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Title: Nooks and Corners of Old England
Author: Fea, Allen
Language: English
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[Illustration: Book Cover]



NOOKS AND CORNERS
OF OLD ENGLAND



[Illustration: Queen Eleanor's Cross
at Geddington]



NOOKS AND CORNERS
OF OLD ENGLAND


BY

ALLAN FEA

AUTHOR OF
"SECRET CHAMBERS AND HIDING PLACES" "PICTURESQUE OLD HOUSES"
"FLIGHT OF THE KING" ETC.


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
BY THE AUTHOR


NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1908



TO
MY OLD FRIEND
SEYMOUR LUCAS, R.A., F.S.A.
THIS BOOK
IS AFFECTIONATELY
INSCRIBED



A recent glance over some old Ordnance Maps, the companions of many a
ramble in the corners of Old England, has suggested the idea of jotting
down a few fragmentary notes, which we trust may be of interest.

Upon a former occasion we wandered with pencil and camera haphazard off
the beaten track mainly in the counties surrounding the great
Metropolis; and though there are several tempting "Nooks" still near at
hand, we have now extended our range of exploration.

We only trust the reader will derive a little of the pleasure we have
found in compiling this little volume.

  A. F.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
  NOOKS IN HUNTINGDONSHIRE AND NORTH NORTHANTS                         1
  SOME SUFFOLK NOOKS                                                  22
  NOOKS IN NORFOLK                                                    40
  NOOKS IN WARWICKSHIRE AND BORDERLAND                                59
  SOME NOOKS IN WORCESTERSHIRE AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE                    78
  NOOKS IN NORTHERN WILTSHIRE                                        102
  EASTERN AND SOUTHERN SOMERSET                                      123
  IN WESTERN SOMERSET                                                147
  IN DEVON AND DORSET                                                162
  HERE AND THERE IN SALOP AND STAFFORDSHIRE                          181
  IN NORTHERN DERBYSHIRE                                             200
  NOOKS IN YORKSHIRE                                                 225
  INDEX                                                              269



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  QUEEN ELEANOR'S CROSS AT GEDDINGTON                     _Frontispiece_
  THE BELL, STILTON                                      _Facing page_ 8
  KIRBY HALL                                                          18
  WOTHORPE MANOR-HOUSE                                                18
  DOORWAY, KIRBY HALL                                                 20
  GATEWAY, KIRBY HALL                                                 20
  ERWARTON HALL                                                       36
  WALSINGHAM                                                          42
  WALSINGHAM                                                          42
  EAST BARSHAM MANOR                                                  44
  FONT CANOPY, TRUNCH                                                 44
  WYMONDHAM                                                           52
  HAUTBOYS HALL                                                       52
  CHASTLETON                                                          64
  PIRTON COURT                                                        80
  THE WHITE HOUSE, PIXHAM                                             80
  SEVERN END                                                          82
  SEVERN END                                                          82
  RIPPLE                                                              86
  STANTON                                                             86
  STANWAY HOUSE                                                       90
  STANWAY HOUSE                                                       90
  POSTLIP HALL                                                        98
  STOCKS, PAINSWICK                                                   98
  NAILSWORTH                                                         100
  BEVERSTONE CASTLE                                                  100
  GATE-HOUSE, SPYE PARK                                              104
  LACOCK                                                             104
  LACOCK                                                             106
  BEWLEY COURT                                                       106
  LACOCK                                                             108
  LACOCK ABBY                                                        108
  CORSHAM ALMSHOUSE                                                  112
  CORSHAM ALMSHOUSE                                                  112
  CORSHAM ALMSHOUSE                                                  114
  CASTLE COMBE                                                       114
  YATTON KEYNELL MANOR                                               116
  BULLICH MANOR-HOUSE                                                116
  SHELDON MANOR                                                      118
  SHELDON MANOR                                                      118
  SOUTH WRAXALL MANOR-HOUSE                                          120
  SOUTH WRAXALL MANOR-HOUSE                                          120
  THE GEORGE, NORTON ST. PHILIP                                      124
  THE GEORGE, NORTON ST. PHILIP                                      124
  CHARTERHOUSE HINTON                                                128
  WELLOW MANOR-HOUSE                                                 128
  OLD HOUSE NEAR CROSCOMBE                                           130
  BECKINGTON CASTLE                                                  130
  CROSCOMBE CHURCH                                                   132
  CROSCOMBE                                                          132
  LYTES CARY MANOR-HOUSE                                             134
  LYTES CARY MANOR-HOUSE                                             134
  ANCIENT SCREEN, CURRY RIVEL CHURCH                                 136
  FIREPLACE, LYTES CARY                                              136
  BARRINGTON COURT                                                   138
  HINTON ST. GEORGE                                                  140
  SANDFORD ORCAS MANOR-HOUSE                                         140
  MONTACUTE HOUSE                                                    144
  MONTACUTE PRIORY                                                   144
  CROWCOMBE                                                          148
  OLD HOUSE, CROWCOMBE                                               148
  COMBE SYDENHAM                                                     152
  COMBE SYDENHAM                                                     152
  CROWCOMBE CHURCH                                                   156
  DUNSTER                                                            156
  BINDON                                                             168
  BINDON                                                             168
  WYLDE COURT                                                        170
  THE GOLDEN LION, BARNSTAPLE                                        170
  MAPPERTON MANOR-HOUSE                                              172
  MELPLASH COURT                                                     172
  WATERSTONE                                                         174
  ATHELHAMPTON                                                       174
  ATHELHAMPTON                                                       176
  ATHELHAMPTON                                                       176
  MONMOUTH'S TREE                                                    178
  SERVANTS' HALL, CHIRK CASTLE                                       182
  SERVANTS' HALL, CHIRK CASTLE                                       184
  MARKET DRAYTON                                                     190
  MARKET DRAYTON                                                     190
  BLACKLADIES                                                        198
  GREAT HALL, HADDON                                                 202
  GREAT HALL, HADDON                                                 202
  COURTYARD, HADDON                                                  204
  DRAWING-ROOM, HADDON                                               204
  WITHDRAWING-ROOM, HADDON                                           206
  WITHDRAWING-ROOM, HADDON                                           206
  DOORWAY, HADDON                                                    208
  INTERIOR COURTYARD, HADDON                                         208
  GREAT HALL, HADDON                                                 212
  HARDWICK HALL                                                      212
  GARLANDS, ASHFORD CHURCH                                           220
  GATEWAY, KNOWSTHORPE HALL                                          240
  TOMB, DARFIELD CHURCH                                              240
  LEATHLEY STOCKS                                                    244
  STOCKS AT WESTON                                                   244
  MIDDLEHAM CASTLE                                                   252
  SWINSTY HALL                                                       252
  QUEEN'S GAP, LEYBURN "SHAWL"                                       254
  BELLERBY OLD HALL                                                  256
  BOLTON CASTLE                                                      256
  ASKRIGG                                                            260
  NAPPA HALL                                                         260
  RICHMOND                                                           266
  EASBY ABBEY                                                        266



NOOKS IN HUNTINGDONSHIRE
AND NORTH NORTHANTS


At Huntingdon we are on familiar ground with Samuel Pepys. When he
journeyed northwards to visit his parental house or to pay his respects
to Lord Sandwich's family at Hinchinbrooke, he usually found suitable
accommodation at "Goody Gorums" and "Mother" somebody else who lived
over against the "Crown." Neither the famous posting-house the "George"
nor the "Falcon" are mentioned in the _Diary_, but he speaks of the
"Chequers"; however, the change of names of ancient hostelries is
common, so in picturing the susceptible Clerk of the Admiralty chucking
a pretty chambermaid under the chin in the old galleried yard of the
"George," we may not be far out of our reckoning.

But altogether the old George Inn is somewhat disappointing. Its
balustraded galleries are there sure enough, with the queer old
staircase leading up to them in one of the corners; but it has the same
burnished-up appearance of the courtyard of the Leicester Hospital at
Warwick. How much more pleasing both would strike the eye were there
less paint and varnish. The Inn has been refronted, and from the street
has quite a modern appearance.

Huntingdon recalls the sterner name of Cromwell. Strange that this
county, so proud of the Lord Protector (for has it not recently set up a
gorgeous statue at St. Ives to his memory?), should still harbour
red-hot Jacobites! According to _The Legitimist Calendar_, mysterious
but harmless meetings are still held hereabouts on Oak Apple Day: a day
elsewhere all but forgotten. Huntingdon was the headquarters of the
Royalist army certainly upon many occasions, and when evil days fell
upon the "Martyr King," some of his staunchest friends were here
secretly working for his welfare.[1] When Charles passed through the
town in 1644, the mayor, loyal to the back-bone, had prepared a speech
to outrival the flowery welcome of his fellow-magistrates: "Although
Rome's Hens," he said, "should daily hatch of its preposterous eggs,
chrocodilicall chickens, yet under the Shield of Faith, by you our most
Royal Sovereigne defended and by the King of Heavens as I stand and your
most medicable councell, would we not be fearful to withstand them."[2]
Though the sentence is somewhat involved, the worthy magnate doubtless
meant well.

It was the custom, by the way, so Evelyn tells us, when a monarch passed
through Huntingdon, to meet him with a hundred ploughs as a symbol of
the fruitful soil: the county indeed at one time was rich in vines and
hops, and has been described by old writers as the garden of England.
Still here as elsewhere the farmers' outlook is a poor one to-day,
although there are, of course, exceptions.

At historic Hinchinbrooke (on June 4, 1647), King Charles slept the
first night after he was removed from Holdenby House by Cornet Joyce:
the first stage of his _progress_ to the scaffold. In the grounds of the
old mansion, the monarch, when Prince of Wales, and little Oliver played
together, for the owner in those days of the ancient seat of the
Montagues and Cromwells was the future Protector's uncle and godfather.
Upon one occasion the boys had a stand-up fight, and the commoner, the
senior by only one year, made his royal adversary's nose bleed,--an
augury for fatal events to follow. The story is told how little Oliver
fell into the Ouse and was fished out by a Royalist piscatorial parson.
Years afterwards, when the Protector revisited the scenes of his youth
in the midst of his triumphant army, he encountered his rescuer, and
asked him whether he remembered the occurrence.

"Truly do I," was the prompt reply; "and the Lord forgive me, but I wish
I'd let thee drown."

The Montagues became possessed of the estate in 1627. Pepys speaks of
"the brave rooms and good pictures," which pleased him better than those
at Audley End. The Diarist's parental house remains at Brampton, a
little to the west of Huntingdon. In characteristic style he records a
visit there in October 1667: "So away for Huntingdon mightily pleased
all along the road to remember old stories, and come to Brampton at
about noon, and there found my father and sister and brother all well:
and here laid up our things, and up and down to see the gardens with my
father, and the house; and do altogether find it very pretty, especially
the little parlour and the summer-houses in the garden, only the wall do
want greens up it, and the house is too low roofed; but that is only
because of my coming from a house with higher ceilings."

Before turning our steps northwards, let us glance at the mediæval
bridge that spans the river Ouse, to Godmanchester, which is referred to
by the thirteenth-century historian _Henry of Huntingdon_ as "a noble
city." But its nobility has long since departed, and some modern
monstrosities in architecture make the old Tudor buildings which
remain, blush for such brazen-faced obtrusion. Its ancient water-mill
externally looks so dilapidated, that one would think the next
"well-formed depression" from America would blow it to atoms. Not a bit
of it. Its huge timber beams within, smile at such fears. It is a
veritable fortress of timber. But although this solid wooden structure
defies the worst of gales, there are rumours of coming electric
tramways, and then, alas! the old mill will bow a dignified departure,
and the curfew, which yet survives, will then also perhaps think it is
time to be gone.

At Little Stukeley, on the Great North Road some three miles above
Huntingdon, is a queer old inn, the "Swan and Salmon," bearing upon its
sign the date 1676. It is a good example of the brickwork of the latter
half of the seventeenth century. Like many another ancient hostelry on
the road to York, it is associated with Dick Turpin's exploits; and to
give colour to the tradition, mine host can point at a little masked
hiding-place situated somewhere at the back of the sign up in its gable
end. It certainly looks the sort of place that could relate stories of
highwaymen; a roomy old building, which no doubt in its day had
trap-doors and exits innumerable for the convenience of the gentlemen of
the road.

A little off the ancient "Ermine Street," to the north-west of Stukeley,
is the insignificant village of Coppingford, historically interesting
from the fact that when Charles I. fled from Oxford in disguise in 1646,
he stopped the night there at a little obscure cottage or alehouse, on
his way to seek protection of the Scots at Southwell. "This day one
hundred years ago," writes Dr. Stukeley in his _Memoirs_ on May 3, 1746,
"King Charles, Mr. John Ashburnham, and Dr. Hudson came from Coppingford
in Huntingdonshire and lay at Mr. Alderman Wolph's house, now mine, on
Barn Hill; all the day obscure." Hudson, from whom Sir Walter drew his
character of Dr. Rochecliffe in _Woodstock_, records the fact in the
following words: "We lay at Copingforde in Huntingdonshire one Sunday, 3
May; wente not to church, but I read prayers to the King; and at six at
night he went to Stamforde. I writte from Copingforde to Mr. Skipwith
for a horse, and he sente me one, which was brought to me at Stamforde.
---- at Copingforde the King and me, with my hoste and hostis and two
children, were by the fire in the hall. There was noe other chimney in
the house."[3] The village of Little Gidding, still farther to the
north-west, had often before been visited by Charles in connection with
a religious establishment that had been founded there by the Ferrar
family. A curious old silk coffer, which was given by Charles to the
nieces of the founder, Nicholas Ferrar, upon one of these occasions,
some years ago came into the possession of our late queen, and is still
preserved at Windsor.

A few miles to the north-east is Glatton, another remote village where
old May-day customs yet linger. There are some quaint superstitions in
the rural districts hereabouts. A favourite remedy for infectious
disease is to open the window of the sickroom not so much to let in the
fresh air as to admit the gnats, which are believed to fly away with the
malady and die. The beneficial result is never attributed to oxygen!

The Roman road (if, indeed, it is the same, for some authorities incline
to the opinion that it ran parallel at some little distance away) is
unpicturesque and dreary. Towering double telegraph poles recur at set
intervals with mathematical regularity, and the breeze playing upon the
wires aloft brings forth that long-drawn melancholy wail only to make
the monotony more depressing. Half a mile from the main road, almost due
east of Glatton, stands Connington Hall, where linger sad memories of
the fate of Mary Queen of Scots. When the castle of Fotheringay was
demolished in 1625, Sir Robert Cotton had the great Hall in which she
was beheaded removed here. The curious carved oak chair which was used
by the poor Queen at Fotheringay until the day of her death may now be
seen in Connington Church, where also is the Tomb of Sir Robert, the
founder of the famous Cottonian Library.

[Illustration: THE BELL, STILTON]

A couple of miles or so to the north is Stilton, which bears an air of
decayed importance. A time-mellowed red-brick Queen Anne house, whose
huge wooden supports, like cripples' crutches, keep it from toppling
over, comes first in sight. In striking contrast, with its formal style
of architecture, is the picturesque outline of the ancient inn beyond. A
complicated flourish of ornamental ironwork, that would exasperate the
most expert freehand draughtsman, supports the weather-beaten sign of
solid copper. Upon the right-hand gable stands the date 1642, bringing
with it visions of the coming struggle between King and Parliament. But
the date is misleading, as may be seen from the stone groining upon the
adjoining masonry. The main building was certainly erected quite a
century earlier. Here and there modern windows have been inserted in
place of the Tudor mullioned ones, as also have later doorways, for part
of the building is now occupied as tenements. The archway leading into
the courtyard has also been somewhat modernised, as may be judged from
the corresponding internal arch, with its original curved dripstone
above.

We came upon this inn, tramping northwards in a bitter day in March.
It looked homely and inviting, the waning sunlight tinting the stonework
and lighting up the window casements. Enthusiastic with pleasing
imaginings of panelled chambers and ghostly echoing corridors, we
entered only to have our dreams speedily dispersed. In vain we sought
for such a "best room" as greeted Mr. Chester at the "Maypole." There
were no rich rustling hangings here, nor oaken screens enriched with
grotesque carvings. Alas! not even a cheery fire of fagots. Nor, indeed,
was there a bed to rest our weary bones upon. Spring cleaning was
rampant, and the merciless east wind sweeping along the bare passages
made one shudder more than usual at the thought of that terrible annual
necessity (but the glory of energetic house-wives). But surely mine
hostess of the good old days would have scrupled to thrust the traveller
from her door: moreover to a house of refreshment, or rather
eating-house, a stone's-throw off, uncomfortably near that rickety
propped-up red-brick residence.

With visions of the smoking bowl and lavender-scented sheets dashed to
the ground, we turned away. But, lo! and behold a good _angel_ had come
to the rescue. So absorbed had we been with the possibilities of the
"Bell" that the "Angel" opposite had quite been overlooked. This rival
inn of Georgian date furnished us with cosy quarters. From our
flower-bedecked window the whole front of the old "Bell" could be
leisurely studied in all its varying stages of light and shade--an inn
with a past; an object-lesson for the philosopher to ruminate upon. Yes,
in its day one can picture scenes of lavish, shall we say Ainsworthian
hospitality. There is a smack of huge venison pasties, fatted capons,
and of roasted peacocks about this hoary hostel. And its stables; one
has but to stroll up an adjacent lane to get some idea of the once vast
extent of its outbuildings. The ground they covered must have occupied
nearly half the village. Here was stabling for over eighty horses, and
before the birth of trains, thirty-six coaches pulled up daily at the
portal for hungry passengers to refresh or rest.

The famous cheese, by the way, was first sold at this inn; but why it
was dubbed Stilton instead of Dalby in Leicestershire, where it was
first manufactured, is a mystery. Like its _vis-à-vis_, the "Angel" is
far different from what it was in its flourishing days. The main
building is now occupied for other purposes, and its dignity has long
since departed. To-day Stilton looks on its last legs. The goggled
motor-fiend sweeps by to Huntingdon or Peterborough while Stilton rubs
its sleepy eyes. But who can tell but that its fortunes may yet revive.
Was not Broadway dying a natural death when Jonathan, who invariably
tells us what treasures we possess, stepped in and made it popular? Some
enterprising landlord might do worse than take the old "Bell" in hand
and ring it to a profitable tune. But judging by appearances, visitors
to-day, at least in March, are few and far between.

Half the charm of Stilton lies in the fact that there is no hurry. It is
quite refreshing in these days of rush. For instance, you want to catch
a train at Peterborough,--at least we did, for that was the handiest way
of reaching Oundle, some seven miles to the west of Stilton as the crow
flies. Sitting on thorns, we awaited the convenience of the horse as to
whether his accustomed jog-trot would enable us to catch our train. We
_did_ catch it truly, but the anxiety was a terrible experience.

Oundle is full of old inns. The "Turk's Head," facing the church, is a
fine and compact specimen of Jacobean architecture. It was a brilliant
morning when we stood in the churchyard looking up at the
ball-surmounted gables standing out in bold relief against the clear
blue sky, while the caw of a colony of rooks sailing overhead seemed
quite in harmony with the old-world surroundings.

More important and flourishing is the "Talbot," which looks
self-conscious of the fact that in its walls are incorporated some of
the remains of no less historic a building than Fotheringay Castle,
whose moat and fragmentary walls are to be seen some three and a half
miles to the north of the town. The fortress, with its sad and tragic
memories of Mary Queen of Scots, was demolished after James came to the
throne, and its fine oak staircase, by repute the same by which she
descended to the scaffold, was re-erected in the "Talbot." The courtyard
is picturesque. The old windows which light the staircase, which also
are said to have come from Fotheringay, are angular at the base, and
have an odd and pleasing appearance.

Two ancient almshouses, with imposing entrance gates, are well worth
inspection. There is a graceful little pinnacle surmounting one of the
gable ends, at which we were curiously gazing when one of the aged
inmates came out in alarm to see if the chimney was on fire.

Fotheringay church, with its lantern tower and flying buttresses, is
picturesquely situated close to the river Nene, and with the bridge
makes a charming picture. The older bridge of Queen Mary's time was
angular, with square arches, as may be seen from a print of the early
part of the eighteenth century. In this is shown the same scanty remains
of the historic Castle: a wall with a couple of Gothic doorways, all
that survived of the formidable fortress that was the unfortunate
queen's last prison-house. As at Cumnor, where poor Amy Robsart was
done to death in a manner which certainly Elizabeth hinted at regarding
her troublesome cousin, there is little beyond the foundations from
which to form an idea of the building. It was divided by a double moat,
which is still to be seen, as well as the natural earthwork upon which
the keep stood. The queen's apartments, that towards the end were
stripped of all emblems of royalty, were situated above and to the south
of the great hall, into which she had to descend by a staircase to the
scaffold. Some ancient thorn trees now flourish upon the spot. The
historian Fuller, who visited the castle prior to its demolition, found
the following lines from an old ballad scratched with a diamond upon a
window-pane of Mary's prison-chamber:

  "From the top of all my trust
  Mishap hath laid me in the dust."

Though Mary's mock trial took place at Fotheringay in the "Presence
Chamber," she was actually condemned in the Star Chamber at Westminster;
and it may here be stated that that fine old room may yet be seen not
very many miles away, at Wormleighton, near the Northamptonshire border
of south-east Warwickshire. A farmhouse near Fotheringay is still
pointed out where the executioner lodged the night before the deed; and
some claim this distinction for the ancient inn in which are
incorporated some remains of the castle.

As is known, the Queen of Scots' body was buried first in Peterborough
Cathedral, whence it was removed to Westminster Abbey. There is a
superstition in Northamptonshire that if a body after interment be
removed, it bodes misfortune to the surviving members of the family.
This was pointed out at the time to James I.; but superstitious as he
was, he did not alter his plans, and the death of Prince Henry shortly
afterwards seemed to confirm this belief.[4]

But there are other memories of famous names in history, for the head of
the White Rose family, Richard of York, was buried in the church, and
his duchess, Cecilia Neville, as well as Edward of York, whose death at
Agincourt is immortalised by Shakespeare. When the older church was
dismantled and the bodies removed to their present destination, a silver
ribbon was discovered round the Duchess Cecilia's neck upon which a
pardon from Rome was clearly written. The windows of the church once
were rich in painted glass; and at the fine fifteenth-century font it is
conjectured Richard III. was baptized, for he was born at the Castle.
Crookback's badge, the boar, may still be seen in the church, and the
Yorkist falcon and fetterlock are displayed on the summit of the vane
upon the tower. Also some carved stalls, which came from here, in the
churches of Tansor and Hemington to the south of Fotheringay, bear the
regal badges and crest. The falcon and the fetterlock also occur in the
monuments to the Dukes of York, which were rebuilt by Queen Elizabeth
when the older tombs had fallen to decay. The allegiance to the
fascinating Queen of Scots is far from dead, for in February 1902, and
doubtless more recently, a gentleman journeyed specially from Edinburgh
to Fotheringay to place a tribute to her martyrdom in the form of a
large cross of immortelles bearing the Scots crown and Mary's monogram,
and a black bordered white silk sash attached.

A few miles to the west of this historic spot are the fine Tudor houses
Deene and Kirby: the former still a palatial residence; the latter,
alas! a ruin fast falling to decay. Deene, with its battlemented towers
and turrets and buttressed walls, is a noble-looking structure, with
numerous shields of arms and heraldic devices carved upon the masonry.
These are of the great families, Brudenel, Montagu, Bruce, Bulstrode,
etc., whose intermarriages are emblazoned in painted glass in the top of
the mullioned windows of the hall. Sir Thomas Brudenel, the first Earl
of Cardigan, who died three years after the Restoration, was a typical
old cavalier after the style of Sir Henry Lee in _Woodstock_; and in
the manor are preserved many of his manuscripts written during his
twenty years' confinement in the Tower. In the great hall there is a
blocked-up entrance to a subterranean passage running towards Kirby, and
through this secret despatches are said to have been carried in the time
of the Civil War; and at the back of a fireplace in the same apartment
is a hiding-place sufficiently large to contain a score of people
standing up. One of the rooms is called Henry VII.'s room, as that
monarch when Earl of Richmond is said to have ridden from Bosworth Field
to seek refuge at Deene, then a monastery.

[Illustration: WOTHORPE MANOR-HOUSE.]

Among the numerous portraits are the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was slain
by the second Duke of Buckingham in the notorious duel, and his wife
Lady Anne Brudenel, who was daughter of the second Earl of Cardigan.
Some time before the poor plain little duchess suspected that she had a
formidable rival in the beautiful countess, she was returning from a
visit to Deene to her house near Stamford, where her reckless husband
just then found it convenient to hide himself, as a warrant for high
treason was out against him, when she noticed a suspicious little
cavalcade travelling in the same direction. Ordering the horses to be
whipped up, she arrived in time to give the alarm. The duke had just set
out for Burleigh House with some ladies in his company, and, says
Clarendon, the sergeant "made so good haste that he was in view of the
coach, and saw the duke alight out of the coach and lead a lady into the
house, upon which the door of the court was shut before he could get to
it. He knocked loudly at that and other doors that were all shut, so
that he could not get into the house though it were some hours before
sunset in the month of May."[5] Pepys was strolling in the park and met
Sergeant Bearcroft "who was sent for the Duke of Buckingham, to have
brought his prisoner to the Tower. He come to towne this day and brings
word that being overtaken and outrid by the Duchesse of Buckingham
within a few miles of the duke's house of Westhorp, he believes she got
thither about a quarter of an hour before him, and so had time to
consider; so that when he came, the doors were kept shut against him.
The next day, coming with officers of the neighbour market-town
[Stamford] to force open the doors, they were open for him, but the duke
gone, so he took horse presently and heard upon the road that the Duke
of Buckingham was gone before him for London. So that he believes he is
this day also come to towne before him; but no newes is yet heard of
him."[6] Many blunders have been made in reference to the duke's house
of "Westhorp." Some have called it "Owthorp" and others "Westhorpe" in
Suffolk, the demolished mansion of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. The
place referred to is really Wothorpe manor-house, the remains of which
stand some two miles to the south of Stamford and ten to the north of
Deene. The existing portion consists of four towers, the lower part of
which is square and the upper octagonal, presumably having been at one
time surmounted by cupolas. The windows are long and narrow, having only
one mullion running parallel across. Beneath the moulding of the summit
of each tower are circular loopholes. It is evidently of Elizabethan
date, but much of the ornamental detail is lost in the heavy mantle of
ivy and the trees which encircle it.

[Illustration: KIRBY HALL.]

That that stately Elizabethan mansion, Kirby Hall (which is close to
Deene), should ever have been allowed to fall to ruin is most
regrettable and deplorable. It was one of John Thorpe's masterpieces,
the architect of palatial Burleigh, of Holland House and Audley End, and
other famous historic houses. He laid the foundation-stone in 1570, and
that other great master Inigo Jones made additions in the reign of
Charles I. The founder of Kirby was Sir Christopher Hatton, who is said
to have first danced into the virgin queen's favour at a masque at
Court. The Earl of Leicester probably first was famous in this way, if
we may judge from the quaint painting at Penshurst, where he is bounding
her several feet into the air; but was not so accomplished as Sir
Christopher, who in his official robes of Lord Chancellor danced in the
Hall of the Inner Temple with the seals and mace of his office before
him, an undignified proceeding, reminding one of the scene in one of the
Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

[Illustration: DOORWAY, KIRBY HALL.]

[Illustration: GATEWAY, KIRBY HALL.]

Kirby must have been magnificent in its day; and when we consider that
it was in occupation by the Chancellor's descendant, the Earl of
Winchelsea, in 1830 or even later, one may judge by seeing it how
rapidly a neglected building can fall into decay. Even in our own memory
a matter of twenty years has played considerable havoc, and cleared off
half the roof. Standing in the deserted weed-grown courtyard, one cannot
but grieve to see the widespread destruction of such beautiful
workmanship. The graceful fluted Ionic pilasters that intersect the
lofty mullioned windows are falling to pieces bit by bit, and the
fantastic stone pinnacles above and on the carved gable ends are
disappearing one by one. But much of the glass is still in the windows,
and some of the rooms are not all yet open to the weather, and the great
hall and music gallery and the "Library" with fine bay window are both
in a fair state of preservation. Is it yet too much to hope that pity
may be taken upon what is undoubtedly one of the finest Elizabethan
houses in England? The north part of the Inner Court is represented in
S. E. Waller's pathetic picture "The Day of Reckoning," which has been
engraved.

Some three miles to the south of Kirby is the village of Corby, famous
for its surrounding woods, and a curious custom called the "Poll Fair,"
which takes place every twenty years. Should a stranger happen to be
passing through the village when the date falls due, he is liable to be
captured and carried on a pole to the stocks, which ancient instrument
of punishment is there, and put to use on these occasions. He may
purchase his liberty by handing over any coin he happens to have. It
certainly is a rather eccentric way of commemorating the charter granted
by Elizabeth and confirmed by Charles II. by which the residents (all of
whom are subjected to similar treatment) are exempt from market tolls
and jury service.

A pair of stocks stood formerly at the foot of the steps of the graceful
Eleanor Cross at Geddington to the south of Corby. Of the three
remaining memorials said to have been erected by Edward I. at every
place where the coffin of his queen rested on its way from Hardeby in
Lincolnshire to Westminster Abbey, Geddington Cross is by far the most
graceful and in the best condition. The other two are at Waltham and
Northampton. Originally there were fifteen Eleanor crosses, including
Hardeby, Lincoln, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans,
Cheapside, and Charing Cross. The last two, the most elaborate of all,
as is known, were destroyed by order of Lord Mayor Pennington in 1643
and 1647, accompanied by the blast of trumpets.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] _See Memoirs of the Martyr King._

[2] _Evelyn's Diary_, vol. iv. p. 134, 1870 ed.

[3] See _Memoirs of the Martyr King_, p. 73.

[4] See _Turner's History of Remarkable Providences_, 1677.

[5] _Continuation of the Life of Lord Clarendon._

[6] _Diary_, 3 March 1666-67.



SOME SUFFOLK NOOKS


The idea of calling pretty little Mildenhall in north-west Suffolk a
town, seems out of place. It is snug and sleepy and prosperous-looking,
an inviting nook to forget the noise and bustle of a town in the
ordinary sense of the word. May it long continue so, and may the day be
long distant when that terrible invention, the electric tram, is
introduced to spoil the peace and harmony. Mildenhall is one of those
old-world places where one may be pretty sure in entering the snug old
courtyard of its ancient inn, that one will be treated rather as a
friend than a traveller. Facing the "Bell" is the church, remarkable for
the unique tracery of its early-English eastern window, and for its
exceptionally fine open hammer-beam carved oak roof, with bold carved
spandrels and large figures of angels with extended wings, and the
badges of Henry V., the swan and antelope, displayed in the south aisle.

In a corner of the little market-square is a curious hexagonal timber
market-cross of this monarch's time, roofed with slabs of lead set
diagonally, and adding to the picturesque effect. The centre part runs
through the roof to a considerable height, and is surmounted by a
weather-cock. Standing beneath the low-pitched roof, one may get a good
idea of the massiveness of construction of these old Gothic structures;
an object-lesson to the jerry builder of to-day. The oaken supports are
relieved with graceful mouldings.

Within bow-shot of the market-cross is the gabled Jacobean manor-house
of the Bunburys, a weather-worn wing of which abuts upon the street. The
family name recalls associations with the beautiful sisters whom
Goldsmith dubbed "Little Comedy" and the "Jessamy Bride." The original
"Sir Joshua" of these ladies may be seen at Barton Hall, another seat of
the Bunburys a few miles away, where they played good-natured practical
jokes upon their friend the poet. In a room of the Mildenhall mansion
hangs a portrait of a less beautiful woman, but sufficiently attractive
to meet with the approval of a critical connoisseur. When the Merry
Monarch took unto himself a wife, this portrait of the little Portuguese
woman was sent for him to see; and presumably it was flattering, for
when Catherine arrived in person, his Majesty was uncivil enough to
inquire whether they had sent him a bat instead of a woman.

A delightful walk by shady lanes and cornfields, and along the banks of
the river Lark, leads to another fine old house, Wamil Hall, a portion
only of the original structure; but it would be difficult to find a more
pleasing picture than is formed by the remaining wing. It is a typical
manor-house, with ball-surmounted gables, massive mullioned windows, and
a fine Elizabethan gateway in the lofty garden wall, partly ivy-grown,
and with the delicate greys and greens of lichens upon the old stone
masonry.

In a south-easterly direction from Mildenhall there is charming open
heathy country nearly all the way to West Stow Hall, some seven or eight
miles away. The remains of this curious old structure consist
principally of the gatehouse, octagonal red-brick towers surmounted by
ornamental cupolas with a pinnacled step-gable in the centre and the
arms of Mary of France beneath it, and ornamental Tudor brickwork above
the entrance. The passage leading from this entrance to the main
structure consists of an open arcade, and the upper portion and
adjoining wing are of half-timber construction. This until recently has
been cased over in plaster; but the towers having become unsafe, some
restorations have been absolutely necessary, the result of which is that
the plaster is being stripped off, revealing the worn red-brick and
carved oak beams beneath. Moreover, the moat, long since filled up, is
to be reinstated, and, thanks to the noble owner, Lord Cadogan, all its
original features will be most carefully brought to light. In a room
above are some black outline fresco paintings of figures in Elizabethan
costume, suggestive of four of the seven ages of man. Most conspicuous
is the lover paying very marked attentions to a damsel who may or may
not represent Henry VIII.'s sister at the time of her courtship by the
valiant Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; anyway the house was built by Sir John
Crofts, who belonged to the queen-dowager's household, and he may have
wished to immortalise that romantic attachment. A gentleman with a
parrot-like hawk upon his wrist says by an inscription, "Thus do I all
the day"; while the lover observes, "Thus do I while I may." A third
person, presumably getting on in years, says with a sigh, "Thus did I
while I might"; and he of the "slippered pantaloon" age groans, "Good
Lord, will this world last for ever!" In a room adjoining, we were told,
Queen Elizabeth slept during one of her progresses through the country,
or maybe it was Mary Tudor who came to see Sir John; but the "White
Lady" who issues from one of the rooms in the main building at 12
o'clock p.m. so far has not been identified.

In his lordship's stables close by we had the privilege of seeing "a
racer" who had won sixteen or more "seconds," as well as a budding Derby
winner of the future. Culford is a stately house in a very trim and
well-cared-for park. It looks quite modern, but the older mansion has
been incorporated with it. In Charles II.'s day his Majesty paid
occasional visits to Culford _en route_ from Euston Hall to Newmarket,
and Pepys records an incident there which was little to his host's
(Lord Cornwallis') credit. The rector's daughter, a pretty girl, was
introduced to the king, whose unwelcome attentions caused her to make a
precipitate escape, and, leaping from some height, she killed herself,
"which, if true," says Pepys, "is very sad." Certainly Charles does not
show to advantage in Suffolk. The Diarist himself saw him at Little
Saxham Hall[7] (to the south-west of Culford), the seat of Lord Crofts,
going to bed, after a heavy drinking bout with his boon companions
Sedley, Buckhurst, and Bab May.

The church is in the main modern, but there is a fine tomb of Lady
Bacon, who is represented life-size nursing her youngest child, while on
either side in formal array stand her other five children. Her husband
is reclining full length at her feet.

Hengrave Hall, one of the finest Tudor mansions in England, is close to
Culford. Shorn of its ancient furniture and pictures (for, alas! a few
years ago there was a great sale here), the house is still of
considerable interest; but the absence of colour--its staring whiteness
and bare appearance--on the whole is disappointing, and compared with
less architecturally fine houses, such as Kentwell or Rushbrooke, it is
inferior from a picturesque point of view. Still the outline of gables
and turreted chimneys is exceptionally fine and stately. It was built
between the years 1525 and 1538. The gatehouse has remarkable
mitre-headed turrets, and a triple bay-window bearing the royal arms of
France and England quarterly, supported by a lion and a dragon. The
entrance is flanked on either side by an ornamental pillar similar in
character to the turrets. The house was formerly moated and had a
drawbridge, as at Helmingham in this county. These were done away with
towards the end of the eighteenth century, when a great part of the
original building was demolished and the interior entirely
reconstructed. The rooms included the "Queen's Chamber," where Elizabeth
slept when she was entertained here after the lavish style at Kenilworth
in 1578, by Sir Thomas Kytson. From the Kitsons, Hengrave came to the
Darcys and Gages.

In the vicinity of Bury there are many fine old houses, but for
historical interest none so interesting as Rushbrooke Hall, which stands
about the same distance from the town as Hengrave in the opposite
direction, namely, to the south-west. It is an Elizabethan house, with
corner octagonal turrets to which many alterations were made in the next
century: the windows, porch, etc., being of Jacobean architecture. It is
moated, with an array of old stone piers in front, upon which the
silvery green lichen stands out in harmonious contrast with the rich
purple red of the Tudor brickwork. The old mansion is full of Stuart
memories. Here lived the old cavalier Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans,
who owed his advancement to Queen Henrietta Maria, to whom he acted as
secretary during the Civil War, and to whom he was privately married
when she became a widow and lived in Paris. He was a handsome man, as
may be judged from his full-length portrait here by Vandyck, though he
is said to have been somewhat ungainly. In the "State drawing-room,"
where the maiden queen held Court when she visited the earl's ancestor
Sir Robert Jermyn in 1578, may be seen two fine inlaid cabinets of wood
set with silver, bearing the monogram of Henrietta Maria. Jermyn
survived his royal wife the dowager-queen over fourteen years. Evelyn
saw him a few months before he died. "Met My Lord St. Albans," he says,
"now grown so blind that he could not see to take his meat. He has lived
a most easy life, in plenty even abroad, whilst His Majesty was a
sufferer; he has lost immense sums at play, which yet, at about eighty
years old, he continues, having one that sits by him to name the spots
on the cards. He eat and drank with extraordinary appetite. He is a
prudent old courtier, and much enriched since His Majesty's return."[8]

Charles I.'s leather-covered travelling trunk is also preserved at
Rushbrooke as well as his night-cap and night-shirt, and the silk
brocade costume of his great-grandson, Prince Charles Edward. An emblem
of loyalty to the Stuarts also may be seen in the great hall, a
bas-relief in plaster representing Charles II. concealed in the Boscobel
oak. Many of the bedrooms remain such as they were two hundred years
ago, with their fine old tapestries, faded window curtains, and tall
canopied beds. One is known as "Heaven" and another as "Hell," from the
rich paintings upon the walls and ceilings. The royal bedchamber,
Elizabeth's room, contains the old bed in which she slept, with its
velvet curtains and elaborately worked counter-pane. The house is rich
in portraits, and the walls of the staircase are lined from floor to
ceiling with well-known characters of the seventeenth century, from
James I. to Charles II.'s confidant, Edward Progers, who died in 1714,
at the age of ninety-six, of the anguish of cutting four new teeth.[9]
Here also is Agnes de Rushbrooke, who haunts the Hall. There is a grim
story told of her body being cast into the moat; moreover, there is a
certain bloodstain pointed out to verify the tale.

Then there is the old ballroom, and the Roman Catholic chapel, now a
billiard-room, and the library, rich in ancient manuscripts and
elaborate carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The old gardens also are quite
in character with the house, with its avenues of hornbeams known as
Lovers' Walk, and the site of the old labyrinth or maze.

Leaving Rushbrooke with its Stuart memories, our way lies to the
south-east; but to the south-west there are also many places of
interest, such as Hardwick, Hawstead, Plumpton, etc. At the last-named
place, in an old house with high Mansard roofs resembling a French
chateau, lived an eccentric character of whom many anecdotes are told,
old Alderman Harmer, one of which is that in damp weather he used to sit
in a kind of pulpit in one of the topmost rooms, with wooden boots on!

