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Title: Bygone Berkshire
Author: Various
Language: English
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Edited by


Editor of the "Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Archæological Journal,"
Secretary of Berkshire Archæological Society.
Author of "Our English Villages," etc.

William Andrews & Co., 5, Farringdon Avenue.


William Andrews and Co., The Hull Press.

[Illustration: WINDSOR CASTLE.]


The Royal County has many charms for the Antiquary and the Historian,
and we trust that "Bygone Berkshire" will not be the least interesting
volume of the series which the publisher has so successfully
inaugurated. We have attempted to give some glimpses of bygone times
and episodes, sketches of the manners and customs of old Berkshire
folk, and a few biographical notices of our heroes and learned men.
The story of our castles and abbeys shows how many great events in the
history of England have been enacted on Berkshire soil, and Windsor,
the home of our sovereigns, sheds additional glory on the annals of our
ancient county. The editing of this volume has been a task congenial to
one who for many years has made Berkshire his home. I desire to express
my gratitude to the authors who have so kindly co-operated with me in
the preparation of this volume, and I trust that their labours will
meet with the approbation of all who reverence antiquity, and love the
traditions of the Royal County.


  _August, 1896_.



  HISTORIC BERKSHIRE. By P.H. Ditchfield, M.A., F.S.A.               1

  WINDSOR CASTLE. By Evelyn Ingleby                                 21

  WALLINGFORD CASTLE. By J.E. Field, M.A..                          47

  CUMNOR PLACE AND AMY ROBSART. By H.J. Reid, F.S.A.                63

  ALFRED THE GREAT. By W.H. Thompson                                98

  THE GUILDS OF BERKSHIRE. By P.H. Ditchfield, M.A., F.S.A.        115

  THE SCOURING OF THE WHITE HORSE. By E.R. Gardiner, M.A.          137

  THE LAST OF THE ABBOTS                                           153

  SIEGE OF READING                                                 160

  READING ABBEY                                                    179

  THE FIRST BATTLE OF NEWBURY. By Edward Lamplough                 193

  THE SECOND BATTLE OF NEWBURY. By Edward Lamplough                204

  YEARS OF ALEXANDER POPE. By C.W. Penny, M.A.                     211

  BERKSHIRE WORDS AND PHRASES. By M.J. Bacon, M.A.                 235

  BULL-BAITING IN BERKSHIRE. By Canon Sturges, M.A.                244

  INDEX. By William Andrews, F.R.H.S.                              258


Historic Berkshire.


Berkshire has played an important part in the annals of our country,
and been the scene of many stirring events in English history. For
eight hundred years it has enjoyed the proud distinction of being the
Royal County; Windsor Castle, the ancient home of the kings and queens
of England, is within its borders, and it has shared the fortunes and
misfortunes of the Royal House. Indeed, its proud distinctive title
may be traced to a period more remote than that of the building of
the Castle by the Plantagenet Kings; Alfred the Great was born in
Berkshire, and there were royal palaces in Saxon times at Farringdon
and Old Windsor. Here the Confessor King oft resided. Here the
Conqueror hunted the tall stags whom he loved "as though he were
their father." Hence from Saxon times to the present day Berkshire has
deserved its royal title, and has been pre-eminently the county which
kings delight to honour.

The history of Berkshire is indeed the history of England. Successive
waves of conquerors passed over our hills and vales, and have left
their traces behind them in the names of hamlets, towns, and villages,
or in barrows or earthworks. In Celtic times the greater part of
Berkshire was held by the powerful family of the Segontiaci; eastern
Berkshire was inhabited by the Bibroci; whilst on the south dwelt the
Atrebates, a tribe of the Belgæ, mentioned by Cæsar, who migrated into
these parts from Gaul and drove the Celts northward. Silchester, the
famous Roman city, the Pompeii of England, was their capital before it
was captured by the Roman legions; and the walls, which seem to defy
the attacks of time, were built along the Atrebatian earthworks. Very
numerous are the remains of these ancient inhabitants of Britain in
various parts of the county. There are the old roads and trackways,
the most important being the Ridgeway, running along the Ilsley Downs,
forming part of the Icknield Street, which connected the east and
west of Britain. The road is flanked by fortresses of earth at various
places along its course, and barrows mark the burial places of the
heroes of their tribes. The chief of these are Letcombe, Uffington,
Lowbury, Churn Knob, and Scutchamore Knob. The so-called "King Alfred's
Bugle Horn," near Kingston Lisle, a large stone pierced with natural
holes, is really a Celtic Memorial. Its trumpet-note can be heard for
miles, and was used by the British tribes to summon their scattered
bands together when danger threatened. And Wayland Smith's Cave,
immortalized by Sir Walter Scott, and supposed to be the burying-place
of a Danish chieftain, is probably a British cromlech. In other parts
of Berkshire, especially on the high ground between the Thames and
Kennett, there are many traces of the ancient inhabitants of our

When the tide of Roman conquest flowed over Britain the old inhabitants
of our county soon felt its force and yielded to the storm. Their lands
then formed part of the Roman province of Britannia Prima. Instead
of incessant tribal wars and rude barbaric manners, the conquerors
established peace and civilisation. Silchester became the centre
of their rule in this part of the country, and instead of the pit
dwellings and rude huts of the natives they erected their stately
villas and their forums and bacilicas, the ruins of which, after a
burial of many centuries, are now being disinterred. This city lies
just beyond the confines of Berkshire, although the Amphitheatre,
where Roman gladiators fought, and where, doubtless, as at Rome during
the Decian Persecution, Christians were doomed to death, "butchered
to make a Roman holiday," is within our borders. Silchester was the
centre of our system of Roman roads. Other Roman towns in this district
were Spinæ (Speen, near Newbury), Thamesis (probably Streatley),
and Bibracte (possibly Wickam Bushes, near Easthampstead). A road
ran from Silchester to Pontes (Staines), and another from the same
place to Spinæ. Romano-British remains have been found in abundance
at Wallingford, Compton, Reading, and other places; and Roman villas
discovered at Maidenhead, Hampstead Norris, Frilsham, and elsewhere.
With the Romans also came Christianity, and at Silchester have recently
been discovered the remains of what is probably the most ancient
ecclesiastical building in the country, the forerunner of the many
beautiful churches which adorn our county.

But dark days were in store for our British ancestors, enfeebled by
Roman luxury, when the legions were withdrawn to protect the centre
of the Empire, and they were left to shift for themselves. The fierce
Saxons poured into the land, a happy hunting ground for adventurous
warriors, and with fire and sword destroyed the towns and villas which
the Romans had left. Calleva, or Silchester, soon fell a prey to the
ruthless conquerors, and was burnt to the ground.[1] This was said
to have been accomplished by tying burning tow to a swallow's tail.
The Celts were driven westward, and found a secure retreat in the
fastnesses of Wales and Cornwall, where the British church lived on and
waited the advent of better days.

The Saxons hated walled towns, which they regarded as "graves of
freedom surrounded by nets," and loved to make clearings in the forests
and form agricultural settlements. In no part of England have they left
more enduring marks of their presence than in Berkshire. The names of
our towns and villages are nearly all Saxon, and mark the spot where
their powerful families formed their settlements. We find the Rædingas
at Reading, the Wokings at Wokingham, the Ardings at Ardington, the
sons of Offa at Uffington, the Farringas at Farringdon, and scattered
all over the county are the _fields_ and _hams_, and _steads_ and
_tons_, which denote a Saxon origin. The name of the county, too, is
decidedly Saxon, and is probably derived from _Beorce_, the birch-tree,
or from the Berroc wood, which occupied a large part of the _scire_
or shire. It formed part of the important kingdom of Wessex, and soon
became the battlefield of opposing tribes. Offa, King of Mercia (A.D.
756-796), wrested that portion which borders on the Thames from King
Kinewulf, after the battle at Bensington. In the time of Egbert (A.D.
800), Wessex recovered its territory, and established its superiority
over the other kingdoms of the Saxon Octarchy, its ruler becoming the
first Bretwalda or monarch of England. In the time of Ethelred I., the
brother of Alfred the Great, a Berkshire hero, born at Wantage, came
the black raven of the Danes, and on the chalk hills many a fierce
fight was fought between the old and new invaders. At length, after
the Danes had captured Reading, and were moving westward to ravage
the whole country, Ethelred and his immortal brother Alfred drew up
their Saxon hosts at Æscendune (the Ash-tree Hill), slew the Danish
King Bægsceg, and put his yellow-haired warriors to flight. This great
battle checked the conquering career of the Danes, who, though they
made several incursions into the county, and set on fire Reading and
Wallingford, gained no permanent footing in its valleys. The exact
site of this victory has been vigorously disputed; it may possibly be
identified with Ashdown, near Lambourne, where the white horse cut out
on the adjoining hill is supposed to commemorate the valour of the
Saxons, but the best authorities place it at Lowbury.

Ashmole states that when England was united under King Alfred, another
division was made, and when the office of High Sheriff, or Vice Comes,
was instituted, Berkshire and the adjoining county of Oxford were put
under the authority of the same person.

In the war with the Danes during the reign of Ethelred II., Berkshire
was again laid waste by fire and sword, and the barbarous invaders
burnt Reading, Wallingford, and other places in 1006. They destroyed,
too, with ruthless hand the numerous churches and monasteries, which
since the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity, had been erected
in our towns and hamlets. This conversion was accomplished by the
preaching of Berin or Birinus, who, with a company of faithful monks,
arrived in Berkshire about 636 A.D. He was received by King Kynegils,
Oswald of Northumbria, his son-in-law, and other princes at Churn
Knob, and convinced his hearers of the truth of Christianity. The King
and his court were baptised at Dorchester, which became an important
centre of missionary enterprise. The earliest monastic house was the
famous abbey of Abingdon, founded by Heane, its first prior, and nephew
of Cissa, Viceroy of Kentwine, who was a great benefactor to the
monastery. Here also Heane's sister founded a nunnery dedicated to St.
Helen, which was removed to Wytham. The abbey, in spite of being burned
by the Danes, became very rich and prosperous. At Reading, Elfreda
founded a nunnery in expiation of the murder of her step-son, and
almost every village had its parish church. In the time of the Norman
Conquest there were as many as 1,700. At Sonning there was a bishop's
palace, but although Leland speaks of the Bishops of Sonning, it was
never an episcopal seat.

Soon the peaceful hamlets of Saxon folk were rudely disturbed by
the advent of the Norman invaders, and Saxon writers lament over
the sadness of the times, when English lands were bestowed upon the
followers and favourites of the Conqueror, who reared their mighty
strongholds everywhere, "filled with devils and evil men," who
plundered the English, confined them in dungeons, and were guilty of
every kind of cruelty and crime. At Wallingford, William received
the submission of Archbishop Stigand and the principal barons before
he marched to London. There arose the strong castle, built by Robert
D'Oyly, and others were erected at Windsor, Reading, Newbury, and later
at Farringdon, Brightwell, and Donnington. The history of the castles
at Wallingford and Windsor will be recorded in this volume; Donnington
endured an exciting siege during the Civil Wars; the others were
speedily destroyed.

The foundation of the famous Abbey of Reading was the chief event for
Berkshire in the reign of Henry I., a magnificent building, one of
the richest and most powerful in the kingdom. It was commenced in
1121. A royal charter was granted in 1125 conferring upon it important
privileges, and the great Church of the Abbey was consecrated by
Archbishop Becket in 1164. Here the embalmed body of King Henry I.
was buried, and subsequently the eldest son of Henry II. found here a
last resting-place. Here many stirring events in the annals of English
history took place; here Parliaments were held and royal festivals, and
many exciting conclaves sat to discuss the disputes of kings and barons
and papal legates. To these inviting themes we need not now refer, as
the history of the Abbey will be dealt with in a separate chapter.

The wars between Stephen and the Empress Maud devastated the county.
As each side gained the supremacy they proceeded to take vengeance
on the supporters of the vanquished, and the land was filled with
fightings and bloodshed. Brian Fitzcount, the lord of Wallingford
Castle, espoused the cause of the Empress, and his fortress afforded
her a secure retreat when she fled from Oxford, dressed in white,
across the icebound river. Farringdon Castle was captured by Stephen,
and completely demolished. Around that Castle and the fortresses
of Windsor, Reading, Newbury and Wallingford the war raged. Poor
unfortunate prisoners for the sake of ransom were hanged by their feet,
and smoked with foul smoke. Some were hanged by their thumbs, and
knotted strings were writhed about their heads till they went into the
brain, and others were placed in foul dungeons where adders and snakes
and toads were crawling. The whole county was reduced to a howling
wilderness by this relentless and long-continued war, until at length
the country was wearied of fightings and plunderings, and peace was

When John rebelled against his brother, Richard I., he seized
Wallingford and Windsor Castles, but they were taken by the barons and
bishops in the king's interest, and placed in the hands of the queen
dowager. The strength of these two fortresses rendered them important
as military stations in the troubles which took place during the
latter part of the reign of King John, and also during that of Henry
III. Reading was the scene of many stormy meetings of the barons and
bishops opposed to the faithless John, and it was at Loddon Bridge that
they assembled their forces, and marched on Staines; and on the Isle
of Runimede, just beyond our Berkshire borders, they compelled the
faithless king to sign the Charter of English liberties.

In 1263 Windsor Castle was besieged and captured by Simon de Montfort;
and the battle of Radcot Bridge in the reign of Richard II., A.D. 1389,
when Vere, Earl of Oxford was defeated by Henry, then Earl of Derby,
was the only engagement which disturbed the comparatively peaceful
repose of Berkshire in that period of its history. The unhappy child
queen of Richard II., Isabella of Valois, after the dethronement of her
husband, attempted to restore his rights by force of arms. Her forces
assembled at Sunninghill, and marched to Wallingford and Abingdon; but
her efforts were in vain; the power of Henry was too strong for the
unhappy child-wife, who fell a prisoner into his hands.


Turning from the records of civil strife, we read of the great
rejoicings which took place at Reading on the occasion of the marriage
of John of Gaunt with Blanche of Lancaster, which were solemnized
in the great church of the Abbey. The festivities lasted fourteen
days, and tilts and tournaments were held daily. During the reign of
the Edwards, the trade of the country increased; in the west, the
farmers produced their rich fleeces, and the clothiers of Reading,
Abingdon, and Newbury plied their looms and became wealthy. Thomas
Cole is said to have flourished at Reading in the time of Edward I.;
the famous John Winchcombe (otherwise Smalwood) better known as "Jack
of Newbury," and Sir Thomas Dolman, were men of note in the sixteenth

In the fifteenth century, the plague raged frequently in London, and,
in consequence, several parliaments were held at Reading; at one
of them, in 1439, a new order of nobility, that of "viscount," was
constituted. In the reign of Henry VIII., when many changes stirred
the heart of England, we find Wolsey building his memorial chapel at
Windsor, of which he was so soon deprived; we see the King hunting
in the Forest of Windsor, and being strangely troubled in mind and
conscience with regard to the lawfulness of his first marriage with
Catharine of Arragon, when he had seen and loved the fairer Ann. Later
we see the unhappy divorced Queen taking refuge within our borders
at Easthampstead, mourning over the fickleness of men. Then were the
fiery times of trial and persecution. According to Fuller, Newbury was
one of the first places to receive the doctrines of the Reformation,
and there, in 1518, one Christopher the Shoemaker was burnt at the
stake for heresy, and later, in 1566, Julius Palmer and two others
suffered in a similar manner. In the meantime, a covetous king and
greedy courtiers had set their eyes on the rich monasteries in England;
and the noble Abbeys of Reading and Abingdon, and the lesser houses
at Bisham, Donnington, Wallingford, and other places, soon met their
doom. Hugh Farringdon, the last abbot of Reading, and two of his monks
were hung. The last abbot of Abingdon, Rowland de Penthacost, fared
better, and was allowed to retire on a pension to the manor-house of
Cumnor. The effect of the dissolution of the religious houses was very
disastrous. Agriculture languished; wheat became scarce and costly;
the cloth trade declined; the poor suffered greatly from the loss of
employment which the monasteries formerly afforded, and of the alms
which the monks freely bestowed.

No important historical events occurred in the annals of the royal
county until the outbreak of the Civil War. The kings and queens of
England often resided at Windsor, hunted in the great forest, made
royal progresses through the chief towns, and sojourned at the Abbey
of Reading, now used as a palace. Edward VI. was received with much
state by the Mayor of Reading at Coley Cross in 1552. Queen Mary and
her worthless husband were welcomed with much ceremony in 1554, when
the mace was presented to her. Elizabeth came nine times to Reading,
and had a royal seat appointed for her in the Church of St. Lawrence.
The first of the Stuart kings honoured the town with a visit, and his
queen stayed at Caversham House, where a mask was performed for her
edification. In 1625, on account of the plague, Charles I. resided
at Reading, where the Michaelmas term was kept, and the courts of
chancery, king's bench, and common pleas were held in the abbey

Then followed one of the most disastrous periods of our county's
history. In 1642, the High Sheriff of Berkshire refused to obey the
king's command; the town of Reading was fortified, and King Charles
passed through the town on his way to Oxford, his headquarters.
Garrisons for the king were established at Farringdon, Abingdon,
Wallingford, Greenwell House, Reading, Newbury, Donnington, and
Hungerford. Windsor was held by the Parliamentarians. Many of the
people of Reading espoused the cause of the parliament, and left the
town because the mayor and other chief men supported the king.

The war in Berkshire began, in 1643, with an attack on Reading by the
Roundheads under Major Vavasour. The Royalists attempted to relieve the
siege, but were beaten back at Caversham Bridge, and retired to Oxford.
The town was captured by the enemy, and the West of England became the
seat of war. Then followed the first battle of Newbury, which will be
hereafter described. The Royalists were practically beaten, and the
gallant Lord Falkland slain. Essex, the leader of the Parliamentarian
forces, marched on London, harrassed by Prince Rupert's horse near
Aldermaston. Reading was abandoned to the King, and placed under the
command of Sir Jacob Astley. In 1644, the war at first raged chiefly in
the North of England. Then Reading and Abingdon were captured by Essex,
and all Berkshire, except the castles of Donnington and Farringdon,
were in his hands. The cause of the Parliament in the West was not so
prosperous; the King's plans had been successful. The garrisons of
Donnington, Newbury, and Basing had been relieved; but then followed
the second battle of Newbury, which ended in the retreat of the
Royalists. Then several marches through the county were made, and the
royal forces, after going to Bath and Oxford, came again to Donnington,
and thence went by Lambourne to Wantage and Farringdon, and finally to

The whole of Berkshire was in a deplorable condition; the necessities
of war were so great; the supplies needed for the victualling of such
large armies were so heavy, that scarcely "a sheep, hen, hog, oats,
hay, wheat, or any other thing for man to eat" were left. Soldiers
on both sides foraged for supplies, and seized with ruthless hand
everything they could find. Peaceful citizens were captured for the
sake of ransom, and no goods could be conveyed safely along the roads
without their owners paying large sums to the leaders of foraging
parties who intercepted them. Numerous skirmishes took place in the
campaign of 1645 without much advantage to either side. At last the
skill of Fairfax and Cromwell proved too strong for the Royalists, and
Bristol and Oxford fell. Donnington Castle, under the gallant Sir John
Boys, was the last fortress in Berkshire to yield, and he and his brave
soldiers marched out with all the honours of war, having earned the
admiration of both friend and foe.

Thus ended the Civil War in Berkshire. The King, now a prisoner, was
allowed to stay at Caversham House with his children; but soon the
end came, and the fatal scaffold at Whitehall ended the career of
the unhappy monarch. The sequestrators in Berkshire did their work
thoroughly; estates of Royalists were duly confiscated; the clergy
ejected from their livings; and the Puritan rule fully established.

Shouts of joy welcomed the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. In
Reading there were great rejoicings, and a stage was set up in the
market-place for the purpose of issuing the royal proclamation, and the
King's arms were engraved on the mace. The Revolution of 1688 caused
some commotion in Berkshire. In the cellars of Lady Place, at Hurley,
many anxious meetings were held, which resulted in the advent of the
Prince of Orange. Lord Lovelace, its owner, was one of his principal
adherents, and he and his twenty followers were the first to strike
a blow for William. It was entirely unsuccessful, and a prison cell
at Gloucester rewarded his rashness. At Hungerford, William met the
King's commissioners, and then marched on Newbury, some of his forces
being also present at Abingdon. Some fighting took place at Hungerford
between the Irish troops of King James and the soldiers of William, who
were entirely victorious. Reading also was the scene of fighting. The
Irish soldiers quartered there threatened to massacre the inhabitants,
who requested succour from William. A body of three hundred men
were sent to their relief, and a sharp engagement took place in the
market-place, in which the Prince's troops were victorious. The
anniversary of the "Reading fight" was celebrated with great rejoicings
for many years. There was some slight opposition to the progress of
William's troops at Twyford and Maidenhead, but ere long London was
reached, and William proclaimed King. There were not a few who sighed
after the exiled sovereign, and many who could not reconcile it with
their consciences to take the oath of allegiance to the new king.
Shottesbrooke Manor-house was the resort of many famous non-jurors,
amongst whom were Bishop Kenn, Robert Nelson, Francis Cherry, Dr.
Grade, and Henry Dodwell.

From this period the course of our county's history runs smoothly on,
and is absorbed in that of England. Each ruined keep and moss-grown
pile, each village green and scattered hamlet, has a history all its
own, often buried beneath the weight of years, and little heeded by the
present race of pilgrims.

Many of these shrines of an elder age it is now our privilege to visit,
and to recall the memories of bygone times that cluster round the
revered spots of ancient Berkshire. And as we muse upon her glorious
past, we shall hold in pious memory the valour of her sons who have
writ her name so large in history, and strive to retain untarnished the
honour and good name of the Royal County.


[Footnote 1: So say the Chroniclers; but modern investigators seem to
think that the city did not fall a prey to fire and sword, but died a
lingering death by the slow process of gradual decay.]

Windsor Castle.


The word Windsor is doubtless derived from the Anglo-Saxon "windle,"
a willow, probably referring to the winding course of the Thames,
and "ofer," a shore, the "Windesoveres" of Geoffrey Gaimar, the
"Winlesoren" of King Edward, the "Windesores" of Domesday, the
"Windleshore" of Henry III.

The manor of Clewer, the site of the modern Windsor, consisting of five
hides, was the property of Harold, son of Godwin, and, together with
his other estates, fell at his death into the hands of William the
Conqueror. William granted the manor to one Ralph, the son of Seifride,
reserving, however, one-half of a hide on which were some earthworks,
which are believed to be as old as the Heptarchy, and on which he
built for himself a castle. This was styled, not Clewer Castle, but
Windsor Castle, the name of Harold's royal residence, and since then
has been intimately associated with English history, having been used
alternately by William's descendants as their palace, prison, and
burial place.

Edward the Confessor had a "palace" at Windsor, though it is not easy
to determine the exact situation.

William Rufus assembled a council at Windsor, and there imprisoned the
rebellious Earl of Mowbray for the remaining thirty years of his life.

Henry I. built a chapel, probably on the site now occupied by the
Albert Memorial Chapel, formerly known as Wolsey's Tomb-House. Windsor
was a favourite summer residence of Henry, and it was here that, in
1121, he married Adelicia of Louvain, the "Fair Maid of Brabant." In
1127, Henry received at Windsor the homage of the nobles of the land,
who at the same time swore allegiance to his daughter, the Empress
Maud, or Matilda. As was usual on such solemn occasions, the coronation
ceremony was repeated.

Windsor does not figure at all in Stephen's disturbed reign, but Henry
II. frequently resided there, and in his tenth year expended the sum of
30s. on repairing the kitchen. Fabyan, a chronicler of the time, tells
a pathetic story bearing on Henry's domestic troubles. "It is recorded
that in a chambere at Wyndsore he caused to be painted an eagle, with
four birds, whereof three of them all rased (scratched) the body of the
old eagle, and the fourth was scratching at the old eagle's eyes. When
the question was asked of him (Henry) what thing that picture should
signify? it was answered by him, 'This old eagle,' said he, 'is myself;
and these four eagles betoken my four sons, the which cease not to
pursue my death, and especially my youngest son, John, which now I love
most, shall most especially await and imagine my death.'"

Windsor is closely connected with the granting of Magna Charta by
John. Between Old Windsor and Staines is the flat meadow of Runimede,
from which the Castle towers are visible. During the conferences which
preceded and followed the ratification of this great charter, John went
backwards and forwards to Windsor each day. He was at Windsor when he
heard of the landing of the Dauphin Louis.

Henry III. greatly improved the Castle. The old hall in the Upper
Ward was abandoned for a new and larger one in the Lower Ward, and,
in 1272, he roofed the Keep. Part of the cloister still stands as it
was then built, and not long ago a portrait of the king, part of the
painted decoration, was discovered. On the town side three great towers
were built, and on the north was erected a tower on the same site as
now stands the Winchester Tower. All the buildings were handsomely
decorated with paintings and windows filled with glass. In one of the
new towers on the western side was possibly the dungeon connected
with a scene in Henry's career, which proved him, for all his piety,
a worthy son of his father. The Londoners, headed by their Mayor,
Fitz-Thomas, had long resisted Henry's exactions, and when, in 1265,
the King was in their power, and Earl Simon de Monfort ruled the land,
Fitz-Thomas addressed to his King words in St. Paul's which sank deep
into Henry's soul. When the Battle of Evesham delivered his enemies
into his hands, Henry summoned the Mayor and chief citizens to Windsor,
giving them a safe conduct. They were then thrown into prison, from
which it does not appear that Fitz-Thomas ever emerged, though the
others, to the number of forty, were eventually released.

The two eldest sons of Edward I. were born at Windsor, and, though the
King himself rarely visited the Castle, Queen Eleanor seems often to
have resided here.

In 1312 was born at Windsor one who was to do much for the castle,
Edward III. During all his long reign Windsor was the scene of many
displays of pomp and vanity, of tournaments, feasts, processions,
besides councils, chapters, and great assemblies. The Upper Ward was
entirely rebuilt, William of Wykeham--from whom the Winchester Tower
derived its name--being the architect. It is said that the words
"Hoc fecit Wykeham" were placed upon it, and that the wily prelate
translated them to Edward as meaning, not "Wykeham made this," but
"This made Wykeham."

Another story is told which points to the want of refined manners
and delicate feeling of the Middle Ages. King Edward was conducting
his royal prisoners, King John of France and King David of Scotland,
round the Lower Ward, when one of them pointed out that the Upper Ward
lay on higher ground and commanded a finer view. The King "approved
their sayings, adding pleasantly that it should so be, and that he
would bring his castle thither, that is to say, enlarge it so far with
two other wards, the charges whereof should be borne with their two
ransoms," as afterwards happened. The story of King Arthur and the
Round Table fired Edward with the idea of founding the institution of
the Garter, and carpenters and masons were soon busy erecting the Round
Tower for the Round Table. The table, made of fifty-two oaks, seems to
have been in the shape of a horse shoe rather than a perfect circle,
so that the attendants could stand in the middle to serve the guests.
In this tower assembled the flower of English knighthood--Warwick,
celebrated in the French wars, who, when he died of the plague in 1369,
left "not behind him his equal;" the young Earl of Salisbury, whose
beautiful mother is said to have given rise to the motto of the Order,
"Honi soit qui mal y pense;" and many others besides, whose names are
well known for their prowess and valour.

It was at Windsor that good Queen Philippa passed away, universally
lamented. Froissart touchingly describes her death:--"There fell in
England a heavy case and common, howbeit it was right piteous for the
King, his children, and all the realm. For the good Queen of England,
that so many good deeds had done in her time, and so many knights
succoured, and ladies and damsels comforted, and had so largely
departed of her goods to her people, and naturally loved always the
nation of Hainault, the country where she was born; she fell sick in
the Castle of Windsor, the which sickness continued on her so long that
there was no remedy but death. And the good lady, when she knew and
perceived that there was with her no remedy but death, she desired to
speak with the King, her husband. And when he was before her she put
out of her bed her right hand, and took the King by his right hand, who
was right sorrowful at heart. Then she said, 'Sir, we have in peace,
joy, and great prosperity used all our time together. Sir, now I pray
you, at our departing, that ye will grant me three desires.'" Her
requests related to her debts, her promises to churches, and to her
husband's "sepulture when so ever it shall please God to call you out
of this transitory life," beside her in Westminster. "Then the good
lady and Queen made on her the sign of the cross, and recommended the
King, her husband, to God, and her youngest son, Thomas, who was beside
her. And anon after, she yielded up the spirit, the which I believe
surely the holy angels received with great joy up to heaven, for in
all her life she did neither in thought or deed thing whereby to lese
her soul, as far as any creature could know."

Many important scenes in Richard II.'s life are laid in Windsor Castle.
Two deputations waited upon him here with a list of their grievances.
In 1390 he appointed Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet, to superintend repairs
in the chapel. The great dispute between Henry Bolingbroke, the last
Knight of the Garter admitted by Edward III., and the Duke of Norfolk,
took place at Windsor Castle, where, in the courtyard, King Richard
sat on a platform, and gave judgment between the two, sentencing
Bolingbroke to ten years' exile, and banishing Norfolk for life. It
was at Windsor that Richard bade a last farewell to his child-queen,
Isabella of France, then eleven years of age. The scene is touchingly
described by a contemporary chronicler, who states that the King and
Queen walked hand in hand from the Castle to the Lower Court, and
entered the Deanery, passing thence into the chapel. After chanting a
collect, Richard took his Queen into his arms, and kissing her twelve
or thirteen times, said sorrowfully:--"Adieu, _ma chère_, until we
meet again; I commend me to you." Then the Queen began to weep, saying
to the King:--"Alas! my lord, will you leave me here?" The royal pair
then partook of comfits and wine in the Deanery, the King kissing his
Queen many times and lifting her in his arms. "And by our lady, I never
saw so great a lord," continues the chronicler, "make so much of nor
show such great affection to a lady as did King Richard to his Queen.
Great pity was it that they separated, for never saw they each other

After Richard's deposition and death, Isabella was detained by Henry
IV., who would have married her to his madcap son, Prince Hal.
Eventually, however, she married the Duc d'Orleans, this time choosing
a husband much younger than herself.

A conspiracy against Henry IV. came to a head at Windsor, when the
Duke of Exeter seized and searched the castle. Henry, however, had had
timely warning, and had fled. "He rode to London and made him strong
to ride on his enemies," and crushed the rebellion. The Castle during
this reign held two unfortunate young prisoners, the Earl of March,
whose only fault was his descent from an elder son of Edward III.,
Henry himself being descended from a younger branch; the other was one
of the most unfortunate of the hapless house of Stuart, James Stuart.
The king, his father, had sent him to France to complete his education.
Henry, however, fearful of an alliance between France and Scotland,
seized the Prince's vessel, and sent James to Windsor, declaring
jocularly that England possessed good French teachers. Henry kept his
word, and the young prince received a good education. He seems in every
respect to have been treated as suited his rank, and was allowed plenty
of freedom, sharing in all the festivities of the court. From his tower
window he beheld and fell in love with the fair Joanna Beaufort, the
king's niece, whom he eventually married. His return to Scotland marked
the beginning of a sad and gloomy reign, and he was assassinated by his
unruly nobles in 1437, to whom he had made himself odious by trying to
curb their power.

In 1416, the Emperor Sigismund was present at the feast of St. George,
bringing as an offering the heart of St. George, which remained in the
chapel till the Reformation.

Whilst Henry V. was besieging Meaux he heard of the birth of his
son. "But when he heard reported the places of his nativity, were it
that he, warned by some prophesie, or had some fore-knowledge, or
else judged himself of his son's fortune, he said unto the Lord Fitz
Hugh, his trusty chamberlain, these words, 'My lord, I, Henry, born
at Monmouth, shall small time reign and much get, and Henry, born at
Windsor, shall long reign and all lose; but as God will, so be it.'"
Although this unfortunate Henry of Windsor spent all his early years at
his birthplace, the Castle fell into a very neglected condition. On his
marriage with Margaret of Anjou, some necessary repairs were made for
her reception, and during his illness, in 1453, Henry lived here.

Edward IV. was the first monarch interred at Windsor, where his little
daughter Mary and his son George of Clarence, supposed to have been
drowned in a cask of wine, had been buried before him. In 1484, the
remains of Henry VI. were removed from Chertsey Abbey, and interred
beside those of his rival. In 1789 some workmen came across the lead
coffin of Edward IV. On opening it the entire skeleton was found,
measuring 6 feet 3-1/2 inches in length. A lock of brown hair taken
from the coffin is in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. A bone of the leg
was publicly sold by auction with the museum of a private collector a
few years ago. It was understood at the time that the dishonoured relic
was taken back to Windsor.

The poet Earl of Surrey was much at Windsor in his early life, and was
imprisoned there in 1546. In one of his poems he gives a description of
the large green courts, the stately seats, the secret groves, the wild
forests, and other delights of the place. He was beheaded in 1547 for
denying the king's supremacy in the church.

Queen Jane Seymour was buried at Windsor Castle with much pomp, a
life-sized figure of the deceased was upon the pall, with a rich crown
of gold upon her head, the hair all loose, a sceptre of gold in her
right hand, and adorned with finger-rings and a necklace of gold and
precious stones. In his will, Henry VIII. commanded that his body
should be laid beside that of his "true and loving wife, Queen Jane."

Queen Elizabeth was very fond of Windsor Castle, and sometimes remained
all the autumn and over Christmas. Between 1569 and 1577, more than
£1000 a year was spent on improvements, which, remembering Elizabeth's
parsimony, is very surprising. It is said that Elizabeth desired to
see "Falstaff in love," and therefore it was that Shakespeare laid the
scene of the "Merry Wives" at Windsor. As Elizabeth was very fond of
riding, many a gay cavalcade of beautiful ladies and gallant gentlemen
must have issued from the gates of Windsor, whilst many a magnificent
pageant must have been held, and many must have been the love scenes
enacted here, during her long reign.

There are several old descriptions of the Castle at this period still
extant, and among the Harleian MSS., is one generally attributed to
Stowe. "Upon the north syde and uttar part of whiche (describing the
Terrace) lodgings also, betwene the same and the browe or fall of the
hill which is very stepe and pitche, is an excellent walk or baye,
rennynge all along the sayd buyldyngs and the syd of the castele borne
upp and susteyned with arches and boteres of stone and tymber rayled
brest highe which is in lengthe 360 paces, and in bredthe 7, of such
and excellent grace to the beholders and passers by lyenge open to the
syght even afarre off; that the statelynes, pleasure, beautie, and the
use thereof semethe to contend one with another which of them should
have the superioritie."

