the strenuous effort of the last two hours,
were unequal to the tremendous strain of negotiating the soft bottom
of the stream. A very few such failures would entirely bar the way to
those who were eagerly pressing on behind, and almost in a moment the
whole column would be in irremediable confusion. In the struggling
press, to turn would be as impossible as to proceed, while momentarily
the laden carts, for which the only hope was to be kept going, would,
at a standstill, sink deeper, inch by inch, into the ever quickening
sand. And then in the midst of the welter, up came the tide, sweeping
over the level sands, as spring tides in the Wash do sweep;--and, when
the waters once more went down, of all that mass of treasure and
plunder, of all those horses and drivers and carts and waggons not a
trace was to be seen. The sands had swallowed all; and to this day
they retain their prey. As Shakespeare makes King John say:

  "These Lincoln Washes have devoured them."

The expanse of sands is now an expanse of fields and meadows, through
which the River Nene is led by a straight cut from Wisbech to the sea.
Where that cut is crossed by the Great Northern Railway (which, as has
been said, runs almost along the line of the old crossing-track) is
the traditional spot of the disaster, and Mr. St. John Hope believes
that excavation might there bring to light some of its relics, even
after the lapse of so many years.

Matthew Paris (in his _Historia Anglorum_), writing in the generation
following the catastrophe, tells us that John himself was on the scene
and barely escaped from the rising waters. But he, as we have seen,
was the previous night (and the next) at Swineshead Abbey. It is just
possible that, with his astounding energy, he may have ridden in the
morning with a few attendants to Long Sutton (a distance of twenty
miles, as before the reclamation of the fens travellers from Boston
thither would have to go round by Spalding), and thence across the
sands, to overlook in person the passage of the Well Stream. If so, he
may well, in the confusion, have been surprised by the tide and have
barely escaped by hard riding. Anyhow the catastrophe cost him his
life; for this heart-breaking blow, coming on top of his three months'
herculean exertions, brought on a feverish attack that very night. Ill
as he was, he was on horseback again by dawn, and rode fifteen miles
to Sleaford. Next day he struggled on twenty miles to Newark, where
"the disease increasing, he received the counsel of Confession and the
Eucharist from the Abbot of Croxton," and died that same evening
(October 18th), fairly burnt out by his own consuming and tireless
energy. If ever King did, he "died standing."

"Foul as Hell is, it is defiled by the fouler presence of John." Such
is the uncompromising verdict of the inimical chronicler; and such
(in less trenchant phraseology) has been very much the verdict of
popular historians even to our own day. But it was a verdict by no
means universally accepted by contemporaries. John did not, like
William Rufus, receive what Professor Freeman calls "the distinction
of a popular excommunication." For Rufus no prayer was said, no psalm
was sung, no Mass was offered. All men felt that prayer was hopeless.
But John was buried in peace; and it speedily appeared that the cause
for which he stood was the cause which (more especially when the
weight of his own personal unpopularity was removed) most commended
itself to the heart of England. Men had no desire to see the English
Crown become an appanage for the heir to the French monarchy. And so
Louis rapidly found. Within nine days of his father's death the infant
Henry the Third was crowned at Gloucester,--with his mother's
bracelet, in default of the proper crown (which, however, is not
likely to be amongst the treasures lost in the Wash, as many histories
assume); and within six months men were flocking "as to a Holy War,"
from all parts of the country, to take part in that decisive battle
known as "the Fair of Lincoln," which crushed, once and for all, the
foreign intrusion, and established irrevocably the claim of the
native-born ruler to succeed his father on the throne of England.

And with this stirring story we take our leave of the Highways and
Byways of Cambridgeshire, the stage of so many a story, the home of so
many a memory; the scene--to those who have eyes to see--of so much
quiet loveliness; where the Present is ever brooded over by the Past,
and where on the anvils of Thought and Science the Future is ever
being shaped. We have explored the County from end to end, we have
mounted her uplands, we have traversed her fens, we have clambered her
earthworks, we have entered her churches. Her Manor-houses have told
us their tale of struggle, her Colleges have borne their witness to
the growth of knowledge. We have been able to

  "Watch Time's full river as it flows";

and the pathos of all that has come and gone stands out before us, as
a record more thrilling than the most daring romance, as a theme more
inspiring than the noblest poem. We bid good-bye to the County of
Cambridge and the Isle of Ely feeling that no hue of dulness attaches
to them, as is commonly supposed by the unappreciative crowd, but that
rather the footprints of the past which abound within their borders
give promise of a future that shall not be unworthy of what has gone

[Illustration: _The Old Court of Corpus._]


Attention should have been called to two remarkable ecclesiastical
inscriptions, on the Eastern and Western borders of our district

In the upland churchyard of Castle Camps (p. 206), hard by the
Priest's Door into the Chancel, a tombstone has the following epitaph:

  Mors Mortis Morti mortem nisi morte dedisset
    Æternæ Vitæ janua clausa foret.