For the remains of Hawstead Place, once visited in State by Queen
Elizabeth, who dropped her fan in the moat to test the gallantry of her
host, we searched in vain. A very old woman in mob-cap in pointing out
the farm so named observed, "T'were nowt of much account nowadays, tho'
wonderful things went on there years gone by." This was somewhat vague.
We went up to the house and asked if an old gateway of which we had
heard still existed. The servant girl looked aghast. Had we asked the
road to Birmingham she could scarcely have been more dumbfounded. "No,
there was no old gateway there," she said. We asked another villager,
but he shook his head. "There was a lady in the church who died from a
box on the ear!" This was scarcely to the point, and since we have
discovered that the ancient Jacobean gateway is at Hawstead Place after
all, we cannot place the Suffolk rustic intelligence above the average.
It is in the kitchen garden, and in the alcoves of the pillars are
moulded bricks with initials and hearts commemorating the union of Sir
Thomas Cullum with the daughter of Sir Henry North. The moat is still to
be seen, but the bridge spanning it has given way. The principal ruins
of the old mansion were removed about a century ago.

Gedding Hall, midway between Bury and Needham Market, is moated and
picturesque, and before it was restored must have been a perfect
picture, for as it is now it just misses being what it might have been
under very careful treatment. A glaring red-brick tower has been added,
which looks painfully new and out of keeping; and beneath two quaint old
gables, a front door has been placed which would look very well in
Fitz-John's Avenue or Bedford Park, but certainly not here. When old
houses are nowadays so carefully restored so that occasionally it is
really difficult to see where the old work ends and the new begins, one
regrets that the care that is being bestowed upon West Stow could not
have been lavished here.

We come across another instance of bad restoration at Bildeston. There
is a good old timber house at the top of the village street which,
carefully treated, would have been a delight to the eye; but the carved
oak corner-post has been enveloped in hideous yellow brickwork in such a
fashion that one would rather have wished the place had been pulled
down. But at the farther end of the village there is another old timber
house, Newbury Farm, with carved beams and very lofty porch, which
affords a fine specimen of village architecture of the fifteenth
century. Within, there is a fine black oak ceiling of massive moulded
beams, a good example of the lavish way in which oak was used in these
old buildings.

Hadleigh is rich in seventeenth-century houses with ornamental plaster
fronts and carved oak beams and corbels. One with wide projecting eaves
and many windows bears the date 1676, formed out of the lead setting of
the little panes of glass. Some bear fantastical designs upon the
pargeting, half obliterated by continual coats of white or yellow wash,
with varying dates from James I. to Dutch William.

A lofty battlemented tower in the churchyard, belonging to the rectory,
was built towards the end of the fifteenth century by Archdeacon
Pykenham. Some mural paintings in one of its rooms depict the adjacent
hills and river and the interior of the church, and a turret-chamber has
a kind of hiding-place or strong-room, with a stout door for defence.
Not far from this rectory gatehouse is a half-timber building almost
contemporary, with narrow Gothic doors, made up-to-date with an artistic
shade of green. The exterior of the church is fine, but the interior is
disappointing in many ways. It was restored at that period of the
Victorian era when art in the way of church improvement had reached its
lowest ebb. But the church had suffered previously, for a puritanical
person named Dowsing smashed the majority of the painted windows as
"superstitious pictures." Fortunately some fine linen panelling in the
vestry has been preserved. The old Court Farm, about half a mile to the
north of the town, has also suffered considerably; for but little
remains beyond the entrance gate of Tudor date. By local report,
Cromwell is here responsible; but the place was a monastery once, and
Thomas Cromwell dismantled it. It would be interesting to know if the
Lord Protector ever wrote to the editor of the _Weekly Post_, to refute
any connection with his namesake of the previous century. Though the
"White Lion" Inn has nothing architecturally attractive, there is an
old-fashioned comfort about it. The courtyard is festooned round with
clematis of over a century's growth, and in the summer you step out of
your sleeping quarters into a delightful green arcade. The ostler, too,
is a typical one of the good old coaching days, and doubtless has a
healthy distaste for locomotion by the means of petrol.

The corner of the county to the south-east of Hadleigh, and bounded by
the rivers Stour and Orwell, could have no better recommendation for
picturesqueness than the works of the famous painter Constable. He was
never happier than at work near his native village, Flatford, where
to-day the old mill affords a delightful rural studio to some painters
of repute. The old timber bridge and the willow-bordered Stour, winding
in and out the valley, afford charming subjects for the brush; and
Dedham on the Essex border is delightful. Gainsborough also was very
partial to the scenery on the banks of the Orwell.

In the churchyard of East Bergholt, near Flatford, is a curious,
deep-roofed wooden structure, a cage containing the bells, which are
hung upside down. Local report says that his Satanic Majesty had the
same objection to the completion of the sacred edifices that he had for
Cologne Cathedral, consequently the tower still remains conspicuous by
its absence. The "Hare and Hounds" Inn has a finely moulded plaster
ceiling. It is worthy of note that the Folkards, an old Suffolk family,
have owned the inn for upwards of six generations.

Little and Great Wenham both possess interesting manor-houses: the
former particularly so, as it is one of the earliest specimens of
domestic architecture in the kingdom, or at least the first house where
Flemish bricks were used in construction. For this reason, no doubt,
trippers from Ipswich are desirous of leaving the measurements of their
boots deep-cut into the leads of the roof with their initials duly
recorded. Naturally the owner desires that some discrimination be now
shown as to whom may be admitted. The building is compact, with but few
rooms; but the hall on the first floor and the chapel are in a
wonderfully good state of repair,--indeed the house would make a much
more desirable residence than many twentieth-century dwellings of equal
dimensions. Great Wenham manor-house is of Tudor date, with pretty
little pinnacles at the corners of gable ends which peep over a high
red-brick wall skirting the highroad.

From here to Erwarton, which is miles from anywhere near the tongue of
land dividing the two rivers, some charming pastoral scenery recalls
peeps we have of it from the brush of Constable. At one particularly
pretty spot near Harkstead some holiday folks had assembled to enjoy
themselves, and looked sadly bored at a company of Salvationists who had
come to destroy the peace of the scene.

[Illustration: ERWARTON HALL.]

Erwarton Hall is a ghostly looking old place, with an odd-shaped
early-Jacobean gateway, with nine great pinnacles rising above its roof.
It faces a wide and desolate stretch of road, with ancient trees and
curious twisted roots, in front, and a pond: picturesque but melancholy
looking. The house is Elizabethan, of dark red-brick, and the old
mullioned windows peer over the boundary-wall as if they would like to
see something of the world, even in this remote spot. In the mansion,
which this succeeded, lived Anne Boleyn's aunt, Amata, Lady Calthorpe,
and here the unfortunate queen is said to have spent some of the
happiest days of girlhood,--a peaceful spot, indeed, compared with her
subsequent surroundings. Local tradition long back has handed down the
story that it was the queen's wish her heart should be buried at
Erwarton; and it had well-nigh been forgotten, when some sixty-five
years ago a little casket was discovered during some alterations to one
of the walls of the church. It was heart-shaped, and contained but dust,
and was eventually placed in a vault of the Cornwallis family. Sir W.
Hastings D'Oyly, Bart., in writing an interesting article upon this
subject a few years back,[10] pointed out that it has never been
decided where Anne Boleyn's remains actually are interred, though they
were buried, of course, in the first instance by her brother, Viscount
Rochford, in the Tower. There are erroneous traditions, both at Salle in
Norfolk and Horndon-on-the-Hill in Essex, that Anne Boleyn was buried
there. There are some fine old monuments in the Erwarton church, a
cross-legged crusader, and a noseless knight and lady, with elaborate
canopy, members of the Davilliers family. During the Civil War five of
the bells were removed from the tower and broken up for shot for the
defence of the old Hall against the Parliamentarians. At least so goes
the story. An octagonal Tudor font is in a good state of preservation,
and a few old rusty helmets would look better hung up on the walls than
placed upon the capital of a column.

The story of Anne Boleyn's heart recalls that of Sir Nicholas Crispe,
whose remains were recently reinterred when the old London church of St.
Mildred's in Bread Street was pulled down. The heart of the cavalier,
who gave large sums of money to Charles I. in his difficulties, is
buried in Hammersmith Old Church, and by the instructions of his will
the vessel which held it was to be opened every year and a glass of wine
poured upon it.

Some curious vicissitudes are said to have happened to the heart of the
great Montrose. It came into the possession of Lady Napier, his nephew's
wife, who had it embalmed and enclosed in a steel case of the size of an
egg, which opened with a spring, made from the blade of his sword, and
the relic was given by her to the then Marchioness of Montrose. Soon
afterwards it was lost, but eventually traced to a collection of curios
in Holland, and returned into the possession of the fifth Lord Napier,
who gave it to his daughter. When she married she went to reside in
Madeira, where the little casket was stolen by a native, under the
belief that it was a magic charm, and sold to an Indian chief, from whom
it was at length recovered; but the possessor in returning to Europe in
1792, having to spend some time in France during that revolutionary
period, thought it advisable to leave the little treasure in possession
of a lady friend at Boulogne; but as luck would have it, this lady died
unexpectedly, and no clue was forthcoming as to where she had hidden the
relic.

But a still more curious story is told of the heart of Louis XIV. An
ancestor of Sir William Harcourt, at the time of the French Revolution
had given to him by a canon of St. Denis the great monarch's heart,
which he had annexed from a casket at the time the royal tombs were
demolished by the mob. It resembled a small piece of shrivelled leather,
an inch or so long. Many years afterwards the late Dr. Buckland, Dean of
Westminster, during a visit to the Harcourts was shown the curiosity. We
will quote the rest in Mr Labouchere's words, for he it was who related
the story in _Truth_. "He (Dr. Buckland) was then very old. He had some
reputation as a man of science, and the scientific spirit moved him to
wet his finger, rub it on the heart, and put the finger to his mouth.
After that, before he could be stopped, he put the heart in his mouth
and swallowed it, whether by accident or design will never be known.
Very shortly afterwards he died and was buried in Westminster Abbey. It
is impossible that he could ever have digested the thing. It must have
been a pretty tough organ to start with, and age had almost petrified
it. Consequently the heart of Louis XIV. must now be reposing in
Westminster Abbey enclosed in the body of an English dean."

FOOTNOTES:

[7] The old Hall was pulled down in 1771.

[8] _Evelyn's Diary_, Sept. 18, 1683.

[9] Descendants of Proger, or Progers, are still living in Bury St.
Edmunds.

[10] _The Antiquary_, vol. xxxviii.



NOOKS IN NORFOLK


Wells-next-the-Sea, on the north coast of Norfolk, sounds attractive,
and looks attractive on the map; but that is about all that can be said
in its favour, for a more depressing place would be difficult to find.
Even Holkham, with all its art treasures, leaves a pervading impression
of chill and gloom. The architects of the middle of the eighteenth
century had no partiality for nooks and corners in the mansions they
designed. Vastness and discomfort seems to have been their principal
aim. Well might the noble earl for whom it was built have observed, "It
is a melancholy thing to stand alone in one's own country." The advent
of the motor car must indeed be welcome, to bring the place in touch
with life.

We were attracted to the village of Stiffkey, to the east of Wells,
mainly by a magazine article fresh in our memory, of some of its
peculiarities, conspicuous among which was its weird red-headed
inhabitants. The race of people, however, must have died out, for what
few villagers we encountered were very ordinary ones: far from
ill-favoured. Possibly they still invoke the aid of the local "wise
woman," as they do in many other parts of Norfolk, so therein they are
no further behind the times than their neighbours.

We heard of an instance farther south, for example, where the head of an
establishment, as was his wont, having disposed of his crop of potatoes,
disappeared for a week with the proceeds; and returning at length in a
very merry condition, his good wife, in the hopes of frightening him,
unknown to him removed his watch from his pocket. Next morning in sober
earnest he went with his sole remaining sixpence to consult the wise
woman of the village, who promptly told him the thief was in his own
house. Consequently the watch was produced, and the lady who had
purloined it, instead of teaching a lesson, was soundly belaboured with
a broom-handle!

[Illustration: EAST BARSHAM MANOR.]

Stiffkey Hall is a curious Elizabethan gabled building with a massive
flint tower, built, it is said, by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, the brother of
the philosopher, but it never was completed. Far more picturesque and
interesting are the remains of East Barsham manor-house, some seven
miles to the south of Wells. Although it contained some of the finest
ornamental Tudor brickwork in England when we were there, and possibly
still, the old place could have been had for a song. It had the
reputation of being haunted, and was held in awe. The gatehouse, bearing
the arms and ensigns of Henry VIII., reminds one of a bit of Hampton
Court, and the chimneys upon the buildings on the northern side of the
Court are as fine as those at Compton Wyniates. The wonder is that in
these days of appreciation of beautiful architecture nobody has restored
it back into a habitable mansion. That such ruins as this or Kirby Hall
or Burford Priory should remain to drop to pieces, seems a positive sin.
A couple of miles to the west of Barsham is Great Snoring, whose
turreted parsonage is also rich in early-Tudor moulded brickwork, as is
also the case at Thorpland Hall to the south.

One grieves to think that the old Hall of the Townshends on the other
side of Fakenham has been shorn of its ancestral portraits. What a
splendid collection, indeed, was this, and how far more dignified did
the full-length Elizabethan warriors by Janssen look here than upon the
walls at Christie's a year or so ago. The famous haunted chambers have a
far less awe-inspiring appearance than some other of the bedrooms with
their hearse-like beds and nodding plumes. We do not know when the
"Brown Lady" last made her appearance, but there are rumours that she
was visible before the decease of the late Marquis Townshend. Until then
the stately lady in her rich brown brocade had absented herself for half
a century. She had last introduced herself unbecoming a modest ghost, to
two gentlemen visitors of a house party who were sitting up late at
night. One of these gentlemen, a Colonel Loftus, afterwards made a
sketch of her from memory which possibly is still in existence.

[Illustration: WALSINGHAM.]

[Illustration: WALSINGHAM.]

Walsingham, midway between Fakenham and Wells, is a quaint old town; its
timber houses and its combined Gothic well, lock-up, and cross in the
market-place giving it quite a mediæval aspect. Before the image of Our
Lady of Walsingham was consigned to the flames by Wolsey's confidential
servant Cromwell, the pilgrimages to the Priory were in every respect as
great as those to Canterbury, and the "way" through Brandon and
Newmarket may be traced like that in Kent. Notwithstanding the fact that
Henry VIII. himself had been a barefoot pilgrim, and had bestowed a
costly necklace on the image, his gift as well as a host of other riches
from the shrine came in very handy at the Dissolution. A relic of Our
Lady's milk enclosed in crystal, says Erasmus, was occasionally like
chalk mixed with the white of eggs. It had been brought from
Constantinople in the tenth century; but this and a huge bone of St
Peter's finger, of course, did not survive. The site of the chapel,
containing the altar where the pilgrims knelt, stood somewhere to the
north-west of the ruins of the Priory. These are approached from the
street through a fine old early fifteenth-century gateway. The
picturesque remains of the refectory date from the previous century, the
western window being a good example of the purest Gothic. The old
pilgrims' entrance was in "Knight Street," which derives its name from
the miracle of a horseman who had sought sanctuary passing through the
extraordinarily narrow limits of the wicket. Henry III. is said to have
set the fashion for walking to Walsingham, and we strongly recommend
the tourists of to-day, who may find themselves stranded at
Wells-next-the-Sea, to do likewise.

[Illustration: FONT CANOPY, TRUNCH.]

The little seaside resort Mundesley is an improvement on Wells; but dull
as it is now, what must it have been in Cowper's time: surely a place
ill-calculated to improve the poor poet's melancholia! There is little
of interest beyond the ruined church on the cliffs and the Rookery Farm
incorporated in the remains of the old monastery. A priest's hole is, or
was not long since, to be seen in one of the gabled roofs. The churches
of Trunch and Knapton to the south-west both are worth a visit for their
fine timber roofs. The font at Trunch is enclosed by a remarkable canopy
of oak supported by graceful wooden pillars from the floor. It is
probably of early-Elizabethan date, and is certainly one of the most
remarkable baptistries in the country. Here and in other parts of
Norfolk when there are several babies to be christened the ceremony is
usually performed on the girls last, as otherwise when they grew up they
would develop beards!

Ten miles to the south-west as the crow flies is historic Blickling, one
of the reputed birthplaces of the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. By some
accounts Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire claims her nativity as well as
Rochford Hall in Essex and Hever Castle in Kent; but, though Hever is
the only building that will go back to that date, she probably was born
in the older Hall of Blickling, the present mansion dating only from the
reign of James I.

Upon the occasion of our visit the house was closed, so we can only
speak of the exterior, and of the very extensive gardens, where in vain
we sought the steward, who was said to be somewhere on the premises.

The rampant bulls, bearing shields, perched on the solid piers that
guard the drawbridge across the moat, duly impress one with the
ancestral importance of the Hobarts, whose arms and quarterings,
surmounted by the helmet and ancient crest, adorn the principal
entrance. Like Hatfield and Bramshill, the mellowed red-brick gives it a
charm of colour which only the lapse of centuries will give; and though
not so old as Knole or Hatfield, the main entrance is quite as
picturesque. The gardens, however, immediately surrounding the Hall look
somewhat flat in comparison.

Although Henry VIII. did the principal part of his courting at Hever, it
was at Blickling that he claimed his bride, and by some accounts was
married to her there and not at Calais. The old earl, the unfortunate
queen's father, survived her only two years; and after his death the
estate was purchased by Sir Henry Hobart,[11] who built the present
noble house. Among the relics preserved at Blickling of the unhappy
queen are her morning-gown and a set of night-caps, and her toilet case
containing mirrors, combs, etc. Sir John the third baronet entertained
Charles II. and his queen here in 1671, upon which occasion the host's
son and heir, then aged thirteen, was knighted. The royal visit is duly
recorded in the parish register as follows: "King Charles the Second,
with Queene Katherine, and James, Duke of Yorke, accompanied with the
Dukes of Monmouth, Richmond, and Buckingham, and with divers Lords,
arrived and dined at Sir John Hubart's, at Blicklinge Hall, the King,
Queene, Duke of Yorke, and Duchesse of Richmond, of Buckingham etc., in
the great dining-roomes, the others in the great parloure beneath it,
upon Michmasday 1671. From whence they went, the Queene to Norwich, the
King to Oxneads and lodged there, and came through Blicklinge the next
day about one of the clock, going to Rainham to the Lord Townsends."[12]

Queen Catherine slept that night and the following in the Duke's Palace
at Norwich, but joined her royal spouse at lunch at Oxnead, which fine
Elizabethan house has, alas! been pulled down, and the statues and
fountain from there are now at Blickling. "Next morne (being Saterday),"
writes a local scribe in 1671, "her Maty parted so early from Norwich
as to meet ye King againe at Oxnead ere noone; Sr Robt Paston haveing
got a vast dinner so early ready, in regard that his Maty was to goe
that same afternoone (as he did) twenty myles to supper to the Ld
Townshend's, wher he stayd all yesterday, and as I suppose, is this
evening already return'd to Newmarket, extremely well satisfied with our
Lord Lieuts reception.... Her Maty haveinge but seven myles back to
Norwich that night from Sr Robt Pastons was pleased for about two
houres after dinner to divert herselfe at cards with the Court ladies
and my Lady Paston, who had treated her so well and yet returned early
to Norwich that eveninge to the same quarters as formerly; and on Sunday
morne (after her devotions perform'd and a plentifull breakfast) shee
tooke coach, extreamely satisfied with the dutifull observances of all
this countie and city, and was conducted by the Ld Howard and his
sonnes as far as Attleburough where fresh coaches atended to carry her
back to the Rt Hoble the Ld Arlington's at Euston."[13]

Sidelights of this royal progress are obtained from the diarist Evelyn
and Lord Dartmouth. Among the attractions provided for the king's
amusement at Euston was the future Duchess of Portsmouth. The Duchess of
Richmond (La belle Stuart), in the queen's train, must have been
reminded how difficult had been her position before she eloped with her
husband four years previously. For the duke's sake let us hope he was as
overcome as his Majesty when the latter let his tongue wag with more
than usual freedom during the feast at Raynham. "After her marriage,"
says Dartmouth, speaking of the duchess, "she had more complaisance than
before, as King Charles could not forbear telling the Duke of Richmond,
when he was drunk at Lord Townshend's in Norfolk." Evelyn did not think
much of the queen's lodgings at Norwich, which he describes as "an old
wretched building," partly rebuilt in brick, standing in the
market-place, which in his opinion would have been better had it been
demolished and erected somewhere else.

Not far from Blickling to the north-east is Mannington Hall, a mansion
built in the reign of Henry VI., which possesses one of the best
authenticated ghost stories of modern times. The story is the more
interesting as it is recorded by that learned and delightful chronicler
Dr. Jessop, chaplain to His Majesty the King. The strange experiences of
his visit in October 1879 are duly recorded in the _Athenæeum_ of the
following January. The rest of the household had retired to rest, and
Dr. Jessop was sitting up making extracts from some rare books in an
apartment adjoining the library. Absorbed in his study, time had slipped
away and it was after one o'clock. "I was just beginning to think that
my work was drawing to a close," says the doctor, "when, as I was
actually writing, I saw a large white hand within a foot of my elbow.
Turning my head, there sat a figure of a somewhat large man, with his
back to the fire, bending slightly over the table, and apparently
examining the pile of books that I had been at work upon. The man's face
was turned away from me, but I saw his closely-cut, reddish brown hair,
his ear and shaved cheek, the eyebrow, the corner of his right eye, the
side of the forehead, and the large high cheekbone. He was dressed in
what I can only describe as a kind of ecclesiastical habit of thick
corded silk, or some such material, close up to the throat, and a narrow
rim or edging of about an inch broad of satin or velvet serving as a
stand-up collar and fitting close to the chin. The right hand, which had
first attracted my attention, was clasping, without any great pressure,
the left hand; both hands were in perfect repose, and the large blue
veins of the right hand were conspicuous. I remember thinking that the
hand was like the hand of Velasquez's magnificent 'Dead Knight' in the
National Gallery. I looked at my visitor for some seconds, and was
perfectly sure that he was a reality. A thousand thoughts came crowding
upon me, but not the least feeling of alarm or even of uneasiness.
Curiosity and a strong interest were uppermost. For an instant I felt
eager to make a sketch of my friend, and I looked at a tray on my right
for a pencil: then thought, 'Upstairs I have a sketch-book; shall I
fetch it?' There he sat and I was fascinated, afraid not of his staying,
but lest he should go. Stopping in my writing, I lifted my left hand
from the paper, stretched it out to a pile of books and moved the top
one. I cannot explain why I did this. My arm passed in front of the
figure, and it vanished. Much astonished, I went on with my writing
perhaps for another five minutes, and had actually got to the last few
words of the extract when the figure appeared again, exactly in the same
place and attitude as before. I saw the hand close to my own; I turned
my head again to examine him more closely, and I was framing a sentence
to address to him when I discovered that I did not dare to speak. I was
afraid of the sound of my own voice! There he sat, and there sat I. I
turned my head again to my work, and finished the two or three words
still remaining to be written. The paper and my notes are at this moment
before me, and exhibit not the slightest tremor or nervousness. I could
point out the words I was writing when the phantom came, and when he
disappeared. Having finished my task I shut the book and threw it on the
table: it made a slight noise as it fell--the figure vanished." Not
until now did the doctor feel nervous, but it was only for a second. He
replaced the books in the adjoining room, blew out the candles on the
table, and retired to his rooms marvelling at his calmness under such
strange circumstances.

[Illustration: WYMONDHAM.]

The old-fashioned town Wymondham, to the south-west of Norwich, contains
an interesting church and market-cross, and one or two fine Gothic
houses, all in good preservation. But stay, the quaint octagonal
Jacobean timber structure in the market-place was holding forth a
petition for contributions, as it was feeling somewhat decrepit. This
was six or seven years ago, so probably by now it has entered upon a new
lease of life. How much more picturesque are these old timbered
structures than the jubilee clock-towers which have sprung up in many
old-fashioned towns, putting everything out of harmony. But few towns
are proud of their old buildings. They must be up to date with flaring
red-brick, and electric tramways, and down comes everything with any
claim to antiquity, without a thought of its past associations or
picturesque value. But let us hope that Wymondham may be exempt from
these terrible tramways for many years to come, as its population is, or
was, decreasing.

The abbey and the church appear to have got rather mixed up; but having
come to a satisfactory arrangement, present a most pleasing group, and,
in the twilight, with two lofty towers and a ruined archway, it looks
far more like a castle on the Rhine than a church in Norfolk. The effect
doubtless would be heightened if we could see the rebel Kett dangling in
chains from the tower as he did in the reign of Bloody Mary. The timber
roof is exceptionally fine, with its long array of carved oak bosses and
projecting angels.

Near Wymondham is the moated Hall of Stanfield, picturesque with its
numerous pinnacles. Here the heroine of the delightful romance
_Kenilworth_ was born in 1532; but poor Amy's marriage, far from being
secret, was celebrated with great pomp at Sheen in Surrey in 1550, and
is recorded in the _Diary of Edward VI._ now in the British Museum.
"Lydcote," the old house in North Devon where she lived for some
years, was pulled down not many years ago. Her bedstead from there we
believe is still preserved at Great Torrington Rectory.

[Illustration: HAUTBOYS HALL.
(_Photo by W. B. Redfern, Esq._)]

Somewhat similar to Stanfield, though now only a farmhouse, is the very
pretty old Tudor house Hautboys Hall. It stands a few miles to the
south-east of Oxnead.

Of all the moated mansions in Norfolk, Oxburgh Hall, near Stoke Ferry,
is the most interesting, and is a splendid example of the fortified
manor-house of the end of the fifteenth century, and it is one of the
few houses in England that have always been occupied by one family. Sir
Edmund Bedingfield built it in the reign of Richard III., and Sir
Richard Bedingfield resides there at the present time. The octagonal
towers which flank the entrance gate rise from the broad moat to a
considerable height. There is a quaint projecting turret on the eastern
side which adds considerably to the picturesque outline of stepped
gables and quaint battlements. High above the ponderous oak gates the
machicolation behind the arch that joins the towers shows ample
provision for a liberal supply of molten lead, and in an old guard-room
may be seen the ancient armour and weapons to which the retainers of the
Hall were wont to have recourse in case of siege. The room recalls
somehow the defence of the tower of Tillietudlem in _Old Mortality_, and
one can picture the little household guard running the old culverins
and sakers into position on the battlements.

The great mullioned window beneath the Tudor arch and over the entrance
gate belongs to the "King's room," a fine old tapestried chamber
containing the bed, with green and gold hangings, where Henry VII.
slept; and it is no difficult matter to repeople it in the imagination
with the inhabitants of that time in their picturesque costumes. There
is a richness in the colouring of the faded tapestry and hangings in
contrast with the red-brick Tudor fireplace far more striking than if
the restorer had been allowed a liberal hand. It is like a bit of
Haddon, and such rooms are as rarely met with nowadays as unrestored
churches. The remarkable hiding-place at Oxburgh we have described in
detail elsewhere.[14] It is situated in the little projecting turret of
the eastern tower, and is so cleverly constructed beneath the solid
brick floor, that no one would believe until they saw the solid masonry
move upwards that there was sufficient space beneath to conceal a man.
The Bedingfields are an old Roman Catholic family, and it is usually in
the mansions of those of that faith that these ingenious contrivances
are to be seen.

A priest's hole was discovered quite recently in Snowre Hall, a curious
Tudor house some ten miles to the west of Oxburgh. It is entered through
a shaft from the roof, and measures five feet by six feet and four feet
high, and beneath it is an inner and smaller hiding-place. Mr. Pratt (in
whose family the house has been for two centuries) when he made the
discovery had to remove four barrow-loads of jackdaws' nests. The
discovery of this secret room is an interesting sequel to the fact that
on April 29, 1646, Charles I. slept at Snowre Hall. It will be
remembered that before he delivered himself up to the Scots army, he
spent some days wandering about the eastern counties in disguise, like
his son did in the western counties five years later. The owner of the
house in those days was a Mr. Ralph Skipwith, who, to put the spies that
were lurking about the vicinity off the track, provided the king with
his own grey riding-jacket in place of the clergyman's black coat he was
wearing, for that disguise had been widely advertised by his enemies.
Dr. Hudson, who was acting as scout, joined Charles and his companion,
Mr. Ashburnham, at Downham Market, where the "King's Walk" by the town
side, where they met, may still be seen. It is recorded by Dr. Stukeley
that Charles scratched some motto or secret instructions to his friends
on a pane of glass in the Swan Inn, where he put up awaiting Hudson's
return from Southwell. The fugitives proceeded thence to the Cherry Inn
at Mundford, some fourteen miles from Downham, and back to Crimplesham,
where they halted at an inn to effect the disguise above referred to.
The regicide Miles Corbet, who was on the track with Valentine Walton,
gave information as follows:

"Since our coming to Lyn we have done what service we were able. We have
taken some examinations, and it doth appeare to us that Mr. Hudson, the
parson that came from Oxford with the king, was at Downham in Norfolk
with two other gentlemen upon Thursday the last of April. We cannot yet
learn where they were Friday night; but Saturday morning, the 2 of May
they came to a blind alehouse at Crimplesham, about 8 miles from Lyn.
From thence Mr. Hudson did ride on Saturday to Downham again, and there
two soldiers met with him, and had private speech with him. Hudson was
then in a scarlet coat. Ther he met with Mr. Ralf Skipwith of his former
acquaintance, and with him he did exchange his horse; and Skipwith and
the said Hudson did ride to Southrie ferrie a privat way to go towards
Ely; and went by the way to Crimplesham, and ther were the other
two--one in a parsons habit, which by all description was the king.
Hudson procured the said Skipwith to get a gray coat for the Dr. (as he
called the king), which he did. And ther the king put off his black coat
and long cassock, and put on Mr. Skipwith his gray coat. The king bought
a new hat at Downham, and on Saturday went into the Isle of Ely.
Wherever they came they were very private and always writing. Hudson
tore some papers when they came out of the house. Hudson did enquire for
a ship to go to the north or Newcastel, but could get none. We hear at
the same time there were 6 soldiers and officers as is thought at
Oxborough at another blind alehouse."[15]

It is worthy of remark that Miles Corbet, whom Pepys saw on the morning
of April 19, 1662, looking "very cheerful" upon his way to Tyburn, was a
native of Norfolk, and his monument may be seen in Sprowston Church near
Norwich.

The "Swan" at Downham still exists, but it was modernised some fifteen
years ago. It would be interesting to know what became of the historical
pane of glass.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] The Miss Hobart who figures in de Gramont's _Memoirs_ was Sir
John's sister, one of the first baronet's sixteen children.

[12] There is an illustration of the room that Monmouth slept in at
Raynham upon this occasion in _King Monmouth_.

[13] _A Narrative of the Visit of His Majesty King Charles the Second to
Norwich, 1671_ (1846).

[14] See _Secret Chambers and Hiding-Places_.

[15] See _Memoirs of the Martyr King_.



NOOKS IN WARWICKSHIRE AND
BORDERLAND


The outline of Warwickshire is something in the form of a turnip, and
the stem of it, which, like an isthmus, projects into Gloucestershire
and Oxfordshire, contains many old-world places.

Long Compton, the most southern village of all, is grey and straggling
and picturesque, with orchards on all sides, and a fine old church, amid
a group of thatched cottages, whose interior was restored or mangled at
a period when these things were not done with much antiquarian taste. We
have pleasant recollections of a sojourn at the "Old Red Lion," where
mine host in 1880, a typical Warwickshire farmer, was the most
hospitable and cheery to be found in this or any other county: an
innkeeper of the old school that it did one's heart good to see.

But this welcome house of call is by no means the only Lion of the
neighbourhood, for on the ridge of the high land which forms the
boundary of Oxfordshire are the "Whispering Knights," the "King's
Stone," and a weird Druidical circle. These are the famous Rollright
Stones, about which there is a story that a Danish prince came over to
invade England, and when at Dover he consulted the oracle as to the
chances of success. He was told that

  "When Long Compton you shall see,
  You shall King of England be."

Naturally he and his soldiers made a bee-line for Long Compton, and,
arriving at the spot where the circle is now marked by huge boulders, he
was so elated that he stepped in advance of his followers, who stood
round him, saying, "It is not meet that I should remain among my
subjects, I will go before." But for his conceit some unkind spirit
turned the whole party into stone, which doesn't seem quite fair.
"King's Stone" stands conspicuous from the rest on the other side of the
road, and, being very erect, looks as if the prince still prided himself
upon his folly. The diameter of the circle is over a hundred feet. In an
adjoining field is a cluster of five great stones. These are the
"Whispering Knights"; and the secret among themselves is that they will
not consent to budge an inch, and woe to the farmer who attempts to
remove them. The story goes that one of the five was once carted off to
make a bridge; but the offender had such a warm time of it that he
speedily repented his folly and reinstated it.

There is a delightful walk across the fields from Long Compton to Little
Compton, with a glorious prospect of the Gloucestershire and
Warwickshire hills. This village used to be in the former county, but
now belongs to Warwickshire. Close to the quaint saddle-back towered
church stands the gabled Elizabethan manor-house, with the Juxon arms
carved over the entrance. Its exterior has been but little altered since
the prelate lived here in retirement after the execution of Charles I. A
gruesome relic was kept in one of the rooms, the block upon which the
poor monarch's head was severed. This and King Charles' chair and some
of the archbishop's treasured books disappeared from the manor-house
after the death of his descendant Lady Fane. Internally the house has
been much altered, but there are many nooks and corners to carry the
memory back to the hunting bishop, for his pack of hounds was one of the
best managed in the country. Upon one occasion a complaint was made to
the Lord Protector that Juxon's hounds had followed the scent through
Chipping Norton churchyard at the time of a puritanical assembly there.
But Oliver would hear none of it, and only replied, "Let the bishop
enjoy his hunting unmolested."

[Illustration: CHASTLETON.]

When Little Compton church had an Independent minister to hold forth to
the congregation, the prelate held divine service every Sunday at
Chastleton, the grand old home of the loyalist family of Jones. This
stately Jacobean mansion is close to Little Compton, but is really in
Oxfordshire. It has an old-world charm about it entirely its own; and
few ancestral homes can take us back to the days of Cavalier and
Roundhead with such realism, for the old furniture and pictures and
relics have never been disturbed since the house was built by Walter
Jones between the years 1603 and 1630. He purchased the estate from
Robert Catesby, the projector of the Gunpowder Plot, who sold the manor
to provide funds for carrying on that notorious conspiracy.

The great hall is a noble apartment, with raised dais and carved screen;
and the Royalist Joneses looking down upon you on all sides, conspicuous
among whom is Thomas Jones and valiant Captain Arthur Jones, whose sword
beside him shows the good service he did at Worcester fight. When the
day was lost, and Charles was journeying towards Boscobel, the captain
managed to ride his tired horse back to Chastleton. But a party of
Cromwellian soldiers were at his heels, and his wife had only just time
to hurry him into an ingeniously contrived hiding-place when the enemy
confronted her, and refused to budge from the very bedroom behind whose
panelled walls the fugitive was secreted. But Mrs. Arthur Jones had her
share of tact, and in preparing her unwelcome guests some refreshment,
she added a narcotic to the wine, which in time had effect. Her husband
was then released, and with a fresh horse he was soon beyond danger. The
little oak wainscoted chamber and the adjoining bedroom may still be
seen where this exciting episode took place. The drawing-room is very
rich in oak carvings, and the lofty marble chimney-piece bears in the
centre the Jones' arms. The ceiling with its massive pendants is a fine
example of the period.[16] The bedrooms are all hung with the original
tapestry and arras that was made for them. One of them contains the
State bed from old Woodstock Palace; and there are everywhere antique
dressing-tables, mirrors, and quaint embroidered coverlets, and old
chests and cabinets innumerable containing queer old dresses and coats
of the Georgian period, and, what is more remarkable, the identical
Jacobean ruffs and frills which are depicted in the old portraits in the
hall. Then there are cupboards full of delightful old china, and
decanters and wine glasses which were often produced to drink a health
to the "King over the water." But of more direct historic interest is
Charles I.'s Bible, which was given by the widow of the last baronet of
the Juxon family--a grand-nephew of the archbishop--to the then
proprietor of Chastleton, John Jones. It is bound in gold stamped
leather, and bears the Royal arms with the initials C. R. It is dated
1629, and is full of queer old maps and illustrations, and upon the
fly-leaf is written--"Juxon, Compton, Gloucestershire."

Some of the ancient cabinets at Chastleton are full of secret drawers,
and in one of them some years ago a very curious miniature of the martyr
king was discovered. It is painted on copper, and represents Charles I.
with the Order of St. George, and a set of designs drawn on talc,
illustrating the life of the ill-fated monarch from his coronation to
his execution. They are thus described by one of the past owners of
Chastleton: "They consist of a face and bust in one miniature, in a case
accompanied with a set of eight or nine pictures drawn on talc, being
different scenes or dresses, which are to be laid on the miniature so
that the face of the miniature appears through a hole left for that
purpose: and thus the one miniature does duty in every one of the talc
pictures. These were accidentally discovered some twenty years ago.[17]
The miniature was well known, and was supposed to be complete in itself;
but one day whilst being handled by one of the family, then quite a
child, it fell to the ground, and being in that way forced open at the
back, those talc pictures were brought to light. The careful manner in
which they had been concealed, and the miniature thereby made to appear
no more than an ordinary portrait, seems to warrant the suggestion that
they were in the first instance the property of some affectionate
adherent of Charles, whose prudence persuaded him to conceal what his
loyalty no doubt taught him to value very highly. There is no direct
evidence to show that they belonged to Bishop Juxon; nor is there any
tradition that I ever heard connected with them. The two concluding
pictures of the series represent the decapitated head in the hand of the
executioner, and a hand placing the martyr's crown upon the brows."

There are two huge oak staircases running up to the top of the house,
where is the old gallery or ballroom, with a coved ceiling of ornamented
plaster-work, and above the mullioned windows grotesque monster heads
devised in the pargeting.

The grounds and gardens are quite in character: not made to harmonise,
as are so many gardens nowadays, but the original quaint cut box hedges
and trim walks. The grand old house in the centre with its rusty roof of
lichen, and hard by the little church nestling by its side with the
picturesque entrance gateway and dovecot, form together a delightful
group. Chastleton church contains some good brasses. The tower is oddly
placed over the south porch.

A couple of miles to the north, and the same distance beyond, are two
other interesting manor-houses, Barton-on-the-Heath and Little Woolford.
The former, a gabled Jacobean house, was once the seat of the
unfortunate Sir Thomas Overbury, who was done to death in the Tower by
the machinations of that evil couple, Carr, Earl of Somerset, and his
countess. Overbury, it will be remembered, had written the Court
favourite's love letters and poems, and knew too much of that guilty
courtship.

There are some good monuments to the Overburys in the church: a Norman
one with saddle-back tower. Near here is the Four-Shire Stone, described
by Leland as "a large bigge stone; a Three-Mile-Stone from Rollerich
Stones, which is a very mark or line of Gloucestershire, Whichester
(Worcestershire), Warwickshire, and Oxfordshire."