In 1642, the Parliamentary army occupied Windsor, and in the following
year fifty-five political prisoners were lodged here under the command
of Colonel Venn, who despoiled the chapel, and destroyed the deer in
the Great Park. In 1647, Charles I. was a prisoner in the palace of his
ancestors. After escaping from Hampton Court, and being confined in
Carisbrook, he was brought back to Windsor in close custody of Colonel
Whitchcott. The Governor was allowed £20 a day for his expenses. A
month later, in January, 1649, he was removed to London. After his
execution at Whitehall there ensued much discussion as to his place of
burial, Windsor finally being chosen. A hearse, driven by the King's
old coachman, and attended by four servants, conveyed the body to
Windsor. The Governor refused to allow the use of the Burial Service in
the Common Prayer-book. With much difficulty the vault of Henry VIII.
and Jane, his wife, was discovered. The Duke of Richmond scratched on
a piece of lead, "King Charles, 1648," the year being then reckoned
to end on the 25th of March. The following day the King's coffin was
brought out when "presently it began to snow, and the snow fell so fast
that by the time the corpse came to the west end of the Royal Chapel,
the black velvet pall was all white, the colour of innocency, being
thick covered with snow." The coffin was placed on two trestles in the
vault, and the velvet pall thrown in upon it. "Thus went the White
King to his grave in the 48th year of his age," without ceremony or
religious service.

In Charles II.'s reign the State apartments were remodelled, the
architect being May, who probably only carried out the designs of Sir
Christopher Wren. Verrio painted the walls and ceilings, and Gibbons
carved the fittings. The £70,000 voted for a tomb to the memory of
Charles I., was probably spent in these new buildings. Samuel Pepys
visited Windsor in 1666, and was conducted to "where the late king is
buried, and King Henry and my Lady Seymour. This being done to the
King's house, and to observe the neatness and contrivance of the house
and gates. It is the most romantique castle that is in the world.
But Lord! the prospect that is in the balcone that is in the Queen's
lodgings, and the terrace and walk, are strange things to consider,
being the best in the world, sure; and so, giving a great deal of money
to this and that man and woman, we to our tavern and there dined."

James II. lived much at Windsor. His daughter Anne here gave birth to a
child, baptised Anne Sophia, who, dying soon after, was buried in Henry
VIII.'s vault. James alienated his subjects by committing the fatal
error of receiving the Papal Nuncio. It was here also that the Prince
of Orange held the consultation which resulted in the flight of James.

In 1700, the Duke of Gloucester, the longest lived of all Anne's
nineteen children, died at Windsor, to the great grief of the nation.
It was in one of the rooms now forming part of the Royal Library,
of this castle that Queen Anne was sitting with the Duchess of
Marlborough, when the news of the great victory of Blenheim arrived.

The first and second Georges did not care for Windsor, but it was a
favourite residence of George III., but into such dilapidation was it
allowed to fall, that in 1778 it was declared uninhabitable. It was
therefore resolved to keep what was standing from falling into ruins,
but to build a new lodge on the site of the house which Queen Anne
preferred as a residence to the magnificence of the Castle.

The new residence was a long, narrow building with battlements facing
north towards the old Castle walls. It was here that Queen Charlotte
lived when Fanny Burney, the author of "Evelina," afterwards known as
Madame d'Arblay, was her maid-of-honour. According to Miss Burney's
diary, the life at Windsor must have furnished anything but the
excitement which is supposed to be the necessary element of court life.
At eight o'clock, the king and queen attended prayers in the private
chapel. In the afternoon, the king and queen and the princesses walked
on the terrace. On this terrace, by-the-by, there is a sun-dial,
which was the cause of an interesting little incident. The King and
the Duke of York were one day walking on the terrace, when the king
leant his arms on the sun-dial. A sentry immediately came forward
and respectfully, but decidedly, informed the king that it was part
of his duty to prevent any person from touching the dial. The king
was so charmed, that he commended the soldier to his colonel, and
he was shortly afterwards promoted. Every evening there was music in
the concert-room, the king being very fond of Handel. In 1788, Miss
Burney describes one of the king's attacks. The Prince of Wales and his
brother, and several doctors and equerries sat up all night, whilst
the king raved up and down an adjoining room, and made occasional
excursions in various apartments, addressing wild accusations of
neglect to each and every of his attendants, till at length, Mr.
Fairly, one of them, led him gently but forcibly away. During the
king's illness, the Prince of Wales and Duke of York lodged in the
Castle, and even held formal dinners there, whence it may be deduced
that formerly even the royal kitchen in the Castle had fallen into

Although the Queen's Lodge was now the chief royal residence, some
attention was paid to the restoration of the ancient Castle, and
in 1800, James Wyatt built a new staircase, and also restored some
apartments looking on to the north terrace, whither the old king was
removed during his last attack. On his death, he was laid under the
chapel at the east end of St. George's, in the vault which in 1810 had
been erected for his daughter Amelia.

During the reigns of George IV. and William IV., James Wyatt's brother,
Jeffry Wyatt, whom George IV. knighted and called Wyatville, continued
the work of restoration, and gradually nearly all traces of the Castle
as it was during the latter part of the eighteenth century disappeared.
He raised the Round Tower to its present height, designed the plan for
the east and west sides of the Upper Ward, raised the level of all the
roofs, filled up the Brick Court with a grand staircase, and the Horn
Court with the Waterloo Gallery, united the stables, which were dotted
throughout the Town, on Castle Hill, and built the Brunswick Tower,
and the York and Lancaster Tower. It is to Wyatville's good taste and
fine artistic perceptions that we owe the fact that Windsor retains its
characteristics of a mediæval fortress, and has not been converted into
a stiffly symmetrical building, then so much affected.

George IV.'s favourite residence was a lodge near the Long Walk, but
two years before his death he removed to the Castle, and his long
illness kept him prisoner here till his death. In the same room, later
on called the Queen's Drawing-room, exactly seven years later, King
William also died.

The chapel of St. George was made a Chapel Royal by Edward III. in
1348. The office of dean was, till the reign of Henry IV., held by a
dignitary designated by the name of "custos." John Arundel, in Henry
IV.'s reign, being the first to bear the title of "dean." At first
the chapel was dedicated to St. Edward, but gradually, owing to its
connection with the Order of the Garter, St. George superseded the
former patron saint. Later on, Henry VII. had intended to make this
chapel the tomb of his race, and the work was actually commenced when
the king turned his attention to Westminster. Henry VIII. presented the
chapel to Wolsey, and, about 1524, the Cardinal employed Benedetto of
Florence to build a sumptuous sarcophagus of black marble, decorated
with figures of copper gilt. After his disgrace, the magnificent
metalwork lay neglected till the governorships of Colonel Venn and
Colonel Whichcott, when these functionaries sold various figures
and images as old brass, and realised a very handsome sum by the
transaction. In 1805, the marble sarcophagus was removed to St. Paul's,
to mark the grave of Lord Nelson.

In 1686 when James II. was mis-ruling the land, he expended some £700
on repairing the chapel and in solemnizing high mass. In George III.'s
reign the chapel was made the Royal Mausoleum, and Princess Amelia
was the first to be interred in it. His wife, his sister, and six of
his children and grandchildren were buried in the vault before George
himself. There is room for forty-nine coffins, and already twenty-one
have been placed in it, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale having been
the last. Although the Prince Consort is buried at Frogmore, Wolsey's
Tomb-house was selected as the site for the magnificent memorial in his
honour. The interior of the chapel is lined with marble and mosaic,
the walls are covered with reliefs, the windows are of stained glass.
The cenotaph stands in front of the magnificent altar, and supports a
recumbent statue, a personification of the Christian soldier described
by St. Paul, of white marble, the face being a portrait of the Prince.
A hound, a portrait of the Prince's favourite dog Eos, sits at his
feet. This chapel, built by Henry III., and dedicated to St. Edward,
and later on, known as Wolsey's Tomb-House, remains now as the Albert
Memorial Chapel, one of the most splendid monuments of the age. In
the State Apartments there are many articles interesting on account
of antiquity or associations. The Malachite Vase in the Ball Room is
the best of its kind in England, the French tapestry is said to be
unequalled, the Sévres porcelain is exquisitely delicate and beautiful.
Many picture-frames, especially in the ante-room, are to be found,
the work of Grinling Gibbons. Portraits by Vandyck in his best style
abound, and there is a splendid series of portraits by Holbein. In the
Guard Chamber there is a shield presented by Francis I. to Henry VIII.
on the field of the Cloth of Gold, the work of Benvenuto Cellini.

The Library at Windsor is remarkably large and good, William IV. having
gathered here the various collections at Kew, Hampton Court, and
Kensington, and having brought to light many antiquarian treasures.
Amongst these are the three volumes of the collection of drawings of
Leonardo de Vinci, brought to England from Holland by Sir Peter Lely,
and bought by Charles II., and the series of eighty-seven studies in
red chalk and Indian ink of the principal personages of Henry VIII.'s
Court by Hans Holbein. The illuminated manuscripts, both European and
Oriental are of much historical interest, and amongst them may be
mentioned the "Mentz Psalter," of 1457, a copy of Coverdale's Bible of
1535, and the only perfect copy now in existence of Caxton's _Æsop's
Fables_ of 1484.

In the strong room are many gorgeous treasures of plate and jewels,
and a set of golden dinner plates sufficient for a hundred guests,
a wine-fountain taken from the Spanish Armada, Tippoo's jewelled
peacock and solid gold footstool, in the shape of a tiger's head,
and many other curiosities too numerous for mention. Some of the
state apartments, especially the library, contain fine mantelpieces
and panellings of great age, some going as far back as the sixteenth

After the Castle itself, the chief glory of Windsor is the Great Park,
the remnant of a tract of 180 miles in circuit, which formed the happy
hunting-ground of our mediæval kings. It is joined to the town and
Castle by the Long Walk, the noble avenue of elms planted by Charles
II. The Park is gently undulating, and dotted here and there with
magnificent oaks and beeches, sometimes standing singly, sometimes in
thick clumps. Looking from George the Fourth's Gateway to the gilt
statue which he erected to "the best of fathers," the beauty of the
landscape thrills one with the satisfaction of perfection. The spirit
of romance seems to pervade each fairy glade and hill, and visions
of days long past arise before us, when lord and ladye fair on fiery
steeds rode through the enchanted spot, and paused in their pursuit
of the bounding deer, moved by the genius of the place, to whisper
words of love. An oak measuring 26 feet 10 inches, at the height of 5
feet from the ground, is reckoned to be 800 years old. Three oaks in
Cranbourne Chase, the oldest of which is probably 450 years, are called
respectively, Queen Anne, Queen Charlotte, and Queen Victoria, these
names it is scarcely necessary to explain, having been given since
they evolved from their sapling stage. Herne's Oak, which Shakespeare
memorialises in _The Merry Wives_, was, according to some blown down in
a storm in 1863, and a sapling was planted to mark the spot. According
to others it was cut down in mistake with other decayed trees by order
of George III. At one corner of the Park there are some dozen oak
trees, all as old as the Norman Conquest.

In fact, wherever one glances, be it at an old elm, or a bit of old
carving half hidden in grass, or a china cup in the drawing-room, or a
picture in the library, from the marble sarcophagus erected in memory
of the Prince Consort to a blade of grass on the terrace, one finds
endless cause for interest and deeper investigation. Such historical
associations cling to every stone or crumb of earth, such romantic
stories are whispered to one at every turn, such echoes of old-world
times are re-called at every foot-fall, that no one could weary of
visiting again and again this wondrous spot, to dream of bygone faces,
fashions, and manners. And as one gazes, one feels the same pride in
its beauty as stirred the hearts of Henry III. and Edward III., one
understands the desire of the world-satiated Henry VIII. to rest in
peace by the side of his best loved queen under those cool gray stones,
and one feels a deep thankfulness that the storm-tossed Charles is at
rest for evermore in that calm, sanctified, world-remote spot.

And Windsor does more than turn one's thoughts down the vista of
past ages, it ennobles, it purifies. A reverence, an awe that only
the sublime can inspire, takes possession of one's heart when one
contemplates this most glorious of England's royal homes. Nor has
the hand of time dimmed its lustre. Windsor is still the home of the
illustrious Queen whom all her subjects delight to honour. It is
associated with tender memories of all the joys and many sorrows which
the Ruler of our mighty Empire has experienced during the course of her
long and glorious reign. And when we reflect on all that our Queen has
done for the welfare of our nation, and of the vast Empire over which
she rules, we can but echo the Laureate's words:--

    "May she rule us long,
  And leave us rulers of her blood
    As noble till the latest day!
    May children of our children say,
  She wrought her people lasting good;
  Her court was pure; her life serene;
    God gave her peace; her land reposed;
    A thousand claims to reverence closed
  In her a Mother, Wife, and Queen."

And ever mindful of her great sorrow let us say:--

  "The love of all Thy sons encompass Thee,
  The love of all Thy daughters cherish Thee,
  The love of all Thy people comfort Thee,
  Till God's love set Thee at His side again."

Wallingford Castle.


The Castle, to which Wallingford owes its importance through six
centuries of our annals, may have had its origin in a primitive
fortress belonging to the original settlement upon the river-bank. But
its actual history begins in the reign of Edward the Confessor, who,
according to Domesday, had fifteen acres here, where a body of his
huscarles or military retainers lived; these acres being the same that
Milo Crispin, the Norman lord of the Castle, was occupying at the time
of the Survey.

Whatever fortress existed in Edward's day was held by Wigod, the
kinsman and cupbearer to the King; and the fact that Wigod favoured
the cause of the Norman Duke, coupled with the circumstance of an
advantageous position on an important ford of the river, caused
Wallingford and its Castle to become what they were in history.

Hither, in consequence of the welcome offered by the English Thane,
William came after the Battle of Hastings, when London was fortified
against him; and here he received the homage of Archbishop Stigand
and the English nobles. Before moving back towards London he made
the Norman influence secure at Wallingford by the marriage of his
favourite chieftain, Robert D'Oilgi, with Wigod's daughter, who
became eventually, if she was not already, heiress of the castle; for
her only brother fell in battle, fighting by William's side against
his son Robert. The King remained to take part in the festivities
of the marriage, and ordered D'Oilgi to build a castle upon his new
inheritance. In five years the castle was completed. D'Oilgi had an
only daughter, Maud, who was married to another Norman chieftain, Milo
Crispin, and after his death she became the wife of Brien Fitz-Count.

Tradition and history point to each of these lords in turn as having
made additions to the castle which their father-in-law erected; for
Crispin is said to have been the founder of the Collegiate Church
in the southern precinct, and Fitz-Count is recorded as the builder
of the famous dungeon called Cloere Brien, or Brien's Close, in the
north-western precinct. Further additions and renovations were made
in later times; but under these Norman owners the Castle must have
extended itself to the dimensions which it retained to the last, and of
which we can still trace the relics.


From the river bank a few yards above the bridge it is easy to form an
idea of what the great Norman fortress was. The lofty mound upon which
the Keep was built, perhaps a prehistoric tumulus in its origin, is
still the most prominent object, though all vestiges of the tower and
its outworks have now disappeared, giving place to a luxuriant growth
of forest trees. Close beside this mound, traces of the southern moat
are to be seen, opening out upon the ditch which still separates the
castle grounds from the meadow beside the river. The broken ground
rising within the ditch shows the line of the eastern front of the
castle with its projecting bastions overlooking the river, though all
that now remains is an ivy-covered ruin with the opening of a large
window, known as the Queen's Tower. In the background, and more to the
right, is another fragmentary ruin, forming a central portion of the
north wall; while a modern boat-house marks the outflow of the moat at
its north-eastern angle. From this point along the northern front a
triple entrenchment is clearly shown by the undulations of the ground;
the innermost ditch, close beneath the wall, being the moat of the
Castle itself, while the second is the moat of the Castle precincts
enclosing a space of intermediate ground on the west and south, and the
outermost is the moat which enclosed the whole town; the three being
brought close together in parallel lines along this side of the Castle.
It must have been from this point of view, that Leland, in Henry the
Eighth's reign, described the Castle as having "three dikes, large,
deep, and well watered; about each of the two first dikes are embattled
walls, sore in ruin and for the most part defaced; all the goodly
buildings, with the towers and dungeon, be within the three dikes."
Camden, who tells that "the size and magnificence of the Castle used
to strike me with amazement when I came hither, a lad, from Oxford,"
describes it more accurately as "environed with a double wall and a
double ditch."

South of the great mound and its protecting moat is the ruined
tower and south wall of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, now
surmounted by a modern turret; and adjoining it are some fragments
of the other buildings of the college, with a good doorway and some
windows of perpendicular character. Beyond these ruins a large portion
of the second moat is to be seen. The south-western angle of the
precincts, with the banks of the moat well preserved before it and
behind it, is occupied by the modern dwelling-house. Lastly, near the
north-western angle, where this outer precinct ends, the site of Brien
Fitzcount's dungeon is shown; and the remains of it, with massive rings
fixed to the stonework, existed here within the present century.

If the Norman Conqueror himself gained no direct advantage from the
castle which he required D'Oilgi to build, his policy certainly bore
its fruit in the days of his grandchildren. In the civil wars of
Stephen's reign Brien Fitzcount was a leading supporter of Maud, the
daughter of Henry Beauclerk and widow of the Emperor Henry IV. of
Germany. The escape of the Empress from Oxford Castle, her flight in
white garments through snow and ice by night to Abingdon, and her
safe arrival at Wallingford Castle, are a familiar tale, perhaps
embellished through the ages, but well grounded in history. Stephen
set up opposing forts across the river at Crowmarsh, and traces of them
may still be seen on either side of the road near the eastern end of
the bridge, while the meadow on the north is still called the Barbican.

Terrible stories are told of the sufferings endured by followers
of Stephen who had the misfortune to become prisoners here under
Fitzcount's custody; and for one influential prisoner, William Martel,
the new dungeon of Brien's Close was made, from which he was only
released on condition of delivering up the Castle of Shirburn and its
adjacent lands as a ransom. Throughout the war Wallingford Castle under
its indomitable lord was the most powerful of all the strongholds of
the empress; and it was here, in a meadow beneath the walls, that the
war was ended, through the treaty proposed by the Earl of Arundel,
granting the kingdom to Stephen for his life and the succession to the
Empress's son, Henry Plantagenet.

Brien Fitzcount took the cross and died in the Holy Land; his wife
spent the rest of her life in a convent; their two sons were lepers;
and the Castle of Wallingford passed to the new King, Henry II. The
part which it had taken in the cause of the Empress and her son had its
reward in the high position which it occupied under the Plantagenet
Kings. Henry favoured the town with special privileges, apparently
exceeding any that were granted elsewhere; and here, at Easter 1155,
he held his first Parliament. At Henry's death, Richard Coeur de Lion,
before starting for the Holy Land, gave to his brother John the Honour
of Wallingford; and one of John's first acts of rebellion was to gain
possession of the Castle also, which the King had left in charge of
the Archbishop of Rouen. When the barons under the Earl of Leicester
recovered it for the King, the Queen Dowager, Eleanor of Poitou, became
its custodian; and it is probably from her that the ruined fragment of
the east front bore the name of the Queen's Tower, and from her also,
we must presume, the meadow in front of it was called the Queen's
Arbour. The value which John set upon the place still continued when
he became King, as we may infer from his frequent visits to it, and
the additions which he made to its garrison. His younger son, Richard,
Earl of Cornwall and afterwards King of the Romans, was made Constable
at the close of John's reign; and the Castle and Honour was eventually
bestowed upon him by his brother Henry III.

Earl Richard probably did more both for the castle and the town than
any other of its lords. He lived here in great state, enriching
the townsmen by the liberal expenditure of his wealth and by the
hospitality with which he entertained the court and the nobles of the
realm. Two years after he came into possession he built the great hall
of the Castle, and though this has disappeared, some of the arches of
the bridge survive, vaulted with massive ribs, which certainly belong
to this period and are probably Richard's work. Here too he brought
his second bride, Senchia of Provence, in 1242, when the King and his
court took part in sumptuous festivities to welcome her. He was elected
King of the Romans in 1256, but the subsequent coronation at Rome,
which would have made him German Emperor, never took place. Afterwards,
when he was absent in Germany, the barons under Simon de Montfort,
Earl of Leicester, were rebelling against the King, and Wallingford
Castle fell into their hands. The Countess of Leicester was residing
here in 1262, when the Earl visited her and a hundred and sixty-two
horses were picketed within the Castle walls. The next year Richard
was again in possession, and repelled successfully an assault of the
barons; but after the disastrous battle of Lewes in 1264, it fell
into Leicester's hands once more, and both Richard and the King, as
well as Prince Henry, the son of Richard, were prisoners in it. The
two Kings were removed to Kenilworth; but the next year, when Prince
Edward, the King's son, defeated the barons at Evesham, King Henry was
restored to his throne and Richard returned to his Castle. He died in
the spring of 1272, and Wallingford Castle, together with the earldom
of Cornwall, passed to his son Edmund. The new earl maintained the
magnificence of his father. At the close of the year he introduced his
bride, Margaret de Clare, sister of the Earl of Gloucester, with a
splendid entertainment; he frequently received as a guest his cousin,
King Edward I.; and he so largely augmented the Collegiate Church of
St. Nicholas in the Castle that he is often called its founder. When
he died, in 1299, Wallingford fell to the King. Immediately upon the
accession of Edward II., the Earldom of Cornwall, with the lordship
of Wallingford, was bestowed upon his unworthy favourite, Piers de
Gaveston, who married Earl Edmund's widow; but his insolent career was
cut short by the Earl of Warwick, under whose custody he was beheaded
at Blacklow Hill. Another of the King's favourites, Hugh Despencer
the younger, held the Castle and Honour for a time, until, in 1326,
he fell a victim to the vengeance of Queen Isabella, who was now in
open rebellion against her husband. She had already become possessed
of the Castle, and eventually bestowed it upon her paramour, Roger
Mortimer. Then followed the horrible murder of Edward II. at Berkeley;
then Mortimer paid the penalty of his crimes at Tyburn, and Isabella
became a prisoner at Castle Rising. Edward III. erected the earldom
of Cornwall into a dukedom, and Parliament settled it in perpetuity
upon the sovereign's eldest son, the Castle and Honour of Wallingford
being one of the possessions by which the princely dignity was to be
supported. Thus the Black Prince became its lord for forty years.
After his marriage with Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, in 1361, this
was their most frequent place of residence. Here also the princess
remained during the nine years of her widowhood, and here she died,
and probably was buried, in 1385. Meanwhile the Black Death had visited
the town in 1343; the population had been greatly diminished; several
of the fourteen churches had been closed, never to be re-opened; the
prosperity and attractiveness of the place was gone, and the Castle
was no longer chosen as a favourite residence of royalty. But when it
reverted to the crown at the death of the Princess, it was kept up as
a military fortress of the first rank, under a constable appointed
by the king, and its prominence in history was scarcely lessened.
John Beaufort, the son of John of Gaunt, became constable in 1397,
and two years later Thomas Chaucer was appointed. He was the reputed
son, probably the step-son, of Geoffrey Chaucer the poet, and was
almost certainly, like his predecessor, of royal but illegitimate
parentage. Under his custody, the youthful Queen Isabella of Valois,
the affianced bride of Richard II., was protected at the time of
Bolingbroke's invasion, until Richard became a prisoner and the Castle
surrendered to the usurper, when the child-queen was carried from one
place to another, and at last, in her fourteenth year, returned as
a widow to her home in France. A letter of the new King, Henry IV.,
to his council, relating to Queen Isabella's departure, is dated from
Wallingford in 1402. Chaucer was still the constable when the Castle
and Honour were settled by King Henry V. upon his bride, Katherine of
Valois, at their marriage in 1420. Two years later, the infant King
Henry VI. succeeded to his throne, and in 1428, when he was taken from
his mother's care, the Castle of Wallingford was assigned to him as
one of his summer residences, under the guardianship of the Earl of
Warwick. Chaucer died in 1434, and William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk,
his son-in-law, appears to have succeeded him as constable of the
Castle. Here Suffolk had under his charge an important captive, Owen
Tudor, an esquire of the body to the king, as he had been previously
to Henry V. with whom he had fought at Agincourt; and here in his
dungeon a secret marriage is said to have taken place between Tudor and
the Dowager Queen Katherine, who had long been attached to him, the
ceremony being performed by a priest who was his fellow-prisoner, while
a servant who attended him was the only witness. Suffolk, now raised
to a dukedom, was accused by the populace of betraying his country to
the French and preparing to fortify Wallingford on their behalf; and
while the King befriended him, he was barbarously beheaded at sea; but
his widow Alice, Chaucer's daughter, was made custodian of the Castle
in his place. The House of Lancaster had raised Alice de la Pole to her
dignities and honours; yet when the commencement of the Wars of the
Roses favoured the rival house, she at once transferred her support
to the Yorkists. In 1461, Edward of York became King, and the reward
of Alice's faithlessness was the marriage of the young Duke, her son,
with the lady Elizabeth, the King's sister, while she herself retained
her Castle. There the heartless duchess and her son received under
their custody the ex-Queen Margaret of Anjou, who had been the friend
and patroness of her youth, but who now remained for five years her
prisoner, until in 1476 her ransom was paid, and she returned to France.

In the events of the succeeding years there is little of immediate
connection with Wallingford. Lord Lovell, who had been a ward of the
Duke of Suffolk, was made constable by Richard III., but he fled to
Flanders when his master fell at Bosworth. Henry VII. reinstated
Suffolk in the office, which he held for life, in spite of the
rebellion of his son, Lord Lincoln, whom Edward IV., his uncle, had
designated as his heir. After him the office was held for a time by
Arthur, Prince of Wales. On one occasion at least, in 1518, Henry VIII.
and his Court appear to have been residing here. Some twelve years
later he entirely renovated the College of St. Nicholas; to which
shortly afterwards "a fair steeple of stone," as Leland describes it,
was added by Dr. Underhill, the Dean. No new appointment to the office
of constable appears until 1535, when it was granted to Henry Norris, a
nephew of the Lord Lovell who had held it fifty years before; but after
six months he fell a victim to the King's displeasure and died upon the
scaffold. In 1540 an Act of Parliament separated the Castle and Honour
from the Duchy of Cornwall and annexed it to the Crown.

Edward VI. dissolved the College, and its buildings were shortly
afterwards dismantled, together with those of the Castle-Keep and
the Gatehouse. In the next reigns the lead and stones were conveyed
in large quantities to Windsor Castle to be used in repairs and in
building the Poor Knights' lodgings. Yet the main fabric of the Castle
remained, and was used for the imprisonment of heretics in the early
years of Elizabeth. During all this time Sir Francis Knollys was
constable, having been appointed to the office by Edward VI. in 1551.
In the latter part of Elizabeth's reign he was succeeded by his son,
Sir William, who became Viscount Wallingford under James I., and Earl
of Banbury under Charles I.

We come now to the closing scene. The Castle was strongly fortified by
King Charles at the commencement of the Civil War, and Colonel Blagge,
an officer of distinguished courage in the King's army, was placed
in charge of it, the King coming for a day and night to inspect the
fortifications in 1643. Three years later, when every other castle
had been captured except Raglan on the Welsh border and Pendennis in
Cornwall, Wallingford still held out for the King's cause. The town
was closely surrounded by the troops of the Parliament; but as long
as there was any possibility of resistance the Governor refused to
yield. For sixty-five days the resistance lasted, and only five of
the garrison had fallen. At last, when all supplies were exhausted,
Colonel Blagge consented to make terms with Fairfax; and on July
29th, 1646, he was permitted to lead out his officers and men with
flying colours and martial music as if they had been the victors. The
Castle was a state prison during the remainder of the war, but the old
sentiment seems to have lingered about the place to the last. In 1652 a
conspiracy was detected for delivering it up to King Charles II., for
which a soldier of the garrison was condemned to death, and an order
was issued for the demolition of the building.

The last of the line of constables was Edmund Dunch, appointed by his
cousin Oliver Cromwell, who also created him Baron Burnell of East
Wittenham in 1658; but Dunch became a strong supporter of the King's
restoration. The demolition had then been effected, and part of the
materials were used in building the tower of St. Mary's Church. During
the eighteenth century the estate was let on lease, and afterwards
sold to private owners by the Commissioners of the Crown; while the
broken fragments which are left of the Castle tell the story of the
completeness of its ruin, and serve as a memorial of its ancient

Cumnor Place and Amy Robsart.


A Benedictine abbey was founded as is well known at Abingdon, in the
seventh century, and to this rich and powerful monastery, Cumnor
appears from the very first to have belonged. Its earliest mention is
found in the "Chronicles of the Monastery of Abingdon," in which "the
book," probably a register or cartulary is repeatedly referred to.

Cumnor according to Dugdale is derived from Cumanus, second abbot of
Abingdon, who died _circa_ 784, but Dr. Buckler, author of "Stemmata
Chicheleana," and keeper of the Archives of Oxford University, who was
vicar of Cumnor for twenty-five years, suggests St. Coleman or Cuman,
an Irish or Scottish saint, who lived in the sixth and seventh century.
As early as the year 689, Colmonora is mentioned in a Latin deed in the
Abingdon Chronicle, twenty hides of land there being conferred upon the
Abbey by a Charter of Ceadwalla, and again in a similar deed, being a
Charter of Kenulph, dated 851, in which is an illuminated portrait of
that King. An Anglo-Saxon boundary attached to Eadred's confirmation
Charter to Abingdon in 955, mentions Cumnor, as does also a subsequent
charter of Edgar, 968, which also has a carefully defined boundary
attached to it, and the biography of St. Ethelwold, who refounded the
Abbey after its destruction by the Danes, 240 years after the original
foundation of Abbot Heane. It is very improbable that these documents
are authentic. They may possibly be copies, but are more probably
forgeries, made for various purposes in later years, based in many
instances doubtless upon the fabulous history of Geoffrey of Monmouth,
who died about 1154, leaving what was professedly the translation of a
work in the British tongue made at the request of Walter, Archdeacon of
Oxford. It contains perhaps a modicum of fact, but is not dependable;
it has been largely drawn upon by later so called historians and
romancers. Nevertheless there is every reason to believe that Cumnor
from the very earliest times belonged to Abingdon Abbey, its name in
early documents being written Cumenoran, and the Church is known to
have been one out of but three spared by the Danes, when they ravished
the district around and destroyed Abingdon in the reign of Alfred the

The Norman Conquest has left us more certain and dependable records.
From the survey of Domesday we ascertain that Comenore in 1086
contained thirty hides of land, having been rated _tempore Regis
Edwardi_, at fifty hides. It will be remembered the early English
Charters gave twenty hides as its extent, so that the Manor had by
this time been either added to, or the hidation varied, possibly
both. The Manor maintained sixty villani, sixty-nine bordarii or
freemen, with four servi or bondsmen; the Church is mentioned, as also
two fisheries of the value of forty shillings yearly. Sevacoord, or
Seacourt, and Winteham probably Wytham, were a portion of Cumnor which
is the first manor mentioned in Domesday Book, belonging to the Abbey
of Abingdon, and in evidence of ancient right it is expressly written
there:--"Semper fuit de Abbatia." Cumnor Church is again alluded to in
a Papal Bull dated 1152, but there are now no visible traces of this
edifice. The present church which underwent thorough restoration some
forty years ago, having previously suffered by injudicious alterations
at various times, is of the Transition period, the most ancient portion
being the tower, according to the dicta of ecclesiastical architects,
not erected before the year 1250. Many objects of great interest to
the Archæologist are yet preserved in and about the church, despite
the more recent restorations. Among others, are two stone coffins,
enclosing the remains of former Abbots of Abingdon, two piscinæ, and
of yet more recent date the tomb of Anthony Forster, of whom I shall
have something to say presently. Some of the stone carvings within
the church, are of great delicacy, being remarkably fine examples of
fourteenth century work, in the shape of two corbels, the capitals of
three columns, a window, and the portion of an arch.

In the chancel are some poppy heads, carved upon both sides; on
one is the sacred monogram I.H. S. upon a shield, upon another the
five stigmata, _i.e._, the pierced feet, the hands, and heart of
the Saviour, also a cross; upon the reverses are also carved the
crucifixial emblems,--the ladder, spear, and reed or staff, to which
is affixed a sponge; there are also the hammer, pincers, and three
nails. Upon the upper shield are the Vestments, the crown of thorns,
and bag of money.

[Illustration: CUMNOR CHURCH.]

A letter referring to Cumnor Church during the Civil Wars, written
by a member of the Pecock or Peacock family is printed in Mercurius
Academicus. This family held the Manor at that period, Richard Pecock
compounding for his estate by paying the considerable sum of £140. Many
of the family lie buried in Cumnor Church, and the school is mainly
supported by the legacy of a Mrs. Peacock.

The letter refers principally to the conduct of certain soldiers, who,
finding nothing worth removing, took down the weathercock, "that might
have been left alone to turn round," and did much other damage. The
letter is dated Thursday, February 26th, 1644, and is as follows:--"To
present you with as honest men as those of Evesham and honeste you will
not deeme them to be when you heare they came from Abingdon, to a place
called Cumner in no smaller a number than 500; where the chieftains
view the church, goe up into the steeple and overlook the country as
if they meant to garrison there, but finding it not answerable to
their hopes and desires they descend, but are loathe to depart without
leaving a mark of their iniquitie and impiety behind them. Some they
employ to take down the weather cock (that might have been left alone
to turn round), others take down a cross from off an isle of the church
(and this you must not blame them for they are enemies to the cross),
others to plunder the countrymens' houses of bread, beare, and bacon,
and whatsoever else was fit for sustentation."

There is also copied in a late seventeenth century MS. volume in the
British Museum, (Harl. 6365, 53 b.), an epitaph, which, I believe, may
yet be seen in the church, and is rather quaint and curious.