  ["Except the Death of Death Death's death by death had been
      Ne'er would Eternal Life with door unshut be seen."]

And in the church of Fen Stanton, low down amid the Ouse meadows near
St. Ives, is the following ancient rebus (also hard by the Priest's

  QV   A     D    T     M        P
  H   SA     M    X     D        L

  _I.e._--Quos Anguis dirus tristi mulcedine pavit
        Hos Sanguis mirus Christi dulcedine lavit.

  ["Whom the dire Serpent fouls with poisonous food
    Christ washeth in His sweet and wondrous Blood."]

A variant of these lines is to be seen in the Alpine sanctuary of
Champéry near the Lake of Geneva.



    Barnwell, 10, 160
    Chatteris, 390
    Crowland, 137, 393
    Denny, 30, 298
    Ely, 302-341, 345-376
    Peterborough, 373, 390, 394
    Ramsey, 75, 198, 279, 310, 392, 410
    Soham, 178
    Thorney, 392, 396

  Abbey Barn, 161

  Abington, 203

  Adams, Prof., 266

  "Ad eundem," 265

  Adventurers, 403

  Adwulf, 304

  Agincourt, 184

  Aidan, St., 175

  Akeman Street, 252, 258, 295

  Alan of Walsingham, 329, 345, 356, 360, 362, 366, 373

  Alcock, Bp., 146, 283, 332, 376, 418

  Aldreth, 283, 295, 316

  Alfred the Etheling, 314

  Alfred the Great, 11, 38, 169, 183, 213

  Alum, 92

  Ambulatory, 366

  Ancarig, 392

  Andrewes, Bp., 342

  Andrew, St., Oratory of, 161

  Anna, King, 303

  Archdeacon of Ely, 282

  Armeswerke, 306

  Arnold, Matthew, 268

  Arrington, 258

  Artesian, 260

  Ashwell, 248

  Ashwell Bush, 236

  Assandun, 205, 313

  Assize of Barnwell, 161

  Athelney, 308

  Audley End, 234

  Audrey's Fair, St., 307

  Augustine, St., 38, 303

  Augustinians, 11, 158


  B.A., 16

  Babraham, 202

  Backs, 2, 41, 85

  Bacon, 90, 102

  Baitsbite, 296

  Balsham, 171, 216

  Balsham, Bp., 12, 25, 112, 325

  Baptistery (Ely), 352

  Barham Hall, 205

  Barnack, 329

  Barnett, Bp., 366

  Barnwell, 10, 160

  Barnwell Gate, 35, 152

  Barnwell Priory, 16, 160, 370

  Barrington, 238, 289

  Barrow, 102

  Bartlow, 205

  Barton, 254

  Barton Road, 252

  Basevi, 371

  Basket-making, 384

  Bassingbourn, 247

  Bateman, Bp., 82

  Bath, 252

  Becket, Thomas à, 235, 246

  Bedford, Earl of, 406

  Bedford Rivers, 280, 389

  Bedmakers, 16

  Belsars Hill, 283, 292

  Benedictine Rule, 339

  Benson, A. C., 138

  Bentham, 345

  Bentley, 40, 101, 105, 109

  Bible (St. John's Coll.), 117

  Bidding Prayer, 128

  Biggin "Abbey," 295

  Bishop's Delph, 178

  Bishopsgate, 222

  Black Death, 248, 340

  Blaise, St., 284

  Blazer, 119

  Bluntisham, 280

  Boadicea, 172

  Boat Houses, 146

  Boat Races, 88, 146, 296

  Boat Show, 43

  Bonfire, 85

  Borough, 7, 8

  Borough Green, 188

  Botolph, St., 32, 34, 304

  Bottisham, 189

  Bourn, 273

  Bourn Brook, 270

  Bourne R., 202

  Brazier, 97

  Brandon, 185

  Bretwalda, 178

    Clare, 42, 84, 93
    Great, 46, 136
    Hauxton, 235
    Hostel, 43
    Huntingdon, 278
    King's, 42
    Magdalene, 136
    Newnham, 41, 222
    Queens', 41
    St. John's, 118
    Trinity, 43