Little Woolford manor-house, the old seat of the Ingrams, is now, or was
some years ago, used as a school. It is very picturesque, and its gables
of half-timber, facing the little courtyard, remind one of the
quadrangle of Ightham Mote. Opposite the Tudor entrance-gate is the
hall, with its open timber roof, minstrels' gallery, panelled walls, and
tall windows, still containing their ancient painted glass. Barton,
which properly should have its ghost, presumably is not so favoured; but
here there are two at least,--a certain "White Lady," who, fortunately
for the juvenile scholars, does not appear until midnight; and the last
of the Ingrams, who has a restless way of tearing about on horseback in
the adjacent fields. This gentleman could not die decently in his bed,
but must needs, upon the point of dying, rush into the stable, mount his
favourite steed, and plunge into the raging tempest to meet his
adversary Death. What a pity there are not more educational
establishments like this. They might possibly make the pupils less
matter-of-fact and more imaginative. But we had almost forgotten a
moral lesson that is to be learned from a rude projection in the masonry
on the left-hand side of the entrance gateway. This is the oven, which
opens at the back of a wide hearth; and here some seventeenth-century
I O U's are said to have been found for money lost at play; while some
Cavaliers were concealed there in the time of the Civil Wars. But the
punishment for gambling was providentially arranged. Some Cromwellian
soldiers dropping in at the manor-house, lighted a tremendous fire, and
gave the unfortunate fugitives a roasting which they did not readily
forget. This is roughly as the story goes; indeed it goes further, for
by local report King Charles himself was one of the victims.

Brailes, a few miles to the north-east, is famous for its church, the
cathedral of southern Warwickshire; but it is principally interesting
exteriorly, the old benches having been long since cleared away and many
nineteenth-century "improvements" made. Still there are parts of the
fourteenth-century roof and a fine font, some ancient monuments,
particularly melodious old bells; and the lofty embattled
fifteenth-century tower is exceptionally graceful.

Buried in a hollow, and hidden from view by encircling trees and hills,
is that wonderful old mansion Compton Wyniates. The name (derived from
the ancient family of Compton and Wyniates, a corruption of vineyard,
for at an early period the vine was here cultivated) is suggestive of
something quaint, and indeed a more curious old house could not be
found. Its innumerable gables and twisted chimneys seem to be heaped up
in the most delightful confusion, in abandoned opposition to any
architectural regularity. The eye wanders from tower and turret until it
becomes bewildered by so many twists and angles. Look at the square box
of a house like Moor Park, for example, and wonder how it is that having
arrived at such picturesque perfection, taste should so degenerate. But
half the fascination of Compton Wyniates is its colour; its time-worn
dark-red brick and the grey-green lichens of ancient roofs. Upon one
side the curious gables and countless chimney clusters are reflected in
the moat, part of which now does service as a sunken garden.

Passing through the bullet-battered door of the main entrance, over
which are the Royal arms of England supported by a griffin and a dog, we
enter a quadrangular court and thence pass into the great hall, with its
open timber roof black with the smoke of centuries. The screen beneath
the music gallery is elaborately carved with leaf tracery, grotesque
figures of mounted knights, and the escutcheon of the Compton arms.
Above the gallery we notice the huge oak beams which form the
half-timber portion of one of the principal gables, and cannot help
comparing these tremendous oak trunks with the modern laths plastered in
front of houses: a futile attempt to imitate this popular style, without
aiming at its _object_--strength.

The screen of the chapel, like that of the hall, is ornamented with
grotesque carvings, including a battle royal between some monks and his
Satanic Majesty, who by the way has one of the ninety rooms all to
himself, and reached by a special spiral staircase. Near the "Devil's
chamber" is another small room whose ghostly occupant is evidently a
member of the fresh-air league, for he will persist in having the window
open, and no matter how often it is closed it is always found to be
open. What a pity this sanitary ghost does not take up his abode where
oxygen is scarcer. But these are by no means the only mysterious rooms
at Compton Wyniates, for not a few have secret entrances and exits, and
one dark corridor is provided with a movable floor, which when removed,
drawbridge fashion, makes an excellent provision for safety so long as
you are on the right side of the chasm. Such ingenious arrangements were
as necessary in a private residence, miles from anywhere, as the
bathroom is in a suburban villa. There are secret "barracks" in the
roof, with storage for a regiment of soldiers, if necessary. The popish
chapel, too, has ample provision for the security of its priest. There
are four staircases leading up to it, and a regular rabbit-warren
between the beams of the roof and the wainscoting, where if needs be he
could run in case of danger.

"Henry VIII.'s room," and "Charles I.'s room," are both pointed out.
The latter slept a night here prior to the battle of Edgehill, and the
bluff king honoured the builder of the mansion, Sir William Compton,
with a visit in memory of old days, when his host as a boy had been his
page. Dugdale tells us that Sir William got his building material from
the ruinous castle of Fulbrooke, so his bricks were mellowed with time
when the house was first erected. The knight's grandson became Baron
Compton in Elizabeth's reign, and his son William, Earl of Northampton
in 1618. A romantic episode in the life of this nobleman was his
elopement with Elizabeth Spencer of Canonbury Tower, Islington. The lady
was a very desirable match, being the only daughter of Sir John Spencer,
the richest heiress of her time. Notwithstanding her strict seclusion at
Canonbury, Lord William Compton, of whom she was enamoured, succeeded in
the absence of her father in gaining admission to the house in the
disguise of a baker, and carried her off in his basket. To perform so
muscular a feat was proof enough of his devotion, so at the end of a
year all was forgotten and forgiven. Their son, the valiant second earl,
Spencer Compton, won his spurs and lost his life fighting for the king
at Hopton Heath. His portrait by Janssen may be seen at Castle Ashby.

His son James, the third earl, also fought for Charles, and attended his
son at the Restoration; but his younger brother Henry, Bishop of London,
aided the Revolution, and crowned Dutch William and his queen.

Only within the last half-century has the mansion been occupied as a
residence. For nearly a century before it was neglected and deserted.
The rooms were bare of furniture, for, alas! its contents, including
Henry VIII.'s State bed, had been removed or sold. That delightful
writer William Howitt in 1840 said the house had not been inhabited for
ninety years, with the exception of a portion of the east front, which
was used by the bailiff. The rooms were empty and the walls were naked.
His concluding wish fortunately long since has been realised--namely,
that its noble owner would yet cause the restoration and refitting of
Compton Wyniates to all its ancient state.

Warwickshire is rich in ancestral houses and mediæval castles. Take, for
example, the fortresses of Kenilworth, Warwick, Maxstoke, and Tamworth,
or the fine old houses Coombe Abbey, Charlecote, and Baddesley Clinton.
The last named perhaps is least known of these, but by no means the
least interesting. This old moated Hall of the Ferrers family is buried
in the thickly wooded country on the high tableland which occupies the
very heart of England. As to the actual centre, there are two places
which claim this distinction; but oddly enough they are quite twelve
miles apart. The one between Leamington and Warwick, the other to the
west of Coventry. The latter spot is marked by the village cross of
Meriden, and the former by an old oak tree by the main road. Baddesley
Clinton is nearly equidistant from both, south of Meriden and north-west
of Leamington and Warwick.

Few houses so thoroughly retain their ancient appearance as Baddesley.
It dates from the latter part of the fifteenth century, and is a
singularly well-preserved specimen of a moated and fortified manor-house
of that period. Like Compton Wyniates, its situation is very secluded in
its densely wooded park, and formerly there was a double moat for extra
defence; but for all its retiredness and security, the old house has a
kindly greeting for those who are interested in such monuments of the
past. A stone bridge across the moat leads to a projecting embattled
tower with a wide depressed archway, showing provision for a portcullis
with a large mullioned window over it. In general appearance the front
resembles the moated house of Ightham, with which it is coeval, and the
half-timbered gables of the courtyard are somewhat similar. Unlike
Charlecote, the interior is as untouched as the exterior. Everywhere
there are quaint old "linen" panelled rooms and richly carved
chimney-pieces--windows of ancient heraldic glass, and old furniture,
tapestry, and paintings. The hall is not like some, that never look cosy
unless there is a blazing log fire in the hearth. There is something
particularly inviting in this old room, with its deep-recessed mullioned
window by the great freestone Jacobean fireplace. What pictures could
not the imagination conjure up in this cosy corner in the twilight of an
autumn day! On the first floor over the entrance archway is the
"banqueting-room," with high coved ceiling and tapestry-lined walls.
Beyond this is "Lord Charles' room," haunted, it is said, by a handsome
youth with raven hair. Many years ago this spectre was seen by two of
the late Mr. Marmion Ferrers' aunts when they were children, and they
long remembered his face and steadfast gaze. A mysterious lady dressed
in rich black brocade is occasionally encountered in the corridors in
broad daylight, like the famous "Brown Lady" of Raynham Hall.

The ancient chapel was set up by Sir Edward Ferrers when the little
parish church was taken from the family at the Reformation. In the
thickness of the wall close at hand there is a secret passage which
leads down to a little water-gate by the moat beneath which a narrow
passage runs, so that there were two ready means of escape in troublous
times; and in the roof on the east side of the house there is a priest's
hole provided with a fixed bench. Marmion Ferrers above alluded to, who
died in 1884, was the eighth in descent from father to son from Henry
Ferrers of Elizabeth's time. Both were learned antiquarians. Marmion
Ferrers was a typical squire of the old school, and we well remember
with what pride he showed us round his ancestral home. But his pride
ended there, as is shown by the following anecdote. One day he
encountered an old woman in the park who had been gathering sticks
without permission. She dropped her heavy bundle and was about to offer
apologies for trespassing, when the good old squire, seeing that her
load was too much for her strength, without a word slung the burden on
his shoulder and carried it to the woman's humble dwelling.

This calls to mind a story of a contemporary squire who lived some fifty
miles away in the adjoining county, an antiquary who was also known for
his acts of kindness and hospitality. In the vicinity of his ancient
Hall a tramp had found a job, and the baronet was anxious to test his
butler's honesty. He therefore offered to lend the man a hand and help
him carry some bundles of faggots into an adjacent yard, if he would
share profits. This was agreed upon, and when the work was done the
tramp went off to the Hall to ask for his money, promising to join his
assistant in a lane at the back of the house. Meanwhile the squire
hurried to his study, and when the butler made his appearance handed him
five shillings. Then donning his shabby coat and hat he hastened back.
Presently the tramp came up with beaming countenance and held out half a
crown, saying they were both well rewarded with one and threepence each.
But the assistant grumbled, and said it was miserable pay, and at length
persuaded the man to return and ask to see the squire and explain the
amount of work that had been done. Again he returned to his sanctum, and
hearing the bell ring told the butler to admit the man, and he would
hear what he had to say. Having enjoyed the fun--the tramp's surprise
and the butler's discomfort, he dismissed them both--one with half a
guinea, the other from his service.

Baddesley Clinton church, shut in by tall trees a bow-shot from the
Hall, is famous for its eastern window of heraldic glass, which shows
the various noble families with whom the Ferrers intermarried. By the
union of Marmion Ferrers' father with the Lady Harriet Anne, daughter of
the second Marquis Townshend, the Chartley and Tamworth lines of the
family were united with that of Baddesley. The altar tomb of Sir Edward
Ferrers, Knight, the founder of the family at Baddesley, his wife Dame
Constance, and son who predeceased him, has above shields of the
alliances with the Bromes, Hampdens, etc. He was the son of Sir Henry
Ferrers, Knight, of Tamworth Castle, and grandson of William, Lord
Ferrers of Groby. Marmion was the thirteenth in descent from this Sir
Edward, not many links between the fifteenth and end of the nineteenth
century. The day of the good old squire's burial on August 25, 1884,
fell upon the three hundred and forty-ninth anniversary of the death of
the first Ferrers of Baddesley.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] There is an engraving of this room in Nash's _Mansions_.

[17] The description was written more than twenty years ago.



SOME NOOKS IN WORCESTERSHIRE
AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE


[Illustration: THE WHITE HOUSE, PIXHAM.]

Not far from Powick Bridge, where after two hours' hard fighting the
Royalists were defeated by General Fleetwood, stands a quaint old house
of timber and plaster, with nine gables facing three sides of the
compass, and a high three-gabled oaken porch in front. It is called
Priors Court, or the White House of Pixham, and since "the battle of
Powick Bridge" it has been occupied by the same family, though the name
by inter-marriage has changed from time to time. A branch of the Lanes
of Bentley were the representatives in the seventeenth century, and
according to tradition the famous Jane Lane lived here for a time.
Though the house belongs to the Tudor period, many alterations were made
early in the eighteenth century, but the little interior quadrangle
remains much in its original condition. One expects to find within, the
usual comfortable chimney corners and cosy panelled rooms, and perhaps
some ancient furniture; but it comes as a surprise to find a museum of
relics and heirlooms taking us back to the days of the Tudors and
Stuarts.

From the hall, we pass up the great oak staircase to bedrooms and
corridors containing chests and cabinets full of ancient deeds and
manuscripts, not the least remarkable of which is a parchment roll upon
which is painted a series of mysterious astrological and other pictures,
supposed once upon a time to have been the property of the necromancer
Dr. John Dee, who lived for some time in the neighbouring town of
Upton-on-Severn. If this is really a document of Dr. Dee's, one would
like to see it preserved with the famous crystal in the British Museum.
The old presses and cupboards are full of the richly embroidered
bed-hangings and homespun sheets wrought by the ladies of the house in
the days when their energies were devoted to domestic purposes, and the
idea of hockey or ladies' clubs would have made their hair to stand
erect. There are piles of arras carefully packed away when wall-paper
came in fashion. There are chairs and tables dating back three centuries
or more, and mirrors which have reflected fair faces patched, with
head-gear piled up mountain high.

In a corner stands a spinning-wheel, distaff, and reel complete, as if
some dainty damsel at work had fled at the approach of footsteps; and
there beyond is a dusty pillion which conjures up a picture of Mistress
Lane seated behind "Will Jackson" upon their way to Bristol. The ancient
glass and china, too, would whet the appetite of the most exacting
connoisseur. But we must not linger longer, or we shall envy these
choice possessions.

[Illustration: PIRTON COURT.]

[Illustration: SEVERN END.]

[Illustration: SEVERN END.]

Pirton Court, not far away, has not been plastered over like many houses
with elaborate wooden "magpie" work beneath, and the ornamental timber
in circular design is unimpaired. But the quaintest timber gables were
those at Severn End, the ancient seat of the Lechmeres, some five miles
to the south-west. Alas! that this ancient mansion should have been
destroyed by fire,--a loss as great as that of Clevedon or Ingestre,
greater, perhaps, as its architecture was so quaint: a delightful
mixture of the Tudor and Stuart periods to which it was no easy matter
to fix a date, for the timber portions looked much older than the
seventeenth century, when they were built by Sir Nicholas Lechmere, a
nephew of Sir Thomas Overbury, a worthy and learned judge whose
manuscripts give a very realistic peep into the domestic life of the
times and the orderly way in which his establishment was conducted. Both
front and back of the house were strikingly picturesque, but the front
was the most curious, half black and white angular gables and half
curved and rounded red-brick Jacobean gables. On either side of the
entrance porch were two great chimney-stacks, and in the corners where
the wings abutted, small square towers, one of which was sharpened to a
point like a lead pencil. At the back, facing smooth lawns (where the
judge used to sit and study), attached to the main building was what
looked like a distinct structure, the sort of overhanging half-timbered
house with carved barge-boards, pendants, and hip-knobs that are
familiar objects at Shrewsbury or Tewkesbury. The lower part of this was
of red-brick, and beside it on the right was a smaller abutting
half-timber gable. The great oak staircases had fantastic newels and
balusters, and around the panelled hall was a fixed oak settle, and
armour on the walls: carved oak cabinets and chairs, and tables. The
room in which Charles I. slept was pointed out, and that of
Major-General Massey, for Severn End was that great soldier's
headquarters before the battle of Worcester.

A few miles to the south-west, within the boundary of the once wild
district, Malvern Chase, is another remarkable old house, Birtsmorton
Court, a moated and fortified manor-house in a singularly good state of
preservation. Though quiet and peaceful enough, its embattled gateway
has a formidable look, showing the teeth of its portcullis, like a
bull-dog on the alert for intruders. The drawbridge is also there, and
walls of immense thickness, both speaking of the insecurity of the days
when it was built. The "parlour," with windows looking out upon the
moat, is richly panelled with the various quarterings of the ancient
lords, the Nanfans, executed in colours around the cornice. The arms and
crest also occur upon the elaborately carved oak fireplace. On the
left-hand side of this fireplace there was formerly the entrance to a
hiding-place concealed in the wainscoting, but there is nothing now but
a very visible cupboard which leads nowhere. Tradition asserts that
Henry V.'s old associate, Sir John Oldcastle, sought refuge here before
he was captured and burned as a Lollard. But as that happened in 1417,
the date does not tally with the period to which the room belongs,
namely, a century later. But the original apartments have been divided
(some are dilapidated chambers, now used as a storeroom for Gloucester
cheeses), so that it is difficult to trace how they were placed. There
is also a story of a passage running beneath the moat into the adjacent
woods; but whether Sir John got so far, or whether after his escape from
the Tower he even got farther than his own castle of Cowling in Kent,
when he was hunted down by orders of his former boon companions, we
cannot say. By local report Edward IV. and Margaret of Anjou as well as
the little Lancastrian Prince of Wales sought shelter at Birtsmorton.
But for Margaret another house nearer Tewkesbury claims the honour of
offering a refuge from the battlefield. This is an old timber-framed
building with carved barge-boards, near the village of Bushley, called
Payne's Place, or Yew Tree Farm, which once belonged to Thomas Payne and
Ursula his wife, whose brasses may be seen in the church. In the eastern
wing of this old house Queen Margaret's bedroom is pointed out. The hall
with open timber roof is still intact but divided, and upon the oak
beams a century after the battle of Tewkesbury the following lines were
painted on a frieze:

  "To lyve as wee shoulde alwayes dye it were a goodly trade,
  To change lowe Death for Lyfe so hye, no better change is made;
  For all our worldly thynges are vayne, in them is there no truste,
  Wee see all states awhyle remayne, and then they turn to duste."

Had the lines existed then, would the poor queen have derived comfort
when the news reached her of her son's death on the battlefield?

Birtsmorton is associated with the early career of Cardinal Wolsey, for
here he acted as chaplain during the retirement of Sir Richard Nanfan
from service to the State. Through Sir Richard's Court influence Wolsey
was promoted to the service of Henry VIII.

The "Bloody Meadow" near Birtsmorton must not be confused with that near
Tewkesbury, the scene of the last battle between the Houses of York and
Lancaster. This one was the scene of a single combat between a Nanfan
and his sister's lover, in which the latter was slain. The heart-broken
lady left a sum of money that a sermon should be annually preached at
Berrow church (the burial-place of the Nanfans) against duelling; and
this we believe is done to this day. The cruciform church has been
painfully restored, but contains a fine altar-tomb to Sir John, Sir
Richard Nanfan's grandfather, Squire of the Body to King Henry VI.; but
beyond a leper's window and a queer old alms-box there is nothing else
remarkable.

[Illustration: RIPPLE.]

Two of the prettiest villages hereabouts are Ripple and Strensham, the
former on the Severn, the latter on the Avon. At Ripple, in a cosy
corner backed by creeper-grown timber cottages, is the lofty stone shaft
of the cross, and by the steps at the base the stocks and whipping-post.
Strensham is famous as the birthplace of the witty author of _Hudibras_.
It is a peaceful little place, with a few thatched cottages, a fine old
church near the winding river, embosomed in trees. The church is
remarkable for its fine rood-loft with painted panels of saints, which
at some time has been made into a gallery at the west end, and we hope
may be replaced one of these days.

Following the river Avon to Evesham and Stratford-on-Avon, there are
many charming old-world villages rich in timber and thatched cottages.
Such a village is Offenham above Evesham. The village street leads
nowhere, and at the end of it stands a tapering Maypole, as much as to
say, "Go on with your modern improvement elsewhere if you like, but here
I intend to stay"; and we believe it is duly decorated and danced around
in the proper fashion, though the inhabitants by the "new style" of the
calendar can scarcely dispense with overcoats. We will not follow the
course of the river so far as "drunken Bidford" (where the immortal bard
and some convivial friends are said to have been overcome by the effects
of the strong ale at the "Falcon"), but turn our steps southwards to
Broadway, which of recent years has had an invasion from America. But
the great broad street of substantial Tudor and Jacobean houses deserves
all the praise that has been lavished upon it. We were there before it
had particularly attracted Jonathan's eye, and after a fortnight's fare
of bread and cheese and eggs and bacon (the usual fare of a walking
tour), we alighted upon a princely pigeon pie at the "Lygon Arms." Under
such circumstances one naturally grows enthusiastic; but even if the
fine old hostelry had offered as cold a reception as that at Stilton, we
could not but help feeling kindly disposed towards so stately a roadside
inn. Like the "Bell" at Stilton, it is stone-built, with mullioned
windows and pointed gables; but here there is a fine carved doorway,
which gives it an air of grandeur. There are roomy corridors within,
leading by stout oak doors to roomier apartments, some oak panelled, and
others with moulded ceilings and carved stone fireplaces. One of these
is known as "Cromwell's room," and one ought to be called "Charles'
room" also, for during the Civil Wars the martyr king slept there on
more than one occasion. The wide oak staircase with its deep set window
on the first landing, reminds one of the staircase leading out of the
great hall of Haddon. There is a little wicket gate to keep the dogs
below. Farther up the village street stands Tudor House, which with its
ball-surmounted gable ends and bay-window with heraldic shields above,
bears a cloak-and-rapier look about it; but it was built, according to
the date upon it, when the old Cavalier was poor and soured, and had
sheathed his sword, but nevertheless was counting the months when the
king should come to his own again. The house was empty, and presumably
had been shut up for years. Referring to some notes, we find the
following memoranda by the friend who was with us upon the occasion of
our visit. "We could obtain no information as to the ownership, or still
more important, the holder of the keys. One old man, who might have
remembered it being built but was slightly hazy on the subject, said no
one ever went inside. Other inquiries in the village led only to intense
astonishment at our desire. And the whole concluded in a large
contingent of the inhabitants standing speechless, marvelling before the
house itself; in which position we left them and it."

The old church of Edward IV.'s time is now, or was, deserted in favour
of an early-Victorian one much out of keeping with the village, or
rather town that it once was.

Another decayed town, once of more importance still, is Chipping
Campden, four miles to the north-east of Broadway, in a corner of
Gloucestershire. Here again we have the great wide street with a
profusion of grey stone gables on either side, and projecting inn signs,
and sundials in profusion. At one extremity a noble elm tree and at the
other a huge chestnut, stand like sentinels over the ancient buildings
that they may not share the fate of the neighbouring manor-house, which
was burned down by its loyal owner, the third Viscount Campden, during
the Civil War, to save it from the ignoble fate of being seized and
garrisoned for the Parliamentarians. From the imposing entrance gate and
two remaining curious pavilions at either end of a long terrace, one may
judge it must have been a fine early-Jacobean mansion. Strange that
Campden House, their ancient town residence, should have perished in the
flames also, but over two centuries afterwards. Near the entrance gate
are the almshouses, a very picturesque line of pointed gables and lofty
chimneys. Above them rises the graceful early-Perpendicular church
tower, which in design and proportions is worthy of a cathedral. But the
quaint Jacobean pillared market-house, the Court-house with its handsome
panelled buttresses, and a house of the time of Richard III. with
two-storied bay-window, and an ancient hall, are among the most
interesting buildings in the town. One of the many sign-boards displays
a poetic effusion by a Campden chimney-sweep, a modernised version of
the original which ran as follows:

  "John Hunter Campden doe live here,
  Sweeps chimbleys clean and not too deare.
  And if your chimbley be a-fire,
  He'll put it out if you desire."

The "Red Lion" is a typical hostelry of the Stuart days, and a
contemporary house opposite, bearing the date 1656, is well worth
notice: the "Green Dragon" also, dated 1690.

The interior of the church is disappointing; its new benches, windows,
roof, and chancel giving it a modern look; but there are some fine old
monuments to the ancient lords of the manor, especially that of the
first Viscount Campden and his countess, and there are some fine
fifteenth-century brasses in the chancel.

[Illustration: STANTON.]

Norton House, to the north of the town, near Dover Hill (famous for the
Cotswold games in "the good old days"), is a picturesque, many-gabled
house; and at Mickleton, to the north-east, there are some curious old
buildings. Farther north are the remains of Long Marston manor-house,
still containing the roasting-jack which Charles II. as pseudo
scullery-man omitted to wind up, and brought the wrath of the cook upon
his head, much as King Arthur did when he burnt the cakes. But our way
lies southwards through Broadway to Buckland, Stanton, and a place that
should be sylvan according to its name--Stanway-in-the-Woods. Buckland
church and rectory are both of interest. The former has a fine
Perpendicular tower with some grotesque gargoyle demons at the corners.
The benches are good, and a window dated 1585 retains some ancient
painted glass, as the roof does its old colouring, in which the Yorkist
rose is conspicuous. The hall of the rectory has a fine open-timber roof
with central arch richly carved, and upon a window is depicted a rebus
representing one William Grafton, rector of Buckland from 1450 to 1506.
The manor-house also once possessed a hall with lofty timber-framed roof
and huge fireplace of the fourteenth century; but, sad to relate, it was
destroyed when the house was modernised some years ago, but there still
remains a pretty old staircase of a later date.

Farther south the country becomes more wooded and hilly. The high ground
rises on the left above Stanton, and at the foot of the hill near the
village nestle the pretty old church and gabled manor-house, with its
complement of old farm buildings adjacent. The village street, like
Broadway, consists of rows of grey stone gables, at the end of which
stands the sundial-surmounted cross. The interior of the church has not
been spoiled; the carved oak canopied pulpit towering above the ancient
pews is quite in keeping with the old-world village. The Stanways are
about two miles to the south, but there are so few houses that one
wonders where the children come from to attend the village school. Wood
Stanway is not disappointing like many places possessing picturesque
names that we could quote, for it is enveloped in trees, and so is
Church Stanway for that matter.

[Illustration: STANWAY HOUSE.]

[Illustration: STANWAY HOUSE.]

Turning a corner of the road one comes suddenly upon a wonderful old
gateway with fantastic gables and a noble Jacobean doorway. On one side
of it is a high garden wall with great circular holes in it, and over
the wall peep the gables and ornamental perforated parapet of a fine
mansion of Charles I.'s time. This is always a most fascinating picture;
but to see it at its best is when the roses are in bloom, for above the
old wall and through the rounded apertures, the queen of flowers
flourishes in gay festoons as if rejoicing at its surroundings. But if
one is so fortunate as to obtain admission to the gardens then may he or
she rejoice also, for upon the other side of that grey old wall are the
prettiest of gardens and the grandest trees, one of which, an ancient
yew, is no less than twenty-two feet in girth. There are terraces, stone
summer-houses, and nooks and corners such as one only sees in the
grounds of our ancestral homes. Within, the mansion has been much
restored and somewhat modernised, but the great hall and other rooms
take one back to the time of Inigo Jones, who designed the entrance
gateway. In the churchyard close by is buried the most popular local man
of his time, Robert Dover. If he lived in our day he surely would be the
president of the "Anti-Puritanical League," for he it was who made a
successful crusade against the spirit of religious austerity, the
tendency of which was to put down holidays of sport and merry-making. As
a result of his efforts, the hills above Chipping Camden were annually
at Whitsuntide the scene of a revival of the mediæval days of festivity
and manly exercise. Upon these occasions the originator acted as master
of the ceremonies, and was duly respected, for he always wore a suit of
King James' own clothes. Dover died at the beginning of the Civil War,
so, fortunately for him, he did not live through the rigid rule of
Cromwell. The Cotswold games, however, were revived at the Restoration.
To this public benefactor (the shadow of whose cloak has surely fallen
on the shoulders of Lord Avebury) Drayton wrote in eulogy:

  "We'll have thy statue in some rock cut out
  With brave inscriptions garnished about,
  And under written, 'Lo! this is the man
  Dover, that first these noble sports began.'
  Lads of the hills and lasses of the vale
  In many a song and many a merry tale
  Shall mention thee; and having leave to play,
  Unto thy name shall make a holiday."

Yet nobody did set up his statue, as should have been done on "Dover
Hill" by Chipping Camden.

Some odd cures for certain ailments are prescribed in remote parts of
the Cotswolds. Garden snails, for instance, which in Wiltshire are sold
for ordinary consumption, namely, food, as "wall fruit," are used here
externally as a remedy for ague: and roasted mouse is a specific for the
whooping-cough. But for the latter complaint as efficacious a result may
be obtained by the pleasanter mode of riding on a donkey's back nine
times round a finger-post. This remedy, however, properly belongs to
Worcestershire.

If we continue in a south-westerly direction we shall pass historic
Sudeley, near Winchcombe, Postlip Hall, and Southam House. Sudeley
Castle must have been magnificent before it was dismantled in the Civil
War. Bravely it stood two sieges, but at length capitulated; and being
left a ruin by Cromwell's soldiers, the magnificent fifteenth-century
mansion was left for close upon two centuries to act as a quarry for the
neighbourhood. Under such disadvantages was its restoration commenced,
and it is wonderful what has been done; yet there has been a certain
admixture of Edwardian and Elizabethan portions which is somewhat
confusing. The banqueting room, with its noble oriel windows (originally
glazed with beryl), the keep with its dungeons, and the kitchen with its
huge fireplace four yards across, speak of days of lordly greatness, and
the names of many weighty nobles as well as kings and queens are closely
associated with the castle. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was once
possessed of it; the youngest son of Owen Tudor and Henry V.'s widow
lived there; so did Sir Thomas Seymour, Edward VI.'s uncle, who married
and buried there Henry VIII.'s last queen, at which ceremony Lady Jane
Grey was chief mourner. Elizabeth was here upon one of her progresses,
and Charles I. was the last sovereign who slept there. The restored
rooms are full of historical furniture, pictures, and relics. Here may
be seen Amy Robsart's bed, or one of them, from Cumnor Hall: and the bed
upon which the martyr king slept, not here but at Kineton, before
Edgehill. There are numerous relics of the queen, who had the tact to
outlive her august spouse, and the foolishness to marry a fourth
husband. Catherine Parr's various books and literary compositions may
here be studied, including the letter in which she accepted Seymour's
offer of marriage. He was by no means the best of husbands, but a vast
improvement on the royal tyrant who had coldly planned the queen's
destruction; but owing to her ready wit his wrath was turned upon
Wriothesley, who was to have arrested her; for when he came to perform
that office, Henry called him an "an errant knave and a beast." There
are lockets containing locks of her auburn hair, and portions of the
dress she wore. But the main interest is centred in the chapel where the
queen was buried. This building was dismantled with the rest in 1649,
and the fine Chandos monuments destroyed. Catherine's tomb, which was
within the altar rails, probably shared the fate of the rest, and its
position was soon forgotten. However, after the lapse of nearly a
century and a half, a plain slab of alabaster in the north wall,
doubtless part of the original monument, led to the discovery of a
leaden case in the shape of a human form lying immediately below, only a
foot or so beneath the surface of the ground. Upon the breast was the
following inscription:

  K. P.
  Here lyethe QUENE
  KATERYN wife to KYNG
  HENRY THE VIII., and
  Last the wife of Thomas
  Lord of Sudeley, highe
  Admiyrall of England
  And vncle to Kyng
  Edward the VI.
  dyed
  5 September
  MCCCCC
  XLVIII.

The cerecloth, hard with wax and gums, was removed from a portion of the
arm, which was discovered after close upon three centuries to be still
white and soft. According to another account, when the covering of the
face was removed, not only the features, but the eyes were in perfect
preservation. The body was reinterred, but treated with no decent
respect, for the spot was occupied as an enclosure for rabbits; and upon
one occasion it was dug up by some drunken men, who by local tradition,
as a reward for their desecration, all came to an untimely end. The
alabaster block may still be seen in the north wall of the chapel, but
the body now lies beneath a recumbent figure in white marble which has
been placed to the queen's memory.

[Illustration: POSTLIP HALL.]

Postlip Hall stands high in a picturesque spot not far from the main
road to Cheltenham. It is a many-gabled Elizabethan house, preserving
its original character, but spoiled by the insertion of plate-glass
windows. Within there is one particularly fine room of elaborate oak
carvings (and the arms of the Broadways who built the house) of
sufficient importance to form the subject of one of the plates in Nash's
_Mansions_. The house has or had the reputation of being haunted; but
that was long ago in the days when it stood neglected and uninhabited.

Southam House, or Southam-de-la-Bere, to the south-west (also depicted
in Nash), is a curious early-Tudor building of timber and stone, and has
the advantage over Sudeley, as it was not of sufficient military
importance to be roughly handled by the Parliamentarian soldiers. The
ancient painted glass in the windows and an elaborate chimney-piece
bearing shields of arms came from Hayles Abbey. The ceilings are oak
panelled, and the arms of Henry VII. occur in numerous places. The
situation of the house is fine, and the view over the vast stretch of
country towards Worcestershire and Herefordshire magnificent. The
builder of the mansion was Sir John Huddleston, whose wife was the queen
Jane Seymour's aunt. The de-la-Beres, to whom the estate passed by
marriage, were closely allied with the Plantagenet kings, two sisters
marrying Thomas Plantagenet, Edward III.'s son, and Henry Plantagenet,
Duke of Lancaster.

Avoiding Cheltenham, we will pick up the road to Stroud at Birdlip, a
favourite meeting-place of the hounds on account of the surrounding
woods. Coming from the south there is a gradual climb through those
delightful woods until you burst upon a gorgeous view, with the ancient
"Ermine Street" running, like a white wand lying upon the level pattern
work of meadowland, to Gloucester, and the hills of Malvern away in the
distance. Whether it was the great dark mass of hill in the foreground
contrasted against the level stretch of country, or whether it was the
stormy sky when we visited Birdlip on a late autumnal day, that gave the
scene such a wild, romantic look, it would be difficult to say, but we
remember no view with such breadth of contrast of light and shade, or
one so fitted to lead the imagination into the mystic realms of
fairyland.

Up in these heights, and in so secluded a spot, it came as a surprise to
find a museum. This we believe long since has been dispersed by the
hammer, but we remember some really interesting things. The lady
curator, the proprietress of the "Black Horse," had been given many of
the exhibits by the neighbouring gentry, and was not a little proud of
her collection. Valuable coins, flint weapons, fossils, pictures, and
the usual medley. There was one little oil painting on a panel, the head
of a beautiful girl with high powdered hair of the Georgian period,
which had all the vigour of a Romney, and undoubtedly was by a master
craftsman. Two curiosities we remember in particular: a pair of leggings
said to have been worn by the great Duke of Marlborough, and the wooden
finger-stocks from a village dame-school. It would be interesting to
know where these curiosities are now. The only other finger-stocks we
know of are in Ashby-de-la-Zouch church, Leicestershire.

[Illustration: STOCKS, PAINSWICK.]

Painswick, to the south-west, is a sleepy old town with a fine
Perpendicular church much restored internally, but containing some
handsome monuments. The churchyard is noted for its formal array of
clipped yew trees, probably unique. They have the same peculiarity as
Stonehenge, for it is said nobody can count them twice the same. As,
however, we did not visit the adjacent inn, we managed to accomplish the
task. Close to the church wall are the stocks--iron ones.

[Illustration: NAILSWORTH.]

Upon the way to Stroud many weird old buildings are passed which once
were, and some are still, cloth mills; but some are deserted and
dilapidated, and have a sad look, as if remembering more prosperous
days; and when the leaves are fast falling in the famous golden valley
they look indeed forlorn. One would think there can be little poetry
about an old cloth mill, but ere one gives an opinion one must visit the
golden valley in the autumn. Around Nailsworth, Rodborough, and
Woodchester there are many ancient houses which have degenerated into
poor tenements. Such a one at Nailsworth has the brief address "No. 5
Egypt," which by all appearance was an important house in its day. A
gentleman who resided in a more squalid part related how he had
discovered a cavalier's rapier up in the roof of a mansion, but in a
weak moment had parted with it for half a crown. "Southfield" at
Woodchester is perhaps the most picturesque of these stately houses, a
house which near London would fetch a formidable rent, but here a
ridiculously low one. Some six miles out of Stroud a really decent
house, garden, and orchard may be had for next to a song. A light
railway may have now sent prices up, by striking northwards, but not
many years back we saw one very excellent little place "to let," the
rent of which was only sixpence a week, and the tenant had given notice
because the landlord had been so grasping as to raise it to sixpence
halfpenny!

[Illustration: BEVERSTONE CASTLE.]

Between Nailsworth and Tetbury are Beverstone Castle and the secluded
manor-house Chavenage within a mile of it. The castle stands near the
road, an ivy-covered ruin of the time of Edward III., but with portions
dating from the Conquest. Incorporated are some Tudor remains and some
old farm buildings, forming together a pleasing picture.

To Major-General Massey, Beverstone, like Sudeley, is indebted for its
battered appearance. It held out for the king, but Massey with three
hundred and eighty men came and took it by storm. The general having
done as much damage as possible in Gloucestershire during the Civil War,
at length made some repairs by fighting on the other side at Worcester;
and perhaps it was as well, for had he been on the victorious side he
might have treated "the faithful city" with as little respect as
Beverstone. In the peaceful days of the Restoration, which Massey
lived to see, as there were no more castles to blow up he dabbled
in the pyrotechnic art, suggestive of the pathetic passage in
_Patience_--Yearning for whirlwinds, and having to do the best you can
with the bellows.

The regicide squire of Chavenage must also have been skilled in the
noble art, for by common report at his death a few months after that of
the martyr king, he vanished in flames of fire! But there was a
ceremonious preliminary before this simple and effective mode of
cremation. A sable coach driven by a headless coachman with a star upon
his breast arrived at the dead man's door, and the shrouded form of the
regicide was seen to glide into it. But bad as Nathaniel Stephens may
have been, it is scarcely just that all future lords of Chavenage must
make their exit in this manner.

The old house is unpretentious in appearance. Built in the form of the
letter E, it has tall latticed windows lighting a great hall (famous
once for its collection of armour), and a plain wing on either side,
with narrow Elizabethan Gothic-headed windows. There is a ghostly look
about it. It stands back from the road, but sufficiently near that one
may see the entrance porch (bearing the date 1579) and the ruts of the
carriage wheels upon the trim carriage drive. Arguments as strong as any
in _Ingoldsby_ to prove the mystic story must be true.



NOOKS IN NORTHERN
WILTSHIRE


After a sojourn in north-west Wilts it is refreshing to dip into the
wooded lanes of the Home Counties and see again the red-brick cottages
and homesteads which have such a snug and homely look after the cold
grey stone and glaring chalk roads. For old-world villages and
manor-houses, however, one could not choose a better exploring ground,
but not, please note, for the craze of picking up bits of old oak,
judging by what we overheard the very first day we stopped in one of the
most out-of-the-way places of all.

"Anything old inside?" asked somebody at the doorway, having led gently
and gracefully up to it so as not to arouse suspicion. "Nothing," was
the reply. "May I look round inside?" was asked. "No." Then after a
pause. "Any other of the cottagers got any old chairs, or china?" "One
or two of them _had_ some, but they sold what they had to Mrs. ---- of
----." "_Of_ course," was the disgusted reply; "she's _always_ first, and
gets everything!"