From the same MS.,[2] I copied a description of Anthony Forsters
monument. "In ye chancell against ye north wall, a great marble
monument with pillars of marble. On a plate of brass faced to it ye
picture of a man in armour, kneeling before a table upon a book. At the
foot thereof, his helmett, at ye sides his gauntletts, over against
him his wife kneeling, as her husband. Behind her three children,
between them this coat; 3 Bugles, Q, 3 phoeons, points upwards, with
mantling and crest, which is a stag, lodged, and regardant. Gu. charged
on ye shoulder, with a martlett, or, and pierced thro' ye neck with an
arrow, ar. Behind the man this coat; 3 Bugles, Q., 3 phoeons, points
upwards, impaling 2 organ pipes in saltere between 4 crosses, paty.
Then follow the quarterings. Behind ye woman is this coat: Williams.
Az. 2 organ pipes in saltere between 4 crosses, paty. Quarterings as
before described. Under them both a great brass plate, on ye part of
it under him the following verses--." These need not now be recorded;
they will be found in Ashmole, and also translated in most editions of
Scott's Kenilworth. They record his many accomplishments and virtues,
and relate he was wise, eloquent, just, charitable, learned in the
classics, in literature, music, architecture, and in botany. The date
of his death is not mentioned, his burial however is recorded as taking
place Nov. 10th, 1572, by the parish register, which cannot err.


He is therein mentioned as A.F., gentleman, the last word being written
over an erasure, and it has been thought by some, that an epithet
not so complimentary had previously been placed there, but erased,
and "gentleman" substituted. I see no reason for such a suggestion;
possibly some latin term may originally have been written, _e.g._,
"miles," and the English word "gentleman" was thought more appropriate.
At any rate, Anthony Forster was buried at Cumnor, Nov. 10th, 1572.
Cumnor Place, Forster's residence, was an early fourteenth century
house, used as a residence by the Abbots of Abingdon, and also as a
place of removal or sanitorium by the monks, particularly during the
plague, or black death, which decimated England under Edward III. At
this period, it served both as rectory and manse house, where tithe
and rents were paid, and Manorial Courts held, and where tenants
were bound to attend to do suit and service for their lands to their
superior lords. Such was Cumnor Place, until the dissolution of the
monasteries by Henry VIII. In 1538, it was granted for life by the
Crown to Thomas Pentecost or Rowland, last Abbot of Abingdon, in
consideration of his having willingly surrendered the Abbey and its
possessions to the King. Rowland either died the following year or
ceded Cumnor Place to the King, who seems to have retained possession
for seven years, when, by patent, dated Windsor, Oct. 8th, 1546, the
Lordship, Manor, and rectorial tithes of Cumnor, with all its rights
and appurtenances, particularly the Capital Messuage, Cumnor Place, and
the close adjoining, called the Park, and three closes called Saffron
Plottye, etc., were granted to George Owen, Esq., the King's physician,
and to John Bridges, doctor in physic, in consideration of two closes
in St. Thomas' parish, Oxford, the site of Rowley Abbey, and the sum
of £310 12s. 9d., cash. William Owen, son of Dr. Owen, married, April
24th, 1558, Ursula, daughter of Alexander Fettiplace, the estate being
then settled upon him. Shortly afterwards, Cumnor Place was leased
to Anthony Forster, and it was in his occupation when occurred the
tragic incident which forms the concluding scene in Sir Walter Scott's
Kenilworth, the death of Amy Robsart, wife of Sir Robert Dudley,
afterwards Earl of Leicester.

In the following year, Anthony Forster purchased the property from
Owen, and seems to have greatly enlarged and otherwise improved the
mansion. Dying in November, 1572, he devised the estate to Dudley,
subject to a payment of £1,200 to Forster's heirs. These conditions,
its seems the Earl accepted, but retained possession for a single year
only, as is proved by a document among the Longleat papers purporting
to be a record of the sale of Cumnor by the Earl of Leicester, to Harry
le Norris, ancestor of the Earls of Abingdon, which bears date 15th
February, 16th Elizabeth, 1575.

From this time Cumnor seems to have gradually fallen into decay.
Possibly the sad end of Lady Dudley may have contributed to this; at
all events, rumours were spread among the villagers that her ghost
haunted the locality, and a tradition is even yet received by them that
her spirit was so unquiet that it required nine parsons from Oxford to
lay the ghost, which they at last effectually did, in a pond hard by,
the water in which does not freeze it is said, even in the most severe
winter. This pond is still shown by the villagers, although they are
quite unable to assign any reason for the peculiar conduct of the ghost.

Neglected for nearly a hundred years, a portion of the ruined mansion
was then converted into a malthouse, afterwards into labourer's
dwellings, and finally demolished in 1810, for the purpose of
rebuilding Wytham Church. Among other mementoes of its former owner
was an arch bearing upon the label the inscription "_Janua Vitæ
Verbum Domini. Anthonius Forster, 1575._" This, with some handsome
tracery windows, was removed to Wytham, the arch being built into the
entrance wall of the churchyard. The date and name were for some reason
destroyed, possibly to evade an apparent anachronism, for Anthony
Forster had been dead two years in 1575. These windows and other
objects of interest were engraved in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for

It is said and I believe truly, that so great interest was excited in
Cumnor Place, by Sir W. Scott's novel, that the Earl of Abingdon was
induced to drive some visitors from Wytham to see the ruins, forgetting
that some years previously he had given order for their demolition.
The disappointment of the party on arriving upon the ground was
great, as may be imagined, and not less so that of the Earl, who too
late realized his mistake. The disappointment was felt by everybody,
for it is said all the world hastened to the site of the tragedy so
graphically described by Scott, only to find they were too late. The
public was not then aware that its sympathies had been aroused by the
vivid imagination and marvellous genius of the novelist, and that
while there was just a substratum of fact the greater portion of this
historical novel had no foundation other than the great constructive
power of the Author. While thousands deplored the untimely fate of Amy
Robsart, their sympathies were in truth tributes to the dramatic powers
of the novelist, not to the unfortunate heroine; the novel may be said
to bristle with chronological inaccuracies, and utter disregard for
historic fact.

It has been repeatedly reasoned that novelists should be permitted a
certain licence, and in actual fiction this may possibly be; but if
the subject and characters chosen are both historical, misconceptions
may easily arise, and erroneous statements be indelibly impressed upon
the mind of the reader. Let us recall to our memories the outline of
Kenilworth, and then notice some of Scott's most glaring historical
inaccuracies and anachronisms, and while I have no intention of
attempting a defence for Robert Dudley and his followers, for the crime
here alleged to have been committed, I believe I shall be able to show
that he was, in this instance at any rate, greatly maligned.

The plot in brief is as follows:--Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester,
son of the Duke of Northumberland, who had been executed for
endeavouring to place Lady Jane Grey upon the throne, having secretly
married Amy Robsart, desires to be free, and confides his wishes to
his retainers, Richard Varney and Anthony Forster. The Countess, who
was living in retirement at Cumnor Place, hearing of the festivities
given by her husband at Kenilworth, goes secretly there, and has a most
affecting interview with Queen Elizabeth, in the course of which the
Queen bitterly reproaches Leicester. At length, by specious promises,
he prevails upon Amy to return to Cumnor, arranging to come to her as
soon as liberated from his attendance upon the Queen. She complies,
and is assigned by Forster a portion of the building approached only
by a drawbridge in which is concealed a trap-door. At night Varney,
riding hastily into the courtyard, gives the Earl's private signal--a
peculiar whistle--on hearing which Amy rushes out to meet her husband;
but Forster having meanwhile withdrawn the bolts, she falls through the
trap. "A faint groan and all is over." Immediate punishment overtakes
the criminals. Varney is arrested, but poisons himself in his cell,
while Forster, in his hasty endeavour to escape, closes behind him a
secret door, and dies a lingering death.

Scott tells us in later editions of Kenilworth (the first was published
in 1821), that he based his story upon a beautiful ballad by W.J.
Mickle, the translator of Camoens Lusiad, which had deeply impressed
him; and Ashmole's Antiquities of Berkshire is cited at length by
him as the principal authority upon which the novel was based. But
Ashmole was in this instance only a copyist, and his antiquities
were not published until 1717, nearly 160 years after Lady Dudley's
death. He copied almost verbatim from a most scurrillous work called
"Leicester's Commonwealth," published in 1584 for political purposes,
known subsequently as "Father Parson's Green Coat," from the colour of
the wrapper in which it was introduced from abroad by its author the
celebrated Jesuit, Robert Parsons, although the authorship has been
attributed to Cecil, Lord Burleigh. It was issued at first in MSS., and
eight MS. copies are preserved in the British Museum, and two in the
Bodleian. Sir Philip Sidney immediately issued a hasty answer to these
charges against his relative, but this was not actually printed until
1746, and had but little effect at the time.

"Leicester's Commonwealth" was no sooner in circulation than the
attention of Government was directed to it, and it was stigmatised by
the Queen and Privy Council as "most malicious, false, and scandalous,
and such as none but an incarnate devil could dream to be true."
Without attempting a defence of Leicester, the character of his defamer
may assist in forming a judgement how far any of his statements may be
received, bearing in mind that both in religion and politics he was
antagonistic to the Earl.

Of obscure, if not questionable birth, Parsons was educated in the
reformed religion at Balliol College, Oxford, at the expense of his
putative father. There he quickly rose to the position of dean and
bursar, but was compelled to resign these appointments in order to
avoid expulsion for incontinence and embezzlement of college funds.
Quitting England for Rome, he then adopted the Romish faith and became
a member of the Society of Jesus. Next, visiting Spain, he was most
active in urging the Spanish King to despatch the Invincible Armada,
and, after its destruction, used all his influence to promote a second
invasion. A bold, clever, intriguing, and unscrupulous traitor, he is
known to have even contemplated the assassination of Queen Elizabeth,
and by his writings to have supported the claims of the Spanish Infanta
against King James to the English throne. Such was the man, who did not
hesitate to hurl broadcast accusations of the most atrocious character
against his opponents, sheltering himself meanwhile abroad from the
prosecution his many infamies deserved. To this man principally are
traced the calumnies upon Leicester, Varney, and Forster, which have
been so unfortunately perpetuated in "Kenilworth."

Much of the interest in the novel centres in the alleged secret
marriage of Amy Robsart (who is described as daughter of Sir Hugh
Robsart of Devonshire), and Dudley. Amy is made to say, "I am but a
disguised Countess, and will not take dignity on me until authorised
by him whom I derive it from." Again she is described as "the Countess
Amy, for to that rank she was exalted by her private but solemn union
with England's proudest Earl," Leicester, as I must here call him,
further on saying "She is as surely Countess of Leicester as I am
belted Earl."

Now for the facts. Amy was only daughter of Sir John Robsart, a Knight
of ancient lineage, belonging to Norfolk, born at Stansfield Hall
in that County, afterwards notorious as the scene of the murder of
Mr. Isaac Jermy and his son by Rush. She had an illegitimate brother
named Arthur, and an elder half-brother by her mother's previous
marriage named Appleyard. Among the Longleat papers is a settlement
on the husband's side, dated 24th May, 1550, in contemplation of the
marriage. On the lady's part a deed executed by her father, Sir John
Robsart, is preserved in P.R.O., London, and dated 15th May, 1520. The
marriage itself could scarcely have been more public than it was. It
must certainly have been well known to the Queen, who not improbably
may have been present; her brother, Edward VI., certainly was. I had
occasion to examine an autograph diary of this youthful King, now
preserved in the British Museum (Cott MS. New Edit. 10), usually
described as a "little diary." As a matter of fact the diary is of
full quarto size; its first page having the Royal Arms and monogram
E.R. in gold and colours. Each leaf has now been placed separately
between folio pages for preservation. Bound up with it are many
letters from the King, carefully written and principally in latin. In
one writing from Hatfield he explains in most affectionate terms that
he had delayed writing "Non negligentia sed studium." In this diary
is recorded in King Edward's own handwriting that the Court being at
Sheen, the old name for Richmond, upon June 4th, 1550.

    "S. Robert dudeley, third sonne to th erle of warwic maried S. Jon.
    Robsartes daughter after wich mariage ther were certain Gentlemen
    that did strive to who shuld first take away a goses heade wich was
    hanged alive on tow crose postes. Ther was tilting and tourney on
    foot on the 5th, and on the 6th he removed to Greenwich."

Canon Jackson found at Longleat many documents dated after the
marriage, one a grant of the Manor of Hemsby, Norfolk, by John, then
Duke of Northumberland, to his son Lord Robert Dudley, and the lady
Amye his wife, 7th Edward VI., 1553; another 30th Jan., 3 & 4 Philip
and Mary, 1557, dated Sydisterne, after Sir John Robsart's death; there
is also a license of alienation to Sir Robert Dudley and Amye his wife,
24th March, 4 & 5 Philip and Mary, 1558. The marriage therefore was
very generally known, and there was neither abduction nor secrecy. I
will now show that Amye was never Countess of Leicester, nor was she
ever at Kenilworth, and for this reason. Kenilworth was not granted
to Sir Robert, otherwise called Lord Robert Dudley, until June 20th,
1563, and he was not created Earl of Leicester until the 29th September
following, three years after Amy Dudley's death. Queen Elizabeth did
not pay her celebrated visit to Kenilworth until 1575, or fifteen years
after Amy's death. It is therefore an absolute impossibility for the
latter to have ever known the title of Countess of Leicester, to have
been present at Kenilworth during the Queen's visit, or to have had
the interview with her described with so much pathos. Endeavours to
correct these and similar historical errors have been frequently made,
but the attempt appears hopeless. Not long ago, the most influential
of our London newspapers reiterated the statement that Amy Dudley was
"the wife of Lord Leicester;" but not content with this, the writer
further blundered by describing Lucy Robsart, wife of Mr. Edward
Walpole, of Houghton Hall, as her elder sister. It is almost needless
to say Amy Robsart had no sister, and but one brother, Arthur, who was
illegitimate. Lucy Robsart was her aunt, daughter of Sir Terry, or
Theodoric Robsart.

Canon Jackson appears to have satisfactorily identified the villain
Varney, and rescued him from the unmerited opprobrium cast upon
him. Longleat documents point him out as Richard Verney, of Compton
Verney, Warwickshire, ancestor of the Lords Willoughby de Broke. This
Varney was a knight anterior to 1559, and then apparently a stranger
to Lord Dudley; for in that year, Sir Ambrose Cave writes to Dudley,
recommending Sir Richard Verney as a fitting person to hold certain
office in Warwickshire. In 1561, a year after Amy Dudley's death, he
was High-Sheriff of his county, and he did not die until seven years
_after_, viz., 1567, and eight years _before_ Elizabeth's visit to
Kenilworth. An anonymous writer in Macmillan, some two years ago,
brought forward another Verney. He said, the Willoughbys and Verneys
of Compton Merdac, not Compton Verney, did not intermarry till the
next century; and co-temporary with the Richard Verney above mentioned
was another Richard, belonging to a Buckinghamshire family, connected
with the Dudleys both by marriage and misfortunes. Sir Ralph Verney
had three sons, Edmund, Francis, and Richard. Edmund and Richard were
implicated in the Conspiracy of Lady Jane Grey. Francis had been
Elizabeth's servant when in confinement at Woodstock, and had been
charged with tampering with a letter, and, we are told, had about as
bad a name as any young gentleman of his day. Of Richard nothing is
known with certainty, but in 1572, that is five years after the death
of Canon Jackson's Knight, a Richard Varney was appointed to the
Marshalship of the Bench for life, dying three years after, and on Nov.
15th, the same year, Leicester wrote begging Lord Shrewsbury not to
fill up the place vacant by the death of Mr. Varney.

We have remarked that Anthony Forster's epitaph was most eulogistic.
This may perhaps be exaggerated, as is undoubtedly Scott's description
of him. He makes him out to be the son of the Abbot of Abingdon's
Reeve, a widower with one child, Janet; a miserly curmudgeon, bordering
on deformity, with no redeeming point save affection for this child.
Michael Lamborne speaks to him thus familiarly:--

"Here, you Tony Fire-the-Fagot, papist, puritan, hypocrite, miser,
profligate, devil, compounded of all men's sins, bow down and
reverence him who has brought into thy house the very mammon thou

The Forster of fact, was a totally different person. He was of an
ancient Shropshire family, and had married Ann, niece of Lord Williams
of Thame, Lord Chamberlain under Philip and Mary. His three children,
represented on his memorial brass, predeceased him. He was, towards the
close of his life, Member of Parliament for the borough of Abingdon,
and chosen, upon at least one occasion, by the University of Oxford to
settle a noisy controversy. He was a personal friend of Lord Dudley,
and controller of his enormous expenditure. All Dudley's accounts
passed through Forster's hands. All payments had to be sanctioned by
him. Bundles of such accounts showing careful examination are now at
Longleat, filed, says Canon Jackson, as left by Anthony Forster. They
all bear his signature or initials, and the date 1566, six years after
Tony Foster had been starved to death in his secret chamber.

I would now mention some of the minor circumstances and persons
mentioned in the novel, respecting whom chronological errors are

We have seen that Varney, to whatever family he belonged, died before
the great Kenilworth festivities in honour of the Royal Visit, and
that Amy had died fifteen years before that event. Sir W. Raleigh,
who in the novel is introduced strewing his cloak before the Queen
and subsequently knighted by her with Varney at Kenilworth, was not
knighted until 1584, nine years after her visit, twenty-four years
after Amy's death; and as he was born in 1552, was actually eight years
old when that occurred.

On her journey from Cumnor Place to Kenilworth, accompanied by
Wayland Smith, Amy passes through Donnington. They overtake the Hock
Tide revellers from this village, also upon the road to Kenilworth.
Donnington Castle is also mentioned earlier in the story. To pass
through this hamlet, _en route_ for Kenilworth, would be equivalent to
travelling from say Reading to Birmingham in order to reach London.
It is probable Sir Walter intended to write Deddington, which is in
Oxfordshire, and on the direct road Amy would have had to travel, but
it is strange the error has never been corrected. The revellers really
came from Coventry, an entirely opposite route to that Lady Dudley
would have had to pursue.

I have only given a few of the most evident anachronisms which permeate
the novel, and many others might be mentioned. Many extracts from
the story might be quoted, which show the carelessness of the great
novelist as regards chronology; yet dates ought to have met with every
consideration from him: he was professedly, at any rate, an antiquary,
professionally a writer to the Signet or lawyer, where accuracy is all
in all.

I have little reason to believe that an inn existed at Cumnor, in
Elizabeth's time, and although it is curious Scott should have selected
as the name of its landlord, Giles Gosling, it should be remembered
he had access assuredly to Ashmole, wherein are many Berkshire names,
both of persons and places, and Gosling is certainly a Berkshire name.
We have also in Berkshire places named Lamborne and Thatcham, both
characters in the novel; the former, indeed, was represented at Cumnor
a few years ago, and may be now, and there is in the parish register
in 1562, record of the burial of one Gosling. But I am of opinion
the selection of these names is purely accidental. As regards the
alehouse, Inns as a rule increase in number, and but rarely, if ever,
disappear, and the sole inn at Cumnor would be likely to thrive. It so
happened that in 1636, John Taylor, the water poet, travelled through
England, and made a list of inns for the use of his customers, for he
was a tavern keeper also, and he gave the names of all the inns in
Berkshire to the number of forty. At Abingdon, he says, was one kept
by John Prince, who at his pleasure might keep three, but there is
no mention whatever of the Jolly Black Bear or other inns at Cumnor.
Bearing this in mind, and taking into consideration the total ignorance
of Scott as to the site of Cumnor, its situation in the county, and
even of the plan of the Hall itself, I think it most improbable that
the Wizard of the North ever visited the village he has made for ever
famous, despite his many anachronisms.

It is not for me to defend Dudley against the suggestions of being
privy to the assassination of his wife, any more than to defend him
from the accusation of having been the cause of the deaths of many
others as charged against him in "Leicester's Commonwealth." Here,
among others, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, Lord Sheffield, and Walter
Devereux, Earl of Essex, are said to have been poisoned by him; but
rumours of poisoning were at that time prevalent, and it was suggested
he had endeavoured to make away by poison with his wife Amy, in
order to be free to marry Queen Elizabeth; one writer has within the
last few years gone so far as to charge Elizabeth with complicity.
She was certainly of a jealous disposition, for when Leicester
eventually married the widow of the Earl of Essex, he narrowly escaped
imprisonment in the tower, and was actually banished from the court;
similarly when Raleigh dared to marry, he being forty and Elizabeth
fifty-nine, he was sent to the tower to cool his ardour. Mr. Rye, who
is confident Amy Robsart was murdered, and Elizabeth privy to the
fact, says, "By some, Anne Boleyn is made out to be an innocent woman,
who, with her brother, was judicially murdered by her husband, to make
room for Jane Seymour, whom he married the day after her execution. If
this view is right, Elizabeth was daughter of an atrocious murderer.
But if as Mr. Froude believes, Anne Boleyn was guilty of the crimes
attributed to her, then Elizabeth was the daughter of the vilest and
most abandoned woman of her age. There is no third course. Elizabeth
must have been, on one side or the other, the daughter of an abominable
parent, male or female as you please, and the inheritor of as bad blood
as might be. But I contend it is impossible to avoid the conclusion
that Elizabeth knew that her rival's murder was being contemplated, and
did not desire to prevent it, in which case she was an accessary before
the fact, or that she must after the event have guessed, for she was
no fool, that murder had been done to facilitate Leicester's plans, in
which case she was in effect, an accessary after the fact."

One reason assigned for Dudley's desire to be free, is said to have
been ambition, and again that his married life was by no means a happy
one, and that he was practically divorced, living apart from Amy; she
in the country, he at Court. Where they lived when first married is not
known, but in 1553, Dudley was imprisoned in the tower for six months
on suspicion of complicity in the attempt of his father to place Lady
Jane Grey on the throne. The name of Amye, Lady Dudley, is mentioned
as visiting him there, so in the fourth year of their marriage she was
in London, and there was no estrangement. Being released, his wife's
and his own estates were restored him, and out of gratitude to Queen
Mary's Consort, Philip, he offered his services to the King, who sent
him to fight the French. Here the separation was compulsory, for Amy
could scarcely follow her husband serving in a foreign army upon the
continent. We hear nothing of either for the space of three years, and
an extant letter proves that Amye and Sir Robert were still upon a
familiar and friendly, if not affectionate footing. She is found to be
entrusted with full power and authority to sell and dispose of profits
of the lands so that creditors need no longer wait for their money. The
terms of the letter evidently prove she had sanction for her actions,
and that there was no estrangement, and this letter, referring as it
does to Sydistene, must have been written in 1557 at the earliest, as
the property did not come to their hands before that year. It is dated
from Mr. Hydes, a connection of Dudleys, who lived at Denchworth, a few
miles from Cumnor; and while Amy was visiting here she was at perfect
freedom to go where she would, and had full control of money which she
seemingly availed herself of, as the Longleat papers fully prove. She
was certainly under no restraint, having no less than twelve horses at
her service. She amused herself journeying in Suffolk, Hampshire, and
Lincolnshire; she also went to London and Dudley being at Windsor, she
also visited Camberwell, and her charges for Mr. Hydes to that place is
entered at £10.

Many of her accounts are at Longleat, and inside one bill was found a
letter written at Cumnor, but undated; it is probably one of the last
she ever wrote, being written 24th August. This bill was not paid for
some years after her death, for which reason "nothing was abated."
Among the items charged were:--

    "For making a Spanish gowne of Russet Damask, 16s. For 6 ounces of
    Lace at 4s 8d. an ounce, 28s. 8s. for making a loose gown of Rosse
    Taffata (alluded to in the letter),"

and many other items which show that this freedom of expenditure must
have existed to the very last. There is charged in the same bill an
article supplied after her death, viz., a mantle of cloth for the chief

In such manner then was Amy occupied at Cumnor, where not improbably
the gossip about Dudley's intimacy with the queen was repeated to her.
Whether she believed it or not it is impossible to say, but we may be
sure that if all the rumours then floating about did reach her, the
effect must have been terrible, especially if the suggestion that she
was suffering from cancer, and that Dudley anxiously awaited her death
to marry the queen became known to her. But these rumours would have
been far more likely to act as a preventative to actual crime than as
an incentive. A sudden, and in especial a violent death, would have
been the last thing that Dudley would have wished to happen to her, and
when it did happen, as most inopportunely it did for him, he appears
to have used every endeavour to ascertain the actual truth, and if a
crime had been committed to bring the guilty to justice. Documents in
the Pepsyan Library at Cambridge tell us that on Monday, 9th September,
Lord Robert Dudley was at Windsor, and hearing that something was amiss
at Cumnor, sent thither on horseback Sir Thomas Blount, a confidential
friend and retainer. On his road Blount meets a messenger named Bowes,
riding post haste to Windsor with the intelligence that the previous
evening Lady Dudley had been found lying in the hall at Cumnor Place at
the foot of the stairs, dead, but without outward marks of violence.
He further relates that the Sunday being Abingdon fair, Lady Dudley,
contrary to the remembrance of Mrs. Hyde and Mrs. Odingsell, Mr. Hyde's
sister, had insisted upon all her servants going to the fair. They went
accordingly, leaving apparently no one excepting the three females
in the house, for no account makes mention of any man in or about
the home. Each rider now pursues his journey, and Blount arrives at
Abingdon and proceeds to question the landlord as to local events, and
hears the death of Lady Dudley confirmed. After a little pressure the
landlord expresses his opinion, that it must be a "misfortune" _i.e._
accident, because it happened in that honest gentleman's home, Master
Forster. "His honesty doth much curb the evil thoughts of the people."
The following day he interviews the lady's maid, who admits she had
heard Lady Dudley frequently pray for delivery from desparation, but
when Blount seems willing to take this as indicating suicide, she says,
"No good, Mr. Blount, do not so judge of my words. If you should so
gather I should be sorry I said so much."

Blount writes all these particulars to Dudley, and suggests that from
what he has heard Lady Dudley's mind might have been disordered, and
that a Coroner's inquest was sitting. Dudley sent for Appleyard and
Arthur Robsart to this inquest, and eventually the jury say, "After the
most searching enquiry they could make, they could find no presumption
of evil dealing." Lord Robsart then devises a second jury, to whom he
sends a message "to deal earnestly, carefully, and truly, and to find
as they see it fall out," and to finish the question to the fullest.
Unfortunately the records of the Coroner's enquiry have not survived.
The late A.D. Bartlett, Coroner for Abingdon, endeavoured to find them,
but abandoned his search in despair.

In 1566, seven years after Amy's death, Dudley's marriage with the
queen was debated by the Privy Council, when it was reported to them
that Appleyard, had in a moment of irritation against Leicester, said
he had not been satisfied with the verdict, but for the sake of Dudley
had covered the murder of his sister. Appleyard was cited to appear and
explain his words to the Privy Council, which he did by saying that
he did not hold Dudley guilty, but thought it would not be difficult
to find out the guilty parties. Here says Mr. Froude, if Appleyard
spoke the truth, there is no more to be said: the conclusion seems
inevitable, that though Dudley was innocent of direct influence, the
unhappy lady was sacrificed to his ambition and made away with by
persons who hoped to profit by Dudley's elevation to the throne. "If
Appleyard spoke the truth," says Mr. Froude--I will however quote from
a letter found by Canon Jackson at Longleat. It is from a Berkshire
gentleman to Mr. John Thynne of Longleat, dated June 9th, 1567. After
mentioning other matters, he continues, "On Friday in the Star-Chamber,
was Appleyard brought forth, who shewed himself a malytyous beast, for
he dyd confesse the accused my Lord of Leicester only of malyes, and he
hath byn about it these three years, and now, because he could not go
through with his business to promote, he fell into this rage against
my lord and would have accused him of three things. 1st, of kyllyng
his wyf. 2nd, of sending the Lord Derby to Scotland. 3rd, for letting
the queen of marriage. He craved pardon for all these things. My Lord
Keeper answered in King Henry VII. days there was one lost his ears
for slandering the Chief Justice; so as I think his ende will be the

Mr. Froude therefore is answered by this letter. Appleyard did not
speak truth, but as early as 1567, and even three years earlier, the
libel is traced to have originated with him from personal motives
of disappointment and revenge. He acknowledged himself a liar, but
whether this retraction was from fear of the Star Chamber cannot be
ascertained; at any rate the private opinion of Sir Henry Neville was
that he merited the pillory. He must have been a contemptible rascal
in any case, for even if the libel was true and fear caused him to
retract, this was no excuse for his conduct on the occasion of his
sister's funeral. This he attended, and in the procession bore a banner
of arms. Sir Henry Neville must have judged and described him correctly.
Taking the evidence into consideration, I must certainly express my
own impression is that whatever may have been Leicester's faults, and
they were many, or whatever crimes may be charged against him, he was
at any rate guiltless of any intent to make away with his wife Amy.
Even if Dudley were shielded in his evil doings by his court influence,
would this have also affected public opinion in the country? I am of
opinion that at that time his court popularity would have militated
rather unfavourably than otherwise for him. Yet what do we find is the
case? Within four years of his wife's death, he is elected Chancellor
of the University of Oxford, and Steward of the Boroughs of Abingdon,
Wallingford, and Reading, all within easy distance of Cumnor Place,
where his wife Amye was found dead at the foot of the stair, as some
said foully murdered. Had he a hand, direct or indirect, in such a
crime, or had suspicion then attached to him, I venture to affirm
neither Oxford University nor the electors of these Boroughs would
have so honoured him. The nominations must have been practically a
declaration of confidence in his innocence. Poor Amy Robsart's death
was indeed a sad one, but at least we may conclude that it was not
hastened by neglect nor accomplished by violence on the part of her
husband. In spite of all attempts to assert this truth, the story of
her romance will live, and continue to add a pathetic interest to the
quiet Berkshire village which preserves her memory.


[Footnote 2: Harl. 6395, Plut. xlix, g.]

Alfred the Great.


  "You are a writer and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow
  Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful!"

This terse, but sincere and enthusiastic eulogium, on the memory of
Julius Cæsar by that stout Puritan, Captain Miles Standish, comes
instinctively to the mind, as one contemplates the life of good King
Alfred. It is not given to many to be alike famous as sovereign,
warrior, lawgiver, and author; but such was Alfred, the first of
England's great monarchs. If it is the "cunning," the knowing, or able
man, as Carlyle tells us, who is the "king" by Divine right; here was
the Saxon king _par excellence_. His lineage was of the most ancient
and illustrious; his father Ethelwulf traced his descent from the most
renowned of the Saxon heroes, and his mother Osburga was descended
from famous Gothic progenitors. Born at the royal manor of Vanathing
(Wantage) in the year 849, the youngest of Ethelwulf's four legitimate
sons, he was his father's darling, the fairest and most promising of
all his boys. This is doubtless the explanation of the fact that,
whilst yet a mere child, he accompanied his sire on a pilgrim journey
to Rome. How far this pilgrimage and the impressions which he received
from his sojourn in what was still the greatest and most civilized
city in Europe, may have influenced his after-life and character it is
impossible to say; but the earliest story related of Alfred treats of
his aptitude for learning and his love for poetry and books. He learned
to read before his elder brothers, and even before he could read he had
learned by heart many Anglo-Saxon poems, by hearing the minstrels and
gleemen recite them in his father's hall. And his passionate love for
letters never forsook him.

[Illustration: KING ALFRED THE GREAT.]

Much, however, as he might have preferred it, there was another life
than that of the mere student and scholar laid up in store for this
noble Saxon. One after another his three elder brothers, Ethelbald,
Ethelbert, and Ethelred, occupied the throne, and it was on the death
of the last named, in 871, in the twenty-second year of his age, that
reluctantly Alfred had to shut up his books, and take up the sceptre
and the sword. He now comes before us as

(1). The warrior king.

Never did English monarch ascend the throne in darker days. Recently,
it is true, the Saxons had come off victors against the Norsemen in one
bloody field--the battle of Ashdune, near Reading,--but this dearly
bought victory had in turn been succeeded by a series of discomfitures
and defeats, the pagan armies having received fresh and continued
re-inforcements. It was in one of these sanguinary conflicts that
Ethelred received the wound which, though not immediately fatal, was
yet the cause of his death. It was a period of prolonged devastation,
misery, and rapine. Nine pitched battles were fought in the course
of one short year, and the minor skirmishes were innumerable; the
internecine conflict being conducted with the most savage ferocity.
Prisoners were never spared, unless it was to extort a heavy ransom;
and the countryside was everywhere given up to fire and sword. It is
not surprising that Alfred, although already distinguished for his
military valour, had not sought the crown. Kingship in those times was
no sinecure.

Dark, however, as were the clouds when Alfred came to the throne,
still gloomier days were in store. The Norsemen, already masters of
all Northumbria, had also practically reduced the kingdom of Mercia;
and they were now especially directing their attention to Wessex, the
country of the West Saxons. With varying success Alfred confronted the
enemy during the opening years of his reign; but he soon discovered
that, though he might make treaties with his perfidious foes, they
never dreamed of permanently abiding by them; and if he succeeded
in withstanding them one year, like fresh clouds of locusts, new
re-inforcements appeared on the scene, every spring and summer, from
Scandinavia. In the depth of winter (A.D. 878), when it was not
anticipated that they would pursue their military operations, the
Danes made a sudden irruption into Wiltshire and the adjoining shires,
and so utterly discomforted the Saxons, that Alfred, almost wholly
deprived of his authority, was driven with a small but trusty band of
followers, and his old mother Osburga, into Athelney, a secluded spot
at the confluence of the Thone and the Parrett, surrounded by moors
and marshes, which served at once for his concealment and his defence.
Great were the hardships which Alfred here endured; his life was that
of an outlaw. For daily sustenance he largely depended upon chance
and accident, hunting the wild-deer, and even seizing by force the
stores of the enemy. It is of this period of terrible privation that
the oft-told tale of the good-wife's cakes is related. Yet all his
misfortunes neither damped his courage, nor subdued his energy.

[Illustration: ALFRED'S JEWEL.]

A most curious and interesting momento of this time has come down to
us. The king wore an ornament, probably fastened to a necklace, made of
gold and enamel, which being lost by him at Athelney, was found there
entire and undefaced in the seventeenth century. It is now preserved
at Oxford in the Ashmolean Museum. The inscription which surrounds the
ornament: "ALFRED HET MEH GEWIRCAN" (Alfred caused me to be worked)
affords the most authentic testimony of its origin.