  Bucer, 23, 131

  Buckingham College, 137

  Bulldogs, 132

  Burgesses, 12

  Burgraed (King), 309

  Burnt Mill, 236

  Burwell, 195, 198

  Bury St. Edmunds, 320, 370

  Butcher's Broom, 227

  Butterflies, 182, 211

  Butter Measure, 12

  Buttery, 95

  Butts, 254

  Byron, 90, 94

  Byron's Pool, 220


  Caldecote, 271

  Cam, 7, 8, 40, 222, 295

  Cambridge and Oxford, 2, 11, 17

  Camden Society, 134

  Camp of Refuge, 10, 316

  Canute, 8, 205, 313

  Car Dyke, 297

  Carmelites, 11

  Castle, 4, 138

  Castle Camps, 206

  Cavendish Laboratory, 159, 267

  Caxton, 273

  Ceilings, 100

  Chad, St., 176, 355

  Chained books, 83

  Chancellor, 125

  Chantries, 239

  Chapel, Bush, 238

  Chapel lists, 104

  Chapels (College):
    Christ's, 153
    Clare, 84
    Corpus, 35
    Emmanuel, 158
    Girton, 144
    Jesus, 147, 148
    King's, 52-77, 290
    Pembroke, 30, 342
    Peterhouse, 26, 342
    Queens', 48
    St. John's, 113
    Trinity, 102

  Chapels (at Ely):
    Bishop Alcock's, 332, 369
    Bishop West's, 332, 367
    Crauden's, 330, 346
    Lady, 330, 372
    St. Catherine's, 352
    St. Edmund's, 360

  Charles the First, 101, 138, 182, 190, 268, 406

  Charles the Second, 173

  Cherry Hill, 345

  Cherryhinton, 208

  Chester, 221

  Chesterford, 232

  Chesterton, 295

  Chevely, 185

  Childerley, 271

  Chimes, 101, 129

  Choirs, 114

  Choir School (Ely), 314

  Christopher, St., 205

  Chum, 288

  Church ales, 247

  Churches (Cambridge):
    Abbey, 161
    All Saints', 108
    Christ Church, 162
    Holy Sepulchre, 133
    Holy Trinity, 152
    Our Lady's, 21
    St. Andrew's the Great, 155
    St. Andrew's the Less, 161
    St. Benet's, 36
    St. Botolph's, 32
    St. Clement's, 136
    St. Giles', 140
    St. Mary's the Great, 127
    St. Mary's the Less, 25
    St. Michael's, 13, 86
    St. Paul's, 162
    St. Peter's, 140

  Churches (Ely):
    Holy Trinity, 372
    St. Cross, 379
    St. Mary's, 378

  Clapham Sect, 422

  Clapper Stile, 204

  Clarence, Duke of, 94

  Clarkson, 421

  Clayhithe, 296

  Clergy Training School, 148

  Clerks, 11

  Clerk-Maxwell, 97

  Cloisters, 92, 353

  Clough, 142

  Clunch, 198, 236

  Codex Bezæ, 82

  Coe Fen, 159

  Coleridge, 150

  "College" (Ely), 376

    Christ's, 152-155
    Clare, 83-85, 342
    Corpus Christi, 35-38
    Downing, 159
    Ely Theological, 382
    Emmanuel, 156-158
    Girton, 144
    Gonville and Caius, 120-124
    Jesus, 146-150, 369
    King's, 50-79
    Magdalene, 137
    Newnham, 142
    Pembroke, 28-34, 298
    Peterhouse, 25-28, 369
    Queens', 47-50
    Ridley Hall, 142
    St. Catherine's, 39-40
    St. John's, 109-119
    Selwyn, 144
    Sidney Sussex, 151-152
    Trinity, 86-107, 242
    Trinity Hall, 82-83
    Westminster, 142