The conversation gives but an idea of the systematic way that a crusade
for the antique is carried on. If the hunter makes a "find," and the
owner will not part, that unfortunate cottager is persecuted until he or
she does part, sooner or later to regret the folly. And, alas! churches
are not even sacred from these sharks. How often have we not seen some
curious piece of furniture mentioned as being in the church, and, lo! it
has vanished--where? And do not the empty brackets over many an ancient
tomb tell a tale? What have become of the helmets of the ancient lords
of the manors? We can quote an instance offhand. In the fine old church
of Bromham, three of the helmets of the manorial lords, the Bayntons,
are still there, two of them perhaps only funereal helmets, and not the
actual casques of warfare; but there are three if not four vacant
brackets which perchance once supported the envied headpieces with
pointed visor of the fifteenth century. Aloft also are some rusty
gauntlets, and one of the helmets still bears the crest of the eagle's
head. The manor descended from the Beauchamps to the Bayntons, the last
of whom was the nineteenth in descent from Sir Henry Baynton, Knight
Marshal of the household to Henry the Second. His mother was the eldest
daughter and co-heiress of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, and Miss
Malet the runaway heiress. A recumbent effigy of Sir Roger Touchet in
alabaster (resembling in a remarkable degree the late Sir Henry Irving
as Richard III.) is covered with the carved initials of vandal visitors,
not, we may add, only of our own and fathers' and grandfathers' time,
but dating back from the reign of Elizabeth; so it is comforting to see
that our ancestors were as prone to disfigure monuments in this way as
is the modern 'Arry. One of the initials, I. W., perhaps may be that of
the witty and wicked Earl of Rochester, who by repute made Spye an
occasional residence, although the Bayntons certainly held the estate
some years after the Lady Anne, his daughter's death in 1703. The
ceiling of the Baynton chapel is richly carved, and the bosses and
brackets show their original faded colouring of blue and gold. There are
also coloured niches for saints; and on a canopied tomb of Elizabeth
Touchet, a brass of a kneeling figure, and a tablet of the coat of arms
is enamelled in colours. There also is a fine brass of John Baynton in
Gothic armour.

[Illustration: GATE-HOUSE, SPYE PARK.]

All that remains of the old Jacobean house of Spye is a subterranean
passage beneath the terrace; but the Tudor entrance gate to the
picturesque park stands on the left-hand side of the road to Lacock just
before the road begins its winding precipitous descent. Evelyn saw the
house soon after it was built, and likened it to a long barn. The view
is superb, but, strangely enough, not a single window looked out upon
the prospect! After dining and a game of bowls with Sir Edward Baynton,
the Diarist took coach; but, says Evelyn, "in the meantime our coachmen
were made so exceeding drunk, that in returning home we escaped great
dangers. This, it seems, was by order of the knight, that all
gentlemen's servants be so treated; but the custom is barbarous and much
unbecoming a knight, still less a Christian."

A mile or so to the east of the entrance gate of Spye is Sandy Lane, a
tiny hamlet with trim thatched cottages and a sturdy seventeenth-century
hostelry, the "George," looking down the street; and farther along in
the direction of Devizes stands the "Bell," another ancient roadside
inn, which, judging from its mullioned windows, knobbed gables, and
rustic porch, must date back to the days of the first Charles.

In Bromham village also there are some pretty half-timber buildings, not
forgetting the "lock-up" by the churchyard. The exterior of the church
is richly sculptured; a fine example of the purest Gothic.

[Illustration: LACOCK.]

[Illustration: LACOCK.]

Sleepy old Lacock, with its numerous overhanging gables, is a typical
unspoiled village. It was once upon a time a town, but by all
appearances it never can have been a flourishing one; and let us hope it
will remain in its dormant state now that there is nothing out of
harmony, for the Lacock of to-day must look very much as it did two
hundred years or more ago. It consists mainly of two wide streets, with
a fine old church at the end of one and a lofty seventeenth-century inn
at the other. Opposite the latter is a monastic barn with blocked-up
arched doorway, and facing it a fine row of timbered houses. Wherever
you go the pervading tone is grey, and one misses the little front
gardens with bright flowers and creepers. By the school stands the
village cross. Farther along a great wide porch projects into the
street, and over it a charming traceried wooden window. Nearer the
church the road narrows, and a group of timber cottages make a pleasing
picture, one of them with a wide entrance of carved oak spandrels above
an earlier stone doorway. The church, a noble edifice, has a very
graceful spire and some good tombs, including two wooden mural monuments
to Edward Baynard who lived in Elizabeth's reign, and to Lady Ursula
Baynard in the reign of Charles I.

The monument of Sir John Talbot of Lacock describes him as born of the
most noble family of the Duke of Shrewsbury, which is somewhat
confusing. Sir John was descended from John, second Earl of Shrewsbury,
who died in 1460, and his monument was erected when the twelfth earl and
first duke was living. Sir John died in 1713, and his son and heir
predeceased him, as mentioned on the monument.

[Illustration: LACOCK.]

[Illustration: LACOCK ABBEY.]

But the principal object of interest at Lacock, of course, is its famous
abbey, the early fifteenth-century cloisters being, it is said, the most
perfect example in England. It has been a residence since the
Dissolution, when the estate was granted by Henry VIII. to Sir William
Sherrington, the daughter of whose brother Sir Henry married a Talbot of
Salwarpe, the ancestor of the present owner, C. H. Talbot, Esq., a
learned antiquary, by whose care and skill so many points of interest
have been brought to light. The cloisters, refectory, chapter-house,
sacristy, etc., are in an excellent state of preservation, and there
are some fine hooded fireplaces, and among the curiosities, a great
stone tank in which fish were kept; and the nuns' cauldron, something
after the style of Guy of Warwick's porridge-pot. The groined roof of
the cloister is remarkable, the bosses showing their original colouring,
nearly two hundred or more all being of different design. The sides
facing the road are flanked by an octagonal tower of singular beauty,
ornamented with balustrades, and a staircase turret crowned with a
cupola. This contains the muniment-room, in which is preserved Henry
III.'s Magna Charta, which belonged to the foundress, Ela, Countess of
Shrewsbury, the widow of William Longespee, the son of Henry II. and
Fair Rosamond. Dugdale tells us that the site "Snaile's Mede" was
pointed out to this good lady in a vision. An epitaph to the abbess Ela
may still be seen within the cloisters.

Sir John Talbot of Lacock was a staunch Royalist, and the first person
who received the Merry Monarch in his arms at Dover upon his landing in
1660. Both Sir John and his son Sharington Talbot figure as duellists in
the diaries of Pepys and Evelyn. The former was one of the six
combatants in that famous encounter at Barn Elms, where Buckingham
mortally wounded Francis Talbot, the eleventh Earl of Shrewsbury. Sir
John proved a better swordsman than his antagonist Captain William
Jenkins, for the latter was left dead upon the field. The Royal pardon
from Charles II. is still preserved in Lacock Abbey. The duel between
the younger Talbot and Captain Love at Glastonbury, in July 1685, is
mentioned by Evelyn. Both commanded a company of militia against
Monmouth at Sedgemoor, and after the battle an argument arose as to
which fought the best. The discussion grew heated, swords were drawn,
and Talbot was killed. He was the eldest and only surviving son of the
knight, and had he left issue, upon the death of the eleventh Earl of
Shrewsbury's son, the first and only duke, the Lacock Talbots would by
priority have become Earls of Shrewsbury.

[Illustration: BEWLEY COURT.]

Beyond the village, just before the road winds upwards towards Spye
Park, is Bewley Court, an interesting old farm, with trefoil windows and
Gothic entrance door of fine proportions. Its hall is intact, having its
wide open fireplace and open timber roof with carved beams. A reed-grown
canal, with one of those queer hand drawbridges, serves as the moat of
yore. Bewley by some is corrupted into "Brewery," for close by there is
such an establishment, and the ancient name has become submerged. There
are said to have been four Courts originally belonging to Lacock Abbey,
but this is the only remaining one.

Each approach to Lacock is picturesque, but the most pleasing is from
the lane which runs up to Gastard and Corsham. This joins the Melksham
road by a charming old gabled and timbered cottage, not architecturally
remarkable, but pleasing in outline and colour. From the lane above,
this roadside cottage stands out against a background of wooded hill,
and when the sun is low it presents a picture which must have tempted
many an artist. On the way to Gastard and thence to Neston there are
many tumble-down old places which seem to be entirely out of touch with
the twentieth century. But at the highest point there is a startling
notice which might alarm a motorist should he lose his way up in these
narrow lanes. "Beware of the trams" is posted up in big letters! You
look around in astonishment, for silence reigns supreme; but by and bye
you come upon a stone quarry near the dilapidated entrance to what was
once probably a manor house, and a light falls upon the meaning of the
"trams." An artistic projecting signboard not far off bears the
inscription:

  "Arise, get up the Season now
  Drive up Brave Boys
  God speed the Plough."

Up a narrow lane is a tiny chapel with a stone mullioned window cut down
into a semicircle at the top. A little stone sundial over the entrance
door, and the smallest burial-ground we have ever seen, are worth
notice for their quaintness. Farther to the west is Wormwood Farm, whose
ivy-clad gables give the house a more homely look than most hereabouts.
Higher up in a very bleak position is Chapel Plaster Hermitage, an older
building, whose little belfry surely cannot summon many worshippers. It
was a halting-place of pilgrims to Glastonbury, and in Georgian days of
lonely travellers, who were eased of their purses by a gentleman of the
road named Baxter, who afterwards was hung up as a warning on Claverton
Down. Near the wood, the resort of this highwayman, is Hazelbury House,
a sixteenth-century mansion, much reduced in size, whose formidable
battlemented garden walls are worthy of a fortress. It was once a seat
of the Strodes, whose arms are displayed on the lofty piers of the
entrance gate. On the other side of the Great Bath road is Cheney Court,
another gabled mansion which has been of importance in its day, and
within half a mile, Coles Farm, a smaller building, alas! fast falling
to decay. Its windows are broken and its panelled rooms are open to the
weather. We ploughed our way through garden, or what was once a garden,
waist-high with weeds, to a Tudor doorway whose door presumably was more
accustomed to be opened than closed. At the foot of the staircase was a
little wicket gate leading to the capacious cellars. Somebody had
scrawled above an ancient fireplace close by, a plea against wanton
mischief; but that was the only sign that anybody was interested in the
place. But we learned something from an intelligent farmer who was
picking apples in one of the surrounding orchards. It was very sad, he
said, but so it had remained for years. The owner was abroad, and though
various people had tried to buy it, there were legal difficulties which
prevented it. "But why not find a tenant?" we asked. "That would surely
be better than allowing it to fall to pieces!" He shook his head. "'Tis
too far gone," he said, "and there's no money to put it in repair." So
Coles Farm, situated in the midst of lovely hills and orchards, gives
the cold shoulder to many a willing tenant.

It is a precipitous climb from here to Colerne, which across the valley
looks old and inviting from the Bath road. But the place is sadly
disappointing, and Hunters' Hall, which once upon a time was used as an
inn and possessed some remarkably fine oak carvings, is now a shell, and
scarcely worth notice.

[Illustration: CORSHAM ALMSHOUSE.]

[Illustration: CORSHAM ALMSHOUSE.]

[Illustration: CORSHAM ALMSHOUSE.]

The village of Corsham, approached either from the north or south, is
equally picturesque. By the former there is a long row of sturdy Tudor
cottages with mullioned windows and deep-set doorways; by the latter,
the grey gables of the ancient Hungerford Hospital, and beyond the huge
piers of the entrance to Corsham Court. An inscription over the
almshouse porch and beneath the elaborate sculptured arms of the
Hungerfords, says that it was founded by Lady Margaret Hungerford,
daughter of William Halliday, alderman of London, and Susan, daughter of
Sir Henry Row, Knight, Lord Mayor of London. The chapel is on the
right-hand side, and contains the original Jacobean pulpit, seats, and
gallery. The pulpit is a two-decker, and the seat beneath a comfortable
armchair of large proportions with an ingenious folding footstool. The
screen is a fine piece of Jacobean carving, with pilasters and
semicircular arches of graceful design, with the Hungerford arms upon
two shields. There is a good oak staircase and a quaint exterior
corridor leading to the several dwellings, with trim little square
gardens allotted to each. Corsham Court has a stately and dignified
appearance. The second entrance gate has colossal piers, which quite
dwarf the others previously mentioned. Beyond are the stables, a
picturesque row of Elizabethan gables and pinnacles. The south front of
the house preserves its original character in the form of the letter E
with the arms and the crest of the builder, William Halliday, on
pinnacles over the gables, and seven bay-windows. The interior of the
mansion has been much modernised, but the picture collection contains
some of the choicest old masters. Some of Lord Methuen's ancestors by
Reynolds and Gainsborough are wonderfully vigorous. Here is Vandyck's
Charles I. on horseback, with which one is so familiar. How many
replicas must there be of this famous picture! Charles II. hangs
opposite his favourite son in one of the corridors--a fine portrait of
the handsome Monmouth. One of the most curious pictures is a group by
Sir Peter Lely, representing himself in mediæval costume playing the
violoncello to his own family in light and airy dress. One would have
thought that he would have clad his wife and daughters more fully than
some of his famous beauties: on the contrary. The church, whose tower is
detached, has been restored from time to time, and looks by no means
lacking in funds. The carved parclose of stone and two altar-tombs to
the Hanhams are the chief points of interest. There is a simple
recumbent effigy of one of the Methuens, a little girl, which in its
natural sleeping pose is strangely pathetic, even to those who know
nothing of the story of her early death.

[Illustration: CASTLE COMBE.]

Biddestone, above Corsham, has many good old houses round its village
green. The little bell turret to the church is singular, but the eye is
detracted by an ugly stove-pipe which sticks out of the roof close by.
There is some Roman work within, but the high box pews look out of
keeping. About three miles to the north-west is Castle Combe, one of
the sweetest villages in Wiltshire or in any other county. It is
surrounded by hills and hanging woods, and lies deep down and hidden
from view. As you descend, the banks on either side show glimpses, here
and there; a grey gable peeping out of the dense foliage or grey
cottages perched up high. Still downward, the road winds in the shade of
lofty trees, then suddenly you find yourself looking down upon the
quaint old market-cross, with the grey church tower peering over some
ancient roofs. This presumably is the market-place,--not a busy one by
any means, for beyond an aged inhabitant resting on the solid stone
base, or perhaps a child or two climbing up and down the steps (for it
is a splendid playground)--all is still. The village pump alongside the
cross, truly, supplies occasional buckets of water for the various
gabled stone cottages around, indeed (as is invariably the case when
one's camera is in position) people seemed to spring up from nowhere,
and the pump handle was exceptionally busy. The cross is richly
sculptured with shields and roses at the base, and the shaft rises high
above the picturesque old roof, which is supported by four moulded stone
supports. Undoubtedly it is one of the most perfect fifteenth-century
crosses in England. The road still winds downwards to a rushing stream
crossed by a little bridge, and here there is a group of pretty cottages
with prettier gardens abutting on the road. We have seen these under
very different aspects, in March with snow upon the creepers, and in
October when the creepers were brilliant scarlet, and scarcely know
which made the prettier picture. The sound of rushing water adds romance
to this sweet village.

The ancient family of Scrope has been seated here for over five
centuries and a half. The "Castle Inn" by the market-cross remains
primitive in its arrangements, although the "tripping" season makes
great demands upon its supplies. Though ordinarily quiet enough,
occasionally there is a swarm, and a sudden demand of a hundred or so
"teas" is enough to try the resources of any hostess. But it was too
much for the poor lady here; her health was bad, and she would have to
flee before another season came round. Strange to say, it is the
slackness of business that usually sends folks away. The graceful
fifteenth-century pinnacled and embattled tower of the church gives the
ancient building a grand appearance. The church is rich in stained
glass, containing the arms of the various lords of the manor.

[Illustration: YATTON KEYNELL MANOR.]

Yatton Keynell, a couple of miles eastwards, possesses a fine Jacobean
manor-house, with a curious porch and very uncommon mullioned window.
The wing to the right was demolished not many years ago, so that now a
front of three gables is all that remains; and though it looks fairly
capacious, there are but few rooms, the space being taken up with
staircase (a fine one) and attics. The exterior of the church is good,
but the interior is "as new as ninepence," saving a fine
fifteenth-century stone rood-screen. The spiral staircase up to the
summit has been cut through, which is a pity, as otherwise the organ
would have been less conspicuous. The steps of the village cross now
serve as a basement for the village inn.

[Illustration: BULLICH MANOR-HOUSE.]

The churches of Stanton St. Quinton and Kingston St. Michael have
suffered internally as much as that of Yatton Keynell, and, alas! the
fourteenth-century manor-house of the St. Quintons is now no more. An
aged person working in the churchyard, though very proud that he had
helped to pull it down, insisted on pointing out the "ould dov-cart"
This may be pure "Wilshire," but until we saw the dovecot we did not
grasp the meaning. Nearer Chippenham is Bullich House, which fortunately
has been left in peace. Beside the entrance gate two queer little
"gazebos" were covered with Virginia creeper in its bright autumn tints.
The remains of the clear moat washed the garden wall, over which peeped
the gables of the house with the waning red sunlight reflected in the
casements--this was a picture to linger in one's memory; and there is
no telling how far one's fancy might not have been led by speculating
upon the meaning of two grim heads which form pinnacles above the porch,
had the stillness not been broken by the harsh sounds of the gramophone
issuing from a neighbouring cottage! If Bullich possesses a ghost, as it
ought to, judging by appearances, surely an up-to-date music-hall ditty
should "lay" him in the moat in desperation.

[Illustration: SHELDON MANOR.]

[Illustration: SHELDON MANOR.]

About a mile away on the western side of the main road from Chippenham
to Yatton Keynell is Sheldon Manor, a charming old residence with a
great Gothic porch like a church, and a Gothic window over it belonging
to what is called the "Priest's chamber." Upon the gable end, over it,
is one of those queer little box sundials one occasionally sees in
Wiltshire. As you enter the porch the massive staircase faces you, with
its picturesque newels and pendants, and the little carved oak gate,
which was there to keep the dogs downstairs. In the wall to the right,
just beyond the entrance door, is a curious stone trough of fair
capacity. It is screened by a door, and exteriorly looks like a
cupboard; but what was the use of this trough we are at a loss to
conjecture, unless in old days the horses were admitted.

[Illustration: SOUTH WRAXALL MANOR-HOUSE.]

[Illustration: SOUTH WRAXALL.]

But two of the finest old houses in the county are certainly South
Wraxall and Great Chaldfield, situated within a couple of miles from one
another to the west of Melksham. The former has recently been converted
from a farmhouse again into a mansion, and the latter is now undergoing
careful restoration. Though the exterior of Great Chaldfield is
unimpaired, and as perfect a specimen of an early fifteenth-century
house as one could wish to see, sad havoc has been played inside. The
great hall many years ago was so divided up that it was difficult to
guess at its original proportions. The finest Gothic windows with
groined roofs, ornamental bosses, and fireplaces, and carved oak beams,
have long since been blocked up and their places filled with mean ones
of the Georgian period or later. To fully comprehend the wholesale
obliteration of the original work, one has only to see the thousand bits
of sculptured masonry laid out upon the lawn of the back garden. To
place the pieces of the puzzle correctly together must be a task to try
the knowledge and patience of the most expert in such matters, but piece
by piece each is going into its proper place. The huge stone heads with
scooped-out eyes, through which the ancient lord of the manor could
watch what was going on below in the hall without being observed, once
again will be reinstated. There are three of them, and the hollowed eyes
have sharp edges, as if they were cut out only yesterday. Then there is
an ungainly grinning figure of the fifteenth century, locally known as
"Blue Beard," who within living memory has sat on the lawn in front of
the mansion; but his proper place is up aloft on top of one of the gable
ends, and there, of course, he will go, and, like Sister Ann, be able to
survey the road to Broughton Gifford to see whether anybody is coming.
Among the rooms now under course of repair is "Blue Beard's chamber,"
and naturally enough the neighbouring children of the past generation
(we do not speak of the present, for doubtless up-to-date education has
made them far too knowing to treat such things seriously--the more's the
pity) used to hold the house in holy dread. But there certainly is a
creepy look about it, especially towards dusk, when the light of the
western sky shines through the shell of a beautiful oriel window, and
makes the monsters on the gable ends stand out while the front courtyard
is wrapt in shade. The reed-grown moat gives the house a neglected and
sombre look. The group of buildings, with curious little church with its
crocketed bell turret on one side and a great barn on the other, is
altogether remarkable. How it got the name of "Blue Beard's Castle" we
could not learn. Recently a "priest's hole" has been discovered up
against the ceiling in a corner of his chamber; but whether he concealed
himself here or some of his wives we cannot say.

At the back of the manor there used to be a tumble-down old mill, which
unfortunately is now no more. The little church contains a good stone
screen (which has been removed from its original position), and some
stained glass in the windows. The pulpit, a canopied two-decker, and the
capacious high-backed pews (half a dozen at the most) have the
appearance of a pocket place of worship. But Great Chaldfield is a
parish by itself without a village; the congregation also is a pocket
one.

As before stated, South Wraxall manor-house is restored to all its
ancient dignity; but somehow or other, though much care and money have
been bestowed upon it, it seems to have lost half of its poetry, for the
walls and gardens are now so trim and orderly, that it is almost
difficult to recognise it as the same when the gardens were weed-grown
and the walls toned with lichen and moss. Moreover, the road has been
diverted, so that now the fine old gatehouse stands not against the
highway, but well within the boundary walls. Inside are some remarkably
fine old rooms with linen panelling. The drawing-room has a superb stone
sculptured mantelpiece, upon which are represented Prudentia,
Arithmetica, Geometrica, and Justicia, and Pan occupies the middle
pedestal supporting the frieze, while four larger figures support the
mantel. The ceiling is coved, and ornamented with enormous pendants, and
the cornice above the great bay mullioned-window is enriched with a
curious design. A remarkable feature of the room is a three-sided
projection of the wall, the upper part of which is panelled, having
scooped-out niches for five seats, one in the middle and two on either
side. The banqueting-room also is a typical room of Queen Elizabeth's
time, and the "Guest chamber" is one of the many rooms in England which
claim the honour of inhaling the first fumes from a tobacco-pipe in
England. But Raleigh's pipe here is said to have been of solid silver;
moreover, tradition does not state that it was so rudely extinguished as
elsewhere, with a bucket of water: so, at any rate, here the story is
more dignified. To settle definitely where Sir Walter smoked his first
pipe would be as difficult a problem as to decide which was the mansion
where the bride hid herself in the oak chest, or which was King John's
favourite hunting lodge.



EASTERN AND SOUTHERN
SOMERSET


[Illustration: THE GEORGE, NORTON ST. PHILIP.]

[Illustration: THE GEORGE, NORTON ST. PHILIP.]

Somersetshire abounds in old-world villages, more particularly the
eastern division, or rather the eastern side--to the east, say, of a
line drawn from Bristol to Crewkerne. This line would intersect such
famous historic places as Wells and Glastonbury, but in our limited
space we must confine our attention more particularly to more remote
spots. One of these, for example, is the village of Norton St. Philip,
midway between Bath and Frome, which possesses one of the oldest and
most picturesque inns in England. This wonderful timber building of
projecting storeys dates mainly from the fifteenth century, although it
has been a licensed house since 1397, and upon its solid basement of
stone the "George" looks good for many centuries to come. It was
formerly known as the "Old House," not that the other buildings at
Norton St. Philip are by any means new. It is merely, comparatively
speaking, a matter of a couple of hundred years or so.

Many are the local stories and traditions of "Philips Norton Fight," for
here it was that the Duke of Monmouth's followers had the first real
experience of warfare; and the encounter with the Royalist soldiers was
a sharp one while it lasted. Monmouth's intention of attacking Bristol
had been abandoned, and during a halt at Norton on June 27, 1685, his
little army was overtaken by the king's forces under the young Duke of
Grafton, Monmouth's half-brother. The lane where fighting was briskest
used to be remembered as "Monmouth Street," possibly the same steep and
narrow lane now called Bloody Lane, which winds round to the back of the
Manor Farm (some remains of which go back quite a century before
Monmouth's time), through the courtyard of which the duke marched his
regiment to attack the enemy in flank. The other end of the lane was
barricaded, so Grafton was caught in a trap, and had difficulty in
fighting his way through.

Both armies sought protection of the high hedges, which, take it all
round, got the worst of it; but Grafton lost considerably more men than
Monmouth, although a cannonade of six hours on both sides only had one
victim. An old resident living fifty years ago, whose great-grandfather
fought for "King Monmouth," used to relate how the duke's field pieces
were planted by the "Old House," his grace's headquarters; and the
tradition yet lingers in the inn that Colonel Holmes, on Monmouth's
side, finished the amputation of his own arm, which was shattered with a
shot, with a carving knife. Some of the ancient farmhouses between Bath
and Frome preserve some story or another in connection with "Norton
Fight," and George Roberts relates in his excellent Life of Monmouth
that early in the nineteenth century the song was still sung:

  "The Duke of Monmouth is at Norton Town
  All a fighting for the Crown
              Ho-boys-ho."

There are some curious old rooms in the "George"; and it is astonishing
the amount of space that is occupied by the attics, the timbers of which
are enormous. Up in these dimly lighted wastes, report says that a cloth
fair was held three times a year; and one may see the shaft or well up
which the cloth was hauled from a side entrance in the street. The fair
survives in a very modified form on one of the dates, May 1st. Upon
the first floor, approached by a spiral stone staircase, is "Monmouth's
room," the windows of which look up the road to Trowbridge. The open
Tudor fireplace, the oaken beams and uneven floor, carries the mind back
to the illustrious visitor who already was well aware that he was
playing a losing game, and knew what he might expect from the
unforgiving James. At the back of the old inn is the galleried yard, a
very primitive one, now almost ruinous, with rooms, leading from the
open corridors, tumbling to pieces, and floors unsafe to walk upon.
Through the gaps may be seen the cellars below, containing three huge
beer barrels, each of a thousand gallons' capacity. A fine stone
fireplace in one will make a plunge below ere very long.

But Somersetshire owns another remarkable fifteenth-century hostelry,
the "George" at Glastonbury, in character entirely different from that
at Norton St. Philip. The panelled and traceried Gothic stonework of the
front, with its graceful bay-window rising to the roof, is perhaps more
beautiful but not so quaint, nor has it that rugged vastness of the
other which somehow impresses us with the rough-and-tumble hospitality
of the Middle Ages. "Ye old Pilgrimme Inn," as the "George" at
Glastonbury once was called, was built in Edward IV.'s reign, whose arms
are displayed over the entrance gateway. Here is, or was, preserved the
bedstead said to have been used by Henry VIII. when he paid a visit to
the famous abbey.

A mile or so before one gets to Norton, travelling up the main road from
Frome, there is one of those exasperating signposts which are
occasionally planted about the country. The road divides, and the sign
points directly in the middle at a house between. It says "To Bath," and
that is all; and people have to ask the way to that fashionable place at
the aforesaid house. The inmate wearily came to the door. How many times
had he been asked the same question! He was driven to desperation, and
was going to invest in some black paint and a brush for his own as well
as travellers' comfort. But how much worse when there is no habitation
where to make inquiries! You are often led carefully up to a desolate
spot, and then abandoned in the most heartless fashion. The road forks,
and either there is no signpost, or the place you are nearing is not
mentioned at all. Unless your intuitive perception is beyond the
ordinary, you must either toss up for it, or sit down and wait
peacefully until some one may chance to pass by.

[Illustration: CHARTERHOUSE HINTON.]

[Illustration: WELLOW MANOR-HOUSE.]

The church and manor-house of the pretty village of Wellow, above Norton
to the north-west, are rich in oak carvings. The latter was one of the
seats of the Hungerfords, and was built in the reign of Charles I. In
the rubbish of the stable-yard, for it is now a farm, a friend of ours
picked up a spur of seventeenth-century date, which probably had lain
there since the Royalist soldiers were quartered upon their way to meet
the Monmouth rebels. Another seat of the Hungerfords was Charterhouse
Hinton Manor, to the east of Wellow, a delightful old ivy-clad dwelling,
incorporated with the remains of a thirteenth-century priory. Corsham
and Heytesbury also belonged to this important family; but their
residence for over three centuries was the now ruinous castle of
Farleigh, midway between Hinton and Norton to the east. These formidable
walls and round towers, embowered in trees and surrounded by orchards,
are romantically placed above a ravine whose beauty is somewhat marred
by a factory down by the river. The entrance gatehouse is fairly
perfect, but the clinging ivy obliterates its architectural details and
the carved escutcheon over the doorway. But were it not for this natural
protection the gatehouse would probably share the fate of one of the
round towers of the northern court, whose ivy being removed some sixty
years ago brought it down with a run. The castle chapel is full of
interest, with frescoed walls and flooring of black and white marble.
The magnificent monuments of the Hungerfords duly impress one with their
importance. The recumbent effigies of the knights and dames, with the
numerous shields of arms and their various quarterings, are quite
suggestive of a corner in Westminster Abbey, though not so dark and
dismal. Here lie the bodies of Sir Thomas, Sir Walter, and Sir Edward
Hungerford, the first of whom fought at Crecy and the last on the
Parliamentary side, when his fortress was held for the king, and
surrendered in September 1645. His successor and namesake did his best
to squander away his fortune of thirty thousand pounds a year. His
numerous mansions were sold, including the castle, and his town house
pulled down and converted into the market at Charing Cross, where his
bewigged bust was set up in 1682. His son Edward, who predeceased him
before he came to man's estate (or what was left of his father's),
married the Lady Althea Compton, who was well endowed. In the letters
preserved at Belvoir we learn that the union was without her sire's
consent. "She went out with Mis Grey," writes Lady Chaworth in one of
her letters to Lord Roos, "as to a play, but went to Sir Edward
Hungerford's, where a minister, a ring, and the confidents were wayting
for them, and so young Hungerford maried her; after she writ to the
Bishop of London to acquaint and excuse her to her father, upon which he
sent a thundering command for her to come home that night which she did
obey." A week later she made her escape. But the runaway couple were
soon to be parted. Eight months passed, and she was dead; and the
youthful widower survived only three years. Old Sir Edward lived
sufficiently long to repent his extravagant habits, for he is said to
have died in poverty at five score and fifteen!

[Illustration: OLD HOUSE NEAR CROSCOMBE.]

[Illustration: BECKINGTON CASTLE.]

Beckington, about four miles to the south of Farleigh, has another
castle, but more a castle in name than anything else. It is a fine
many-gabled house, by all appearances not older than the reign of James
I. or perhaps Elizabeth. It is close against the road, and practically
in the village, where are other lofty houses similar in character. There
is an erroneous tradition that James II. slept here the night before the
battle of Sedgemoor, regardless of the fact that his sacred Majesty was
snug in London. The house was long neglected and deserted, and owing to
stories of ghostly visitors and subterranean passages could not find a
purchaser at £100! But this was many years ago, as will be seen from an
advertisement quoted in an old number of _Notes and Queries_. Things are
different now, for ghosts and subterranean passages have a marketable
value.

Somersetshire abounds in superstitions as well as in old-world villages.
From the southern part of the county come tales of people being
bewitched, and it is a good thing for many an aged crone that their
supposed offences are thought lightly of nowadays.

Some five years ago a notorious "wise man" of Somerset, known as Dr.
Stacey, fell down stairs and broke his neck. The doctor's clients
doubtless had expected a more dignified ending to his career, for,
judging from his powers of keeping evil or misfortune at arm's-length,
it was a regular thing for people who had been "overlooked" to seek a
consultation so as to get the upper hand of the evil influence. His
patients were usually received at midnight, when incantations were held
and mysterious powders burned. In most instances this was done where
there had been continual losses in stock, or on farms where the cattle
had fallen sick.

A remarkable instance of credulity only the other day came from the East
End of London, which, happening in the twentieth century, is too
astonishing not to be recorded here. A young Jewess sought the aid of a
Russian "wise woman" to bring the husband back who had deserted her. The
process was a little complicated. Eighteen pennyworth of candles stuck
all round with pins were burned. Pins also had to be sewn into the
lady's garments, and some "clippings" from a black cat had to be burned
in the fire. The cost of these mysterious charms altogether amounted to
nearly six pounds, which was expensive considering the truant husband
did not return. During some recent alterations to an old house near
Kilrush, Ireland, beneath the flooring was discovered a doll dressed
to personify a woman against whom a former occupant owed a deadly
grudge. It was stabbed through the breast with a dagger-shaped hairpin,
which presumably it was hoped would bring about a more speedy death than
the slower process of melting a diminutive waxen effigy.

Cases of ague in Somerset are said to succumb if a spider is captured
and starved to death! Consumptives also are said to be cured by carrying
them through a flock of sheep in the morning when the animals are first
let out of the fold. It is said to bode good luck if, when drinking, a
fly should drop into one's cup or glass. When this happens, we have
somewhere heard, that a person's nationality may be discovered; but beer
must be the liquid. A Spaniard leaves his drink and is mute. A Frenchman
leaves it also untouched, but uses strong language. An Englishman pours
the beer away and orders another glass. A German extracts the fly with
his finger and finishes his beer. A Russian drinks the beer, fly and
all. And a Chinaman fishes out the fly, swallows it, and throws away the
beer.

But enough of these peculiarities.

[Illustration: CROSCOMBE CHURCH.]

[Illustration: CROSCOMBE.]

In the wooded vale between Shepton Mallet and Wells is a pretty
straggling village of whitewashed houses with Tudor mullioned windows
and, some of them, Tudor fireplaces within. This is Croscombe, which,
like Crowcombe in western Somerset, has its village cross, but a
mutilated one, and a church rich in Jacobean woodwork. The canopied
pulpit, dated 1616, and the chancel screen, reaching almost to the roof,
bearing the Royal arms, are perhaps the finest examples of the period to
be found anywhere. An inn, once a priory, near the cross has panelled
ceilings and other features of the fifteenth century. Some old cloth
mills, with their emerald green mill-ponds, are one of the peculiarities
of Croscombe. Shepton Mallet is depressing, perhaps because crape is
manufactured there. A lonely old hostelry to the south of the town known
as "Cannard's Grave," not a cheery sign under the most favourable
circumstances, but with padlocked doors and windows boarded up as we saw
it, had a forbidding look, and seemed to warrant the mysterious stories
that are told about it. The cross in the market-place was erected in
1500, but it has been too scraped and restored to classify it with those
at Cheddar or Malmesbury. The church contains a fine oak roof and some
ancient tombs, mainly to the Strodes, an important Somersetshire family
with Republican tendencies, one of whom harboured the Duke of Monmouth
in his house the night after his defeat at Sedgemoor. The remains of
this house, "Downside," stand about a mile from Shepton Mallet, but it
has been altered and restored from time to time, so that now it has
lost much of its ancient appearance. The pistols which the duke left
here remained in the possession of descendants until about eight years
ago, when they were lost. Monmouth's host, Edward Strode, also owned
what is now called "Monmouth House," from the fact that the duke slept
there on June 23rd and 30th, 1685, upon his march from Bridgwater
towards Bristol and back again. Monmouth's room may yet be seen, and not
many years ago possessed its original furniture.[18]

[Illustration: LYTES CARY MANOR-HOUSE.]

[Illustration: LYTES CARY MANOR-HOUSE.]

[Illustration: FIREPLACE, LYTES CARY.]

At Cannard's Grave we strike into the old Foss way, and if we follow it
through West Lydford towards Ilchester we shall find on the left-hand
side, a quarter of a mile or so from the road, Lytes Cary, one of the
most compact little manor-houses in western England. But the fine old
rooms are bare and almost ruinous. The arms of the Lytes occur in some
shields of arms in the "decorated" chapel (which is now a cider cellar),
and upon a projecting bay-window near a fine embattled and pierced
parapet. The hall is entered from the entrance porch (over which is a
graceful oriel), and has its timber roof and rich cornice intact. On the
first floor is a spacious panelled room with Tudor bay-window (dated
1533) and open fireplace, which if carefully restored would make a
delightful dwelling room; and it seems a thousand pities that this and
other apartments dating from the fourteenth century should be in their
present neglected state. The front of the manor-house reminds one of
Great Chaldfield in Wiltshire, but on a smaller scale and exteriorly
less elaborate in architectural detail.

The eastern corner of the western division of Somerset is especially
rich in picturesque old villages and mansions--that is to say, the
country enclosed within or just beyond the four towns Langport,
Somerton, Chard, and Yeovil. Within this area, or a mile or so beyond,
we have the grand seats of Montacute, Brympton D'Eversy, Hinton St
George, and Barrington Court; the smaller but equally interesting
manor-houses of Sandford Orcas, South Petherton, and Tintinhull, and the
quaint old villages and churches of Trent, Martock, Curry Rivel, etc.

[Illustration: ANCIENT SCREEN. CURRY RIVEL CHURCH.]

The ancient county town of Somerton having been left severely alone by
the railway, remains in a very dormant state, and, of course, is
picturesque in proportion, as will be seen by its octagonal canopied
market-cross and the group of buildings adjacent Langport lies low, and
is uninviting, with marshy pools around, with to the north-west
Bridgwater way the villages of Chedzoy, Middlezoy, and Weston Zoyland,
full of memories of the fight at Sedgemoor. The church of Curry Rivel,
to the west of Langport, has many ancient carvings, and retains its
beautiful oak screen and bench-ends of the fifteenth century. Within its
ancient ornamented ironwork railing is a curious Jacobean tomb,
representing the recumbent effigies of two troopers, Marmaduke and
Robert Jennings. It seems selfish that they should thus lie in state
while their wives are kneeling below by two little cribs containing
their children tucked up in orderly rows like mummified bambinoes. On
the summit of a circular arch above, five painted cherubs are reclining
at their ease, and chained to one of the iron railings is a little
coffer which gives a touch of mystery to the whole. What does this
little sealed coffer contain?--for it must have been in its present
position since the monument was erected. Are the warriors' hearts
therein, or the bones of the five bambinoes? There is another Jacobean
tomb, just like a cumbrous cabinet of the period. It is hideous enough
for anything, and obscures one of three interesting fourteenth-century
mural monuments.

In the old farmhouse of Burrow, near Curry Rivel, some swords and
jack-boots of the time of Charles II. were preserved. They are now in
the museum at Taunton, where we regret to say the buckle worn by the
Duke of Monmouth, and Lord Feversham's dish are now no longer[19] with
the other interesting relics of the fight at Sedgemoor.

[Illustration: BARRINGTON COURT.]

At Barrington Court and White Lackington manor-house, both near
Ilminster, Monmouth was entertained in princely state during his
progress through the western counties to win popularity. The latter is a
plain gabled house (a portion only of the original) which has suffered
by the insertion of sash windows. It seems to bear out its name, for it
is very white and staring. But Barrington is one of the most perfect
Elizabethan houses in Somersetshire, that is to say exteriorly, for the
inside has long since been stripped and modernised. The myriad of
pinnacles upon its gable ends, and its general appearance, recall the
stately Sussex mansion Wakehurst: the situation, however, is vastly
different, for it stands bare of trees on a wide extensive flat. The
Spekes of White Lackington and the Strodes of Barrington, it goes
without saying, were notorious Whigs; and though the duke's hosts
favoured his cause, they both managed to save their necks when the
terrible Jeffreys came down upon his memorable Progress. But the name of
Speke was enough for the judge, and the youngest son of White
Lackington, whose sins did not extend beyond shaking hands with his
father's illustrious guest, was swung up on a tree at Ilminster. In
the lovely fields around the manor-house it is difficult to imagine a
throng of twenty thousand who accompanied the popular duke. The giant
Spanish chestnut tree beneath which Monmouth dined in public, and which
had braved the tempests of many centuries, fell, alas! a victim to the
storm of March, 2, 1897, and with the destruction of "Monmouth's tree" a
link with 1680 has departed never to return. Barrington, we understand,
has recently been taken under the protecting wing of the Society for the
Preservation of Ancient Buildings, for which all those interested in
domestic architecture as well as buildings of historic association must
feel grateful.

[Illustration: HINTON ST. GEORGE.]