But meanwhile the men of Wessex had gained a signal victory.
Bjorn-Ironside and Hubba, who attempted to land in Devonshire, were
killed with many of their followers; and the news reaching Alfred
in his seclusion at Athelney, he forthwith determined upon bolder
operations. Disguising himself as a glee-man or minstrel, he stole
into the camp of the Danes, and was gladly received by the rude viking
chiefs as one who increased their mirth and jollity. And so skillfully
did Alfred maintain his disguise, that none suspected that he was
merely playing a part. He was enabled to learn what he desired, the
strength and position of the Norsemen; and having ascertained this, he
returned to Athelney, unscathed and unharmed.

He now began to gather an army around him, and it was not long before
he felt himself strong enough to confront the foe. Sallying forth,
he met the Danes at a spot called Ethandune (probably Eddindon,
near Westbury), and, after a murderous conflict, the English were
left masters of the field. Though victorious, however, Alfred could
not altogether expel the Danes. He was obliged to cede an extensive
territory to the invaders and to Guthrun, their leader; viz., from
the mouth of the Lea to its source, thence to Bedford, and along the
Ouse to Watling Street, or the ancient Roman road; and this territory,
together with Northumbria, became henceforth known by the name of the
Danelagh, or Danelaw.

In East Anglia, and in the portions of Essex and Mercia thus ceded,
the Danes settled and established themselves, not as enemies, but as
vassals to Alfred. They appear to have become tired of their life of
barbarism. Guthrun also embraced Christianity, and the treaty which he
made with the English he maintained with integrity. In Northumbria,
whilst the English had been induced to accept the Danish Guthred as
their sovereign, Guthred, in turn, acknowledged the suzerainty of
Alfred as his superior lord. He also continued true and faithful.

Thus Alfred, although he did not succeed in totally subjugating the
Danes, by following up the signal advantage he gained at the battle
of Ethandune, accomplished great things. In the course of seven years
after his restoration, he was acknowledged as paramount monarch of
Britain south of the Humber; Mercia was virtually under his dominion,
and Wessex, the wealthiest and best favoured portion of the island,
entirely, as well as in name, was under his royal sway.

Yet, whilst he had made peace with the Norse who had settled in
England, Alfred had by no means come to the end of his troubles. The
Saxon Chronicle records a series of constantly recurring attacks from
the sea-roving Danes, who continued to harass the coasts. Into the
details of these it is unnecessary to enter. But having once become the
master of England, Alfred never relaxed his vigilance; he had London
strongly fortified, and constructed a navy. One of the greatest feats
of his later life was his victory over the famous Hasting, ablest of
all the sea-kings; whose rout was so complete that he was pleased to
escape from England with his life. The campaign against Hasting was the
last great military achievement of our Saxon hero.

(2). The poet and scholar.

Not only was Alfred the first warrior, but he was also the foremost
scholar in his dominions. This may be easily gathered from Asser's
interesting memoirs. The King was an elegant poet, and wrote numbers
of Saxon ballads, which were sung or recited in all parts of the
country. In his original poems, the extent of his knowledge is not
more surprising than the purity of his taste, and the simple yet
classical beauty of his style. It is highly probable that Alfred
diligently studied the Latin tongue between his twelfth and eighteenth
years, and that he had a few Latin books with him during his Athelney
seclusion. He was accustomed to say that he regretted the imperfect
education of his youth, and the want of proper teachers, which barred
his intellectual progress. But whatever the difficulties he may have
had to surmount (and it is almost impossible to exaggerate them), the
fact remains that his literary works shew a proficiency in the classic
tongue, which appears almost miraculous in a prince in that dark age.
It was probably shortly after making peace with Guthrun, that he
invited Asser, the learned monk of St. David's, to his court, to assist
him in his studies. Asser was a scholar after Alfred's own heart. The
monk tells us that the King's first attempt at translation was made
upon the Bible, a book which no man ever held in greater reverence than
did the princely student. Asser and the King were engaged in pleasant
conversation, and it so chanced that the monk quoted a passage from the
Bible with which Alfred was much struck. At Asser's request the King
called for a clean skin of parchment, and this being folded into fours,
in the shape of a little book, the passage from the Scriptures was
written upon it in Latin, together with other good texts. The monarch,
setting to work upon these passages, translated them into the Saxon
speech. This was the beginning of his translation of the Bible.

Nothing is more astonishing in the story of the the great Englishman
than that he could find time for literary occupations; but he was
steady and persevering, and rigidly systematic. When not in the field
against the Norsemen, his rule was, eight hours for sleep, eight for
the affairs of state, eight for study and devotion. His mind was ever
open to receive fresh information. He took a continued delight in
obtaining the details and particulars of strange and foreign lands.
Before Alfred, nothing was practically known of the greater outside
world by the Anglo-Saxons. But the King drew around him a number of
bold and adventurous spirits, men, who had travelled far, and he
revelled in the stories which they recited of their own experiences,
and the information which they had gleaned of still more remote lands,
which they themselves had not seen. One of these was Othere, who had
been far north into the Arctic circle, another was Wulfstan, who took
a voyage round the Baltic, and gathered many strange and interesting
facts concerning those climes. All the information which he collected,
the King committed to writing in the plain mother tongue, and in
enlarging the text of the Spanish chronicler, Orosius, whose work he
translated, he introduced the voyages of Othere and Wulfstan.

Having heard stories of the east, possibly from Johannes Scotus, who
came to his court, and who had been in the far and distant Orient; and
learning that there were colonies of Christians settled on the coasts
of Malabar and Coromandel, Alfred decided to send out his trusted
friend, Swithelm, Bishop of Sherburn, to India. Probably his motives
were mixed feelings of devotion for Christianity, and a desire for
increased geographical knowledge. Anyhow the stout-hearted churchman
set out on this, what in those days must have been a tremendous
journey; one which then had probably never been made by any other
Englishman before. What is more, he succeeded in reaching India and
returning safely back again, bringing with him presents of spices and
gems. Thus was Alfred's fame increased, and the existence of England
made known, probably for the first time, in that empire where to-day
the Saxon holds sovereign sway.

No Englishman of the Saxon period, except the venerable Bede, can be
compared with Alfred for the extent and excellence of his writings.
His works may be classified into two divisions; translations from
the Latin, and original works in the mother tongue. Of the first the
chief were, (1) Orosius' History; (2) St. Gregory's Pastorals; (3) St.
Gregory's Dialogues; (4) Bede's History; (5) Boethiv's Consolations
of Philosophy; (6) Laws of the Mercians; (7) Asser's Sentences; (8)
The Psalms of David. Of the second, (1) An Abridgement of Laws of the
Trojans, the Greek, the Britons, the Saxons, and the Danes; (2) Laws of
the West Saxons; (3) Institutes; (4) A book against unjust Judges; (5)
Sayings of the Wise; (6) A book on the fortunes of Kings; (7) Parables
and Jokes; (8) Acts of Magistrates; (9) Collection of Chronicles; (10)
Manual of Meditations.

(3). The Law-giver.

Great as he truly was as a warrior, it was in the arts of peace that
Alfred pre-eminently excelled. In every interval of repose allowed
by his Norsemen foes, he occupied his mind in devising means for the
improvement of the moral and physical condition of the people. He
introduced the use of stone for building purposes and taught them
how to erect houses such as he had seen in Rome and Milan. He never
rebuilt a town without giving it a good capacious school, and he was
also a great founder and restorer of churches and monasteries. It is
not surprising, therefore, to find that he occupied himself largely
with matters pertaining to legislation. Whenever he re-edified a town,
he gave the people rules for re-modelling their municipal institutions,
thus training them for self-government. As will be perceived from
the list given above, his original writings were largely made up of
abridgements of laws and the like. Of course there had been legal codes
in existence in England before the days of Alfred. Ethelbert, King
of Kent; Ina, King of Wessex; Offa, King of Mercia; besides other,
had promulgated codes of law, or dooms; but all law and order had
been destroyed during the dark times of the Danish inroads. Alfred
collected the codes of his predecessors, and without apparently adding
much of his own, compiled a very intelligible and consistent system
of laws, which he submitted to the Witenagemot for sanction. Alfred
was not a great advocate of innovation; as he states, he thought it
better to allow an old law to stand in force, even if it were somewhat
defective, rather than endanger the respect for constituted authority.
His ideal was simplicity of construction, combined with impartiality of
administration. According to Asser, he exercised vigilant supervision
over the judges; the courts were improved, and a general legal reform
took place all round. With that religiousness characteristic of the
man, and recognising that if all the divine laws were duly observed,
there would be but little necessity for those of human origin, he
opened his code with the ten commandments, a selection from the Mosaic
precepts, and clauses of the first apostolic councils. "Do these," he
said, "and no other doom-book will be needed."

In summing up Alfred's character it would not be fair to seek to
hide his faults. His was not that ideal perfection which some of his
panegyrists would have us believe. He had his faults and failings, some
of which adhered to him during the whole of his life. He continued,
for instance, more fond of warfare than was consistent with the duty
of a Christian monarch. Still, he possessed within him the only germs
of real improvement, a consciousness of his own imperfections and
insufficiency. And when we compare him with his contemporaries, after
making all allowance for his shortcomings, still the true greatness of
his character remains untouched. His achievements stand out all the
more markedly, when it is considered that all his bodily and mental
activities were carried on under the depressing influences of constant
ill-health and physical pain. About the age of twenty, he was affected
with an inward malady, the nature of which was beyond the knowledge of
the physicians of the times. This disease never quitted him, it haunted
him life long.

Whatever his minor faults may have been, no monarch who has had the
title of "Great" attached to his name, has ever been more worthy of
it. All historians combine in representing him as one of the noblest
sovereigns that ever wore a crown. The shepherd of his people, "the
darling of the English;" whose praises the Laureate has lately sung,
the industrious prince, expired in the month of November, 901, on the
festival of S.S. Simon and Jude, in the fifty-third year of his age,
and was buried at Winchester, in a monastery he himself had founded.
His memory is still preserved at his native place, Wantage. The site
of the royal palace of the Wessex kings is pointed out in the High
Garden, and a magnificent statue of "England's darling," executed by
Count Gleichen in Sicilian marble has been presented to the town by
Lord Wantage, and erected in the Market Place. Alfred's laurels will
not fail while England lasts.

The Guilds of Berkshire.


In studying the history of our progress and civilization, we find
no subject more interesting than the nature and constitution of
certain associations which have played no small part in the making
of England--the ancient guilds. At one time they exercised almost
universal sway, and in small country villages, as well as in the towns
and cities, there were few who did not belong to some guild. We find in
them the origin of many of the privileges and institutions which we now
enjoy; from them arose the municipal corporations of our towns; and by
them were our trade and commerce protected in times of lawlessness and

The whole subject of the early history of guilds is shrouded in
obscurity. What was the origin of the early religious guilds; how the
frith guilds came into existence; the relation of the merchant guilds
to the craft guilds; how far the government of the town was placed in
the hands of the former; and when the merchant guild became the sole
governing body, the forerunner of the municipal corporation--all these
are questions, the answers to which can only be conjectured.

The word guild is probably derived from the Saxon word _geldan_ or
_gildan_, which means "to pay," and signifies that the members of the
association were required to contribute something towards the support
of the brotherhood to which they belonged. The early guilds were of
the nature of clubs, and consisted of bodies of men united together
under oath for their mutual benefit, and for a common purpose. The
character and nature of these clubs differed widely, and I will state
as briefly as possible the various kinds of guilds which have existed
in our country. In Roman times there were the _collegia opificum_
which were firmly established in this country during the period of
the Roman occupation. These colleges were corporations which could
hold property, had regular constitutions, presidents and senators,
treasurers and sub-treasurers, priests and temples. Each had its
_curia_, or senate house, its common _arca_, or chest, its archives
and banners. It constituted a kind of "Sick and Burial Club" for its
members, and on two special days--_dies violarum_ and _dies rosæ_--the
sodales met at the sepulchre of departed brethren to commemorate their
loss, and to deck their tombs with violets and roses, an offering
pleasing to the spirit of the _manes_, at Silchester, when it was a
large and flourishing city, there would certainly be such a college or

During the Anglo Saxon period guilds certainly flourished in this
country, and since Reading was, as Asser states, a royal city, and an
important centre of the West Saxon kingdom, there was, doubtless, an
Anglo Saxon guild here;[3] but few traces of Saxon Reading remain,
as the place was completely destroyed by the Danes. When we examine
the rules and regulations of the Saxon guilds, we are astonished at
the high state of civilisation which they disclose. They resembled in
some respects our modern friendly societies, and provided a scheme of
mutual assurance for the members. I will take the Exeter guild for
an example, which, as in the case of all these early guilds, was of a
religious type. At a meeting held in the city of Exeter "for the sake
of God and our souls, that we may make such ordinances as tend to our
welfare and security, as well in this life as in that future state
which we wish to enjoy in the presence of God, our Judge, therefore,
here assembled, we have decreed:--

"That three stated meetings shall be held every year. 1st, on Festival
of St. Michael the Archangel; 2nd, on Feast of St. Mary, next following
winter solstice; and 3rd, on Feast of All Saints', which is celebrated
after Easter.

"That at every meeting every member shall contribute two sextaria of
barley meal, and every knight, one, together with his quota of honey.

"That at each meeting a priest shall sing two masses; one for living,
the other for the dead. Every lay brother shall sing two psalms: one
for living, and other for departed members. Everyone shall moreover
in his turn procure six masses and six psalms, to be sung at his own
proper expense.

"That when any member is about to go abroad, each of his fellow members
shall contribute 5d.: and if any member's house shall have been
burned, one penny."

Fines were inflicted for non-attendance, for abusive conduct, and
"finally we beseech every member, for God's sake, to observe these
things which are ordained in this society, in everything, as we have
ordained them, and may God help us to observe them."

Mr. Toulmin Smith writes thus concerning these old Saxon guilds:--"The
early English guild was an institution of local self-help, which,
before Poor-laws were invented, took the place, in old times, of the
modern friendly societies, but with a higher aim; while it joined all
classes together in a care for the needy, and for objects of common
welfare, it did not neglect the form and practice of religion, justice,
and morality."

One of the objects of the London guild (tenth century) was the recovery
of stolen stock and slaves, and if these could not be recovered the
brethren subscribed to make up the loss to the owner. A horse was
valued at 1/2 pound, a cow at 20d., a hog at 10d., a sheep at 1s.,
a slave at 1/2 pound. If the slave _has stolen himself_ he shall be
stoned, and every brother shall subscribe 1d. or 1/2d. to make good
the loss. Whether there was ever a Danish guild in Reading it is
impossible to determine. There was a noted one at Abbotsbury (Dorset),
founded by Orcy, a friend of King Canute, 1030 A.D. The guild ordinance
is quoted in Kemble's "Saxons in England," p. 511.

The brethren were required to contribute wax, bread, wheat, and wood.
The wax was for the maintainance of lights in the Minster. Members were
required to contribute to the comforts of the dying, and to attend the
burial and pray for the souls of departed members.

We have a picture of later Saxon Reading recorded in the pages of
Doomsday Book. It contained only thirty homesteads, with two better
class of houses, two mills, and two fisheries. The Danes had attacked
it a second time in 1006, and it had not recovered from that disaster;
so in such a small community, although a guild at this period existed,
it must have been a very small company indeed.

But after the Conquest guilds began to multiply, and were established
for the purpose of promoting religion, charity, and trade. There
were the frith guilds, formed for the promotion of peace, and the
establishment of law and order: the religious guilds, which used to
hold a festival on the day of the patron saint of the guild, attend
church, and perform a miracle play. In the _Liber Niger_, or _Black
Book_, of the Corporation of London, there is a description of the
anniversary feast of the guild of the Holy Cross at Abingdon. "The
fraternity hold their feast on May 3rd, the invention of the Holy
Cross; and then they used to have 12 priests to sing a _Dirge_, for
which they paid 4d. apiece; thay had also 12 minstrels, who had 2s.
3d. besides their dyet and horse meat. In 1445 they had 6 calves at
2s. 2d. each, 16 lambs at 12d., 80 capons at 3d., 80 geese at 2d., 800
eggs which cost 5d. the hundred, and many marrow bones, cream, and
flour; and pageants, plays, and May games to captivate the senses of
the beholders." This was a strong and powerful guild, formed in 1389,
and incorporated in 1442, being endowed with lands for the purpose
of keeping in order the roads between Abingdon and Dorchester, and
building an almshouse. In 1539 they erected an aisle in St. Helen's
Church, Abingdon, and also a market cross of freestone, pronounced by
Leland "to be not inferior in workmanship to many in England." The
hospital of the brotherhood of the Holy Cross still remains. It was
founded in the middle of the fourteenth century, a very interesting low
brick and timber house, containing several good paintings.

Then there were the guilds of the Kalendars, which were principally
composed of the clergy, and one of their duties was to keep a public
record of events, to superintend and regulate a library open to all
citizens, and to explain to those who required such assistance, any
difficulties that may arise in these matters. They, too, did not forget
the periodical feasts. Then there were social guilds, composed chiefly
of laymen, for objects of good fellowship, benevolence, and thrift.

And now we come to a very important class, the Merchant guilds. These
existed in Saxon times, and were formed for promoting the interests
of particular trades, for the regulation of industry, for buying
and selling; and very strict were the laws which they enforced, and
merciless the restrictions which they placed upon all strangers who
presumed to sell goods, and who did not belong to the guild. We shall
notice some particular instances of these harsh rules which were in
force in the town of Reading.

I find in the Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission that
there were five companies of the guild Mercatory at Reading. Originally
these companies were separate institutions, which managed their own
concerns, and were not concerned with the Municipal Government of the
town. There were five wards, each ward having a trade guild attached to
it. In course of time the guilds united for common purposes and formed
the guild Mercatory, which asked and received charters from various
kings, gradually acquired powers, privileges, lands, and property, and
ultimately managed the whole municipal business, as well as their own
trade concerns.

In regard to these guilds the first was the mercers' and drapers'
company, which included the mercers, drapers, haberdashers, potuaries
(or dealers in earthenware), chapmen, tailors, and cloth-drawers.

Of course no one was allowed to engage in any of these trades until he
became a member of the guild; and to become a member he had to pay. The
fines for admission varied from £4 for a mercer or draper, to £2 for a
tailor. Very minute were the regulations of each guild. For example
in this case, no "foreigner," not a member of the guild, was allowed
to retail cloth in the town; for each offence he was required to pay
10s. One tradesman might not trespass on the privileges of another
tradesman, for no mercer or tailor might retail cloth or woven hose,
under penalty of 3s. 4d. each time, for that would interfere with the
cloth-makers and haberdashers. No tailor might employ a journeyman
to work except he gave him meat, drink, wages, and lodgings in his
own house. Here is a curious regulation--no haberdasher, not being
a freeman, was allowed to sell caps or hats (except straw hats) on
forfeiture of 12d.

The second company was the cutlers and bell-founders company, which
included seventeen other trades; besides cutlers and bell-founders,
there were braziers, pewterers, smiths, pinners, barbers, carpenters,
joiners, fletchers (arrow-makers), wheelers, basket-makers, coopers,
sawyers, bricklayers, card-makers (_i.e._, wool combers' cards),
turners, plumbers, painters, and glaziers. The barbers were subject
to special regulations. No barber who was a stranger was allowed to
draw teeth in any part of the town except in a barber's shop; and any
barber shaving, trimming, dressing, or cutting any person on Sunday,
except on the four fair days, should forfeit for each time, 12d.

The following curious bye-law was made by the Corporation in 1443,
at the commencement of the dispute between the rival Houses of York
and Lancaster, and was probably intended to prevent unlawful meetings
taking place under the mask of a barber's shop. "The Mayor and
burgesses of Reading, grant and ordain that from this time forward,
no barber of Reading open any shop nor shave any man after ten of the
clock at night, between Easter and Michaelmas, nor after nine of the
clock at night, from Michaelmas to Easter, but if (_i.e._, except) it
be any stranger or worthy man (_i.e._, gentleman) of this town, he
shall pay 300 tiles to the Guildhall of Reading, as often times he is
found faulty, to be received by the cofferers for the time being."

Perhaps some of my readers may be astonished at the peculiar form of
this fine. It is not usual to pay fines in this form of _tiles_! But
it may be accounted for by the fact that thatch was beginning to be
superseded by tile roofs. The public buildings were roofed with lead,
but almost all private houses were thatched. Hence there was much
danger from fire, and the Corporation wisely determined to encourage
the employment of a safer material for the roofing of Reading houses.
The poor barbers had to pay their fines in tiles, and very soon we find
that one John Bristol was fined 2,100 tiles for shaving seven persons
contrary to the order, but the number of tiles was reduced to 1,200 on
account of his poverty.

The fine for disobedience or ill-behaviour was often enforced in this
curious medium. One John Bristow, in the reign of Henry VI., was fined
4,000 tiles for disobedience to the Mayor, but the fine was reduced
to 1,000, with a sufficient quantity of lime. Any person who should
quarrel was ordered to pay to the Church of St. Giles, six pounds of
wax, and to the Guildhall, 500 tiles.

The third company was the tanners and leather sellers' company,
including also the shoemakers, curriers, glewers, saddlers, jerking
sellers, bottle-makers, collar-makers, and cobblers.

In the rules of this company we find certain regulations which show
that while the guild afforded protection to the tradesmen, it also
acted the part of a somewhat severe tyrant. Here is a very severe
enactment which might seem somewhat opposed to the freedom of our
times. No shoemaker was allowed to make any boots or shoes in any part
of the town, but only in Shoemakers' Row, that is to say on the east
side of the street, from the Forbury Gate to the Hallowed Brook, under
pain of forfeiting 3s. 4d. each time. No one was allowed to go and
work where he pleased, but only in the part of the town prescribed by
the guild. This company seem to have been the chief promoters of bull
baiting and bear baiting, since there is a rule forbidding these sports
to be held on the Sabbath day during service, on pain of 12d., to be
paid by each householder where the baiting is.

The fourth company was that of the clothiers, an important industry
in old Reading; and this included the dyers, weavers, sheermen,
shuttle-makers, and ash-burners.

No clothier was allowed to use more than two looms, but Mr. Aldworth,
who was a privileged person, might have four. No clothier might weave
cloth for another clothier. There are sundry other regulations, which
show the severity of the company's laws.

The victuallers' company embraced the vintners, innholders, bakers,
brewers, butchers, fishmongers, chandlers, maltmakers, flax-dressers,
salters, and wood mongers.

The rules of this company do not, I believe, appear in the Corporation
documents, but from other sources we find that the members of the guild
were strictly enjoined to observe Lent, and were forbidden to kill
or dress meat in that season without a license from the Abbot. Also
to prevent imposition on the part of the publicans, two ale tasters
were appointed to set the price of beer. The Corporation in former
days performed a duty from which the present members of the municipal
council would doubtless shrink. It assumed the power of regulating the
price of such articles as beer and bread. In the time of Edward VI. a
quart of best beer could be obtained for 1d.

These, then, were the five companies which formed the old guild
Mercatory of Reading. They did not form (as Mr. Man says in his History
of the town) "a society of mechanics and merchants without pretending
to interfere in the government of the borough." In fact the guild was
rather aristocratic in its tendency, and later on we find that the
lower class of tradesfolk formed craft guilds in order to protect the
interests of the artizans and smaller tradesmen. Of these the higher
guild was very jealous, and frequently exerted its power to oppress the
craftsmen and their guild. In the history of nearly every borough we
find instances of contention and jealousies between the two bodies. One
instance of this occurred in the year 1662, "when the cobblers petition
to the Corporation against the shoemakers for mending and repairing old
ware in violation of the ancient orders of the borough."

It seems strange to us to think of the time when a man could not sell
what he liked, or live where he liked, or work at any trade he pleased;
but such freedom was impossible under the old guilds. No one could ply
his trade in a town unless he was a freeman of the company; _e.g._,
"in July, 1545, one Robert Hooper, a barber, being a foreigner, was
this day ordered to be gone out of the town at his peril, with his wife
and children," and the town sergeants were ordered to shut up his shop
and see poor Robert Hooper and his wife beyond the borough boundaries.
And the distinction between the various trades, between the carpenters
and joiners, between the joiners and sawyers, and as we have seen
between cobblers and shoemakers, and the privileges of each class were
jealously guarded. Absurd as these restrictions were, the early guilds
contributed greatly to the making of England. Green thus writes of
them:--"In the silent growth and elevation of the English people the
borough led the way. The rights of self-government, of free speech
in free meeting, of equal justice by one's equals, were brought safe
across the ages of Norman tyranny by the traders and shopkeepers of the
towns. In the quiet, quaintly-named streets, in town mead, and market
place, in the Lord's mill besides the stream, in the bell that sounded
out its summons to the borough moot, in the jealousies of craftsmen and
guilds, lay the real life of Englishmen, the life of their home and
trade, their ceaseless sober struggle with oppression, their steady
unwearied battle for self-government."

Again, speaking of the policy of Edward I., who built up the power of
the towns in view of checking the lawless tendencies of the barons, he

"The bell which swung out from the town tower gathered the burgesses
to a common meeting, where they could exercise their rights of free
speech and free deliberation on their own affairs. Their merchants'
guild, over its ale-feast, regulated trade, distributed the sums due
from the different burgesses, looked to the repair of the gate and
wall, and acted in fact pretty much the same part as a Town Council
of to-day. Not only were all these rights secured by custom from the
first, but they were constantly widening as time went on. Whenever we
get a glimpse of the inner history of an English town, we find the same
peaceful revolution in progress, services disappearing through disuse
or omission, while privileges and immunities were being purchased
in hard cash. The lord of the town, whether he were king, abbot, or
baron, was commonly thriftless or poor, and the capture of a noble,
or the campaign of a sovereign, or the building of some new minster
by a prior, brought about an appeal to the thrifty burghers, who were
ready to fill again their master's treasury, at the price of a strip
of parchment, which gave them freedom of trade, of justice, and of
government. For the most part the liberties of our towns were bought in
this way by sheer hard bargaining."

We have observed the numerous charters granted to Reading. The charter
of Henry III., to which his successor refers, is the earliest known
one, and in that we find the words:--

"Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, etc., to all archbishops,
bishops, abbots, earls, barons, etc., greeting. Know ye that we
will, and command for ourself and our heirs, that all the burgesses
of Reading _who belong to the guild Merchant in Reading_ may be for
ever free from all shires and hundred courts, and from all pleas,
complaints, tolls, passages, ways, carriage ways, and that they may
buy and sell wheresoever they will throughout all England, without
paying toll, and no one may disturb them under forfeiture of 10 marks."
This was confirmed by Edward I., and by successive kings. These
charters were granted to the guild, the immediate predecessor of the
corporation, the "warden" of the guild ultimately being called the

But there was a great opponent to the rights and freedom of the good
citizens of Reading in the person of the high and mighty Lord Abbot.
Referring to the original charter of the abbey granted by Henry I.,
we see what extensive sway was placed in the hands of the abbot. He
ruled Reading with a powerful hand, and when a former mayor of this
town, in the time of Henry VI., thought he would like to have a mace
carried before him as a badge of office, the abbot objected. The mayor
appealed to the Crown, but he was told it was contrary to the franchise
and liberties of our church and monastery, that he was only a keeper of
the guild at Reading, admitted by the abbot, and might only have "two
tipped staffs" carried before him as a badge of office.

The extensive powers given to the abbot produced constant struggles
for power between the guild and the ecclesiastical rulers. Sometimes
they even came to blows, and the townsmen often assaulted the abbot's
bailiffs in the execution of their duty. The men of Reading were cited
in the reign of Henry III., 1243, to show what warrant they had for any
privileges which they claimed as members of the guild. The sheriff of
Berks received a strict injunction to prevent the men of Reading from
interfering with the abbot's lawful rights. Two years later "a final
and endly concord" was established between the contending parties, but
in 1351, the dispute revived; quarrels arose about the election of a
constable for the town, and the contention was not settled for 200
years. In 1430, abbot Henley seized from the guild the out-butchery, or
shambles, used by butchers not living in the town, which was another
bone of contention.

The abbot received part of the fines paid by those who wished to become
freemen of the guild. He received a fine of 5d., called chepin-gravel
yearly from every member. He exercised criminal jurisdiction, tried
prisoners, admitted and selected the warden or mayor, and in many ways
held powerful sway over the good folk of this ancient borough.

But the day came when his power ceased, and the abbey was dissolved.
By degrees the guild obtained more power, but the Reformation shook
the fabrics of the old guilds of England, and they found that they
had only exchanged masters, and that the new master was rather more
masterful than the old, requiring inventories of guild plate, lands,
and revenues, and appropriating much of their superfluous wealth to his
own exchequer.[4]

In the time of Queen Elizabeth, the guild merchant, the chrysalis,
broke its shell, and became the full-winged corporation of mayor
and burgesses, although its place of meeting was still called the
_Guildhall_, and was situated somewhere near the Hallowed Brook, where
the worthy brethren were often disturbed in their deliberations by the
Laundry women "beating their battledores," which was the approved style
of washing clothes in those days. Subsequently the old Church of Grey
Friars became the Guildhall until the old building was erected, from
whose ashes the modern Town Hall phoenix-like arose.

The old burgesses, or members of the guild, were very provident.
In time of Queen Mary it was ordered that every burgess should pay
20s. over and above his accustomed fine, as a fund for the relief of
burgesses in old age or want.

Berkshire has not been remarkable for its guilds. The guild of the
brotherhood of the Holy Cross at Abingdon has been already mentioned.
At Maidenhead we find a guild incorporated in 1351, probably for the
purpose of keeping in repair the bridge over the Thames, one of the
most ancient in the county. This corporation was called "the Fraternity
or Guild of the Brothers and Sisters of Maidenhythe." Of minor guilds
there would be examples in almost every village and town, but no
records of them remain. The guilds of Reading are the only ones of
real importance; and I have attempted to point out the chief points
of interest in connection with their growth and development, and to
describe briefly the origin of these institutions which played so
important a part in the making of England.


[Footnote 3: Mr. Coates says that the Society of Guild Merchants of
Reading was undoubtedly very ancient, existing before the foundation of
the Abbey, and claiming a charter or grant of privileges from Edward
the Confessor.

This is proved by a statement made by the Mayor and commonalty in
time of Richard II., before the king's justices of peace at Reading,
in opposition to some of the claims of the Abbot, with whom the
authorities of the town were always quarrelling.]

[Footnote 4: 1545--By Statute 37 Henry VIII., An Act for dissolution of
colleges, it was recited that divers colleges, free chapels, chantries,
hospitals, fraternities, brotherhoods, guilds, and stipendary priests,
"having perpetuity for ever," had misapplied the possessions thereof in
various ways; and it was then enacted that all the same be dissolved
and the proceeds applied for supporting the king's expenses in wars,
etc., and for the maintenance of the crown, etc.

The advisers of Edward VI. promptly availed themselves of this as a
pretext for plunder.]

The Scouring of the White Horse.


The story of our village feasts, and of the way in which the rude
forefathers of the hamlet were wont to enjoy themselves, forms a
chapter in our manners and customs which cannot but have considerable
interest to the student of bygone times. One of the most interesting
relics of this kind pertains to the County of Berks. Upon White Horse
Hill in that county, there used to be celebrated at stated intervals a
feast known throughout the countryside as "The Scouring of the White
Horse." This has been so admirably and exhaustively treated by Judge
Hughes, Q.C. (Tom Brown) in his well-known book on the subject that it
is almost hopeless for anyone writing on the same topic to do otherwise
than follow in his wake.


A few words on the history of the White Horse of Berkshire seem
necessary as an introduction to the subject, although its origin,
like that of the old historic earldom of Mar, seems to be lost in
the mists of antiquity. White Horse Hill is the highest point of the
range of chalk hills which the traveller by rail sees on his left
hand as he journeys down the Great Western Railway between Didcot and
Swindon, and is plainly seen as he approaches Uffington Station. Its
summit reaches the height of 856 feet, and commands an extensive view
over what is known as the Vale of White Horse, no less than eleven
counties being, so it is said, visible therefrom. It derives its name
from the rude figure of a horse cut out in the chalk on the north-west
side of the hill, some 374 feet long, and with its outline marked by
trenches ten feet wide, cut two or three feet deep in the turf to
the white subsoil. A very common tradition ascribes its formation to
King Alfred, in memory of his decisive victory over the Danes at the
battle of Æcesdun, something over a thousand years ago. The tradition
has no doubt arisen from the fact that the Saxon standard was a White
Horse, the well-known names of Hengist and Horsa being probably mere
forms of this ensign. If this were the only turf carving of a similar
character to be found in England, there might be a good deal to say
in favour of this tradition. But such figures are not rare, and
some of them have, for cogent reasons into which we have not space to
enter, been attributed to times far more remote than those of Saxon
and Dane. With regard to this particular turf-carving, although we may
allow the horse to have been the Saxon standard, and that King Alfred,
in setting up "his banner for a token," would only have been following
ancient practice, yet, plausible as this may sound, it would have been
far more in accordance with what we might have expected had he set up
a cross to commemorate his victory. In fact, not so very far away, in
the hamlet of Monks Risborough in the Chiltern Hills, there is a hill
figure of a cross, nearly a hundred feet in height, which, with quite
as good if not better reason, is conjectured to be a memorial set up
by Alfred, to record a victory over the Danes at Bledlow. And further,
the figure of a horse as a badge or device is far older than Saxon
times, for on a coin of Cunobelin (the Cymbeline of Shakespeare), who
reigned in Britain, A.D. 40, the figure of a horse on its reverse is
very similar to the turf-carving with which we are dealing. Indeed,
there is much more in favour of these hill-side figures being of a
date far anterior to Saxon or Roman times. For to the right below White
Horse Hill is a high mound known as the Dragon Hill upon a piece of
ground at the top of which grass does not grow. Here was ample scope
for a tradition, which, coupled with the name of the Hill, developed
into the story that this was the identical spot on which St. George (or
"King Gaarge," according to the rustics) slew the Dragon, and that no
verdure ever grew on the place over which its poisonous blood flowed.
But unfortunately this derivation collapses when it is found that the
name of the Hill should be Pend-ragon, which, in Celtic, signifies
"Chief of Kings," and was, as Mr. Wise points out in his letter to
Dr. Mead, written in 1736, the common appellation of a British King
constituted such by vote in times of public distress. Thus, as we learn
from Cæsar's Commentaries Cassibelan was chosen Pendragon by the allies
at the time of Julius Cæsar's invasion. So much then for the history
and traditions of the White Horse.