  Comacine Guild, 353

  Comberton, 254

  Combination Rooms, 26, 97

  Commons, 1

  "Commons," 95

  Common Fields, 3

  Conduit, 23, 130, 158

  Confessionals, 263

  Conington, 292

  Conqueror, William the, 187, 283, 315, 359

  Coprolites, 240

  Corporation, 12, 185

  Coton, 89

  Cottenham, 298

  Courts (College), 2

  Courts, Christian, 11

  Covenant, 91

  Coveney, 409

  Cox, Bishop, 289

  Cratendune, 179, 303

  Cranmer, Abp., 150

  Crauden, Prior, 330, 346, 359, 410

  Cromwell, Oliver, 32, 128, 151, 272, 278, 367, 381, 406, 412

  Cross Keys, 413, 424, 427

  Crusades, 328

  Cycloid, 89

  Cyclone, 276

  Cymbeline, 172


  Darwin, 155

  Deanery (Ely), 348, 353

  Decorated, 334

  Degrees, 16

  Denver, 387

  Denver Sluice, 280, 389, 407

  Devil's Dyke, 171, 187, 194, 212, 300

  "Disinherited," 325

  Divinity schools, 109

  Doddington, 409

  Dominicans, 11, 155

  Dowsing, 56, 187, 189, 205, 222, 270

  Dry Drayton, 270

  Dullingham, 188

  Dunstan, Abp., 309

  Dunwich, 180

  "Duties," 377

  Duxford, 228

  Dykes, 170-173


  Earith, 298, 389

  Early English, 334

  Eastern Counties Association, 380

  Edgar the Peacemaker, 309, 373, 192

  Edmund the Ironside, 206, 313

  Edmund, St., 175, 180, 262

  Edmundhouse, 142

  Edward the Confessor, 314

  Edward the Elder, 6, 8, 169, 212, 278

  Edward the First, 328

  Edward the Second, 86, 359, 411

  Edward the Third, 86, 101, 330, 348, 359

  Edward the Seventh, 94, 268

  Egbert, 7, 169

  Eleanor, Queen, 324

  Electoral roll, 125

  Elizabeth, Queen, 126, 290, 419

  Elm, 412

  Elsworth, 292

  Eltisley, 274

  Ely, 7, 11, 140, 188, 236, 302-385, 409

  Ely House, 290, 333

  Ely Place, 322

  Emma, Queen, 314

  Emneth, 412

  Enclosure Acts, 387

  Epigrams, 80

  Erasmus, 47

  Erconwald, St., 176, 262

  Ermine Street, 244, 258, 273

  Ermenilda, 176, 307

  Esquire, Bedell, 128

  Ethandune, 308

  Etheldreda, St., 7, 169, 175, 179, 283, 303, 358

  Ethelred, the Unready, 310

  Eton, 51

  Eustace, Bp., 349, 367

  Eversden, 289

  Examination Hall, 15

  Examinations, 14, 98

  Exeat, 17

  Exning, 173, 175


  Fagius, 23, 131

  Fairy-cart, 260

  Falcon Cup, 84

  Felix, St., 178

  Fellow Commoners, 151

  Fellows, 2, 89

  Fen Ditton, 171, 295

  Fields, 3

  Firehooks, 38, 204

  First Trinity, 88, 148

  Fisher, Bishop, 110, 152

  Fisher, Osmund, 149

  Fitzwilliam, 23, 371

  Fleam Dyke, 170, 210

  Fordham, 176

  Fowlmere, 230

  Foxton, 242

  Franchise of Ely, 321

  Franciscans, 11, 100, 152

  Free School Lane, 36

  Freshman's Pillar, 92