The little town of South Petherton, midway between Ilminster and
Ilchester, is full of old nooks and corners, from its ancient cruciform
church to the old hostelry in the High Street. From a very early date it
was a place of great importance; but since the days of the Saxon monarch
who resided there, the Daubeneys have stamped their identity upon King
Ina's palace, of which there are picturesque Tudor remains incorporated
in a modern dwelling, which to our mind has robbed it of the poetry it
possessed when in a ruinous condition. The villages of Martock above and
Hinton St George below are also full of interest; and both possess
their ancient market-crosses, but now curtailed and converted into
sundials with stone-step massive bases. But the glory of Martock is its
grand old church (where Fairfax and Cromwell offered up a prayer for the
capture of Bridgwater in 1645), whose carved black oak roof is one of
the finest in the west of England.[20] The ancient seat of the Pouletts
is an extensive but by no means beautiful house. It has a squat
appearance, being only two storeys high, with battlemented towers at the
angles and Georgian and Victorian Gothic sash-windows; but on the
southern side, a pierced parapet and classic windows give it a less
barrack-like appearance. Sir Amias Poulett (or Paulet, as it was
formerly spelled), the grandson of the builder of the house, who won his
spurs at the battle of Newark-on-Trent, is principally famous from the
fact that he put Wolsey in the stocks when that great person held the
living of Lymington, and upon one occasion took more than was good for
him. But the cardinal afterwards had his revenge, and put fine upon Sir
Amias to build the gate of the Middle Temple, which formerly bore the
prelate's arms elaborately carved, as a peace-offering from Sir Amias.
Lymington in Hampshire is often associated with the stocks' episode, but
Lymington near Ilchester, and some ten miles from Hinton, was the place.
Sir Amias had the custody of Mary Queen of Scots during the latter part
of her long imprisonment, and to him the "Good Queen" (?) more than
hinted that it would be a kindness to hasten her victim's end by private
assassination. Paulet, however, had a conscience, so Elizabeth had to
take upon herself the responsibility of Mary's execution.

The historic stocks of Lymington are now no more, but beneath a big elm
tree on the village green at Tintinhull, close by, they still are
flourishing. Tintinhull, like Trent and other neighbouring villages, is
full of picturesque old houses, sturdy stone Jacobean and Tudor
cottages, with garden borderings of slabs of stone set up edgeways, and
slabs of stone running along the footway in a delightfully primitive
fashion. Tintinhull Court is a stately old pile dating from the reign of
Henry VIII. Its oldest side faces the garden, but the main front is a
good type of the seventeenth century. We will not repeat here the
particulars of Charles II.'s concealment at the old seat of the Wyndhams
after the battle of Worcester;[21] but on the spot, and though the
greater part of the house has been rebuilt, one may realise the
incidents in that romantic episode, for the village of Trent to-day is
much the same as the village of 1651.

[Illustration: SANDFORD ORCAS MANOR-HOUSE.]

The manor-house of Sandford Orcas, to the north-east of Trent (which by
the way now belongs to Dorset), is quite a gem of early-Elizabethan
architecture, with crests upon the gable ends, and the Tudor and Knoyle
arms and graceful panels upon the warm-coloured walls of Ham Hill stone.
Though a small house, it has its great hall with carved oak screen; and
most of the rooms are panelled, and have their original fireplaces. The
wide arched Tudor gateway spanning the road bears the arms of the
Knoyles, a monument to whom may be seen in the south aisle of the church
close by, the tower of which rises picturesquely above the gabled roof
of the manor-house. The village, the little there is of it, is buried in
orchards, between which the mill-stream winds, the haunt of a colony of
quacking ducks whose noisy gossip makes up for the paucity of
inhabitants.

Some eight miles away, on the other side of Yeovil, there is a
manor-house, which for picturesqueness must take the palm of even
Sandford Orcas. This is Brympton D'Eversy, a remarkable mixture of the
domestic architecture of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth
centuries. One would think that the various styles would not harmonise,
but they do in a remarkable degree. Add to these the styles of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, which are conspicuous in portions
of the adjacent church, and there is indeed a field from which to study.
The northern front of the mansion, with its embattled Gothic bays and
rows of latticed windows, is flanked by the quaint little turreted
church, and together they form a most striking group not only in
outline, but attractive in colour, for grey-green lichens and the
peculiar rusty tint of stone blend in perfect sympathy. Picture this
house and church in crude white stone, unmellowed and toned by time, and
half its charm would be gone. Does not this open up a question worth
consideration? A modern house is built with conscientious exactitude in
imitation of some beautiful existing example of Gothic or Renaissance
architecture. Every detail is perfect, but the result is harsh and new.
One must wait almost a lifetime before it makes a picture really
pleasing to the eye. Therefore why not take some measures to tone down
the staring stone or obtrusive red-brick before the masonry is
constructed? True, there are a few exceptions where additions have been
made to ancient houses, which cannot be detected; but in the case of an
entirely new house, does it often occur to the builder how much more
pleasing would be the result if the exterior of his house were more in
harmony with the old oak fittings and ancient furniture with which it is
his ambition to fill it? Would that all such houses were built of Ham
Hill stone, for it has the peculiarity of imparting age much more
rapidly than any other.

[Illustration: MONTACUTE HOUSE.]

It is this that gives so venerable an appearance to Montacute House;
for, compared with many mansions coeval with it, the ancestral seat of
the Phelips family looks quite double the age. The imposing height of
Montacute as compared, for instance, with Hinton St. George, gives it
stateliness and grandeur, while the other has none. Like Hardwick, the
front of the house is one mass of windows; but it has not that formal
spare appearance, for here there are rounded gables to break the
outline. In niches between the windows and over the central gable stand
the stone representations of such varied celebrities as Charlemagne,
King Arthur, Pompey, Cæsar, Alexander the Great, Moses, Joshua, Godfrey
de Bouillon, and Judas Maccabeus. They look down upon a trim old garden
walled in by a balustraded and pinnacled enclosure, with Moorish-like
pavilions or music-rooms at the corners. As a specimen of elaborate
Elizabethan architecture within and without, Montacute is unique. In
Nash's _Mansions_ there is a drawing of the western front, which is
still more elaborate in detail, and is earlier in date than the rest of
the house; and this may be accounted for as it was added when Clifton
Maybank (another house of the Phelips') was dismantled many years ago.
But of this old house there are yet some interesting remains.[22] Inside
there is a similarity also to Hardwick with its wide stone staircase and
its ornamental Elizabethan doorways and fireplaces. The hospitality in
the good old days was in keeping with the lordly appearance of the
mansion. Over the entrance may still be read the cheery greeting:

  "Through this wide opening gate,
  None come too early, none return too late."

But in these degenerate days the odds are that advantage would be taken
of such hospitality; and one marvels at the open-handed generosity such
as existed at old Bramall Hall in Cheshire, where the common road led
right through the squire's great hall,[23] where there was always kept a
plentiful supply of strong ale to cheer the traveller on his way. There
can have been but few tramps in those days, or they must have been far
more modest than they are to-day.

[Illustration: MONTACUTE PRIORY.]

Montacute Priory, near the village, has a fine Perpendicular tower and
other picturesque remains. To see it at its best, one should visit the
village late in autumn, when the Virginia creeper, which covers the
ancient walls, has turned to brilliant red. Other buildings under
similar conditions may look as lovely, but we can recollect nothing to
equal this old farmstead in its clinging robes of gold and scarlet.

There are many interesting old inns in this part of Somersetshire,
notably in the town of Yeovil, where the "George" and "Angel" are
_vis-à-vis_, and can compare notes as to whose recollections go back the
farthest. The wide open fireplaces and mullioned windows of the former
are of the time of Elizabeth or earlier, but the stone Gothic arched
doorway and traceried windows of the latter can go a century better. But
important as they both have been in their day, neither has had the luck
or energy to keep pace with the times sufficiently to hold younger
generations of inns subservient. The old "Green Dragon" at Combe St.
Nicholas, near Ilminster, possessed a remarkable carved oak settle in
its bar-parlour. It was elaborately carved, the back being lined with
the graceful linen-fold panels. At the arm or corner were two figures,
one suspended over the other, the upper one representing a bishop in the
act of preaching. They were known as "the parson and clerk"; but when we
saw the settle the "parson" was missing, having mysteriously disappeared
some time before. The "clerk" was so worn out, having occupied his post
so for centuries, that his features were scarcely recognisable; but who
can wonder when he had been preached to for close upon four hundred
years! To be "overlooked" in remote parts of Somersetshire means certain
misfortune. Many a poor unoffending old woman, suspected of
"overlooking" people, has been knocked on the head that her blood might
be "drawn" to counteract the spell. Probably the parson's attitude
aroused suspicion, and he was quietly put away; but as his head had not
been broken neither had the spell, and the last we heard of the "Green
Dragon" was that it had been burnt down.

The old landlady we remember had a firm belief that the death of one of
her sons was foretold by a death's-head moth flying in at the window and
settling on his forehead when he was asleep in his cradle. The child, a
beautiful boy, then in perfect health, was doomed, and her eldest son
immediately set forth with his gun to shoot the first bird he chanced to
see, to break the spell. However, that night the child died; and upon
the wall in a glass case was the stuffed bird as well as the moth, a
melancholy memento of the tragedy of thirty years ago.

FOOTNOTES:

[18] See _King Monmouth_.

[19] Illustrations of these relics are in _King Monmouth_.

[20] The open roof of the manor-house, now a cooper's shop, is also
worth inspection.

[21] See _The Flight of the King_ and _After Worcester Fight_.

[22] See illustration in _King Monmouth_.

[23] This was formerly the case at "Payne's Place," Worcestershire, a
house mentioned in another chapter.



IN WESTERN SOMERSET


Some of the prettiest nooks of old-world "Zoomerzet" are to be found
under the lovely heather-clad Quantock Hills. The beauty of the scenery
has inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth, and many famous men, not the least
of whom was poor Richard Jeffreys, who has written sympathetically of
the delightful vale to the west of the range.

To the north and north-west of Taunton the churches of Kingston and
Bishop's Lydeard are both remarkable for their graceful early-Tudor
towers. Of the two, the former is the finer specimen of Perpendicular
work, the soft salmon-yellow colour of the Ham stone being particularly
pleasing to the eye. The situation of the church is fine, commanding
grand views; and at the intersection of the roads to Asholt and
Bridgwater one gets a glorious prospect of Taunton and the blue
Blackdown Hills beyond on one side, and on the other the sea and the
distant Welsh mountains.

Both churches have good bench-ends full four hundred years old, the
designs upon them being as clearly cut as if they had been executed only
a few years ago. One of them at Bishop's Lydeard represents a windmill,
from which we gather that those useful structures were much the same as
those with which we are familiar to-day.

At Cothelstone to the north, approached by a romantic winding road
embosomed in lofty beech trees which dip suddenly down into a
picturesque dell, the church and manor-house nestle cosily together,
surrounded by hills and hanging woods. It is a typical Jacobean
manor-house of stone, with ball-surmounted gables and heavy mullioned
windows, approached from the road through an imposing archway, with a
gatehouse beyond containing curious little niches and windows. In the
gardens an old banqueting-room and ruined summer-house complete the
picturesque group of buildings. The church has some fine tombs. One of
the lords of the earlier manor-house reclines full length in Edwardian
armour, his gauntleted hands bearing a remarkable resemblance to a pair
of boxing-gloves. A descendant, Sir John Stawel, who fought valiantly
for Charles in the Civil War, lies also in the church. For his loyalty
his house was ruined and his estate sold by the Parliament, but his son
was made a peer by the Merry Monarch in acknowledgment of his father's
services. "The Lodge," an old landmark at Cothelstone, can boast a view
of no less than fourteen counties, and from a gap in the Blackdown
Hills, Halsdown by Exeter may be seen, while close at hand Will's Neck
looms dark against the sky.

[Illustration: CROWCOMBE.]

[Illustration: OLD HOUSE, CROWCOMBE.]

Beneath the rolling Quantocks the road runs seawards, and at Crowcombe,
embowered in woods, brings us to another picturesque group: the church
on one side and a dilapidated Tudor building on the other. It is called
the "Church House," and, alas! by its ruinous condition one may judge
its days are numbered, although its solid timber Gothic roof, now open
to the sky, looks still good for a couple of centuries more. A crazy
flight of stone steps leads to the upper storey, or rather what remains
of it, the floor boards having long since disappeared. In the basement,
nature has asserted itself, and weeds and brambles are growing in
profusion. This lower part of the building was once used as almshouses,
the Tudor-headed doors leading into the several apartments. The upper
storey was the schoolroom, and had a distinct landlord from the
basement. Difficulties consequently arose; for when the owner of the
schoolroom suggested restorations to the roof, the proprietor of the
almshouses declined to participate in the expense, declaring that it was
his intention to pull his portion of the building down! A more
striking example of a house divided against itself could not be found,
hence the forlorn condition of the joint establishment of youth and age.

[Illustration: CROWCOMBE CHURCH.]

There are fine carved bench-ends in the church, one bearing the date
1534 in Roman figures. Upon another is represented two men in desperate
combat with a double-headed dragon. In the churchyard there is a cross,
and facing the village street another, the cross complete, which is
exceptional.

Crowcombe Court, a stately red-brick house of the latter part of the
seventeenth century, has replaced the older seat of the Carews. Among
the fine collection of Vandycks is a full-length of Charles I. and his
queen, given by the second Charles to the family in acknowledgment of
their loyalty. Queen Henrietta looks prettier here than in many of her
portraits. There is also a fine Vandyck of James Stuart, Duke of
Richmond, and of Lady Herbert, and some of Lely's beauties, including
Nell Gwynn and the Countess of Falmouth, whose buxom face recalls some
of de Gramont's liveliest pages.

A few miles to the east of Crowcombe, on the other side of the range of
hills, is the moated castle of Enmore, whose ponderous drawbridge can
still be raised and lowered like that at Helmingham. It is a formidable
barrack-like building of red stone, not of any great antiquity. In the
earlier structure lived Elizabeth Malet, the handsome young heiress with
whom the madcap Earl of Rochester ran away. Pepys on May 28, 1665,
relates "a story of my Lord Rochester's running away on Friday night
last with Mrs. Mallett, the great beauty of fortune and the north, who
had supped at Whitehall with Mrs. Stewart, and was going home to her
lodgings with her grandfather my Lord Haly [Hawley] by coach; and was at
Charing Cross seized on by both horse and foot men, and forcibly taken
from him and put into a coach with six horses, and two women provided to
receive her, and carried away. Upon immediate pursuit, my Lord of
Rochester (for whom the king had spoken to the lady often, but with no
success) was taken at Uxbridge; but the lady is not yet heard of, and
the king mighty angry, and the lord sent to the Tower." As may be
supposed, with so flighty a husband the pair did not live happily ever
after.[24]

The Enmore estate passed to Anne, the eldest of their three daughters,
who married a Baynton of Spye Park near Melksham, where memories of the
profligate earl linger, as they do at Adderbury.

The famous "Abode" at Spaxton, as impenetrable as Enmore although it has
no drawbridge, is close at hand. An adjacent hill, locally said to be a
short cut to heaven, commands a superb view of the surrounding country.
The original founder of the sect could scarcely have found a prettier
nook in England.

A few miles to the north-west of Crowcombe is the picturesque village of
Monksilver, the church of which is rich in oak carvings of the fifteenth
century. The pulpit and bench-ends are particularly fine, but the screen
has been much mutilated. There are some grotesque gargoyles, one
representing a large-mouthed gentleman having his teeth extracted.

[Illustration: COMBE SYDENHAM.]

[Illustration: COMBE SYDENHAM.]

Near Monksilver is the old seat of the Sydenhams, Combe Sydenham, a fine
old mansion, whose lofty square tower is un-English in appearance. The
house was built by Sir George Sydenham in 1580, who is locally said
still to have an unpleasant way of galloping down the glen at midnight.
Perhaps he is uneasy in his mind about the huge cannon-ball in the hall,
which he is said to have fired as a sign to his lady-love that he was
going to follow after and claim her as his bride. There are portraits of
some bewigged Sydenhams of the following century, the famous doctor,
perchance, and his soldier brother, Colonel William the Parliamentarian.
Some rusty old swords hang on the walls, and there is a curious painted
screen of Charles II.'s time which is sadly in need of repairs. The
servants' hall, with its open fireplace and tall-backed settle, remains
much as it has been for two hundred years or more. All these things
point to the fact that the same family has been in possession for
generations: at least it was owned by a Sydenham not so many years ago.
An effigy of Sir George with his two wives (perhaps this is the cause of
his uneasiness) may be seen in Stogumber church, about a mile away.

At the back of Combe Sydenham are the remains of an old mill. The wheel
has disappeared, and the waterfall splashing in the streamlet below,
together with an ancient barn adjacent, form a delightful picture.

To the west is Nettlecombe, a fine old gabled house, dating from the
latter part of Elizabeth's reign, containing ancestral portraits of the
Trevelyans and some curious relics, among which is a miniature of
Charles the martyr worked in his own hair. The estate belonged
originally to the Raleighs, whose name is retained in Raleigh Down and
Raleigh's Cross by Brendon Hill.

Elworthy church, to the south-east, commands a fine position, and boasts
a painted screen bearing the date 1632 and some carved bench-ends. But
the churchyard looked sadly neglected and weed-grown. The great limb of
a huge yew tree overhangs the stocks, which we are grateful to observe
have been restored, and not allowed to decay as those at Crowcombe.

From here we went farther to the south-east in search of a place locally
called "Golden Farm," or properly Gaulden, where, depicted on a plaster
ceiling of ancient date, are various scenes from biblical history, from
the temptation of Adam downwards. Now, whether the good gentleman who
rents the farm has been besieged by classes for the young anxious to
learn on the Kindergarten system, or whether the arms of the Turberville
family that figure upon a mantelpiece has connected the house with a
certain well-known novel and brought about an American invasion, the
fact remains that his equanimity has evidently become disturbed. His
door was closed, and he was proud that he could boast that he had turned
people away who had come expressly across the Atlantic! Sadly we turned
away, but with inward congratulations that we had not come quite so far,
when, lo! the worthy farmer showed signs of relenting. We might come in
for half a guinea, he said condescendingly. We thanked him kindly and
declined, observing that the fee at Windsor Castle was more than ten
times less. 'Tis little wonder that they call it "Golden Farm."

Equidistant from Monksilver to the north-west is Old Cleeve, a pretty
little village near the coast, whose ruined Cistercian abbey has nooks
and corners to delight the artist or antiquarian. The grey old
gatehouse, with a little stream close by, make a delightful picture,
indeed from every point of view the ancient walls and arches, with their
farmyard surroundings, form picturesque groups. In one of the walls is a
huge circular window: the rose window of the sacristy that has lost its
tracery. Viewed from the interior, the round picture of blue sky and
meadows gay with buttercups makes a striking contrast with the deep
shadow within the cold grey walls. A flight of stone steps leads to the
refectory, whose rounded carved oak roof and projecting figure ornaments
and bosses are in excellent preservation. There is a great open
fireplace and the tracery in the windows is intact. A painting in
distemper on the farther wall represents the Crucifixion, and as far as
artistic merit is concerned better by far than the colossal figure
conspicuous in the Roman Catholic cathedral at Westminster.

[Illustration: DUNSTER.]

The road from here to Dunster is delightful, and as you approach the
quaint old town--for it is a town, difficult as it is to believe it--the
castle stands high up on the left embosomed in trees, a real fairy-tale
sort of fortress it appears, with a watch-tower perched up on another
wooded hill to balance it. The Luttrells have lived here for centuries,
and during the Civil War it was for long a Royalist stronghold, held by
Colonel Wyndham, the governor. The gallant colonel's spirited answer to
the threat of the Parliamentarians to place his aged mother in their
front ranks to receive the fury of his cannon should he refuse to
deliver up the castle, is a fine example of loyalty. "If ye doe what you
threaten," he said, "you doe the most barbarous and villanous act was
ever done. My mother I honour, but the cause I fight for and the masters
I serve, are God and the King. Mother, doe you forgive me and give me
your blessing, and tell the rebells answer for spilling that blood of
yours which I would save with the loss of mine own, if I had enough for
both my master and your selfe." But fortunately matters did not come to
a climax, for Lord Wentworth appeared upon the scene with a strong force
and relieved the beleaguered garrison. The loyalty of old Lady Wyndham
and her son was further put to the test a few years afterwards when
young King Charles lay concealed in their house at Trent near
Sherborne.[25]

Within the castle there is a curious hiding-place which carries us back
to those troublous times. Local tradition has connected it in error with
the visit of the second Charles, whose room is still pointed out; but
the king was then not a fugitive, otherwise doubtless this secret
chamber would have proved as useful to him as that at Trent House in
1651.

The main street of Dunster, with its irregular outline of houses
climbing up a hill, and the quaintest old market-house at the top backed
by a dense maze of foliage beyond, is exceedingly picturesque. Judging
from the hole made by a cannon-ball from the castle in one of the oaken
beams of this remarkable "yarn market," poor Lady Wyndham had a lucky
escape. The marvel is the old structure has remained until now in so
delightful an unrestored condition. It has the colour which age alone
can impart, a red purple-grey which, contrasted with the background as
we saw it of laburnum and may, formed a picture long to be remembered.
The old inn, the "Luttrell Arms," has many points of interest--some fine
fifteenth-century woodwork, in the courtyard, a carved ceiling, and a
rich Elizabethan fireplace; but doubtless from the fact that the
landlord gets too many inquiries about these things, he is tardy in
showing them. The church has one of the finest carved oak screens of
Henry VI.'s reign in England, which to our mind looks much better in its
unpainted state. One has but to go to Carhampton, close by, to make a
comparison. The paint may be in excellent taste, and like it was
originally; but when the original paint has gone, is it not best to
leave the woodwork plain? Under these conditions the screen at least
looks old, but the fine screen at Carhampton does not. A smaller
screen in the transept of Dunster church presents yet more bold and
beautiful design in the carving; and about this and the ancient tombs
and altar, the bright and intelligent old lady who shows one round has a
fund of information to impart. She is very proud, and naturally so, of
the interesting building under her charge. Up a side street is the
nunnery with its slate-hung front: a lofty, curious building some three
centuries old or more.

Minehead Church is equally interesting. It stands high up overlooking
the sea, and commands a magnificent prospect of the hanging-woods of
Dunster and the heights of Dunkery. The rood-screen is good, but has
been mutilated in parts. The ancient oak coffer is remarkable for the
bold relief of its carving, representing the arms of Fitz-James
quartered with Turberville as it occurs in Bere Regis church.

There is a fine recumbent effigy of a man in robes, said to be a famous
lawyer named Bracton, although he has much the appearance of a cleric.
Whether it was considered conclusive proof that the person interred was
a lawyer from the fact that on being opened the skull revealed a double
row of upper teeth, we do not know, but there are other evidences. A
victim of insomnia is said to resemble a lawyer, because he lies on one
side then turns round and lies on the other; and this is precisely what
this effigy did. We had the good fortune to fall in with the organist of
St. Michael, and he declared that he had taken a photograph of the
worthy in which the figure had _changed its position_, the head being
where the feet should be--everything else in the picture being precisely
in its right position!

In the church is one of those quaint little figures which in former
years was worked by the clock "Jack-smite-the-clock," of which there are
examples at Southwold, Blythborough, etc. The former rector held the
living for seventy years, and some trouble was caused because he had
willed that some of the ancient parish documents were to be interred
with him robed in his Geneva gown. It is said his wish was duly carried
out, but the papers were afterwards rescued.

Bossington, on the coast to the north-west of Porlock, is a delightful
little village, lying at the foot of the great heather-clad hills. The
rushing stream and the moss and lichen everywhere add much to its
picturesqueness, but we should imagine there is too much shade and damp
to be enjoyable in the winter. In the middle of the narrow road stands a
very ancient walnut tree with twisted limbs and roots, one of many
walnut trees in the village. There are cosy ancient thatched cottages
in Porlock, and the "Ship Inn," with its panelled walls, is the most
inviting of hostelries, but the popular novel _Lorna Doone_ has rather
spoiled the primitive aspect of the place by introducing some buildings
out of keeping with the rest.

The weary traveller has a great treat in store, for the view from the
top of Porlock Hill is remarkable. But it is well worth the climb, and
by the old road it is indeed a climb! When we were there it was a misty
day in June, and we never remember so remarkable a prospect as from the
summit. The brilliant gorse stood out against the varying shades of
green and purple of the moorland, and below all that could be seen was
one solid mass of snow-white cloud, the outline of which was sharply
defined against a distant glimpse of the soft blue sea and the deep blue
Glamorganshire hills, looking wonderfully like a glacier-field. Next
morning came the news that in the mist the warship _Montagu_ had run on
the rocks by Lundy.

The romantic scenery of Lynmouth and Lynton is too well known to call
for any particular description here. Little wonder that one sees so many
honeymoon couples wandering everywhere about the lovely lanes. Lovers of
old oak, too, will find all that they desire at Lynmouth, for here is
the most tempting antique repository, calculated to make tourist
collectors of Chippendale and oak wish they had economised more in their
hotel bills. Motor cars sail easily down into the valley from Porlock,
but a sudden twist in the steep ascent to Lynton causes many a snort and
groan accompanied by an extra scent of petrol.

But we have overstepped the county line and are in Devon.

FOOTNOTES:

[24] See _Some Beauties of the Seventeenth Century_.

[25] See _Flight of the King_ and _After Worcester Fight_.



IN DEVON AND DORSET


Those who have never been to Clovelly can have no idea of its
quaintness, no matter what descriptions they have read or pictures they
may have seen. One goes there expecting to find the little place exactly
as he imagines it to be, and is agreeably surprised to find it is quite
different. It is so unlike any other place, that one looks back at it
more as a dream than a real recollection. We do not hint that the
everlasting climb up and down may be likened to a nightmare. Not a bit
of it. Though we gasp and sink with fatigue, we have still breath enough
left in our body to sing in praise. Were the steps more steep and less
rambling, perhaps we should not be so satisfied. What excellent exercise
for muscular-leg development. But how about the older part of the
inhabitants?

We had the honour to converse with the oldest Clovellian, a hale and
hearty fisherman, who, by no means tardy in introducing himself,
promptly proceeded to business. For twopence we might take his
photograph. We thanked him kindly, and having disbursed that sum
reserved our plates for inanimate curiosities.

It is gratifying to learn that there is no room for "improvement" at
Clovelly, and there are fewer houses than there used to be.
Consequently there is nothing new and out of harmony. The cottages are
really old and quaint, not as we expected to find them, imitations, like
half the houses in Chester.

Even the "New Inn" is delightfully old, with queer little rooms and
corners, and little weather-cock figures above the sign, of the time of
Nelson. It is a novel experience to arrive there in the dusk and
walk (?) down the High Street to the sea. The most temperate will
stumble and roll about as if he had sampled the cellar through, and ten
to one but he doesn't finally take an unexpected header into the sea.

But granted he reaches the end of the little pier (which projects after
the fashion of the "Cobb" at Lyme Regis), he will find a hundred lights
from the cottages as if lanterns were hung on the hillside, their long
reflections rippling in the water.

The place is as much a surprise as ever in broad daylight. One might be
in Spain or Italy. Donkeys travel up and down the weed-grown cobble
steps carrying projecting loads balanced on their backs. Indeed, one is
quite surprised to hear the people speaking English, or rather
Devonshire, the prettiest dialect. In the daylight the little
balconied-houses overhanging the sea look more like pigeon-cots nailed
to the steep rock, and one almost wonders how the inhabitants can get
in. Long may Clovelly remain as it is now, the quaintest little place in
England!

[Illustration: CEILING IN THE GOLDEN LION, BARNSTAPLE.]

The town of Barnstaple is an excellent centre for exploration, and the
antiquity of the "Golden Lion" is a guarantee of comfort. It was a
mansion of the Earls of Bath, and upon a richly moulded ceiling, with
enormous pendants of the date of James the First, are depicted biblical
subjects, including the whole contents of the Ark, or a good proportion
of it. The spire of the church of SS. Peter and Paul looks quite as out
of the perpendicular as the spire at Chesterfield. There are some good
Jacobean tombs, but nothing else in particular.

The aged inmates of the almshouses point out the bullet-marks in their
oaken door, made when the Royalists fortified the town in 1645. Lord
Clarendon, who was governor of the town, tells us that here it was
Prince Charles first received the fatal news of the battle of Naseby.
The prince had been sent to Barnstaple for security. The house he lodged
at in the High Street was formerly pointed out, but has disappeared.

The poet Gay was a native of the town, and early in the nineteenth
century some of his manuscripts were discovered in the secret drawer of
an old oak chair that had passed from a kinsman on to a dealer in
antiques who lived in the High Street.

Close to the town is Pilton, whose church is full of interest. The
carved oak hood of the prior's chair, which dates from Henry VII.'s
reign, serves the purpose now to support the cover of the font. At the
side may be seen an iron staple to which in former years the Bible was
chained. From the fine Gothic stone pulpit projects a painted metal arm
and hand which holds a Jacobean hour-glass. The screen and parclose
screen are also good, and the communion rails and table in the vestry
are of Elizabethan date. The church pewter is also worth notice, as well
as an old pitch pipe for starting the choir. The porch bears evidence
that the tower was roughly handled when Fairfax captured Barnstaple in
1646. The existing tower was built fifty years later.

Nowhere have we seen so fine and perfect a collection of carved oak
benches as at Braunton, a few miles to the north-west of Pilton. They
are as firm and solid as when first set up in Henry VII.'s reign, and
are rich in carvings, as is the graceful wide-spanned roof. One of the
bosses represents a sow and her litter, who by tradition suggested the
idea of the holy edifice being erected by Saint Branock. A window
showing some of this good person's belongings, spoken of in the tenth
commandment, is mentioned by Leland, but since then possibly some local
antiquary may have disregarded what is forbidden in that ancient law.
Presumably there have been attempts also to annex the ruins of the
patron-saint's chapel, for the villagers pride themselves that all
attempts to remove them have failed. What an object-lesson to the jerry
builders of to-day!

Farther to the north-west and we get to Croyde Bay, which perhaps one
day may have a future on account of its open sea and sands. At present
it looks in the early transition state.

Tawstock, to the south of Barnstaple, is said to possess the best manor,
the noblest mansion, the finest church, and the richest rectory in the
county. Certainly the church could not easily be rivalled (the
"Westminster of the West," as it is called) in its picturesque position,
surrounded by hills and woods, with the old gateway of the manor-house,
the sole remains of the original "Court," flanking the winding road
which leads down to it: we almost feel justified in adding to these
superlatives the "handsomest Jacobean tomb, and the most elaborate
Elizabethan pew," but will not commit ourselves so far. The former, on
the left-hand side of the altar, is that of the first Earl of Bath
(Bourchier) and his wife. Above their recumbent effigies is a great
display of armorial bearings, with sixty-four quarterings hung upon a
vine, showing the intermarriages of the principal families of England.
There are many other fine monuments, that of Rachael, the last Countess
of Bath, who died in Charles II.'s reign, representing a lifelike and
exceedingly graceful figure in white marble. She was the daughter of
Francis, Earl of Westmoreland, and married secondly, Lionel, third Earl
of Middlesex, who predeceased her. The Elizabethan pew of the
Bourchier-Wrays, lords of the manor, has a canopy, and is richly carved;
but it was originally of larger dimensions. Close by are some fine
bench-ends, one of which displays the arms of Henry VII. High aloft is a
curious Elizabethan oak gallery by which the ringers reach the tower,
upon which are carvings of the vine pattern, a favourite design in
Devon. An early effigy in wood must not be forgotten, the recumbent
figure of a female, supposed to be a Hankford, who brought the Tawstock
estates into the Bourchiers' possession.

From northern Devonshire let us turn our attention to some nooks in the
easternmost corner and in the adjoining part of Dorset.

Of all the villages along the coast-line here, Branscombe is the most
beautiful and old-fashioned. Many of the ancient thatched and
whitewashed cottages have Tudor doors and windows. Some of the best,
alas! were condemned as being unsafe some fifteen years ago, among them
one which in the old smuggling days had many convenient hiding-places
for that industry, for Branscombe was every bit as notorious as the
little bay of Beer. The church is, or was not long since, delightfully
unrestored, for fortunately the good rector is one who does not believe
in up-to-date things, and the sweeping changes which are rampant in
places more accessible. It is the sort of comfortable old country church
that we associate with the early days of David Copperfield or with
Little Nell. Truly the high box-pews are not loved by antiquarians, but
is it not better to leave them than replace them with something modern
and uncomfortable? If the original oak benches of the fifteenth or
sixteenth centuries could be replaced, that is entirely another matter.
But they cannot, therefore let those who love old associations not
banish the Georgian pews without a thought that they also form a link
with the past. The church is cruciform, and principally of the Early
English and Early Decorated periods, the old grey tower in the centre
standing picturesquely out in the beautifully wooded valley. The village
of Beer is also very charming, and the fisher folk fine types of men. It
is delightful to watch the little fleet set sail; but in the summer the
air in the tiny bay is oppressive, and the effluvia of fish somewhat
overpowering. The extensive caves here have done good service in the
smuggling days.

[Illustration: BINDON.]

[Illustration: BINDON.]

Another charming village is Axmouth, situated on the river which gives
its name. Old-fashioned cottages with gay little gardens straggle up the
hill, down which the clearest of streams runs merrily, affording delight
to a myriad of ducks who dip and paddle to their hearts' content. The
church has Norman features, and the tower some quaint projecting
gargoyles. From the other side of the river at high tide the old church
and cluster of cottages around it, backed by the graceful slope of
Hawksdown Hill behind, make a charming picture. High up in the hills,
through typical Devonshire fern-clad lanes, is Bindon, an interesting
Tudor house containing a chapel of the fifteenth century. The entrance
from the road, with its circular stone gateway and gables with latticed
mullioned-windows peeping over the moss-grown wall, is charming, as are
also the old farm-buildings at the back, in which an enormous canopied
well is conspicuous. But more gigantic still is the well at Bovey,
another Tudor house, near Beer, which bears the reputation of being
haunted. But with the exception of some gables at the back, Bovey is
less picturesque than Bindon, owing, perhaps, to the fact that the roof
has been re-slated.

More interesting are the remains of old Shute House, which lies inland
some six or seven miles. This was a far more extensive mansion, as will
be seen by the imposing embattled gateway and a remaining wing, which
rather remind one of a bit of Haddon. Here during the Monmouth Rebellion
the Royalist commander Christopher, second Duke of Albemarle, encamped
on June 18, 1685, the same day that the other duke, the boon companion
of his wilder days, entered Taunton. The house belonged then, as it does
still, to the De la Poles.

Most of the old houses hereabouts are associated in some sort of way
with the rebellion. Close upon the county border to the north-east
stands Coaxden, a much modernised old farm, where stories are told of
fugitives from Sedgemoor. How its occupant, Richard Cogan, being
suspected as a Monmouth adherent, fled from his house to Axminster,
where in the "Old Green Dragon Inn" the landlord's daughter secreted him
between a feather-bed and the sacking of a bedstead. Kirke's "lambs"
traced him to the house, but failed to hit upon his hiding-place. The
story ends as all such stories should, the girl who preserved his life
became his wife. The house is further interesting as the birthplace in
1602 of Sir Symonds D'Ewes the historian.

[Illustration: WYLDE COURT.]

A couple of miles or so to the west is Wylde Court, another interesting
old farmhouse, much less restored, dating from Elizabeth's reign, with
numerous pinnacled gable ends and characteristic entrance porch and oak
panelled rooms. This and Pilsdon, another Tudor house a few miles to the
west, at the foot of Pilsdon Pen, belonged to the Royalist Wyndhams, and
in the troublous times they were looked upon with suspicion, and
searched on one or two occasions by the Parliamentary soldiers.
"Hellyer's Close," near Wylde Court, is so named because a Royalist
commander, Colonel Hellyer, was taken prisoner and executed here by
Cromwell's soldiers. At the time that Charles II., in 1651, attempted to
get away to France from the coast of Dorset, Pilsdon was visited by a
party of Cromwellian soldiers, and Sir Hugh Wyndham and his family
secured in the hall while the house was thoroughly searched, suspicion
even falling upon one of the ladies that she was the king in
disguise.[26] Sir Hugh's monument may be seen at Silton in the extreme
north corner of the county.

Chideock is a charming old-world village in the valley between Charmouth
and Bridport, snugly perched between the cone-shaped eminence Colmer's
Hill and Golden Cap, the gorse-covered headland, said to be the highest
point between Dover and the Land's End. The castle of the De Chideocks
and Arundells, a famous stronghold built in Richard II.'s reign, long
since has disappeared, but its moat can be traced. The fine old church
exteriorly is one of the most picturesque in Dorsetshire, but the inside
has been much restored and modernised. A handsome tomb of Sir John
Arundell in armour is in the south aisle.

Longevity seems to be the order of the day round "Golden Cap." At Cold
Harbour we chatted with a hearty old man enjoying his pipe by his
cottage door. He was close on eighty; but there was still a generation
over his head, for his father, evidently to show his son a good example,
was hard at work digging potatoes in the back garden. We solicited the
honour to photograph the pair, and asked the elder of the two if he
would have a pipe. No, he didn't smoke, but he could drink, he said; and
so, of course, we took the hint, and he with equal promptitude toddled
up the lane, as digging potatoes at the age of ninety-nine is thirsty
work.

There is a deep picturesque lane near Chideock called "Skenkzies" which
at night-time is particularly dark, and held in awe, for there are
stories of evil spirits lurking about; and little wonder, for close at
hand is a farmhouse called "Hell!" Old customs and superstitions die
hard in western Dorset. Forlorn and love-sick maidens as a special
inducement for their lovers to appear, place their boots at right angles
to one another in the form of a T upon retiring to roost. The charm is
said to be irresistible; but there have been cases where it has failed,
when the size has exceeded "men's eights."

[Illustration: MAPPERTON MANOR-HOUSE.]

[Illustration: MELPLASH COURT.]

To the north-west of Bridport and the south-west of Beaminster are two
old houses within a couple of miles of one another, the manor-houses of
Melplash and Mapperton. The former, a plain Elizabethan gabled house, is
said to have been one of the many residences of Nell Gwyn. Whether the
old Hall of Parnham, the seat of the Strodes, was honoured by a visit of
the Merry Monarch we do not know. If so, it is possible Nell may have
been housed at Melplash. Mapperton is a remarkably picturesque house,
with projecting bays and a balustraded roof, above which are little
dormer windows. Part of the house is evidently Jacobean and part dates
from the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, and the combination of
styles, the niched entrance gates surmounted by eagles, the ornamental
pinnacles, and the "upping-stock" beside the wall, make a most fantastic
whole. It was once the seat of the Coker family.

[Illustration: WATERSTONE.]

There are some interesting old mansions within a few miles of
Dorchester. Wolverton or Wolfeton manor-house, for example, and
Waterstone and Athelhampton, the last two of which appear in Nash's
_Mansions_. Each one is entirely different from the other. Waterstone is
a small late-Elizabethan or early-Jacobean house, with a quaint
balustraded bay over the entrance porch, and some elaborate and graceful
stonework upon a projecting gable that stands at right angles to it.
This presumably was once the principal entrance. It is certainly quite
unique and somewhat perplexing. At Wiston House in Sussex we remember
having seen some very elaborate Elizabethan ornamentation upon a gable
which really had no business there, although the effect was very
pleasing: and here, perhaps, we have the same sort of thing. Wolverton
is a fine early-Tudor building with battlemented tower and a stately
array of lofty mullioned windows, and careful restoration has added to
its picturesque appearance.