The festival called the "Scouring," about which we are more immediately
concerned, is, comparatively speaking, a manageable subject, although
the aforementioned Mr. Wise, writing 150 years ago, speaks of it as
a ceremony, which, "_from time immemorial_ has been solemnized by a
numerous concourse of people from all the villages round about." The
importance which he attaches to it seems to us at this time of day a
trifle exaggerated, for, after appealing to all persons who have a
regard for ancient customs whether such a solemnity would not deserve
the countenance of the nobility and gentry, a sentiment in which many
will heartily join, he goes on to suggest that if the festival were
solemnized at regular intervals, say of four years, the common people
would use it as a mode of reckoning their time, which would then very
properly be done by speaking of the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year of the
Scouring of the Horse: and not only this, but the worthy author goes
on to say he should not despair of its creating a new era in English
history, viz., THE RESTORATION OF THE SAXON OLYMPICS. Here surely we
have enthusiasm gone mad.

The first Scouring, according to Judge Hughes, Q.C. (who is really
_the_ authority _par excellence_ on the subject), about which there
is any authentic information, was held in 1755, and the sports then
appeared to be pretty much the same as those held about a century
later. The chief prize for backsword play, or cudgel play, as it was
sometimes called, was won by a stranger, who appeared in the garb of
a gentleman, and who held his own against all the old "gamesters,"
as the backsword players who had won or shared a first prize at any
revel, were then called. As soon as he had won the prize, he jumped
on his horse, and rode off. There was some speculation as to who he
might be, and presently it was whispered about that he was Tim Gibbons,
of Lambourn, who had not been seen for some years, and about whom
some strange stories had been afloat. A descendant of his, a native
of Wodstone, a village which nestles at the foot of the White Horse,
gave the following account of his ancestor:--"Timothy Gibbons, my
great-grandvather, you see, sir, foller'd blacksmithing at Lambourn,
till he took to highway robbin', but I can't give 'ee no account o'
when or wher'. Arter he'd been out, maybe dree or vour year, he and two
companions cum to Baydon; and whilst hiding theirselves and waiting
their hopes in a barn, the constables got ropes round the barn-yard
and lined 'em in. Then all dree drawed cuts[5] who was to go out fust
and face the constables. It fell to Tim's two companions to go fust,
but their hearts failed 'em, and they wouldn't go. So Tim cried out as
'he'd show 'em what a Englishman could do,' and mounted his hos and
drawed his cutlash, and cut their lines a-two, and galloped off clean
away; but I understood as t'other two was took. Arter that, maybe a
year or two, he cum down to a pastime on White Hoss Hill, and won the
prize at backswording; and when he took his money, fearing lest he
should be knowed, he jumped on his hoss under the stage, and galloped
right off, and I don't know as he ever cum again to these parts. Then
I've understood as things thrve wi' 'un as 'um will at times, sir, wi'
they sort o' chaps, and he and his companions built the inn called 'The
Magpies' on Hounslow Heath; but I dwon't know as ever he kep' the house
hisself, except it med ha' been for a short while. Howsomever, at last
he was took drinking at a public house somewheres up Hounslow way, wi'
a companion, who played a crop wi' 'un, and I b'liev' a' was hanged at
Newgate. But I never understood as he killed anybody, sir, and a'd used
to gie some o' the money as he took to the poor, if he know'd they was
in want."

The next Scouring, of which there seems to be any record, took
place in 1776, concerning which the following printed handbill was


    The scowering and cleansing of the White Horse is fixed for Monday,
    the 27th day of May; on which day a Silver Cup will be run for near
    White Horse Hill, by any horse, &c., that never run for anything,
    carrying 11 stone, the best of 3 two-mile heats, to start at 10

    Between the heats will be run for by poneys a Saddle Bridle and
    Whip; the best of 3 two-mile heats, the winner of 2 heats will be
    entitled to the saddle, the second best the Bridle, and the third
    the Whip.

    The same time a Thill Harness will be run for by cart horses, &c.,
    in their harness and bells, the carters to ride in smock frocks
    without saddles, crossing and jostling, but no whipping allowed.

    A Flitch of Bacon to be run for by asses.

    A good Hat to be run for by men in sacks, every man to bring his
    own sack.

    A Waistcoat, 10s. 6d. value, to be given to the person who shall
    take a bullet out of a tub of flour with his mouth in the shortest

    A cheese to be run for down the White Horse Manger.

    Smocks to be run for by ladies, the second best of each prize to be
    entitled to a Silk Hat.

    _Cudgel playing_ for a _gold-laced Hat_ and a pair of buckskin
    Breeches, and _Wrestling_ for a pair of silver Buckles and a pair
    of Pumps.

    The horses to be on the White Horse Hill by nine o'clock.

    No less than four horses, &c., or asses to start for any of the
    above prizes."

Then came a Scouring on Whit Monday, May 15th, 1780, and of the
doings on that occasion there is the following notice in the _Reading
Mercury_, of May 22nd, 1780:--"The ceremony of scowering and cleansing
that noble monument of Saxon antiquity, the White Horse, was celebrated
on Whit Monday, with great joyous festivity. Besides the customary
diversions of horse racing, foot races, etc., many uncommon rural
diversions and feats of activity were exhibited to a greater number
of spectators than ever assembled on any former occasion. Upwards of
thirty thousand persons were present, and amongst them most of the
nobility and gentry of this and the neighbouring counties; and the
whole was concluded without any material accident. The origin of this
remarkable piece of antiquity is variously related; but most authors
describe it as a monument to perpetuate some signal victory, gained
near the spot, by some of our most ancient Saxon princes. The space
occupied by this figure is more than an acre of ground."

There was also a list of the games, which was the same as that in
1776, excepting that in addition there was "a jingling-match by eleven
blind-folded men, and one unmasked and hung with bells, for a pair of
buckskin breeches."

An old man, William Townsend by name, whose father, one Warman
Townsend, had run down the manger after the fore-wheel of a waggon, and
won the cheese at this scouring, told the story, as his father had told
it to him, how that "eleven on 'em started, and amongst 'em a sweep
chimley and a millurd; and the millurd tripped up the sweep chimley and
made the soot flee a good 'un;" and how "the wheel ran pretty nigh down
to the springs that time."

[Illustration: WHITE HORSE HILL.]

The next Scouring seems to have been held in 1785, concerning which
one William Ayres of Uffington, aged about 84 years, in 1857 made
the following statements:--"When I were a buoy about ten years old
I remembers I went up White Hoss Hill wi' my vather to a pastime.
Vather'd brewed a barrel o' beer to sell on the Hill--a deal better
times than now--Augh! bless 'ee, a man medn't brew and sell his own
beer now: and oftentimes he can't get nothin' fit to drink at thaay
little beer-houses as is licensed, nor at some of the public-houses too
for that matter. But 'twur not only for that as the times wur better
then--But I be gandering shure enough,--well now, there wur Varmer
Mifflin's mare run for and won a new cart-saddle and thill-tugs--the
mare's name wur _Duke_. As many as a dozen or moor horses run, and
they started from Idle's bush, which were a vine owld tharnin'-tree in
thay days--a very nice bush. They started from Idle's bush, as I tell
'ee, and raced up to the Rudge-waay; and Varmer Mifflin's mare had it
all one way, and beeat all the t'other on 'um holler. The pastime then
wur a good 'un a wonderful sight o' folk of all sorts, rich and poor.
John Morse of Uffington, a queerish sort of a man, grinned agin another
chap droo' hos collars, but John got beeat--a fine bit o' spwoort to
be shure, and meead the volks laaf. Another geeam wur to bowl a cheese
down the Mainger, and the first as could catch 'un had 'un. The cheese
was a tough 'un and held together, a did I assure 'ee, but thaay as
tasted 'un said a warn't very capital arter all. Then were running for
a peg too, and they as could ketch 'un and hang 'un up by the tayl
had 'un. The girls, too run races for smocks--a deal of pastime to be
sure. Then wur climmin' a grasy pole for a leg of mutton, too: and
backsoordin', and wrastlin', and all that, ye knows. A man by the name
of Blackford, from the low countries, Zummersetshire, or that waay
someweres, he won the prize, and wur counted the best hand for years
arter, and no man couldn't break his yead; but at last, nigh on about
twenty years arter, I'll warn 'twer--at Shrin'um Revel, Harry Stanley,
the landlord o' the Blawin Stwun, broke his yead, and the low-country
men seemed afeard o' Harry round about here for long arter that. Varmer
Smallbwones, of Sparsholt, a mazin' stout man, and one as scarce no
one, go where 'a would, could drow down, beeat all the low-country
chaps at wrastlin', and none could stan' agean 'un. And so he got the
neam o' Varmer Great-Bwones. 'Twur only when he got a drap o' beer a
leetle too zoon, as he were drowed at wrastlin', but they never drowed
'un twice, and he had the best men come agean 'un for miles. This wur
the first pastime as I well remembers, but there med ha' been some
afore, for all as I knows. I ha' got a good memorandum, and minds
things well when I wur a buoy, that I does. I ha' helped to dress the
White Hoss myself, and a deal o' work 'tis to do 't, as should be, I
can assure 'ee. About Claay Hill, 'twixt Fairford and Ziziter, I've
many a time looked back at 'un, and a' looks as nat'ral as a pictur'."

Between 1785 and 1803 there were probably at least two Scourings about
which no reliable information seems to have been obtained.

At the Scouring of 1803 Beckingham of Baydon won the prize at
wrestling; Flowers and Ellis from Somersetshire won the prize at
backsword play; the waiter at the Bell Inn, Faringdon, won the cheese
race and at jumping in sacks; and Thomas Street of Niton won the
prize for grinning through horse-collars, but it was said "a man from
Woodlands would ha' beeat, only he'd got no teeth. This geaam made the
congregation laaf 'mazingly."

Then came a Scouring in 1808, at which the Hanney men came down in a
strong body and made sure of winning the prize for wrestling. But all
the other gamesters leagued against them, and at last their champion,
Belcher, was thrown by Fowler of Baydon. Two men, "with very shiny
top-boots, quite gentlemen, from London," won the prize for backsword
play, one of which gentlemen was Shaw, the Lifeguardsman, said to be a
Wiltshire man himself, who afterwards died at Waterloo. A new prize was
given at this pastime, viz., a gallon of gin or half-a-guinea for the
woman who would smoke most tobacco in an hour. Only two gipsy-women
entered, and it seems to have been a very blackguardly business, but it
is the only instance of the sort on record.

There seems to be some doubt as to the date of the next Scouring,
which was either in 1812 or 1813, but Judge Hughes thinks it was most
probably in the latter year, because the clerk of Kingston Lisle, an
old Peninsula man, told him that he was at home on leave in that year,
and that there was to be a Scouring, and all the people were talking
about it when he had to go back to the wars. At this Scouring there
was a prize of a loaf, made out of a bushel of flour, for running up
the Manger, which was won by Philip New, of Kingston-in-the-Hole, who
cut the great loaf into pieces at the top, and sold the pieces for a
penny a piece. The low-country men won the first backsword prize, and
one Ford, of Ashbury, the second; and the Baydon men won the prize
for wrestling. One Henry Giles had wrestled for the prize, but it is
supposed took too much beer afterwards; at any rate he fell into the
canal on his way home, and was drowned.

The next Scouring, about which any record is found, did not take place
till 1825, and it seems to have been the largest gathering there has
ever been. The games were held at the Seven Barrows, which are distant
two miles in a south-easterly direction from the White Horse, instead
of in Uffington Castle, for some reason which does not appear. These
seven barrows are popularly supposed to be the burial places of the
principal men who were killed at Ashdown.

After this there was no Scouring till 1838, when, on the 19th and 20th
of September, the old custom was revived under the patronage of Lord
Craven. The _Reading Mercury_ says that no more auspicious year could
have been chosen for the revival "than that in which our youthful and
beloved Queen first wore the British Crown, and in which an heir was
born to the ancient and noble house of Craven, whom God preserve."

The next took place in September, 1843, about which it is recorded that
the Berkshire and Wiltshire men, under Joe Giles, of Shrivenham, got
the better of the Somersetshire men led by Simon Stone at backsword
play; and then were two men who came down from London, who won the
wrestling prize away from the countrymen. There seems to have been
some difficulty in getting the elephant's caravan up the Hill,
for Wombwell's menagerie came down for the Scouring, and, though
four-and-twenty horses were put to, it stuck fast four or five times.
It does not seem to have struck the Berkshire folk that it would have
been simpler to turn the elephant out and make him pull his own caravan

In September, 1857, was celebrated the festival so admirably described
by Judge Hughes in his book, "The Scouring of the White Horse," to
which we would refer our readers.

Of subsequent Scourings there is little or no record, village festivals
having fallen gradually into disuse through the advent of railways and
other means of communication with the outer world. The last took place
in 1892, and was undertaken at the sole expense of Lady Craven, of
Ashdown Park, the Horse having become so obliterated by neglect that
its outline could scarcely be traced even at a few miles distance. It
was unaccompanied by any festivities whatever.


[Footnote 5: Drew lots.]

The Last of the Abbots.

There are few sadder stories than that of Hugh Farringdon, 31st mitred
abbot of the great Abbey of Reading. One of the foremost ecclesiastics
in the kingdom at the time of his terrible death, even in Henry VIII.'s
reign of terror, few men fell so far, so suddenly, and so fatally.

An Abbot of Reading was a member of the House of Lords. He had a
revenue with his abbey, amounting to well nigh £20,000 per annum at the
present day; one of the most charming country residences conceivable
at Pangbourne, Bere Place, which still retains some few relics of its
abbot owners; and, in the abbey itself; an abode whose magnificence,
even amidst those grand ruins, we very feebly realise. The abbey
precincts were at least thirty acres, in the midst of which the great
church arose in size and grandeur not far short of that of Canterbury
Cathedral itself.

The earlier portion of his abbacy seems to have been tranquil and
happy. We read of no such grave disputes as in the case of Abbot
Thorne. That 28th abbot seems to have carried fully out his name and
crest. He was a thorn in many sides. We read of bitter complaints
how he seized on the revenues of the Hospital for Poor Widows, and
appropriated them to the uses of the Almoner of the abbey, and not
content with this, laid hands also on St. Edmond's Chapel, which then
stood at the end of Friar Street, which he made into a barn.

The 31st abbot was a very different man from the 28th. He had more of
Mary than of Martha in him, as an old chronicler remarks somewhere of
somebody else. There is reason to believe that he was a most amiable
character. Mr. Kelly in his History of St. Lawrence has discovered
the following interesting record of him amongst the receipts for pew

    "1520. Setis--Item of my lord abbot for his moder's sete iiij d."

    "A touching entry," says Mr. Kelly; "Hugh Faringdon, on his
    promotion to the abbey, though a man of humble extraction, did not
    forget to provide for the comfort of his poor aged mother."

It is true Leland speaks of him as an "illiterate monk." "Hugh Cook
was a stubborn monk, absolutely without learning." Of course he was
a monk, that goes without saying. With regard to his "stubbornness,"
there may be two opinions. As for being "absolutely without learning,"
he appears to have been one of those admirable in every age, who have
raised themselves from a low rank to a high one by sheer force of
character. A poor boy may still become Lord Chancellor or Archbishop of

He appears not to have had educational advantages. He deplores this
in a letter of much dignified modesty. He had occasion to correspond
with the University of Oxford. The Oxford authorities seem to have been
in need of some stone from a quarry of the abbey, and had addressed
a polite request to him. He "returns thanks to the University for
considering him in the number of those learned persons who had been
members of that learned body," but speaks of himself as one who had
not the least pretences to that character. He styles himself a man of
no erudition; laments that the fates had denied him the advantages of
instruction in his youth, and states that he is still anxious to become
a member of the University, and apply himself to that course of study
which would suit his capacity, now become dull and feeble by length of

He was evidently a patron of learned men. Leonard Cox, Master of the
Reading School, which, thanks to Henry VII., had been established in
St. Lawrence's Hospice rescued from Abbot Thorne, dedicates his "Art of
Rhetorick," 1539, to this last of the abbots.

He seems also to have been a good administrator, and an active
magistrate, and we read of him as taking his place at the Bench at
"Okingham," on 11th July, 1534, as one of the Justices of the Peace
for the county. More than this he was a religious man. He took care
that the Bible was read daily in the abbey. Dr. London, one of the
commissionaries for dissolving the Monastery and Friary, reports to his
superior, Lord Cromwell:--

    "They have a gudde lecture in scripture daily redde in the chapter
    house, both in Inglishe and Latin, to the which is gudde resort,
    and the abbot is at it himself."

When the commissioners arrived, he does not seem to have opposed them,
or held back anything. Dr. London at first reports favourably:--

    "I have requested of my lord abbot the relics of his house, which
    he seledeted unto me with gudde will. I have taken an inventory
    of them, and have locked them up beside the high altar, and have
    the key in my keeping, and they be ready at your lordship's

Abbot Hugh made no resistance, and it might have been supposed the
abbey would have escaped at least as well as the Friary; the Grayfriars
having nothing to lose, were simply turned out into the street with a
scanty pension, and their church given to the town for a town hall. How
was it, then, that such a cruel fate overtook the principal monks here,
for two others died with Hugh Faringdon on the same charge of high
treason? Stowe says it was for denying the King's supremacy.

    "The Act of Suppression passed in May, 1539, and in November
    following he was drawn, hanged, and quartered with two of his
    monks. The same day the Abbot of Glastonbury was executed, and
    shortly after the Abbot of Colchester."

It is here we get a clue, I think, to this extreme severity; these
three leading Churchmen had all got involved in a treason plot. The
Pilgrimage of Grace had very recently been suppressed. It had been
assisted with money by various monasteries, and it would seem that
these three great houses were specially compromised. Froude states this
distinctly, speaking in the first instance of the Abbot of Glastonbury
(History of England, Vol. III., ch. 16, p. 240):--

    "An order went out for enquiry into his conduct, which was to be
    executed by three of the visitors, Layton, Pollard, and Moyle. On
    16 September (1539) they were at Reading, on the 22nd they had
    arrived at Glastonbury ... the Abbot was placed in charge of a
    guard, and sent to London, to the Tower, to be examined by Cromwell
    himself, when it was discovered that both he and the Abbot of
    Reading had supplied the northern insurgent with moneys."

For this there could be no pardon. The insurrection had been too
nearly successful. The principal leaders had suffered, and now their
three supporters followed. Hugh Faringdon had not allowed the King's
supremacy, but this might have been overlooked; he had been very
favourably reported by London to Cromwell. But now the law took its
course, that horrible and terrible death assigned to high treason.

Froude describes the aged Abbot of Colchester drawn through the town
that dismal November morning; dragged to the top of Glastonbury Torre,
there hanged, drawn, and quartered. It cannot be doubted that an
equally ghastly scene was enacted at Reading. As accomplices in both
instances, two monks were executed along with their principal.

The execution is supposed to have taken place here in front of the
inner gateway, which still survives, and is a place of resort for the
Berkshire Archæological Society. It may equally well have been at
Gallows Common beyond Christ Church which was for long the ordinary
place for executions. It would appear from St. Mary's registers that
even in the eighteenth century twice in the year batches of prisoners
were sent off there to the gallows: if so, the long and sad procession,
as at Glastonbury, would traverse the whole length of the town. It was
a most awful reverse of fortune. Both in 1532, and in 1535, we read of
his receiving a gilt cup from the king as a New Year's present. He had
even been on the commission for investigating how a manifesto from the
leader of the insurrection in Yorkshire had got into circulation at
Reading; but that fatal gift of money, which Cromwell had traced home
to the Abbot of Glastonbury, and also to Abbot Hugh, was an act beyond
pardon. He had been the king's favourite abbot, but was now convicted
of high treason, and the sentence took its course.

  "He leaves a name which long time will avail
  To point a moral, and adorn a tale."

Siege of Reading.

  "Full soon the curse of Civil War
  Came all our harmless sports to mar:
  When law and order ceased to reign,
  And knaves did eat up honest men;
  When brother against brother stood
  And all the land was drenched in blood."

  --"_Donnington Castle._"


"What a glorious thing must be a victory Sir!" an enthusiastic young
lady once exclaimed to the Iron Duke. "The greatest tragedy in the
world," he replied, "Madam, except a defeat!" A siege is bad enough:
an interesting thing to read and tell of, but, though it only lasted
ten days, an event burned deep into the memories of Reading; replete
with all but ruin to very many of her citizens; and entirely destroying
for all time that town's once famous cloth-trade. As the tide of war
ebbed and flowed along the Thames valley, now one side was uppermost,
and now the other, and, in either case, it was "woe to the vanquished."
One time there were the king's demands, then presently those of the
Parliamentary party; fines followed levied unmercifully on recusants
as also loans wrung from, at length, unwilling supporters. A letter,
still in the town archives, gives a vivid picture of the position of
very many in those days in Berkshire and in Oxfordshire. It is a letter
from G. Varney to the Town Clerk of Reading, not dated except from the
prison into which the soldiers had cast him:--

    "Going," says Varney, "to market with a load of corn, the Earl of
    Manchester's soldiers met with my men, and took away my whole team
    of horses, letting my cart stand in the field four miles from home;
    and I never had them more. When the king's soldiers come to us they
    call me Roundheaded rogue, and say I pay rent to the Parliament
    garrison, and they will take it away from me; and likewise the
    Parliament soldiers, they vapour with me, and tell me that I pay
    rent to Worcester and Winchester, therefore the Parliament say they
    will have the rent."

Still more pathetic is the petition to Parliament that presently
was made: "That, since the time the two armies came into the town,
your petitioners have had their sufferings multiplied upon them; the
soldiers going to that height of insolence that they break down our
houses and burn them, take away our goods and sell them, rob our
markets and spoil them, threaten our magistrates and beat them; so
that, without a speedy redress, we shall be constrained, though to our
utter undoing, yet for the preservation of our lives, to forsake our
goods and habitations, and leave the town to the will of the soldiers;
who cry out they have no pay, have no beds, have no fire; and they must
and will have it by force, or they will burn down all the houses in the
town whatever become of them."

Such was the state of things which the mayor, with his twelve aldermen
and twelve councillors of that day, had to grapple with: and a very
difficult matter, as we shall see, he found it. Things were coming
to a crisis here in 1643, in the April of which the ten-days' siege
occurred; but they had long been leading up to this.

In 1636 the town was deeply stirred on the subject of ship-money; one
party carried a resolution: "They who deny payment of ship-money to
be proceeded against as the council of the corporation shall direct;"
a little later another party seems to have got the uppermost, and the
entry in 1641: "Agreed that those persons within the town which were
distressed for ship-money shall have their moneys repaid them."

At first the Parliamentary Party were in the ascendency; then 1642
came. Edgehill was fought 23rd October, then the king took Banbury,
and then marched upon Reading. Henry Martin, M.P., afterwards the
regicide, had been appointed by the Parliament governor of Reading;
but, upon the royal advance, at once withdrew with his small garrison
and fled to London. The king arrived here on November 4th, from which
time matters certainly became sufficiently exciting.

  "The game of Civil War will not allow
  Bays to the victor's brow.
  At such a game what fool would venture in,
  Where one must lose, yet neither side can win?"


Yet every day saw the game played more and more in earnest. Charles
reached Reading, 4th November, 1642, having sent on the following
missive on the previous day: "Whereas I have received information that
the bridge on the river Thames at Causham was lately broke down, our
Will and express Command is that ye immediately upon sight hereof cause
the said bridge to be rebuilt, and made strong and fit for the passage
of our army by time 8 of the clock in the morning as the bearer shall
direct; of this you may not fail at your utmost peril."

The mayor at this time was a firm royalist. One of the Diurnals of
the other side thus records his endeavours: "At the king's coming to
Reddinge a speech was made unto him by the mayor of the town, wherein
after he had in the best words he could devise bid him welcome thither,
for want of more matter he concluded very abruptly." This is malicious
enough, but nothing to the story that follows: "Not long after he
invited Prince Robert (_sic_) to dine, providing for him all the
dainties that he could get, but especially a woodcock, which he brought
in himself. Prince Robert gave him many thanks for his good cheer,
and asked him whose was all that plate that stood upon the cupboard?
The mayor, who had set out all his plate to make a show, and besides
had borrowed a great deal of his neighbours to grace himself withal,
replied, 'And please your Highness the plate is mine!' 'No!' quoth the
prince, 'this plate is mine,' and so accordingly he took it all away;
bidding him be of good cheer, for he took it, as the Parliament took
it, upon the public faith."

Lord Saye and Sele, just before, however, had carried off two large
baskets, full of the Christ Church plate, at Oxford, for parliamentry

Now almost every day has its event, and dates must be regarded.

November 8th.--The town is startled by a peremptory order to impress
all the tailors in Reading, and within six miles round, to make clothes
for the garrison, with which they are to be honoured; Sir Arthur Ashton
is appointed governor, with a salary from the town of £7 per week; he
is soon able to lend the poor corporation £100. At once he begins to
fortify; all are forced to assist; those who do not come to work being
fined 7d. per day; forts and chains are placed at the end of every
street, and the Oracle, or cloth factory at once is utilized as a

It is an interesting fact, that through the pious care of a wealthy
citizen, Reading still possesses the old gates of the Oracle. There
they are in honourable retirement at the top of St. Mary's Hill; the
Kenrich crest in one place, the initials, J.K., of the founder of this
factory for poor clothiers, in another; the date 1526 still in another
part; all being in very fair state of preservation. How few of the busy
many that pass those gates every day think of the scenes that these
have witnessed, and could tell of, if walls had voices as well as ears!

  "When Puritan and Cavelier
    With shout and psalm contended!
  And Rupert's oath, and Cromwell's prayer,
    With sound of battle blended!"--_Whittier._

And now the corporation wait upon King Charles and assure him they
will "assist him with counsel, and their purses, to the best of their
ability." He probably preferred the latter, for--

November 9th.--We have notice of a consultation had "about the
execution of the king's warrants," and on

November 17th.--"A tax is levied to pay those great charges which are
now layed upon the borough concerning cloth, apparell, victualls, and
other things for his Majestie's army." Then on

November 28th.--The king goes off to Oxford, and henceforth they are
left to Sir Arthur's tender mercies: about this time we find a pathetic
entry: "A noate of all such charges as have been disembursed, since
the King's Majestie came first to Reading, for provisions, clothes
for the soldiers, and for the king's own use;" being £6697, truly a
prodigious sum for those times; but it is speedily followed by fresh
requisitions. As the year opens it appears probable that Reading will
be attacked, and so on 3rd March, 1543, a letter arrives from the
king, ordering Sir Arthur to provision Reading for three months, to
provision Greenlands a fortified country house just below Henley, to
send out scouting parties to watch the enemy, and to prevent carriage
of supplies to London. This rouses the Parliament. Essex is ordered to
march on Oxford, taking Reading in his way; but the governor now is all
ready for him. Mapledurham House and Cawsham have now been made into
fortified out-posts, and, on the arrival of Essex's "trumpet," Colonel
Codrington in his diary tells us the governor returned the stubborn
answer that "he would either keep the town or die inside it!" There can
be no doubt he would have made a resolute resistance; he was a brave
and capable soldier, but, being wounded in the head by a tile dislodged
by a cannon ball, on the third day of the siege, his place was taken
by a Colonel R. Fielding, as next in seniority. The sad history of the
gallant soldier is worth following further. At the capitulation he went
to Oxford; there he managed to lose a leg, and presently turns up in
Ireland, unluckily for him, at Drogheda. Cromwell storms, determined,
after the inhuman massacres of Protestants, on making a harsh example
of the Irish garrison, and Sir Arthur, now in command there, strange
to say, has his brains knocked out with his own wooden leg, which
the soldiers imagined was filled with gold pieces--they did find two
hundred about his person--the very thing which Hood imagined long after
of his unhappy heroine.

  "Gold, still gold! hard, yellow, and cold,
  For gold she had lived, and she died for gold,
  For a golden weapon had killed her!
  And the jury, its forman a gilder,
    They brought it in a Felo di Se
  Because her own leg had killed her!

  Price of many a crime untold,
  Good or bad, a thousand fold,
    How widely gold's agencies vary!
  To save, to curse, to ruin, to bless,
  As even its minted coins express,
  Now stamped with the image of Good Queen Bess,
  And now of a bloody Mary!"

There is a portrait of Sir A. Aston at the Reading Public Library,
a middle aged man with a large square chin and most determined
expression. Sir Jacob Astley, after governor here, and made Baron
Reading, is also in the Library, a pleasant looking old gentleman.

The town was very strongly and securely fortified, I quote from the
diary of Sir Samuel Luke, Scout Master for the parliament after the
surrender, when he had just been over it: "They had only three ways
out of the town, where they had built three sconces, one at Forbury,
one at Harrison's Barn, and another at the end of Pangbourn lane;
the Forts were very well wrought, and strong both with trenches and
pallisades; the town entrenched round so that if any man of the
Parliamentary side should have delivered up a place as this town, he
would have deserved a halter."

"It would appear," writes Mr. Childs, "that earth works were thrown up
in a rude square, extending from Grey Friars Church and the present
prison on the north, to midway in Kendrick Road, and to Katesgrove Hill
on the south; and from about the line of Kendrick Road on the east to
Castle Hill on the west. Redoubts were thrown up at intervals, and on
the top of Whitley Hill a strong fort known as 'Harrison's Barn.'"

This Sir Samuel appears to have been a stout and able soldier, but,
unfortunately for him, he had the misfortune to fall into the hands of
Butler, who has pilloried him as the well-known Hudibras. Dr. Johnson
says, writing of Butler, "The necessitudes of his condition placed
him in the family of Sir S. Luke, one of Cromwell's officers, and a
Presbyterian magistrate. Here he observed much of the character of the
sectaries." Certainly he did, and recorded much; and though very much
is gross caricature, still it is thus that Sir Samuel must be content
to come down to us.

  "When civil dudgeon first grew high,
  And men fell out they knew not why:
  Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
  And out he rode a colonelling.
  He was in logic a great critic,
  Profoundly skilled in analytic;
  He could distinguish and divide
  A hair 'twixt south and south-west tide:
  On either side he would dispute,
  Confute, change hands, and still confute.
  For his religion it was fit
  To match his learning and his wit.
  'Twas Presbyterian true blue,
  For he was of the stubborn crew
  Such as do build their faith upon
  The holy text of pike and gun:
  And prove their doctrine or the dox
  By apostolic blows and knocks.
  Still so perverse and opposite,
  As if they worshipped God for spite.
  Quarrel with mince-pies, and disparage
  Their best and dearest friend plum-porridge.
  Fat pig and goose itself oppose,
  And blaspheme custard through the nose."

On Sir Arthur's refusal to surrender, the town was at once assailed,
the Royalist out-posts at Caversham being easily driven in, the
bridge broken down, and batteries planted there commanding the town.
This was April 15th. The Earl of Essex had at this time some 16,000
foot, and 300 horse, a force which in the course of a week was nearly
doubled. His headquarters were at Southcote, leaving Colonel Skippon
in charge of the siege works in the meadows at the N.W. of the town,
on the old Battel Abbey estate, where was most of the fighting;
whilst Lord Gray of Warwick sat down before the town, on the S.E.
parts, with 7,000 horse and foot. Codrington tells us the Earl held a
council of war, at which it was debated whether to storm or not. The
cavalry were for attempting it, the infantry against, and this latter
opinion prevailed, the garrison being supposed to be stronger than it
really was. We read in the "Perfect Diurnal" of February 10th, "They
are 4,000 strong in the town; some works are cast up as high as the
houses; they have made use of all the clothier's wool in the town, and
made wool-packs thereof." "There is nothing like leather," as is well
known; but it may be doubted whether bales of cloth are benefited by
a week's cannonading. No wonder the cloth-trade languished after that
involuntary employment of the stock-in-trade.

And now we will come to dates, making use of our two friends' diaries.
It is a pity we have not also a Royalist record to check them by.
But first we will take a look at the army investing. They are most
of them young troops, and with officers at present unversed in siege
operations: but some have already fought at Edgehill, notably the Saye
and Sele "Blue Coats;" Colonel Nathanael and Colonel John Fiennes
commanding them, would both be there, and perhaps his lordship.
Hampden's "Green Coats" would also add to the variety, with the London
train bands "Red Coats;" this red was a colour that Cromwell afterwards
adopted for the whole of the British army, and which, it need hardly be
remarked, is now "the thin red line which never wavers," and which more
than once has confronted both cavalry and artillery successfully.

April 17th. Writes Sir Samuel:--"Our lines got within musket shot of
the town."

April 18th.--"The enemy appeared on Cawsham hills under General Ruven,
went to Sonning, and put down (up?) the river in boats 600 musketeers,
with several waggon loads of ammunition; which we could not hinder
because we had broken down Cawsham bridge."

This was very cleverly managed, as the town had at first only twenty
barrels of gunpowder altogether. Now their artillery would be well
supplied; and the barges ran up by the Kennet in perfect safety into
the very heart of the town. Immediately after this a battery was
planted on the Thames bank by Essex, that effectually 'shut the door'
north of the Kennet; but, by this time, 'the horse was stolen,' or, at
least, the powder safe housed! On this day a cannon burst, killing four
men and wounding half-a-dozen more of the besiegers; but what was much
more serious for the King's party on this day, the Governor got a hurt
that at once totally incapacitated him, and a mere seniority officer, a
Col. Richard Fielding, took the command.

On the 19th there was a brisk sally, but repulses of the garrison.
"On that night His Excellency advanced his batteries and placed his
ordinance within less than pistol shot of Harrison's Fort." Stout old
Skippon is here: and is in deadly earnest, like Cromwell, however
unwilling Essex and Manchester may be to go to extremities.

April 20th. Says our Chronicler:--"Lord Gray pushes closer up."

April 21st is an eventful day. "Battered the town," says the diary,
"got up within pistol shot of one of their choicest bulwarks in a place
called the Gallows Field." On this day it is that St. Giles steeple
comes to grief; now we will copy Codrington. "They planted ordinance
on a steeple, but our cannons were levelled against it with such
dexterity, that both cannoniers and cannon were soon buried under the

April 22nd.--"Flower, sent by the King to say he was coming to raise
the siege, swam in with despatches, but is caught going back, and so
the plan frustrated." Essex reversed his batteries, and so was ready to
give the approaching Royalists a hot reception.

April 23rd.--An unlucky spy is seized, who had volunteered the perilous
work of blowing up the siege ammunition train; he is hung in sight of
the rampart, which is retaliated on the next day.