  Friars, 11

  Fulbourn, 209

  Fuller, 344, 357, 384


  Galilee, 324, 349

  Garret Hostel, 43

  Gating, 16

  Geoffry de Magnaville, 34, 200

  George the First, 80

  George the Third, 90

  Gibbet, 273

  Gibbons, 90

  Girton, 268

  Girvii, 169

  Godmanchester, 278

  Godolphin, 202

  God's House, 153

  Gogmagogs, 201

  Gonville, 14, 120

  Goodhart, 95

  Goodrich, Bp., 332, 341, 376

  Granby, Marquis of, 98

  Granta, 7, 202, 222

  Grantabridge, 7

  Grantabrigshire, 8

  Granta-ceaster, 7

  Grantchester, 7, 221

  Grantset, 7

  Gray, 28

  Great Ouse, 399

  Greek, 47

  Greensand, 240

  Guild Hall, 130

  Guilden Morden, 262

  Gunning, Bp., 342, 367

  Guyhirn, 289


  Haddenham, 282, 356

  Halls, 15

  Hardwick, 270

  Harlton, 255

  Harvard, 156

  Haslingfield, 236

  Hauxton, 235

  Hemingford, 279

  Henrietta Maria, Queen, 116

  Henry the First, 359

  Henry the Third, 324, 359

  Henry the Sixth, 41, 51, 54

  Henry the Eighth, 87, 97, 118, 152, 283, 372

  Hereward, 10, 283, 315

  Hermits, 41, 222

  Hervey, Bp., 180, 321, 359

  Hervey de Stanton, 86, 242

  Hiding-hole, 225

  High-table, 15, 96

  Hilda, St., 303

  Hildersham, 203

  Hinxton, 230

  Histon, 268, 287

  Hithes, 44, 194

  Hobson, 21, 158

  Holcroft, 288

  Holme, 400

  Holywell, 279

  Honours, 14, 98

  Horningsea, 295

  Horseheath, 209

  Hospital of St. John, 25, 112

  Hospitallers, 258

  Hostels, 12, 43

  Hotham, Bp., 330, 335, 359, 363, 366

  Hubert, St., 270

  Huddleston, 225

  Hundreds, 10

  Huntingdon, 138, 278


  Iceni, 168, 211

  Ickleton, 231

  Icknield Way, 171, 203, 234, 244

  Indulgence, 91, 235

  Ink, 336

  Ireton, 272

  Ireton's Way, 390

  Isle of Ely, 8, 168, 282

  Isleham, 183

  Ivo, St., 279


  Jacutus, St., 205

  James the First, 154, 173, 403

  Jesus Lane Sunday School, 162

  Jewry, 10, 108

  Job, 248

  John, King, 12, 136, 425-430

  Jowett, 129

  Julitta, St., 191

  Jurats, 400


  Kendal, 166

  King's Ditch, 3, 34

  King's Hall, 14, 86, 101

  King's Mill, 34

  Kingsley, 138

  Kingston, 271

  Kirtling, 186

  Kitchen (Trinity), 96

  Kitchener, Lord, 131

  Knapwell, 273

  Knee-holm, 227


  Landbeach, 296

  Landwade, 176

  Lantern (Ely), 356

  Lantern (Trinity), 97

  Lectures, 16

  Lepers' Chapel, 162

  Leverington, 414

  Leverrier, 266

  Leys School, 160

  "Libellers," 403

  Liber Eliensis, 303, 337

    Corpus, 38
    King's, 52
    Pepys, 137
    Peterhouse, 26
    St. John's, 44, 116
    Trinity, 43, 80
    Trinity Hall, 82
    University, 79-82, 100