[Illustration: ATHELHAMPTON.]

[Illustration: ATHELHAMPTON.]

[Illustration: ATHELHAMPTON.]

But sympathetic restoration may be seen at its best at Athelhampton. We
took some photographs many years ago, when it was occupied as a
farmhouse, and upon a recent visit could scarcely recognise it as the
same. Not that the house has been much altered exteriorly, but the
quaint old-fashioned gardens, with pinnacled Elizabethan walls, ancient
fish-ponds and fountains, have sprung up and matured in a manner that
had one not seen the gardens as they were, one would scarcely credit it.
Wonders have been done within as well, and the great hall is very
different from what it was before the present owner came into
possession. There are suits of armour and Gothic cabinets to carry us
back to the days of doublet and trunk-hose and square-toed shoes. Where
formerly were pigsties is now a terrace walk, and the quaint old
circular dovecot has been carried off bodily and planted where it
balances to best advantage. But one thing we should like to see, and
that is the ancient gatehouse that was standing in Nash's time. There is
his drawing to go by, and where everything has been done in such
excellent taste one need have little fear that in a few years a new
building would settle down harmoniously with the rest.

Close by is Puddletown, a pretty old village with a remarkable church,
where, as at Athelhampton, everything is in harmony. It is the sort of
church one reads about in novels, yet so seldom meets; and now we come
to think of it, this village does figure in a popular Wessex novel.
Doubtless there are some lovers of ecclesiastical architecture who would
like to see the Jacobean woodwork cleared out and _modern_ Henry VII.
benches introduced to make the whole coeval. The towering three-decker
pulpit is delightful, and so are the ancient pews, and the old gallery
and staircase leading up to it. Within the Athelhampton chapel are
mailed effigies, and several ancient brasses to the Martin family who
originally owned the mansion.

Bere Regis church, some six miles to the east of Puddletown, is also
remarkable, particularly for its open hammer-beam roof from which
project huge life-size figures of pilgrims, cardinals, bishops, etc.,
and monster heads suggestive of the pantomime. The whole is coloured,
and the effect very rich and strikingly original. One can imagine how
the younger school-children must be impressed with these awe-inspiring
figures looking down upon them with steady gaze. There are two fine
canopied tombs (one containing brasses dated 1596) to the Turburvilles,
who possessed a moiety of the lordship since the Conquest. Their old
manor-house, a few miles south at Wool, a red-brick Jacobean gabled
house with roomy porch in which a great pendant is conspicuous,
picturesquely situated by an old bridge and the winding reed-grown
river, has of recent years obtained notoriety by Mr. Thomas Hardy's pen.
We photographed the old house some years ago before it had been thus
immortalised. Upon a recent visit we found the house desolate and empty.
Had the good farmer flown in consequence, and sought an abode that had
not become a literary landmark?

But the vicinity of Bere Regis had obtained notoriety of a tragic kind
many centuries before the birth of _Tess of the d'Urbervilles_, for that
very undesirable lady, Queen Elfrida, retired there for peace and
quietness after various deeds of darkness, one of which, according to
the _Annals_ of Ely, is said to have been inserting red-hot nails into
Abbot Brithnoth's armpits; and from Lytchet Maltravers to the east of
Bere came Sir John Maltravers to whose tender mercies the unfortunate
Edward II. was delivered before he was done to death at Berkeley Castle.
Sir John's monument is in the church; but as it was not the fashion in
those days to enumerate the various virtues of the departed in laudatory
verse, this particular act of charity is not recorded in suitable
effusion.

[Illustration: MONMOUTH'S TREE.]

Wimborne Minster to the north-east is too world-famed to call for any
particular description here, but a word may be said about the first Free
Library in the country. In past days, when there was no good Mr.
Carnegie to cater for the welfare of millions, nor the finest classics
to be purchased for sixpence, it was only natural, books being rare,
that the local authorities should not have placed the same implicit
trust in would-be readers as is shown by the British Museum Library
authorities. The rusty iron chains securing the aged tomes to an iron
rod above the queer old desks even after the lapse of centuries would
hold their own. The literature cannot be said to be of a much lighter
nature than the bulky volumes in weight. The rarest specimens are placed
in glass cases, and are calculated to make the mildest bibliomaniac
full of envy. Before the Reformation the Minster was rich in holy
relics, conspicuous among which was a part of St Agatha's thigh. One of
the most curious things still to be seen is a coffin brilliantly painted
with armorial devices, placed in the niche of a wall, which according to
the will of the occupant has to be touched up from year to year; and
thus the memory of the worthy magistrate, Anthony Ettrick, is kept more
actively alive than good King Ethelred who rests beneath the pavement by
the altar. Ettrick lived at Holt Lodge near Woodlands, a few miles away
in the direction of Cranborne; and when the Duke of Monmouth was
captured in rustic garb in the vicinity, he was brought before the
magistrate and removed from Holt to Ringwood, where at the "Angel Inn"
the room in which he was kept prisoner is still pointed out. We have
elsewhere described the old ash tree near Crowther's Farm beneath which
the unfortunate fugitive from Sedgemoor was found. It is propped up, and
has lost a limb, but is alive to-day, and surely should be protected by
a railing and an inscription like other historic trees. To the north is
St. Giles, the ancestral home of the Earls of Shaftesbury, the first
representative of which title, Anthony Ashley Cooper, worked so
skilfully on Monmouth's ambition. When the Merry Monarch visited the
noble politician at St. Giles, he little thought that his favourite son
would be taken a prisoner as a traitor within only a mile or so of the
mansion. A memento of the royal visit is still preserved in the form of
a medicine chest that the king left behind, which in those days
doubtless contained some of his favourite specific "Jesuit drops."

Another historic mansion is Kingston Lacy, to the west of Wimborne,
the old seat of the Bankes family, which is rich in Stuart portraits
as well as other valuable works of art. It is a typical square
comfortable-looking Charles II. house, with dormer-windowed roof and
wide projecting eaves. The staunch Royalist, James Buder, the great Duke
of Ormonde, lived here in his latter years, and died here in 1688. The
duke's intimate friend, Sir Robert Southwell, has left a graphic account
of the last hours of the good old nobleman, which he concludes with the
following:--"His Grace could remember some things that passed when he
was but three years old. He was only four years old when his
great-great-uncle Earl Thomas died in 1614, but he retained a perfect
remembrance of him. That Earl lived in the reigns of King Henry the
Eighth, King Edward the Sixth, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and King
James; and His Grace had seen King James the First, King Charles the
First, King Charles the Second, and King James the Second; so that
between them both they were contemporary with nine princes who ruled
this land!"[27]

FOOTNOTES:

[26] See _Flight of the King_.

[27] _Hist., MSS. Com. Rep._ 7 App. p. 758.



HERE AND THERE IN SALOP
AND STAFFORDSHIRE


The important and ancient capital of Salop would indeed be insulted were
it called a "nook" or "corner." Could it so be named, we might be
allowed to let our enthusiasm run wild in this most delightful old town.
Shrewsbury and Tewkesbury are to our mind far more interesting than
Chester, which has so many imitation old houses to spoil the general
harmony. At Shrewsbury or Tewkesbury there are very few mock antiques,
and at every turn and corner there are ancient buildings to carry our
fancy back to the important historical events that have happened in
these places. One cannot but be thankful to the local authorities for
preserving the mediæval aspect, and let us offer up a solemn prayer that
the electric tramway fiend may never be permitted to enter.

Chirk Castle is so close upon the boundaries of Salop that we may
include this corner of Denbighshire. It is the only border fortress of
Wales still inhabited, and is remarkably situated on an eminence high
above the grand old trees of the park, or rather forest, surrounding it.
It has stood many a siege, but its massive external walls look little
the worse for it. They are of immense thickness, and so wide that two
people abreast can walk upon the battlements. The huge round towers,
with deep-set windows and loopholes, have a very formidable appearance
as you climb the steep ascent from the picturesque vale beneath. It was
built by the powerful family of Mortimer early in the fourteenth
century. From the Mortimers and Beauchamps it came into the possession
of Henry VIII.'s natural son, the Duke of Richmond and Somerset, and to
Lord Seymour, brother of the Protector Somerset. Then the Earl of
Leicester owned it in Elizabeth's time, and eventually Sir Thomas
Myddelton, Lord Mayor in James I.'s reign. His son, Sir Thomas, fought
valiantly for the Parliamentary side, and in 1644 had to besiege his own
fortress. A letter from the governor, Sir John Watts, to Prince Rupert,
which still hangs in the great hall, describes how the owner "attempted
to worke into the castle with iron crowes and pickers under great
plancks and tables, which they had erected against the castle side for
their shelter: but my stones beate them off." In the following year
Charles I. slept there on two occasions; and it was here that he learned
the defeat of the great Montrose. After the king's execution, Sir
Thomas, like many others, began to show favour to the other side; and
the year before the Restoration he was mixed up in Sir George Booth's
Cheshire rising, and had to fortify his castle against General Lambert,
to whom he eventually surrendered. But the general did not depart until
he had disabled the fortress, and the damage done after the Restoration
took £30,000 to repair. It was Sir Hugh, the younger brother of the
first Sir Thomas Myddelton, who made the New River, which was opened on
Michaelmas Day, 1613. A share in 1633 was valued at £3, 4s. 2d., and in
1899 one was sold for £125,000!

[Illustration: SERVANT'S HALL, CHIRK CASTLE.]

The various apartments are ranged round a large quadrangle, parts of
which remind one somewhat of Haddon. On one side is the great hall, and
opposite the servants' hall. The former, with its minstrels' gallery,
heraldic glass, and ancient furniture, is full of interest. The walls
are hung with various pieces of armour, and weapons, and a Cavalier
drum, saddle, and hat, the latter with its leather travelling case,
which is probably unique. There is a gorgeous coloured pedigree to the
first Sir Thomas Myddelton, recording ancestors centuries before, though
perhaps not quite so far back as the pedigree in the long gallery at
Hatfield, which is said to go back to Adam.

[Illustration: SERVANTS' HALL, CHIRK CASTLE.]

The servants' hall is a delightful old room, with long black oak tables
and settles, those against the wall being fixtures to the panelling.
There is a raised dais, and a seat of state to make distinction at the
board. There are queer old portraits of ancient retainers, one the
bellman who used to ring the great bell in the corner turret of the
quadrangle, and another very jolly looking porter, who has his eye on an
antique beer barrel perched on wheels in a corner of the room. This
apparatus has done good service in its day, as have the great pewter
dishes and copper jugs. Above the wide open fireplace are the Myddelton
arms. The servants' hall was an orderly apartment:

  "No noise nor strife nor swear at all,
  But all be decent in the Hall,"

is written up for everybody to see, with the following rules:--That
every servant must take off his hat at entering; and sit in his proper
place, and drink in his turn, and refrain from telling tales or speaking
disrespectfully, and various other things, which misdeeds were to be
punished in the first instance by the offender being deprived of his
allowance of beer; for the second offence, three days' beer; and the
third, a week.

The castle is rich in portraits, especially by Lely and Kneller, many of
which hang in the oak gallery, which extends the whole length of the
eastern wing; and there are several fine oak cabinets, one of which, of
ebony and tortoise-shell with silver chasings, was given to the third
Sir Thomas Myddelton by the Merry Monarch.

The wrought-iron entrance gates of very elaborate workmanship were made
in 1719 by the local blacksmith.

At the ancient seat of the Trevors, Brynkinalt, nearer to Chirk village,
are some interesting portraits of the Stuart period, notably of Charles
II.; James, Duke of York; Nell Gwyn, the Duchess of Portsmouth, and
Barbara Villiers.

Chirk village is insignificant, but has a fine church in which are some
interesting monuments, notably that of the gallant knight who besieged
his own castle as before described. He and his second wife are
represented in marble busts. It was their son Charles who married the
famous beauty of Charles II.'s reign; she was the daughter of Sir Robert
Needham, and her younger sister, Eleanor, became the Duke of Monmouth's
mistress. There is an old brick mansion called Plâs Baddy, near Ruabon,
where "La Belle Myddelton" and her husband lived when the diversions of
the Court proved tedious; but buried in these wilds, she must have felt
sadly out of her element without the large following of admirers at her
feet. She had more brains, though, than most Court beauties, and being a
talented artist, was not entirely dependent upon flattery.

Near the entrance of the Ceiriog valley, to the west of Chirk, is a farm
called Pontfaen, and beyond, across some meadows, there is a remarkable
Druidical circle. Gigantic stones are riveted to the crosspieces of
archways, having the appearance of balancing themselves in a most
remarkable manner. The entrance to the circle has two pillars in which
are holes through which was passed a pole to act as wicket; and in front
of the altar is a rock in which may be seen cavities for the feet, where
the officiating priest is supposed to have stood. It is secluded,
solemn, and ghostly, especially by moonlight when we saw it for the
first time. The villages hereabouts, though picturesquely situated, are
far from interesting: whitewashed and red-brick cottages of a very plain
and ordinary type, and very few ancient buildings.

Some of the most picturesque old houses in England are to be found in
the southern and central part of Salop. Take, for example, Stokesay
Castle, which is quite unique. A battlemented Early English tower with
lancet windows and the great hall are the principal remains. The latter,
entered from above by a primitive wooden staircase, is a noble apartment
with a fine open timber roof. The exterior has been altered and added to
at a later period, making a very quaint group of gables, with a
projecting storey of half-timber of the sixteenth century. This is
lighted by lattice windows, and the bay or projection is held by timber
supports from the earlier masonry. It has a deep roof, and the whole
effect is odd and un-English. Not the least interesting feature is an
Elizabethan timber gatehouse with carved barge-boards, entrance gate,
and corner brackets, and the timbers shaped in diamonds and other
devices. Then there is picturesque Pitchford Hall and Condover close by:
the former a fine half-timber mansion, the latter a stately Elizabethan
pile of stone. Pitchford we believe has been very much burnished up and
considerably enlarged since we were there, but we should not like to see
it with its new embellishments, for from our recollection of the old
house, half its charm was owing to the fact that there was nothing
modern-antique about it: a dear old black-and-white homestead, which
looked too perfect a picture for the restorer to set to work upon it and
spoil its poetry; but for all that it may be improved. The courtyard
presents quite a dazzling arrangement of geometric patterns in the
timber work, and over the central porch there is a quaint Elizabethan
gable of wood quite unlike anything we have seen before. The side facing
the north is, or was, quite a picture for the artist's brush. The
stately lofty gables of Condover are in striking contrast with the more
homely looking ones of Pitchford; and the builder was an important
person in his day, as may be judged from his elaborate effigy in
Westminster Abbey, namely, Judge Owen, who claimed descent from one of
the ancient Welsh kings. Like most Elizabethan houses, Condover Hall is
built in the form of a letter E, but the central compartment was
probably added to later on by Inigo Jones. The doorway and bay-windows
above are of fine proportions, and full of dignity.

At Eaton Constantine, to the east, is the quaint old timber house where
Richard Baxter lived; and at Langley, to the south-east, a fine old
timber gatehouse; as well as Plash Hall, famous for its elaborate
twisted chimneys. Then there is Ludlow with its ruined castle, where
poor young Edward V. was proclaimed king before he set out for London:
and its famous "Feathers" hostelry with black-oak panelled rooms, its
old town-gate, and the ancient bridge of Ludford to the south. The
country between Ludlow and Shrewsbury is remarkably beautiful,
especially in the vicinity of Church Stretton, which of recent years has
grown rabidly as a health resort, meaning, of course, the springing up
of modern dwellings to mar its old-world snugness.

There is, or was some twenty years ago, a narrow street of old houses,
behind which, backed by beautiful woods, stood the manor-house, long
since converted into an inn, and the church. Beyond the woods rise a
range of lofty hills; and if we take the trouble to clamber up to the
highest peak (which rises to upwards of 1600 feet), we are well rewarded
for our pains. Two of the highest points are Caradoc and Lawley, famous
landmarks for miles around. The "Raven," when we visited it, was a
quaint old hostelry, and an ideal place to make headquarters for
exploring the romantic scenery all around.

At the pretty little village of Winnington, close upon the county
border, and fourteen miles as the crow flies to the north-west of Church
Stretton, stands a tiny little cottage at the foot of the Briedden
Hills. Here lived the famous old Parr, who was born there in the reign
of Edward IV. and died in that of Charles I., having lived in the reigns
of no less than ten monarchs. In his hundred and fifty-second year he
went to London for change of air, which unfortunately proved fatal. His
gravestone in Westminster Abbey will be remembered near Saint-Evremond's
and Chiffinch's, near the Poets' Corner.

[Illustration: MARKET DRAYTON.]

[Illustration: MARKET DRAYTON.]

The quiet little town of Market Drayton, some eighteen miles to the
north-east of Shrewsbury, contains many interesting timber houses. There
is still an old-fashioned air about the place of which the footsore
pedestrian stumbling over the cobble stones soon becomes conscious. The
quaint overhanging gables in the narrow streets are rich with ornamental
carvings. One long range of buildings at the corner of Shropshire and
Cheshire Streets is a fine specimen of "magpie" architecture. Let us
hope the row of antiquated shops on the basement will remain content
with their limited space; for so far those imposing modern structures,
which have a way of throwing everything out of harmony, are conspicuous
by their absence. Nor has the demon electric tram come to destroy this
quiet peaceful corner of Salop, as, alas! it has to so many of our old
towns. One dreads to think what England will be like in another fifty
years. Farther along Shropshire Street we find a little antiquated inn,
the "Dun Cow," with great timber beams and thick thatch roof, and the
"King's Arms" opposite bearing the date 1674 upon the gable abutting
upon the roof, which does not say much for the sobriety of the person
who set it up. Hard by is a good Queen Anne house standing a little
back, as if it didn't like to associate with such neighbours. It looked
deserted, and was "To Let"; and we couldn't help thinking how this
compact little house would be picked up were it only situated in
Kensington or Hampstead.

The church, an imposing building finely situated, is disappointing,
though there is some good Norman work about it. It has been reseated,
and the only thing worth noting is an old tomb showing the quaint female
costume of Elizabeth's day, and a tall-backed oak settle facing the
communion table. The latter looks as if it ought to be facing an open
fireplace in some manorial farm.

Many superstitions linger hereabouts. The old people can recollect the
dread in which a certain road was held at night for fear of a ghostly
lady, who had an unpleasant way of jumping upon the backs of the farmers
as they returned from market. Tradition does not record whether those
who were thus favoured were total abstainers; possibly not, for the lady
by all accounts had a grudge against those who occasionally took a
glass; and in a certain inn cellar, when jugs had to be replenished, it
was discomforting to find her seated on the particular barrel required,
like the goblin seen by Gabriel Grub upon the tombstone.

There was a custom among the old Draytonites for some reason, not to
permit their aged to die on a feather-bed. It was believed to make them
die hard, and so _in extremis_ it was dragged from beneath the
unfortunate person. The sovereign remedy they had for whooping-cough is
worth remembering, as it is so simple. All you have to do is to cut some
hair from the nape of the invalid child's neck, place it between a piece
of bread and butter, and hand the sandwich to a dog. If he devours it
the malady is cured; if he doesn't, well, the life of the dog at least
is spared.

A few miles to the east of the town, in the adjoining county, is the
famous battlefield of Bloreheath, where the Houses of Lancaster and
York fought desperately in 1459. The latter under the Earl of
Salisbury came off victorious, while the commander of Henry's forces was
slain. A stone pedestal marks the spot, originally distinguished by a
wooden cross, where Lord Audley fell.

Of less historical moment but more romantic interest, is the fact that
here close upon a couple of centuries later the diamond George of
Charles II. was concealed, while its royal wearer by right was lurking
fifteen miles away at Boscobel. The gallant Colonel Blague, who had had
the charge of this tell-tale treasure, was captured and thrown into the
Tower, where no less a celebrity than peaceful Isaak Walton managed to
smuggle it. Blague eventually escaped, and so the George found its way
to the king in France. At Blore also Buckingham remained concealed,
disguised as a labourer, before he got away into Leicestershire and
thence to London and the coast. "Buckingham's hole," the cave where his
grace was hidden, is still pointed out; and a very aged man who lived in
the neighbourhood a few years ago prided himself that he could show the
exact place where the duke fell and broke his arm; and he ought to have
known, as his great-grandfather was personally acquainted with "old
Elias Bradshaw," who was present when the accident happened.

Broughton Hall, a fine old Jacobean mansion, stands to the east of
Blore. It is a gloomy house, and has some ghostly traditions. We are
reminded of the rather startling fact that upon developing a negative of
the fine oak staircase there, the transparent figure of an old woman in
a mob-cap stood in the foreground! Here was proof positive for the
Psychological Society. But, alas! careful investigation upset the
mystery. The shadowy outline proved to be painfully like the ancient
housekeeper. The subject had required a long exposure, and the lady must
have wished to be immortalised, for she certainly must have stood in
front of the lens for at least a minute or so. It is strange this desire
to be pictured. Any amateur photographer must have experienced the
difficulties to be encountered in a village street. The hours of twelve
and four are fatal. School children in thousands will crop up to fill up
the foreground. In such a predicament a friend of ours was inspired with
an ingenious remedy. Having covered his head with the black cloth, he
was horrified to see a myriad of faces instead of the subject he wished
to take. However, he got his focus adjusted somehow, and having placed
his dark slide in position ready for exposure, he placed the cloth over
the lens-end of the camera as if focussing in the opposite direction.
Immediately there was a stampede for the other side, with considerable
struggling as to who should be foremost. The cherished little bit of
village architecture was now free, the cloth whipped away, and the
exposure given. "Are we all taken in, mister?" asked one of the boys a
little suspiciously. "Yes, my lads," was the response given, "you've all
been taken in." And so they had, but went home rejoicing.

Beside the staircase, there is little of interest inside Broughton.
There was a hiding-place once in one of the rooms which was screened by
an old oil painting, but it is now merged into tradition. The road from
Newport passes through wild and romantic scenery. At Croxton, farther to
the east, there is, or was, a Maypole, one of those old-world villages
where ancient customs die hard. Swinnerton Hall, a fine Queen Anne house
to the north-east, and nearer to Stone, is the seat of the ancient
family of Fitzherbert, the beautiful widow of one of whose members was
in 1785 married to the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV.

The palatial Hall of Trentham, farther to the north, is rather beyond
our province, being in the main modern. One grieves that the fine old
house represented in Dr. Plot's quaint history of the county has passed
away; one grieves, indeed, that so many of these fine Staffordshire
houses are no more. The irreparable loss of Ingestre Hall, Wrothesley
Hall, Enville Hall, and of Severn End in the adjoining county, makes one
shudder at the dangers of fire in these ancestral mansions. Coombe
Abbey in Warwickshire was only quite recently saved from a like fate by
Lord Craven's activity and presence of mind.

But the old gatehouse of Tixall to the east of Stafford, and Wootton
Lodge to the north of Uttoxeter, fortunately still remain intact. The
former presents much the same appearance as in Plot's drawing of 1686,
but the curious gabled timber mansion beyond has long since disappeared,
and the classic building that occupies its site looks hardly in keeping
with so perfect an example of Elizabethan architecture. The romantic
situation of Wootton Lodge is well described by Howitt. The majestic
early-Jacobean mansion (the work of Inigo Jones) has a compactness and
dignity quite its own, and there is nothing like it anywhere in England,
though more classic, perhaps, than the majority of houses of its period.
It has a battlemented roof surmounted by an array of massive chimneys,
mullioned windows innumerable, and a graceful flight of steps leading to
the ornamental porch. It was not at this stately house that the
eccentric Jean Jacques came to bury himself for over a year, but at the
Hall, a far less picturesque building. The philosopher and his companion
Thérèsa le Vasseur were looked at askance by the country folk; and "old
Ross Hall," as they called him, botanising in the secluded lanes in his
strange striped robe and grotesque velvet cap with gold tassels and
pendant, was a holy terror to the children. It was supposed he was in
search of "lost spirits," as indeed was the case, for his melancholia at
length led to his departure under the suspicion that there was a plot to
poison him.

A bee-line drawn across Staffordshire, say from Bridgnorth in Salop to
Haddon in Derbyshire, would intersect some of the most interesting
spots. In addition to Wootton and Ingestre, we have Throwley Hall,
Croxden and Calwich Abbeys, and Tissington (in Derbyshire) to the
north-east (not to mention Alton and Ham), and Boscobel, Whiteladies,
Tong, etc., to the south-east.

Of Boscobel and Whiteladies we have dealt with elsewhere too
particularly to call for any fresh description here; but not so with the
picturesque village of Tong, whose church is certainly the most
interesting example of early-Perpendicular architecture in the county.
Would that the interiors of our old churches were as carefully preserved
as is the case here. There is nothing modern and out of harmony. The
rich oak carvings of the screens and choir stalls; the monumental
effigies of the Pembrugges, Pierrepoints, Vernons, and Stanleys; the
Golden Chapel, or Vernon chantry--all recall nooks and corners in
Westminster Abbey. It was Sir Edward Stanley, whose recumbent effigy in
plate armour is conspicuous, who married Margaret Vernon, the sister of
the runaway heiress of Haddon, and thus inherited Tong Castle, as his
brother-in-law did the famous Derbyshire estate.

The early-Tudor castle was demolished in the eighteenth century, when
the present Strawberry-Hill Gothic fortress of reddish-coloured stone
was erected by a descendant of the Richard Durant whose initials may
still be seen on the old house in the Corn Market at Worcester, where
Charles II. lodged before the disastrous battle.[28] Unromantic as were
Georgian squires, as a rule, the Eastern Gothic architecture of their
houses and the fantastic and unnatural grottoes in their grounds show
signs of sentimental hankering. At Tong they went one better, for there
are traditions of Æolian harps set in the masonry of the farmyard of the
castle. The mystic music must indeed have been thrown unto the winds!

But the Moorish-looking mansion, if architecturally somewhat a
monstrosity, is nevertheless picturesque, with its domed roofs and
pinnacles. A fine collection of pictures was dispersed in 1870,
including an interesting portrait of Nell Gwyn, and of Charles I., which
has been engraved.

In the older building (which somewhat resembled old Hendlip Hall) was
born the famous seventeenth-century beauty, Lady Venetia Digby, _née_
Stanley, of whom Vandyck has left us many portraits, notably the one at
Windsor Castle,--an allegorical picture representing the triumph of
innocence over calumny, for she certainly was a lady with "a past." The
learned and eccentric Sir Kenelm Digby, her husband, endeavoured to
preserve her charms by administering curious mixtures, such as viper
wine; and this, though it was very well meant, probably ended her career
before she was thirty-three. One can scarcely be surprised that at the
post-mortem examination they discovered but very little brains; but this
her husband attributed to his viper wine getting into her head!

Not far from Tong, in a secluded lane, is a tiny cottage called Hobbal
Grange, which is associated with the wanderings of Charles II. when a
fugitive from Worcester. Here lived the mother of the loyal Penderel
brothers, who risked their lives in harbouring their illustrious guest.
We mention Hobbal more particularly as since the _Flight of the King_
was written we have had it pointed out pretty conclusively that "the
Grange" of to-day is only a small portion of the original "Grange Farm"
converted into a labourer's dwelling. The greater part of the original
house was pulled down in the eighteenth century. In an old plan, dated
1739, of which we have a tracing before us, there are no less than seven
buildings comprising the farm, which was the largest on the Tong estate.
In 1855 it was reduced to eighty-six acres. In 1716, Richard Penderel's
grandson, John Rogers, was still in residence at Hobbal.

[Illustration: BLACKLADIES.]

Near Whiteladies is the rival establishment Blackladies, a picturesque
red-brick house with step-gables and mullioned bays. As the name
implies, this also was a nunnery, but there are but scanty remains of
the original building. There is a stone cross, and some other fragments
are built into the masonry; and in the stables may be seen the chapel,
where services were held until sixty years ago. Part of the moat also
remains. A lane near at hand is still known as "Spirit Lane," because
the Black Nuns of centuries ago have been seen to walk there.

FOOTNOTES:

[28] See _Flight of the King_.



IN NORTHERN DERBYSHIRE


Our first impression of romantic Derbyshire vividly recalled one of the
opening chapters of _Adam Bede_. Having secured lodgings at a pretty
village not many miles from Haddon, we were somewhat disturbed with
nocturnal hammerings issuing from an adjacent wheelwright's. Somebody
had had the misfortune to fall into the river and was drowned, so we
learned in the morning, and the rest we could guess. Somewhat depressed,
we were on the point of sallying forth when the local policeman arrived
and demanded our presence at the inquest, as one of the jurymen had
failed to put in an appearance. A cheerful beginning to a holiday!

[Illustration: GREAT HALL, HADDON.]

[Illustration: GREAT HALL, HADDON.]

There is something about dear old Haddon Hall that makes it quite
unique, and few ancient baronial dwellings are so rich in the poetry of
association. In the first place, though a show house, one is not
admitted by one door and ejected from another with a jumbled idea of
what we have seen and an undigested store of historical information. One
forgets it is a show place at all. It is more like the enchanted castle
of the fairy story, where the occupants have been asleep for centuries;
and in passing through the grand old rooms one would scarcely be
surprised to encounter people in mediæval costume, or knights in
clanking armour. The lovers of historical romance for once will find
pictures of their imagination realised. They can fit in favourite scenes
and characters with no fear of stumbling across modern "improvements"
to destroy the illusion and bring them back to the twentieth century.
Compare the time-worn grey old walls of this baronial house with those
of Windsor Castle, and one will see the havoc that has been done to the
latter by centuries of restoration. Events that have happened at Haddon
appear to us real; but at Windsor, so full of historic memories, there
is but little to assist the imagination.

[Illustration: COURTYARD, HADDON.]

The picturesqueness of Haddon is enhanced by its lack of uniformity. The
rooms and courtyards and gardens are all on different levels, and we are
continually climbing up or down stairs. The first ascent to the great
entrance gate is precipitous, and some of the stone steps are almost
worn away with use. Entering the first courtyard (there are two, with
buildings around each) there is another ascent, with a quaint external
staircase beyond, leading to the State apartments, and to the left again
there are steps by which the entrance of the banqueting-hall is reached.

Opposite is the chapel, with its panelled, balustraded pews and
two-decker Jacobean pulpit, which is very picturesque; and the second
courtyard beyond, to the south of which is the Long Gallery or ballroom,
with bay-windows looking upon the upper garden, from which ascend those
well-known and much photographed balustraded stone steps to the shaded
terrace-walk and winter garden, above which, and approached by another
flight of steps, is Dorothy Vernon's Walk, a romantic avenue of lime and
sycamore. Facing the steps and screened by a great yew tree is yet
another flight, with ball-surmounted pillars, leading to the "Lord's
Parlour," or Orange Parlour as it was formerly called; and from this
picturesque exit the Haddon heiress eloped with the gallant John
Manners, and by so doing brought the noble estate into the possession of
the Dukes of Rutland.

An elaborately carved Elizabethan doorway leads here from the ballroom,
which is rich in carved oak panelling and has a coved ceiling bearing
the arms and crest of the Manners and Vernons. By repute, all the
woodwork, including the circular oak steps leading to the apartment, was
cut from a single tree in the park. The ash-grey colour of the wood is
caused by a light coat of distemper, which it has been surmised was
added at some time to give it the appearance of cedar. Not many years
ago there was a controversy upon this subject, which resulted in some
ill-advised person obtaining leave to anoint a portion of the panelling
with boiled oil. The result was disastrous, and led to an indignant
outcry from artists and architects; but fortunately the act of vandalism
was stopped in time, and the muddy substance removed. The wainscoting
consists of a series of semicircular arches divided by fluted and
ornamental pillars of different heights and sizes, the smaller panels
being surmounted by the shields of arms and crests of the ancient owners
of the Hall, above which is a bold turreted and battlemented cornice.

[Illustration: DRAWING-ROOM, HADDON.]

[Illustration: WITHDRAWING ROOM, HADDON.]

[Illustration: WITHDRAWING ROOM, HADDON.]

The old banqueting-hall is rather cosier looking than the famous hall of
Penshurst. The narrow, long oak table with its rustic settle is somewhat
similar, but later in character than those at Penshurst, and has a
grotesque arrangement of projecting feet. The hall is all nooks and
corners. Below a projecting gallery is a recess for the wide
well-staircase, with its little gates to keep the dogs downstairs, and a
lattice-paned window lighting up the uneven lines of the floor. The
walls are panelled, and there is a wide open fireplace, and the screen
has Gothic carvings. Attached to the framework is an iron bracelet, to
enforce the duty of a man drinking his due portion in the good old days.
The penalty was before him, so should he fail, he knew his lot, namely,
to have the contents of the capacious black jack emptied down his
sleeve. The withdrawing-room to the south of the hall is richly
wainscoted in carved oak, with a recessed window containing a fixed
settle and a step leading down to a genuine cosy-corner. There are some
who believe our ancestors had no idea of comfort; but picture this fine
old room in the winter, with blazing logs upon the fantastic fire-dogs,
the warm red light playing upon the various armorial carvings of the
frieze, and the quaint little oriel window half-cast in shadow. The
apartment immediately above has a still more elaborate frieze of
ornamental plaster above the rich tapestry hangings, and the bay-window
in the wainscoted recess, like that beneath, looks upon the gardens,
with the graceful terrace on the left and the winding Wye and venerable
bridge below. The circular brass fire-dogs are remarkable.[29] The
"Earl's Bedchamber" and "Dressing-Room" and the "Lady's Dressing-Room"
have tapestried walls and snug recessed windows. The "State Bedroom" was
formerly the "Blue Drawing-room." This also is hung with tapestry, and
the recessed window has a heavy ornamental frieze above. Near the lofty
plumed bedstead, with green silk-velvet hangings, is a queer old cradle,
which formerly was in the chaplain's room on the right-hand side of the
entrance gate. But to describe the numerous rooms in detail would be
tedious. Everything is on a huge and ponderous scale in the kitchens and
offices; one is almost reminded of the giant's kitchen in the pantomime.
Among the curious and obsolete instruments one encounters here and
there, there is a wooden instrument like a colossal boot-jack for
stringing bows. It stands against the wall as if it were in daily use.
Though there is some good old furniture, one would wish to see the rooms
less bare. But let us turn to the famous Belvoir manuscripts, which not
so very long ago were discovered much rat-eaten in a loft of that
historic seat of the Earls of Rutland. It is interesting after a visit
to Haddon to dip into these papers and get some idea of what the old
Hall was like in its most flourishing days. The great bare ballroom must
have looked very grand in the days of Charles I., with the coved ceiling
brilliant with paint and gilt. In addition to a "gilded organ," were two
"harpsicalls" and a "viall chest with a bandora and vialls; a
shovel-board table on tressels; a large looking-glass of seventy-two
glasses, and four pictures of shepherds and shepherdesses." Sixteen
suits of armour adorned the screen of the great hall. The massive oaken
tables and cabinets displayed a wealth of silver and gilt plate,
including a "greate quilte doble sault with a peacock" (the crest of the
Manners) "on the top"; silver basins, ewers, and drinking bowls; a
warming-pan, two little boats; four porringers with spoons for the
children, a "maudlin" cup and cover, etc.

[Illustration: DOORWAY, HADDON.]

[Illustration: INTERIOR COURTYARD, HADDON.]

Among the rooms were the "Green Chamber," the "Rose Chamber," the "Great
Chamber," the "Best Lodging," the "Hunters' Chamber," the "School-house
Chamber," the "Nursery," the "Smoothing Chamber," the "Partridge
Chamber," "Windsor," the "Little Gallery," etc. "The uppermost chamber
in the nether tower" is almost suggestive of something gruesome, while
"my mistress's sweetmeat closet" sounds tempting; and a list of contents
included things to make the juvenile palate water--"Glasses of apricots,
marmalett, and currants, cherry marmalett, dried pears and plums and
apricots, preserved and grated oranges, raspberry and currant cakes,
conserved roses, syrup of violets," etc. These things perhaps are
trivial, but there is a domesticity about them by which we may think of
Haddon as a country home as well as a historic building.

[Illustration: GREAT HALL, HADDON.]

Haddon ceased to be a residence of the Dukes of Rutland more than a
century ago. In the days of the Merry Monarch the ninth earl kept open
house in a very lavish style. It is said the servants alone amounted to
one hundred and forty; and capacious as are the ancient walls, it is a
marvel how they all were housed. The romantic Dorothy, who a century
before ran away upon the evening of a great ball, was the daughter of
the "King of the Peak," Sir George Vernon, thus nicknamed for his lordly
and open-handed way of living. She died in 1584, and Sir George Manners,
the eldest of her four children, sided with the Parliament during the
Civil Wars. But his mode of living was by no means puritanical, and
Haddon was kept up in its traditional lavish style. In Bakewell church
there is a fine marble tomb representing him and his wife and children,
as well as the tomb of the famous Dorothy and her husband, Sir John
Manners. The family crest, a Peacock in his pride, that is, with his
tail displayed, so conspicuous with the Vernon boar's head in the
panelling and parqueting of Haddon, gives its name to the most
delightful of ancient hostelries at Rowsley. The proximity of the
mansion must have made its fortune over and over again, apart from its
piscatorial attractions. The gable ends and latticed windows, and the
ivy-grown battlemented porch and trim gardens, are irresistible, and no
one could wish for quarters more in harmony with the old baronial Hall.

In striking contrast to the sturdy ruggedness of hoary Haddon is
princely Chatsworth. The comparison may be likened to that between a
mediæval knight and a gorgeous cavalier. The art treasures and sumptuous
magnificence of Chatsworth, the elaborate and graceful carvings (which
by the way are not nearly all by the hand of Gibbons, but by a local man
named Samuel Watson), and the beauty of the gardens, make it rightly
named the "Palace of the Peak." But it is its association with the
luckless Mary Queen of Scots which adds romantic interest to the
mansion,--not that the existing classical structure can claim that
honour, for nothing now remains of the older building, a battlemented
Tudor structure with an entrance like the gatehouse of Kenilworth
Castle, and a "gazebo" on either side of the western front. It is odd,
however, that Lord Burleigh should have selected it as "a mete house for
good preservation" of a prisoner "having no toure of resort wher any
ambushes might lye," for there were no less than eight towers, but
presumably not the kind the Lord High Treasurer meant. During her twelve
years' captivity in Sheffield (where, by the way, "Queen Mary's
Chamber," with its curious heraldic ceiling, may still be seen in the
manor-house), she was frequently at Chatsworth and Wingfield Manor under
the guardianship of George Talbot, sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, the fourth
husband of that remarkable woman, Bess of Hardwick, who was not a little
jealous of her husband's fascinating captive, and circulated various
scandalous stories, about which the Earl thought fit to justify himself
in his own epitaph in St Peter's church, Sheffield. When the important
prisoner was under his custody in that town, she was not permitted to go
beyond the courtyard, and usually took her exercise upon the leads. But
at Chatsworth her surveillance was less strict, although truly John
Beaton, the master of her household (who predeceased his mistress, and
was buried at Edensor close by, where a brass to his memory remains),
had strict instructions regarding her. Her attendants, thirty-nine in
all, were none of them allowed to go beyond the precincts of the grounds
without special permission, nor was anybody allowed to wait upon the
queen between nine o'clock at night and six in the morning. None were
sanctioned to carry arms; and when the fair prisoner wished to take the
air, Lord Shrewsbury had to be informed an hour beforehand, that he and
his staff might be upon the alert. One can picture Mary and her maids of
honour engaged in needlework upon the picturesque moated and balustraded
stone "Bower" near the river, with guards around ever on the watch. This
and the old Hunting-tower high up among the trees, a massive structure
with round Elizabethan towers, are the only remains to take us back to
the days of the Scots queen's captivity.