April 24th.--"A sudden sally; they got into our trenches, and killed
four men; but were driven back with loss of twelve, but we could not
get out the bodies of our men. Lord Gray got within pistol shot of
Harrison's Barn."

This seems to have frightened Col. Fielding, who evidently was not the
stuff that heroes are made of.

  Hark! Hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore,
    The cry of battle rises along the charging lines:
  'For Love!' 'For the Cause!' 'For the Church!' 'For the Law!'
    For Charles, King of England, and Rupert of the Rhine!

25th April, 9 a.m.--The town hung out a white flag, and sent "a drum
to beat a parley, which His Excellency gave way to." If Fielding had
but held out another day, and had co-operated with the King's forces,
the town might have been relieved, and Essex driven away; for a few
hours after, Charles makes a determined attack in force upon Caversham
Bridge, which is only repulsed after heavy fighting, and through Essex
being able to give his undivided attention. "The fight began," says
Codrington, "about Cawsham Bridge, and on both sides great valour and
resolution was expressed. After less than half-an-hour's fight, the
enemy began to give ground, leaving about 300 arms, and many of their
men behind them; their Horse also, which came down the hill to assist
the Fort, were gallantly repulsed; about a hundred were slain upon the
spot, among whom Sergt. Major Smith, in whose pocket was found good
store of gold."

This settled the matter. Charles retired unmolested to Caversham House,
where Fielding was allowed to go to him on April 26th. He obtained
leave to surrender, the picked troops of the garrison being urgently
required for service elsewhere. This permission, of course, did not
clear Fielding, who was tried afterwards by court martial and sentenced
to be beheaded, but the King did not allow the sentence to be carried

April 27th.--The surrender takes place. "He was pardoned," says
Clarendon, "without much grace; his regiment was given to another, and
he resolved as a volunteer; in this capacity he fought desperately
through the war when danger was most rife, but in vain. So difficult
a thing it is to play an after game of reputation in that nice and
jealous profession of arms." "As they march out at Friar's Corner,"
says Sir Samuel, "at the same place when, as is recorded further, the
soldiers plundered the houses of four Grand Malignants who had given
information to the Governor of such persons as were inclined to the
cause of the Parliament, and had therefore paid a double tax to the
weekly contribution." This, perhaps, was as little as could be expected
from a victorious cause; and Sir Samuel again concludes all very
characteristically and satisfactorily too, as regards the God-fearing
soldiers of the Commonwealth.

April 30th, "being the Sunday, was spent in preaching and hearing God's
word, the churches being extraordinarily filled, and soldiers and all
men carrying themselves very civilly all the day long."

Sickness appears to have broken out amongst Essex's young soldiers
encamped on the marshy meadows on the N.W. of the town, which may
have had something to do with the easy terms granted. The Mercurius
Aulicus, the Court Journal, has a story that "a soldier said that
Essex caused five great pits to be dug at a distance from his camp,
into which he cast the slain to conceal their number." The Earl stayed
here until July, and ordered a heavy contribution for the pay of the
soldiers. The Corporation, however, waited upon him to represent "they
had been so impoverished by the late siege, and the exactions of His
Majesty, as to be utterly unable to raise any more money amongst them."
And this excuse seems to have been graciously accepted. Charles'
"little finger," in money matters, was of necessity "thicker than the
Parliament's loins," and this lead considerably to the declining of
his cause. When the tide of war turned a couple of years after, he
appeared again here, and stayed at Coley; but we do not hear then of
any more forced benevolences; indeed he conferred a real benefit, by
having the fortification "slighted," which no doubt the burgesses
received with extreme satisfaction. So the siege ended. Sieges in
those days were trying to reputations. Colonel N. Fiennes, at Bristol,
and then Prince Rupert at the same place, whether justly or not, were
heavily censured for surrendering, and both of them came very near
to sharing the fate of Fielding. That old lamentation was speedily
verified; but with this we have happily no further connection.

          "Lament! Lament!
      And let thy tears run down,
          To see the rent
      Between the robe and crown!
  War, like a serpent, has its head got in,
  And will not cease so soon as 't did begin."

Reading Abbey.

It is hardly necessary to state that in rather early days, when the
Thames flowed into the Rhine and Great Britain was a part of a greater
continent, there was no Reading Abbey. Neither was there sometime
after, when the city was a swamp between the Thames and the Kennet, and
some few huts clustered round the Roman station Ad Pontes, where the
legions crossed from Londinium on their way to the rich and important
town of Calleva. We may possibly date our abbey's beginning from the
third or fourth century. It may have been a chapel of ease to that
interesting little church lately uncovered, and alas! covered up again,
at Silchester. At any rate we are on firm ground when, towards the
end of the tenth century, we locate a nunnery here, founded by Queen
Elfreda, who at last began to repent of her various crimes. She had,
perhaps, some excuse for arranging with the King to get rid of her
first husband, who had deceived his royal master, lead astray by her
fatal beauty. Thus she attained the throne to which she had no doubt
been destined; but it was going too far to retain it by the murder
of the son of her predecessor, Queen Ethelfleda; which is one of the
horrid memories that clings round Corfe Castle. And now we leap to
the beginning of the twelfth century and get on still firmer ground,
when Henry I., at the height of his power, and also beginning to feel
a little compunction, resolved to make reparations by founding what
should be an abbey of world-wide magnificence.

He certainly succeeded. I mean with his abbey, though I am not prepared
to go as far as do the chroniclers of his predecessor:--

  "King Ethelbert lies here,
    Closed in this polyander.
  For building churches straight he goes
    To heaven without meander."

Henry I. never did things by halves, and they could build in those
days. His architect had _carte blanche_, and with wonderful speed there
arose that glorious fabric whose ruins we weep over, and use for our
flower shows. The abbey covered some thirty acres. It was surrounded
with a wall, vast and strong, except where guarded by the Kennet, and
four huge embattled gateways opened out to the four quarters. Almost
all its stones are now gone. "It pitieth," or it ought to pity the
by-passers to see some in the wall of that house in Hosier Street, some
very few on the site, and oh, 18th century! many cartloads vandalised
into a bridge on the road to Henley, near where the Druid's temple
of despoiled Jersey adds another sorrow to the scenery. But at its
dedication in 1164, in Henry II.'s time, the abbey and the abbey church
must indeed have been magnificent. The latter was a cruciform building
420 x 92 feet in dimensions, without an aisle, covering the vast space
between the Forbury and the gaol. Its extent is well shown, by the
notices the Corporation has lately put up under the skilled guidance
of those two chiefest of experts, the Secretary and Treasurer of the
Berkshire Archæological Society. After the dedication ceremony, the
King, and his still friendly Beckett, would doubtless adjourn to the
magnificent Consistory, the great Hall, one of the largest and finest
in England, destined to see so many Parliaments, and other national

The inner gateway still remains, restored, perhaps, almost too
modernly; close inspection will, however, show the old gate hinges and
portcullis way; closer investigation still may even discover the dog
badge of the last abbot, and a dolphin with the red rose of Lancaster
on its tail, probably also belonging to the same period. Here the
humble burgesses used to bow themselves before the Lord Abbot, and
listen whilst he was pleased to indicate which of them might fulfil the
then limited office of mayor. In front of this, as some say, the last
abbot and his two accomplice monks died the awfully cruel traitor's
death, having been convicted of sending supplies to the northern rebels
in their so-called Pilgrimage of Grace. It has much pleasanter modern
memories, being lent by the good town to the Berkshire Archæological
Society, and being the scene in its fine old chamber of many
interesting archæological gatherings. But I have strayed a long way
from 1164. The second Henry's reign was no doubt its golden period;
more memories cluster about the abbey in the twelfth century than at
any other time. Here, the year before, in 1163, had occurred "the Fight
on the Island," when, much to Henry's regret, de Bohun fell beneath the
spear of de Montford.

  "His fame, as blighted in the field,
  He strove to clear by spear and shield;
  To clear his fame in vain he strove,
  For wondrous are His ways above.
  How could the guiltless champion quail,
  Or how the great ordeal fail!"

"The knights met on horseback," says Norroy Seagur, "clad in armour,
(on the island just below Caversham Bridge; a street running down to
it has lately been called De Montford Street), Montford attacked with
such resolution as to hurl Henry of Essex out of the saddle, when
being stunned and faint from loss of blood, he was taken up apparently
dead." King Henry handed him over to the monks of Reading Abbey, under
whose care he recovered, and at once joined the fraternity. Some years
after, and following on that bad Beckett business, Henry was here
again, for here, in 1185, came Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem,
and the Master of the Temple with him, appealing for a crusade to all
Christian Kings, and especially to King Henry, who, it was considered,
especially needed that moral white-washing. What a sight for the abbey!
They brought with them the Standard of the Kingdom of the Holy Land,
the Keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and of the Tower of
David. The King reverently received them all, but handed them back to
the Patriarch until he could consult with his barons. Henry was too old
to go, but numbers of the young nobility took the cross, and carried
it in the van against the Infidel; and not least fiery Prince Richard,
the king of all knight errants. He went off immediately on coming to
the throne, and performed exploits which far exceed those imagined by
Ariosto. Unfortunately he needed money, and had to carry off the golden
cover his father gave for the chief abbey relic, the hand of St. James;
but that doubtless would soon be replaced by the offerings of the
home-staying faithful.

Also in this reign, and at its close, were several royal funerals.
Henry I. of course had himself buried here, as it was said in a silver
coffin, which caused some very ruthless explorations at the time
of the Suppression. A stone coffin found here recently had a very
distinguished origin suggested for it by a high local authority. In
1154, Prince William, eldest son of Henry II., was buried here near
his grandfather. Also here was buried King Henry II.'s second wife,
Adeliza; and thereby hangs a very complicated and curious tale.


In 1810 some workmen digging in the abbey precincts "found a box which
contained a perfectly formed fleshy hand (writes Mrs. Climenson, in
her almost universal 'History of Shiplake,') holding a slender rod
surmounted by a crucifix." This, she says, is now in Mr. Scott Murray's
Roman Catholic Chapel at Danesfield, and is considered to be the hand
of St. James the Less, which was brought from Germany by the Empress
Maud, and given by her to her father, who gave it to the Abbey. "It is
in perfect preservation, a plump and well-shaped hand, small, and with
taper fingers, and almond-shaped nails, so small it might well be a
woman's." And it probably is, and the hand of Queen Adeliza. One almost
regrets it was not left in its hoped-for last resting-place. There is
something gruesome in such remains, especially, perhaps, in heaped-up
skulls in museums. Those lines of a modern poet on such a sight are

  "Did she live centuries, or ages back?
    What colour were those eyes when bright and waking?
  And were your ringlets fair, or brown, or black?
    Poor little head! that long has done with aching!"

In Stephen's days, in the interval between the Henries, the poor monks
seem to have had rather an uncomfortable time of it. Stephen patronized
them; he would have money, but he took it politely. When for a while
his cause went down, and the Empress Queen arrived here, she was quite
as exacting, and also bullied them most unmercifully. They must have
been devoutly thankful when she at last went off to her continental
possession; and when she came back for sepulchre would no doubt be able
to receive her with greater equanimity. An English dean not long ago
was accused of having "refused to bury a Dissenter." "On the contrary,"
he replied, "I shall feel the greatest pleasure in burying you all!"

Now we pass to the fourteenth century. Here, in 1359, Edward III.
celebrated the marriage of his son John of Gaunt with Blanche, daughter
of Henry Plantagenet. This was unquestionably the grandest wedding that
ever happened, or could happen at Reading. The King of France, just
lately taken prisoner at Poictiers, was part of the bridal party; so
also a very famous Englishman, who came over here from his residence at
Donnington Castle. Chaucer describes the whole thing at much length:--

  "And the feste holden was in tentes,
  As to tell you my intent is:
  In a rome, a large plaine,
  Under a wode, in a champagne;
  Beside a river and a welle
  Where never had abbeye ne selle;
  Ben, ne kerke, hous, ne village,
  In time of any man's age,
  And dured three Months the feast,
  In one estate, and never ceased.
  From early of the rising of the sun,
  Till the day spent was, and y-ronne;
  In justing, dancing, and lustiness,
  And all that served to gentilesse."

  --_The Dream._

From Edward III. we will pass, though not in immediate succession
to Edward IV.'s time; and I am again indebted to Mrs. Climenson for
calling attention to a picture in the British Museum of Reading
Abbey about 1470, where "the widow Gray"--as the Lancastrians called
her--where Edward IV.'s bride, Queen Elizabeth, is represented as
standing under this very inner gateway, already mentioned, so dear to
the heart of every citizen of Reading. The abbot is there to meet her
on her disembarkation, with all fitting reverence. In the distance are
the royal barges, at the abbot's landing, on the Kennet.

After this almost a century glides by uneventfully. Like the Vicar of
Wakefield, though not accompanied as he was, the abbot's adventures
do not seem to have got much beyond "changing from the blue room to
the green," at least from the abbey to Bere Court and back again.
There were squabbles with the rising town; the aldermen began to be
what would be now called "uppish," but the abbot was practically
omnipotent, and sometimes, as in Abbot Thorne's time, had a heavy hand
which effectually kept town councillors in their proper places. We can
hardly realise now what very great men those mitred abbots must have
been--practically-popes in their own districts where they wielded both
the temporal and spiritual sword pretty vigorously.

The Abbot of Reading had precedence over all except Glastenbury and St.
Albans. He had vast revenues at his disposal, worth nearly £20,000, it
is reckoned, of our money,--a handsome income even after allowing for
the lavish hospitality and almsgiving expected and rendered. He had
the power of making knights, which the local name "Whiteknights," and
the hospice there, shows to have been pretty freely exercised; though
the fact that every priest was at one time "Dominus," or "Sir so and
so," occasions a little ambiguousness as to knights in these earlier

In Reading itself, as already remarked, the abbot, within the law, was
almost absolute over the lives and properties of the township growing
up under the abbey shadow; his household, and all about him, was
modelled on a scale of more than princely magnificence, and it is to
be doubted whether any, except the very highest nobility, could show
anything like such an extravagant retinue.

The very list is exhausting: marshal, master of the horse, two keepers
of the pantry, three cupbearers, four janitors, five pages, eight
chamberlains, twelve hostellers (whose duty was to receive strangers),
twenty huntsmen, thirty-one running footmen, and last, not least, an
almoner. What wonder that such magnificence contrasted but badly by the
side of the self-denying Grey Friars, and that the great Benedictine
abbey broke down at last under its own greatness! Its last abbot was
not the worst, nor the least deserving by any means, only he fell on
evil days; and, when he stood by his own order, had little idea of the
terrible significance of treason in the eyes of a Tudor.

At first Abbot Hugh was favourably reported on by the commissioners.
"On Sep. 16, 1539," quotes Froude, "they were at Reading; on the 22nd
at Glastenbury; but the abbot there, his answer appeared cankered
and traitorous; he was sent to the Tower to be examined by Cromwell
himself, when it was discovered that both he and the Abbot of Reading
had supplied the northern insurgents with money."

Reading Abbey perished; on the other hand, the Grey Friars Monastery
was simply dissolved, its monks frugally pensioned, and turned out into
the street; their noble church was made into a guildhall, but preserved
by that at any rate, and is now restored, and is the town's noblest
relic of antiquity. Of the great Benedictine abbey, on the other
hand, only the almost imperishable flint core survives of its mighty
buildings. It may have plundered Silchester; it was itself for long a
very stone pit for the builder. Its "record" is that of Rome, "Quod non
fecerunt Barbari fecerunt Barberini"--the Roman princes made a stone
quarry of the Colosseum. That bridge at Park Place is an almost equal
barbarism, but before this, boat loads of abbey stones had gone down
the river to help to build the Hospital of the Poor Knights of Windsor.

The roof of the great Consistory went to St. Mary's Church, in Reading,
thus happily preserved, and where all may still see it. The panelling
went to Merton College, Oxford. In fact by the time of James the
plundering was complete; only land cannot run away, and so he conferred
that upon Prince Henry, the then heir apparent of the kingdom.

Since then its history has been uneventful; granted at first to the
Knollys family, it became at times a royal residence; the royal stables
were extensive, and horses stood where monks had knelt. This seems to
be alluded to, in that singular old poem, "Cantio Cygni," when Thamesis
is spoken of as arriving at Reading.

  "From hence he little Chansey Seeth, and hasteneth to see
    Fair Reddingetown, a place of name, where clothy-woven bee,
  This shows our Alfred's victories, what time Begsal was slain
    With other Danes, who carcases lay trampled on the plain.
  And here these fields y-drenched were with blood upon them shed,
    Where on the prince, in stable now, hath standing many a steede."

King James, as has been stated, gave the abbey to his eldest son, and
it passed, in due time, into the excellently guardian hands of the
Reading Corporation. Musing amid the ruins of this ancient pile, we may
call to mind the lives of the men who once lived and worked and prayed
on this spot, of the kings and great men who thronged the minster
church and held parliaments in the precincts, and all the mighty events
in history which took place in this, the chiefest and grandest monastic
house in England. The memory of the glories of Reading Abbey will not
soon pass away.

The First Battle of Newbury, 1643.


The armed phase of the great rebellion was in its second year, and
neither party had achieved any great advantage. If the Royalists
had thought to carry all before them in a summer campaign, they had
found out their mistake; and it must have been equally evident to the
Parliamentarians that they had embarked upon a struggle the end of
which might prove bloody and disastrous to their cause.

Charles resolved upon the capture of Gloucester. On the 10th of
August, 1643, he sounded trumpets before the gates, and called upon
the commandant to surrender. Colonel Massey, a soldier of fortune,
was faithful to his trust, and the royal trumpeter returned to the
King's camp accompanied by two deputies of "lean, pale, sharp, and
dismal visages," the bearers of a written declaration that, by God's
help, Gloucester should be maintained, under the King's command, _as
signified by both Houses of Parliament_. To this defiance was attached
the signatures of Governor Massey, the Mayor, thirteen aldermen, and
many wealthy burghers. Enraged rather than discouraged, Charles broke
ground before the walls, amid the smoking suburbs, which had been fired
by the stubborn Parliamentarians, whose wives and daughters went forth
to cut turfs for the renewal of the earthern ramparts, shot away by
the fire of the besiegers. With attack and sally, and storm of cannon
and musket bullets, the siege held for a time, then resolved into a
blockade, and Charles was on the eve of winning by famine where steel
and lead had failed, when the Earl of Essex bestirred himself, and came
to the rescue with the trained bands of London and a body of horse. He
arrived not a moment too soon, for the besieged were reduced to their
last barrel of powder.

The caution of Essex might well have stimulated the besiegers to give
him battle before the walls of Gloucester; he was, however, permitted
to enter unopposed, and to secure the city by liberal supplies of
provisions and ammunition, and by the reinforcement of the garrison.
The object achieved, the return march was commenced, in the course
of which Essex paid a surprise visit to Cirencester, cutting off two
regiments of Royal horse, and seizing a considerable quantity of
provisions which had been collected during the siege of Gloucester.

The opportunity of striking a very serious blow at the enemy now
offered itself to the King, and he resolved to act. Essex's forces
consisted principally of the City trained bands, held in little repute
by his army, and supported by a small body of cavalry, inferior to
the bold riders of Rupert in number and conduct. Essex cut off and
destroyed, Charles might strike the capital, and stifle the rebellion
in the nest that bred it.

So Rupert poured forth his gay cavaliers, with gleam of cuirass and
rapier, to intercept Essex, and hold him at bay until Charles came
up to strike; for, as usual, the Royalists knew nothing of Essex's
movement until twenty-four hours after he had left Gloucester. First
blood was shed at Hungerford, when Prince Rupert, seconded by the
Queen's life-guards, struck Essex's rear, and found tough work with
Stapylton's brigade. But night closing in, rapier and broadsword were
sheathed. Here the Marquis de Vieuville, a gallant Frenchman, fell,
mortally wounded, into the hands of the Parliamentarians.

The next day the two armies converged upon Newbury, but Charles won the
race by two hours, and Essex lay in the open fields, alert and anxious,
for a conflict on the morrow was inevitable.

Assisted by General Lord Ruthven, Charles made his disposition for the
battle, holding Essex at bay, with all the advantages of a defensive
position and a superior cavalry. His army held Speen Hill, with its
right wing resting upon the Kennet; the left protected by a battery,
and lying towards Shaw Fields. The rear was sufficiently defended by
the river Lambourne and the artillery of Donnington Castle. Thus the
Parliamentarians were barred from the London road by the cavaliers.

Although Charles had taken up a defensive position, sunrise of the
following morning, September, 20th, 1643, set the skirmishers free,
and shots rang along the front from hedge and cover, as the soldiers
felt their way towards the closer, sterner business of the day.
Essex's first aim was to take up a position on Speen Hill. He lead
the attacking force, which consisted of his own regiment, Barclay and
Balfour's horse, Stapylton's brigade, and Lord Roberts' regiment of
foot. His lordship had cast aside buff and corslet, and fought in his
white holland shirt. Essex, a notable swordsman, found brisk work with
the cavaliers on Speen Hill, but he won and held his position, although
the young Earl of Carnarvon held him long in deadly play, charging
straight through his rank. Pierced, but not routed, the troops were
reformed, and obstinately maintained the struggle. It proved fatal
to the gallant Carnarvon, who, according to Lord Clarendon, was run
through the body by a passing trooper. Sir Roger Manley, however,
states that the Earl was laid low by a shot, which struck him in the
head, while leading the pursuit. Essex, although successful in this
movement, was separated from the infantry, who fought the real battle,
and, by their stubborn valour, held the Royal army at bay.

Had Charles maintained a purely defensive position, Essex would have
been compelled to force the fighting. His inferiority in cavalry would
have told heavily against him, and his infantry would probably have
failed to force a passage through the Royal army. The ardour of the
skirmishers in the first hours of the day probably drew him into the
battle, which soon became general.

The London trained bands, under Skippon, received their baptism of
blood in Newbury marsh and meadows, where they were drawn up, with the
cavalry on the flanks. Rupert was seconded that day by some of the
boldest and fiercest cavalrymen in the Royal armies; and he poured them
again and again, a raging flood of foaming horse and men, upon the
Parliamentarians. Pressing up to the very edge of flashing pike-points,
with desperate stroke and thrust, and discharge of pistols, the gallant
cavaliers strove to reach the sturdy Londoners; only to fall back from
the fierce pike-thrust, while the snorting war-chargers reared and
swerved from the iron front, and the grim musketeers poured in their
heavy fire from the rear, emptying many a saddle, and sorely thinning
the ranks of the King's bold riders.

Fighting under the King's eye, the cavaliers did all that could be
expected from the most devoted loyalty; but Skippon's pikemen were
beating back the repeated surges for their very life's sake; for the
honour and safety of London, and for Essex's preservation. Once let
that tide break in, and Rupert's revenge would be terrible. Three
times, in quick succession, the London Blues were charged by two
regiments of Royal horse, bent at all hazards to break in, but the
musketeers plied their shot so thick and fast, and made such great
havoc in the charging ranks, that the cavaliers drew off, after their
third charge, and made no further attempt.

Triumphant as the Parliamentarians were in beating back the spirited
charges of Rupert's gallant cavalry, the toil and strain of battle fell
heavily upon them, and stung into sudden action by the galling fire
of the Royal batteries, they made a somewhat disordered dash towards
Donnington, with the intention of spiking the cannon, the Red London
trained bands leading. Rupert saw the movement, and was quick to seize
the only opportunity of victory that presented itself. In an instant he
was upon them with "Byron's Blacks" and Colepepper's brigade; but as
quickly the pikes were brought to bear, the musketeers poured in their
shot, and the first charge was beaten back; before it could be renewed,
Skippon had got the brave fellows ready, the front ranks kneeling,
and a forest of long pikes presented to the plunging chargers. The
utmost valour of the cavaliers could achieve nothing against the iron
formation, while the regular and destructive fire of the musketeers
swept the front, and strewed the field with dead and wounded men and

Essex had had another tough encounter with a chosen band of Royalists,
who, making a long detour, and adopting the broom and furze twigs
which Essex's men wore to distinguish them from the King's men, fell
furiously upon his ranks. The conflict that followed was to the death,
for if the Royalists were incensed by the stubborn resistance that they
met, and by their heavy losses, the Parliamentarians were not the less
fiercely revengeful when, after the long strain of that terrible day,
they rallied all their energies to beat back the perfidious attack of
the Royalists. The desperate melée terminated in favour of Essex's
troops, who beat off and chased the Royalists back.

The last scenes of the battle had taken place under the gathering
glooms of the September night, and Skippon having succeeded in joining
Essex's cavalry, nothing more could be effected until the morrow.
The exhausted armies reluctantly parted, and silence settled over the
field that had, during the long day, re-echoed the furious and dreadful
sounds of war. Under the peaceful heavens lay 6,000 dead and wounded
men, to be carted into the town by the humane burghers, when there was
a great outcry for surgeons, always, alas, far too few in number to
meet the requirements of war.

Both armies rested on the field, and stood to arms, ready to renew
the battle, when the day broke again upon Newbury. Essex had secured
his retreat, and could expect to achieve no more. Rupert could force
the fighting with no greater skill and daring than he had already
exercised, and with no greater prospect of penetrating the ranks of
Skippon's pikemen. Essex drew off, unmolested, about noon, but Rupert
fell upon his rear near Aldermaston, and inflicted some loss upon his
troops. His march upon London was not, however, interrupted, and he
entered the city in triumph, having fought a battle that was in all
ways honourable to his army, whether nominally a victory or defeat.
If the King claimed the honour of the field, it was indeed a barren
honour. At every point he had been repulsed, although his cavalry had
sacrificed itself with unmeasured devotion. He had not kept Essex out
of Gloucester, and he had not cut off his retreat upon London.

During the battle Essex lost a trained band colonel and a few officers;
but Charles lost many gallant and distinguished gentlemen, chief of
whom were the Earls of Sunderland and Carnarvon, and the virtuous and
talented Lord Falkland. The wounded included some of the first cavalry
officers in the Royal army, Lords Chandos, Peterborough, Andover, and
Carlisle, Sir Geo. Lisle, Sir Charles Lucas, and Colonels Gerrard,
Constable, and Darcy.

In the pages of Clarendon will be found an elaborate account of the
virtuous and unfortunate Falkland, who had a strong presentiment that
he would perish in the conflict, and he accordingly put on clean linen,
and arrayed himself in his richest apparel.

Essex, before marching off, issued orders for the burial "of the dead
bodies lying in and about Enborne and Newbury Wash." Charles imposed
similar duties upon the mayor of Newbury, expressly intimating that
the wounded Parliamentarians were to receive every attention, and, on
their recovery, be sent on to Oxford.

Essex carried with him into rejoicing London "many colours of the
King's cornets;" and was there publicly thanked for what his party
were disposed to regard as a victory over the King and his gallant

The Second Battle of Newbury, 1644.

When the second battle of Newbury was fought, the great rebellion had
received a decided impetus in favour of the Parliamentarians. Marston
Moor had been fought and the greenest laurels of Rupert had withered in
one summer's night before the walls of York. The glory of Essex waned
before the brilliant achievements and solid successes of Cromwell and
Fairfax. The period of drawn battles and disputed victories was passing

Some transient successes had attended the royal arms, and Essex
had been defeated in Cornwall; but with his army reinforced and
reorganised, he was prepared to try conclusions with His Majesty
on their old battle ground. With Essex there marched the Earl of
Manchester, Skippon, Waller, and Colonels Ludlow and Cromwell. In
consequence of the sickness of Essex, the supreme command devolved upon

Charles was on the _qui vive_ from the 21st, to Saturday the 26th
October; but being ill-informed of the movements of his dangerous
adversaries, he was ultimately out-manoeuvred, his communications with
Oxford cut off, and his rear threatened.

Mr. P. Blundell, F.S.A., in his interesting paper on the "Two Battles
of Newbury," thus describes the disposition of the opposing armies:--

"On the next day, Friday, and on Saturday, the 26th, Symond's diary
records pithily 'noe action'--both sides, in fact, were busied with
their deadly preparations, for all men knew that their next meeting
would be a stern and bloody one. The King's horse burned to avenge
their recent overthrow on Marston Moor, and Skippon's infantry were
resolute to win back the credit they had lost in Cornwall.

"The beleaguered Cavaliers now exerted themselves to retrieve their
error, by adding to the strength of their position, throwing up
entrenchments and mounting extra batteries. The Earl of Manchester
with his vanguard held the lower portion of the town, and Cromwell's
Ironsides with some infantry who formed the right wing of the
Parliamentarian army, lay still, but not inactive, upon the south
side of the Kennett, near Ham Mill, and 'thence, as soon as it was
day,'--says Symonds--'they put a tertia of foot over a bridge which
they had made in the night.'

King Charles again led the Cavaliers in person, the young Prince
of Wales accompanying him, and the Earl of Brentford acting as
Lieutenant-General. The royal standard waved upon Speen Moor, about
a mile more northerly than its position during the previous battle,
and the main body of the Cavaliers held Speen mainland and the upper
town of Newbury, with their lines extending towards the Castle, while
their extreme left rested a little below the present site of Donnington
turnpike, and crossed the lane which intersects the meadows behind
and round about Shaw House, then known as "Dolemans," occupied for
the King, and fortified so strongly as to be, in military parlance,
'the key to the entire position.' The river Lambourn flowed along
their front; Sir Bernard Astley's and Sir George Lisle's cavalry
were stationed round about the fields betwixt the town and Shaw, and
'Dolemans' not only was well garrisoned by musketry and pikes, but had
each hedge and hollow of its garden ground and pleasance, well lined
with ambushed skirmishers and marksmen."

The burghers of Newbury maintained their accustomed neutrality, to the
great disgust of the King, who, complaining that they rendered him no
account of the movements of his enemies, stigmatised them as "wicked

The morning of the battle was spent in a distant cannonade, and the
desultory skirmishing in which so much martial energy was usually
expended. The royal forces made no movement to force the fighting, and
Manchester held his hand in the expectation of reinforcements.

During the first movements of the battle, about mid-day, Charles and
his son were in some danger of falling into Waller's hands. They
were posted at Bagnor, with their guards in attendance, when the
Parliamentarians, having seized Speen, made a rapid push for Bagnor.
The danger of Charles was imminent, when Colonel Campfield came up on
the spur with the Queen's Life Guards, charged furiously, broke the
Parliamentarians, and followed them in headlong and vengeful pursuit.
Shippon marked the fiery Cavaliers as they swept on in triumph, and
threw out a strong body of infantry to check the pursuit, and afford
Waller an opportunity of rallying; but as quickly the fierce Goring
and the Earl of Cleveland burst upon the pikemen, threw them into
confusion, and bore them sternly back, holding them in deadly play; but
the pikemen and musketeers, whether fighting for king or Parliament,
were seldom or never routed, and they bore nobly up, dressed their
line, and made a stubborn stand; driving off the impetuous Goring with
stinging pikes and hail of bullets. Again the persistent Cavaliers fell
on, and the pikes trembled before the rushing tide of horse and men as
they fell slowly back. Goring eagerly followed up his advantage, when
the Parliamentarians opened their ranks, and allowed the assailants
to pass through, then reformed to cut off their retreat, and opened
a destructive fire. Thus entrapped the Cavaliers fought desperately,
Goring cutting his way through with a handful of followers, but leaving
Cleveland in the hands of the enemy.

Dolemans, the key of the position, was assailed by Manchester with
3,000 foot and 1,200 horse, a force by no means too powerful for the
arduous task to be attempted. Astley and Lucas were not slow to meet
the assailing forces, and the sonorous psalms of the Parliamentarians
ceased as the battle surges closed. A stubborn and sanguinary
conflict ensued, but Manchester could make no serious impression upon
his enemies. Cromwell, holding his troops, ready to strike when the
opportune moment arrived, beheld the setting of the sun and the closing
shades of night, while the field was as stubbornly contested as ever.
He accordingly prepared to strike with his cavalry.

Dividing his brigade, he sent one division to the assistance of
Manchester, and with the other fell upon the King's left on Speen Moor.
The king and the young prince fled on the spur to find safety beneath
the cannon of Donnington, while the Life Guards threw themselves upon
Cromwell's troopers, in a gallant attempt to arrest his advance. Vain
was their devotion. The Ironsides smote them hip and thigh, shattered
their formation, and drove them from the field in headlong flight.

  "Their heads all stooping low, their points all in a row,
  Like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on the dykes
  Our cuirassiers have burst on the ranks of the accurst."

A harder fate befell the second division. Involved among the hedges
and avenues of Dolmans, they were decimated by the fire of the royal
musketeers, furiously charged by the cavalry, and driven off in the
utmost disorder, after sustaining a loss of 500 men. Edmund Ludlow made
a gallant attempt to relieve them, and cover their retreat.

With this last desperate conflict the battle ceased, not to be renewed.
The King drew off, and Manchester showed no disposition to attempt any
further operations against him. The second battle of Newbury was thus
not less hardly fought nor indecisive in its results than was the first.

It is said that the disgust of Cromwell was so great, that it
influenced him, to make his accusation against Manchester, with the
resulting self-denying ordinance, and its remarkable and wide-extending

Mr. Blundell's paper has been closely followed, but the matter
necessarily condensed in this sketch.

Binfield and Easthampstead, 1700-1716, and the Early Years of Alexander


There are few more pleasant and charming country villages in Berkshire
than the two adjoining parishes, whose names stand at the head of this
chapter. The undulating surface of the land, consisting for the most
part of well-wooded and well-watered pastures, and a better soil than
prevails in most of the surrounding heaths, must from the first have
made an agreeable oasis in this part of the old Forest of Windsor.
While their convenient situation, abutting north and south of the
old high road, which ran from Reading past Wokingham to Windsor, and
so to London, brought these secluded villages into touch, not only
with the chief town of the county, but also with the busier life of
the Metropolis. And thus, even two hundred years ago, they were an
attractive place of residence for many old families that have long
since died out and passed away.

The early history of almost every village centres round its church.
And the church at Binfield is no exception to the rule. It lies
embowered with trees at the further end of the village, nestling
against the slope of a steepish hill. And although the ruthless hand
of modern restoration has dealt somewhat hardly both outside and
inside with the fabric itself, yet enough of hoar antiquity remains to
attract the notice of even the most careless visitor. The venerable
but somewhat dumpy tower is built, like those of Warfield and All
Saints', Wokingham, of the conglomerate "puddingstone" of the district,
and bears significant testimony to the scarceness of good building
materials at the date of its erection. For these rugged irregular
fragments must have been collected with infinite pains and labour when
the "iron pan," as it is called, of the surrounding heath country was
broken up, and the land first brought under cultivation.