  Lincoln, 298

  Lingay Fen, 222

  Linton, 204

  Littlego, 155

  "Little John," 226

  Little Ouse, 399

  Littleport, 387, 400

  Littlington, 264, 288

  Lock-up, 264

  Lode, 191, 194, 300

  Logan, 2, 95, 100

  London Stone, 160

  Long Stanton, 289

  Long Vacation, 17

  Lycidas, 154

  Lynn, 326, 390, 399, 400, 426


  Macaulay, 14, 107, 136

  Madingley, 268

  Maitland, 3, 185

  "Majestas," 287, 339

  Maldon, 310

  Manea, 409

  March, 410

  Margaret, Lady, 110, 152

  Margaret, Queen, 41

  Mark, 318

  Market Hill, 130

  Marshland, 399, 411

  Martial, 384

  Martin V., Pope, 161, 238

  Mary Stuart, 278

  Mary Tudor, 97, 225

  Maur, St., 252

  Mayor of Cambridge, 12

  May pole, 255

  Mazes, 254, 352

  Medhampsted, 308, 394, 396

  Melbourn, 242

  Meldreth, 242

  Mepal, 390

  Merton, 25, 142

  Michael House, 14, 86

  Midsummer Common, 146

  Mildenhall, 185

  Mildmay, 156

  Milestone, 82, 160

  Mill Hill, 345

  Mill, St., 50

  Milton, 295

  Milton, John, 56, 58, 91, 154

  Miserere seats, 363

  Monks' Door, 356

  Monks' garments, 338

  Morning Talks, 36

  Morton, Bp., 336, 398, 418


  Needham Hall, 412

  Needingworth, 279

  Nene, 398

  Neotus, St., 276

  Neptune, 266

  Nevile, 92, 100

  Nevile's Court, 92, 94, 95

  Newcastle, 390

  New College, 51

  Newmarket, 173, 174, 389

  Newton, Isaac, 41, 91, 92, 103, 107, 265

  Non-Collegiate Students, 15

  Northwold, Bp. Hugh de, 307, 324, 329, 335, 359, 363, 365, 369, 371


  Oakington, 288

  Oasland, 288

  Oath of Supremacy, 419

  Observatory, 221, 265

  Octagon, 356

  Oddy, 288

  Old North Road, 244

  Opponencies, 14

  Organs, 105

  Orwell, 256

  Ostorius, 172, 211

  Ouse R., 277-280, 301

  Outwell, 398, 411

  Over, 286, 294

  Overcote, 280, 295

  Owen, 283, 355


  Paley, 155

  Pandiana, St., 275

  Parallax, 280

  Parchment, 224

  Paris, Matthew, 325, 328

  Park (Ely), 345

  Parker, Abp., 39

  Paxton, 278

  Peacock, Dean, 384

  Peas Hill, 130

  Pembroke, 28

  Penda, 175, 303

  Pensioners, 15

  Pepys, 137

  Perne, 23

  Perpendicular Architecture, 334

  Perry, Bp., 105, 155, 162

  Peterborough, 298, 308, 315, 373, 400

  Peter Pence, 203

  Peters, Hugh, 183

  Philippa, Queen, 330, 348, 359

  Picot, 10, 160

  Pilgrim's Progress, 166

  Pitt Press, 40

  Pitt, William, 32

  Plate, College, 31, 84, 95

  Poison Cup, 84

  Population, 4, 10

  Posidonius, 384

  Preachers' Street, 155

  Premier College, 50

  President, 48

  Prior's Door, 353

  Priory Chapel, 161

  Probus, 201

  Proctors, 12, 16, 125

  Provost, 12, 48


  Quarles, 155

  Queen's Lane, 50

  Querela Cantabrigiensis, 31, 129

  Quy, 169


  Radegund, St., 10, 144

  Railroads, 20, 203

  Rampton, 298

  Reach, 171, 187, 194, 196, 300

  Regent Street, 159

  Residence, 17

  Richard the Third, 322

  Ridley, Bp., 31

  Ringmere, 8, 214

  Roger of Wendover, 309, 324

  Rolls, C. S., 91

  Romney Marsh, 400

  Romsey Town, 208

  Röntgen, 267

  Roof Climbing, 91

  Rooms, 15

  Roubillac, 102

  Round Churches, 133

  Royston, 244

  Rufus, William, 336, 430

  Rustication, 16

  Rutherford, Professor, 267


  Sacring Bell, 231, 294

  Saffron, 209

  St. Ives, 279

  St. John's Farm, 382

  St. Neots, 276

  Sancroft, Abp., 156

  Sarcophagus, 307

  Sawston, 222

  Scholars, 14

  Schools, 14

  Screens, 95, 98

  Seals, 393

  Sea Wall, 399, 411, 422

  Sedgwick, Adam, 267

  Selenite, 292, 409

  Selwyn, Bp., 367

  Senate House, 15, 125

  Sexburga, 176, 306

  Sexwulf, 392

  "Shammy" Leather, 222

  Sharpinhoe, 236

  Shelford, 222

  Shepreth, 242

  Shingay, 258

  Ship Money, 244

  Shudy Camps, 206

  Sibyl, 149

  Simeon, Abbot, 319, 335, 359, 360

  Simeon, Charles, 152

  Simon de Montfort, 325

  Slavery, 421

  Snailwell, 176

  Soham, 178, 180

  Sophs, 96

  Sound, 92

  Southey, 114

  Spark, Bp., 321

  Spenser, 32

  Spikes, 78

  Stanground, 387

  Stapleford, 222

  Steeple Morden, 263

  Stocks, 242