To see Chatsworth to perfection it should be visited when the wooded
heights in the background are rich in their autumnal colouring. The
approach from Beeley village through the park and along the bank of the
Derwent at this season of the year, and the view from the house and
avenues of the river and park, are particularly beautiful. The elaborate
waterworks recall the days of the grand monarque, and an _al fresco_
shower-bath may be enjoyed beneath a copper willow tree, the kind of
practical joke that was popular in the old Spring Gardens in London in
Charles II.'s time. In addition to the splendid paintings, are numerous
sketches by Raphael, Michael Angelo, Titian, etc., which came from the
famous forty days' sale of 1682, when the works collected by Sir Peter
Lely were dispersed.

Of the stately mansions erected by Bess of Hardwick, the building
Countess of Shrewsbury,--Chatsworth, Oldcotes, Hardwick, Bolsover, and
Worksop,--Hardwick is the most untouched and perfect. The last remaining
bit of the older Chatsworth House was removed just a century after
Bess's death, so the present building must not be associated with her
name, nor indeed can any rooms at Hardwick have been occupied by Mary
Queen of Scots, as is sometimes stated, for the house was not begun
until after her death. If the queen was ever at Hardwick, it was in the
older mansion, of which very considerable ruins remain. The error, of
course, arises from one of the rooms at Hardwick being named "Mary Queen
of Scots' room," which contains the bed and furniture from the room she
occupied at Chatsworth; and the velvet hangings of the bed bearing her
monogram, and the rich coverlet, are indeed in her own needlework.

Bess of Hardwick in many respects was like her namesake the
strong-minded queen; and when her fourth better-half had gained his
experience and sought sympathy from the Bishop of Lichfield, he received
the following consoling reply: "Some will say in yor L. behalfe tho'
the Countesse is a sharpe and bitter shrewe, and, therefore, licke
enough to shorten yr life, if shee shulde kepe you company. Indede, my
good Lo. I have heard some say so; but if shrewdnesse or sharpnesse may
be a just cause of sep[ar]acon betweene a man and wiefe, I thinke fewe
men in Englande woulde keepe their wiefes longe; for it is a common
jeste, yet treue in some sense, that there is but one shrewe in all the
worlde, and evy man bathe her; and so evy man might be rydd of his wife,
that wolde be rydd of a shrewe." But with all her faults the existence
of Hardwick and Bolsover alone will cover a multitude of sins. A
fortune-teller predicted that so long as she kept building she would
never die; and had not the severity of the winter of 1607 thrown her
masons out of employment, her ladyship might have survived to show us
what she could do with the vacant space at Aldwych.

[Illustration: HARDWICK HALL.]

There is something peculiarly majestic and stately about Hardwick Hall.
It is one mass of lofty windows. It is rarely occupied as a dwelling,
and one would like to see it lighted up like Chatsworth at Christmas
time. But with the setting sun shining on the windows it looks a blaze
of light--a huge beacon in the distance. With the exception of the
ornamental stone parapet of the roofs, in which Bess' initials "E.S."
stand out conspicuously, the mansion is all horizontal and perpendicular
lines; but the regularity is relieved by the broken outline of the
garden walls, with their picturesque array of tall halberd-like
pinnacles.

Like Knole and Ham House, the interior is untouched, and every room is
in the same condition since the time of its erection. Some of the
wonderful old furniture came from the older Chatsworth House, including,
as before stated, the bedroom furniture of Mary Queen of Scots. Nowhere
in England may be seen finer tapestries than at Hardwick; they give a
wealth of colour to the interior, and in the Presence-chamber the
parget-work in high relief is also richly coloured. Here is Queen
Elizabeth's State chair overhung by a canopy, and the Royal arms and
supporters are depicted on the pargeting. The tapestries lining the
walls of the grand stone staircase are superb, and the silk needlework
tapestry in some of the smaller rooms a feast of colour. Everywhere are
the grandest old cushioned chairs and settees, and inlaid cabinets and
tables. The picture-gallery extends the entire length of the house, and
abounds in historical portraits, including Bess of Hardwick dressed in
black, perhaps for one of her many husbands, with a black head-dress,
large ruff, and chain of pearls. Here also is a full-length portrait of
her rival, the luckless queen, very sad and very pale, painted, during
her nineteen years of captivity, at Sheffield in 1678, and a portrait of
her little son James at the age of eight,--a picture sent to comfort the
poor mother in her seclusion. The future king's cold indifference to his
mother's fate was not the least unpleasant trait of his selfish
character. In a discourse between Sir John Harrington and the monarch,
the latter did his best to avoid any reference to the poor queen's fate;
but he might have saved himself the trouble, for he was more affected by
the superstitious omens preceding her execution. His Highness, he says,
"told me her death was visible in Scotland before it did really happen,
being, as he said, spoken of in secret by those whose power of sight
presented to them a bloody head dancing in the air." From James we may
turn to little Lady Arabella Stuart in a white gown, nursing a doll in
still more antiquated costume, in blissful ignorance of her unhappy
future. She was the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick, and was born at
Chatsworth close upon the time when the Queen of Scots was there.
Looking at these two portraits of this baby and the boy, it is difficult
to imagine that the latter should have sent his younger cousin to linger
away her life and lose her reason in the Tower from the fact that she
had the misfortune to be born a Stuart.

Horace Walpole in speaking of this room says: "Here and in all the great
mansions of that age is a gallery remarkable only for its extent." But
it is remarkable for its two huge fireplaces of black marble and
alabaster, for its fine moulded plaster ceiling, for its
fifteenth-century tapestry, and quaint Elizabethan easy-chairs. The
great hall is a typical one of the period, with open screen and
balustraded gallery, a flat ceiling, big open fireplace, and walls
embellished with antlers and ancient pieces of armour. When the mansion
was completed in 1597 the older one was discarded and the furniture
removed, and the walls were gradually allowed to fall into ruin. It is
now but a shell; but one may get a good idea of the style of building
and extent, as well as of the internal decorations. It appears to be of
Tudor date, almost Elizabethan in character, and over the wide
fireplaces are colossal figures in bold relief, emblematic, perhaps, of
the giant energy of Bess of Hardwick, who spent the greater part of her
lifetime in those old rooms. Tradition says she died immensely rich, but
without a friend. She survived her fourth husband seventeen years and
was interred in the church of All-Saints', Derby, where the mural
monument of her recumbent effigy had been erected under her own
superintendence.

To the south-west of Hardwick, and midway between Derby and Sheffield,
are the ruinous remains of another old residence of Lord Shrewsbury's,
associated with the captivity of Mary Queen of Scots. This is South
Wingfield manor-house, whither she was removed from Tutbury Castle prior
to her first sojourn at Chatsworth, and whence she was removed back to
Tutbury in 1585. By this time Shrewsbury had freed himself of the
responsible custodianship: a thankless and trying office, for Elizabeth
was ever suspicious that he erred on the side of leniency. A letter
addressed from Wingfield Manor, from Sir Ralph Sadleir to John Manners,
among the Belvoir manuscripts, and dated January 6, 1584-85, runs as
follows: "The queenes majestie hath given me in chardge to remove the
Queene of Scots from hence to Tutbury, and to the end she should be the
better accompanyed and attended from thither, her highness hath
commanded me to gyve warning to some of the gentlemen of best reputation
in this contry to prepare themselfs to attend upon her at the time of
her removing. I have thought good to signify the same unto you emonge
others, and to require you on her Majesties behalf to take so much paine
as to be heere at Wingfield upon wednesday the xiiith of this moneth at
a convenient tyme before noone to attend upon the said queene the same
day to Derby and the next day after to Tutbury." Of the State apartments
occupied by her there are no remains beyond an external wall, but the
battlemented tower with which they communicated, and from which the
royal prisoner is said to have been in secret touch with her friends, is
still tolerably perfect.

In the Civil War the brave old manor-house stood out stoutly for the
Royalists, but at length was taken by Lord Grey. The governor, Colonel
Dalby, was on the point of making his escape from the stables in
disguise when he was recognised and shot. The stronghold shortly
afterwards was dismantled, but in Charles II.'s reign was patched up
again and made a residence, and so it continued until little more than a
century ago. The village of Ashover, midway between Wingfield and
Chesterfield, is charmingly situated on the river Amber amidst most
picturesque scenery. Here in 1660, says the parish register, a certain
Dorothy Mady "forswore herself, whereupon the ground opened and she sank
overhead!" There are some old tombs to the Babingtons, of which family
was Anthony of Dethick-cum-Lea, nearer Matlock, where are slight remains
of the old family seat incorporated in a farmhouse. As is well known, it
was the seizure of the Queen of Scots' correspondence with this young
desperado, who with Tichborne, Salisbury, and other associates was
plotting Elizabeth's assassination, that hastened her tragic end at
Fotheringay.

Bolsover Castle, which lies directly north of Hardwick, has a style of
architecture peculiar to itself. It is massive, and grim, and
prison-like, with a strange array of battlements and pinnacles; and Bess
of Hardwick showed her genius in making it as different as possible from
her other residences. And the interior is as fantastic and original as
the exterior. Altogether there is something suggestive of the fairy-tale
castle; and the main entrance, guarded by a giant overhead and bears on
either side, has something ogre-like about it. The rooms are vaulted and
supported by pillars, some of them in imitation of the earlier castle of
the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They are a peculiar mixture of
early-English and Renaissance, but the effect is very pleasing and
picturesque. The main arches of the ceiling of the "Pillar parlour" are
panelled and rest on Elizabethan vaulting-shafts, and the ribs are
centred in heavy bosses. The semicircular intersections of the walls are
wainscoted walnut wood, richly gilt and elaborately carved, and there
are early-Jacobean hooded fireplaces and queer old painted and inlaid
doors and window-shutters. The largest of these rooms is the "Star
chamber," so called from the golden stars on the ceiling depicted on
blue ground, representing the firmament. In these gorgeous rooms Charles
I. was sumptuously entertained by the first Duke of Newcastle. In what
is called the "Riding house," a roofless Jacobean ruin of fine
proportions, Ben Jonson's masque, _Love's Welcome_, was performed before
the king and queen. Clarendon speaks of the stupendous entertainment
(that cost some fifteen thousand pounds) and excess of feasting, which,
he says, "God be thanked!--no man ever after imitated." The duke (then
marquis), who had been the king's tutor, was a playwriter of some
repute, though Pepys does not speak highly of his ability, saying his
works were silly and tedious.[30] His eccentric wife had also literary
inclinations, and wrote, among other things, a high-flown biography of
her spouse, which the Diarist said showed her to be "a mad, conceited,
ridiculous woman, and he an asse to suffer her to write what she writes
to him and of him." This romantic and theatrical lady was one of the
sights of London when she came to town in her extravagant and antiquated
dress, and always had a large crowd around her. The practical joke
played upon her at the ball at Whitehall, mentioned in de Gramont's
_Memoirs_, is amusing, but commands our sympathy, and is a specimen of
the bad taste of Society at the time.

The romantic situation of the castle, perched upon a steep promontory
overlooking a dense mass of trees, must have been quite to the old
duchess's taste; and one can picture her walking in state in the curious
old gardens as she appears in her theatrical-looking portrait at
Welbeck. According to local tradition there is a subterranean passage
leading from the castle to the church, which was formerly entered by a
secret staircase running from the servants' hall; and there are stories
of a hidden chapel beneath the crypt, and ghosts in Elizabethan ruffles.
The Cavendish Chapel in the church was erected by Bess of Hardwick's
younger son, Sir Charles Cavendish, father of the first Duke of
Newcastle, and contains his tomb, a gorgeous Jacobean monument.

[Illustration: GARLANDS, ASHFORD CHURCH.
(_Photo by Rev. J. R. Luxmoore._)]

Some of the remote villages in the wild and beautiful Peak district have
strong faith in their traditional superstitions and customs. An
excellent way for a young damsel to discover who her future husband is
to be is to go to the churchyard on St. Valentine's Eve, and when the
clock strikes the hour of midnight, if she runs round the church she
will see the happy man running after her. It has never been known to
fail, perhaps from the fact that it has never been tried, for it is very
doubtful if a girl could be found in Derbyshire or any other county with
sufficient pluck to test it. An old remedy for the toothache was to
attract the "worm" into a glass of water by first inhaling the smoke of
some dried herbs. Those who had plenty of faith, and some imagination,
have actually seen the tiny offender. Maypoles and the parish stocks are
still to be found in nooks and corners of the Peak and farther south,
and that pretty custom once prevailed of hanging garlands in memory of
the village maidens who died young. From a little crown made of
cardboard, with paper rosettes and ornaments, pairs of gloves cut out of
paper were suspended fingers downwards, with the name of the young
deceased and her age duly recorded upon them. And so they hang from the
oak beams of the roof. In Ashford church, near Haddon, there is quite a
collection of them suspended from a pole in the north aisle. The oldest
dates from 1747, but the custom was discontinued about ninety years ago.
In Hampshire, however, these "virgins' crowns" are still made. At the
ancient village church of Abbotts Ann, near Andover, there are about
forty of them, and only the other day one was added with due ceremony.
The garland was made of thin wood covered with paper, and decorated with
black and white rosettes, with fine paper gloves suspended in the
middle. It was carried before the coffin by two young girls dressed in
white, with white shawls and hoods, who each held one end of a white
wand from which the crown depended. During the service it was placed
upon the coffin by one of the bearers, and at the close was again
suspended from the wand and borne to the grave. It was afterwards laid
on a thin iron rod branching from a small shield placed high up on the
wall of the nave of the church. One of these garlands may still be seen
in St. Albans Abbey.

Another pretty custom is that of "well-dressing," which yet survives at
the village of Tissington above Ashbourne, and of recent years has been
revived in other Derbyshire villages, like the modern modified May-day
festivities. It dates from the time of the Emperor Nero, when the
philosopher Lucius Seneca told the people that they should show their
gratitude to the natural springs by erecting altars and offering
sacrifices. The floral tributes of to-day, which are placed around the
wells and springs on Holy Thursday, are of various devices, made mostly
of wild flowers bearing biblical texts; and the village maidens take
these in formal procession and present them after a little consecration
service in the church. One would like to see this pretty custom revived
in other counties.

At Hathersage, beautifully situated among the hills some eight miles
above Bakewell, Oak Apple Day is kept in memory by suspending a wreath
of flowers on one of the pinnacles of the church tower. The interior,
with its faded green baize-lined box-pews duly labelled with brass
plates bearing the owners' names, has a charming old-world appearance.
In the church is a fine altar-tomb and brasses to the Eyres of North
Lees, an ancient house among the hills of the Hoodbrook valley.

The ancient ceremony of rush-bearing at Glossop, formerly connected with
the church, has, we understand, degenerated into a "public-house show";
which is a pity. In Huntingdonshire, however, there was until some years
back a somewhat similar custom of strewing green rushes, from the banks
of the river Ouse, on the floor of the old church of Fenstanton, near
St. Ives; but in Old Weston, in the same county, newly mown grass is
still strewn upon the floor of the parish church upon the village feast
Sunday: the festival of St. Swithin. The original ceremony of
"rush-bearing," a survival of the ancient custom of strewing the floors
of dwellings with marsh rushes, was a pretty sight. A procession of
village maidens, dressed in white, carried the bundles of rushes into
the church (accompanied, of course, by the inevitable band), and hung
garlands of flowers upon the chancel rails. The festival at Glossop, and
in places in the adjoining county of Cheshire, however, was more like
the last survival of May-day: the monopoly of sweeps,--a cart-load of
rushes was drawn round the village by gaily bedecked horses with a
motley band of morris-dancers accompanying it, who, having made a
collection, resorted to the public-house before taking their bundles to
the church. Had they reversed the order of things it is possible the
custom in some places would have been suffered to continue. Until a
comparatively recent date the floor of Norwich Cathedral was strewn with
rushes on Mayor's day; and there is still preserved among the civic
treasures a wonderful green wickerwork dragon hobby-horse, or rather
hobby-dragon, with wings, and movable jaws studded with nails for teeth,
which always made its appearance in the streets on these days of public
festival.

FOOTNOTES:

[29] They have been reproduced most carefully for the drawing-room of
the Cedar House at Hillingdon.

[30] _Pepys' Diary_, March 18, 1667-68.



NOOKS IN YORKSHIRE


In a journey across our largest county, so famous for its grand
cathedrals and ruined castles and abbeys, one could not wish for greater
variety either in scenery or association. Between the Queen of Scots'
prison in Sheffield Manor and the reputed Dotheboys Hall a few miles
below the mediæval-looking town of Barnard Castle, there is vast
difference of romance; and yet what more unromantic places than Bowes or
Sheffield! Indeed, take them all round, the towns and villages of
Yorkshire have a grey and dreary look about them; and the houses partake
of the pervading character, or want of character, of the busy
manufacturing centres. But the natural scenery is quite another matter,
and with such lovely surroundings one often sighs that the picturesque
and the utilitarian are so opposed to one another. We do not, however,
merely allude to the buildings in the southern part of the county, for
many villages in the prettiest parts have nothing architecturally
attractive about their houses. The snug creeper-clad cottage, so
familiar in the south of England, is, comparatively speaking, a rarity,
and one misses the warmth of colour amid the everlasting grey.

The express having dropped us in nearly the southernmost corner, our
object is to get out of the busy town of Sheffield as quickly as
possible; but, as before stated, romance lingers around the remains of
the ancient seat of the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, who lies buried in the
parish church, for under his charge the Scots' queen remained here a
prisoner for many years; and Wolsey, too, was brought here on his way
to Leicester.

Upon the road to Barnsley there is little to delay us until we come to a
turning to the right a couple of miles or so to the south of the town.
After the continual chimney-shafts the little village of Worsborough is
refreshing. The church has many points of interest. The entrance porch
has a fine oak ceiling with carved bosses, and the original oak door is
decorated with carved oak tracery. The most interesting thing within is
the monument to Sir Roger Rockley, a sixteenth-century knight whose
effigy in armour lies beneath a canopy supported by columns very much
resembling a four-poster of the time of Henry VII. The similarity is
heightened by the fact that the tomb is entirely of carved oak, painted
and gilded. The bed, however, has two divisions, and beneath the
recumbent wooden effigy of Sir Roger with staring white eyes, is the
gruesome figure of a skeleton in a shroud, also made more startling by
its colouring. How the juvenile Worsboroughites must dread this spectre,
for its position in the church is conspicuous! There is a brass to
Thomas Edmunds, secretary to William, Earl of Strafford, who lived in
the manor-house close by, a plain stone gabled house with two wings and
a small central projection. It is a gloomy looking place, and once
possessed some gloomy relics of the martyr king, including the stool
upon which he knelt on Whitehall scaffold. These relics belonged to Sir
Thomas Herbert, the close attendant upon Charles during the later days
of his imprisonment, and descended to the Edmunds family by the marriage
of his widow with Henry Edmunds of Worsborough.[31] The park presumably
has become public property, and the road running through it is much
patronised by the black-faced gentlemen of the neighbouring collieries.
Nor are the ladies of the mining districts picturesque, although they
seem to affect the costume of the dames of old Peru by showing scarcely
more than an eye beneath their shawls.

Some three miles to the west of Worsborough is Wentworth Castle (a
successor to the older castle, the remains of which stood on the high
ground above), called by some Stainborough Hall to distinguish it from
Wentworth Woodhouse. The historic house stands high, commanding fine
views, but marred by mining chimney-shafts on the adjacent hills. The
exterior of the mansion is classic and formal, and exteriorly there is
little older than the time of George I.; the interior, however, takes us
back another century or more, and the panelled porters' hall and carved
black oak staircase were old when powdered wigs were introduced. In
Queen Anne's State rooms and in the cosy ante-chambers there are rich
tapestries, wonderful old cabinets, and costly china, reminding one of
the treasures of Holland House. But the finest room is the picture
gallery, one hundred and eighty feet in length and twenty-four feet in
breadth, and very lofty. The ceiling represents the sky with large gold
stars, and has a curious effect of making it appear much higher than it
really is. It belongs to the time of the second Earl of Strafford, who
built all this part of the house. The unfortunate first earl looks down
from the wall with dark melancholy eyes: a face full of character and
determination, and different vastly from the dreamy weakness revealed in
the profile of the sovereign who cut his head off. The despotic ruler of
Ireland is said to walk the chambers of the castle with his head under
his arm, which, strangely enough, seems to be the fashion with
decapitated ghosts; and Strafford is a busy ghost, for he has to divide
his haunting among two other mansions, Wentworth Woodhouse and Temple
Newsam. Here is Oliver, too, who made as great a mistake as Charles did
by resorting to the axe. The young Earl of Pembroke looks handsome in
his long fair ringlets; and so does the youthful Henrietta, Baroness
Wentworth (a pretty childish figure fondling a dog), whose end was every
way as tragic as her kinsman's.

Many of the bedrooms are named after birds and flowers, a pretty idea
that we have not met elsewhere. The colour blue predominates in those we
call to mind, namely, the "Blue-tit room," the "Kingfisher room," the
"Peacock room," the "Cornflower room," and the "Forget-me-not room."
Just outside the park, near a house that was formerly kept as a
menagerie, is a comfortable old-fashioned inn, the "Strafford Arms,"
the landlord of which was butler to two generations of the
Vernon-Wentworths, and in consequence he is quite an authority on
genealogical matters; and where his memory does not serve, has Debrett
handy at his elbow. Being a Somersetshire man he has brought the
hospitality of the western counties with him to the northern heights. He
points with pride to the cricket-ground behind the inn, the finest
"pitch" in Yorkshire.

[Illustration: TOMB, DARFIELD CHURCH.]

Let us avoid the town of Barnsley and turn eastwards towards Darfield,
whose interest is centred in its church. The ceilings of the aisles,
presumably like the picture gallery at Wentworth Castle, are supposed to
represent the heavens, but the colour is inclined to be sea-green, and
the clouds and stars are feathery. A fine Perpendicular font is
surmounted by an elaborate Jacobean cover; opposite, at the east
end of the church, is a fine but rather dilapidated tomb of a
fourteenth-century knight and his dame, and the effigy of the latter
gives a good idea of the costume of Richard II.'s time. Upon a wooden
stand close by there is a chained Bible, and the support looks so light
that one would think the whole could be carried off bodily, until one
tries its prodigious weight.

Another tomb, of the Willoughbys of Parham, bears upon it some strange
devices, including an owl with a crown upon its head. The
seventeenth-century oak pews and some earlier ones with carved
bench-ends, add considerably to the interest of the interior. The
ancient coffer in the vestry, as well as a carved oak chest and chairs,
must not pass unnoticed.

Barnborough to the east, and Great Houghton to the north-east, are both
famous in their way; the former for a traditional fight between a man
and a wild cat, which for ferocity knocked points off the Kilkenny
record. The Hall was once the property of Sir Thomas More (another of
those beheaded martyrs who are doomed to walk the earth with their heads
under their arms), and contains a "priest's hole," which, had it existed
in the Chancellor's day, might have tempted him to try and save his
life. Great Houghton Hall, the ancient seat of the Roders (a brass to
whom may be seen in Darfield church), is now an inn, indeed has been an
inn for over half a century. Once having been a stately mansion, it has
an air of mystery and romance; and there are rumours that before it
lost caste, in the transition stage between private and public life, one
of its chambers remained draped in black, in mourning for the Earl of
Strafford's beheading on Tower Hill in 1641. It is a huge building of
many mullioned windows and pinnacled gables; but within the last two
years the upper part of the big bays of the front have been destroyed,
and a verandah introduced which spoils this side, and whoever planned
this alteration can have had but little reverence for ancient buildings.
The rooms on the ground floor are mostly bare; but ascending a wide
circular stone staircase, with carved oak arches overhead, there are
pleasant surprises in store. You step into the spacious "Picture
gallery," devoid of ancestral portraits truly, but with panelled walls
and Tudor doorways. The mansion was stripped of its furniture over a
century and a half ago, but there are chairs of the Chippendale period
to compensate, and a great wardrobe of the Stuart period too big
presumably to get outside. Two bedrooms are panelled from floor to
ceiling and have fine overmantels, one of which has painted panels
depicting "Life" and "Death." But a great portion of the house is
dilapidated, and to see its ornamental plaster ceilings one would have
to risk disappearing through the floors below, like the demon in the
pantomime. Mine host of the "Old Hall Inn" is genuinely sympathetic, and
is quite of the opinion that the oak fittings that have been removed
would look best in their original position; and this is only natural,
for he has lived there all his life, and his mother was born in the
house; and he proudly points at the Jacobean pew in the adjacent church
where as a child he sat awestruck, holding his grandfather's hand while
the good old gentleman took his forty winks. The little church in its
cabbage-grown enclosure is quite an untouched gem, with formal array of
seventeenth-century pews with knobby ends, a fine carved oak pulpit and
sounding-board. Its exterior is non-ecclesiastical in appearance, with
rounded stone balustrade ornamentation. While photographing the building
an interested party observed that he had lived at Houghton all his life,
but had never observed there was a door on that side,--a proof that
residents in a place rarely see the most familiar objects. Nevertheless,
he discovered the door of the "Old Hall," and entered.

Pontefract Castle, so rich in historical associations, is disappointing,
because there is so little of it left. It is difficult in these
fragmentary but ponderous walls to imagine the fortress as it appeared
in the days of Elizabeth. From an ancient print of that time it looks
like a fortified city, with curious pinnacles and turrets upon its many
towers. The great round towers of the keep had upon the summit quite a
collection, like intermediate pawns and castles from a chessboard. The
curtain walls connected seven round towers, and there were a multitude
of square towers within. There is something very suggestive of the
Duncan-Macbeth stronghold in the narrow stairway between those giant
rounded towers. It is like a tomb, and one shudders at the thought of
the "narrow damp chambers" in the thickness of the wall of the Red
Tower, where tradition says King Richard II. was done to death. By the
irony of fate it was the lot of many proud barons during some part of
their career to occupy the least desirable apartment of their castles;
and thus it was with Edward II.'s cousin, Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of
Lancaster, who from his own dungeon was brought forth to be beheaded. In
a garden near the highwayman's resort, Ferrybridge, above Pontefract,
may be seen a stone coffin which was dug up in a field on the outskirts
of the castle, and supposed to be that of the unfortunate earl. At
Pontefract, too, Lord Rivers, Sir Thomas Vaughan, Sir Richard Grey, and
others were hurried into another world by the Protector Richard; so
altogether the castle holds a good record for deeds of darkness, and the
creepy feeling one has in that narrow stairway between those massive
walls is fully justified by past events. The old castle held out stoutly
for the king in the Civil Wars. For many months, in 1645, it stood a
desperate siege by Fairfax and General Poyntz before the garrison
capitulated. Three years later it was captured again for the Royalists
by Colonel Morrice, and held with great gallantry against General
Lambert even after the execution of Charles I. In the March following,
the stronghold surrendered, saving Morrice and five others who had not
shown mercy to Colonel Rainsborough when he fell into their hands. These
six had the option of escaping if they could within a week. "The
garrison," says Lord Clarendon, "made several sallies to effect the
desired escape, in one of which Morrice and another escaped; in another,
two more got away; and when the six days were expired and the other two
remained in the castle, their friends concealed them so effectually,
with a stock of provisions for a month, that rendering the castle and
assuring Lambert that the six were all gone, and he was unable to find
them after the most diligent search, and had dismantled the castle, they
at length got off also." There are still some small chambers hewn out of
the solid rock on which the castle is built, reached by a subterranean
passage on the north side; and perhaps here was the successful
lurking-place. Colonel Morrice and his companion, Cornet Blackburn, were
afterwards captured in disguise at Lancaster.

In the pleasure gardens of to-day, with various inscription boards
specifying the position of the Clifford Tower, Gascoyne's Tower, the
King's Tower, and so forth, we get but a hazy idea of this once
practically impregnable fortress, covering an area of seven acres.
Concerning Richard II.'s death, it is doubtful whether the truth will
ever be arrived at. The story that he escaped, and died nineteen years
afterwards in Scotland, is less likely than the supposition that he died
from the horrors of starvation; on the other hand, the story of the
attack by Sir Piers Exton's assassins is almost strengthened by the
evidence of a seventeenth-century tourist, who, prior to its destruction
in the Civil War, records: "The highest of the seven towers is the Round
Tower, in which that unfortunate prince was enforced to flee round a
poste till his barbarous butchers inhumanly deprived him of life. _Upon
that poste the cruell hackings and fierce blowes doe still remaine._"
Mr. Andrew Lang perhaps can solve this historic mystery; or perhaps he
has already done so? New Hall, close at hand, must have been a grand old
house; but it is now roofless, and crumbling to decay. It is a
picturesque late-Tudor mansion, with a profusion of mullioned windows
and a central bay. The little glass that remains only adds to its
forlorn appearance.

Ferrybridge and Brotherton both have an old-world look. The latter
place is famous for the battle fought there between Yorkists and
Lancastrians; and as the birthplace of Thomas de Brotherton, the fifth
son of King Edward I. The old inns of Ferrybridge recall the prosperous
coaching days; but the revival of business on the road which has been
brought about by cycle and motor, will have but little effect on this
village with a past. The hostelry by the fine stone bridge that gives
the place its name, has a past connected with notorious gentlemen of the
road, and an entry in an old account-book runs as follows: "A traveller
in a gold-laced coat ordered and drank two bottles of wine--doubtless
mischief to-night, for the traveller, methinks, is that villain Dick
Turpyn." How vividly this recalls that excellent picture by Seymour
Lucas, R.A., where a landlord of the Joe Willet type is eyeing, between
the whiffs from his long churchwarden, a suspicious guest, who having
tasted mine host's vintage has dropped asleep, regardless of the fact
that his brace of flintlocks are conspicuously visible.

Between here and Leeds are two fine mansions, Ledston Hall and Kippax
Park. The former is a very uncommon type of Elizabethan architecture,
almost un-English in character. It is a stone-built house of the time of
James I., with Dutch-like gables and narrow square towers. In the reign
of Charles I. it belonged to Thomas, Earl of Strafford; but his son, the
second earl, sold the estate. Kippax in its way is original in
construction, but savours somewhat of Strawberry Hill Gothic. The
ancient family of Bland have been seated here since the time of
Elizabeth, the direct male line, however, dying out in the middle of the
eighteenth century. Sir Thomas Bland was one of the gallant Royalists
who defended Pontefract Castle during the Civil War.

A few miles to the north-west is the grand old mansion, Temple Newsam.
Like Hatfield House, which in many respects it resembles, it is built of
red-brick with stone coigns, and the time-toned warm colour is
acceptable in this county of grey stone. It was built like many
so-called Elizabethan houses in the reign of James I., and, like Castle
Ashby, has around the three sides of the quadrangle a parapet of letters
in open stone work which runs as follows: "All glory and praise be given
to God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost on high, peace on earth,
goodwill towards men, honour and true allegiance to our gracious king,
loving affections amongst his subjects, health and plenty within this
house." The loyal sentiments are not those of Mary Queen of Scots'
husband, Lord Darnley, who was born in the earlier house, but of the
builder, Sir Anthony Ingram, who bought the estate from the Duke of
Lennox. Of all the spacious rooms, the picture gallery is the finest.
It is over a hundred feet in length and contains a fine collection of
old masters and some remarkable china. Albert Durer's hard and
microscopic art is well represented, as well as the opposite extreme in
Rembrandt's breadth of style. But the gem of all is a head by Reynolds
(of, we think, a Lady Gordon), a picture that connoisseurs would rave
about. A small picture of Thomas Ingram is almost identical with that of
the Earl of Pembroke we have mentioned at Wentworth Castle. In one of
the bedrooms (famous for their tapestry hangings and ancient beds) are
full-length portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth, and James
I., the first like the well-known portraits at Hardwick and Welbeck. On
one of the staircases is an interesting picture of Henrietta, Duchess of
Orleans, in a turban, with the favourite spaniel who appears in many of
her portraits. She holds in her hand the picture of her lord and master,
the duke who was so jealous of her. A new grand staircase with
elaborately carved newels, after the style of that at Hatfield, has been
added to the mansion recently, and harmonises admirably with its more
ancient surroundings.

The park is fine and extensive, but beyond, the signs of the proximity
of busy Leeds obtrude and spoil the scenery. We went from here to the
undesirable locality of Hunslet in search of a place called Knowsthorpe
Hall, but had some considerable difficulty in finding it, for nobody
seemed to know it by that name. "You warnts the Island," observed a
mining gentleman, a light dawning upon him. So we got nearer by
inquiring for "the Island," but then the clue was lost. Thousands of
factory hands were pouring out of a very unlikely looking locality, but
nobody knew such a place. In desperation we plunged into a primitive
coffee-stall, around which black bogies were sitting at their mid-day
meal. One of them with more intelligence than the rest knew the place,
but couldn't describe how to get to it. "Go up yon road," he said, "and
ask for 'Whitakers.'" We followed the advice, and at the turning asked
for 'Whitakers.' "Is it the dressmakers ye mean?" was the reply of a
small boy to whom we put the question. "Yes," we said, in entire
ignorance whether it was the dressmakers or the almanac people. But
having got so far there were landmarks that did the rest, and presently
a big entrance gate was seen with painted on its side-pillars,
"Knowsthorpe Olde Hall."

[Illustration: GATEWAY, KNOWSTHORPE HALL.]

But there was no Island, not even a moat. The smoke of Leeds has given
the stone walls a coat of black, but otherwise it is not unpicturesque,
and would be more so if this original gateway remained. Within the last
two years this has been removed as well as the steps leading down from
the terrace. The gateway was called the "Stone Chairs," because of the
niches or seats on either side of it. It is now, we understand, at Hoare
Cross, near Burton-on-Trent. There is much oak within the house, and one
panelled room has a very fine carved mantelpiece. The oak staircase,
too, is graceful as well as uncommon in design. Close against one side
of the house is a stone archway with sculptured figures of the time of
James I. on either side of it, and the old lady in charge related the
history of this happy pair, how the gentleman had wooed the damsel (a
Maynard), but as he had not been to the wars she would have nothing to
say to him. Consequently he buckled on his sword and engaged in the
nearest battle; and to prove his valour, brought back with him as a
love-token the arm which he had lost,--a statement sounding somewhat
contradictory. Naturally after that she fell into his--other arm, and
accepted him on the spot. This daughter of Mars, of course, now
"revisits the glimpses of the moon" with her lover's arm, not around her
waist in the ordinary fashion, but in her hand; and those who doubt the
story may see her effigy thus represented. But the dignity of this happy
pair is somewhat marred, for the only use to which they are now put is
to form a stately entrance to--a hen-coop!

There are some interesting old houses between Leeds and Otley, the "Low"
Halls of Rawdon and Yeadon, for instance. The former is a good
Elizabethan house, and contains some interesting rooms. Low Hall,
Yeadon, dates farther back, though its chief characteristics are of the
same period. The interior is rich in ancient furniture, and there are
some Knellers, which the artist is said to have painted on the spot. The
saturnine features of the Merry Monarch are to be seen on one side of
the huge Tudor fireplace, and near at hand Nell Gwyn, probably a more
correct likeness than a flattering one. There are ancient cabinets,
chests, and tables contemporary with the house; and what is more
interesting still, the cabinets and chests contain relics of Mary Queen
of Scots, and the ruffs and collars that were fashionable three
centuries ago. A gallery, wainscoted with large panels of a later
period, extends the length of the house; and at the western extremity of
it a bedroom, also panelled, possesses a hiding-place or secret cupboard
which it would baffle the most persevering to discover, but when the
panel is pushed aside, the trick of it looks so very simple. Of the
Stuart relics we shall speak presently in referring to Mary Queen of
Scots' imprisonment at Bolton Castle.

Passing through Guiseley, which is situated in the midst of worsted
mills, with the stocks by a lamp-post in the middle of the street as if
they were a present-day necessity, you climb a hill and then come
suddenly upon a lovely view, with Otley, "the Switzerland of Yorkshire,"
lying in the Wharfe valley below. The Chevin Hill is over nine hundred
feet in height, and from it you are supposed to see York Cathedral on
one side and the mountains of Westmoreland on the other. As the Chevin
is the lion of the place, it is the duty of visitors to go to the top.
Alpine climbers may enjoy this sort of task, but there are some people
who do not even wish to say that they have seen a city some
six-and-twenty miles away; but such as these who go to Otley and do not
inconvenience themselves would be looked upon by the Otleyites with
pity. But there is another thing which the town is proud of too, and
that is its lofty Maypole, which, standing in a firm socket of stone, is
guarded round by iron rails. There are far more Maypoles in Yorkshire
than in any other county, and it is pleasing to find the people are thus
conservative; though truly when they get blown down, they don't often
trouble themselves enough to put them up again. There are some
interesting monuments in the church, one on the right of the chancel to
General Fairfax's grandparents, two stately recumbent effigies of James
I.'s time. There are mural monuments to the Fawkeses of Farnley Hall (a
much altered Elizabethan mansion, containing Cromwellian relics: the
Lord Protector's hat, sword, and watch, and Fairfax's drum) and a
Vavasour of Weston Hall, who was a philanthropist in his way, for he was
buried in wool to promote the local trade. He is represented on his
monument neatly packed, and looks so cosy that the bas-relief is
suggestive of the undertaker's advertisement, "Why live and be wretched
when you can be buried comfortably for five pound ten?" In the vestry
there is a splendid set of old oak chairs of which the verger is not a
little proud.

[Illustration: LEATHLEY STOCKS.]

[Illustration: STOCKS AT WESTON.]

A pleasant meadow walk by the riverside leads to Leathley, which has a
Norman church, but can scarcely be called a village, for there is no
inn. A formidable pair of stocks stand ready by the churchyard; but as
nothing stronger than milk can be procured, they have not been worn out
with too much work. Again, at Weston on the other side of the Wharfe
river we come across the roadside stocks (like the usual Yorkshire type,
with two uprights of stone) by the spreading roots of an ancient tree.
Weston Hall is a long low Tudor building, with at one end a broad bay of
three storeys. An old banqueting-house in the grounds is ornamented
with shields of arms; and formerly the windows of it were full of
heraldic stained glass, some of which is now in the windows of the Hall.
From here we went northwards in search of Swinsty Hall, over a lonely
moorland district. The road goes up and up until you are not surprised
when you come to a signpost pointing to "To Snowdon." To the left, you
are told, leads to "Blubberhouses," wherever that may be. For preference
we chose the latter road, and soon got completely lost in the wilds. The
only sign of civilisation was a barn, where we had the fortune to find
an old man who presumably spoke the pure dialect, for we couldn't make
head or tail of it. "Swinsty--ai, you go on ter road until it is," was
the direction he gave, and we went on and until it _wasn't_. At length,
however, after plodding knee deep in marshy land and saturated heather,
we found the object of our search perched in a lonely meadow above a
wide stretch of water. It looked as if it had a gloomy history; and no
wonder that some of the upper rooms are held in awe, for there the ghost
of a person with the unromantic name of Robinson is said to count over
his ill-gotten gains, which he brought down from London in waggons when
the Plague of 1666 was raging. He had the good fortune to escape
contamination, and once back with his plundered wealth he meant to have
what nowadays we call "a good time"; but the story has a moral, for it
got winded abroad how he got his gold, and nobody would have anything to
do with him or his money, and by the irony of fate he had to spend the
rest of his days in trying to wash away the germs of infection.

[Illustration: SWINSTY HALL.]