As we approach the south door, the fine open timbered perpendicular
porch, a feature which is characteristic of the churches of the
neighbourhood, cannot fail to strike the eye. It is of unusual size,
and the carved oak woodwork, black with age, is of superior workmanship.

The interior of the church is full of interest to the antiquary
and the archæologist. For though the roof and arches are low, the
pillars and windows poor, and the general architectural effect mean
and disappointing, yet the floor and walls are crowded with inscribed
and carved gravestones and memorial tablets of no ordinary character.
These, as well as other relics of a bygone age, at once arrest

To begin with the latter first; on a desk near the pillar as we enter
is a black letter copy of Erasmus's Paraphrase of the Four Gospels,
which at one time was ordered to be provided in every church at the
cost of the parish. The copy is almost perfect, and has been carefully

Then there is what the successive restorations have left of the fine
Jacobean pulpit, with its date, "Ano. Dom. 1628," still upon it; and
beside it, though unhappily upon the wrong side, is the elaborate
hour-glass stand of hammered iron-work, consisting of oak leaves and
acorns, alternately with vine leaves and bunches of grapes, together
with three coats-of-arms, said to be those of the Smiths' and Farriers'
Company. This is probably of the same date as the pulpit, if we may
judge from the very similar iron frame-work which is attached to the
pulpit in Hurst Church, and which bears the date 1636. The pulpit at
Binfield has been sadly mutilated; its pedestal and staircase are gone;
and its massive sounding-board has been relegated to the ignominious
silence and seclusion of the vestry. But, in 1628, it must have been
the handsomest pulpit of its kind in the neighbourhood.

On the floor of the sacrarium is a small brass, a half-length figure
of a priest, represented with a stunted beard, and the apparels of
the amice and albe ornamented with quatrefoils. Underneath is this
inscription in Norman French:--

  Water de Annesfordhe gist icy,
  dieu de sa alme eit mercy.

It is one of the oldest brasses in the kingdom, for the said "Water"
was rector of Binfield in 1361. Another remarkable fact about it is,
that out of the seven inscriptions of this church recorded in 1664-6 by
E. Ashmole in his "Antiquities of Berks," this is the only one which
has survived the successive restorations. The other six have entirely

[Illustration: BINFIELD CHURCH.]

Immediately in front of the altar the floor is composed of a row
of six black marble gravestones, each of which has a coat-of-arms
elaborately sculptured at the head. That nearest to the centre is to
the memory of Henry, fifth and last Earl of Stirling, of whose family
we shall have more to say presently. The remaining five are remarkable
as being all of them apparently placed to the memory of Papists who
lived in the reign of Charles the II. Indeed, one of them, that,
namely, nearest the north aisle, in memory of William Blount, "who dyed
in the 21st yeare of his Age on ye 9th of May, 1671," has the letters,
"C.A.P.D." engraved at the bottom in large capitals, which stand for
the well-known pre-Reformation prayer, "_Cujus Animae Propicietur
Deus_." And it is clear from the names of those commemorated in the
other inscriptions that towards the end of Charles the II.'s reign
there was a little colony of Papists residing at Binfield.

One of the oldest of these Roman Catholic families was that of
Dancastle or Dancaster. They had been lords of the Manor of Binfield
since the time of Elizabeth; and a member of the family, John
Dancaster, had been rector of Binfield as far back as 1435. The
gravestone in the chancel is to the memory of another member, also
John Dancaster, who died in 1680, aged eighty-four. And from the
coat-of-arms at the head of it: _Az._, a ball of wild fire _Or._,
impaling, _Sa._, three lions passant in bend _Arg._, between two
double cottises of the last, we are able to identify him as the "John
Doncastle of Welhouse" in Ashmole's "Pedigrees of Berks," who married
Mary, daughter of the Hon. John Browne, younger brother of Anthony,
second Viscount Montague. About five years before his death, he and his
neighbour, Mr. Gabriel Yonge, with his wife Elizabeth, whose gravestone
comes next, were excommunicated by the then rector of Binfield, most
probably for the non-payment of tithes or other ecclesiastical dues.

In an "Alphabetical List of the Recusants in the County of Berks," who
entered the annual value of their estates for the purpose of being
double taxed, pursuant to an Act passed in 1715, John Dancastle,
probably the son of the above John Dancastle, is assessed at £234 10s.,
and his son, Francis Dancastle, at £1 17s. _per annum_. While to the
south wall of Binfield Church is affixed a tablet which records the
final extinction of the race. It was erected in memory of yet another
John Dancastle, "the last of a respectable and ancient family, who
after patiently enduring the most excruciating pains of the Gout,
without intermission for upwards of sixteen years, obtained a happy
release, and passed to a country where grief, sorrow, and pain are no
more, Jany 29th, 1780. Aged 53 years. R.I.P."

The chief interest in the Dancastle family for us lies in the fact
that it was owing to them that the poet, Alexander Pope, came to live
at Binfield. About the year 1700, the representatives of this family
at Binfield were two brothers, named Thomas and John. Very little is
known about them except what may be gathered incidentally from the
correspondence of Pope. It is believed that they lived at the Manor
House at Binfield, and that it was owing to the friendship between
Alexander Pope the elder and John Dancastle that the former was induced
to settle at Binfield in 1700, when his son, the future poet, was just
twelve years of age. After the migration to Binfield, the similarity of
their tastes, for both were passionately fond of gardening, no doubt
increased the intimacy; and we find that John Dancastle was the first
witness to the elder Pope's will.

Scarcely anything is known for certain of the family history of
the Popes before the settlement at Binfield, except that Pope's
grandfather was a clergyman of the Church of England, and that he
placed his son, the poet's father, with a merchant at Lisbon, where he
became a convert to the Church of Rome. On his return to England, he
seems to have been unsuccessful in his business affairs. Hearne, the
antiquary, speaks of him (_Diary_, July 18th, 1729) as a "poor ignorant
man, a tanner;" and elsewhere as "a sort of broken merchant," who had
been "said to be a mechanic, a hatter, a farmer, nay, a bankrupt." But
these were probably the false libels which were levelled against the
son in after years in revenge for his keen and bitter satire.

It is now generally agreed that Mr. Pope, senior, was a linen draper
in London at the time his son was born; and whatever may have been his
success or want of success in that business, we know that, in 1700, he
bought a small estate and house at Binfield, where he resided for the
next sixteen years. He had an income, so Hearne tells us, of between
three and four hundred a year.

The house can now hardly be said to exist. Pope himself described it

              "My paternal cell,
  A little house with trees a-row,
  And like its master very low;"

where the retired merchant employed his time chiefly in the cultivation
of his garden, and as his son said;--

  "Plants cauliflowers, and boasts to rear
  The earliest melons of the year."

But successive owners have so pulled down and rebuilt it, that nothing
now remains of the original house except one room, which tradition
says was the poet's study. There is an engraving of this in E. Jesse's
"Favorite Haunts and Rural Studies," published by J. Murray in 1847 (p.
90). The present house, formerly known as Pope's Wood, is now called
Arthurstone, and belongs to J.W. Macnabb, Esq.

There is no doubt that besides the Dancastles and the other Papist
families at Binfield, there were numerous Roman Catholics settled in
the neighbourhood. In particular we find that Pope often visited,
and was intimate with, the Blounts, of Mapledurham; the Carylls, of
Ladyholt; and the Englefields, of Whiteknights. At the house of the
last, he used to meet Wycherly, who introduced him to London life, and
Miss Arabella Fermor, the heroine of the "Rape of the Lock." But it
is not a little remarkable that the Popes at Binfield appear to have
associated exclusively with their Roman Catholic friends. Throughout
the whole of Pope's letters there does not appear a single allusion to
the other county families that were undoubtedly residing at Binfield at
this time, and whose gravestones cover a goodly portion of the floor of
the church; for instance, the two branches of the Lee family and the
Alexanders, Earls of Stirling.

Here then, from the age of twelve, the poet grew up a solitary,
precocious child. He had indeed a half-sister, Magdalen, the only child
of Mr. Pope's first wife. But she was a good deal, at least ten or
twelve years, older than her brother, and at this time, or soon after,
was married to a Mr. Rackett, and lived at Hall Grove, on Bagshot
Heath. For a short time, a few months only after the settlement at
Binfield he was placed under the charge of a priest, the fourth that
had taught him in succession. "This," he says, "was all the teaching I
ever had, and, God knows, it extended a very little way."

His parents indulged his every whim, and accordingly the boy spent
his mornings in desultory reading, ranging freely and widely at will
through English, Italian, and Latin literature. In the afternoons he
wandered alone amidst the surrounding woods, and fed his imagination
with musings upon the studies of the morning, or feasted his eyes with
the beautiful landscape around him. In particular he is known to have
haunted a grove of noble beech trees, still called Pope's Wood, which
grew about half-a-mile from his father's house. On one of these was
cut the words "_Here Pope sang_;" and for many years the letters were
annually refreshed by the care of a lady residing near Wokingham. This
tree was blown down in a gale, and the words were carved anew upon the
next tree; but when this also fell some years ago the inscription was
not renewed.[6]

Every evening on his return home the "marvellous boy" committed
to paper the results of his communing with the Muses in the leafy
grove. In this way he composed and wrote out many juvenile verses,
amongst others an epic poem of more than four thousand lines, which
in after years his matured taste consigned to the flames. So close an
application, combined with complete isolation from all companionship of
children of his own age, was certain in the end to affect disastrously
his mental constitution as well as his bodily health. Accordingly we
find that he never shook off the morbid self-consciousness which his
solitary childhood had developed in him. And there is no doubt that
his singular propensity to tricks and plots, which increased upon him
with increasing age, even to the end of his life, was fostered by the
atmosphere of evasion and deceit, in which, owing to the severe penal
laws against Papists, he was necessarily brought up, and which in his
case was never corrected by the wholesome training, if rough experience
of a public school.

At the same time his intense application, untempered by any distraction
of games or amusements, produced its natural results in a constitution
by nature weakly, and began by the time he was sixteen years of
age seriously to affect his health. He tried many physicians to no
purpose, and finding himself daily growing worse thought he had not
long to live. He therefore calmly sat down and wrote to take leave
of all his friends. Amongst others he sent a last farewell to the
Abbé Southcote, who lived near Abingdon. The Abbé, thinking that
Pope's malady was mental rather than physical, went to his friend
Dr. Radcliffe, the famous physician of Oxford, and described to him
the boy's condition. Armed with full directions the Abbé hastened to
Binfield, to enforce with all the ardour of friendship the doctors
chief prescriptions--strict diet, less study and a daily ride in the
open air.

In this way Pope, while riding in the Forest, began first to meet, then
to know, and finally to be intimate with the squire of the neighbouring
village. Easthampstead Park was at this time occupied by the veteran
statesman, Sir William Trumbull, Knt. He had lived abroad for many
years as ambassador, first at Paris and then at Constantinople. On his
return home he had been appointed Secretary of State to William III.,
and now quite recently, in 1697, he had resigned all his appointments
and had retired to end his days peacefully at home.

At this time he was a widower, his first wife, Lady Elizabeth, the
daughter of Sir Charles Cotterell, having died in July, 1704. He soon
after married Lady Judith Alexander, youngest daughter of Henry, 4th
Earl of Stirling, who at that time was residing at Binfield, though in
what house is not now known. Sir William was then almost seventy years
of age, having been born apparently about the year 1636, and had no
children. And thus it is easy to understand how the forlorn old man,
riding often no doubt in the direction of Binfield in search of his
second wife, frequently met the invalid poet as he left home in search
of health, through the devious maze of drives in Windsor Forest, on
which even then he was meditating to write a poem.

Long residence in France and Turkey had no doubt made Trumbull a
citizen of the world. His capacious mind would have no room in it for
the prejudices against Papists, which in England at that time were very
strong, and in country districts banished them from ordinary society.


Nor was the discrepancy of their years, seventy and seventeen, any bar
to their growing friendship. Like all solitary children, especially
the children of aged parents, Pope, even when a boy, seems always to
have preferred the company and friendship of elderly men. Another link
too was doubtless their mutual incapacity for shooting and hunting,
then, as now, the ordinary pursuits of country gentlemen. Sir William
Trumbull's long absence from England throughout his youth (for he
was educated at Montpellier, in France, during the troubles of the
Commonwealth) and in middle life, when he was engaged in the service of
his country abroad, indisposed him as an old man to begin a new kind of
life, and Pope's crooked frame and feeble health forbad him altogether
to join in such sports. In 1705 he wrote to his friend Wycherly:--

"Ours are a sort of inoffensive people, who neither have sense nor
pretend to any, but enjoy a jovial kind of dulness. They are commonly
known in the world by the name of honest, civil gentlemen. They live
much as they ride, at random--a kind of hunting life, pursuing with
earnestness and hazard something not worth the catching; never in the
way nor out of it. I cannot but prefer solitude to the company of all
these." ...

And in another letter he wrote to his friend Cromwell in the same

"I assure you I am looked upon in the neighbourhood for a very sober
and well-disposed person, no great hunter indeed, but a great esteemer
of that noble sport, and only unhappy in my want of constitution for
that and drinking. They all say 'tis pity I am so sickly, and I think
'tis a pity they are so healthy; but I say nothing that may destroy
their good opinion of me."

Besides this, an additional link in the chain which united the two
friends was the similarity of their tastes in literature. Sir William
Trumbull, who, in his early days, had been Fellow of All Souls'
College, Oxford, had kept up his scholarship, and retained to the last
day of his life his early fondness for Greek and Latin authors.

The results of this friendship were of immense advantage to Pope.
His earliest published poems, _The Pastorals_, modelled on Virgil's
Eclogues, were first submitted to and discussed with Trumbull, as
they rode together about the Forest, and the first Pastoral with much
propriety was dedicated to his venerable friend. It was Trumbull who
first suggested to Pope that he should undertake the translation of the
Iliad, and thereby laid the foundation of his affluence. But far more
than this, when the poet first went to London, and seemed, under the
guidance of the old reprobate Wycherly, to be falling into evil ways,
it was Trumbull who implored him to retrace his steps. "I now come,"
he wrote, "to what is of vast moment, I mean the preservation of your
health, and beg of you earnestly to get out of all tavern company, and
fly away from it _tanquam ex incendio_." As long as Pope remained at
Binfield, their friendship was warm and unabated. In striking contrast
with every other intimacy between Pope and his friends no coldness
or quarrel ever arose between them. In April, 1716, the Popes left
Binfield and removed to Chiswick, and in the following December Sir
William Trumbull died.

To return; in the meanwhile the elder Pope devoted himself to
gardening, in the art of which, as we have seen, he was no mean
proficient. A rival in the same pursuit was his friend, Mr. John
Dancastle. And we find amongst the poet's correspondence a letter from
Sir William Trumbull thanking Pope's father for sending him a present
of "hartichokes" of superior size and excellence; and in another letter
Mr. John Dancastle excuses himself, after the Popes had left, for
not being able to procure them "some white Strabery plants" such as
apparently the elder Pope had reared in the old garden at Binfield.

While the father was thus occupied in gardening, the son was gradually
creeping into notice as a poet. His early poems and shorter pieces
appeared at first in Tonson's or Lintot's "Miscellanies," or the
"Spectator," and similar publications. But as he became more widely
known, Pope ventured on independent publication by the then usual mode
of introducing new works, namely by subscription. In this way his fine
poems the _Essay on Criticism_, _Windsor Forest_, and the _Rape of the
Lock_, all written and composed at Binfield, appeared successively in
1711, 1713, and 1714.

The first of these poems should be mentioned for two reasons. It led to
Pope's first introduction to London life, when he made the acquaintance
of the famous wits of the period, Steele, Addison, Gay, and Swift. And
it also was the cause of the first of those literary quarrels in which
Pope's talent for satire henceforth involved him more or less as long
as he lived. Resenting some adverse criticism of his _Pastorals_, he
inserted in the _Essay on Criticism_ the following lines:--

  "'Twere well might critics still their freedom take,
  But Appius reddens at each word you speak,
  And stares tremendous with a threatening eye
  Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry."

John Dennis, the writer thus lampooned as "Appius," retorted in a prose
pamphlet, in which he described his assailant as a "hunch-backed toad,"
and went on to say: "If you have a mind to inquire between Sunninghill
and Oakingham for a young, short, squab gentleman, an eternal writer
of amorous pastoral madrigals and the very bow of the god of love, you
will be soon directed to him. And pray, as soon as you have taken a
survey of him, tell me whether he is a proper author to make personal

In his poem _Windsor Forest_ it was natural that Pope should
commemorate his friendship and intercourse with Sir William Trumbull,
by describing in graceful verse the peaceful occupations of his aged
friend's declining years.

  "Happy [the man], who to these shades retires,
  Whom Nature charms, and whom the Muse inspires:
  Whom humbler joys of home-felt quiet please,
  Successive study, exercise, and ease.
  He gathers health from herbs the forest yields,
  And of their fragrant physic spoils the fields;

         *       *       *       *       *

  Now marks the course of rolling orbs on high;
  O'er figured worlds now travels with his eye;
  Of ancient writ unlocks the learned store,
  Consults the dead, and lives past ages o'er.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Or looks on heaven with more than mortal eyes,
  Bids his free soul expatiate in the skies,
  Amid her kindred stars familiar roam,
  Survey the region, and confess her home!
  Such was the life great Scipio once admired,
  Thus Atticus, and Trumbal thus retired."

Of the _Rape of the Lock_ it will suffice to say that even now some
critics reckon it as Pope's masterpiece. As a specimen of the Mock
Heroic Epic Poem it has no rival in the English language. Here it
chiefly concerns us as a true and lifelike picture of fashionable
manners prevailing in country houses in the reign of Queen Anne.

The publication of these poems made frequent journeys to London
necessary, in order to settle terms with the publishers and other
literary business. The _Rape of the Lock_ was immediately successful,
three thousand copies being sold in four days, and it was at once
reprinted. Pope's fame was therefore now established firmly, but
hitherto the sums which he had received for his poems would seem to
have been very inconsiderable. He appears to have received thirty
pounds for _Windsor Forest_, and only half that sum each for the _Essay
on Criticism_ and the _Rape of the Lock_.

He now bethought him, therefore, of Sir William Trumbull's former
suggestion that he should translate Homer, and in October, 1713, he
issued his Proposals to the Public. His friends in London interested
themselves in the subscription. Dean Swift, in particular, said he
should not rest until he had secured for him a thousand pounds. And
so flattering was the response, that in 1715 the family was enabled
to live more at ease. It was now evident that their present abode
was too far from London, for one who had constant negotiations with
the book-sellers and the Popes determined to leave Binfield, and
accordingly their house there was sold towards the end of 1715. It was
bought by a Mr. Tanner, whose gravestone is one of those described
in the beginning of this chapter as lying in front of the altar. He
was probably a Papist, certainly a Non-Juror, for Hearne, who records
the fact, terms him "an honest man," which is Hearne's well-known
periphrasis for denoting those who were Jacobites in politics.

The last two years of his life at Binfield, Pope spent in translating
the Iliad, or rather, for he was too poor a Greek scholar to read it in
the original, in versifying other people's translations of it. Good old
Sir William Trumbull no doubt helped him whenever a passage of extra
difficulty perplexed the poet. And Mr. Thomas Dancastle, the Squire of
Binfield, was so delighted with his young friend's enterprise that at
infinite pains and labour he made a fair copy of the whole translation
for the press. It also appears from Pope's MSS. that he occasionally
indulged his affectionate and amiable mother in allowing her to
transcribe a portion. But alas! poor Mrs. Pope had had but a slender
education. In the single letter of hers, which has been published,
the spelling is surprisingly phonetic. Alluding to a portion of the
Iliad she writes to her son: "He will not faile to cole here on Friday
morning, and take ceare to cearrie itt to Mr. Thomas Doncaster. He
shall dine wone day with Mrs. Dune, in Ducke (_i.e._, Duke) Street; but
the day will be unsirton, soe I thincke you had better send itt to me.
He will not faile to cole here, that is Mr. Mannock." And the numerous
corrections made in his own hand, sufficiently show that her mode of
spelling gave Pope more trouble than all the subsequent inaccuracies of
the printers.

Our period draws to its close. In June, 1715, the first volume of
Pope's Homer, containing the first four books of the Iliad came out. It
has been calculated that for the six volumes in which the translation
was comprised Pope received from Lintot more than £5,000. And as the
greater portion of this sum was paid in advance his circumstances at
once became not only easy but affluent. The end of the year was spent
in preparing to migrate to Chiswick. It must be remembered that the new
year then began in March, and on March 20, 1715/16, Pope wrote to his
friend Caryll as follows:--

"I write this from Windsor Forest, which I am come to take my last look
and leave of. We have bid our Papist neighbours adieu, much as those
who go to be hanged do their fellow-prisoners who are condemned to
follow them a few weeks after. I was at Whiteknights, where I found the
young ladies I just now mentioned [Theresa and Martha Blount] spoken
of a little more coldly than I could at this time especially[7] have
wished. I parted from honest Mr. Dancastle with tenderness, and from
Sir William Trumbull as from a venerable prophet, foretelling with
lifted hands the miseries to come upon posterity which he was just
going to be removed from."

Sir William died in the December following in his 78th year, leaving an
only son, also William Trumbull, barely eight years old. The subsequent
history of Binfield and Easthampstead does not fall within the limits
of this chapter. It must suffice to say that Pope occasionally visited
the Dancastles, and possibly stayed with Lady Judith Trumbull. At all
events he recommended his friend, Elijah Fenton, the poet, to be her
son's tutor, and frequently corresponded with him at Easthampstead.
Fenton continued to reside there even after young Trumbull grew to
man's estate, and when Fenton died in 1730, Pope wrote the epitaph
which is still to be seen inscribed upon the tablet erected by William
Trumbull to his memory, on the north wall of Easthampstead Church.


[Footnote 6: This was the case until quite recently; but towards the
end of 1893, the late Mr. Hutchinson Browne, of Moor Close, Binfield,
caused the words, "_Here Pope Sung_," to be once more cut in the bark
of a tree growing on the site as Pope's wood. And underneath them he
affixed a brass plate inscribed with the following elegant copy of
verses in Latin and English, which I was fortunate in obtaining for him
from the pen of the Rev. Charles Stanwell, Vicar of Ipsden, Oxon:--

  "Angliacis resonare modis qui suasit Homerum
    Hic cecinit laudes, Vindelisora, tuas;
  Hinc Silvae nomen vates dedit; arboris olim
    Inciso testis cortice truncus evat.
  Silva diu periit, sed nomen et umbra supersunt.
    Umbra viri circum, nomen ubique volat."

  "He to our Lyre who wooed great Homer's strain,
  Here sang the praise of Windsor's sylvan reign;
  Hence gained the wood a poet's name; of old
  The attesting trunk, inscribed, the story told.
  The wood hath perished, but surviving still
  His shade these haunts, his name the world doth fill."--C.W. P.]

[Footnote 7: Mrs. Blount and her two daughters were on the point of
quitting Mapledurham in consequence of the marriage of her son, Michael
Blount, in 1715.]

Berkshire Words and Phrases.


It is not easy to determine in a subject of this kind what are
the strict lines of demarcation which separate words and phrases
used within a specific area from those used elsewhere, or again,
in many instances, to decide what is dialect, and what mere local
pronunciation. Where the area is confined to the limit of a county,
the difficulties are increased, as the dwellers near the borders would
naturally be influenced by the characteristics of the neighbouring
county. Thus Berkshire folk on the Wiltshire side of the county would
differ in many respects from those on the Hampshire side; and while
the verb to _kite_, for instance, would be unknown to the one, the
adjective _deedy_ would be equally strange to the other.

Probably, next to verbs and adjectives, the names given to birds and
animals, implements, or any common object, would determine a man's
county. Phrases are less numerous, but adjectives rank first among
local peculiarities.

Many of these convey the same idea, but are applied to different
objects, and in different ways. Thus in Berkshire _chuff_, _pruff_,
_fess_, _peart_, and _sprack_, all imply something sharp, smart, or
perky; but _pruff_ is applied solely to vegetable life, such as young
and healthy shoots, buds, or growing plants; while a sharp, quick
mannered man may be either _chuff_ or _fess_. "Speak up, _chuff_, now,"
is the adjuration of the parent to the bashful child who has just been
addressed by the _quality_. _Fess_ will be recognised at once as the
_fierce_ of the Eastern counties, implying a certain amount of vigour,
indeed, but conveying no idea of savagery or temper. _Peart_ and
_sprack_ speak for themselves.

Next come _bristle_ and _briffut_, used both as nouns and verbs, though
the former is more often the substantive, expressing a sharp, active
fellow, or perhaps a terrier, who would _briffut about_ in search of
rats. The adjective _deedy_, on the other hand, is careful, wary,
cautious, almost the Yankee _'cute_, and is usually intensified by
_main_, very. "What sort of a girl is your daughter?" asked the late
Baron Huddleston of the mother of a young girl who had just given
evidence in an important case in the Reading Assize Court. "She be a
main deedy little girl, my Lord," was the reply. "Greedy, did you say?"
"No, my Lord, deedy--main deedy." But Reading is not central enough
in the county for anyone in court to have replied to his Lordship's
puzzled look of enquiry.

Besides _main_, _feart_, or _feartish_, is used to emphasise an
expression. "He be a _main sight_, or a _feartish deal_ better," or
perhaps "only _tar'blish_" a contraction of tolerablish. In like
manner, the patient would _change_ for the better, but _alter_ for
the worse, while _a bit altery_ would apply to the weather _tokening_
for rain. _Smart_ is used to qualify another word, as _a smart few_,
meaning a good many, or it would _rain smartish_. Other words,
sometimes corruptions, are common, as _unked_, awkward, in the sense of
obstinate, troublesome; _stomachy_, proud, self-willed; _quisiting_,
inquisitive; _querky_, querulous; _wangery_, languid; _shackelty_,
shaky; _hechatty_, onomatopoean, applied to a cough; _peaked_,
pronounced _pikkid_, pointed, as the end of a stick; _worriting_ for
worrying, though _terrifying_ is more often used, to _terrify_ and
to _worrit_ being synomymous. _Casualty_ is risky, hollies being
considered _casualty things_ to plant, while it is often _casualty
weather_ in hay-making time. To be _in a ferrick_ is to be in a fidget,
and _all of a caddle_ in a muddle. _Heft_ is weight, and _hefty_,
weighty. To poise anything in the hand to test its weight would be to
_heft_ it. _Overright_ is opposite, a word unknown to the aborigines;
but what a "Leicestershire mon" would call _over yon_, is expressed
by his Berkshire compeer as _athurt thur_, evidently a corruption of
athwart there. _Overright_ would, of course, be originally rightover,
and this tendency to put the cart before the horse is common. _Droo
wet_ is always used for wet through. The same peculiarity appears
elsewhere, as in _breakstuff_ for breakfast, and even in monosyllables,
as _hapse_ for hasp, _clapse_ for clasp, and _aks_ for ask. This last,
however, is by no means confined to Berkshire.

Some of the verbs are original, while others bear signs of being simply
mispronunciations. To _quilt_ is to swallow; to _plim_ to swell, like
rice in the boiling; to _huck_ to dig up, or empty. A man _hucks out_ a
gutter or ditch, or simply _hucks_ his potatoes. To _tuck_ is probably
originally to pluck, and is applied to dressing the sides of a newly
made rick with the hand to make it trim and neat. To _kite_, or _kite
up_, is to look up sharp or peeringly; while bees are indifferently
said to _bite_ or _tang_. "They do tang I," would seem to preclude any
derivation from sting, as it undoubtedly is. To _argue_ is used in its
proper sense, and is very common; but it is always turned into the
monosyllable _arg_.

It is not surprising to find peculiarities in the common objects and
customs of everyday life. Thus the eleven o'clock _snack_ under the
hedge, known elsewhere as _elevenses_, is _nuncheon_; and so it comes
to pass that a horse deficient in barrel is spoken of disparagingly
as having "no nuncheon bag." A bradawl is a _nalpasser_, no doubt
"nail-passer"; but a gimlet retains its name, and is not called a
_twinnet_, as in some places. A _duckut_ is a small bill hook for
cutting faggots; while a _fag-hook_, or _fagging-hook_, is a crooked
stick used instead of the left hand in clearing a bank of nettles,
etc., with an iron "hook." The new mown hay is termed _eddish_, while
_tedding out_ hay is spreading it out in the sun after it has been
mown. The hay-loft over the stable, often the sleeping place of the
_fogger_ (_forager_), the man who tends the cattle, is called the
_tallut_; the smallest pig in the litter, elsewhere either the "cad"
or "darling," is invariably the _runt_; a dog's fangs are _tushes_,
and a bird's claws _nippens_. In the poultry-yard and pigeon-cote
the cock-bird is the _tom_; and some of the wild birds have their
peculiar names assigned them. Thus the _wry_neck, or cuckoo's mate,
is the _pe-pe_ bird, from its note; a _wish_ wagtail is a _dasher_; a
woodpecker a _yaffingal_; and the golden plover a _whistling dovyer_.
The little white moth that flits about in the twilight at sundown in
the summer months is a _margiowlet_, and the steady, plodding mole, is
either a _want_ or a _mouldiwarp_.

Berkshire stands confessedly at the head of all pig-breeding counties,
but that is no reason why the usual call of "choog, choog, choogy,"
at feeding time, should be changed to "teg, teg, teggy." The cattle
call of _coop, coop_, is of course a corruption of "come, come"; and
_coobid, coobiddy_, the poultry call of "come hither." The carter,
walking on the near side of his horses, calls them towards him by
_coomither_, or _coomither-awo-oy_, or more frequently _holt_, or
_holt tóward_, with the accent on the first syllable of "toward," and
sends them to the off side with the monosyllable _wug_. It is not
often that the Berkshire man stoops to abuse, for he is naturally
easy-going, stolid, and impassive; but a driven cow taking a wrong turn
would inevitably be denounced as an _old faggot_, and a troublesome
boy be branded as a _young radical_, though without any political
signification attached. A simile would not be looked for amongst
essentially an unimaginative folk, but _as 'pright as a dish_ is
common, and singularly inappropriate.

Of superstition there is comparatively little, and ghosts and
witches meet with but little respect, the men believing that a good
"vowld-stake" (i.e. fold-stake) is a sufficient weapon in all cases of
emergency, and the women being fully as undaunted as the men. There
is, however, a curious old Berkshire saying, that "a spayed bitch will
catch a witch," and that there is some faith in the truth of the saying
is shown by the fact that sheep dogs, if of the feminine gender, used
frequently to be so treated.

Every race has its physical peculiarity, and where the negro is
tenderest, the Berkshire man is toughest,--in his shins. As a backstop
he prefers to stop the fastest balls with his shins, rather than with
his hands, and will keep on all day without apparent inconvenience.
At "backswording" Berkshire men were always renowned; but it was
necessarily the privilege of the few, the ordinary farm labourer having
no opportunity for practising it. Some other test of endurance must
therefore be accepted; and forty years ago it was the regular custom,
when two carters stopped at a way-side public-house, for the men to
shake hands first, in token of friendship, and then to indulge in the
pastime of either _cutlegs_ or _kickshins_, the former consisting of
the men standing apart, and lashing each others legs with their long
cart whips till one cried "Hold," while in _kickshins_ each man took
firm grip of his opponent by twisting both hands in the overlapping
collar of his smock frock, and then kicking with his hob-nailed boots
at the other's shins, the vanquished one of course paying for both pots
of ale before they started once more on their respective journeys.
There was living in the Lambourn valley, less than forty years ago, a
man who was considered the champion of the county side, and his shins
were knotted and bent and twisted in the most remarkable manner, as the
result of his numerous encounters.

Heavy of gait, stolid of mien, and of indomitable courage, the true
Berkshire man is a staunch friend, and a very poor enemy, for he
harbours no resentment. Imperturbable to the last degree, he is rarely
surprised into an exclamation of surprise, excitement, or satisfaction.
When he is, _Dal-lee_, with a strong accent on the last syllable, is
his sole resource. "Dal-_lee_! that's got 'un," says the carpenter with
a grunt of satisfaction, as he gives the finishing blow that drives
home a big nail at which he has been pounding. Its derivation may not
be hard to find, but it makes the Berkshire man no worse than his
neighbours after all.

But all these things are relics of a past age now. Shins are tenderer,
mouths less wide, or at least the dialect is less broad; and the
certificated schoolmaster and the railways have done their deadly work.

_Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis._

Bull-Baiting in Berkshire.


The character of a people is reflected in their amusements. The
gradual decline of the popularity of rough and cruel sports is a
sure indication that there has been corresponding improvement in the
people themselves. The History of Sports will show how slowly and yet
how continuously this improvement has gone on under the influence of
Christian civilization.

It was not until christian teaching had been leavening society for 400
years that public opinion was educated up to the point of abolishing
the gladiatorial contests, and the wholesale massacres of the Roman
amphitheatre. For nearly a thousand years more the lists, within which
men-at-arms met in mortal combat to shew their skill or settle their
quarrels, were the very chiefest places of amusement in our own land.
There king and nobles would sit on seats raised above the crowd, and
fairest ladies gave the signal to begin, and presented the reward to
the victor when the games were over. The common people crowded round
the enclosure, while all watched the armed men tilting at one another
on horseback, or dealing mighty blows with sword and buckler, and when
a spear's head penetrated a knight's corslet, and he fell from his
horse, and his life's blood oozed out on the ground, or when a downward
sweep of a great two-handed sword fell on a footman's helmet, cleaving
it and the head beneath it in two, as sometimes happened, the men in
the crowd did not turn sick, nor the women scream and faint, as would
be the case now if such sights were seen, but the men clapped their
hands and cheered, and the women waved their handkerchiefs, and put on
their sweetest smiles for him who dealt the fatal blow. In time that
class of exhibitions passed out of use, and another took its place,
and survived to within the memory of living persons. No longer was
the stake played for human life, but for the humbler one of the life
of a brute. Sometimes, indeed, the highest in the land would mingle
with the lowest, for the pleasure of seeing a couple of strong men
battering one another's faces into shapeless mass with fists, until
one of the two could no longer stand. But the commoner and more
generally approved sport was that which transferred the duty of being
done to death for the amusement of mankind, from man himself to the
dumb helpless creatures that have been committed to man's care, and set
apart for his lawful use. Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, cock-fighting,
rat-killing, dog-fighting, and such like, were for several centuries
his favourite amusements.[8] Queen Elizabeth was an enthusiastic
patroness of baiting. The master of the bears, bulls, and dogs, was one
of the officers of the Royal household during her reign, and in several
subsequent reigns. She was wont to entertain ambassadors to her court,
with bull and bear-baiting after a state dinner. In 1591 an order of
the Privy council was issued forbidding plays to be acted on Thursdays,
because "bear-baiting and such like pastimes had usually been practised
on that day." Thus Shakespeare was silenced every Thursday, lest the
bull-ring should be neglected.