  Stokes, Sir George, 32, 267

  Stonea, 409

  Stone altar, 134

  Stourbridge Fair, 163-167

  Stretham, 283, 298

  Stuntney, 180

  Suffolk, 175

  Sutton, 286

  Sutton Crosses, 424

  Swaffham, 236

  Swaffham Bulbeck, 189

  Swaffham Prior, 191

  Swavesey, 292

  Syndicates, 125


  Tabula Eliensis, 319

  Taxers, 12

  "T.B.C.," 88

  Tennyson, 55, 91, 97, 102, 104

  Terms, 17

  Terrington, 120, 414

  Teversham, 209

  Thackeray, 91, 97, 107

  Theodore of Tarsus, 306

  Thetford, 180

  Third Trinity, 88

  Thirlby, Bp., 341

  Thompson, 104

  Thomson, Sir J. J., 267

  Tillotson, Abp., 288

  Tithe Barn, 381

  Toft, 270

  Tonbert, 169, 283

  Triplow Heath, 228

  Tripos, 14, 127

  Trumpington, 219, 310

  Trumpington Gate, 35

  Turf-cutting, 196

  Turner, Bp., 274, 343

  Tydd, 415


  Ulfcytel, 8, 214

  "Undertakers," 403

  Union, 134

  University, Origin of, 11

  Upper River, 220

  Upware, 194, 300

  Upwell, 411


  Vacations, 17

  Valence, Marie de, 30

  Vandlebury, 201

  Vanity Fair, 166

  Vermuyden, 406

  Via Devana, 21, 159, 206

  Vicars Brook, 23

  Vice-Chancellor, 125

  Victoria, Queen, 257

  Vigor, St., 210


  Walden, 137

  Wall-rue, 295

  Walpole, 413, 422

  Walpole Gate, 345

  Walsoken, 413, 422

  War Ditches, 208

  Warstead Street, 209

  Washington Arms, 26

  Waterbeach, 289, 296

  Wat Tyler, 131, 248

  Waynflete, Bp., 52

  Wedmore, Peace of, 8, 308

  Well Stream, 399, 411, 416, 422

  Welney, 411

  Wendred, St., 176, 275

  Wendy, 260

  Wentworth, 286

  West, Bp., 332, 335, 367

  Westcott House, 148

  Westley Waterless, 188

  Westminster College, 142

  Westmorland, 166

  Weston Colville, 188

  Westry, 411

  West Walton, 413, 422

  Whalley, 272

  Whewell, 104, 108

  White Hill, 236

  Whitgift, Abp., 124

  Whittlesea, 410

  Whittlesford, 227

  Wicken Fen, 180, 300

  Wilbraham, 210

  Wilburton, 283

  Wilfrid, St., 303, 393

  Will of Henry the Sixth, 52

  Williams, Bp., 116

  Willingham, 286, 290

  Wimpole, 256

  Wireless Telegraphy, 267

  Wisbech, 399, 403, 415, 426

  Wisbech, John of, 331

  Witchford, 286, 318

  Woad, 417

  Wood Ditton, 171, 187

  Wordsworth, 55, 101, 102, 113, 118

  Wranglers, 14

  Wren, Bp., 25, 189, 209, 342

  Wren, Christopher, 30, 43, 360


  Yaxley, 400


     =Sussex.= By E. V. LUCAS. With Illustrations by FREDERICK L.

_WESTMINSTER GAZETTE._--"A delightful addition to an excellent
series.... Mr. Lucas's knowledge of Sussex is shown in so many fields,
with so abundant and yet so natural a flow, that one is kept
entertained and charmed through every passage of his devious

     =Berkshire.= By JAMES EDMUND VINCENT. With Illustrations by

_DAILY CHRONICLE._--"We consider this book one of the best in an
admirable series, and one which should appeal to all who love this
kind of literature."

     =Oxford and the Cotswolds.= By H. A. EVANS. With Illustrations by

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"The author is everywhere entertaining and fresh,
never allowing his own interest to flag, and thereby retaining the
close attention of the reader."

     =Shakespeare's Country.= By The Ven. W. H. HUTTON. With
     Illustrations by EDMUND H. NEW.

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"Mr. Edmund H. New has made a fine book a thing
of beauty and a joy for ever by a series of lovely drawings."

     =Hampshire.= By D. H. MOUTRAY READ. With Illustrations by ARTHUR
     B. CONNOR.

_STANDARD._--"In our judgment, as excellent and as lively a book as
has yet appeared in the Highways and Byways Series."

     =Dorset.= By Sir FREDERICK TREVES. With Illustrations by JOSEPH

_STANDARD._--"A breezy, delightful book, full of sidelights on men and
manners, and quick in the interpretation of all the half-inarticulate
lore of the countryside."

     =Wiltshire.= By EDWARD HUTTON. With Illustrations by NELLY

_DAILY GRAPHIC._--"Replete with enjoyable and informing reading ...
Illustrated by exquisite sketches."