The hall is entered through a spacious porch in the roof of which is
hung an enormous bell. The room you enter is by no means gloomy. A
carved oak staircase with balustrade of peculiar form leads to other
rooms panelled to the ceiling, with fine overmantels. The leads of the
small window-panes are of fanciful design; one bears the date 1627 and
the initials I. W. H., and these occur again with the date 1639 in some
oak carving in one of the bedrooms. A "well" stone staircase between
rough-hewn stone walls leads up to the attics, which have open timber
roofs with semicircular span to the main beams. They look as if they
were but recently put up, so fresh does the wood look, and the pegs that
join the timbers still protrude as if they had just been hammered in,
and awaited the workman's axe to cut them level. A word upon the subject
of these old roofs may not be out of place. When old houses are
restored, of course it is the proper thing to open out an original
timber roof where the original hall or chamber has been divided and
partitioned, but in so many instances nowadays flat ceilings are
removed to show the open timbers which were _never intended to be
seen_. Bedrooms are thus made cold and bare, with not nearly enough
protection from the draughts from the tiles. The attics at Swinsty are a
proof of this, there being no great distance between the floor and the
roof. Another thing, if the floors were done away with here, Mr.
Robinson would have to come down a storey, and that is not desirable.

On the way to Swinsty, by the bye, a ruinous house is passed on the
right about midway between there and Otley. It is of no great
architectural interest, but is singular in construction, having a
projecting turret containing a spiral staircase at the back, which
presumably was the only entrance. It is lofty, and has square windows
with a bay in the centre, but it is now only a shell. Mr. Ingram in his
_Haunted Homes_ relates that Dob Park Lodge, as the place is called, is
reputed to be haunted by a huge black dog who has the power of speech,
and is said to watch over a hidden treasure in the vaults, like the dog
with saucer eyes in Hans Andersen. The entrance to these is locally
supposed to be somewhere at the foot of the winding stair, and so far
only one person has ventured to explore the depths; but when he did, he
actually saw a great chest of gold!--but then we must take into account
that he was very drunk. Fewston village, not far from Swinsty, is
picturesquely situated on a knoll above the lake or reservoir; but the
church, mostly of William III.'s time, has nothing of interest save a
few stalls and a pretty little font cover. The wooden spiked altar
rails might almost be the palings of a suburban garden, whilst the crude
square panes of red and blue of the chancel windows should be anywhere
but in a church.

To the north-east is "Catch'em Corner"; but it is uncertain what is to
be caught except a chill, for the position is very bleak. Striking
northwards we get into the delightful Nidd valley. To the right lies
Ripley, famous for the rood screen, the ancient glass, and Edwardian
tomb of the Ingilbys of the castle, which Tudor structure surrendered to
the Parliament a day or so before Marston Moor was fought. Here Cromwell
is said to have sat up all night before the battle, hob-a-nob with his
unwilling hostess.

Going northwards from Fewston, the prettiest part of the road to Pateley
is struck near the village of Dacre. The romantic rocks and glens
hereabouts are famous, and much frequented by tourists, consequently
sixpences and threepences have to be frequently disbursed. The price is
cheap enough, but the romance is spoiled. Hack Fall, near Masham, to the
north-east, is as lovely a spot as one could wish to see, but there are
too many signs of civilisation about. It is like taming a lion. The
guide-book tells you to go along until you get to a "refreshment
house," which almost reads like an advertisement in disguise.

There is a sculptured Saxon cross in Masham churchyard, and the church
contains a fine monument to the Wyvells of Burton Constable manor, an
old house near Finghall, to the north-west, where members of the family
are also buried. The famous Jervaulx Abbey ruins nestle in a hollow on
the right of the road to Middleham. When close upon it we asked the way
of a yokel, but he shook his head; and then it dawned upon him what we
meant: "It's Jarvey ye warnt," he said, and pointed straight ahead.
Scott's worthy, Prior Aylmer, would surely beam with joy at the tender
care bestowed upon the remains of the establishment over which he once
presided; and the park might grace the finest modern dwelling, judging
by the well-kept lawns and walks; but all this trimness looks less
natural to a ruin than the more rustic surroundings of Easby, for
example. The remains of the Cistercian monastery are rather fragmentary,
consisting mainly of some graceful octagonal pillars and a row of lofty
lancet windows in the wall of the refectory, and some round-headed
arches of the chapter-house. It was destroyed in 1539, and the beautiful
screen of the church carried off to Aysgarth, where it may now be seen.

Continuing along the road to Middleham, Danby Hall, the ancient seat of
the Scropes, is seen in the distance on the right; but the river
intervenes, and one has to go beyond East Witton before a crossing can
be obtained. This village, built on either side of a wide green, has
nothing out of the common except its Maypole and its very conspicuous
Blue Lion rampant. A blue lion is a little change after the hackneyed
red, and the beast looks proud of his originality. Witton probably was
much prettier before the jubilee celebration of George III.'s reign,
when the old church and most of the old houses were pulled down.

By the old grey bridge (with the pillar of a sundial in the centre,
dated 1674) the Cover and Yore Rivers join hands with not a little fuss,
like the enthusiasm of a new-made friendship. The road to Danby Hall
runs level with the river then branches to the left. The mansion is
Elizabethan; but the stone balustrade was added in the middle of the
seventeenth century, and the small cupola-crowned towers were added
subsequently. The oldest part is a square tower to the north-east,
where, in the time of religious persecution, there was a small oratory
or chapel for secret services. In the heraldic glass of the windows the
ancient family of Scrope may be traced from Lord Scrope who fought at
Flodden up to the present day, and their history may be followed by the
portraits of the various generations on the walls. A curious discovery
was made here in the early part of the last century. One of the chimneys
in a stack of four could not be accounted for, and a plummet of lead was
dropped down each of them, three of which found an outlet but the fourth
could not be found. To get at the bottom of the mystery, a not too bulky
party was lowered down, and he found himself in a small chamber full of
long cut-and-thrust swords, flintlock pistols, and the ancient saddlery
of untanned leather for a troop of fifty horse. Not much value was set
upon such things in those days, so the harness was put to good account
and utilised for cart-horse gear upon the farm. But the dispersal of the
ancient weapons has a history too, for at the time that England was
trembling with the fear of an invasion from the dreaded "Boney," a
cottage caught light one night on one of the surrounding hills; and this
being taken as a signal of alarm, the beacon on top of Penhill was
fired. The terror-stricken villagers rushed everywhere for weapons, but
none could be provided, and the good squire of Danby speedily
distributed the secret store which had been hidden in the house for the
Jacobite insurrection of 1715. In time the yokels returned, and there
was a week's rejoicing and merry-making that the blazing beacon after
all had only proved a flash in the pan. The pistols and swords, however,
were not returned save one, which may still be seen with the armourer's
marks on the blade, "Shotley" on one side and "Bridge" on the
other.[32] Another has found its way into the little museum at Bolton
Castle. In demolishing a cottage at Middleham it was discovered up in
the thatch roof, where it was put, perhaps, pending another alarm. The
hiding-place was converted into a butler's room by Major Scrope's
grandfather.

Among the portraits are some good Lelys, including two of Sir Carr
Scrope who was so enamoured of the Court physician's daughter.[33]
Another Lely of a handsome girl is said to represent one of the Royalist
Stricklands of Sizergh. Above the black oak staircase of James I.'s time
hangs a rare portrait of Mary of Modena; for one seldom sees her when
the beauty of youth had departed, for naturally she did not like to be
handed thus down to posterity. The queen looks sour here, which tallies
with the accounts we have of her in later life; but truly she had cause
enough to make her sour.

[Illustration: MIDDLEHAM CASTLE.]

From the Yore River the ground ascends to Middleham, now only a sleepy
looking village but called a "town." Above the roof-tops at the summit
of the hill stands the mediæval castle where resided in great pomp that
turbulent noble, Warwick the "kingmaker." Here it was that he
imprisoned Edward IV., the monarch he had helped to put upon the throne,
for daring to marry the widowed daughter of Sir Richard Woodville in
preference to a Nevill. When, the year after reinstating Henry VI. for a
brief space, the great feudal baron ended his career on Barnet
battlefield, his castle at Middleham was handed over by Edward to his
brother Richard, who had also a claim upon it by his marriage with the
"kingmaker's" daughter. Here "Crookback," or rather "Crouchback," was
living before he usurped the Crown in 1483; and here his son the young
Prince Edward died upon the first anniversary, as a providential
punishment for the death of his little cousins in the Tower. Richard, by
the way, is said to have had another natural son who lived into the
reign of Edward VI. and died in a small house on the Eastwell estate
near Wye in Kent. Richard Plantagenet's death is duly recorded in the
parish register, distinguished by the mark of a V, which distinguishes
other entries of those of noble birth, and a plain tomb in the chancel
is supposed to be his place of interment. Until an old man he preserved
his incognito, when Sir Thomas Moyle discovered that a mason at work
upon his house was none other than a king's son. His youth had been
spent under charge of a schoolmaster, who had taken him to Bosworth
field and introduced him into Richard's tent. The king received him in
his arms and told him he was his father, and if he survived the battle
he would acknowledge him to be his son; but if fortune should go against
him, he should on no account reveal who he was. On the following day in
entering Leicester a naked figure lying across a horse's back was
pointed out to him as the same great person whose star and gaiter had
inspired him with awe.

The walls of the Norman castle keep are of immense thickness, and
protected without by others almost as formidable of a later date. The
great hall was on the first floor, and the tower where little Edward
Plantagenet was born (the Red Tower) at the south-west corner; but
tradition hasn't kept alive much to carry the imagination back to the
time when the powerful Nevill reigned here in his glory. The escape of
Edward IV. has been made realistic in the immortal bard's _King Henry
VI._, and Scene v. Part iii. might be read in less romantic spots than
in Wensleydale, with this grand old ruin standing out in the distance
like one of Doré's castles. In this case, distance "lends enchantment,"
as Middleham itself is by no means lovely. The ancient market-cross
would look far less commonplace and tomb-like were the top of it again
knocked off. The site of the swine market bears the cognosance of
"Crouchback," which is scarcely a compliment to his memory; but this
antique monument is put vastly in the shade by a jubilee fountain, the
only up-to-date thing in the place, and quite out of harmony with the
ring where bulls were baited within living memory.

In Spennithorne church, near Middleham, there is an ancient altar-tomb
of John Fitz-Randolph, of the family of the early lords of the castle
before the Nevills became possessed of it. Along the font are several
coloured shields of arms of the various families with whom they
intermarried. The nave of the church has an odd appearance, as the north
and south aisles are separated by a series of distinct arches, the
latter Early English, the former pure Norman. A very interesting
thirteenth-century screen was originally at Jervaulx Abbey. On the west
wall there is a large fresco of Father Time, dating perhaps two hundred
years later. The rector must be commended for hanging in his church a
brief summary of the points of interest, and many might follow this
laudable example.

[Illustration: QUEEN'S GAP, LEYBURN "SHAWL."]

[Illustration: BOLTON CASTLE.]

[Illustration: BELLERBY OLD HALL.]

Leyburn stands high among the hills, and must have been a picturesque
old market-place before the ancient town-hall, market-cross, and two
stately elms were removed. The great wide street has now a bare and by
no means attractive appearance, and were it not for the lovely
surroundings it would not form so popular a centre for exploring. The
"Shawl," the huge natural terrace, on a rocky base high up above the
tree-tops of the woods below, is, of course, its great feature, and a
more delightful walk could not be found in England, with the softest
turf to walk upon and the glorious panorama in front. Conspicuous among
the heights is flat-topped Penhill, standing boldly out against the wide
expanse of dale, upon whose crest are the ruins of a chapel of the old
Knights Templars. A gap in the rock, with a path running westwards
through the woods, is known as "Queen's Gap," for Mary Queen of Scots
when she fled from Bolton Castle got thus far when she was overtaken in
attempting to urge her horse through the narrow ravine. In consequence
of this, the "Shawl" locally is said to derive its name from the shawl
the prisoner dropped upon the way, giving her pursuers a clue; which on
the face of it is ridiculous, as the name is derived either from the
Saxon _Sholl_ or Scandinavian _Schall_. Bolton is some five miles away
to the west, and the poor captive was to have gone northwards to
Richmond and thence to her native land; and at Bellerby, between
Richmond and Leyburn, a halt was to have been made at the Hall, the seat
of the Royalist family of Scott, where a company of Scots guards was
stationed ready to receive her. The old Hall still stands on the
left-hand side of the village green as you enter, and looks as if it had
a history.

At Bolton the window may be seen from which she was lowered to the
ground, and one can trace the way she took in a north-easterly direction
across the rocky bed of the rushing stream into the woods below the
"Shawl." The window from which she escaped is the upper one of the three
running horizontally with the south-western tower. There is another
window to the prison-room which looks into the inner courtyard. The
apartment is grim and bare, with a small fireplace, and steps leading
down into a larger bare apartment, once the "drawing-room." Though
externally the castle is not so picturesque as Middleham, it is much
more perfect and interesting. The hooded stone fireplaces remain in the
walls, and various rooms can be located, from the hall and chapel to the
vault-like stables in the basement. The well, too, is perfect, with
scooped-out wall to the upper chambers, not forgetting the awful dungeon
in the solid rock. A large apartment with wide Tudor fireplace has been
converted into a museum, and the curiosities are of a varied nature,
from cocking spurs and boxing-gloves from the sporting centres of
Leyburn and Middleham to the bull-fight banderillos of Spain. There is
quite an assortment of weird-looking instruments of torture, which,
after all, are only toasting-dogs, huge cumbrous things like
antediluvian insects or much magnified microbes. How is it these
appurtenances of domestic comfort have entirely died out like the now
extinct warming-pan? But this museum can no way be compared with Mr.
Home's wonderful collections at Leyburn. Here you can learn something
about everything, for the kindly proprietor of the museum takes a pride
in describing his curios. Those who have been to Middleham and seen the
castle immortalised by Shakespere, may here study Edward IV.'s fair
hair. As rare a curiosity is a valentine of the time of William III.
From the treasures of Egyptian tombs you skip to the first invented
matches; from Babylonian inscriptions to early-Victorian samplers. And
the learned antiquarian relates how he was educated in the old Yore mill
at Aysgarth by old John Drummond, the grandson of the Jacobite Earl of
Perth, who had to hide himself in a farm in Bishopdale (How Rig) for his
hand in the '45, when the Scotch estates were confiscated for aiding the
cause of the Bonnie Prince. Were it not for Mr. Home's interest in
old-time customs, the bull-ring in the market-place would have
disappeared, for the socket was nearly worn through when he had it
repaired. He relates how at the last bull-baiting the infuriated beast
got away and sent the whole sportsmen flying, and at length was shot in
Wensley village.

Wensley nestles in the valley, surrounded by hills. The interior of the
church is rich in carvings from the ruinous abbey of Easby, near
Richmond. The stalls from Easby have at the ends exceptionally bold and
elaborate carvings with heraldic shields and arms, dating from the days
of Edward IV. A nearly life-size brass, of the third Edward's time, is
of its kind one of the finest in England,--an ecclesiastic in robes,
with crossed hands pointing downwards. By the entrance door is a quaint
old poor-box; but what first strikes the eye as you enter, is the
parclose screen from Easby Abbey, which, ill fitting its confined space,
partially blocks the windows; but the effect of the elaborate carving
against the tracery is very striking. It is early-Tudor in date, and
belonged to the Scrope chantry, whose arms appear upon it, with those of
Fitz-Hugh, Marmion, and other noble families. Within this screen,
evidently a good many years later, a manorial pew was made, the side of
which is within the parclose. To amalgamate the two, the latter has been
somewhat mangled, doors having been added, with a pendant aloft to
balance other large hollow pendants in the various arches. Unfortunately
the whole has been painted with a dull grey and grained, a feeble
attempt to represent marble, and parts of it are also gilt. A fixed
settle has been added to the interior, so unless carefully examined it
is difficult to detect how the parclose and pew were made into one. The
two-decker pulpit and the wide old-fashioned pews lined with faded green
baize and pink rep, bring us back to more modern times; but one would be
loath to see them removed if restoration funds were lavish. Beneath the
great manorial pew lie at rest the remains of the daughter of the
thirteenth Lord Scrope, who by marriage with the first Duke of Bolton
brought the castle into the Poulett family: until then the Scropes had
held possession through marriage with an heiress of the Nevills. The
third wife of Charles Poulett, second Duke of Bolton, was Henrietta
Crofts, the daughter of the Duke of Monmouth and Eleanor Needham.[34]

The Scrope who had charge of the Scots queen at Bolton Castle was Henry,
the eleventh lord, whose wife was sister to the captive's plotting
lover, the Duke of Norfolk, who also lost his head through these
ambitious schemes; and doubtless it was the duke who contrived the
queen's escape. She had been brought from the castle of Carlisle in July
1568, but after her attempt to escape was promptly removed (on January
26) to Tutbury Castle under charge of the Earl of Shrewsbury. The
furniture of her private altar at Bolton, the altar-cloth, part of a
rosary, a small bronze crucifix, and an alms-bag, are now preserved at
Low Hall, Yeadon, mentioned earlier in this chapter. Her hawking gloves
also: these are said to have been given to Lord Scrope upon her leaving.

Some miles to the west of Bolton is Nappa Hall (where the ancient family
of Metcalfe lived since the reign of Henry VI., and where Metcalfes live
to-day), a fortified manor-house with square towers (suggestive of
Haddon), which also claims association with the unfortunate queen. By
some accounts she slept here one night, by others two or more; and the
tradition in the Metcalfe family says nine, in the highest chamber of
the tallest tower. The date is not known, but probably she was brought
here on her way from Carlisle Castle. The bed on which she slept, the
top of which was very low, is now at Newby Hall, near Ripon. Our
sanitary views being very distinct from those enlightened times, the
pillars of these sixteenth-century beds are frequently raised (in some
cases unnecessarily high), and unless one wished to be half-smothered,
this is a natural thing to do if the bed is to be put to practical use;
but nowadays the collectors of ancient furniture are again reducing the
height, and bringing them down to their original proportions.

[Illustration: ASKRIGG.]

[Illustration: NAPPA HALL.]

In asking the way to Nappa from the village of Askrigg, we were told to
follow a "gentleman with a flock of sheep who was going up that way";
but as the distance was the matter of a couple of miles--and Yorkshire
miles too, we preferred to follow the telegraph poles, which, after all,
was more expeditious and quite as reliable. We give this as an instance
of the ordinary pace at which things move in these parts; and perhaps it
is as well, otherwise the old Hall built by William Taunton in 1678 (so
it says on the door), with its upper balcony of wood looking upon the
quaint old market-cross where the bull-ring used to be, might have given
way to co-operative stores or some new hideous building.

The village-green of Bainbridge to the west is quite shut in with hills,
and in the centre are the stocks, or rather the stone supports minus the
most important part, with a rough rock seat which must have added
considerably to the victim's discomfort. The principal curiosity,
however, is the ancient custom prevailing here of blowing a horn at 10
p.m. during the summer months, to guide belated travellers on the moors.
This was an excellent provision for safety hundreds of years ago, when
Bainbridge was practically in the midst of a forest, and even in the
twentieth century may have its uses. The older horn, that was used
half a century ago, is now in Bolton Castle Museum. It is very large,
and curiously twisted. The houses at Bainbridge are of the ordinary ugly
Yorkshire type; but on high ground overlooking a ravine stands a nice
old gabled grange, which must have tempted many an artist and
photographer to pause upon their way to the famous Falls. These, of
course, are very fine, but to our mind far less beautiful than the
single plunge of water just below the grange, from a wide and
scooped-out bed of precipitous rock. Nor are the high, low, and middle
Falls of Aysgarth half so picturesque, though in a sense they are more
boisterous, like coppery boiling water.

Aysgarth church is perched up high, and you have to climb up many steps
to reach it from the moss-grown bridge. The doors of most of the
Yorkshire churches we found were kept unlocked; but this was an
exception, so down those steps we had to come, to go in search of a key;
but reaching the bottom of the flight, up we had to go again to try and
find the rectory. Oh! the time that may be lost in hunting for a church
key, and what a blessing it would be if notices were stuck up in the
porches to say where they were kept. The interior of Aysgarth has a new
appearance, but the splendid painted screen from Jervaulx (placed east
and west instead of across the chancel) is worth a hunt for the key.
Another screen, dated 1536, has upon it the grotesque carving of a
fool's head with long-eared cap. Here again in the village are the
stocks; but the Maypole, which once was its pride, long since has made
its exit.

[Illustration: RICHMOND.]

By far the nearest way to Richmond from Leyburn is across the moor, a
rough and desolate road, but preferable to the terrible long way by
Catterick, more than double the distance (by rail it is four times the
distance!). This is the prettiest village of any on the way (which is
not saying much, be it said). The early fifteenth-century church has
some good monuments and brasses, one of the latter to a lady who for
many years before she died carried her winding-sheet about with her; and
one would naturally suppose one with such gruesome ideas would still
walk the earth for the edification of the timid, but she doesn't.

The entrance to Richmond by the nearest way is very charming. You come
suddenly upon the castle perched up over the river, and as you wind down
the hill the grouping of its towers is thrown into perspective, forming
a delightful picture with the river and the bridge for a foreground.
Three kings have been prisoners within these formidable Norman walls:
two kings of Scotland, William and David Bruce, and after the lapse of
three centuries, Charles I., who passed here on his way to Holdenby. The
stalls and misericordes in the fine old church came from Easby Abbey.
They are boldly carved, and one of them represents a sow playing a
fiddle for the edification of her little pigs. There is a curious
coloured mural monument, on the east side of the chancel, of Sir Timothy
Hutton and his wife and children--twelve of them, including four babes,
beneath two of which are these verses:

  "As carefull mothers do to sleeping say,
  Their babes that would too long the wanton play;
  So to prevent my youths approaching crimes,
  Nature my nurse had me to bed betimes."

The next is less involved:

  "Into this world as strangers to an inn
  This infant came, guest wise;
  Where when 't had been and found no entertainment worth her stay,
  She only broke her fast and went away."

Altogether it is a cheery tomb. Faith, Hope and Charity are there, one
of whom acts as nurse to one of the babes. Her ladyship's expression is
somewhat of the Aunt Sally type, but that was the sculptor's fault. The
ancient church plate includes a chalice dated 1640. The registers are
beautifully neat and clean, and full of curious matter, such as the
banns being read by the market-cross.

Apropos of Yorkshire marriages, the odd custom prevails in some parts of
emptying a kettle of boiling water, down--not the backs of the happy
pair, but down the steps of the front door as they drive away, that the
threshold may be "kept warm for another bride," we presume for _another_
swain. The way also of ascertaining whether the future career of those
united will be attended with happiness is simple and effective. All you
have to do is, as the bride steps out of the carriage, to fling a plate
containing small pieces of the wedding-cake out of a window upon the
heads of the onlookers. If the crowd is a small one, and the plate
arrives on the pavement and is smashed to pieces, all will go well; but
if somebody's head intervenes, the augury is ominous; which, after all,
is only natural, for is it not likely that one thus greeted would call
at the house to bestow his blessing upon somebody? What a pity this
pretty custom is not introduced into the fashionable marriages of St
George's, Hanover Square. It would at least create a sensation.

For the rest of Richmond church, well--it was restored by Sir Gilbert
Scott. It is regrettable to find the piscina on a level with the floor,
beneath a pew seat!

The curfew still rings at Richmond, telling the good people when to go
to bed; but whether they go or not is another matter. We are told it is,
or was, also rung for them to get up again at six o'clock; and the aged
official whose duty it was to ring the morning bell, like a wise man,
did so at his leisure, lying in bed with the rope hanging from the
ceiling.[35]

[Illustration: EASBY ABBEY.]

From the churchyard, Easby Abbey is seen in the distance in a romantic
spot by the river: and the walk there is delightful, along the terrace
above the Swale. Like the rest of these fine structures, it was
destroyed by the vindictive Henry in 1535. The water close at hand, the
old abbot's elm, and the little church and gatehouse beyond, altogether
make this a spot in which to linger and ruminate. The church walls are
covered with curious and very well preserved paintings of the twelfth
century, giving a good idea of the costume of the period. The tempting
serpent, too, is shown twisted in artistic coils around a very
pre-Raphael looking tree; and in another scene the partakers of the
fruit are doubled up with remorse, or dyspepsia.

So close at hand as is Bolton on Swale, to the east, it would be a pity
not to mention Henry Jenkins, who died there in 1670, aged one hundred
and sixty-nine!--a man in Charles II.'s reign who remembered the
dissolution of the monasteries, and who recollected as a boy assisting
in carrying arrows in a cart to the battle of Flodden field (where
veteran soldiers remembered the accession of King Edward IV.), was a
wonder compared with the feeble memory of our present-day centenarians,
who rarely recollect anything worth recording. When we think how nearly
we are linked with 1670 by the life of Mrs. William Stuart, who died in
the late queen's reign, and who heard from the lips of her grandmother
how she had been taken to Court in a black-draped Sedan when Whitehall
was in mourning for the death of the king's sister, Henrietta, Duchess
of Orleans,--it would have been possible for the little girl to have
spoken with old Jenkins, and thus with only three lives to have linked
the early part of the reign of Henry VIII. with that of Victoria.

FOOTNOTES:

[31] We have described these relics (now in the possession of Mrs.
Martin-Edmunds) in detail in the _Memoirs of the Martyr King_.

[32] In the account in _Secret Chambers_ of the inscription on the
swords, it is given in error as "Shortly."

[33] See _Some Beauties of the Seventeenth Century_.

[34] See _King Monmouth_.

[35] This and other information we have derived from Mr. Harry Speight's
interesting work, _Romantic Richmond_.



INDEX



  Abbotts Ann, 221.
  Amber, river, 217.
  "Angel," Ringwood, 178.
  "Angel," Stilton, 10.
  "Angel," Yeovil, 145.
  Ashford, 221.
  Ashover, 217.
  Askrigg, 261.
  Athelhampton, 173, 174, 175.
  Avon, river, 84, 85.
  Axmouth, 169.
  Aysgarth, 249, 262, 263.

  Baddesley Clinton, 72, 73, 76.
  Bainbridge, 262.
  Barnard Castle, 225.
  Barnborough, 230.
  Barnstaple, 164, 165, 166.
  Barrington Court, 135, 137, 138.
  Barton Hall, 23.
  Barton-on-the-Heath, 66, 67.
  Beckington Castle, 130.
  Beeley, 210.
  Beer, 168, 169.
  Bellerby, 256.
  "Bell," Mildenhall, 22.
  "Bell," Sandy Lane, 105.
  "Bell," Stilton, 10, 86.
  Bere Regis, 158, 176, 177.
  Beverstone Castle, 100.
  Bewley Court, 109.
  Biddestone, 114.
  Bildeston, 32.
  Bindon, 169.
  Birdlip, 97.
  Birtsmorton Court, 81, 83, 84.
  Bishop's Lydeard, 147, 148.
  "Black Horse," Birdlip, 98.
  Blackladies, 199.
  Blickling Hall, 45, 46, 47, 49.
  Blore Heath, 192, 193.
  "Blue Lion," East Witton, 249.
  Bolsover Castle, 210, 217.
  Bolton Castle, 251, 256, 260, 262.
  Bolton-on-Swale, 267.
  Bossington, 159.
  Bovey, 169.
  Bowes, 225.
  Brailes, 68.
  Brampton, 4.
  Branscombe, 167, 168.
  Braunton, 165.
  Broadway, 85, 87, 89, 90.
  Bromham, 103, 105.
  Brotherton, 236.
  Broughton Hall, 193, 194.
  Brympton D'Eversy, 135, 141.
  Brynkinalt, 185.
  Buckingham's hole, Blore, 192.
  Buckland, 89, 90.
  Bullich House, Allington, 117.
  Burrow Farm, 136.
  Burton Constable, 248.
  Bury St. Edmund's, 27, 31.
  Bushley, 83.

  "Cannard's Grave," Shepton Mallet, 133, 134.
  Carhampton, 157, 158.
  Castle Combe, 114.
  "Castle Inn," Castle Combe, 116.
  Catterick, 263.
  Chapel Plaster Hermitage, 110.
  Charlcote, 72, 73.
  Charterhouse Hinton, 128.
  Chastleton, 62, 64, 66.
  Chatsworth, 208, 210.
  Chavenage Manor House, 100, 101.
  Chedzoy, 135.
  Cheney Court, 111.
  Chevin Hill, 242.
  Chideock, 171, 172.
  Chipping Campden, 87, 92.
  Chipping Norton, 61.
  Chirk Castle, 181.
  Church House, Crowcombe, 149.
  Church Stanway, 90.
  Church Stretton, 188, 189.
  Claverton Down, 111.
  Clifton Maybank, 143.
  Clovelly, 162, 163.
  Coaxden, 170.
  Colerne, 112.
  Coles Farm, Box, 111, 112.
  Combe St. Nicholas, 145.
  Combe Sydenham 152, 153.
  Compton Wyniates, 42, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73.
  Condover Hall, 187, 188.
  Connington Hall, 7.
  Coombe Abbey, 72, 195.
  Coppingford, 6.
  Corby, 20, 21.
  Corsham Court, 109, 112, 113, 114, 128.
  Cothelstone, 148.
  Court Farm, Hadleigh, 33.
  Cover, river, 250.
  Crimplesham, 56.
  Croscombe, 132, 133.
  Crowcombe, 132, 149, 150, 152, 153.
  Crowther's Farm, 178.
  Croxton, 194.
  Croyde Bay, 166.
  Culford, 26.
  Curry Rivel, 135, 136.

  Dacre, 248.
  Dalby, 10.
  Danby Hall, 249, 250.
  Darfield, 230.
  Dedham, 34.
  Deene, 15, 16, 18.
  Derwent, river, 210.
  Dethick-cum-Lea, 217.
  Dob Park Lodge, 247.
  Dover Hill, 89, 92.
  Downham Market, 56.
  Downside, Shepton Mallet, 133.
  "Dun Cow," Market Drayton, 190.
  Dunster Castle, 155, 157, 158.

  Easby, 249, 258, 259, 264, 266.
  East Barsham Manor House, 41, 42.
  East Bergholt, 34.
  East Witton, 249.
  Eaton Constantine, 188.
  Edensor, 209.
  Eleanor Crosses, 21.
  Elworthy, 153.
  Enmore Castle, 150, 151.
  Ermine Street. 6, 97.
  Erwarton Hall, 36.

  Fakenham, 42, 43.
  Farleigh Castle, 128, 136.
  Farnley Hall, 243.
  "Feathers," Ludlow, 188.
  Fenstanton, 223.
  Ferrybridge, 236.
  Fewstone, 247, 248.
  Finghall, 248.
  Flatford, 34, 35.
  Foss way, 134.
  Fotheringay Castle, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15.
  Four-Shire Stone, 66.

  Gastard, 109, 110.
  Gaulden, 154.
  Gedding Hall, 31.
  Geddington, 21.
  "George," Glastonbury, 126.
  "George," Huntingdon, 2.
  "George," Norton St. Philip, 125.
  "George," Sandy Lane, 105.
  "George," Yeovil, 145.
  Glatton, 7.
  Glossop, 222, 223.
  Godmanchester, 4.
  "Golden Lion," Barnstaple, 164.
  Great Chaldfield, 118, 121, 135.
  Great Houghton, 230.
  Great Snoring, 42.
  Great Torrington, 53.
  Great Wenham, 35.
  "Green Dragon," Chipping Campden, 88.
  "Green Dragon," Combe St. Nicholas, 145.
  Guiseley, 242.

  Hack Fall, 248.
  Haddon Hall, 54, 86, 170, 183, 196, 200.
  Hadleigh, 32, 34.
  Hardeby, 21.
  Hardwick, Derby, 143, 210, 212, 239.
  Hardwick, Suffolk, 30.
  "Hare and Hounds," East Bergholt, 35.
  Harkstead, 36.
  Hathersage, 222.
  Hautboys Hall, 53.
  Hawstead Place, 30, 31.
  Hazelbury House, Box, 111.
  Helmingham, 27, 150.
  Hemington, 15.
  Hengrave Hall, 26, 27, 28.
  Heytesbury, 128.
  Hinchinbrooke, 1, 3.
  Hinton St George, 135, 138, 139, 143.
  Hoare Cross, 240.
  Hobbal Grange, 198, 199.
  Holkham Hall, 40.
  Holt Lodge, 178.
  Hungerford Hospital, Corsham, 112.
  Hunslet, 239.
  Hunters' Hall, Colerne, 112.
  Huntingdon, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11.

  Jervaulx Abbey, 248, 255, 263.

  Kenilworth, 27, 72.
  Kineton, 94.
  "King's Arms," Market Drayton, 190.
  Kingston, 147.
  Kingston Lacy, 179.
  Kingston St Michael, 117.
  Kippax Park, 237.
  Kirby Hall, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 42.
  Knapton, 44.
  Knowsthorpe Hall, 239.

  Lacock Abbey, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109.
  Langley, 188.
  Langport, 135.
  Lark, river, 24.
  Leathley, 244.
  Ledston Hall, 237.
  Leyburn, 255, 256, 257, 263.
  Little Compton, 61, 62.
  Little Gidding, 7.
  Little Saxham Hall, 26.
  Little Stukeley, 5,6.
  Little Wenham, 35.
  Little Woolford, 66.
  Long Compton, 59, 60, 61.
  Long Marston, 89.
  Low Hall, Rawdon, 241.
  Low Hall, Yeadon, 241, 260.
  Ludford, 188.
  Ludlow Castle, 188.
  "Luttrell Arms," Dunster, 157.
  Lydcote, 53.
  "Lygon Arms," Broadway, 85.
  Lymington, 139, 140.
  Lynmouth, 160.
  Lynton, 160, 161.
  Lytes Cary, 134.

  Malvern Chase, 81.
  Mannington Hall, 49.
  Manor Farm, Norton St Philip, 124.
  Mapperton Manor House, 173.
  Market Drayton, 189.
  Martock, 135, 138.
  Masham, 248.
  Maxstoke Castle, 72.
  Melksham, 109, 118, 151.
  Melplash Court, 173.
  Menden, 72, 73.
  Mickleton, 89.
  Middleham, 248, 249, 251, 252, 254, 257.
  Middlesoy, 135.
  Mildenhall, 22, 23, 24.
  Minehead, 158.
  Monksilver, 152, 154.
  Monmouth House, Shepton Mallet, 134.
  Montacute House, 135, 142, 143.
  Montacute Priory, 144.
  Mundesley, Rookery Farm, 44.
  Mundford, 56.

  Nailsworth, 99, 100.
  Nappa Hall, 260, 261.
  Needham Market, 31.
  Nene, river, 12.
  Neston, 110.
  Nettlecombe, 153.
  Newbury Farm, Bildeston, 32.
  Newby Hall, 261.
  "New Inn," Clovelly, 163.
  North Lees, Hathersage, 222.
  Norton House, Chipping Campden, 89.
  Norton St Philip, 123, 126, 127, 128.

  Offenham, 85.
  Old Cleeve, 154.
  "Old Hall Inn," Great Houghton, 231.
  "Old Red Lion," Long Compton, 59.
  Old Weston, 223.
  Orwell, river, 34.
  Otley, 242, 243, 246.
  Oundle, 11.
  Ouse, river, 4, 223.
  Oxburgh Hall, 53, 54, 55.
  Oxnead Hall, 47, 53.

  Painswick, 98.
  Parnham Hall, 173.
  Payne's Place, Bushley, 83, 144.
  "Peacock," Rowsley, 207.
  Penhill, 251, 255.
  Pilsdon, 171.
  Pilton, 165.
  Pirton Court, 80.
  Pitchford Hall, 187, 188.
  Pixham, 78.
  Plâs Baddy, 185.
  Plash Hall, 188.
  Plumpton Hall, 30.
  Pontefract Castle, 283.
  Pontfaen, 186.
  Porlock, 159, 160, 161.
  Postlip Hall, 93, 96.
  Powick Bridge, 78.
  Priors Court, 78.
  Puddletown, 175, 176.

  Raynham Hall, 42, 47, 48, 74.
  "Raven," Church Stretton, 189.
  Rawdon, 241.
  "Red Lion," Chipping Camden, 88.
  Richmond, Yorkshire, 256, 258, 263, 264, 266.
  Ripley, 247.
  Ripple, 84.
  Rodborough, 99.
  Rollright Stones, 60.
  Rushbrooke Hall, 27, 28, 29, 30.

  St. Giles Park, 178, 179.
  Sandford Orcas, 135, 140, 141.
  Severn End, 80, 81, 195.
  Severn, river, 84.
  Sheffield Manor House, 208, 213, 225.
  Sheldon Manor, 118.
  Shepton Mallet, 132, 133.
  "Ship Inn," Porlock, 160.
  Shrewsbury, 81, 181, 188, 189.
  Shute House, 170.
  Silton, 171.
  Snowre Hall, 55.
  Somerton, 135.
  Southam House, 93, 96.
  Southfield, Woodchester, 99.
  South Petherton, 135, 138.
  South Wraxall, 118, 121.
  Spaxton, 151.
  Spennithorne, 254.
  Sprowston, 58.
  Spye Park, 104, 105, 109, 151.
  Stainborough Hall, 228.
  Stamford, 16, 18.
  Stanfield Hall, 53.
  Stanton, 89, 90.
  Stanton St. Quinton, 117.
  Stanway-in-the-Woods, 89.
  Stiffkey Hall, 41.
  Stilton, 8, 10, 11, 86.
  Stogumber, 153.
  Stoke Ferry, 53.
  Stokesay Castle, 186.
  Stour, river, 34.
  "Strafford Arms," Stainborough, 229.
  Strensham, 84.
  Sudeley Castle, 93, 96, 100.
  Swale, river, 266.
  "Swan and Salmon," Little Stukeley, 5.
  "Swan Inn," Downham Market, 56, 58.
  Swinnerton Hall, 194.
  Swinsty Hall, 244.

  "Talbot," Oundle, 12.
  Tamworth Castle, 72.
  Tansor, 15.
  Taunton, 136, 147.
  Tawstock, 166, 167.
  Temple Newsam, 229, 237.
  Tetbury, 100.
  Tewkesbury, 81, 83, 84, 181.
  Thorpland Hall, 42.
  Tintinhull Court, 135, 140.
  Tissington, 221.
  Tixall, 195.
  Tong, 196, 197, 199.
  Trent House, 135, 140, 156.
  Trentham, 195.
  Trunch, 44.
  Tudor House, Broadway, 86.
  "Turk's Head," Oundle, 11.
  Tutbury Castle, 260.

  Walsingham, 43, 44.
  Wamil Hall, 24.
  Warwick Castle, 72.
  Waterstone, 173, 174.
  Wellow, 127, 128.
  Wells-next-the-Sea, 40, 43, 44.
  Wensley, 258.
  Wentworth Castle, 227, 230, 237.
  Wentworth Woodhouse, 228, 229.
  West Lydford, 134.
  Weston Hall, 244.
  Weston Zoyland, 135.
  West Stow Hall, 24, 32.
  Wharfe, river, 242, 244.
  White House of Pixham, 78.
  White Lackington, 137.
  "White Lion," Hadleigh, 34.
  Wimborne Minster, 177, 179.
  Winchcombe, 93.
  Wingfield Manor, 209, 215.
  Winnington, 189.
  Wolverton, 173, 174.
  Woodchester, 99.
  Woodlands, 178.
  Wood Stanway, 90.
  Wool, 176.
  Wootton Lodge, 195, 196.
  Wormleighton, 13.
  Wormwood Farm, Neston, 110.
  Worsborough, 226, 227.
  Wothorpe Hall, 18.
  Wye, river, 204.
  Wylde Court, 171.
  Wymondham, 51, 52, 53.

  Yatton Keynell, 116, 117, 118.
  Yeadon, 241.
  Yew Tree Farm, Bushley, 83.
  Yore, river, 250, 252.





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