It was not until the beginning of the present century that the
conscience of the nation began to revolt against the continuance
of this barbarous sport. In 1802 an attempt was made in the House
of Commons to pass a bill to suppress it. The question was argued
with much warmth, and the bill was lost. In 1835 public opinion had
so far advanced that a bill was passed without much difficulty, by
which it became illegal henceforth to bait or worry any bear, bull,
dog, or other animal. And thus after seven centuries of popularity,
bull-baiting ceased to be a public amusement.

We should like now to take our readers, as far as we can by a
descriptive narrative, to one of the bull-baitings of Berkshire as they
were conducted sixty years ago. There are plenty of places we might
select for our visit. Every town in the county and every considerable
village had its common or ground where the greensward was reddened at
least once a year with the blood of bulls and dogs. Strangely enough
the favourite day for the great bait of the year was Good Friday.

The best place we can select for our visit will be Wokingham. It is a
comfort to know that there at least the baiting will not be on Good
Friday. St. Thomas's Day, Dec. 21st, has been the day there set apart
for many generations for the sacrifice of bulls by dog-torture. And
there the sport enjoys an endowment and so flourishes wonderfully,
outdoing in the fame of its bull-baiting all other towns and parishes
in the county of Berks. The endowment arose in this way. One, George
Staverton, a lover of the sport, having himself, it is said, been
gored by a bull, charged his estate with £6 a year to provide a bull
for baiting. Whether he meant it as a revenge on the whole bull race
for his injuries, or, as the expression of a good-natured wish, that
others should enjoy the sport from which he had himself received so
much pleasure, we are left to guess. But this we know, that the bequest
increased in value, and soon was sufficient to buy two bulls at least
every year; and in 1815, which is the year to which we are going to
take our readers back to witness the Wokingham bull-baiting, anyone
strolling through the streets of the town, any day of the year, would
have had abundant evidence that the sport was held in great estimation
by the inhabitants. At many a cottage door was to be seen a specimen of
the true British bull-dog. Sometimes the animal had a silver collar,
betokening past victories won over the bull. All were sleek, and
evidently objects of much care and interest, often of much more than
were bestowed on the children of the house.

The 21st of December, 1815, was a cold, damp, dull day. Two hours
before noon, a young fellow drove out of Reading with a companion
to see the Wokingham bull-baiting. As they drew near the town, the
road became crowded with carriages and pedestrians hurrying in the
same direction.[9] Arrived at the Market Place, the younger man found
a place in a window overlooking the scene, while the elder, a tall
fellow, evidently a _habituè_ of the bull-ring, joined the crowd
outside. The spectators filled every window, and in some cases had
seated themselves on the roofs of the houses. Carriages, filled with
occupants, were drawn up in front of the shops, and all available
standing room on the footpaths and roadway was filled by visitors,
towns-people, and parishioners. A cry arises "room for the Alderman
and Burgesses." The Corporation of Wokingham dates from Saxon times,
and the chief-magistrate was still called "the Alderman," the town
having refused steadily for eight centuries to adopt the new-fangled
Norman title of "Mayor." The remaining members of the Corporation were
"burgesses." Here they come, first pushing a way through the crowd,
two "ale-tasters" with wands of office surmounted by the acorn, the
Corporation crest; then two sergeants of the mace, the mace-bearer, the
alderman, burgesses, town clerk, and others. The alderman takes his
seat with his friends in the large window of the old "Red Lion Inn,"
and gives the signal that the sport is to begin. Shouts are heard and a
commotion is evident in a corner of the crowd. Here he comes, the first
bull, led by a dozen strong men, a rope round his horns and a chain
fifteen feet long, into the middle of the market place, where the end
of the chain is fastened to a strong staple in a post level with the
ground. Away go his keepers. In a moment the bull has cleared a ring
for the coming contest. With head down and tail erect, he sweeps round
at the full extent of his chain, and is all alone in the centre of a
circle thirty feet in diameter.

"A lane! a lane!" and quickly the crowd has given way to form a narrow
passage, at the end of which we see a man holding a dog between his
knees. It is the first dog to be set on; his owner cries, "Set on!"
and the dog loosed tears down the lane, through hoops held at regular
intervals, right at the face of the bull, who has heard his yelp, and
is waiting for him. The dog goes for the bull's nose; the animal keeps
him off by always presenting a horn to his advance. We notice he does
not _prod_ at the dog, but tries to sweep the horn along the ground
under the dog's belly. The dog, quite conscious of the meaning of these
tactics, is never for a moment still, but dancing to and fro, tries to
get through the bull's guard. It seems for a while that this game of
attack and defence might go on for the whole day. But suddenly the bull
has managed to get his horn beneath the dog, and up he goes into the
air, some twenty or thirty feet high. "Catch the dog, quick. He'll be
done for if he touches ground." And see our friend from Reading holding
out a pair of long arms, and down comes the dog, bespattering, as he
falls into them, the man's face and clothes with blood and mud. When
the day is over, many, who came out in holiday clothes, will return
home sorry spectacles from dog-catching, covered with filth, and with
torn and disordered clothes.

Another dog is now ready. His fate is more speedily determined than
that of his predecessor. The bull, almost immediately, sends him flying
into the air, so high that he falls on the roof of the Town Hall, and
in coming down is impaled on some spikes.

This is a grand stroke by which the present bull has outdone all former
bulls that have been fastened to that chain and stake for many a year.
And while the poor dog is writhing and whining piteously, the crowd
applauds vociferously. In one of the smaller carriages, two school boys
occupy the back seat. These boys are now standing up, wildly clapping
their hands and hurrahing, while the dog on the roof still writhes and
cries out in its agony. One of those boys will live to be a farmer in
Wokingham, and be well known for his love of animals. More than seventy
years after the event he will often tell of this, his only visit to
the bull-baiting, and express his wonder by what strange contagion he
could have caught the spirit of that cruel crowd, and witnessed, with
delirious delight, animal torture, which on any other day of his life
would have brought tears to his eyes.[10]

And now a third dog is set on. Whether the bull is tired or demoralized
by the applause he has just received we cannot tell; but certain it is
that number three almost at once-succeeds in fastening his teeth in
the cartilage of the bull's nose. "A pin! a pin!" "The dog has pinned
the bull!" and the animal tosses its head up and down in a frenzy of
wrath and terror, trying to shake off the dog. But he might as well try
to shake off his own horns. A story is told of a man who made a bet,
and won it, that he would cut off each of his dogs legs in succession
without his letting go, when once he had got his teeth in the bull.

The owner of the present dog with the assistance of other men forces
the dog's mouth open with a stick, and so gets him away, but not
without tearing the bull's nose and leaving a portion of the cartilage
in the dog's mouth. A note is taken of the owner's name that his dog's
success may be rewarded in due time at the distribution of prizes.

Three or four more dogs are set on in turn, and the short winter
afternoon is already half over. People begin to clamour for the second
bull. But they are not destined to part with the first without a little
more excitement. Some young men growing bold by familiarity with the
scene, take an opportunity of tossing the loose chain over the animal's
back. This makes him start forward with great impetuosity, and in doing
so he tears the staple out of the post to which the chain is fastened.
"The Bull is loose!" Away scampers the crowd in every direction. A
woman who had been selling apples and cakes out of a large basket
is upset in her flight, and her wares are scattered. Several others
fall over her prostrate form, but before further mischief is done,
the animal is again secured. A single tree grows in the middle of the
market-place. In the boughs a number of small boys, early in the day,
had taken up their position, and there witnessed all the fun. Not
knowing how else to secure the bull while the staple in the post is
undergoing repair, the men pass the chain round this tree. The bull,
finding itself thus robbed of a liberty which just now had seemed to
offer a prospect of escape from his tormentors, frantic with rage and
terror, makes wild rushes forward, jerking and swaying the tree to the
great alarm of the urchins in the boughs. The crowd enjoying their
fright, cry out to increase it, "the tree is coming down." This is too
much for the boys' courage, down they come like apples in a gale of
wind, some on the bull's back, some in the slush and mud. The whole
crowd except a few anxious parents, is convulsed with laughter. Luckily
the boys are got out of the way of the bull, who seems fairly puzzled
at this new form of attack, and no one is seriously hurt.[11]

It is now determined to dismiss the bull to the neighbouring
slaughter-house. The poor creature is led away, covered with blood, and
foam, and sweat, a very picture of distress and exhaustion, and of the
madness that comes of fear, rage, and pain.

The second bull is coming out fresh and strong, and good to keep up the
sport for another hour or two. But we have seen enough, and may well
return to Reading with our young friend who has been looking on from
the window. The light is already failing. It is damp and chill, and
will be dark before he reaches home. It is well, too, to escape the
rough horse-play which grows rougher as the day closes. Already there
have been several fights among the dog-owners and others, and before
the night is over there will be many more, and not impossibly lives
may be lost. Even the lives of women were not always safe after the
passions of men had been roused by these scenes of cruelty, sustained
by a free flow of the drink, which makes men "full of quarrel and
offence." Witness the Parish Registers, where we find the entry,
"Martha May, aged 55, (who was hurt by fighters after Bull-baiting) was
buried Dec. 31st 1808." Poor Martha May! she must have been badly hurt,
and only lived six days, as we reckon, (allowing four days for the
interval between her death and burial), after her last bull-baiting on
St. Thomas's Day in Wokingham Market Place in 1808.

There remains one other point on which information is needed. The dogs
were evidently highly trained. Knowing quite well what was expected of
them, eager as grey-hounds with the quarry in view to escape from the
master's hand, and to fly through the hoops at the bull's nose. Where
and how did they get their training? There are still old inhabitants
in Wokingham who can answer this question by word of mouth. For weeks
before the baiting, on every moonlight night, it was common practice
for a party of men with three or four dogs to visit some field or
park, and there driving an ox, which they had before noted as suitable
for their purpose, into a corner of the field, set on their dogs in
order, according to the received rules of baiting. In the morning the
owner would be furious at finding his best ox in a pitiable condition,
and useless for the market for months to come. But so general was the
interest in bull-baiting that he got no more pity than the farmer's
wife, whose ducks are all killed by a fox, gets now from her neighbours.

Looking back on bull-baiting and similar sports, that were
contemporaneous with it, and comparing them with the scenes of violence
that formed popular entertainments in the generations that went before,
and with the sports and games of our own day, the conclusion cannot be
escaped that the world's history shews a well-marked line at progress
in the gentler virtues, and the growth of sympathy between man and his
fellow, and between man and the animals around him, that tends to
brand cruelty wherever found as a vice.

It is the duty of every one to do what he can to further this progress
to quicken this growth, and to practise and encourage only those
amusements which seem suitable for the development of the best side in
the character of the people.

[Illustration: THE END]


[Footnote 8: Erasmus, the reformer, speaks of 'many herds' of bears
which he saw being trained for baiting when he was in England in the
reign of Henry VIII.]

[Footnote 9: This description is taken from "The Reminiscences of an
Octogenarian," published in _The Reading Observer_. He describes a
visit made by himself when a youth, to Wokingham, under the guidance
of an elder companion, to see the bull-baiting. Other particulars have
been derived from information given to the writer of this article by
those, most of them now dead, who were spectators of the sports.]

[Footnote 10: The particulars of this scene were given to the writer by
the farmer who had been one of the boys in the chaise.]

[Footnote 11: The description of this scene is taken partly from an old
picture, and partly from the narrative of an eye-witness.]


  Abbot, power of, 133-134

  Alfred the Great, 98-114

  Agriculture languishing, 14

  Albert Memorial Chapel, 41

  Abingdon, chronicles of, 63-64;
    Fair, 93;
    Guild, 121

  Bacon, M.J., Berkshire Words and Phrases, 235-243

  Barber's Guild, 124-126, 129

  Berkshire Words and Phrases, 235-243

  Bible, Alfred attempts to translate the, 107

  Binfield, 211-234

  Binfield and Easthampstead, 1700-1716, and the early years
    of Alexander Pope, 211-234

  British tribes, 2

  Bull-baiting in Berkshire, 244-258

  Burney, Fanny, life at Windsor described by, 37

  Burning at the Stake, 14

  Celtic times, 2

  Chapel Royal, 40-41

  Charles I. a prisoner at Windsor, 34;
    execution and burial, 34;
    snow at his funeral, 35

  Christianity, spread of, 8

  Civil War, 14-18

  Cloth-trade destroyed at Reading, 160

  Cumnor Place and Amy Robsart, 63-97

  Cumnor Church, 65-69

  Danes destroy Churches, 7-8;
    defeated, 104

  Disobedience, fine for, 126

  Ditchfield, P.H. Historic Berkshire, 1-20;
    Guilds of Berkshire, 115-136

  Dragon stories, 140

  Dudley, Lord Robert, 74-91

  Easthampstead, 211-234

  Elfreda's crimes, 179

  Elizabeth, Queen, patroness of baiting animals, 246

  England united under Alfred, 7

  Faringdon, Hugh, 153-159

  Field, J.E., Wallingford Castle, 47-62

  First Battle of Newbury, 193-203

  First monarch interred at Windsor, 31

  Freedom of towns sold, 131

  Gardiner, E.R., Scouring of the White Horse, 137-152

  Garter, institution of, 26

  Gaunt, John of, marriage, 186

  Gilt cup as a New Year's present, 159

  Good Friday, baiting animals on, 247

  Guilds of Berkshire, 115-136

  Handbill, quaint, 144

  Herne's oak, 44

  Heart of St. George brought to Windsor, 30

  Highwayman, story of a, 142-143

  Historic Berkshire, 1-20

  Holy Cross, Guild of, 135

  Hunting, 113

  Ingleby, Miss Evelyn, Windsor Castle, 21-46

  Inns in Berkshire, 87

  Isabella bestowes Wallingford Castle on Mortimer, 56

  Jack of Newbury, 13

  James, flight of, 36

  Jewel, Alfred's 103

  John signs the Magna Charta, 11-12

  Knighthood, flower of, 26

  Lamplough, E., First Battle of Newbury, 193-203;
    Second Battle of Newbury, 204-210

  Last of the Abbots, 153-159

  Law-giver, Alfred the, 110-114

  Library at Windsor, 42-43

  Magna Charta, 11-12, 23

  Martin, regicide, 163

  Mercatory guild, 128

  Merry Wives of Windsor, 33

  Murder of Amy Robsart, 88

  Newbury, First Battle, 193-203;
    Second Battle, 204-210

  Nicholas, St., College of, 60

  Norman Conquest, 65

  Norman invaders, 9

  Oaks, ancient, 44

  Origin of Guilds, 116

  Parliament held at Reading, 13;
    at Wallingford, 53

  Parsons, Robert, Author of 'Leicester's Commonwealth,' 76-77

  Penny, C.W., Binfield and Easthampstead, 211-234

  Pepys at Windsor, 35

  Philippa, Queen, death of, 26-28

  Poet and scholar, Alfred, 106-110

  Poetry, Anglo-Saxon, 100

  Pomp and vanity at Windsor, 25

  Pope, Alexander, 217-234

  Physical peculiarity, 241

  Reading Abbey, 179-192;
    Guilds, 117, 123

  Reformation, doctrines of, 14

  Reid, H.J., F.S.A., Cumnor Place and Amy Robsart, 63-97

  Restoration rejoicings, 18

  Restoration of Windsor Castle, 39

  Revolution of 1688, 18-19

  Richard II. at Windsor, 28;
    death, 29

  Robsart, Amy, 74-91, 78-82

  Roman times, 2-4

  Rome visited by Alfred, 100

  Royal county, 1

  Royal prisoners, story of, 25

  Saxon times, 5

  Scott, Sir Walter, on Cumnor, 73

  Scouring of the White Horse, 137-152

  Second Battle of Newbury, 204-210

  Settlements of the Saxons, 5-6

  Seymour, Jane, buried at Windsor, 32

  Shaw, the Lifeguardsman, 149

  Ship-money, 162

  Shoemaker's guild, 126-127

  Siege of Reading, 160-178

  Simon de Montfort, 12, 24

  Snow at the funeral of Charles I., 35

  Soldiers taking down a weathercock, 67

  Sports, 141-142

  Standard, Saxon, 138-139

  Staverton, George, strange bequest, 248

  Stephen and the Empress Maud, wars of, 10-11

  Sturges, Canon, Bull-baiting in Berkshire, 244-258

  Sunday shaving, 124-126;
    Sports, 127

  Superstitions, 241

  Tailors ordered to make clothes for soldiers, 165

  Tennyson, quoted, 46

  Thompson, W.H., Alfred the Great, 98-114

  Tiles as fines, 125

  Tobacco, prize for smoking, 149

  Trade, increase of, 12

  Voting £70,000 for a tomb, 35

  Victuallers' Company, 127-128

  Village Feasts, 137

  Wallingford Castle, 47-62

  Wantage, birth place of Alfred, 98

  Warrior-king, Alfred, 100-106

  Wellington on a victory, 160

  White Horse, 137-152

  Windsor Castle, 21-46

  William the Conqueror at Wallingford, 48

  Wokingham, bull-baiting at 247-256

  Wolsey's Tomb-House, 22

  Words and Phrases, 235-243





"Valuable and interesting."--_The Times._

"Readable as well as instructive."--_The Globe._

"A valuable addition to any library."--_Derbyshire Times._

The Bygone Series.

In this series the following volumes are included, and issued at 7s.
6d. each. Demy 8vo., cloth gilt.

These books have been favourably reviewed in the leading critical
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Carefully written articles by recognised authorities are included on
history, castles, abbeys, biography, romantic episodes, legendary lore,
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The works are illustrated by eminent artists, and by the reproduction
of quaint pictures of the olden time.

    BYGONE BERKSHIRE, edited by Rev. P.H. Ditchfield, M.A., F.S.A.

    BYGONE CHESHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE DERBYSHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE ESSEX, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE ENGLAND, by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE GLOUCESTERSHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE KENT, edited by Richard Stead, B.A.

    BYGONE LANCASHIRE, edited by Ernest Axon.

    BYGONE LEICESTERSHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE LINCOLNSHIRE (2 vols.), edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE LONDON, by Frederick Ross, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, by William Stevenson.

    BYGONE SCOTLAND, by David Maxwell, C.E.

    BYGONE SOMERSETSHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE SOUTHWARK, by Mrs. E. Boger.

    BYGONE SURREY, edited by George Clinch and S W Kershaw, F.S.A.

    BYGONE WARWICKSHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

    BYGONE YORKSHIRE, edited by William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

_Elegantly bound in cloth gilt, Demy 8vo., Price 6s._





CONTENTS:--Under Watch and Ward--Under Lock and Key--The Practice
of Pledging--The Minstrel in the Olden Time--Curious Landholding
Customs--Curiosities of Slavery in England--Buying and Selling
in the Olden Time--Curious Fair Customs--Old Prejudices against
Coal--The Sedan Chair--Running Footmen--The Early Days of the
Umbrella--A Talk about Tea--Concerning Coffee--The Horn Book--Fighting
Cocks in Schools--Bull Baiting--The Badge of Poverty--Patents
to wear Nightcaps--A Foolish Fashion--Wedding Notices in the
Last Century--Selling Wives--The Story of the Tinder Box--The
Invention of Friction matches--Body Snatching--Christmas under the
Commonwealth--Under the Mistletoe Bough--A carefully prepared Index.

"We welcome 'Bygone England.' It is another of Mr. Andrews' meritorious
achievements in the path of popularising archæological and old time
information without in any way writing down to an ignoble level."--_The

"A delightful volume for all who love to dive into the origin of
social habits and customs, and to penetrate into the byways of
history."--_Liverpool Daily Post._

"There is a large mass of information in this capital volume, and it is
so pleasantly put that many will be tempted to study it. Mr. Andrews
has done his work with great skill."--_London Quarterly review._

_Elegantly bound in cloth gilt, demy 8vo., 7s. 6d._



_Author of "Curiosities of the Church," "Old Time Punishments,"
"Historic Romance," etc._


_Contents_: The Right of Sanctuary--The Romance of Trial--A Fight
between the Mayor of Hull and the Archbishop of York--Chapels
on Bridges--Charter Horns--The Old English Sunday--The Easter
Sepulchre--St. Paul's Cross--Cheapside Cross--The Biddenden Maids
Charity--Plagues and Pestilences--A King Curing an Abbot of
Indigestion--The Services and Customs of Royal Oak Day--Marrying in a
White Sheet--Marrying under the Gallows--Kissing the Bride--Hot Ale at
Weddings--Marrying Children--The Passing Bell--Concerning Coffins--The
Curfew Bell--Curious Symbols of the Saints--Acrobats on Steeples--A
carefully prepared Index--Illustrated.



"It must be confessed that when we read the statement in the preface
of this work that an attempt had been made to blend instruction with
entertainment, our mind was filled with gloomy forebodings. But it
seems that we had no occasion for them. Mr. Andrews discusses his
various subjects,--The Right of Sanctuary, The Romance of Trial,
Charter Horns, The Curfew Bell, and so on,--in so pleasant a style, and
with such evident love of his work, that all fear of the dry-as-dust
immediately vanishes, and we find ourselves taking as great interest
in ancient clerical usages and customs as he himself does, and are,
in fact, quite reluctant to part with our guide when the end of the
volume is reached. We feel that we should also mention the excellent
typography of the publication, and the suitable illustrations by which
it is accompanied."--_Publisher's Circular._

"A worthy work on a deeply interesting subject.... We commend this book
strongly."--_European Mail._

"An interesting volume."--_The Scotsman._

"The book is eminently readable, and may be taken up at any moment with
the certainty that something suggestive or entertaining will present
itself."--_Glasgow Citizen._

_Elegantly bound in cloth gilt, demy 8vo., 7s. 6d._

Curious Church Gleanings,


Author of "Curiosities of the Church," "Old Church Lore," etc.



    What to Look for in an Old Church--Early Church Dedications--The
    Church Porch--The Lights of a Mediæval Church--Concerning
    Crosses--Misericordes--Church Gilds--Pews of the Past--The
    Bishop's Throne--Chantries--Hagioscopes--Some English Shrines--The
    Church and the Well of St. Chad--Burials in Woollen--Hearse:
    How a Word has Changed its Meaning--Heart Burials of English
    Persons--Boy-Bishops--Gleanings from a Parish Chest--A carefully
    compiled Index.



Press Opinions.

"The volume, which is beautifully printed and illustrated, will
fascinate the reader by its diversity, its instructive exposition,
and its record of what is odd, mystical, and glorious in the Church's
annals."--_Birmingham Daily Gazette._

"A most entertaining work, and useful to antiquaries and sociologists
as a book of reference."--_Leeds Mercury._

"A fund of quaint and pleasing information."--_Chester Courant._

"Mr. Andrews and his coadjutors have provided a work which will give
unqualified pleasure to the reader of the day, and which will prove
engrossing to every searcher after the ancient and the curious in
ecclesiastical history or structure."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"The learned editor of this work has in several volumes proved his
extensive acquaintance with early records of the English Church, and
of the marks she bears of pre-Reformation times. He was, therefore,
well fitted for the task of preparing this collection of papers dealing
with 'the byways and highways' of Church History in this country,
and the result is a volume that will give pleasure to many besides
ecclesiastical antiquarians.... The writers of the various chapters
show ample knowledge of the subjects they treat of, and considerable
literary powers."--_Liverpool Mercury._

"An exceedingly interesting miscellany, and will be read with the
greater enjoyment that all the contributors have been at pains to
banish pedantry from their articles, and to write them in a light and
gossiping style."--_Glasgow Herald._

_Elegantly Bound in Cloth Gilt Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d._






    Introduction--Law Amongst Primitive Races--Ivo, Saint
    and Lawyer--Benefit of Clergy--Chaucer's Man of Law--The
    Law in Shakespeare--Revels at the Inns of Court--The Law
    in Scott--Dickens' Lawyers--Literary Lawyers--The Law in
    Rhyme--Fighting Lawyers--The Costume of the Law--Curious Circuit
    Customs--The Last Execution for Witchcraft--Curious Legal Facts,
    Customs, and Fictions--People in the Pillory--Amenities of the
    Bench and the Bar--Curiosities of the Witness Box--The Law and
    Laughter--Lawyers and Eloquence--Sealed and Delivered--A carefully
    compiled Index.

It will be gathered from the foregoing list of contents that the
volume is one of unusual interest and value. The work may be read with
pleasure and profit, and merits a place in the reference library.


"A welcome addition to the lighter literature of the law."--_The Times._

"A considerable amount of historical and literary information."--_Daily

"An entertaining work. It is rich in the lore and the humour of
the law, and ought to be as interesting to the layman as to the
lawyer."--_The Globe._

"An entertaining volume."--_Manchester Guardian._

"A handsome volume.... The work is printed and got up in a style that
does credit to the well-known firm of publishers."--_Chester Courant._

"Deserves to be placed amongst the best English books of
reference."--_Stockport Advertiser._

"It is a repository of many entertaining, useful, and surprising facts,
the result of considerable research."--_Birmingham Daily Gazette._


"A very entertaining volume."--_Birmingham Daily Gazette._

A Lawyer's Secrets.





"Mr. Herbert Lloyd gives us a succession of stories which may
reasonably be taken to have their origin in the experience of a
lawyer practising at large in the criminal courts. It is natural that
they should be of a romantic nature; but romance is not foreign to a
lawyer's consulting room, so that this fact need not be charged against
this lawyer's veracity.... The stories, seven in all, cover the ground
of fraud and murder, inspired by the prevailing causes of crime--greed
and jealousy. Our lawyer is happy in having the majority of his clients
the innocent victims of false charges inspired and fostered in a great
measure by their own folly; but this is a natural phase of professional
experience, and we are only concerned with the fact that he generally
manages it as effectively in the interests of his clients as his editor
does in presenting them to his audience."--_Literary World._

"A volume of entertaining stories.... The book has much the same
interest as a volume of detective stories, except that putting the
cases in a lawyer's mouth gives them a certain freshness. It is well
written, and makes a capital volume for a railway journey."--_The

"Mr. Herbert Lloyd has added a very entertaining volume to the lighter
literature of the day. 'A Lawyer's Secrets' are a charmingly-told
series of short stories, full of life and incident, without
suggesting the impossible. The professional career of the lawyer
abounds in interesting confidences, explaining many of the apparent
mysteries which so frequently crop up. Mr. Lloyd ingeniously lets
his readers--and they no doubt will be numerous--into the secrets
of a highly-respected firm of solicitors, whose clients furnish the
remarkable cases contained in the volume. Care has been taken not to
weary the reader, who is afforded a very extensive range of sensations
in crime to peruse. After 'A Double Consultation' comes 'Charged with
Theft,' followed by 'A Tragic Bankruptcy.' Then 'A Curious Love Story'
is narrated, and the mystery associated with a 'Wilful Murder' is
solved by 'The Missing Clue.' The series is pleasantly concluded by an
adventure of 'An Australian Heiress,' and if Mr. Lloyd is good enough
at a subsequent period to divulge further secrets, we are sure they
will be heartily welcomed by a wide circle of friends."--_Birmingham
Daily Gazette._

"May be recommended for shortening a railway journey or a similar
purpose."--_Aberdeen Free Press._

_Elegantly bound, demy, 8vo., 7s. 6d._

"This is a charming and even captivating book."--_Friends' Quarterly







The volume opens with a brief sketch of the Rise of the Society of
Friends, and Characteristics of its Poetry, Biographical Notices and
Examples of the best Poems of the following poets are given:--

    _Jessie Adams, Gulielma A. Wheeler Baker, William Ball, William
    Barber, Bernard Barton, Henry Binns, James Beale, Mary Elizabeth
    Beck, Louisa Bigg, Robert Bird, Elias Bockett, Hannah Bowden, John
    Le Gay Brereton, Elizabeth Naish Capper, Jane Crewdson, Elfrida
    Mary Crowley, Dorothy Crowley, Thomas Ellwood, Sarah Hustler Fox,
    Robert Barclay Fox, Benjamin Goouch, Fanny Harris, John Harris,
    Hannah T. Harvey, T. Newenham Harvey, Thomas Hodgkin, David Holt,
    Mary Howitt, William Howitt, Richard Howitt, Thomas Hunton, James
    Hurnard, William Kitching, Mary Leadbeater, Wm. Henry Leatham,
    Thomas Lister, Charles Lloyd, Elizabeth Lucas, Mary C. Manners,
    John Marriott, Mary Mollineux, Amelia Opie, Ellen Clare Pearson,
    Fanny A. Prideaux, Anthony Purver, James Nicholson Richardson,
    Thomas Clio Rickman, Richard Ball Rutter, John Scott of Amwell,
    Lydia Shackleton, Lovell Squire, Matilda Sturge, Frederick Taylor,
    Phillips Thompson, William Phillips Thompson, John Todhunter,
    Arthur E. Tregelles, Anna Letitia Waring, Robert Spence Watson,
    Deborah Webb, Anna Louisa Westcombe, Hannah Maria Wigham, Thomas
    Wilkinson, James H. Wilson, Thomas Henry Wright._

Press Opinions.

"The book throughout is a good example of scholarly and appreciative
editing."--_The Times._

"The book is well worth reading, and evinces signs of careful selection
and treatment of themes."--_Liverpool Daily Post._

"Mrs. Armitage's book was worth compiling, and has claims on others
than members of the Society of Friends."--_Newcastle Daily Leader._

"The volume is well worth careful study."--_Manchester Guardian._

"The austere simplicity of Quaker costume has, we believe, been
considerably mitigated of late, and the "bonnet of drab," which
Bernard Barton sang so enthusiastically, is no longer _de rigueur_
in the Society of Friends. The outward garb of this Quaker anthology
symbolises this relaxation for the sumptuary laws of costume; for
instead of a severely grave binding, Mrs. Armitage's publishers have
sent forth her collection in the form of a particularly handsome and
attractive octavo of the amplest dimensions. Some sixty or seventy
poets are represented, each selection being preceded by a page or two
of biographical and critical matter."--_Irish Monthly._

"The book has been compiled with care, and the biographical sketches
are well rendered. It is elegantly got up, and will doubtless be widely
read."--_Friends' Quarterly Examiner._

"The book can hardly fail to be widely read as its sterling merit
becomes known."--_Hastings Observer._

"One of the most remarkable features of this volume is the fact that of
the sixty-five poets sketched and quoted in its pages, not fewer than
twenty-six are women. It is doubtful whether any other religious body
could produce an equal proportion of female singers."--_Glasgow Herald._

"The volume has an introduction of ten well-written pages on the
rise of Quakerism and Quaker poetry, which fittingly leads up to
the condensed biographical notices of each author whose works are
quoted.... The book is admirably done, and the editor is entitled
to the thanks of all who are interested in the preservation of the
literature of the Society of Friends."--_Christian Leader._

Just published. Crown 8vo., 330 pp. A Portrait of the Author and other
Illustrations. Price 3/6.

The Red, Red Wine,



"This, as its name implies, is a temperance story, and is told in the
lamented author's most graphic style. We have never read anything so
powerful since 'Danesbury House,' and this book in stern and pathetic
earnestness even excels that widely-known book. It is worthy a place in
every Sunday School and village library; and, as the latest utterance
of one whose writings are so deservedly popular, it is sure of a
welcome. It should give decision to some whose views about Local Option
are hazy."--_Joyful News._

"The story is one of remarkable power."--_The Temperance Record._

"An excellent and interesting story."--_The Temperance Chronicle._

"It is written in a graphic and conversational style, abounding with
rapidly-succeeding incidents, which arrest and sustain the interest of
the reader."--_The League Journal._

"It is just the right sort of book for a prize or present, and should
find a place in every Band of Hope and Sunday School library."--_The
Abstainer's Advocate._

"A pathetic interest attaches to this volume, it being the last legacy
of Mr. Jackson Wray. It is a story with a purpose--to advocate the
claims of total abstinence. The plot is laid in a small village of the
East Riding of Yorkshire, and the author sketches the awful ravages of
intemperance in that small community. The victims include a minister,
doctor, and many others who found, when too late, that the red, red
wine biteth like a serpent. Though terribly realistic, the picture is
drawn from life, and every tragical incident had its counterpart among
the dwellers in that village. It is a healthy and powerful temperance
tale, and a fearless exposure of the quiet drinking that was so common
in respectable circles thirty years ago. It should find a place in our
school libraries to be read by elder scholars."--_Methodist Times._

"This is a powerful story, the last from the pen of an indefatigable
worker and true friend of the total abstinence cause. The scene of the
o'er true tale is laid in East Yorkshire, the author's native district,
which he knew and loved so well. The characters appear to be drawn
from life, and every chapter has a vivid and terrible interest. The
friendship between old Aaron Brigham and Little Kitty is touching.
The tale of trouble, sorrow, and utter ruin wrought by the demon of
strong drink might well rouse every man, woman, and child to fight
the destroyer, which, in the unfolding of the story, we see enslaving
minister and people, shaming the Christian Church, breaking hearts all
round, and wrecking the dearest hopes of individuals and families. A
striking and pitiful tale, not overdrawn."--_Alliance News._

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Trancribers note:

The text contains unpaired double quotation marks which could not
be corrected with confidence.

Brian Fitzcount and Brien Fitzcount (or Fitz-Count) in "Historic
Berkshire" and "Wallingford Castle" may or may not be the same person.
The authors didn't say and I cannot reliably determine.

Hugh Farringdon and Hugh Faringdon in "The Last of the Abbotts" most
certainly were the same person. Which is correct, the reader can take
his choice. An on-line search shows both, hopefully Hugh knew.

The same applies to Colonel Whichcott and Colonel Whitchcott in
"Windsor Castle".

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bygone Berkshire" ***

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