     =Somerset.= By EDWARD HUTTON. With Illustrations by NELLY

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"A book which will set the heart of every
West-country-man beating with enthusiasm, and with pride for the
goodly heritage into which he has been born as a son of Somerset."

     =Devon and Cornwall.= By ARTHUR H. NORWAY. With Illustrations by

_DAILY CHRONICLE._--"So delightful that we would gladly fill columns
with extracts were space as elastic as imagination.... The text is
excellent; the illustrations of it are even better."

     =South Wales.= By A. G. BRADLEY. With Illustrations by FREDERICK
     L. GRIGGS.

_SPECTATOR._--"Mr. Bradley has certainly exalted the writing of a
combined archæological and descriptive guide-book into a species of
literary art. The result is fascinating."

     =North Wales.= By A. G. BRADLEY. With Illustrations by HUGH

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"To read this fine book makes us eager to visit
every hill and every valley that Mr. Bradley describes with such
tantalising enthusiasm. It is a work of inspiration, vivid, sparkling,
and eloquent--a deep well of pleasure to every lover of Wales."

     =Cambridge and Ely.= By Rev. EDWARD CONYBEARE. With Illustrations

_ATHENÆUM._--"A volume which, light and easily read as it is, deserves
to rank with the best literature about the county."

     =East Anglia.= By WILLIAM A. DUTT. With Illustrations by JOSEPH

_WORLD._--"Of all the fascinating volumes in the 'Highways and Byways'
series, none is more pleasant to read.... Mr. Dutt, himself an East
Anglian, writes most sympathetically and in picturesque style of the

     =Lincolnshire.= By W. F. RAWNSLEY. With Illustrations by

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"A splendid record of a storied shire."

     =Nottinghamshire.= By J. B. FIRTH. With Illustrations by

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"A book that will rank high in the series which it
augments; a book that no student of our Midland topography and of
Midland associations should miss."

     =Northamptonshire and Rutland.= By HERBERT A. EVANS. With
     Illustrations by FREDERICK L. GRIGGS.

_TIMES._--"A pleasant, gossiping record ... Mr. Evans is a guide who
makes us want to see for ourselves the places he has seen."

     =Derbyshire.= By J. B. FIRTH. With Illustrations by NELLY

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"The result is altogether delightful, for
'Derbyshire' is as attractive to the reader in his arm-chair as to the
tourist wandering amid the scenes Mr. Firth describes so well."

     =Yorkshire.= By ARTHUR H. NORWAY. With Illustrations by JOSEPH

_PALL MALL GAZETTE._--"The wonderful story of Yorkshire's past
provides Mr. Norway with a wealth of interesting material, which he
has used judiciously and well; each grey ruin of castle and abbey he
has re-erected and re-peopled in the most delightful way. A better
guide and story-teller it would be hard to find."

     =Lake District.= By A. G. BRADLEY. With Illustrations by JOSEPH

_ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE._--"A notable edition--an engaging volume, packed
with the best of all possible guidance for tourists. For the most part
the artist's work is as exquisite as anything of the kind he has

     =Northumbria.= By P. ANDERSON GRAHAM. With Illustrations by HUGH

     =The Border.= By ANDREW LANG and JOHN LANG. With Illustrations by

_STANDARD._--"The reader on his travels, real or imaginary, could not
have pleasanter or more profitable companionship. There are charming
sketches by Mr. Hugh Thomson to illustrate the letterpress."

     =Galloway and Carrick.= By the Rev. C. H. DICK. With
     Illustrations by HUGH THOMSON.

_SATURDAY REVIEW._--"The very book to take with one into that romantic
angle of Scotland, which lies well aside of the beaten tourist track."

     =Donegal and Antrim.= By STEPHEN GWYNN. With Illustrations by

_DAILY TELEGRAPH._--"A perfect book of its kind, on which author,
artist, and publisher have lavished of their best."

     =Normandy.= By PERCY DEARMER, M.A. With Illustrations by JOSEPH

_ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE._--"A charming book ... Mr. Dearmer is as
arrestive in his way as Mr. Pennell. He has the true topographic eye.
He handles legend and history in entertaining fashion."


[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all
other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling
has been maintained.

Text enclosed in = is printed in bold in the book.

Letters preceded by a ^ are superscribt.

Page 117: "Last year (1809)" has been corrected to "Last year (1909)".

Page 343: The footnote 223 present there has no anchor in the text.]

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